14th Parliament · 1st Session
The House of Representatives on the 14th December, 1934, adjourned until a day and hour to be fixed by Mr. Speaker, and notified by him to each honorable member. The House met pursuant to such notification.
Mr. Speaker (Hon. G. J. Bell) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Dr. EARLE PAGE (Cowper- Acting
Prime Minister) [3.1]. - I desire formally to announce to the House that during the absence from Australia of the Prime Minister and Treasurer (the Right Honorable J. A. Lyons, M.P.), I shall be Acting Prime Minister. The Assistant Treasurer (Hon. R. G. Casey, D.S.O., M.C., M.P.) will administer the Department of the Treasury. Senator the Hon. T. C. Brennan, K.C., will act for and on behalf of the Attorney-General and Minister of State for Industry during the absence of the Hon. R. G. Menzies, K.C., M.P., and in the House of Representatives the Right Hon. W. M. Hughes will deal with any matters ordinarily dealt with by the Attorney-General.
Sir Henry Gullett’s work as Minister without portfolio directing negotiations for trade treaties is receiving attention by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Lieutenant-Colonel the Hon. T. W. White, D.E.C., V.D., M.P.).
Matters relating to the administration of War Service Homes, which had been in charge of the Hon. H. V. C. Thorby, M.P., will, during Mr. Thorby’s absence, be attended to by the Hon. J. A. J. Hunter, M.P.
I desire also to announce that Major the Honorable Sir Charles W. C. Marr, K.C., V.O., D.S.O., M.C., V.D., M.P., on whose recognition by the King I offer hearty congratulations, retired from the Cabinet on the 31st December, 1934.
– by leave - Since this House adjourned in December last, a prominent and very highly respected member of this Parliament in the person of Senator Sir Walter Kingsmill, Kt., B.A., has passed away. His death occurred in Sydney on the 15th January last, and a State funeral was accorded by the Commonwealth Government.
The late honorable senator had a long career of parliamentary service - from 1897 until 1922 in the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council, respectively, of Western Australia, and since 1922 as a senator representing that State in the Parliament of the Commonwealth. His term of election as a senator would ordinarily have expired on the 30th June next.
During his association with the Parliament of Western Australia, the late honorable senator held ministerial office in the Government of the State for periods totalling four years, and was President of the Legislative Council of that State for a term of three years.
Senator Kingsmill was President of the Senate from August, 1929, until August, 1932, and we recall with high appreciation the ability and impartiality with which he discharged the duties of that important office. He was knighted by His Majesty the King in January, 1933.
The late honorable senator was a man of wide learning and varied experience, and filled with distinction many important positions during his career of public service. He was keenly devoted to the cause of science, and played a prominent part in the initial measures taken in Australia for the preservation of fauna and flora. Those who were closely associated with him in this Parliament will remember his charming manner, and his other oustanding personal qualities.
The sympathy of the members of this House is extended to Lady Kingsmill in her bereavement. I move -
That this House expresses its deep regret at the death of Senator Sir Walter Kingsmill, K.t., B.A., a former member of the Western Australian Parliament and Minister of State of Western Australia, and at the time of his decease a member of the Senate of the Commonwealth Parliament, of which he had been President, places on record its high appreciation of his long career of distinguished public service, and tenders its profound sympathy to his widow in her bereavement.
– I support the motion that has been moved by the Acting Prime Minister (Dr. Earle Page), and endorse every word of the sentiments he has expressed in regard to the late Senator Kingsmill. The deceased gentleman, who will be particularly remembered for his courtesy, his culture, and his amiable disposition, rendered very long and valuable service to the public of Australia in both the State and the Commonwealth spheres, and his death will cause a severe loss to be felt. On behalf of the Opposition, I join with the Acting Prime Minister in expressing the deepest sympathy with his widow.
.- My colleagues and I wish to join with the Acting Prime Minister (Dr. Earle Page) in the motion of sympathy he has moved with the widow and relatives of the late Senator Kingsmill. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) has referred to the outstanding qualities of the late honorable senator, and has said that he will be remembered for his personal attributes. One thing for which he will long be remembered, particularly by the people in Western Australia, was his opposition to the secessionist movement in that State, by reason of which, it is generally recognized publicly, he failed to secure the party endorsement that might have led to his re-election as a senator at the last general elections. It is good to find at times public men who have the courage to give practical effect to their convictions on big public questions, and to do what they believe to be right and in the interests of their country, no matter on whose corns they may tread.
There is only one word that I wish to add. Upon the occasion of the State funeral of the late honorable senator in Sydney, we were informed that the health of his widow was not all that could be desired. My colleagues and I hope that she is now completely restored to good health, and join in the expressions of sympathy that are extended to her.
.- As one who had a very long, personal and political association with the late Senator Sir Walter Kingsmill, I should like to say a few words upon this occasion. The late honorable senator and I were elected to the Parliament of Western Australia in 1897, and were associated in the early stages of the development of that State. For many years we were colleagues in different cabinets, and during this time he won the respect and esteem both of his associates and of the people of Western Australia. Our friendship continued while he remained in the State Parliament, and I came to the Commonwealth Parliament, and subsequently while we were both members of this Parliament. Those who knew the late honorable gentleman recognized fully his personal charm, his integrity, and his honorable character. He had a very high personal reputation. ‘ Few persons in Western Australia were more greatly honoured or held in higher esteem than was he. His death, coming as it did so suddenly, caused very great grief to many persons besides myself. I join with the Acting Prime Minister (Dr. Earle Page) and others who have spoken in expressing grief at the death of Senator Kingsmill, and in extending condolence to his widow, lady Kingsmill, in her bereavement.
.- May I be permitted to express my profound regret at the passing of one for whom I had an intense admiration, because of his fine manly qualities and high culture. The late Senator Kingsmill was President of the Senate when I had the privilege to be the presiding officer in this chamber, and, consequently, we were closely associated in the discharge of our official duties. At all times I found him honorable in his dealings, and willing to give full and impartial consideration to every matter placed before him. He was at all times most approachable and courteous. In his death, Australia has lost a noble son who, in all circumstances, displayed the highest qualities of true manliness, and discharged his public duties faithfully and well. I join with those who have spoken in expressing sympathy with his widow, and the hope that she will soon be restored to perfect health.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.
– by leave - I move -
That this House expresses its. regret at the death of the Honorable Alexander Poynton,
O.B.E., a former member of the South Australian and Commonwealth Parliaments, and a former Minister of State of South Australia and of the Commonwealth, places on record its high appreciation of his notable public service, extending over many years, and tenders its deep sympathy to his widow .mci family in their bereavement.
I regret that it has become necessary to record the death in Adelaide on the 9th January last of Mr. Alexander Poynton another former member of this House.
The late gentleman had not been a member of this chamber since the end of 1922, but from the commencement of the first Commonwealth Parliament in 1901 until that year he had served continuously as a member of this House, representing the Division of Grey in the State of South Australia. Prior to his election to the House of Representatives as a member of the first Commonwealth Parliament, he was a member of the House of Assembly of South Australia from 1S93, and held ministerial office as Commissioner for Crown Lands for a short period in 1899. While a member of the Commonwealth Parliament, Mr. Poynton served on several royal commissions and committees. He was Chairman of Committees of this House from 1910 to 1913, a member of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts in 1917-1918, and a member of the Federal Parliamentary Recruiting Committee in 1917-1918. He first attained ministerial rank in November, 1916, holding office as Treasurer in the Hughes Ministry until February of the following year. He was an Honorary Minister in the Hughes Ministry from March, 1918, to February, 1920, and in that period was Acting Minister for the Navy, Minister in charge of Shipping, and Assistant Minister for Repatriation. He was Minister for Home and Territories and Minister in charge of Shipbuilding from February, 1920, to December, 1921, and Postmaster-General from December, 1921, to February, 1923.
Mr. Poynton was honoured by the King in 1920, when he was appointed an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. His record of 30 years of public service is a notable one. He gained for himself an enviable reputation for integrity and honesty of purpose which will long be remembered by those who served with him. His earnest desire to serve his country and fellow citizens was uppermost in his mind, even in the years of his declining health.
Our sympathy is extended to his widow and the members of the family in their bereavement.
.- I join with the Acting Prime Minister (Dr. Earle Page) in expressing the sympathy of every honorable member of this House to the widow and family of the late Hon. Alexander Poynton. For three years following my first entry into the Federal Parliament I was associated with him, but, later, when I was again elected, I found that he was no longer a member. During the time that he was a member of this Parliament, Mr. Poynton attended faithfully to his public duties, and brought to bear on all public questions a shrewd and intelligent outlook which must have been of great value to those associated with him. I regret that session by session, almost month by month, we have to record the passing of former members of this Parliament who have rendered service to the nation.
– Again I wish my colleagues and myself to be associated with a motion of sympathy with the widow and family of one who formerly was a member of this House. The only member of this party who was associated with the late Mr. Poynton in this Parliament is the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) ; but although I was not personally acquainted with the deceased gentleman, I recall the leading part taken by him during a crisis in the history of this country some years ago which made him well known throughout Australia, particularly to the younger members of the community. I join with the Acting Prime Minister (Dr. Earle Page) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) in extending to the widow and family of the deceased gentleman the sincere sympathy of this House in their bereavement.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.
– by leave - I move -
That this House expresses its regret at the death of Mr. Malcolm Duncan Cameron, a former member of the House of Representatives for the Division of Barker, South Australia, places on record its appreciation of his meritorious public service, and tenders its deep sympathy to his widow and family in their bereavement.
It is. with regret that I inform honorable members of the death, in South Australia, on the 1st March, of Mr. Malcolm Duncan Cameron, who formerly represented the Division of Barker, South Australia, in this House.
The late gentleman was a member of this chamber, for approximately twelve years, having been first elected at the general election of 1922. During his parliamentary service, he was a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works from March, 1927, to November, 1931, and was chairman of that committee from February to September, 1929. In the last Parliament, he was a Temporary Chairman of Committees.
During the closing stages of the last Parliament, Mr. Cameron suffered from ill health, but he courageously continued to discharge fully his duties as a representative of the people. Many honorable members present to-day who were closely associated with Mr. Cameron know that he enjoyed a wide measure of popularity and esteem. He carried out his parliamentary work with marked ability and much enthusiasm, devoting great energy to the discharge of hia duties. He served the people faithfully and well.
To his widow and family, we tender our deep sympathy in their bereavement.
.- On behalf of the Opposition, I endorse the sentiments which have been expressed by the Acting Prime Minister (Dr. Earle Page). No one could fail to be struck by the manly way in which the late Mr. Cameron bore acute suffering during the last year or two of his life in this Parliament, yet was at all times of a genial and happy disposition. The Acting Prime Minister has truly said that he was one of the most popular members of this Parliament. We miss him from our assemblies; but our loss is small compared with that of his widow and family. To them we express our heartfelt sympathy in their bereavement.
– The loss sustained by this Parliament, and Australia as a whole, through the death of the late Mr. Malcolm D. Cameron, is the more fully realized by honorable members, because he was well known to most of us. As has already been said, the deceased gentleman possessed a genial disposition. Although a strong party man, there emanated from him such good- will that those who disagreed with him could not do other than honour him for standing to his political convictions. He approached every subject calmly and dispassionately. At no time did he display the least ill feeling towards those who disagreed with him. His nature was such that every honorable member regrets his passing. For several months towards the end of the last Parliament, Mr. Cameron obviously suffered a great deal, but he bore his affliction bravely. His decline was so rapid that his death was not entirely unexpected; but all of us are sorry that he has gone. I wholeheartedly support the motion that the sympathy of this House be extended to his widow and family.
.- I desire to associate myself with this motion, for it was my privilege to know the late Mr. Cameron very well. He was a fine man; ho was, in fact, one of nature’s gentlemen. As the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) has said, he was a strong party man, but outside this House he dropped party, and was a real man, indeed. I valued his friendship very much, and I endorse the remarks of the Acting Prime Minister (Dr. Earle Page).
.- As one who entered the Federal Parliament at the same time as Mr. Cameron, and who enjoyed his close personal friendship from that date to the time of his death, I associate myself with the motion moved by the Acting Prime Minister (Dr. Earle Page). Though I speak on personal grounds, I feel that the tributes which I am able to pay to him as a” friend are equally merited by him as a public man, because I have found that the man who possesses a capacity for friendship and loyalty to his friends generally possesses also those attributes which make for an honorable and distinguished public career.
– As the successor to Mr. Malcolm Cameron in this House, I wish to place on record my appreciation of that gentleman’s work on behalf of the electorate of Barker. I assure honorable members that from one end of the electorate to the other he was held in the highest esteem. He bore the sufferings associated with his illness with a degree of fortitude exhibited by few. I think I was the last member of this House to see him, and that was only a few weeks ago. He then knew that his end was near, but concerning many members of this House he made inquiries, and asked mie to convey to them his best regards. I take this opportunity to do so.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.
