13th Parliament · 1st Session
The House of Representatives on the 8th December, 1933, adjourned until a day and hour to be fixed by Mr. Speaker and notified by him to each honorable member. The House met pursuant to such notification.
Mr.speaker (Hon. G. H. Mackay) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I have to announce, with deep regret, the death on the 5th June last, of the honorable member for Martin (the Honorable William Arthur Holman, K.C), and to inform the House that, on the 21st June, I issued a writ for the election of a member to serve for that division in the place of the deceased gentleman. The dates in connexion with the election were fixed as follows: - Nominations, 5th July; polling, 14th July; return of writ, on or before the 30th July.
– by leave - As you, Mr. Speaker, have just announced, in the period of the recess the Honorable “William Arthur Holman, K.C, who represented the electoral division of Martin, New South Wales, in this House, has passed away. The news of his death on the 5th June was, I am sure, received with profound regret by every member of Parliament. His career of political service was long and distinguished, and his death has removed from our midst a statesman who played a memorable part in the public life of this Commonwealth. He was a man of extraordinary gifts and wide culture, an eloquent speaker, and a brilliant debater.
Entering the New South “Wales Legislative Assembly in 1898, the late honorable gentleman continued to be a member of that House until 1920. From 1910 until the end of 1913 lie was Attorney-General, and from 1914 until April, 1920, was Premier of the State. He had the distinction of being continuously for more than six years the Premier of New South Wales, occupying that office for a longer period than any of his predecessors or successors.
He re-entered public life in 1931 on being elected to the House of Representatives as the member for Martin, New South “Wales, and devoted himself energetically and with unselfish zeal to the service of his country and the welfare of its citizens. His death leaves a gap in Australia’s public life which it will be difficult to fill. The sympathy of this House goes out to his wife and daughter in the great loss they have sustained. 1 move -
That this House expresses its deep regret nt the death of the Honorable William Arthur Holman, K.C., the representative of the Electoral Division of Martin, places on record its high appreciation of his distinguished political services, and tenders its profound sympathy to his widow and daughter in their bereavement.
.-I second with very deep regret the motion that has just been moved by the right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons). Honorable members of this House came into close personal contact with the late Mr. Holman only during the period of the present Parliament, although for many years he had held a foremost place in the public life of Australia. I believe that every honorable member who had the privilege of meeting him constantly -will testify to his uniform courtesy. He was a man of very considerable culture*, and one of Australia’s most brilliant orators. It was a pleasure to meet him, because he was the essence of kindness and courtesy. I am confident that every honorable member deeply regrets his passing. On behalf of those who are associated with me on this side of the House, I join with the Prime Minister in extending sympathy to his widow and daughter.
.- I support the motion that has been moved by the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), and seconded by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin), expressing regret at the death of Mr. Holman, and conveying the condolences of this House to his widow and daughter. The Country Party as a whole associates itself with the expressions of sympathy that have been voiced. Mr. Holman endeared himself to every member of this chamber during the few years he was a member of it. He had a most engaging personality, and a delightful charm of manner. I prize very highly indeed a letter that he sent to me on the occasion of the death of my son. Mr. Holman had a most distinguished career, covering a period of nearly 40 years, in the public life of Australia, and was one of the most eloquent and cultured speakers Australia has heard. My colleagues and I join with other honorable members in conveying condolences to his widow and daughter.
– My colleagues and I associate ourselves with the motion moved by the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons)’, expressing the deepest sympathy of this House with the widow and daughter of the deceased honorable member for Martin.
.- I desire to associate myself with the remarks that have been made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin), the Leader of the Country Party (Dr. Earle Page), and the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley), and to pay a personal tribute to our late colleague and my very dear friend, Mr. W. A. Holman. A great man has gone, one who for nearly 40 years occupied a leading place in the public life of Australia, and for a quarter of a century was the dominant figure in its most populous State. For many years the late Mr. Holman was a member of the Legislature of the State of New South Wales. During that period he held ministerial positions and, as the Prime Minister has reminded us, Avas for six years the Premier of the State. Among the distinguished men who have occupied that high office, he stands out pre-eminently. Indeed, he stood in a class by himself. His powers of speech wore amazing. He was a brilliant orator. His oratory was modelled on the style of the great orators of the 18th. and the early part of the 19th centuries. His eloquence was lofty and sustained, his phrases polished, nicely balanced, and harmoniously arranged; his command of language supreme. But he was not only a great orator. As the Prime Minister has said, he was also a great debater. No man could marshall arguments and present them more lucidly and convincingly than he. In debate he was a model of courtesy. He never descended to personalities nor dipped the point of his foil in venom. His charm of manner, his felicitous phrases, and the cogency of his argument, while demolishing his opponent’s case, left not a trace of bitterness, and this marked his relations with his fellowmen in all things. In Parliament, on the public platform and in private conversation his speech was dignified, his manner courteous. He was a great lover of good literature, and the range of his reading was as wide as the world. Philosophy, science, history, biography, drama and poetry; he took all of these things in his stride. He was a delightful companion ; has conversation was lively and entertaining; and he was an excellent raconteur. He was a brilliant man whose great gifts would have won him a place in the public life of any country. Law was, of course, his profession, and in this, as in all else that he gave his mind to, he achieved great distinction. He was a great leader of men. Inspired by lofty and noble ideals, he championed the cause of the masses and laboured assiduously to improve their conditions. He was one of the pioneers and leaders of the Labour Movement, which he led with distinction aDd success out of the wilderness into the Promised Land. He was one of the founders of the Nationalist Party, and to his wide knowledge, experience, tact and inspiring oratory much of its success is due. He is gone, and it will be long before we shall look upon his like again. A loyal friend, an upright and honorable man, a faithful servant of the people to whose cause he unselfishly devoted his life, the name of W. A. Holman will long be remembered, and his name and fame inscribed on the archives of Commonwealth and State will go down in history. To his sorrowing widow and daughter We extend our heartfelt sympathy.
.- I met the late Mr. Holman for the first time in Sydney 45 years ago, and we then formed a friendship that remained unbroken. Unfortunately, in this life we are too busy to cultivate friendship to the extent that we should like, but he was a friend from whom I always learned something. I was always the better for any meeting or conversation that I had with him. He was a great orator, a splendid debater and a fine humanitarian. He was always sympathetic with any suggestion of mine for the welfare of man, woman, or child, and during his life “was able to do far more for the people than I have ever been able to do. He is one of those whom, when my time comes to pass through the shadows, I hope to meet in the next world, where I sincerely hope we shall have more time to cultivate friendship than is possible in this busy and worried world of ours. Although in passing this motion we shall salute the sacred dead, yet I think we should go further. I have always held that a member of Parliament who faces his creators every three years should be in as good a position as that of the public servant. The public servant does not have to face the electors every three years. I have known many members of Parliament who have passed away, and too frequently their dear ones have been left in a position which no dependants of a late member of Parliament should experience. The lifemate of the late Mr. Holman was a lady of supreme intelligence and great attainments, and a worthy companion for him. I send her and also her daughter my deepest condolences, and I hope that, if any unforeseen circumstances should arise, this Parliament will not forget them.
.- I was associated with the late Mr. Holman from the beginning of his political career, and I cannot let this occasion pass without joining with other honorable members in their expressions of sorrow at his demise. I have no wish to repeat “what has already been said, but I remember that in the early ‘nineties, even as a youth, thanks to the training of clever parents, he was a great orator and a keen debater. Although our political views differed, let me say that the late Mr. Holman was a true friend to those with whom he was associated, and he did not progress at the expense of others. I join with other honorable members in expressing our sympathy for his widow and daughter.
.- As one who, for the last seventeen years, was closely associated with the late Mr. Holman, I desire to support the motion which is before the House. During the time that I was associated with Mr. Holman, when many intensive and keen political battles were being fought, I came to know him in a -way in winch few men were permitted to do so. One could not be with him without being struck by the very keen and high sense of personal honour with which he viewed every political encounter or fight in which he engaged. In addition to the many tributes which have been paid to him to-day, may I say that he was a man of intense and human sympathy. Hundreds and thousands of Australians are much better placed in this life because of his efforts on their behalf. Throughout his life he never let down a friend or supporter. This House did not know him in the heyday of his skill and power, but while he was in the Parliament of Kew South Wales, he was probably the most skilful and resourceful parliamentarian that distinguished assembly has ever known. This chamber has never rung with the resonant rhetoric and eloquent periods which were common to Mr. Holman in the State chamber, because, unfortunately, by the time he came to this House, he was too ill to display the real ability which marked him in prior years. He carved his name in indelible characters upon the public life of this- community by the monumental achievements recorded in the statute-books of the great State of New South Wales. To-day thousands upon thousands mourn the loss of a great Australian whose life was an example to others in public life and also to those about to enter its portals. This appreciation of his life and work was manifested by probably the greatest concourse of people that ever attended a funeral to pay homage to any public man of New South Wales. I extend my deepest sympathy to Mr. Holman’s widow and daughter in the very great bereavement they have suffered.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.
– by leave - Immediately after news was received of the death of King Albert of Belgium in February last, the following message was telegraphed to the British Ambassador at Brussels for conveyance to the Belgian Government: -
The Government of the Commonwealth of Australia, have learned with feelings of great sorrow of the death in such tragic circumstances of His Majesty the King of the Belgians. Australians will mourn with Belgians the passing of one whose self-sacrificing and tireless devotion to the cause of his country and people during the great war made his name a household word. Our heartfelt sympathy is extended to the members of the Belgian Royal Family and to the Belgian nation.
King Albert was a man of simplicity of character and was one of the heroic figures of the great war, earning, by his indomitable spirit, the title of “Albert the brave “. Upon the invasion of his country in 1914, he took his place as commander of the army in the field, and during those years of great difficulty and danger for his country his conduct and example evoked widespread admiration in other lands as well as his own. His death was received with profound regret by Australians everywhere, and the sympathy of the nation had gone out to the Belgian people. In paying a tribute to the’ memory of this great man who played such an important part in the affairs of the world, I am sure that it is the wish of honorable members that this House should place on record the sympathy which we feel for the Belgian nation. I, therefore, move -
That we, the members of the House of Representatives of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia on re-assembling take advantage of this first opportunity to express our deep sympathy with the people of Belgium in the death of King Albert.
We feel sure that the splendid example of service and sacrifice which he set during his lifetime will serve as a stimulus in the countries of the world.
.- I associate myself and the members of my party with the remarks of the Prime
Minister in extending the sympathy of this Parliament to the people of Belgium in the great loss that they have sustained.
.- I associate the Country party with the remarks made by the Prime Minister in moving this motion. The late King Albert will always be remembered as the great wartime King of Belgium, who, in these modern times, brought back the chivalry and gallantry of kings depicted by Caesar in his Commentaries nearer 2,000 years ago. The gallant and active part that King Albert of Belgium took from the outset of the great war helped to inspire the Allies through the whole period of the conflict. The fact that he took his kingship seriously in war trine as well as peace time was a great contributing factor to the ultimate victory of the. Allies.
Question resolved in the affirmative honorable members standing in their places.
– hy leave - I am sure that honorable members would desire me to refer to the death, on the 30th March last, of Viscount Novar of Raith, who, as Sir Ronald Craufurd Munro Ferguson, was Governor-General of the Commonwealth from the 18th May, 1914, to the 6th October, 1920. Viscount Novar occupied the high office of Governor-General during a critical period in the history of the Commonwealth. Honorable members will recall that he reached Australia immediately prior to the outbreak of the war. Throughout the period of his residence in Australia, Viscount Novar devoted himself unremittingly to the promotion of patriotic efforts, and to the welfare of the members of the Australian Imperial Force and their dependants. As GovernorGeneral, he was actively interested in all matters that concerned the wellbeing of this portion of the British Commonwealth, and of its citizens. In his farewell message on leaving Fremantle in October. 1920, he stated -
It is with a sinking heart that I say a last good-bye to .Australia. More than a nome to me it nas been, and I shall remember it always with feelings of pride.
He was a man of wide experience and considerable personal charm, and endeared himself to all with whom he came in contact. His Majesty specially acknowledged Sir Ronald’s service in Australia by raising him, shortly after his return Home in 1920, to the Peerage of the United Kingdom, as Viscount Novar of Raith, and this expression of appreciation gave keen satisfaction in Australia. Upon receipt of the news of the death of Viscount Novar a message in the following terms was despatched to Lady Novar by His Excellency the GovernorGeneral : -
The Government and people of the Commonwealth of Australia, as well as my wife and myself, have received with profound regret the announcement of the death of Viscount Novar. We recall with the highest appreciation his outstanding services during the extended term of his occupancy of the office of Governor-General of the Commonwealth which was attended with peculiar difficulties, and included the whole period of the Great War, and the subsequent visit of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales to the Commonwealth. Will you please accept our deep sympathy.
I move -
That this House records its deep regret at the death of Viscount Novar of Raith, a former Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, and expresses its profound sympathy with Lady Novar, in her bereavement.
– I second the motion, and associate myself and the members of my party with the Prime Minister in extending our sympathy to the relatives of the- late Viscount Novar in the great loss that they have sustained. In doing so, I recall one very pleasant afternoon when I received a warm Scottish welcome to Edinburgh. One of the gentlemen who was to the fore on that occasion in welcoming the Prime Minister of Australia to Scotland was Viscount Novar. He assured me that he had never forgotten Australia, and the period he had spent, here.
.- I support the motion. The death of Viscount. Novar has broken one of the strong links in the chain of Empire. During the war, Viscount Novar helped materially to maintain the spirit and morale of the people of Australia, not merely by what he said.but also by travelling through the length and breadth of this country, mixing with the people and encouraging them in their hours of trial. His knowledge of the rural conditions of Australia appealed to every one obliged to live away from our big cities. I venture to say that his enthusiasm for forestation is still having a most beneficial effect, upon the development of Australia.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.
– by leave - I move -
That this House expresses its deep regret at the death of the Honorable Sir Josiah Henry Symon, K.C.M.G., K.C., a former member of the South Australian and Commonwealth Parliaments, and a Minister of State, records its appreciation of his notable public services to Australia, and tenders to his widow and family its profound sympathy in their bereavement.
With regret I inform the House that Sir Josiah Symon died in Adelaide on the 29th March, in his 88th year. He was one of the representatives of the State of South Australia in the first Parliament of the Commonwealth, and thereafter until 1913. He was Attorney-General in the Reid-McLean Ministry from August, 1904, to July, 1905. He will be remembered with gratitude throughout Australia, especially for his participation, as a prominent member of the Australasian Federal Convention of 1897-1898, in the drafting of the Constitution of the Commonwealth. He was also a member of the delegation which proceeded to London in 1899 to assist in connexion with the consideration of the Constitution Bill by the British Parliament. Sir Josiah Symon had been a member of the Parliament of South Australia from 1881 to 1887, and had held the office of AttorneyGeneral for a short period in 1881. In 1.901, he was appointed by Her Majesty Queen Victoria to be a Knight Commander of St. Michael and St. George. Sir Josiah was renowned for his wide learning, for his literary attainments, and for his great ability as a lawyer. His death has removed one who devoted his great talents to the service of Australia, particularly in the cause of federation. We number him among the great Australians, and recall with pride the valuable service he rendered during a period of many years. Honorable members will, I am sure, desire to unite in expressing deep sympathy with Lady Symon and the members of her family in their bereavement.
.- I join with the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) in expressing the regret of members of this House at the death of Sir Josiah Symon, and in extending, on behalf of members of the Opposition, their sympathy to Lady Symon and the members of her family. Sir Josiah Symon had a long and very honorable career in the public life of Australia. He was an. eminent man, possessed of conspicuous ability, and he has left a great mark on the history of the Commonwealth.
.- I desire to associate myself with the expressions of regret which have been made on the passing of Sir Josiah Symon. I always found the late honorable gentleman most ready to help new members to this Parliament when they were confronted with legal difficulties of any kind.
– My colleagues and I wish to join with other speakers in expressing our deep regret at the death of Sir Josiah Symon, and desire to convey our sympathy to his widow and the members of his family.
.- I wish to express, on my own behalf, and on that of other South Australian members, our very keen sense of loss at the death of Sir Josiah Symon, and we desire to convey our deepest sympathy to his widow and the members of the family. Sir Josiah Symon was one of the most brilliant and forceful citizens which South Australia has ever produced. Although he brought all his fine qualities, and his great energy to the work of inaugurating the Commonwealth, he did not regard his services to the federation as in any way incompatible with his desire to advance the best interests of his own State. He had a broad outlook upon matters which concerned Australia and the British Empire, and was aMe so to order his policies as to further the interests of his own State while, at the same time, advancing those of the larger communities of which he was a member. Few of us here to-day enjoyed the privilege of being his colleague when he was a member of this Parliament, but we all owe something to his example, and to the advice and assistance which he was always ready to give out of the fullness of his experience and the breadth of his culture. It was not only as a member of this Parliament and of the South Australian Parliament that he performed great public service. For practically a generation he was the outstanding figure at the South Australian bar, and even after he retired from active practice he was associated with higher cultural movements through his work for the university in South Australia, and in some of the other States as well. “We are deeply sensible of the loss which South Australia has suffered, and wish to be specifically associated with the expressions of sympathy which are being forwarded to his widow and to the members of his family.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.
– by leave - I move -
That this House expresses its deep regret at the death of the Honorable Agar Wynne, a former member of the Victorian and Common wealth Parliaments, and a Minister of State, places on record its appreciation of his meritorious services, and tenders its deep sympathy to his daughter in her bereavement.
Mr. Wynne’s death, I regret to announce, occurred on the 12th May, in the State of Victoria. There are few members present to-day who were asso ciated with Mr. Wynne in this House, hut all shared in the general regret which was felt on the passing of one who was held in such high esteem in the community by reason of his long and honorable career of service to his country, his reputation for integrity and honesty of purpose, and his genial disposition and warm heartedness. Mr. Wynne first entered Parliament in the Legislative Council of Victoria in 1888, and during the next fifteen years, he held cabinet rank as Postmaster-General and Solicitor-
General. In 1906, he was elected to the House of Representatives as member for Balaclava, and held the seat till 1914. From June, 1913, to September, 1914, he was Postmaster-General in the Cook Ministry. He re-entered the Victorian Parliament in 1917 as a member of the Legislative Assembly and in 1917-18. held the portfolio of Attorney-General and Minister for Railways. Mr. Wynne brought to bear in his parliamentary and ministerial work, a wide legal and business experience. He has left behind an enviable record of public service, and a memory which will long be cherished.
.- I support the motion, and join with the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) in expressing my regret at the death of the Hon. Agar Wynne, and in expressing my sympathy, and that of members of the Opposition, with the members of the bereaved family. The late honorable gentleman was a very genial personality, and one whom it was a pleasure to know. I endorse everything that has been said of him by the Prime Minister.
.- I desire to associate myself, and the members of my party, with the expressions of regret that have fallen from the lips of the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) regarding the death of the Hon. Agar Wynne, and we desire to convey our sympathy to his bereaved daughter.
– My colleagues and I wish to be associated with the expressions of regret regarding the death of the late Hon. Agar Wynne, and we feel the very greatest sympathy with his daughter in the loss she has sustained.
.- I desire to add my tribute to the noble dead. The Hon. Agar Wynne was one of the straightest and most honorable men I have ever met in my long association with politics. There was in the whole State of Victoria, no finger which could be pointed against him. Every position he held he filled as an honest man should, and he carried out his duties according to his convictions and to the best of his ability. To my knowledge, there were many members of Parliament who had to thank him for assistance and advice, especially during the great financial crash that followed the bursting of the Victorian land boom. I am sorry that those men are not here now to bear testimony to what he did for them on that occasion. If a man, by reason of political integrity and an honorable private life, be entitled to a favorable reward in a future state, then surely this man will stand on the righthand side. I regret the passing of so fine a citizen, and I sympathize with his daughter in her bereavement.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.
– by leave - I move -
That this House expresses its deep regret at the death of the Honorable Sydney Smith, a former member of the Kew South Wales and Commonwealth Parliaments, and a Minister of State, records its appreciation of his meritorious services, and tenders to his widow and family its deep sympathy in their, bereavement.
Mr. Sydney Smith, who died at Croydon, Sydney, on the 21st February last, had not been associated with the parliamentary life of this country since the early part of this century, but it is fitting that we, the present members of the House of Representatives; should pay tribute to one who was a member of the House of Representatives in the first Commonwealth Parliament.
After a membership for over sixteen years of the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales prior to the inauguration of federation, in which he was a member of the Parkes and Reid Ministries as Secretary for Mines, Mr. Smith was a representative in this House from 1901 to 1906. From August, 1904, to July, 1905, he was Postmaster-General in the Reid-McLean Administration.
After his retirement from parliamentary life, he continued to take an active interest in public movements in Sydney, and spent a considerable time in promoting the welfare of returned soldiers. We honour him for his devoted service to his country during a long and honorable career.
Our deep sympathy is extended to his widow and family in their bereavement.
.- I join with the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) in expressing the regret of my party at the death of the Hon. Sydney Smith, and in tendering expressions of sympathy to his family. I did not have the privilege of knowing the late honorable gentleman, but I have read of him. He has joined the great majority of those who have rendered good service to the State.
– I desire to associate myself with the motion moved by the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) and supported by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin).
– My colleagues and I wish to be associated with the expressions of sympathy tendered to the widow and friends of the. late honorable gentleman.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members’ standing in their places.
– by leave - I move -
That this House expresses its deep regret at the death of Mr. Percy Edmund Coleman, one of its former members, and tenders to his widow and family its deep sympathy in their very sad bereavement.
The sudden death of Mr. Coleman on the 25th of last month was particularly sad, as he was a comparatively young man, and it seemed that for many years he would be able to continue his activities in the public life of our Commonwealth. A considerable number of those present to-day were associated with him in this chamber prior to December, 1931, and can testify to the zealous and enthusiastic manner in which he discharged his parliamentary duties. While a member of the House of Representatives from 1922 to 1931 he filled a number of offices, including that of member of the Public Works Committee, and member and Chairman of the Committee of Public Accounts. In 1930 he was one of the representatives of the Commonwealth at the Assembly of the League of Nations and at the International Labour Conference.
Mr. Coleman was highly esteemed on account of his public services and his personal qualities. We greatly regret the termination of his career at so early an age, and I ask honorable members to join in an expression of our deep sympathy with Mrs. Coleman and family in their particularly sad bereavement.
