13th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon.G. H. Mackay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Has the Prime Minister received official confirmation of the disturbing and regrettable news that the Chancellor of Austria, Dr. Dollfuss, has been assassinated?
-I have not received an official communication on the matter, but should one arrive, I shall intimate the fact to the House immediately.
Cost of Flotation
– Has the attention of the Assistant Treasurer been drawn to newspaper reports of the debate which took place in the Victorian Parliament regarding the cost of flotation of conversion loans in London, and the references therein to a letter sent to the Under-Treasurer of Victoria by the Secretary to the Commonwealth Treasury, Mr. Sheehan? Is the honorable gentleman aware that Mr. Tunnecliffe referral to Mr. Sheehan’s statement as being untrue, and a fake. Will the honorable gentleman place the facts of the matterbefore the House?
– I am aware of all the circumstances referred to by the honorable member. The situation in connexion with the cost of flotation of loans in London may be most simply stated by saying that the facts given in the letter sent by Mr. Sheehan to the Under.Treasurer of Victoria are true in every respect.
Distribution IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA,
– Will the Minister for Commerce inform the House whether the Government of Western Australia has distributed any portion of the amount of the £10,91S allocated under the Fruit-growers Relief Act 1933? If not, is the honorable gentleman in a position to give the reason for its failure to do so, and to assure the House that be will endeavour to remove whatever obstacles may exist?
– Honorable members will recollect that last session this Parliament determined that the allocation of the apple bounty should be limited to the relief of apple-growers who were in necessitous circumstances. The interpretation of “ necessitous “ apparently caused trouble to certain of the States. Consequently, the Prime Minister, on the 21st May last, wrote to the different States giving the Commonwealth’s interpretation. That seemingly proved adequate to the majority of the States, but judging by complaints that have been received from the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) and other sources, trouble is still being experienced in Western Australia. That State has been communicated with on three or four occasions, but so far has not’ made any reply. Yesterday the Prime Minister despatched a further telegram to the Premier of Western Australia, intimating that the decision of the nature and extent of the financial difficulty of the applicant for relief necessary to bring him within the scope of thu qualification “ necessitous “ was entirely within the discrimination of the State authorities. It is hoped that there will now bo no further delay in Western Australia. Needless to say, the money is in the Treasury awaiting a claim by Western Australia.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether the Government has made any arrangements with the Opposition and/or other parties in this House to increase the allowances of Ministers and members after the next elections?
– Not only is the answer “ No “, but the matter has never been discussed in any shape or form.
– ls the Government prepared to make available figures showing the total number of unemployed persons of all grades in the Commonwealth, youths and otherwise, as disclosed by the recent census?
– I understand that these figures are not yet complete. I undertake that they will be made public as soon as they are available.
– Will the Prime Minister see that in future when unemployment figures, supplied by the Commonwealth Statistician, are. published in the press or quoted by honorable members, information will also be supplied as to the percentage of industrial unions supplying the figures to the Statistician, and as to whether the figures can be taken as an accurate estimate of the number of unemployed ?
– The matter raised by the honorable member is one well worthy of consideration. The extent to which these figures at present indicate the actual position is precisely the extent to which they have always indicated it. The same practice has been followed in connexion with the compilation of these figures for some considerable time, but I am quite prepared to consider the honorable gentleman’s suggestion.
– Is it a fact, as rumoured, that this House is to be finally adjourned next Thursday?
– The actual day upon which the House will adjourn is dependent upon the disposal of the business that is now before it. I hope that it may be found possible to complete the business and adjourn by Thursday or Friday of next week.
West Coast of South Australia
– “Will the Minister for the Interior issue instructions for the collection of cost of living figures in at least four towns on the west coast of South Australia, including the principal town of Port Lincoln, which are not to-day included in the 200 towns from which such figures are obtained, so that there may be a more equitable estimation of the cost of living index figures?
– 1 shall give the matter consideration.
– Will the Minister for the Interior state whether it is the policy of the Government, in the engagement of poll clerks, to give preference to persons who are unemployed? Will he issue instructions to Divisional Returning Officers throughout Australia to give this preference, other things being equal?
– In the majority of country centres it is the policy of the department to engage the local schoolmaster, by reason of the fact that the school is used as a polling booth, and it is only right and proper that the nian who is in charge of the property shall be on the premises in some official capacity. Otherwise preference is generally given to returned soldiers. The fact that a man is unemployed is also considered, but in that event efficiency must be the first consideration.
Asbestos Cement Water Pipes
– I have just received from Western Australia a telegram asking that asbestos cement water pipes be placed on the same basis for sales tax purposes as galvanized iron pipes. Will the Assistant Treasurer give that request favorable consideration?
– The matter raised hy the honorable member was debated at some length last evening. I assure him that all the representations which have been made will be kept in mind when the Government is framing a further list of exemptions after the forthcoming elections.
– Complaints have been made to me about the difficulty that slightly indisposed pensioners experience in getting their pension when they are unable to call for it on the due date. The complaints centre particularly around the cumbersome form which has to bc filled in and signed before the pension can be collected through an agent. I ask the Assistant Treasurer whether he will take steps to simplify the procedure of paying pensions through agents.
– I shall give sympathetic consideration to the honorable member’s request.
– Will the Assistant Treasurer inform me whether the Government has yet reached a decision regarding refunds of contributions to pensions made by relatives of pensioners?
– No decision has yet been reached on that subject.
– As the Government has obtained an amount of £2,486 in contributions by relatives of pensioners towards such pensions, and not £13 as stated by the Assistant Treasurer, and as such contributions are at the rate of £6,69S per annum, if the department chose to enforce the law, will the Assistant Treasurer inform me whether it is intended, before the election, to ‘repeal those provisions, and also in any event, whether it is intended to refund the amount of £2,4S6 that has already been’ paid by the relatives of pensioners?
– The figures as used by the honorable member are incorrect. As most honorable members are aware, a bill is already before the House to repeal section 52m of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act.
– I rise to a personal explanation. Since doubt is thrown .upon my veracity by the Assistant Treasurer’s reply, I should like to direct attention to the following question which I recently submitted to the Prime Minister -
What amount has been (n) claimed, and (6) received, from relatives of pensioners since the passage of legislation in October, 1932, providing for such contributions?
To that question the Prime Minister replied -
The Pensions Act does not empower the department to make a claim on the relatives of pensioners. Relatives are asked to make a proposal for a voluntary contribution. If, in the opinion of the Deputy Commissioner, the relative is able to contribute to thecost of pension, and he does not submit a proposal to make a voluntary contribution, or the amount proposed to be contributed is not acceptable, the Deputy Commissioner may approach the court for an order requiring the relative to contribute such amount as the court determines. The annual rate of contributions by relatives is £6,698, and the amount contributed to date is £2,489, yet the Assistant Treasurer states only £13 has been received.
– Has the Prime Minister yet been able to arrive at a decision in regard to a question which I have repeatedly asked in this House concerning the Government’s policy of continuing to levy toll on the property of deceased pensioners who died prior to December last year? Will the right honorable gentleman give consideration to the waiving of these claims on the properties of deceased pensioners?
– The honorable member asked this question the other day. If he wishes to waste the time of Parliament by repeating it day after day he may do so, but the Government will make its announcement when it chooses.
– Will the Assistant Treasurer inform the House exactly the percentage increase required in the present cost of living figures as laid down in the plan adopted by this House some time ago before the invalid and old-age pensioners will be entitled to an increase in the rate of pension paid ?
– I cannot, offhand, give the percentage. It is quite easy for the honorable member to work it out for himself. If he desires that the information be supplied I suggest that he should place his question on the notice-paper.
– Presumably the honorable member’s question refers to statements made subsequent to the return of the Eastern mission.
– It does.
– That subject was dealt with yesterday in reply to a question by the honorable member for Gippsland.
– There was no information in that reply.
– Will the Minister for Commerce inform me whether he considers that a formal reply to a question on notice is an adequate vindication of the blamelessness of the flour-millers in connexion with certain charges made against them by a member of the Government ?
– The reply that was given, if read in conjunction with the honorable member’s question, definitely establishes the point which the honorable member seeks to emphasize.
Payments to Returned Soldiers in Hospital - Incomes of Mothers.
– Under the financial emergency legislation certain deductions were made in the payments to returned soldiers while they were inmates of hospitals and the amount received by them from friendly societies was taken into account. In view of the improved financial position of the country will the Government revert to the practice that obtained in such cases before the financial emergency legislation was introduced ?
– Only to-day the Government considered the position as it affected men admitted to hospital. Already liberal relief has been given to soldier pensioners, and the Government is now able to go a step further, and give the relief asked for by the honorable member. The regulation governing the matter will be altered accordingly as soon as possible.
– Seeing that the Government proposes to restore the cuts made in pensions paid to the wives and children of disabled soldiers, will the Minister for Repatriation endeavour to secure the agreement of the Government to a proposal for altering the regulations which restrict the total income that may be received by pensioner mothers of deceased soldiers, so that the amount may be increased beyond the 30s. a week now permitted ?
– This matter has been considered by the Government, and it is regretted that it is not possible, for the time being, to accede to the request. It is hoped that, some time in the future, it may be possible to grant the concession.
– Will the Prime Minister inform mc whether the Commonwealth Government intends to see that no obstacle is placed in the way of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith competing in the centenary air race ?
– That subject is already receiving the careful consideration of the Government.
Granites Gold-field - Provision fob Primary Producers and Unemployed.
– Will the Minister for the Interior lay on the table of tha House or of the library the report of Dr. Woolnough upon the geological possibilities of the Granites gold-field ?
– So far only a very brief statement has been received from Dr. Woolnough on that subject, and I am willing to make that available to the honorable member. Dr. Woolnough reached Adelaide to-day a.nd should be in Canberra next week. He will then no doubt make a more comprehensive report on the subject and I shall do my best to meet the honorable member’s wishes in connexion with it.
– Will the Minister for the Interior inform the House what provision, if any, has been made in the present budget for assistance to primary producers and the unemployed in the Northern Territory % If no provision has been made what steps does the Government propose to take to assist these people ?
– The honorable member can rest assured that the graziers, land-owners and the unemployed in the Northern Territory will be very well looked after.
– Can the Prime Minister inform me whether the report of the royal commission on the wheat industry will be made available to honorable members before Parliament adjourns ?
– As I have intimated on previous occasions, I hope that the report will be available before the end of the session, but that is a matter which only the commission can decide. If by any chance the report does not come to hand the Government will make a definite declaration of its policy ‘before the House rises.
– Can the Minister for Trade and Customs inform me whether he has been able to arrange for an extension of the temporary commercial arrangement with Belgium for exports from Australia to enter that country during the next few months ?
– I regret that I am not able to inform the honorable member that the arrangement has been renewed; but negotiations are still proceeding and I hope that they will be satisfactorily concluded. At the moment there is an- embargo on the importation of Australian beef into Belgium, but not of Australian barley. I am hopeful that the export of Australian barely to that country will not be prejudiced, and that the embargo on Australian beef will eventually be lifted.
Imports into Great Britain - Cablegrams.
– In view of the importance of the British meat quota to the Australian meat producers, will the Prime Minister place on the table of the House copies of the secret cables that have passed between the Commonwealth aud British Governments on this subject %
– It is well known that confidential cables on many matters are exchanged between the High Commissioner and the Government, and between the British and Commonwealth Governments; but it is not the practice to table those documents. The honorable member suggested that this course should be followed “ in view of the importance of the British meat quota to the Australian meat producers “. There is certainly no need to table the cablegrams for that reason. The proposals of the British Government and the action taken by this Government through all the negotiations, have been clearly placed before the representatives of the meat industry in Australia.
– Did they see the cables?
– They sa-w enough of them to give them a clear conception of the course followed by the Government. I was called before the Meat Conference at its close, and I received a unanimous expression of approval of every action taken by the Government in this matter. [ was assured by one of the leading representatives, Mr. Tout, that, if the industry itself had handled the negotiations, it could not have safeguarded its interests ‘better than they had been served by the Government.
– Is it possible for the Government to make available to honorable members that part of the cablegrams which was read to the members of the Meat Conference? The meat producers of Queensland are very anxious to obtain information on this matter, and have asked me whether, if the cablegrams cannot bo published, the Prime Minister will make a statement in regard to it.
– I do not. propose to make the cablegrams available to honorable members of this House, because, if that were done, they would become public property. Negotiations will have to be carried on in the interests of other sections of primary .producers, and it would be most unwise to make public the cablegrams that have passed between the Commonwealth and Mr. Bruce, and between the Commonwealth and the British Governments. Every State of the Commonwealth was represented at the conference held at Canberra. Queensland was represented by a Minister in the Queensland Government, and he was placed in possession of all the information made available.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that Mr. Moore, ex-Premier of Queensland, and present Leader of the Opposition, is reported in the Brisbane
Courier Mail of the 10th May, 1934, to have said that the present Federal Government was the only- one in Australia that approved, as he did, of a policy of restriction of exports from the Commonwealth, as propounded in Australia by the Commonwealth High Commissioner?
– I have not seen the statement with which Mr, Moore is credited by the honorable member; but, if he made such a statement, it was entirely incorrect. A policy of restriction was neither advocated by Mr. Bruce, nor supported by this Government. The attitude of the Commonwealth Government has been made clear in public statements, aud was enunciated in the presence of representatives of the meat industry meeting in Canberra. Those representatives are now aware of the benefits which may be expected to flow from the .policy for which this Government stands.
– Is the Minister for Commerce yet in a position to give me information as to what sum was paid to the wheat-growers of New South Wales out of the proceeds of the flour tax which was levied last financial year?
– That information was given to the House a couple of days ago. It is not before me now; but I shall see that the honorable member is supplied with it.
Dubbo Regional Station
– Is the PostmasterGeneral able to announce the date of the commencement of the regional wireless broadcasting station at Dubbo?
Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL.That station is one of the seven that are being constructed, and should be completed by the end of the present financial year.
– Is finality likely to be reached in connexion with the negotiations ‘between Australia and Italy for reciprocal trade arrangements before the open ins of the wool selling season next month?
– Difficulties still confront us in making a trade treaty with Italy, just as there are similar difficulties iti effecting trade arrangements with other nations. Italy desires to balance its trade with various countries, and is asking Australia for more trade. The difficulties must be obvious when it is remembered that we have a preferential tariff with certain margins, and that we wish to preserve Australian industries. I am hopeful that definite trade arrangements will bo completed before the House rises. This desirable consummation would be facilitated if the procedure were less cumbersome, and parliamentary approval could be more speedily obtained. Consideration is being given to the best means that can be adopted for the purpose of concluding agreements more speedily in the future.
– Does the position with regard to Australian trade with Italy indicate that any progress is being made in the steps the Government is taking to secure extended foreign markets for Australian primary products that are surplus to tho requirements of the local market?
– By restricting its wool purchases Italy is not aiming entirely at Australia; it. has taken similar action against South Africa, and it is also restricting its purchases from other nations in its natural desire to balance its trade. As I stated formerly, negotiations are in train. They were in progress yesterday and to-day, and I can assure the honorable member that the Government is leaving no stone unturned to come to an arrangement that will safeguard Australia’s export trade.
– When may I expect an answer to the question I asked recently regarding the land valuations of banking premises?
– I am informed that the information .is being procured, and I shall endeavour to expedite the matter.
– In view of the possibility of developing a fairly large trade in vegetables and fruit between
Western Australia and India, will theMinister for Commerce state whether anything further has been done in regard to negotiating a trade agreement with India ?
– India being one of the countries with which Australia has an unfavorable trade balance, the Government is naturally desirous of coming to an agreement with it, but, owing to the pressure of other negotiations which have precedence, nothing has yet been done.
– It has been brought under my notice that certain commodities such as “ marmite “ and “ weet-bix “, which are sold by the Sanitarium Health Food Company, are undercutting in price similar foods sold by other firms, . and are able to do so largely because no sales tax is paid by them, and possibly no income tax either. Will the Assistant Treasurer make inquiries into this allegation, with a view to seeing whether this organization is a religious body as it claims to be, and whether it is entitled to the privileges it receives ?
– The matter has already been brought under my notice by honorable members, and inquiries are being made by the Government. .
– Has the Minister administering War Service Homes yet been able to procure the information which I asked for some time ago in regard to certain evictions?
– The information sought by the honorable member is being obtained, and I shall supply it to him as soon as it is available.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that, notwithstanding that wages, rent, interest rates and other production costs have fallen within the last few years, the price of explosives used im mining is still the same as it was ten years ago? Tn view of this, will he take steps to have a committee of inquiry appointed to investigate the matter?
– I do not propose to recommend to Cabinet the appointment of such a committee.
– Has the Prime Minister yet had an opportunity to wait on His Excellency, the Governor-General, regarding the dissolution of Parliament? If so, will he take honorable members into his confidence, and make a statement to the House?
– I have answered so many questions on this subject that I propose to ask the honorable member to place his question on the. notice-paper, and that reply stands for any other honorable member who may be disposed to ask a similar question.
– Will the Minister for Customs state whether any further concessions have been made in regard to the importation of Fijian bananas into Australia?
– That question was asked in the Senate yesterday, and ike answer was “ No “.
– Does the Government intend to make any appointments of trade commissioners in the East before the House adjourns?
– As I replied yesterday in answer to a similar question, the answer is “ No “.
– Will the Prime Minister see that a copy of the minutes and evidence of the Commonwealth Grants Commission is made available to the House for the perusal of honorable members and also for record purposes?
– I do not know whether it is proposed to print the whole of the minutes and evidence. The matter would be governed, I should say, by the cost of printing. However, I shall look into the matter.
– As there is raging a controversy among the retailers of petrol, I ask the Prime Minister when the report of the Royal Commission on Petrol will be made available to honorable members ?
– The matter is in the hands of the commission, butI shall endeavour to ascertain when the report is likely to be submitted.
– Who is responsible for issuing orders to private printers for the printing of the electoral rolls? What arrangements have been made by the Government with the private printing firms to ensure that the rolls will be forwarded on to honorable members in time for the election?
– The matter is one which comes under the jurisdiction of the Chief Electoral Officer. Circulars are being sent out to each honorable member asking him to what address he wishes his copy of the roll to be forwarded. It is expected that the printing of the rolls will be completed by the 25th August. I understand that eight rolls in New South Wales are already printed. The Electoral Officer in each State will post the rolls to the addresses furnished by honorable members.
In committee: Consideration resumed from the 25th July (vide page 736).
Part III. - Maternity Allowances.
Clause10 agreed to.