– by leave - I move -
That this House expresses its great regret at the death of Mrs. Pattie Deakin, C.B.E., widow of the Hon. Alfred Deakin, a former Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Australia, places on record its appreciation of her notable work in the interests of soldiers during and after the Great War, and in public, charitable and philanthropic movements, and tenders to the members of her family its deep sympathy in their bereavement.
The news of the death of Mrs. Deakin, C.B.E., which occurred on the 30th December last, ‘at Point Lonsdale, Victoria, was received with feelings of deep regret by those who at once recalled the magnificent public services of her husband, the late Honorable Alfred Deakin, and her own notable efforts in the causes of philanthropy and benevolence.
It is now many years since the late Mr. Deakin was actively participating as a leader in the public life of Australia, but there is no memory more vivid in the minds of the Australian people than of this outstanding statesman, who, as Prime Minister of the Commonwealth :n the early years of federation, and in the period of endeavour and preparation which immediately preceded the inauguration of federation, did noble service in laying and consolidating the foundations of our national life. Mrs. Deakin possessed to a marked degree qualities similar to those which enabled her husband to serve Australia so faithfully and well. Hers was, indeed, a life full of noble deeds - a life devoted to helping others. The needs of soldiers who were engaged in the Great War were her especial care, and her continuous service in their cause was fittingly acknowledged and recognized by returned soldiers’ organizations. Up till the time of her death, she continued to interest herself in the care of disabled soldiers, and in the welfare of the children of soldiers. Prom the establishment of the Sir Samuel McCaughey Bequest in 1919, which made provision for the education of soldiers’ children, Mrs. Deakin was a member of the trust which administered the fund.
Mrs. Deakin actively identified herself with many charitable and philanthropic organizations in the State of Victoria, and with movements having as their object the welfare of women and children. In addition to her many activities in the cause of social service, she maintained a keen interest in art and other kindred movements. It is appropriate that we should pay tribute to-day to the memory of one who was so closely associated with her late husband in his eminent work for Australia, and who, after his death, continued her work in spheres of great usefulness.
Just prior to her death, Mrs. Deakin was honoured by His Majesty the King by appointment to be a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in recognition of her public services in this Commonwealth. To the members of her family, one of whom, as honorable members are aware, is the wife of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White), we tender our sincere sympathy.
.- All honorable members who had the privilege of knowing Mrs. Deakin will join with the Acting Prime Minister (Dr. Earle Page) in expressing regret at her death. It was a shock to most of us when we heard of it, because we were not aware that she was suffering from an illness serious enough to bring about her death so soon. The name of Mrs. Deakin cannot be mentioned in this House without recalling that of her husband, who is still remembered as a man who did much to raise the standard of public life in Australia. One need not have belonged to the same political party as he did in order to be able to pay that tribute to him. He was a man of high integrity, of great qualities, and of great brilliance. I am sure that Mrs. Deakin was an inspiration to him in his work, as, indeed, every good wife must be an inspiration to her husband, whatever may be his walk in life.
. -My colleagues and I desire to be associated with this motion. The concluding words of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) were most appropriate; it is undoubtedly true that the success of many public men is due largely to the help and influence of their wives. It is evident that Mrs. Deakin continued to perform good works even after the death of her husband, and it is my sincere wish that the memory of the many good deeds and kindly acts she performed during her life will be a source of consolation to the bereaved relatives and friends during this sorrowing period.
Sir LITTLETON GROOM (Darling
Downs) [3.28]. - This motion takes one’s mind back to the earlier days of the history of the Commonwealth. When I first came into this Parliament, Alfred Deakin occupied a dominating position in it, and Mrs. Deakin was standing loyally by her husband then, as she continued to do throughout his life. From the beginning of the Commonwealth Parliament until he left this House, Alfred Deakin continued to fight a strenuous battle for the truly national ideals of Australia. ‘He fostered every good movement for the welfare of the country, and sought to make it a power within the Empire. And throughout all his struggles, stimulating his ambitions and supporting his high purposes, was his faithful helpmeet; she entered fully and completely into the work of her husband. She held her position with dignity, grace and charm, and inspired affection in all those associated with her. When her husband went to England in 1907 she accompanied him, and stood by him while he was making that great fight for those ideals which have since become established principles of our national life. She made an impression on the minds of the British people, who saw in her a type of Australian womanhood at its best. Her husband returned to Australia with his health undermined by his strenuous work overseas. While she assisted her husband in every possible way in his career, she had her own work to perform, and she was associated with Lady Northcote in organizing and carrying through a splendid exhibition of Australian women’s work which was held . in Melbourne.
That exhibition of Australian women’s work, one of the finest events in the history of this Commonwealth, was promoted by women, consisted of exhibits by women only, and was entirely managed by them. In everything that had a cultural influence on the life of the nation, Mrs. Deakin expended her best endeavours. Those in pain and suffering, especially those who had suffered for their country in the Great War, came in for her particular attention. In this motion we are recording our appreciation of the life work, not of a great Australian man, but of his wife, a great Australian woman, who not only lived up to the highest ideals of sympathetic understanding, but also was possessed of a great national outlook and the aspiration to see her country become an even greater nation.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.
Motion (by Dr. Earle Page) - by leave - agreed to -
That Mr. Speaker be requested to transmit the foregoing resolutions respectively to the relatives of the several persons specified therein, together with a copy of the speeches delivered in connexion with the resolutions.
– I suggest that, as a mark of respect to the memory of the deceased, the sitting be suspended until 8 o’clock p.m.
Sitting suspended from3.33 to 8.0 p.m.
Assent to the following bills reported : -
Sales Tax Procedure Bill 1934
Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Bill 1934
Flour Tax Assessment Bill (No. 2) 1934
Flour Tax Bill (No. 1) 1934
Flour Tax Bill (No. 2) 1934
Flour Tax Bill (No. 3) 1934
Wheatgrowers’ Relief Bill (No. 2) 1934
Wheat Bounty Bill 1934
Northern Australia Survey Bill 1934
Sales Tax Assessment (Fiji Imports) Bill 1934
War Service Homes Bill 1934
Special Annuity Bill 1934
Trans-Pacific Flight Appropriation Bill 1934
Loan Appropriation (Unemployment Relief) Bill 1934
Seat of Government (Administration) Bill 1934.
– by leave - The Government has received the second report of the Royal Commission on Wheat, Flour and Bread Industries, and has given consideration to the most important of the commission’s recommendations. The report contains, altogether, 25 recommendations, the first five of which particularly concern the present financial condition of the industry, and the steps which may be takento improve it. The other recommendations, which will have the immediate attention of the Government, in collaboration with the States and other bodies concerned, relate to scientific, economic, and practical problems associated with the production and marketing of wheat and flour.
The first five recommendations of the commission are as follow: -
That action be taken by the Commonwealth to facilitate adjustment of debts within the wheat industry in accordance with the scheme submitted by the commission in sub-sections 4 and 5 of section VIII. of this report.
The Government has already provided for the financial needs of the industry in respect of the 1934-35 harvest, the funds for which are being made available, partly from a flour tax, and partly from general revenue. The advisers of the Government state that the only way, if at all, by which a compulsory marketing scheme could be established in respect of wheat produced in the Commonwealth, would be by the complete co-operation of the States with the Common-wealth, the States surrendering to the Commonwealth their powers in respect to intra-state trade in wheat. Other methods for the establishment of such a scheme would be open to doubt on the grounds of constitutionality or practicability. The fullest possible discussion and consultation between the Commonwealth and the States must therefore precede any legislative action. To this end copies of the report are being supplied forthwith to the governments of the States. This will enable them to consider its contents before the meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council, which will be held on the 15th April. At this meeting, the question of cooperation between the States and the Commonwealth will be fully discussed, and the action which the States are prepared to take in the matter will be ascertained. The action which could be taken by the Commonwealth can be determined only when the views of the States have been ascertained.
So far as the adjustment of farmers’ debts is concerned, action has already been taken by the Commonwealth and the States. A general plan has been formulated, and the Commonwealth Government has agreed to provide up to £12,000,000 to the States over a period of years, free of interest, for the purpose of debt adjustment. I have given notice to-day that to-morrow I shall move for leave to introduce the necessary legislation. The recommendations of the royal commission in regard to the rate of exchange between Australia and London will be referred to the Commonwealth Bank for consideration. The determination of the rate is a matter which rests properly with the bank, and in reaching its decision it mustconsider the whole economic position of Australia.
For the convenience of honorable members and the public generally I lay on the table a copy of the report and I move -
That the paper be printed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I lay upon the table the following papers : -
Electoral Act. - Second Reports, with maps, by the commissioners appointed for the purpose of redistributing into electoral divisions the States of -
Ordered to be printed.
– I lay upon the table the following paper : -
Bass. Strait Mail Service. - New agreement dated 20th September, 1934, between the PostmasterGeneral and Tasmanian Steamers Proprietary Limited.
Ordered to be printed.
Dr.EARLE PAGE (Cowper- Acting Prime Minister) [8.14]. - by leave - In view of the great importance of the current negotiations with the Government of the United Kingdom, I take this, the first, opportunity of informing the House on the situation. This can best be done by describing the general condition of world trade in meat, the provisions of existing agreements, and the policy of the Government in the conversations now proceeding.
For many years the United Kingdom has been by far the greatest world market for meat. In 1932 that country imported 568,000 tons of chilled and frozen beef, out of a total world import of about 670,000 tons; 346,000 tons of mutton and lamb, out of a total of about 365,000 tons; and 640,000 tons of pork bacon and ham, out of a total of about 700,000 tons.
The outstanding feature of the last decade, which has been a substantial contributing factor to the depression in the meat industry all over the world, was the decline in international trade in beef. In 1926 the total world import of beef was 1,000,000 tons, whereas in 1932 it had declined to 670,000 tons. In that period imports by Great Britain declined hy 100,000 tons, and imports by foreign countries by more than 200,000 tons. During the same time Great Britain’s imports of mutton and lamb increased by 80,000 tons, while the relatively insignificant imports by foreign countries declined from 15,000 tons to 13,000 tons.
For several years preceding the Ottawa Conference of July, 1932, Australia’s beef exports had fluctuated, without an upward trend. In 1927-28 our total export was 75,000 tons, of which 42,000 tons went to the United Kingdom, while in 1931-32 our export was 74,000 tons, of which the United Kingdom took 57,000 tons. The reasons for the lack of progress were the decline in demand, particularly in foreign countries, and the inability of Australia to send beef over the long journey to Europe in a chilled condition. During the same period, however, there was a great increase in our exports of mutton and lamb, from 21,000 tons to 74,000 tons. This was due to the greater concentration on British breeds of sheep owing to the depression in wool prices, and it was sustained by the increased demand for lamb at the expense of beef.
From 1930 to the time of the Ottawa Conference a continuous decline occurred in meat prices in Great Britain. Between January, 1930, and July, 1932, the prices per lb. of Australian beef declined from 5d. to 2Jd. for forequarters and 6fd. to 4d. for hindquarters. Mutton declined from od. to 2fd., and lamb from 8 1/2d. to 5 1/4d.
In the Ottawa agreement provision was made for a 35 per cent, reduction in supplies of frozen beef, mutton and lamb from foreign countries, while imports of foreign chilled beef were limited to the volume of the imports of 1931-32. These restrictions have enabled the dominions to increase their supplies of beef, mutton and lamb to the United Kingdom.
The effect of the restrictions on foreign countries has been to increase prices, particularly of mutton and lamb. The prices in January, 1935, were 3$d. to 4d. for beef, 4£d. for mutton, and 7d. for lamb. These prices have since receded somewhat, . but, for mutton and lamb, they are still substantially above the figures of July, 1932. The improved prices of mutton and lamb have been of inestimable value to Australian producers.. Prices for beef, however, are still at a level which continues the condition of depression amongst both British and Australian beef producers. The reasons for the greater improvement in mutton and lamb prices are the more substantial percentage reduction in imports of those meats from foreign countries, and the increasing demand for them in the United Kingdom. It is to be noted that, at the time of the Ottawa Conference, the dominions were unable to participate in the chilled beef trade, and were therefore not successful in their pressure for a reduction in foreign supplies.
In addition to enjoying improved prices during the last two years, Australian producers have also gained a larger share of the British import trade. In 1932 Great Britain imported 48,000 tons of frozen beef and veal from Australia out of a total of 575,000 tons, and in 1934 it imported 83,000 tons, including 3,000 tons of chilled beef, out of a total of 590,000 tons. The figures for mutton and lamb are : - 1932, 58,000 tons out of a total of 346,000 tons; 1934, 81,000 tons out of a total of 324,000 tons.
