13th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. G. H. Mackay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
-In view of the necessity for popularizing Canberra as the leading city of the Commonwealth, will the Acting Leader of the House consider the advisability of making it the terminus of the England-Australia air mail service, thus establishing a direct link between London and Canberra?
– As the terms and conditions of the Singapore-Australia portion of this air mail service have already been advertised, it is practically impossible at the moment to give consideration to the honorable member’s suggestion. An ‘Opportunity to do so may arise later.
– Will the Acting Leader of the House state whether it is true that the leading bakers of Australia have already purchased flour in sufficient quantities to supply their needs to the end of May, 1934? If they have, and taking into consideration other complications that are likely to arise, will the Government abandon its proposal to impose a sales tax on flour with the object of assisting the wheat-growers of Australia, and substitute for it a more equitable method of raising revenue?
– The Government is informed that efforts have been made to avoid the payment of a threatened or promised sales tax by the purchase and delivery of flour in advance. I promise the honorable gentleman that the measure which is to be brought down this week will prevent these endeavours from attaining their objective.
– Importers of rock salt have reduced the price of that commodity by only 2s. fid. a ton, when from 4s. to 4s. 6d. would be a reasonable concession to make in view of the relief that has been given from primage duty. “What action is proposed by the Government to ensure that the benefits of such remissions are passed on to the consumers?
– The Government has endeavoured to ascertain -whether budgetary relief has been passed on to the consumers. Obviously, however, the covering of the large number of articles subject to primage duty would be most difficult. If the honorable member will supply me with the facts of the ease ho has mentioned, I shall have the matter inquired into.
– Has the attention of the Acting Leader of the House been drawn to the paragraph in this morning’s Canberra Times, which is to the effect that France is secretly preparing air and naval bases in the Pacific, as a counter to Japanese warlike preparations? If the right honorable gentleman has any knowledge on the subject, will he give it to the House?
– I have read the report to which the honorable member has
Deferred, and have made inquiries into the matter. No- such information is in the possession of the Government, and I may add that it is reasonably well informed upon such matters. The Government has previously had occasion to take special action to contradict alarmist and entirely untrue statements with respect to the Pacific and other Australian waters that have been sent to London by a gentleman describing himself as the Canberra correspondent of the Daily Herald. I understand that there is no such person, and that, in fact, these messages, several of which, I repeat, have proved to be not only entirely inaccurate, but also dangerous in character, are generally sent from Brisbane.
– Has the Acting Leader of the House seen the October report of the International Labour Office of the
League of Nations in which reference is made to a scheme placed before the South Wales Industrial Development Council for the erection in South Wales of one hydrogenation plant, and ten 1,000-ton low-temperature carbonization plants, at an estimated cost of £7,000,000 ? Does he know that the combined plants will use annually approximately 4,000,000 tons of coal, and will produce 1,500,000 tons of liquid and gaseous fuel, and 2,500,000 tons of smokeless coal ? Is the right honorable gentleman further aware that the hydrogenation plant will provide permanent employment for 1,000 miners and 1,500 process workers, while its construction will give temporary employment to 1,500 men for one year? Does he also know that the ten low temperature carbonization plants will employ 4,000 miners a.nd 1,400 process workers, and that 12,000 men will be engaged on the construction of these plants? In view of the fact that the expenditure of £’7,000,000 would give permanent employment to 7,900 miners and process workers, as well as temporary work for 13,500 men, and would also make Australia independent of imported fuel, and that the New South Wales Government has made to the Lyons Brothers, of Newcastle, a grant of £5,000 to continue low temperature carbonization experiments, does he not consider that immediate action is imperative to save the Australian coal industry from further decline?
– I hope that in framing future questions the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) will not attempt to infringe the Standing Orders by following ‘ lines which are distinctly out of order.
– I am not aware personally of the facta or statements to which the honorable member has referred. Many of them were mentioned by my colleague, the Minister for Health (Mr. Marr), in the House the other evening., That is my only source of information on the subject, but I believe it to be accurate so far as it goes. I shall see that the points mentioned by the honorable member are brought under the notice of those dealing with the matter on behalf of the Common wealth.
– Will the Minister, for the Interior obtain from the Chief Commonwealth Electoral Officer a report on the proposals made by the right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page), under section 24 of the Constitution, and have the report printed and made available to honorable members, so that they may be able to peruse it in ample time before the introduction of any proposed measure providing for a change in the number of members?
– I shall endeavour to comply with the honorable member’s request.
Mr.FENTON. - I understand that a committee of honorable members has forwarded to the Government a report and recommendations in regard to the fixing of quotas in Commonwealth electorates. Will the Attorney-General make the report of that committee available to honorable members, and say whether the activities of that committee would cause any delay to the commissions set up in the various States to consider the redistribution of electorates ?
– I have received a letter from the Minister for the Interior asking my opinion, as Attorney-General, upon certain legal aspects of proposals now before a committee considering electoral matters. No report has been made so far; but. it has been indicated that these proposals are receiving the consideration of the committee. If the subject is dealt with at all it will be dealt with at once, so that either the existing system may be retained, or any change may apply forthwith to enable the redistribution commissioners to operate under the new conditions.
– Will the Minister for Commerce give an assurance that, when appointing trade commissioners for the Commonwealth in New Zealand, Batavia, and Shanghai, the claims of suitable officers in the Commonwealth Public Service will be fully considered before any appointments from outside the Service are made? Will the necessary legislation in connexion with those appointments be introduced during the present session?
– I anticipate being able to introduce the legislation referred to within a day or two. With respect to the selection of overseas trade commissioners, I can assure the honorable member that, in seeking appointees to these posts, the Government will give due consideration to the question of competency whether applicants are within or outside the Common-wealth Public Service.
State Committees - Russia’s Quota
– The Prime Minister has stated that in each State a committee, representative of various wheat, interests, will meet monthly to deal with the restrictions placed upon the export of wheat. Can the Minister for Commerce say whether he has yet decided upon the appointment of such committees, and, if so, in what manner the various interests will be represented on those committees?
– The arrangement made at a recent conference in Canberra of those interested in the wheat industry was that State committees would be. appointed at conferences to be convened by the respective State Ministers for Agriculture. Up to the present I have received a report from South Australia only.
– Can the Minister for Commerce give the House any information in regard to the conference held in London on the 27th November last between the four major wheat exporting countries and the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics in regard to fixing a quota for Russia under the international wheat agreement?
– A conference was held, but the Government has not yet been apprized of the result.
– On the 24th of November, the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) asked for information concerning the price of wheat and bread in New Zealand and in Brisbane. 1 am now able to supply the honorable member with the following information : - New Zealand. - The present fixed prices of milling wheat on railway trucks at country sidings range from 3s. 9d. to 4s.1d. a bushel. The retail cash price of bread is 5d. per 2-lb. loaf, although some stores are cutting the price to 4½d. The net cost of flour delivered at bakehouse, “Wellington, on the 10th November was £13 15s. 3d. a ton. Brisbane. - The price of last season’s wheat delivered to mills, Brisbane, is 3s. 10½d. Recently, it was increased from 3s. 7½d. The city price of bread per 2-lb. loaf delivered is 4½d. cash. Some shops are cutting prices, and are charging from 3½d. upwards.
Bill brought up by Mr. Latham, and read a first time.
Aerodrome at Canberra.
– In view of the necessity to provide work for the unemployed at Canberra, and of the increasing popularity of Canberra as an air port, will the Minister for the Interior take into consideration the advisability of developing the Federal Capital Territory by constructing an. aerodrome with a hangar?
– I shall have inquiries made into the ‘matter.
Effect of Wheat Legislation
– Will the Acting Leader of the House give an assurance that the Government’s proposals for the further relief of invalid and old-age pensioners will not be in any sense curtailed by any budgetary adjustments considered necessary for the purpose of raising money to aid the wheat-growers ?
– The proposals of the Government with respect to a sales tax on flour will not in any way affect the Government’s proposals with respect to invalid and old-age pensions.
– In view of the fact that the legislation to be introduced this session for the granting of assistance to the wheat-growers will he responsible for an increase of the price of bread, and considering also that legislation has already been passed granting increases of invalid and old-age pensions in accordance with increases of the cost of living, will the Attorney-General see that the pension paid is increased in proportion to the increased cost of living brought about by the expected rise in the price of bread ?
– The formula provided in the legislation passed by this Parliament will, of course, operate in the circumstances to which it applies.
– To what extent would the price of bread have to be increased in order to give invalid and old-age pensioners an increase of the pension in accordance with the formula laid down by the Financial Relief Act?
– It would have to be increased to an extent sufficient to increase the index figures by the amount mentioned in the legislation to which the honorable member has referred.
– Will the Acting Leader of the House request the right honorable the Prime Minister to suggest at the next meeting of Commonwealth and State Ministers, that all State Governments should follow the lead set by the Commonwealth Government in placing a perpetual embargo upon the unemployed from receivingwork?
– I think it most unlikely that the Commonwealth Government will take any action for the purpose of directing or dictating the manner in which the various State Governments should deal with the unemployed problem.
Bill brought up by Mr. Stewart., and read a first time.
– Can the Minister for
Trade and Customs inform the House to what extent the reduction of the excise duty ou fortifying spirit used in the manufacture of wine has been passed on by the wine-makers to the grape-growers, as the Minister indicated in the House that he hoped it would be, by the payment of a higher price for grapes; and hashe any knowledge as to whether any extra payment has actually been made to the growers as distinct from a general statement by the Wine-makers Council of intention to do so?
– I am unable to inform the honorable member to what extent the benefit of the reduction of the excise duty has been passed on to the growers, but I have received a communication from the South Australian Wine Makers Association informing me that by a majority decision it had agreed, as requested by me in this House, to pass on to the grapegrowers the benefit of the concession, so that they might receive the price fixed last year. No doubt some of the wine-makers who have already paid cash at less than last year’s fixed price, would not agree to pay an increased price. Nevertheless, the intention, generally, is to pass on the benefit to the growers. I am unable to say anything more than that.
– Has the Minister for Trade and Customs any information that will show that tea merchants have passed on to the consumers the benefit of the reduction of the duties on tea, as was anticipated by the Government when the i eduction was made?
– As I informed the House recently, the Government, is anxious that any reduction of duties should be passed on to the consumers. So far, I have had a definite intimation of a reduction of the price of tea. from only one merchant, whose name I mentioned last week. During the last few days there have been large withdrawals of tea and other goods from bond, possibly in anticipation of increases of duty.
– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs inform me whether it is a fact that marked increases in the price of tea have occurred during the past few weeks which have no relation whatever to the customs changes so far indicated bv the Government?
– Concessions estimated to amount to £320,000 have been made by the reduction of the duty on tea by Id. per lb. and by relief from primage duty on tea. My department has been in correspondence with various firms which deal in tea, and they have pointed out that an export quota system now operating in Java, Sumatra, Ceylon, and India has had the effect of raising the export price of tea by about 15 per cent., so thatan increase in the price of tea would have occurred had the remissions of taxation not been made. At the moment I am unable to say whether the increases referred to are sufficient to cancel the very definite benefit which the tea merchants have received by remissions of customs duty and primage, but the subject will be thoroughly explored. If the circum-stances warrant it, action will be taken to reimpose duties, not only on tea, but also on other commodities, if the commercial concerns affected have not made available to consumers the benefit of the concessions they have received.
– Can the Minister for the Interior state whether the report that is being obtained by the Government on the subject of the development of the Northern Territory is complete, and, if so, whether it will be made available to honorable members before the recess?
– The report has been prepared, but it is not ready for distribution, because of some difficulty in the printing of a map which is to be attached to it. It is expected that the report will be ready for distribution within a few days.
– Will the AttorneyGeneral examine the provisions of the Trade Marks Act 1905-1922, particularly section 27, and consider whether applicants for trade marks are given the necessary protection against pirating?
– The provision to which the honorable member has referred is that usually included in trade marks legislation, but I shall examine the matter, and if the honorable member will provide me with specific instances, I shall see that, they are given special consideration.
– What action does the Minister for Trade and Customs propose to take regarding the very large carryover of usable tobacco leaf left on the hands of the Australian growers? I have received a letter from a grower at Gunbower, who states that the buyer did not fault his leaf, but said definitely that although the majority of it was good, usable to better class leaf, he could not purchase it. My correspondent adds that in one lot the buyer inspected eleven bales of one grade, and toldhim to forward six of those bales. As the buyer was prepared to take any six of the eleven bales the balance must also have been usable. My correspondent has been growing tobacco for ten years, and has never previously had his leaf rejected. Last, year he sold the whole of his crop amounting to over 20 tons, but this year, 15 tons of leaf is left on his hands.
– It should not be necessary to inform the honorable member that it is not the business of the Government to sell tobacco. The Government has done a great deal to assist the local growers. It has recently increased the customs duty from 3s. to 3s. 6d. per lb., and in addition, it has voted £20,000 to assist in the cultivation of tobacco and in the instruction of growers. The principal local manufacturing company assured the Government this year that it would buy all leaf from bright mahogany upwards, and make the usual purchases of the darker grades.
– It is not doing so.
– Let the honorable member send me particulars in support of his contention, and I shall forward them to the company; but, repeatedly, when honorable members have alleged that the growers in their districts have been boycotted, impartial inquiries have revealed that most of the rejected leaf has been immature or in. other ways unsuitable for manufacture.
– Will the AttorneyGeneral inform me whether there is any truth in. the published statement that the
Government has agreed to make a grant of £2,000 to the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia to assist unemployed returned soldiers during the Christmas period? If so, will the Government make a grant of a like amount to the returned soldiers’ labour clubs, so that they may assist their unemployed members prior to Christmas?
– It is true that £2,000 has been provided by the Government for distribution by the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia. The Government knows this body and its merits, but is quite unacquainted with the other organization mentioned by the honorable member. The Government intends to deal with returned soldiers generally through the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia.
– As it is common knowledge that in Great Britain and Western Europe special precautionary steps have been taken to safeguard civilian populations in the great capital cities and’ industrial centres against attacks by poison gas in the event of war, I ask the Assistant Minister for Defence whether, in view of the unequalled vulnerability of the Australian capital cities and industrial centres, any steps have been taken to protect them from similar attacks?
– The protection of the civilian population of Australia against gas attacks has been investigated by a sub-committee representative of the three fighting services. The committee reported that, in its opinion, the probability of gas attack oh Australian cities was not very great. As, however, the possibility of such attacks does exist, action is being taken to prepare plans which will be put into operation should the occasion arise.In addition, the training of police and ambulance personnel in anti-gas measures is receiving attention. The possibility of manufacturing cheap and serviceable gas masks and protective clothing is also under investigation.
Motion (by Mr. Latham) agreed to -
That he have leave to bring in a bill for an act toamend the Patents Act 1903-.1 932.
That he have leave to bring in a bill for an act to ratify and approve certain agreements relating to the production of silver.
Bill brought up, and read a first time.
Decla ration of Urgency.
. - I declare (a) that the Estimates of expenditure are of an urgent nature; (b) that the resolutions preliminary to the introduction of the Appropriation Bill are urgent resolutions, and (c) that the Appropriation Bill is an urgent bill.
Question - That the Estimates are urgent estimates, that the Resolutions are urgent resolutions, and that the Appropriation Bill is an urgent bill - put. The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. H. Mackay.)
Majority . . . . 29
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
– I move -
That the time allotted for the consideration of the remainder of the Estimates, the Resolutions, and the stages of the Appropriation Bill, be as follows: -
Vote “Commonwealth Railways - £583,300”- until 4.30 p.m.
Remainder of Estimates, Supply Resolution, and adoption of Resolution - until9.30 p.m.
Ways and Means Resolution,and adoption of Resolution - until 9.40 p.m.
Appropriation Bill -
Up to and including second reading stage - until 9.50 p.m.
Committee stage - until 10.5 p.m.
Remaining stages - until 10.10 p.m.
As honorable members are aware, it is now possible, if they so desire, to spend half an hour in discussing whether this motion should be passed, and if the motion, should then be passed one halfhour would be taken off the time available for the discussion of the ‘Estimates. I accordingly propose to make but few rem arks in order that the House may immediately vote on the motion’ instead of wasting time in the manner which I have indicated. As honorable members know, the items of business as set out, in the motion are of an urgent nature. There has been ample time for a full and relevant discussion of the Estimates. It is important that the Appropriation Bill should reach the Senate, and be passed by both Houses.
Motion (by Mr. Ward) proposed -
That the Attorney-General be not further heard.
– The practice of this Parliament for which there are various precedents, is to refuse a motion for the closure of a member’s speech when that member is moving a motion to carry out a decision of the House.
– Various sections of the community, and I refer particularly to the fruit-growers, are anxiously awaiting relief and benefits which will be available to them only when the Appropriation Bill passes both Houses of~ the Parliament, and I think that honorable members who have followed the course of the debate will not complain of the declaration of urgency. This motion i.s being proposed, not because members have become bored with the discussion of the Estimates, but simply because the business is really of an urgent nature. I therefore advise the House to agree to the motion as soon as possible.
.- I do not complain that insufficient time has been allowed for the discussion of the Estimates. Compared with other years, the discussion has been a protracted one, but wo must remember that the Estimates are probably the most important business” which comes before Parliament, and discussion should not be curtailed by means of the guillotine. Had we met earlier - and we might have met two months earlier - there would have been no necessity for a rush at the end of the session. I have’ always, held the opinion that the judicious use of the closure is fairer to honorable members than the use of the guillotine. When ‘ the Government, and honorable members generally, decide that they have heard enough discussion on a subject, the closure can be applied; but, by the use of the guillotine, a very grave injustice may be done. In this instance we have to dispose of three divisions, namely, the Postmaster-General’s Department, Territories, and Payments to the States, in the time allotted. Not only must the discussion be completed; but the i items must also be agreed to. It is .evident that the whole time will be taken up in discussing the Postmaster-General’s Department, so that honorable members will have no opportunity to move amendments in respect of either of the other divisions. The estimates for the Coin mon wealth Railways must be passed by 4.30 p.m., so that practically all the remaining estimates will have to be dis posed of by 9.30 p.m. Whatever limitations are placed upon debate, honorable members should not be deprived of the opportunity to express their opinions upon the business before Parliament, or to vote upon it. The unfairness of this motion is shown by the fact that three days were taken up in discussing Miscellaneous expenditure, while it is proposed to dispose of the Estimates for three divisions, including the all-important Postmaster-General’s Department, in about five hours. If the Government proposed to apply the guillotine, it should have done so earlier, so that the time could have been better distributed.
– When the Attorney-General (Mr. Latham) moved this motion, he said that, if honorable members took up the time of the House discussing it, they would rob themselves of some of the time allotted under the declaration of urgency for the discussion of the Estimates. I think that we might just as well spend the time now discussing this motion, because the Government has made a farce of the proceedings by unduly limiting the time available. When the Government decides to limit the time for debate, it always seems to rush to ridiculous extremes. Members of the Government have complained that the discussion on the Estimates this year has been much longer than usual; but, if they think that too much time has been spent, let them point to some item which need not have been discussed.
– That dealing with coal research, for example.
– Every honorable member of this Parliament has a perfect right to advance the claims of his constituents when opportunity offers.
– By abusing the privileges of Parliament?
– It is the business of the Chairman of Committees and of Mr. Speaker to see that the privileges of Parliament are not abused, and I am not prepared to cast reflections upon them by saying that they have failed in their duty. The discussion on the Estimates has been longer this year than usual because the country is facing unique difficulties, and practically every honorable member has matters of vast importance to his constituents which he desires to bring’ forward. The discussion on the Estimates provides an opportunity for mention of those matters, and honorable members avail themselves of it. The depressed condition of industry, and the inability of our primary producers to find markets for their products, are matters which call urgently for the attention of this Parliament, aud the discussion of the Estimates provides the opportunity to focus attention on their claims. I shall bc interested to see what attitude will be taken up by members of the Country party in regard to the application of 1 lie guillotine, particularly as it affects the time for discussing the post office estimates. This is practically the only opportunity which honorable members representing country areas have to bring before Parliament the claims of their constituents for improved postal facilities.
I oppose this motion, because I believe that it is making a farce of parliamentary procedure. We, in this corner, would be prepared to sit late, if necessary, so that honorable members may have time to discuss these important departments. Had the Government so desired, Parliament could have been called together at least two months earlier than it was. However, when the Government treats itself to a four months’ recess, it cannot expect honorable members to submit tamely to this end-of-session rush.
.- I support the motion for the application of the guillotine, because I believe that it is the fairest way to get the Estimates through Parliament. I regret, however, that this motion was not introduced earlier, so that the time available for discussion might have been distributed more evenly over the various departments. I have a few suggestions to make which, .1 think, should meet with the approval of the Government. My first suggestion is that, as a definite time limit is to be imposed for the termination of the debate, the Government should consider the advisableness of sitting throughout the dinner bour, so that honorable members may discuss matters during an hour and a. half which will not otherwise be available to them. My second suggestion is that as there are many hon orable members who wish to speak on the Estimates for the Territories, apart from the Postal Department, the debate upon that particular section should be in the nature of a general discussion, and honorable members should be at liberty to traverse any part of those Estimates.
– That is a matter for the committee to determine.
– Had the whole of the “ Miscellaneous “ items in. the Estimates been dealt with en bloc, so that honorable members could have made their speeches on any matter covered by that heading, a. saving of probably a day or a day and a half would have been effected. The adoption of the suggestions I have made will enable the best possible use to be made of the limited time that is available for further discussion. In reply to the insulting suggestions of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), I merely wish to say that whilst I have been absent from the House endeavouring to create work for the people of this country, he has :been doing things and advocating policies which are calculated to put men out of employment-
– Upon this occasion, I stand upon exceptionally solid ground. I have always held that there is considerable virtue in. a good stonewall, and at the time our Standing Orders were being amended to make provision for . the guillotine I uttered my protest against placing such plenary power in the hands of the Government of the day. But who is responsible for vesting that power in the Government? Practically all parties in this House, because all parties were represented on the Standing Orders committee. The House, therefore, is responsible for the creation of the guillotine, the machinery by means of which the Government is enabled to cut’ short debate. In these circumstances, why should there be any complaint, against tha procedure that is now proposed? Whilst I stand upon, particularly firm ground, other members who object to the whip . which is about to be applied to them, must blame only themselves for the position they now occupy.
In the consideration of the Estimates this year, there has been an absolute waste of valuable time, which might have been profitably devoted to the discussion of items of great importance to the people. I shall vote for the application of the guillotine, and when the motion has been decided I hope that we shall proceed with the transaction of the public business in a manner that will worthily uphold the highest parliamentary traditions.
– I protest against the introduction of the guillotine. Under the conditions laid down in the motion submitted by the Attorney-General (Mr. Latham) only four hours will be available for the discussion of some of the most important parts of the Estimates. A considerable portion of that time will be absorbed by the dinner adjournment, and seeing that under our Standing Orders a. time limit of an hour and a half is imposed upon the speeches of honorable members, obviously, about four speeches will occupy the whole period. I shall thus be precluded from dealing with matters of vital importance to the people of the Northern Territory. I shall not be able to criticise the Government’s administration of land settlement there. I shall be debarred from dealing with the mining estimates, with the adequate protection of settlers in Northern Australia, and, indeed, with any of the matters that are essential to the development of that area. When the Northern Territory was transferred by South Australia to the Commonwealth, it suffered the greatest calamity that could possibly befall -it. This Parliament has done nothing to assist in its development. And now, when, after waiting patiently, and remaining through all-night sittings, I should be afforded an opportunity to put forward a constructive policy for the territory, I am denied that opportunity. The guillotine is to be used to suppress discussion merely because it would reflect discredit upon the Com- monwealth Go ver n men t.
.- Honorable members opposite are not very sincere in their protests against this motion.
– Order !
– I feel confident that,- in their hearts, honorable members opposite welcome this procedure. So great has been the latitude allowed to honorable members in discussing these Estimates that there can be no charge of undue curtailment of the debate. I assure the honorable member for “West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) and other honorable members opposite that many on this side have not enjoyed remaining silent during the discussion on the Estimates in order that others might have the opportunity to speak, and thereby have their remarks published in the press as party propaganda. That honorable members will be denied further opportunities to indulge in such propaganda if this motion is agreed to is the reason for the opposition to the proposal to limit the debate.
Probably no department is so well administered as is that under the control of the Postmaster-General. Although J represent over 70,000 electors, I would not think of occupying the time of the House by asking for additional postal facilities at various centres in my large electorate. Instead of occupying the time of Parliament by urging that additional postal facilities be provided at this and that outback centre, honorable members would do well to write to the department a nicely-worded letter setting out the arguments in support of their request. In my opinion, the standing order providing for limitation of discussion on such occasions as this, is a wise one.