Section four of the principal act is amended by adding at the end thereof the following subsections: - “ (2. ) Where a woman, to whom an allowance becomes payable under the preceding provisions of this section in respect of a birth, is the mother of one or more children under the age of fourteen years born prior to that birth, there shall be payable to that woman out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, which is hereby appropriatedaccordingly, an additional allowance of Five shillings in respect of each such child living at the date of that birth, but so that the total amount payable under this section to any woman at any one time shall not exceed Five pounds.
.- I have said several times during the discussion of this bill that the amount of payment made to assist the mothers of this country during a trying period of their lives is insufficient. The Government intends by this clause to liberalize the present provisions of the act by making available an additional payment of 5s. in respect of each child under the age of fourteen years living at the date of the birth, with a proviso that the maximum payment to the mother shall not exceed £5. Honorable members will admit that the purpose of this allowance is to assist towards meeting certain expenses that have to be incurred at this particular period. Therefore it is not fair to differentiate according to the number of children in a family. If it is considered that £5 is necessary in certain cases, that amount should be given in every case. So that honorable members may show where they stand on this matter, I move -
That the word “ five “, first occurring, proposed new sub-section (2), be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word twenty “.
The proposed new sub-section will then provide for a flat rate payment of £5, irrespective of the number of children in the family at the date of birth. Very little, if any, additional expenditure is involved. I believe that the Government is adopting a wrong policy in providing for an increase of the allowance only under certain conditions. The sum of £5 is little enough to give to the motherhood of this country. The Assistant Treasurer would act wisely if he took immediate steps to have the provision amended as I propose.
.- I heartily support the remarks and the amendment of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward). The Government has adopted a rather contemptuous attitude towards the question of maternity allowances. The proposal to increase the allowance by 5s. only in certain circumstances savours of the worst kind of parsimony. If there is one class of social legislation that rightly should receive the greatest consideration it is that which provides for an allowance to the motherhood of this country. In. many instances the necessities ‘are greater in the case of the first child than in the case of the second or the third. This is merely a cheap electioneering effort that counts for nothing, and tha Government has no reason to feel proud of it. It has placed the maternity allowance in a humiliating position, when it might have been more generous and considerate.
.- I commend the Government for its proposal to liberalize the maternity allowance, and for the other proposals in this bill. Although it is travelling on the right road, however, it has not gone far enough. I hope that the money paid out by way of maternity allowance will find its way into the right pockets. It appears to me that the cost of bringing this class of immigrant into the country is altogether too great, especially as our ridiculous economic system prevents our finding profitable employment for either sex. The cost of giving birth to children, like all other costs, has increased enormously. I was a 30s. child, and consider that those who came within that category were better value than are the children who to-day cost £30 or £40 to bring into the world. If the Government so safeguarded the position that this mo’ney found its way into the right pockets, it would prove very helpful to those on whose behalf the allowance is made. What is the use of merely making it slightly easier to pay the excessive costs that are charged? Sooner or later competition may bring about a better state of affairs, and these immigrants may be brought into the world more cheaply - and we want millions of them.
– The amendment clearly would increase the appropriation, and therefore is not in order.
.- Although I am glad that the Government is making the position a little better, I am altogether dissatisfied with the increase proposed. Those who remember the framing of this legislation know that the object of it was to safeguard expectant mothers, and that the number of children in a family did not enter into the question. It was desired that proper medical and nursing attention should be available in the interests of both the child and the mother, thus lessening the risk of their becoming a charge on the State in the future. There was no suggestion of charity or of pauperism. Boiled down, the whole question is, what amount is necessary to make adequate provision for the mother and her child? In past years it was considered that £5 was little enough. Whether that was right or wrong, how can it be affected by the number of children there are in a family? The reduction to £4 ought never to have been made. Those who made it, I agree, were honest in their intentions. They believed that it was necessary in a period of emergency. According to the Government, however, that emergency no longer exists. It has remitted taxation, and is now making thisre-adjustment on a permanent basis. If, in a spirit of false economy, to save a few hundred thousand pounds, we restrict the opportunity to procure proper medical attention, the community may be saddled in the future with thousands of inefficients, who will be a burden on the State for the whole of their lives. The maternity allowance is a cheap investment from a national as well as from a moral and a health point of view. I am sorry that an amendment may not be moved to revert to the original allowance of £5. In the near future, motherhood endowment and other scientific legislation must be placed on the statute-book to deal with the case of large families, so that children may have a fair chance and be an asset to the community. I hope that the Government will give further consideration to this matter. I am willing that it should receive all the kudos that might result from the reversion to an allowance of £5.
Mr.G ABB (Angas) [3.35]. - I am glad that the Government has made this slight move forward in the interests of the mothers and little children. It has not gone as far as we had hoped, but it has made some advance. I rise principally to present to the Government, and honorable members generally, the following letter which I have received from an experienced nurse of high standing in regard to the maternity allowance: -
As a, nurse in the poorer districts may I point out a grave evil which has crept into the administration of the maternity bonus? It is generally in the case of a family where the man has earned just sufficient to keep the rent and food going, say, from £1 to £2 per week. The mother eagerly looks forward to the bonus for a baby blanket and a little necessary nourishment for herself, and to pay her nurse who has borne the anxiety and heavy work of the event. On about the eighth day - a very critical moment in the lying-in period - a white paper arrives, followed by others, during several weeks. In the end after much delay the woman receives the full bonus, but it arrives too late to fulfil its purpose. The mother has risen weak, unable to obtain the comforts she might have had, and I could quote case after case where the mother, through this worry which comes in her lying-in period, has lost her power to feed her baby naturally. Without worrying you with details I feel sure that you will recognize that this is a serious thing for the mothers and babies of South Australia. We know that precaution of economy must be taken, but surely they can keep their investigation fever off the mothers of our race. Probably those who administer this department have no conception of the abnormal state of health of the mother at this particular time, and how worry affects the natural milk.
I trust that the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey) will discuss this subject with his officers with the object of making it possible to give quick decisions in respect to every application that is made for the maternity allowance, so that the money will be available at the mother’s most necessitous stage.
.- I had the privilege of voting in favour of the first maternity allowance bill passed by this Parliament, and I regarded the decision of Parliament on that occasion as a most momentous advance in the interests of humanity. The allowance was then fixed at £5 in each case. I earnestly appeal to the Government to restore it to that figure. Why should there be differentiation between one child and another? Each child has a stomach to fill, and is in all physical respects like every other child. It is deplorable that any different treatment should be given to one than to another. I make this appeal for humanitarian and not political reasons. I am not looking for kudos, and I do not think the Government should do so ; but if it responds to my appeal it will win a great deal of credit. If I were a woman I should vote for a government which made a decision of this kind. Many years ago, during my medical experience in London, I had charge of the maternity department at St. Mary’s Hospital. I wish to tell honorable members of one of the most terrible experiences I had during that time. A mother was bringing a new child into the world. The blood was, not ebbing, but flowing from her womb. The best treatment that could be given her in those days was to press the hands firmly over the womb to prevent it from being filled with her blood. I had to do that in this case, and immediately I saw how things were going, I sent for the senior resident surgeon of the hospital for assistance. He and a number of students came to my aid and, one after another, we took our part in trying to help the unfortunate woman. Our coats and waistcoats were removed, and our shirt sleeves rolled up, in the endeavour to give the most efficient service to the patient. After this relief had been given to the woman in her extremity, we set to work to give her other necessary treatment. I regret to say (hat we found her body filthy with vermin. Bugs were everywhere. In Heaven’s name, how could a child born in such circumstances grow healthy and strong? In order to ensure to mothers about to bear children the best possible treatment, the Fisher Government was instrumental in passing the first maternity allowance legislation through this Parliament, and in my opinion, Mr. Fisher deserves to have his name inscribed on the roll of fame, with the prophets of Israel, for his wonderful work in this connexion. It is estimated that to-day (his country is worth more than £0,000.000,000 above its value in the days when it was inhabited only by the aborigines. That is nearly £1,000 a head for each man, woman and child here. Surely in these circumstances we are entitled to ask the Government to increase the maternity allowance to at least £5 in each Case. I have read many extraordinary statements about Soviet Russia, but I have also read a good deal about the treatment that mothers and young children receive in that much criticized country. For two months before and two months after childbirth the women of Russia are entitled to receive their full wages. No other country in the world has such legislation in force. Russia in this matter has set a splendid example to the rest of the world. If any other country is doing anything of a like nature, I should be very glad to hear of it. Every infant is a prospective future unit of the State, and is entitled to adequate food, shelter and clothing. The earliest stages of its life are the most dangerous.- The dangers of battle are not nearly so great as the dangers of child-bearing, and it is desirable, therefore, that everything possible should be done to protect the interests of both the mother and the child at this critical time. The present intention of the Government is to make a grant of £4 in respect of the first child a mother bears, £4 5s. for the second, and £4 10s. for the third, with similar increases until the maximum of £5 is reached. Why not make a uniform grant of £5? It would be a humane and proper thing to do. I urge the Minister to consult Cabinet immediately on this subject with the object of amending the bill in that direction.
– I regret that the Standing Orders prevented the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) from moving the amendment that he desired to move, but I trust that the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey) will take notice of the honorable gentleman’s speech, and also of the expressed desires of other honorable members, to have the maternity allowance increased to £5 in each case. Money can be spent in no better way than in protecting the mothers of the race and helping the little children. I am not making this statement with an eye on the coming election, for I have consistently held and expressed this view for many years. If I had my way, I should make the maternity allowance not £5, but double that amount. It is deplorable to me that at a time when the Government is recommending us to increase the vote for defence purposes by £1.900,000, it should provide for an increase of only £57,000 in the maternity allowance. Governments need to become more health-minded, and special attention should be paid to the health of women and little children. The fact that 5,000 children die annually in this country before they reach the age of twelve months should be a sufficient incentive to the Government to make a larger sum of money available for the humane purpose of assisting mothers during childbirth. The Government is showing that it is short-sighted by providing only a miserable £400 for infant and maternity hygiene. The whole basis of this provision is wrong. We should seek to increase our population by doing everything possible to protect the children, and help them to grow healthy and strong. Every year from 15.0,000 to 160,000 children are born in Australia. 1” have had numbers of letters from parents residing in my electorate asking for further assistance. Only a few weeks ago a man with whom I had been in touch and for whom I had tried in vain to obtain employment told me that his wife had had another child but that it had died. I hope the Minister will at least postpone the consideration of this clause with a view to consulting his colleagues on the matter.
– I am interested to know the reason why the Government has altered the system of assessing the amount of payment to be made to claimants of the allowance. The clause provides in the first instance that the payment shall be £4, and that in accordance with the income of the parents it shall be increased by 5s. for each child, but shall not exceed £5. On what basis has the department reached the conclusion that the expenses associated with maternity increase with each child?
– The cost is greatest in connexion with the first birth.
– The honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) is competent to express an opinion on the subject. Has this decision been reached as the result of advice given by well-known economists who have been trying to solve our economic problems? I need not dwell upon the dangerous experience of a mother during the maternity period. It seems to rae that the best method would be to adopt a flat rate of payment.
– The Government has sought to give relief where, in its opinion, it is most needed. It has tried to introduce a simple arrangement whereby, as the financial obligations of the parents increase, the mother will be able to claim an increased amount at the birth of each child. Honorable members of the Opposition have apparently studiously overlooked the fact that there is to be an increase of 5s. for each child after the first birth, and also an increase of the maximum income limit of £13 for each living child under the age of fourteen year3. So complicated mathematical formula is involved, and Professor Coplaud has had no hand in the framing of these provisions. The Government has merely attempted to make what money is available for this purpose go as far as possible.
Clause agreed to. [Quorum formed.’]
Clause 12- -Section six of the principal act is amended by omitting sub-sections (3.) and (4.) and inserting in their stead the following subsections: - (4.) For the purposes of the last preceding tub-section -
. -On behalf of my colleague, the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), I move -
That after “ Commonwealth “, paragraph 6, the following words be added :W but shall not include unemployment relief taxes or superannuation payments “.
The purpose of this amendment is to overcome a difficulty to which I referred in my second-reading speech. I hardly expect the Minister to raise any serious objection to this proposal, as the payment of the wages tax is based on the desire of those in employment to assist the ‘ unemployed. In most cases payments towards unemployment relief and superannuation are deducted at the pay window, and should not be taken into consideration as income in assessing the amount of the maternity allowance. Superannuation payments are for the purpose of making provision for the latter period of a man’s life, and if it so happens that the same person becomes an applicant for either the invalid or the old-age pension, these payments are regarded as income, and taken into consideration when the amount of pension to be paid is being determined. Therefore, it will be seen that, without provision to exempt these payments in this bill, these people are being penalized in both cases. As the Governnemt under the pensions law pays less to these people, the least it should do is to give the wife of a pensioner the full benefit of this measure.
– I support the amendment. Some time ago I brought this aspect of the allowance under the notice of the Minister, and a promise was ‘given that inquiry into it would be made. Numerous applications were submitted to the department, but the reply was that they could not be granted unless the Minister was prepared to waive the regulation. In some instances miners lose as much as £5 a fortnight because they have to pay for their own explosives. Other deductions from their earnings are made to provide hospital and doctors’ fees. Hospitals, after all, are only human repair shops, and the time has arrived when the governments that control them should subsidize them more generously.
– The. honorable member is going beyond the scope of the clause. [Quorum formed.’)
– These deductions should be allowed by the department when assessing the income of a claimant for a maternity allowance. The Taxation Department allows such deductions when assessing taxable income, so it i3 surely not too much to ask that a similar allowance be made in respect of maternity payments. I appeal to the Minister to give way on this point.
.- I support tho amendment of the honorable member for “West Sydney (Mr. Beasley). This bill fixes the income which will qualify a mother to draw maternity allowance, and it is only right that the amount fixed should represent the actual wage received by the claimant’s husband. The worker is never able to obtain anything other than food, clothing and shelter from his wages, so that no account should be taken of wages with which he is credited, but which he never actually receives. It is provided in the bill that if a man’s wages be over £4 a week, whether he receives the whole of that amount or not, his wife shall not be entitled to draw maternity allowance upon the birth of her first child. The inference is, however, that the income stipulated in the bill is the actual income which the family receives ; but that, as we have pointed out, is not so, In New South Wales the worker has to pay wages tax - which is for the benefit of some one other than himself - he pays hospital tax, and, sometimes, superannuation dues. The money received from the wages tax in New South Wales goes into a common pool, out of which is paid unemployment relief, widows’ pensions and other social services. It is true that the worker may derive some benefit from the hospital tax if he, or members of his family, should need hospital treatment, but in many cases the hospital tax is compulsory. The Government takes the stand in regard to superannuation payments, that they are made in respect of a benefit which the worker hopes at some time to enjoy. The truth of that assertion has not been established, however, because, in New South Wales, at any rate, if a man leaves the service before completing fifteen years continuous employment, he loses everything he has paid into the fund. The only workers who benefit from the payments they make are those who are fortunate enough to be retired on reaching the age limit. Even then the retiring age is so high that few retired public servants live long enough to enjoy in full what they have contributed. The railway and tramway workers of New South Wales, and particularly the tramway workers, are a most generous body of men. Not only have they to pay superannuation dues and wages tax out of their wages, but, on pay day at the depots, there is always a long line of rationed men, and others who have been displaced from the service, possibly through injuries received trying to sell odds and ends in order to exist. The workers are always most generous in assisting these men, and though I do not put that forward as a reason for amending the bill, it shows that these are deserving people themselves who should be given the benefit of the contributions they are forced by law to make by the unemployment tax and the superannuation law. If the Government does not give way on this point, it will be wrong to call this a relief bill, because very few families, where the husband is employed in the public service at a wage of £4 a week, would be entitled to the benefit of a maternity allowance payment.
.- It frequently happens that the intention of honorable members who agree to legislation is defeated by the manner in which that legislation is subsequently administered. Therefore, the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) is to be commended on having moved this amendment, because it provides honorable members with an opportunity to state definitely whether they believe that maternity payments should be based on the actual income of the claimant family, or on the nominal income. If it is right to penalize employees in respect of incomes they do not enjoy, it would be equally proper to take into account for taxation purposes the emergency cuts which have been deducted from salaries. It is true that the public servant does not obtain the money, but it might be contended that, as it is merely an emergency cut, the amount will some time be restored to him. The worker does not receive the amount deducted from him. for unemployment tax, but the contention of the Government is, no doubt, that there will eventually come a day when there will be no more unemployment, and no’ more unemployment tax. In my opinion, the levying of unemployment tax is nothing but a reduction of wages. Honorable members know very well that they are allowed to deduct donations to charitable institutions from their income tax returns. The unemployment relief tax should be considered in the same light. The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) and the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) have also raised the question of superannuation payments, which are contributions by employees to secure some small sum to sustain them in their old ago. They are actually saving the country a future expenditure in. respect of old-age pensions.
– Order !
– In its campaign for economy in order to obtain surpluses, the Government issues instructions that the law is to be stretched in every direction in order to prevent as many people as possible from participating in the maternity allowance - an allowance which Parliament, when it passed the original act, intended that all mothers should receive, irrespective of the income of the husband. I hope that the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey) will give an instruction to his officers that, in assessing the income of a home, superannuation payments and unemployment tax shall be taken into account.
– Any person coming into the chamber to listen to the debate on this bill would certainly gain the impression that the Government, instead of increasing the maternity allowance, was reducing it. I am quite sure that, no matter what degree of relief the Government provided, some honorable members opposite would still charge the Government with meanness. As a matter of fact, the Government is giving a very substantial measure of relief in increasing the total payments to mothers by something like 20 per cent.
The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) has referred to expenses necessarily incurred in earning income, and lias asked that these expenses be taken into consideration in arriving at the total amount of income. I inform the honorable member that they are already deducted from the gross income in arriving at the net amount of income for the purposes of administering the maternity allowance.
– If I were to show the Minister letters which I have received from the department refusing a request that they should be allowed, would he bo convinced that I was correct in what I was saying?
– I saw only this morning a letter to the opposite effect which was being sent by the department to the honorable member.
– I have not seen it.
– The practice which I have outlined is no innovation, and I repeat that the expenses necessarily incurred in earning the income are taken into account.
– Superannuation payments are not included?
– No; not in the deductions from income. The honorable member for Hunter also referred to the fact that miners have to purchase their own explosives. The cost of these explosives is offset against their income. The Government is unable to accept the amendment merely because the items mentioned are expenses. It might quite as well be contended that hospital expenses, lodge subscriptions, &c, should be deductible. The amendment is an attempt to stretch the Government’s generosity too far. The present proposal is a liberal one, and will cost £ 60,000 a year, which is a very reasonable concession at a time like the present. We are far from being able to make all-round restorations.
– Does not the Minister consider that contributions to hospitals for the purpose of ensuring treatment should be deducted?