Subsequent to the Ottawa agreement the British Government, in the interests of British agriculture, imposed a restriction of ten per cent. on imports of chilled beef from foreign countries, compared with the imports of 1931-32. A little later, in May, 1933, an agreement was entered into with Argentina, in which the Government of the United Kingdom undertook first, not to reduce imports of chilled beef from Argentina by more than 10 per cent. below 1931-32, unless meat imports from Empire countries were also reduced by a percentage equal to the percentage reduction of Argentine chilled beef over and above 10 per cent.; and secondly, not to reduce imports of frozen beef, mutton and lamb from Argentina below the provisions of the Ottawa agreement, unless imports of such meat from Empire countries were also reduced. The United Kingdom Government also declared that it was not its intention to impose duties on meat from Argentina.
The obligations of the Government of the United Kingdom in its agreement with Argentina should be read in conjunction with its rights and obligations under the Ottawa agreement. These are as follows: -
Duties cannot be imposed on dominion meat without the consent of the dominions. (ii) The United Kingdom have the power, since 1st July, 1934, to regulate imports of meat from the dominions, but they have undertaken, in the formulation of any plans of regulation, to have regard to their declared policy of affording to the dominions an expanding share of the meat import trade.
The Anglo- Argentina agreement will expire in November, 1936, and the Ottawa agreement in August, 1937.
A White Paper issued by the British Government in July, 1934, stated that while sheep prices had risen since November, 1932, cattle prices had not improved, and were then below pre-war levels. The Government had examined the possibility of -
A drastic reduction of imports by means of quantitative regulation.
Action along the lines of the Wheat Act 1932, involving the collection of a levy on imports of meat to provide a fund from which payments could be made to supplement the returns accruing to home producers from the sale of their stock in the open market, imports being unregulated.
A levy on imports and payments to producers, as referred to above, coupled with some degree of direct supply regulation in the interests of all suppliers. and was convinced that the plan suggested in paragraph c would afford the best long-term solution of the problem. It was contemplated that the duty would not exceed1d. per lb., with a preference for the dominions. Such a plan could be introduced only by agreement with the governments of the dominions and of the Argentine. In the absence of such agreement, the only action open to the Government of the United Kingdom would be by the further regulation of supplies. In view, however, of the serious nature of the problems which such action would present to certain of the governments concerned, it desired to allow time for further examination of the various alternatives. Meanwhile, in order to help the home producer, it was introducing the Cattle Industry Emergency Provision Bill, providing for payment at the rate of 5s. per live cwt., or 9s. 4d. per cwt. dead weight, to producers of live cattle sold for slaughter between the 1st September, 1934, and the 31st March, 1935.
A further White Paper was issued by the British Government on the 6th March, 1935, explaining the live stock situation in the United Kingdom. The contents of this document are summarized as follows : -
– It is thefirm intention of His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom to safeguard the position of the United Kingdom live stock industry.
– Having regard to the terms of the Ottawa and Argentine Agreements, the only practicable means at present available to them for this purpose is a drastic reduction of imports of meat into the United Kingdom from all sources.
– If, however, the consent of the dominions concerned, of SouthernRhodesia and of the Argentine can be obtained to the necessary variations of their respective agreements, it would be possible to deal with the situation by the imposition of’ a levy upon imports of meat into the United Kingdom, with or without a measure of supply regulation.
– The policy which His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom desire to bring into operation as soon as they are in a position to do so is to assist the United Kingdom live stock industry, according to the needs of the market, from the proceeds of a levy on imports, with a preference to the dominions, overseas producers being left free to regulate their exports to this market themselves.
– The question, therefore, arises where with the consent of the governments concerned a levy should be imposed upon imports forthwith, as an alternative to drastic reduction of imports which would otherwise be necessary.
– If so, the following further questions arise: -
whether all import regulations should cease as from the date on which the levy comes into operation, or whether there should be a transitional period, after the imposition of the levy, during which a moderate degree of import regulation would be maintained.
whether a levy should be imposed on all meat or only upon beef, veal and live cattle, bearing in mind that in the latter case a higher rate of levy may be necessary than if the levy were applied over the whole field of imported meat and that it would also be necessary to ensure that imports of lamb, mutton and pork are adequately controlled.
Communications so far exchanged not having led to a satisfactory solution of this difficult problem, it was decided by the ‘Commonwealth Government that during the visit of the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) to England, to participate in the celebration associated with the Silver Jubilee of His Majesty the King, there would be personal discussions on this and other problems; and in view of the importance of the issues at stake, it was also decided that two other Ministers should accompany the Prime Minister. In addition, the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Menzies), who is visiting Great Britain on private business, will be available for consultation.
Meanwhile, the Commonwealth Government has collaborated with the other Empire governments concerned in an arrangement for the first quarter of this year, which has in no way prejudiced the position of Australian producers. Consideration is at present being given to the conditions which will obtain during the second quarter of the year.
Recently I announced that, as an alternative to the imposition of restrictions on imports of meat into the United Kingdom from Australia, the Commonwealth Government would be prepared to accept a plan, to operate until the expiry of the Anglo-Argentine agreement, based on the following principles: -
At the same time, the Government would be anxious to assure special consideration for frozen beef, because of the difficult economic conditions which the cattle industry is experiencing.
Since that announcement there has been propaganda, chiefly by some exporters and agents, urging producers to favour the policy of restriction for Australia, in preference to the plan favoured by the Government. That advice is offered by persons who have not appreciated all the relevant facts of the position, or who would profitby the limitation of the producers’ outlet.
I again remind honorable members that the British Government has the power to regulate imports of meat from Australia. The Government considers that the provisions of the Ottawa agreement, read in conjunction with those of the AngloArgentine agreement, protect Australia against any drastic restriction. But even a check to expansion of exports, while production is expanding, would possibly entail serious consequences. Certainly a drought, which no one desires, would so reduce export surpluses that any predictable restriction would, temporarily, have no effect. The Government’s policy, however, is not based on the gamble of a drought, but is determined by a longer view of what is good for Australia.
The Australian beef industry is on the threshold of a great transition. A few years ago, scientific and practical opinion was pessimistic as to the prospects of transporting chilled beef from Australia to Great Britain. To-day that form of transport is in practical use. Last year, 3,000 tons of chilled beef arrived in the United Kingdom from Australia, but this year, if the trade is unhampered, the volume will be from 10,000 to 15,000 tons. This development promises largely to convert the trade from frozen beef to chilled beef, and also to expand the total trade, because of the better prices which are obtained. It is the Government’s object to ensure that no conditions will be imposed which will check that desirable development.
As far as mutton and lamb are concerned, the increased concentration on mutton breeds of sheep has come to stay. The existence of suitable country in irrigation districts, and areas of liberal rainfall, ensures the sustained moderate development of fat lamb production. Moreover, the continued economic hardship suffered by wool and wheat producers emphasizes the importance of an unhampered outlet for their meat.
The imposition of arbitrary restrictions on meat exports would, if recent developments in production continued, immediately create a glut in the domestic market. Then, in the absence of government intervention, producers would gain nothing from any increase of overseas prices. The benefit would accrue solely to the exporters, who would buy in a glutted stock market, and sell in a regulated market overseas. The only means of avoiding this would be for the governments of the Commonwealth and the States to impose restrictions on the classes of stock which could be offered for sale, or slaughtered, both for export and for domestic consumption. Such a condition of affairs is surely to be avoided.
The present position in regard to mutton and lamb export is that, pending finality in the current negotiations with the British Government, the Commonwealth Government has been obliged temporarily to suspend export. This is because the volume of export for arrival in the second quarter has already reached the figure mentioned by the British Government in’ a recent cabled communication. The Government hopes that the position will be clarified very soon, and that normal operations can be resumed. There is no prospect of even a temporary suspension of beef shipments.
In conclusion, I assure honorable members that the Government is constantly engaged in a close study of the position.
Provision has been made for consultation with the industry through the Meat Advisory Committee, the next meeting of which is to take place next Saturday, the 16th March. Should the occasion arise, the Government will not hesitate to organize the producers in their own interests.
– Is the Minister representing the Acting Attorney-General aware that the Federal Arbitration Court, by varying awards, is allowing the Railways Commissioners in New South Wales to employ, at dole rates of wages, labour on constructional works in connexion with the railways and tramways, thus gravely depressing the living standards of the workers of New South Wales and the rest of Australia? If so, will he take the steps necessary to prevent the Arbitration Court from becoming an instrument to make possible sweating conditions in industry which it was created to destroy?
– I did not imagine that the honorable member’s question would be directed to me, or, if so, in what capacity.
– It was addressed to the right honorable gentleman in his capacity as the Minister in this chamber representing the Acting Attorney-General.
– My re-incarnation has been so recent that I have not had time to appreciate all that it means. If the honorable member will put his question on the notice-paper I will see that he has an answer to-morrow.
– Because of the uncertainty existing with reference to the exchange rate as between Australia and London, will the Acting Treasurer make a statement with regard to the position in order to remove a great deal of the unrest that prevails in trading and financial circles, and also prevent a continuance of exchange gambling in Australia and London?
– The exchange rate between Australia and London is one entirely for the determination of the
Commonwealth. Bank Board, and the Government has no intention of bringing it within the ambit of politics. As to the exchange position I can, perhaps, best reply to the honorable gentleman by reading, if I may, the following statement made a few days ago by Sir Claude Beading, the chairman of the Commonwealth Bank Board: -
The irresponsible statements, now being circulated that a change in the rate of exchange is imminent and unavoidable are without foundation. Exchange on London is freely available for normal requirements. The total funds held in London at the present time by Australian trading banks, together with the funds held by the Commonwealth Bank are ample to meet governmental obligations and all legitimate requirements. Since the Commonwealth Bank Board assumed responsibility for London exchange more than three years ago, the rate has been maintained at £125 Australian to £100 sterling, despite considerable fluctuations from time to time during this period in the volume of London funds. This was in accord with tho deliberate policy of the Commonwealth Bank to maintain a steady rate and thus avoid the uncertainty which would exist with a frequently fluctuating rate. Tho Commonwealth Bank Board is si till of the opinion that stability in the rate of exchange is of tho utmost importance.
– Are we to infer from the Minister’s reply that the Government considers that the extent of the depreciation of Australian currency i3 a matter with which the Government should not concern itself?
– I do not think that the honorable member correctly states the position when he speaks of the depreciation of Australian currency. The question of the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Jennings) referred to the exchange rate. That is entirely a matter for determination by the Commonwealth Bank Board, and the Government is content to leave it with that body.
– In view of the widespread desire of the people of Australia to know something about the recommendations made by Sir Maurice Hankey, who visited Australia recently, and, it is understood, submitted certain proposals to the Government with regard to Australian defence, can the Minister for Defence inform the House whether any report has been drafted dealing with his recommendations? If so, will it be possible for honorable members to obtain copies of it in the near future ?
– During the visit of Sir Maurice Hankey in connexion with the Victorian Centenary Celebrations, the opportunity was taken, in view of his wide experience, to discuss with him various aspects of the defence of the Commonwealth as well as other matters. So far as I am aware, he made no report to the Government that can be made available as the honorable member has suggested.
– Is the Minister for Defence in a position to state when tenders for the Ord River to Wyndham air mail service will be called ?
Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL.Tenders have been invited, and will be dealt with shortly.
Expectancy of Life
– In view of a recent statement by ‘the Chairman of the Repatriation Commission, Colonel Semmons, that statistics definitely prove that expectancy of life by ex-sailors and ex-soldiers has not been affected by war service is the Minister for Repatriation in a position either to confirm or deny this assertion?
– My attention has been drawn to the statement referred to, but I am not in a position to make any comment upon it beyond saying offhand that it does not commend itself to me. However, I propose to institute inquiries with a view to ascertaining by an analysis of the figures and by a review of the whole of the facts whether the expectancy of life for men of the Australian Imperial Forces has been shortened as the result of their war service.
– Conflicting statements have been attributed to the Minister for Trade and Customs in the press with regard to the purchase of the forthcoming crop of tobacco. One is to the effect that no agreement has been or will be made with the tobacco companies. The other is that an agreement had already been made. If the second statement be correct I should like to know if the growers were consulted, and if the Minister will disclose the terms of the agreement ?
– No arrangement has been made for the purchase of the tobacco crop this year. It is too early yet to estimate the quantity of leaf that will be available, but the Government has been negotiating with the principal manufacturers with a view to securing an agreement along lines similar to those made in previous years so that the disposal of the Australian crop from bright mahogany upwards will be assured.
– Will the growers be consulted ?
– I had the benefit of receiving representations from a. very large deputation of growers in December last, and I shall be glad to receive any further representations they may desire to make.
Sales by General Motors-Holdens Ltd. to Competitors.
– Statements have been made that the largest motor car body building organization in Australia - General Motors-Holdens Ltd. - charges higher prices to British and American car distributors compelled to buy from them than it charges to its own car division, thus giving its own organization an advantage in car sales. It has also been stated that this organization withholds the delivery of bodies to competing organizations, again to its own advantage. Will the Minister for Trade and Customs inform me whether the Government investigated these charges before submitting the present panel schedule, and, if so, what was the result of that investigation ?
