14th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. G. J. Bell) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– Has the Acting Treasurer perused the statement of the Auditor-General in his annual report, that Commonwealth revenue accounts are misleading, and carry with them suggestions that a new era of surpluses has begun, and that those surplusesare available for expenditure, although they really do not exist? Has the honorable gentleman any comment to offer upon this criticism? When the next monthly statement of receipts and expenditure is published by the Treasury, will he make to the House a statement setting out the correct financial position ?
– I have not yet had an opportunity to read the report of the Auditor-General, but I propose to do so at the earliest possible moment. I have heard, however, that that gentleman has seen fit to make criticisms of the character indicated by the honorable member. Although I have no knowledge of the precise terms of the criticism, I should say that the position referred to was dealt with by the Prime Minister in the budget speech that he delivered to this House,I think, two years ago. I take it that the reference is to the fact that the fortuitous excess of receipts over expenditure for the three years that preceded the current financial year was not applied in reduction of the accumulated deficits of the preceding years, totalling approximately £17,000,000. When I have had an opportunity to peruse the report I - or, if necessary, the head of the Government - will make to the House astatementconcerning the matter.
ExpectancyofLife:Personal Explanation-EligibilityforOld- age Pensions.
– In this morning’s issue of the Canberra Times, the following paragraph appears -
Replying to Sir Donald Cameron, the Minister for Health (Mr. Hughes) said in the House of Representatives yesterday that be had investigated the published atatement that ex-soldiers, as a class, died rather earlier than those who had always beencivilians. His information, however, showed that the average age of both at deathwas 49 years.
The propagation of statements that war service caused invalidity had a serious effect on the minds of those who had undergone service. Hisinformation also showed that the diseases from which ex-soldiers died were similarto those suffered by civilians.
That paragraph completely misrepresents what yesterday I said at some length in this House. On the previous day the honorable member for Lilley (Sir Donald Cameron) bad asked me the following question -
In view of a recent statement by the Chairman of the Repatriation Commission, Colonel Semmens, 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?
I replied -
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 Forcehas been shortened as the result of their war service.
Yesterday I supplied the honorable member for Lilley with certain information furnished to me by Colonel Semmens, and added -
I think it inadvisable to offer any comment beyond that which I made yesterday, namely, that, taking a general view, I do not agree with the opinions put forward, but as I have not yet had an opportunity to probe the statistics from which these somewhat remarkable deductions are drawn, I ask the honorable member to allow me further time to supplement what I have now said.
Subsequently, the honorable member for Flinders (Mr.Fairbairn) asked me the following question: -
Does not the Minister for Repatriation consider that the latest statement by Colonel Semmens, that returned soldiers who had died had an average age the same as that of those who had not gone to the war, proves the incorrectness of his previous statement that the expectancy of life of ex-soldiers had not been reduced? Is it not strange that, if returned men who were passed as fit are dying at the average age of49½ years, the average death age of those who for the most part were rejected as unfit for service should be the same ?
I replied -
My attention was not drawn to the previous remark by Colonel Semmens, but it would appear to be reasonable to deduce from the later statement that a war might be regarded as a kind of health resort, and that the way to prolong life, was to go to war. However, I shall look into the matter.
I desire to repeat that this newspaper paragraph completely misrepresents what I said. It is perfectly true that I did not commit myself ; but no one could possibly deduce from what I said, or from the surrounding circumstances, that I gave any support whatever to the statement made by Colonel Semmens. I said quite plainly that I was entirely opposed to it.
– Following upon the statement made by the Minister for Repatriation I desire to ask him whether, if his investigations show that the expectancy of life in the case of ex-soldiers is less than in the case of civilians who have not seen active service he will use his undoubted influence with the Government to secure an amendment of the Old-age Pensions Act making ex-soldiers eligible to receive an old-age pension on reaching the age of 55 years?
– The honorable member’s question is on the border-line of policy, but I may say that inquiries are being made along the lines suggested by him. If it is found that the expectancy of life is materially shortened by war service, one of the remedies would appear to be a reduction of the age at which exsoldiers and sailors may qualify for an old-age pension. I am sure the honorable member will realize the magnitude of the subject, and that it would be improper for me at this stage to make any further comment upon it.
– Has the Minister for Defence any information concerning negotiations with the Government of Vic toria in regard to the proposal to develop the Fishermen’s Bend site as an airport with unemployment relief moneys?
– This matter has been raised in the House on several occasions, and the view has been expressed that the project was one that was entitled to favorable consideration. Communications were opened up with the Premier of Victoria, as the land is held by the State Government. The Commonwealth made an offer to that Government to assist in a survey of the position and in the development of a scheme. In order that there might be no misunderstanding, a further letter was sent to the effect that it was neither the intention nor the desire of the Commonwealth to acquire the land if the State Government wished to retain it, but that the scheme could be developed and perhaps ultimately brought to fruition although the land still remained the property of the State. The correspondence was acknowledged, and the Commonwealth was advised that the matter was being inquired into. I believe that the intervention of the State elections in Victoria has prevented further consideration from being given to it. I propose again to direct the attention of the Premier of Victoria to the proposal,with a view to arriving at finality in one way or another as speedily as possible.
Mr.R. GREEN. - Has the Acting Prime Minister, in his capacity as Minister for Commerce, received from the Dairy Produce Control Board the recommendation that certain butters usually regarded as first-class shall be stamped with the national brand, as is the case at present with choicest grades of butter? If such a recommendation has been received, will he say whether it has been given his ministerial approval? Will he consider an alteration of the personnel of the board, seeing that Victoria has a predominating influence upon it, and that it is mainly in Victoria that the trouble in regard to lower grade butters is experienced ?
Dr.EARLE PAGE.- I have not received officially any recommendation from the Dairy Produce Control Board, but I have noticed in the press a statement similar to that which the honorable gentleman has just made. I may say that the whole question regarding the method of standardizing quality and of control of the dairying industry is to be one of the matters considered at a conference of all dairying interests to be held in Sydney on the 13th April next.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Trade and Customs been drawn to a statement in the Sydney Sunday Sun, of the 10th March last, that General Motors-Holden’s Ltd. has paid a dividend of 24 per cent. in the last twelve months, and that there is very little doubt that the profits for 1934 were in excess of a threefold cover? Is he aware that, notwithstanding the supposedly low prices of bodies supplied to distributors, the profit made last year will be in the vicinity of £400,000? Does he know that, despite that excessive profit, the company has increased its prices of bodies by from 11 per cent. to 17 per cent. ? If he has not a knowledge of these facts, will he give consideration to these excessive profits when discussing with Gabinet the report of the Tariff Board on motor-body panels?
Mr.WHITE. - I have not seen the statement to which the honorable gentleman has referred, nor do I know whether the company made either profits or, losses in previous years. All these matters were investigated when the Tariff Board made its inquiry into motor-body panels. Doubtless the financial position of the company was taken into account.
– There was no consideration of this year’s profits.
– Ihave no doubt that the Tariff Board would have before it the trading accounts for the year, and that the matter of prices to competitors would be investigated. These factors will be taken into consideration by the Government when making its decision.
Mr, SPEAKER (Hon. G. J. Bell).I wish to make some observations upon a growing practice in connexion with the asking of questions without notice. Honorable members frame their questions in such a way as to indicate clearly their own point of view. The question just asked is of that type. The object of questions, is to elicit information, and they should not be framed in such a way as to convey the personal opinion of the questioner, nor should they contain argument. I have referred to the matter because the practice is a growing one, and must be checked.
-Has the attention of the Acting Prime Minister been drawn to a statement made in Sydney by the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), just before leaving for England, that the Leader of the Opposition in the New South Wales Parliament, Mr. Lang, was on the wrong track when he declared that outside influences were being brought to bear to restrict the marketing of Australian products overseas? Seeing that the Acting Prime Minister in his policy speech said that such restrictions would be resisted to the last ditch by his party, and that the Prime Minister himself quite recently declared that they must be (strenuously resisted, and having regard also to the fact that not an honorable member on the Government side of the House will declare himself in favour of such restrictions, will the right honorable gentleman say what, other than outside influence, is responsible for them?
– It seems to me that the honorable member has endeavoured to answer his own question and that in putting it he has succeeded in setting out his own point of view, despite the objection to such a course taken by Mr. Speaker a few moments ago. The Government is resisting all restrictions, by every means within its power. Ef the Opposition can suggest any further means of resisting them the Government will be pleased to have its assistance. As to the forces that are bringing about the restriction of our exports honorable members can judge for themselves who and what they are.
– I ask the Minister for Commerce whether it is not a fact that the Opposition is not prepared to grant to Great Britain and other countries the absolute freedom to export to this country which it is asking for our exports to those countries.
– Judging by its actions the Opposition is not prepared to do that.
– Since the Acting Prime Minister has shown his readiness to join in the gibe at the Opposition because it is not prepared to allow unrestricted imports from Great Britain to Australia, will he state whether he himself is prepared to allow imports from Great Britain to come into this country free of all restrictions 1
– The policy 1 have always observed is well known to every honorable member of this House.
– Does the Acting Prime Minister think that the efforts now being made by organizations outside Australia to restrict the exports of Australian primary products are in complete accord with the Ottawa Agreement i
– Different parts of the Empire are parties to the Ottawa Agreement, whereas the pressure to restrict exports comes from outside the Empire. Every action so far taken by Great Britain has been within the scope of the Ottawa Agreement.
– Is the Acting Treasurer aware that a claimant, born iu Australia 60 years ago, who has lived in this country for 45 years, but has spent the last five years in Norfolk Island, has been declared ineligible for a pension because of his residence on that island, although it is under Australian control ?
– It is a fact that a claimant for a pension must be resident in Australia. I do not know the actual facts of the case referred to by the honorable member, but if he will supply them to me I shall be glad to have them investigated.
– Can the Acting Treasurer indicate the date from which the increase in invalid and old-age pensions, consequent upon the rise in the cost of living, will operate? As the cost of living has been going up over a period of months prior to the 1st January, will the
Government confer a much deserved benefit on pensioners by making the increase operative as from the 1st January ?
– Under the terms of the act if the increase comes about - and it appears now to be quite certain that it will - it will become operative as from the 1st July next. The Government regrets that it cannot make the increase retrospective.
– In view of the fact that the Government proposes to increase the old-age pension by 6d. per week, will the Minister see that the inmates of institutions get the additional 6d., and that it is not paid to the institution ?
– When, unfortunately, it was necessary to reduce the amount of the pension some time ago, that reduction was, I think, made in the amount paid to the institution for pensioner inmates. If my memory serves me aright, the institutions now receive 2s. a week less than formerly in respect of each pensioner inmate. In those circumstances I think that the honorable member himself will agree that, if there is to be a slight increase of the pension, it should go to the institution.
– Has the Government yet considered the advisability of excluding the pension received by the mother of a deceased soldier when calculating the income for old-age pension purposes ?
– I suggest that the honorable gentleman brings this point forward when the amending pensions bill has reached the committee stage.
– Has the Acting Prime Minister yet received the belated and anxiously awaited report of the chairman of the Royal Commission on Petrol? If so, when will he lay it on the table of the House for the information of honorable members and the public generally? If he has not received it, when does he expect that it will be presented?
– I have been informed by the Chairman of the Royal Commission on Petrol that his report has been completed, that it is being typed, and that we should receive it within a few days.
– I wish to ask the representative of the Postmaster-General whether the duplication of the charges for postal boxes at Lismore, following the institution of a twice-daily delivery, is in accordance with the usual practice of the department, or whether there has been discrimination against persons renting postal boxes in that town?
– It has always been the practice, when a second delivery daily is instituted, to double the rental charge for postal boxes.
– In connexion with the decision of the Government to renew the existing sugar agreement, I desire to ask the Acting Prime Minister whether he will direct that a searching and exhaustive inquiry be made into the industry with a view to the price of sugar to the Australian consumer being reduced by at least a halfpenny per lb. ?
– Before the Government determined to renew the sugar agreement, and made an announcement to that effect, a very exhaustive inquiry into the industry was conducted by its officers.
Mr.WARD- Will the Acting Prime Minister state whether the Government, when conducting those exhaustive inquiries into the ramifications of the sugar industry, prior to its determination to renew the agreement, gave any consideration to the recent watering of the stock of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company; whether any inquiries were made as to the amount by which the Fairfax, Knox and Kater families had benefited, and whetherthe Government’s decision was influenced by the amount which these interests had contributed to the party funds ?
– The examination was on lines exactly similar to those followed by both our Labour and nonLabour predecessors in office. A previous Labour Government, I take it, gave consideration to the general question of distribution, just as we did, before it decided, on a previous occasion, to renew the agreement.