– There must be a limit to the number of expenses which may be deducted. I am forced by the action of honorable members opposite to ask you, Mr. Chairman, whether this amendment is in order. It is perfectly clear that its effect would be to impose an additional burden on the budget, which the Government is unable to accept.
– The Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey) has asked the Chair to rule as to whether the amendment is in order. The Minister has taken a rather unusual course in raising a point of order after debating the amendment and putting forward reasons why the Government should not accept it. The Chair considered the amendment when it was first handed in, and is of opinion that its effect would not be directly to increase the charge on the finances. It merely defines what “income “ should be, and imposes no additional taxation. It is quite in order.
.- I consider the amendment to be a very reasonable one. I cannot see the analogy which the Minister drew between payments referred to in the amendment and expenses such as hospital contributions. The former are arbitrary deductions from wages; the latter are voluntary efforts. The person who earns the income has no choice as to whether unemployment tax should or should not be paid. The tax is imposed by arbitrary action by an authority over which the worker has no control. Superannuation contributions are in some cases in the same category.
Where a man voluntarily makes such contributions, they fall into a different category. I would prefer to see this clause in the form in which it appeared in the original Emergency Act, which set out that the total income should not exceed £260. In addition to that an extra allowance of 5s. could be made in respect of each child living. While this bill provides for a certain restoration, it does not provide for restoration based on the original emergency legislation. It must be remembered that this allowance has been cut on two occasions., and the last was made at a period when taxation was being reduced. The maximum income into the home should be fixed at £260, as was provided originally, and the provision of 5s. for each child should be made up to a maximum payment of £5. I shall support the amendment.
– The point made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) is one that has been running through my mind since the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey) resumed his seat. While we regard the payments to hospitals as affording some return by way of benefit to whose who make the contribution, the position in regard to the wages tax is entirely different. The Government claims that the wage tax is part of a man’s income. I am sure that no one with an impartial mind could subscribe to that view. The wage tax is really a compulsory contribution to aid those more unfortunately situated than the person who pays it. Yet the Government sees fit to continue the imposing of a penalty on the workers in this way. It is a’ harsh penalty, and I hope that the majority of the committee will vote against it. I have not yet been able to learn what other expenses are considered by the department in calculating income. For example, would a tradesman be permitted to deduct expenses incurred in the maintenance of his kit? I shall be pleased to be furnished with information as to what deductions are allowable. If certain items have been, allowed by the department, the fact should be made known to all who may be affected. I trust that even yet the Minister will recognize the force of our contention, and concede our point.
.- I support the amendment of the honorable member for “West Sydney (Mr. Beasley). It would be only fair to exclude from income the payments made to a superannuation fund by the husband of a claimant for tho maternity allowance. I have received from a constituent a letter which shows how adversely he has been affected by his payments into a superannuation fund. The letter says -
I have a constant job, being employed in the South Australian railways at 13s. Od. a day, this being £8 2s. a fortnight with a deduction of £2 Os. 4d. a fortnight, being for rent and superannuation, this leaving me £0 ls. 8d. a fortnight to keep seven children, wife, and myself.
This man’s income amounts to £210 12s. a year, and he makes fortnightly contributions to a superannuation fund. The family receives no benefit from that payment. Yet his wife was refused a maternity allowance. I admit that the position will be different in the future, because of the liberalization of the provisions relating to income.
I also wish to place on record a further case illustrating the effect of the limitation of the income to £208 a year. A letter that I have received reads -
I received word from the Commissioner of Maternity Allowances that my wife’s bonus had hee ti rejected on account of my income being £1 above the statutory limit which is £208, and my income was £209, without deducting the £5 3s. paid in income tax and allowance for wife and child, and I have been paying 16s. per week house rent and had to assist my father in sick and funeral expenses to the extent of £35, and my wife’s hospital expenses are £10 ls. and doctor’s expense £11.
Notwithstanding all those expenses, and the payment of income tax, his wife was debarred from receiving the maternity allowance. That case shows how harshly this legislation has been operating.
– Has he any children?
– He has one child. I like the principle of the amendment. I consider, however, that income tax also should be included in the list of allowable deductions. Neither a man nor his wife derives any advantage from the payment of income tax.
.- I should not have risen again had not the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) stated that the payment of hospital dues by workers is not compulsory. For the last 30 years, an agreement has operated in the coal-mining industry, under which the hospitals have been maintained by the contributions of the workers. Any one who refused to contribute would obtain no work.
– It was a voluntary agreement.
– In the first place it was what might be termed a voluntary agreement ; but those who did not conform to it were unable to obtain work in the mining industry. It is a compulsory, not a voluntary, deduction from the earnings of the workers. In addition, the workers have to contribute 2s. a fortnight to a fund for the retention of the services of a doctor. It is unfair to deny to claimants for the maternity allowance the right to deduct such payments in estimating their income. Under the sales tax provisions of this bill, concessions are given to persons who never have occasion to take advantage of social services. The wealthier sections are always catered for, but when it is a case of assisting the poor unfortunate down-and-out nothing is done. The Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey) has stated that he has seen a letter addressed to me by the Commissioner stating that the cost of explosives may not be deducted from income. The honorable gentleman might have refrained from divulging that until the letter was in my possession.
– There is no novelty in what I mentioned; it has been the case throughout.
– Every reasonably minded man- must admit that these deductions should be allowed when so many concessions are being given to others who are more fortunately placed. We are asking for this concession on behalf of people whose income is below, or only a little above, the basic wage. Even if the expenditure were increased, in what way would the Government lose? If for no other reason, it should agree to the amendment in the interests of its own political “ hide “.
.- Opposing the amendment, the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey) advanced the argument that to agree to it would be to stretch the Government’s generosity. I point out that the Government proposes to restore less, in some cases, than it took away in 1932, let alone what was taken away by the Financial Emergency Act 1931. The position is certainly being improved in some respects, but in others it is considerably worse. Take the case of a woman with seven children over the age of fourteen years. They may not bring any income into the family. Under State legislation governing unemployment relief they may be debarred from even a dole ration, and may be living on the income of the parents. Yet if the income of the family was over £20S a year, that woman would not be entitled to the maternity allowance. The Assistant Treasurer says, in effect, that the wife of a man earning £4 a week, who has to keep seven children between the ages of 14 and 21 years, who, for all practical purposes, are adults - which would mean that there would be nine adults in the ‘house, counting the parents - has ample means to provide all that is necessary. If that is generosity, I do not know the meaning of the word. The honorable gentleman has made some extraordinary statements in this House. Some little time ago he said that totallyincapacitated invalid pensioners were entitled to earn a certain sum of money weekly without risking deductions from their pensions; but, when he was challenged on the point, he could not substantiate hia statement. To-day he has said that certain deductions may he claimed by applicants for the maternity allowance; but, when we asked him to indicate what they were, he was again unable to give us any specific information. I have uo knowledge of any allowable deduction, and none of the questions on the application form even suggests that deductions may be claimed. When the Assistant Treasurer makes statements like these he should substantiate them. I had a letter last week from a man with four or five children, who stated that, although his gross income was only £208 4s. 9d. for the year, out of which he had to pay £10 8s. wage tax, his wife had been refused the maternity allowance on the ground that his income exceeded by 4s. 9d. the maximum stated in the act. In such circumstances, it was entirely unjust to deny his wife the allowance. If the Government would state in the bill the net maximum income of the husband and wife, beyond which the mother became ineligible for the maternity allowance, we should know where we stood; but under existing conditions we are left in suspense. Our argument is that only actual income should be considered. We know that, in many eases, deductions are made from wages for superannuation, unemployment tax, and the like. If people do not actually receive the amount they are nominally supposed to receive, it cannot be said that they have had the income. If this amendment is agreed to, the payment of the maternity allowance will still be limited to persons who are virtually on the bread line. In connexion with our income tax Jaw as regards people who are in the position to pay income tax, we allow deductions in respect of medical and hospital expenses, and children under the age of sixteen years wholly or partly supported by the taxpayer. If that is a desirable principle in income tax legislation, it should also be desirable in the maternity allowance legislation. To regard gross income as the standard of judgment is entirely unfair.
– The honorable member is dealing, in one case, with a tax, and, in the other case, with a grant.
Mir. ROSEVEAR.- At the moment I am discussing the basis upon which income is determined. A man who has a gross income of £208 4s. 9d., and has to pay £10 8s. out of it in unemployment tax cannot be said to have an effective income of £208. We are asking that unemployment taxes, superannuation payments, and the like, shall be deductible for the purposes of determining eligibility for the maternity allowance. Even then the allowance would be payable only to people practically on the bread line. It is surely reasonable that this slight concession should be granted by a government which, by some curious misunderstanding of the meaning of words, considers itself to be generous. The Government, after making this allegedly generous concession, will still leave these people worse off than they were in 1932, and infinitely worse oil than in 1931, before the financial emergency cuts were made.
.- I waa surprised to hear the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey) say that certain deductions were allowable in the calculation of income for the purposes of a maternity allowance, because I have dealt with several of these cases recently, and have not heard of any such allowable deductions. A shearer who may earn £220 in a year, but has to spend £30 in fares, has an income of only £190. But as he has to live away from home in order to earn his income, it may be said that his net income is only £150. Yet his wife is not allowed to deduct even the travelling expenses when she is making application for the maternity allowance. I had a letter from the Maternity Allowance Department the other day to the effect that an applicant for the allowance was not entitled to receive it because her husband had earned £214 in the year. The man was employed on the Queensland railways, and was obliged to contribute each week 6d. in the £1 in unemployment insurance tax, and another 6d. in the £1 in wage tax. Those contributions brought his income down to considerably below £20S a year, but his wife was not permitted to make those deductions when stating her husband’s income. If the proposal of the Leader of the Opposition, that the gross income should be increased to £260, were agreed to it would meet many difficult cases. It must be remembered that persons who follow seasonal work, such as cane-cutters, meatworkers, shearers and the like, often have to incur considerable expense in earning their income. A man’s home may be at Rockhampton, for example, in order that his children may enjoy the educational facilities of such a city; but he may have to go to Townsville to follow his ordinary occupation in the meat works. If the gross income -of such a man is £250 a year it cannot be argued that his net income is even £200 a year. I submit that travelling expenses incurred in earning income should be allowable deductions.
– The Assistant Treasurer says that they are.
– I do not think that fares may be deducted, but, apparently some deductions are permitted in respect of tools of trade.
– If the Assistant Treasurer would make a definite statement on this subject, it would be very helpful. In the case of shearers, the cost of combs and cutters is considerable, and if that could be deducted when a shearer’s wife made application for the maternity allowance, it would, in some cases, ensure the granting of the application. I submit that no obstacles should be placed in the way of people taking advantage of any provision that may have been enacted to allow deductions when stating income for maternity allowance purposes. Unnecessary debate would ‘be avoided if the Minister would state exactly what deductions are allowed in calculating income.
– I have already done so. The amounts deducted are expenses necessarily incurred in earning income.
– Would the cost of the combs and cutters of shearers fall within that category? Applications for such reductions have been refused by the department. If it were necessary for a worker to travel considerable distances in order to obtain employment, the fares paid by him should not be regarded as part of his income, but no such deduction is made.
.- “ Income “ is defined as money received by the claimant or her husband “ for her or his own use or benefit “ and surely it is not contended that amounts taken arbitrarily from a man’s wages are for his own use. Those words could not properly be applied to the case of a man whose income was partly absorbed in affording relief to members of his own family who were unemployed. That would be a voluntary contribution, and the Minister could not contend that that expenditure would be covered by the phrase, “ for his own use or benefit “. On other occasions the Minister has made certain statements regarding the method adopted in arriving at payments made under other acts. I have a clear recollection of a statementby him during the discussion in regard to invalid pensions. He said that, in certain circumstances, the pensioners were entitled to earn a small income; but, in every case where income has been earned, the pension has been cancelled. As I have previously stated, Ministers should not use their position in this chamber to make inaccurate statements that tend to mislead the public. The Government hopes to induce the people to believe that it has brought down legislation to liberalize certain provisions of the law, although, owing to the control which it exercises over the department, and its power to frame regulations, those who should benefit from the legislation are left in no better position than before it was introduced. Nobody knows this better than the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Marr). This position obtains in various departments.
– The honorable member must confine his remarks to the question before the committee.
– This clause is pure political propaganda. The Assistant Treasurer said that it was estimated that the benefits which the recipients of maternity allowances would receive would cost £60,000 per annum. What a contemptible sum in comparison with the amounts handed out to the wealthy political friends of the Government, by means of remissions of taxation! Who decided that, in calculating the income of the claimant of the allowance, the nominal income should be taken into consideration ? What would honorable members say if they were called upon to pay income tax on their nominal salary, and not on the sum actually received after the deductions under the financial emergency legislation had been made? The Minister has done nothing to help honorable members who desire to convey information to their constituents, by stating in detail what amounts he claims may be deducted in determining the income on which the allowance is based. The forms which have to be used in applying for the allow ance make no mention of the deductions to which the Minister has referred. The department does not even accept the word of the applicant as to his or her income. The amount is checked with figures supplied by the employer, and the figure taken is the gross income. No deductions whatever are made. The employer, of course, arbitrarily deducts the unemployment relief tax, which is purely a deduction from wages, and, in my opinion, it willbe a permanent deduction so long as the present party remains in power in the parliaments of this country. Honorable members opposite may say that, when unemployment has been eliminated, that deduction will cease; but, under the existing social order, unemployment will continue indefinitely. I have little hope of much consideration from this Government for the workers, because the bill is merely an electioneering stunt introduced in the dying hours of the Parliament to influence public opinion.
– Order ! The honorable member must discuss cither the clause or the amendment.
– If the Government believes that the permissible income figure should be kept as low as possible, to prevent as many applicants as possible from benefiting by the allowance, it should say so; but it should not endeavour to mislead the public into believing that certain deductions are made when the intention is to restrict the payment.
– It has been demonstrated by the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) and the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear), that the different methods employed in calculating income for the purpose of assessing maternity allowance and invalid and old-age pensions constitutes an anomalous position. An effort is made to place the pensions on as uniform abasis of payment as possible, by a sliding scale of income; but, in regard to the maternity allowance, it seems that those with the smallest incomes will suffer most.The incomes of two families living next door to each other might vary by only £1. If, in one case, the husband received £208 a year, and no children had been born previously, the allowance paid would be £4; but, if the income of the family in the adjoining house happened to be £209, the applicant would not be entitled to the allowance. Therefore, the latter family would be £3 out of pocket. Cases such as those mentioned could be multiplied by hundreds throughout Australia. All honorable members have probably been interested in applications for the allowance by parents whose income has exceeded £208 a year by only a few shillings. On many occasions when claims have been made, the husbands have been totally unemployed. A fair method would be to make the income limit taper off on a sliding scale.
– The Assistant
Treasurer has circulated an amendment which, because it deals with an earlier part of the clause, must take priority over the amendment moved by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley).
Amendment - by leave - temporarily withdrawn.
Bill received from the Senate and (on motion by Mr. White) read a first time.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Message reported recommending appropriation for the purposes of an amendment to be moved in this bill.
In committee (Consideration of Governor-General’s message) :
Motion (by Mr. Casey) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of an amendment to be moved by the Assistant Minister (Mr. Casey) to a bill for an act to provide relief to taxpayers; to amend laws relating to financial emergency; to provide financial relief for certain primary producers; and for other purposes.
Resolution reported : report - by leave - adopted.
In committee (Consideration resumed ) :
Part III. - Maternity Allowances.
Section six of the principal act is amended by omitting sub-sections (3.) and (4.) and inserting in their stead the following subsections : - (3.) A maternity allowance shall not be payable unless the claimant produces evidence satisfactory to the Commissioner or a Deputy Commissioner that the total income of the claimant and her husband (or, in the case of a posthumous or ex-nuptial child, that the total income of the claimant) for the period of twelve months preceding the date of the birth of the child to which the claim relates did not exceed -
In any case where the claimant had no other children - Two hundred and eight pounds;
in any case where the claimant had other children - Two hundred and eight pounds and, in addition, in respect of each of those other children, Thirteen pounds, but not in any case exceeding, in the aggregate, Two hundred and ninety-nine pounds.
– I move -
That after the word “ pounds “ second occurring paragraph (6) proposed new subsection (3) the following proviso be inserted: - “ Provided that nothing in this sub-section shall prevent the payment of maternity allowance in any case in which the Commissioner is satisfied that, at the time of the birth, the claimant and her husband or the claimant (as the case may be) were not, or was not, in receipt of income exceeding the rate which is, under the foregoing provisions of this sub-section, the limit of income applicable to that case, and that the nonreceipt of income at that rate was not a casual or temporary circumstance. “
The effect of this amendment is to introduce a proviso that was included in the original act, but was inadvertently omitted from the bill. It is intended to meet the case in which a husband, during the twelve months immediately prior to the birth of his child, has earned more than the stipulated maximum amount, but who loses his job just before the birth occurs. In such a case the Commissioner is authorized to pay the allowance, even though, technically, the parties are not entitled to it on the ground of income.
.- In my opinion, the last part of the proviso in this new amendment will have the effect of nullifying the intention of the Government in 99 cases out of 100. I refer to the words “ and that the non-receipt of income at that rate was- not a casual or temporary circumstance”. When a man loses his job he may be told by his employer that he will probably be re-engaged in a week or a month, when work becomes available, and the man’s wife would be bound to make that fact known to the Commissioner when claiming the allowance. Although the employer may have made his statement in all good faith, it may happen that work does not become available, and that the man will continue to be unemployed. The Commissioner must be satisfied that the stoppage of income is not of a casual or temporary nature, and he may ‘decide that the parties are not entitled to an allowance, although, in actual fact, the man may remain permanently unemployed and there could be no more deserving case for the payment of it.
Obviously the Commissioner is unable to decide with any degree of certainty when the nian can get his job back. 1. suggest that if the Minister wishes to provide for an occasion of emergency it should only be necessary for thu Commissioner to be satisfied that the man is out of work, and that the wife has not sufficient income to provide the necessary medical attention ; in other words, that, a state of emergency does actually exist, whereupon he should be authorized to make the payment. To throw on him the onus of determining whether the man’s unemployment is temporary or permanent is ridiculous. Neither the man nor his employer would be able to say that definitely. If the Minister will not strike out all the words after the word “ case “, I shall move later to achieve that object.
– This proviso is exactly the same as the proviso which was inserted in the principal act in 1931, when it was introduced by the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) who was then Prime Minister. It was designed to enable hardship cases to be dealt with by the Commissioner. It has worked effectively, and in the past has been greatly appreciated. “ On the other hand the revenue must, be protected. If the words objected to were left out of the proviso it might be possible -for a man out of work at the date of the birth to claim the allowance although, during the preceding twelve months, he had received an income of from £300 to £400. If the proviso were designed to achieve something new, I could understand the attitude adopted by honorable members, but as a matter of fact, owing to the stress of the moment, it was, unfortunately, omitted when the relief bill was being drafted. It is definitely in favour of claimants, and I ask the House not to curtail it in any way.