– I have had brought under my notice,, and have also read in the press, allegations which are certainly damaging to an Australian firm. That firm has already denied them. I may say, however, that this matter has been investigated by the Tariff Board, and that some mention of it will appear when the board’s report is published. Furthermore the Government has sent an accountant of the Customs Department to make an independent investigation as to whether there is any foundation for the allegations. The company itself states that far from charging more to its competitors it supplies them with bodies at a loss.
– The Minister has referred to General Motors-Holden’s Ltd. as an Australian firm. Has he ascertained what amount of American capital is invested in it?
– I do not know whether this question is relevant to that which I have just answered, or is intended to reflect on the company in question. So far as I am concerned, it is an Australian company.
– Is it not a fact that General Motors-Holden’s Ltd. is a company registered in Australia which employs thousands of Australian workers?
– I have not seen the registration of the company, but I have seen its factory, and certainly there are employed in it thousands of men, as well as a number of youths. In addition to the direct employment given by the company, there is a good deal of incidental employment.
– In view of the statements appearing in the press to the effect that the Government has given up its intention, for the time being at any rate, of providing patrol boats in northern Australian waters, could the Minister for the Interior give the House some indication of what really is the intention of his department in this matter?
– If the honorable member has read reports to the effect that the Government has decided to abandon its intention of providing patrol boats in northern Australian waters such reports are incorrect. It is proposed to place a very fast patrol boat in these waters andthis will be stationed at Darwin. The purchase will be made by the Defence Department, but the boat will be manned and run by the Department of the Interior.
– Will the Acting Prime Minister state what action the Government intends to take in furtherance of the promise given during the last recess that it would take steps during this session to relieve unemployment? Seeing that the Under-Secretary for Employment is leaving on a trip overseas is it a fact that he is making such a trip in order to avoid friction with the Government because of its failure to put into effect the recommendations he made for the relief of unemployment? As unemployment is one of the biggest questions facing the people of this country at the present time will the Acting Prime Minister make a statement as to how the Government intends to deal with this problem during this session?
– The Government will bring down proposals this session to deal with this question, and honorable members will then have an opportunity to examine them.
– In making to the House this afternoon a statement concerning the allotment of ministerial duties consequent upon the absence of certain Ministers overseas, the Acting Prime Minister neglected to tell honorable members who would discharge the duties, if any, of the Under-Secretary for Employment, and to state to whom questions dealing with employment should be directed. Will the right honorable gentleman new furnish the House with that information?
– I apologize to the House for having failed to deal with this matter; the omission was due to an oversight. The whole subject of employment will be dealt with by the Minister for the Interior, to whom questions in relation to it should be directed.
– Has the Government received the full report of the royal commission which inquired into the petrol industry, and, if so, when will it be made available?
– The Government has not yet received the full report of the commission. It has received a portion of Mie report and is still awaiting the other portion. As soon as the full report comes to hand it will be made available.
– Can the Acting Prime Minister give the House an undertaking that an opportunity will be given this session to debate the report of the royal commission on petrol ?
– I cannot give the honorable member any such assurance until the Government has received the report. So far it has not come to hand.
– Are we to understand that the Government has already received one report? If so, for what report is it still waiting?
– The Government is still awaiting the report of the chairman of the commision.
AWARD Rates of Pay.
– In view of the assurance given by the Assistant Treasurer and the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Employment last session, when the grant for the Maitland sewerage scheme and other relief works was made, that award rates and conditions would aPply 011 such works; and seeing that now the State Government has started the Maitland sewerage scheme under emergency relief work conditions without making any additional money available itself, will the Minister for the Interior make representations to the State Government to have award rates and conditions applied under the expenditure of the federal grant for this work?
– With respect to the work which the honorable gentleman has mentioned, and other similar works, in some cases - indeed, I believe, in all cases - the matter is one of apportioning the cost between the local authority in New South Wale3, the New South Wales Government, and the Commonwealth Government, which three parties provide the necessary funds. Although the Commonwealth Government subsidizes such works it must be recognized that they are none the less carried out by the State and that the State must, therefore, determine the conditions governing the labour employed on them.
– Oan the Acting Prime Minister explain to the House and to the citizens of Australia the reason for the Government’s indecent haste to ratify the existing sugar agreement?
– As every honorable member knows, the sugar industry is such that, if it is to be carried on successfully, ample notice must be given to the growers of future market possibilities. It has always been the policy of the Commonwealth, since the first agreement was made with the Queensland Government, for the Commonwealth Government to indicate, some considerable time ahead, its intention with regard to the renewal of the agreement. That is all that has been done in this case. I remind the honorable member that under a recent decision of this Parliament, it is necessary that any embargo imposed shall be subject to review by this Parliament.
– Will the Acting Prime Minister give the assurance that no arrangement for the renewal of the sugar agreement will be made binding until it has first been submitted to and approved by both Houses of this Parliament ?
– In the past a notification of the making of the sugar agreement by the different Governments concerned has been made in this House and has usually been debated. The agreement cannot be brought into effect without the imposition of an embargo upon the importation of black-grown sugar from overseas. This House will have an opportunity to say whether it desires the continuance of that embargo.
– Has the Government given an undertaking to the sugar industry that the price of sugar will not be lowered? If so, will the Acting Leader of the Government withdraw that undertaking until either his party or this House has had an opportunity to deal with the subject?
– Prior to his departure for England, the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) stated definitely the policy of the Government in this matter. To that policy the Government adheres.
– Will the Minister give the House an assurance that the sugar agreement will not be renewed without giving adequate protection to the berryfruit industry?
– The suggested sugar agreement, which will operate for the next five years, contains a provision whereby the fruit industries are to be given £16,000 more than was previously given to them to assist production and export.
– Can the Acting Prime Minister report any progress in the negotiations with the dominion of New Zealand for an extension of reciprocal trading arrangements, since the House adjourned last December?
– The negotiations with New Zealand are still proceeding, and it is hoped that an opportunity will occur in the near future for personal consultations that may result i« the making of an agreement.
Additional Transfers of Departments
– Is the Minister for the Interior in a position to inform the House as to what proposals the Government has in view for the transfer this year of additional departments from Melbourne to Canberra ? If so, what is the estimated number of officers to be transferred ?
– The Government proposes to transfer to Canberra within the present calendar year the Department of the Auditor-General, the Bankruptcy Branch attached to the AttorneyGeneral’s Department, the Central officers of the Commerce Department, and the officers of the Development Branch. I estimate that, in all, about 40 officers, with their families, will be transferred.
– Will the Acting Treasurer cause to have prepared a return showing the value of the treasury-bills that have been issued by Commonwealth Governments, or by the Loan Council, from the 1st July, 1930, to the 30th June, 1934, giving the amounts received by the Commonwealth Bank and the trading banks for the discounting of same, and the amount of interest paid to the banks in the period named ? Is this information available in the balance-sheets issued by the Commonwealth Bank and the trading banks?
– I am not sure, offhand, whetherthe allocation of treasury-bills as between the trading banks and the Commonwealth Bank has been a matter of public knowledge up to the present; but I see no reason why the information which the honorable member seeks should not be made available, assuming that the Commonwealth Bank Board, if it has the power to decide the matter, has no objection to that course being followed. I invite the honorable member to acquaint me of the degree of detail that he requires.
– Will the Acting Prime Minister inform the House when it is proposed to afford to honorable members an opportunity to debate the motion on the notice-paper in the name of the honorable member for Echuca (Mr. McEwen), to which the honorable member for Martin (Mr. McCall) has moved an amendment, dealing with the banking and monetary system of Australia?
– At the moment I cannot indicate exactly when such an opportunity will be afforded; but I shall be able to supply the honorable member with the information at a later date.
– The press recently attributed to the Acting Prime Minister the statement that it was the intention of the Government to place an excise duty on margarine. Will the right honorable gentleman give to the House the assurance that the Government has no such intention?
– The statement referred to was quite unauthorized. The Government has not yet considered the matter.
– Is the Minister administering war service homes aware that a Mrs. Henderson, of 72 Unwinstreet, Hurstville, was to-day evicted from her home during the temporary absence therefrom of her ex-soldier husband? Will the Minister instruct the Commissioner so to administer the department that more consideration is shown to ex-soldiers and their dependants? Is the honorable gentleman aware that an officer of the War Service Homes Department is visiting ex-soldiers who are purchasers of war service homes and advising them that if they vacate the premises the department will waive arrears of repayment? Is he further aware that homes which were built with the intention that they should be occupied by ex-soldiers have been sold to persons who did not go to the war? Is it his intention to instruct the department that these properties shall be sold only to ex-service men?
– The honorable member seeks such a volume of information that I suggest that his best course is to place his question on the notice-paper.
– Will the Minister issue to the department to-morrow instructions to suspend all proceedings for eviction ?
– If the honorable member has in mind any person who is threatened with such’ proceedings, and will supply me with the name of the party concerned I shall make inquiries with a view to ascertaining the facts.
– Can the Minister for the Interior inform the House as to what action the Government has taken towards the proposed re-subdivision of areas in the Northern Territory?
– I presume that the honorable gentleman refers to the proposed resumption of leaseholds which falls due on the 30th June next. I hope to be in a position to make a statement on the matter in the course of the next few days.
– Is the Acting Treasurer aware that the Invalid and Old-Age Pensions Act fixes at £3 a week the joint permissible pension and income combined of a married couple? Does he know that the Pensions Department has adopted a formula under the adequate maintenance section of the act, under which married couples with an income of less than £3 a week are being compelled partially to maintain adult invalid children, such children being paid only half-pension rates? Will the honorable gentleman instruct the department to pay the full invalid pension in all such cases in which children are entitled to receive it?
– The statement of the honorable member that the maximum permissible income, plus pension, of a male pensioner and his pensioner wife is £3 a week is in accordance with the provisions of the law. If he will place a question on the notice-paper, I shall see that it is fully answered.
– Can the Minister for Commerce inform the House as to when the matter of the appointment of trade commissioners abroad will be finalised?
– A meeting of the Eastern Trade Committee, at which the matter of these appointments will be discussed, has been called for April next.
– Is the newspaper statement correct that the defence proposals of the Government include the improvement of the defences at Newcastle ?
– The three-years programme of the Defence Department makes provision for some improvements at the port of Newcastle.
– Some time ago the Tariff Board presented to the Government a report in connexion with Oregon.
Am I to understand that the matter is held up’ by negotiations for a trade treaty with a particular country? Can the Minister for Trade and Customs say what prospect there is of an early settlement of the question, which, in its present state, is unsettling the timber trade, particularly in South Australia?
– The answer to the first part of the honorable member’s question is in the affirmative. As to the second part, the reply is that the Government expects to consider the report shortly.
– In connexion with the visit of the Japanese delegation to Australia, can the Acting Prime Minister inform the House what progress has been made with regard to a trade treaty with Japan?
– When the negotiations had reached a certain stage the Japanese delegates found it necessary to consult their Government. They are awaiting a reply before resuming negotiations.
– Is the Acting Prime Minister aware that the Secretary for the Dominions, Mr. Thomas, when discussing a proposed agreement between England and Australia a week or so ago, said that Britain’s interests must always come first? Will the Acting Prime Minister, on behalf of the Commonwealth Government, make as courageous a statement that Australia’s interests must always come first?
– I think that the statement of the Secretary for the Dominions was that the British Government would give consideration, first, to British producers, then to dominion producers, and, after them,” to foreign producers. The Commonwealth Government’s policy is, first, the protection of Australian producers; then, preference for British and other Empire producers.
– In view of the fact that the British Government is giving a preference of 4d. a gallon on oil produced from coal, and that the policy of the
United Australia party, as enunciated during the recent election campaign, is to follow England, will the Minister say whether any protection, either by way of tariff or subsidy, will be granted to Oil Proprietary Limited, a company which was registered last week to commence the -construction of a plant to extract oil from coal on the northern coal-fields?
Mr.WHITE. - If the company can make out a prima facie case for reference to the Tariff Board, 1 shall send it on to that body for report.
– Can the Minister for the Interior give the House any information concerning the capacity of the oil wells at Lakes Entrance, Victoria? Will he have inquiries made as to the truth or otherwise of the report that certain interests are acting in a manner which is detrimental to the development of those wells? If he finds that that report is well founded will he take steps to remove every obstacle that would militate against the successful development of these wells seeing that the production of oil is a matter of national concern?
– I do not know the exact quantity of oil that has been obtained from the Lakes Entrance oilfield, but I believe that it is larger than that obtained elsewhere in Australia. The gallonage reaches six figures at least. I shall be glad to have further information from the honorable gentleman with regard to the other part of his question, and to take any steps within my power to prevent any damage to, or interference with, an industry which has good prospects in this country.