.- The tragic, sudden death of the late Mr. Coleman is one of the greatest personal blows’ I have received for many years. I was closely associated with him from the time of his entry into the Federal Parliament until within a few hours of his death. Mr. Coleman was a man of marked ability. Though suffering great disability as a result of his war service, he would not, while he was a member of this Parliament, accept a war pension. The late honorable gentleman was a loyal colleague and a warm personal friend who will be missed very greatly. I join with the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) in expressing regret at his untimely decease, and extending our deepest sympathy to his widow and daughter.
.- In the list of ex-members of this Parliament whose loss we have deplored to-day, the greater number have been men of ripe years whose work may be said to have been finished. But in the case of the late Mr. Coleman, we, unfortunately, have one taken in the prime of his life when his work may be said to have just begun. He had striven hard to qualify for admittance to the bar, and almost at the inception of his legal career, we find death claiming him. Members of the Country party desire to express their sorrow at his death, and to record their sympathy with his widow and daughter.
– My colleagues and I wish to join in the expression of regret and deepest sympathy to the widow and daughter of the late Mr. Coleman.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.
– by leave - I move -
That this House expresses its deep regret at the death of the Honorable Thomas Brown, a former member of the Commonwealth and
New South Wales Parliaments, places on record its appreciation of his parliamentary services, and extends to his widow and family its deep sympathy in their bereavement.
Mr. Thomas Brown, whose death occurred in Sydney on the 23rd March last, was not known personally to many honorable members, as his membership of this House ceased in 1913, but I feel sure that honorable members would desire at this time to signify their appreciation of his services as one of that band of men who constituted the first Parliament of the Commonwealth, and devoted themselves to the development of the national life of Australia. Mr. Brown was a member of the Commonwealth parliamentary party which visited England, at the invitation of the British Government, on the occasion of the coronation of His Majesty King Edward VII. He was later elected to the Legislative Assembly of the State of New South Wales.
I have full knowledge of the earnestness and zeal with which the late honorable gentleman discharged his parliamentary duties, and of his humanitarianism. The sadness of the passing of such a one is tempered by the memory of his work on behalf of his fellow citizens. We are grateful for his fine example, and our thoughts turn to his widow and family, to whom we tender our warm sympathy.
.- I had the privilege of being a colleague of the late Mr. Thomas Brown for three years, from 1910 to 1913, and during that time he became a very warm personal friend of mine. He was a genial soul. To know him was to esteem and admire him. He was always willing to do a good turn for any one. I join in expressing to his family our deepest sympathy at his passing.
.- My colleagues and I join in expressing sympathy and regret at the passing of the late Mr. Thomas Brown.
– My colleagues and I associate ourselves with this motion, and express our deepest sympathy to the relatives and friends of the late honorable member.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.
– by leave - I have been informed of the death of Mr. Edward Ernest Heitmann, at Bendigo, on the 30th January, 1934. The late Mr. Heitmann was a member of the Legislative Assembly of the Parliament of Western Australia, from 1904 until 1913, and was re-elected to that legislature in 1914. He was elected to this House in 1917, and in the following year enlisted for active service in the Great War, at the end of which he was appointed to the position of Controller of Transport in connexion with the demobilization of the Australian Imperial Force.
Honorable members will, I am sure, unite in an expression of deep regret at Mr. Heitmann’s demise, and of warm sympathy with his family. I move -
That this House expresses its deep regret at the death of Mr. Edward Ernest Heitmann, one of its former members, and tenders to the members of his family its sincere sympathy in their bereavement.
.- On behalf of the Opposition, I support the motion that has been moved by the Prime Minister, and endorse the remarks thai he has made.
.- On behalf of the Country party, I support the motion and endorse the remarks of the Prime Minister.
– My colleagues and I wish to be associated with the motion of sympathy with the relatives and friends of the late gentleman.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.
– by leave - The late Sir Robert Gibson, whose death occurred on the first day of this year, served Australia in many notable ways, particularly in banking, financial, industrial and commercial spheres. During the war, and for some time subsequently, the Commonwealth Government frequently availed itself of his services in dealing with difficult war and repatriation problems.
From the inception of the Commonwealth Bank Board in 1924, he was a director of the bank, whilst from 1926 until his death, he continuously occupied the position of chairman of the Commonwealth Bank Board. It was in this position that he so greatly distinguished himself when Australia was called upon to face the most serious crisis in its history.
My close association with the late Sir Robert Gibson within recent years enables me to sneak with confidence of the highly valuable work that he did in the rehabilitation of the finances of Australia. It is not too much to say that, he played a greater part than any other man in the financial and economic recovery of- this country, and that his death was a severe national loss. I feel that it is, unquestionably, the desire of this House to place on record its deep appreciation of the services rendered to Australia by Sir Robert Gibson, and to extend the sympathy of the House to Lady Gibson and the members of her family. I therefore move -
That this House place on record its deep appreciation of the valuable services rendered to the Commonwealth of Australia by the late Sir Robert Gibson, and tenders to Lady Gibson and the members of his family its profound sympathy in their bereavement.
.- On behalf of the Opposition, I join in the expressions of sympathy that have been voiced by the Prime Minister with Lady Gibson and the members of her family, in the loss that they have sustained by the death of Sir Robert Gibson. Having had for two years the responsibility which is associated with the position of Prime Minister, I am able to say that, during a period of crisis, Sir Robert Gibson played a very important part in the life of Australia. The late gentleman has been criticized on account of decisions which, by reason of his official position, he had to convey to governments. I, however, have personal knowledge of the fact that his communications did not always contain decisions that were the result of his having imposed his will upon others; on many occasions the reverse was the case, fie was a man of broad sympathies, and was of great help to me during a most difficult period. I suppose that no government is able to obtain all that it desires in certain circumstances. Although the government that I led occupied such a position, I can say with perfect sincerity that I learned with the deepest regret of the death of Sir Robert Gibson. I held him in the highest respect, and had the greatest admiration for him. His service to Australia, in most difficult times, was marked by zeal, honour and honesty. He also played in industrial disputes a part that is somewhat unique in the history of, at all events, the State of Victoria. When it was difficult to secure the services of an arbitrator or a chairman of a conciliation committee, to deal with an acute industrial crisis, Sir Robert Gibson volunteered for the task; and at the conclusion of the deliberations he held the respect and the admiration of both sides in the dispute. That is the greatest tribute that may be paid to his impartiality and his honour.
– The members of the Country party desire to associate themselves with the tribute that has been paid to a great man and a great Australian. . The late Sir Robert Gibson, with remarkable courage and while suffering from physical infirmities that would have deterred the majority of men from discharging their duties, performed magnificent service for the people of Australia in periods of both war and peace, alike in his private and in his public capacity. As the Chairman of the Commonwealth Bank Board, he piloted the transition of that institution into a central bank, thus enabling it to withstand the shock of the financial depression. That depression, indeed, revealed in its full glory his strength of character, and earned for him the unbounded confidence of the whole of the people of Australia. My colleagues and I have pleasure in associating ourselves with this tribute to his capacity and his worth, and join in the condolences that are to be offered to his widow and family.
– My colleagues and I wish to be associated with the motion of sympathy with the relatives and friends of the late Sir Robert Gibson. As the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin), however, have referred to certain very controversial matters that arose during the deceased gentleman’s association with the Commonwealth Bank Board, I feel it incumbent upon me to express the view that there exists a very wide division of opinion upon the question whether the policy he pursued was at all times in the best interests of the people of this country. The course which Sir Robert Gibson followed was apparently in line with his own point of view, although, as the Leader of the Opposition has stated, the decisions that were made did not always coincide with the personal opinions of the late gentleman. All of these matters are still associated with questions of vital importance, particularly the question of finance, in which are involved the wellbeing and the livelihood of the people of Australia. A great deal of suffering, unhappiness, and misery, has had to be borne during the last four years. I was a party to many conferences which Sir Robert Gibson attended while I was a member of the Scullin Ministry, and thus came into close personal touch with him. Although I differed from the point of view that he held, my colleagues and I associate ourselves with the motion of sympathy with his widow and relatives, who are left to mourn his loss.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.
Motion (by Mr. Lyons) - by leave - agreed to -
That Mr. Speaker be requested to transmit the foregoing resolutions respectively to the several persons specified therein, together with a copy of the speeches delivered in connexion with them.
– As a mark of respect to the memory of the deceased, I suggest that the sitting be suspended for an hour.
Sitting suspended from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m..
Assent to the following bills reported : -
Seat of Government Supreme Court Bill 1933.
Extradition Bill 1933.
Designs Bill 1933.
Immigration Bill 1933.
Commonwealth Public Service Bill 1933.
Fruit-Growers’Relief Bill 1933.
Income Tax Assessment Bill 1933..
Income Tax Bill 1933.
Wheat-Growers’ Belief Bill 1933.
Flour Tax Assessment Bill 1933.
Flour Tax Bills (Nos. 1, 2 and 3) 1933.
Sales Tax Assessment Bills (Nos. 1 - 9) 1933.
Invalid and Old-age Pensions Bill 1933.
Patents Bill 1933.
Dairy Produce Bill 1933.
Dried Fruits Bill 1933.
Ashmore and Cartier Islands Acceptance Bill 1933.
War Pensions Appropriation Bill 1933.
Silver Agreement Bill 1933.
High Court Procedure Bill 1933.
Invalid and Old-age Pensions Appropriation Bill 1933.
Judiciary Bill 1933.
Bankruptcy Bill 1933.
Wheat Acquisition Bill 1933.
Copyright Bill 1933.
Tariff Board Bill 1933.
South Australia Grant Bill 1933.
Western Australia Grant Bill 1933.
Tasmania Grant Bill 1933.
Cockatoo Island Dockyard Agreement Bill 1933.
Trade Commisisoners’ Bill 1933.
– I lay on the table the following papers: -
Electoral Act - Reports, with maps, by the Commissioners appointed for the purpose of redistributing into electoral divisions the States of -
– Will the Prime Minister, at an early date, make a statement to the House as to the Government’s intention regarding the restriction of exports as has been urged by the High Commissioner, Mr. Bruce?
– I have already, I think, made the position of the Commonwealth Government very clear in that regard.
– In which statement?
– In every statement that I have made. I shall certainly take an opportunity to make the position very clear also to this Parliament.
– Will the Prime Minister take an early opportunity to make it quite clear once again that the High Commissioner for Australia, Mr. Bruce, does not advocate, nor never has advocated, the restriction of Australian primary production as suggested bythe Leader of the Opposition?
– It is well known, I think, to honorable members that, at a world economic conference, the strongest voice raised against a policy of restriction was that of the High Commissioner for Australia.
– And subsequently he agreed to it.
– He has never agreed to it. He intimated to the Australian producers the possibility of Great Britain seeking to impose some regulations or restrictions from that end upon Australian exports, and warned them to be ready to meet such a position. That, I understand, is all Mr. Bruce has done.
– Has the Prime Minister yet received the report of the Royal Commission on the Wheat Industry? If not, will the Government expedite the findings of that Commission, so that honorable members may be in a position to discuss any proposed action by the Government before the end of the session?
– I have reason to believe that an interim report will be submitted by the Commission within a very few days, and when this is received the House will be given an opportunity to discuss the recommendations contained in it.
– Will the Minister for Trade and Customs state whether there is any foundation for the statements published in the press, and which are current rumour, to the effect that it is proposed to remove the duty on motor pressed panels?
– An inquiry into this matter has already been held by the Tariff Board, and further investigations will take place in Adelaide, and, later, in Melbourne. The question whether there is a scarcity of these panels, as has been alleged in the press, will then be considered.
– Will the Prime Minister inform the House as to the reason for the long delay in the completion of the inquiries being made by the Petrol Commission which was set up about twelve months ago?
– The Commission, of course, controls its own operations and determines its own procedure, but I am not aware of any unnecessary delay in regard to its work. Anticipating that information might be required as to future sittings of the Commission, I have obtained certain particulars regarding its investigations. I have been advised that it concluded its public sittings in Melbourne on the 25th June. This was made possible by the fact that the two main. Sydney companies, the Texas Company and the Atlantic Union Company, arranged for their counsel to attend in Melbourne to address the Commission generally in public, and in camera regarding matters which they desired should be kept secret in terms of the Royal Commissions Act. Independent Oil Industries Limited, the purveyors in Sydney of Purr Pull petrol, were unable to send counsel to Melbourne for this purpose. Arrangements have, therefore, been made to finalize all public sittings of the Commission to-morrow, when the company mentioned will be given an opportunity to address the Commission at 2 p.m. in Sydney. On the 26th June, the Commission was dealing in committee with the basic features of its report, and after to-morrow the work of compiling the report will proceed until concluded.
– Will the responsible Minister state whether finality has been reached regarding the investigations reported in the press from time to time, since Parliament was last in session, to the effect that a sub-committee of Cabinet was inquiring into the possibility of establishing patrols along the whole of the northern coast of Australia to enable a proper supervision to be maintained of craft which were supposed from time to time to enter those waters for illicit purposes ?
– This matter concerns not only the Department of Trade and
Customs, but also the Department of the Interior. Owing to reports received about illegal fishing in northern waters, the Government has given consideration to the provision of patrols consisting of fast surface craft and also aircraft. It has already been announced by the Prime Minister that three surface craft will be purchased or built for the purpose of maintaining a patrol in those waters. Full details concerning them cannot be given at the moment, but the desire of the Cabinet is to cope with any illegal fishing or smuggling which may be carried on there.
Employment of Canberra Unemployed
– I have received a telegram from Mr. Lacey, the Leader of the Opposition in South Australia, indicating that a report in the press states that 100 men are to be sent from Canberra for relaying work on the east-west railway, and offering his protest against the proposal, on the ground that the work should be done by South Australians. Will the Minister for the Interior state whether the Government intends to despatch 100 men from Canberra to the east-west railway for the purpose mentioned, and, if so, will the Government reconsider its decision, with a view to giving employment to unemployed South Australians, and those who have been previously associated with Commonwealth railway work in that State?
– There is some foundation for the statement to which the honorable member has referred, although finality has not yet been reached in the matter.
– Why should not the work be given to the unemployed in South Australia?
– Because special Commonwealth money is to be expended. In Canberra there are about 800 unemployed, and the Government has been looking around for work for these men. A necessary undertaking, and one that will prove of value to the Commonwealth, is the renewal of many of the sleepers on the east-west railway, and also the further ballasting of the line. My department asked the Government to consider the possibility of providing an increased sum of money in order that, in addition to employment being given to the men in South Australia who are usually engaged on work of this description, the unemployment position in Canberra might be relieved. We are trying to ascertain whether the extra sum to be voted will enable work to be found for a hundred of the unemployed at Canberra. A call-up has already been made to see how many men in the Federal Capital Territory will accept this work.
– How many similar jobs will be available for South Australians ?
– They will get a fair proportion of the work, but special provision has to be made to provide employment for men who come immediately under the care of the Commonwealth Government, such as those who are unemployed at Canberra.
– In view of the suggestion that unemployed men be sent from the Federal Capital Territory to work on the east-west railway, on the ground that Commonwealth expenditure is involved, is the Minister aware that all Commonwealth moneys are collected in the States? Will he consider the whole question in view of the fact that the cost of transport of men from Canberra would absorb a good deal of the money to be expended and of the existence of plenty of labour in South Australia?
– The unemployed in the Federal Capital Territory cannot seek assistance from State Governments. To them the Commonwealth Government stands in the position of both a State Government and a Commonwealth Government. Under the Government’s proposal, which is not yet final, South Australia will benefit considerably, because a good many South Australians will be employed on this work1, whereas men from the other States will not. It is proposed to utilize unemployed men in South Australia and in the Federal Capital Territory on this work.
– Can the Minister for Commerce inform the House whether satisfactory arrangements have been made with New Zealand for the entry into the dominion of this season’s citrus fruits from South Australia?
– Pursuant to an invitation which the Government extended to the Government of New Zealand, a conference was held at Canberra last Monday week to discuss the quarantine embargoes operating between the two dominions. Scarcely sufficient time has elapsed to enable the recommendations of the conference to reach New Zealand, and therefore, obviously, they cannot yet have been considered, but the Government is alive to the urgent necessity to finalize the matter, having regard to the fact that our citrus season is just about to commence.
– In view of the fact that many citizens of Australia show a considerable interest in the Major Douglas credit proposals, will the Government appoint a small committee of independent and non-political experts to examine these proposals, and report to Parliament as to their soundness or otherwise, their applicability to Australia, their effect if adopted, upon Australian credit at home and abroad, upon Australian investments within Australia, upon the future investment of capital in this country, upon the employment of labour. and upon production ?
– I would refer the honorable member to a reply that I gave last year to a similar question. The Government believes that there is no system of finance that has been more carefully investigated than has the Douglas -Credit System. There have been inquiries by royal commissions and by individual experts, and study circles have been established here and elsewhere by the advocates of the system, Innumerable pamphlets have been issued regarding it, and probably no subject has been more widely written about or investigated. The Government does not feel justified in causing still another inquiry to be made into it.
– I direct the attention of the Prime Minister to the recent press reports to the effect that it is the intention of the Government to create a new Commonwealth department in New South Wales by altering the system of bankruptcy administration. If this is the case, will the Prime Minister, before consenting to any alteration of the nature proposed, take into consideration, first, the provisions of sub-section 3 of section 12 of the Bankruptcy Act, which provides that the official receiver shall be remunerated by fees and commission only, and, secondly, the many resolutions of protest lodged by chambers of commerce, chambers of manufactures and other interests concerned?
– by leave - Experience of the past six years has shown that there is still a considerable lack of uniformity in bankruptcy administration in the different States, and it is not considered possible to secure the necessary uniformity until the whole of the bankruptcy work throughout the States is performed by Commonwealth officers. In pursuance of this policy, the work of the official receiver in Queensland was taken over as from the l3t July, 3933, and, following the settled policy of .the Government, the work of the official receivers in New South Wales and Tasmania will be taken over as from the 1st July of this year. No protests were received at the time in respect of the taking over in Queensland ; nor have any been received this year regarding Tasmania. Protests have, however, been received regarding the changeover in New South Wales.
When the Commonwealth took over bankruptcy administration in 1928, the two official receivers under the New South Wales act were continued in office. After a short period one asked to be relieved from office, and has since died. The other, Mr. C. F. W. Lloyd, has had a monopoly of the work for the past four years, and in this respect has been very fortunate. He is over 68 years of age and, if anything should happen to him, the administration would be placed in a most difficult position.
It is highly desirable that in federal legislation operative throughout Australia the system of administration should be, as far as possible, uniform, unless the special circumstances of any particular State call for a departure from uniformity. No case has been made out for the continued departure in the State of New South Wales from the uniform system in force elsewhere in Australia. It is thought that when the commercial community has had some experience of the working of the new system, it will be quite satisfied that the decision of the Government was in its interests.
It is not proposed to appoint a full staff in the first instance, but the staff will be built up as the work increases, though care will be taken in the making of appointments to see that due regard is paid to economical working.
Quite recently, it was pointed out by the Bar Council that there were 22,000 estates not yet finally wound up in New South Wales. Upon making inquiries, however, it has been ascertained that there were less than- 400 of these in which there were any assets. It would appear that the system in force in New South Wales, of having official receivers remunerated by fees, has not had the effect of winding up estates.
Mr. Lloyd was appointed in 1928 to hold office during the Governor-General’s pleasure, and his appointment has always been regarded as a temporary expedient during the transition period from Stateto Commonwealth bankruptcy administration.
The matter was fully considered by the Government before the change over was decided upon, and there is no reason why a system which is working very satisfactorily elsewhere in Australia should fail in New South Wales.
– Will the Prime Minister inform me whether, in view of the fact that he has arranged during the week-end to take part in the Martin byelection, the Government intends to support the proposals of the candidate of the United Australia party for a downward revision of the tariff? If so, are we to take as authoritative, the statement published in to-day’s press that if the United Australia party candidate secures a majority of 10,000, it will he accepted as an expression of confidence in the Government, and immediate steps will be taken to launch a campaign for a general election f
– I have not seen any report of the statement alleged to have been made by the United Australia party candidate for Martin, but I can tell the honorable member that the Government intends to adhere to its tariff policy as it has done in the past.
Development by ‘Chartered Company - Tennant’s Creek - Land Laws.
– Will the Minister for the Interior inform me whether any definite proposal has been received from a chartered company with the object of developing any portion of northern Australia, or whether any arrangements have been made in connexion with the further development of the Northern Territory?
– The Government is at present considering certain suggestions made by a proposed company for the development of part of northern Australia; but the matter has not reached an advanced stage although the prospects look hopeful. As soon as sufficient progress has been made, an official statement will be published.
– Will the Minister for the Interior lay on the table of the House or the Library the report of Dr. Woolnough, the Geological Adviser to the Commonwealth Government, dealing with his recent inspection of the Ten.nant’s Creek gold-field ? Also, will he lay on the table of the House or the Library the report, or progress report, of the committee or commission which investigated the administration of the land law in the Northern Territory some time ago? If the reports mentioned are not to hand, when may honorable members expect to receive them?
– I shall make inquiries. At this juncture I see no objection to laying both reports on the table of the Library.
– In view of the buoyancy of the finances in the Commonwealth, will the Prime Minister inform me whether we may expect an early restoration of the emergency cuts in Public Service salaries and wages, and also the payment of the basic wage to all adult employees of the Commonwealth?
– The matters referred to by the honorable member have already been brought under the notice of the Government by the representatives of the various Public Service associations, and the submissions made will be fully considered prior to the introduction of the budget proposals.
– Will the Minister for Commerce inform me whether, in view of the expense entailed in spraying, pruning, fertilizing, &c, for the production of apples and pears for export, ii is intended to call the Apple and Pear Council together with the object of taking steps to regulate export quotas and particularly varieties? If so, when will this be done? Will the Minister also inform me whether he has consulted with the New Zealand Government with the object of securing its co-operation in the arrangement of quotas and varieties for export?
– The Apple and Pear Council is not under my control. It is purely an industrial activity. Last year, however, acting on the recommendation of the Council, the Government issued regulations which restricted export to a number of specified varieties of apples. Previously, . there had been no such restrictions. The object of the Apple and Pear Council in making the recommendations to the Government was to limit the export of apples to the United Kingdom in such a way as to avoid the unfortunate experience of the previous year, when 1,000,000 more bushels were exported than the market was able to absorb. It is believed that the regulations then issued had a beneficial effect. I have not so far heard any suggestion from the Apple and Pear Council that any action is necessary this year.