– As it is the proclaimed intention of the Government to get as far away as possible from the conditions which operated in 1931, the Minister would have bettered his case if he had not mentioned that this proviso was inserted in the principal act in 1931. The proviso declares that the Commissioner must be satisfied that the claimant and her husband are not in receipt of income. That should be sufficient without also requiring the Commissioner to ascertain that the nonreceipt of income is not a. casual or temporary circumstance. There is too great a tendency to tie up and enclose within a network of provisos the legislation of this country. This is the sort of legalism which makes it so difficult for people to follow our statutes.
– Has the honorable member ever attempted to draft an act of parliament?
– Many acts of parliament, have been drafted in such a manner that they have proved a lucrative source of revenue for the members of the legal profession. The people who have drafted this measure are public servants, enjoying continuity of employment; they do not know the circumstances that apply outside the. Public Service, where there is no permanence in regard to employment. But is there permanence within some branches of the public departments? Even nien in the railway and tramway services cannot be regarded as being in permanent employment. As a matter of fact those who drafted this bi’l are much better off than some members of this Parliament, who certainly have no guarantee of continuity of employment either here or elsewhere.
There is always room for considerable argument as to the position, which may have existed just before a man loses his job. We are willing to leave the decision in this respect in the hands of the deputy commissioners. It is not always wise to tie the department officials to a definite practice. Certain discretionary power should be given to the departmental officers, and further difficulties in the shape of entangling legalisms of this nature should not be embodied in the act.
– Although the Government provides the money for the purpose of paying the maternity allowance it has no jurisdiction over the actual expenditure of it. It is unquestionable that the health of the mother and the child is a matter of vital national importance, and we should see that those who will benefit from the allowance, the maternity nurses, are fully qualified to carry out their work. Many constitutional difficulties in the way of achieving this may arise, but, I suggest that consideration should be given to the introduction of a federal system, of registration, control and training of nurses throughout Australia.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bell).Order!
– I shall tale a further opportunity to deal with this important national question.
– I move -
That the proviso be amended by omitting all the words after the word “ case “ last occurring.
The Minister has said that the practice proposed worked satisfactorily under the 1931 act. I do not think that anybody was dissatisfied with the act as it operated in 1931. The Opposition supported it on the ground that immediately after financial stability had been achieved these provisions would be wiped out. It may be true that it has worked satisfactorily from the Government’s point of view, in view of the cuts imposed in 1931. However, I would remind the House that not one honorable member will say that he is now in total agreement with the things done in 1931.
The position should be restored to what it was before the Financial Emergency Act was passed in 1931. The Minister has said that the decision will lie with the administration. We can only be guided by our experience of determinations of other commissioners, who have been vested with power similar to that which the Minister now wishes to confer. Take the case of old-age pensions. A man who is in employment may lose it and apply for the pension. The Commissioner, in deciding the rate of pension, estimates what he is likely to earn during the ensuing twelve months, and usually bases his calculation on what was earned in the previous year. It ia frequently found that his estimate has been wrong, and that he has fixed the pension at too low a rate. Neither the man himself nor his usual employer is able to estimate what he is likely to earn. Why, then, give the power of determination to a commissioner who has no information to guide him. and can merely make a guess ? The object of the first part of the proposed proviso is to deal with the emergency caused by loss of employment in the case of a man whose wife claims the maternity allowance. With that provision we have no fault to find. If it were left at that, all would be well. But then the Commissioner is given the power to determine whether the unemployment is likely to be permanent or temporary. Pensioners like applicants for maternity allowances have no legal redress. It is all very well to say that the matter will be handled sympathetically. I am not concerned with that aspect. Even though he acts in good faith, the Commissioner may make a wrong estimate, and thus inflict an injustice upon the applicant for the allowance. I recall that in 1932 a number of amendments to the. Pensions Act were accepted by honorable members supporting the then Government because they looked all right on paper, and it was thought that they would operate satisfactorily. But it was generally accepted that they would not operate for more than a brief period. I ask the committee to support the amendment, and thus remove from the Commissioner the responsibility of determining whether the loss of income is temporary or permanent.
Question - That the amendment (Mr. Rosevear’s) of the amendment he agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. Bell.)
Majority . . . . 17
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment of the amendment negatived.
Amendment (Mr. Casey’s) agreed to.
Amendment (by Mr. Beasley) proposed -
That after the word “ Common wealth “ paragraph (b), proposed new sub-section 4, the following words be inserted: - “but shall not include unemployment relief taxes or superannuation payments.”
Question - That the amendment be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. Bell.)
Majority . . 19
Question so resolvedin the negative.
Clause, as previously amended, agreed to.
Clause 13 agreed to.
Part IV. - War Pensions.
Clause 14 (War Pensions).
.- In the absence of any explanation from the Assistant Treasurer, honorable members might assume that the enactment of this clause will have the effect of completely restoring soldiers pensions, but many of the ill-effects of the financial emergency legislation will still remain. There is, for instance, a provision that no pension shall be paid to the wives or children of returned soldiers who have married since October 1931. This places such returned men in an anomalous position comparedwith those who married prior to that date. This discrimination should be rectified at the earliest possible moment, for it cannot be justified. The dependants of returned men who married after 1931 are just as much entitled to consideration as are those of men who married before that date.
.- I direct the attention of the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Marr) to another class of pensioners. There are in Balmain the wife and five children of a soldier who deserted his family two years ago. The pension to the wife and children was continned for twelve months, but it was then discontinued on the ground that the man concerned had failed to submit himself for medical examination. So far the wife, and also the officers of the department, have not been able to locate him, although there is- reason to believe that he is still no great distance away. It is deplorable that the wife and family of a man like that should be deprived of their pensions through no fault of their own. If the department could continue to pay the pension for twelve months I see no reason why it could not continue to pay it for a further twelve months. As things are that wife and family have been entirely abandoned, by the department. Judging by the amount of pension that the nian was drawing it would be safe to assume that he is still unable to earn his livelihood, and therefore I submit that the department- would be thoroughly justified in continuing the pension to his dependants. I appeal to the Minister to see whether some relief cannot be given to this unfortunate woman and her children.
. - I wish to bring under the notice of the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Marr) a case which justifies further consideration than it has so far received. If nothing can be done in this bill to meet the circumstances that I shall outline I trust that action will be taken to do so as soon as possible. A discretionary power rests in the Commissioner regarding the pensions of soldiers, but unfortunately no such power exists regarding the pension of soldiers’ dependants or the widows of soldiers. The case to which I shall direct attention may be unique, but that is no reason why attention should not be paid to it. We should not allow legal technicalities to deprive any deserving person of reasonable consideration.
Sitting suspended from 6. IS to 8 p.m. [Quorum formed.]
– Numerous cases in which hardship has been inflicted on the dependants of soldiers have come under my notice. One of them concerns a returned soldier who, after his return from the. war, received a full pension for a time because he was suffering from tuberculosis. When he enlisted he was a man of exceptional physique; but the disease which he contracted at the war had gained so great a hold on him that he gradually faded away until the officers of the Repatriation Department realized that he had only a few months to live. About eleven and a half years ago he went to the Repatriation Department to draw his pension, and immediately afterwards disappeared. Since then there has been no trace of him. I have been trying to get a pension for his widow, but the inflexible nature of the act has prevented either the Minister or the Commissioner from granting it.
Mi-. White. - That matter is being put right by the Government.
– I am glad to hear that interjection. The Minister knows the circumstances of this case, and is aware of the man’s sterling character. There was nothing sinister about his disappearance. No one has come forward to claim his pension, but because his widow cannot prove how or where he died, she is denied a pension. Either the Minister or the Commissioner should be given a discretionary power to deal with such cases in a common-sense way. It has been said that this mari disappeared because he thought that he was a burden on his relatives, and that his wife would be better off without him. I do not accept that explanation. He was in a dying condition when he disappeared’ eleven and a half years ago, and it is reasonable to assume that he is dead. In that belief, I approached the State Attorney-General with a view to having., this man declared legally dead; but I found that even that would not satisfy the Repatriation Department, because it ‘ would not be evidence of the manner of hia death. The result is that his widow is still without a pension. I hope that”, the interjection that cases of this nature are. being met is well founded, and that this anomaly will soon be rectified.
– Most of the eases which have been raised are not covered by this clause, which deals only with the restoration of the amounts deducted from the pensions of the wives of soldiers under the financial emergency legislation. The case of deserted wives is one for consideration in a different measure.
The business-paper contains a bill in connexion with which I propose to move for the inclusion of three “amendments, one of which will meet such cases as those mentioned by the honorable members for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear), Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway), and others.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 15 agreed to.
Part V. - Salaries and Wages.
Clause 16 (General reductions of salaries and wages.)
.- I should like some information regarding the 900 adult employees of the Postal Department who are still in receipt of the pay of juniors. Over two years ago the Public Service Arbitrator made an award covering these men, but the Government, exercising its power to move for the disallowance of the regulations covering the Arbitrator’s determination, prevented them from receiving the amounts to which they were justly entitled. I should like to know how these men are affected by this clause. Are their salaries to be raised to the amount determined by the Arbitrator; if not, what is the Government’s intention in the matter?
– About two and a half years ago there were about 1,500 adults in the Public Service in receipt of the pay of juniors. That number has since reduced to 900, the remainder of the men having been absorbed in positions for which the adult wage is paid. The adults still in junior positions are in permanent employment for which they receive S3, 14s. a week. The alternative to their retention in the Service at junior rates of pay, was their dismissal in favour of juniors. One result of the employment of these men has been the almost complete cessation of the recruitment of juniors. When the Government had to make a decision in this matter it chose that alternative which seemed fairest to all concerned. All these men are unmarried. Should they marry, they receive the adult rate of pay. Even if one of them is employed on adult work for only a day, he is paid adult wages for that period.
– The statement has gone out to the world that a restoration has been made of the cuts in the salaries of public servants; but, when the figures are examined so far as officers employed in and around this chamber are concerned, the statement will not bear analysis. Some of the higher-paid officials certainly will receive a considerable amount by way of restoration because their salaries are high; but, in the case of the lowerpaid men on the staff’ of this House, the restoration is so slight that I marvel at the audacity of the Government in handing the amount back to them. The following table shows the amount by which the salaries of certain parliamentary officials are to be restored : -
The last-mentioned officer has suffered a reduction of his salary to the extent of £44 per annum, and the amount now to be restored to him is £1 19s. per annum. Yet we hear talk about a complete restoration of these salaries. The lowerpaid officers have also lost £20 per annum in the case of single men, and £39 per annum in the case of married men, owing to the cessation of the Canberra allowance. It is ridiculous for the Government to claim that there has been any restoration at all to an officer receiving back only 9d. a week. The lower the scale of wages, of course, the smaller the amount of the increase. The lower-paid men have nothing for which to be grateful. Commonwealth employees from one end of Australia to the other are receiving a worse rake-off from this alleged restoration than any other public servants. I resent the extravagant language that has been employed in suggesting that a salary restoration has been made to the lower-paid employees. Why does not the Government say frankly that it is following the example of the dear old Mother Country, and making a token payment?
Mr. HOLLOWAY (Melbourne Ports) [8.23 1 . - I am glad that reference has been made to the 900 officers in the Service who some time ago were entitled to adult rates of pay on reaching the age of 21 years, but who, through interference by this Government with the award of the Public Service Arbitrator, were compelled to work for juvenile wages. That innovation violated all the principles of arbitration. The Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey) has pointed out to-night that the Government is adopting a policy which has been followed in some other countries to force men to marry irrespective of age. The payment of juvenile rates for adult work might have been excusable under abnormal circumstances, but nearly three years have elapsed since these rates were paid, and we have repeatedly heard from the Government that more prosperous times have come. We know that taxes amounting to millions of pounds have been remitted in certain quarters. When the Government itself violates the recognized principles of arbitration, how can we hope to maintain them outside? The Assistant Treasurer remarked that the wages paid to 900 public servants over the age of 21 years was £2 14s. a week so long as they remained single. When I suggested that if they did not desire to marry, they would have to continue to work at that rate, his reply was that they would receive a higher rate if they married.
– When they reach the age of 23 years, they receive the full wage.
– I have not heard that statement made previously. Are all of the 900 employees who now receive juvenile rates of pay under 23 years of age?
– Yes, and they will all be absorbed into the Postal Department by the end of the next financial year.
– I hope that they will be. The recruitment of juniors should be so arranged as to avoid a repetition of the undesirable position that has arisen.
– This matter has been discussed in this chamber on a number of occasions. Aa the youths in question reached the age of 21 years, no work of an adult character could be found for them, so it is a mistake to say that they have been employed on adult work and paid boys’ wages. As soon as work which commands adult pay is available for them, they are drafted in as speedily as possible. As a matter of fact, when they have been required to do such work in the past, they have received the pay to which an adult is entitled. When. the Government found that it was unable to give them adult duties, it was faced with the alternative of either dismissing them or keeping them on at junior rates. I venture to say that 99 out of every 100 persons in the community will agree that the Government and the Postal Department did the right thing in keeping these men in employment instead of turning them off, as many private employers would have done. The next point % desire to make is that, although these youths are being paid £2 14s. a week, they will get the full adult wage when they marry, and if they are in the employ of the Postal Department when they reach the age of 23 years, they will automatically become entitled to the basic wage. I invite honorable members opposite, who are criticizing the Government in respect of this matter, to examine iiic position of Western Australia. Exactly the same conditions obtain there under a Labour government.
– Who says that the Government of Western Australia is a Labour government? ! Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL.- 1 am ‘ aware that there are two sections of the Labour party in this House, and that on many points of policy they differ; but no one can deny that the Collier Government in Western Australia is a Labour government, and I repeat that what is being done by the Commonwealth Government in connexion with certain of its employees is being done by the. Labour Government in Western Australia with respect to oil its employees. Apart from that aspect of the matter, I submit that the Government’s action towards these young men is quite fair and reasonable. As soon as they ave given adult work to do they receive adult pay, and, as I have stated, they get the full basic wa.ge upon their marriage.
– liven if they arc doing junior work?
Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL.Yes. Honorable, members on this side are no more desirous than arc honorable members- opposite that this position should continue a clay longer than is necessary. I have made frequent inquiries as to the position of these youths, and I am assured by the Public Service Commissioner that the difficulty will be overcome and these men will be absorbed into the general work of the department within the next financial year. Meanwhile, they are being kept in their present positions under reasonable conditions, and I feel sure that what the Government has done will be endorsed by every fair-minded citizen.
.- I have stated my views on this question on many occasions, and I would not have spoken now but for the fact that the Postmaster-General (Mr. Parkhill) conveyed the impression that it was this Government that had found work for these young men in the Postal Department, and decided to keep them employed in junior positions rather than dismiss them. I remind honorable members that it was my Government that kept these men in their positions. During the derpression we found that there was not sufficient work to absorb the juniors then in the Service. Rather than dismiss them when they reached the age of 21, we retained them in the Postal Department, engaged on junior work, but - and this is the important point to remember - we paid them the full adult wage. We did- that because it would be a violation of a sound principle to pay adults less than the basic wage. I wish to remove the impression, conveyed by the Postmaster-General’s repeated suggestions, that something very generous was being done by this Government in keeping adult employees in the Public Service at junior wages. When this Government took office, it found 1,500 men doing junior work - men who had reached the age when they were entitled to receive, and were receiving, the basic wage - and it immediately reduced their wages to the level of pay for juniors. The men submitted their case to the Public Service Arbitrator and got an award for the payment to them of an adult wage, but that award was subsequently disallowed by this Government.
.- The attempt of the Postmaster-General (Mr. Parkhill) to justify the action of this Government with regard to adult employees of the Postal Department who are receiving the pay of juniors will not be accepted by honorable members on this side. Nor can his comparison of the position in Western Australia, under what he termed a Labour government, be regarded as justification for its policy. Immediately this low-wage government came into power-
– On a point of order, I ask that that statement be withdrawn. This is not a low-wage government.
The, CHAIRMAN” (Mr. Bell).- The statement made by the honorable member for East Sydney is not unparliamentary.
– Immediately this lowwage government came into power it cut down the wages of these adult employees of the Postal Department. Ministers have declared from time to time that they believe in the payment of high wages, but their actions show that they do not stand up to that principle. The budget speech shows a wonderful improvement in the revenue of the Postal Department, and it should be in a position to pay these men what they are entitled to receive. I repeat that this is a lowwage Government. It finished . the last financial year with a large surplus, yet the Department of the PostmasterGeneral is compelling 900 of its adult employees to continue working for a juvenile wage. The Postmaster-General and other honorable members supporting the Government have admitted that if Ministers had had their way in their attempt to suppress the authorized industrial tribunals wages would have been much lower than they are. The honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) in some figures which he quoted a few moments ago, showed what this so-called restoration of confidence and prosperity means to some employees in the Public Service. I challenge any honorable members supporting the Government to stand up in their places and justify the paltry restoration that has been madu to our public servants in comparison with the restoration that they have made to themselves of 30s. a week. The PostmasterGeneral would have us believe that the Government is dealing liberally with its employees. The honorable member for the Northern Territory has pointed out that in some cases the restoration amounts to 9d. a week! If Government supporters believe that they will have the endorsement ‘ of the electors for such a policy, they are due for a sad awakening on the 15th September. They know to what I refer. I feel keenly about the position of these men in the postal service who are drawing junior pay, and I protest most strongly against the action of the Government which, as I have said, closed the financial year with a large surplus, yet keeps adults employed upon junior work at juniors’ pay. Will the Postmaster-General tell us exactly what duties in the Postal Department are classified as junior work? If it were left to the Postmaster-General, he would have the whole of the employees of his department down to the level of the men who are drawing junior wages.
– That is absolutely untrue.
– It is not. What I have said is borne out by the statements of the Assistant Treasurer (Mr. Casey), and the Postmaster-General himself, who has admitted that, although these men are getting £2 34s. a week, they will be paid the basic wage when they get married. Any man who marries on £2 14s. a week is not fair to himself or to the girl he marries.
– Apparently the honorable member does not understand the position it lue junior officers.