– Will the Acting Prime Minister state whether the bill to ratify the agreement will be brought before Parliament during the present sittings ?
– It is not intended to introduce it during the present sittings.
– Will the Acting Prime Minister make available to honorable members the evidence considered by Cabinet before it decided to extend the sugar agreement, so that they may be able to reach reasonable conclusions regarding the price of sugar?
– The investigation was carried out by a departmental officer who, I understand, would not be able, except with great difficulty, to produce the evidence which the honorable member desires. I shall, however, look into the matter.
– From what quarter was evidence sought, or submitted? Will the Minister say whether there was an open invitation to all persons who desired to do so to submit evidence; whether records were kept of the evidence submitted; and whether they will be made available to honorable members?
– The inquiry was conducted by the departmental officer who has previously done this class of work.
– Evidently, the Acting Prime Minister misunderstood my question. I desire to know whether there are any records of the evidence submitted at the recent inquiry into the sugar industry, and, if so, whether they will be made available to honorable members.
– There are no records of the evidence, and, consequently, they cannot be made available to honorable members.
– I desire to know the name of the departmental officer who conducted the inquiry, and whether it is true that the investigation was carried out in the Nationalist party’s head-quarters in Bligh-street, Sydney.
– I think that most people know that the officer who undertook the inquiry on behalf of the Government is Mr. Townsend, of the
Trade and Customs Department. The concluding remark of the honorable member is an insult to this Parliament.
– In view of the fact that two-thirds of the people of Australia are interested in the price of sugar, and that many members have visited the sugar areas, will the Acting Prime Minister make available sufficient of the information in the possession of the Government to enable honorable members to explain to their constituents why the Government, behind the back of Parliament and of its party, came to an agreement?
– The honorable member for Barton (Mr. Lane) was present when I gave some direction as to the form in which questions should be framed. I am afraid that he has deliberately ignored what I then said, because his remarks seek, not to obtain information, but to give it.
– There is scarcely any matter which has been dismissed at such length in this Parliament as the sugar agreement. The House will be given the fullest opportunity to discuss the extension of that agreement. The whole of the information in the possession of the Government will be placed before Parliament in due course. In the meantime there is nothing to prevent honorable members from obtaining for themselves, from both official and unofficial channels, as much information as they desire.
– Will the Acting Prime Minister assure the House that the £.110,000 taken from the fruit-growers by the Lyons Government, when it last renewed the agreement, will be restored to the growers before the new agreement is signed, in view of the fact that the berry fruit-growers have been ruined ?
– The proposed agreement is more liberal than past agreements, so far as the fruit-growers are concerned.
– The Acting Prime Minister said, in effect, that the preparation required for sugar-growing was such that the grower must have a certain period in which to get ready to put in his crop. If so, is it not necessary that this Parliament should discuss the matter of the sugar agreement during the present session, in order that there may be a settled sugar policy for the future?
– The assurance that the Government has already given as to its policy is considered all that is necessary to satisfy the sugar-growers, and I understand that it is satisfactory to them.
– Has the subject of the renewal of the agreement been discussed by the Government parties, and has a majority of their members expressed approval of the Government’s policy in this regard, so that Ministers may be assured of the ratification of the agreement by the Parliament?
– That, question has been asked in another form, but it has nothing whatever to do With the administration of public business.
– Has the Government given any asurance to the growers further than that notified in the public press?
– Is the Minister for Trade andCustoms aware that there is a great shortage of horticultural glass in Australia, and particularly in South Australia? Is he aware that thousands of cases of such glass are required and cannot be obtained? Will he state what steps have been taken to provide against this shortage?
– There is a reported shortage of horticultural glass in South Australia due in some measure to the Belgian quota having been made up entirely of window, and not horticultural, glass. Because of this the local company cannot supply the whole of the demand for horticultural glass. I have taken action, therefore, to increase the number of permits, and I think the difficulty will be satisfactorily overcome.
– In view of the heavy losses sustained by the cattle industry in the Northern Territory and the northwest of Western Australia, caused largely by the embargo imposed by Belgium on importations of Australian beef into that country, will the Minister for the Interior consider the advisability of extending financial assistance to the
Western Australian Government to en able the charges for processing at the Wyndham Meat Works to be reduced ?
– I shall give consideration to the honorable member’s question.
– Will the Minister treat as urgent the request by the tobaccogrowers in the Daly River area of the Northern Territory, to be permitted to manufacture tobacco for local consumption and for the local police officer to be appointed as an excise officer?
– Yes. The Government will give early consideration to the granting of licences to tobacco manufacturers in the Northern Territory.
– Is the Minister aware that motor car importers are offering for sale, as new cars, chassis with defective engines, hopelessly defective gearing apparatus, and deficient safety appliances such as windscreen wipers?
– The honorable gentleman is giving information, not seeking it.
– Is the Minister for Trade and Customs aware that new cars which are a menace to public safety are being driven on the roads, and will he cause an inquiry to be made into this subject?
– I am not clear from the honorable member’s question whether cars of the kind described by him are merely being imported, or are actually being sold. I imagine that difficulty would be experienced in selling such vehicles. I do not know that this is a matter which directly concerns the Trade and Customs Department, but if the honorable member will supply particulars which indicate that it is a matter for attention by that department, I shall have investigations made.
– Is it the intention of the Government to withdraw the subsidy paid for the running of the Zea landia, and to leave Hobart without direct communication with Sydney; or is it intended to continue the subsidy?
– The matter is now being considered by the Government.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. G. J. Bell).Yesterday while the Minister for Repat-. riation (Mr. Hughes) was introducing the Navigation Bill, following some sharp exchanges with the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Mahoney) and. myself, there was, apparently, a misunderstanding, which I regret. At the time there was quite a noise, and believing that a remark directed by the honorable member for Denison to the Minister was directed to me, I asked him to withdraw it. Subsequently, he explained to me that he had not referred to me in any way. I accepted the explanation, and regret the misunderstanding which occurred.
– Is the Minister for Trade and Customs aware that General Motors-Holden’s Limited made a loss of £516,000 in 1931, and a further loss of £349,000 in 1932? Will he take these facts into consideration when considering the Tariff Board’s report on motor car panels ?
– As I indicated before, in reply to a question by the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison), I am not aware of the profits or losses of this company for any particular year. Information of that kind would be placed before the Tariff Board, and receive consideration by that body in the ordinary way.
– The published returns for the years 1930, 1931 and 1932 show that gold to the value of £53,000,000 was exported, and that during the period the value of the gold produced in Australia was only £10,750,000. Can the Minister say whether the exports of gold were increased by over £41,000,000 from capital assets in Australia, and not from production; and if so, will he publish that fact with a view to removing the wrong impression thatwe had returned to a state of prosperity by reason of our exports ?
– I am not familiar, offhand, with the figures mentioned by the honorable member but I imagine that they have to do so with certain distinctions which the honorable member seeks to have made between merchandise gold and other gold.
– The figures are official.
– I shall certainly have the matter looked into.
– As I have not been able to keep in touch with the changes in the Government’s fiscal policy, particularly since the formation of the composite ministry, will the Acting Prime Minister say whether the present Government believes in unrestricted importations from Great Britain?
– The Government’s policy is revealed by the legislation which it brings before Parliament.
– Has the Minister for the Interior yet received a report from the departmental committee appointed to inquire into pastoral holdings in the Northern Territory, and, if so, what action does the Government propose to take in the matter?
– The report to which the honorable member refers was prepared by the departmental officers solely for the information of the Department of the Interior.
– Has the attention of the Acting Prime Minister been directed to a statement by the Minister for War Service Homes, when addressing the Constitutional Club in Sydney recently, that “ uneconomic industries in Australia will have to go.” Will the right honorable gentleman say whether that is the considered policy of the Government, and, if so, will he indicate which industries the Government considers are uneconomic and will have to go?
– It is not the practice to indicate the Government’s policy in reply to questions.
– Has the Minister’s attention been directed to a paragraph in yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald, dealing with the subject of university education at Canberra? Should the Government propose to embark on a scheme of that kind, will it take into consideration the necessity for the establishment of a school for the study of oriental subjects, including oriental languages?
– In December last a deputation, consisting of many of the leaders of thought in Canberra, waited on the Prime Minister and placed before him suggestions for the establishment of a university in Canberra. Those proposals have been prepared for submission to the Cabinet, but have not yet been considered by it.
– Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to the statement by Mr. R. D. Tolley that an extensive market for Australian wines has been lost in the East because of the immaturity of the product offered for sale there, and will he cause inquiries to be made in the matter ?
– I shall have inquiries made.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. G. J. Bell).I have received from the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the House this afternoon for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, “ The proposal to recruit 50 youths to undertake mining operations at The Granites, in the Northern Territory, at rates of wages and under conditions that constitute a serious evasion of the industrial standards applying within the territory.”
Five honorable members having risen in support of the motion,
.- In moving -
That the House do now adjourn,
I seriously counsel consideration by the
House of the project being sponsored by Mr. C. H. Chapman, a rnining identity of the Northern Territory, who proposes to recruit youths and men between the ages of18 and 24 years for mining operations at. The Granites, under conditions which certainly constitute an evasion of the industrial laws of the territory. We should not allow this condition of affairs to obtain without some decided challenge from this House. In this case the clear intention is an exploitation of the labour of youths, and the imposition of conditions that definitely evade industrial laws. According to Mr. Lowe, an authorized agent for Mr. Chapman at Port. Adelaide, and responsible, I understand, to Mr. Chapman for the recruiting of a certain number of lads and young men, the proposal is thatthey shall receive a wage of £2 a week, and that it shall be increased quarterly by 5s. a week until such time as the amount becomes equivalent to the basic wage set. down for Western Australia. Surely this Government will not countenance such a proposal! There are awards which apply to miners, as well as a basic rate for the Northern Territory, and the Government should see that these rates are duly observed. It should use all the power at its disposal to discourage any action which would contravene industrial laws..
The basic wage for the territory awarded by Judge Drake-Brockman is £4 10s. 3d. a week, and there is a special award of 2s.0¾-d. an hour for those engaged in mining operations. The ages at which these young men are to be re- cruited show that a. number of them will be entitled to the adult rate applying to the territory. Starting at £2 a week, they will receive quarterly increases, as I have said, until they are paid the basic rate, not of the Northern Territory, but of Western Australia. The evasion, it appears, is not. merely to be at the outset; at no time can they expect to receive the wages to which they will be lawfully entitled in the Northern Territory; because in Western Australia the federal basic wage is only £3 8s. a week. Since these young men will be engaged in mining operations, they will be entitled to marginal increases over the basic award rates. The rate for mining operations is 2s.0¾d. an hour. These men will have to face the hard work of mining life. Mr. Chapman has indicated that they must be prepared for tough experiences, so his intentions are quite clear. It is highly dangerous to put a man such as he in a position in which he will have power to prevent these youths from returning to the railhead at Alice Springs, if they are dissatisfied with their conditions of employment.
– That is quite incorrect.
– I understand that they are required to give an undertaking that they will remain in the territory for at least twelve months.
– I have received a telegram from Mr. Chapman, who says, “ Statements made by Mr. Makin and Mr. Lacey that youths sign twelve mouths agreement incorrect. Youths able to leave at any time.”
– Then let us deal with that position. To the best of my belief I have not stated that they must actually sign an agreement, but they will be required to give an undertaking to remain for at least twelve months and that is quite the equivalent. These young men will have to travel by rail to Alice Springs nt their own expense or with Government assistance. Mr. Chapman will then provide transport, . I understand, from Alice Springs to The Granites, a distance of a little under 400 miles. What means would these youths have of returning from The Granites to Alice Springs, unless Mr. Chapman were willing to convey them back? They would perish in any attempt to make the journey themselves. This matter must arouse definite feelings of concern on the part of those who wish to see these young men properly protected. This is a clear case of exploitation.
The young men are to be maintained by Mr. Chapman at a charge of 22s. 6d. a week, and this amount must be provided, either by arrangement with the Government, or out of the £2 a week to be paid by way of wages. Mr. Chapman has charge of the store at The Granites, and he is the sole person from whom supplies can be secured. The fare provided will no doubt be of the meanest character, and the proposed charge for keep is a ridiculous one. At the end of their period of service these young men will no doubt find that they are in debt to Mr. Chapman. It is particularly desirable that the Government should not countenance the enterprise in view of the fact that the industrial laws of the territory are to be evaded. I have never met Mr. Chapman, and there is no personal difference between us, but I am intensely desirous that we should do our utmost to protect and safeguard our youths from exploitation, and maintain for them the wage rates and working conditions provided by the appropriate legal tribunals set up by this Parliament to determine such matters. I challenge honorable members generally to show their willingness to co-operate i” achieving these ends by ensuring that proper conditions shall be observed in regard to any work that is done at The Granites.
