14th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon.G. J. Bell) took the Chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– by leave - I desire to inform honorable members that the Government has received from AirCommodore Sydney Smith, Air Officer Commanding Singapore, a report on the search operations carried out under his direction for Sir Charles Kingsford Smith and Mr. John Thompson Pethybridge.
The report shows that Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, accompanied by Mr. Pethybridge, was attempting a record flight from England to Australia in a single-engined Lockheed Altair aeroplane. Reports from the Government of India show that, before leaving Allahabad at 1258 hours Greenwich mean time, on the 7th November, he announced his intention of flying non-stop to Singapore, but passing over Dum Dum (Calcutta) andRangoon aerodromes. His aircraft was observed to pass over Dum Dum, and is believed to have been sighted over Rangoon at 1900 hours Greenwich mean time. Mr. Charles James Melrose, who was also flying to Australia at the time, reported having been passed by an aeroplane flying in a direct line from Rangoon to Mergui when 150 miles southeast of Rangoon at 2000 hours Greenwich mean time on the 7th November, 1935 (2.30 a.m. local time on the 8th November, 1935). Sir Charles Kingsford Smith’s was the only other machine in the air in this vicinity at the time, and this is the last definite information available regarding his aircraft.
As soon as it was reported overdue at Singapore, the Commonwealth Government requested the Air Officer Commanding Singapore to institute a search for the missing airmen. He. had, however, already acted on his own initiative. When the aircraft was four hours overdue, he circulated information regarding it to all shipping and aircraft, port authorities, State and other civil officers, and police and railway officials, throughout Malaya, Siam, and Burma. At dawn on the following morning, the 9th November, two Royal Air Force flying boats and two bomber aircraft commenced to search, and during the following ten days between six and eleven Royal Air Force machine searched continuously over all likely courses between Rangoon and Singapore, and made a close examination of all islands off the west coast of the Malay Peninsula. A Qantas aeroplane based at Singapore was chartered by the Governmentto assist in the search of jungle areas, and Mr. C. J. Melrose, with commendable spirit, abandoned his attempted record-breaking flight to Australia in order to take part in the search. In addition to these comprehensive air searches, ground search parties were organized to examine jungle areas and difficult country south of a line from Tavoy to Bangkok, which could not be completely covered by air observation. With the object of inducing the natives to undertake searches additional to those officially organized, the Commonwealth Government offered a reward of £500 for information that would lead to the discover)’ of the missing airmen, and the Australian Flying Corps Association of New South Wales later offered to supplement this reward by an amount of £100. Details of these rewards were widely promulgated throughout the Malay Peninsula, in appropriate languages, by wireless broadcasts through district officers, and by some 50,000 pamphlets dropped from the air. The Government has not considered expense in having everything humanly possible done to locate the missing airmen. None of the many suggestions made has been disregarded, and each report likely to have even the remotest bearing on their whereabouts has been thoroughly investigated.
Some 28 days have now elapsed since Sir Charles Kingsford Smith and Mr. Pethybridge disappeared; and as the comprehensive air and ground searches have failed to find any trace of either them or their aircraft, the Government is regretfully forced to the conclusion that there is now very little hope of their being found alive. The Government’s offer of a reward for information will, nevertheless, remain open. Ground search operations are being continued, and Air-Commodore Sydney Smith has informed me that no effort will :be spared until the whole of the area has been covered as far as is practicable.
Although honorable members are conversant with the outstanding achievements of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith in aviation, 1 should like to refer briefly to some details of his wonderful flying career. Enlisting in the Australian Imperial Force in 1915, ho later transferred to the Royal Flying Corps, and qualified as a pilot in May, 1917. He was wounded in aerial combat in France, and was awarded the Military Cross for the gallantry he then displayed. For a short time after the war he “was engaged in flying in America. Hia con- nexion with commercial aviation in Australia commenced in 1921. For two years he was chief, pilot qf West Australian Airways, and in 1927 he formed his famous association with the late Mr. Charles T. P. Ulm. After some notable flights together in Australia, those two gentlemen completed in June, 1928, their worldfamed trans-Pacific flight in the Southern Cross, from San Francisco to Brisbane in 83J hours’ flying time. This was the first time the Pacific had been spanned by air, and the flight was justly acclaimed at the time as the most brilliant feat in flying and air navigation in the history of aviation. The achievement, was suitably recognized by the Commonwealth Government and gained for Kingsford Smith the Air Force Cross. After record-breaking non-stop flightsbetween Melbourne and Perth, the first Tasman Sea crossing was made by Kingsford Smith and Ulm in September, 1928. Early in 1929, they made a record flight to England of slightly under thirteen days. Together they formed Australian National Airways, and for some time operated regular air services between Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart and Brisbane. Kingsford Smith’s next big achievement was a flight across the Atlantic and on to San Francisco, thus completing his circuit of the world by air. All thesebig flights were caried out in the famousSouthern Cross, which was recently acquired by the Commonwealth Government. In 1930, Kingsford Smith established a new record by flying solo from England to Australia in nine and a half days, and in 1931 he made some spectacular flights in theconveyance of air mails between Australia and England. He was appointed an Honorary Air-Commodore in the Royal Australian Air Force on the* l9t November, 1930, and his noteworthy performances in connexion with civil flying were recognized by His Majesty theKing who, in June, 1932, bestowed upon him the Order of Knighthood. In October, 1933, he gained the EnglandAustralia air record, with a flight of seven days four hours, and held it for twelvemonths.
In 1934, he made many record flights: within Australia, and with Captain P. G. Taylor as co-pilot again flew across- the Pacific from Brisbane to San Francisco. On this occasion he used a singleengined aircraft, and this flight must be regarded as one of the most daring and striking of his achievements.
Kingsford Smith was lost while attempting to break the record established during the Centenary air race last year. He had flown six times between Australia and England, three of these being recordbreaking flights, and was the first to fly across the Tasman Sea. He holds the unique and wonderful record of being the pilot of the only aircraft to cross the Pacific Ocean between America and Australia, and the only airman to traverse it by air in both directions.
It is difficult to assess the value of Kingsford Smith’s service to the development of civil aviation, not only in Australia but also throughout the world. Certainly his supremacy as the greatest long-distance flier has remained unchallenged for many years. Australian airmen had an enviable record during the Great War, and in the annals of postwar aviation the names of Hawker, Ross Smith and Hinkler, to mention only a few, will always figure prominently. I doubt, though, whether the name of any pilot is entitled to be held in higher esteem for his services to the cause of aviation than is that of Air-Commodore Sir Charles Kingsford Smith.
Mr. J. T. Pethybridge had been closely indentified with aviation for many years. After serving with the Royal Australian Air Force for three years, he joined the Kingsford Smith organization in 1929, qualified as a pilot shortly afterwards, and accompanied Kingsford Smith on several of his flights between Australia and New Zealand. Being a qualified aircraft engineer and flying instructor, as well as a highly experienced commercial pilot, he was a valued representative of the aviation industry in Australia.
I move -
That this House:
Expresses its deep regret at the loss of Air-Commodore Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, M.C., D.F.C., and Mr. John Thompson Pethybridge, when the aircraft in which they were flying to Australia disappeared between Rangoon and Singapore on 8th November, 1935;
Places on record its high appreciation of the unique and valuable services, extending over many years, rendered by Sir diaries Kingsford Smith to civil aviation in Australia, not only by his many brilliant pioneer and recordbreaking flights, but by his activities in connexion with the operation of regular air transport services and the maintenance of a flying training organization ;
Tenders to the widows and families of the missing airmen its profound sympathy in the irreparable loss they have sustained ; and
Thanks all governments, civil organizations, officials and other persons who assisted in carrying out the comprehensive air and ground searches made for the missing airmen.
In connexion with the last portion of this motion, I should like to refer particularly to the assistance received from the following : -
His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom, which approved of Royal Air Force aircraft undertaking the search;
The Government of India, which arranged wireless broadcasts and collected valuable information regarding the missing airmen’s movements across India;
The British Minister at Bangkok, for his personal interest and wholehearted assistance;
The Siamese Government, which unhesitatingly permitted Royal Air Force aircraft to operate over Siamese territory, and organized searches by ground parties;
Air-Commodore Sydney W. Smith, O.B.E., Air Officer Commanding, Royal Air Force, Singapore, and all officers and airmen of the Royal Air Force who took part in the searches.
Air-Commodore Smith ordered the search to commence immediately the aircraft was reported overdue, and accepted responsibility for the organization and direction of the extensive air and ground searches undertaken. His difficulties in conducting these operations were intensified owing to the lack of definite information regarding the itinerary of the missing airmen. Air-Commodore Smith exhibited a keen desire to meet in every way the wishes of the Commonwealth Government, and had a sympathetic understanding of the anxiety felt by all Australians for news of the missing airmen. As an instance of this, he prolonged the searches by Royal Air Force machines for many days after he had expressed the opinion that further air searches would be of no avail. A word of commendation is also due to the crews of the Royal Air Force aircraft, who maintained their systematic investigation of the area, often under bad weather conditions, and at no little risk when flying single-engined machines over jungle areas and difficult mountainous country.
The thanks of the Government are also tendered to -
Mr. Charles James Melrose, who abandoned an attempted recordbreaking flight to Australia to take part in the search;
The Straits Steamship Company for having diverted one of its steamers and landed boats’ crews at Sayer Island to investigate certain reports ;
Mr. E. L. Miles, manager, Satupulo Tin Mines, who displayed keen personal interest, and was particularly helpful in organizing ground search parties; and
Qantas Empire Airways, for having readily agreed to its reserve aircraft at Singapore being placed at the disposal of the Air Officer Commanding, and utilized as he considered desirable, particularly in the search over jungle areas.
– Stop these stunts; they are unfair to the people.
.- I beg to second the motion. I do so with profound regret at the circumstances which have led to the expressions of that sympathy which every member of this Parliament feels at the loss suffered by Australian aviation by the regretted death of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith and his companion on what was their last flight.
I agree entirely with all that has been said by the right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons). Kingsford Smith has left a name that will be indelibly associated with the history of Australian aviation. He has done so much for this new sphere of human activity as to bo entitled, I believe, to be counted among those who will be described in history as listed among the immortals. He was a man of intense emotionalism and the most adventurous spirit. To those qualities he allied, I believe, indomitable courage, and that high sense of chivalry which characterizes aviators and men who have in them the spirit of aviation, wherever they may be. I admire the action of Melrose who, the moment he had reason to believe that Kingsford Smith was in danger, relinquished his attempt at a record flight, and went in search of the missing aviators. That act typifies the chivalrous attitude of aviators towards one another, and, I presume, towards men at large. It is unfortunate that the development of aviation, which has introduced new phases of human activity, should be responsible for a list of what may fittingly be termed martyrs. Kingsford Smith gave his life in carrying out what he believed to be the requirements of his avocation. He knew, no doubt, better than any of us that hazard was ever present whilst he was engaged on the flights which the world has learned to admire. I can do no more than express my profound personal regret at the loss of these gallant men. The nation has a sense of pride in the fact that men like Sir Charles Kingsford Smith have belonged to our community. They have given to Australians a conception of the possibilities of the future which aviation has for all of us. A great and distinguished Australian has gone, and I join most sincerely in tendering to his relatives, and to those of Mr. Pethybridge, my deep sympathy with them in the bereavement they have suffered.
– The members of my party deeply regret the news conveyed to us by the Prime Minister, which appears to leave no doubt that the two airmen are definitely lost. The long list of aviation feats accomplished by that aviation genius, Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, has impressed all honorable members. Australia has suffered a loss that cannot adequately be expressed in words, because the future development of our large and far-flung dominion depends largely on aviation. Quick contact with the outlying parts of Australia can be made only by air flights, and Sir Charles Kingsford Smith’s aviation talents would have been of untold value in this great work. I feel that Australian Governments generally have not done for Kingsford Smith what they might have done. He was a great man, worthy of far greater consideration than was extended to him. In the sphere of civil aviation, with which Governments, to a large degree, are associated, his services might have been so marshalled that there would have been no occasion for bis recordbreaking flights in order that he might obtain a living. More so in aerial navigation than in other occupations, men risk their lives, but in many cases they continue to take these risks, because their livelihood depends upon it. But having accomplished all the feats that have been mentioned prior to his last flight, Kingsford Smith might well have been marked for a prominent place in the sphere of- civil aviation in Australia. It is to me a matter for deep regret that his services in that regard were not utilized as they might have been. We mourn the loss of a man who has done so much for Australia. Not only Australia but also the world generally is the poorer for his passing. To his widow and son our deepest sympathy goes out. A young lad has lost a father also comparatively young, and it is to be hoped that he may reap, in some form, the reward to which his father was entitled.