M.r. WARD. - Under the existing conditions, the position of employees who married on such a low wage would beinfinitely worse than that of a single mar* drawing £2 14s. a week. He and his wife would be forced down to a much lowerliving standard. No man is justified in marrying in those circumstances. The Postmaster-General has said that. ir> twelve months’ time the whole position will be so far improved as to enable these employees to be absorbed in the various departments at adult wages. I believe the position will be altered because there will be a change of Government. That is the only hope for these employees, because, throughout its career, this Government has endeavoured to force down their living standards and working conditions. lt. took away from the lower-paid officers of the Public Service rights which were given to them by the Public Service Arbitrator, and by pruning in every direction, closed the financial year with a large surplus, but instead of restoring the financial emergency cuts to member* of the Public Service, it handed large remissions of taxation to its wealthy political friends, a section which did not feel the depression, but rather profited during this period. But for the restrictions imposed upon me by the Standing Orders, I could make my meaning clearer to both the Postmaster-General and the Assistant Treasurer, and I hope to have the opportunity to do so during the forthcoming election campaign.
As the administrative head of his department, the Postmaster-General has to accept responsibility for retaining these 900 adult workers on juniors’ pay. The public servants realize that there is only one means of getting a restoration of the salary reductions made under the Financial Emergency Act, and I feel sure they will avail themselves of it on the 15th September.
.- A couple of years ago, the Public Service Arbitrator awarded the basic wage to certain officers doing junior work of the Postmaster-General’s Department, but this Government decided not to pay it and took action to have the award disallowed. It ended the financial year with a surplus, as the result of the exploitation of its employees, adults being employed at rates of pay for juniors. The Postal Department employs juniors at fourteen years of age, and puts them off when they reach the age of sixteen. In other instances it employs youths of the age of sixteen, and dismisses them when they reach the age of eighteen, because they would then become entitled to receive higher wages. It will thus be seen that it is the greatest exploiter of child labour in the country. A private employer, whose industry is covered by an award, is expected to observe the terms of that award, but the Government, is able to get away with a breach of an award by saying that, if it had to be adhered to, hundreds of employees would be thrown on the scrap heap. The PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Parkhill) said that these men would be paid the full basic wage when they reached . the age of 23 years, but that seems to be somewhat late in the day. He sought to justify the action of the Government by saying that the same thing was ‘being done by the Western Australian Labour Government under Mr. Collier. We must accept the word of the Postmaster-General for that, but I am doubtful whether Mr. Collier enjoys a majority in both houses of parliament in Western Australia. He is in office, but not in power. However, even if Mr. Collier stands for the exploitation, of adult labour at children’s wages, that is no reason why this Parliament should do so.
Children who pass certain examinations enter the postal service as telephone attendants, telegraph messengers, &c, work for two years, and are then thrown out into the street for other employers to pick up. The Government should at least pay men the full basic wage once they attain the age of 21 years. The Commonwealth basic wage is low enough in all conscience; anything less is a mere starvation wage. The Minister has given an assurance that these 900 men will be absorbed into the Service at the full basic wage before the end of the present financial year; but why not do the decent thing, and pay them the full wage straight away? The Government has boasted of its action in refunding taxation to the extent of £9,000,000, so that it can surely afford to pay these men at least the basic wage.
.- We often hear Ministers declare that the Government would grant certain concessions if it could ; that it would raise pensions and restore salary cuts if financial circumstances permitted of it. At ihe present time, the Postal Department is employing 900 adult men at junior wages, though the Government was able to remit £9,000,000 in taxation last year, and finished the last financial year with a surplus of £1,000,000. The Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), in his budget speech, stated that the revenue from the telephone branch had increased by 4.26 per cent., that an additional 13,740 telephone connexions had been made during the year, and that the deficit of the previous year in the telegraph branch had been converted into a surplus of £92,000. Surely, therefore, the old argument that the department could not afford to pay the full wage has no longer any force. The fact is that the Government is not unable to pay the proper wage, but is unwilling to do so. These men have been awarded the full basic wage by the Public Service Arbitrator, and the Government should have accepted that decision, just as it would have expected the employees to have accepted it had it gone against them. The PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Parkhill) made much capital out of the fact that those men would have been thrown out of employment but for his benevolence in keeping them at work at the junior rate of £2 14s. per week. There is no longer any occasion for the exercise of his alleged benevolence, because the Government can now afford to pay them the full wage. The Minister has said that, at the present time, there is no adult work offering for most of the men ; but it is strange that, as soon as any of them get married, they are, presumably, found adult employment, because they are then paid the adult wage. If the department can pay the full wage to the men when they got married, it should be able to pay it to single men as well; otherwise the department will come to be looked upon as a glorified matrimonial agency. As a matter of fact, the only thing that prevents these men from being now paid the full basic wage is the reluctance of this low-wage Government to do so.
– Three important factors are involved jn the refusal of the Government to pay those 900 men the wage to which they are entitled. The first is the action of the Government in prevailing upon Parliament to disallow an award of the Public Service Arbitrator. Government supporters have always maintained that industrial disputes should be referred to a properly constituted tribunal, which, after hearing both sides of the case, should give a decision binding on both parties. In this case, the point at issue was referred to the Public Service Arbitrator, and he ruled that certain men should be paid the full adult wage. This determination was disallowed in the Senate, and the men were compelled to accept the decision, not of the arbitrator, but of this Parliament. Ithas been claimed by honorable members opposite on previous occasions that Parliament is not a fit and proper place in which to decide rates of wages, because the atmosphere is unsuitable, and because proper evidence is not available. In this case, however, it was apparently quite right that Parliament should decide the matter and reject the award of the Public Service Arbitrator.
The second factor is the Government’s attempt to justify its action in paying these men low wages by saying that, when they get married, they will be automatically paid the full basic wage. I remind honorable members, however, that it is desirable for a man to make some preparation before entering the married state, and he cannot do that on £2 14s. a week. A husband and wife are unable to save anything out of the basic wage, so that the only opportunity a man has to save money for a home is to do so before he marries.
The third point involved in this matter is the danger that the adult age may be pushed forward from 21 to 23 years. I have no doubt that employers could advance numerous reasons why this should be done.
– They have been doing it for years.
– If the tendency to advance the age is not resolutely opposed, the workers will very soon lose what it has been so difficult to win. The Director of Posts and Telegraphs was formerly receiving a salary of £4,000 a year. This was reduced to £3,100 a year, but, under the bill we arc now discussing, it will be increased to £3,300 a year. This man is able to get an increase of £200 a year, but the men working under him are not to be given even the basic wage. It does not matter what the Director’s qualifications may be ; the success achieved by the department has been possible only as a result of the faithful co-operation of all the employees. Every man must pull his weight, and this has been done by members of the Service. The postal service of the Commonwealth is one of the finest in the world, but it must be admitted that the great bulk of the employees are poorly paid. I should not like to place a boy of mine in the postal service if it could be avoided, because the pay is discouragingly low, even in the technical branches. The three points I have mentioned are of vital importance, and as the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr.Riordan) suggested, the Postmaster-General might even now agree to give these unfortunate men a living wage instead of asking them to wait another twelve months.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 17 agreed to.
Clause 18 (Schedule).
Mr. HOLLOWAY (Melbourne Ports; [9.1].- It may be thought by some that the Postmaster-General’s Department is the only department in the Commonwealth Public Service in which the rates of pay are extraordinarily low, but there are other branches of the Service in which the remuneration is insufficient, and the proposed restoration inadequate. To show the absurdity of the restoration proposed, I cite the case of the lowest paid staff of this House, some of the members of which have been reduced by £40 odd.
– By the cost of living reduction.
– No, the cost of living reduction is equivalent to £20, to which must bc added the reduction under the Financial Emergency Act of £40, making the total reduction £60 a year. Notwithstanding this substantial reduction, the Government now proposes to restore to these men only £1 19s. a year. Surely its action in this respect is likely to cause more discontent than if it did not make restoration at all.
– The officers to whom the honorable member refers are under the control of this Parliament.
.- Although the Postmaster-General (Mr. Parkhill) has intimated that the officers referred to by the honorable .member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) are under the control of this Parliament, the Government is not free from responsibility. It should see that not only the employees in the Public Service, but also those under the control of this Parliament, receive a fair remuneration. I earnestly trust that the employees mentioned by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports will receive a greater restoration than is proposed. To continue to pay 900 adults in the PostmasterGeneral’s Department over the age of 21 years less than the basic wage is unjust, and by disallowing a determination of the Public Service Arbitrator with respect to employment in the Commonwealth . Public Service the Government i3 undermining a vital principle. When the finances of the Commonwealth permit substantial remissions of taxation, and the Postmaster-General’s
Department is able to show a profit, surely the Government is able to pay the basic wage to adult workers.
– The subject which the honorable member is discussing should have been debated on a previous clause.
– I think it is permissible to remind the Postmaster-General that he should have replied to some of - the questions asked earlier in the debate. I again remind the Government that it cannot escape responsibility with respect to remuneration paid to certain employees in this building.
.- The attitude of the Government towards the public servants is clearly disclosed by the percentage increases shown in the first schedule. Adult male officers whose salary does not exceed £202 are to receive an increase of 10i per cent.; those in receipt of £202, but not exceeding £952, 12-£ per cent.; and those whose salary exceeds £952, but does not exceed £1952, 15 per cent.
– The percentages which the honorable member has quoted represent the reductions and not the increases.
.- It is very difficult for honorable members to record an intelligent vote on this clause, unless they know the method adopted in arriving at the deductions and the percentage of restoration to be made. Will the Minister explain the method ?
Clause agreed to.
Part VI. - Relief to primary -producers.
Clause 19 (Appropriation of £250,000 for relief to primary producers).
.- As the Government has agreed to a restriction of exports-
– As the honorable member knows, that statement is contrary to fact.
– As this Government will soon be supporting a policy providing for the restriction of exports it is difficult to understand why it should endeavour to stimulate production in the’ manner provided in this clause, when it knows that it is impossible for primary producers to find markets for the commodities they are now producing. The members of the party to which I belong are as anxious as Ls any one else to afford relief to primary producers, but we believe that the man on .the land should receive relief in another way. It is unreasonable to provide money to assist producers to purchase fertilizers in order to stimulate production, when in many of the large cities produce is carted to the refuse tips, or cast into the sea because of the inability of its owners to find a profitable market. It would be of greater benefit to those whom the Government proposes to assist, to make money available to them to purchase clothing and other necessities of life. There are many producers, particularly in How South Wales, suffering under the provisions of the Farmers Belief Act, who would welcome a little ready cash, and I trust that the Minister will agree to assist thom in the way I suggest.
.- Although the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) suggests that the primary producers should receive cash to enable them to purchase clothing and other necessities, I can assure him that farmers’ organizations all over Australia have been asking the Government to revert to- the method of affording assistance proposed in this clause in order to assist them to produce their crops at an economical price. The Australian farmers have still faith in the future and whatever may be said as to the possibility of exports being restricted, they do not intend to drop their bundle half-way. This clause provides that the primary producers may be assisted to the extent of 15s. a ton on the fertilizer they use in the production of crops other than wheat and such a concession’ will be of benefit to them. I should, however, like the Government to agree to a similar concession on agricultural lime, large quantities of which are used by primary producers. Although agricultural lime can bo purchased at from £2 to £2 10s. a ton, it requires from 30s. to 40s. worth to top-dress an acre of land. The price of superphosphate is from £4 15s. to £5 a toil, but is not nearly so costly to the jiri mary producer as it only costs 5s. to 6s. to top-dress an acre. Agricultural lime is not actually a fertilizer, but it is used extensively for disintegrating the soil, reducing acidity and releasing plant food which would not otherwise be available to growing crops. When land used for grazing stock is deficient in lime, its introduction produces bone-forming material, which is essential to stock-raisers. The use of lime results in employment being given to a very great number of men right throughout Australia. The other fertilizers in common use, such as sulphate of potash, nitrate of soda, and sulphate of ammonia are produced by wellestablished concerns which are in a position to look after their own interests; but the lime industry, which may be compared in some respects to the timber industry, is largely operated by men who have their own lime-burning plants in a small way, and thus keeps employed a large number of men who otherwise would be out of employment. If the Minister could see his way to include agricultural lime in this clause, his action would be appreciated by the primary producers throughout the Common weal h.
– I commend the Government for the action it has taken in making this concession on superphosphates. The last grant, of 15s. a ton on fertilizers was of great benefit to many farmers who were then just about down and out. It has been suggested by the honorable member for East Sydney ‘(Mr. Ward) that the effect of this grant will be that production of commodities already unsaleable will be stimulated. The Government does not propose to . make the grant on superphosphate available for the production of wheat - it has already in mind some other plan for assisting the wheat-growers this year - it is to be made available for men .engaged in other forms of production, possibly for some who have been driven out of wheat production. Superphosphate is used for the growing of oats, barley, maize, lucerne, potatoes and onions, and for top-dressing pasture for the raising of sheep, lambs, and cattle. In districts where there is a rainfall of about 20 inches the fertility of the soil may be increased by 100 per cent, by topdressing with fertilizer to the extent of 1 cwt. to the acre. Fertilizer is also used in large quantities by the fruit-growing industry. I am associated with a cooperative company producing fertilizer which was able to sell fertilizer last year at £4 2s. 6d. a ton, and after paying a rebate to its shareholders of 10s. 6d. a ton according to every share held, the net cost of the fertilizer to the farmer was £3 12s. a ton. Assuming that the price is not raised this year, and I have every reason to believe it. will be further reduced, the grant of 15s. a ton proposed under this clause will bring the cost of the fertilizer down to £2 17s. a ton net to the shareholders of this company. I am interested in this proposed grant, not only as a manufacturer of fertilizer, but also as a farmer. I realize the position in which the’ farmer is at present placed, and I commend the Government for its action. With cooperative organizations such as those set up in Victoria, and with the aid of this grant, the farmers will be able to obtain fertilizer at. approximately half the price which they paid for it six or seven years ago.
Mr. NELSON (Northern Territory) [9.20 1 . - I ask the Minister what provision is to be made for the farmers in the Northern Territory. Part VI. of the bill provides for the payment out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the sum of £250,000 for the purposes of financial assistance to the States to provide relief to primary producers, and for the purposes of providing relief to primary producers in any territory. The allocation to be made in each of the States is set out in the bill, but no mention is made of the Northern Territory. Clause 26 of the bill provides that “ territory “ means a territory of the Commonwealth situated within the Commonwealth. If that clause is read in conjunction with clause 19, it is natural to ask what allocation is made in respect of the Northern Territory. Fertilizer is as necessary to the farmers of the Northern Territory as it is to those of any other part of Australia, and no section of the farming community is more entitled to consideration than the farmers in the far north of Australia. I hope the Minister will be able to inform me that a definite amount has been earmarked for the farmers in the Northern Territory.
– The honorable member is dealing with another part of the bill which the committee has not yet reached.
– The definition given in clause 26 describes “ territory “ as a territory of the Commonwealth situated within the Commonwealth. A legal opinion has been given to the effect that the Northern Territory is not a part of the Commonwealth, the contention being that the territory is a territory of the Commonwealth, but not a part of it, and that only States constitute the Commonwealth. I suggest that the Minister should have the definition examined by the Crown Law officers, and take steps to see that the Northern Territory receives its just 3hare of the proposed grant.
– The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) prefaced his remarks by saying that this Government is in favour of restriction of exports. I am sure no honorable member could possibly believe this, least, of all the honorable member himself. The Government disagrees entirely with his suggestion that because of world conditions, and of the development of agricultural self-sufficiency in some continental countries, it is foolish to stimulate production in Australia. The very fact that economic nationalism in other countries finds expression in the development, of their agricultural resources makes it imperative that our farmers should improve their technique in the improvement of their pastures, and the stimulation of the growth of their crops. The honorable member has suggested that this proposal is a second-rate method of benefiting the primary producers, and that it would be better if we made direct contributions to needy farmers. I am glad to have that suggestion from the honorable member because when the next clause is being considered by the committee the Government can expect his unqualified support. However, I prefer to be guided by the opinions of honorable members who are in a very much better position to assess the value of this concession than is the honorable member for East Sydney. Last year when this concession was first granted, the Government received many expressions of appreciation of its value from those engaged in agricultural activities nil over the Commonwealth. The figures setting out the distribution of last year’s grant show that of a total appropriation of £250,000 nearly £246,000 was distributed. That money was not only distributed among the several States, but also spread over a very wide range of agrarian enterprise. The Government’s action in granting the concession again this year is merely in consonance with the expressions of gratitude which it has received in respect of last year’s grant.
The honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Blacklow) asked whether lime would be included in the definition of fertilizer for the purposes of the bill. The answer is that lime is specifically excluded on the advice of the technical agriculturists of the Commonwealth.
The honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson), who asked -for information, was obviously confusing the clause relating to fertilizers and a later clause giving assistance to fruit-growers. The measure does not allocate any set amount to the various States. This clause provides assistance at the rate of 15s. per ton of fertilizer used throughout, not only the States, but also the territories of the Commonwealth. I can set entirely at rest the honorable member’s apprehension that agriculturists within the Northern Territory will not be allowed to participate, in common with every other section, in this assistance.
– I commend the Government on this clause, which is an excellent portion of the bill; but I should like members on the other side to try to see some good in what is advocated by those on this side. Our complaint is not that the Government helps other people. We do not vote against proposals to help others, and this portion of the bill will be Sup.ported by all of us ; but I wish members on the other side to recognize the justice of our contention that the assistance should be given in a more balanced manner all round. We say this, not because we think we represent one section of the community and that some one else represents another, but because we believe it is the proper way to help everybody. I think I can visualize what the Government is trying to do. The desire is not to spread production over a bigger acre age, because it might be more profitable for those engaged in agriculture to contract their areas and make their cultivation more intense, thus reducing the overhead cost a ton, or bushel, or acre. Whilst that is the aim, we must remember that ali other countries are doing the same, and will start off in just the same way as we are doing to-day. It is obvious that to-day in any industry every new competitor begins with modern methods, modern machinery, and uptodate artificial manures, such as we are now applying. I should like to hear the views of other honorable members upon that point. Do they realize that every other country is doing what we are doing, and that our safety as well as that of other countries lies in trying to distribute the assistance which the Government is giving in a better balanced and more uniform manner? That applies especially to this clause, because it excludes wheat and wool.
– The wheat-growers will be dealt with specially, as they were last year. This clause does not exclude wool. In fact improved pastures got most of the money last year.
– At any rate the clause excludes wheat-growers. I do not think the wool-growers are asking for anything just now. I think the Minister will agree that this clause will largely help mixed farmers, and generally the producers of commodities other than wheat.
– It is designed for them.