– Will the Minister for Commerce inform me what action, if any, has been taken to insist that the Argentine shall honour the International Wheat Agreement, and also whether Australia has agreed to any increase of that country’s quota for shipment during the current year?
– In dealing with matters affecting the wheat industry, the Government has had the assistance of the Australian Advisory Committee on Wheat, which consists of representatives of all interests concerned in the export of wheat from Australia. The position in regard to the Argentine’s participation in the International Wheat Agreement has been fully considered by the committee; and the Government in the action it has taken, has been guided entirely by the advice of the committee. 1 am not at liberty to disclose the full text of the negotiations in regard to this matter, but I think that I can safely say that steps will be taken, on a world basis, to ensure that those who have put their signatures to world agreements will be compelled to carry out the obligations into which they have entered.
– Can the Assistant Treasurer give the House any information regarding the Government’s attitude to the recent British retaliatory measures against Germany, following the German default in connexion with interest payments? Is he aware of the possible effect on Australian wool prices should the German embargo on wool be continued; and will he give an assurance, on behalf of the Government, that Australian interests will be safeguarded?
– by leave- On the 14th June, the Reichsbank decided to suspend all cash transfers on German long and. short-term foreign debts, including the Dawes and Young loans. These foreign loans were mainly commercial loans raised on the money markets of Great Britain, Europe and the United States. The Young and Dawes loans were raised when a German economic collapse appeared likely, for the purposes of aiding German reconstruction and of financial rehabilitation under intergovernmental auspices. In respect both of the Dawes and the Young loans every undertaking was given as to the service of those debts.
His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom had in May warned the German Government of the grave view it would take of any action whereby the terms and conditions of those leans were infringed, and had stated that it would set up a clearing office to secure payments from credits due to Germany. Consequently, on notification of German default, a Debts (Clearing Offices and Import Restrictions Reprisals) Bill was introduced into the House of Commons. It provided that all debts due or becoming due to a country which restrains transfers are to be paid to the clearing office, and to be then used to pay British subjects. The second reading of that bill was passed without a division on Monday, the 25th June.
A British White Paper dated the 22nd June was also issued setting out the position of these debts. It is stated in the White Paper that the British Government had no option but to ask Parliament for powers to protect British interests, but before the act became operative, was prepared to discuss with the German Government the possibility of reaching an agreement.
In the meantime, the German Government pointed out that, although Germany had a favorable trade balance with the United Kingdom, its balance with the whole of the British Empire was unfavorable, and that if the United Kingdom took the action proposed, Germany would take counter measures against- all British imports into Germany.
The position, at the moment, is that Germany has now accepted the invitation to send a delegation to London to discuss an agreement. The British Chancellor of the Exchequer proposes to set up a small advisory committee consisting of representatives of the Treasury, Board of Trade, Chambers of Commerce, and the Federation of British Industries, for the administrative questions which would arise under the act.
Australian interests are being closely watched by the High Commissioner in London.
– Some time ago the Tariff Board inquired into the importation of electric globes from the East. In view of the fact that the continued importation of these goods is likely to close one of the best Australian factories engaged in their manufacture, is the Minister in a position to say whether finality has been reached in this matter?
Mr.WHITE. - This matter has been referred to the Tariff Board, but that body has not yet completed its inquiry. I do not agree that an Australian industry is being prejudiced, as suggested by the honorable member. Recently, 1 inspected the works of the Australian company which manufactures electric globes, and found that a high-grade lamp is being manufactured there. In this class of lamp there is not much competition. It is mainly in the cheaper classes of electric globes that imports are increasing.
– In view of the fact that, under the Ottawa agreement, many of the British dominions may export fruit and vegetables to India, subject to a duty of 10 per cent., whereas Australian fruit and vegetables are compelled to pay a duty of 30 per cent., which higher rate seriously affects the export trade in fresh fruit and vegetables from Western Australia to India, can the Minister say what action has been taken to bring Australia into line with the other dominions, or what action the Government proposes?
– Consideration has been given to the possibility of developing trade with India, having regard particularly to the fact that India is one of the countries with which Australia has an adverse trade balance. The policy of the Government is to endeavour to correct adverse trade balanceswherever possible. A more serious difficulty than that mentioned by the honorable member is the absence of a direct shipping service with Indian commercial centres. That subject is receiving the attention both of my department and of the committees which, at the instigation of the Commonwealth Government, have been set up in every capital to develop trade with the East.
– In view of the great anxiety among cotton-growers in Queensland because 10,000 bales of cotton will have to be exported this year, although that cotton could be sold in the Aus tralian market if the secondary industry were properly protected, will the Minister say when the Tariff Board’s report on cotton will be made available?
– It is the Government’s intention to ensure that both the primary and secondary sides of the cotton industry are adequately safeguarded. Recently the Tariff Board made a most exhaustive inquiry into all phases of the industry, and submitted a long and comprehensive report. The Government is at present working out a plan for the stabilization of the industry in both its phases.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Commerce been drawn to the alarming increase, as reported last week, of imports of foreign ‘butter into Great Britain, and the damaging effect that this has had on the price of Australian butter? Would it not be possible for the Government, through the High Commissioner, again to emphasize the necessity for curtailing importations of foreign butter into Great Britain, thus combating foreign financial interests which are seeking to impose a system of export quotas on the dominions? Will the Minister or the High Commissioner in London declare the determination of the Government to fight for a free market in Great Britain in return for a reasonable increased amount of reciprocal trade by Australia with the Mother Country?
– My attention has not been drawn to the statementsto which the honorable member has referred.
– Has the Minister for Trade and Customs had time during the recess to consider the report of the Tariff Board on Oregon ? When will the report be presented to Parliament, and when will a decision on the matter be reached?
– Next week I shall make a statement dealing generally with Tariff Board reports.
– Is it correct, as stated in the press, that, immediately following upon the public announcement of the possibility of an early federal election, the Prime Minister decided to remove the unfair imposition placed upon the relatives of pensioners, that the necessary legislation would be made retrospective and that the Pensions Department was instructed to withdraw the questionnaires which were being sent to pensioners’ relatives ?
– A statement on this subject has already been made. The decision of the Government was in no way influenced by the possible date of the election, but was come to after a close investigation of the effect of the provision in the pensions legislation to which the honorable member has referred. As no really effective purpose was being served by the provision, the Government resolved to introduce an amending bill, and in the meantime, as the law was to be altered, determined that no further action should be taken under it.
– Within the last year or two, there have been many amendments of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act and, as a result of one of them, inquiries have been made concerning the financial position of pensioners, and also of their relatives. In most cases, while these inquiries were being made the pension was withdrawn. In some cases in my electorate storekeepers have carried the pensioners to the extent of granting them credit for three months. After inquiries have been completed, and it has been found that the pensioner is entitled to the pension, a retrospective payment of only two weeks pension has been paid despite the fact that in some cases the pension has been withdrawn for from twelve to fourteen weeks. I should like to know whether the Assistant Treasurer will instruct the department to make good this loss?
– I cannot imagine any circumstances that would result in the temporary suspension of the pension arising out of questions relating to the income of relatives. Generally speaking, with regard to the date of commencement or re-commencement of the pension it has been the practice of the department for some years to grant not more than two fortnights retrospective payment except in special circumstances. Arrangements have been made in cases where delay can be attributed to the department that pensions will be granted from the date on which had there been no unusual delay the pension would have been granted, and in addition two fortnights’ arrears will be paid. If the honorable member ha= any particular case in view, I shall be glad to have it investigated.
– Is the Assistant Treasurer aware that in recent months the efforts of certain officers of the New South Wales Pensions Department have been concentrating upon chasing relatives of pensioners for contributions towards pensioners’ upkeep? Is he aware that as the result of such concentration the consideration of applications for pensions has been neglected, and that, despite the fact that sometimes two months elapse between the date on which an application is lodged and the pension is granted, only two fortnightly pensionsare paid retrospectively? In view of al) the circumstances and the responsibility which rests upon the department, will the Assistant Minister approve that when the delay is not due to any fault on the part of the pensioner, pensions shall be paid, as from the date of application ?
– I think that the honorable member must have been misinformed, as the inquiries to which be refers have been made by an entirely separate staff and not by the staff normally under the control of a deputy commissioner, so that any delay that might occur has not been due to that fact. In reply to the second portion of the honorable member’s question, I may say that in cases where there has been undue delay it has been the practice for some years to grant up to two fortnightly payments retrospectively. We have been able to arrange that, in cases where any undue delay is attributable to the department, a retrospective pension may be paid as from the first pay-day after the day on which, had there been no undue delay, the pension would have been payable, plus two fortnightly arrears.
– In. cases where the relatives of pensioners have made contributions which they could ill afford to make will the Government refund the amounts received?
– In response to the letters that have been sent out within the last few months upon the subject referred to by the honorable member, I believe that the total amount received to date is only £6. That figure was given to me yesterday by the Commissioner of Pensions. If the honorable member will place his question on the notice-paper, I shall see that he is supplied-with up-to-date figures.
– Will the Minister for Commerce state whether representations have recently been made to the Government of New Zealand for the admission of Australian onions to that dominion ?
– At a conference of technician representatives of Australia and New Zealand, which was held in Canberra last week, the whole subject of trade embargoes was discussed, that relating to onions among others. I am hopeful that before the House rises for the Christmas vacation there will be unrestricted trade in Australian onions between this country and New Zealand.
– As I am personally interested, will the Prime Minister state whether the federal election will be held this year or next year?
– We are all personally interested in the date of the next general election, but as the dissolution of Parliament is a function of the GovernorGeneral, I am unable to answer the honorable member’s question. However, I shall cheerfully pass on his inquiry to the Governor-General, who may answer it if he chooses.
– In view of the continued low price of wheat, and as the growing season of 1934 is well advanced, will the Prime Minister state whether the Government has yet decided what assistance will be given to the growers for this season’s crop? If he is not yet able to say how much a bushel will be granted, will he endeavour to make an announcement as early as possible?
– As I have already indicated, we are hopeful that the Wheat Commission will present an interim report in the very near future. Any recommendations contained in it will be given full consideration by the Government before any decision is come to, and Parliament will be afforded an opportunity to discuss them.
– A press report attributed to the Minister for Commerce states that the Government is not prepared to enter the wheat-buying market because farmers have withheld their wheat from sale in order to obtain better prices. I ask the Minister if that statement is correct, and if the Commerce Department has inquired as to whether the farmers or the speculative wheat.buyers have withheld the wheat from sale. If the Commerce Department has not investigated this matter does the Minister think it fair to state that the wheatfarmers are responsible for not offering for sale our exportable surplus of wheat?
– My attention was drawn to the article to which the honorable gentleman refers, which appeared in the Labor Daily. It is a complete misconstruction of my statement. It is well known to honorable members that the Wheat Purchases Act, which was passed last year, obligated this Government to purchase any wheat from the unexportable surplus of this year’s harvest should any difficulty be experienced hy the grower in selling through ordinary channels. Although only four or five weeks of the grain year still have to elapse, 30,000,000 bushels of our exportable sunplus is not yet provided for. Therefore the conditions precedent to any obligation on the Government to purchase any wheat this year have not yet arisen. It is true that some farmers are, in my opinion, wisely preferring to hold their wheat in order to obtain a better price such as we hope will be realized in the near future.
– Will the Minister for Repatriation make available, at his earliest convenience, figures showing the number of appeals made from the deputy commissioners for repatriation to the head-quarters of the Repatriation Commission for each year of the nine years ended June, 1933, and for the eleven months of the present financial year, together with the results of those appeals? Will he also make similar particulars available with respect to appeals made to the Repatriation Entitlement Tribunal?
– To supply the information asked for in the first part of the honorable member’s question would involve a vast amount of work, but I shall endeavour to have it prepared and supplied as soon as possible. Regarding the second portion of the question, it is already the practice of the department to issue monthly progressive statements showing the number of appeals granted or disallowed by the War Pensions Entitlement Tribunal and the Assessment Tribunal. I have presented those reports, to the House at different periods, and I have already had published a statement regarding the appeals up to March of this year. I shall have the current report, made available as soon as possible.
– I understand that no great difficulty will be experienced or great expense involved in making available the information which I seek; and I should also like to know if it is a fact that particulars of the cases which come on appeal from the deputy commissioners to the Repatriation Commissioner are not recorded.
– I shall have a thorough inquiry made into the matter, and if it is possible to supply the information I shall be only too pleased to do so.
– I have received representations to the effect that in January, 1933, an ex-soldier made application for a war pension which, after having been considered by the Entitlement Tribunal, was granted in June, 1934, and was antedated to November, 1933. In view of the fact that the wives and families of appli-cants have to live during the period from the date of application until the pension is granted - in this case there was a delay of eighteen months - will the Minister for Repatriation direct that pensions, when granted, be payable from the date of application ?
– Owing to the number of appeals, some’ time must elapse between the date of application and the final decision of the Entitlement Tribunal, but the ante-dating of applications is governed by the act. Neither the tribunal nor the Minister has authority to vary its provisions. Very often, when cases have been brought to my notice, I would have taken action in the direction suggested; but, as I have stated, the Minister has not that power. If Parliament desires the payment of pensions to commence from the date of application, it will be necessary to amend the act.
– Because of the long delay in dealing with applications from widows of deceased soldiers - in some cases from six to twelve months elapse before applicants are advised of the final determination of the department - will the Minister inform the House of the number of widows who have been inconvenienced in this way, and will he also take steps to expedite the granting of pensions ?
– Two courses are available to applicants. If application is made to the department, I think I can say that there is little or no delay ; but appeals may come before the Entitlement Tribunal or the Assessment Tribunal, as the case may be, and owing to the large number of cases that have to be dealt with, there may be some delay, although I think the House will agree that both tribunals are doing very good work, and have dealt with a large number of cases. If the honorable member will furnish me with particulars of cases which he has in mind, I shall make inquiries and see if a decision with respect to them can be expedited. May I add that it is proposed, in the course of a few days, to introduce an amending repatriation bill, the effect of which will be to bring applications before the Assessment Tribunal more into line with those that come before the Entitlement Tribunal. At the present time the act provides that the date of the granting of a pension determined by the Assessment Tribunal shall be the date on which the application is received by that tribunal.
Proposed Scottish Regiment in Perth.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Defence aware that the Scottish residents of Perth are desirous of forming a Scottish Regiment in connexion with the defence of Australia, and that they are willing to pay the extra cost of uniforms? If so, will lie permit the head-quarters of the regiment to be located in Perth?
– If those responsible for the movement have not made application to the District Commandant in Perth and will do so, the matter will receive sympathetic consideration.
– Has the attention of the Treasurer been directed to the following statement of the Chairman of the Commonwealth Bank Board which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald of the 24th April last: -
The board of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia lias not sent any communication to thu Federal or any State Government, since I became chairman, on a question of funding treasury-bills or an open market for treasurybills. The board is naturally giving close attention to these matters which are of great importance to the bank and to the public. The considered policy of the board is yet to be determined.
In view of that statement I should like to know if any communication has yet been received from the Commonwealth Bank Board, indicating its policy in this respect, and, if not, will the Treasurer take steps to have the matter expedited in order that we may have an early decision on this most important matter of banking policy?
– No communication has been received by the Government from the Commonwealth Bank Board relating to the matter mentioned by the honorable gentleman, hut a sub-committee of the Loan Council has been, for some time, considering treasury-bill policy. Up to the present time, no finality has been reached, although the sub-committee has reported in part to .the Loan Council.
– Is the Acting Minister for Defence aware that, in April last, Japanese newspapers published information with respect to the defence proposals of the Government, and stated that it was intended, to install two 9.5 guns at Darwin? If it is a practice of the department to. make available information of this nature to foreign powers, might it not go a little further and provide them with location maps, photographs and descriptions of the guns?
– The policy of the Government with respect to the coastal defence of the Commonwealth will be announced by the Prime Minister when be introduces the budget.
– The Industrial Peace Act governs the whole of the rates of pay and conditions of coal-miners throughout Australia, and if the act is repealed industrial strife may be caused because coalowners will take advantage of the opportunity thus presented to them to reduce the rates of pay and the conditions of their employees. I understand that a bill has been introduced in another place to repeal the Industrial Peace Act. In view of the grave importance of this matter, and the danger of industrial strife, will the right honorable gentleman take steps to have the bill withdrawn?
– Action has already been taken to discharge the bill from the Senate notice-paper.
– Did the Prime Minister promise Mr. Robb, President of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia, that all pension “ cuts “ made pursuant to the Premiers Plan in respect of returned soldiers and their dependants would be restored this year ?
– I made no such promise to any individual. Whatever is done in this respect will be dependent upon the financial position, and after full consideration is given to all the facts.
– In connexion with the over-generous terms upon which the recent loan was issued, has the Assistant Treasurer any statement to make why such terms, particularly that involving the issue of the loan at a discount, should have been offered when it was Well known that money could have been obtained at a figure much more favorable to the Commonwealth ?
– I do not think that it can be assumed that the terms ‘offered in respect of the last loan were overgenerous. The loan yield to investors is £3 7s. 8d. per cent. The matter was decided after consultation with the Premiers of the various States, members of the Loan Council, and after considerable negotiation with and upon the advice of the Commonwealth Bank Board. From the Commonwealth point of view this loan was issued at a price better than that of the last three loans. The real point to be inferred’ from the honorable member’s question is that the incidence of this loan and its astonishing success are an instance of the continued and progressive confidence of the people in this Government.
– Recently the Attorney-General, acting in the capacity of Australian Goodwill Commisioner in the East, made a definite statement in Tokio that a trade commisioner would be appointed in Japan. Since then a semi-denial has been cabled from Australia, and as nothing appears to have been done, I ask the Minister for Commerce (Mr. Stewart) whether it is the intention of the Government shortly to appoint a trade commissioner in Japan ? I also wish to know whether other trade commisioners forecast last year are likely to be appointed?
– The only definite decision of Cabinet in respect of appointing trade commissioners was that endorsed by this House in the closing stages of the last session. The appointments provided for in that legislation are about to be made, but final action has been deferred pending the return of the AttorneyGeneral, who has recently paid a visit to the countries concerned. With respect to the suggested appointment of an Australian representative at Tokio, I may say that the question of appointments in Japan and elsewhere are now being considered by the Government.
Capitalization of ARREARS
– I ask the Minister administering war service homes whether, in capitalizing the arrears due on war service homes, it is the practice of the department to include arrears of capital payments as well as arrears of interest ?
– In order to assist purchasers who are in difficult circumstances and unable to meet their obligations in full to the War Service Homes Commission, approval may be given to capitalize arrears of principal and interest. This is done so that the purchaser will not be embarrassed financially. Both arrears of capital repayments and arrears of interest are capitalized, and this is the ordinary business practice.
– I ask the Assistant Minister for Defence (Mr. Francis) whether there are any surplus stocks, particularly of overcoats and boots, available in the Defence Department that could be supplied to meet the urgent cases of distress amongst the unemployed, not only in South Australia, but also in other States, and if so, whether such stocks can immediately be made available to the respective State authorities concerned ?
– All stocks of partlyworn military clothing which are not further required are made available to the State authorities for. the use of those in need.
– Can the Assistant Treasurer say if Cabinet has yet decided when it is intended to commence the restoration of the 2s. 6d. cut in invalid’ and old-age pensions?
– If the honorable member’s question involves a matter of policy the information cannot be supplied in answer to a question; but if, as is possible, he is referring to any alteration in the pension rate, based on the cost of living index-
– I am not referring to that.
– Then all I have to say is that I cannot give the information in answer to a question.
– The Pensions Department adopts an unfair practice, towhich consideration ought to be given by the Assistant Treasurer. The residents’ of mining districts make what are described as industrial contributions towards the upkeep of their hospitals, so that they may have the benefit of treatment in those institutions should they require it. The Pensions Department pays to a pensioner who enters hospital only 5s. a week after the first 28 days, the balance going to the institution. Many of these pensioners have to pay rates and taxes on property that they hold. Does the Minister approve of the reduction of the pension in such cases, and the making of what is really a double payment to the hospital?
– I am not quite certain that I am fully seised of the import of the honorable member’s question. If he will place it on the notice-paper, I shall see that the matter is fully investigated.
– Will the Minister for Commerce state whether the Graziers Association of New South Wales has made representations to the Government with a view to negotiations being instituted for a trade pact with the Soviet Republics? If such representations have been made, what stage has been reached ?
– So far as I am aware, no representations of the character suggested by the honorable member have yet reached the Department of Commerce; but a resolution in those terms, I gather from the press, was carried at a conference of the Graziers Association.
Sitting suspended from 6.28 to 8 p.m.
The following papers were presented : -
Audit Act - Finance 1932-33 - Treasurer’s
Statement of Receipts and Expenditure for year ended 30th June, 1933, accompanied by the Report of the Auditor-General.
Commonwealth Bank Act - Balance-sheets of Commonwealth Bank and Commonwealth Savings Bank and Statement of the Liabilities and Assets of the Note Issue Department - at 31st December, 1933; together with Auditor-General’s Reports thereon.
Ordered to be printed.
Dairy Produce Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1934, Nos. 50, 52.
Defence Act- Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1934. Nos 3, 4, 5, 15 20, 21, 26, 60, 73.
Designs Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1934, No. 1
Distillation Act- Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1934, No. 71.
Dried Fruits Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1934, Nos. 22, 40.
Dried Fruits Export Charges Act - Regulations amended- Statutory Rules 1934, No. 28.
Excise Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1934, No. 9.
Financial Emergency Act - Regulations amended, &c. -
Statutory Rules 1933, Nos. 131, 142.
Statutory Rules 1934, No. 17.
Flour Tax Assessment Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1933, No. 139.
Gold Bounty Act - Return for 1933.
Immigration Act -
Return for 1933.
Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1933, No. 128.
Inscribed Stock Act - Regulations amended -Statutory Rules 1934, No. 8.
Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act - Regulations amended -
Statutory Rules 1933, No. 144.
Statutory Rules 1934, No. 12.
Land Tax Assessment Act - Applications for relief from Taxation dealt with during year 1933.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired at - Blackall, Queensland - For Defence purposes.
Kelso, Tasmania - For Postal (Broadcasting) purposes.
Nedlands, Western Australia - For Postal purposes.