– Are negotiations still proceeding with a view to leasing certain areas in the Northern Territory to private enterprise, involving the granting of concessions by the Government, and, if so, what stage has been reached in the negotiations? Will the Minister give the House an undertaking that before any such lease is signed this House will be given an opportunity to discuss the whole subject?
– The Government has not yet fully considered the proposal to deal with the Barkly Tableland area in the Northern Territory. When it has done so, it will, no doubt, decide in what way this House shall be informed.
– Has the Minister for the Interior discussed with Cabinet the request of the aborigines of Australia to have a direct representative in this House ?
– The Government recently decided to send to Arnheim Land Dr. Donald Thompson, a well-known anthropologist connected with the Melbourne University, for the purpose of investigating and reporting on matters affecting aborigines in the Northern Territory. Pending the receipt of his report, the Government does not propose to take any action on the lines indicated by the honorable member.
– Will the Acting Prime Minister take steps to prevent the continuation of the inspired propaganda which is appearing in the press, and which has for its object the bringing about of the resignation of the Chief Justice of the High Court?
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. G. J. Bell).The honorable member’s question is not in order.
The following papers were presented : -
Elections and Referendums - Statistical Returns in relation to the Senate Elections, 1934; the General Elections for the House of Representatives, 1934: together with Summaries of Elections and Referendums, 1903-1934.
Elections, 1934 -
Statistical Returns showing the voting within each Subdivision in relation to the Senate Elections and the General Elections for the House of Representatives, 1934, viz.: -
New South Wales.
Statistical Returns showing the voting within each Subdivision in relation to the General Election for the House of Representatives, 1934, for the Northern Territory.
Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1935, No. 7.
Conciliation and Arbitration Act - RegulationsStatutory Rules 1934, No. 156.
Customs Act - Regulations amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1935, Nos. 1, 2, 4.
Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1934, No. 158.
Financial Emergency Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1935, No. 8.
Flour Tax Assessment Act (No. 2) 1934 - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1934, No. 103.
Judiciary Act - Rule of Court - Dated 13th December, 1934.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for postal, telegraphic, telephonic and other like services at -
Lawrence, New South Wales.
Wagin, Western Australia.
Nationality Act - Return for 1934. Naval Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1934, Nos. 159, 160, 101, 162.
Statutory Rules 1935, No. 6.
Navigation Act - Regulations amended, &c. -
Statutory Rules 1934, Nos. 151, 153.
Statutory Rules 1935, Nos. 13, 14.
Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Territory (Administration) Act -
Ordinances of 1934 -
No. 23- State Children.
No. 24. - Mining (No. 2).
No. 25. - Dentists Registration.
No. 26. - School Committee.
Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1935, No. 3.
Public Service Act -
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1935, No. 18.
Quarantine Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1935, No. 11.
Raw Cotton Bounty Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1935, No. 12.
Sales Tax Assessment Acts (Nos. 1 to 9) - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1934, No. 154.
Sales Tax Procedure Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1934, No. 155.
Seatof Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act-
Ordinances of 1934 -
No. 25 - Companies (Receiverand Manager ) .
No. 26 - Matrimonial Causes.
Ordinances of 1935 -
No. 1 - City Area Leases.
No. 2 - Advisory Council.
No. 3- Traffic.
No. 4 - Juvenile Offenders (Detention ) .
Transport Workers Act - Regulationsamended - Statutory Rules 1935, No. 9.
– I have received from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the House this evening for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, “ the serious drift in our overseas trade imperilling the trade balance and employment in Australian industries.”
Five honorable members having risen in support of the motion,
.- In moving -
That the House do now adjourn,
I desire to draw attention to the serious drift in our overseas trade which imperils our credit abroad, and threatens employment in Australian industries. This is the first opportunity I have had since the re-assembling of Parliament to draw attention to one of the most serious matters which can engage the attention of the House. I do not believe that the moving of the adjournment of the House can adequately meet the situation, but it is necessary to bring under the notice of honorable members what is taking place so that they may exercise their influence with the Government. This Parliament was elected six months ago, and in that time it has sat for 21 days. We have been given to understand that it is now to sit for less than twenty days, after which it will adjourn until September, so that, in its first twelve months, Parliament will sit for only 40 days. In the meantime, the reduced duties operating under this Government will continue an force, and will accentuate the Already grave position. I wonder how many ..honorable members have studied the latest statistics regarding the overseas trade position. I hope they all have, and I shall content myself now with quoting a few of the outstanding figures, -and with asking honorable members to consider them in the light of what has &aken place within the last few years.
For the seven months from July, 1933, 4o January, 1934, imports to Australia were valued at £34,204,000, while for the corresponding period of 1934-35 they amounted to £43,618,000, an increase of £9,414,000.’ Our exports for those periods were £57,878,000 and £45,470,000. respectively, representing a decrease in the value of our exports of £12,408,000. Thus, our trade balance went to the bad during that period to the amount of £21,822,000. That reveals a most serious state of affairs, and one that cannot be treated lightly. 3?he Government seems quite complacent about it, however, and the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White), who acted as spokesman for the Governmnent when attention was drawn to (the matter a few weeks ago, said that the position would adjust itself automatically. “What factor does he expect to work automatically? It has been suggested that, (by the manipulation of the rate of exchange, the trade balance can be made to adjust itself, but that remedy cannot be relied upon, as recent history shows. For many years, prior to 1930, there had been an excess of imports over exports with the result that, for seven sucessive years, there had been an adverse trade balance, a condition of affairs that was fostered by the policy of overseas borrowing. This went on until January, 1929, when our credit was stopped in London, and loans then being floated were left almost entirely in the hands of the underwriters. Imports still continued to flow into the country in excess of exports. Frequent rises in the exchange rate took place until finally it reached the level «f 30 per cent., but, despite that, it was found necessary to take drastic tariff action in order to save the country from bankruptcy. Eventually the excessive flow of imports was checked, the trade balance was corrected, and funds were accumulated with which to meet our overseas commitments. The rate of exchange fell to 25 per cent., and it would undoubtedly have fallen further had not the’ Commonwealth Bank pegged it at that figure in order to help our exporting industries. That was done with the consent of the government of the day, and has been continued with the consent and approval of successive governments. In normal times the exchange rate is regarded as a means for adjusting trade balances, but in the abnormal conditions which prevailed in 1929-30, it was found to be quite inadequate for this purpose; nor would the lack of purchasing power have operated in time to avert disaster. The Minister for Trade and Customs said that improved prices for wool during last year had made funds available overseas for the purchase of imports, but events have shown that excessive importing can continue without any such encouragement, traders being prepared to lodge funds here for the purpose in the hope of something turning up.
Since the Lyons Government has been in office there have been frequent reductions of import duties, resulting in an ever-increasing volume of imports. The volume of our exports has not declined although their value has, and there is nothing in the suggestion that the trouble is due to import restrictions. We cannot by our own act raise the price of wool or other export commodities, but we can control imports. In 1927 I warned the Government of the day that the situation was becoming alarming, and two years later I was leader of a government which took charge during the crisis. Since the present Government has been in office, I have issued further warnings, and the reply has been that, with the help of the ‘exchange rate, our adverse trade balance can be corrected.
It is claimed by the Lyons Government that the Commonwealth Bank is free to fix the rate of exchange, and we were informed that it is the policy of the Government to keep that matter outside the realm of politics. Technically, it is outside, but, in fact, it is not free from the effects of political action. In the last Parliament the Government sponsored an amendment to the Customs Act in order to provide that, when an increase took place in the rate of exchange, import duties should be automatically reduced. Therefore, if the Commonwealth Bank increased the exchange rate for the purpose of adjusting our trade balance, its action could be off-set by the automatic decline of import duties.
– That is not so.
– I challenge the Acting Treasurer to prove that that statement is incorrect. It is further claimed, in justification of the complacent attitude of the Government, that the increases which have taken place in importations are a sign of prosperity and increased employment because, in the main, they represent tools of trade, machinery for industry, and raw material for manufactures. That statement might convince people who do not read the list of importations. It is true that some of the increases of importations can be accounted for under these headings, but not the whole of them. For instance, apparel, attire and textiles, which by no stretch of the imagination can be said to be raw materials, but much of which could be manufactured in Australia, show an increase for the first seven months of 1934-35 to £9,466,000 from £7,524,000 for the corresponding period of the previous year. The value of importations of paints and varnishes during the same period rose from £193,000 to £285,000, or an increase of £92,000; tobacco, which can be grown and manufactured in Australia, rose from £284,000 to £676,000, an increase of £392,000; china, crockery and household ware, the manufacture of which could be undertaken on a larger scale in Australia, rose from £643,000 to £851,000, a rise of £208,000. If, under this heading, there are included some things which cannot be manufactured in Australia who will say that they represent tools of trade and raw materials? The value of imports of jewellery and fancy goods during the same period rose from £471,000 to £648,000, an increase of £177,000. Under this heading, there may be many items which are not produced in Australia, but they are luxuries, and we do not need to import them if we cannot pay for them. The value of imports of motor bodies and parts rose from £25,000 to £104,000, an increase of £79,000. The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Stacey) should be interested in the increase under that heading. Foodstuffs of animal origin, including potted and concentrated meats, rose from £505,000 to £734,000, an increase of £229,000. I submit that fully one-half of the increases are in respect of items which could be produced or manufactured in Australia; many more are in respect of items which we do not need if we are unable to pay for them with exports. A proper analysis of these increases would probably show that their manufacture in this country would give employment to another 10,000 persons. It take9 time for an alteration of the tariff to have any beneficial effects, and so this Government has enjoyed the benefits of the increased tariff imposed by the Labour Government. By reason of the duties we imposed our opponents were able to claim before the electors that 60,000 workers have been employed in factories since the Lyons’ Government came into office. As it takes time for tariff increases to have effect, so also does it take time for decreases to have effect, and the full effect of the decreases made in the tariff schedule by this ^Government are not yet apparent. What will be the position when their effect is being fully experienced ?
To ward off criticism, the Government points to the reserves in London, saying that our overseas financial position is sound. I do not want to do anything to injure the credit of our country. When I issued a warning in 1927, 1 was charged by the present Acting Prime Minister (Dr. Earle Page) with raising a cry that would destroy Australia’s credit. But one cannot remain silent when the obvious facts show that the country’s credit is to be destroyed. It is difficult to check exactly what our London funds are, but it has been stated that the reserves amount to £68,000,000, after allowing for certain adjustments. The accumulation of London funds is due in the main to the drastic tariff action of the Scullin Government and the consequent scaling down of imports, which gave us a credit trade balance. But we must not be lulled. into a false sense of security. Before the advent of the Bruce-Page Government, the accumulated funds in London were more than double the present amount. Immediately before the depression; we had a very large credit there, mainly as a result of loans raised overseas. But these funds dwindled away as soon as ‘the crisis came, and our credit was stopped. So we had to fall back on the drastic policy of prohibitions. That policy has been criticized; I was leader of the Government that introduced it, and I say that it is undesirable that there should be drastic and sudden changes in tariff duties such as were forced upon us in 1930. We should try to avoid such a desperate expedient, but if we had not resorted to it at that time Australia would have had no alternative but to default. It is true that we have credit funds in London which under present conditions, not allowing for droughts or restriction of exports, will last for approximately two years. At the end of that time we shall be again facing the dangers that were imminent five years ago. But we must take into account droughts and restriction of exports. Something may be said of invisible exports due to the revival of gold-mining, but I remind honorable members that this year we shall witness a tremendous exodus of tourists from Australia who will spend abroad millions of pounds; this expenditure is equivalent to an invisible import. The money taken out of the country by these people will offset any funds which come to us .through overseas investment in Australian mining. I ask honorable members to take warning from the failure of our last conversion loan in London, a failure due, in my opinion, very largely to the fact that our trade balance is not sufficient to meet our obligations, and pay for imports. We have to find nearly £30,000,000 overseas for interest and services in addition to paying for imports. It is estimated that this year we will fall short by £18,000,000 to £20,000,000. This is a grave prospect. I ask the House to remember January, 1929, when our credit was stopped. It took years to recover; only when a favorable trade balance was assured, did our position improve. Drastic and sudden restrictions are undesirable. Take time by the forelock and avoid the necessity for such action. When the latest reductions of the tariff take full effect the position will become more serious. I urge honorable members to take note of this position, and insist on keeping the Parliament in session so that the trade balance and other grave problems may be immediately grappled with.
– The right honorable gentleman has exhausted his time.