– Why does not the honorable member practice what he preaches?
– I should think that the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) would welcome the proposal to limit debate, because he has told us the same thing so many times.
– Order !
– Some honorable members have repeated their arguments over and over again during the discussion of these Estimates. Some of the speeches of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) are not unlike those which he delivers on the hustings. The action of the Attorney-General (Mr. Latham), in submitting his motion this afternoon, should teach honorable members not to trespass on the good nature of Ministers by prolonging future discussions unduly. Honorable members can do their duty to their constituents and their country without occupying the time of the House unreasonably.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I protest against the application of the guillotine, thereby limiting the debate on the remainder of the Estimates to three and a half hours.
– The time provided will be more than three and a half hours.
– Not more than three and a half hours will remain when the debate on the present motion has concluded.
– The time allowed under Standing Order 257b for this debate having expired, I must now put the question.
Question - =That the motion be agreed to - put. The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. H. Mackay.)
Majority . . . . 27
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from the 28th November (vide page 5106).
Proposed vote, £583,300.
– If the proposal is acceptable to honorable members, I suggest that the adjournment for the dinner hour be shortened from 6.30 to 7.30.
– Very well. If honorable members prefer the usual dinner adjournment of one hour and threequarters, instead of limiting it to one hour in order to discuss the Estimates, I have no proposal to make.-
. -On the 6th October last the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) asked the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) to consider the case of the Commonwealth railway employees when making provision for the restoration of a portion of the emergency salary reductions to other Commonwealth officers. He said that the Prime Minister was aware that these men had suffered the full cost-of-living reduction as well as a lowering of their conditions under the Drake-Brockman award. In his reply, the Prime Minister said that the section of the Commonwealth Public Service referred to by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie was working under an award of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, and that the Government would take no action with respect to those who came directly under the court. Despite the view then expressed by the PrimeMinister, raise the question again, and urge that action be taken to restore the reductions of wages of railway employees to the same extent as is provided in the budget for other employees in the Public Service.’ The story of these men may be told briefly. “When the Arbitration Court was asked by employers to reduce real wages in 1930, the Federal Labour Government, which I had the honour to lead, declared that it would not allow the Commonwealth
Railways Commissioner to be a party to the application. In fact, we intervened and opposed the general application of the 10 per cent, reduction of real wages as applied to those outside the Public Service. The principle upon which we acted was that, the minimum living wage should not be reduced, and throughout the depression we protected all Commonwealth employees from suffering any reduction of the real basic wage. When the Financial Emergency Acts came into operation, Commonwealth railway employees were brought under the Arbitration Court award that had then been made, but with the provisos that the real basic wage must not be reduced, and that those above the basic wage who had suffered percentage reductions of salary should not suffer future cost-of-living reductions until those percentage reductions had been absorbed. That condition obtained during the regime of my Government, but immediately we left office, or very shortly afterwards, Commonwealth employees were brought under the Arbitration Court award and suffered the full 10 per cent, reduction of salaries and wages. The proviso that future costofliving reductions should not apply to those who had suffered percentage reductions of salary or wages was also abolished, so that Commonwealth railway employees are now suffering all the cost-of-living reductions plus the 10 per cent, reduction of real wages. Since this was done under the financial emergency legislation introduced by the present Government, the Commonwealth Arbitration Court has dealt with those employees and has really implemented ‘the reductions then made, so that they become an award of the Arbitration Court, with which the Government now says it will not interfere. As an’ example of what has happened, I may cite the position of locomotive cleaners. In 1930, they were in receipt of 15s. 6d. a. day; to-day they are getting 10s. 6d. Their weekly wage has come clown from £4 13s. to £3 3s. - a reduction of 30s. a week, or 32 per cent., made up of 22 per cent, cost-of-living reduction, and 10 per cent, reduction of real wages. No one contemplated, when the 10 per cent, reduction of real wages was applied by the Arbitration Court to Commonwealth railways employees, that they would also be required to suffer future cost-of-living reductionsToday, those cleaners receive 7s. a week less than was provided for under the plan laid down by the original Financial Emergency Act. Firemen, drivers, and all other men in the service of the Commonwealth Railways, also have suffered additional reductions since 1931. lu my opinion, there is no reason’ for the withholding of some measure of restoration, at least equal to that provided for in the budget in the case of other Commonwealth employees, inadequate though we consider that restoration to be.
– Simple justice demands it.
– The only point made by the Government is that it will not interfere with an award of the Arbitration Court. It is not asked to do so. The awards of tho court fix a minimum wage, and there is nothing in the arbitration law which prevents an employer from paying a greater amount; in fact, a number of agreements have been made for the payment of a higher wage than the minimum awarded by the court. Some employers declined to make the 10 per cent, cut in real wages that the court awarded. The Commonwealth Government is the employer of these men, and may pay whatever amount it likes in excess of the minimum wage laid down by the court. Some of the men are carrying on the important work of the railways service under extremely difficult conditions, in the desert and outback parts of the continent. I regret that the representations which have been made to the Government by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green), and I believe also by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) and other honorable members, have not been heeded. I had hoped that the amount proposed te be appropriated included provision for the partial restoration of the wages of these employees, but the reply given by the Prime Minister to a question on the subject revealed that that was not so. The sum involved is not large. All employees of the Commonwealth who have .suffered the 10 per cent, cut, in addition to all the cost of living reductions, ought to be treated similarly. As a test, I move -
That the amount be reduced by fi.
I wish this amendment, if carried, to be regarded by the Government as an instruction to grant to Commonwealth railway employees a restoration of wages equal to that provided for in the budget in the case of members of the Commonwealth Public Service.
Mr. LATHAM (Kooyong- AttorneyGeneral) 1 4. 4J. - Commonwealth railway employees are working under an award of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, to which applications for a restoration of wages are to be made by a large number of organizations, including, I presume, the organization to which these employees belong. It is expected that those applications will be heard early in the new year. The fixation* of wages that are governed by awards is left entirely to the court, but additional provision has been made so that higher wages may be paid if that necessity should arise.
– I consider that the request of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Seullin) is the most reasonable that could be made. The right honorable gentleman has not suggested that the restoration of wages which he seeks is adequate. No one so regards it. But, in the circumstances, a precedent having been established, the least the Government could do is to extend to Commonwealth railway employees the same measure of consideration, that has already been given by the budget to all other public servants. It is argued that, as the wages of these employees are fixed by the Arbitration Court, the restoration, of the cut that they have suffered is a matter for the court. During the last three weeks an industrial tribunal in. New South Wales has reduced the basic wage in that State by 2s. a week. Many employers have refused to apply the cut, and in some cases the State Governmentis counterbalancing it. by means of a rebate or other payments, because it is considered that this reduction is by no means justified. Therefore, the argument that the court must deal with the matter, if examined closely, will be found not to hold water. There is nothing to prevent the restoration of at, least a portion of the wages lost by Commonwealth railway employees if the Government, is prepared to make it. Because of that fact, I have much pleasure in supporting the amendment of the Leader of the Opposition. Other employees of the Commonwealth, with respect to whom similar action ought to be taken, are those who are engaged at Garden Island. If the way is being paved for this restoration, I suggest that it should ‘operate from the date from which the benefit has been enjoyed by the Public Service generally. Such action by the Government would convince us of its sincerity.
.- I wish first to compliment the Commissioner of Commonwealth Railways and his staff on the improved position disclosed in the last annual report. That losses have been substantially reduced without impairing the .efficiency of the organization is a matter for congratulation. The complaint is made that the granting of extremely low freights on the transAustralian railway has the effect of discriminating against traders in Western Australia. Valuable trading opportunities are presented by the existing activity on the Kalgoorlie gold-fields. The coastal belt of Western Australia, which, by reason of its geographical position, i3 entitled to derive the advantage, is deprived of that trade, because the freights charged by the Commonwealth Railways are no greater than those charged on the railways of Western Australia for a distance only a quarter as great. It may be argued that the Railway Department of the State can remedy the position by reducing its rates. I propose, however, to give comparative figures, which show that the freights charged by the Commonwealth Railways discriminate against Western Australia. The principal item involved is beer, of which about 1,000 tons are carried annually from eastern States to Kalgoorlie. Towards the end of 1931, an arrangement was made between the Richmond Brewery Company, of Melbourne, and the Railway Departments of Victoria, South Australia and the Commonwealth, under which beer is Carried from Melbourne to Kalgoorlie - n distance of .1,800 miles - at the extremely low rate of £7 10s. a ton, which is considerably below the rates that prevail in the States. It is difficult to see how it can be made to pay. The Railway Department of
Victoria, receives £1 4.s. a ton for that portion of the carriage from Melbourne to the border of South Australia, at Serviceton, a distance of 287 miles. Yet for the ordinary carriage of beer from Melbourne to Serviceton, the rates charged by the Victorian department are -£3 7s. a ton on the up journey and £4 1 SS. 6d. a ton on the down journey. Under a similar arrangement, the charge for the carriage of beer from Adelaide to Kalgoorlie is £6 15s. a ton, of which the South Australian Government receives £1 4s. 3d. a ton for that portion of the journey from Adelaide to Port Augusta, a distance of 260 miles. Yet the rate charged for the ordinary carriage of beer from Adelaide to Port Augusta is £4 12s. a ton. For the carriage of beer a distance of 1,310 miles, the Governments of the Commonwealth and South Australia charge £6 15,s. a ton, but within South Australia the charge for approximately half that distance is £9 Ils. a ton. F or the carriage of the beer over the 1,051 miles of the trans-Australian line, from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie, the Commonwealth Railways receive £4 10s. Id. n ton. The charge for carrying beer a distance of 1,000 miles is £11 14s. Sd. in New South Wales, and £16 10s. Sd. in Queensland. I understand that preferential rates arc charged on certain New South Wales railways in an endeavour to defeat South Australia’s claim to Broken Hill trade, but even those rates are higher than those which the Commonwealth Railways Department is charging on the Trans-Australian railway. Moreover, the Commonwealth Railways Department is carrying empty beer barrels from Kalgoorlie to Melbourne at rates based on measurement rather than on weight, which means that the freight must be almost negligible. Complaints have also been made concerning the freights charged on general goods and dairy produce such as eggs, butter, cheese and bacon produced in South Australia, and carried to Kalgoorlie, a distance of 1,310 miles, at the same rates nt which similar goods are carried in South Australia for only one-half that distance.
– Perhaps the shipping competition is a factor.
– It is not that. The Commonwealth Railways Department is endeavouring to take the traffic which should be handled by the Western Australian railways. The commodities I have mentioned, as being carried to Kalgoorlie by the Commonwealth railways at cheap freights, are all produced in Western Australia. Normally, Western Australian producers would have the advantage of the Kalgoorlie market, butunder the system now in operation a good deal of their trade in those commodities is destroyed.
– There appears to he a decided preference on the part of consumers for Richmond beer.
– That may be so, but the. preferential freights charged by the Commonwealth railways are instrumental in defeating the legitimate claims of the Perth brewers to the gold-fields beer trade. It is only fair to say that the freights now charged on general goods were .fixed some years ago when Western Australian traders were anxious to obtain goods from the Eastern States at the lowest possible price, but many of the com modi ties now carried at low rates are at present being produced in Western Australia, and the preferential railway rates are disadvantageous to Western Australian producers. I do not think that any defensible position can be taken up by the Commonwealth railways with respect to the low freight rates charged on beer The preference now afforded is contrary to the Constitution which provides that trade between States shall be absolutely free. Moreover, the Constitution provides that an interstate commission shall be appointed, and although such a body functioned for some time it has leng ceased to operate. Section 19 of the actunder which the Interstate Commission was appointed reads -
It shall not be lawful for any State, or for any State railway authority, to give or make upon any railway the property of the State, in respect of interstate commerce, or so as to affect suCh commerce, any preference or discrimination, which is undue and unreasonable, or unjust to any State.
Under the preferential rates now charged Western Australia is not receiving fair treatment. On several occasions I have been informed by the Minister for the
Interior that the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner is not prepared to do anything in the matter. In the absence of an interstate commission, which would deal with matters of this kind, it is the responsibility of the Government to undertake the work which that commission would do, and thus prevent unfair discrimination. I trust that the Minister will give this matter his further careful consideration in the interests of the Western Australian people.
– I desire to reply briefly to the matters raised by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) and the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) concerning the action taken by the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner with respect to the railway employees under his control. The Commonwealth Railways Commissioner controls railways in the Federal Capital Territory, in Northern Australia and the Transcontinental railway. The reductions of wages of employees on the Northern Australian and Federal Capital Territory railways have been partially restored, but employees engaged on the East-West line and on the line from Oodnadatta to Alice Springs have not benefited by any restoration. Provision has been made in the Estimates for the payment of an additional amount if they should approach the court and the courtdecides in their favour.
– What if the men should not win the case?
– The court might restore o per cent, instead of 2£ per cent, of their wages, in which case the Government would have to provide an additional amount. The Government must abide by the decision of the court.
From time to time the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Nairn) and other honorable members have brought under my notice the freight charges on the Trans-Australian railway, which they contend are detrimental to Western Australian trading interests. Recently, Mr. Simms, the secretary of the Commonwealth Railways* visited Canberra and conferred with honorable members interested in this subject, when the whole matter was discussed. Practically every honorable member, including the honor-‘ able member for Perth, left the meeting satisfied that the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner is not deliberately cutting the freights in order to interfere with the trade of any State. The existing rates have been in force for many years and I do not think that there is any prospect of an alteration being made. The matter will, however, receive the careful consideration of the Government from time to time.
, that the amount of the vote be reduced by £1, which, if carried, is to be regarded as an instruction to the Government to grant Commonwealth railway employees the same restoration of wages granted to other Commonwealth employees on the cost of living adjustment. As mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition, I have brought this matter before the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Perkins) on previous occasions, and my request has been supported by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) and other honorable members. I trust that the Government will reconsider its decision, and place the employees engaged on the Trans-Australian railway on the same basis as Commonwealth railways employees in the Federal Capital Territory where the conditions of employment are much better.
– They are controlled by a. different act.
– That is so. The cost of living deduction in their case has been restored but employees on the TransAustralian line have not received the same consideration. The Government is determined to resist the claims of the men and is asking them to approach the court. Why should Commonwealth railway employees working in most remote parts of the Commonwealth be placed in a less favorable position than those employed on the Commonwealth railway in the Federal Capital Territory? Why cannot the Government make a gracious gesture in matters of this kind and restore to these men their wages and allowances without- compelling them to go to the Arbitration
Court which they may not be able to approach for months? Even when their case is heard the decision of the court may be against them. The position is so unfair that I ask the Minister to review the whole matter, and to treat these men in the same way as Commonwealth railway employees in the Federal Capital Territory have been treated, because, being nearer to the Seat of Government, they are able to make their voices heard. The award applying to employees engaged on the Trans-Australian railway prescribes that their wages may be reduced by 10 per cent, until otherwise ordered by the court, which means that the basic wage paid to these men has been reduced from 11s. 2d. to 9s.11d. a day. Moreover, annual leave, which has never previously been contested in any other department, can be granted only at the discretion of the Commissioner. If the State Arbitration Court awarded certain rates of pay to the men engaged in the mining industry, but left it to the discretion of the mine-owners to say under what conditions their employees should . work, what would honorable members think of such an award? In the circumstances, I trust that the Government will not wait until these men are compelled to go to the court as the amount involved, and for which provision is already made in the Estimates, cannot be large. Meetings of protest have been held at Port Augusta and at Kalgoorlie, where the town councils have also strongly urged the Government to place these men on the same basis as other Commonwealth employees. The Government should be an ideal employer and treat its employees fairly, and thus give a lead to ether employers who may be disposed to reduce wages or to impose unnecessarily harsh conditions.
– The North Australia railway seems to be the most remarkable business undertaking conducted by any government. The cost of the line’ was £2,758,139, the maintenance costs, salaries and wages amount to £38,843 annually, and the yearly interest charge is £129,706; yet the revenue received from this railway is the insignificant sum of £22,612 per annum.
– The time allotted for the consideration of this part of the Estimates has expired.
Question - That the amount he reduced by’£1 (Mr. Scullin’s amendment) - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. Bell.)
Majority . . . . 21
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed vote put and agreed to.
Postmaster-General’s Department (Proposed vote, £8,881,650) - Territories of the Commonwealth (Proposed vote, £435,120).
. - I regret the limitation of this debate, but I propose to give a few facts which should save a considerable amount of discussion concerning the department which I administer.
Motion (by Mr. James) proposed -
That the honorable member bi: not further heard.
– I rise to a point of order. Can that motion be accepted when the “ guillotine “ is in operation ?
– There is a diversity of opinion as to whether part c of the Standing Order, which deals with the closure, should be applied when a limited time has been allotted for debate, as on the present occasion. Part, a of the Standing Order reads -
Thu closure adopted by the House on thu 23rd November, 1805, shall not apply to any proceedings in respect of which time lias been allotted in pursuance of this Standing Order.
Part c, which was adopted on a subsequent date, provides that a motion may be submitted that a member who .is speaking be no longer heard. It seems to me that the portion of the Standing Order which states that the closure may not. be applied when a time limit is in operation does not apply to a motion that an honorable member be no longer heard. I am therefore bound to accept the motion
– -I am prepared to with- dra.iv it.
Motion - by leave - withdrawn.
– I have figures before me showing a financial improvement, in the various branches of the Postal Department. During the first four months of the present financial year, the telephone revenue was approximately £44,000 more than that recorded in the corresponding period of last year, and it represents an increase of 2.5 per cent. The revenue from telegraphs during the same period shows an increase of £12,000, or 3.45 per cent.; while the revenue from the postal services has increased by £100,110, or 5.7 per cent. The 11 Unl,ber of wireless listeners’ licences issued also shows a substantial increase, the figures for the first four months of the year being 208,066, as against 169,000 for the corresponding period last year. The revenue retained by the department from this source increased from £77,401 to £94,626. Honorable members may ask whether, in view of that improvement, the Government proposes to reduce the cost of postal services, particularly the ordinary letter rate, which was increased some time ago from ld. to 2d. When that increase was made, the Postmaster-General of the day (Mr. Lyons), stated -
The justification for this measure is the urgent necessity to raise portion of the money that must be found under the budget proposals. In normal circumstances, we should not be submitting a bill to increase the postal rates, because we feel that the Postal Department should not be used as a taxing machine. But these are not normal times. It is absolutely essential that additional revenue he raised from the postal service if we are to avoid further collection by way of direct taxation.
I subscribe entirely to the view that the post, office should not be a taxing machine, although in Great, Britain and some other countries, much of the money received for postal services is paid into the Consolidated Revenue. The greater part of the revenue obtained from postage, of course, is paid, not by the masses of the people, but by the commercial interests ; but, in view of the concessions already made to those interests, the time is inopportune for further reductions of their rates.
Representations have been made to me by practically every honorable member as to the necessity to grant free wireless listeners’ licences to the blind. In. recent years several progressive countries have recognized the exceptional disabilities of the blind by granting to them free licences for the reception of broadcast programmes. In Australia, the position has been examined on several occasions, but, largely owing to administrative difficulties, and the embarrassing discrimination likely to arise in connexion with other sufferers and aged, indigent persons, the concession of free licences for the blind has hitherto been withheld. There are in Australia about 3,200 blind persons, of whom 300 are minors, and, of the total number, roughly 2,000 receive pensions from the Commonwealth Government. These grants are made by the Pensions Department after careful investigation, and are given only to indigent blind persons who do not reside in, institutions. Since the wireless broadcasting service has been nationalized, and an apportionment of the fees obtained from licences to the companies previously operating the main broadcasting service, and to the Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited in respect of patent royalties is no longer necessary, a further examination of the position has been undertaken. . I am pleased to be able to inform the House that, as the result of this review, it has been found possible to make arrangements for the issue of free broadcast listeners’ licences to blind persons. These new arrangements have been under consideration for some time, and will take effect from the 1st January next.
The rates charged for residence telephone Services have also been under consideration. The department has been endeavouring for some time past to find the means for the introduction of a lower tariff in respect of telephone services con-, necting private residences in. the capital cities. Such a plan has become more pressing as the result of the higher telephone charges imposed in these areas three years ago, and as a consequence of the reduced earning capacity of the community generally, and of the cancellations of service, with the contingent growth of idle plant. Unfortunately, largely owing to the heavy exchange payments on the interest payable upon loan money, there is at present a. deficit on the telephone account, and consequently there has been hesitancy to embark on- any plan for’ reduced charges; but the detailed studies undertaken have resulted in the completion of a scheme which, while offering some relief to those wavering on. the question of retaining or cancelling their services, also affords an inducement to other potential small users to become regular subscribers to the system. It is proposed to offer residence users a reduction of the annual rental by £1, and in respect of the first 960 calls originated yearly to increase the fee from1¼d. to1½d. per call. After that number of calls has been made in any one year a charge of1¼d. per call will be imposed for the remaining calls made during the year. There are approximately 95,000 residence services existing in the metropolitan networks, and 75 per cent, of these now make less than 960 calls each annually, consequently the revised arrangements will affect 70,000 subscribers. It will be observed that the proposal makes it possible for a residence subscriber to have a telephone in his dwelling for £1 per annum less than is the case at present, but that the advantage gradually diminishes until it disappears when the number of originating calls in any one year reaches a total of 960. Wherever the number of calls exceeds this figure, the charges are similar to those now current. The alteration will involve the department in an immediate loss of revenue of about £35,000 per annum, assuming it does not result in new services being ordered. It is believed, however, that the nature of the change will help considerably to popularize the use of the telephone, to stimulate development in residential areas, and thus lead to an expansion of business generally. It, will consequently assist to re-absorb into productive use equipment now lying idle because of the depression. In certain cases the department has arranged for the issue of telephone accountsat quarterly intervals instead of half-yearly, and this plan will be extended as an additional inducement for the continuance of existing small users of the service, and willbe of assistance in acquiring new business of a similar character. One of the main objects which the departmenthas in view in making these adjustments is to restore to use many telephone instruments which, in consequence of. the depression, have been disconnected from residences and placed in store. It is hoped that the re-adjustment of charges will cause many people to review their circumstances, and re-install a telephone.
– What is being done for countrv subscribers?
– When the rental for instruments in use in the metropolitan areas was increased in 1929, no corresponding increase was made for instruments in use in country districts.
– But the area of city services was increased by an extension of the radius by 10 miles.
– It seems to me that city subscribers will gain no real advantage from the re-adjustment.
– The honorable member is in error in that regard, for every subscriber who originates less than 960 calls a year will reap some advantage. It will take 960 calls to recoup the department for the reduction of £1 which is being made in the rental charge. I admit that to some extent the alteration is more of a readjustment than a reduction of charges, the main purpose being to encourage more people to connect with the telephone system, and so provide work in the reconditioning of equipment that has been out of use for some time. But it is also true that all subscribers who make less than 960 calls a year will reap an advantage.
– A person who makes twenty calls a week will be neither better nor worse off.
– That is so.
The Government has not, however, forgotten the subscribers connected with , small telephone exchanges. During the last two years, the extension of hours of service at exchanges where business has increased has been held in abeyance because of the economic conditions. Meanwhile a comprehensive investigation has been undertaken to find ways and means of improving the facilities afforded to users in the areas of comparatively small population density. Hitherto, apart from the group of exchanges large enough to enjoy continuous service, there have been two - main groups provided with service -
It is proposed to introduce an additional classification for adoption at those places where there is a reasonable amount of business, but not sufficient to warrant the expense incurred in giving continuous service. This classification will cover service from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. from Mondays to Saturdays, with a weekly half-holiday, and one hour’s service on Sundays and holidays. It is also intended to ease the restrictions imposed during the last two years so that, in all those cases where there is justification as a result of the volume of business offering, exchanges may be transferred from one classification to another in which the longer hours of service may be enjoyed. It is estimated that 200 exchanges will benefit at the outset under the revised conditions. The additional immediate cost to the department will be about £5,000 per annum. The innovation will, however, enhance the popularity of the service in country districts, and inevitably lead to the increased use of the existing plant which has a margin for the carrying of additional traffic.
-Will the PostmasterGeneral consider extending the hours from an hour earlier to an hour later each day?
– I am quite prepared to consider that suggestion.