– I also express my deep regret at the loss of a great aviator. We can appreciate Sir Charles Kingsford Smith as a man, an aviator and a pioneer. I admired him as one who, in the Royal Flying Corps, played a distinguished part in the world war. His cheerful personality made him a lovable friend, but often made him misunderstood ; people wondered why he did not concentrate more on the material things that interested others. But he was first and always an aviator, and the world acclaimed him the pilot par excellence. His feat in crossing the Pacific both ways remains unsurpassed, and for many years will not be equalled, unless in a multiengined plane. As a pioneer in civil aviation, he achieved fame and won our admiration as he had previously won distinction in the Service. People sometimes wondered why he flew on so many distance flights - it was an experience which could have given little pleasure to him or to his companions - but his flights were of inestimable value to his native country and demonstrated his own courage, endurance, and superb skill. He certainly put Australia on the map of the world. People in other lands know of Kingsford Smith and his achievements, even though they may never have heard of this Parliament. His flights across and around Australia, across the Tasman Sea to New Zealand and around the world, opened up possibilities of commercial air lines that will undoubtedly be followed up in the near future by definite services. In that way he conferred great benefit upon his own country and upon the world. His flights have also been of immense service to the Empire. He has strengthened the bonds that bind the dominions together, and has brought Australia into friendly contact with many countries, thus leading to a greater appreciation and a better understanding between the various parts of the world. I realize that my brief tribute is inadequate, because, in a few words, it is difficult to bestow on Sir Charles Kingsford Smith all the praise that is due to him; but I join in the expressions of regret at the loss of this great man. He was such a remarkable aviator that I feel sure he would never have met his death while flying over land. He must have been lost at sea. In his numerous flights, ae far as I know, he never crashed, nor did he hurt himself or any one else. His death is particularly regrettable in that he was a comparatively young man who could have done much more useful work in the field of aviation for Australia and the world. To his sorrowing relatives I extend mv sincerest condolences.
– Another of my heroes has gone to his doom ! I believe that many Australians had hoped, as I had, that his country would have treated Sir Charles Kingsford Smith as fairly as the United States of America treated Lindbergh. I am raising my voice against a continuance of dangerous stunts by airmen, particularly at a time like the present when we may need the services of all our airmen in the defence of their country. Sir Charles Kingsford Smith had proved beyond the possibility of doubt the ‘advantages of air transport, particularly in linking up the sparsely populated portions of Australia. As the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) truly said, he would have had a far better chance of prolonging his life if his great talents had been devoted to the development of civil aviation in the interests of the people of this country. I am not blaming the present Government for one moment; but parliaments past and present must bear the responsibility for the fact that so little was done for Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, and I am now asking that the omission be rectified. I am sure that the Government will look after the widow and son of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, and that its action will be endorsed by every honorable member. Sir Charles Kingsford Smith and his companion have gone to their death together, like Leonidas and his fellow Spartans, dying to the last man, in the service of their country.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.
Motion (by Mr. Lyons) agreed to -
That the foregoing be transmitted to those concerned, together with a copy of the speeches delivered thereon.
The following papers were pre sented -
Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act - Repatriation Commission - Report for year ended 30th June, 1935.
Ordered to be printed.
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. - 1935 -
No. 21 - Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.
No. 22 - Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia.
Mr. WHITE laid on the table of the House reports and recommendations by the Tariff Board on the following subjects: -
Household vacuum cleaners.
Wall and ceiling boards.
Ordered to be printed.
-In view of the statement in the press that the Minister representing the Postmaster-General has given incorrect information to the House regarding the existence in Australia of a cable news monopoly, is the honorable gentleman now in a position to fulfil the promise, which he made yesterday, to give the House the facts of the case?
– by leave - In the course of the discussion on Tuesday, I made brief reference to what I regarded as a cable monopoly in this country, and the statement was made in certain newspapers next day that what I had said was entirely incorrect. I should have been quite prepared to leave the matter where it stands; but as the honorable member has drawn attention to press statements in regard to it, I feel compelled to set out the facts of the case as I know them. I shall then be content to let honorable members draw their own conclusions as to whether my statement was justified or not. Until recently two separate companies were receiving cable news from overseas - the Australian Press Association, the main shareholders in which were the Sydney Morning Herald and the Melbourne Argus; and a company representative of . the Associated Papers, including the Sydney Sun, the Sydney Daily Telegraph, and the Melbourne Herald. In recent months these two companies have amalgamated, and now only one cable company is in existence in Australia. It is not absolutely correct to state that the cable news comes from only one source ; but it is correct to say that it comes from one organization. Any individual newspaper may arrange to have its own representative in London for sending out, under certain conditions, special messages for its own use ; but such arrangements are only possible in the case of the larger newspapers which have the necessary finance. The cable news which appears in the press from day to day is not of a comprehensive nature, as is claimed by the cable monopoly. For instance, in connexion with the Italo-Abyssinian dispute, the same messages appear to come to all the Australian papers. During the period of this war, very little news has been coming from other countries, and we have very little idea of the position existing in such countries as the United States of
America,Russia and Germany, to mention only three of the principal countries in which Australians are keenly interested. As there is only one source from which cables can be obtained, all Australian newspapers, including country newspapers, are compelled to take this service under any conditions laid down by the Australian Press Association. Previous to this amalgamation, there was close co-operation between the two companies then operating, and during the last four orfive years most of the country newspapers not only had to accept the conditions imposed, but also had their charges doubled. It is now proposed to increase still further the charges for the service to the country newspapers of Australia. Drastic conditions have been applied to such of them as take this service, one being the compulsory supply to the metropolitan newspapers of country news collected by the organization of the local paper. Non-acceptance of that condition means that no cable news is furnished to the particular newspaper at fault. In New South “Wales, country newspapers are being forced to sign conditions which are in certain respects regarded as very onerous. There can be no question as to the right of individual newspapers to obtain a separate service if they have their own representatives in London, but, obviously, such representative would have to work in with the company controlling the main news sources. That these representatives - those of them who are in London - are not sending a separate service is evident from the remarkable similarity of all the cable news now being received in Australia.
Those are the facts of the case as I know them after having made every possible inquiry into the subject.
– Evidently, the company can doctor the service to suit itself.
– I leave it to honorable members to judge whether the statement I made the other night was justified or not.
– Will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General consult with the Cabinet upon the desirability of the Government exercising some control in respect of the reception of overseas news in the interests of the. people of Australia?
– I shall be glad to do so.
– In taking steps to improve the overseas news sources, will the PostmasterGeneral also make an effort to secure greater authenticity in local news?
– That question is easily replied to. The answer is that there is no control whatever over the authenticity of news.
– I direct the attention of the Minister for Defence to the following statements made in the Sydney Sun newspaper by Mr. Hudson Fysh, managing director of Qantas Empire Airways: -
Duplication of the air service between Brisbane and Singapore is urgently required. We are unable to cope with traffic, and are falling down on service.
No passengers could be carried over the Timor Sea on the next two services, owing to the weight of mails; applicants could not be guaranteed seats past Darwin for a month; passengers were being turned down almost daily.
Referring to the criticism by Air-Commodore Nicholls, R.A.F., on arrival at Darwin yesterday,Mr. Fysh said: “Any intelligent observer could see that the service was inadequate.”
During September the company had to turn down twenty passengers.
I ask the honorable gentleman whether the contract between the Government and Qantas Empire Airways provides for the carriage of passengers as well as mails?
-I have not seen the statement referred to by the honorable member, but the department always regarded this as a mail service contract. That was the first consideration. But provision was made in the contract that when additional space was available for the purpose, passengers could be carried. The rate at which mail matter is to be carried is stated in the contract as1d. per lb. for each 100 miles covered. Discussions are at present proceeding in respect of a request for an increase of the rate to 2d. per lb. per 100 miles covered. When the mail matter available exceeds 500 lb., which is recognized as the average weight, the space for the carriage of passengers must necessarily be reduced. 1 understand that passengers have been refused accommodation, not in regard to the Timor Sea portion of the route, but in regard to the inland portion of it.
– The report to which I direct attention was not to that effect.
– I observed that, but my advice is contrary to the statement in the report. It is only in accordance with common sense that contractors would like to have the service duplicated in respect of the portion of it over which considerable passenger traffic was available, and this, I am informed, is the inland portion of it. The department is quite sympathetic towards this air mail service, and desires to improve both its accommodation and speed, and consideration is now being given to these matters. 1 suggest, however, that negotiations to this end will not be assisted by the publication of controversial statements in the press. No delay has occurred on the part of the department in dealing with the matter, which is inextricably bound up with the proposal for the air mail service between Great Britain and Australia, and the duplication of it. A conference took place on this subject last February when the British Government’s representatives were in Australia, and further information was at that time sought in regard to it. That information did not come to hand until the middle of September, and even then the particulars received did not cover all the points raised. A survey of part of the coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria was asked for, and I understand that that is still being carried out. At any rate,, the required information is not yet available. The Controller of Civil Aviation was absent from Australia for a considerable period, but since his return to the Commonwealth the duplication of this service, and also the overseas mail contract have been under the consideration of the department. These activities involve the expenditure of a large sum of money, and an immediate decision on such subjects cannot be made. I hope to brins: the matter before Cabinet during its next week’s sittings. 1
– Following upon the decision of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited to accept overseas tenders for the construction of two vessels for use on the Australian coast in connexion with its industry, I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether, in view of the fact that the company has received considerable assistance at various times from the Commonwealth Government in connexion with the establishment of its ‘steel industry, he will take steps, through the Tariff Board, to impose drastic duties on any overseas vessels brought to Australia by the company? I ask that this be done in order that the interests of the ship-building industry of Australia might be protected.
– The customs tariff does not discriminate between individuals or companies, and the current rates of duty will apply to the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited or any other company which imports ships.
– I am asking that the duties be made more drastic.
– The Tariff Board conducted an inquiry into this subject recently.
PRIVY Council Appeal on Section 92.
– I ask the Attorney-General whether he is yet in a position to furnish the House with some definite information concerning the proposed appeal to the Privy Council in the case of James v. the Commonwealth Government, better known as the dried fruits case, which will involve an interpretation of section 92 of the Commonwealth Constitution ?
– A cablegram has been received this morning to the effect that the Privy Council has granted leave to appeal in this case so that the questions that have arisen in connexion with the interpretation of section 92 will now be determined by it. I also understand that leave to intervene has been granted to several State governments.
– In view of the publicity given in the press to a scene which occurred at a meeting of the United Australia party yesterday, in which it is reported that the honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Frederick Stewart) made a violent attack upon the Minister for Defence (Mr. Parkhill) in connexion with his recent statement on broadcasting, I ask the Prime Minister whether there is any truth in the Tumour that an early reshuffle of portfolios is likely?
– What takes place in the room of the United Australia party or the Labour party has nothing to do with the proceedings of this House.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior whether, in view of the report on “ The chemistry of Australiangrown tobacco “ in theJ oumal of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, which indicates that the next growing season will solve many of the problems of soil, climate, and blending in relation to Australian-grown tobacco, the Minister will cause a soil survey to be made in the Northern Territory under the direction of Professor Prescott and also instruct that a daily rainfall record be kept at key points?
– Consideration will be given to the honorable member’s suggestion.
– In view of the fact that the Treasury still holds a certain amount of the money received in connexion with the flour tax that has been in operation since the 30th June, and also that disastrous crop failures have occurred over large areas of Western Australia and appreciable areas of certain other States, I ask the Prime Minister whether he will indicate what proportion of the allocation can be made available for the assistance of wheat-growers this year on the ground of crop deficiency? Will any such amount be made available at an early date so that farmers in serious need of a small amount of ready cash may obtain it, if not before Christmas, at least early enough in the New Year to enable them to purchase the bare necessaries of life ?
– The Government has not finally decided exactly how the money will be allocated to the various States or to the producers in the States, but the matter referred to by the honorable member will receive consideration.
– Can the Minister for Commerce inform the House of the allocation of money to be used for the assistance of the wheat industry ?
– The Prime Minister has already announced that that question is receiving the consideration of the Government.
Rundle-streetpostoffice,adelaide - Telegraph Messengers - Telegraph Poles in Midland Junction.
– Is it the intention of the Government to proceed with the erection of a new post office at Rundlestreet, Adelaide?
Mr. ARCHDALE PARKHILL.This matter came before me when I was Postmaster-General. I understand that something has been done in connexion with it; but I shall obtain full details and furnish the honorable member with a reply to his question.
– I have received a communication from the Public Service Board referring to a lad who passed examination No. 1922, for permanent appointment as telegraph messenger, obtaining fourth place in order of merit. This lad’s period of eligibility for appointment to the Commonwealth Service expired on the 21st November last, and as there is no provision in the Public Service Act whereby an extension may be granted, it was stated by the board that it was regretted that the permanent appointment of this lad could not be made. It is considered that an injustice is done to boys who, having qualified for permanent appointment, are retained in a temporary capacity until they reach an age when they are compelled to give way to more youthful applicants, who are also temporarily employed. Will the Minister impress upon the Postmaster-General the necessity for an alteration of the Public Service Regulations so that a lad qualifying for appointment by examination may be automatically permanently appointed to the PublicService?