Townsville, Queensland - For Postal (Broadcasting) purposes.
Nationality Act- Return for 1933.
Naval Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory. Rules 1934, Nos. 18, 19, 32, 44, 54. 58.
Navigation Act -
Report of cases in which the GovernorGeneral, during 1933, granted dispensations under Section 422a.
Regulations amended -
Statutory Rules 1933, No. 140.
Statutory Rules 1934, No. 31.
Northern Territory Acceptance Act and
Northern Territory (Administration) Act -
Ordinances of 1933 -
No. 14 - Dangerous Drugs.
No. 15 - Licensing.
No. 16 - Board of Inquiry.
Ordinances of 1934 -
No. 1 - Encouragement of Primary Production. No. 2 - Interpretation.
Aboriginals Ordinance - Regulations amended ( Apprentices - Half-castes ) .
Gaming Ordinance - Regulations (Racing Club).
Patents Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1934, No. 39.
Peace Officers Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1934, No. 53.
Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations amended -
Statutory Rules 1933, Nos. 127, 135.
Statutory Rules 1934, Nos. 24, 30, 38, 66.
Public Service Act -
A. M. Abey, Department of Health.
List of Permanent Officers of the Commonwealth Public Service on 30th June, 1933.
Regulations amended -
Statutory Rules 1933, Nos. 134, 143.
Statutory Rules 1934, Nos. 11, 27, 35, 37, 42, 45, 46, 68, 69, 72.
Quarantine Act - Regulations amended,&c. -
Statutory Rules 1933, Nos. 137, 138.
Statutory Rules 1934, Nos. 33, 43, 61.
Representation Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1934, No.62.
Sales Tax Assessment Acts (Nos. 1 to 9) - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1934, Nos. 34,64.
Science and Industry Research Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1934, No. 41.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act - Ordinances of 1933 -
No. 26 - Real Property.
No. 28 - Land Commissioner (No. 2).
No. 30 - Stock Diseases.
No. 31 - Business Names.
No. 32 - Interpretation.
No. 33 - Motor Traffic.
No. 34 - Real Property (No. 2).
No. 35 - Instruments (No. 2).
No. 36 - Judiciary (Stay of Pro ceedings ) .
No. 37 - Poisonous and Dangerous Drugs.
No. 38- Supreme Court (Ordinances Modifying) .
No. 39 - Juries (No. 2).
No. 40 - Matrimonial Causes.
Ordinances of 1934 -
No. 1 - Sheriff Ordinance Repeal.
No. 2 - Administration and Probate.
No. 3 - Liquor (Renewal of Licences) .
No. 4 - Oaths.
No. 5 - Dogs Registration.
No. 6 - Administration and Probate (No. 2).
No. 7 - Advisory Council.
No. 8 - Sheriff.
No. 9- Stock.
No. 10 - Police Offences.
No. 11 - Salvation Army Property Trust.
No. 12 - Police Superannuation.
No. 13 - Trustee.
No. 14 - Real Property.
No. 15 - Hawkers.
No. 16 - Hospital Tax.
Building and Services Ordinance - Regu lations amended (Canberra Electric Supply).
Business Names Ordinance - Regulations.
Hospital Tax Ordinance - Regulations amended.
Instruments Ordinance - Regulations.
Meat Ordinance - Regulations.
Motor Traffic Ordinance - Regulations.
Poisons and Dangerous Drugs Ordinance - Regulations.
Police Superannuation Ordinance - Regulations.
Public Baths Ordinance - Regulations amended.
Public Health Ordinance -
Regulations amended (Dairy).
Regulations amended (Meat).
Nauru - Report to the Council of the League of Nations on the Administration of Nauru during the year 1933.
New Guinea - Report to the Council of the League of Nations on the Administration of the Territory of New Guinea from 1st July, 1932, to 30th June, 1933.
Norfolk Island - Animal Report for year ended 30th June, 1933.
Papua - Annual Report for year 1932-33.
Air Force Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1934, Nos. 25, 51.
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. - 1933-
No. 26 - Commonwealth Foremen’s Association.
No. 1 - Australian Postal Electricians’ Union.
No. 2 - Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association; and Australian Postal Electricians’ Union.
Nos. 3 and 4 - Commonwealth Public Service Artisans’ Association.
No. 5 - Arms, Explosives and Munition Workers’ Federation of Australia.
No. 6 - Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia.
No. 7 - Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia; Commonwealth Legal Professional Officers’ Association; Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association; Federated Public Service Assistants’ Association of Australia; Fourth Division Officers’ Association of the Trade and Customs Department; and Professional Officers’ Association, Commonwealth Public Service.
No. 8 - Federated Public Service Assistants’ Association of Australia
No. 9 - Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia.
No. 10. - Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia.
Australian Broadcasting Commission ActRegulations - Statutory Rules 1934, No. 67.
Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation ActRegulations Amended, &c. -
Statutory Rules 1933, Nos. 132, 133.
Statutory Rules 1934, Nos. 10, 55.
Canberra University College - Report of Council for 1933.
Canned Fruits Export Control Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1934, No. 57.
Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1934, No. 48.
Commonwealth Bank Act -
Treasurer’s Statement of combined accounts of Commonwealth Bank and Commonwealth Savings Bank, together with certificate of the AuditorGeneral, as at 31st December, 1933.
Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1934, No. 14.
Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1933, No. 141.
Contract Immigrants Act - Return for 1933.
Customs Act - Proclamation prohibiting the Exportation (except under certain conditions) of Apples and Pears (dated 16th January, 1934).
Customs Act andCommerce (Trade Descriptions ) Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1934, Nos. 2, 6, 7, 23. 47, 49, 56, 63.
Shipping Act - Commonwealth Shipping Board - Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers - Treasury Loan Account and Liquidation Account for period ended 31st January, 1934, together with the Auditor-General’s Report.
Transport Workers Act - Regulations amendedStatutory Rules 1934, No. 29.
Wheat Growers Relief Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1934, Nos. 10. 70.
Wine Overseas Marketing Act - Regulations -Statutory Rules 1034, No. 36.
Wireless Telegraphy Act - Regulations amendedStatutory Rules 1933, No. 136.
– by leave - I have great pleasure in intimating that since the last meeting of this Parliament His Majesty the King has graciously given his consent to the visit to Australia of a member of the Royal Family on the occasion of the centenary of the State of Victoria. As honorable members are probably aware, His Majesty in the first instance approved of his son, Prince George, visiting Australia. Later, however, advice was received to the effect that His Majesty felt that Prince George, after a strenuous tour in South Africa, should not, in the same year, undertake another tour. Consequently, His Majesty approved of the substitution of His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester.
This will be the first occasion on which the Duke of Gloucester has paid an official visit to a British dominion, and I know full well that a welcome characteristic of the people of Australia will be extended to him. His Royal Highness will proceed to Australia in H.M.S. Sussex. This vessel will then remain in Australian waters attached to H.M.A. Squadron, while H.M.A.S. Australia will proceed to England on exchange duty.
His Royal Highness will arrive at Fremantle on the 4th October, and will depart from Brisbane on the 10th December on board H.M.A.S. Australia. The itinerary of the Duke is now in course of preparation by the Commonwealth in collaboration with the State organizations.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message) :
– I move -
That there be granted to His Majesty for or towards defraying the services of the year 1934-35 a sum not exceeding £6,079,175.
I now propose to explain briefly the object of this measure, and to take whatever discussion there may be on the motion itself, to enable thebill to be taken later as formal. The proposal now submitted is to grant supply to carry on the services of the Commonwealth for the first three months of the coming financial year. The amount which the committee is asked to appropriate is £6,079,175, which includes the following sums for ordinary services : -
The items making up these sums are based on the appropriations passed by thisPar.liament for the present year, and represent approximately one-quarter of the appropriation. In addition, the usual provisions are made for “Refunds of Revenue “ and “ Advance to the Treasurer “. The amount set down for “ Refunds of Revenue “ is £400,000, and for “ Advance to the Treasurer “ £1,500,000. This latter item is required to carry on uncompleted works in progross on the 30th June, 1934, and other urgent works, and to cover unforeseen and miscellaneous expenditure, including special grants to South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania. These special grants will be continued on the same bases during the present financial year, pending the introduction of new bills, and also the report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission which is at present inquiring into the “case of each of these States.
Provision is made in this bill only for the amount which is estimated to be sufficient to carry on essential services on the same basis as that provided for in the appropriation for the current financial year, 1933-34. No provision is made in this Supply for any new expenditure or for any departure from existing policy. At a later stage, Ministers will be pleased to supply any further information thai members may desire on any item. It °s hoped to introduce the budget early in August, when the full financial proposals of the Government will be submitted to honorable members.
As we have almost reached the end of the present financial year, honorable members will no doubt be anxious to know what the financial results for the year are likely to be. I am not yet in a position to supply anything like an approximate statement of the financial position for the full year, as final returns from the various departments and branches in all States will not be received for some days after the 30th June. I should like to mention, however, that the revenue for the year has been particularly buoyant, especially the customs and excise revenue, which, up to the 31st May, showed an increase of approximately £1.600,000 over the ‘budget estimate for that period. Post office revenue also disclosed a considerable improvement on the budget estimate, the receipts for the eleven months being £270,000 in excess of the pro rata budget estimate. The statement of receipts and expenditure for the eleven months ended 31st May showed an excess of receipts over expenditure for the period of £2,625,000. In considering this balance, however, it is necessary to take into account that very heavy expenditure has had to be met during the month of June, including expenditure on new works commenced late in the year, and the balance of the expenditure in respect of relief to wheat-growers, namely, £1,400,000, completing the total of £3,000,000 appropriated under that head. While it is too early to forecast definitely the financial position for the full year, it is apparent that when all returns are to hand they will show that the balance of the Consolidated Revenue Fund is on the right side of the ledger. I hope in about eight or ten days’ time to be able to submit to honorable members a statement of the Consolidated Revenue Fund under various headings showing the approximate results for the year. A more detailed statement will, of course, be submitted with the budget for the next financial year.
.- I take it from the statement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) that this bill providing for supply for three months contains no new proposals, nor anything apart from the appropriation of last year; consequently, I am prepared to treat it as a formal measure at this stage. I hope, that when the budget is before us we shall have an opportunity to discuss some important questions, because I think that there is grave disappointment among the people that the Government which talks so much of buoyant revenues has failed abjectly to deal with the serious problems confronting the people of this country, and I refer particularly to the problem of unemployment. When the last budget was being discussed, we endeavoured to improve it in that respect; but, unfortunately, the numbers were against us. I hope that very soon we shall have another opportunity to discuss that matter.
There is some talk of an early election. We do not know what truth there is in ‘the rumours that are abroad, but it will be remembered that when this Parliament was being adjourned last year, honorable members on this side of the chamber, myself included, protested against the House rising without something adequate being done particularly for the unemployed. This Parliament has recently been in recess for over six months, during a critical period in the life of this country. It is the longest recess that we have had for seven years; certainly it is the longest during the depression. That is inexcusable at a time when the conditions are so critical, and the people are suffering acutely.
As this is purely a formal measure containing nothing new, the Opposition will not oppose it, but will await the budget statement or the preliminary financial statement, which I hope will be presented early, so that we may have an opportunity to examine the receipts and expenditure and any new proposals. I ask the Government, even at this belated stage, before finally deciding upon its financial policy for the year, to give more consideration to the poorer section and less to the richer section of the community, since the last budget was, in my opinion, the most unjust budget ever presented to this House. I should prefer the Government, even if it scored some political advantage as a result, to give some measure of justice to the suffering people of Australia. I leave the matter at that, hoping that we shall have an early opportunity to deal with unemployment, and a number of other questions when the financial statement is before us.
.- I have no objection whatever to granting three months’ supply to the Government, because there is no doubt that it will facilitate the despatch of public business, which, of course, is our objective. Whether there is an early election or not, we desire to have an immediate opportunity to discuss urgent matters, and I protest against any election being held before they have been considered. I hope that the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) will be able to give us the assurance that those matters will be fully dealt with before the House rises.
The first question for consideration is the report of the royal commission which is at present inquiring into the general position of the wheat industry. To-day, I was glad to learn that the Prime Minister was willing to expedite the presentation of that report, and that if it were not possible to obtain a complete report, at any rate an interim report would be supplied at the earliest moment. I trust that the complete report, together with the Government’s plan for assisting the wheat industry will be available for discussion in the near future, so that the whole matter can be disposed of before this Parliament dissolves. .
The second question is that of redistribution. It is only fair that we should know the exact position, because it will be quite impossible for an honorable member to get ready for an election if he does not know the boundaries of the electorate which he represents. Therefore, the Government should make the position absolutely clear.
I also hope that it will deal with the report of the Royal Commission on Taxation, particularly in respect of lessening the duplication of taxation activities throughout the Commonwealth and the States. At the present time they are a source of great irritation and expense to the community.
I trust that the Government will be fairly ready also to table the numerous reports of the Tariff Board that are now in process of preparation. I am unaware whether these reports have been finalized or not, but I find that regarding no fewer than 69 inquiries, no reports have been issued. Of these, 37 were instituted more than a year ago and six of the 37 were held in 1932. Before Parliament rises all these reports should be tabled, and, if necessary, action should be taken upon them.
Apart from the budget proposals, I trust that some measure of help will be accorded to rural industries generally, and particularly do I hope that something will be done to ensure that interest rates on producing lands will be brought down to a minimum. The present incidence of taxation has a very definite influence in this regard. I recently took out some figures showing a comparison between income derived from government loans and income received by way of mortgage interest. The comparison was rather striking, and indicated that something should be done to reduce considerably taxation .on rural loans so that these two sets of investments would be placed on something like the same footing. I made a comparison of the tax payable by a resident of New South Wales in 1933 on net income derived from Commonwealth loans and from mortgage interest. No two States have the same income tax laws, and the incidence of taxation differs, of course, in every State. Commonwealth loan interest rates really determine private interest rates and the direction of private investments, just as surely as the Bank of England rates control the general course of business and investment in Great Britain. Because a Commonwealth loan is free of State income tax and other State taxes, and is also free of portion of the federal taxation - the tax on income from property - there is a huge disparity at the present time between the returns from each of these sources of income. I am not making an attack on the Government, or suggesting that it alone is responsible for this great disparity ; I am merely trying to ensure that the moneys invested in these two ways will have a similar exemption, so that the rates of interest will be comparable and as low as possible. The amounts of tax at present payable are as follow: -
In these circumstances, one can see the reason for the tremendous demand for government securities. There cannot be a return to prosperity in Australia, particularly in the country districts, until men find it just as profitable and attractive to lend their money for the development of the producing industries, as to invest it in government loans. It has always seemed to me that government loans should be reserved, as far as possible, for the small investors. They need absolute security, and no investment in Australia can be more secure, I hope, than government stock. It seems to me that any taxation laws that tend to relieve big investors in government loans from the penalties of graduation of taxation should not be retained. The big investor, who can afford to take risks, should be encouraged to invest in private industry, while the small investor should be induced to put his money into government stock. I believe that this can be done so far as the federal sphere is concerned by removing any discrimination whatever between the rates of tax on interest on government loans and that on interest derived from private investment.
Following the lead given when the big loan conversion took place three or four’ years ago, when there was a remission of the property income tax, it was announced in connexion with the last loan prospectus it would be similarly free. I hope, however, that all future issues will be subject to the general income tax. During the war period, it was the practice in Australia to issue tax-free loans, and in the early days of the war, something like £140,000,000 worth of such loans were floated. Subsequently, this practice was considered to be wrong in principle, and the later war loans were subject to taxation. During my period of office as Treasurer, I converted tax-free loans of £121,000,000 into taxable loans, because I did not consider there should be any big body of taxpayers in the community who were to a large extent exempt from a tax which other people had to pay. I trust that in floating any future loans the Government will see that the terms offered provide for the same taxation as is applied to income derived from all other sources. In the second place, I hope that while there is such a big mass of public securities which are exempt from taxation, every avenue will be investigated to see if it is possible to make similar concessions in regard to mortgages that touch the man on the land.
.- I make an appeal to the Government in regard to its intention to send at least 100 single men from Canberra to Port Augusta to be employed in the further ballasting of the East- West railway. Surely Ministers are aware of the position in South Australia. The unemployment figures in that State are higher than in any other part of the
Commonwealth. I wonder if the Government knows that, in the past six months, less than four inches of rain has fallen in South Australia, although the average rainfall to the end of June is between ten and eleven inches. This means that, owing to seasonal conditions, unemployment will even increase in that State. A large area of wheat land has not yet been planted, and this means that men who would normally be employed in handling the next crop will be looking in vain for work. I urge the Government to take this matter into further consideration, because I assure it that in South Australia the transfer of 100 men from Canberra to Port Augusta will be regarded as an unfriendly act. Already there is a tendency in that State to follow in the footsteps of Western Australia, which desires to secede from the Commonwealth, and an action such as the Government now proposes would react in a way which would not be helpful to the Commonwealth as a whole. South Australia suffers a good deal because of its geographical position, but additional employment on the East- West railway would undoubtedly benefit it, because much of the line runs through South Australian territory.
– The motion submitted by the Prime Minister should not be carried without an opinion being expressed on two vital matters - the high rate of interest that prevails in regard to the recent £12,000,000 loan, and the practice adopted by the Government of financing through treasury-bills. In order that honorable members may be able to make their views clear on these matters, I move as an amendment -
That the amount be reduced by £1.
I am prompted to take this course because of the rumours current to the effect that the Government intends to go to the country within a couple of months. An opportunity should be seized now to deal with these matters instead of waiting until circumstances suit the Ministry to bring down its budget, and so trim its proposals to enable it to obtain a certain amount of public support, and thus avoid criticism of its actions.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Soullin) referred to the necessity for the Government to take action so there would be at least equity as the result of its financial policy. We should not permit hardships to be inflicted on the great mass of the people while the Government extends benefits to its wealthy supporters. The Leader of the Country Party (Dr. Earle Page) touched upon high interest rates, and said that unless something was done by the Government to make investment in primary production and in secondary industries attractive and profitable, all the talk about prosperity would be futile. He showed that the support extended to government loans indicated that the position was the very reverse of that suggested this afternoon by the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey), and I agree with his view. There must be confidence in primary production and secondary industries, in which the great majority of the people are employed. It has been said on many occasions that, even in normal times, the Government cannot employ more than a small percentage of those who seek work, and that therefore under the present’ system private industry must be looked to to provide employment for the majority of our people. There are definite indications, however, that there is little hope of much increased employment by the development of private industries. It is obvious that there is a real lack of confidence to-day regarding investments in this most important sphere, which vitally affects our national welfare.
The Government has been represented at several very important conferences which have dealt with this subject and adopted resolutions about it. First there was the Ottawa Conference, which concerned itself with restrictive quotas; and then there was the World Economic Conference. From the reports of those two gatherings, one is able to gather that the underlying motive of the representatives present was to do everything possible to create a state of affairs which would make an abundance of cheap money available for developmental purposes as suggested by the right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page). In this regard, the present Government, in connexion with the recent £12,000,000 loan, and also the treasury- bill method of public finance, stands condemned, for its policy has led to results which are the very opposite to those desired at the conferences to which I have referred, lt has been disclosed that the Commonwealth Government, in conjunction with the other members of the Loan Council, and also the Commonwealth Bank, which, no doubt, acted in cooperation with the private banks, floated the £12,000,000 loan at a higher rate of interest than the condition of the money market warranted. It is interesting, in this connexion, to cite statements by men of the same political faith as the present Commonwealth Government. I shall mention first the Premier of South Australia (Mr. Butler), who, commenting on the 7th June on the terms on which the loan was launched, said that the money could have been obtained at 3 per cent., and, I take it, at par.
– “What did the Premier of South Australia pay for the money which he borrowed in South Australia ?
– I shall come to that. Mr. Butler also observed that -
This money has not come from the people. It comes from the big financial institutions who are scrambling over themselves to invest their money. Had it been issued at 3 per cent., it would have had a big effect on interest rates for all private money.
That very point has been stressed already in this debate. It will be seen, therefore, that the policy of the Government and the other financial interests to which I have referred, has been such that interest rates have not been reduced as they might have been. It would have been possible to float that loan at a lower rate of interest, and that was what most people desired. Mr. Butler went on to point out that the money was obtained at an artificial rate of interest. It is obvious that the policy of the Government has been influenced by the private banks. These institutions were actually “ scrambling over themselves “ to invest their money, and naturally they wanted to maintain the highest possible rate of interest. I suppose that that may bc regarded as merely human nature, but it was the duty and obligation of the, Government to protect the interests of the people at large and it failed to do so.
Unfortunately, the private financial institutions have been able to wield a very big influence in this country. The Premier of South Australia was able to obtain a loan from the State Bank of South Australia at 3£ per cent, at par, and so was able to avoid large costs in underwriting and flotation, which are a very important factor in these matters. I believe that the honorable gentleman has been quoted as having said that South Australia saved £11,000 on that transaction, having regard to what it would have paid had it taken its allotment of the general loan.
I now propose to make a brief survey of the last three or four years, with the object of indicating how the opinions of members and supporters of this Government have varied in regard particularly to Treasury bills and the balancing of budgets. It is high time that the manner in which the private banks have exploited the general public through the treasurybills method of finance was exposed. It is, of course, obvious to everybody now that the private banks have been dictating the financial policy of Australia for the last five years; and the fact that the people have awakened to this was emphasized definitely at the State elections in Tasmania a few days ago. It cannot be denied that the people have suffered through this policy and the Government is to be condemned for having been so subservient to the associated banks. That it has been so is shown by the fact that Government supporters and also Ministers have rushed to defend the banks whenever their policy has been exposed.