– The eloquent speech made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) has disclosed the fact that the lessons of the depression have made no impression on his mind. He made a speech in this House seven or eight years ago, in which he said that all our troubles were due to low tariffs, and to the fact that Australia had an adverse trade balance. Yet the country which today is suffering worst from the world depression and unemployment is the United States of America, which has had a vast favorable trade balance, and has maintained an almost prohibitive tariff for many years. It is quite obvious that a favorable balance of trade is not the saveall that the right honorable gentleman suggested. Unfortunately, there are other factors involved. He recited a list of imports which he said could be made here. For instance, he said that we are importing millions of pounds worth of textiles, but I remind him that during the two years for which he was Leader of the Government he did nothing to initiate the cotton textile industry in this . country ; he merely imposed a revenue duty of 5 per cent., and that rate applies to-day. The right honorable gentleman made no attempt to increase the protection, and’ it is idle for him to say now that we are importing millions of pounds worth of, not woollen textiles, but cotton textiles, which have never been made in this country. The right honorable gentleman referred to the importation of paints and varnishes. Included in the figures he mentioned are £19,000 worth of gums and resins, and £63,000 worth of linseed oil which have been imported for the purpose of making paint in this country. These are the raw materials of an important industry. If honorable members will examine the list of imports they will find amongst them many luxury items, includ- ing motor cars. What did the right honorable gentleman do to prevent the importation of motor cars? Did he not leave the duty as it was imposed by the Bruce-Page Government ? Of the increase in the value of imports, £1,200,000 represents motor cars, but £450,000 worth of iron and steel sheets and bars were brought into this country for the manufacture of motor bodies; these raw materials are not manufactured in Australia. Is it not a fact that we are able to- give a tremendous amount of employment by bringing to this country partly manufactured goods which form the raw material of manufactures?
The right honorable gentleman went on to say that exchange should now be superimposed on the tariff as a protective measure. The Government which he led declared that it had raised duties up to 100 per cent, on everything that mattered in this country, so that no more protection was needed. But, during the period when that Government was in power, what was the position in regard to the exchange rate? For most of the time when these high duties were in operation, and when probably more than two-thirds of the tariff schedules brought down by that Government were tabled, the exchange rate was not more than 6 or 7 per cent., and the Scullin, Government thought that was ample protection. The protection which is now being given, in accordance with the recommendations of the Tariff Board, is that to which the local manufacturers are. entitled to enable them to carry on their industries. The Tariff Board itself states that the high exchange rate gives an additional protection, and that its effect is to bring into being a number of uneconomic or an excessive number of competing industries which prevent the economic industries from properly establishing themselves, the result being the collapse of useful industries with increased unemployment and loss of capital.
According to the right honorable gentleman, because of the present trend of the trade balance, Australia is drifting to destruction. I draw attention to the position in regard to Australian employment and production in the last quarter of 1934. Concurrent with the reduction of duties that has occurred in the last threeyears, the number of persons employed in» factories has increased from 336,600 in 1931-32, when the Scullin Government” went out of office, to 453,200 at the? present time, this being the highest figurereached in Australian history. Theamount of unemployment in trade unions has steadily declined from 27.4 per centin 1931 to 18.8 per cent, in the fourth* quarter of 1934. Yet the right honorable gentleman would have us believe that’ everything is going wrong. The value-, of building permits issued affords a useful index to business activity*. The following figures show that there has been a> gratifying increase in this respect : -
The index figures in regard to the production of pig iron and steel show a similarly satisfactory position -
Although we have heard from the Leaderof the Opposition a tale of ruin, people are being put back into work, and production is on the increase. The iron and steel industry is now proposing to export goods t’o other countries, as well assupplying the Australian market. Theright honorable gentleman said that the proper thing to do would be to revert to his tariff policy; but I point out that similar policies put into operation m other parts of the world constitute themain causes of the present dislocation and/ contraction of world trade. Let me quote the non-partisan opinion of that noted! economist, Professor D. B. Copland, who, in his book, Australia in the World Crisis, at page 32, states -
The second step in correcting the external) position was to increase, early in 1930, thealready heavy import duties, and to impose prohibitions on some luxury imports. This, step was officially justified on the doubleground of checking imports and providing; employment. That it was a. false step i® -capable of ready demonstration. Higher tariffs at the moment merely served to sustain high prices in protected industry, and thus to support the level of costs for export industry, which added to the rapidly-growing difficulties of export producers. It was, moreover, a clumsy and tardy method of reducing imports. The theory behind the tariff policy of the moment was indeed wholly fallacious.
Kt should also be remembered that during that period, because of the inaction of the Scullin Government, the exchange did not move, as it should have done, in the interests of Australian exporters, and the tariff policy of that Government was loading costs against them. Thus we can «ee that a scissors-like action of keeping 4he exchange rate down and at the same time raising the tariff was destroying Australian prosperity and reducing employment.
The right honorable gentleman re marked that during this financial year 4here is a trend towards an adverse trade balance. As a matter of fact, the balance in respect of our commodity figures is net, yet adverse, but there is a tendency in that direction. It is true that imports as compared with exports are going up; but it is futile to base criticism of the present position on figures for only part -of the financial year. “We must look at the figures from season to season, recognizing that throughout Australian history there has been a definite lag in the adjustment of import values to export values. The exports, of course, pay for the imports. This lag is shown by a study of the figures for the last six or seven years. It is also wrong merely to estimate credits by reference to visible exports. The right honorable gentleman discounted the taking into consideration of invisible exports on the ground that there were equal set-offs against them, yet he did not adduce any proof in support of fcls contention. Unquestionably the whole of the facts of the case must be taken into consideration. It is quite a travesty of She facts to suggest that government Action, unless it is of a violent and revolutionary character, is at any time a material factor in influencing comparatively short-term fluctuations in the value of our external trade. It is true that violent and revolutionary action may bring about results, but even the very violent action by the Scullin Government in imposing embargoes on imports was limited to a small percentage of our total trade.
No such violent action has been taken by the present Government. It cannot be shown that any action by the Lyons Administration, from its inception up to the present time, has had an adverse effect on Australian trade. An examination of imports and exports for the last six or seven years discloses a very definite lag in the movement of imports following changes in exports. While the value of our exports dropped in the first year of the depression from £138,000,000 to £98,000,000, our imports, which stood in the previous year at £143,000,000, fell to only £132,000,000. They were being paid for by the exports in previous years.
– Loan money must not be left out of consideration.
– Apart from loan money, if we examine the position year by year, and decade by decade, it will be found that when we have enjoyed extremely good seasons, and high prices for our exports, we have also had heavy imports in the succeeding year. With the larger imports there was a greater degree of employment and comfort, and an expansion of local industries. There is a simple explanation of the lag in imports. It takes time for the reduced export value of goods to affect traders and manufacturers. If an examination be made of the position since 1930- 31, it will be seen that exactly the same situation that we now face occurred in previous years. Exports and imports were both at a low level in 1930-31 and 1931- 32. In 1932-33 and 1933-34 that wonderfully spectacular jump which occurred in the price of wool added nearly £13,000,000 to the value of Australian exports. That waB due, not to something done by the Government, but to the increased price of a primary product of Australia. The result of that increased price was that we were able to buy more goods overseas, and that our financial year closed with a credit balance of £12,000,000. The figures for the eight months of the present financial year show a credit balance in respect of the items of exports and imports that I have mentioned of something like £8,600,000. If the present volume of trade continues, the final figures for the year will show exports of merchandise and silver to be £82,500,090, and of gold production £6,500,000, making a total of £89,000,000 ; and our imports will show at £70,000,000, giving us a credit of £19,000,000. That will be the result of our trading if we are able to sell all of our wool and wheat. But even if we cannot sell all our wool and wheat overseas this year, we shall still have them for sale in the subsequent year, and will be able to build up credits overseas from the proceeds. One of the results of last year’s high price of wool is the very big increase of imports that is noticeable at present.
The Leader of the Opposition has said that we are in a desperate position, and that the position of our London funds gives cause for serious alarm. But what is the position of our London funds? Since 1931 the London funds of the trading banks and the banking department of the Commonwealth Bank have increased by nearly £30,000,000 sterling. At the end of June, 1934, the total amount of our London funds was approximately £50,000,000 sterling. As was stated earlier to-night by the Acting. Treasurer (Mr. Casey), it was in these circumstances that the chairman of directors of the Commonwealth Bank issued his warning in regard to exchange. These reserves are undoubtedly ample to meet any adverse movement in the current year.
I wish to refer for a moment to the nature of the imports into Australia during this year. The Leader of the Opposition has suggested that a tremendous quantity of additional material has come into Australia during the last eight or nine months. The position is that, although there has been an increase of £9,500,000 sterling in the value of our imports for the seven months of the financial year to the end of January, luxury goods and revenue items account for £4,500,000 of that amount, raw material, material partly manufactured, and capital goods, such as machinery and the like, which appear on our tariff schedule as duty free, and were actually admitted duty free under departmental bylaw by the Scullin Government, account for another £2,000,000, while other goods, not competitive with Australian goods, account for £750,000. Goods imported under protective duties account for only £2,000,000 of the increase of £9,500,000. These figures surely show how, little danger there is to our protective system in consequence of the imports that have occurred in the last few months.
– Only £1,000,000 of thai £2,000,000 represents extra goods.
– I remind honorable members also that the increased demand for raw materials and capital goods not produced in Australia has not caused any displacement of Australian goods, or reduced the volume of employment in this country. On the contrary, it has provided additional employment in many of our main industries, with the result that the volume of unemployment has been reduced. The Government recognizes that in times like these it must watch the position closely; but it does not consider that there is any need for panic. One way to improve the prosperity of Australia is to secure a larger market for its products in other countries, and an attempt is being made to do that.
– The right honorable member’s time has expired.
– The Acting Prime Minister (Dr. Earle Page) in his introductory remarks in reply to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) suggested that that right honorable gentleman had learned nothing from the depression, and that for that reason his accusations could be regarded as being based on inexperience and lack of knowledge of the existing circumstances. If it may be said that the Leader of the Opposition has learned nothing from the depression, it may also be said that the Acting Prime Minister has learned nothing from his previous experience as Treasurer of the Commonwealth. During his occupancy of that office he earned for himself a reputation which has not attached to any other Treasurer. One of his own supporters - an honorable gentleman who is now a member of his own Cabinet - referred to him as the most tragic Treasurer Australia has ever had. As the result of the orgy of borrowing which was indulged in over a long period of years when Australia was prosperous, and when the Acting Prime Minister was Treasurer in the Bruce-Page Government, this country has had to suffer .very severely in the last four years. There can be no doubt whatever that the dire financial crisis which faced the Scullin Government when it assumed office in 1929 was caused by the present Acting Prime Minister’s administration of the finances of this country. Within a few weeks of the accession to office of the Scullin Government, the then Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Commonwealth Bank, called for immediate action to remedy the serious disorders that had been left behind by the previous government. When he was asked why he had not called upon the previous government to apply remedial action he replied to the effect that he had brought the matter under its notice several times but no action had been taken.
– That is an absolute lie.
– It is not a lie, but the absolute truth.
– I ask the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) to deal with the subject before the Chair.
– Surely Mr. Speaker I am entitled to refer to the circumstances which faced Australia in 1929, seeing that the motion of the Leader of the Opposition is based on the contention that this country is now facing financial circumstances parallel to those of 1929. If appropriate action be not taken now to meet the financial situation which faces us, our plight will soon be very much more serious than it was in 1929. I submit that I am entitled to make a comparison of the circumstances of to-day with those of 1929, and in doing so it is surely in order for me to refer to the approach made by the then Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Commonwealth Bank to the Government of the day.
– Why did the honorable member take action which wrecked that Government?
– There were good sound reasons for our action, but that is not the subject before the House and this is not an appropriate time to discuss it.
The Acting Prime Minister, in attempting to rebut the arguments of the Leader of the Opposition, quoted a statement made by Professor Copland; but when he was asked for the date on which Professor Copland made the statement, he hurriedly passed over the subject. In the circumstances I shall make a quotation from a later statement by Professor Copland.
– He changes his view every six months.
– That may be so, but as one of his statements has been made the basis of a reply to an argument advanced by the Leader of the Opposition in this discussion I shall cite another which should be given at least equal weight. It appears in the second article of the series referred to by the Acting Prime Minister, and is published in the pamphlet “ 7s our Tariff a Handicap ?” “Effects on Australia’s recovery “ by Professor Copland: -
How the tariff has helped Australia in the depression is described by Professor Douglas Copland, Dean of the Faculty of Commerce, at the Melbourne University, in his second article on the effect of the tariff on our recovery. “ Who can deny “, he says “ that without the tariff our economic distress in the present world depression would have been greater and that the primary producer would have been worse off than he is to-day?”
– The right honorable gentleman has sufficient knowledge of these problems to know that they are affected by different circumstances. For instance, the conditions in 1929-30 were entirely different from those in 1934, and likewise a comparison cannot be made with the period of the Government of which the present Acting Prime Minister was the Treasurer when considering the problems of to-day.
– I suppose the honorable member suggests that that Government was responsible for the world depression.