– In the short period which remains before the House adjourns for the Christmas recess, it is impossible to obtain the information which the honorable member desires as readily as would ordinarily be the case. Without expressing an opinion on the subject, if the honorable member will let me have particulars of the case he has cited, together with his amplification, I shall bring them under the notice of the Postmaster-General, and ask him to give them consideration and inform the honorable member of the exact position.
– In Midland Junction, in my electorate, as the result of certain changes which have taken place, the existing telegraph poles have been brought so close to the street line as to become a danger to traffic. The PostmasterGeneral has refused to remove them unless the municipality pays certain charges. I ask the Attorney-General whether, should a fatal accident occur, the Postmaster-General could be indicted for manslaughter?
– The answer to the honorable gentleman is that there is a good deal to be said on both sides.
Railway Connexion with Western Australia.
– Has- the Minister received a communication from the Western Australian Government seeking the co-operation of the Commonwealth Government in a proposal to build a railway from Wyndham 200 miles in a south-easterly direction into the Northern Territory, and will the Minister ask the survey party now engaged in defining the boundary between the Northern Territory and Western Australia to make a trial survey of possible routes for the proposed railway?
– The Premier of Western Australia directed a letter to the Prime Minister enclosing certain proposals put forward by the pastoralists of Western Australia, for the construction of a railway through that State to the Wyndham meat works. It has been impossible up to the present to give full consideration to this proposal. The matter is, however, under consideration with a view to ascertaining whether the provision of a large road transport unit would not be more economic than such a railway connexion. It must be remembered that the greater part of such a railway would be in the State of Western Australia, and not in the Northern Territory.
– In view of the charges and counter-charges which have been made, even in the Prime Minister’s own party, regarding the issue surrounding the broadcasting stations, will the Prime Minister arrange for the appointment of a select committee representative of all parties in the House to go into the question of broadcasting generally?
– The Minister for Defence (Mr. Parkhill) has already dealt with this question, and has indicated that a comprehensive inquiry into every aspect of the matter will be undertaken by the Government. I cannot encourage honorable members in the hope that that inquiry will take the form of a select committee.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Defence whether, in connexion with his spirited defence of Australia against the encroachment of Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited, upon which I take leave in passing to congratulate him, he has perused the number of comprehensive and persuasive discourses delivered on this subject in this House at various times in support of his view by the honorable member for Batman ?
– I seem somehow to have overlooked these authoritative statements, but I shall take an early opportunity to look into them.
– Can the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral inform the House whether any negotiations have been entered upon for securing some person from Great Britain to inquire into Australian broadcasting questions? If so, has the PostmasterGeneral succeeded in obtaining the services of such a person?
– I remind the honorable member that the House has already been informed that nothing can be done in this direction until a certain decision has been given by the High Court. That decision must be awaited.
– Is the Minister for Defence now in a position to give an official reply to statements I made recently on the adjournment of the House, when I brought under the notice of the Government the unsatisfactory condition of the drain at the Keswick military reserve, and its effect upon the residents of that district?
– by leave - I have been waiting an opportunity on the adjournment of the House to-day to reply to the points raised by the honorable member. I regret that I was absent from the House on Monday last, and could not then reply to the statements which the honorable member made.
In 1913, in consequence of the insanitary condition and unsightliness of the watercourse passing through Defence property at Keswick, acquired by the Commonwealth in 1911, a barrel drain 5 feet in diameter was laid, and the original creek filled in. The size of the drain was determined by the Superintendent of Public Buildings, South Australia. Complaints of flooding were not received until 1923 and again in 1925. During the period 1921-23 several houses were erected by the State Bank of South Australia on the area liable to flood and subsequently damage estimated at £200 was suffered by the occupants of those houses following heavy rains.
Much agitation for the compensation of the occupiers of those houses took place, but the department adopted the attitude that, as all the evidence tended to show that the construction of the dram through Defence property was not responsible for the flooding, and that the houses were erected with a full knowledge that the site was subject to flood, the constructing authority must accept full responsibility. In 1925, the department reconstructed the drain and substituted two 5-ft. barrel culverts in place of the original 5-ft. culvert and effected other improvements which increased the capacity of the drain to approximately three times the original capacity. In 1929, flooding again occurred and damage was caused to property in the vicinity. In order to protect Defence property the concrete walls on the banks of the channel were raised and an earthen bank constructed. However, in 1934, abnormal flooding occurred, breaking the concrete walls and doing considerable damage to houses in the vicinity. In order to prevent any ‘further damage to Defence property an amount of £1,750 was expended on repairs to the banks, grading improvements and the provision of a controlled escape for floodwaters.
After each of these floods there was much agitation, and demands for compensation and improvements were made by and on behalf of the State government, the municipal authorities and residents cn the flooded areas. The attitude of the Commonwealth is that the present drain is considerably more efficient than the creek which existed when the property was acquired by the Commonwealth. Since the Commonwealth acquired the property there has been considerable expansion in town construction upstream; streets of houses have been constructed and the run-off of rainwater has been increased greatly, both in volume and velocity. The municipalities concerned have not made any provision to cope with this increase in the main creek, and the various agitations are regarded as attempts to foist a municipal responsibility on the Commonwealth, which is responsible only so far as its own property is concerned. Should the municipal authorities desire to afford additional protection for municipal or private, property, it is not the Commonwealth’s responsibility to prepare the scheme or finance it, though the department would afford facilities for the execution of any scheme which does not interfere with the utility of the Defence area.
Recently the State Engineer-in-Chief, through the honorable member for Boothby, submitted certain suggestions concerning flood water drainage through the military area at Keswick, and I informed the honorable member that I was prepared to consider granting permission to any authority to enter on the Defence Department’s property for the purpose of constructing the necessary improvements. It was made clear, however, that the Defence Department does not acknowledge any liability; it is concerned solely with the protection of its own property.
However, in view of the representations so urgently made by the indefatigable member for the district. I shall go into the matter again to ensure that he will reap the reward of his efforts.
– Encouraged, if I may say so, by the evidence afforded by the last question that there is time for the consideration of other than urgent public business, I ask the Minister for the Interior whether, in view of the complaints of leakage of private information from party conferences in the parliamentary buildings, he will confer with you, Mr. Speaker, on the general question of the acoustics of that building so that the secret consultations of members of the Ministerial party will not he heard at the Murrumbidgee ?
– Order !
Question not answered.
– Has the Minister for Trade and Customs yet been furnished with a report by the committee appointed by the Victorian Government to inquire into the tobacco industry, inwhich it is recommended that the Government of that State should ask the Commonwealth Government to apply the recent reductions of the excise on Australian-grown leaf to composite brands as well as to wholly Australian brands? Will the Minister bring this recommendation before the Cabinet at an early date?
– The report to which the honorable member has referred has not yet been received ; but this matter was thoroughly examined and discussed, and the reduction of excise on wholly Australian tobacco was made after due consideration as to whether it should be applied also to composite brands.
– In view of the strong representations made by the united associations of Toowoomba to the Postal Department, that a new post office should be erected in the Newtown suburb of that city, will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General bring these representations under the notice of the Postmaster-General?
– I shall gladly do so.
-Has the Minister for Trade and Customs yet given consideration to the embargo’ on sulphur, and can he give any information on this subject to the House before it goes into recess?
– As I informed the honorable member for Swan yesterday, and some other honorable member the day before, Cabinet has not yet had an opportunity to discuss this matter with a view to a removal of the embargo, which, in my opinion, at any rate, has fulfilled the purpose for which it was imposed, and may shortly be removed.
– Does the War Service Homes Commission, in the case of second mortgages on existing war service homes, protect those holding the homes against action which might be taken? I have in mind the position of M. T. Frawley.
– In the absence of the Minister in charge of War Service Homes, I shall undertake to bring the honorable member’s question under the notice of the Minister, and obtain the required information.
– In view of the statement in the Bulletin of the 27th November, page 9, that in the United States of America every State university was not only free, but also books and equipment were provided, and as I, am desirous of obtaining information as to the free universities of the world with a view to assist in reducing the cost of education in all the Australian universities, with the exception of Western Australia, which is free, would the Minister have a return made by his department giving the following information: - “ The names and countries of free universities -
– I shall endeavour to secure the information desired if it is not too costly to do so.
– Can the. Prime Minister indicate when Parliament is likely to re-assemble, and whether the Cabinet will take steps to avoid a recurrence of what has happened during this week? I refer to the use of the guillotine.
– I am not able to say exactly when the House will resume, but I have already indicated to the honorable member that, if there is any need to call the House together for any special purpose, it will be so called. Normally, I should expect Parliament to meet again in the first week of March.. It may be earlier, but it will be about the beginning of March. As to being able to avoid the happenings of this week, if the honorable member will guarantee to keep himself and his colleagues in order, I do not see any reason to expect any trouble.
– On the 29th November, it was reported that there had been an importation of pork from New Zealand, and that the duty on it had been waived on the ground that insufficient pork was available from the local trade for the Christmas season. It was also reported that a telegram setting out these facts had been sent to the Minister for Commerce by the local pork producers. Can the Minister, if he has received such a telegram, indicate the nature of his reply ?
-Several reports reached me in regard to this alleged happening, and in consultation with the Minister for Trade and Customs, we have discovered that there is no truth in the statement that pork was admitted duty free. From the 1st July last to the 30th November last, 440 bags of pork have been imported from New Zealand, on which the full rates of duty were imposed.
Mineral Problems - Fisheries
– I desire to ask the Minister for the Interior whether, if the States will not agree to co-operate, he will take steps early in the new year [Ofl] for the formation of a Commonwealth organization to survey the mineral possibilities of the Northern Territory and the north-eastern section of Western Australia? I ask the question in view of the following facts: -
Sir David Rivett, in an article in the journal of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research on mineral problems and the need for & national geological survey, wrote - . . There has been the proposal (largely put into effect) for making grants to the States for the support of prospectors equipped with picks and shovels. As a method of handling the unemployment problem, it certainly has attractions, as a means for laying bare our resources it is about equal to the examination of sea, fisheries with hand and nets; not entirely useless, but depressingly feeble and crude. . . . The appointment of a Commonwealth staff to collect and correlate knowledge about existing fields has been proposed, but only to be opposed and rejected.
– The representations of the honorable member will receive full consideration.
– In view of the information furnished in the notes on fisheries investigations now in progress by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in its monthly journal for November, 1935, and as the depletion of fish in southern waters is now acute, will the Minister for the Interior invoke the aid of the council in having an investigation made of tropical waters, which have not so far been investigated, with a view to the development of a fisheries department in the Northern Territory.
– I shall endeavour to obtain the information sought by the honorable member.
– Is the Minister for the Interior aware that when the State of South Australia handed over- the control of the Northern Territory to the Commonwealth Government an agreement was reached between the two governments that a railway line should be run from Oodnadatta .to Port Darwin? As the Minister was recently in the Northern Territory, and saw at first hand-
– Order ! The honorable member must proceed to ask the question. He is not in order in pursuing his present course.
– I desire to know whether the Commonwealth Government proposes to build that line at an early date?
– The honorable member may regard it as remarkable that, although on my recent visit to the Northern Territory, I received numerous deputations on many different subjects, not one of them suggested that the railway should be extended beyond Alice Springs.
– Is the Minister for the Interior aware that there is an agreement between the Commonwealth and the State of South Australia?
-Order ! The honorable member cannot ask his question in that form. It is to be assumed that the Minister is aware of those facts. I take this opportunity to remind honorable members once more that if they are not aware of the method to be employed in asking questions, they should read the instructions provided upon the back of the question forms.
– Is it the intention of the Government to carry out the agreement between South Australia and the Commonwealth by building a railway line from Alice Springs to Birdum, as only 550 miles remain to be bridged?
– That is a question involving government policy, and I think the honorable member knows that such questions are not usually answered.
– The Minister for the Interior, having informed me that the matter of the construction of the NorthSouth line is one of policy, will the Prime Minister say whether it has been considered, and, if not, whether consideration will be given to it during the recess?
– As the honorable member has asked me to give the matter consideration, I undertake that the Government will do so.
– Is the House to take it that the Minister for the Interior and the Government consider that the matter of carrying out an agreement, or of not doing so, is one of policy?
– I have received a 30- page booklet containing what purports to be a speech delivered by the Minister for Defence at Mosman. It bears the imprint that it is published by authority of Mr. L. F. Johnston, Commonwealth Government Printer, Canberra. Are honorable members to understand that this is a statement of government policy, and that the Commonwealth Government has accepted the responsibility for the payment of the cost of publication of this booklet? Is it the practice of the Government to have political speeches delivered outside Parliament printed at the public cost?