The latest example of this subjection to the private banks is merely the culmination of a long and sorry story of intrigue which commenced with the foisting of the disastrous Premiers plan upon this country. When that plan was evolved, it was laid down that a certain procedure was to be followed by various governments in regard to governmental expenditure and so on. One of the most important features of the plan was covered by clause 8 of it which stated that “ to the unemployed the plan provides for a restoration of employment.” That was one of its avowed objectives, but all concerned know how much has been achieved in this respect. This point was referred to this evening by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin). Honorable members- who have been in close contact during the recess with the numerous unemployed people in the various States know only too well that the plan has totally failed to effect any real improvement of their lot. In New South Wales, for instance, the unemployment figure for the last available quarter was 25.8 per cent., and that excludes thousands of men engaged on relief work who, in some cases, get only one week’s work in five, and earn, on the average, 10s. lid. a week for their labour. In order to bring about the restoration of employment envisaged by clause 8 of the plan, it was declared that sacrifices by every section of the community were necessary. Every section of the community has in fact fulfilled its obligations in this programme of deflation except the banks. Wage-earners who were in employment when the plan was first put into operation suffered a 10 per cent, reduction in real wages through Arbitration Court determination, and this has only recently been restored in New South Wales following the most extraordinary judgment ever delivered. When the cut was first applied unskilled workers lost 8s. 6d. a week and skilled workers up to lis. 6d. a week. The court has adopted a new formula, the effect of which is that in Sydney the restoration of the 10 per cent, cut has increased the basic wage by only Id. a week. As a matter of fact, in making the sacrifices required by the Premiers plan the employed, the unemployed, the war pensioners, and the invalid and old-age pensioners have all suffered and are still suffering; but the private banks have all the time been fighting a rearguard action to defeat the objective of lower interest rates. In fighting this action they have had wonderful assistance and have used all the resources at their disposal. The Commonwealth Bank Board and the Government have, of course, assisted the private banks, which have, consequently, been able to cover their tracks to some extent and have been able to get through the depression period without making any real sacrifice. In fact, interest rates at the present level are, judged by their purchasing power, better than they were when the percentage was higher than it is now. The present high interest rate has been maintained by the banks because the Government has refused to call their bluff. As a matter of fact the Government has been ready to accept any excuse which the banks have cared to offer in justification of their actions. The private banks know that if they can keep up the interest rate on government loans interest rates on other loans also will be high. They realize that outside interest rates are to a large extent governed by the rates operating on government loans, and in order to maintain their high margin of profit they have followed a course of reckless exploitation of government revenue through what is now known as the treasury-bill racket. Apparently the private banks did not realize at first the extent to which they could exploit government revenue by the treasury-bill method ; but this realization has gradually dawned upon them, as the decisions of various conferences clearly show. There is no doubt that the Commonwealth Bank Board and the associated banks have changed their ground considerably in the last few years. It will be remembered that at the conference in Melbourne, which lasted from the 18th August to the 21st August, 1930, at which the present Prime Minister represented the Commonwealth and Messrs. Bavin and Stevens represented the New South Wales Government, Sir Otto Niemeyer outlined the policy which was implemented in the Premiers plan, and the various governments then pledged themselves to balance their budgets forthwith. “ Balanced budgets “ became a fetish, and the banks intimated at that time that they were no longer prepared to finance government deficits. The unfunded floating debt was then only £3,000,000, and, as I have said, the banks did not appreciate the fact that the issuing of treasury-bills would be very remunerative to them. At that conference the present Premier of New South Wales, and the present Prime Minister, who a few days ago agreed to finance deficits by long-term loans, were parties to the adoption of a resolution which provided -
That not only must budgets be balanced but that sound finance demanded that all longterm loans must be reproductive in the sense that they would yield to the Treasury revenue equal to interest plus sinking fund.
It was then emphasized that low interest rates depended upon balanced budgets, and it was said that if the budgets were not balanced the nation would be confronted with “national disgrace and dishonour “ and “ immediate financial disaster “. At that time treasury-bills were bearing interest at 6^ per cent., but the banks suddenly became aware that an increase of their holding of treasury-bills would be more remunerative than investments in private business, and they began to control and extend all securities of this character.
– The honorable member’s time has expired, but if no other honorable member desires to intervene, he may take his second period of fifteen minutes.
– On the 13th December, 1930, the Commonwealth Bank Board wrote to the Acting Chairman of the Loan Council, intimating that, after a conference with the private banks, it had been decided that deficits must be financed by treasury-bills through an account with the Commonwealth Bank. That announcement was confirmed a week later when the private banks issued a statement in which they agreed to finance the Australian governments provided wages and pensions were reduced. In other words, they agreed to accept government guaranteed bonds on short terms at 6-J per cent. On the 12th February, 1931, the Commonwealth Bank Board wrote to the Loan Council intimating that -
Subject to adequate and equitable reductions in all wages, salaries and allowances, pensions, and other factors which affect the cost of living, the Commonwealth Bank will actively co-operate with the trading banks in sustaining industy and restoring employment.
J* would appear that the conference of February, 1931, abandoned the objective of balancing budgets by June, 1931, agreed to at Melbourne, for, with the consent of the. private banks, it adopted a resolution in favour of a three years’ plan, and established a committee to formulate a plan to provide for balanced budgets by the 30th June, 1934 - two days from now. By the end of December, 1930, the banks had increased their treasury-bill holdings to £8,000,000, and were receiving 6 per cent, interest. At the conference held in February, 1931, it was resolved, after consultation with the private banks -
That a substantial reduction of rates of interest on deposits and advances of the Commonwealth Bank, the Savings Bank and Trading Banks would be effected by the banks in consultation.
Accordingly, the economists proceeded to work out the detail of the three years’ plan, and on the 2nd April, 1931, the Chairman of the Commonwealth Bank Board informed the Loan Council that the Commonwealth Bank was not prepared to sanction the issue of treasurybills exceeding £25,000,000 internally, and a similar amount externally. At the end of May of that year, the Premiers Plan, which was to give effect to the pledge to balance budgets by June, 1934, and to limit treasury-bills to £50,000,000, came into operation. At that time, the private banks were receiving 6 per cent, on treasury-bills to the value of £23,000,000 held by them. Arising from a further conference, which was attended by Professors Copland and Giblin, and Mr. E. C. Riddle of the Commonwealth Bank, Mr. Healy representing the associated banks, and Mr. A. C. Davidson of the Bank of New South Wales, a pious resolution to reduce interest on all bank loans and overdrafts was agreed to by the banks, but they flatly refused to fund the treasury-bills. The reason for that decision is set out on page 53 of the official report - “ These funds are held as portion of their liquid assets and could not be converted for a long period.” Instead of holding Australian notes, the banks had converted their liquid assets into treasury-bills which could be converted into notes on sight. At the same time, they were receiving 6 per cent, on their liquid assets. That was the treasurybill racket. The banks agreed that if the interest on existing loans were reduced to 4 per cent., they would accept 4 per cent, on treasury-bills. The new rate became effective on the 31st July, 1931. With the growth of the treasurybill racket, the enthusiasm of the banks for balanced budgets disappeared, and by the end of 1931 the internal maximum of £25,000,000 imposed by the Commonwealth Bank had been exceeded by £10,000,000. The private banks -were anxious to monopolize the issue. In January, 1932, the Commonwealth Bank Board wrote to the Loan Council directing attention to the amount of the floating debt, and suggesting that “ national finance “ might be refused. The present Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), when making his first appearance after being elevated to that position, addressed the Loan Council on the necessity for honouring the plan which stipulated that-
Public budgets must be balanced in a comparatively short time. Unless this objective is kept steadily in view, the whole plan will break down.
But, as I have said, the private banks were no longer anxious about balanced budgets*, they were more concerned at maintaining high interest rates. Even when what is known as the “ WallaceBruce Committee “ reported to the present Government against the growth of treasury-bills to £42,000,000, the Government refused to take any action to put an end to the racket. The WallaceBruce Committee stated -
Funds thus lent to governments have come mainly from the repayment to the banks of advances to private borrowers, were reducing the spread of credit to private industry, and were an unhealthy growth.
Although^ the Commonwealth Bank had reduced ‘its interest rate on overdrafts to 5 per cent, by July, 1932, the private banks still refused to carry out their pledges. Because of the policy of the Government, the Commonwealth Bank refused to act in open competition with the trading banks. Until October, 1932, interest at 4 per cent, was paid on treasury-bills, although, in London, the rate on similar securities was less than per cent. In June, 1932, the late Sir Robert Gibson again wrote to the Prime Minister stating that it would be a dereliction of duty on the part of the Commonwealth Bank Board if it did not remind the governments of Australia that budgets must be balanced by June, 1934. It would appear that Sir Robert Gibson was alone in that opinion, because the private banks were seeking additional facilities for the issue of treasury-bills. Indeed, Professor Copland entered the lists in an endeavour to prove the merit of treasury-bills in that they helped to swell the cash reserves of the private banks. With amazing audacity, the private banks, through their economist propagandists, claimed that treasury-bills were an integral part of the Premiers plan. The racket was too easy to abandon without a fight, because the Commonwealth Bank was prepared to rediscount the bills at sight, and the private banks received 4 per cent, from the Government on their cash reserve. Early in 1933, the Commonwealth Bank took control of the interest rate, and fixed it first at S$ per cent., bringing it later, by successive reductions, to 2$ per cent. The private banks protested bitterly against the reduction of the interest rate. The chairman of the Bank of New South Wales said, “ These reductions have lowered appreciably the possibility of earning revenue on the liquid resources of the bank.” Almost in the next breath, he protested that his bank had been able to obtain only 10s. per cent, in London on its British treasury-bills. There being no private bank monopoly in London, the interest rate there was only 4s. 9d. per cent., whereas the Australian Government was paying the Australian private banks £2 15s. per cent. For the week ended the 24th June, 1934, the British Government offered on the open market treasury-bills to the value of £35,000,000, and received tenders amounting to £59,000,000. The average interest rate was 16s. 8d. per cent., compared with £2 5s. per cent, paid by the Commonwealth Government. Treasury-bills to the value of over £50,000,000 are held by Australian private banks in Australia. Although the Commonwealth Bank has said that the issue of treasury-bills must cease, the private banks have too great an influence over the Government to allow that to happen. When the budgets for the financial year 1934-1935 were under consideration at the recent meeting of the Loan Council the pledge to balance budgets by June, 1934, was conveniently forgotten. Instead, it was agreed to issue additional treasurybills to the value of £5,880,000 during the coming year. Last year, a sub-committee of the Premiers Conference was appointed to consider the position in regard to treasury-bills ; but the private banks frustrated the effort to reduce interest rates by having their own direct representative, Mr. Spooner, AssistantTreasurer in the New South Wales Administration, appointed to the committee. Mr. Spooner has consistently and strenuously fought against treasury-bills being placed on the open market. Despite the ultimatum of the Commonwealth Bank that Australia’s floating debts must not exceed £50,000,000, those debts now total £86,000,000; internal treasury-bills total £50,000,000, although the maximum previously laid down was £25,000,000. The only section of the ‘community which has not been called upon to make sacrifices is that section represented by the banks. That the Commonwealth Bank could have financed the entire short-term debt from its own resources is evident from the fact that it guaranteed the treasury-bills. The Commonwealth Bank took all the risk whereas the private banks made the profit. Had the treasury-bills been offered to open tender, the interest rate would not have exceeded that which operated on British bills. Many overseas firms holding large balances in Australia pending the adjustment of exchange would have welcomed an opportunity to tender for them. The Government has scrapped every part of the Premiers plan that affected the private banks. It even repudiated its pledge given at the Ottawa and the World Economic Conferences to secure low interest rates. It has bolstered up the greatest ramp ever perpetrated in the financial history of Australia. The treasury-bill racket is a parasitic growth for which the Government must accept the full responsibility^ That system of finance has proved remunerative to the private banks, for it has enabled them to maintain higher rates of interest nhan have prevailed’ in the British market for similar securities. The party with which I am associated believes that these matters should be exposed so that those who have to carry the burden should understand the Government’s financial policy. As the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) indicated, that policy seems to be to provide opportunities for the big financial institutions to obtain terms far more favorable than are provided elsewhere in connexion with similar transactions, while at the same time requiring the poorer sections of the community to make the sacrifices. We contend that that is most unjust. The Government will have considerable difficulty in justifying its policy to the electors of Australia. So unjust is the Government’s policy that even the Premier of South Australia (Mr. Butler) has denounced it. It is tragic to think that money is flowing into places from which, as experience has shown, no real relief for the unemployed can be expected. Until the Government discards its policy of providing remunerative investments for the wealthy sections of the community, and, instead, takes measures to stimulate production, no employment will be found for the many thousands now seeking it. As a protest against the continued high rates of interest which the Government has maintained, and also against the system of finance by the issue of treasury-bills which has been followed since 1929, thereby providing lucrative investment for people who have made no real sacrifice in the crisis through which this country has passed, I submit my amendment.
– I have no desire unduly to protract the debate, but I should like to reply to some of the comments which have been made. The right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) having spoken of taxation reform, I take this opportunity to acquaint the House with the efforts made by the Government during the past six months to that end. This subject naturally divides itself into two parts: first, ‘ as it affects the Commonwealth law, and secondly, as it necessitates uniform State and Commonwealth laws. For about eighteen months, a royal commission on taxation has been at work. That most competent body has issued reports dealing with income taxation, and for several months those reports have been closely and carefully examined by the Government. A conference of State Taxation Commissioners sat in Canberra for three or four weeks, and the Taxation Department of the Treasury has been almost constantly engaged for several months on the examination of the various reports presented. In the course of the next week a hill will be tabled in this House providing for the reform of tha present Income Tax Assessment Act in so far as it is affected by the recommendations of the royal commission in respect of Commonwealth taxation alone. In conjunction with the States, we are pursuing the subject of reform of the taxation provisions that affect both State and Commonwealth governments equally, and in regard to which it is desirable that there should be uniformity. I assure the right honorable member that the subject is receiving the active consideration of the Government, and it is hoped that a fair measure of progress will be made before the end of this year, when the next assessments are sent out, whilst before the assessments for the following financial year are issued, we should have attained a large measure of uniformity with State law iu the simplification and clarification of all the taxation systems throughout Australia.
Another point made by the right honorable member related to what he was pleased to describe, I believe, as the partially tax-free provisions attached to the last Commonwealth loan. All loans issued since the big £500,000,000 conversion loan three years ago have been governed by those same taxation provisions; that is to say, the last four loans have been issued with a government guarantee that they shall not be subject to higher federal taxation than that prevailing in 1930. This means that they will not be subject to the special property tax, which now stands at 6 per cent. It is the policy of the Government eventually to get back to normal taxation conditions for Commonwealth loans, but a return to those conditions would impose an additional burden On State Governments, as practically all loans raised at the present time are for the States. The imposition of more onerous taxation conditions would react against the State governments, because they would have to pay higher rates of interest while the Commonwealth would benefit. Therefore, although we wish to return as soOn as possible to the taxation conditions prevailing before 1930, the Government does not intend to press this on the members of the Loan Council in the immediate future.
I come now to the remarks of the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley). I listened with all the attention 1 could bring to bear to what the honorable member had to say, because it was evident thai lit was making an attack on the Government; but, try as I might, I failed to grasp any concrete points into which I could, metaphorically speaking, fasten my teeth. The honorable member is evidently obsessed with the idea that the private banks are dictating to Commonwealth and State governments in respect of interest rates, and those terrible documents, treasury-bill3.. Personally, I have seen no evidence of that. I do not propose to follow in detail or at length the various points raised by the honorable member, but perhaps I can throw some light on the matter by briefly traversing the history of these treasury-bills, and by stating what they are, why they were issued, and why their issue is now being curtailed. At the time treasury-bills were first issued by the Loan Council the Commonwealth Government and the State governments were faced with the necessity to finance public works, as well as the deficits, those gaps ‘between income and outgo which have been an unf ortunate but inevitable feature of government finance since the depression. Loan money from overseas could not be obtained, and, due to lack of public confidence, loan money was not available in Australia. Therefore, the only way to finance deficits and carry on a reasonable programme of public works was to issue treasury-bills, which are short-term securities issued by the Commonwealth Government through the Commonwealth Bank, and rediscounted by the trading hanks. In consonance with the high interest rate prevailing at the time, the rate at which the bills were discounted some years ago was 6 per cent. That was nobody’s fault; we had to pay the ruling rate of interest. The practice of issuing treasury-bills commenced in 1930, and no one who takes a responsible view of public finance can fail to be impressed with the fart thai this system saved Australia during the depression. There was no other possible way of financing deficits, and of keeping public works going. After all, deficits must be met. “We cannot laugh off a deficit. It must be met in cash, and the only way of getting the cash at the time was by issuing treasury-bills which were ultimately met. out of the savings of the people accumulated in the private banks. I imagine that the honorable member does not combat the idea that the deficits had to be met, and that public works had to be continued. That being granted, he must admit that there was no alternative to the issue of treasury-bills. At any other time this system of short-term finance would not have been considered sound for these purposes, but in the circumstances existing since 1931 no other course was open to governments. Hovever, during the last eighteen months efforts were made, first by the late Sir Robert Gibson, and now by the present chairman of the Bank Board, to curb any further extension of the treasury-bill habit. I suggest that this movement represents a healthy tendency in our Australian public finance. The honorable member said that the trading banks of Australia held treasury-bills to the value of £50,000,000, but that is not so. Certainly the amount of the bills now current exceeds £50,000,000 but of that total bills to the value of £20,000,000 are held by the Commonwealth Bank itself, leaving just over £30,000,000 worth in the hands of the trading banks. I assume that the honorable member is principally concerned for meeting the interest on treasury-bills which he appears to consider to be the feeding of government revenue into the hungry maw of the trading banks. There is certainly in existence a floating debt of £80,000,000, but the balance over and above the £50,000,000 I have mentioned is held in London almost entirely by the Commonwealth Bank in the form of treasury debentures, which bear practically the same rate of interest as treasury-bills. I maintain that there has been nothing underhand in the system of treasury-bill finance. It served a purpose which no other system of finance could have done during the crisis. It enabled public works to be carried on at a time when otherwise they would have had to cease. It enabled employment io be ~ found for thousands of men who would have had to join the ranks of the workless. We have certainly £80,000,000 worth of short-term debt, but honorable members cannot be unaware of the efforts of the Commonwealth Bank Board to ensure that the amount shall not be increased, and that, as time goes on, the total volume shall be slowly decreased by all governments through the agency of the Loan Council. The honorable member said, incidentally, that the treasurybill rate was now 2$ per cent. As a matter of fact, it is at present 2£ per cent.
The honorable member for West Sydney also stated that Mr. Spooner, the Assistant Treasurer for New South Wales, was a member of the Loan Council sub-committee on short-term finance, and was at the same time an interested representative of the private trading banks. That may have been intended -as nothing more than a bit of sharp political criticism of Mr. Spooner, but the fact is that that gentleman was the representative of the New South Wales Government at the conference, and was not the representative, directly or indirectly, of any outside body.
I think.it will be agreed that the honorable member made out a very poor case against the Government and the banks in regard to interest rates. His remarks are best answered by a very brief reference to the consistent decline of the interest rate in this country during the last three years.
– What is the cause of that?
– It is due to the increasing confidence of the public in the Government, and in the economic future of the country. Recent events, culminating in the successful flotation of the £12,000,000 loan, go to show that interest rates are gradually declining as a result of the efforts of this Government, and of the confidence of the people in its administration. The Commonwealth Bank rural credit advance rate was 6 per cent, three years ago, while to-day it is only 2$ per cent. The treasury-bill discount rate was 6 per cent, three years ago, but is only 2^ per cent, to-day. Those figures relate to the Commonwealth Bank, hut proportionate reductions of the advance rates of the private banks also have taken place. Indeed, one of the most remarkable features of our economic life during the last few years has been this slow, persistent decline of the interest rates of all financial institutions. The honorable member sought to make capital out of the difference between the short-term treasury-bill rates in London and Australia, but I remind him that the conditions of the two markets are wholly dissimilar. If comparisons are to be made, the whole range of conditions must be taken into consideration. We should not pick out one small and relatively unimportant factor, and seek to make a comparison on that. The whole burden of the honorable member’s remarks was that we had bolstered up what he was pleased to call the treasury-bill ramp, and had been instrumental in keeping up the interest rate .during the period of the depression. There is no tittle of truth in that charge. On the contrary, the Government has much to be proud of in having brought about conditions that permitted the rate of interest to decline, and in having instituted a system of sound finance which has been largely responsible for that fair measure of recovery we have already experienced.
.- The Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey) has probably put up the best case possible for the private banks and for the Government, but I do not think that his statement that the private banks have rendered a signal service to the community will convince the public. The Assistant Treasurer said that the treasury-bills had been issued to finance deficits and to enable public works to be carried on. It is true that the proceeds of the bills went to meet deficits which had been created partly by the exorbitant rates of interest that had to be paid, but very little of the money went towards providing employment. The Minister has not replied effectively to the criticism by the honorable member for West Sydney of the high rate of interest paid on treasury-bills in Australia in comparison with the rate prevailing in London. The Assistant Treasurer said something about the confidence of the people in the Government, advancing that as a reason why rates in Australia had been reduced in more recent years. While on this subject of confidence I remind the committee that quite recently the British Government defaulted in its interest payments to the Government of the United States of America in respect of the war debt due to that country; so if low interest rates depend so much on confidence we might now expect the interest rate in Great Britain to be much higher than the rate in Australia. There is one other important point. The Assistant Treasurer omitted to mention that the private banks in Australia have a monopoly of trading in treasury-bills, whereas in Great Britain there is an open bill market. He also neglected to point out that the private banks have always enjoyed the right to convert these treasury-bills into Commonwealth notes upon demand, so in effect the Commonwealth Government has been paying the private banks 2-J per cent, on their till money because treasury-bills, held under such conditions, are just as good as Commonwealth notes in their tills. Apparently the Commonwealth Bank has always had funds available for the rediscounting of treasury-bills held by the private banks; so the honorable member for West Sydney was on perfectly safe ground when he declared that that institution could undertake the financing of government deficits and provide sufficient money for the carrying on of public works without the assistance of the private banks. I hope that at least a majority of honorable members will not approve the continuance of a system which the honorable member for West Sydney has rightly described as a treasury-bill ramp. It is true that there has been a reduction of interest rates on these bills lately, but that was not made voluntarily by the banks; it was due entirely to a persistent public agitation against the exorbitant rates that were being charged, compared with the rates prevailing on the London market. The Commonwealth Bank Board, and the sub-committee appointed by the Loan Council, are attempting to delay the establishment of an open bill market in Australia. Every one knows that if we had an open bill market, private investors and financial institutions with available funds would take up these, bills at a lower interest than that prevailing to-day. I consider that the honorable member for West Sydney made out a very good case, which the Assistant Treasurer has failed to answer. I, therefore, hope that the majority of honorable members will, by their support of the amendment, insist upon justice being done to the people of Australia in regard to treasurybill finance.