An extension of the rural automatic telephone facilities is also contemplated. Tenders have been called for the supply of additional rural automatic telephone equipment, and it is hoped to proceed during the current financial year with approximately 30 installations. The precise number will depend largely on the result of the tenders. In the initial stages, it is intended to install this automatic equipment at exchanges where the development is approaching the stage which normally justifies extended or continuous hours of service; that is, where approximately 40 subscribers are connected.” The number of installations to be undertaken this year will also be dependent upon the speed with which deliveries can be made after the tenders have been actually let. The approximate cost of the provision and installation of a 50-line unit is expected to be in the region of from £1,000 to £1,200.
Representations have frequently been made to me to convert city manual exchanges into automatic exchanges, but todo so ‘ involves an expenditure of from £40,000 to £60,000 in each case, and the department has been compelled to adhere to its policy of persevering with all manual exhanges capable of rendering several years more of reasonably effective service. It is felt that in times like these such exchanges should not be scrapped.
The remuneration of non-official postmasters has been reviewed by the Government. In the great majority of cases, the post office work at these non-official post offices is of small magnitude, whilst the revenue is, comparatively speaking, low; and it is the practice to place these offices, as far as practicable, only in the hands of persons who have an independent means of livelihood, distinct from the remuneration they receive for the performance of postal work. Usually, the office is placed in the charge of some one who is able to conduct it in conjunction with some business or calling which necessitates attendance at the premises in which the office is located. Payment to non-official postmasters is made on the basis of evaluated work units, with reasonable allowances for ineffective time, accommodation, lighting, cleaning, and so on, readjustments being made annually, in accordance with any fluctuations in the volume of the work. The whole system was exhaustively reviewed in 1927, and re-adjustments then made in the conditions in favour of the non-official postmasters resulted in additional allowances being paid to the extent of £90,000 per annum. Unfortunately, in the last two or three years, owing to the falling off in business, many postmasters have suffered a reduction of their remuneration; but recently traffic has shown a decided upward tendency, and this will automatically restore some of the loss of income which they thus suffered. Following upon the passing of the Financial Emergency Act relating to the salaries of permanent public servants, the non-official postmasters were called upon to share in the sacrifices, but the reductions imposed were on a much lower scale than those applied to the permanent staff, and were arranged on a sliding scale commencing at the low rate of 2^ per cent. The restoration of a portion of the cut recently decided upon by the Government will immediately benefit the non-official postmasters to the extent of £20,000 per annum.
– Is the restoration being made in the same ratio as the reduction was made?
– To a considerable extent.
I come now to the subject of the remuneration of semi-official postmasters. There are at present 70 semi-official post, offices in operation, and the postmasters thereat, together with subordinate members of the staff, suffered a reduction in salary by the application of the provisions of the Financial Emergency Act, since when semi-official postmasters have been paid at the following rates: -
The semi-official postmasters and their staffs will share in the salary restorations on the same basis as officers of the permanent staff, and in the case of the postmasters, the annual salary, as from the 12th October, 1933, will be £196 ls. for males, and £160 lis. for females.
The department is fully alive to the desirability of establishing additional national broadcasting stations to provide a better service to areas hitherto not adequately catered for. Originally, the national stations were located in the various State capital cities, but some years ago, a policy of expansion was launched; the equipment at many of the then existing establishments was improved, and new stations were provided at Newcastle and Corowa, New South Wales ; Rockhampton, Queensland; and Crystal Brook, South Australia. Owing, however, to the acute financial stringency in more recent years, this developmental scheme was, perforce, for the time being arrested; but within the last twelve mouths conditions hare improved sufficiently to permit of the national broadcasting service being further extended in accordance with a carefullyprepared plan, upon completion of which the populated areas of the Commonwealth will be provided with a good radio service. The department, has accordingly now embarked upon an extensive construction programme to the limit of present financial resources, embracing seven new stations, all in areas requiring urgent attention. The districts in which these stations will be located are Grafton and Dubbo, New South Wales; Sale and Nhill-Murtoa, Victoria;
Townsville, Queensland; KatanningWagin. Western Australia.’; and Launceston, Tasmania. Tenders, which have already been dealt with, indicate that the cost of the Grafton, Sale, Townsville and Launceston stations will be approximately £70,000. Tenders closed on the 14th instant for the remaining three Stations, the cost of which it is anticipated will be proportionately much the same as for the first four - £40,000. It, will, therefore, be seen that the seven new stations in question will cost something in the neighbourhood of £110,000. These new stations will be erected and put into service as quickly as possible, and should not be regarded merely as relay or repeating stations, intended to. serve some particular town. They are, in fact, powerful installations, the sites for which are chosen so that the service areas embrace many towns and their surrounding districts.
The only other matter to which I shall refer is the Tasmanian telephone cable. A recent careful estimate of the probable traffic shows that the following channels will be required : -
It is anticipated that the submarine cable will provide all the channels required for fifteen years after installation. The cost of the work was estimated at £.180,000 when the proposal received the concurrence of the Public Works Committee, but since that time the price of metals has fallen substantially, possibly more than sufficient to offset the exchange which would have to be paid for cable purchased overseas. The estimated revenue from the submarine cable scheme is £8,033 in the first year, rising to £13,267 in the fifth, £20,800 in the tenth, and £26,4.60 in the fifteenth years. Although the project, cannot be expected to be financially self-supporting for a fewyears, the contribution may be a small price to pay considering the commercial and social benefits which should result, and the gratification with which such a federal gesture is being received by the people of Tasmania.
It will be realized that the work is of some magnitude. Tenders, which close on the 13th March, 1934, have been invited for the supply, delivery, and installation of the cable and associated equipment. , The matter has caused keen interest on the part of large firms which undertake works of this nature, some of which, it is understood, contemplate sending representatives to Australia to study the local conditions before submitting tenders. I am glad to be occupying the position of Postmaster-General at a time when Parliament has decided to proceed with this great national work of linking Tasmania with the mainland by means of a telephone cable.
– Is it anticipated that the material for this work will be purchased overseas?
– That information will be disclosed by the tenders. Whatever work can be adequately and efficiently carried out iu Australia, . with due regard to cost, will be done here; but I understand that cables are unobtainable locally. With the carrier system, the type of machinery used makes a tremendous difference to the efficiency of the service; but I have no doubt that the construction and other work will afford considerable employment in Australia.
– Are new post offices being built?
– The expenditure of money on the building of post offices has ceased, comparatively speaking, for some time past. The present policy is to utilize every available penny for the provision of services. If we constructed a huge or ornate building at a cost of, say, £5,000, we should be using money which could be more profitably used in extending the telephone service.
– Is it proposed not to build any new post offices this year?
– As a continual improvement is, at present, being manifested in the various departments, the time is not far distant when new post offices should be provided at places which are urgently iu need of them. As a matter of fact, I have called for a report, showing essential and imperative works, and one showing the most urgent work that should be undertaken when money is available. On the receipt, of i.hose reports I propose to submit proposals to the Government for the expenditure of additional money on necessary buildings which will enhance the efficiency of the postal service.
– Has the department sewered postal buildings in some of the more important provincial towns?
Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL.Yes; and electric light installations have been provided wherever possible. If 1 have no opportunity to reply to matters raised by honorable members, a careful note will be taken from the Hansard report, and written replies forwarded to the honorable members concerned.
.- With the buoyancy in post and telegraph revenue, it was only to be expected that some small concessions would be given to the users of this great public service; but, when we examine the concessions outlined by the Postmaster-General (Mr. Parkhill), we find that, in reality, they are not very considerable. A reduction of fi per annum is being made in telephone rentals in the metropolitan areas; but there is a catch in that, because the cost per call up to 060 calls has been increased from lid. to lid. Therefore, a subscriber with 960 calls will be in the same position as before. A subscriber with 480 calls will receive a concession of 10s. per annum, and one with 600 calls will receive a concession of only 5s. per annum. I am sorry that even this small concession has not been extended to the users of telephones in country districts.
– That could not lie done.
– Many of the outback people are in financial difficulties owing to the collapse of the overseas markets for their exportable products. The producer* generally have been experiencing a very lean time, even more so than the users of telephones in the cities, who consist principally of commercial and business men in highly-paid positions. The members of the middle class generally are not in such urgent, need of relief as are the hundreds and thousands of struggling people in the back-blocks of Australia.
The Postmaster-General has referred to the establishment of automatic telephone exchanges, and I know that, over a number of years, considerable progress has been made in that direction. The establishment of these exchanges has displaced many telephonists in the manual telephone exchanges, and I sincerely hope that the Postmaster-General will arrange that these girls are not dismissed from the Service but are absorbed in other branches of the post office such as the sales and mail branches. I know that, for a. number of years prior to the establishment of certain big automatic exchanges, telephonists were appointed only in a temporary capacity so that they could be dismissed when the establishment of automatic exchanges made their services unnecessary.
I am pleased that a progressive policy is being carried out in respect of the provision of broadcasting stations. The Postmaster-General has indicated a number of centres at, which, broadcasting stations will be established, but there are still a number of areas in Australia which are not adequately served. When the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) was Postmaster-General, a broadcasting station was established at Rockhampton, and it has done great, service by bringing within the ambit of broadcasting thousands of people in Central and Northern Queensland. It has now been decided to establish a station at Townsville. The town of Bundaberg, in my electorate, is a. progressive centre with a population of 12,000 in the township itself. The surrounding district is also thickly populated. Unfortunately, Bundaberg has Jio broadcasting station. I have made representations to the PostmasterGeneral for additional broadcasting facilities and recently received from him a long reply in which he stated -
Owing to the importance of tho Bundaberg area it is recognized that the construction programme must soon embrace the districts of interest to it. It is, however, to be remembered that the department has now embarked upon a. large construction programme to the limit of present financial resources, namely, seven new stations, all in areas requiring urgent attention. Although Bundaberg will not be within the strong service area of any of these stations it can be said that, nevertheless, reception conditions, particularly after nightfall, will ‘be at least improved by one or more of the new stations.
The Minister himself recognizes that Bundaberg is in a fading area. It would greatly increase the revenue of the department if a station were built within that area to serve, not only Bundaberg, but also tie whole of the surrounding district. Night reception alone is not altogether satisfactory, although it is better than nothing. A large number of country people are anxious to have the latest weather and market reports. There is no doubt that an up-to-date broadcasting service brings about a great improvement in the living conditions of the country people.
I listened with interest to the remarks of the Postmaster-General regarding allowance postmasters and postmistresses. They are receiving a small restoration of the reductions of the salaries imposed some time ago, under the financial emergency legislation, but it must not be forgotten that this section of the community, which numbers many thousands, is overworked and underpaid. I regret that the PostmasterGeneral has been unable to formulate a scheme under which these officers could be more adequately remunerated. In many instances their duties- are much more arduous than those of postmasters in large areas, because practically the whole of the ..work at the small country office devolves upon one individual. They are most obliging officers, and give wonderful service to residents in country districts. They work back after hours on Saturdays and Sundays to meet the convenience of the public. I ask the Postmaster-General (Mr. Parkhill) to give further consideration to their claims, and either alter the basis upon which they are remunerated, or increase the percentage they receive. At the present time, they are over-worked and under-paid.
The department frequently turns down applications for the extension of telephone and postal facilities on the ground that the revenue would not justify the expenditure. I represent an electorate as large as the whole of Victoria, and I know what a boon the telephone is to the coun- try people, and how necessary it is that proper postal facilities be provided. It is important that those living in isolated districts should be able to ring up their neighbours or business people in their local towns to order provisions, or to ascertain rainfalls or marketing condi- t tions. The department should be more considerate to applications for improved facilities, particularly now that revenue is improving.
The department should, if possible, let contracts to Australian firms for the erection of broadcasting stations, so that Australian material will, so far as possible, be used, and Australian workmen employed. There was a time, admittedly, when it was necessary to go outside Australia to get technical work of this kind properly done, but we have learned a great deal during the last few years.
At the present time, 900 men over the age of 21 years are employed by the Postmaster-General’s Department at less than the basic wage. It will be said that the alternative to paying less than the basic wage was to dismiss them from the Service altogether, but I do not believe that dismissal is the only alternative. It is the responsibility of the department to find employment for them at the full basic wage, because the present practice is the direct negation of our accepted industrial arbitration system. Discussing this subject, the Public Service Arbitrator said -
The analysis made of the staffing position in the Postmaster-General’s Department, however, indicates that that department, as » whole, is not over-manned … As to the future, the financial outlook for Australia is not so black as to preclude an expectation of a reasonable improvement in business . . . An increase in the demand for telephone services for example (many thousands were cancelled in the depression), will result in mechanics and lines staff being recalled from the positions in which they are temporarily acting, and so permit of the placing of adult males now employed on minor duties. In all the circumstances the surmise is ventured that dismissal from the Service is not the inevitable alternative to the retention of the principle of payment of the basic wage to male adults.
– The department is absorbing these employees as quickly as possible.
– I am glad to hear it, and an effort should be made to absorb the rest of them without further delay. When it was first proposed to employ adults for less than the basic wage, the Attorney-General (Mr. Latham) sought to justify it by drawing a comparison between journeymen and these young POSt office employees. I remind honorable members, however, that it was not a real comparison, because journeymen receive considerably more than the basic wage. Some of these men are now 26 years old, yet they are receiving 12s. a week less than the basic wage of £3 6s. lid. Some of them are married, and they cannot possibly be expected to keep a family on that wage. Now that concessions are being granted to other sections of the community, something should be done for them.
.- I desire to protest against the action of the department in reducing the number of hours during which telephone exchanges remain open in country centres where the volume of business has declined. I have here a letter, dated the 21st October, from the Deputy Director of Posts and Telegraphs, in the course of which he states -
T have to advise that in consequence nf a serious decline in Iiic revenue receipts from Wynarka exchange the annual amount now obtained is not sufficient to justify the department in continuing the existing schedule of hours, and unless the subscribers aro prepared to defray the expense of providing the additional attendance, viz. :- £20 per annum. Wynarka exchange will be closed in future at (i p.m., instead of 8 p.m. ‘[.’lie alteration will take place in one month’s time from this date.
This township of Wynarka is typical of many others in the wheat belt. It is in the Mallee, and honorable members do not need to be reminded that the Mallee farmers are going through a very severe experience at the present time. They are usually employed in the fields all day, and the only opportunity they have of conversing with one another is between 6 o’clock and 8 o’clock in the evening. If the exchange is closed between those hours there is not much inducement for them to subscribe for a telephone, and many of them will do without one. The department should not be too severe on them.
– The honorable member may rest assured that they will not be treated severely.
– Unfortunately, there are regulations which the department insists upon enforcing. These farmers represent a deserving section of the community. [Quorum formed.] The next case which has been brought under my notice is that of the Eden Valley exchange, in connexion with which the following letter was sent out by the department : -
T have to advise that in consequence of a serious decline iu revenue receipts from Eden Valley telephone exchange the annual amount now obtained is not sufficient to justify the department iu continuing the existing schedule of hours, and, unless the subscribers are prepared to contribute the amount of the deficiency which is estimated at £14 per annum, it will be necessary to withdraw’ continuous service from Eden Valley exchange. The alteration will take place in one month’s time from this date. However, if the subscribers are prepared to enter into a guarantee to make good the actual deficiency in revenue continuous service will be retained. The guarantee must lie supported by a cash contribution equal to the estimated deficiency for one year and must be renewed annually. The financial position will be reviewed at the end of each twelve months and if the revenue shows an increase or decrease the amount of contribution will be assessed accordingly.
This is not a wheat-growing district, but the people are primary producers. Many of them are engaged in the growing of grapes, but recently the winery in the district was closed, and, because it is a long way to cart the grapes to another winery, and owing” to the existence of a crisis in the industry, many of the growers have” had the grapes left on their vines. It is a high altitude district, and, the season before last being unusually wet, the people were not able to dry their currants. It can be seen, therefore, that they are deserving of sympathetic treatment. The department asks that a. sum of £14 be guaranteed if the exchange is to remain open continuously. If the money is not forthcoming the service will be reduced; but whether the exchange will be closed at 10 o’clock, at 8 o’clock, or 6 o’clock, I do not know. At present there are about 40 subscribers. I have advised them to try to raise the money, but I do not think that they should be pressed for it, having regard to the fact that telephone revenue has improved by £12,000 within the last three months. When the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) was Postmaster-General in the Scullin Government, I remember discussing with him and Mr. Brown the need which existed for new post offices in rural districts. Mr. Brown said that, unless the Government ordered him to do so, he would not countenance the erection of new buildings in such areas, because he favoured the English system of transacting postal business through the medium of shopkeepers. But those who have had experience of country districts know that postal business is not conducted as satisfactorily through stores as it is through official post offices.
– Especially where there are two storekeepers.
– Precisely. I confidently submit that the public get. better service from official than from allowance post offices. In my own electorate there are three places which urgently need improved postal facilities. The first of those is St. Morris. There, the site for a post office was procured in 1923. St. Morris is in a thickly-populated suburban area, and its people have’ been expecting the erection of a post office for a considerable time. The second place is Edwardstown, and I have no doubt that in this matter I shall be strongly supported by the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Cameron). Edwardstown is situated in a growing district, and although it already possesses postal facilities, they are nor nearly as good as they might be. Then, in the Mallee wheat-growing area, there is the rising town of Wanbi. Upon not one, but several occasions, I have stressed its claim for an official post office building. I am glad of this opportunity to bring these matters under the notice nf the Postmaster-General, but as other honorable members are anxious to speak upon the Estimates for his department, I shall not detain the committee further.
.- I propose to confine my remarks to North and Central Australia. I regret that we have not the slightest information regarding the action the Government intends to take in respect of these areas. During the past seven or eight months, statements have appeared in the press that the Government contemplated handing over a portion of these huge areas to chartered companies, and offering substantial concessions to persons who are willing to embark upon settlement there. Three Ministers who have successively controlled the territory have made visits of inspection to it, and the permanent head of the Department of the Interior recently returned from a comprehensive tour there, yet we have not the slightest indication of what is to be done with Northern and Central Australia. The development of the Northern Territory is a very serious problem, indeed, and one which proved to be beyond the capacity of many governments of South Australia and of Great Britain. It also presents no inconsiderable problem to the Commonwealth. The Northern Territory is the only place that Great Britain definitely failed to colonize. She admitted failure, when she withdrew her outposts from it during the last century. Eventually the territory was taken over by South Australia, because the other colonies realized that its development would impose upon them an unduly heavy burden. However. South Australia pluckily faced the task, but in 1910 was glad to surrender the territory to the Commonwealth. The results which have followed Commonwealth administration have not been of a very encouraging nature. What the Northern Territory has lacked over a period of years has been a settled and continuous policy. Owing to the rapidity with which governments come and go. before a Minister controlling the territory has had time to become acquainted with its problems, he has been displaced from office, and thus his knowledge and experience have been lost to Australia. I believe that the future development of Northern and Central Australia depends almost entirely upon stock raising. The safest method of developing it is by concentrating upon cattle raising. The time has not yet arrived when settlers can embark on sheep raising, because owing to its sparsely watered areas, there is a very great danger that any money they invested in such an enterprise, would be lost. I rose chiefly to urge that consideration should be extended to the holders of large leases. Portions of
Northern Australia comprise excellent country. There is, for example, the Barkly Tableland, but more improvements will need to be effected there before it can be rendered safe for sheep raising. One property in that particular area did embark upon sheep raising, but after a comparatively brief period was compelled to abandon its operations. My own idea is that at present the country is suitable for settlement only in large areas, and that very liberal conditions in respect of stocking and improvements must, be extended to lessees if they are to achieve even moderate success.
One of the greatest barriers to settlement in Northern Australia is the tremendous cost of transport. Honorable members will understand the disabilities to which settlers are subjected when I tell them that flour landed at Brunette Downs, costs £36 16s. a ton, sugar £60 a ton, petrol £1 13s. a case, and kerosene £1 10s. 6d. a case.
Enormous sums have been sunk in the development of the Northern Territory by private enterprise. Since 192S, no less than £54,000 has been expended in developing Brunette Downs which comprises an area of between 8,000 and 10,000 square miles. North of that is the largest cattle station in the world, the Victoria River Downs, which has an area of 14,000 square miles, and carries 160,000 head of cattle. If those cattle are worth only £3 a head, obviously a very large sum has been invested in that property. Then, Vestey Brothers erected extensive meat works in the territory - works in which they sank nearly £1,000,000. Yet, finally ‘they had to close them down. The only way in which the territory can be developed so as to enable settlers to reap the maximum of advantage, is by an improved method of communication, and the only form of communication worth considering is that of a railway linking it up with Queensland. I believe that if the strip of desert country between Camooweal and Cloncurry were bridged by a railway, it would mark the beginning of better times for the territory. Some of the lessees in the territory have told me that when this question of railway communication was put, before a member of the present Go vernment, he said that the best method of moving stock from that country was by means of motor transport. Seeing that some stations are obliged to move as many as 40,000 beasts a year, and that a motor truck could not transport more than six beasts at a time, obviously the Minister did not know what he was talking about.
– I do not think that any Minister made the statement.
– My information came from a very good authority. If the Government intends to allow chartered companies to operate in the territory, this House is entitled to know what the position of existing lessees is to be. Practically all the grazing areas of fair quality in the territory are already subject to leases which will not expire until 1965 or thereabouts. I have no desire to labour this question, but I wish to impress the House with its importance, and with the necessity which exists for the Government doing something with the territory, thereby affording Australia n more adequate defence against possible aggression.
.- All representatives of country districts heard with pleasure the statement, of the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Parkhill) this afternoon that the hours during which country telephone exchanges remain open will be extended. Owing to the depression, the number of subscribers to country telephone exchanges has dropped, and, in consequence of the lessened revenue, the hours during which the exchanges remain open have, in some instances, been reduced, even when the amount involved has been only a few pounds. In a matter so important as the provision of telephone facilities in country districts, the department should not follow a cheeseparing policy. In all probability, the number of subscribers will soon increase sufficiently to justify the exchanges being kept open longer. The action of the department, is having a detrimental effect on its revenue, for many persons would become subscribers if a better service wore provided. The town of Willunga - an important country centre which has a strong claim to a better service than that now provided - has suffered in this connexion, as has also Parilla in the wheat belt. Owing to the rapidity at which the Minister spoke, I found difficulty in following him, but I understood him to say that it is intended that country telephone exchanges shall remain open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. in future. If that is so, the action of the department will be greatly appreciated by country residents. I hope that there will not be too keen a desire on the part of the department to deprive country residents of telephone facilities merely because of a technical noncompliance with certain requirements. I trust that the department will realize that the greater the facilities provided, the greater the volume of business.
I am not aware of the present position in regard to the provision of telephonic communications in country districts, but I know that for several years it has been difficult for country residents to obtain - telephones. “When they have applied to the department for telephones they have been required to supply their own poles and wires. If those conditions still exist, I hope that they will be liberalized.
Some of the official post office residences in my electorate are old and out of date. These dwellings should at least be maintained in a condition equal to that of other residences for which similar rentals are paid. The postmaster’s residence at Mount Gambier is particularly inconvenient, and I ask the Postmaster-General to see what can be done to improve it. The postmaster at Wolseley is in an unfortunate position, there being no suitable residence available for him. I have previously asked that money voted for the relief of unemployment at Wolseley should be devoted to the building of a residence for the postmaster there, but the department could not see its way to accede to my request. Something should be done to ease the position at- that important centre. I support the request of the honorable member for Angus (Mr. Gabb) for better postal facilities at Edwardstown, South Australia. This rapidly developing district should have its own official post office.
The Postmaster-General announced the intention of the department to establish a wireless broadcasting station at Nhill, Victoria. I had hoped that a station would be erected in the south-eastern portion of South Australia, which has now to rely chiefly on programmes from Melbourne. I hope that the station at Nhill will be of such a nature that the people in the south-eastern portion of South Australia will be better served than is now the case.
I compliment the PostmasterGeneral on the forward movement he proposes in connexion with liberalizing the telephone services; and 1 urge him not to reduce the hours during which country telephone exchanges will remain open. I am pleased that he has been able to give further assistance to non-official postmasters and postmistresses, who are doing valuable work in the community.
The residents of Wallsend have requested the restoration of postal facilities which they enjoyed before the Commonwealth took over postal matters from the States, but of which they have been deprived during recent years, on the ground that the business transacted by the post office or letter receivers there does not justify their continuance. It is deplorable that facilities which were enjoyed in pre-federation days should be denied to residents of that town merely because of a temporary depression. Kurri Kurri, with ‘ a population of 12,000 to 14,000 persons, has only one letter delivery each day, although, prior to the lockout of 1929-30, the town had two letter deliveries daily.