– The speech referred to was not a political speech. It was not even of a party character. It outlined the proposals of the Government in regard to the most important question of national defence, and it has been distributed in order that it shall be available, not only to the honorable member’s constituents, but also to the whole of the people of Australia.
– Is the Treasurer able to inform the House what progress he has made in endeavours to reach an agreement with the States whereby the Commonwealth and the States will jointly subsidize approved local government works?
– Replies have so far been received from .two States only. I am endeavouring to get replies from the other States by telegram, and it is hoped that before Parliament meets again a scheme will be ready for submission to it early in the new session.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether it is anticipated that the House will be given an opportunity at an early date to discuss item 15 on the notice-paper which deals with a motion for the printing of a paper with reference to the former Minister for Health and Repatriation on which the Minister for Commerce secured the adjournment of the debate?
– In view of the agitation in the Australian broom millet industry in connexion with imported bassine, and the Minister’s promise to refer the matter to the Tariff Board for an inquiry, will the honorable gentleman endeavour to see that the inquiry is conducted as early as possible in the New Year?
– I believe that this matter has already been referred to the Tariff Board and that the honorable member has been advised to that effect. The programme of the Tariff Board is fixed by the board itself. The Minister does not endeavour to fix dates for the holding of inquiries.
– Can the Minister for the Interior state approximately the date when the aerodrome in Canberra is to be built?
– I shall endeavour to ascertain the probable date.
The following bills were returned from the Senate without amendment or requests : -
Wheat and Wheat Products Bill 1935.
Flour Tax Assessment Bill 1935.
Flour Tax Bill (No. 1 ) 1935.
Flour Tax Bill (No. 3) 1935.
Sales Tax Exemptions Bill 1935.
Sales Tax (Securities and Exemptions) Bill 1935.
Primary Produce Export Charges Bill 1935.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message) :
– I move -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue and moneys be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to approve an agreement made between the Commonwealth and the State of South Australia; to provide for the extension of the Trans-Australian railway by the construction of a railway from Port Augusta to Port Pirie in the State of South Australia; and for other purposes.
This bill provides for tie ratification of the new railway agreement which has been made between the Commonwealth and the State of South Australia.
Under the terms of that agreement, it is to be ratified by the Parliaments of both the Commonwealth and the State.
Honorable members will be aware that a previous agreement was made on the 18th September, 1925, between the Commonwealth and the State of South Australia, providing for certain railway proposals, which, briefly, were: -
Commonwealth from Port Augusta to Red Hill, and the provision of a third rail on the existing 5-ft. 3-in. gauge railway between Red Hill and Adelaide at the expense of the Commonwealth; and the provision of a third rail on the 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge railway between Red Hill and a point near Port Pirie at the expense of the State.
The Commonwealth built the railway from Oodnadatta to Alice Springs and it was opened for public traffic on the 2nd August, 1929. As honorable members know, there has been very considerable controversy regarding the railway between Port Augusta and Red Hill and the third rail on to Adelaide. The outcome of the negotiations and conferences that have taken place is the agreement incorporated in the measure now submitted.
Briefly, the arrangement embodied in the agreement the Government now seeks to ratify is, that the State will, at its own expense, extend its existing 5-ft. 3-in. gauge railway from Red Hill to Port Pirie, a distance of approximately 28½ miles, and that the Commonwealth will extend its standard 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge railway from Port Augusta to Port Pirie, a distance of approximately 56½ miles. These railways will meet at a junction point at Solomon town, a suburb of Port Pirie, where a depot will be constructed with adequate platform, station buildings, and transfer facilities, to permit the effective transfer of passengers, goods and other traffic.
The cost of the work provided by this agreement will be considerably lower than the expenditure would have been under the old agreement - at least £1,275,000. Under the new agreement, the expenditure by the Commonwealth and the State will represent an estimated sum of £940,000, a saving of approximately £335,000. The shorter journey of some 70 miles less than by the present route, and the great saving of time, will make a tremendous difference to overland travel. In addition to the great saving of travelling time, which between Western Australia and Adelaide can be reckoned as one day, the journey will be made under much more comfortable conditions, and the three changes of trains in the case of passengers travelling from Kalgoorlie to Melbourne, at Port Augusta, Terowie, and Adelaide, will be abolished, instead of which there need be only one change, namely, that at Port Pirie.
Paragraph 6 of the agreement provides for the payment by the Commonwealth to the State of the sum of £20,000 per annum for a period of twenty years. Provision is also made in paragraph 7 that this payment shall not prejudice the State in relation to its claims before the Commonwealth Grants Commission.
An important part of the agreement is that embodied in paragraph 8, referring to the matter of shortening the time of the journey and the comfort of the passengers en route. It reads -
The Commonwealth and the State agree that their respective railways commissioners will co-operate -
to provideadequate services at reasonable times for the purpose of shortening as much as possible the period of transit of passengers by rail between Kalgoorlie and Serviceton ; and
to ensure that passengers en route to either of those places and travelling or booked to travel in sleeping carriages (and, as far as practicable, passengers travelling or booked to travel otherwise than in sleeping carriages) on the express train running between Adelaide and Melbourne, shall not be obliged to change carriages elsewhere than at Port Pirie.
At Port Pirie there will be a junction station, which will be worked by agreement between the Commonwealth and the State. There will be a proper understanding between the Railways Commissioners, and no difficulty will be experienced so far as control at this station is concerned.
Paragraph 11 of the agreement provides that the State will grant to the Commonwealth, free of charge, . any Crown lands and any leased lands of the
Crown in respect of which the Commonwealth has acquired the rights of the lessees. It also provides, in subparagraph b, that the State will grant to the Commonwealth, free of charge, any stone, soil, gravel, or timber upon any Crown lands or leased lands of the Crown from which the State has a right to take the same.
The agreement stipulates that the Commonwealth will commence to construct its portion of the railway within six months after all approvals required by the agreement are given, and that the State will complete its portion by the time of completion of the Commonwealth railway, or by the 30th June, 1937, whichever is the later date. Actually, the surveys have been made and everything is in readiness to begin construction on the Commonwealth section. Unless anything unforeseen occurs, the railway will be laid from Port Augusta to Port Pirie by the 30th June, 1937. It is proposed to lay the first four miles twenty chains from Port Augusta on the existing 3-ft. 6-in. gauge railway, making a third rail section over that portion of the line, and to carry out this section by day labour. For the remaining section of the railway - 52 miles 14 chains - it is proposed to invite tenders within a few days of this bill being passed.
The estimated cost of the railway is £625,000, which includes the construction from Port Augusta to Port Pirie as well as the Commonwealth’s share of the junction station and transfer yards at Port Pirie. It also includes the rolling-stock required by the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner to operate the additional section of railway. On the Loan Estimates for the current financial year, the sum of £150,000 is provided towards the cost of the work under the heading of “ Port Augusta to Red Hill Railway.”
The building of the railway will confer tremendous benefits in respect of railway travel, shortening the journey by about 70 miles, and eliminating the very unsatisfactory narrow-gauge service between Terowie and Port Augusta. It will enable the journey across the continent to be made very much faster and, as has already been stated, it is expected that the through journey will be accomplished about a day quicker than under the present time-table. The disadvantages of the present route have been explained to the House previously. For many years, the Commonwealth has been endeavouring to provide a direct railway connexion between Port Augusta and Adelaide. Pending the possible ultimate conversion of the gauges to the standard 4-ft. 8^-in., the provision of this railway and the connecting railway to be constructed by the State will greatly improve Trans- Australia railway transport, and provide for the travelling public a service infinitely better than is provided under present arrangements, lt will also enable a substantial amount of employment to be afforded. -I commend the bill to honorable members.
– I appreciate the manner in which the Minister for the Interior (Mr, Paterson) has presented this measure, although I am disappointed that he has not dealt with the major scheme to provide for the standardization of the railway gauges of Australia. The work, when completed, will, besides giving a greatly improved service, link two important ports - Port Pirie and Port Augusta - with a standard gauge railway, and at the same time will remove one of the restrictions which have operated to the disadvantage of the railways and to the advantage of the shipping interests. Except for the provision for payments in cash to South Australia, the proposal embodied in this bill was explained by the Deputy Leader of the House (Dr. Earle Page), on behalf of the Minister for the Interior during the second-reading debate on the Port Augusta to Red Hill Railway Bill on the 9th April last. From the tone of the speeches delivered on behalf of the Government, it then appeared that it believed that no difficulty would be experienced in inducing the South Australian Government to go on with the proposition, or, at all events, if trouble was experienced, that it would not hesitate to act upon its rights as laid down in the act of 1930.
In reply to a question by the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Price) as to how the loss anticipated by the South Australian Government through the building of the shorter line was to be made up, -the Minister then said that the matter had been taken into consideration when South Australia entered into the agreement reached in .1926, and passed the necessary legislation. He also quoted . the following opinion of the Crown Solicitor as to the legal rights of the Commonwealth : -
In my opinion the Commonwealth has now a full and unqualified consent by the State to the construction of the railway at any time, and further legislation by the State is unnecessary .
From the nature of the measures embodied in the bill and the new agreement which it covers, the power referred to is not to be exercised. Instead the Government has thought it better to proceed with the approval and good will of the Government of South Australia than to utilize its power to proceed in spite of the hostility of that State towards the proposal. I suppose that, in all the circumstances, we shall have to accept the position that we are somewhat fortunate that the work is at last to go. on without proceedings at law.
When the measure was previously’ under consideration, the Minister referred to the delay and disadvantages to passen-.ger traffic, and injury to, and depreciation of the value of, live-stock on the present route. The hostility which developed, however, whether real or merely diplomatic,, backed as it was by threats of legal action by the State, has had the result of tying up the work, and preventing the stimulus to employment in South Australia that the immediate commencement of the work would have undoubtedly caused. The fact that the Commonwealth has had to yield up another £400,000, spread over a period of twenty years, in order to get the work started, is a triumph for that spirit of obstinacy and resistance to the extension of Commonwealth influence, which seems to be developing because of the hesitancy of governments in the last four or five years to proceed with schemes of nation-wide magnitude. The propaganda indulged in in some quarters seems to have produced a crop worth a very substantial sum, and I suppose that it will be claimed that the extra amount to be given by the Commonwealth justified the loss of employment and delay in proceeding with the work.
Although my party believes that the Government should have proceeded with the major scheme for the standardization of railway gauges, of which this proposal is the second and only a small link, and would be much happier if Parliament were engaged in discussing a bill to proceed with the greater project, its disappointment is assuaged to some slight extent by the fact that by the passing of this bill the work will at least be commenced. The major scheme of standardization of gauges demands attention in the interests of the nation. I confess to a feeling of relief that the work is to be proceeded with, because of the suggested alteration of the scheme agreed upon “by the commission of 1921. The proposal to link up Port Augusta with Broken Hill by a direct standardgauge line, thus providing a one-gauge route from Sydney to Kalgoorlie, which was put forward recently as an alternative to proceeding with the 1921 scheme of the royal commission, of which this proposal, with only very slight alteration is part, would have resulted in ignoring the rights and interests of the south-eastern parts of South Australia, and of New South Wales, and the whole of Victoria. In a recent reference to this matter the Minister for Defence spoke of a proposal by responsible military authorities to build a line direct from Port Augusta to Broken Hill, but the suggestion did not come from the proper authority. which is the WaT Council. The War Council, which consists of railway commissioners and high military officers, could have given an opinion as to the value of the respective routes from a defence point of view, and if any further opinions are to be sought they should be expressed either by that body, or in consultation with it, and any expression of opinion by a body of less importance should be disregarded. The feeling is strong in the State which I represent that any proposal to deviate from the original scheme that will have the effect of cutting out Victoria will be strongly resented by my party, and should be resisted by every Victorian member who, whilst conserving the interests of the Commonwealth as a whole, should not neglect to protect the claims and rights of Victoria. The requirements of defence constitute one of the main factors which influenced the Commonwealth in reviving the subject of standardization of the railway gauges. Military reports in the hands of the Government point out that, if it were desired to rush troops to Perth from the east, troops, guns, horses, fodder, and ammunition would have to be loaded and unloaded at four different points in crossing the continent.
The Prime Minister, in his policy speech, as reported in the Melbourne Age ‘ of the 14th August, 1934, said -
The Commonwealth was prepared to submit definite suggestions. It had in mind works of some magnitude, such as the unification of railway gauges between capital cities.
A more recent statement in the press’, which specified matters to be discussed at the Premiers conference, made no reference to this subject. On the 9th October last, the daily press in Victoria reported the Prime Minister as having said -
The Prime Minister made it clear that the
Federal Government had no intention of taking the lead in a renewed movement for railway-gauge unification throughout the Commonwealth, but he intimated that it was still prepared to co-operate with the States in such a movement - if requested to do so. This statement caused considerable concern to those who felt that the work should proceed. Powerful bodies such as the Australian Natives Association, and organizations representing manufacturers and employees feel that this matter should not be set aside. There are honorable members on both sides of the House who want the major proposal gone on with; but in view of the recent statement of the Prime Minister, it is difficult to grasp whether the Government means business.