The Minister for the Interior has intimated that he intends to visit The Granites during the coming recess. That being so, I ask that his approval to the proposal of Mr. Chapman, shall be withheld until he has visited the locality and personally investigated it. I understand that Mr. Chapman has his own aeroplane at The Granites, and he would doubtless facilitate an early visit by the Minister for this purpose. lt. is highly desirable that proper accommodation shall be provided for any men who go to The Granites to work, and the health and well-being of any young tuen who go there should be a particular concern of the Government. Certain information that has reached us from persons acquainted with the conditions at The Granites gives every cause for dissatisfaction as to the prospects of young men who may go there. Mr. Chapman’s proposal has been severely criticized by Mr. T. Anderson, a gentleman who has had wide experience in the district. Mr. Anderson was for seven years a prospector and dingo scalper in that area, and was also associated with several geological expeditions as well as with the land search party for the lost airmen, Anderson and
Hitchcock. His remarks make it abundantly clear that unless very careful provision is made to protect the physical and moral well-being of young men who go into that area disaster is likely to overtake them. One statement in particular by Mr. Anderson, which should bring home to us the seriousness of this aspect of the subject, is as follows: -
Thu health-shattering climate and conditions, bringing on dysentery, barcoo rot, and enteric, can scarcely be withstood by hardened miners, while the half-caste problem is beyond control.
Mr. Anderson adds 1 guarantee that if these lads go out there, (50 per cent, will return morally and physically broken for the rest of their lives.
The outlook is so serious that very careful investigation should be made before any proposal of the kind is approved by the Government. I earnestly request the Minister to promise that in the interests of our young men he will not in any way encourage Mr. Chapman’s project until he has made a personal visit to The Granites, and satisfied himself that every condition essential to the maintenance of correct industrial standards, and the provision of health and medical comforts, as well as suitable accommodation, and protection from other influences peculiar to the Northern Territory, will be assured to any young men who go there. Nothing less should satisfy us. “We should not sanction any evasion of our industrial laws or a cruel exploitation of our young manhood.
– Honorable members will recollect that some little time ago Parliament voted ?333,000 for the purpose of assisting goldmining and providing for greater employment in the industry. Of that total ?50,000 was made available for the Northern Territory to be used to assist prospectors there to bore for water - in which connexion something has already been done at Tennant’s Creek - to construct roads, to give access to mining fields, and also to make advances to mining companies to enable them to provide additional employment. Applications from two companies, the Golden Dyke Gold-mining Company and the Pine Creek Enterprise Company, have already been granted. Provision is made in the agreement with each company that additional employment, under conditions satisfactory to the department, shall be guaranteed. Tentative arrangements have recently been made for an advance up to £3,000 to Messrs. Chapman & Son, of The Granites, on a £1 for £1 basis, for the purchase of a large battery, over which the department will hold a bill of sale as a security for the repayment of the advance from the gold recovered from the battery; and also for the employment of an additional 30 men, making 50 in all. Mr. Chapman, like all other participants in these advances, will be required to conform to the wages rates and conditions ruling in the territory. This surely is a complete answer to the part of the honorable member’s complaint which related to wages and conditions. A new award has recently been made for the territory, which, although not yet given general application, may quite possibly be made a common rule, in which case Mr. Chapman will, of necessity, be required to conform to it.
Mr. Chapman’s scheme for the employment of youths at The Granites is his own conception, and my department is not directly connected with it; but I understand that it is by no means a new experiment, for Mr. Chapman has been employing youths there for the last twelve months with, I understand, satisfactory results. He has a substantial equipment at The Granites, which includes several small batteries, eight petrol and crude oil engines, four trucks, two utility trucks, three cars and a good .deal of other equipment. He also has his own aeroplane and a wireless transmitting and receiving set, so that communications may be sent to and received from the mine.
– How many experienced miners has he on the mine ?
– I cannot say. The honorable member for Hindmarsh seemed to he somewhat apprehensive as to the dangers and temptations that might meet young men who go into that locality for work. I may inform him that there is no liquor licence at The Granites. It would be impossible for young men to obtain liquor there without having it transported over consider able distances and from my personal knowledge of Mr. Chapman I know that he is very keen on preventing youths who go to work on the mine from becoming the victims of drink. He realizes the dangers of life in that part of the Northern Territory.
– Is that why he wants to keep down the wages?
– It is a condition of the tentative agreement that he must adhere to the wages and conditions provided in the appropriate awards.
– Is there no foundation for the statements that have been made about the payment of a wage of £2 a week?
– I cannot say anything on that point except that the agreement will provide for the observance of award rates and conditions.
It will be generally admitted, I think, that the provision of employment for youths constitutes one of the biggest problems that we have to face, and any person who can make a contribution to its solution, even if such action be profitable to himself, is rendering a good service to the community. The telegram that I have received from Mr. Chapman in reply to statements that have been made as to the conditions of work at The Granites should be reassuring. It reads as follows : -
Statements made Makin Lacey that youths sign twelve months agreement incorrect Stop Youths able leave at any time.
In reply to the views of Mr. Anderson, which the honorable member for Hindmarsh quoted, I direct attention to the following statements which appeared in the Melbourne Herald of the 13th March which, I suggest, should carry at least equal weight to those quoted by the honorable member -
Mr. J. A. Callander, 19, of St. Kilda, who was employed at The Granites for six months last year, as a batteryman, said today in reply to criticism of the “ health shattering “ conditions at The Granites made by Mr. T. Anderson yesterday, that life as a miner there was fully as pleasant and as healthy as on any Victorian field.
Living conditions on The Granites, Mr. Callander said, were remarkably good for an outpost of civilisation. The men lived in tin huts and cooked from open fire places. They slept on comfortable camp stretchers.
Although the summer temperatures frequently rose to 110 and 115 deg. the humidity was low, and the heat easy to bear. At night there was always a welcome cool change that demanded thick sleeping rugs.
Store on Field.
Foodstuffs, Mr. Callander added, were supplied at a store specially established for the convenience of miners by the owner of the fields, Mr. Chapman. Prices were the same as those charged in capital cities, plus freight charges, which were heavy. He supplied the following table of charges for provisions: -
Tinned meats, ls. 9d. a lb. tin;; flour 18s. Gd. a 50 lb. bag; jam, 2s. a lb. tin; honey, 2s. Cd. a lb. tin; potatoes and onions, (id. to lod. a lb., salmon ls. 3d. a small tin.
Our water supply is drawn from a bore, 179 feet deep, Jio said, and during my six months on the fields there were no cases of dysentery. There is ample water for drinking, cooking and washing.
The miners have all the recreation they want with cards, shooting and an occasional concert. The greatest advantage, lie claimed, for The Granites over Victorian fields was the higher rates of pay.
This is an expression of opinion of a man who has been to’ The Granites as Mr. Anderson claims to have been.
– I shall come to that in a moment. The honorable member for Hindmarsh suggested that young men going to The Granites would be in danger of suffering moral deterioration. That is, I suggest, a danger to which young men in the cities anxious to obtain employment and unable to get it are just as much exposed. If I had a son who was unable to obtain work in the big centres of civilization I should prefer that he went to the Northern Territory and did what he could to secure it there rather than suffer the moral deterioration which must ensue from enforced idleness in the cities. I refuse to believe that there are no young men in Australia with sufficient back-bone to stand up to the difficulties that may beset them without being in danger of moral deterioration.
– But why expose them to it?
– Are our young men always to be tied to someone’s apron strings ?
– But it is not for the Minister to expose them unnecessarily.
– I do not propose to do so. All that the Department is doing is to provide the means whereby this mining concern may purchase additional machinery which will ensure more employment. It is, I am sure, not only the desire of the Government, but also that of the Opposition that additional employment shall be afforded to men and youths at the earliest possible moment. That is an answer to at least some of the points raised by the honorable member for Hindmarsh.
The honorable member has further suggested that the whole matter should await my visit to the Territory and has asked, “Why this haste?” We are all anxious to lose no time in providing additional employment.- We should do everything to provide that additional employment at the earliest possible moment. In fact the honorable gentleman himself has often spoken most eloquently of the necessity for avoiding delay in the provision of work from funds provided by the Parliament.
– Does the Minister approve of the payment of £2 a week to these youths?
– I would not approve of the Government making an advance to a mining concern which did not adhere to the awards.
– But apart from the advance proposed to be made, has not the Government other responsibilities in that regard ?
– It has a certain measure of responsibility and that point will be settled before very long when the question of making a common rule for the Northern Territory is decided.
– Is there an award for the Northern Territory?
– Yes, but to-day that is not a common rule. The right honorable gentleman knows the limitations that operate in the States’ spheres with respect to the making of a common rule by the Arbitration Court. I do not pretend to be a lawyer, but in the sphere of federal jurisdiction, for instance in federal territory, these limitations do not apply, and it is possible for the court to make a common rule if it so desires.
– There is a mining award.
– Yes, but that would apply only to employers cited in the award. I understand that the question as to whether the award shall be made a common rule or not is at present under consideration by the judge. However, I give honorable members this assurance: whether the award is made a common rule or not, the attitude of the department will not be affected; this advance will be conditional upon award rates being paid.
– Every honorable member will agree that it is desirable that employment should be found for the youths of this country; but side by side with that desire is the anxiety of every honorable member to prevent anything being done that might tend to facilitate the exploitation of the youths so employed. Yet, obviously, that very thing is contemplated under this Chapman scheme.
– I have already answered that charge.
– I do not think so. The Minister has merely said that award rates will be observed, whereas it is common knowledge among those associated with industrial organizations that proper protection is not always provided in awards to cover the employment of juniors, with the result that many employers employ youths on work previously done by adults and pay a rate of wage equivalent to one-half and less of the adult rate.
– I understand that special provision is being made for the payment of certain rates to youths of certain ages.
– Does the honorable member suggest that certain classes of work should be done by men only and should not be touched by youths?
– No; but we all know the part machinery is playing in industry. Under mass-production methods, youths are employed in, say, the operation of drilling machines and stamping machines, and so on, to such an extent that this class of work is done almost exclusively by juveniles. They have displaced the adults - men with wives and families to keep. This exploitation is being carried on to such an extent in some industries in Sydney that boys and youths are being called upon to work overtime three or four nights a week as well as Saturdays, and are receiving only about ls. 6d. or 2s. a week extra for the additional half-day’s work. Something should be done to stop this practice. Therefore, whilst anxious to see something done for young men, we must, at the same time, see that the unscrupulous employer is not allowed to “ get away with it “. A system of the employment of juveniles pro rata to the number of adults employed should be adhered to. The proposals of Mr. Chapman savour a good deal of the methods of the unscrupulous employer operating as I have just described under arbitration awards.
The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) has made a very reasonable request, and I suggest that the Minister for the Interior might examine the aspects of the case as the honorable member presented them; because I am sure the Minister is not aware of the dangers that may be ahead. Without intending any discourtesy to him, I remind him that his associations have not, in the main, been with industry in its secondary sense ; he has not dabbled very much with awards and conditions. All honorable members have their own particular avenues of effort in life. They cannot be expected to have a knowledge of all things. Employers associated with industry know all the ins and outs of the awards and are working out in every conceivable way methods of defeating their purpose. I believe that Mr. Chapman is doing this.
The next point which I desire to make is the fact that the Government proposes to provide a £1 for £1 advance.
– Which must be paid back.
– It may not be paid back if, subsequently, a position arises which renders the repayment impossible.
– Is it not worth running some risk in order to secure more employment ?
– I do not complain about that. It is impossible to achieve anything without being prepared to take some risk. We may have a repetition of what occurred in respect of the guarantees made to Messrs. Chambers & Treganowan in connexion with the shale oil industry in New South Wales. Things do not always work out to the programme laid down. The Minister should examine this question from theangle of the views expressed by the honorable member for Hindmarsh and from what I have tried to supplement in reference to the extent of the exploitation going on in regard to the employment of youths. The Minister seemed to rely on the fact that the existence of award conditions disposed of the whole matter. In answer to that I say that Mr. Chapman could still carry on a form of exploitation despite the award, which I do not think the Minister would approve, particularly as the Government has been called upon to finance the venture.