My home is at Kurri Kurri, just outside the area which enjoys two deliveries daily, and consequently only one delivery is made to my residence. Honorable members know the volume of correspondence which a member of Parliament receives, and how great a convenience it is to have two deliveries daily. At the request of business people who live outside the area which is served twice daily, I have repeatedly asked for a second delivery, but so far without result. The granting of the request would not mean additional expense, because the postman who would make the second delivery is already engaged in the local post office on other work. T should not have brought this matter forward now had I been able to obtain justice from the department otherwise.
On many occasions I have applied for improved postal facilities for Swansea, which is a fairly large centre, but has no letter delivery, and the telephone service operates only from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The need is urgent for an official post office, and also for an extension of the telephone exchange hours. In fact, the people there are demanding a continuous service, particularly during the holiday period when there is a big influx of population. Since the depression, started, the population has very greatly increased, because a considerable number of miners, who have been cavilled out of the mines, have gone to the lakeside to eke out an existence till conditions in the mining industry improves.
Cardiff, which has a population of approximately 5,000 people is also without an official post office. When I visited that town about eighteen, months ago at the request of the local progress association, there were then in the township 53 telephone subscribers. They have made many applications for an exhange at Cardiff, but so far this concession has been withheld from them. I understand the practice of the department is to install an exchange for 40 or 50 subscribers, so I am at a loss to understand why the request from the Cardiff Progress Association has been ignored. I should explain that, until recently, the subscribers there were attached to three exchanges, namely, Newcastle, Boolaroo and Wallsend. The last named has recently been included in the Newcastle network, so telephone subscribers living at Cardiff may be listed in the Newcastle or Boolaroo exchanges. Consequently, it is difficult, sometimes, to ascertain their numbers or even to find out if they are on the exchange at all. I hope that the Minister will give close attention to the requests from these people as their position certainly, wants an improved service. I have taken this matter up with Mr. Kitto, the Deputy PostmasterGeneral in Sydney, and with departmental inspectors, but always have been informed that requests for an official post office and the local telephone exchange were held up on account of the financial stringency. If the Postmaster-General will be good enough to accompany me on a visit to Cardiff I am sure that he will be impressed with the importance of the locality and will agree that the request which I am making is a reasonable one.
Another matter to which I directattention is the high telephone charges. At a time like this when the incomes of business people and wage-earners have seriously declined, action should be taken by the department to reduce its charges for telephonic and other postal facilities.
I am pleased to learn that the department has agreed to issue free wireless licences to blind persons, and I take this opportunity to congratulate the Minister upon this concession, which I assure him is much appreciated. The same privilege should also be given to aged and infirm people in our public institutions. I have also been requested by the pensioners’ association of New South Wales to ask the Postmaster-General to grant their request for free wireless licences. Undoubtedly they are deserving of consideration because they have served the nation well and have made great sacrifices in the development of this country. They have handed on to posterity a wonderful inheritance, and it is due to them that, in the evening of their lives, they should be able to enjoy some of the comforts of modern civilization. I sincerely hope that the Minister will grant this concession to them.
The cost of new telephone services should ‘be reviewed by the Minister. Prom time to time the department issues propaganda urging business people and private citizens to install telephone services, but it really does not give much encouragement, to new subscribers, in country areas at all events, because it requires them to bear the cost of erecting all new telephone posts in excess of- the first two or three. “Mr. Gibson. - ‘New subscribers in country districts get Mie first 2 miles of line free of charge.
– The honorable member must be i u error, because I know that one subscriber at Toronto was called upon to bear portion of the cost of installation, and was further informed that the whole of the service would become the property of the department. I also know that, from time to time, the Kurri Kurri Golf Club has made representations for a telephone service at the club house, which is only about half a mile from the existing main telephone lines, and has been advised that it will have to bear some part of the cost, of installation, although the club house is only about 1^ miles from the local exchange. This request is one which the department should grant without delay, because the golf club numbers among its members several local doctors, whose services may at any time be urgently needed because of casualties in the mines. The risk of accidents in the coal-mining industry is much greater than in any other avocation, not excepting gold-mining, so it is essential that, if any of the local doctors are at the golf club, they should be in touch by telephone with the local mine’s or hospital, where their services may be required at short notice.
Bellbird is another large town which came prominently under notice some years ago because of the explosion in the local mine, involving the loss of 21 lives. It has no official post office, and no letter or telegram delivery. When. I visit other parts of the State and see splendid postal buildings, and know that all the necessary facilities are provided for towns much smaller than those in my district which I have mentioned, I wonder sometimes what influences have been at work. I hope that the Minister will give careful consideration to my requests, and that the important towns in my district will soon have improved postal and telephonic services.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
– I am of the opinion that postal concessions are not given to constituencies that are regarded as being safely held by either the Labour party or the United Australia party, but are used as “ sops “ in doubtful seats for the purpose of inducing the electors to support a certain candidate. I cannot say whether the first-class -post offices that are to be found in many “ one horse “ country towns were in existence prior to federation. If they were provided when the administration of postal matters wa3 the function of the States, they constitute a reflection upon the facilities provided by the federal authority. It is grossly unfair that the towns which I have mentioned should suffer from the lack of up-to-date services.
The town of West Maitland, which is the centre of the largest subdivision in my electorate, has a decent post office, but Hinton and other adjacent towns have been unable to obtain from the department an improvement of their telephonic facilities. The Postmaster-General (Mr. Parkhill) has admitted that the revenues of the department are becoming more buoyant. Surely, then, it should not be difficult to grant a number of requests for the extension of telephonic facilities! The post office at West Maitland which was built before the federal authority assumed control, has a clock, which at night is not lit.
– Every other municipality knows that it is responsible for the lighting of clocks on public buildings.
– That, I consider, is the duty of the department.
I ask in all sincerity that the PostmasterGeneral consider sympathetically the claim of ex-temporary employees, who to-day are on the dole, to employment during the Christmas rush period, in preference to the seconding of officers from other departments who have been employed uninterruptedly throughout the year. .
On account of the operation of “ the guillotine “ two of my colleagues who fear that they will be excluded from this debate have asked Hie. to make certain representations on their behalf. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) has been requested by official bodies in King’s Cross to urge that a letter box be provided midway between the boxes at Macleay-street and Bayswaterroad.
The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley), the leader of the party of which I am a member, has received the following letter from Mr. J. T. Sweeney, M.L.A. : -
Some time ago, I presented a petition to the Postmaster-General per lir. McNicoll, mid signed ‘by over 400 residents of Bellambi and Russell Vale, praying for a letter delivery in that area. The request was refused.
There is a post office at Bellambi hut no delivery, the reason given for the refusal being that the number of letters did not warrant a letter delivery.
But the fact is that the letters directed to Bellambi post office does not represent the whole of the letters received in that area.
An owing to the distance from Bellambi, many residents get their letters directed to either Corrimal or Woonona and they are delivered by school children or tradesmen.
This area, is a narrow strip of country extending from the beach, west to the foot of the range, and is about a quarter of a mile wide.
Letters are delivered to within SO yards of the southern boundary of the area from Corrimal post office.
And to within the same distance from the northern boundary letters are delivered from the Woonona, .post office. if you could do anything to help mc in this matter I would bc very much obliged and you would earn the thanks of the residents if this injustice was removed.
Another factor is that the progress of the locality is retarded because of the inconvenient postal arrangements.
T nsk that particular attention be paid to these matters.
.- Unlike the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James), I do not propose to place before the Postmaster-General (Mr. Parkhill) the claims of my electorate. Such matters should, I think, be discussed with the Deputy Director of Posts and Telegraphs. I know that the Minister has to contend with many administrative difficulties, and I sympathize with him, because of the impossibility of remedying what some honorable members regard as anomalies. An anomaly mentioned by the honorable member for Hunter is the boundary beyond which letters ure not distributed. r i so
But some boundary must be fixed, and wherever it is fixed we shall not satisfy all who desire to be brought inside it.
I compliment the Postmaster-General upon having given to city telephone subscribers a concession in regard to rentals, and also upon the extension of the hours of service of 200 country offices, which will considerably benefit, country people. While I was Postmaster-General, I did all that I could for the country people.
I point out to the Postmaster-General that country areas are not credited with the revenue that they are entitled to claim they have earned. When the department speaks of the revenue of a country post office, it refers only to revenue for outward services. As it earns also revenue for inward services which would not be earned if the office did not exist, it is entitled to be credited with both. The departmental figures show a huge loss on the operation of country telephones because only the outward service is taken into consideration.
I was pleased to hear the PostmasterGeneral say that it. is proposed to install an additional 30 or 40 automatic telephone exchanges. I was really responsible for the installation of the first of the rural automatic exchanges, and I believe that Australia adopted this system for rural districts before any other country. The experimental stage has long passed. About twenty of these exchanges have been operating in the different States for four or five years, and have proved completely successful. The PostmasterGeneral has stated that the cost, of an automatic exchange of 40 subscribers is about £1,000. I point out that it costs nothing to operate an automatic exchange, and that the only items of annual expenditure that may be debited to it are £50 per annum for interest, and £50 per annum for depreciation and maintenance. The cost of operating a. manual exchange, however, is £5 for each subscriber. Therefore, the annual expenditure for the operation of a manual exchange of 40 subscribers would be £200. Thus the department would save £100 per annum on each automatic exchange installed. As an economy measure, therefore, its installation in , many more country districts is unquestionably warranted. With an exchange of 50 or 60 subscribers, the saving to the department would bc very much greater, because the cost of installation would not be much higher, whilst, if an all-night service had to be given, the cost of operating a manual exchange would be considerably increased. The benefit of an all-night service to country subscribers is immeasurable. The city subscriber is at his office or his home day and night, but many country subscribers have to work in the fields until 6 p.m. or 7 p.m., and consequently need continuous service. I realize, of course, that certain difficulties present themselves, one of which is that the installation of an automatic exchange is dependent upon the existence of a power system. The power is returned over the trunk line to the nearest point on the electric system from which the power is derived, which may he up to 25 miles from tho exchange. The cost of the power is practically nil, because the electric energy required to operate a rural automatic telephone is not. as much as is consumed by an ordinary electric globe.
-, - Does not the power have to be converted ?
– Yes, but the cost is only small.
I should like to refer briefly to the establishment of automatic jjost offices. 1 do not agree with the views expressed by those honorable members who have asked the Postmaster-General to make money available for the erection of additional post offices in country districts. Those who have travelled in the rural districts of Groat Britain will have noticed that there arc very few official post offices outside the large cities and towns. Most of the postal work in the rural districts of Great Britain is conducted on private business premises, and the service rendered to the people is quite satisfactory. I know that the Postmaster-General is endeavouring to render the best possible service to the people, and I ask him to take into consideration the establishment of automatic post offices. When I was Postmaster-General, I arranged for the system to be tried in my own electorate. Not far from my home boxes were installed in which -the mail matter for the residents in the locality was placed. This automatic post office has been successfully conducted for the last five years. The mail matter is delivered into the boxes of the respective addressees, and .is available to them at any time of the day or night. I know of no complaints having been made concerning this economical and effective system. A person wishing to purchase postal notes, or postage stamps merely despatches a letter to the nearest post office asking for what is required, and it is sent to him by the department. The establishment of such offices would result in a huge saving to the postal department, and would confer a great benefit upon residents in country districts.
– Is there no one in charge of the office?
– Under the rural automatic postal system, it is only necessary to provide boxes for the reception of mail’ matter. In the case I have mentioned, a small block of ground was leased from the municipal authorities free of rent, and the cost of installing the letter boxes was* about £50. I hope that the PostmasterGeneral will make an amount available for the extension of this system, which would-be of benefit particularly to those who are usually away from home during the day.
.The development in the electorate which I represent has been rapid, and some post offices which had been taken over by the Commonwealth from the State authorities at the inception of federation, are in a most dilapidated condition. Some of them have been erected for over 50 years, and the accommodation is quite inadequate. Obviously, accommodation that was adequate twenty years ago when it was provided is not sufficient to-day in a district which has developed rapidly. I regret that provision was not made in the Works and Buildings Estimates for a new post office at Thursday Island. I know that the works department is Opposed to money being expended on renovating the present building, which, according to the Director of Works in Queensland, is a sink for public money. It would be better to appropriate sufficient to construct a new post office, than to spend £100 or so in repairing the old structure. Similar conditions obtain at Bowen, where there is an old and dilapidated building, and where the accommodation is altogether inadequate. If the present post office at Bowen were offered at auction, it would not realize more than £150, yet machinery and plant valued at £15,000 is installed in it. Quite’ recently, a fire occurred in the building, and had the wind been unfavorable, the whole structure and the valuable machinery would have been destroyed. Similar conditions exist at Ayr, where the building, although in a better state of preservation than that at Bowen, is quite unsuitable. In a number of these offices, the banking business transacted is more extensive than the ordinary savings bank business undertaken at post offices, and, in some instances, thousands of pounds pass through the hands of postal officials every month. This increases their work, and renders necessary the erection of more suitable structures. Within the last few days, I made representations to the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Parkhill) concerning the present post office building at Ingham, which is over 50 years old. It is practically impossible to perform efficient work in the limited space available in the building. It is useless to repair the building, which is too old, and I, trust that a new post office will be builat an early date. The expenditure of money on renovating dilapidated buildings is uneconomic, and I trust that the Postmaster-General will authorize the construction of new buildings where they are most needed. The present PostmasterGeneral has rendered valuable service to all sections, and the additional services provided in my electorate are very much appreciated. I believe that the honorable gentleman is a good and conscientious administrator, and, as a country representative, I know that the improvements made in country postal and telephonic services during the time he has been in office have been as extensive as the circumstances justify. It is unnecessary to incur heavy expenditure in constructing additional post offices when country residents require mail deliveries under the most modern methods. I have not any complaints to offer concerning the administration of this department, and my only reason for bringing these matters under the notice of the PostmasterGeneral to-night is that I believe that more effective representations can be made in this way than by correspondence. I trust that before long sufficient money will be available to erect new post offices at. the places I have mentioned.
.- I should like to know if the Postmaster-General (Mr. Parkhill) cannot improve the conditions of letter-carriers who at present are performing very important work at a salary of only £198 per annum. It will be admitted by honorable members that the men engaged in this work are of a fine type, and carry out their duties with entire satisfaction to the public. Many letter-carriers have been in the service of the department for twenty years or more, and although their wages and conditions are governed by Arbitration Court awards, some concession should be extended to them, perhaps by making an allowance for the wear and tear ‘on their clothing, which is unusually severe, owing to the fact that they have to work in all weathers. These men should be compensated in some way when compelled to be absent from duty owing to illhealth. Persons who have been engaged in private employment for many years receive extra remuneration for long service, and automatic increases should be paid to letter-carriers or a bonus paid to those who have rendered loyal service to the department.
Reference has been made to the large number of adults employed in the PostmasterGeneral’s Department at juniors’ wages. Some of these young men on reaching 21 years of age have married, and consequently find the remuneration insufficient to maintain a home. I know of one of these young men who has heavy financial responsibilities but is receiving less than the basic wage, and is, therefore, very dissatisfied.
I also direct the attention of the PostmasterGeneral to the fact that at one post office over 700 pensioners attend on each pension pay day. Departmental officials conducted an investigation to ascertain whether some of the business could be transferred to other post offices. At Hurstville there is a good deal of congestion, and I believe that the invalid and old-age. pensioners would be convenienced, and the requirements of the department more effectively met, if some of the postal work were transferred to South Hurstville and Allawah. A general order should be issued to the postal officials that pensioners should not be subjected to unkind remarks if they apply for their pensions on days other than the regular pay-day. A considerable number of the pensioners object to being compelled ‘ to apply for their money at’ a particular time, and to stand in a queue awaiting their turn. The fact that pensioners can obtain payment in other ways is not generally known to them: I was informed recently that a certain postmaster had told an individual who represented a number of pensioners that they must call for their money every other Thursday, and on no other day. I hope that, on whatever day a pensioner applies for his money, it will be paid to him.
– They can have payment by cheque.
– Some of the pensioners find it inconvenient to cash cheques.
The residents in the sparsely-populated suburb of Peakhurst consider that they should not have been deprived of their telephone service. The reason advanced by the department for its removal was that it did not return sufficient revenue to warrant its maintenance. The post office is intended to give service to the people rather than to be a profitmaking undertaking, and, once a telephone service is established in an outlying suburb, surely it is not so costly to maintain as is a service in a business area. The residents of South Hurstville and Allawah find it inconvenient to have to walk a mile or two to get money orders cashed at the Hurstville post office, and additional facilities should be provided for them. About 74,000 electors reside in that district. I hope that the telephone service at Kogarah will soon be changed from the manual to the automatic system. About 600 or 700 subscribers already have the benefit of the automatic system, and I trust that the remainder of the subscribers will have automatic telephones before the end of the present financial year. I do not admire the telephone boxes which the department is placing in streets in good residential areas. I am now in communication with the department on this matter, and have suggested that a design which is not unsightly should be chosen. The action of the department in erecting ugly telephone boxes alongside houses costing from £2,000 to £3,000 is not creditable.
I congratulate the Postmaster-General upon his announcement that, in response to requests from honorable members generally, he has decided to grant free broadcast listeners’ licences to the blind. I am sure that this concession will be greatly appreciated by this unfortunate section of the community.
.- I urge the Postmaster-General (Mr. Parkhill) to. consider the desirability of restoring to hospitals the telephone charge concession which they formerly enjoyed. The honorable gentleman does not need to be reminded that these institutions are notoriously impecunious, and have to carry on their activities from year to year with the assistance of the local residents. The hospitals are deserving of every possible consideration at the hands of this Parliament.
In some country districts, the business hours of adjacent telephone exchanges so vary that at about midday subscribers in different exchanges are unable to communicate with one another for two hours. The office hours of one exchange are, say, from 9 a.m. to noon, and from 1 to 6 p.m. In a neighbouring exchange, the luncheon hour is between 1 and 2 p.m., and a subscriber connected with that exchange is unable to communicate with a subscriber on the other exchange between noon and 2 p.m. Will the Minister endeavour to bring about uniformity, in the hours of closing?
– I congratulate the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Parkhill) and his department generally on the efficiency of its work. Most people consider that, excellent postal facilities are afforded. I recently put through a telephone call from Brisbane to Hamilton, Victoria, in one minute, and it wili .be admitted that the rapidity with *hich he connexion was made was most meritorious. Nevertheless, improved telephone facilities in country districts are required.
The better service that has been outlined by the Minister will be most acceptable; but I suggest that small offices in country districts should be open for an hour after 6 p.m., even if that alteration should necessitate the closing of offices for an hour or two during the day. Most farmers in the country are employed away from their bornes until after 6 p.m., and they find it inconvenient to use the telephone service prior to that hour. I have no doubt that the department would secure a great deal of additional revenue if facilities were given by which the service could be used in the evenings without the necessity for paying the usual opening fee, which at the present time is received by the person in charge of the local post office. Even if the provision of this extra service involved the payment of increased remuneration to postal officials, I am sure that it would prove profitable to the department, because many thousands of extra calls would be received. I agree with the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) that a uniform midday closing hour in country post offices would be advantageous to telephone subscribers, and that the telephone charge concession which has been withdrawn from country hospitals should again be made available to them.
The unofficial postmasters are deserving of more consideration than they now receive. Although I understand that some additional remuneration is to be given to them, I consider that they are greatly underpaid. Means should be devised for the granting, of an annual holiday to these officers. Recently I met an. unofficial postmaster, who told, me that he could not have a holiday unless he paid to a substitute wages out of all proportion to the amount received by him. I recognize, of course, that the duties of these officers are carried out at contract rates, but I believe that if inquiries were made by the department, they would disclose that some assistance of the nature 1 have suggested could be given.
I congratulate the Minister upon the forward movement made by the. department in the establishment of wireless broadcasting stations. The concession to blind listeners will be greatly appreciated.
I had some correspondence with the department on this subject some time ago, and, in my judgment, the least the department can do is to grant free licences to the blind. Investigation should be made of complaints received concerning mechanical interference with wireless reception, including the operation of tramway power plants. I understand that the elimination of these noises is possible, but at the present time the owners of private receiving sets have no authority to do anything in that matter. It may be necessary to pass legislation requiring the use of eliminators in connexion with the machines that are responsible for the interference.
Some honorable members have advocated the illumination of post office clocks. I quite realize that, it is not the responsibility of the department to illuminate post office clocks so as to keep townspeople informed of the correct time. I understand that before federation the post office authorities did carry out this function, but that later it was left to the local authorities. The obligation should be upon the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, to maintain in proper repair post office clocks which were erected before federation. At the present time the local governing bodies have no authority to repair the clocks, and to pay for the repairs out of their funds. I know that the department is maintaining some post office clocks, and there is no reason why it should not undertake the maintenance of all clocks erected before federation.
– This Government is too mean to tell any one the time.
– That, is not my experience, because every reasonable request that I have placed before the department has been granted.
– A sum of £600 is provided on the Estimates for the encouragement of primary production in the Northern Territory, and a further sum of £1,S00 for the encouragement of the mining industry by way of advances to miners, &c. The most charitable language that one can use respecting those two items of expenditure is that one is ridiculous, and the other absurd. When we consider the enormous area of the Northern Terri- tory - it is about six times the size of Victoria - with an auriferous belt running through it for a distance of 1,100 miles, we realize the utter absurdity of the provision of £1,S00 for the development of the mining industry there. In Queenslaud, apart from the ordinary mining vote, the Mines Department has granted a sum of £25,000 and under the unemployed vote, a further sum of £7,960, snaking a total of £37,960 for the assistance of prospectors and the provision of employment for 2,386 men, who are prepared to go out into the outback country of that State in an endeavour to make mother earth disgorge her hidden wealth. There is no greater asset in Australia to-day than the mining industry, which has undoubtedly played a most prominent part in the development of this country. Had it not been for our mining activities, it is doubtful whether Australia would have progressed to the extent that it has. If the Government would assist prospectors with rations, there would be every prospect of the mining fields in the Northern Territory providing permanent employment. Some of the State Governments are assisting in the development of mining upon a £1 for £1 basis, and surely if we are sincere in our endeavour to develop the Northern Territory, we should not, hesitate to follow their example. Unfortunately this Government ha3 refused to benefit from the experience of some of the States. In Western Australia there are 23 State batteries which have won gold to the value of £6,000,000, and there is ne reason why that fine effort should not, be repeated, in the Northern Territory, provided that the Government gives the necessary assistance at the initial stage of the industry. It is the prospector, not the capitalist, who has developed the mining industry. The investor plays his part only after the prospector has proved the wealth of a field. Capital will not be attracted to the Northern Territory until the depths and values of gold seams have been proved. This Government should be anxious to assist mcn to engage in this industry, particularly when by so doing it would give employment to men who would bc only too glad to be free of the stigma of being on the dole. The Government is providing £1,800 for assistance to mining; but I contend that an expenditure of £80,000 would be more commensurate to the possibilities of this huge tract of country.
Despite the varied climate and fertile soils of the Northern Territory, the small sum of £600 has been placed on the Estimates to assist in its development. I cannot but express the utmost contempt for this meagre provision; but, when one realizes that the Government is making a frantic effort to drive men off the land, one can quite understand its action in making available the paltry sum of £600 for the development of the territory. Last year the vote was £750, but only £407 was expended. Despite that fact one settler in the Northern Territory who was in arrears to the extent of less than £50, was put to the inconvenience of having the whole of his machinery seized by the local constable. I protested, without avail, to the department, and when the wet season commenced this man, because of the loss of his implements, was unable to cultivate his land. Considering what is being done in Queensland and some of the other States to assist the men on the land, by way of advances for machinery and other purposes, one marvels at the lack of pioneering instinct in this Government, which is supposed to be directing the destinies of the settlers in the Northern Territory. I have particulars of the cases of many men who have been driven off the land. “When a man first settles on the land, the department takes a mortgage over it. Later the department forwards to the settler a mortgage on his home, that is, his town home apart from his farm, which he is instructed to sign; he is informed that, if he fails to return the mortgage signed within a specified time, the matter will be placed in the hands of the Crown Law office. Most impertinent official letters are forwarded by the department to the settlers, and, under such methods of administration, one can easily understand why little or no progress is being made in the development of the Northern Territory. Although the vote for assisting the development of primary production has been reduced from £750 to £600, I have no doubt that, at the end of the financial year, an amount of approximately £400 will still remain unexpended. The Commonwealth Government, when it took over iiic Northern Territory from the State of South Australia, accepted the obligation to develop it. To-night I have distributed among honorable members pamphlets and leaflets containing glowing pictures painted by the Federal Government in an effort to induce people to settle in the territory, and there is undoubtedly merit in that propaganda. But I know of instances pf men who have cultivated ground on river banks and raised crops, but, because of lack of transport, have had to leave the crops standing for six or eight months, to be finally burnt off by bush fires. ls- it any wonder that, under these conditions, men have failed to make good in that country? The Agricultural Bank of Queensland advances moneys to settlers to enable them to effect improvements and to purchase stock, machinery and other farming necessities; yet, in the Northern Territory, because a settler was in arrears to the amount of £47, he was persecuted by the department and driven off the land.