– The Prime Minister intends to raise the matter at the next Premiers’ conference.
– I am glad to accept that assurance.
Apart from the more formal portion of the bill contained in Parts 1 and 2, which cover the preliminary matters, and approval of the agreement, interest lies in the fact that the cost of the scheme is less that that agreed to previously, for there will be a saving of £105,000 under this bill, as compared with the previous measure. Because of the late stage at which the bill has been introduced and the need for it to be sent forward to another place, I shall not make a close examination of the various clauses.
As one who was a railway employee for many years, I feel uneasy because of the speeding-up effect which this scheme will have on the men employed on the railways. Apart from it3 workproviding aspect, the chief benefit will be the reduction of time occupied in travelling between the various capitals, which will help to bring improved business to the railways. The decreased time, coupled with the reduced inconvenience, should, and, I think, will, make the railway journey more attractive, particularly when the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner has installed the air-conditioning apparatus with which portions of the train are now being fitted.
When the line is completed it will, from the point of view of the men employed in transportation work, have some disadvantages. The ruling grade will be reduced from 1 in 40 to 1 in 100, and the load increased from 202 to 560 tons, an increase of more than 150 per cent. Owing to the reduced track mileage, the time required to run the distance between terminals will be considerably shortened, and the number of men required to operate each 1,000 tons of goods hauled will be reduced to a great extent. Whilst the shorter journey, easier grades, and consequent higher speeds, which the completion of this work will bring about, will provide better facilities, and make the railway more attractive to the travelling public, the faster working will take its toll of the men, both in reduced time and decreased avenues of promotion, the only fair and effective recognition for which is payment on the mileage basis. I should have liked to go into that aspect thoroughly, in an endeavour to persuade honorable members that a reform of that kind is’ essential, particularly as the bill, in paragraphs a, b, and c of clause 13 makes provision for the safeguarding of those engaged on the construction of the railway against unfair wages or conditions. I realize, however, that in the limited time available, I have little chance of doing full justice to the subject. I hope that another opportunity will present itself to deal with it when we are not at the tail end of the busy final week of a sessional period, and when members would feel more inclined to give their attention to the matter. Let us hope that the increased business arising from the completed work will, from the point of view of the railway men, at least be a set-off to the other disadvantages to which I have made reference, and, indeed, that the increased patronage from an improved service will be more than a set-off. Notwithstanding my criticism, I admit that the Government has done useful work in bringing to fruition the second link in the scheme for the standardization of the railway gauges between the capital cities.
– I am disappointed that the Government has departed from the agreement entered in to_ by a previous administration. The subject of the standardization of railway gauges has exercised the minds of the Government’s engineers and the public for a considerable number of years, and during the regime of the Bruce-Page Government an agreement was made under which the standardization of the gauges was to be given effect.A commencement was made by the construction of the standard gauge line from Kyogle to South Brisbane, and an agreement was made with South Australia for a continuation of the trans-Australian line from Port Augusta to Red Hill, and for the laying of a third rail between Red Hill and Adelaide. I feel that, in the variation of that agreement, whereby the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge is to be extended for a further 28 miles, is a breach of faith ‘ with the people of Australia.
– I agree with the honorable member.
– It is most unfair that the agreement should be brought into operation without the Parliament having had an opportunity to approve of it. This action has thrown standardization back for years: The more the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge system is extended the more will standardization be retarded. The suggestion that the placing of a third rail between Red Hill and Adelaide, to enable standardgauge rolling-stock to enter the Adelaide station, would be dangerous is absurd.
I defy any engineer to substantiate that argument. In Great Britain, there are five different gauges operating in one station, and expresses travel over the break-of-gauge points at a speed of 60 miles an hour.
I am disappointed that the scheme has been altered at the behest of one State, which will agree to extension of the scheme for the standardization of gauges only if it gets its own way. The most advantageous agreements cannot be reached if only one of the parties is satisfied. The Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson) has always been a warm advocate of the standardization of gauges, and, as a member of a previous government, he is aware of the discussions that have taken place on this subject. I believe that he desires to improve the service between Port Augusta and Adelaide. I do not blame him for the necessity which has arisen for departure from the original scheme, but I regret that we have to acquiesce in the petty, parochial attitude adopted by South Australia in a matter of national importance. Ishould have preferred to see the standard guage continued from Port Augusta to Broken Hill, thus giving a direct east-west service between Perth and Sydney. The Government of Western Australia has not put forward any views regarding the agreement made with that State. The Government of Western Australia agreed to construct a standard gauge railway from Kalgoorlie to Perth and Fremantle, but it has not honoured the agreement. The Government of South Australia agreed to the laying of a third rail from Red Hill to Adelaide, and that agreement has not been honoured. In the circumstances, the introduction of this proposal is not justified. Even though I am very desirous to see additional men provided with work before Christmas, I feel that the whole situation in regard to the standardization of our gauges should be clarified before a far-reaching agreement of the nature now before us is ratified. It is deplorable that a matter of such important national concern should be left for determination in the closing hours of this period of the session, with very few honorable members in their places. Where are the honorable members who represent South Australian constituencies? They should be in their places either to support or defeat this proposal. [Quorum formed.] The standardization of our railway gauge is of vital importance to the whole community, and the honorable members who seem to be interested in it should not be required to address empty benches. I submit that the agreement made by a previous government, in connexion with this railway, should be honoured. If we agree to the construction of an additional length of railway of 5-ft. 3-in. gauge, we shall only increase the ultimate cost of standardizing our gauges. Apart altogether from the national significance of standardized railway gauges, we need? because of the complicated problems ofmodern transport, to do everything possible to reduce transhipment costs at break of gauge stations. It is not too much to ask that provision should be made for this Parliament to devote adequate time to the consideration of a measure of this description. Instead of dealing with it under the circumstances which now confront us, we should make it a subject for consideration at a time when honorable members of all parties could express their view on it without restriction. I would prefer Parliament to be called together very early in the new year to deal with the subject. I oppose the bill, because I think it is seeking to give effect to an agreement of a nature contrary to the best interests of the nation.
. - I cannot allow some of the statements of the honorable member for Parkes (Sir Charles Marr) to pass without comment. The honorable gentleman does not seem to realize that nothing in this bill will complicate, to any serious extent, the ultimate conversion of the line concerned to a 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge. Moreover, this proposition will be less costly than that contemplated under the 1925 agreement, for the laying of a third rail between Red Hill and Adelaide. That undertaking, together with necessary subsidiary works, would have involved an expenditure of more than £400,000. A very small proportion of that amount would suffice to convert the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge railway, now proposed to be built, to a 4-ft.8½-in. gauge line for one rail could easily be brought in the required distance on the sleepers. The proposition now before honorable members will have substantially the same effect as the construction of the line contemplated under the 1925 agreement, for under each proposal travellers between Perth and Melbourne would have to change trains only twice.
– No provision was made in the 1925 agreement to reimburse South Australia, as is proposed in this bill, for losses incurred in railway operation.
– That is so, but the proposal of the 192-5 agreement would involve a far greater expenditure on the part of the Commonwealth than does the one contemplated in this bill, even allowing for the contribution which the Commonwealth Government will make to South Australia under this measure.
– I do not think there is in the Parliament a keener or more ardent advocate of the standardization of our railway gauges than I. I have had twenty years’ experience with the Railway Department of New South Wales, and it would be impossible for any one to spend that length of time in railway service without developing a lively appreciation of the disabilities associated with breaks of gauge. I have always held the view that every effort should be made to standardize our railway gauges, and my recent visit abroad has strongly confirmed this attitude. Unfortunately, from my point of view, the measure now before the committee i3 not sufficiently comprehensive; but it will at least facilitate railway operations to the advantage both of the administrations concerned and of the general public. Because I believe that this proposal is a definite step towards ultimate complete standardization, I shall support the bill.
– I protest against the proposal in this bill to reimburse South Australia for anticipated railway losses in a way that was not contemplated when the 1925 agreement was made. I agree with the statement of the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson) that it would be less costly to carry out this proposal than to lay a third rail under the conditions laid down in. the former agreement; but as no con sideration has been given by the Government of South Australia to the Commonwealth Government in respect of losses - incurred in connexion with the construction and operation of the railway to Alice Springs, I can see no reason why we should ratify the provision for compensation of South Australia in this agreement. The State Government has, as a matter of fact, held a pistol at the head of the Commonwealth Government in connexion with the proposal now under consideration, and unfortunately the Commonwealth Government has surrendered. Why should special consideration be given to South Australia by way of a substantial grant because of anticipated loss of revenue through the operation of the line now proposed to be built? I shall not delay the committee further, except to refer it to previous speeches that I have made on this subject. I regret that this measure has been submitted in the dying hours of this period of the session.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Standing Orders suspended ; resolution adopted.
– I move -
That the hill be now read a second time.
Having outlined the proposals of the Government when speaking to the resolution just passed in the committee, I think it unnecessary to deal with the subject at any further length.
– I cannot agree with the statement made by the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson), in the course of the discussion that occurred a few moments ago in committee to the effect that the proposal now under consideration will involve less expenditure on the part of the Commonwealth than that contemplated under the 1925 agreement. Any one with engineering knowledge will realize that it would be impossible to bring ‘one rail of a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge line closer to the other rail to convert the permanent way into a 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge without incurring very heavy expense. Provision would have to be made by some means to maintain running operations during the period of the conversion.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. G. J. Bell).The honorable member will not be in order in replying at this stage to statements made in the debate that occurred in committee.
– I totally disagree with the view that the establishment of a joint depot for the purpose of operating this proposed new railway would not involve great expense. Any one acquainted with the first principles of engineering must realize that to convert a 5-ft. 3-in. gauge railway to a 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge line, it would probably be essential to move both rails. It would not be satisfactory to move only one rail. In any case a third rail would have to be laid in order to allow train traffic during the period of conversion. Why not lay the third rail now? I do not blame the Minister, because he is in a delicate position, but I regret that it has been found necessary to depart from the terms of the agreement entered into by the Bruce-Page Government. The honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Price) said that the Commonwealth Government had broken the agreement, but I remind him that it was because the South Australian Government failed to carry out the 1929 agreement that this bill has been brought in. The Government of Western Australia gave an undertaking that, when the EastWest line was completed, it would construct a line of standard gauge between Perth and Kalgoorlie, but it has not done so. It is time the Commonwealth took a firm stand on these matters. I am sorry that we are not proceeding with the construction of a 4-ft. 8½-in. gauge line to Red Hill and the laying of a third rail to Adelaide.
.- During the last six months, I have passed on to the Commonwealth Railways Department a good deal of correspondence from a man in my electorate who claims that he could lay a third rail on a wide gauge railway to the satisfaction of any engineer. However, it seems to bo extraordinarily difficult to induce the engineers of the Railways Department to give any consideration to propositions of this kind. I am in favour of the immediate laying of a third rail. There is already in existence a standard gauge railway from Sydney to Broken Hill, and if South Australia and Victoria decline to come into the scheme for standardization, let the Commonwealth carry its railway line forward from Broken Hill, ignoring those States altogether. I do not think that the Government is justified in pressing this measure now, involving as it does, the expenditure of £900,000.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Sitting suspended from 1.6 to 3 p.m.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of Governor-General’s message) :
Motion (by Mr. Casey) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenuebe made for the purposes of a bill for an act to grant and apply out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund sums for the purposes of financial assistance to the State of Tasmania.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Casey and Mr. Paterson do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill brought up by Mr. Casey, and read a first time.
.- I move-
That thebill be now read a second time.
The simple purpose of this bill is to provide for a monthly payment of £4,300 to the State of Tasmania during a period commencing on the 7th January, 1936, and continuing during the period of operation of the flour tax legislation. Under the Wheat Growers’ Relief Act 1934-35, provision was made for the payment to Tasmania of an amount of £4,100 monthly during the currency of the present flour tax legislation. Owing to an increased consumption of flour in Tasmania, it was subsequently found that that amount was insufficient, and this House has just passed anamending bill providing for an additional payment,not exceeding £4,500, to supplement payments to Tasmania for the period up to the 6th January next. The need for these payments arises from the fact that Tasmania produces relatively little wheat and the collections of revenue in the shape of flour tax from that State have, in the past, greatly exceeded the amountof assistance given tothe Tasnianian wheatgrowers. The amount of £4,100 was calculated by agreement between the Government’s of the Commonwealth and of the State of Tasmania, in the first place to enable the Tasmanian Government to recoup the millers of that State in respect of the difference between what was collected from the flour tax and the amount payable to wheat-growers. Arecalculation was made, based on what appears to bea reasonable forecast of the consumption of flour in Tasmania in the near future, and the amount of £4,300 was arrived at. There is little more to say in explanation of this bill. The Government has received ‘an undertaking from the Government of Tasmania that, if ‘this bill is passed, “and it is authorized to pay this sum to that State, the Tasmanian Government, in return, will utilize the money to offset the effect of the flour tax in Tasmania to the extent indicated.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill isdesigned to regulate the whaling industry. The necessity for its introduction arises from the acquisition by Australia of certain territory in the Antarctic, and also fromour international obligations. Under the Australian Antarctic Territory Acceptance Act 1933, certain territory lying south of latitude 60 degrees between 45 degree’s and 165 degrees east longitude, other than Adelie Land, was taken over by the Commonwealth under section 122 of the Commonwealth Constitution. I shall give to the House a short outline of the circum stances which make legislation to regulate whaling hot only necessary, but also urgent.