– I have listened with interest to the remarks of the- honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) in regard to the exploitation of youths by Mr. Chapman. I think honorable members can agree with him in the main that mass production methods in the cities, brought about by the scientific advancement of machinery, have resulted in a certaiu amount of exploitation in the employment of youths. But drastic action applied individually is not a cure. Effective action can be accomplish ed only by dealing with these matters collectively, and only then by a re-orientation of our employment position, such for instance as a reduction of working hours. In any case we should not look askance upon any individual attempt to give employment to youths in order to keep them away from the temptations of city life while unemployed.’ The Minister (Mr. Paterson) has effectively answered the argument put up by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin), and I am perfectly satisfied with his reply. He has already outlined the fact that an advance on a £1 for £1 basis would be made with definite specific objects and subject to the payment of award rates and conditions. Mr. Chapman, the man concerned, has been described in various ways by honorable members. We are told on the one hand that he is exploiting youths, and yesterday we were told that he was a “ claim- jumper “ and a “ go-getter.” I do not know him, but I think that with respect to The Granites gold-field, he has shown tenacity of purpose which should be recognized. When, following the remarkable boom at The Granites some time ago, the value of the shares dropped from £85 to 4d. within a few days, it seems to me that Mr. Chapman, realizing the damage thai; had been done, concentrated his best efforts at The Granites with the object of bringing about the rehabilitation of the industry there. He has taken labour from the capital cities to The Granites, and I have never heard any adverse report from those who have gone with Chapman and returned. Rather have I heard that those who have once accompanied him are prepared to do so again, being satisfied with the conditions prevailing there. He has succeeded in re-establishing The Granites as a gold-mining area, and is winning ever-increasing quantities of gold.
– He took £10,000 worth of gold out of the area last year.
– All this publicity will not do The Granites gold-field or the Northern Territory as a whole any good. In the last paragraph of the Madigan report the following occurs: -
The whole boom waa a tragedy, and not the least pity of itis that the Northern Territory has received an undeserved setback as far as prospecting is concerned, from which it may take years to recover, though this report only concerns a mere patch of the territory.
The statements of some honorable members in this House tend to throw undeserved suspicion on the Northern Territory as a gold-mining area, and that such suspicion in regard to The Granites is undeserved is evident from the quantities of gold which Chapman is obtaining. No doubt conditions are hard, but those who go there do not expect feather beds, or the amenities of the city, and there is nothing which will harm the youth of Australia. . I have no doubt that even worse conditions have been faced and overcome by prospectors in other parts of Australia in their search for gold. The young men who go to The Granites field will learn a lesson in fortitude, and will, as the result of their experience, be fitted to take their place in the life of the nation. It is definitely better for them that they should go on the goldfields than that they should hang about the streets receiving the dole, and suffering that gradual demoralization which a life of that kind too often involves. I have no doubt that the wage of £2 a week, less sustenance, which they are to receive will be supplemented by a share of the gold they help to win. However, whether that is so or not, the conditions must be agreeable to the men, because, as I have said, those who have worked on the field at one time are prepared to return. This applies to university men and others, who have expressed their willingness to return to the realistic conditions which prevail in Central Australia.
I commend the Minister for his statement on the subject, and I believe that he is doing everything in his power to see that award conditions are observed. We have heard a great deal about award conditions; but may I remind honorable members opposite that, in the capital cities at the present time, many industrial awards are being violated with the unofficial consent of the unions concerned. The officials of those unions know that, if they objected, the rank and file of the unions might take a hand in the proceedings. Why, therefore, do we hear so much about this particular award? I agree that, the Government should not be a party to the wilful breaking of an award : but the Minister has answered all objections on that score.
.- I do not think that any objection can be taken to the statement of the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson), as far as it went; but something was left unsaid about which we should be given an assurance. The Minister said that the advances proposed to be made under a tentative agreement with this mining proprietor will be conditioned by a requirement that the industrial awards operating in the territory shall be observed. That is all right. He went on to say that the arrangement regarding the employment of youths from 18 to 24 years of age was that there should be additional employment. As far as that goes, that also is satisfactory. Then he said that the arrangements regarding the employment of youths are a matter for Mr. Chapman.
– I said the choice of youths.
– Yes, and their payment.
– No, I did not say that.
– I understood that the Minister did. The one thing lacking from the Minister’s statement was an assurance that the Government would see that the award for mining in the Northern Territory would be observed. He said merely that a condition for the advancing of the money was that the awards should be observed, but there was noundertaking that, with or without a subsidy, the awards would be enforced. I am not here to prejudge this case, and I shall be satisfied if the Government will state that any employment given, whether as the result of a subsidy or not, shall be in the terms of the award.
I have here a telegram - of which, I understand, the Minister for the Interior has received a copy - from the secretary of the North Australian Workers Union. It is as follows -
Press reporta state Commonwealth decided subsidize pound for pound basis £5,000 battery for Granites gold-fields and Chapman owner arranging fifty young men aged 18 to 24 to go Centralia learn prospecting mining £2 week rising 5s. quarterly until reach Westralian basie wage. There is recently made mining award Northern Territory observance of which my union claims should be made conditional subsidy granted as he notorious exploiter of inexperienced workers. My union strongly protests as Chapman’s wage, view cost living and living conditions and extreme hardships, grossly inadequate. Wired above Minister Interior. Glad your assistance. - Toupein, secretary North Australian Workers Union.
I do not know anything about the conditions obtaining there. I met Mr. Chapman once, when he was on his way from the territory, and he impressed me as a man of great efficiency and enterprise, who was doing considerable work at The Granites, and was bringing much ingenuity to bear on his task. In my company he expressed a desire to provide an opportunity for the young men of Australia to go out to the territory prospecting. To the extent of that conversation he impressed me, and I agreed that it would be a help if he were able to do what he said, but I join in the protest of other honorable members if, on the pretence of helping the youth of Australia, he is really exploiting them. If there is work to be done by young men in far distant places like The Granites the least we can ask is that the Government shall see that award conditions are observed. I am not impressed when honorable members speak of these youths as inexperienced, and therefore not deserving of full award wages. A youth of eighteen years of age, if physically fit, can do the work of a mature man in the mines. I, myself, worked for a short while in the mines when I was eighteen years of age, and I did the work of a man, and received the wages of a man. It is true that these youths will not have the knowledge and experience of older prospectors, but it is not intended that they shall spend all their time prospecting ; they are also to be employed in the mines.
The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison) said that, no doubt, these young men will receive a share of the gold won, but does he know that for a fact? It may be quite true, but we have had no assurance to that effect, and it is a matter which can be quickly resolved if the Minister will make inquiries. There has grown up in the mining industry a practice which provides for a system of sharing between the miners and the proprietors. The miners receive a certain wage which is supplemented by a share of the gold obtained.
– That is the system in operation in the territory.
– No doubt it is a fair system, provided the agreement is properly safeguarded, but it is liable to abuse. Under that method we. had the tributing system in the Ballarat and Bendigo mines, and it constituted the worst form of Commonwealth sweating. However, in the present case, we know nothing for certain beyond the fact that these youths are to receive £2 a week, with certain stipulated increments.
– Chapman is picking the eyes out of country that old prospectors have located for him.
– I know nothing of that, but we know that these youths are going to work in the mines, and that they will do the work of men. Therefore, they should receive the wages prescribed by the court.
.- I address myself to this subject with some diffidence because I cannot claim to be an authority on gold-mining, and I have no first-hand knowledge of the area under discussion. I do not criticize the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) for raising the matter, because a project of this kind should be watched closely by the Government. Every effort should be made to prevent the exploitation of youths in an original venture of this kind, but I think the honorable member for Hindmarsh went too far in saying that it was a disgraceful thing to take young men of 18 to 24 years of age to The Granites gold-field.
– I did not say that.
– The honorable member suggested that they would be exposed to all sorts of moral temptation, and would be in danger of meeting with disaster. In theory, this venture seems to be an extremely good one. I know nothing personally of Mr. Chapman, except that he is an adventurous man, possessing original ideas, which he is trying to carry out. Any project which offers an opportunity to young men who, through no fault of their own, are out of employment, to go out and learn a calling and develop their characters is worthy of the favorable consideration of the whole community. I remember a similar venture to this being carried out in Victoria on a smaller scale in the early days of the depression. A landowner, appalled by the difficulty which youths were experiencing in finding employment, offered work at £1 a week to five youths from a country town who had never before been in employment, and who seemed to have no prospect of obtaining employment for a long time. The greatest criticism of that venture was that it would be used to exploit youths, although actually they were to be engaged on what was not ordinary station work. As a result of that scheme, however, three out of the five youths engaged have since been in continuous employment, and since they reached the age of 21 have been receiving the basic wage payable to station hands. The experience which they gained made thom not only employable later at the basic wage, but alsovery excellent men at that wage. Thus, thanks to that scheme, three out of those five youths to-day have every reason to believe that life has something to offer them. The other two have not since been in continuous employment, but because of the experience they received under this scheme they have been able to get a considerable amount of intermittent work. The success of that venture illustrates what the proposal now under discussion may hold for these 50 youths. It should have sympathetic consideration, although I agree with the honorable member for Hindmarsh that it and similar schemes should be carefully watched.
.- I have listened attentively to the arguments advanced for and against the proposal to subsidize this mining venture. After hearing some of the speakers one would imagine that Mr. Chapman was a modern Simon Legree; on the other hand, the remarks of the Minister and his colleagues suggest that Chapman is a benefactor to the unemployed. One aspect of the employment of labour in this venture has been overlooked. If this gentleman is sincere in his professed desire to provide work to relieve unemployment, there are, scattered throughout Australia, thousands of experienced miners with family responsibilities who would gladly accept this work if, as the Minister said, the promoters are prepared to observe award conditions. In every State there are not only experienced metalliferous miners available for this employment, but also thousands of coalminers who could readily adapt themselves to this class of work provided that the conditions under which they were asked to accept employment were as has been outlined by the Minister. If employment on thi3 work is to be governed by award conditions, which in the Northern Territory include a wage of £4 10s. 3d. a week, the opportunity is open to this gentleman to get thousands of experienced men to do the job without having to exploit boy labour. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) that there seems to be a flaw in the negotiations which have taken place between the Minister and the promotors of this venture, and that, as a result, the way is definitely left open for the exploitation of juvenile labour at £2 a week. Also associated with this scheme is one of the greatest abuses prevalent in the outback country of Australia, viz., that the employer is also the storekeeper. It is all very well for the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison) to recite a romantic story as to how many men return to the outback country for further employment, but I would like to know what opportunity the young men,who will be involved in this scheme, will have to leave Central Australia. They are to be paid only £2 a week, and out of that amout 26s. will be deducted for their keep, leaving a margin of 14s. with which to purchase clothing and other necessaries of life. The Minister stated that the charges for food in that particular area will be at city prices, plus freight charges which are very heavy. Judging by the prices that are usually charged for employees’” ” keep “ in the cities, and allowing for the probable cost of foodstuffs and other necessaries in The Granites area, not many of the necessaries of life will be provided for 26s. a week.
– The Minister said that award wages would be paid.
– The Minister certainly said that award rates would be paid to adult employees. I have no doubt about that, but the scheme so far as it involves the transportation of 50 youths to the area, on condition that they receive £2 a week out of which the storekeeper who is also the employer, will retain 26s., is open to exploitation.
– The ages of these youths will range from 19 to 24, and a big percentage of them will be over 21.
– The Minister said that there would be only a small proportion of juniors to seniors.
– In my view there is, definitely, the possibility of gross exploitation of juvenile labour under this scheme and I cannot accept, what apparently has satisfied the Minister, the mere statement of Mr. Chapman, an interested party in the matter, that the charges made against him by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) are not correct. If the statement of Mr. Chapman, an interested party, is good enough for the Minister, honorable members on this side of the House are content to accept the statement of the secretary of the Australian Workers’ Union in his telegram to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) that Mr. Chapman is a notorious exploiter of labour and any proposal he puts to the Government should be viewed with suspicion until such time as the Minister positively satisfies himself that this gentleman is prepared to carry out his proposal to the letter. In this case, Mr. Chapman’s promise is that labour will be employed under award conditions. Any doubt could easily be removed by demanding an undertaking from this gentleman that if he does employ juvenile labour he will pay them adequate wages. I do not think he has yet given that assurance. Under such circumstances the pious hope of the Minister that award wages will be paid will not be realized, for Mr. Chapman can safely give an undertaking to the Minister to observe award conditions and then, after having secured the subsidy, employ boy labour at low wages. .
-No employer will pay award rates to boys in preference to experienced miners.