– The Government with which the right honorable gentleman was then associated was responsible for bringing this country to a desperate position by its absolute failure to afford sufficient protection to Australian industries. ‘ I am not suggesting that that Government or the right honorable gentleman caused the depression, but I am directing attention to certain factors which had an important bearing on the economic and financial position of Australia at that time. If the Bruce-Page Government had adopted a long-range policy during those prosperous years, as the present Government professes to be doing in the matter of agriculture by planning for the future, the country would not have been compelled to face the serious situation in which it was when the Labour Government assumed office. During unguarded moments, some honorable members opposite pay tribute to the Scullin Government for the way in which it met the situation; but at other times they contend that there was no necessity to prohibit the importation of a large number of commodities which were then being imported, and for which we could not pay. I believe that the present High Commissioner, in his speeches at Ottawa, endorsed the Scullin Government’s tariff policy. The Acting Prime Minister should. at least, be generous enough to admit that the circumstances in 19-29-30 were such as have been outlined by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin). His generosity reached1 the stage of fairness only in his concluding remarks, when he admitted that the position is serious, that it must be watched closely, and that circumstances may arise to call for action. This motion has been moved because the circumstances are serious, and the position must be watched closely. We have information to-day which was not available to the House when attention was drawn to the position overseas by the present Leader of the Opposition in 1927. The statistics which the Acting Prime Minister has quoted do not alter facts or disprove that our trade balance has reached an alarming point. Although he may quote lists of commodities imported to assist our secondary industries, the fact remains that our trade balance has reached a’ stage at which it should be carefully handled. Attention should be directed to these facts, particularly as our opportunities will be limited owing to the short period during which the House is likely to remain in session. The right honorable gentleman quoted figures showing the extent to which unemployment has .been reduced. Reliable figures concerning unemployment are not those supplied by statisticians, but those based on the census. The estimates periodically furnished by the Commonwealth Statistician in the ordinary summaries are not reliable.
– Are they not based on returns furnished by trade union secretaries ?
– Perhaps the honorable member would be surprised to learn that as those supplied by trade union secretaries do not cover all trades and callings they are incomplete. To give honorable members an indication of how these figures are compiled - -
– The honorable member has exhausted his time.
.- The House is indebted to the right honorable the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) for giving honorable members this annual opportunity to discuss our overseas trade balance. Last year the right honorable gentleman made a similar statement which proved to be wrong. On a previous occasion he made a similarly inaccurate statement–
– I did not. Why does not the Minister tell the truth ?
– The right honorable gentleman is very touchy. I shall go back further. Two years ago he made an equally vehement and eloquent speech on the same subject and was again wrong. In the previous year he said more or less the same thing; but was again wrong to the amount of about £40,000,000-
– -What did I say in 1927?
– I shall deal with what the right honorable gentleman said tonight. Considering the Leader of the Opposition is usually precise, I am surprised that he should say that when the exchange moves against us duties are automatically reduced, he should know that the law only provides that when the exchange rate is reduced the duties are automatically increased in order to maintain the protection of Australian secondary industries. The right honorable gentleman takes great credit for the action of his government, -which he said saved the Commonwealth. At that time he said “ These proposals are not in any way associated with the Government’s protective policy “. He also said “ This is an emergency measure; it proposes emergency action “, but he now suggests that these prohibitions and surcharges should be continued five years later. As leader of the Federal Labour party he should be interested in the unemployment figures, yet during the regime of his government prohibitions and surcharges were imposed in order te adjust the then adverse trade balance. The present Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde), who was Minister for Trade and Customs in the Scullin Government, said over and over again that employment could be increased only by imposing higher duties, but this, Government believes in pursuing a reasonable tariff policy, and by that means providing employment. In the metals industry of New South Wales, including Broken Hill, concerning which the Labour party should be intensely interested, the number employed during the height of prosperity in 1927 was 18,071, whereas in 1932 it had decreased to 8,400. ‘The number employed in that industry is now 18,436, or higher than it was in 1927. The number em-, ployed in factories, in Hew South Wales, exclusive of all others, in 1932 was 126,300, but in 1934 it was 153,000. Those in New South Wales who were previously out of work, but who are now employed will not be impressed by the eloquence of the Leader of the Opposition. The general reduction of unemployment in few South Wales during the regime of the Lyons Government has been 33 per cent., while the value of production in that State has increased by £4,473,000. In Victoria the position is equally satisfactory. The right honorable gentleman would like us to believe that this Government is displacing men in industry. Nothing could be further from the truth. Increased purchases this year are the aftermath of high wool prices. For instance, the imports of motor cars, chasses and parts for the seven months period referred to by the Leader of the Opposition totalled £2,528,000 as against £1,315,000 for the corresponding period of the previous year, an increase of £1,213,000. These chasses, I would remind honorable members, are imported duty free from Great Britain, and at a high rate of duty from foreign countries, and their importation gives a considerable amount of work to motor body builders in Australia, as well as to manufacturers of batteries, tyres, and motor parts. Would the right honorable gentleman deny this additional work to Australians engaged in those industries?
– What about motor bodies ?
– The right honorable gentleman will hear all about motor bodies when the report »f the Tariff Board is presented. A great many of the imports about which he complains are revenue and luxury items.
The Scullin Government increased the duty and imposed primage on tea. The Lyons Government removed the primage and reduced the duty, with the result that there is now more tea consumed in Australia. Would the right honorable gentleman and his friends deny this very necessary commodity to the people of Australia, and particularly the working classes ?
– What about tobacco?
– In Australia we produce only about one quarter of the annual consumption. Although there is a great deal of tobacco grown in this country, we are not producing largely of the leaf ‘required for cigars and cigarettes. Consequently, an increase in importation and consumption of tobacco means that purchasing power is returning to some people who, for so long, were out of employment. The Lyons Government, in furtherance of its policy to rehabilitate industry, also removed the primage on raw materials required for Australian manufactures. This had the effect of giving a definite stimulus to industry, and bringing down costs of production and increasing efficiency. There have been increased importations of copra, fibres, gums and resins, linseed, hessian and jute piece goods, cotton and linen piece goods; all nf these are raw materials for manufacturers, or capital goods of a class not made in Australia.
The alarming story unfolded by the Leader of the Opposition about the imminent risk of a grave financial crisis, due to the present state of the trade balance, is completely exploded when one examines the figures. No one will,, however, deny that the situation, has to be watched. On this point the right honorable gentleman misquoted me when alluding to a statement which I had made recently. He gave the impression that I had informed the press that this was a matter which would automatically adjust itself. He omitted to mention that I had first spoken a warning about the trade position, and had said that thi3 matter would have to be watched from year to year.
At the present time we anticipate an approximate favorable trade balance of £18,000,000 this year. Our commitments abroad for interest, exchange and other charges are about £26,000,000, so there may be a shortage. If, however, we were to build up excess funds on the other side the exchange rate would drop, whereas if we have a shortage it will move forward. At the moment there is no great advantage in having a large surplus of funds in London. The essential consideration is that all our people shall get into employment as quickly as possible, and that our industries, both primary and secondary, shall prosper. The Government will, in future, as it has in the past, watch carefully the financial situation.
I deprecate the attempt by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) to vilify the Acting Prime Minister (Dr. Earle Page), who was Treasurer in the Bruce-Page Administration. The honorable member referred to him in terms that were most uncomplimentary, and were wholly undeserved. The Acting Prime Minister was responsible, in an earlier administration, for the establishment of the Loan Council, which prevented the then Premier of New South Wales, Mr. Lang, from carrying out a financial policy which would have wrecked the Commonwealth.
Further, as to the effect on the unemployment situation of the increased importations disclosed in the latest figures available, I would remind the House that, although the im- portations of machinery duty free under customs by-laws have increased, their effect is to assist the mining and other industries. The list of importations of other capital goods not manufactured in Australia includes sheepshearing machines which increased in value by £11,000, and iron, steel and tinned plates for the canning industry, which increased by £146,000.
– The Minister has exhausted his time.
.- I regret that the right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) and his three Ministers, as well as the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Employment (Mr. Stewart), who, with a retinue of about fourteen public officials, are on the high seas, were not here this evening to hear the convincing speech made by the right honorable the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin). Had the Prime Minister been present he would, no doubt, have made some attempt to reply to the charges formulated by my leader. Unlike the Acting Prime Minister (Dr. Earle Page) he would not have airily evaded the issues involved. It was quite apparent that the Acting Prime Minister was exceedingly uncomfortable while the Leader of the Opposition was speaking, because only a few months ago when we were on the hustings he warned the people of the dangers ahead if the Lyons Government were returned to power. The right honorable gentleman, as the Leader of the Country party, who was the greatest protagonist of independent political action in Australia said, in effect, that it would be calamitous if the Lyons Government were returned to office. So rapid have been the changes in the views of Ministerialists, that now the right honorable gentleman is leading that Government !
The motion for the adjournment of the House, moved by the Leader of the Opposition has a very important bearing on trade, sound finance and unemployment. This being so, I am completely at a loss to understand why so much hostility is being displayed by Ministers and their supporters to this very timely warning of the dangers ahead for the Commonwealth if the trade position is allowed to drift as it has been drifting during the last few months. The Leader of the Opposition very rightly pointed to the increase of £9,400,000 in imports, and the decline in the value of Australian exports by £12,400,000 for the seven months period ended on the 31st January of this year compared with a similar period ended 31st January, 1934. A drift in the trade position of ‘£21,000,000 in that short period cannot be lightly disregarded.
The Acting Prime Minister to-night made the same ranting speech that we heard from him when the Leader of the Opposition discussed a similar danger in 1927. Mr. Bruce, who was then Prime Minister, treated the matter very lightly, suggesting that there was nothing to worry about, and that it was not necessary to take any drastic action. We who heard him on that occasion have lived to read the very eloquent speech which he delivered more recently, as Resident Minister in London. The Journal, issued by the London Chamber of Commerce for J January, 1933, contains the following report of the speech delivered by Mr. Bruce on the 2nd December, 1932 :-
For tho year ended 30th June, 1930, there was an adverse trade balance of £34,000,000, but as a result of the steps taken, by the end of June, 1932, this had been completely wiped out and Australia had a favorable trade balance of over £30,000,000. These figures show what a tremendous task had been accomplished . . . Faced with the heavy fall in the value of its export trade and the necessity for providing some £30,000,000 for interest overseas, Australia had ruthlessly to cut down imports and the curtailment effected was from £131,000,000 in 1929-30, to £44,000,000 in 1931-32. This curtailment was effected by prohibitions or embargoes, surcharges and very heavy increases in all customs duties … No other course was open to the Commonwealth if it were to meet its external obligations.
That was a frank admission by the former Prime Minister, but the right honorable gentleman did not give credit to _ the Scullin Government for having had the courage to put into operation a policy which pulled Australia out of its difficulties. The Acting Prime Minister, who a few years ago was well described as the “ tragic Treasurer “, refused to apply the necessary correction to the trade balance although there was ample evidence of grave financial difficulties before the Bruce-Page Government was removed from office. The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) to-night mentioned the interview which the chairman of the Commonwealth Bank Board had with the Scullin Ministry upon its accession to office. His statement that the preceding administration had disregarded the advice given by the bank board was absolutely true. Sir Robert Gibson said that something would have to be done immediately. Instead of reverting to the old system of large importations even when overseas prices rise we should be making the great bulk pf the goods we require locally, thereby keeping down imports and providing employment in Australia. But instead of doing that the Minister for Trade and Customs boasts of alterations he has made in tariff duties. It is true that since the Ottawa agreement he has reduced duties on over 1,500 items and sub-items of the tariff. The boasted Ottawa agreement which was to be such a tremendous boon to Australian industry has been a “washout “, and even its champions, who, a few years ago, said it was going to save the dairying and beef industries are ashamed to talk about it to-day. It has subjected the Australian manufacturer to unfair competition with the British manufacturer who pays much lower wages and works his employees much longer hours than operate in industry in this country. Clauses 9 to 14 of the Ottawa agreement provide that the Tariff Board must take cognizance of certain facts, and give the British manufacturers equal opportunity on the Australian market with the Australian manufacturers who are giving employment to our people. The Minister for Trade and Customs dealt a staggering blow to the cotton industry. He has vacillated a great deal and changed his policy in regard to the ind’Ustry a dozen times. He has faced large deputations of cotton-, spinners who employ hundreds of our people and who could give employment to many more hundreds if it were not for the destructive policy of this Government in meddling with these tariff duties at the behest of importing; interests. Thedreadful spectre of unemployment faces us; 400,000 persons are unemployed in the. three eastern States and every year 50,000 additional boys unsuccessfully seek work. How are we to face this problem if we continue the policy of tearing down the tariff wall ? What is the policy of this Government? It is explained by half a dozen voices. The honorable member for Calare (Mr. Thorby), one of the members of the Government, speaking recently in Sydney at the Hotel Carlton before members of the Constitutional Association, said that “ in the interests of Australia’s overseas trade, artificially bolstered up industries would have to be sacrificed’.” The right honorable the Prime Minister disagreed with his colleague. He said that Mr. Thorby’s views did not represent the views of the Government. Infact he gave his colleague a public rebuke. What are the views of the Acting Leader of the Government on this matter? Does he support Mr. Thorby or the United Australia party which secured a large vote in the great industrial centres of Australia by saying that it stood for a protectionist policy? Professor Copland has been quoted to-night. Certain extracts were read from a report made by Professor Copland over five years ago. I will now quote from a more recent article written by Professor Copland which was published in the Melbourne Herald, of the 7 th March, 1935, in which the writer said, “ Clearly at the moment we are importing beyond our capacity to absorb imports.”