In 1931, the Commonwealth became a signatory to an international convention for the regulation of whaling, drawn up under the auspices of the League of Nations. By that convention, the high contracting parties agreed, inter alia, to prohibit the taking or killing of certain classes of whales, calves or suckling whales, immature whales and female whales accompanied by calves, and no vessel of any of the high contracting parties is permitted to engage in taking or killing whales unless a licence has first been granted. The convention further provides that the fullest possible use must be made of the carcasses of the whales taken, and also regulates the terms of engagement of gunners and crews of whaling vessels.
Provision is made in the convention for its subsequent ratification by the respective signatories; but the Commonwealth will not be in a position to ratify it until appropriate provision has been made by statute for the enforcement of its provisions withinthe jurisdictionof the Commonwealth. The power of the Commonwealth to legislate is limited by section 51 (10) of the Constitution, which empowers the Parliament to make laws with respect to” fisheries in Australian waters beyond territorial limits.” However, in order to implement the convention fully, it would be necessary to legislate, hot only for extra-territorial waters, butalso for the territorial waters themselves, a matter which comes within the jurisdiction of the States. Early in February, 1934, this -subject was discussed at aconferenceof CommonwealthandState Ministers,and, it was then suggested that theConstitution might beamended to give the Commonwealth power to legislate as to whaling within State territorial waters, and that the States should yield to the Commonwealth the power to enact laws with respect to fisheries, not only extraterritorially, butalso within State limits. At first it seemed that the State’s were disposed to besympathetic towards the proposal,but when the matter was referred to the States subsequently with a request for an indication of their attitude, it became apparent that there was no unanimity, among them, only two States, Tasmania and New South Wales, expressing their willingness to cede the necessary power. The reason for the apparent lack of co-operation by some of the States was that, although they recognized the necessity for a central authority to control whaling to check foreign depredations within Australian waters, they did not feel disposed to grant unlimited power to the Commonwealth in respect of fisheries. Rightly or wrongly, they concluded that a ceding of power to the Commonwealth in this respect might put an end to State control of fisheries generally. In view of their disinclination to extend to the Commonwealth the necessary power in respect of whaling in State territorial waters, the matter is being approached from another angle.
– Can the AttorneyGeneral inform the House what is meant by “ Australian waters beyond the territorial limit “, mentioned in clause 4 of the bill?
– “ Australian waters beyond the territorial limit “ are, in general, waters appertaining to Australia or in territorial control by Australia. The phrase is a geographical, rather than a legal, expression. The distinction does not matter for the purposes of this bill, because ships are to be controlled by inspectors and offences are to be dealt with, having regard to the question of whether they are Australian ships or ships coming into Australian ports. No real question of jurisdiction arises.
From the point of view of the Commonwealth it is more vital to regulate the industry in the Antarctic than in territorial waters where the industry is, in comparison, of small compass. The bill has been prepared accordingly. At the same time, it must be borne in mind that whaling vessels ordinarily put into neighbouring ports in order to replenish supplies and effect repairs; and it follows that the regulation of fisheries can be better ‘effected if the authorities controlling the ports of call are prepared to assist; that is where the States come in. Breaches of the acts and regulations can more easily be punished by an arrest of the’ ship while in port than by the issue of process while it is still upon the high seas and beyond the reach of governmental control. Consequently, it is more desirable that the States should pass legislation ancillary to the proposed Commonwealth act; and each State has, therefore, been approached regarding the passage of legislation along the lines of this bill. Advice has been received that Queensland and Western Australia are taking action in that direction, and New South Wales is prepared to introduce similar legislation as soon as practicable after the Commonwealth bill has been passed. South Australia points out that there are no whale fisheries in the territorial waters of that State and that it is considered that legislation by it is not necessary. If, however, after full consideration, the Commonwealth and the States involved consider it necessary for South Australia to legislate, I have no doubt that the government of that State would be willing to fall into line. Victoria suggests that the matter appears to be one for consideration at a Premiers Conference. Pending action by the States, the Commonwealth could proceed to ratify the International Whaling Convention with respect to the territorial waters which are outside the jurisdiction of the States; but, if the States passed legislation along similar lines, that reservation could be removed and the ratification of the convention would be complete and effective. It is necessary to point out that ratification by the Commonwealth is desirable particularly since the enactment of the Australian Antarctic Territory Acceptance Act 1933. From the proclamation of the date of commencement of that legislation, the Commonwealth will have under its control the vast “territories contained in the Australian Antarctic sector defined in the act, together with the waters adjacent thereto. In those waters a large proportion of the world’s whaling industry is carried on.
At the close of 1933, it became apparent that the stock of whales in the Antarctic was becoming seriously depleted. The main cause of this depletion has been the increase of catchments due to the establishment and growth of the pelagic system, which is the system under which operations in connexion with whaling and treating of the whales are carried out on the high seas, making it unnecessary for whalers to return to port and go out again repeatedly as was necessary under the old land factory system.
– The whaling fleets are accompanied by a factory ship?
– In effect, that is so. Honorable members will readily understand that the pelagic system greatly increases the number of whales which can be taken and treated in any given season, and it, therefore, makes the regulation of the industry a matter of greater urgency. The Governments of Great Britain and Norway have taken a serious view of the depletion of the numbers of whales. A suggestion that no whaling operations at all should be carried out during the coming season was made, but the proposal met with such hostility on the part of various whaling companies that it was eventually abandoned. Early this year, however, the two governments mentioned decided that, in order to place a check on the destruction of whales, it was necessary to limit the whaling season south of latitude 40 degrees south to the period between the 1st December, 1935, and the 1st March, 1936. Effect has been given to that decision in each of those countries, whilst in Norway, it has been further decided to reduce the total output for the coming season to 9,600 tons below the output of last season. With the passage of this bill, the Commonwealth would be able to ratify the Whaling Convention, thus bringing itself into line with Great Britain and Norway. It would also be able to regulate the industry in the Australian Antarctic waters by the issue and control of licences to whaling companies registered in Australia. This is the underlying idea of the Whaling Convention itself. It is recognized that signatory States cannot control vessels flying the flag of another State when they are outside recognized territorial limits, but they can control crews and vessels registered in their own States. Thus each State, by being in a position to police its own vessels and nationals, will contribute to the effectiveness of the Convention. Honorable members may not appreciate how this can be done in view of the fact that Australia has not -adopted the Statute of Westminster. But an arrangement was made with His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom to cover the specific point in question, and the Imperial act relating to this matter, the Whaling Industry (Regulation) Act 1934, provides for Australian legislation to have extraterritorial operation. This is dealt with in section 15 of the Imperial act which reads as follows : -
– This point is also covered by the Privy Council decision in the case Crofts v. Dunphy.
– I am disposed to think that that is so, but this act of the Imperial Parliament puts the matter beyond doubt. There can be no doubt, therefore, of the extra-territorial jurisdiction of Australia. The Commonwealth is in a position, by an extension of its jurisdiction, to fulfil the duties imposed by our acceptance of the Australian Antarctic area, in the greater part of which the whaling industry is carried on.
– Does the Minister think that poaching can be restricted?
– I have no doubt that the powers of the Commonwealth will have a very substantial regulating effect on poaching.
In addition, the regulation of the whaling industry in this area would be an act of “ effective occupation “ in respect thereof. “Effective occupation,” I may state, is regarded by certain authorities on international law as necessary to constitute title to the possession of new territories. As to the supervision necessary to ensure the observance of the proposed law, we have the experience of other countries to guide us. It is possible to provide for inspectors to be sent out with various whaling fleets to ensure that there is no infringement of the provisions of the act. This method was adopted by New Zealand, and the revenue obtained by the dominion from licence-fees, royalties, &c, was always sufficient, even in depression years, to cover the cost of the provision of inspectors.
– Do the inspectors referred to report any difficulties in the carrying out of their duties?
– They report liberally on the work, and, in addition, are able to prepare material for launching prosecutions in cases where breaches of the conditions of the issue of licences has occurred.
– “Will the decision lie with the Attorney-General’s Department as to the granting or refusal of licences?
– The act will be administered by the Department of Commerce.
– The Department of Commerce knows no other word than “ licence “.
– Honorable members know, no doubt, of the increasing activities of the Japanese in the whaling industry; and, in this connexion, they may have seen press reports recently to the effect that five vessels passed through Australian ports on their way to the Antarctic. The indications are that Japan will, in the near future, become one of the leading countries in the whaling industry.
– Is not Japan a party to the convention?
– No, Japan is not a member of the League of Nations.
– Japan was still a member of the League when this convention was framed in 1931.
– Japan has not yet signed the convention. The Japanese representative on the second committee of the Twelfth Assembly of the League of Nations in 1931 intimated that the Japanese Government had no objection to the general principles underlying the convention, but indicated that it would make a ‘reservation excluding the northern part of the Pacific from the prohibition to kill or catch right whales, as it was of the opinion that there were ‘still sufficient right whales in the northern Pacific to preclude any apprehension of the disappearance of that species. He stated that he had not received precise instructions on the question, but that he believed that the Japanese Government would, in all probability, sign the convention if this reservation were adopted, and if all the other States of the northern Pacific littoral signed it. The right whale is a species which is very scarce, and is becoming extinct. It is noted for its particularly high yield of whalebone and oil.
Should Australia ratify the convention, there is no’ doubt that representations will be made to Japan and other countries in an effort to make the convention as wide as possible’ in its application. So far as the south Pacific is concerned, there is every hope that Japan, although not a member of the League of Nations, will become a signatory to the convention and will, in its own interests, see that the provisions of the convention are effectively carried out. In fact, it would be a measure of self-preservation, from the point of view of Japan. Norway regards whaling as one of its most profitable industries. It has accepted the convention, recognizing that if the industry is to continue it must be regulated. The United States of America has ratified the convention, and the total number of ratifications is now 21.
Honorable members will see that power is taken to regulate this industry by the issue of licences and the provision of restrictions on the excessive taking of whales or the taking of whales of an immature type or size. A breach of the conditions of the licence will be an offence, as will be the return of the ship to port in certain circumstances inconsistent with the act. It is considered that, the act can be very effectively policed byinspectors travelling on these very ships, and that the amount received from licences, royalties, and so on, will enable the scheme to be satisfactorily financed. In all the circumstances, I suggest that it is very desirable that Australia should play its part in the preservation ‘of an. industry which is of considerable magnitude, but -cannot be preserved so long as the existing state of affairs continues. Whales of insufficient size have to a large extent been taken, because it has quite- commonly been tie practice to engage gunners and members of the crew on terms of payment by results, the results relating to the number of whales taken. Honorable members will readily appreciate that if, by the terms of employment or otherwise, the taking of large numbers of immature whales is encouraged, the effect on the future of the industry must be enormous. Consequently, regulation is imperative, and the regulation proposed is strictly in accordance with the convention.
– This bill is one with which the Opposition is in accord. Tasmania is particularly interested in it, because a large number of the ships engaged in whaling call at Tasmanian ports when they do not operate from a base in New Zealand. Unfortunately, honorable members who represent Tasmanian constituencies have had to leave Canberra because of the interruption to shipping services caused by the dispute on the waterfront. I shall, therefore, do what I can to express their views.