Question - That the amount be reduced by £1 (Mr. Beasley’s amendment) - put. The committee divided. (Chairman -Mr. Bell.)
Majority . . . . 19
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- This afternoon I asked the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Perkins) if it was the intention of the Government, as reported, to send a number of unemployed men from Canberra to undertake certain work on the East-West railway line, and was informed that the Ministry intended to adopt that course. I received to-day from the Leader of the Opposition in the South Australian Parliament (Mr.
Lacey), a telegram protesting against the proposal and urging that any work which the Government intended to put in hand on the transcontinental railway should be made available to the unemployed in South Australia, particularly a large number of former employees of the Commonwealth railways at Port Augusta. I emphasize that unemployment in South Australia is extremely serious and that a considerable number of men accustomed to railway maintenance work anticipated that they would participate in the labour of ballasting and re-sleepering the East-West railway when that work was undertaken. I may add that the unemployed in South Australia include a large number of returned soldiers. The Government is not justified in incurring the expenditure involved in transporting unemployed persons from Canberra all the way to Port Augusta and further west when there are so many workless men adjacent to the work proposed - people who have experienced all the distress due to unemployment as acutely as people in any other part of Australia. It is true, as the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) reminded the Government earlier in the evening, that no State has suffered from the depression to a greater extent than South Australia. The percentage of unemployed there is higher than elsewhere. In Canberra, I understand, the proportion of unemployed citizens to the total population is about 10 per cent.; in South Australia it exceeds 28 per cent. If the Government transports any considerable number of unemployed from Canberra to engage on the proposed work on the East-West railway, it will he doing a serious injustice to those citizens of South Australia who have every right to expect a share of that work. The Minister attempted to excuse the Government, arguing that, as the Commonwealth was finding the money, it was justified in transferring unemployed citizens of Canberra to carry out the proposed work. The money being made available for this purpose has been contributed in part by the taxpayers of South Australia as taxpayers of the Commonwealth. I am not unsympathetic to the unemployed in Canberra, but they have no exclusive right to such work as that upon the East-West railway. Work should be provided locally for them. The Minister proposes to transfer 100 men from Canberra. He mentioned this afternoon the prospect of additional men being engaged in South Australia. I ask him to make a definite statement as to the number of unemployed in South Australia who are likely to be absorbed. Those who were formerly employees of the Commonwealth railways, and are living at or near Port Augusta, should be given every consideration in any work undertaken on that section of the line. There is involved in this matter, not only the principle of the employment of residents of Canberra at a place so remote from their homes, but also the question of whether the expense of their transport to South Australia is justified. I have no doubt that the men proposed to be sent to Port Augusta have their homes in Canberra, and that they will expect to be transported back to Canberra upon the completion of the work. I strongly protest against the proposal of the Government to involve the Commonwealth in unnecessary expenditure, at the same time depriving of relief the unemployed in South Australia who have a prior claim for consideration, and who .have been out of work for long periods. The position of many of these men has been made worse by reason of the unfortunate seasonal conditions that have prevailed in South Australia. South Australia has a right to regard the Government’s proposal as an unfriendly act. In view of all the circumstances, I ask the Minister to make the work available to the men living adjacent to the railway, and so do the fair thing by the people of South Australia. .
– I am sorry to learn that the proposal of the Government to transfer to South Australia 100 men from the Federal Capital Territory has been so much misunderstood by honorable members from South Australia, the only State to benefit by the scheme. Honorable members will remember that when we were discussing some months ago the River Murray Waters Agreement, an additional sum of £520,000 was found to be necessary to extend the scheme and to erect certain barrages at the mouth of the river. The Commonwealth Government was to receive no direct benefit from the scheme. It had to find the money and the States which would benefit were not asked to contribute additional funds. The Commonwealth was willing to meet this extra commitment provided that the other contracting parties were prepared to allow us to engage upon the scheme from 100 to 200 unemployed residents of Canberra, where little work is available. South Australia did not agree to this proposal, and eventually the Commonwealth made the money available unconditionally. We still have unemployed in Canberra, and we can undertake little useful work that will absorb them. Single men are working one week in five, and married men one week in three. We are seeking works of a substantial character that will absorb the unemployed in this city. One proposal under consideration was the construction of the railway from Yass to Canberra. The financing of that was found to be impossible. We are now considering the construction of a good road from Canberra to Yass. Other proposals investigated related to the Rod Hill railway in South Australia, and the construction of a railway line from Canberra to Jervis Bay. Finally we decided upon the proposal now under consideration. Year after year we are providing something like £60,000 for re-sleepering and ballasting the east-west railway. Instead of providing that sum annually, the Government proposed to increase the amount to approximately £250,000, to be expended during the next three years, and give constant employment to 100 men from Canberra, and probably 200 men from South Australia. More employment would be given to the people of South Australia than is available to-day; they would benefit, as against the residents of Canberra, in the ratio of two to one. That was the intention of the Government, but it has not yet matured. Inquiries are being made to ascertain the number of eligible men in Canberra who are prepared to accept employment on the eastwest railway; so far, less than 100 have offered. If this proposal is not acceptable to South Australia, the Government will look further into the matter to ascertain if work can be found elsewhere.
– There was no suggestion that work would be found for 200 men from South Australia.
– As I have said before, that was the intention of the Government. It is a strange thing that the only protest made against this proposal has come from the State which would have benefited most from it. No protest was voiced by honorable members from Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia or Tasmania, States which would also contribute to the amount to be provided. Only the unemployed in South Australia and at Canberra were to receive any benefit from the work. If the South Australian Government and the members representing that State in this Parliament are hostile to our proposal we must look elsewhere for work to absorb our unemployed, but I do not think that it will be possible to provide the same amount of money for any other undertaking. So, if we are obliged to alter our plans, the last position of the unemployed in South Australia will be worse than the first. I feel sure that if the Government’s proposal were fully understood by the people of that State they would welcome it.
.- I think that the Government might have found work nearer home for the unemployed of Canberra. I should like to remind the Minister that a big portion of the east-west railway is in Western Australia, and that there are many unemployed in that State. It would be much fairer and more economic if the Government found employment for men living nearer to the line. It is rather expensive to transport men such a long distance from Canberra. I ask the Government to reconsider the matter.
.- Apparently no provision has been made in this bill for the setting up of plant for the extraction of oil from coal, in accordance with the promise to a deputation . introduced by me at Cessnock a month or so ago. I should like the Minister to give some indication of when and where the plant will be established; this matter is urgent, because the proposed plant would give employment to a large number of miners in my electorate.
I propose to discuss briefly some anomalies in connexion’ with invalid and old-age pensions and the maternity allowance. In respect of mothers claiming the maternity allowance, the department unfairly refuses to allow a deduction from the husband’s gross income of the unemployment tax, which in New South Wales is ls. iu the £1, checkweighman’s fund union dues, or the cost of explosives used by miners. The unemployment tax is actually stopped from the worker’s pay, and he never receives the full amount of his nominal wage. I consider it grossly unfair that no such deduction is permitted from the gross earnings of miners or other workmen, many of whom have to meet various charges and costs amounting to 5s. in the £1. I ask the Minister to investigate this injustice.
The Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey) should also consider the position of parents forced to keep invalid members of the family, some of whom are over 21 years of age, and in some instances even 30 years of age. The only alternative open to such parents is to declare that they cannot provide a home for their invalid children, in which case the latter would be entitled to an invalid pension; but that would be an inhuman attitude to adopt. I do not say that the department is wholly responsible, because, prior to the adoption of the obnoxious Premiers plan, the officers of the department acted humanely towards those with whom they had to deal. The Taxation Department makes an allowance to taxpayers for children up to sixteen years of age, but when they are over that age many of them are out of work and have still to be maintained by their parents. I trust that the Assistant Treasurer will give further attention to this matter, and that when taxation exemptions are under consideration allowance will be made for unemployed members who, after reaching the age of sixteen, are a heavier cost to the taxpayer than when under that age.
I also direct the attention of the Minister to the manner in which the pensions department rigidly adheres to certain regulations regardless of the circumstances. I know of an invalid woman pensioner who lost her memory, and who became so ill that her pension remained unclaimed at the post office beyond the specified period provided in the regulations and was cancelled. Eventually this unfortunate woman, who was confined in the Mater Misericordiae Hospital at Waratah, regained her memory. The member for Hamilton in the State Parliament supplied me with the particulars of the case as submitted to him by the Reverend Mother in charge of the hospital. I could obtain no redress in the matter of back pay, the department being willing to pay only from the date on which the new claim was lodged plus six weeks arrears. Full particulars of the amount actually due could be secured by the Assistant Treasurer from the pensions department. I trust that the Minister will give the matters I have mentioned his early attention.
.- I wish to bring before the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) a matter of great importance to the cottongrowing industry of Queensland. At this stage I do not wish to be critical, because I am hopeful that in a week or two the Minister will give a decision which will be favorable to the industry. During the recess the Minister was good enough to visit the northern State, but I wish to tell him that the cotton-growers, numbering about 6,000, are very anxious as to the policy of the Government with respect to their industry which provides employment during the picking period for about 4,000 cottonpickers. The uncertainty in the industry and the lack of continuity of payable prices have disheartened thousands of cotton-growers. Although a former Minister for Trade and Customs said that those engaged in cotton-growing would also be able to produce butter and pigs, and could exist without the proceeds of the sale of their cotton, it is essential that the cotton-growing industry should be’ fostered to enable thousands of small growers to pay their way, including the rates and taxes imposed upon them.- The present Minister, who referred the whole matter to the Tariff Board for investigation and report, has had the board’s report before him for some time, and no doubt has given it a great deal of attention; but I impress upon him the importance of giving an early and favorable decision on the question of adequate protection to enable those growing cotton to carry on. In February or March the Minister met the representatives of the Australian cotton-spinners, who agreed to purchase about 8,000 bales of this year’s crop, which was then estimated at about 20,000 bales, but * which is now estimated at 18,000 bales. Up to the present the spinners have purchased 9,000 bales in Australia, 4,000 bales of cotton lint have already been shipped, and have to be sold in competition with the products of countries in which coloured labour is employed. At present the growers are selling their cotton at a loss. That is disastrous during the present lean period in the dairying industry. No fewer than 5,000- bales have still to be placed, and unless the Government gives an early decision in favour of adequate protection to all branches of the industry the cotton-spinners will not be able to purchase the quantity still available. Any uncertainty will prevent the growers from placing adequate areas under crop next year. If the Australian cotton-spinners could induce this Parliament to extend protection to cotton yarns used for cordages, twines, cotton tweeds and denims they would be able to purchase the whole of the Australian cotton crop. That -is what the growers, on whose behalf I am now speaking, desire ; but I am in favour of extending adequate protection to all branches of the industry in order to ensure a market for the whole of the cotton grown in Australia. One spinning mill is working five-eighths capacity, another two days a week, another 100 hands short of full capacity, and another which was recently established primarily for the purpose of spinning yarn for cotton tweeds is having a very lean time. A former Minister for Trade and Customs gave an assurance that if the mill were established adequate protection would be given to the production of yarns used in the manufacture of cotton tweeds. The mill was eventually established at a cost of £40,000. It is now losing money. Having recently visited the cotton-growing districts of Queensland, I can say there is great apprehension amongst the growers as to the future of the industry. The Minister has the power to give a decision which will make the cotton-growing industry prosperous and relieve unemployment in Queensland. Until the Minister makes a final decision I do not intend to offer any criticism; but I sincerely trust that he will treat this matter as urgent and within a few days make a definite statement of the policy of the Government in this respect.
.- This afternoon I brought under the notice of the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey) the position of claimants for pensions who reside at such places as Boulia, where they receive a mail only once a fortnight, and at Gregory Downs, where there is only a monthly mail. When an application for an invalid or old-age pension is received in Brisbane from such places certain inquiries have to he made, and sometimes six months elapse before the payment of a pension is authorized. A person should receive a pension from the date on which he is entitled to it, and as he has no other source of income he has, in many cases, to be carried by the tradespeople until the money is available. As the number of cases in which such delays occur is not great I trust the Assistant Treasurer will arrange for pensions to he paid from the dates on which the applications were lodged. Periodically, inquiries are made into the financial position of pensioners. Some pensioners may win £5 in the Golden Casket, and when the department learns of that fact the pension is withdrawn pending the making of inquiries into the altered financial position of the pensioners concerned. A month or more may elapse before those inquiries are completed. The department thereupon announces its conviction that the position of the pensioner has not improved to such an extent as to warrant the reduction or the cancellation of the pension, and it is renewed. This is a “ snide “ method of depriving these old people, who have no other source of income, of 17s. 6d. a week for a period of five or six weeks.
In some cases, old people have an insurance policy, which, under the act, is regarded as income. It is of no use to them until it matures, yet they are penalized for having made this provision for their old age. I contend that insurance policies should not he used as a means of reducing the amount of pension until they mature. If a policy is worth more than £75 in the case of a single pensioner, or £100 in the case of a married pensioner, the pension is withdrawn, because the right to it ceases to exist when a person has £50 in thebank, or has an income of £75. Residents of country districts suffer a hardship by reason of the higher cost of living in comparison with costs in the cities. Therefore, the cost of living should be taken into consideration in deciding what amount of pension shall he paid. Arbitration courts and Public Service boards recognize the right to a special allowance, in addition to the award rate, of those who live in the far north. Yet no allowance is made in the case of the old-age pensioner; all cases are treated alike, whether the applicant lives in the metropolitan area of Brisbane or in the Gulf ofCarpentaria.
This afternoon, the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) mentioned the contributions by pensioners to the upkeep of hospitals. In the majority of the mining districts, the hospitals are financed largely by the weekly contributions of the workers.Old-age pensioners generally contribute an equal amount towards the cost of the scheme; yet, when a pensioner falls ill and has to go into hospital, 12s. 6d. a week of his pension is taken from him and is paid to the institution. In my opinion, he should continue to draw the full pension, because he has already contributed towards the cost of the treatment that he receives. I learned the other day of a man who had contributed to the Atherton Hospital for practically twenty years at the rate of1s. a week, and yet had 12s. 6d. a week deducted from his pension. He asked me to ascertain whether there were any means of rectifying such an anomaly.
During last year there was considerable controversy regarding the disposal of the Australian tobacco crop, and the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) promised that certain investigations would be made, and that lemon and bright mahogany leaf would be purchased. A. large quantity of such leaf was not purchased, and when this Parliament adjourned, no one cared what became of the tobacco-grower. Last year, 800 persons were engaged in the cultivation of tobacco. To-day, practically all of them bave gone out of the industry, and, in conformity with the general policy of Australian Governments, are living on the dole. Twelve months ago Mareeba was a prosperous town, in which every man made a decent living and enjoyed a good standard of comfort, although no fortunes were made out of the cultivation of tobacco. To-day, the only trade is that which is done by means of government slips, which authorize the obtaining of rations from the stores. Last year, certain tobacco was rejected. This year, a good deal of that rejected tobacco has been purchased. “When some of the growers found that they could not sell their leaf, they thought that their best plan was to manufacture a little for their own needs. The Commonwealth excise officer paid a visit to the tobacco areas, and the growers were prosecuted for failure to pay the excise duty of 4s. a lb. One man who had invested about £1,200 on a farm and improvements, left his wife, his sister-in-law, and a boy of about seventeen years of age, to look after the farm, while he undertook relief work. The boy pressed a pound of leaf between two boards and was charged by the excise officer, whose salary is £7 or £8 a week, and who probably draws a travelling allowance of £1 ls. a day, with having manufactured tobacco. I assure the Minister for Trade and Customs that when the tobaccogrowers read the announcement that the elections were to be held in September, they were highly delighted; they are looking forward to the day when they may express through the ballot-box their opinion of candidates of the United Australia party. They would prefer the Minister himself to contest a constituency in that area, so that they might make plain to him exactly what they think of the policy he has adopted. I hope to have a good deal more to say to the honorable gentleman before the session closes regarding the tobacco position in Mareeba.
.- The Government is fully alive to the importance of the cotton industry, but I am sure that the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) is aware of the difficulties that confront it. The honorable gentleman has said that the whole crop of cotton ought to be sold within Australia, and has complained of the fact that a certain portion of it has to be exported. This year the Australian crop is quite good, but it is inevitable that some cotton will have to be exported, because we cannot absorb all the types of cotton that we grow. It is also inevitable that certain imports will have to be made. Baw cotton of certain types is still imported into Australia and on each occasion the Cotton Board of Queensland has been given an opportunity to say whether the importation should be permitted. The policy of the Government is in line with that of governments of the past which have endeavoured to develop both the primary and secondary branches of the cotton industry. Certain cotton yarns are so well protected as to have caused something like over-production in the industry. Enormous mills have been built and the story of unemployment, as related by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley), is hardly as distressing as the honorable member has made it appear, because, as a matter of fact, the manufacturers have extended their operations considerably and one firm has recently announced that it intends to build an additional mill in Melbourne. Cotton yarns form the raw material of many other industries. The manufacturers of cotton tweeds, denim and cordage are ‘all concerned with the cost of cotton yarns, and it is essential that they should get their raw material as cheaply as possible, otherwise higher duties will be required on those commodities. Higher duties would, of course, bring about an increase in the price of cotton tweeds and other textiles, which would begin to become competitive with woollen goods. The whole industry is so full of complexities that it was referred to the Tariff Board, Which, in the course of its investigations, took evidence from the British manufacturers and representatives. A most complete and comprehensive report has been presented to the Government, but some of the ancillary reports “which concern associated industries, such as cordage, are not yet to hand. As I informed the honorable member this morning, the Government intends to work out a comprehensive scheme in an endeavour to stabilize the industry. Recently, I took the opportunity to inspect the cotton fields and I must admit that this industry has been instrumental in placing many men with small capital on areas which previously were somewhat sparsely populated. The Government has helped the industry in many ways. The conferences which have been held between the spinners and the growers have not been futile. As a result of the arrangements made between the Government and the industry, about half of this year’s crop will be sold to the spinners. I hope that in the near future, after the full scheme has been considered by the Government, the industry, on both its primary and secondary sides will be stabilized and will provide the maximum amount of employment. [Quorum formed.]
We have heard a good deal from the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) on the subject of toba’cco, and we shall probably hear more from him in the future. The story of the industry is well known to honorable members. Many men without experience engaged in it and in many instances a type of tobacco was grown that was quite unsaleable. It is true that during one season the growers in the Mareeba district had good sales. The honorable member for Kennedy has said that the growers have been unable to sell lemon coloured and bright mahogany leaf, but I challenge him to name one grower who has been unable to dispose of those classes of leaf.
– I have already supplied the Minister with a list of growers.
– That is a different point. The honorable member has referred to the attitude of the growers at the next elections, but let me inform him the Government has no need to resort to bribery in order to obtain votes. It has a definite plan in regard to the tobacco industry, which is working quite satisfactorily. Importations are gradually diminishing, and the use of locally-grown tobacco leaf is in creasing. The Government hopes that eventually Australia will be able to supply all local requirements. Last year it arranged for the manufacturers to buy the whole of the locally-produced leaf of bright mahogany and upwards, and I believe that the contract then entered into has been fully carried out. I .promise the honorable member for Kennedy that, if he supplies to the department the name of any grower who has been unable to sell that grade of leaf, the matter will ‘be investigated. I remind the honorable member that within the last few weeks tobacco at the Brisbane auction sales realized a price as high as 5s. per lb. The duty on tobacco recommended by the Tariff Board was 3s. per lb., but the Government imposed a duty of 3s. 6d. per lb. On the f.o.b. price of tobacco, not the local price, that represents a protection of from 256 per cent, to 500 per cent, according to the grade of tobacco. Is there any secondary industry in. Australia which enjoys such a high protection ?
– Some secondary industries have a protection of 800 per cent. I refer particularly to the manufacture of kitchen utensils.
– That may be an exception. The existing duty on tobacco should be adequate. The Government has provided a sum of £20,000 for research and instruction to growers. That money is being wisely expended by the Commonwealth in conjuncHon with the States with the object of teaching the growers how to produce the right type of leaf. This year, the crop will be small, the estimate being 2,500,000 lb. The Australian consumption of tobacco is about 4,000,000 lb. That means that a considerable quantity of any carry over, of any usable type of leaf, should be absorbed. I was able to inform a large deputation which waited on me in Melbourne on Friday last that I had arranged for the larger company - and there is more than one of them - to purchase the whole of the Australian crop of types from bright mahogany upwards, in addition to the ordinary requirements of the darker grades. The change-over in the industry must be gradual. The growers have encountered great difficulties, and they should not be exploited politically. The fact is that in Australia there is a deplorable lack of knowledge of this industry. I recently visited the Pomonal district, and some of the growers there told me that they had experienced no difficulty in selling their crop. It is all a matter of quality, and, as. with all other commodities, if the right class of goods is not produced, it cannot be sold.
.- Had it not been for the statement of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) that the plan of the Government in regard to the tobacco industry had been fixed, and was working very well, and also the statement of his predecessor in office (Sir Henry Gullett), that the objective of his Government was eventually to develop the tobacco industry of Australia, so as to supply the whole of the local requirements, I should not have risen again to speak on this subject; but it does seem to me that the Government’s policy is inconsistent when a government instrumentality, the post office, uses blotting paper which advertises the fact that certain tobacco and cigarettes consist of 100 per cent, imported leaf. If a person desires to import an engine, or if a municipal body wishes to obtain a road-roller from abroad, the Trade and Customs Department asks for plans and specifications, and extensive inquiries are instituted throughout Australia, at the expense of the taxpayers, to ascertain if these articles can possibly be manufactured in this country, regardless of the cost. Although the Government claims that it desires to develop the Australian tobacco industry, the Postal Department inconsistently invites smokers to use tobacco and cigarettes made from imported leaf.
– Does the honorable member use locally-grown tobacco?
– Yes. I have done so for years. The local tobacco manufacturers have omitted from the printed matter on their wrappers the words “ Made from Virginian Leaf,” and the public is being supplied with blends that contain a proportion of Australian-grown tobacco.