– Who was the creditor?
– The Commonwealth Government. There arc many other similar cases. I do not altogether blame the department for these conditions, because those who are administering the act, although they may wish to deal sympathetically with the settlers, have to keep to the letter of the law. Therefore, when the Government says that the act will be administered sympathetically i t is merely indulging in meaningless talk. Eoi- ten years I have asked to be allowed to take representatives of all parties through the Northern Territory so that they might learn for themselves the conditions under which the settlers have to live- If I were able to do that mine would not be a lone voice pleading the cause of the territory. Honorable members have heard me speak time and time again on this subject, but hardly ever do I receive any support. I do not blame honorable members for their apathy; they simply do not know anything of the conditions there. The Government, however, should do something more to assist the settlers. There is not an agricultural or a mining expert in die whole territory to assist in its development. Seeing that the Northern Territory is administered by this Parliament, it is the duty of all honorable members to acquaint themselves with what is happening there.
The smaller stock-owners in Central and Northern Australia have many difficulties to contend with. It costs £750 for a special train to carry 250 head of cattle from Alice Springs to Adelaide. The train is brought, up empty from Adelaide, and the stockholders have repeatedly asked that they be allowed to load fodder on it in South Australia with which to feed their stock before entraining them. The stock routes in Northern and Central Australia are generally eaten down by travelling stock, so that, cattle, upon reaching the railway station, may have been days without food. Having paid £750 for a train, the stockholders are surely entitled to have fodder brought on it. When their representations arc brought, before the Minister, he invariably says he will look into the matter to see what can be done, but it is then found that absolute power is vested in the Commonwealth Commissioner of Railways to administer the railways as he thinks fit, and the Minister himself is powerless. It would not cost the Commonwealth a penny to grant this concession, and it would also be of assistance to the farmers of South Australia who grow the fodder. An amendment of the Commonwealth Railways Act is urgently needed.
An honorable member has reminded mc of the excessive freight charges on flour. I have the official figures here, received only a few clays ago from the Railways Department, and I find that it costs £40 a ton to land flour at stations in the Northern Territory, although the price of flour in the south is only £7 10s. a ton. If a flour tax is imposed, the cost in the north will be £44 a ton. I propose to ask that flour sent to the north bc exempt from the flour tax, and I shall move the necessary amendment to the bill imposing the tax when it is before the House next week. Honorable members who realize the difficulties of the settlers in the north would surely regard that request as reasonable.
– Let the honorable member suggest that flour for the north be treated as export flour, upon which a rebate is allowed.
– -From Adelaide to Alice Springs the distance is 982 miles, over which the freight charges are 62s. a ton, whereas, from Darwin to Birdum, a distance of only 316 miles, the freight is 6Ss. a ton. That is surely an anomaly, seeing that the whole line is administered by the Commonwealth Railways Department. It is time that Parliament took a keener interest in the affairs of the Northern Territory. If the territory were properly developed it could absorb an enormous army of unemployed. It is only necessary that the Government should give a reasonable amount of assistance in the initial stages of development. The smaller settlers in the north are to-day living a handtomouth existence. Sometimes they have to drive their cattle 600 or 700 miles to the railway, and then pay a railway freight of £5 a head to get them to tho market in Adelaide. They are very fortunate if they get a return of 10s. a head for mixed stock. Yet the Government proposes to devote only a paltry £600 to assist the pastoral industry, and a further £1,800 to the mining industry. I appeal to the Government to send experts into the territory to assess its possibilities. , If they report favorably, let the Government be generous in providing money for development.
– I desire to bring under the notice of the Postmaster-General (Mr. Parkhill) the information which occupies the first eight pages of the telephone directory, and 1 ask him to take some steps to have it grouped more appropriately. 1 have no doubt that it is most valuable information, but, as it is at present displayed, a man wishing to find out something in a hurry is placed at a grave disadvantage. For some years past additions have been made when each new edition has been issued, and each novel piece of information has been inserted in a new and surprising place, so that any one who dips into the book hoping to find what he wants at a glance must retire baffled and confounded. The last expression may be more applicable to the authors of- the index than to the readers. The most elementary information, such as that subscribers should make sure of the number before they ring, and that they should have the mouth-piece just, brushing the lips, is mixed up with directions of how to telephone to Czechoslovakia, and how to go about having advertisements inserted in the telephone directory, although such information is of use to only one person in a. thousand’ and to him only once in five years. I suggest that, while the Postmaster-General is in his present benign frame of mind, ready to scatter plenty o’er a smiling land, he should give directions to have the information so ordered that it will bc of greater use to the average inquirer.
.- I am glad to have this opportunity of bringing before the notice of the PostmasterGeneral one or two matters of national importance. In the first place, I have to ask for improved postal facilities at East Hill, in Bankstown. I brought this matter under the notice of the Minister some time ago, and he promised that he would look into it. There is no telephone at the picnic ground at East Hill, which is a favourite resort on Sundays and holidays for thousands of people. During the discussion on the Estimates last, year, I brought a number of matters under the notice of the Minister, and they received prompt attention. I trust that I shall be equally fortunate in this request.
Several honorable members have asked that free listeners’ licences be issued to blind persons, and I am glad to learn that this request is at last to be acceded to.
The South Auburn Progress Association has written asking me to make representations for better postal facilities at, the Berala post office. I trust that this matter will be attended to. I also desire to place before the PostmasterGeneral a letter from the Enfield Municipal Council, in which the- following passage occurs : -
The council is in receipt of a request from a number of residents affected, who desire (he provision of facilities for money order and savings bank business at the recentlyestablished Strathfield South post office.
I have already mentioned this matter to the Postmaster-General and I am confident that action will be taken. The Bankstown Municipal Council has com- municated with me in regard to telephone charges. Its letter is as follows
Referring to the letter submitted by von from the Postmaster-General, relative to telephone charges, I have been directed to request you to make further representations in connexion with this matter.
The council is desirous of the introduction of a uniformity in the rental charges. At the present time there ure outstanding variations ill the charges as illustrated by the following: -
The rental charged to subscribers in. Gibsonavenue is £10 per annum, whereas the charge for the service to the Bankstown Olympic Pool is £5 IDs. per annum, the radial distance from the connecting exchange, being half a mile greater in the ease of the former.
There is no doubt that this variation is exorbitant, and it is of eases nf this nature that the council is making its com plaint.
The council is of opinion that if the higher charges at present being made were reduced to make a uniformity in the charges generally, it would eliminate the cause of complaints and would tend to increase the number of subscribers with a resultant lament to the Postal Department. lt would be appreciated, therefore, if you would make every endeavour to have the council’s wishes, complied with.
I have also a chain letter from the town clerk at Canterbury requesting the PostmasterGeneral favorably to consider the proposal to allow members of municipal and shire councils the privilege of free correspondence through the post. It is held that these bodies are engaged in semi-governmental activities, and that their members are not paid for their services. I can speak with authority on this matter, because I was an alderman at one time.
This request has been preferred by the Bankstown, Holroyd, Canterbury, Auburn, Strathfield, Enfield and Homebush municipalities - all within the electorate of Reid. Finally, in compliance with numerous requests which have reached me, I ask the Postmastergeneral whether he cannot reduce the cost of wireless licences. The holders of these licences are strongly of opinion that the fees they pay should be reduced. 1 do not like to indulge in parish pump politics, but there are many owners of wireless sets who have recently been thrown out of employment, and who would be greatly convenienced if they were permitted to pay their licence fee of 24s. annually, by quarterly instalments.
– A scheme is being introduced under which they will be able to pay it gradually by the use of stamps. A card will be supplied, and the owner of a wireless set may, from time to time attach stamps to it. At the end of the year, when he produces that card showing ‘that stamps have been used of a value of 24s., he will get his licence.
– Under that method, he will pay his licence fee by means of the lay-by system. That, however, will not meet the case. Instead of wireless users being obliged to pay their licence fee in advance, I am asking that they shall be permitted to pay it by instalments. I suggest that the fee should be reduced to £1 annually, and that they shall be permitted to pay it at the rate of 5s. per quarter. As other honorable members desire to address the committee, I shall conclude by expressing the hope that I may speedily receive from the Postmaster-General a communication informing me that everything for which I have asked has been granted.”
.- It is regrettable that the present session may close without any announcement by the Government, as to what it intends to do with the Northern Territory. Up to date, the most important announcement was made by the Attorney-General (Mr. Latham), who said that the Constitution did not bind the Commonwealth in respect of any concession it, might grant to Northern Australia. For more than 30 years, the Commonwealth has been spending enormous sums of money upon Utopian schemes there - schemes which have dismally failed, seeing that there is a smaller population in the Northern Territory to-day than ever before. The honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Abbott) has stressed, not merely the great resources of the Territory, but the immense cost, of every requirement of the settler there. But, unfortunately, he suggested as the best method of developing this area, the construction of a railway to link up with the Queensland railway system. I submit that it would be nothing short of a scandal to ask people to invest their capital in the Territory under present economic, conditions. “Were not Vestey Brothers, who spent £1,000,000 in the establishment of meat works there, obliged to close down because of the cost of operating them ? From the standpoint of defence, is there any graver menace to Australia than that presented by our empty North? Surely, it is worth our while to say that for 25 years every commodity shall be permitted to enter the territory free of duty, and that settlers there shall be relieved of the conditions imposed by the Arbitration Act And the Navigation Act. Let us endeavour to attract population there, and give men an opportunity to make good. If they succeed, they will be helping us to people the empty North. This afternoon, the honorable member for Gwydir pointed out the excessive cost in the territory of such necessary commodities as flour, sugar and petrol. He said that sugar was £60 a ton. I have similar figures regarding the cost of various commodities landed at distant stations in the northern part of Western Australia. It is impossible for settlers in these remote areas to make good under existing conditions, and I hope that the Government will act courageously and give to settlers there every opportunity to make good and to develop our empty territory.
I now wish to point to some of the difficulties placed in the way of development by the Commonwealth itself. In Western Australia, the State Government has expended £670,000 in building railways to open up new wheat country. At one of the sidings in this area, 90,000 bags of wheat were delivered last year, showing that that, expenditure was abundantly warranted. We may fairly assume that the State also expended another £300,000 or £200,000 upon assistance to farmers within that area, and in providing them with a water supply and other public utilities. Recently, an application was made to the Commonwealth to erect a telephone line along one of these railway routes, but up to the present it has not been granted. Instead of the Government boasting of having reduced wireless licence-fees, it. should offer better facilities for communication to those persons who are attempting to develop these remote areas. Whilst it is a very good thing to grant concessions to city residents, a greater obligation rests on the Government. I hope that the Postmaster-General will investigate my request with a view to seeing whether proper facilities for communication cannot be extended to the settlers in these isolated regions.
.- In the north-west of Western Australia, in the Kimberley district, and in the northern parts of the Northern Territory, it is impossible for the owners of wireless sets to secure a satisfactory service from the broadcasting stations of the Commonwealth, because these stations are too far distant for a long-wave service. Experts outside the Postal Department, recommend the installation on the new A class station for Western Australia of a dual long wave and short wave service. This service was tried in Western Australia- with very marked success, station 6WF being worked on the dual wave system when it was privately owned. Along the north-west, coast of that State, the owners of wireless sets have been obliged to install a short-wave receiver in order that they may hear musical programmes broadcast from Saigon, in French Cochin-Chin a, Java, and Pennant Hills, Sydney. The Government, I suggest, ought not to insist upon collecting wireless fees from these people until this dual service has been properly tested.
– In reply to the criticism of honorable members, I say that the Government is already doing everything possible to assist settlers in the Northern Territory. The honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) has affirmed that these people are being harshly treated. That is not so. Instructions have been issued to all government officers that they are to be treated as humanely as possible, and the very last thing we desire is the abandonment of their holdings. - But there is no hope of a reduction of railway freights and fares in the territory, because these compare more than favorably with those charged by any other railway system throughout. Australia. I shall, however, see that the statements which have been made during this debate are brought, under the notice of the Commissioner of Railways. I heartily endorse all that has been said of the territory by the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Abbott) and the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory). The population to-day is smaller than it was some years ago. So many changes of government have takenplace that little progress has been made.
-Order ! The time allotted for the consideration of the remainder of the Estimates, the Supply Resolution, and the adoption of the Resolution, having expired, I must now7 put the question “ That the remainder of the Estimates be agreed to “.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Remainder of Estimates, viz. : -Post- master-General’s Department, £8,881,650; Northern Territory, £132,734; Federal Capital Territory, £233,734; Papua, £65,652; Norfolk Island, £3,000- agreed to.
Motion (by Mr. A rchda le Parkh ill) agreed to -
That, including the several sums already voted for such services, there be granted to His Majesty to defray the charges for the year 1933-34 forthe several services hereunder specified, a sum not exceeding £21,280,070:-
Resolution reported and adopted.
Motion (by Mr. Archdale Parkhill) proposed -
That orders of the day Nos. 2, 3 and 4be postponed until after order of the day No. 5.
– I do not propose to allow the Government to alter the business of the House in the manner suggested without voicing my protest. The usual custom has been for the Government to advise honorable members of any proposed changes of this nature, but that custom has not always been followed by the present Government in its dealings with the party which I have the honour to lead. Common courtesy demands that that practice be followed. The Government has already applied “ the guillotine “ to the Estimates and it may do so in connexion with the other business on the sheet without notifying the House of its intention. Having decided to use the guillotine, the Government knew this morning at what time the business would reach its present stage, and it therefore has no excuse for not having advised the House of its intention to alter the order of business. For that reason, and in order to register my protest against changes of this character, I and those associated with me will take advantage of the forms of the House in an endeavour to force the Government to act courteously towards the members of my party.
– The honorable member has spoken under a misapprehension, for the “guillotine” resolution adopted by the House this afternoon contained a specific provision that this stage should be completed at a stated hour. The motion moved by the Postmaster-General (Mr. Parkhill) is simply incidental to the necessary stages of the Estimates and the Appropriation Bill. Accordingly, there isin fact no change of the order of business at all, for the order of business was determined by the resolution passed this afternoon. The Government desires to meet the wishes of honorable members when that can conveniently be done. Some honorable members have expressed the wish that the tariff discussion, which normally would be the next business, should be postponed until to-morrow.
The Government is prepared to do that, and to proceed to-night with the debate on the Migrant Settlement Agreement Bill.
Question - That the motion be agreed to - put. The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. H. Mackay.)
Majority . . 33
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
Motion (by Mr. Archdale Parkhill) agreed to -
That, towards making good the supply granted to His Majesty for the ser vices of the year 1933-34, there be granted out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund a sum not exceeding £11,603,510.
Resolution reported and adopted.
That Mr. Archdale Parkhill and Mr. Casey do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill brought up by Mr. Archdale Parkhill and passed through all stages without amendment or debate.
Motion (by Mr. Latham) proposed -
That Orders of the Day Nos. 2 and 3be post poned until after Order of the Day No. 4.
– I take now the same objection that I took a few minutes ago to the rearrangement of government business without consulting the leaders of the respective parties in thisHouse. Because of the duties that devolve upon him, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) is entitled to request the Government to arrange the business to suit his convenience; but changes of the character now proposed affect the position of other honorable members who also have important duties to discharge. They, too, should have been informed of what is proposed, so that they might alter their arrangements accordingly. I am not complaining that the Leader of the Opposition made a request to the Acting Leader of the House, but responsibility for altering the order of business rests with the Government, and the Minister in charge of the House should tell honorable members, who arc interested equally with the Leader of the Opposition in the order of business, of contemplated alterations. For this reason I again register my protest in the hope that, before Parliament adjourns, the Government will recognize my party in regard to proposed variations of the order of business.
.- There has been no arrangement made as suggested by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley). All that I did was to request the Acting Leader of the House to postpone consideration of Orders of the Day Nos. 2 and 3 until after we had considered Order of the Day No. 4. That was a request which any honorable member had a right to make, and immediately I made it I informed the honorable member for West Sydney.
– That, was only a few minutes ago.
– I made my request to the Acting Leader of the House only a few minutes before I told the honorable member, and a few minutes later the Attorney-General announced it to the House. I considered that I had every right to make the request, because I understand there is to be a late sitting, and as I wish to speak on the second reading of the Migrant Settlement Bill, I do not want to sit here until 2 a.m. waiting for that measure to be brought on.
-We did not know there was to be a late sitting.
– I was not informed of the intention to sit late until after the dinner adjournment. I agree with the honorable gentleman that honorable members might have been told earlier of the Government’s intention to sit late to-night.
Question - That the motion be agreed to - put. The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. H. Mackay.)
Majority . . 54
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
Debate resumed from the 28th November (vide page 5071), on motion by Mr. Latham -
That thebillbe now read a second time.
.- Introducing this bill, the Attorney-General (Mr. Latham) rightly stated that it deals with a very unfortunate chapter in the history of land settlement in Australia. I regard it as an unfortunate and doleful chapter in the whole story of assisted migration. Although the measure applies to only 311 migrants, that does not mean that similar serious mistakes have not been made in respect of thousands of other migrants who were assisted to come to Australia.
As the Attorney-General has mentioned, the bill affects only land settlement in Victoria, and provides for the payment of compensation on account of misrepresentation. Many complaints have been made by migrant settlers in Victoria over a long period. I remember that the Government which I had the honour to lead, upon its assumption of office, inherited from previous administrations a number of complaints that had been made during the preceding three or four years. We took the matter up at a conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers, and eventually the Government of Victoria agreed to the investigation of the whole position by a royal commission. That commission has presented a report in which it has returned a finding, the effect of which is that the Governments of Victoria and of the Commonwealth have been guilty of misrepresentation and false pretences.
The report refers to the pamphlets that were issued by the Government of Victoria, and distributed by the Government of the Commonwealth, through its migration organization, with its imprimatur upon them. Any one who reads them to-day. especially one with a knowledge of farming, must agree that they contain grave misrepresentations. Some members of this Parliament at the time - I was one of them - protested against this misrepresentation. I believe that one of the cruellest actions ever taken in the history of Australia has been the luring of thousands of persons from their homeland to Australia, where they have become stranded. That was done in the name of the ‘Commonwealth and of some -of the States. Foi example, one of the pamphlets issued in 1923 pointed out that the average cost of laud and improvements, stock, housing, fencing, &c, for an area of land upon which a migrant could make a good living, would be from £900 to £1,500. Not a practical farmer in Australia, or, at least, in Victoria, believed that.
– It might have applied in Queensland.
– It might have applied in States where Crown land was available. In respect of Victoria, however, it. was sheer misrepresentation, and any one who put his name to such a document must have known that. The promise that advances would be made up to £500 has, in the main, been honoured.
In the following year, another pamphlet was issued, with the title “Victoria, the Speedway to Rural Prosperity”. It pointed out that inexperienced men would be trained, and. conveyed the impression that the agricultural colleges could easily cope with the demands of those who might need instruction, when, as everybody knew, there were vacancies for, at the most, only a dozen or so trainees at any time. The idea was promulgated that. 10,000 farmers were to be settled, and that inexperienced men would be trained, either in agricultural colleges or on farms, and that they would, be paid for the work which they did. No provision was made to place on farms or in training colleges married men who were encouraged to come to Australia as settlers. There were offers of employment on farms at wages ranging from 15s. to about 25s. a week, but nothing was done to meet the case of the wife or the family of a married migrant, with the result that he received no more than six or eight weeks’ training, and was absolutely inexperienced when he took over his block. Any person, who has a knowledge of farming operations realizes that an inexperienced man cannot succeed on the land. A promise made by one of the pamphlets was that migrants would be employed for either six months or a year, .under the supervision of skilled and sympathetic officials. In no case was that given practical effect. The guile of the framer of the pamphlet is disclosed by the statement, “ We do not want to make promises wo cannot redeem “. The statement that 10,000 farms were to be provided gave the impression that there was no limit to the area of land available. The promises included the provision of living areas of all classes of land at. reasonable rates, and comfortable homes. Similar inducements were held out to other migrants to allow themselves to be assisted to come to Australia under this precious agreement that was entered into by the Commonwealth Government with the Government of the United Kingdom. The result of that policy was to land in Australia tens of thousands of the workers of other countries, to swell the ranks of the unemployed in this country. If ever humbug and hypocrisy were associated with any scheme, they were associated with that of assisted migration. The costly organization known as the Development and. Migration Commission was set up in Australia, and the obligation was entered into to provide employment for migrants upon their arrival in the Commonwealth, whether they came as land selectors or as ordinary labourers. But so soon as a man was found a job, the promoters of the scheme felt that their responsibility towards him ceased. In many cases the work that was provided lasted for only a few weeks, and when it was finished the men drifted back to the cities. It may be said that it is easy to be wise after the event. I never derive pleasure from saying “ I told you so “ ; but one is entitled to point to whatever foreknowledge he displayed. It can be said for, at least, the Australian Labour Party, that it protested vigorously against this policy of mass migration. The members of that party knew what the consequences would be to the workers, as well as to the farmers, or the would- be fanners, of Australia. Thousands of sons of Victorian farmers at that very time were unable to secure a farm at a reasonable price. There were hundreds of applicants for every block of Crown land, thrown open. I remember that, at the very time when this agreement was entered, into, and this scheme was inaugurated in Victoria and other parts of Australia, a Minister in the Government of the day, Mr., now Senator, Massy-Greene, made on another bill the statement that there were hundreds of applicants for every block of land offered in Victoria in areas which had an assured rainfall, and were in close proximity to markets. That was perfectly true. The sons of farmers were wending their way to the cities. It was said that they preferred the lights of the cities. I know scores of them who would have been glad to take up blocks of land and carve out homes for themselves, but were denied the opportunity to do so. To a very large extent the private lands throughout the western district of Victoria were held as a monopoly. Grown lands which had the advantages .of rainfall, railways, and roads, had already been taken up, and only inaccessible blocks were left. The prices asked for private lauds were so high as to make their profitable development, absolutely impossible. One of the scandals connected with this migration scheme, as well as with the schemes of soldier settlement, .was that the so-called patriots, the flag-wavers, asked for the land they offered, double what it was worth. The prices which they received from returned Australian soldiers, or from soldiers from other parts of the world, rendered it impossible for the men te make a living on the land. The Government of the State, and, in some eases, municipalities, were responsible for what happened. I remember a municipality in the Gippsland district being set up as a. local body to deal with soldier settlement, on conditions similar to those of the agreement that, we are now considering. One member of the council proved his honesty by declaring that the prices placed on the land were excessive, and stating, “ Not a man here would give much more than half the price that you are asking these inexperienced returned soldiers to pay”.
A campaign was organized against that man, and he was defeated at the next municipal elections. It was said that he was decrying the credit of his own district, and writing down its values, merely because he wished to give to the Australian soldier settlers a chance to succeed. Similar treatment was meted out to our own kith and kin from across the seas, who were strangers in a strange land.
I have made many speeches, as have my colleagues, on the subject of assisted migration, and shall quote from one of them to show the feeling that I entertained at the time against, the deception that was being practised. My opinions, have not since altered. If ever I have had sympathy with a body of men, I have had it with these migrants, who were brought to Australia under false pretences. Many of them gave up employment and left their homeland to come here. I have met dozens of them in the city of Melbourne. They were given no more than a few weeks’ work in the country, and were then left stranded. Yet the Governments of the Commonwealth and the States continued to flood Great, Britain with literature promising to migrants blocks of land and employment. At, the invitation of the Bruce- 1’age Government, I witnessed the exhibition of a private cinematograph film to be released in Great Britain, which portrayed a migrant who had arrived in Australia four or five years previously with £30 in his pocket, and who was then working on his own farm. It showed him at first engaged on the property of another farmer, then share-farming, and later, on his own block amidst his own flocks and herds and waving wheat, fields. It might have been true, but it was not a. typical case. It would be unusual for a migrant to amass, as was stated, £12,000 in such a short period. It was said that many had done better than that. “When I came into the House I protested to members of the Country party who were then associated with the Government, and asked them if they believed it. I told them that if it were true all the complaints they had made about the hardships associated with farming in Australia were not true. They informed me that it was not true, and I said, “ Why support, a tissue of falsehoods, and bring nien .12,000 miles from their homes under false pretences?” In dealing with, the Estimates at that time, I protested against the Government spending money on assisted passages for migrants, particularly when the money that was being expended was obtained not from Consolidated Revenue but from loan funds. If honorable members will peruse the Loan Estimates for those years they will find the recurring item: “Passage money of assisted migrants. £300,000”. In August. 1922, £171,849 was included in the Loan Estimates for this purpose.