Australia accepted an obligation, as a signatory to the International Convention of 1931 for the regulation of whaling. The necessity for the protection of whales from wanton destruction and, in fact, extermination, is recognized particularly by Great Britain and Norway. The convention therefore agreed that some protection was necessary. The Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies) has pointed out that the bill is designed to give effect to that principle by the protection of the species of whales specified, such as calves, immature whales, females accompanied by calves, &c. That is covered by clause 6 of the bill. Australia, to perhaps a greater degree than any other nation, has an obligation in this regard, in that it ha: sovereignty over approximately one-third of the Antarctic continent, which with an area of 5,000,000 square miles is nearly double the size of Australia. This area has come to Australia by discovery. When one reads the thrilling pages of Australian history with more than passing interest^ as well as the stories of the expeditions of Shackleton and Scott, and Sir Douglas Mawson’s work The Home of the Blizzard, one realizes some of the hazards of the
Antarctic. The area under Australian control is noted for the whaling industry. It is interesting to note that in by-gone days this was the chief shipping industry in the port of Hobart, and to a less extent in the Tamar, and was also of some importance in New South Wales. Mr. J. E. Calder, a former SurveyorGeneral of Tasmania, made the following observations in one of his reports: - 41,42. Oil, Black and Sperm. - The whaling industry of Tasmania, which for 52 consecutive years has been followed in the south with fluctuating success, but generally with profit, is now considerably enlarging itself. In the south this trade has never collapsed, even when these seas were invaded by whole fleets of French and American whale ships, which dealt it such a blow that for several year.s the enterprise was represented by only half a dozen ships, or even less. Fifteen now sail out of the Fort of Hobart town, and more would be fitted out but for the difficulty there is in obtaining suitable commanders and other ship officers - a difficulty that might be overcome, perhaps, by obtaining this class of persons from elsewhere, or, as is suggested by owners, through the medium of training ships. This industry, from which in future years £40,000 or £50,000 a year will probably be poured into the country, is now quite confined to the south, the northern people taking no concern in it whatever. I may, however, take’ leave to remind the capitalists of the north that this was not always the case, as there was a time when whale ships’ fitted out from Launceston, and when it was the head-quarters of a successful fishery. Those whose recollections of Tasmanian enterprise will not carry them back to the times I am speaking of may be referred to certain old official statistics, compiled by the Colonial Secretary of the time, Captain Montagu, in 1839, for the use of Sir John Franklin, which enable me to show what was then the magnitude of this trade in Launceston, which, from causes that I will not pretend to trace, has quite died out. The results of this trade will be best shown if thrown into a tabular form -
It will thus be seen that, even as far back as those days, the industry was regarded as one in which Australia should engage, and which should be developed in the future. The area under Australian control or jurisdiction is still noted for the whaling industry. In 1921, the number of whales killed was 12,000, producing 400,000 barrels of oil; while in 1931, the number killed was 40,000, producing 3,200,000 barrels of oil. The price before the depression was £S0 a ton, but it dropped to £13 a ton in 1933. These figures show that, unless some such measure as this is passed, whales will become extinct. Therefore, the measure should be welcomed by all parties. The Tasmanian official records published by the Government Statistician, Mr. R. M. Johnston, devote a good deal of space to whale fisheries. In 1829, there were three ships which produced a value of £11,268. In 1937, the production was 2,739 tons from eighteen ships, and the value was £135,000. In the late fifties, the figures increased to a production of 6,975 tons, of a value of £53,000, by 33 ships. The former value of this industry to Tasmania is indicated in the following interesting excerpt from the Australian Encyclopaedia, volume 2-
In Tasmania in the early thirties a black whale (they were then very plentiful, near Hobart) went 24 miles up the Derwent and was killed at Kew Norfolk. The Tasmanian export increased between 1827 and 1831 from 17!) tons of oil and 1<>8 cwt. of fins to 838 tons and 818 cwt. respectively. In 1841 there were 35 bay whaling stations in Tasmania, most of them with four whale-boats, each manned by seven men. In 1848, 37 whalers were registered at Hobart; their total tonnage was S.filO and their crews numbered 1,040, in both respects exceeding the figures for the other vessels attached to the port. In 1859, 27 locally-owned whalers, totalling 5,901 tons, with crews numbering 680 men, brought their cargoes to Hobart. Then the whaling industry began to perish. In 1870, seventeen locally-owned vessels were engaged in the trade; five years later there were about a dozen. In June, 1S0G, the barque Helen left Hobart on a whaling cruise; she was the last vessel to represent the whaling industry of Tasmania. Within 05 years the industry was born, flourished, and died.
This measure should assist to resuscitate the industry. Australia, by virtue of its ownership of the Antarctic region, and its close proximity to this region, should have a larger share of the proceeds of the industry. “Within recent years, Norway has had almost a monopoly. This being our natural heritage, we should protect it. I am indebted to the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) for the material which has enabled me to present the information contained in my speech.
I commend the measure to the House, and hope that it will have a speedy passage, trusting that the benefits derivable from it will soon be felt by the people of Australia.
.- We are claiming to legislate in respect of Australian waters beyond territorial limits. I confess that I do not appreciate exactly how we can deal effectively with foreigners beyond those limits. Prom time to time, the claim has been made by different countries to the right to control the ocean opposite their shores. England once levied a licence-fee for the conduct of fishing operations in the North Sea. The United States of America has claimed similar rights of control over the ocean in Behring Straits. But whenever those rights have been investigated, the one rule that seems to have emerged is, that they are limited to the territorial waters of any country, and that jurisdiction may not be exercised over foreigners beyond the limits of those waters, which, roughly, may be said to extend for a distance of three miles from the shore. The ocean is free to the ships of ail nations.
To any one who is interested in this subject, I” commend a very instructive article by Professor Charteris in the Journal of the Society of Comparative Legislation for 1929 in which he points out that in 1913 the British Government, claiming title, by occupancy, to the Australasian sector of the Antarctic, entered into an agreement with two Norwegian companies, purporting to give to them exclusive rights with respect to whale fisheries in the Antarctic opposite the Australian sector upon payment of a fee of 2s. 6d. a ton on the oil produced. On the creation of the Ross Sea Dependency in 1923 the rights under that agreement devolved upon the Government of New Zealand, but shortly afterwards a Norwegian factory ship arrived in this sector. The Dominion Government sought to exclude poachers, and issued regulations imposing penalties up to £1,000 a day on any person found fishing there without a licence. The Norwegians continued to fish, but kept clear of Dominion and Commonwealth ports. The validity of the regulations was never determined, but the Government of New Zealand was advised that they were ultra vires. No Government has power to control the fishing in tho waters of the ocean outside the threemile limit. It shows the necessity for international co-operation if this legislation is to have any effect.
That there is need for legislation of this character regarding all fisheries in ocean waters near the Australian coast is certain. The small ships of the Japanese are frequently seen around our coasts, and whether they are engaged in whale fishing or pearling, their presence tends to make us uneasy. Any foreign power is entitled to come into Australian waters with its ships, and as long as it remains beyond the three-mile limit it has as much right as we have to engage in the fishing industry. It is hoped that Japan will join in the convention, as Norway has done. In ‘the interests of the protection of whales, and for the settlement of the larger question of fisheries rights near the north-western a.nd northern coasts of Australia, it is desirable that the Government should endeavour to obtain the co-operation of other nations, particularly Japan. The bill is highly desirable for the protection of the declining whaling industry.
.- Since the publication of the article referred to by the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Nairn), the position has been elucidated by an important decision given by the Privy Council upon Canadian legislation, which was passed after Canada had adopted the Statute of Westminster 1931, and purported to give extra-territorial effect to the Canadian laws. The Privy Council decided that the legislation was valid) and said that Canada had power, even before the Statute of Westminster wa3 adopted, to give extra-territorial effect to its legislation. On this point it appears that the Statute was merely declaratory of a pre-existing legal position - a contention which the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) makes, as to the Statute, generally ; the Dominion already possessed the legal and constitutional power to give extra-territorial effect to its legislation.. If Canada possessed that power, apart from the Statute of Westminster 1931, the Commonwealth of Aus tralia would also have it, although we have not adopted that Statute. Another line of argument that would validate this measure is the contention that under the paragraph of the Constitution that confers on the Commonwealth power to make laws with respect to “external affairs,” this Parliament would have power to give effect to an international treaty or convention. I agree with the honorable member for Perth, and also with the Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies), and the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Drakeford) that it is desirable that this should be done by international action. I think that the prospect of durable peace under the present order in the world will be’ improved by the pooling, under international control, of the undeveloped natural- resources of the world. I should not like to see this industry, which is still of great importance, regarded as something to be exploited for the use of Australians only. The nations interested in the Pacific should co-operate to secure an open door, and the right to a fair and equitable use of the resources of the Antarctic. Australia should be regarded as accepting the control of territory in the Antarctic, not for its own exclusive use, but as one of the several trustees for all the nations. From that point of view this legislation is desirable; but, if we look upon this territory as a field for the sole benefit of Australians, we shall be abusing the confidence which has been placed in u3 by other nations. I think it is desirable that this industry, which is still of great importance, should be maintained and preserved, and kept available for the use of all nations on common terms. If we have any hope for peace in the world under ‘the present order - a very precarious hope, I believe - the only stable basis on which it can rest is that of securing to all nations free access to such natural resources as do . not lie within an effectively developed natural state. Although a country has a right to develop its own industries in its own way, it has not the right to exclude other peoples from undeveloped territories.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 5 agreed to.
Clause 6 (Taking or killing of certain kinds of whales prohibited).
Mr.ROSEVEAR (Dalley) [2.56].-I should like the Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies) to furnish the committee with an explanation of the purpose of this clause. Heavy penalties are prescribed for certain offences. Sub-clause 3 provides that a whale of any description shall be deemed to be immature, if it is of less length than that prescribed in relation to whales of that description, provided that the length prescribed in relation to blue whales shall not be less than 60-ft. and in relation to fin whales not less than 50-ft. How can the length of a whale be determined before it is caught and hauled aboard? I understand that those who hunt whales now use an explosive harpoon. Is the question whether a whale is immature, determined by its size or by its age ? How is its age to be ascertained, and how can one tell whether it is a male or a female before it is captured?
Clause agreed to.
Clause 7 agreed to.
A ship designed and equipped for taking, killing or treating whales shall not be brought into any port or place in Australia or any territory of the Commonwealth unless the owner or charterer of the ship is the holder of a licence in force under this act authorizing the ship to be used for taking, killing or treating whales.
Penalty (on owner, charterer or master) : One thousand pounds.
– I move -
That at the end of the clause the following words be added: - “or the ship is duly authorized by the Government of the country whose flag sheflies to engage in taking, killing or treating whales “.
The object of the amendment is to make it possible for vessels licensed in other countries to operate and put in at an Australian port. Without the amendment such action would be illegal. We do not desire to oblige ships to obtain licences in two countries.
– I support the amendment. I appreciate the purpose of this bill. Whaling has never been seriously engaged in by the Australian people. The historical information given to us by the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Drakeford) related to days before the industry had reached its present mechanized state. I doubt whether we have any mechanized whaling vessels in Australia. We all favour action to prevent the indiscriminate slaughtering of whales. There are, however, certain international difficulties associated with this industry not dealt with in this bill. We have heard recently of certain Japanese vessels engaging in operations in Australian waters, which suggests poaching. Some little time ago, in a conversation I had with Sir Douglas Mawson, he told me that while he was in the region of the South Pole, and found himself short of coal, he was surprised to discover a Scandinavian whaling ship there, which was able to supply him with 40 tons of coal. No one appeared to know anything about thepresence of the vessel in that area. It would be interesting to know whether it was legitimately operating in Australian waters. Many international jurists have expressed the opinion that future wars are likely to occur in connexion with the zoning of waters and the air. I should like the Attorney-General to tell us, if he can, what the position is in regard to Australian territorial waters.Five years ago, when I represented the electorate of Flinders in this Parliament, I asked the Government to take action to prevent the indiscriminate slaughtering of whales in what were supposed to be Australian territorial waters, but I do not think anything has been done in that connexion. Are Scandinavian ships still operating in our territorial waters in the Antarctic region ?
– The purpose of this bill is to perform our part in giving effect to an international convention, and to join with other nations who are parties to the convention in doing whatever may be done by joint action to protect the industry generally.
– How will it be possible for inspectors to perform duties on ships over which we have no control? There are problems associated with this industry not dealt with in this bill which are of considerable importance. I very much doubt whether several major issues in connexion with the territorial waters of various nations have yet been determined, and I trust that the AttorneyGeneral will do whatever may lay in his power to clarify them.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 9 to 20 agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment; report - by leave - adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
That is an entirely non-contentious measure to amend the New Guinea Act 1932. A measure of local government was granted to New Guinea at that time by the constitution of an executive council and a legislative council. The executive council consists of eight official members and one non-official member chosen from the ranks of the legislative council by the Administrator. It has. transpired that no provision is contained in the act to appoint a substitute or deputy for the non-official member, who may, in the circmnstances of life in that territory, be absent from his ordinary place of abode for some time, or for some other reason, may be unable to. attend meetings of the executive council. The major provision of this bill is to enable a deputy for the non-official member to be appointed to take his place when he is absent on account of illness, or has been granted exemption from attendance by the Administrator. It is provided that the deputy shall be appointed in the same way as the non-official member. Clause 3 has relation to the making of certain standing orders by the legislative council regarding the summoning of its meetings. Doubt has arisen as to whether the legislative council had power to make such standing orders. The object of this clause is to remove all doubt on the point. The provision now proposed is identical with that made by the legislative council itself.