– Quite correct - “ at the moment.”
– And he said more than that.
Mr.FORDE. - Yes, the article is four columns in length, but the portion of it to which I am referring deals specifically with imports. Professor Copland stressed the point that at the moment we are importing beyond our capacity to absorb imports. He added that export prices in sterling are still more than 50 per cent. below their 1928 level, and that although the volume of exports has increasedby more than 25 percent.,wereceive more than 30per. cent. less, income from our exports than we did before the depression.. In. reply to the. statement that to-day there are 117,000 more people employed in secondary industry, I claim that that improvement has been due to the. policy followed by the Scullin Government, and not by the destructive policy of this Government, which is placing in jeopardy the great labour-employing secondary industries.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) asked a little heatedly why hostility should be shown by honorable members on this side of the House when replying to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin). I would refer him to the Statement made by the right honorable gentleman when he disclaimed any desire to do violence to the interests of the country by bringing down a motion of this nature. The ex-parte and rather biased statements made by the Leader of the Opposition were such that it is necessary in the interests of this country to offset against them facts that are expressive of the true position of the Commonwealth. Replying to a statement made’ by me earlier in the evening, he said that I was incorrect in saying that the Commonwealth Bank Board was in control of the exchange rate. The right honorable gentleman attempted to bear out his argument by pointing out that there was an automatic adjustment of certain protective tariff rates in accordance with variations in the exchange. At that point I ventured to interject, but the right honorable gentleman persisted in his statement. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) answered the right honorable gentleman by pointing out that the automatic variation of duties applies only when the exchange is reduced, and then in a way to benefit Australian industry. The Minister further explained that the adjustment did not apply when the. exchange rose. I repeat without fear of contradiction that the Commonwealth Bank Board is in complete control of the exchange rate. The subject of this debate calls for an examination of, first, the trade balance, and then the balance of payments. On the figures for the first six months of this year the trade balance is in our favour to the amount of just under £5,000,000. The estimate, and it can only be . an estimate, for the twelve months, is that on trade both ways, plus merchandise gold, there may be a positive balance in our favour of £19,000,000.
– That will not meet our overseas debt.
– No; I am coming to that point. Coming now to the balance of payments, taking into account all payments overseas in both directions, and including interest and sinking fund charges, which annually absorb about £26,000,000 sterling overseas, we estimate that we may be down by from £10,000,000 to £12,000,000. That is assuming that there will not be a big carry-over of unsold wool or wheat. If there should be, the total amount will be increased. These figures ‘ are necessarily only estimates. For the first six months of the year, payments for our exports are usually comparatively low.
– Are the import figures only an estimate?
– Those for the twelve months are.
– I dealt with seven months of actual facts.
– From what the right honorable gentleman said, honorable members on his side proceeded to draw certain conclusions concerning the trade balance, and the balance of payments for the full twelve months. I am impelled to reinforce certain remarks of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) by saying that early in the last financial year, and in the financial year which preceded it, the right honorable gentleman attempted to draw from the figures then available inferences as to what would be the position at the end of the twelve months. Imports come in remarkably evenly throughout the year, but the money for exports is received very largely in the second half of the year. Consequently, the figures for the first six months do not give a true picture, and therefore it is most unwise to draw from them conclusions as to what the position will be at the end of the twelve months.
– Is it not fair to make a comparison between the figures for the first seven months of this year and those for a similar period last year ?
– Certainly. But what we are concerned with is the balance at the end of the twelve months. Australia is dependent very greatly upon seasons and prices, and for that reason a fairly large balance is maintained in London to act as a shock absorber, in order to meet situations such as that which now exists. As the right honorable the Leader of the Government has said, there has been since 1931 a building up of London funds to an amount of approximately £30,000,000. We know that, on the 30th June last, there was in London approximately £50,000,000, apart altogether from the note issue reserve, to meet periods of adverse trading conditions. It is impossible to keep on building up London funds year after year. If that were to happen automatically, there would be no necessity to keep London funds.
– Is the attempt never made to pay any debts overseas?
– Any interest payments in London, after the trading balance is complete, are made good from the balance of funds in London.
– Is it not advisable to have a little over?
– Certainly. London funds have been largely built up since this Government came into office. It is very unwise to attempt to draw conclusions from the figures for six months, seven months, or even eight months. On two previous occasions, the right honors able gentleman drew such deductions early in the year, and was proved catastrophically wrong. No attempt has been made to argue that there is any real possibility of our having a favorable trade balance in the present financial year; but I do say that any adversity in our balance of payments is not such as to cause the slightest alarm. In support of that contention I refer the right honorable gentleman to the statement of the Chairman of the Commonwealth Bank
Board that I read earlier, which categorically established the fact that the London funds are quite sufficient to take care of the position.
– For this year.
– That is the only year with which we are dealing:. ‘The right honorable gentleman mentioned textiles. Honorable members of the Opposition frequently refer to textiles in such a way as to lead one to believe that they represent woollen textiles.
– They do.
– -Certainly they do ; but woollens represent a minute proportion of the textiles that come into this country.
– The imports of woollen textiles have increased by nearly 100 per cent.
– From a figure microscopically small to a figure slightly less microscopically small. The quantity of woollen textiles imported is infinitesimal compared with the quantity manufactured in this country. It would not have been out of place had the Leader of the Opposition referred to textiles by their proper description; that is, textiles that are not manufactured in this country.
– What about towels and towelling?
– I refer to cotton, silk, and even jute textiles. Textiles could with advantage be more categorically expressed in our tariff schedule.
As I suggested earlier, it is necessary for statements to be made from this side of the House putting the trade position in a rather more balanced way than that in which it was put by the Leader of the Opposition.
– I have only a few observations to make on the subject now before the House. It seems to me that the arguments advanced from both sides may be aptly described as tweedledum and tweedledee. A wordy battle, similar to that indulged in by a number of lawyers, has been waged, but little of a convincing nature has emerged to indicate what is likely to rectify the economic position not only of our own country, but also of the world generally. We have had high protection to the point of prohibition, with negligible results of a favorable character. Unemployment has increased, and the burden of economic woe has been more severely felt by the worker. Low tariffs, approaching to freetrade, have had exactly the same result. Like the tides on the sea shore, the trade balance has ebbed and flowed, first becoming a little . better and then a little worse. The budgetary position improves slightly to-day, and becomes less favorable to-morrow. The operation of the existing system reminds one of a dog chasing its tail. There is an old saying that figures do not lie, but liars can figure. Figures are used in different ways in an endeavour to illustrate this or that side of the question, but the fact remains that in Australia and the world generally the economic position of the people is becoming worse as time goes on. There are greater thinkers and economists of higher standing than Professor Copland, who to my mind writes and speaks as he is paid to do, in the interests of a system that he is trying to bolster up, a system which he knows is decaying and tottering. In spite of high or low tariffs, in spite of adverse trade balances between one country and another, the world generally has yet to pass through the most gruelling period of the depression. The evils that confront us, the economic ills that affect Australia and the world to-day, are due not to either high or low ‘tariffs, but simply to the conflicting and hopelessly chaotic conditions that have been brought about by the capitalistic system under which we live. In all discussions of this kind we are like the ostrich, which when in danger buries its head in the sand; we are afraid to face the issue, but try to persuade ourselves that a solution of our problems can be found in discussions such as this. In every discussion in this Parliament we merely beg the question unless we are prepared to have an organized system of society under a managed economy, whereby the forces of nature will be used in the interests of all the people instead of with the object of profiting a few. We must be prepared to harness the machine and use it for the benefit, instead of for the degradation, of the race. I listened more in distress of mind than with interest to members of this National Parliament indulging in what I can only term a game of make-believe - trying to make one another believe that in this or that way we shall solve our problems. Had we the intelligence which we should possess as members of this Parliament we should know that our problems will not be solved in that way. I hope that this Parliament will set itself to deal with the economic problems confronting this country, although while the present Government remain in office that may perhaps be only a pious hope. We should, however, get to grips with the economic problems with a view to establishing Australia on a sounder footing. I repeat that all that is happening in the world is that the financiers lift the burden a little to-day only to squeeze a little harder to-morrow. The position of the world is as hopeless as is an attempt to get rid of a dent in a rubber ball; we remove one dent only to make another. If one country becomes a little more prosperous another gets deeper in trouble. There is a continual see-sawing from one nation to another, and the people are gulled into the belief that some day relief will be afforded. In respect of human values, Australia is in a worse position to-day than at any time previously. We hear a great deal of the relief of unemployment, but what is the position? We should be ashamed to describe as employment the conditions under which many in our midst are called upon to work. Fathers and mothers of Australian children are forced to live under conditions which are disgraceful; capitalism and the money powers must get their pound of flesh, come weal or woe. The Arbitration Court and the powers of the Commonwealth are used to destroy and tear up wage conditions and arbitration awards; men are put to work on great constructional undertakings at dole rates of pay. If such things continue, the whole of our people will before long be reduced to the same low standard. This discussion has made very little impression on me, other than to depress me. In this game of make-believe we try to persuade ourselves, as well as the people who sent us here, that along the lines advocated by some honorable members will Australia’s problems be solved and this country rehabilitated, whereas any one who analyses the position intelligently must know that none of these expedients can possibly put Australia on an even keel.
Question (by Mr. Archdale Parkhill) - That the question be now put - put. The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. J. Bell.)
Majority . . . . 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question - put. The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. j. Bell.)
Majority . . . . 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. G. J. Bell).I have to inform the House that I have received a communication conveying the sincere thanks of the Government of the French Republic for the resolutions of sympathy passed by the House on the occasion of the deaths of M. Raymond Poincaré and M. Louis Barthou.
Portrait of His Majesty the King for the Australian War Memorial.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
His Majesty the King has been graciously pleased to accede to the request of the Board of Management of the Australian War Memorial, conveyed through the Government of the Commonwealth of Aus tralia, for permission to have a portrait of himself painted for inclusion in the memorial. A commission for painting the portrait was entrusted to John A. A. Berrie, R.C.A., and the work has now been completed. The picture is a threequarter length portrait of His Majesty in the service uniform of Field-Marshal.
In proposing to the Government that a portrait of His Majesty should be acquired, the War Memorial Board suggested that not only would this be an appropriate act on the occasion of the jubilee of the King’s reign but that it was also desirable that a portrait of the King, who wisely guided the Empire through the difficult years of the war, should be hung in the National Memorial. With these views the Government agreed and the High Commissioner was requested to inquire if His Majesty would consent to a portrait being painted.
The Government has been informed that the King has shown a personal interest in the proposal and expressed the . wish to be painted in the uniform of the Commander-in-Chief of the British Army. That was the uniform in which the King was seen by the Australians when His Majesty visited them on the battle-fields in France, and in military hospitals, and when they attended investitures at Buckingham Palace. His Majesty’s choice was therefore most appropriate. The portrait is expected to arrive in Australia a few weeks hence. It will be hung in the War Memorial which is now being erected in Canberra.
The War Memorial Board believes that there are throughout Australia many public bodies and private citizens who would like, on the occasion of the jubilee, to acquire a recent portrait of His Majesty. In accordance with powers conferred by the Australian War Memorial Act the board will therefore arrange for facsimile colour reproductions to be made. The distribution of the reproductions will provide employment for returned soldiers, portion of the proceeds will be donated by the board to the Returned Sailors and Soldiers’ Imperial League of Australia’s distress funds which the board has been assisting during the last six years, and the remainder will be used to further the aims and objects of the War Memorial itself.
The board has received from the press requests for photographs for reproduction. It realizes the desirability of making photographs available not only to those who have made such requests, but to all editors who wish to reproduce the portrait. The board will therefore issue an authorized photograph of the portrait to the press for this purpose, as soon as this can be done without affecting the distribution of the colour reproductions the board will have made. The board will be grateful if any newspaper which may receive an unauthorized photograph of the portrait or of the reproduction the board is publishing, will refrain from using it, as the board believes that such use would adversely affect the distribution of the colour reproduction, and thereby prejudice the attainment of the objects the board has in view.
Motion (by Mr. Archdale Parkhill) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. J. Bell.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question put. The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. J. Bell.)
Majority . . 12
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.21 p.m.
The following answer to a question was circulated: -
s asked the Acting Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honor able member’s questions are as follows : -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 13 March 1935, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1935/19350313_reps_14_146/>.