– That is so. As I have already pointed out, there are thousands of miners who would eagerly avail themselves of the opportunity to take this work were Chapman compelled to observe award conditions, and there is no necessity for Chapman to embark on a benevolent scheme to train youths. If Mr. Chapman is sincere in the assurances he has given to the Minister as to the conditions that will apply to this work, he should give a definite assurance to the Minister that he is prepared to absorb some of our unemployed miners; alternatively, if he desires for benevolent reasons to engage youths, he should undertake to apply to them the same conditions as would apply to adult employees. Unless that undertaking is given, it will be very easy for Mr. Chapman to evade any promise he has made to the Minister, or even the implied undertaking he has apparently given that he will observe award conditions. Until that point is definitely settled, the Minister should tread very warily before he grants any public money-
– It is not a grant; it is a loan, an advance.
– That is quite immaterial. I contend that before the Minister disburses public money in any way he should investigate Chapman’s bona fides and be absolutely certain that he will observe award conditions. Otherwise, there will remain a suspicion that juvenile labour is to be exploited solely in the interests of this speculator.
– I support the motion. Yesterday, when I had spoken on mining ventures in Arnheim Land and resumed my seat, I thoughtI had said enough of personalities to last honorable members quite a while. However, knowing full well that honorable members opposite had no sympathy with the people referred to, I was diffident about raising the matter. I myself did not know very much about them until they trod on my corns “a short while ago, and then I felt impelled to deal with them in this chamber. Although yesterday I determined to say nothing further on this matter, I am constrained to rise again to support cordially the objections voiced by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin). My only criticism of his speech is that he said too little. Discussing mining in the Northern Territory I feel that I am at a great disadvantage in this House. Yesterday I learned that there are few men in this chamber with a technical knowledge of mining. Certainly some honorable members have some knowledge of the subject, but most of them have never visited the Northern Territory. I, on the other hand, have had full opportunity to study the situation at The Granites by virtue of my technical work in that area. For that reason, possibly, I speak with a fuller knowledge of the subject than is possessed by other honorable members.
The questions that have arisen with regard to Chapman will have to be dealt with promptly. I admire Kim for his energy and pertinacity, but he has other characteristics I do not admire. If it were not for him I would not be a member of this House. Having been sent officially to survey the go-getting shows launched by Chapman, who gloriously fooled legions of Australians, this Parliament and the Department of the Interior, I feel I am justified in ventilating some facts concerning him. I will not go into his reputation in connection with Roma oil. Honorable members should be aware of that. I was sent officially, in a hurry, to The Granites from the northern end of the Territory. When I got there I found myself humping an 80-lb. theodolite about this inhospitable region, and spending most of my time in surveying what were nothing more than wretched spinifex farms for public companies which had been floated by Chapman, with the aid of the usual stockintrade of the mining company promoter - rich specimens which he had obtained by boring on a leader. He professed to be “ letting the public in on a good thing “. Thousands of pounds were wasted in this venture and it did much damage to mining in the Northern Territory.
As a result of my visit to this area I am able to assure honorable members it is an inhospitable country for youths or even for men.” However, I sympathize with the Minister in his troubles in this matter. I, myself, have in mind a scheme for developing this area thoroughly. It will take about two years to carry out. What the territory needs first of all is boring for water. It also needs a cheap aeroplane service, but an adequate supply of water must be the first consideration. I await the day when Australians will honour the memory of Alan Davidson, who, in 1900, travelled by camel team along the 20th parallel of south latitude, with his nearest railway base at Adelaide, 1,000 miles away. In traversing that country Davidson nearly perished, but on his return he expressed the opinion that there was a potential field at Tennants Creek, and hoped that sufficient money would be found to develop it. His prophecy is coming true to-day. I have seen £14,000 worth of ore at grass from a shaft 5 feet x 3 feet and 40 feet deep waiting for water and battery totreat it. I do not approve of government money being advanced on mining venturesuntil they are examined and the ore has been estimated by a competent government expert, yet I feel certain of the value of this field.
But let me direct the attention of honorable members to this latest scheme at The Granites. The proposal which I would like to see put in hand is preliminary expenditure on Government bores from Tennants Creek to The Granites and Tanami, then out north-west through the saucer of No Man’s Land, which is surrounded by Marblebar, Hall’s Creek, the De Grey River and Port Hedland right to the Indian Ocean. To the east bores should be put down from Tennants Creek to the Queensland border through Curranalli. Expenditure on this scheme would take about two years, and when completed it would give access to the known auriferous areas in the Northern Territory and make it possible for legitimate miners to develop their different shows. This man Chapman has gone back to The Granites. We all know that there is gold there, but I should like to impress upon honorable members the difference between an ordinary show, which can be worked profitably by a syndicate, and a mine to be developed by a company. I object to what are purely syndicate propositions being foisted on a gullible public as “ mines “ This is what Chapman is doing. He tells a pretty story and has gloriously “ put it over “ the department. Happily, I have been able to attempt, at all events, to prevent him from doing the same thing with the investing public. He has shows and prospects at Burdekin and Big Bunker’s Hill, and out to the North he has a number of leases upon which, it is reported, was found a .seven-ounce slug.
– What is the width of the lode at The Granites?
– I do not know that there is a lode there. It is, I think, simply an injection or residue from a higher area. Further down there are other shows and he has got his hands on to them also. He has other propositions at Tanami, and I should like to know how much ofthe Tanami gold has been mixed with that of The Granites in order to make a better showing of the latter schemes.
– Is there not some means of determining the characteristics of gold from different areas ?
– I have suggested police supervision, but in the circumstances I suppose that is impossible. It is possible to distinguish between gold produced in New Guinea and from other areas, but Tanami is only 65 miles from The Granites.
I appreciate the difficulties of the Minister, who has not at his disposal a technical staff to guide him; but I hope that it will not be long before more reliable information is readily available to him when dealing with these matters. I suggest that the proposal made by Mr. Chapman be delayed until more adequate provision is made for water supplies by means of bores so as to make the country more hospitable for prospectors. Mr. Chapman should not be allowed to retain his monopolistic grip on Tanami and The Granites, but the legitimate miners should be allowed to return and take over the properties which they had located and worked. If reasonable provision is made for water supplies, there need be no doubt about the ability of the miners to develop these mining shows.
– Does the honorable member think that The Granites is a place for boys of eighteen years of age?
– I do not think it is. What I would impress upon the House is the fact that so many of these mining shows are proposals for syndicates of working miners. They are not mines in the true sense of the word, but unfortunately they are being foisted upon a gullible public as big mining propositions. I hope that honorable member’s minds are quite clear with regard to this aspect of the matter. I should like the Minister to stay his hand with regard to Mr. Chapman’s scheme; but, as I have said, I appreciate his difficulties. Thousands of pounds have been spent on the Golden Dyke as a mine, because it was approved by an authority, and probably there will be similar expenditure at The Granites, despite the fact that as a mine it has been turned down by the authorities, and has been described as a fiasco. A technical examination is necessary to put the hallmark of science on any venture upon which public money is to be expended. The Government should see that not one penny of public money is expended on these schemes before a thorough inspection is made by competent geologists to estimate the ore in sight. Inquiry into a genuine show can do no harm. It can do nothing but good.
– The fundamental principle involved in this motion has been missed by previous speakers. I commend the Minister for what he has done to provide finance for the development of the mining industry, but I warn him against the proposal which has been put before his department by Mr. Chapman. In the Northern Territory there are scores of people carrying on mining operations who are prepared to pay full award rates. The scheme propounded by Mr. Chapman will mean the exploitation of adult labour because there is no guarantee that those who will obtain employment will not be of full adult age. Mr. Chapman has given an undertaking to employ 50 youths, but there is nothing to prevent him from employing 50 men under this scheme, and paying them only half award rates. At the end of twelve months the men willbe entitled to £3 a week, assuming that their wages are advanced by 5s. quarterly as provided for in the agreement.
– I have said already that Mr. Chapman will not get financial assistance from the Government unless he complies with award conditions.
– I am not blaming the Minister for what he has done, but I warn him not to be a party to this scheme. The argument advanced by the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison) takes us back to the dark ages in industry. He would favour the employment of cheap labour in connexion with any scheme, in the hope, possibly, that when better times come the conditions and pay will improve. Experience has shown that if we lend ourselves to proposals of that nature, we shall never get back to better conditions in industry.
– I have not advocated cheap wages. The honorable member is misrepresenting me entirely.
– The Minister in grappling with one problem - that of the employment of youths - is lending encouragement to a proposal that will give rise to several other problems of more evil effect than the one which ho seeks to solve. We want to help the development of the Northern Territory, and. I think all honorable members commend the Minister for getting so quickly into his stride. He has begun to do something, and I hope that he will continue the good work by making it possible for people to invest money in the Northern Territory on an equitable and competitive basis. But I tell him that already there is competition amongst labour in the territory, and if he allows one man to employ workers at less than award rates of pay, he will make it impossible for other employers to carry on, except on the same conditions. He would not allow any men to comein from New Guinea or Fiji to give employment at less than award rates, so there is no reason why a citizen of the Commonwealth should be allowed to do this. If Mr. Chapman is permitted to employ labour under the conditions indicated, he will be breaking the law, because he will probably be employing adults at half award rates of pay. The undertaking is that the wages of these youths will be increased by 5s. a quarter. This means that a young man will have to work for eighteen months at below award rates, whilst other employers, in the same industry possibly, arc paying full wages to their employees. If the Minister wishes to protect the interests of the employers in the Northern Territory, he should make the award rates of pay a common rule, as has been done in Canberra. If this were done Mr. Chapman or any one else who came forward with a scheme for the employment of labour would operate under the same conditions as regards wages. Before I paid a visit to Central Australia a year or two ago,
I negotiated with a company in Collinsstreet on behalf of men employed on the mica-fields, which are not far distant from The Granites. We had a roundtable conference, and as a result the company concerned undertook to give employment to a considerable number of men at the agreed-upon rate. We succeeded in getting an award through the court in Victoria to cover the mica-fields in Central Australia; but shortly afterwards a group of Italians started work in the same territory, and as award conditions did not apply to them, it was impossible for this company to carry on. Consequently, this Government had to find a sum of money to enable the stranded miners on the mica-field to return to Adelaide and Melbourne. This is what I fear may happen in connexion with The Granites field if Mr. Chapman’s proposal is endorsed by the Government.
There is no need to make so much fuss about recruiting labour outside the Northern Territory for the development of mining shows there. It is only about nine months ago since I sent a wire from Alice Springs to Mr. Lyons, urging him to give employment to a number of men at Alice Springs, because the local storekeeper and hotelkeeper told me and Mr. Nelson that they could not afford to carry these people on any longer. It appears that some one had informed the Government that these men had not been long in the Northern Territory, and were not proper citizens - but were, in fact, hoboes and half-castes. I called them together at the hotel, and, after questioning them, learned that all of them had been in the territory for at least eighteen months, and that only one was a half-caste, and he had an excellent reputation. As a result a telegram signed by Mr. Nelson and myself was sent to the Lyons Government, and shortly afterwards 23 of these men were given employment. I assure the Minister that a considerable number of men with long experience in mining operations are travelling about Central Australia looking for work. Mr. Chapman can get experienced miners if he cares to pay the recognized wages. The honorable member forWentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison) approves the proposal to send youths to this field.
– Yes, under the conditions outlined by the Minister.
– If men are employed at The Granites at one half the wages received by miners engaged on other fields in the locality, they will soon become dissatisfied, and eventually the Government will have to defray the cost of bringing them back. In endeavouring to. overcome one obstacle the Government will encounter other problems the solution of which will be extremely difficult. We have been informed that £10,000 worth of gold has been recovered from The Granites.
– That is so.
– At Pine Creek and Katherine River where men are employed at award rates gold valued at ten times that amount has been obtained.
Mr.Blain. - At Tennant’s Creek, £10,000 worth of gold has been obtained from a hole ten feet deep, and those controlling the show are not saying anything about it.
– The honorable member should have mentioned that earlier.
– The honorable member has exhausted his time.
Sitting suspended from12.47 to 2.15 p.m.
.- I have listened very closely to the debate. The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) deserves commendation for having brought, this matter forward, but the Government cannot be congratulated upon the steps it proposes to take to fulfil the promise it made to the electors of Australia that it would look after the interests of the youth of this country. If the prospects of producing gold in large quantities in the north are as good as has been stated, it is not necessary to employ boys on the fields under sweating conditions. I claim that a youth of 24 should bc classified as a man and should enjoy the wages and conditions prescribed for adult labour. If inexperienced boys are employed, the Government should insist upon a certain number of practical miners working with them. That is the case with apprentices in every other industry. The individual to whom reference has been made will be subsidized by the Government without any guarantee from him that employment will be provided for a definite period, or that any results will be obtained. Statements of company promoters should be heavily discounted. The Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson) says that boys will be taken from the cities and made good citizens. I contend that when they return from the Northern Territory they will become a burden on the nation. I do not favour the employment of boys in the mines of Australia.