– Did not a Victorian Labour Government want to spend £2,500,000 on a railway in the northern Mallee district of Victoria?
– A Labour Government was not in office at the time. This agreement was entered into by the Lawson Government. At the time of which I arn speaking I said - lt is scandalous to spend nearly £200,000 in paying the passage of immigrants when Australian men of u desirable type cannot secure land on which to carry on farming operations. The Labour party takes a firm stand on this question. No one would welcome more than we, settlors of a desirable type if work were available for them; but we strongly resent large numbers of men being dumped in our cities and left practically stranded. I am prepared to give the names of a number nf men who have been misled and who are anxious to return. Some who arrived by the Large Hag and could not find employment either in the city or in the country had left permanent employment in Great Britain, because they hud been duped by the advertisements issued by the Common wealth and State Governments.
The report of the recent royal commission states -
Much of the “speedway” consists of such turgid panegyrics of farming conditions in Victoria - somewhat like the salesman’s putting generalities which most people, have learned to discount when not uttered on behalf of governments.
What a scathing indictment by the royal commission appointed to inquire into this matter. The report, further states -
The deficiency in number and quality of blocks provided was not in accordance with the agreement made between the Governments.
It was not. In introducing this bill, the Attorney-General said, “The history of the scheme, at least from 192G onwards, is one volume of growing complaints by settlers”. That is quite true. I think it goes back further than 1926, but in that’ year complaints were rolling in. They did not, however, deter the Government of the day from continuing its propaganda tlo bring more migrants to Australia, and from placing upon the Estimates large sums out of loan money to pay migrants’ passages. Despite the fact’ that people were disillusioned, and that there was a volume of complaints rolling in, the Government still went on spending public money on passages, landing costs, and medical fees for this purpose. To show what was happening after complaints were received - they commenced to come in in 1926 - I may say that the amounts provided out of loan money were as under -
The Government of which 1. was the Leader assumed office in the middle of the following year, and immediately discontinued the policy of assisted immigration. It limited the expenditure for this purpose to migrants who were joining their near relatives. In that year, the amount provided was £57,000. The total cost of passage money and landing and medical fees for migrants to the 30th June, 1929, was £1,620,000. That money was spent in bringing tens of thousands of persons to this country, many of whom joined the ranks of the unemployed, while others were placed on land, which they subsequently abandoned. Many of them were sent into the country where they worked on farms for a few weeks, and were dismissed, their places being filled by other migrants when the next batch arrived, so that the Migration Bureau and the New Settlers League, bodies carrying out. a policy of flooding the country with unemployed, could say, “ We met them at the boat and found them employment “. To them it did not matter if the employment lasted for a few weeks only.
– Were not all those migrants brought out on the requisition of the States?
M.r. SCULLIN.- Yes, but that does not. excuse the Commonwealth Government, which was a partner to the decep- tion. The Commonwealth Government provided the loan money, which was handed to the States. I am not excusiug the States, which were partners to the undertaking; but that does not free the Commonwealth of its obligations in the matter.
I do not agree with the AttorneyGeneral when he says that the Commonwealth has neither a legal nor a moral obligation in the matter. We have, I am sure, a moral obligation; I am. not venturing an opinion as to our legal position. Probably there is no legal redress for the settlers. No legal agreement was entered into with the migrants. An agreement was entered into on their behalf by the British Government. The Commonwealth. Government’s obligation is to the British Government, and the British Government’s obligation is to the settlers. The Victorian Government’s obligation is to the Commonwealth and to the settlers.
The defence put up is that the migrants failed because they, were inexperienced. They were guaranteed training to make them experienced, but they did not receive that training. A view expressed at that time was: Why bring out inexperienced men when thousands of experienced Australians were available? The’ members of the party to which I belong have never said, that this country could not absorb more people. I believe, and 1 have said so again and again, that we ought to be able to maintain millions more than we have to-day, but members of the Labour “party have always set their faces against mass migration, and against bringing people to this country until adequate provision is made for them. We further said that provision should first be made for our own people. If ever a body of men was traduced foi taking up the stand it did on the then Government’s migration policy it was the Labour party. If honorable members refer to the speeches reported in Hansard at that time they will find that Mr. Charlton, who was then Leader of the Opposition, and other members of the Labour party, including myself, were told that we were little Australians, and were denouncing our own country when we were standing for justice for tho Australian people, and saying that migrants should not be brought here under false pretences.
In absolute fairness I must say that the Commonwealth cannot shirk its responsibilities. We have an obligation. I am not endeavouring to prejudice our case. That has to go before an arbitrator, and I think that he will not take any notice of expressions of opinion, but will make his decision on the facts. The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) contends that we are prejudicing our case by paying the- whole amount, but that is by the way. Whatever may he the decision of the Arbitrator as to the relative share of the Commonwealth and the Victorian Government in this obligation, the respective governments will have to abide by it.
This agreement seeks to provide compensation for those who have suffered, but it does not deal with the eases of individual migrants on their merits. That is a weakness in the agreement. It may be said that it would take too long to examine individual cases. They have been examined already to some extent, but no report would be effective unless individual cases were examined. There are 311 applicants for compensation, and that number may not include all who have suffered. I believe that the great bulk of them have a just claim for compensation. I do not believe that, they have all made claims, and I am basing that assertion on the records. The method of distribution provides that married men shall receive £300, and £50 for each child, whereas single men will receive £200. Yet there may be quite a number of cases in which a widowed mother came to Australia with her two sons under this settlement scheme, the block being taken up in the name of one of the sons. It would be a family arrangement. The family’s money may have been invested in it, and surely, in the matter of compensation, the widowed mother of those .sons should stand in the same position to the sons as would a wife of a settler. Yet, her claim will be entirely disregarded, and in that direction the scheme is inequitable. In some instances married men will get the full amount, of £500, which, after allowing for children, may be adequate. In other instances some will get £400 or £500 when they are not en- * ti tled to it. There is ample evidence to prove that some settlers did. not make any effort to meet their obligations. There is a case on record of one nian who has paid only £31 to the State Government since .1925, while another paid £1,100. The latter was honestly trying to pay his way, while the former was not. attempting to do so. There were some shirkers, but I think we can say that, they were in the minority. The great bulk of them endeavoured to make good in face of serious disadvantages. However small the number of shirkers may be they are not deserving of much consideration, and should not receive the same flat rate as is to be paid to others. Those who have suffered most should receive more. A case was brought under my notice of a migrant - probably he was a sensible man - who remained on his’ block for only three weeks, and who had refunded to him all his costs except £11 for survey fees. He went, to Melbourne and obtained employment, and is still there. What claim has he to £500? How can we say that he is entitled to anything unless it can be proved that he left a better position in Great Britain than he is occupying here ? As his present position is a good one it is unlikely that the job he held in Great Britain was better. So far as I can ascertain there are seven applicants foi1 compensation from men who did not go on the land at all. They cannot say that they lost their money. They may be able to claim that (hey gave up lucrative positions, and, consequently, are entitled to compensation. An effort should be made to deal with each case on its merits. A member of the Victorian Parliament mentioned the case of one settler, who, it is said, is to receive compensation. Mr. Old said that he had taken the facts from the departmental files. This man, it appears, took up a dairy farm, and in 1929 he bought the block of another migrant settler, paying a deposit but nothing subsequently. His son took up a block in 1927, putting down a small deposit on it, but paying nothing since. The father and son worked the three blocks in conjunction. The value of the holdings was £2,000, and the advances made on the improvements, stock, &c, . amounted to £937. In ten years the total amount paid back to the Government, on the original block wa3 only £125 ; but on the other two, neither the father nor the son paid anything except the original deposits. The family worked together, and milked 73 cows. They had an income, according te the estimate that was given, of over £1,000 a year-
– They would not now be receiving so much as that.
– No; I understand that their activities are not confined to dairying, but they are not attempting to pay off the arrears. Mr. Old, the honorable member for Swan Hill in the Victorian Parliament, referring to the dairying districts in the irrigated areas of Tongala and Stanhope, pointed out that in some instances the repayments amounted to sums such as £36, £41 and £48. One man, he said, had repaid £1,172, while his neighbour had paid only £100. It. cannot be fairly said that, these men have equal claims to compensation.
– Were these cases investigated by the commission ?
– Not for the purpose of ascertaining the merits of their claims.
– There is a separate report on each case, but no statement as to the amount of compensation that should be paid.
– Each claim has been examined to ascertain whether the Government that issued the pamphlets misled the migrants, but no investigation has been made to estimate the amounts of compensation due to individuals.
– Does the report show the financial standing of the migrants when they took up their blocks?
– No, but a statement is given of the amounts paid in by them. Some of them paid £2,000, and lost the whole of it. Others went on their blocks for a few weeks and then deserted them; but all are to be treated on the same basis in regard to compensation.
I do not see much merit in the terms of the agreement as to the method of distribution ; but difficulties would present themselves to honorable members if they endeavoured to vary it. Honorable members were not given- an opportunity to consider, even in a draft form, the agreement that has been entered into by the
Commonwealth and the State Government with, I believe, the approval of the Government of the United Kingdom through its representative. Departure from an arrangement of that character would be difficult, and I should be the last to suggest that this Parliament should repudiate any agreement that has been made.
I point out also that migrants other than land settlers have been deceived, and have been stranded here. These men have just as great a moral claim to consideration as have land settlers. The only difference is that while one class brought money to Australia and lost it, the other class brought their only capital - their labour - and they lost months, and, in some instances, years of it. When I. was Prime Minister I received a deputation from the representatives of thousands -of migrants who were out of work, and all they asked was passage money home. My Government could not agree to grant their request. We said that those migrants must take their place alongside Other Australians, and that they were entitled only to the same treatment as Australians. I did not advocate the granting of compensation to them, because, if they wore to be compensated for being out of work, the unemployed who were Australian-born should receive similar consideration. Yet at least some of the unemployed migrants have a claim similar to that of the land settlers. I do not submit that as an argument that we should not meet our obligations under the agreement’, but I regard the bill as a confession of the abject failure of any mass migration scheme. It shows the wisdom of the Labour party of the day which fought strongly against the scheme, particularly in Victoria and New South Wales. In other States a policy of migration was adopted because Crown lands on which to settle migrants, were available. In Queensland and Western Australia migrant settlers have not similar grievances to those in Victoria. In Queensland, the Crown has the right to resume land from the large leaseholders, but in Victoria land monopoly is rife, and all the good land is in private hands. An acute land hunger existed in that State amongst the sons of Victorian farmers. The launching of the scheme was a scandal, and its evils were pointed out at the time. We have now reached the closing chapter of a sad and sordid story, aud I hope that it will be a lesson that will prevent any government from again entering into such a conspiracy to deceive and delude large numbers of decent citizens living many thousands of miles from Australia.
– The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) had been very critical regarding the land settlement scheme which comes under notice in connexion with this bill, and no doubt he has a good deal of justification for his criticism ; but I think that at least 90 per cent, of it would be more fittingly directed to the Victorian State Government, which fathered the scheme, than to this or any other Commonwealth Government, which comas into the picture only by virtue of the fact that it provided the machinery for bringing to this country such migrants as the States desired.
The bill is designed to ratify an agreement entered into between the Commonwealth and Victorian Governments with reference to compensation to British migrant settlers in Victoria, and the question of the Commonwealth Government’s liability is to be submitted to the arbitrament of Mr. Langer Owen, a former justice of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, whose decision is to be final. Under this bill the Commonwealth is to pay £100,000 by way of compensation to the settlers who leave or have left their blocks. It strikes me, as a layman, as being very unusual that payment of £100,000 should be made when the Commonwealth authorities admit no liability of any kind, and before the arbitrator has determined whether there is a liability, and, if so, the extent of it. In such circumstances the arbitrator must necessarily be influenced, to some extent, by the fact that one of the parties has already paid over a large sum of money; he would regard that, I should imagine, as a tacit admission of some liability. The honorable member for. Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell), with his legal outlook on matters of this kind, may take a somewhat, different view from mine.
Going back to the genesis of this case, we find that the Victorian Government, in 1922, adopted a scheme for the settlement of British migrants on about 2,000 farms. The scheme never came to complete fruition; but about 400 farms, some dry and some irrigable, were occupied by British migrants. When the scheme was commenced, the Hughes Government was in power iu the federal arena, and the Lawson Ministry was in office in Victoria. The British Government, under the 1922 agreement, had to make substantial interest, concessions on the amount borrowed from Britain for the purpose of this settlement. Later, when the £34,000,000 migration loan agreement between the Commonwealth and the British Government was formulated, the original 1922 agreement with the Victorian Government was merged into the larger agreement. The Victorian State Government then had the advantage of a still greater concession with respect to the interest to be charged on the money borrowed by it. The terms granted to the States were extraordinarily generous. The British and Commonwealth Governments had to pay by far the larger portion of the interest on the money borrowed for land settlement and other purposes. The fact that a State could not make a success of land settlement, despite the advantageous interest rates charged, shows how difficult it is to make such a project successful when it is handled by a government. The £34,000,000 agreement was remarkably favorable to the States. Any money borrowed by a State government from Great Britain in connexion with projects which were considered satisfactory to the representative in Australia of the Government of Great Britain was obtained by tha States for the first five years «at less than 1 per cent, interest. The British Government made itself responsible for half the interest for the first five years, and the Commonwealth Government undertook to pay one-third of the .interest, leaving only one-sixth of it to be paid by the States. Therefore, the State was charged only five-sixths per cent. For the second term of five years, the British Government paid one-third, the Commonwealth onethird, and the State one-third of the interest, so that on a 5 per cent, basis the State had to pay interest at the rare of only 12/3 per cent. Spread over the ten-year period, the State had the advantage of this money at an average rate of only li per centOne does not need to labour the point that it would be of tremendous advantage to any one starting a project, whether in the city or the country, to have money available at an average rate of 1-i per cent, for the first, ten years. Yet, despite that extraordinary advantage, Victoria failed in its laud settlement scheme. It is true that, under the scheme that State was expected, for every £750,000 borrowed, to absorb a certain number of migrants in some sphere of life, not necessarily on farms; but the number that it was expected to absorb throughout - the ten years under the agreement was no greater than the average number which had been successfully absorbed during several preceding years when prosperity was normal. I believe that one reason why this project failed to a considerable extent was that, while some good settlers came here from the Old Country, many others were quite unsuited to farm life; and it has always been a matter of great wonderment to me that many people overseas who have had no previous experience of rural matters - men who have been, perhaps, tram conductors, clerks, hairdressers, or factory workers - think that they have only to go to one of the dominions, obtain land under a closer settlement scheme, and in some extraordinary way speedily become prosperous The same people would have no more dreamt of taking up farming in the Old Country than they would of taking up some other calling for which they were entirely unsuited. The view that men without much experience can succeed on the land was held, not only by the migrants themselves, but also, though perhaps in a modified degree, by some of the State Governments. It is true that there have been many instances of men with little experience of rural affairs who have gone to a new- country and by sheer grit and determination have succeeded ; but, taking the matter as a whole, it takes longer as a rule to acquire the knowledge requisite to success in wresting a living from the soil, than it does to gain reasonable efficiency in repetition work in a factory. That does not seem to be recognized by a great many people. In addition, it takes a much greater degree of physical fitness to gain a living from the soil than it does to earn a wage in a more sheltered occupation. In thiscountry the very beat of the harvest field is a tremendous trial to men who come from a much cooler clime.
It is true that some of the migration literature, particularly the Victorian literature of about 1922 and 1923, had a roseate hue, and the Leader of the Opposition has expressed the opinion that the Commonwealth was to some extent responsible for that literature. I admit, that it might be argued that the Commonwealth, being directly responsible for the bringing to Australia of such migrants as the State desired to absorb, should have prevented the distribution of any propaganda which was considered to be too highly coloured; but it must be remembered that the States, and not the Commonwealth exclusively, control land settlement; and if Victoria, for example, or any other State said that it could make good the promises held out in literature of this kind, then, obviously, it would have been difficult for the Commonwealth Government to act as a censor and say that the State concerned could not live up to tbe expectations held out, even though practical men realized that the story told in it was altogether too highly coloured.
– Did not the Development and Migration Commission produce and send overseas films that were quite as misleading?
– I do not think that anything that the Commonwealth Government used by way of migration literature was exaggerated to the same degree as the literature of the Victorian Government.
– The Development and Migration Commission only came into existence in 1926, and the propaganda complained of was distributed before that.
– The films which the commission afterwards sent overseas were just as bad as the previous propaganda.
– I do not think that anything issued by the Development and Migration Commission could be regarded as misleading.
– Did not the actual dissemination of the literature place on it the endorsement of the Commonwealth?
– I admit that that could be argued, but if a State Government contended that it was in a position to make good the promises held out in its migration literature, it would be extraordinarily difficult for the Commonwealth Government, which was merely the vehicle for bringing the migrants to Victoria, to prove that that State could not make good its promises.
-The Commonwealth was under an obligation to make sure of the facts.
– I admit that, but it would be exceedingly difficult for the Commonwealth Government to act as a censor in that connexion.
As hasbeen mentioned in this debate, a great deal of dissatisfaction arose in 1.925 and 1926, and the Hogan Government in 1930 appointed a royal commission composed of the present Chief Judge of the Arbitration Court, Mr. Justice Dethridge, Mr. Olive McPherson, the present head of the Closer Settlement Board of Victoria, and Mr. McLeod, a well-known stock and station agent of that State. These three men were appointed to inquire into the complaints of the settlers, and to determine to what extent, if any, the Victorian Government had failed to meet its obligations. The commission found that, in certain respects, the Government bad failed to live up to its promises, and its recommendations for compensation to the settlers have been substantially carried out in this agreement as between the Commonwealth and Victorian Governments. The settlers who leave their blocks are to receive from £200 to a maximum of £500. Some 300 or 400 settlors are involved, and those electing to remain on their blocks, if found to be suitable settlers, are to receive £100 cash, and to have a substantial sum written off their debts and the capital value of their blocks in accordance with the Closer Settlement Act of 1932. It is estimated that such writing- down by the Victorian
Government will involve that State in an expenditure of about £350,000, or approximately £1,000 for each settler involved. The more immediate monetary compensation for those leaving their blocks must bc met out of the £100,000 provided under the bill. The extent of the failure of the land settlement scheme can be gauged when we realize that out of 400 settlers, there were 3.11 complainants before the commission, and that the cash to be provided, and the writing off on the part of the Victorian Government, are estimated to amount to about £450,000. That sum is to be spread over the occupants of some 400 farms.
– Is it not 311 farms?
– While there were 3.11 complainants, this writing off will surely apply to the whole of those who remain on their blocks, regardless of whether or not they put up a case to the commission.
– It will apply to nearly all of them.
– That must be so. The Commonwealth has no voice whatever in connexion with land settlement, and probably no State Government has been more insistent on that than the Victorian Government. The Commonwealth, therefore,- cannot be held responsible for the actual settlement of these men. While I cannot enthuse in any way over this bill, from the point of view, not of one connected with the Commonwealth or State Parliaments, but of an Australian, I am glad that some moral obligation towards the settlers is being recognized. Although it is said that they have no legal claim, for the sake of Australia’s reputation I am glad that something is being done for them. Like the Attorney-General (Mr. Latham), I trust that this agreement will bring to an end a very unhappy chapter in the history of Australian land settlement.
.- This is an important measure, and honorable members have really had insufficient time to consider it. It would be interesting to know whether any similar agreements have been entered into with the other States, and what liability the British Government is shouldering in the matter. That Government was one of the parties to the scheme of settling British migrants in this country, and was equally responsible with the Commonwealth and State Governments for the inauguration of the scheme to settle British migrants here; and as the Australian Government has spent a considerable sum of money in this direction, it is only right that the British Government should be asked to bear its fair share of the compensation that is being paid to the settlers. I know that many thousands of British workmen, including labourers and- miners, were attracted to Australia as a result of the propaganda distributed in the Old Country. Films were shown in picture theatres free, and throughout the country advertisements were displayed- depicting crops of wheat as high, probably, as the men who were reaping them. The people were told that they only had to go to Australia, the land of milk and honey, and they would quickly make their fortunes. As the result of that propaganda, British migrants came out, here to settle on the land, and some of them were placed on areas, particularly in Western Australia, that would not grow salt bush. They gradually left the country districts for the industrial areas in the capital cities. Many of them went direct from the settlement areas to work in the mines at Collie, and many came to my electorate. In some of the coal towns most of the inhabitants are migrants, those from the same county being generally employed in the same mine. [Quorum formed.] Now, because of the depression in the coal-mining industry, many of these migrants, have lost their employment. They contracted obligations to buy homes, but have been unable to keep up the payments, with the result that hundreds of them are being evicted. This applies, not only to coal-miners, but also to those engaged in the iron and steel industry in Newcastle.
Provision is made in this bill for compensating 311 settlers. These men were told before they came to Australia that they would be provided with farms valued at from £900 to £1,500. The most shameless propaganda was issued in order to lure people away from their friends and relatives. Now they are stranded in Australia with not sufficient money to take them back to their friends in Britain.
If the Government is going to assist one section of migrants, it should assist them all. I have appealed to this Government, as to the previous one, to make provision for sending back to Great Britain those migrants who, having lost their employment, are now destitute and desire to be returned. I know of one man who came out to Australia four years ago, and had just nominated his wife and family as migrants when the mi no in which he was employed closed down, and he was thrown out of work. He approached me to see whether I could help him to return to his family, but eventually it was only by the courtesy of the Commonwealth Shipping Line, in permitting him to work his passage, that he was able to go. He is only one of thousands who have lost their employment in the same way. On last Sunday morning, after notices had appeared in tho newspapers regarding this legislation, no fewer than 40 persons called on me to learn whether the Commonwealth Government, was making provision, for them to be sent, back to Great Britain. In my opinion, those migrants have just as much right, to compensation as have those who settled on the land in Victoria.
– Who enticed the miners to come out here?
Al’r. JAMES. - They were nominated by the State Governments. At that time, the mining industry was booming, but now, in my electorate alone, there are 7,000 men out of work, the majority of whom are migrants. The only decent thing for the Government to do is to charter a ship, and send home all those who want to go. I also think t.ha,t the Imperial Government should accept some responsibility for these migrants. Many of them are ex-soldiers, who, after several years, have broken down in health as a. result of their war experiences. However, because they made no claim within seven years of their discharge, the Imperial Government will not pay them a pension. In other cases, the men agreed to accept a lump sum in lieu of any pension to which they might, become entitled, and they are now receiving assistance here under the invalid pensions scheme.
– All this has nothing to do with the bill.
– I am pointing out that migrants in New7 South Wales and other States are as much entitled to receive help as those in Victoria. The Attorney-General (Mr. Latham) is certainly looking after the interests of his own State, but he should also remember that be is representing Australia as a whole. Evidently a strong agitation on behalf of migrant settlers was worked up in Victoria with the result that a royal commission was appointed to inquire into their complaints. The Commonwealth Government has agreed to pay £100,000 by way of compensation, subject to certain matters being submitted to arbitration, and subject to the State being required by the arbitrator to make refunds. However, if the arbitrator does not find that any refunds should be made, tho Commonwealth, presumably, will have to pay the whole of the money. The Imperial Government should not escape all responsibility. Australia agreed to accept a part of Britain’s surplus population, Britain agreeing to find one-third of the interest on the money advanced for settlement purposes. In 1922, the Empire Settlement Act was passed by the Imperial Parliament’, making it lawful for the Secretary of State, in association with persons or private organizations, either in the United Kingdom or any part of the Empire, to formulate, and co-operate in carrying out, schemes for affording joint assistance to suitable persons in the United Kingdom who intended to settle in any part of His Majesty’s overseas dominions. The Governments of the Commonwealth and the States agreed to pass similar legislation to encourage migration from the United Kingdom. At, first, the Imperial Government agreed to find one-third of the interest for a period of five years on the money lent, but, subsequently, in the £34,000,000 agreement, it undertook to find one-half of the interest for a longer period. The Imperial Government, therefore, accepted responsibility in. regard to the settlement of the migrants, and consequently should also accept responsibility for the failure of the scheme, seeing that it was a party to inducing the settlers to come here.