– Discussion has occurred regarding the proposal of the Ministry to trans fer 100 of the unemployed in Canberra to the East- West railway, but it seems to me that this is merely a case of ringing the changes, for I am convinced that this Government has very little concern for the welfare of the unemployed. Its proposal merely indicates an attempt to unload the unemployed of Canberra upon the States. Some time ago, the Government paid the steamer passages of unemployed persons from Darwin to some of the States. Many thousands of pounds were spent in this way until vigorous protests were received from Sir James Mitchell, who was then Premier of Western Australia, and from the Premier of South Australia. If the Minister succeeds in transferring a number of the unemployed from Canberra to the East-West line, he will probably issue a regulation, similar to that promulgated in the Northern Territory, declaring that persons who were not in Canberra prior to December, 1930, are ineligible for relief work. In the Northern Territory, men who have been resident there for years are not entitled to relief employment. To-night the Minister expressed indignation concerning the remarks of the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) and the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb), and declared that responsibility for the unemployed in the States rested upon the State Governments. I say, advisedly, that this Government has exhibited no concern for the welfare of the unemployed in the territories over which it has control, particularly the Northern Territory. If it wishes to meet its obligations to these men, it can undertake a good deal of constructive work both in the Northern Territory and at Canberra. I have no doubt that, ultimately, the men to be transferred to the East-West line will become the responsibility of the State authorities. In the Northern Territory no fewer than 250 mining prospectors are located at one centre, and they cannot get even a pound of flour from the present Commonwealth Government. They have thousands of tons of ore waiting to be treated, but the cost of transport runs up to £24 a ton. South Australia assists the prospectors by doing their crushing at the rate of 5s. a ton at Peterborough, which means that the South Australian Government, instead of the Commonwealth Government, is subsidizing the miners of the Northern Territory. In the Northern Territory there are hundreds of thousands of tons of stone that would yield from 4 to 10 oz. of gold to the ton, but the Government will give to the prospectors no assistance. The Minister has informed us that the re-sleepering of the EastWest line is tobe undertaken as a means of providing work for the unemployed, but I have no doubt that the Government has found it absolutely essential to do this work which is not being undertaken out of consideration for the unemployed.
– The committee should understand the position in regard to the administration of bankruptcy in New South Wales, on which subject I submitted a question in the House this afternoon. For the past 60 or 70 years the official receiver has been operating on a percentage basis, and if he deals with no estates he receives no remuneration. He must meet the expenses of his office, in which he has a staff of about fourteen persons, and the fact that he is working on a percentage basis affords him an incentive to look for assets in a sequestrated estate, and to take into consideration every factor that may help him in the administration of his department. At the present time his staff has a thorough knowledge of bankruptcy laws that would be lost to the department as the staff will necessarily be dismissed on the change of administration. The suggestion that for the purpose of securing uniformity the Commonwealth Government should appoint an official receiver under its own direct control, suggests that it may appoint to that department certain men from the Public Service who have not the knowledge possessed by the present staff. The Government has claimed that uniformity is necessary in this administration, but that seems to me to beg the question. At present the official receiver is under the direct control of the Attorney-General’s Department, and must work within the ambit of the act. There must, therefore, already be uniformity. The only difference is that in New South Wales the work is done on a percentage basis out side of the definite government department, while in Victoria it is done on a salary basis within a government department. It is the intention of the Government to create this new department in New South Wales as from the 1st July without the consent or blessing of the people who come definitely within the sphere of the official receiver. It will be necessary, if this intention is carried out, to appoint a receiver and staff at definite salaries and to provide them with office accommodation. The Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) has said that the staff will be reduced, but that will not avoid the expense. If the department is set up on the 1st July without assets of any kind, the Government will be obliged to incur expense running into thousands of pounds before it can obtain any return whatever. Even if the department is set up it will not be possible for it to handle big estates in the ordinary way. Generally, outside receivers are appointed in such cases. But all estates of the value of £300 have to vest in the official receiver, and the creditors have no opportunity to have an outside trustee appointed. It is interesting to compare the experience of New South Wales and Victoria in regard to sequestrated estates in recent years. The figures are as follows: -
It will be seen that out of the 2,421 estates sequestrated in New South Wales on a commission basis, only 24 trustees were appointed, whereas out of the 1,766 estates sequestrated in Victoria through a government department, 226 trustees were appointed. In the light of these figures, it seems to me to be unanswerable that the Government is making a mistake in setting up this department in New South Wales, and is merely piling «p costs on the taxpayers - with a government department where there is all the red tape usually associated with officialdom. No satisfactory reason has been given for establishing a department in this case. The work has been done satisfactorily for the last 60 or 70 years without a government department. The Sydney Chamber of Commerce and Chamber of Manufactures have passed resolutions of protest against the setting up of the department and the RetailTraders Association of New South Wales has also intimated that it is against the proposal, whilst I believe that the Law Institute is in favour of retaining the present form of administration. The setting up of this department is not necessary for the achievement of uniformity, and I large that the present system be continued.
– I support the protest of the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) and other honorable members against the sending of unemployed men from the Federal Capital Territory to work on the transcontinental railway. The right thing for the Government to do is to find work for the men here, for the cost of transporting them to the East-West railway would be considerable. According to a statement in this morning’s press, 800 men in the Federal Capital Territory are unemployed. That is only about 9 per cent, of the population. The last available figures showed that the percentage of unemployment in South Australia was 28.5, and in Western Australia 22 per cent. 1 contend that the Government will be discriminating between Commonwealth and State activities if it carries out its present intention. It will also ‘be offering an invitation to unemployed people from other parts of Australia to come to the Federal Capital Territory for a few weeks in order that they may later be found work somewhere else. There is already far more than sufficient labour available in South Australia and Western Australia for this work. With the present position of the farming industry in those States there are many surplus men previously engaged in work of this kind who will be justified in protesting against its being given to other people in preference to them. The ballasting of the East- West railway is not new work, but it is very necessary, particularly in view of the transportation capabilities of modern aeroplanes. 1 have in mind one gentleman who is already in the United States of America, because the east-west aerial services was taken from him. I should not be at all surprised if he were to return to Australia with a fleet of modern aeroplanes and conduct a daily service from Adelaide to Perth, making it a one-day trip. If that should happen, the receipts from the East- West railway would be seriously impaired. The Government should lose no time in completing the ‘ballasting of this line, and so convert it into a modern railway undertaking. It is no answer to the complaints that have been made on this subject to-day for the Government to say that 200 South Australian men will be employed in this work. If the Government sends men from the Federal Capital Territory to participate in this ballasting operation it will cause the present feeling of the Western Australian people that there is discrimination against them to rankle. Half of the East-West railway is in Western Australian territory. Five hundred miles of that railway is in Western Australia. I do not think that it i3 proposed to discontinue ballasting the line at the border.
I wish, now to refer to the pearling industry, which is in a bad way, due not only to the collapse of the world market for pearl-shell but also to the action of the present Minister for the Interior (Mr. Perkins). When the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) occupied a similar position an agreement was entered into with the master pearlers of the Northern Territory, Broome, and Thursday Island - whose product practically controls the pearl-shell market of the world - under which a restriction of the output of pearl-shell was accepted by them, in view of the collapse of the central European market, as well as of the London market. Under that arrangement the price of pearl-shell was the satisfactory one of £180 a ton. The pearlers would not have agreed to it had not the then Minister threatened to refuse the Darwin pearlers permits for their vessels if they did not agree to ration the output of pearl-shell. The arrangement, however, was altered by the present Minister without notifying the pearlers themselves. Indeed, the first intimation the pearlers of Western Australia received of the altered arrangement was when the State Government informed them that at Darwin there was to be an “ open go.” The Minister will probably say that his action was the result of altered circumstances due to the discovery, about 50 miles from Darwin, of a large pearl-shell bed, which was being exploited, not only by the master pearlers of Darwin, but also by some Asiatics, with vessels five or six times as large as those of the Australians. Mr. Gerdeau, of the United States of America, had contracted to take the whole of the rough shell from Broome, Thursday Island, and Darwin. Although not within the 3-mile limit, the new pearl-shell bed is practically an Australian fishing ground. I understand that the decision of the Minister to allow an “ open go “ at Darwin was due to his belief that, if Australian pearlers were not freed from restrictions, Japanese pearlers would reap the benefit, of the new discovery. I suggest that the Defence Department be invited to police our northern waters. Because of the tides, pearl-fishing at the newly-discovered bed can be engaged in for only about nine days in each month: for the remaining days the pearling vessels seek shelter on the Australian coast. There is abundant evidence that Japanese pearling vessels have landed their crews in the Northern Territory, where they have interfered with the “native women. In some cases the aboriginals, in revenge, have killed some of these invaders. Oldtimers from the north have told me that the interference with the aboriginal women by white men is trifling compared with the ruthless way in which these Asiatics treat them, and that it is this interference which has caused the recent disturbances with the natives. If the law will permit us to refuse shelter to these vessels, and we should he able to do so because they are manned by prohibited immigrants, we can easily settle the question of over-fishing of shell, of interference with the aborigines, by establishing an efficient patrol to police these northern waters. The pearling beds off Darwin are too far from Dutch territory for the vessels to seek shelter there. Cruisers or sea-planes should be sent to our northern waters to police our shores. What chance would an Australian pearler have of fishing for pearl shell off the coast of J apan ? His impertinence would not long be tolerated by the people of that country.
– The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison) referred to the proposed change in the administration of the bankruptcy law in New South Wales. The proposal is being severely criticized in commercial and legal circles in Sydney. For a number of years, bankruptcy administration has been carried out satisfactory by an official receiver and staff, who has been remunerated by fees and commissions. The proposed change will increase the cost of administration. In Victoria, where a government department controls bankruptcy, the administrative costs in salaries and rent alone amount to about £5,000 a year, and a similar expenditure can reasonably be expected in New South Wales under the same system. There has been no demand for a change of system in Sydney, and in view of the prospect of an alteration adding to the administrative costs, I trust that the matter will be reconsidered.
.- I protest against the proposed expenditure on defence, largely because I am of the opinion that the Defence Department is the most wasteful of all government departments. There is considerable dissatisfaction among the ratings on the various ships of the Australian Navy, because of the different treatment of offenders according to their rank. Recently, a steward was sentenced to 90 days’ confinement at Garden Island for the alleged theft of a pair of gloves. This man had been detailed for cleaning work at the residence of an officer at the island. For his work, the wife of the officer gave him a pair of gloves which she considered were of no further use to her husband; but the steward, thinking that they were too good for his work, took them home
The next day, when he was questioned about them, he frankly admitted that he had taken them home, and offered to return them the following day; but, without giving him an opportunity to do so, the ease was reported to the naval authorities. The steward was arrested, and a detective was sent to his home, although there was no necessity for that since the man had supplied the authorities with all the information necessary to locate the gloves. He was then charged with the theft of the gloves, and was sentenced to 90 days’ confinement on Garden Island. The sailors do not now enjoy the right of bringing their complaints before a welfare committee. It was found by the naval authorities that the men were able, through these committees, to do something to protect their interests, and so the committees have now ceased to function. I have been informed by the men that 90 days’ confinement on Garden Island is equ’al to two years in a civil prison, because of the harshness of the treatment. This man had served for ten years in the navy, and had earned three good conduct badges, which he will now lose. His case is to be considered by the Naval Board, and the best he can expect is that when bis sentence is completed, he will be discharged from the navy, and his wife and child left to starve. All this has occurred because the officers have been permitted to enjoy certain privileges to which they are not entitled. Is it right that officers living on Garden Island should be able to command the services of naval ratings in order to do work about their private residences? Is it the practice for cleaning material to be taken from the stores for the purpose of cleaning the private homes of the officers ? What is the cost of cutting and carting firewood used in the homes of officers, and is any payment made by the officers for these services? Free transport is provided for certain of the officers, but is withheld from others. In some cases civil workmen are engaged in doing work about the officers’ homes. There seems to be something wrong in regard to the administration of the Australian Navy to-day. Recently, we read of the case of Lieutenant Casey, who committed suicide because of the unjust treatment to which he was subjected, and his case is to be considered by a royal commission. A little while ago there was a naval wedding, for which the reception was held at Point Piper. Some of the material used, such as glasses, &c, was brought from the warships, and certain breakages occurred for which no payment has yet been made. The sailor whose case I have mentioned will, in addition to serving 90 days’ imprisonment, having his pay and allowance to his wife and child discontinued during the period, losing his three good conduct badges and being dismissed from the Service, also lose £400 deferred pay, which really represents his savings during the term of his service. These matters have been brought under my notice by naval ratings who have no other opportunity to ventilate their grievances. I ask the Assistant Minister to make inquiries into these matters, with a view to finding out whether officers are enjoying privileges to which they are not entitled, and receiving the benefit of services for which they are not paying. The Assistant Minister is fond of claiming that everything is done to ensure justice to the men of the lower deck, and I ask him, therefore, to take this matter up seriously.
– Although on two previous occasions to-day I told honorable members that the Government, in deciding to send men from Canberra to work on the East-West line in South Australia, was not moved by ill-will against that State, the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) and honorable members from South Australia still view the proposal with suspicion. The Government was really moved by a desire to help South Australia. If I had consulted my own interests I should have provided the work in Canberra. When an honorable member said that there was plenty of work to be done in Canberra for the local, unemployed, he was sounding a very different note from that which I have frequently heard in South Australia and Western Australia, where few had anything good to say of Canberra. The people of those States seem to look upon it as a sink into which public money is poured. The honorable member said that the re-sleepering and further ballasting of the line would have to be done in any case, and that is true; but it is our intention to speed up the work. Although the line has been opened for many years, this work is still only half done. Some of the money was to be devoted to providing employment for residents of South Australia, while employment would also be found for men now in Canberra. However, tho matter ls not yet definitely settled, and will be considered anew in the light of what honorable members have said. They can rest assured, however, that if the men from Canberra are not allowed to participate in the work, the whole of the money will not go to South Australia either. If we have to find work for the unemployed in Canberra, there will not be enough money to do that, and to carry out the railway work as well. Some of the money was to be spent in Western Australia, and I should have thought that honorable members from South Australia and Western Australia would have welcomed the proposal with open arms.
The honorable member also referred to the pearling industry. He answered himself by anticipating what I was .about to say. He pointed out that my predecessor had done much to assist the industry, and that I had undone all his good work. It is true that I reversed the policy of my predecessor, but I did so on the advice of the same persons who had advised him. I take it that he knew as much about pearling as I do. He accepted the advice of the experts at the time, but when I took charge it was found that conditions had altered. We called a conference of the pearlers in Sydney, but they failed to agree. In the meantime Japan was making inroads into the business; and acting on the recommendations of the same set of advisers, the Government took certain action. The honorable member is right when he says that it is necessary to patrol the northern coastline. The Government realises the need for this form of protection and, as was stated by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) this afternoon, it is intended to have a patrol vessel policing those portions of the coast where foreigners land and mingle with the natives, or where they are working on Australian pearling beds some distance from the shore. Later other patrol vessels will be stationed at other points along the northern coast. This course will, I think, be approved by honorable members generally.
The honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) contended that we should spend more money in the development of that portion of the Commonwealth. That great area has also been regarded as a sink for the taxpayers’ money, but the Government is now doing its best to ensure its development. Every one regrets that, at the present time, it is unpopulated, but the objective of the Government is to ensure its development at the earliest possible date.
– By means of chartered companies ?
– That is one way in which it could be developed perhaps more quickly than by any other means; but as honorable members are aware, more attention has been given of late to the gold-mining industry, and, I think, never before with so much prospect of success.
– Has the Government an agreement with any chartered company?
– No, but the outlook is hopeful, and when negotiations are nearer to a conclusion the House will be informed. I repeat that, in connexion with the gold-mining industry, the Government is making earnest attempts to improve the position. A considerable sum is set aside for that purpose, though doubtless we are not contemplating expenditure on quite the scale which the honorable member for the Northern Territory would like to see.
– Is not that, money being provided principally for a geophysical survey ?
– Part of it is. The geophysical survey is regarded as the preliminary programme, to be followed later by a territorial survey.
– Most of the groundwork has been done.
– The honorable member’s view differs from that of thu Administrator and other officials in the
Northern Territory. They advise that, for the most part, it is an unexplored land as regards its mineral resources, and the Government is now providing money for its development in that respect.
– 1 wish to give effect to a promise which I gave to a number of people in the Northern Territory when I visited that part of the Commonwealth a few weeks ago. This supply bill, which includes a vote of £32,620 for the Northern Territory, presents me with a fitting opportunity to -do so. I assume that the amount mentioned includes provision for the Chief Protector of Aborigines and the Chief Medical Officer (Dr. Cook) concerning whom it is my intention to say something to-night. When travelling through the territory a few weeks ago I met a number of people in Darwin, including government officials, who strongly urged me to bring under the notice of Parliament a matter which they regarded as very serious indeed. They assured me that socially and as a private citizen, Dr. Cook was an estimable gentleman, but that, officially, he was an absolute crank, his pet scheme being to breed all the half-castes in the territory back to white people. They assured me that so determined was he to give effect to his theory that he was giving preference in employment to those whites who promised to marry half-caste women. I have always been opposed to the use of the economic weapon to force people to do things they do not wish to do, and I regard the course taken by Dr. Cook as one of the worst features of official administration that have been brought under my notice. I was approached on the subject by all sections of the community whom I met in my journey from Alice Springs to Darwin, including railway officials, wardens, troopers and public officers whose names I would not care to mention in this debate. These people all know that Dr. Cook is trying out his pet theory and they tell me that whites cannot secure employment unless they agree to marry half-caste women. If they have any difficulty about getting a half-caste woman he will find one for them. I regard this charge as a very serious one. I understand, from my reading of the subject, that anthropologists have discovered that the Australian aborigine is the only species of the human race that will not throw back. Because he wishes to demonstrate that his theory is scientifically sound, Dr. Cook is determined to have all the half-caste women married to white men and thus solve the half-caste problem in the Northern Territory. But everyone possessing scientific knowledge knows that no problem can be solved merely by dealing with its effects and neglecting the cause. Even if Dr. Cook’s hypothesis is correct it is wrong to force white men to marry halfcaste women. If there is any logic in the theory, it will be necessary to segregate all the half-castes and practise on them for eight or nine generations. Meantime, the cause of the problem having been left untouched, there will be three or four times the number of fresh half-castes coming along to complicate the position. It is not right that any official representing the Government should bring economic pressure to bear upon men looking for work by forcing them to marry halfcaste women. The people in the Northern Territory have told me that men who have come from the southern -States looking for work as railway gangers or foremen have been forced to bow to his decision. They have married half-caste women, but, in a number of cases, have subsequently deserted their new partners. Some, I understand, were already married men with wives living in the southern States, so the experiment being carried out by Dr. Cook is not without its tragic side. I promised the people in Darwin and elsewhere in the Northern Territory, when they approached me and also the honorable member for the district (Mr. Nelson), that I would ventilate this question on the floor of the House. I mentioned it the other day in an interview with representatives of the press in the hope that the attention of the Minister would be directed to it before I raised it in the House, and some one in reply said that the Government had no knowledge of the facts as narrated. I wish it to be clearly understood that I am not charging the Government with any responsibility for this unusual policy. But the fact that Mr. Brown, the Secretary to the Department for the Interior, or someone else, stated that the Government does not stand for this policy is not a contradiction of the statement that Dr. Cook is carrying it out. What I wish to do now is to arrest the attention of the Minister so that he will make some inquiries and deal with the matter. If Dr. Cook is endeavouring to carry out such a policy he ought to be stopped, because it is absolutely wrong and immoral for anybody to attempt to use the economic weapon in such a way.
I want to quote one case to the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey) in support of the statements made by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) and other honorable members that, in the administration of the Pensions Department, hardships are inflicted upon pensioners which, in some instances, amount to absolute robbery. This is the sort of case that actually has happened. When the questionnaire was sent out to the pensioners, they answered the questions, and the department, by taking short cuts, and risking things, has replied to some pensioners that, because of certain information received, it has come to the conclusion that they are adequately supported and their pension is cancelled altogether. The pensioner approaches a member of Parliament or the Administration, and, following a review of the case, it is sometimes discovered that there was no real warrant for the reduction of the pension, and it is then restored. If a person is entitled to the pension, and the pension is withdrawn owing to a mistake made by the department, it should be restored retrospectively to the date of withdrawal. It is quite a different matter when the pension is being issued for the first time. In the former case, the pensioner has been drawing the pension, and because of some mistake made by the Administration, and due to no fault of the pensioner, the pension is withdrawn, but when it is restored no retrospective payment is made. In some cases, the pensioner has had to wait five or six weeks or even months before the matter is adjusted, and then the payment of the pension is merely resumed. The pensioners are entitled to the money they have lost through no fault of their own.
– I rise to say, briefly, how misleading was the statement just made by the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Perkins) in reply to a point which I had raised. He said that I was well aware of the big expenditure of money contemplated in connexion with the mining industry in the Northern Territory. 1 asked him if it were in connexion with the geophysical survey. He said that it was. Every honorable member knows that a geophysical survey is carried out from an aeroplane flying over unknown areas, and taking close-up photographs to determine the presence of auriferous belts, with a view to the subsequent prospecting of these areas by land parties. The Minister knows quite well that in the Northern Territory new areas of up to 100 or even 1,000 square miles of auriferous country are being worked by men without any assistance from this Government. At Tennant’s Creek, 250 men are working stone that yields from 3 oz. to 10 oz. to the ton, but as it costs £24 a ton to transport the stone to Peterborough to hare it crushed, it is an unpayable proposition. Dr. Woolnough has seen this stone; some of it has averaged from 6 oz. to 10 oz. to the ton, but the excessive cost of its transport to Peterborough renders it unprofitable to mine. To-day, 100 mining claims in the Northern Territory are awaiting development, but the cost of transport of the stone to the batteries prevents their exploitation. I want the Government to come down from the air and assist the men on the known auriferous areas right on Mother Earth.
– At this late hour, I propose to reply only to the’ remarks of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) in regard to the unfortunate case of LieutenantCommander Casey. The matter is now being inquired into by a royal commission, and is therefore sub judice. I want to assure the honorable gentleman and those people on whose behalf he has spoken that I shall personally investigate, at the earliest opportunity, the points which he -has raised.
– I am sorry the Postmaster-General (Mr. Parkhill) is not in the chamber, because I. wish to raise a matter that concerns his department.
– Order! The honorable member has already exhausted his opportunity to speak.
– I spoke, Mr. Chairman, only to the amendment.
– Order! The honorable member has already spoken twice.