– The vital point to remember is that the market for that section of agricultural producers is here in Australia. That is the economic fact upon which I should like to induce lion.orable members not to argue, but to exchange views. The great market which we should try to help those producers to reach - and they certainly need help - is our own market. If my point of view is right, and I think it is, we are justified in aiming all the time at increasing the consuming power of our own people. If we succeed in doing that, the best possible results must follow for the agriculturists whom this clause is intended to help, because 90 per cent, of their produce is consumed in Australia. In advocating higher standards for the basic wage worker, whether he is a government servant or not, I am doing what I think is the best possible for the primary producer. I have always argued that wo should not cut down incomes on the one hand and try to raise them on the other. We should rather endeavour so to balance the distribution of the wealth at our disposal as to be able to help everybody by creating markets for what they produce. If those engaged in our secondary industries, and in the Public Service, and every other wage-earner in Australia, are enabled to reach a higher standard of living, surely the market for the products of those to whom we are giving artificial manure at a reduced price by this clause will be improved also. In helping one, we shall be helping the other. I. shall vote wholeheartedly for this clause, which is necessary, wise and scientific; but we cannot help the people directly concerned better than by raising the standard of those on the lowest rung of the social ladder, and we cannot help them without helping everybody else in Australia.
.- i commend the Government on its action in proposing this assistance to primary producers. This clause appeals particularly to me. The advice of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) to the Government to spread its assistance as much as possible, calls, however, for some comment. Of all the relief and assistance that the Government is offering in the present budget, none is better spread than this bounty on fertilizers. First, it is spread practically through every section of the farming community, except the wheat-growers, who have received help in another form. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports, who for a time represented the rural electorate of Flinders and to that extent had some experience of rural problems, specially pointed out that the assistance given by this clause was specifically withheld from wool-growers. That is one of the most amazing remarks I ever heard, seeing that the bounty on fertilizers is the first direct assistance from any Government, State or Federal, that the woolgrowing industry has ever received.
– They got nearly onefourth of last year’s money.
– The woolgrowing industry was very disgruntled at the discontinuance of the bounty last year, and is particularly pleased to see it restored this year. The clause gives assistance to practically every section of the primary-producing industries, especially the wool industry, which the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, in his wisdom, said was excluded.
– I said that the clause did not aim specifically at helping the wool-growers.
– Not only does it help them, and all other primary producers except the wheat-growers, but it will also go a great way to provide employment. As an illustration taken from my own private experience, nine years ago a property of 4,000 acres, of which I have the direction, in Victoria, carried 3,000 sheep indifferently, although the season was good. This year the same property will shear over 10.000 sheep, almost entirely owing to the use of superphosphate on its pastures. The increase in that case is from 3,000 sheep carried indifferently to 10,000 carried well. The production of wool, which the honorable member thinks is not affected by the assistance given by this clause, has increased from 54 bales to over 220 bales, yet the honorable member says the woolgrowing industry receives no help from such a bounty as this. When those 3,000 sheep were carried on that property, it was not possible to carry any cattle, except a few milkers, yet it is now carrying 350 head of cattle. The 3,000 sheep were looked after by one station hand with very occasional assistance in Hig way of casual labour, whereas at present five men arc permanently employed to look after the sheep and cattle on the station. The labour on the place has thus been increased by 400 per cent.., thanks to the use of superphosphate. The benefit of a bounty on the use of which, according to the honorable member, is not well spread throughout the community. I did not intend .to speak, not wishing to delay the bill, but when one hears such absolutely preposterous statements as those made by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, one cannot remain silent.
– I am glad’ the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Fairbairn) has had an opportunity to say a word for the wool-growers. He was evidently waiting for au opportunity to get it in. I should like to disabuse his mind of certain, impressions as to what 1 said. What I tried to say, whether I made it clear or not, was that 1 commended the Government on the clause, because I knew, or thought. I knew, it aimed at helping primary producers other than wheat-growers. I knew also that many wheat-growers were in great straits, and ‘ disinclined to extend their operations much further, or even so far as they had done previously, and J. thought the Government would find room for them somewhere else on the land. I said that the Government was aiming to help mixed farmers generally, not specifically wheat-growers and not so much wool-growers, because the woolgrowers recently, at any rate, have been “ on the pig’s back “, and can look after themselves. I did not suggest that the clause would not help the pastoralists. Nobody could rightly say such a tiring. It would not be possible to apply any kind of artificial manure -to the land in Australia without helping the producers of wool, and it would be preposterous to suggest it. What I meant to say was that the aim of the. Government was largely to make it possible to re-absorb some of the wheat-growers who had over-spread themselves into other avenues of primary production, and to assist the growers of potatoes, onions, maize and rice - in fact, every small and struggling primary producer. I concluded by saying that while doing these things, we should also keep in mind tha necessity for raising the spending power of the rest of the community who constitute the substantia] market for all the products of mixed farming. It is true, as the honorable member for Flinders suggested, that I represented his electorate for a short period. I won that electorate by using the argument that I am using to-night. I suggested to the potato-growers of Kooweerup, and fruit and maize-growers of
Gippsland, that they should form themselves into societies to secure decent prices for their products. I advocated an import duty on the black-labour maize of South Africa to give the Australian maize-growers a chance, and that duty later eventuated. I told them, and had the figures to prove, that at least SO per cent, of all the primary products of the Flinders electorate was consumed by the Australian people, and that for that reason they should help to maintain a good spending power in the ranks of the workers in secondary industries, thus providing a better local market. I join with the honorable member for Flinders in wholeheartedly commending the Government for having brought forward this proposal.
.- I was rather interested in the statement of the Minister that lime had been excluded on some technical ground. Evidently the honorable gentleman had it in mind to include lime.
– Oh, no. “
– Otherwise, he would not have referred the matter to the technical expert of the department. Technical experts, I agree, are a necessity, and give valuable assistance to industry; hut, when it is a case of obtaining practical results, I pin my faith to the man who has had experience of the use of lime on the land. I have not the slightest doubt that the fertility of the land generally is greatly improved by the use of lime. Under some old English land laws, leased land must .be dressed with lime at least once in every ten years, to the extent of three tons and four tons to the acre. I am sorry that the Minister cannot find means by which lime mav be included.
.- I congratulate the Government upon this proposal to give relief to primary producers other than wheat-growers. I was pleased at the introduction of a similar measure last year. Within 12 miles of the electorate that I represent there are from 1,200 to 1,500 market gardeners, from whom I have learned that this is of inestimable benefit to them. One honorable member has made a number of inaccurate statements in regard to over-production. If the production of a better quality of fruit is made possible by means of this assistance, our exports are likely to increase, because they will be more readily saleable on the other side of the world. All primary producers other than wheat-growers are likely to derive considerable benefit, and I am confident that they appreciate the action of the Government.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 20 agreed to.
Clause 21 (Conditions of payment).
.- I regret that the Government, while rendering a valuable service in assisting primary producers other than wheatgrowers, has not completed arrangements for the relief of wheat-growers. In the past the value of such relief has been largely offset by its having (been withheld until practically the whole of the crop was harvested, with the result that the recipients did not know what return they were likely to receive. At the present price of wheat, production is carried on at a loss of ls. a bushel. It is necessary for the Government to announce its intentions when the crop is being sown.
– Order ! The clause provides assistance for primary producers other than wheat-growers. If I allow the honorable member to discuss the need for assisting the wheat-growers, other honorable members will expect to enjoy a similar privilege and a discussion upon that matter would not be in order.
– I wish the Minister to explain why discrimination is being shown against wheat-growers. A remarkable feature of the position at present is that nine-tenths of the farmers have their wheat stacked at sidings, and refuse to sell it because they are hopeful of the price rising to a figure that will return them a fair profit.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 22 to 26 agreed to.
Part VII. - Assistance to Fruitgrowers.
In this part, unless the contrary intention appears, “ fruit-growers “ means growers of apples or pears.
– I move -
That after the word “pears “ the words “ or mandarins “ be inserted.
The circumstances in which a large number of mandarin-growers are placed demand the serious consideration of the Government. Their difficulties arose out of the embargo which New Zealand imposed on the imports of citrus fruits from Australia. That embargo has occasioned serious financial embarrassment to a large number of persons who arc dependent for their livelihood on the growing of mandarins. A sorry spectacle last year was the burying of fruit on the instruction of the Department of Agriculture, so as to avoid the ravages of pests. I attended a meeting that was held in one of the districts in which this fruit is grown.
– The amendment is not in order, ‘because it would change the destination of the vote.
– The bill merely specifies that certain amounts shall be allocated to the different States. My purpose is, not to increase the appropriation, but to provide that the mandaringrowers shall share in what is appropriated.
– The definition clause states that “fruit-growers” means growers of apples and pears. The inclusion of the growers of any other fruit would have the effect of changing the destination of the vote, which is covered by message; therefore, it would not he in order.
– I move -
That the ruling be dissented from.
It is suggested that my proposal will involve an increase of this appropriation, and, because of this, will require another message to be brought down from the Governor-General.
– The Chairman said that the amendment would change the destination of this appropriation.
– Is the Chairman entitled to give such a ruling? If it is correct, all measures brought into this House must follow directly the course the Government proposes, and it is absolutely useless for honorable members to discuss or attempt to amend them. Any alteration made to a pensions bill, or any other measure based on a message recommending an appropriation of revenue, must also be out of order, because in some degree it alters the destination of the vote. If this ruling is sustained, it will absolutely defeat the whole purpose of discussions oil any bill that might be introduced in this chamber. I quite understand that it is not competent for a private member to move to increase an appropriation, because the Government cannot hand over to the committee its control of the public purse; but never previously, during the six years I have been a member of this chamber, has a ruling been given that, after a sum has been appropriated in accordance with a message from the Governor-General, it is not competent for the committee to direct by what channels the money shall be distributed. If such a ruling stands, it is futile for us to discuss these measures. The logical application of it is that my amendment this afternoon, in relation to maternity allowances, should have been ruled out of order. If that amendment had been carried, it would have altered the distribution of moneys appropriated for maternity allowances. The purpose of the amendment now before the committee is to endeavour to distribute the amount allocated in this clause among a greater number of people. The heading of Part VII. is “ Assistance to fruitgrowers “ ; that is the basis of the appropriation, and I want merely to spread the allocation to an additional section of fruit-growers, namely, mandarin-growers. If I were to introduce into this clause other than fruit-growers, then there might be something to be said in favour of your ruling, Mr. Chairman.
– I submit that the amendment is in order. This is merely a machinery bill; it does not appropriate money. Part VII. is headed “ Assistance to fruit-growers,” and there is nothing to prevent the committee from spreading the amount appropriated over more growers than the bill proposes. No Private member can move to increase the burden on the Treasury; but, on machinery bills, it is quite in order to define the channels in which the proposed vote shall flow.
– This bill originated on a resolution of the House tr> appropriate a sum of money for a purpose specified. Clause 28 provides that “ there shall be granted to each State out of moneys. appropriated by the Parlia ment for the purpose “, and the purpose is the assistance of fruit-growers, who are defined as growers of apples or pears. Now it is suggested that we extend the assistance over a wider area.
– Without increasing the amount.
– That is not the point. This is not a machinery provision. Machinery clauses are those dealing with the method of the application of moneys appropriated for the purposes specified; but this amendment is to alter the purpose specified. Dealing with appropriation bills, May’s Parliamentary Practice says -
Debate or amendment must be restricted to the matter of appropriation; and the conduct of the officials or of the departments who receive the supply grants cannot be challenged in the committee on the bill; nor can amendments be moved to its clauses or to tho schedule to effect the reduction of the amount or an alteration in the destination of a grant.
The amendment here proposed is to alter the destination of this grant from a specified set of growers to another set.
– What constitutes growers of apples or pears?
– We do know that an apple-grower is not a grower of citrus fruits. We might as well attempt to include growers of pineapples, plums, and almonds. The object of this part of the bill is the appropriation of money for a certain definite purpose, namely, assistance to certain fruit-growers defined as “ growers of apples or pears “. An endeavour is being made to alter the destination of the grant. It must be remembered that the Government is in charge of the finances of the country, and is responsible for recommendations regarding financial bills appropriating moneys. No appropriation bill can be passed without a recommendation in a message from the Governor-General. In this case the message has recommended the appropriation of a certain sum of money for a specific purpose, and a resolution has been passed in committee. It would be improper now to attempt to divert that appropriation to some other purpose. If a private member were, by an. amendment, to alter the destination of an appropriation, it would be tantamount to taking the business of the country out of the hands of the Government. An honorable member asks me about the amendment moved this afternoon relative to the maternity allowance; but that was quite a different matter. No effort was then made to alter the destination of the ‘appropriation. It was not proposed, for instance, that the money should be paid to fathers instead of mothers. For the reasons that I have given, 1 consider that the ruling of the Chair is sound, and in accordance with the established practice of this Parliament.
– The object of the amendment of the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) was to bring the mandarin-growers of several States within the scope of the assistance proposed to be given to the growers of apples and pears. I disagree with the view that the adoption of the amendment would alter the destination of the grant. In my opinion, it would merely widen the scope of it. The mandarin-growers are primary producers like the apple and pear growers, and are in a very difficult position. The honorable member for West Sydney made it clear that he did not wish to deprive the growers of apples and pears of assistance ; he desires only to bring the mandaringrowers, who are in straitened circumstances, within the scope of such assistance. If this ruling of the Chair is upheld, honorable members will, undoubtedly, be deprived of the opportunity of voting to assist the mandarin-growers. I shall support the motion of dissent.
– I hope that the committee will uphold the ruling of the Chairman. The submissions of the honorable member for Darling Downs (Sir Littleton Groom) leave very little to be said on the subject. The restriction of the grant to the growers of apples and pears was deliberate, and not accidental. The Government gave careful consideration to the whole circumstances of the case, and decided that this amount of money was necessary to assist those growers. If growers of other kinds of fruit are now to be included in the disbursement of the £125,000, the object of the Government in making the grant will be. defeated. Another very good reason for not including the mandaringrowers within the scope of this assistance is that assistance has already been provided for them.
– I have not had so much parliamentary experience as some of the honorable members who have spoken to this question; but I direct attention to the message of the Governor-General relative to this bill. It reads as follows : -
The Governor-General recommends to the House of Representatives that an appropriation of revenue bo made for the purposes of a bill for an act to provide relief to taxpayers, to amend laws relating to financial emergency, to provide financial relief foi certain primary producers, and for other purposes.
I contend that mandarin-growers are primary producers, and that, therefore, if they are included specifically among the other proposed beneficiaries from this grant, no alteration will be made in the destination of the money. The grant will simply be spread over a larger number of the same class of producers. If the amendment of the honorable member for West Sydney is ruled out of order, the rights of honorable members in this chamber will be seriously curtailed. The proposed amendment merely provided that the grant shall be disbursed among a larger number of primary producers engaged in fruit-growing. The relief, in other words, would be beneficial to another section of fruit-growers, who arc in just as much need as the growers of apples and pears. It is useless for the Minister for Commerce (Mr. Stewart) to try to avoid a vote on this subject. I know that he would like to do so, for he has a number of mandarin-growers in his electorate. I trust that the motion of dissent will be agreed to.
– I support the ruling of the Chair. The honorable member for Darling Downs (Sir Littleton Groom) stated the case lucidly.
– What about the view of the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins), who has had 40 years parliamentary experience?
– I must confess that that honorable member’s view was, to me, as clear as mud. The message from the Governor-General clearly limited the object of the proposed grant. If an amendment of the kind which the Chairman has ruled out of order were accepted, the Government would not know where it stood. It was clearly not the intention of the bill that mandaringrowers should be included with the growers of apples and pears. I submit that it is beyond the competence of private members to propose an amendment of the character submitted by the honorable member for West Sydney. The object of this bill is to deal with certain specific matters. If an amendment such as that which has been ruled out of order were accepted, similar amendments could be accepted in connexion with every other clause of the bill, and the scope of the measure could be widened indefinitely. It was ruled that such amendments could not be proposed in the other clauses, and it is equally clear that they could not be introduced at this stage.
– Stress has been placed on the argument of the honorable member for Darling Downs (Sir Littleton Groom). His sole contention against the motion of dissent was that to accept the amendment would be to change the destination of the money proposed to be appropriated. That is precisely what was attempted this afternoon in connexion with the permissible income in the case of applicants for the maternity allowance. The amendment was then said to be in order. Had the amendment been agreed to, it would have diverted some of the money.
– To other mothers.
– Yes, and we are now proposing to divert money to oilier primary producers. If an alteration is allowed in regard to the maternity allowance, even if it means making only one additional mother eligible for the allowance, it is an alteration of the direction in which that money may be expended. If an alteration is permissible in the case of the maternity allowance, it should be permissible in respect of fruit-growers also. The Postmaster-General claimed that as this clause i? designed to give relief to the growers of apples and pears, to extend its scope to include one additional primary producer, such as a grower of mandarins, would be to alter the destination nf the money to be expended for the purpose of assisting primary producers. I ; admit that the amendment would alter the destination of the money; but I claim that if an alteration is permissible in the case of the maternity allowance, it should be permissible in the case of mandaringrowers also. The Government cannot have it both ways. The GovernorGeneral’s message recommended the aprpropriation of revenue for the purpose of providing financial relief to certain primary producers, and for other purposes. If the words “ for other purposes “ do not allow for some elasticity, why are they there? What was in order this afternoon should be in order to-night.
– Although I have no intention to vote for the amendment, I submit that the amendment itself is in order. The bill is one to provide financial relief to cer;.:ii.n primary producers - persons to whom fertilizers will bc granted under certain conditions. We have no power to alter that. The definition in the bill is different from that in the GovernorGeneral’s message, lt would be competent for us to alter the definition in the bill. We may, for instance, agree that assistance should be given to the growers of other fruits besides apples and pears. I intend to vote with the Minister on the clause, but I think we shall be making a farce of our proceedings if we hold that the amendment is not in order.
– In supporting thi; motion to dissent from my ruling some honorable, members have referred ro the worthiness of the growers of mandarins. It is not the function of the Chair to decide questions of procedure on the worth, or otherwise, of the persons who may be affected. The point of order is simple, and I am somewhat surprised at the Jong debate which has taken place and at some of the arguments that have been advanced. The Governor-General’s message recommended the appropriation of certain sums of money for purposes which are set out clearly. The committee is now considering part VII. “ Assistance to fruit-growers.” According to the definition clause, “fruit-growers” means growers of apples or pears. The growers of any other fruit are clearly outside the scope of the bill. If the amendment were agreed to, it would certainly alter the purpose for which the Governor-General’s message recommended that money be appropriated. The Chair has no doubt on that point.- The honorable member for
Darling Downs has quoted examples and authorities in support of the ruling of the Chair, and there are others that could be referred to if it were necessary to do so.
Question - That the Chairman’s ruling be dissented from (Mr. Beasley’s motion) - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. Bell.)
Majority . . 19
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 28 (Payments to States).