– In what way was tho British Government responsible for the failure of the scheme?
– The Imperial Government might have helped by making loan money more readily available. We were told that there would be plenty of money if Australia got rid of Jack Lang. Well, Jack: Lang is a thing of the past - for the time being, at any rate - yet no more money has been made available. Through i.be assistance of the Governer of New South Wales, the people of that State have effectually disposed of Mr. Lang, for the time being, yet the money we were promised to enable us to give effect to settlement schemes has not been forthcoming. Under the migration agreement the Imperial Government contracted to loan to each migrant the sum of £300. The Victorian Government undertook to make 2,000 farms available for settlement, as part of a general scheme for the provision of 10,000 farms, whilst the Commonwealth contracted to borrow £3,000,000, and to pay one-third of the interest ‘on £2,000,000 of this amount for a period of five years, the money to be expended iu selecting and conveying suitable migrants to Australia, purchasing farms, and carrying out the necessary public works. The Commonwealth also guaranteed to the British Government the repayment of the loan of £300 made to each migrant. The act provides that this money shall be repaid to the Imperial Government by instalments “at, the earliest, possible date, but in any case not later than twelve months after the advance is made.” When we consider our deplorable financial position, we arc justified in claiming that iu this matter the Imperial Government should come to our assistance. In the first, place, it contracted to pay one-third of the interest due under the scheme during the first five years of its operation, and one-half of the interest over a later period. Consequently it should accept some responsibility to compensate these migrants and to enable those who are stranded here to return to their relatives overseas. Quonum formed.’] It is heartrending to witness these disillusioned migrants disposing of personal effects which they have treasured for years in an effort to raise a little money. Some time ago, I was approached by one of these men to whom work was available in the Old
Country. I interviewed the present Postmaster-General on the matter, and pressed him to assist in repatriating this man, who is a miner. If his passage overseas was paid he was prepared to authorize Australia House to collect, instalments for its repayment from his earnings at the mine in England. In addition, the manager of the mine in the Old Country had guaranteed him employment immediately on his arrival there. But, notwithstanding these facts, he has been kept here with his wife and family’ to draw a miserable dole. I urge the AttorneyGeneral favorably to consider the cases of many thousands of migrants whoearnestly desire to return to their homes overseas, and who are as much entitled, to just treatment as are the misguided’ settlers in Victoria.
.- This legislation recalls many instances of migrants who are faced with distressful conditions, whose hopes have been blighted, and whose disappointment at failing to find Australia a land flowingwith milk and honey is evidenced in a hundred and one ways. There has been shocking mismanagement, and gross misrepresentation in connexion with the migration scheme into which the Imperial, Commonwealth and State Governments entered some years ago. I join with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) in expressing my serious concern that reprehensible propaganda was used to attract to our shores migrants for whose settlement on the land no adequate provision had been made. The Commonwealth Government has more to answer for in connexion with this unfortunate happening than has any other Australian Government. The complete failure of its efforts to encourage migration is without a parallel in the history of this country. I know that an attempt is being made to employ similar propaganda with a view to initiating a. scheme under which the flow of migration to this country may be free and unrestricted.
– Certainly it will be a shame if the people are misled by such propaganda. To-day thousands of men and women migrants occupy a most unfortunate position, and it is inexcusable that we should accentuate their difficulties by endeavouring to attract migrants at a time like the present. It would be criminal if we lent our support to such a scheme when there are already thousands out of employment. It is undeniable, however, that there is a disposition on the’ part of some people again to open the flood gates of migration to Australia. I shall strongly oppose any step in that direction until our own people are fully employed. Only then, and under the most, severe supervision, ought we to countenance any migration scheme. Before wo bring additional migrants to Australia we owe an obligation to the unemployed here, including many former migrants who came to Australia in response . to the alluring promises made to them, in the Old Country. I have seen photographs of the posters which were exhibited at. labour bureaux in the United Kingdom setting out the ease with which employment would be found by those who migrated to Australia. Every inducement was offered to them, to try their fortunes in this portion of the Empire. As tho result of that class of propaganda m my unemployed persons in the Mother Country came to Australia only to find themselves swelling the ranks of the unemployed here. Instead of finding work in the land of their adoption, they became recipients of rations, with little or no hope of improving their lot. The happenings in connexion with migration have been a poor advertisement, for Australia. It is our duty to take every precaution to prevent, a repetition of such happenings. Among those who are in distress in this country are some migrants who would return to England if they had the means, because of definite promises of work on their return. Those who were induced by alluring propaganda to come here should be repatriated if they can show that on their return to their home country they would obtain work or be cared for by their friends and relatives. My association with the Migrants Association of South Australia has brought, me into touch with a number of distressing cases of the kind which I have mentioned. In an endeavour to help these unfortunate people men have come to Canberra from South Australia and Victoria to interview the Prime
Minister on their behalf. Mr. Crutchley, the representative of the British Government in Australia, courteously received a deputation on the same subject; but, unfortunately, these migrants received no relief. [‘Quorum formed]. This Parliament should make amends to those migrants who, because of the inducements offered to them, came to Australia only to find no work awaiting thom. Numbers of men who migrated to South Australia as farm labourers, and were given employment on arrival, were soon afterwards displaced by more recent arrivals from the Old Country, and ultimately joined the ranks of the unemployed army in the cities. I shall oppose any proposal to bring migrants to Australia under conditions similar to those which have previously obtained. These people have been shockingly misled, and any restitution that we can make will be poor compensation for their sufferings.
– I do not, profess to bc acquainted with the details of the scheme which was responsible for the introduction of this measure, but every person who has come in contact with the distress among migrants generally must realize the seriousness of their position. Previous speakers have referred to the grossly misleading propaganda which induced large numbers of persons to migrate to Australia from the Old Country. The Standing Orders will not permit me to describe such propaganda as it, should be described. I admit that I have not. read the report of the royal commission because, owing to the pressure of other work, I find it impossible to examine the details of all tho reports which are tabled from time to time. It is evident, however, that the persons responsible for the migration blunders of the past are to escape punishment.
– They are to escape without exposure.
– The losses connected with Australia’s migration ventures exceed the £.100,000 to be appropriated under this bill. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) gave some startling information regarding the enormous sums . which have been provided on the Estimates from time to time to pay the passages of assisted migrants and to meet other incidental expenditure.
– The cost to Australia has been £1,600,000.
– ‘.Chat money was spent by the Governments of the Commonwealth and the States, and was obtained from the people by taxes of various kinds, and by the curtailment of social services. It is not right that those responsible for ‘this ‘huge blunder should escape exposure. From this it would appear that if a person happens to be in the right company, and can secure sufficient support from those who foster these schemes, he can get away with almost anything in this country.
– Is that the honorable member’s experience ?
– We can only deal with the case that is before the House. I know that the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) always endeavours to deal with each case upon its merits, and I can tell him that, in respect of the matter we are now discussing, what I have just said is the experience of every public man associated with my party. We hold the view that there was something more in the migration scheme than merely a desire to settle people on the land in Australia. It was probably the forerunner of much bigger proposals which the gentlemen who were responsible for the migration scheme had in mind. I say without hesitation that its main purpose was to introduce into Australia a large body of unorganized labour, which could be exploited to the detriment of Australian workers, and for the purpose of breaking down the conditions in employment which then prevailed.
– Who was responsible?
– I.’ fix the responsibility upon the then Commonwealth Government, the Government of Victoria, and the Government of Great Britain. The Government, of Great Britain was, I have no doubt, anxious to transfer a large proportion of its surplus population to its dominions with a view, possibly, to relieving the pressure oh its labour market. From its point of view, that was a legitimate way of solving its difficulties. From the inception of the scheme, it. was bitterly opposed by the Australian Labour Party. The people who were responsible for it committed this country to an expenditure of £1,600,000, ‘and added greatly to the burden of taxation on the people of this country. Now we have to add another £100,000 to the expenditure incurred in connexion with this sorry business.
– What about the misery and distress it caused to the migrants?
– That, perhaps, is more important than the total cost involved, because the distress caused to the migrants cannot be measured in pounds, shillings and pence.
Mention has been made of the propaganda issued in- Great Britain in furtherance of the scheme. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) referred to the private screenings throughout Great Britain for the purpose of inducing intending migrants to come to Australia. I was in London in 1926, and was attracted by a notice’ at Australia House of a continuous screening of pictures in the basement depicting life in Australia. I made it my business to obtain first-hand knowledge of the propaganda then being issued. All that the Leader of the Opposition has said was borne out by my own experience. I was amazed at the alluring pictures presented to prospective migrants, and I can well understand the anxiety of people with a few hundred pounds to come to Australia to enjoy the good things which they believed would be readily obtainable. As I had an intimate knowledge of working conditions in this country, having spent the early portion of my life in primary industries, I was amazed at the pictures that were being shown, and the encouragement held out to intending migrants from Great Britain. There . was a ready response to the appeals then being made, and the stream of migration to Australia flowed fairly strongly for a year or two; but, as we know, the settlers were quickly disillusioned, and to-night we heard again the sorry story of their experiences in this country. But at this stage I am also concerned about the people who were responsible for the migration scheme. It has been stated that it was launched by the Lawson Government, of Victoria. The gentleman who was then Premier of that State is now a member of this Parliament, and recently was appointed a member of the present Government. If, as has been said, he was behind the migration scheme, and was responsible in a large measure for the misleading propaganda then indulged in, he must bc held responsible for committing this country to a huge and wasteful expenditure, and should be condemned for his action.
– This agreement was made before Senator Lawson joined the Commonwealth Ministry. [Quorum formed.]
– If, as I have been, informed, Senator Lawson, when he was Premier of Victoria, was associated with the scheme that committed this country to such huge expenditure, he must, as I say, stand condemned in the eyes of the peopler He should also accept his share of responsibility for the exp.endit.ure of this additional £100,000, because he is now a member of the Ministry responsible for the introduction of this measure. The compensation must be provided by the taxpayers of this country. Already the financial burden of the Commonwealth is so heavy that, to meet its obligations, this Government has curtailed social services and reduced salaries and pensions. With this added expenditure to meet, tbe Government must widen its taxation proposals sufficiently to provide the necessary money, and, although the extra contributions of individual taxpayers may be small, in the aggregate all this additional expenditure amounts to a considerable sum. It should also be remembered that some portion of the payments to be made under this bill will be sent out of Australia. One clause in the agreement provides that exchange shall be paid on money sent to settlers who have left this country. It is stated that 311 migrants are involved in the scheme. The amount which the Commonwealth proposes to pay is £100,000, and the amount which ‘ the State of Victoria has to provide is about £380,000, in addition to the £1,600,000 which the scheme has cost this country, so that the total expenditure will be about £2,000,000 before we finally dispose of this sorry business.
We take the viow that Australian Governments are not alone to blame in this matter. I agree with the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) that the Imperial Government must accept its share of the responsibility for the failure of the scheme, which, as I have said, was launched for the purpose of transferring portion of its surplus population to Australia. There can be no doubt that the intention was to depress wages and interfere with working conditions in industry in Australia. I say this’because, when I was in England in 1926, I detected there a general feeling a.gainst the Labour movement in Australia, and I am satisfied that many of the men who were associated with the migration scheme on the other side of the world intended to flood this country with cheap labour in order to break down Australian standards.
– Surely not.
Thursday30, November 1933.
– That was the impression which I gained during my stay in Great Britain. In my discussions with people who were unaware that I had come from. Australia., I gathered that there was hostility among certain sections of the people in Great Britain to industrial standards that had been developed in Australia. Their one concern was to secure the greatest interest return on their capital investments abroad, without regard to the conditions of the workers in any industry with which they were associated. I encountered that attitude not only in Great Britain, but also in different parts of the United States of America. These are not mere deductions; they are convictions based on my actual experiences. Therefore, I believe there is a good deal to be said in favour of the contention by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) that the Imperial Government has an obligation towards the settlers provided for by this measure. If that Government were hand in glove with the responsible parties in Australia, I should feel disposed to lay it down that the Australian taxpayer should not be called upon to bear the whole of his burdon. It may be argued that the Commonwealth is providing only £100,000, compared with over £300,000 by Victoria. It must not bo forgotten, however, that the same taxpayers have to provide the revenue to meet, both payments. Many of the migrants who came to Australia under this scheme had never previously been on the land. I recall., the case of a settler on a block near Geelong, who set out to plant, rows of citrus fruit trees in soil that had been tilled for the previous ten years. He had no idea that it was necessary to dig deep enough to provide drainage, as well as to tap new soil, so as to give the trees a chance to develop a root system. He proposed to plant hundreds of trees in a month, an operation that, with the labour at his disposal, could not have been carried out satisfactorily in a year. Such men were totally unfitted for the land. I suppose that those persons in Groat Britain who accepted the scheme held the view that it did not matter very greatly whether the migrants succeeded C not; they would find their level in other occupations, and thus cease to be a charge on the British Government. The whole scheme having fallen to the ground, this “Parliament is asked to approve of the addition of £100,000 to the financial burden that is already being carried by primary producers, unemployed, and pensioners, who are suffering untold misery and hardship. The unemployed would welcome the expenditure of this amount to provide them with work prior to Christmas. When we endeavoured to influence the Government to make provision for continuity of employment for a large number of persons prior to Christmas, we were told that funds for that purpose were not available, and that, in any event, it was the responsibility of the States. Yet £100,000 can be provided as compensation for the misdeeds of a member of the present Commonwealth Cabinet! Australia is not in a position to carry this added burden. The responsibility should be spread over a much wider field. If those who were responsible for formulating and fostering this and other like schemes could be compelled to shoulder the responsibility for losses incurred on them, they would not lightly embark upon them in the future. It is to be hoped that every effort will be made to give the widest possible publicity overseas to the circumstances that exist in Australia, and’ to the advisability of preventing people from being again fooled into leaving their present associations and migrating to Australia, only to find themselves in a similar position to that in which these migrants have been placed. Those of us who have fought strenuously against these mass migration schemes will feel impelled to use every avenue of publicity open to us to make known throughout the length and breadth of Great Britain the failure of this scheme, so that in future proposals that have for their object land settlement in the dominions, especially those that emanate from governments of the political complexion of that which was responsible for this scheme, will be closely examined. Let this be a lesson to others. If it is taken to heart, there will be no necessity for us to take action similar to that taken when the scheme was first proposed. As the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) has said, this experience will convince the people of Great Britain that Australia is not a land flowing with milk and honey, but is one that has many disabilities. Those who come here to settle on the land must be prepared! for plenty of hard work and to experience many difficulties. A large proportion of our people are suffering injustices under the existing social system, the result of the operation of which has been the universal reduction of wages and the loss of employment by thousands of persons. If these facts are realized abroad, this experience will not have been in vain. [Quorum formed.]
– It is difficult for honorable members on this side of the House to conceive that the -Government is actuated by the sole desire to assist a handful of migrants from Great Britain who were induced to settle on the land in Victoria. Many of those whom it is suggested the passage of this measure will benefit have already returned to the Old Country; consequently, as the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) has pointed out, exchange will have to be paid on the amounts sent to them.
I should like the Attorney-General (Mr. Latham) to state the exact amount that will be distributed among the migrant settlers, and how much will be devoted to the liquidation of debts that have been incurred by them. I am of the opinion that influence has been brought to bear on the Governments of Victoria and the Commonwealth, through Sir Harry Lawson, one of those who were instrumental in bringing these migrants to Australia under false pretences.
– Hehad nothing to do with this.
Mr.WARD. - The interests by whom pressure is being exerted know that, unless public funds are provided by this Government, the bankers and others who made advances to these settlers will find it impossible to recover them.
– That is pure imagination.
– We have not had placed before us anything which proves that the contrary is the case.
– There were no influences of the kind suggested. I have been associated with the matter throughout, and the honorable member has not.
– The Attorney-General has not stated how much of the £100,000 will actually come into the possession of the migrant settlers. On every conceivable occasion we are told that private enterprise is able to manage all the activities of the country, and that there should bo no government interference with it. Those who financed this scheme were not imbued with the desire to assist migrants to go on the land in Victoria. They thought that it would be a profitable investment; and to-day, having found that they misjudged the position and embarked upon an unprofitable venture, they are bringing pressure to bear on the Governments of Victoria and the Commonwealth to provide them with means to escape from their difficulties. Honorable members on this side can not accept the view put forward by the Government, that its one concern is to assist: a mere handful of settlers in Victoria. Does the Government propose to assist the failures among the returned soldiers, who were induced by the Commonwealth and the States to go on the land and increase the production of Australia? At a conservative estimate, 30 per cent, of those who go on the land eventually fail. Is their right to seek assistance from this Government less than that of migrants, who wore induced to come to Victoria by the false representations in the propaganda distributed throughout Great Britain? To justify my statement that this measure is submitted for the purpose of appropriating public money to assist organizations and private individuals out of their difficulties, I refer honorable members to clause 5 of annexure “ K “ which reads -
In the case of any individual settler, the assessor, in consultation with the president of the settler’s association to which such settler belongs, may recommend that a sum be provided over and. above any of the previous payments for the discharge of pressing personal debts, provided that the total of all amounts to be provided under this clause shall not exceed £8,000.
Evidently there are some fairly substantial amounts owing by these settlers, but only a small proportion of the money to be appropriated is to be paid to the individuals directly concerned. It is fairly obvious that the Government intends to assist the creditors of the migrants, and not the migrants themselves.
– We ought to know where the money is going before we vote on the second reading of the bill.
– Exactly. Under the agreement, settlers who have abandoned their properties are to be compensated for their losses whether they are resident inAustralia or overseas. Those still occupying their blocks, although not working them, will, if they vacate them, also be compensated. Those who desire to remain on their holdings - if they decide to do that they must be making a success of their operations - are to have the capital value of their indebtedness written down, and also receive £100 in cash. I am satisfied that this measure, which is supposed to assist settlers, particularly those who are still in possession of their blocks, has been introduced by the Government, merely with the object of cloaking its real intention which is to assist its political friends. If the Government believes that it is fair to write down the capital indebtedness of those migrants who are still occupying their properties, and who are to receive £100 in cash., why does it not write down the capital values of the war service homes concerning which a good deal has been said during the last day or two? If the Government considers it fair to compensate migrant’s in this way, why should it not assist the occupiers of war service homes ? The sum of £100,000 is to be expended in assisting 311 settlers, but the Government will not even provide a much smaller amount to assist thousands of persons who are purchasing war service homes. Moreover, the amount to be appropriated u neier this bill could be more effectively employed in assisting the hundreds of thousands of workless persons in this country. Further, the Government states that, its sole purpose in making this money available is to assist 311 settlers, while under the obnoxious property sections of an amending Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act it inflicted hardship upon thousands of unfortunate pensioners. The amount returned to the Government under the property sections of ‘that measure was only £9,000, yet the Government is spending £100,000 to assist principally money lenders who have no legal or moral claim upon the Commonwealth. Realizing that this measure, like many others of the Government’s proposals, is framed in such a way as to hide the Government’s real intention, the member’s of the Labour party will oppose it. If the money to be appropriated were to be used in paying the passage money of migrants who desire to return to. their own country, to assist the unemployed, or to increase the payments to invalid and old-age pensioners, it would have our support ; but as it is merely to assist the banking institutions and others who have advanced money to migrant settlers, the members on the Opposition cross benches will strenuously oppose the measure.
– I do not propose to refer to the agreement entered into between the Commonwealth Government and the Victorian Government, or to the sum of money to be made available to assist migrants who have been unable to make a success of their undertakings. I rose more particularly to reply to the statement made by the right honorable the
Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin), who said that those who had engaged in flag waving during the war, afterwards took the opportunity to charge returned soldier settlers double the market value of the land on which they were settled. I am familiar with closer settlement in Victoria, and I know that as the result of inquiries made into soldier land settlement in that State, it was disclosed that the land bought for that purpose was, on the whole, secured at a fair market value. A commission of inquiry reported that the average price paid for the land was, in sortie cases, under the current market value. I know that that was the case in the district in which I reside. Some properties were purchased for soldier laud settlement at more than their market value, but many others in the same district were purchased by persons who ought to have known their market, value, at prices higher than those which the Government paid. Whatever may be said of the purchases made by the Closer Settlement Board, it must be admitted that most of the land secured for soldier settlement was not obtained at an economic price. None of the land bought in Victoria during that period for the settlement of returned soldiers was purchased at an economic price, because at that time, there was a. definite land boom, particularly in the western district of Victoria. Although prices obtained for primary products were high, no purchaser could hope to obtain a fair return on the capital invested. Purchases were made by .certain optimists during the boom in the belief that prices would go still higher. In other instances, rich land-owners in the Western District who wanted to settle their sons on the land in the same locality after they had returned from the war, paid more than the economic value of the land. Some of the men who returned from the war, and who were not desirous of continuing their pre-war occupations in the city, also decided to take up land in the Western District, which is regarded as one of the most congenial in the State, and paid uneconomic prices. These and other factors forced up prices, with the result thu,t the Victorian Government, through the Closer Settlement Board, was compelled to pay uneconomic prices during the boom period, but the prices paid did not average more than market values. I suppose the Leader of the Opposition regards as “flag wavers.” those who supported Australia’s effort in the Great War, and who did everything possible to welcome the soldiers on their return to Australia. I know at least three men in Victoria, two of whom made_ their land available to the Closer Settlement Board, who sold their land at approximately one-half its market value. One estate is near Camperdown, and the other is in the Mortlake district. In the vicinity of Berwick, which is in my electorate, a considerable area of land was actually given to the Closer ‘Settlement Board by one of these gentlemen whom the Leader of the Opposition termed a “flag waver.” The remarks of the right honorable gentleman were unfair to the Closer Settlement Board, and also to many of those who sold land to it.
– I am sure that honorable members were interested in listening to the short, but relevant speech of the latest recruit to this House. We are glad to have with us a gentleman who has actual and precise knowledge of the subject-matter now under discussion. I can support what he has said by citing from my own knowledge another instance in which land was made available by a public spirited gentleman at less than its market value, and on which settlers are now doing well. Although unfortunately, the matter before the House furnishes an example of failure, a great mistake would be made by suggesting that no migration to this country has been successful. All the white population of Australia is the result of migration of some kind, “and no white person in this country can say that migration generally has been of no benefit without admitting that he and all his friends are failures. Let us remember that we all are migrants or the descendants of migrants. In recent years, many efforts at migration have been, made, and some of them have proved decidedly successful. I regret that some of the speeches on this measure were of such a character as to suggest that everybody who has migrated to Australia in recent years has failed. That is not the case. Many honorable members know of numbers of migrants who have succeeded well. The enterprise to which this bill refers was founded upon such a basis that it was impossible for the settlers to cope with the effects of the depression, but I hope that their failure will not blind us to the wisdom of obtaining, upon proper terms and conditions, an increase of the population of Australia. I am still satisfied that our country needs more people for its safety and its full development. At the same time, I recognize the dangers of any fOrm.of what may be called mass migration at the present time; therefore, I am not favorably disposed to the suggestion of the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) that a ship should be chartered to convey unemployed migrants from Australia to England
When any attempt is made to allocate the responsibility for the failure of migrant land settlers, . it should be remembered that the State of Victoria insisted upon sending its own officers to recruit settlers in London, and it is much easier many years after the event than it was at the time to say that the Commonwealth authorities should have prevented Victoria from selecting migrants as intending settlers in such ways as it thought proper. Unfortunately, with much of what the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) has said I can only agree, but, departing from the general tenor of his utterance, he concluded by declaring that the governments concerned had been engaged in a conspiracy to dupe and deceive intending settlers. That was an extravagant statement. Not the slightest proof is available in support of the allegation made by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), who seems to live in an atmosphere of suspicion and sinister inferences. He appears to see something underhand, mean, ungenerous, indirect, and insincere in connexion with every matter brought before this House. The amazing suggestion, was made that this proposal to spend £100,000 - and I say, on behalf of the Government, that this measure is Submitted most reluctantly - is due to the influence of creditors of these settlers which has been brought to bear on the Governments of Victoria and the Commonwealth. The honorable gentleman gave no single fact to support his allegations; he merely has suspicions. Everybody acquainted with even an outline of the history of ‘ this matter knows that the Victorian ‘Government took a considerable political risk in making the agreement which is the subject of this bill. It was criticized most vigorously from many points of view iu the Victorian Parliament and outside it. The Commonwealth Government finds nothing satisfactory in? asking this Parliament to grant the amount mentioned in the bill, in view of the fact that it disclaims responsibility, and is referring the matter to arbitration, claiming that Victoria should pay the whole of the money. I know the facts of the negotiations that took place in July and August last with respect to this matter. This proposal to pay £100,000 in the manner set out in the tentative agreement developed entirely at an informal discussion between representatives of the British, Commonwealth, and Victorian Governments. As I was the Minister who acted on behalf of the Commonwealth for most of the time when these negotiations were in progress - Senator McLachlan took my place towards the end of the proceedings - I am aware of the influences that were brought to bear on the Commonwealth Government, and this is the first time that I have heard it said that some mysterious creditors engineered this scheme to obtain payment of their dues.