– There is no suggestion that anything of the kind is to be done.
– Are they to be made alluvial workers ? If they are, they should be sent out with an old prospector who will give them practical tuition, and should be allowed to share in any profits gained from alluvial prospecting. The money that is to be expended in the Northern Territory could, with greater advantage, be utilized in producing the gold that can be mined in Tasmania. I can show the Government expert alluvial gold close to towns in that State, the production of which would give much better results than can be obtained in the interior of Australia. Under the industrial laws of this country a youth is classified as an adult worker when he reaches the age of 21 years, and is entitled to award rates of wages. The Government’s proposal, however, is to send youths to the Northern Territory, pay thom £2 a week, deduct from their wages £1 5s. or £1 8s. a week for rations, and place them under the control of an unscrupulous individual without any chance of getting away ; they will either have to work under those conditions or starve. That is a shabby policy. Would any honorable member like his son to be placed in similar circumstances? I would not allow my son to be placed under the* control of one who is described as the most unscrupulous man in Australia. If the Government has money available for expenditure along these lines, why does it. not put the youths in some of the gold mines of Western Australia under apprenticeship conditions? Is it thought that gold-mining is likely to become a big industry in Australia? It is not. It is a thing of the past. Gold is not needed to carry on the essential work of a nation, and the industry must decline immediately the price of gold drops from its present level, which must happen sooner or later. Yet the Minister for the Interior defends this policy, and other honorable members invite the House to consider what has been done in the direction of placing boys on farms. The Nationalist party in Tasmania adopted a system of slavery when it set boys to learn farming operations at a wage of 5s. a week, working from daylight to dark. Can a boy be made a man in that way?
– He should be left to walk the streets?
– We do not believe in their being left to walk the streets. Our idea is that they should be fitted to undertake work for which nature intended them. We contend that the hours of labour should be shortened and the wheels of industry kept moving so that all available labour may be absorbed. If the Government advances money under the conditions here proposed, every company promotor will have an open go to take up a “ dud “ show and apply for assistance. No steps are being taken to prevent exploitation. It has been practically proved that that is what is intended in this case. It is of no use to say that the Northern Territory contains gold in large quantities, and that in a year or two the boys will be absorbed in big mining ventures. Had there been gold there it would have been produced long ago by men who are prepared to invest in any enterprise that is likely to prove profitable. But what else can be expected from the present Government? It has no sympathy with our boys, because it believes in child labour and in sweating the worker under the most damnable conditions it is possible for human beings to endure. Some honorable members contend that the trade union movement should protest. Throughout the ages it has protested against this sort of thing, but the Government of the day, representing as it has the financial institutions, has had to do their bidding and depress the standard of living. That has been the policy of the Government. I hold the Minister for the Interior responsible for the shocking conditions prevailing in the Northern Territory under the scheme of unemployment relief initiated by it, and I appeal to the Government not to allow this state of things to continue.
– Order! The honorable member has exhausted his time.
. - Those responsible for this debate must have had two objectives in launching it, the first being to insist upon the observance of certain labour conditions on what is known as The Granites gold-field, and the second, and more important, to attack the administration of th present Government.
– That is not so.
– If the honorable member had no such intention in submitting this motion, others of his party who have joined in the debate have shown that they are influenced by such considerations. I have no personal knowledge of The Granites goldfield, but I sat in the South Australian Parliament with a very distinguished member of the Labour party who had something to do with its development - one of those gentlemen who manage to combine the ownership of much worldly wealth with a life-long advocacy of the rights of the down-pressed proletariat. That, however, is by the way. We are here this afternoon not to discuss that matter, but to consider whether the principle of the basic wage should apply to all types of relief work, including mining.
– What is the name of the man to whom the honorable member referred ?
– The honorable member cannot draw me off the track. The question of subsidizing the mining industry has agitated the minds of governments drawn from all parties during the last few years. I recollect that when the right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) was at the head of a Federal Government, a sum of £5,000 was voted by this Parliament as a grant to South. Australia to help a Labour government there to develop the copper-mining industry at Moonta. That money was practically thrown into the sea.
– They do not say that at Moonta.
– I repeat that the money was practically thrown into the sea. At that time copper had reached the lowest figure in history, while the price of gold was rising to the highest level. Copper was worth only £27 a ton at the smelting works. In connexion with that scheme men were employed in Moonta at the princely remuneration of 10s. 2d. a day and limited to a maximum of four days work a week by a Labour government imbued with a desire to develop the copper-mining industry in South Australia ! But let us consider for a moment the position of other activities. Let us take that of the fishing industry, organized in the honorable member for Hindmarsh’s own electorate, by a Labour Minister in South Australia, whose name for the moment I forget. The men and youths employed in the industry are not receiving the basic wage; yet I have not heard a word of protest from the Opposition regarding the conditions under which they are employed in what is actually a seafaring venture. “We are told to expect from the South Australian Labour party, that in all conditions of employment men shall receive the full basic wage whether the industry can afford it or not. Despite that fact I have not heard any protest from the honorable member for Hindmarsh regarding the conditions under which youths are employed in the Kuitpo colony as well as other relief colonies in my electorate the members of which are generally known by the collective name of “ feather-bed squatters.” There is no suggestion from the honorable member that the basic wage should be paid in connexion with those schemes which were set up during the regime of a State Labour Government and partly during the regime of a Federal Labour Government.
– We did not set them up.
– It would appear, therefore, that honorable members opposite do not suggest that every type of employment - every endeavour to reduce unemployment in this community - shall be conducted in strict accordance with the principle of the basic wage. As I have already mentioned, I have no experience of The Granites field, but if the Opposition think that Northern Australia can be developed on the principle of the basic wage they are mistaken. It cannot be done. Australia could not have been developed if the principle of the basic wage had been in force from the inception of settlement in this country. Honorable members of the Labour party know that is so.
– What does the honorable member want? Coolie standards?
– No; I would not have the honorable member on my mind. The development of mining in the Northern Territory can well be undertaken by this Parliament, but we shall not develop it if young men of grit, determination, energy and enterprise, prepared to take a “bit of a risk, are prevented from going into the country on their own terms. The population in Central Australia is rapidly being reduced to aged white men and a small percentage of half castes. If it is not developed by men of our own race the day will soon come when people of another race will undertake the work for us. When that day comes where will honorable members of the Opposition stand with regard to the basic wage, and a few other fantastic notions which have crippled the development of this country for many years? It is far better that constituents of the honorable member for Hindmarsh should he fossicking for gold at The Granites, Tanami or Tennants Creek rather than be hanging round the wharfs and sheds at Port Adelaide learning to become Bolsheviks and revolutionaries. We already have too many of that kind in the community. I shall always stand for reasonable safeguards, so that these young men will not be imposed upon. But the Commonwealth has police and mining wardens and other officers in this territory, and surely those officers of the Crown, who have no axe to grind, and nothing to gain from the success or failure of a gentleman named Chapman or any one else, will see to it that citizens who go up there enjoy fair and reasonable conditions. Naturally conditions in the Northern Territory cannot be easy. The man who goes up there to work should not expect to have a feather bed with a carpet at its side. I speak as one who has had some experience of the backblocks of this country; I knew nothing of any of our big cities until I entered politics. In the light of my own experience I say that a man who goes into the Northern Territory expecting to receive the basic wage and to enjoy first-class living conditions is either very foolish or very green, and the sooner that idea is combated and fought definitely by members on this side of the House the better for the community generally. It is only under conditions that allow of a certain amount of elasticity that we are likely to secure reasonable development in the Northern Territory and other remote parts of the Commonwealth. Before raising a question of this kind, the Opposition should have taken care to see that the records of their own party are not open to attack. There are other points with which I should like to deal, but I shall refrain from doing so in order that other honorable members may have an opportunity to speak to the motion.
.- Thequestion before the House is whether or not the Government should make a grant to Mr. Chapman on a £1 for £1 basis. The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) desires the Government to hold its hand until a full inquiry has been made. The telegram which has been read in this House to-day states that Chapman is an exploiter of his fellow men and has a bad name in the Northern Territory. Surely that statement, together with the contents of the telegram received by the Minister for the Interior from the workers in the Northern Territory, should make him hold his hand before giving that individual £5,000 to play with.
– The proposal is to lend up to £3,000, on good security.
– How differentis the Government’s proposal in regard to this man Chapman from that meted out to old-age pensioners! It is easy for the Minister to say that a loan of £3,000 is proposed.
– What guarantee is there that it will be paid back?
– The Minister has received a telegram saying that Chapman is not a worthy citizen of the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) says that the Northern Territory will never be developed without coolie labour.
– I object to the statement of the honorable member for Cook that I had said that the Northern Territory would never be developed without coolie labour. I made no such statement.
– If the honorable member is seeking to make a personal explanation he must take another opportunity to do so.
– The honorable member for Barker said that the Northern Territory would never be developed other than by cheap labour.
– Mr. Speaker, I made no such statement, and-
– I have already informed the honorable member that he will have an opportunity later to make a personal explanation.
– On a point of order. Under the Standing Orders am I not at liberty to protest now against an absolutely incorrect statement which has been attributed to me?
– There is no point of order involved. The honorable member may make a personal explanation when the honorable member for Cook has concluded his speech.
– The honorable member made that statement in this House. Now, when its full import comes home tohim he tries to wriggle out of it.
– I rise again to a point of order. Three statements, all offensive to me, have been made by the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Garden) and I ask that they be withdrawn.
-The honorable member cannot demand the withdrawal of a statement merely because he considers that it is incorrect, or misrepresents him.
He may make a personal explanation when the honorable member for Cook has concluded his speech.
– Mr. Speaker -
– Will the honorable member for Barker resume his seat.
– The honorable member said that any one who believed that he could have full award conditions in the Northern’ Territory, or in country centres, had something coming to him. When confronted by that statement, he wants to run away from it. That is what he said here a few minutes ago. It is the same old story that we have heard time after time. When North Queensland was populated by kanakas we were told that the sugar industry in this country could not he carried on or Queensland developed without cheap labour. My friend opposite is a friend of the kanakas and cheap labour. He wants to give the people something to stupify them. The advocates of cheap labour always squirm when brought face to face with their utterances. The honorable member for Barker said that men in the back-blocks could not expect feather beds. I know the conditions outback, for I spent fifteen years in the hack-blocks. The people there are continually making sacrifices, and whatever government is in power should help them. We are not asking that these men should be provided with feather beds, but that they be paid the award rates to which they are entitled. What happened when the unemployed at Darwin sought sustenance? They were deported - some to Sydney, some to Brisbane, some to Melbourne, and some to Adelaide - and left on the wharf to look after themselves. On behalf of Borne of them I approached the Government of New South Wales, and, to its credit, it came to their aid. Those men were stranded in Sydney in the dungarees in which they left Darwin, and “without a penny in their pockets. They were not even able to get the dole, because they had not been in the State for six months. That is typical of the treatment of unemployed men by some sections of the community. Now the Minister says that he believes in a policy whereby youths from the cities shall be sent into the back-blocks. He said that they would be better off there than in the heart of a city. They would, at least, have a home to go to if left in the city. What will be the result if these youths are sent into the interior, as is proposed? Would the Minister allow his own son to go there?Not on your life! He would first ensure that certain conditions were observed if his own son were concerned. Apparently, in the case of the sons of other people, the Minister thinks differently;but I remind him that to their parents these youths are as dear as his son is to him.
– I have already said that I would rather my son went there than be without a job in a city.
– I would not have any objection to my son going to the country under conditions which would enable him to develop his manhood and physique; but I would not stand for sending him into the back-blocks in charge of a man whose record is not clean. All that the honorable member for Hindmarsh asks is a full investigation and report. So far, the Minister has the report only of Mr. Chapman. This is the first time I have heard of a person who calls himself a business man accepting an ex-parie statement in such circumstances. Some governments got their fingers burnt because they took the ex-parte statements of Kruger and Hooley. I would not object so strongly if officers of the department had reported f avorably; but the Minister has not even waited for their report. What is behind it all? I shall not say what I have been told; but there are suspicious circumstances connected with this proposal.
– Only the honorable member would make a suggestion of that kind.
– Until I have more conclusive evidence, I shall not say what I have been told; but I repeat that the circumstances surrounding this transaction are suspicious. I merely ask the Minister to stay his hand until the matter has been fully investigated. I do not propose to repeat statements made to me regarding this enterprise until I have direct proof concerning it; but it is said that the circumstances of the case are such as to arouse suspicion.