Mr.ROSEVEAR (Dalley) [11.17].- I desire to address myself to the matter proposed to be raised by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley). It concerns a number of men who were employed at the Cockatoo Island Dockyard prior to the dockyard being leased to private enterprise, who had met with accidents and were subject to compensation laws. There are two compensation laws, one Federal and one State. At one stage, their claims for compensation were dealt with under State jurisdiction. It was subsequently discovered that owing to some mistake they were not being dealt with under the proper law. One man affected was Frederick Davies. He was injured on the 25th January, 1933. He drew compensationfor nine months and then, on instructions from the State Medical Board, was sent back to work. An hour and a half after resuming, he was again forced to give up his position, and again sought compensation. It appears that under one jurisdiction he was entitled to 10s. a weekless than under the other. But since the 4th October last, he has received no compensation at all. This man is an inmate of Broughton Hall as the result of an accident met with on the 25th January, 3 933, and since that time has only drawn compensation for nine months. The family is in destitute circumstances because the Government has been withholding the payment of compensation since October last, while the Attorney-General’s Department is endeavouring to determine the legal position. I trust that the Minister will give the matter his early attention.
I wish to refer to the delay which is occurring in the settlement of pension claims. Section 15 of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act distinctly provides that, when certain persons have attained the age of 65 years, they are entitled to an old-age pension ; but there is ample evidence to show that many persons, who have fully substantiated their claims and proved their age, have had to wait eight or ten weeks before their applications have been granted. I do not suggest that a person is entitled to a pension from the date of his birthday, regardless of whether he has or has not submitted a claim, but if a person successfully applies for a pension at that period of his life when the act says that he is entitled to it, he should not be deprived of it for some months because of departmental delays. When there has been a delay on the part of the department in granting the application he should be entitled to a retrospective payment.
I now wish to refer to the manner in which the department dismisses applications for invalid pensions practically on the say-so of the departmental doctors. I have in mind a case brought under my notice some time ago of a pensioner who had been struck off the invalid pension list because the departmental doctor declared that she was no longer entitled to a pension. This case has been reviewed at different times by four or five departmental doctors, who said that she was entitled to a pension, but, because ultimately, I suppose by a process of elimination, one of the departmental doctors said that she was ineligible, she was struck off the list of pensioners. Subsequent to that date I was able to produce certificates from two specialists, who said that she was permanently and totally unfit for work. Despite the fact that her case was favorably considered by four or five doctors, and subsequent to being deprived of a pension had received a favorable certificate from one specialist and another doctor who had been attending her for a considerable period, the evidence of one departmental doctor was sufficient to cause her to lose her pension. Another cause for complaint is the fact that departmental doctors are adopting the attitude usually adopted by magistrates in examining applicants for pensions. I have been informed by numbers of applicants - not only those who have been rejected and are disgruntled, but also pensioners whose claims have been accepted - that, had they known the ordeal through which they had to pass in facing departmental doctors, they would not have applied for a pension. I under- stand that some’ bt these medical men - not all of them- apply the third degree concerning the ‘‘private domestic affairs of applicants. They ask not only, questions from a medical view-point, but also questions which might legitimately be asked by a magistrate.
I trust’ that the Minister will give serious attention to the delays which are occurring, and which, in New South Wales, I submit, are due to the fact that instead- of attending to applications departmental officers are concentrating their efforts upon tracing the relatives of pensioners who may be able to assist to support pensioners. Most honorable members will agree that during the last three months, there has been an inordinate delay in deciding claims in New South Wales. If the delay is not due to officials getting out these forms, the only thing that suggests itself is that the Government has issued instructions that these officers must ease up in the granting of new claims because of the. budgetary position. I trust that the Minister will see that those entitled to pensions receive the protection afforded to thom under the act, and that if there has been any delay, the department will make the ultimate payments retrospective.
.- I wish to bring under the notice of the Postmaster-General (Mr. Archdale Parkhill), who at present is not in the chamber, a matter which concerns his department. With the exception of -the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Perkins), ministers have not replied to. the points raised.
– We have all replied.
– I am so annoyed that I propose later to move that the amount be reduced by 10s. I wish to refer to the charges imposed upon the proprietors/ of country newspapers for the use of dictaphones, which are so essential to those conducting country newspapers. This Government is not solely responsible, because when the previous Government was in office, Mr. Brown, the Director of Posts and Telegraphs, recommended the discontinuance of the use of dictaphones because of the marked decline in the revenue from trunk lines. I was a member of a depu tation which waited upon the late Government, and which asked that the matter of imposing higher charges be deferred. The imposition of higher rates was postponed until February of this “year. The Postmaster-General (Mr. Parkhill) announced that these charges would amount to approximately 40 per cent. It is known, however, that some newspaper proprietors are paying up to 150 per cent. There are 21 country newspapers which are using dictaphones for the receipt of news from outside their own centres. An agreement has to be signed that the service will be utilized at this increased cost for a minimum period of twelve months, and payment has to be made six months in advance. In other words, the department is extracting a lump sum to cover its estimate of the cost of calls. Any business man would be exceedingly pleased to obtain payment six months in advance for services to be rendered. The department does not seem to cafe how these enterprises are faring ; it has more concern for the radio service, which is given unlimited use of the trunk telephone system, at what cost no one seems to know, or can ascertain. The country newspapers render valuable service to far-flung areas, and should be afforded privileges similar to those enjoyed by radio, and the more influential newspapers in the city areas which, being at the nerve centre of the news service, can obtain it more economically than can country journals. I repeat” what I said earlier, that the responsible Minister should be in his place so that he might reply to statements concerning his administration. Other honorable members have asked questions relating to the department that is administered by the Assistant Treasurer, but that’ honorable gentleman has not yet seen, fit to reply to them. This attitude disposes us to prolong, the debate. A considerable amount of political propaganda has been broadcast by certain privileged political parties, but this opportunity has not been extended to other than supporters of the Government. The leader of the group of which I am a member (Mr. Beasley) and the Leader of the. Opposition (Mr. Scullin) have not had accorded to them the privilege that has been enjoyed by the Prime Minister, other Cabinet Ministers, and the Government supporters. I fail to see why that should be so. Because of the unfair differentiation between political parties, the Government is deserving of condemnation. On that account, and because of the charges that are made for the use of dictaphones, I move -
That the amount be reduced by 10s.
– I take this opportunity to make some observations concerning the policy of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. I hold, with the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James), the view that the Postmaster-General (Mr. Parkhill) ought to be present.
– He went home because he was not well.
– If he is not well, his absence is excusable. Within the last few days Mr. Lloyd Jones resigned the chairmanship of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, the reason he gave for his action was pressure of business activities. There is, however, probably more in the matter than appears on the surface, and I suggest that :he papers relating to it be laid on the table of this House, so that those who are interested may learn what are the facts. The policy that the commission is pursuing is entirely at variance with the undertaking given by the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) as Postmaster-General when the measure which provided for the appointment of the commission was, introduced in this chamber. It is well known to those of us who were here at the time, that owing to the criticism which was levelled at certain clauses of the bill, and because of i he possibility of political control being exorcised, it was temporarily withdrawn and re-drafted with the object of removing from it any provision that might enable political propaganda to be indulged in, except by arrangement with the leaders of the various parties at election time! It is quite obvious, however, that recently the commission has definitely departed from the conditions which were laid down by this Parliament, and action should be taken to prevent a continuation of the practice. I give the Postmaster-General the credit of having taken action ‘immediately when this aspect was brought under his notice recently. He is respon sible for having prevented the national network in Sydney from being used by two gentlemen for political purposes. But before my friends or I were able to place this fact before him, the use of the national service in Melbourne was granted to a number of gentlemen for discussion of the subject, “ Is Democracy Doomed ?” The honorable gentleman who opened that debate is the mo3t prominent .member of the United Australia party in Victoria, the Acting Premier of that State. Those who listened to the address which he broadcast must agree that it was saturated with politics from beginning to end. He was followed later by Mr. W. A. Watt, who, for many years, sat in this House as Nationalist member, Minister and -Speaker. His hearers will recall many references of a distinctly partisan political character. Inquiries I have made show that the commission has not seen fit to permit the broadcasting of tha side of the question that would be put by those who think as I do in politics. If Mr. Menzies and those who hold his political beliefs are permitted to use the national stations, a similar privilege at least should be accorded to others.
– What station was that?
– I am referring to A class broadcasting stations. The most outstanding feature of importance was the handing over of these stations almost entirely to the Australian High Commissioner, who used them extensively, particularly in Sydney and Brisbane. So that a proper colour and flavour might be given to his address, he was invited to a dinner given by two strong “nonpolitical “ organizations - The Constitutional Association and the Chamber of Commerce. Everything was arranged with an applause gallery for a proper reception, over the air. I listened to his speech, and when I protested to the Acting Postmaster-General (Senator Lawson), he said that, in his opinion, there was nothing political in the speech of the High Commissioner. The speech dealt mainly with the necessity to prepare the primary producers for a restriction of their exports. Any honorable member who considers that the restriction of exports is a non-political matter must have a lively imagination. Mr. Bruce, in the course of his remarks, dealt with the position of Great Britain, the foreign agreements into which it had entered, and the necessity for taking urgent action; yet when .we protested we were told that there was nothing political in the speech. We were also informed that the High Commissioner was a public servant of Australia; yet he could visit New Zealand and confer in camera with the Cabinet of that country. From New Zealand he went to New York and Washington, where, no doubt, he carried on further diplomatic “ work for the British Government for which the taxpayers of this country will have to pay. I hope, when the Estimates are before us, to ascertain the cost of the High Commissioner’s visit to Australia. When we asked the Broadcasting Commission for permission to answer Mr. Bruce’s case for a restriction of exports we were denied the use of the A class stations. I believe that Major Douglas when he visited Australia was refused permission also to use the broadcasting stations. When the bill providing for the creation of the commission was before this House, I criticized it on the ground that the basis of the appointment was definitely political, and from what has recently transpired we cannot but come to the conclusion that all the talk about withdrawing the bill in order to remove any danger of political control was mere sham and make-believe. The members of the commission include a lady named Couchman who has been prominent in political work in connexion with the Woman’s National League in Victoria. In fact she is their organizer.
– Should that disqualify her?
– I am concerned not so much about that as I am with the hypocrisy of the Government. It said that it did not want political control, yet it made appointments which ensured political control. My criticism of these appointments has been proved conclusively. In fact, the political appointees would have gone further than they have already gone had not other people connected with the administration refused to be a party to their desires. It is perfectly obvious from what has transpired that the A class stations are being used by prominent people for the purpose of disseminating political propaganda in favour of the Nationalist party. It is only natural that a person speaking on a particular subject, whether it be “ democracy “ or any other, will colour his remarks with his political beliefs, but when the Australian Broad.Casting Commission Bill was before the House we were led to believe that such a happening would be definitely contrary to its intention. When the bill was in committee the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) took the strongest objection to clause ‘21 on the ground that it would allow any political party in power to serve its own ends by the use of A class stations. He said -
Sub-clause 1 gives the Minister power to transmit from all national broadcasting stations any matter Mie transmission of which is directed by the Minister as being in the public interest.
He went on to criticize that subclause and also sub-clause 2. The then Postmaster-General (Mr. Fenton) replied -
Nothing like what the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) hits inferred is intended under this clause. Let mo give one illustration of the use to which broadcasting stations have been put in recent times. The PostmasterGeneral lias issued instructions that the Deputy Directors of Posts and Telegraphs in the various States shall, when practicable, broadcast news of the occurrence of bush fires or floods so that immediate assistance may be rendered in the areas affected. That is the sort of transmission covered by this clause.
The point raised at that time was how far Ministers would use these stations for political purposes.
– That was never intended under clause 21.
– At the time we accepted the honorable member’s statement, but now that political use has been made of these stations the Government will probably shelter behind the fact that national broadcasting has been placed under the control of the Broadcasting Commission.
– Clause 21 dealt only with the power of the Minister.
– A point has now been reached where the commission is prepared to do the bidding of the interests supporting the Government that appointed them. My complaint is that during the last four or five months the broadcasting network has been used definitely for political purposes. I have already stated that about a fortnight ago the Postmaster-General (Mr. Parkhill) was good enough to take immediate action with respect to a proposed broadcast from Sydney. When I discussed the matter with the Minister, he agreed that this should not have been permitted for a moment.
– The honorable member has exhausted his time.
.- The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) has made a statement concerning Dr. Cook, the Protector of Aborigines in the Northern Territory, which should not be permitted to go into Hansard without contradiction. He said that he had no criticism to offer concerning Dr. Cook personally. Of course, I expected that of the honorable member, because he is always courteous. But I think that his reference to this officer will be painful to him because the honorable member heaped ridicule upon his work, and upon some of his ideas with regard to the treatment of half-castes. 1 do not intend to discuss whether Dr. Cook is right or wrong in those ideas. But the honorable member remarked that, in order to promote his scheme, Dr. Cook was giving preference over other citizens of the Territory to those who were prepared to marry half-castes. The honorable member said that he had brought this matter up because he promised certain people that, when he got into Parliament, he would raise it. I consider that it would have been better had he first consulted Dr. Cook on the subject, for that officer has emphatically denied the accusation that any such preference has been shown. He has my confidence, and he enjoyed that of my predecessors. He also has the confidence of the members of his own profession.
– The Minister has not replied to my statements concerning compensation payable to employees at Cockatoo Island Dockyard.
– I did not hear the honorable member’s remarks in that regard, but I shall refer to Hansard, and see that he is furnished with a reply.
– The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) again ex pressed the opinionthat the trading banks were influencing the policy of the Commonwealth and other governments. I do not know that I can add much to what I have already said, but if any words of mine can ease the mind of the honorable member, I can give him a definite assurance that none of those banks is exerting the least influence on this or any other government. Nor is the present Ministry exercising influence upon any of the trading banks.
– The ex-Prime Minister, Mr. Scullin, stated at Albury only a few weeks ago that pressure was brought to bear by the banks at the time when the Premiers plan was inaugurated.
– I think that the trading banks came to the assistance of the Commonwealth and State governments in a wonderful way, particularly at the time when the Premiers plan was implemented. Generally, the banks conduct their own business, and there is no pressure in either direction. Governments cannot influence the banks in regard to interest rates, but they can help to produce conditions under which the banks can reduce their rates, and those conditions have been created in the last few years.
I can assure the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) that this Government is not delaying the creation of an open bill market. That matter has been discussed by the Loan Council, and the unanimous opinion of that body is that the time is not ripe for the creation of such a market.
– Unanimous !
– I believe that I am right in saying that.
– That is an important assertion.
– I quite realize that. We have discussed this matter several times and we have taken all the opinion from outside that we think is of value in regard to it.
– Is Queensland in favour of it?
– I have no memory of any dissent upon that point. This is not a political matter, although some honorable members may imagine that it is. The matter is not an easy one to decide. Other countries in which an open market exists have a highly -developed financial and economic structure. Such a market is to be found in London, to which the savings of the world flow. A vast amount of money from all parts of the world seeks temporary, investment in Great Britain, and the rates are what they are because of the very volume of that money.
– The Government has not tested the local market.
– We have, made inquiries of the trading banks and the other large financial institutions, and the volume of treasury-bills that could be accommodated in this market is thought by the authorities to be relatively small.
– Interested authorities?
– They were people who would be glad to take up the bills as a temporary use for their money, if such a market were brought into existence.
Friday, 39 June, 19SA-
– The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James), the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan), the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear), and the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway), have spoken of alleged considerable delays in the Pensions Department either in the original granting of pensions, or in cases where the pension has been temporarily suspended and subsequently regranted. The honorable member for Dalley has asked me why these delays are occurring. I understand that he accepts my statement that it is not on account of the diversion of the ordinary staff to work in connexion with the relatives’ contributions to pensions. I can only suggest to him - not with the idea of making political capital out of it - that a large increase has occurred in the number of applicants for the pension in the last six or eight months, owing, I have no doubt he will admit, to the liberal and sympathetic amendments of the act made by the present Government last year.
– Then the 1932 act must have been ungenerous.
– The net increase in the number of pensions during the last twelve months has been considerably over 10,000. I suggest that, if there has been undue delay - I know of none myself - the increase in the number of applications for pensions might be the reason for it. I said earlier to-day, in reply to a question, that it had been decided to vary the existing practice in regard to the payment of pensions to the extent that, in cases where a considerable delay could be attributed to the department, the date of the first payment of the pension would be retrospective to the first pay-day after the date on which it would have been payable had it not been for such undue delay, and would include arrears for two fortnights. At present the practice is to pay retrospectively up to only two fortnights.
– Does that mean that payment will be made from the date of the claim.?
– No ; it means that payment may be made from the next pension pay-day after the date on which, had there been no undue delay, the pension would normally have been payable, and the first payment would include two fortnights’ arrears. This concession is a considerable liberalization of the existing practice. If the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) will give me the details of the cases to which ihe referred, and particularly those relating to the lady who suffered from loss of memory, I shall have them looked into. The honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) mentioned the circumstances of outback pensioners and temporary suspensions following on form 23. I shall also have these cases looked into if he will supply the details to me.
The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) suggested that there was something sinister behind the resignation of Mr. Charles Lloyd Jones from the position of Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. I assure him that that is not so. Mr. Charles Lloyd Jones recently lost a brother, and has had such heavy additional business responsibilities thrown on to him that he is now unable to give to the broadcasting work the time that he considers it requires. The position of chairman of this commission has now become almost a full-time occupation..
The honorable member also alleged political use of the A class stations network. He seems to think- that only persons of a particular political colour are allowed to use this network.
– If that is not so, why were we not allowed to arrange for a representative to speak f ‘
– I suggest to the honorable member that it may be just possible that men like Mr. Menzies and Mr. Watt were chosen because of their recognized ability and eminence, their wide experience of life, and their general ideas, and not at all because of the complexion of their politics.
As to the High Commissioner, I think it is generally recognized in Australia by people whose minds are not completely obsessed by party politics, that Mr. Bruce has been, and is, a distinguished servant of this country. Most people were anxious to hear his views. As a matter of fact, Mr. Bruce merely put forward his understanding of the political tendencies in Great Britain, and their possible implications for Australia, and did not attempt to give any political colour to his statements. I listened to Mr. Bruce’s address broadcast from Brisbane, and I think most people who did so will agree with the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) that the right honorable gentleman did not advocate the restriction of primary production or of exports, but merely stated the case as he saw it.
– That is merely the Assistant Treasurer’s opinion. *’
– Quite so.
I- assure the honorable member for Hunter that his representations with regard to the use of dictaphones will be brought under the notice of the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Parkhill) though I cannot make any promises on behalf of ray colleague. The representations that have been made by other honorable members in regard to the Postmaster-General’s Department will also receive consideration.
Although this debate has extended a little longer than had been expected, I am 8ut« that the Prime Minister would wish me to say that the Government appreciates the relative, .restraint which honorable members have shown. Of course, honorable members know that they will have other opportunities to discus.” all the matters that have been mentioned.
.Following upon the statement’ of the Assistant Treasurer (‘Mr. Casey) that . instructions have been issued to the officials of the Pensions Department to make the first payment in respect of new pensions retrospective, I ask what will be done in the case of the pensioner to whom ‘ I have previously directed attention, who produced a birth certificate to the department and was accused of having faked it by making his age appear to be a year or two more than it really was. That gentleman was threatened with prosecution and’ waa obliged to send to England for another copy of the certificate. Six months elapsed before it could be produced to the department. Would the Assistant Treasurer consider that that delay was attributable to the department, and will the pension be retrospective?
– If the honorable member will give me all the details of the case, I shall have it looked into. “Mr. GANDER. - I can see that the honorable gentleman is loath to make promises. Previously he considered eight or nine cases that I put before him, and I am quite ready to admit that seven of them were dealt with satisfactorily; though I still think that the department dealt harshly with Mrs. Tierney. Perhaps that case can be reconsidered before the general election in September. Of course, we all know that the Tight honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) and the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson) are absent to-night and in consultation with the Prime Minister with the object of achieving a degree of unity between the United Australia party and the Country party for the coming election. Before the session ends I hope that the’ Assistant Treasurer will see that Mrs. Tierney receives a full pension.
Question - That the amount be reduced by 10s. (Mr. James’ amendment) - ? put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. Bell.)
Majority . . ..31
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I regret that I did not, in my earlier reply, refer to the references made by the honorable members for Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison) and South Sydney (Mr. Jennings), with regard to the administration of bankruptcy. I had been under the impression that an adequate reply on this subject had been given by the Prime Minister inreply to a question without notice earlier in the day, but the more extensive references by the honorable members for Wentworth and South Sydney during the course of this debate indicate that this is not so. I will, of course, bring the remarks of the two honorable members to the attention of the Prime Minister and the Acting Attorney-General.
Motion agreed to.
Standing orders suspended; resolution adopted
Resolution of Ways and Means, founded on resolution of supply, reported and adopted.
That Mr. Casey and Mr. White do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill brought up by Mr. Casey and passed through all stages without amendment or debate.
House adjourned at 12.22 a.m. (Friday).
The following answersto questions were circulated: -
Primage on Pipes andtubes.
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
y asked the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
Will he obtain the following information for honorable members : -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
y asked the Prime Minister, upon notice-
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Retirement of Officers in Pacific Islands Service.
y asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
y asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
y asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Is it a fact that the production of essential oils from a certain species of ti-treehas become a valuable industry in Australia; if so, will he give sympathetic consideration to placing an embargo upon the export of the seed of this ti-tree?
– It is understood that the production of oil from a certain species of ti-tree offers prospects of developing into a valuable industry in the Commonwealth. The Government has already given consideration to this matter, and is of the opinion that the placing of an embargo on the export of the seed would not be of much use in view of the great difficulty of policing such a restriction.
n asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
y asked the Prime Minister, upon” notice -
With reference to the Petrol Commission now sitting in Melbourne, will he state -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Commonwealth Reporting Staff to require paymentfor transcripts of evidence, copies of such transcripts have not been made available gratis to witnesses who have appeared before the Royal Commission on Petrol.
n asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice-
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as ‘follows : -
Wireless Broadcasting : Regional Station at Dubbo.
y asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
In view of the urgent need for adequate and efficient wireless services to the holders of licences in western New South Wales, will he inform the House when it is anticipated that the regional station which was agreed to for Dubbo will be installed?
– The work of establishing the regional station to serve the central western area ofNew
South Wales is at present actively proceeding. Every effort will be made to expedite the installation of thestation. but it is not possible at present tostate the date of opening.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 28 June 1934, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1934/19340628_reps_13_144/>.