– How much of the £100,000 goes to creditors?
– What the honorable member said was that influence had been brought to bear by banks and the like upon the Commonwealth Government. I was the Minister who handled the matter on behalf of this Government, and I say that, no such influence was exercised.
– Produce your evidence!
– My evidence is my own word.
– Our word is as good as yours.
– The difference between us is that I know the facts while the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) knows nothing about them, and necessarily is unable to support the allegations which he has made. It has been said that even if compensation is paid to these migrants, similar provision should be made for other migrants, of whom there are many classes. I stated in my second-reading speech that the Commonwealth Government had special reasons for its intervention.
– Are not migrants in other States in a similar position to that of those who will benefit under this bill?
– No. I pointed out that this matter arose out of a special agreement between, the British, Commonwealth and Victorian Governments. The miners to whom the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) has referred, who were mainly nominated migrants for whom assisted passages to Australia were provided, were not brought here pursuant to this or any similar agreement. The bill »is submitted to the House because of an agreement and the involvement of the Commonwealth and Victorian Governments, and for no other reason. Some honorable members have said that the British Government, should bear part of the responsibility. The migrants have made their representations to the Governments concerned, and mainly to the Government of Victoria, because the Commonwealth Government has never dealt with the migrants themselves. No honorable member of this Parliament should presume to lay down what is the duty of the British Government, which has not sought to direct us as to our duty. The Government asks the House to pass the bill because it thinks that in all the circumstances it is fair and reasonable and that the passing of it will be in the interests of the reputation of Australia.
Question - That the bill be read a second time - put. The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. H. Mackay.)
Majority . . . . 29
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 (Payments to settlers).
– This clause which is the main provision of the bill, provides for payments to settlers not exceeding in the whole the sum of £100,000. Much of the discussion from this corner of the chamber on the second reading of the bill centered in the question as to who would ultimately receive this payment, and when we endeavoured to obtain that information from the Government we were told that we were seething with suspicion.
– That was not the point at, all, as the honorable member knows.
– I shall not be misled by the interjection of the AttorneyGeneral. He stated that we had no evidence whatever on which to base any contention as to who would receive this money.
-i was dealing with the suggestion that influence had been brought to bear upon the Government by creditors of the settlers.
– And also with our contention that this money would be paid to the creditors of the settlers. We suggested that those creditors were influential enough to have a hand in the drawing up of the agreement. In my second-reading speech, I stated that the scheme originated during the regime of the Lawson Government in Victoria, that the payment of this £100,000 had become necessary as a result of the propaganda issued by that State at that time. In view of the fact that that gentleman was now a member of the present Government, we are entitled to know who is to receive the benefit of this money seeing that it has to be provided from Commonwealth revenue, which is contributed largely by the section of the people we in this corner of the chamber directly represent, and who are suffering hardships and misery which would not have been their lot under a proper system of government. We desire to protect, not only those people, but also the revenue of the Commonwealth, and to ensure that if any distribution of money takes place, some benefit shall be derived by those who actually need the assistance. We are not yet satisfied that this money will be paid to the settlers. It is obvious that many of them have contracted debts which, no doubt, will have to be met out of moneys paid to them as the result of this legislation. They entered into obligations when money was free and interest rates high. Their creditors who, in many cases, have already received their pound of flesh, are again endeavouring to fleece the settlers still further. There is no equity in the transactions with the British migrants, because they were brought to this country as the result of false statements and misrepresentation by this Government. This Government, in bringing down this legislation, pretends that it is actuated by high and lofty motives, yet the whole basis of this land settlement scheme is rotten to the core, and will not stand investigation. The Attorney-General has said that the Government regrets this unfortunate circumstance, but surely that is a mild way of describing the position. We are entitled to know to whom this money is to be paid, and to have more evidence than the word of the Attorney-General. I do not wish to indulge in personalities, but at least ray word is as good as that of the AttorneyGeneral.
– The honorable member knows nothing of the subject.
– I advise the honorable member to leave the chamber, otherwise I shall not be responsible for what may be said concerning him.
– The honorable member’s remarks are out of order.
– If the honorable member for Martin (Mr. Holman) interjects again. I shall have to seek the protection of the Chair. He is not entitled to be insulting.
– The honorable member is definitely out of order. The Chair will always intervene to give protection to an honorable mem’ber if intervention is necessary.
– We enjoy- iu this chamber the same privileges and rights its tho Attorney-General, and our view is as good as his, despite the fact that he is for the moment the Attorney-General. He may have means at his disposal for the collection of evidence to support his contention that it is necessary to expend this money, but we have not been informed of the basis upon which the sum of £100,000 was fixed. There is extreme doubt whether the settlers will ever receive one-quarter of this sum. We are not prepared to allow this Government to expend willy-nilly the sum of £100,000, particularly at .a time when thousands cf our unemployed citizens are experiencing misery and want. The Attorney-General thinks that, because of the circumstances in which he is placed, his word must be accepted, and that we have no standing whatever; but we contend that we have just as much right as he to draw deductions. Up to the present no evidence has been adduced to disprove our statements.
– The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) has the peculiar faculty of lashing himself into a state of excitement about nothing. The allegation of the honorable member foi- East Sydney (Mr. Ward), to which I replied, was that certain influence had been brought to bear upon the G°*vernment. I w-as present at the negotiations, and the honorable member was not, and I informed him that no such influence had been brought to ‘bear upon the Government; that I spoke of my own know ledge, and that he spoke necessarily, not out of any knowledge, but out of suspicion. The honorable member for West Sydney has taken an entirely different point, and ha3 worked himself into a state of excited fury. He has asked who is to get this money. That is quite a different question from that with which I was dealing when I answered the honorable member for East Sydney. The annexure to the agreement sets out who is to receive the money. The settlers are to receive it. The honorable member for West Sydney says that the settlers may owe money, and that the creditors will claim upon any sum that they receive. We all know that, and we do not need to be enlightened on the subject in the vigorous and furious manner adopted by the honorable member. Had the honorable member read the agreement, he would know that that aspect of the matter has not escaped attention. It is known that some settlers are in financial difficulties because they owe money. I apologize for referring honorable members who address themselves to this bill, to its text, and I hope that they will not regard it as cause for offence, but special provision is made in paragraph 5 for pressing debts. The paragraph states -
In the case of any individual settler, the assessor, in consultation with the president of the settlors’ association to which such settler belongs, may recommend that a sum be provided over and above any of the previous payments for the discharge of pressing personal debts, provided that the total of all amounts to be provided under this clause shall not exceed £8,000.
Other parts of the agreement provide that £100 is to be paid in cash to men who stay on their blocks, and that sums up to £500 are to be paid to those who do not stay. The sum of £8,000 is to be an additional distribution, over and above the other amounts, for the purpose of meeting pressing personal debts. I do not know the circumstances of individual settlers, but the representative of the British Government does, and this scheme was worked out in conjunction with him. Although it is impossible to reach anything like mathematical certainty regarding the debts of the settlers, it was considered that the provision of this extra sum of £8,000, in addition to the other amounts, would go far to meet the requirements of the case.
– Is it not a fact that the representative of the settlers regarded this as a reasonable settlement?
– The Secretary of State for the Dominions has so stated, but there has been ‘a great deal of propaganda on this matter, and I have advisedly abstained from alluding to the character of that propaganda. I have received vigorous complaints on this aspect of the matter from the solicitor representing the settlers, but I do not propose to go into that now. I said, when introducing the bill, that it was impossible to please everybody, but that, on the whole, this was a fair and- reasonable settlement. The alternative is to try each case again, as it were. It is desired that the money shall be made available as soon as possible in order that the benefits intended to be conferred by the agreement may reach the intended recipients, who are the settlers themselves. Special provision is being made to meet the pressing personal debts of the settlers, who are also being relieved of their debts to the Government. As to other debts, it is impossible to say how the scheme will work out in individual cases. Probably, in some cases, there will be a real surplus; in others, there will be but little left. That, however, is a matter of detail with which it would be impossible to deal in thi3 legislation.
– The Attorney-General (Mr. Latham) said that he was a party to the negotiations, and was, therefore, in a better position to know what took place than I could be. That is true, but honorable members are entitled to know what happened during the’’ negotiations, and the Minister has deliberately refrained from giving the information I sought.
– I said that no such influences had been exerted as the honorable member had suggested.
– The Attorney-General should be in a position to say what is the position of these settlers, taking them as a body. How much are they in debt, and to whom are they indebted ? Was the money advanced to them on their own security, or on that of the Government. If it was advanced on the security of the settlers, what right has the Com monwealth Government, or any other government, to use public funds for the purpose of liquidating their debts? If the settlers have been unable to make their properties pay up to the present, it is unlikely that they will be able to make them pay in the future if they elect to remain on them. Therefore, their creditors would have very little prospect of ever getting their money back unless the Government came to the assistance of the settlers. That is what I meant when I said that pressure had been brought to bear on the Government by the creditors of the settlers to make money available to liquidate the debts. If the Attorney-General had listened to me, instead of conversing with other members, he would have known that I quoted paragraph 5 of the tentative agreement, and was quite well aware that it provided for the payment of an additional £8,000 to meet the settlers’ pressing personal debts. It is exactly these debts with which I am concerned. Who are the persons to whom the money is owed, and how much of the £100,000 is to be devoted to meeting those debts?
– Practically all those debts are owed to storekeepers.
– Until that information was sought, practically every speaker who supported this measure spoke as if the money were to be devoted entirely -to the relief of the 311 migrant settlers. There was not one word about the storekeepers or the banks which had advanced money.
– Cannot the honorable member see that the assessor is to go into these matters, find out what money is owing, and determine how the £8,000 is to be distributed ? What the assessor will do nobody is in a position to predict. We must trust the individual.
– Then will the AttorneyGeneral explain how the sum of £100,000 was arrived at, seeing that no one can yet say what the finding of the assessor will be? If a majority of the settlers have large pressing personal debts, a great deal more than £100,000 may be required.
– I said that we might have to ask Parliament for a further sum of money, but that I did not think it would be necessary.
– The position is, then, that Parliament does not know to what it is committing itself. Was the money loaned to the settlers advanced on their own security or on government security? If it was advanced upon the settlers’ security, why should the Government provide the funds with which to meet these advances? If -that is to be the practice here, why does not the Government adopt it in all other cases ? Strange to say, it is the men who are engaged in private enterprise, and who, it is alleged, never make mistakes, who are always soliciting assistance from the Government. Unfortunately, anti-Labour governments willingly grant them assistance at the expense of the taxpayer. Who is to provide this £100,000? Certainly the revenues of the country are in a buoyant condition, but 900 adult employees in the Postal Department are being paid junior rates, notwithstanding that many of them have families to support.
– Order ! The honorable member is departing from the question before the Chair.
– .This bill provides for handing over to 311 migrant settlers and their creditors, £100,000 of public revenue. That revenue will be available only because of the sacrifices which have been exacted from other sections of the community. Before handing out largess, the Government should extend justice to these other sections. Instead, it has used the present depression to deprive 900 postal employees of their proper wage. Old-age, invalid, and war pensions have been cut to furnish the £100,000 which will be required under this bill. But the expenditure of that sum may not represent the end of the matter. The Government may find itself involved to a much greater extent. Knowing tho source from which this £100,000 must come, and realizing that a very substantial portion of it will not go to the settlers, I am not prepared to support the clause.
– It seems impossible to place a limit to the misconception and misunderstanding of the honorable member who has just resumed his seat. The reference in the bill to “ press ing personal debts “ has been construed to mean that these settlers aro indebted to the banks and other financial institutions. That is a most amazing suggestion by anybody who has an appreciation of the realities of the position. What security could these migrant settlers give any financial institution, seeing that they went upon land to which they had no title, and that they had nothing which they could mortgage? By interjection, I informed the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) that the pressing personal debtsto which reference is made in the bill, wore debts owed by the settlers to storekeepers - to the men who had kept them alive during the recent difficult years. Substantially, that is the indebtedness in question, and the £8,000 is intended to help .the migrant settlers to discharge that indebtedness.
– In each individual case.
– Evidently the honorable member thinks that each individual settler i3 to get £8,000. If he is under that impression I can understand his speech.
– The honorable gentleman is endeavouring to convey the impression that the whole amount which is to go to the settlers’ creditors will not exceed £8,000. He is attempting to mislead the committee.
– Clause 5 of the tentative government scheme in relation to migrant land settlers specifies that the total of all the amounts provided under this clause shall not exceed £8,000. I do not presume to offer any explanation of that provision. If any honorable member does not understand it, I cannot help him to do so. The £S,000 is to be the sum total of all the amounts which are to be devoted to the payment of personal debts. The other money the settler will get. But if he owes money, he will probably have to pay his creditors with it. And why should he not do so? Obviously, these men were not in a position to incur anything more than the ordinary debts to a storekeeper for food, &c, together with, probably, some unwise debts incurred during the early years, in the purchase of farming plant. They wore not in a position to obtain any considerable amount of credit, as honorable members must realize. The position is quite plain to anybody who desires to understand it.
.The explanation of the Attorney-General (Mr. Latham) in regard to the allocation of this £100,000 is not satisfactory. Mr. Justice Owen, who is to be appointed assessor, will give consideration to all claims by creditors when allocating this amount. He may determine that the Federal Government must pay the whole of these claims.
– That statement happens to be wrong, but it is idle to explain.
– The bill makes definite provision for that.
– It simply does not. That is all.
– Somewhere in the bill, towards the end of the schedule, provision is made that the assessor shall determine the amounts which the States must repay to the Federal Government.
– That is quite right.
– Yes; and Mr. Justice Owen may determine that the States are to pay nothing. But the AttorneyGeneral says that there is no such provision in the measure, while the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) affirms that there is.
– No; the Leader of the Opposition made a slip.
– The assessor will determine the amounts which the States must pay under the agreement, as well as the sums which individual settlers shall get in accordance with clause 5 of annexure
K to the schedule. But the bulk of the money will go to the Imperial Government to repay the loan of £300 granted to settlers, and to meet other debts which they owe, and not to the settlers. . In the agreement with the Imperial Government, clauses 7 and 8 of annexure C provide -
It is more than probable that some of the money will go in that direction, although we have been told that the object of the bill is to assist the unfortunate settlers. The Attorney-General (Mr. Latham) says that we can accept his word, but his word will not suffice when the matter comes before the judge for determination. In my second-reading speech, I pointed out that certain of the States were not provided for, but my contention was lightly brushed aside by the Attorney-General. The right honorable gentleman will not deny that other States have entered into arrangements with the Commonwealth and British Governments. It would appear that influential creditors of settlers in Victoria started an. agitation in their own interests, and that, in consequence, a royal commission, was appointed in that State. The AttorneyGeneral accuses the party with which I am associated of imputing motives and entertaining unworthy thoughts, -but we do not merit his accusation. Wo are merely fighting for justice for all. Surely no honorable member will deny that migrants in the other States are as much entitled to fair treatment as are those in Victoria. Other migrants have entered into contracts for the purchase of homes, and some have lost them, even though they had paid large sums off their cost. That they have not been considered in this legislation is probably because they are not in debt to the big merchants. The bill should be withdrawn and redrafted to provide that migrants who were duped into coming to Australia shall be repatriated. It is unfair to extract £100,000 from the taxpayers of the Commonwealth to assist one section of migrants, and not to make provision for others similarly situated.
– Clause 5 of annexure “K” to the schedule reads -
In the case of any individual settler, the assessor, in consultation with the president of the settler’s association to which such settler belongs, may recommend that a sum be provided over and above any of the previous payments for the discharge of pressing personal debts, provided that the totalof all amounts to be provided under this clause shall not exceed £8,000.
This clause can be construed in a number of ways. It commences,.. “ In the case of any individual settler “,” and proceeds to refer to amounts to be provided “under this clause”. The clause deals with the individual settler, not with a number of settlers.
– It provides “ that the total of all amounts to be provided under this clause shall not exceed £8,000 “.
– The clause provides for the amount which may be paid to “ any individual settler “. Its interpretation will depend on the view of the person who administers it. Any person who has sufficient money to engage leading counsel could be sure of working up a big case on the point that I have mentioned. The use of the word “ individual “ in the first line gives to the whole clause an individual application.
Mr.HOLMAN (Martin) [1.30 a.m.].I have no desire to protract the discussion ; but, as the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) has referred the committee to clause 5 of the schedule it is as well that I should read it -
In the case of any individual settler, the assessor, in consultation with the president of the settlers’ association to which such settler belongs, may recommend that a sum be provided over and above any of the previous payments for the discharge of pressing personal debts, provided that the total of all amounts to be provided under this clause shall not exceed £8.000.
Honorable members who are able to look at this matter without the violent prejudices of the honorable members for East Sydney and West Sydney must, I feel sure, agree that it is crystal clear.
– The honorable member for Martin (Mr. Holman) has placed his interpratation upon the language of the clause. We on this side of the chamber have not at our command the galaxy of alleged legal talent to be found in the ranks of Government supporters, but we contend that the clause is so worded that it will be possible for the assessor, when considering the pressing personal debts of an individual settler, to recommend that the sum of £8,000 be allotted to him. We have had many instances of the intention of Parliament being entirely ignored by members of the legal fraternity when contesting claims before the courts of this country. They insist upon the strict legal interpretation of the provisions of any law passed by this Parliament. All that concerns them is the printed word. We, therefore, feel that we are justified in urging that the clause be amended in such a way as to avoid any possibility of misunderstanding in the future.
– I refrained from taking part in this discussion, because I thought that the issue was a very simple one. Annexure K of the schedule gives effect to the recommendations of the royal commission which investigated complaints made by migrant settlers, and, in addition to providing for a scale of cash payments as compensation for losses incurred, stipulates, in clause 5, that a further sum, not to exceed £8,000, shall be set aside for the settlement of pressing personal debts which may have been incurred by migrant settlers. The intention of the clause is clearly stated, and allows of no misunderstanding.
Question - That the clause be agreed to put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. Bell.)
Majority . . . . 37
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 (Appropriation).
– This clause provides for the appropriation from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the sum of £100,000. My colleagues and I are not prepared to consent to that appropriation, because it “will be made at the expense of thousands of the citizens of Australia “who will either have to find the necessary revenue by direct or indirect taxation, or suffer hardships and the deprivation of benefits that they otherwise might have received. We believe that the money will be devoted, not towards assisting the migrant settlers for whom it is supposedly being provided, but to the purposes against which we complained during the debate on clause 3. W e hope to amend the schedule when it is put to the committee.
– In order to avoid misconception hereafter, I point out that the schedule consists of agreements that have been made between the parties whose names are affixed to them, and that it is impossible to do more than either approve or reject them.
– They were approved when clause 2 was agreed to.
– They have already been adopted by the Parliament of Victoria. Accordingly, I hope that the remainder of the bill will have a speedy passage. It has been fully discussed.
.On the motion for the second reading of the bill, I expressed the view that the method of distribution of the money to be appropriated could have been improved. Of the 311 migrant settlers affected, I venture to say that 300 are entitled to receive all that is provided, and perhaps more, because they were very greatly deceived. Because I feel that, 1 believe that Australia is under an obligation that must be fulfilled. Whether it is the obligation of the State of Victoria :>r of the Commonwealth will be determined by the arbitrator, but’ it cannot be shirked, no matter what happens. I do not say that these are the only persons who are entitled to consideration.
– They are the only persons who are being given it.
– Even if they are, that should not debar us from doing a measure of justice to them. If I considered that something ought to be done for a large number of people, and a proposal was put forward on behalf of only some of them, I should support that measure of justice, and strive to have it extended so as to embrace the others.
– Unfortunately, justice is being done to the few at the expense of the many.
– I should not care if it were entirely at their expense. Where an obligation exists, whether it be to unemployed, pensioners, Australian soldiers, or migrant settlers, a proposal designed to do a measure of justice to any section will have my support. If we oppose a measure of justice to those entitled to justice because others are not sharing in it, we shall never make any progress in matters of this kind. The obligation of the Commonwealth will be determined by the arbitrator, and whatever his decision may be, I feel sure that he will find that, although the Commonwealth has a moral liability to these migrants, that of the State concerned is even greater.
– Would the right honorable gentleman apply the same principle with respect to the land-owners at Leeton, or to the tobacco-growers at Mareeba?
– If it were found that they were entitled to similar treatment, I should assist them. If we decide that these migrants cannot get justice because an injustice has been done to the tobaccogrowers, how could we support the claims of the tobacco-growers knowing that the migrants had not received fair treatment? For these reasons I shall support the clause.
Question - That the clause be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. Bell.)
Majority . . . . 32
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
– The most important portion of the schedule is contained in annexure K, but we have already been informed by the Attorney-General (Mr. Latham) that this agreement which is brought before this chamber for our consideration cannot be amended, and that it has already been approved by the Victorian Parliament. Although the agreement which has been adopted may contain many glaring anomalies which should be removed, we have not the right to amend it. Apparently we are here only, to fill in time, and are to be entirely subservient to the Victorian Parliament. It is interesting to have such a candid admission from the Attorney-General. It will be very enlightening to a large number of persons who are interested in the proceedings of this Parliament.
– The schedule can be rejected, but not amended.
– It would not be logical to ask for its rejection without stating grounds why it should be rejected. The members of my party consider that clause 5 of annexure K is not sufficiently clear to warrant acceptance of the schedule as a whole. To protect the revenue of the Commonwealth, and to ensure that certain settlers shall not receive more than the amount to which they are entitled, we consider that after the word “ clause “ the words “ to all settlers “ should be inserted. As that alteration cannot be made unless the schedule as a whole be rejected, we urge the committee to reject it so that when presented a second time, those words may be inserted. Otherwise, the expenditure of £100,000 might be exceeded.
– Provision is made under this bill for the appropriation of £100,000, and that is the total sum that could be spent.
– But the clause to which I have referred could be interpreted in such a way that it would be necessary to introduce another measure to provide for a further appropriation from the Consolidated Revenue to carry out the main purpose of this bill. It is therefore desirable to reject the schedule in its present form.
Question - That the schedule be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. Bell.)
Majority . . . . 34
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Schedule agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment.
Question - That the report be adopted - put. The House divided. (Mb. Speaker - Hon.g. H. Mack ay.)
Majority . . . . 34
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I ask leave to move -
That the bill be now read a. third time.
– I object. [Leave not granted.]
Motion (by Mr . Latham) proposed -
That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent the remaining stages from being passed without delay.
– I object to the suspension of Standing Orders, because - *-
Motion (by Mr. Latham) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. H. Mackay.)
Majority . . . . 17
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
Question - That the Standing Orders be suspended - put. The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. H. Mackay.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
Motion (by Mr. Latham) put -
That the . bill be now read a third time.
The House divided. (Ms. Speaker - Hon. G. H. Mackay.)
Majority . . . . 33
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Mr. Latham) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I desire to bring under the notice of the Minister ‘ for Repatriation (Mr. Marr) a grave case of injustice to a returned soldier named John Suzor, who enlisted when he was only seventeen years of age. He was admitted to the hospital in Suez suffering from influenza, but his complaint subsequently was diagnosed as rheumatoid arthritis which is an incurable complaint. He was discharged from theCaulfield Military Hospital and granted a 50 per cent, war pension.
Attention called to the state of the House. There being no quorum present,
Mr. Speaker adjourned the House at 2.42 a.m. (Thursday).
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
y asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Ploughs and harrows
Reapers and binders
Strippers and harvesters
Metal parts of stripper harvesters and strippers
Other implements and machinery (which includes also horticultural and viticultural machinery). *
The total value of the exports of goods made in Australia and included in this group was -
2 and 3. The value of the exports to New Zealand of Australian-made reapers and binders and parts thereof (parts not being separately recorded) was -
Customs Office at Bundaberg.
e asked the Minister for
Trade and Customs, upon notice - 1.Is there any truth in the rumour that the customs office at Bundaberg is to be closed at an early date?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 29 November 1933, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1933/19331129_reps_13_142/>.