.- An explanation should be given by the Minister as to the basis on which the payments have been allocated. I notice that while New SouthWales is to receive £4,023 and Victoria £22,083, Queensland will get only £1,168.
– In making £125,000 available for the assistance of the growers of apples and pears, the Government has recognized the value of this important export industry as an employer of labour and the heavy losses incurred by the growers in the last two or three years. The Government has apportioned the assistance on the basis of export at the rate of about 6d. a case. It is well known that the losses on the export of apples and pears has been in the vicinity of from 2s. to 2s 6d. a case, and the balance of1 s6d. to 2s. a case has had to be made up by the growers themselves. It should not be imagined that the granting of £1 25,000 provides adequate assistance to the industry. It is a small amount, indeed, considering that the Commonwealth and State Governments have made £25,000,000 available for reproductive works in the interests of the unemployed. It should be remembered that the industry has been brought to its present unfortunate position through no fault of its own. Reports from London show that the standards of export prescribed by the Commonwealth authorities have been observed to the last letter. Since the fruit has been placed on the overseas markets under conditions which should have resulted in a reasonable return to the growers, it is only fair and reasonable that the Government should come to their assistance. Honorable members opposite spoke a little while ago of 900 men employed in the post office at junior rates of wages, amounting to approximately £2 14s. a week. I can assure them that those men are in clover compared with many of those engaged in growing apples and pears. Many of the growers would be very pleased if they were able to net £2 14s. a week as a result of their exertion. I have had several interviews with the Minister on this subject, and I am sorry that he cannot see his way clear to grant greater assistance. However, we must be thankful for small mercies. The bill as a whole, is one upon which the Government may be congratulated. As I have pointed out before, there are many things which the Government might do to assist the’ growers of apples and pears, so that the industry might be placed upon a sound footing, and the growers relieved of the necessity to approach the Government year after year for assistance.
– The honorable member who baa just resumed his seat has every reason to be thankful for the small mercies he has received. The bill provides that the Tasmanian growers of apples and pears shall receive £70,231, while those in the rest of Australia, are to receive only £54,000. Truly, Tasmania will receive the “ Lyons share.”
According to the definition, “ fruitgrowers “ means growers of apples and pears. However, clause 29 states that, any moneys granted to a State shall be paid under the conditions laid down by the State for the benefit and assistance of fruit-growers. It may be that a State will so interpret that clause as to apply the benefits to fruit-growers generally. It is evident, of course, that the Commonwealth Government intends that the moneys shall be distributed among growers of apples and pears only, but I point out that the citrus-growers are equally as badly off. The Government proposes, by means of this bill, to make a very nice little present to Tasmania, and it is being made just on the eve of the general election. No doubt it is peculiarly acceptable in view of the result of the recent State election in that island. The fruit-growers of Tasmania should be grateful for the advent of the Ogilvie Government, because if the Labour party had not got into power, this grant would never have been made. Since it has been announced that the Prime Minister is to be opposed in his electorate by an exponent of the Douglas credit system, all sorts of benefits have been showered upon Tasmania. However, the other fruitgrowers of the Commonwealth, particularly the citrus-growers, will want to know why all the benefits are being conferred upon a few growers of apples and pears in one of the Government’s doubtful constituencies.
– Honorable members must know that this measure is practically identical with one which was in operation last year, and that was before the State elections in Tasmania. The Government made provision last year for assistance to the growers of apples and pears because of the calamitous drop in the prices of these fruits on the English market. That was something beyond the control of the fruit-growers here, or of the Commonwealth Government. The fact that the collapse of prices was confined to apples and pears is sufficient reason for confining this assistance to the growers of such fruits. However, when the grant was made last year, the Government stated that it was the duty of the growers to do what was possible to place their industry on a better footing. They responded to the suggestion, and, at their request, the Commonwealth Government made regulations prohibiting the export overseas of 40 different kinds of apples. The result was that, instead of sending 5,500,000 cases overseas as was done last year, shipments for the season just closed amounted to only 4,750,000 cases. This had some effect in restoring prices, but the improvement has not yet been sufficient to get the industry out of its difficulties; therefore a further grant is necessary this year.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition asked on what basis the allocation was being made. As was the case last year, the allocation is being made in proportion to the participation of the various States in the apple and pear export trade, and the allocation is supported by the certificate of the Commonwealth Statistician, which is now before me. Much has been said regarding the exclusion of fruit-growers, other than the growers of apples and pears, from the benefits of this scheme. The mandarin-growers to whom specific reference was made have already been generously provided for by this Government in conjunction with the Government of New South Wales. The remarks of honorable members opposite have been for home consumption in the Parramatta electorate, but the mandarin growers there will not be deluded. They know who are their real friends. I trust that the commitee will agree to this clause which has been inserted in the interests of an important section of primary producers.
.- In endeavouring to explain the policy of the Government in this matter the Minister for Commerce (Mr. Stewart) said that last year the Government assisted the growers of apples and pears, but he did not explain why one-half of the amount appropriated last year has not yet been paid to the growers. If an amount remains unexpended, why is it necessary to appropriate a further amount?
– The honorable member should ask Mr. Ogilvie.
– We have been informed that a grant , was made last year because of a collapse of prices in the overseas market, and also that the Government advised the growers with respect to the prohibition of the export of certain varieties. Although the exporters accepted the advice the Government still finds it necessary to grant a larger sum this year than was paid out last year. The Government, in handing out largess on the eve of a federal election, either has in mind the results of the recent Tasmanian election, or has to admit that the expert advice it gave last, year was entirely ineffective in remedying the situation. The Minister also stated that this grant is being distributed on the basis of each State’s exports last year; that may be ‘satisfactory, but some growers who do not participate in the export trade may be in more necessitous circumstances than those who do. The large proportion to be given to the Tasmanian growers this year cannot, I suppose, be associated 11 any way with the political situation in that State”
.- It is illuminating to hear the members of both branches of the Labour party in this chamber attacking the apple and pear growing industry, and objecting to it receiving any financial assistance in the manner proposed in this bill.
– That is not. right.
– I understand the English language, and I know exactly what words mean.
– I rise to a point of order. 1 submit that the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Hutchin) is wrong in saying that any member of the Opposition spoke against the growers of apples and pears.
– What of the facetious remarks of the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson).
– I object to the statement of the honorable member for Denison.
– I followed’ the remarks of the honorable member for the Northern Territory, and if they did not interest the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) they interested me. The honorable member made facetious and sneering references to the “Lyons share “ of this amount being given to the Tasmanian growers of apples and pears, which, he said, was for electioneering purposes. He did not refer to the fact that in the previous year a similar amount was made available. He chose to be amusing, or what he thought was amusing, at the expense of the Government and of the apple-growers. He alleged that this allocation is being made on tho basis proposed because of the result of the recent Tasmanian election. I would rejoice to see Mr. Ogilvie occupying a seat in this chamber, if only to hear the derisive remarks of the members of both the political groups opposite. I should then like him to return to the electorate of Franklin and endeavour to justify his association with men holding such views. The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) sarcastically referred to orderly marketing, and ridiculed the Government, for advising those engaged in the industry to alter their marketing methods, but I suppose that it is only natural that men with a disorderly mind should object to anything being done in an orderly manner! The apple industry, like Topsy, just grew Experience has shown that many varieties of apples are unsuitable for sale in the British market, and common-sense suggested that such varieties should not be exported. There would be some justification for the remarks of the honorable member for Dalley if those engaged in’ the industry had persisted in exporting varieties which could not be profitably marketed, but they did not do so. The export of unsuitable -varieties was discontinued, and better prices were obtained for those that were shipped. Tasmania is only one of the States in which apples are grown, although it grows the best apples. The honorable member for Dalley and other honorable members opposite profess to believe in assisting the wheatgrowers, but apparently they are opposed to assistance being given to other producers. The apple-growers have to take what they can get. If the honorable member for Dalley thinks that the wheat-growers and the mandaringrowers should be assisted, to be logical, he must admit that the growers of apples and pears also are worthy of assistance. The Minister placed the whole of the facts before the House. It was suggested by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) that because the industry was helped last year, it should not be helped this year. Will the honorable member say that because the unemployed - his particular ammunition in this House - were helped last year, they should not be helped this year.
– How are they being helped this year?
– As a matter of fact, they are helped every year, because they are in distress, and while the apple industry is in distress it must be helped, as the wheat-growing and other industries are helped, out of the general resources of the community. I rise merely to express my amazement that members of both groups of the Labour party should be so hard and derisive in respect of the needs of this industry.
.- 1 support this clause. 1 rose primarily to remind the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Hutchin) that Western Australian apples brought on the London market from ls. 6d. to 2s. a case more than the Tasmanian apples. I think that the Government has been well advised in making this allocation, though I think it might have been a little more restricted in respect to the exporters of apples and pears. Difficulty will be experienced in spreading this grant over all growers, whether exporters or not. However, I do not intend to propose any amendment ; we have seen the disastrous effects of interfering with last year’s bill. It is not too late for the Government to add to this clause in order to facilitate the distribution of the unexpended balance of last year, to which the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rose vear) referred. That balance remains unexpended because of difficulties inherent in last year’s act.
– Does the honorable member really believe that that is the reason ?
– Yes. The Minister has endeavoured to get the States to administer the grant, but the States have experienced great difficulty in interpretin the word “ necessitous “. A similar qualification has not been made this year and if it were removed from last year’s act, it would be possible for the States to disburse the unexpended grant upon the same conditions as will apply under this bill. There are plenty of claimants and if the procedure were simplified the unexpended balance would not long remain.
– The honorable member for Denison (Mr. Hutchin) is about the best showman we have ever had in this House. He takes great, delight in setting up “ Aunt Sallies “ and knocking them down again. To-night, the honorable member has endeavoured to convince the House that I was opposed to the apple-growers receiving this grant. My contention was that we should not differentiate between one State and another. Why not give to the fruit-growers in the other States the same amount a3 is proposed to be given to Tasmania? Honorable members opposite pose as the friends of the apple-growers, but they have been the greatest traitors which the orchardists of Tasmania have ever known. When in 1909, the Labour party, then headed by Mr. Fisher, held its triennial conference in Tasmania, the apple-growers approached delegates with a request that something should be done for them. They were in the grip of a monopoly controlled by Henry Jones. Mr. Fisher said, “My party is not yet in power, but if the apple-growers of Tasmania will give us their support, immediately we are elected to office, we shall set up a Commonwealth Line of Steamships, and put a vessel on the Tasmanian service to break down the combine”. As a result of this promise, Tasmania, for the first time, returned an overwhelming majority of Labour members. A vessel was constructed and placed on the Tasmanian service, and as a result of its operations the power of the combine was broken. But as soon as a Nationalist government obtained power in this Parliament, the ships of the Australian Commonwealth Line, a great national asset, were disposed of, to the prejudice of Tasmanian producers. The honorable member for Denison should learn the history of his own State before he ridicules other honorable members in this House. The Labour party has been Tasmania’s greatest benefactor.
.- It i3 obvious that the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Hutchin) must have a very poor case when he has to resort to misrepresentation. Any honorable member who is impartial, and not desirous of making political propaganda calculated to impress the electors of Denison, will agree that not one member of this group of the Opposition said a word against the interests of the applegrowers of Tasmania. We are desirous of helping this deserving section of the primary producers who have experienced a very bad time.
– One member of the Opposition has criticized the allocation to the Tasmanian growers.
– The honorable member for the Northern Territory thought they deserved the assistance, but asked why it should not be extended to growers of other fruits, notably citrus. It is not fair to misrepresent him as attacking the apple-growers, when he simply suggested that another section of fruit-growers should be brought within the scope of the clause. The Labour party stands for Australian-wide co-operative pools and all other orderly schemes of marketing designed to assist, the primary producers, including apple-growers, to obtain a better return for their labour. If we are returned to office at the coming election, and, if the apple-growers are still receiving as low prices as they are to-day, treatment at least as generous as is provided in this bill will be meted out to them, and, if the finances permit, something more will be done for them. It is well to put that clearly and definitely because the honorable member for Denison Mr. Hutchin), evidently with his eye on the recent election in Tasmania, realizes that his seat is in jeopardy, and that the
Franklin seat may again return the stalwart Mr. Frost, who was a very able Tasmanian representative, and one the greatest fighters that the apple-growers ever had in this Parliament. Honorable members . on this side fully realize the importance of the local market for primary producers, including apple-grower?. We do not study the interests of the applegrowers only. We believe that we should develop a great market in Australia. If we can place hundreds of thousands of people in lucrative employment in secondary industries, they will form the best market possible for our primary products. This local market will pay them better than will overseas markets, where they have to compete with the products of cheap labour countries. Wc must save the apple-growers and other primary producers from the exploiters who want to “ farm “ the farmers. We hope to see the day when all our industries will be so developed as to be able to consume all the apples we can produce. No political party in Australia is more anxious to help the applegrowers out of the distressing circumstances in which they find themselves than is the Australian Labour party which is at present in opposition, but will be on the Ministerial benches after the 15th September next.
.- The honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) evidently stepped off on the wrong foot, and it was not long before the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) was on his toes trying to correct the error made by his follower. Then the honorable member for the Northern Territory also tried to stage a come-back. In his objection to Tasmania’s share of the apple bounty, as I suppose it may be called, he made no mention of the fact that what is being done for Tasmania is directly proportionate to Tasmania’s export crop in comparison with. the export crops of other States. The allocation is strictly equitable. The honorable member spoke of the apple-grower getting the “Lyons share”, but the vote is strictly in proportion to the export pack of the various States, and therefore cannot be complained of on any ground of equity. The honorable member then harked back 20 years to the days of the Fisher Government, which promised, if returned to power, to free the apple-growers from the monopoly of Henry Jones and Company. Only two comments need be made in reply. One is that Henry Jones and Company are still in business and handling apples as in the days of yore, and the second is that the Commonwealth ships, which the Fisher Government built, are no longer in existence as Commonwealth ships. If Mr. Fisher had made available to the applegrowers of Tasmania anything approaching the amount of money lost on those ships, they would be in a far better position than they are in to-day. Honorable members opposite may have thought it was a statesmanlike action on the part of Mr. Fisher to create a Commonwealth fleet, but cold figures tell a different tale. Those ships cost Australia perhaps 20 times as much as it has cost the country to help the apple-growers to date. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition, in staging his come-back, mentioned party political propaganda, and immediately delivered an election speech. He said, “ If and when we get back, arid if the apple industry is in the plight it is in to-day, and if the finances permit, we shall do as much for it and probably more “.
– I said that if the finances permitted we would give it more generous treatment.
– The honorable member said he would do as much, and probably more, and it ill-becomes a man who makes such a statement to accuse the Government of holding out an electioneering bait, simply because it has introduced the bill at this time, which is the ordinary time for dealing with budget proposals.
– I did not say any such thing.
– The honorable member went on to say that the Labour party stands for pooling primary, products, sustaining prices in the local markets, and building up local markets so that the local consumption of the crop, whatever it is, will be greater than it is to-day, thus benefiting the grower. The
Australian demand will not overtake the production of apples for a very long time, and the growers will still have to depend upon overseas markets.
One of the principal costs incurred by the Tasmanian grower in putting hi3 apples on the markets of Sydney, Brisbane and other parts of the Commonwealth, is the expensive shipping freight which is. directly due to the restrictions that honorable members opposite cordially approve of and want to perpetuate. All I ask of honorable members opposite, as regards assistance to apple-growers, is that they be consistent, which they have not been so far. In their attack at the outset, not only on this proposal to help the industry, but on the proportion which is designed for Tasmania, they were distinctly illogical ; they lacked sympathy, and they were full of humour, but humour will not help the applegrowers of Tasmania.
.- I find it difficult to reply in adequate terms to many of the statements made by the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Hutchin), because, speaking politically, I never like to hit a dying man. Many honorable members have demonstrated that the great bulk of the money which is being appropriated for the purpose of assisting growers of apples and pears will be received by the exporters. Surely some growers are not engaged in the export trade.
– The honorable member is entirely wrong.
– I distinctly heard the experts from Tasmania say that assistance was to be given to those who had sustained losses on account of the fall of the price on the Loudon market. The Minister for Commerce himself referred to the “ calamitous “ state of the overseas market, and said that the men who had produced for export had made losses because of the lowness of the price they had received. I am not aware of the nature of the arrangement relating to the export of apples, but I imagine that instead of exporting directly the growers sell to agents who, being able to dominate the position, will obtain the bulk of the proposed relief. The Minister should state definitely who is be given this assistance. Honorable members on (Iris side have received many letters from primary producers who claim that they have not been directly assisted. I trust that the Government will see that the growers themselves benefit.
How long are we to continue to support uneconomic primary industries that depend on the overseas market, which, on the admission of the Minister, is unreliable? If the statement of the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Blacklow) may be accepted, growers of apples and pears would be in a better position receiving food relief than producing fruit for which they can find no market. If it is right that the apple-growers should be permitted to sell their product overseas at any price, and be compensated for whatever loss they sustain, so that they may be kept on the land and provide employment for a number of people, is there not an equally strong case for similar treatment to be meted out to secondary industries i The honorable member for Denison (Mr. Hutchin) said that Tasmania produces the best apples in the world. If that be so, it should help to compensate the people of that State for the poorness of their representation in the chamber.
– In” an earlier speech, the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) persistently suggested that the prohibition imposed on the export of certain varieties of apples was instigated by the Government. Should he still be under that misapprehension, I emphasize the fact that the restriction was suggested by the industry to the Government.
I am sorry that I spoilt the honorable member’s peroration when he was proceeding to establish the contention that the exporters would obtain the whole of the bounty. The bill does not restrict the proposed benefits to those who participate in the export trade. It is true, however, that the allocation to the respective States is based on last year’s exports. The principal difficulty of the apple industry is undoubtedly associated with the poorness of the price on the overseas markets. But if we were to provide that only those growers who had suffered losses upon export should participate in the. bounty, we should probably exclude some growers who formerly exported but have been precluded from doing so because of the limitation of the varieties allowed to be exported ; and they might be growers who are most deserving of assistance. The Government has deliberately refrained from restricting the discrimination of the State authorities, who will be able to assist their apple-growers in whatever way they think will be most advantageous.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 29 agreed to.
Part VIII.- General.
Clause 30 (Repeal section 19, Financial Emergency Act 1932).
.- It is necessary to repeal section 19 of the Financial Emergency Act 1932, which relates to the old Wine Bounty Act, because a new bill has been brought down and is now before the Senate.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 21 and 32 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report adopted. [Quorum formed.]
Motion (by Mr. Archdale Parkhill) proposed -
That thu bill be now read a third time.