– The honorable member has exhausted his time.
.- Is it a fact that Sir Herbert Gepp travelled through the Northern Territory some time ago with Mr. Chapman? Was he commissioned by a British firm of goldmining investors, and also by the Commonwealth Government, to report as to the gold-producing capacity of certain areas in the Northern Territory? If the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson) has such a report what is the nature of it?
– I have no knowledge of it. It must have been received before I became Minister.
– I understand that the report was adverse to the field in which Mr. Chapman is interested.
The Minister quoted an opinion by a Mr. Callander, who admits that the temperatures at The Granites run up to from 110 to 115 degrees in the shade, but says that the nights are cool. If that be so, it is the only place in Australia that has day temperatures ranging up to 115 degrees and cool evenings. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) said that he had some knowledge of the central west. I, too, claim acquaintance with that country, and I know what the conditions are like at bight when the mercury has soared during the day to 115 degrees in the shade. Any person who has worked under such conditions knows that the climate would have an adverse effect on one’s constitution.
Motion (by Mr. Ward) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. J. Bell.)
Question so resolved in the negative.
The following paper was presented: -
Commonwealth and State Ministers - Conference held at Melbourne, February, 1934, on Constitutional Matters - Proceedings and Decisions, with Appendices.
Motion (by Mr. Casey) agreed to -
That he have leave to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Loan Appropriation (Unemployment Relief) Act 1934.
Bill brought up, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this measure is to amend the Loan Appropriation (Unemployment Relief) Act 1934, principally to provide for an additional appropriation of £531,000 for the relief of unemployment. The principal act appropriated a total sum of £1,533,750. The additional appropriations included in this bill totalling £531,000 will increase the total appropriation of the act, as amended, to £2,064,750.
The bill provides for the granting of financial assistance to the States for forestry to the extent of £322,000, and for the expenditure of £9,000 for this purpose in the Federal Capital Territory. Except in the cases of South Australia and Tasmania, the. assistance granted by the Commonwealth will be on a £1 for £1 basis. As South Australia is already spending a considerable amount on forestry, and the amount to be made available to South Australia, by this bill is not large, the Commonwealth Government did not insist on a like contribution by the State Government. In the case of Tasmania £5,000 wasthe limit which the Tasmanian Government felt that it could contribute towards this scheme.
The amounts to be provided by the Commonwealth for each State, and the State contributions are as follows: -
The general principles and conditions of the scheme of assistance to the States in respect of forestry include the following : -
The scheme is to be administered by a trust consisting of two or more trustees, one of whom is to be appointed bythe
Commonwealth. This follows the lines of the scheme of assistance to the States in respect of the metalliferous mining industry. This assistance is to cover a period of one year only.The continuance of the assistance on these lines for a second, and possibly a third, year, will be considered when results of the first year’s work become known, by which time the Commonwealth Government will be in a better position to gauge the extent of the funds which can be made available for this and other methods of providing employment.
The principal act included as one of its provisions the appropriation of £200,000 for relief works under Commonwealth departments. This bill provides for an additional £200,000 to be appropriated for the same purpose. The manner in which this amount will be expended is indicated in the schedule to the bill, from which it will be seen that the allocation for works and services of the various departments is as under -
The works for which the £200,000 is being provided are of an essential character, and thus the provision will meet the needs of the departments and at the same time provide a further substantial amount for the relief of unemployment.
The Commonwealth departmental officers have carefully examined the works proposed to be put in hand, and Cabinet itself has also examined them, so honorable members may rest assured that all the works will be of a useful character ; in any event they would need to be put in hand at some future time, but by undertaking them now substantial relief can be given to the unemployed.
– Have the State Governments been consulted regarding the £1 for £1 contribution for the forestry work?
– Yes. A conferenceof forestry officers was held in Melbourne a few months ago under the chairmanship of the Minister for the Interior. Mr. Lane-Poole, the Commonwealth Director of Forestry, also was present. EachState forestry scheme has been carefully examined by technical officers, and we are assured that sound and valuable work Will be done. Most of the schemes are self-contained, so the Commonwealth Government will not necessarily be obliged to make further grants to the States inrespect thereof.
– How much of the money is to be spent on the forestry works!
– The State governments will contribute £285,000 and the Commonwealth Government £3,22,000.
– How were the amounts allocated tq each State arrived at?
– Each State put forward its own proposals and no doubt had in mind the amount of money already being spent on afforestation. The schemes were discussed and reported upon by technical advisers and gradually the proposals of this bill were evolved.
-Could each State government have obtained £100,000 for this purpose as the governments ofWestern Australia and Victoria are doing?
– I would not say that, for the amount of money the Commonwealth Government has available is limited.
– What was the basis of the discrimination between the States?
– The various schemes wore considered in the light of other proposed works. Honorable members may rest assured that the State Governments are generally satisfied with what is being proposed. It will be seen immediately that the allocations are not on a population basis. That statement applies also to grants made to the States for other purposes during the last year or eighteen months. The proposals of each State have been considered on their merits. There is a disparity, of course, also between the total grants for each State for all works, and it will be seen that the total amounts proposed to be voted are not on a population basis. It is the intention pf the Government,however, gradually to equalize the grants to the various States for all purposes, so that at some time in the future they may be placed on, approximately, a population basis. Each of these claims’ has been dealt with on its merits.
The original act appropriated the sum of £50,000 for assistance to the metalliferous mining industry in the Northern Territory. Since that act was passed by Parliament considerationhas been given to the desirability of assisting and developing the metalliferous mining industry in Papua, where it is not in a flourishing condition. The Papuan Government is not able financially tp assist the industry, but the discovery of a payable field would be of considerable benefit to the territory. In New Guinea the mining industry is more prosperous and is providing full time and well-paid occupation for over 500 white men, whereas in Papua it gives employment to only 58 white men. The extension of the industry in the territories would provide a field for the employment for a large number of Australians. The present bill provides for £5,000 to be appropriated for this purpose and this amount is being diverted from the £50,000 appropriated in the original act for the mining industry in the Northern Territory. It is thought and hoped that if a beginning is made in this way we may in time develop mining in Papua by prospecting and other means.
It may be of interest to record the total extent to which assistance has been given by the Commonwealth during this financial year for the relief of unemployment, including that provided in the bill now before the House. I have had compiled a table which shows the amount of money appropriated from revenue and loan under each of the several measures that have from time to time been before the House. It gives a proper conspectus of what has been done and how the appropriation in the bill now before the House fits in with the general scheme; it sets out clearly works from revenue under the ordinary estimates and subsequent appropriations and the various loan appropriations that have been made in recent months.
The provision of this amount of £6,514,253 is a very important contribution towards the relief of unemployment, constituting as it does an increase of over £4,000,000 over the actual total works expenditure during the previous financial year.
– Has the South Australian Government intimated its satisfaction with the amount of £17,000 provided for afforestation in that State?
– Yes ; the South Australian Government is already on its own account spending a considerable sum of money for this purpose.
– The provision seems to be very small.
– The amount was arrived at after considering the claims put forward by the States, taking into account the fact that they were spending from their own funds considerable amounts on forestry. I am using the word “ forestry “ advisedly, because the proposed work does not necessarily mean afforestation. It consists of a relatively small measure of forestry and quite a large measure of sylviculture. It is left to the States to determine how much should be spent on afforestation, how much on sylviculture, and how much on the provision of access to existing forests.
– Although only £17,000 is provided for South Australia, £50,000 is provided for New South Wales, and £100,000 for Victoria, on condition that the two last-named States shall supplement these grants on a £1 for £1 basis. Has the South Australian Governmentagreed to a similar condition?
– The South Australian Government has not provided any amount for this purpose. The provision of £17,000 is a straight-out grant to South Australia and will not be supplemented by any additional amount from the State Treasury. All of the States, except South Australia and Tasmania, will provide amounts equal to the Commonwealth grants. In the case of Tasmania, £25,000 is being provided’ by the Commonwealth and £5,000 by the State Government.
– Why the difference ?
– Because the Tasmanian Government found itself unable to provide more than £5,000. These works will be proceeded with as soon as the necessary plans can be completed and will assist in providing winter relief to the unemployed. Before the debate is resumed honorable members will have an opportunity to get a proper conspectus of the bill, which I commend to their favorable consideration.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Scullin) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 14th March, 1935 (vide page 91), on motion by Mr. Paterson -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– Although the question raised by this bill is chiefly in regard to the position of married women under the law relating to nationality, it is interesting to realize that that is only part of a bigger issue raised at the League of Nations Assembly. In 1924, at the General Assembly of the League of Nations, meeting in Geneva, the introduction of a system for the progresive codification of international law was raised. It was realized that there were branches of international law which might be found capable of codification, and it was considered desirable, in the interests of peace and good relations between nations, that everything possible should be done to bring about, if possible, a gradual process of codification. The matter was referred by the Assembly of the League to the committee which dealt with constitutional questions, of which committee I was chairman. The rapporteur of the committee was M. Rolin, of Belgium, and he reported to the Assembly in the following terms : -
Accordingly, we recommend that this work should be carried out step by step, and that international conferences should only be called to deal with particular questions of public or private international law. If these questions seem sufficiently urgent in themselves to demand immediate consideration, and at the same time appear to have reached such a stage of development, either in legal knowledge or in special interstate agreements, as to render an international solution practicable.
As chairman of the committee I put the matter before the Assembly in these words -
Nations have to live in this new brotherhood of man just as citizens in a community possessing rights and duties, and the peace of the community is better established when those rights and duties are clearly defined. It will, therefore, be better for the nations of the world as they progress to have their mutual rights and obligations clearly denned, so that they know exactly what are their rights and duties to each other. This is our objective. Every one realizes that at present, when one seeks for an authoritative exposition of international law, many branches of the law, as set out in the text books are very complex and in authoritative expositions conflicting views occur.
That was the objective of the League in setting up a body of experts who were charged with the duty of recommending what particular ? branches of law seemed suitable for codification, and in 1926 the committee of experts for the Progressive Codification of International Law selected nationality as a suitable subject. The ‘ Assembly referred this subject to the Codification Conference which met at The Hague in 1930, and it was taken in hand as part of the codification of international law. The difficulties arising out of statelessness and double nationality of married women were fully realized, and it was endeavoured to frame a convention acceptable to the nations by means of which this branch of international law could be set out and defined. The conference met and framed an international convention, the text of which may be found in the English House of Commons papers of 1932-33, volume 28, and cited as “International Convention on certain Questions relating to the Conflict of Nationality Laws.” Underlying the principles of nationality in different countries are certain fundamental ideas, some of them apparently opposed to one another. For instance, one view, which is very strongly held, has to do with the status of a woman, based on the unity of family life. Opposed to this is the conflicting view regarding the freedom of women. The conference framed conventions dealing with a number of matters, including the rights of children, but it also framed those particular articles, Nos. 8, 9 and 10, upon which this bill is based -
Article 8. - If the national law of the wife causes her to lose her nationality on marriage with a foreigner, this consequence shall be conditional on her acquiring the nationality of the husband.
Article 9. - If the national law of the wife causes her to lose her nationality upon a change in the nationality of her husband occurring during marriage, this consequence shall be conditional on her acquiring her husband’s new nationality.
Article 10. - Naturalization of the husband during marriage shall not involve a change in the nationality of the wife except with her consent.
The distinguished secretary of the General League of Nations at that time, Sir Eric Drummond, summarized the position in a report on the Nationality of Women which is filed among the documents of the League. It is included in the legal volume, Nos. 1 to- 10, of the year 1931.
Opinions were invited from the various governments, and the replies received are contained in the legal volume, Nos. 1 to 5, of 1932. There is shown the conflict which exists among the nations. The British position is summarized in these words -
Articles 8 to 11 of the Convention appear to represent the greatest measure of agreement that is likely to be reached for the present in regard to the nationality of married women, and constitute an advance on the present situation.
That is the considered view of the British Government, whose opinion always carries considerable weight with the League of Nations. Various women’s organizations throughout the world are pressing strongly to go further than that, however, and are insisting on the principle of the equality of the sexes in regard to nationality. The First Committee of the Codification Conference reported on article No. 8 as follows : -
As already observed, this text forms a compromise between two diametrically opposed conceptions - that of the countries which consider that, in the matter of nationality, there should be complete equality between the sexes, and that of the countries in which the status of the husband governs that ‘ of the wife. Although some countries admit the former principle in their laws either wholly or in part, and apply it more or less completely, the laws of many countries provide that, from the point of view of nationality, the wife must, as a rule, follow her husband.