– Over a period of years a large number of articles have been exempted from sales tax, and of these exemptions the public is not fully aware. It is possible that in some retail establishments the sales tax is still being charged, knowingly or otherwise, on articles which are exempt. I know that it would be very difficult to police this tax in all its ramifications, but I suggest that, if it has not been done already, an up-to-date list of the exemptions should be prepared, and, ‘if possible, exhibited in public places, such as post offices. In this way the Government will protect the public, and give to them the benefit of the remissions already made.
– That is a good idea just before the election.
– I have not the election in mind. I am looking at this matter from the point of view of the public. Recently I have made a few purchases, and I have not been able to say definitely whether the tax applied to the articles. What happened in my case may be of general occurrence among the public. The people should be safeguarded in this matter.
. - The suggestion made by the honorable member is of a constructive nature, and I appreciate it. I see no reason why effect should not be given to it in order that the remissions of sales tax made by this Government should be made known as widely as possible, and the public may get thebenefit of them, and know what to expect. I shall be very glad to place the suggestion before Cabinet.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Australia’s Export Trade: Restriction by Italy.
Motion (by Mr. Archdale Parkhill) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- On behalf of the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Hunter), I wish to deal with a matter of great importance arising out of a telegram received to-day by the right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page), from the president of the Queensland Settlers Association. The telegram reads -
Press reports Italy reducing imports of Australian wool by 50 per cent. Queensland Settlers’ Association strongly urge negotiations be opened with Italy for removal of proposed reduction as profitable sale of wool is vital to Australia. - (Sgd). McIntyre, President, Queensland Association.
The wool industry is Australia’s greatest industry, and, when we find that nations are instituting reprisals against us, it becomes the first duty of this Government to protect this great national bulwark.
– What does the honorable member suggest that we should do ?
– Foster reciprocal trade with these nations. Our insular policy is depriving Australia of markets.
– The honorable member has been told already to-day that it is not a matter of reprisals.
– We know that the financial difficulties of certain countries prevent them from buying our goods, but their impoverishment has been promoted by their inability to trade reciprocally. What is happening toour wool is happening to our wheat also, and to-day we find that nations, to which we used to sell wheat, are now producing their own requirements. I bring this matter forward in all seriousness. The Settlers Association urges the Government to take immediate action.
– I am sorry that the honorable member will not accept the answer given to-day in reply to a question.
– This telegram just arrived.
– Irrespective of telegrams or reports in the press, the honorable member’s attitude is not justified. His speech is certainly not helpful in the difficult situation confronting the Government. I assure honorable members most emphatically that this action on the part of the Government of Italy is not directed particularly against Australia, and I say this despite newspaper reports of a statement to the contrary by an Italian body in Australia. The Government is in close touch with the representative in Australia of the Italian Government, and negotiations have been proceeding on this matter for some months.
– It is time you did something.
– The honorable member is quick off the mark when wheat bounties are to be had. In regard to an important matter of national policy, he might consult with the Minister, instead of making a fuss in the House. The preferential tariff and the margin which we must give to Great Britain, our greatest market, precludes us from, giving very great concessions to foreign countries, irrespective of their trade balance with us. We appreciate that Italy wants to balance its trade with Australia; that is the policy of Belgium, France, and other countries also, but the statement that this is because of our customs tariff is gross exaggeration. The representative of the Italian Government has. informed us that these restrictions are also being imposed on South Africa. I would point out that the Union pays £150,000 annually to subsidize an Italian line of steamers, and therefore could reasonably expect preferential treatment from Italy. But Italy has very difficult trade problems to face. For some time now the Commonwealth Government has been in communication with Great Britain in regard to concessions that may be possible. When those negotiations are completed, action will taken to bring about smoother trade relations between Italy and Australia. The result of those negotiations is of very great importance to Australia, and I am hopeful of a good result. [Quorum formed.]
– I do not think that the explanation by the Minister is satisfactory, in view of the importance of this trade to Australia. What, the honorable gentleman has said is not borne out by the statement, of the president of the Italian Chamber of Commerce, which appeared in yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald
– That organization is of a commercial character.
– Only a couple of weeks ago, a consul of one of these nations urged me to see whether the Government could not take more rapid action. He said that if much more delay occurred there might be difficulty with other products. I know that statements have appeared in the press from time to time to the effect that negotiations for certain trade agreements were in progress; but on closer inquiry I find that the position is no less difficult now than it was weeks or even months ago. The letter from the president of the Italian Chamber of Commerce does not deserve the cavalier treatment that it has received at the hands of the Minister to-night.
– The gentleman who wrote that letter has his own commercial interests to serve.
– The letter reads as follows : - “ The reason which has brought about this reduction of purchases in Australia,” lie said, “ is the desire of Italy to level its trade balances, which, in the case of Australia, is most detrimental to Italy. In its endeavour in this direction, the Italian Government, in April last, issued a decree by which purchaser of wool, copper, and coffee should only be made under a special licence, further stipulating that the granting of this licence and the quantity of goods admitted under its authority should depend upon, and hear a direct relation to. the balance of trade between Italy and the exporting country. This was communicated to proper quarters in Australia, and given publication in the press, as it would, no doubt, have a reaction on wool purchases. Notwithstanding repeated promises by the federal authorities to consider Italy’s position on this market, nothing has been done here to try to adjust Italy’s adverse balance. The Italian Government is, therefore, compelled to level this balance, and, for this purpose, is cutting down by half, as from next month, purchases of wool in Australia.” It was explained that the Italian Government had asked the Commonwealth Government for tariff concessions on motor cars, artificial silk yarns and materials, ivory uut buttons, hemp yarn, cheese, and marble. No definite reply had been received regarding any of these items.
I wish to know what the Government intends to do. Obviously, if one European country after another shuts out Australia’s great staple product, our wool industry will be reduced to a deplorable condition, and the amount of unemployment in this country will consequently be increased to a great extent. I urge the Government to take some definite action in this matter before the Parliament is prorogued or before the election is held.
– I regret that a responsible member of this House should accept the statements of persons with commercial interests to serve in preference to the official statements of responsible members of the Government. Only to-day the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White), and I, have been closely occupied with this subject. That accounts, in part, for our absence from the chamber at certain periods. I can only hope that some other honorable gentlemen had an equally good reason for their absence. The Government has not lost sight of this important subject. As my colleague, the Minister for Trade and
Customs, has said, the Italian Government is not acting in a retaliatory fashion towards Australia, as has been suggested in the letter quoted by the right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page), but is only giving effect to its general policy. We are hoping that in consequence of negotiations that are proceeding, the interests of the Australian 1 wool-growers will be protected. The Minister for Trade and Customs is debarred by the Standing Orders from speaking again on this subject, but on his behalf I repeat that the very delicate negotiations that are proceeding are not helped by comments of the kind made this evening.
.- It is not entirely fair to say that the difficulties being encountered in the making of certain foreign trade agreements are due entirely to our commitments under the Ottawa agreement.
M.r. White. - Those commitments constitute a part of our difficulties.
– Other difficulty arises because of the manner in which Australia has chosen to accord preferences to British goods. I am not suggesting that Great Britain did not realize that preferences consequent upon the Ottawa agreement would be given by the raising of duties against foreign goods rather than by the lowering of them on British goods. But there is not the slightest doubt that British Ministers, both at London and Ottawa, expressed the hope that Empire trade would be increased by the lowering of duties on British goods rather than by the increasing of them on foreign goods.
– That is not a correct statement; it is only part of a long story.
– It is correct to say that members of the British Government, both before the Ottawa Conference and at the conference, expressed the hope that Empire trade would be furthered by the lowering of dominion duties on British goods rather than by the increasing of them on foreign goods.
– What printed evidence can the honorable member furnish in support of his contention ?
– Statements to that effect were made by British Ministers before they went to Ottawa, and while they were at Ottawa. I do not suggest that the British Government was at an time unaware that Australia was not prepared to reduce certain duties. No charge of bad faith’ can be made against Australia in that connexion, at least, in regard to certain goods. But the fact that the Commonwealth Government has deliberately chosen to put itself in a. difficult position in regard to certain overseas customers by increasing the duties on foreign goods, with the consent of the British Government, in order to increase Empire trade, has no doubt contributed to the troubles that are now being encountered. I express my thanks to the Leader of the Country party (Dr. Earle Page) for raising this question to-night.
– It was raised this afternoon.
– To-night the right honorable gentleman ha;- pressed for a fuller explanation, with the object of giving the Government, an opportunity to remove the fear that cur overseas markets are slipping away from us.
– Such remarks are not helpful.
– The statement of the Minister for Commerce (Mr. Stewart) that he is taking a hand in the negotiations is most reassuring, for he succeeded in reaching an agreement with New Zealand.
– In fairness to my colleague, I inform the House that there has been no change in the personnel of those conducting the negotiations.
– That interjection only diminishes my hopes. If there is not any further prospect of progress being made, I am sorry that the Minister for Commerce has found it necessary to disclaim any responsibility.
– Does the honorable member think that the Government has failed to get new markets?
– I am not in a position to express an opinion; but there are people who think that the Government has failed. I had hoped that a reassuring statement would have been made to-night.
– I do not wish to make more difficult the task of the Government in these delicate negotiations, nor do I wish to see the relations between Australia and. Italy disturbed. The Government is handling these matters in a proper manner. It is somewhat astounding to find the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Hawker), who did so much to bring about the Ottawa Conference, now casting reflections on Ministers who have carried out the spirit of the agreement. The object of the Ottawa Conference was to re-arrange Australia’s overseas trade, by giving a greater share of it to other portions of the Empire, even if that meant taking some of it from foreign countries. Now the honorable member for Wakefield criticizes the Government for doing what the Ottawa Conference set out to do. Some adverse consequences of that conference were inevitable. Before the conference met, I predicted that it would mean a re-arrangement of our trading relations, not an increase of trade. I likened it to a game of poker; it the end of the game the same amount of money is on the table as at the beginning; but. it is held by different persons. Parliament agreed to accept the Ottawa agreement, and it ought to have known that that would mean more trading with Empire countries and less with foreigners. If that result has now come about, it ill becomes the honorable member for Wakefield or the right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) to criticize the Government.
– I am in agreement with the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Hawker) that the method adopted by the Government to implement the Ottawa agreement will re-act to the serious disadvantage of Australia. The preferences that Australia gave to Britain were largely illusory. The fairer method would have been to reduce our own tariffs, because British manufacturers have to meet competition from Australian manufacturers rather than from foreigners.
– What about the free items?
– I am referring only to those items in connexion with which a preference was given to Britain by raising the duty on the goods of foreign countries. That preference to Britain was illusory. The people of Britain are patient. They have submitted to our action, but they are not satisfied with it. Our method of implementing the Ottawa agreement has not only failed to satisfy the people of Britain; it has also given offence to Italy and other countries. Japan may follow Italy’s example. In order to keep in favour with Australian manufacturing interests, some honorable members are prepared to take grievous risks. If the action taken results in the loss of our trade with good customers like Italy, Germany, France and Japan, it will be most unfortunate.
– Honorable members on this side of the House regret that, after two tiring days, in which we have been considering exceedingly important and intricate matters until about midnight, certain honorable members should raise the delicate issue of foreign trade relations at a quarter of an hour before midnight.
– I have sat here ever since the dinner adjournment, and it was 1 who raised this matter.
– Nevertheless, the matter has been brought up at the very end of the sitting, and a quorum is provided by government supporters. No fresh facts have been adduced. This subject was properly introduced when the House met on Thursday afternoon. The explanation given a few moments ago by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) was a repetition of what he said earlier in this sitting. He has twice pointed out that Italy’s action is not by way of reprisal on account of the tariff, but is consistent with the policy which that country is adopting, not only against Australia, but also against South Africa. South Africa subsidizes Italian shipping companies to carry its produce to Europe. In addition, the Minister has explained that he and the Minister for Commerce (Mr. Stewart) are taking definite steps to overcome the difficulty satisfactorily. I ask honorable members whether agreements with a foreign country can be made or discussed in a public way, even in this chamber, to the advantage of either that country or Australia. I commend the attitude of the Opposition, which has at least realized that a discussion in Parliament of a matter of this kind not only embarrasses the Government, but is liable to prevent the making of satisfactory arrangements. I cannot understand the attitude of the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Hawker). It seemed that he was “willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike.” The reason for the congratulations offered by him to another party is quite obvious, and his action is not unnatural in view of recent movements. He made some general observations in deprecation of what had been done by the Government, but the purport of his remarks was not easy to understand. The Government has honorably and fairly carried out every condition of the agreement made at Ottawa, and the fact stands out clearly that it could have taken no other action than to raise duties against foreign countries in those cases in which the duties on British goods arc free and 5 per cent, or considerably less than is necessary to give the 15 per cent:, margin of preference to Great Britain. The British Government recognized that the Commonwealth Government was bound by the Tariff Board’s report, and the policy on which it went to the country. No exception has been taken to its action by the British Government. Apparently, it remains for men who fight elections behind our platform to take exception to it, and I suggest that that is distinctly unreasonable. The facts are precisely as the Minister has stated them. He pointed out, that he and the Minister for Commerce, under the presidency of the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), are doing everything that can be done to protect the interests of the Commonwealth, and to bring about friendly trade relations with other countries.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 1-2.5 a.m. (Friday).
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as fol lows : -
e. - The information is being obtained, and a reply will be furnished as soon as possible to questions asked by the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) relating to the tobacco industry.
y asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Tn view of the fact that money lenders are asking borrowers to sign an agreement containing special clauses to prevent such borrowers from talcing advantage of any legislation amending the. law relating to tenants’, purchasers’, and mortgagors’ relief that may he introduced by any government to help the citizens of Australia, will the Government consider in any such amending legislation the insertion of provisions to make it an offence for any lender of money to ask any borrower of money to agree to any portion of an agreement to evade the benefits that such legislation would give?
– Owing to the division of powers between the Commonwealth and the States, legislation with respect to tenants’, purchasers’ and mortgagors’ relief is a matter for the States, and it is suggested that any representations for the amendment of that legislation which the honorable member desires to make should be communicated to the State governments.
y asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view ofthe fact that the Government invited to Australia the “Big Four”, viz., Sir Arthur Duckham, Sir Hugo Hirst, Sir Ernest Clark, and Mr. Dougal Orme Malcolm, at a cost of approximately£l0,000, and in view of the fact that the Government invited Mr. Jones, sales tax expert of Canada, which resulted in huge taxation, will the Government consider inviting Major Douglas to Australia to explain the application of his system to obtain a dividend for every citizen from the accumulated wealth, public and private, of Australia, variously estimated at five to six thousand million pounds, as compared with the zero value when the aboriginals owned Australia ?
– The Government is unable to see its way to adopt the honorable member’s suggestion.
y asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
In view of the fact that most of the civilized nationsofthe world are or are becoming bankrupt through being unable to pay interest rates of from 3 per cent. to 7 per cent., indicating that it is impossible for private individuals to pay higher rates, will the Government considert he necessity of introducing legislation to make it an offence for any person to charge more than6 per cent.?
– The progressive reduction of interest rates has formed one of the main objectives of the Government’s policy, and attention is invited to statements in the budget speech delivered on Tuesday last showing the substantial reductions in interest rates generally since the present. Government assumed office. The Sydney trading banks are charging a maximum rate of 5 per cent. on all overdrafts, and the associated banks of Victoria recently announced that their maximum rates for advances to primary producers have been reduced to 5 per cent., and for advances to public hospitals and churches to 4¾ per cent. Trustee company and insurance company rates on mortgage loans have also been reduced very considerably, new money being now available at from 4½ to 5 per cent. as against 6 to 6½ per cent. in December. 1931. The policy of the Government in creating conditions favorable to low interest rates will be continued, and while the present sound methods of government continue further interest reductions may be confidently anticipated.
Wireless Broadcasting : Licence Fees in Remote Localities.
n asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
In view of the fact that a number of people holding wireless sets in distant parts of the Commonwealth do not obtain uniformly satisfactory reception, owing to their remoteness from the National Broadcasting Stations, will he consider the question of granting a special and liberal reduction to those licensees who arc at a radial distance of 400 miles or more from a National Broadcasting Station, until the programme of the further erection of National Stations brings them within that radius ?
– The Wireless Regulations already provide for a reduced licence fee, namely, 17s. 6d. for listeners in zone 2, i.e., more than 250 miles (approximately) from a national station. When the listener’s licence fee is reduced to 21s. in zone 1 the fee for zone 2 will be reduced to 15s.
Migrant Settlers in Victoria.
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
How much, if anything, did the Commonwealth contribute in compensation to migrant settlers who, during the last year, or since, made claim against the Victorian Government ?
– The Commonwealth Government did not make any contribution by way of compensation to migrant settlers in Victoria. The question of responsibility of governments in this connexion was submitted to arbitration, and the arbitrator, Sir Langer Owen, a former justice of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, found that the Commonwealth had neither legal nor moral responsibility.
Air Force: Establishment in Western Australia.
n asked the Assistant Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Whether the defence programme of the Government contemplates the establishment of a branch of the Air Force in Perth?
– The programme contemplates the establishment of a Citizen Air Force unit in Western Australia.
Defence Forces: Loira Service and Good Conduct Medals
Ifr. Makin asked the Assistant
Minister for Defence, upon notice -
How man; members and ex-members ot the Permanent Defence Forces who are entitled to long service and good conduct medals have not as yet received such medals t
Is it a fact that certain members of the forces, who were fully entitled to this decoration four years ago, have not received the medal ?
Hon many persons associated with tha Militia arc entitled to, and yet have not received, an efficiency and officers’ decoration medal T
When will these medals be made available to persons entitled to them ?
s.-The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows : - 1, 2, 3 and 4. The decorations referred to are instituted by nival warrant. On 23rd September, 1930, the warrants then existing were cancelled by the issue of new warrants which prescribed, inter alia, that regulations covering the awards were to be submitted for His Majesty’s approval. The regulations have been so submitted and when His Majesty’s approval has been notified, will be promulgated. Until the regulations have been promulgated and recommendations based on them have been received, it will not be possible to state the numbers eligible. Awards will bc made to those eligible as soon as recommendations are received under the new regulations and in the case of members who have become eligible since awards under the old warrants were suspended, the whole of their service will bc counted towards qualification for the new decorations. Every endeavour is being made to have the approval of the regulations expedited.’
DEFENCE Forces: DARWIN Garrison
asked the Assistant Minister for Defence, upon notice -
s. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
All ranks of the garrison at Darwin receive, in addition to the normal pay mid allowances of permanent troops at other military stations in the Commonwealth, the district allowance at the rate prescribed by the Military Regulations, which is similar to that authorized for the Commonwealth Public Service, vis., £100 per annum for married members and £80 per annum for single members.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 26 July 1934, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1934/19340726_reps_13_144/>.