It was observed that the co-existence of these two principles - the freedom1 of the wife on the one hand and the unity of the family on the other - had the effect of increasing the number of cases of double nationality and also of statelessness. In point of fact, a woman can lose her nationality through marriage with a foreigner, and, being unable to acquire that of her husband, can become stateless; while, on the other hand, retaining the nationality she possesses by birth, she can also acquire that of her husband. For that reason the committee, without attempting to decide in favour of either of the two existing systems - indeed, that is rather the duty of the legislatures of the different countries - simply endeavoured to remedy some of the defects resulting from existing conditions and, iri particular, the case of statelessness provided for in the text of this Basis. If States adopt this text, progress will have been made in eliminating cases of statelessness among married women.
Great Britain accepted the principles in articles Nos. 8 to 11, and regarding the future stated -
Whether His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom will be able to go further in the direction of giving effect to the principle of equality between men and women must depend upon the extent to which that principle receives the support of the governments of other countries, and especially those of the other members of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
It would appear that these articles, Nos. 8 to 11, represent the greatest extent of agreement that was obtainable at the Convention. Australia, a member of the League of Nations, is now considering this matter of common interest to all nations which are members of the League.
– We should not allow our judgment in this matter to be influenced by that consideration.
– The honorable member is not doing himself justice in making an interjection of that nature. In a world which is seeking to establish international brotherhood and adopt uniformity of rules with a view to achieving the best results in international relationship, we must sometimes pay deference to the views of others. The idea behind the League of Nations is to afford representatives of the different countries means of conferring with each other on matters of common concern. Such discussions enable nations to appreciate the other nation’s view, to see how differences can be overcome, and then endeavour by agreement to do what is best in the interests of humanity.
– That isa very deserved and dignified rebuke to the honorable member.
– This bill represents an advance, and is thereforewelcome, but it does not precludewomen from pressing further towards their goal of complete equality. I have mentioned so far the agreement which has been made in this matter among the nations of the world. Last night the honorahle member for Lilley (Sir Donald Cameron) dealt with the discussion on this subject up to the end of 1932. But the matter again came hefore the League of Nations in 1933 and 1934. It is interesting to examine the resolution of the League in 1933, incidentally referring to the question as towhether a nation could go on legislating upon the basis of equality of the sexes notwithstanding its agreement to the Convention. Honorable members have had an opportunity to peruse a copy of this resolution, but probably they have overlooked the facts set out on page 11 of the report of the Australian Delegation which details the resolution of the Assembly in 1933. In the resolution, the League recognizes the rights of individual nations in dealing with this subject, and states -
Considering that any amendment outside the normal procedure for revision would prove impracticable, and, therefore, that it is not possible even to eliminate from the text the words that seem to have created a misconception as to a discrimination of sexes in regard to nationality.
Being satisfied, therefore, that the coming into force of Articles 8-11 would in no way prejudice further concerted international action, when such action becomes practicable;
Recognising that their coming into force would not, in the meantime, place any restriction upon the freedom of action of any State that may desire to give further effect in its nationality laws to the principle of tha equality of the sexes.
The present position is that in the Convention a stage has been reached which represents a very considerable advance in international co-operation, and if the articles of the Hague Convention of 1930 are adopted, that will not prevent further advance being made at a future assembly towards meeting the demands of women for equality of the sexes in nationality law. Examining this international convention we find that a certain uniformity has been reached among the representatives of the nations of the world, but in the meantime, according to the statement I have just read, individual nations who adopt it retain freedom of action to give effect to a national law expressing the principle of equality of the sexes. The Government is taking the proper course in bringing down this amending bill, the object of which is to harmonize our laws with those of other nations which are agreed on this particular point. At the same time we are keeping in step with Great Britain and Canada. This is a progressive move. The objections of those women who protested against such & step will bc found set out in the books from which I have cited. Some have expressed the fear that if a measure of this nature be passed it may be difficult to progress any further in this matter. I do not think that that fear is well founded.Why should we condone the injustice of allowing married women to remain in a condition of statelessness, merely because we cannot yet accomplish the ideal ? I urge that in matters of this kind we should be prepared to go step by step in order that we may the more quickly progress in the general interests of civilization. That is what the Government is proposing in this measure. If the Governments in the British Empire should agree to effectuate further the principles for which the women are contending there will be nothing in this legislation to prevent them from doing so. The Ministry is to be commended for having brought down thi« bill. I would like to see it adopted because it is another step in the removing of injustice and in the progress towards international harmony.
This branch of law reveals a considerable conflict of opinion among the nations of the world. Each State has the right to enact its own laws relating to nationality and Article 1 of the International Convention of the Hague, on the conflict of nationality laws, sets out -
It is for each State to determine under its own law who are its nationals. This law shall be recognized by other States in so far as it is consistent with international conventions, international custom and the principles of law generally recognized with regard to nationality.
Nations can come to an agreement, however, in regard to the matter.For the reasons which I have given, therefore, it is highly desirable that this legislation be passed. Objections have been recorded against this convention and honorable members no doubt will desire to study them. These will be found in Volume 5, Legal, League of Nations, 1931. A study of paragraph 2 (Opposition to the Convention) will reveal that this matter has been thoroughly reasoned out, and that the objections raised by the women are based on substantial grounds. This paragraph reads -
The inclusion in the Hague Convention of Articles giving an inferior position to women is a matter of the utmost gravity because of the psychological effect of the adoption of such a convention upon the status of women all over the world. Women deeply resent the writing into an international agreement of articles founded upon a theory of the subjection of women. To recognize in practice this old idea is a refusal to treat a woman as a citizen in her own person. It is to deny her the statusof an adult. Furthermore, it gives recognition to a system which has serious practical as well as spiritual consequences ; a system which may deprive her of the vote; may deprive her at home and abroad of the protection of her own government; may subject her even in her native land to the restrictions placed on aliens ; may deprive her of the benefits of State insurance and other State assistance; may make it impossible for her to hold public office, to exercise her profession, to obtain paid employment, to own and inherit property, and may place her under other disabilities.
– Not only may but does place her under other disabilities.
– There was a further statement by women’s organizations in 1932. It was with a desire to reach uniformity that the conference was held. It was felt that it might be possible to remove some of the disabilities and enable the nations to move forward together in harmony. But there was a conflict of views. For instance, the view of Belgiumin 1932 was -
After the long discussions at the Hague in 1930 it may be said that articles 8, 9, 10 and 11 of the general convention represent the maximum which can at present be attained internationally.
The statement of the Japanese Government was to the following effect: -
Since the principle of the equality of men and women as regards nationalityis contrary to that family unity which forms the basis of the Japanese social system and sinceit creates many difficulties, the Japanese Government regrets that it cannot support the adoption of this principle.
The course now is to persuade the different nations to move forward by agreement. It is, of course, the inherent right of every State to determine its own laws of nationality; but if it is possible to bring other nations into line and so achieve uniformity and progress by all means let it be done. The Minister, by this bill, indicates that progress has been made so far as British countries are concerned, and has hinted that further progress might be possible at a future meeting of the Prime Ministers of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
Honorable members will, I hope, realize that the issue involved is of paramount importance, and that what we are doing in this Parliament will be noted elsewhere. Our action may possibly help other countries and thus further the development of international law and the spirit of brotherhood among the nations.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Holloway) adjourned.
Invalid and Old-age Pensions : Australian Glass.
Motion(by Dr. Earle Page) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– Towards the end of last session I brought under the notice of the Acting Treasurer (Mr. Casey) a matter which affects certain constituents of the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Stacey), namely, the method of paying pensions in lower. North Adelaide. I am sure that the honorable member will not take umbrage at what might appear to be an intrusion by me into affairs which, perhaps, more intimately concern him, but they are also my care. I should like the Minister to give us an assurance that steps will be taken without delay to improve the arrangements. I have been approached by members of the Invalid and Old-age Pensioners Association who are anxious to know if better arrangements can be made for their convenience. I trust that the matter will receive early consideration.
– The matter mentioned by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) had been brought to the notice of the Government and it is receiving attention. It is admitted that, generally, the submission of the honorable member is quite justified, and ‘we are doing what we can to improve the position in the interests of the pensioners concerned. I am in active collaboration with the Postmaster-General, and hope soon to be in a position to inform the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Stacey) and the honorable member for Hindmarsh of the action to be taken.
.- I also wish to bring under the notice of the Acting Treasurer (Mr. Casey) a matter that affects invalid and old-age pensioners. I do not know whether the complaint that has reached me is general; I hope that it is not. I refer to the issue of a questionnaire to pensioners concerning their ability to work. An invalid pensioner living at Helensburgh - he is a hopeless invalid suffering from the effects of some form of rheumatic fever - recently had sent to him this questionnaire from the department -
What are you employed at?
What are your weekly wages or earnings?
Do you look for work? If not, why? (state fully).
Can yon drive a lorry, do gardening or carpentering?
If not, why? (state fully).
If it is the practice to send this questionnaire to pensioners, the department should, at least, see that those who are hopeless invalids are not harassed in this way.
.- Honorable members may recall that during the last session when the proposed duties on glass were being discussed, the statement was made that the Australias Glass Company could supply all the requirements of Australia. It has been stated that sufficient horticultural glass was available to meet requirements for, I think, about two years. In South Australia there has been a strong demand for this kind of glass, but when inquiries were made in Sydney those requiring supplies were informed on numerous occasions that it was impossible to obtain them. During the past week or so I have asked the Minister for Trade and Customs to permit the importation of additional quantities, but as I understand that the quota for this year has already been arranged, I have found it rather difficult. Quite recently the Minister for Trade and Customs said that he would arrange for additional permits to be issued. I have had a number of telegrams from interested persons in South Australia, and only a few moments ago I received telegraphic advice to the effect that the Australian Glass Company in New South Wales is now able to meet all our requirements. A few days ago we were informed that it was impossible to obtain further supplies for some time; but we are now advised that all requirements can be met. In view of these circumstances, a fuller investigation of the position should be made. Those needing horticultural glass have had their frames ready for some time, and must obtain supplies by the first week in May. I should like the Minister to ascertain why such contradictory reports are received.
– I shall bring the matter under the notice of the Minister for Trade and Customs.
– In fairness to the Australian glass industry I consider it necessary to state that, under the agreement entered into between the Commonwealth and the Belgian Government, Belgian manufacturers are to supply their quota of horticultural glass, which does not return the same profit as ordinary sheet glass. The Belgian manufacturers have been endeavouring to evade the exportation of their quota of the cheaper glass, and by so doing compel the Australian manufacturers to supply more than their quota of the product on which a lower profit is made. The Australian manufacturers have supplied their quota of the cheaper glass, and it is now the responsibility of the Belgian manufacturers to adhere to the terms of the agreement, and to supply their quota. The Australian manufacturersare willing to meet the Australian requirements; but are not disposed to relieve the Belgian manufacturers of their responsibility in the matter.
Mr.Lazzarini. - Will the Acting Treasurer make some inquiries in the matter which I raised?
Mr.Casey. - I shall do so.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
Adelaide Post Office : Newbuilding
Mr.Stacey asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
Have tenders been willed for the erection of a new post office inRundle-street, Adelaide; if not, will he take steps to do so at an early date?
Mr.Archie Cameron asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
Dr.EarlePage. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Bass Strait Mail Contracts
In what year was the first subsidy paid for the carriage of mails between Melbourne and Tasmania; what amount was paid, and what increase, if any, was made with the introduction of the Loongana and later the Nairana?
Mr.Hunter. - A contract mail steamer service between Melbourne and Tasmania was in existence at the time of federation. Thesubsidy was £6,000 per annum. In 1903, a new contract was made which provided for a subsidy of £9,000 per annum, such sum to be increased to £13,000 per annum when the Loongana was placed on the Launceston service. In 1921, when the Nairana came into the service, a fresh contract was made providing for a subsidy of £30,000 per annum.
Northern Australia : Geophysical Survey
Assistance to Pearling Industry
Mr.Casey. - Cabinet has decided to make available a sum of £5,000 for distribution by way of a bonus on the quantity of pearl shell produced during the present season. The sum has been allotted as follows: -
The Premiers of Queensland and Western Australia have each been asked whether their governments arc prepared to undertakethe distribution of the amount allotted to their respective States, and replies are being awaited. On the receipt of favorable replies, the amounts will be made available. It is understood that the Government of Western Australia proposes to give some financial assistance on its own account to the pearl shell industry of Western Australia. The question of a bounty on pearl shell has been referred to the Tariff Board for inquiry in accordance with section 15(1) (e) of the Tariff Board Act.
House adjourned at 3.50p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 15 March 1935, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1935/19350315_reps_14_146/>.