Mr.JENNINGS (Watson) [3.12].- As this is a simple machinery measure, I assume that it would not be in order for me to embark upon a discussion of many of the important problems, that re late to New Guinea. I trust, however, that other measures relating to this territory foreshadowed by the Minister who recently visited it will be introduced without undue delay, so that honorable members will be afforded an opportunity to consider the affairs relating to this, in several respects, rapidly developing area.
The business that comes before the legislative council of New Guinea is of great importance to the people resident in the territory and also to the people of Australia. The world is watching with interest, how Australia is carrying out its mandate under the League of Nations. I had the honour to be a member of a party of honorable members of this Parliament which recently visited New Guinea. We were furnished with a great deal of information regarding the problems which faced the people there. With 3,500 white people living amongst, or in the vicinity of, a population of approximately 650,000. natives, many of whom are still in their primitive state, we formed the opinion that it would be advisable to give the legislative council a greater voice in the conduct of. local affairs, for it has to face many problems quite foreign to those which concern the people of Australia. Local interest would be stimulated, thus making possible greater progress. We met in the territory people who expressed the opinion that Australians were not interested in territory affairs. We should endeavour to eradicate that opinion. It would be of advantage if the legislative council of New Guinea had better opportunities to discuss the various matters involved in the progress of New Guinea with the object of forwarding their considered views to this Parliament. I may permitted to mention one or two of the problems that are of immediate concern in New Guinea. Poaching in the waters of New Guinea is the cause of much complaint in the territory. I suggest that the Government consider the advisability of sending a patrol boat to New Guinea to keep in touch with shipping operations there. This has been mentioned before but as yet. nothing has been done. A patrol boat is urgently needed. Certain additional surveying is also needed. Some areas of New Guinea were surveyed many years ago, hut since then little has been. done… It is necessaryto have a modern survey made of the waters surrounding the territory as well as along the north Australian coa3t. In the interests of shipping this should be carried out without further delay.
The important subject of Australian trade with New Guinea also deserves more attention than has hitherto been given to it. The Australian people, by their enterprise and resource, have opened up in New Guinea the greatest alluvial goldfields in the world to-day, and have there set up the greatest aerial transport system of modern times. Nevertheless, Australia enjoys only onethird of the trade with New Guinea. “We should have preferential trade relations with the territory, and to compete successfully with foreign traders Australian exporters should put out well-packed goods of uniformly high quality.
Another matter of great interest is the establishment and conduct of cocoa and coffee plantations in New Guinea. There is scope for considerable trade with Australia in these products. All these subjects should be discussed in the legislative council of New Guinea, and the decisions of that body should be forwarded to the Commonwealth Parliament for its consideration. We should do all that lies in our power to develop this great territory.
The bill gives no opportunity to discuss other important subjects affecting New Guinea, but I hope to have this privilege on other measures that will come before this House.
.- I take it that the purpose of this bill is to ensure that the non-official representation on the Executive Council shall always be at full strength, but there should be some limitation of the time during which a member of the council may absent himself from the deliberations of that body without forfeiting his seat. Of course, a man may be absent through illness, or because of legitimate business demands upon his time, but it is also possible that he may be absent because he is too dilatory and inattentive to his duties to attend. When a man is absent without proper reason, there should be some provision in the act whereby he may be dismissed, and his place filled, as is done in the case of members of this Parliament
.- This bill deals with the Executive Council of New Guinea, and the relations between the members of that council and the Administrator. The other day I asked in this House why the Administrator of New Guinea was not content, in his relations with the Executive Council, to act as do the governors of Crown colonies. I received a reply to the effect that it was not known what instructions govern the relations of the governors of Crown colonies with their executive councils. I refer the department to page 175, volume 11, of Hailsham’s edition of Halsbury’ s Encyclopaedia, in which this very matter is clearly set out. A good ,leal of friction is occasioned in New Guinea by the fact that the Administrator does not consult the council except in regard to proposed legislation and ordinances, and complaints have arisen because of this lack of consultation on general policy. Sections 17 and 18 of the act contemplate that the Administrator should not wait for a request from two members of the Executive Council before consulting that body, but should work in with it as does the governor of a Crown colony with his council. Whereas the governor of a Crown colony appoints his own ministers, it must be remembered that the official members of the Executive Council of New Guinea are appointed by the Governor-General. I believe it would make for more harmonious working if the procedure in regard to Crown colonies were adopted in New Guinea.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This is a brief but meritorious bill. Section 3 of the Parliamentary Papers Act 1908 is as follows : -
Sub-section (1) of section 4 is as follows a - 4. (1) No action or proceeding, civil or criminal, shall lie against any person for publishing any document published under the authority of the Senate or of the House of Representatives.
This bill proposes to establish on a legal basis the official character ofHansard, which so far has not, oddly enough, been placed beyond doubt on that necessary footing. In order to do so it is proposed to amend section 3 of the Parliamentary Papers Act by adding a sub-section to the effect that each House of Parliament shall be deemed to have authorized the Government Printer to publish the debates in Parliament. A bill on these lines was introduced in 1926, but time did not permit of its being proceeded with. Once more a joint recommendation has been made by the presiding officers that legislative action be taken, and as it is desirable that the privileged position of Hansard should be placed beyond cavil, this bill has now been introduced.
-Will this bill cover the distribution by members of Parliament of Hansard numbers containing libellous matter ?
– The effect of the bill is that no action or proceeding of a civil or criminal character may be taken against anyone in regard to the printing or publishing of Hansard, and if the re-sending or distribution of Hansard numbers by any person amounts to publication, such person would also be protected. The privilege attaches to the document as a document, so that every stage of publication will also be privileged.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Sitting suspended from3.27 to 5.13 p.m.
Bill returned from the Senate with amendments.
In committee (Consideration of Senate’s amendments) :
Clause 4 -
1 ) Section 4 of the principal act is repealed, and the following section inserted in its stead: - “4. - (1.) Tor the purposes of this act there shall be an Australian Dairy Produce Board. (2.) The board shall consist of -
The member appointed in pursuance of paragraph (b) of sub-section 2 of this section shallhold office for a term of three years, but may be removed from office by the Governor-General upon the recommendation of the board.”
Senate’s amendment -
Leave out sub-clause 5.
– Consequential upon the decision of this House to deprive f . o.b. sellers of representation on the Dairy Produce Board, sub-section 5 of proposed new section 4, which refers to the representative of these sellers, has been deleted by another place. I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Motion agreed to.
Senate’s consequential amendments, clause 4, agreed to.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
The following bills were returned from the Senate without amendment : -
Primary Produce Export Organization Bill 1935.
Port Augusta to Port Pirie Railway Bill 1935.
Tasmania Grant (Flour Tax) Bill 1935.
Message received from the Senate intimating that it had agreed to the amendment made by the House of Representatives in this bill.
Motion (by Mr. Lyons) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until a dateand hour to be fixed by Mr. Speaker, which time of meeting shall be notified by Mr. Speaker to each member by telegram or letter.
Motion (by Mr. Lyons) agreed to -
That leave of absence be given to every member of the House of Representatives from the determination of this sitting of the House to the date of its next sitting.
– by leave - Honorable members will, no doubt, be interested to know the actual position in regard to the State members of the League of Nations, which are imposing sanctions in connexion with the Italo-Abyssinian dispute.
According to the latest advice from the Secretary-General of the League, 49 State members have taken the necessary legislative and administrative measures in relation to Sanction I. - Prohibition of arms and munitions of war to Italy - while three others have accepted the proposal in principle; 48 countries have taken the necessary measures to implement Sanction II. relating to financial restrictions, while four others have accepted it in principle. In regard to Sanction III., Prohibition of Italian imports - the figures are 44 and 8 respectively; while for Sanction IV. - prohibiting the export to Italy of metals and certain raw materials classed as munitions of war- the corresponding numbers are 44 and8. These figures show that 52 countries have taken action or have accepted these sanctions in principle. This, honorable members will agree, is a remarkable result.
There has been certain criticism of the slow operation of the League machinery, and of certain hesitation and uncertainties. This was only to be expected. The strength of the League in the last resort depends on the strength of public opinion in the countries of the member States, and any hesitation shows, at least, that this grave international problem is being seriously weighed by individual States, which are at last thinking of the League in terms of a complete organization affecting them directly. While therewas a chance of pacific settlement, the League did everything possible in the way of conciliation. When action contrary to the principles of the League barred the door of conciliation, we saw a display of solidarity and determination to make a supreme effort to end the scourge of war - a display unique in the history of the world. At the moment, the technical sub-committees of the Coordination Committee are examining the reports, documents and legislation sub mitted by State members, to ensure that the action being taken is effective and co-ordinated.
On the 12th December the full committee will meet to consider whether the “ oil sanction “ will be adopted. This sanction is known as Proposal IV.a, and reads :-
In the execution of the mission entrusted to it under the last paragraph of Proposal IV., the Committee of Eighteen submits to Governments the following proposal.
It is expedient that the measures of embargo provided for in Proposal IV. should be extended to the following articles as soon as the conditions necessary to render this extension effective have been realized: -
Petroleum and its derivatives, byproducts and residues.
Pig iron, iron and steel (including alloy steels), cast, forged, rolled, drawn,, stamped or pressed.
Coal (including anthracite and lignite), coke and their agglomerates, as well as fuels derived therefrom.
If the replies received by the committee to the present proposal and the information at its disposal warrant it, the Committee of Eighteen will propose to governments a date for bringing into force these measures.
The League has two main tasks : first to avert war by the just and peaceful settlement of disputes, and, if this fails,, secondly, to’ prevent its extension and stop it in the shortest possible time. The imposition of sanctions is designed to effect the second objective, and because the Commonwealth Government believed that the adoption of the oil, iron and steel sanction, prohibiting the export of what are rightly regarded as vital sinews of war, would be one of the most effective in shortening the war, it immediately accepted in principle the sanction-, and notified the League on the 15th November that it would be prepared to put the proposal intooperation immediately it was adopted.
It has been made clear by the British Government, and also by the Commonwealth Government, that we are prepared to play our full part, but on the understanding that it is to be a joint part, and that the liabilities and responsibilities must be shared by all. It is of no use to adopt a sanction unless it is likely to be unanimously accepted and strictly carried out by all State Members. Hence honor- able members can appreciate that there must necessarily be negotiation and consultation to obtain unanimity before a sanction with grave and far-reaching effects can be adopted. That is particularly true of this sanction. Roumania, for example, supplies 50 per cent, of the total oil imports into Italy, and the operation of this sanction, unless some agreement could be reached that nonparticipating States would also restrict supplies, would only re-act most prejudicially against certain State Members, without accomplishing the purpose of the sanction. We do not yet know the attitude -of States towards the proposal, or whether it will be adopted and merely mention some of the obvious difficulties surrounding these sanctions in order that ^honorable members may appreciate the position.
Similar considerations have operated from the outset as regards military sanctions. The prerequisite for the enforcement of any sanction must be collective agreement, and this not only never existed in the case of military sanctions, but also was never contemplated from the beginning of the controversy. I emphasize that in the deliberations at Geneva there has been no discussion on military sanctions, and no such measures have formed part of British’ policy. The distinction between economic and military -sanctions has been appreciated by Signor Mussolini, who in his national speech on the 2nd October stated : -
Against economic sanctions we shall set our discipline, our frugality and spirit of sacrifice. To military sanctions we shall reply with military measures. To acts of war we shall reply with acts of war.
His acceptance of moral, financial and economic sanctions was in itself an Admission of violation of international obligations. Though at first it was reported that Italy would regard the imposition of an oil embargo as a hostile act, there has been a modification of the early strong reaction, particularly in view of the recent forcible intimation conveyed by M. Laval that France was standing strongly behind the principles of the “League, and intended to support and cooperate loyally with Great Britain.
This raises a question now often asked - What has been the effect of the sanctions so far? Although the economic pressure may be of slow development, an embargo on credit, key commodities and munitions has, in the past,, been found to be effective, and even with the present limited period of application, there are indications that the moral and material effects of the action are being felt.
In this respect, I remind honorable members that we do not desire to apply punishment to the Italian people in this dispute, or to any power that breaks the Covenant, but that we do desire to play our part iu co-operative efforts to ensure the observance of international law on which ultimately every community must depend. As was stated in the Commonwealth Government’s reply of the 22nd November to the Italian note of protest - “The present unfortunate dispute was not one between Italy and any individual member of the League, but an issue between Italy and every State member of the League. As such, the Commonwealth Government is of the firm opinion that there is no cause for ill-feeling between the Australian and Italian people, who have ever been actuated by deep feelings of mutual regard and esteem, and it would not care to contemplate that any resentment could persist between our peoples after the dispute has been settled.”
Another question which is uppermost in the minds of honorable members is - What is the significance of all the press reports about overtures from Italy and negotiations for a settlement? Negotiations which are now taking place are in accord with the second objective of the League, namely, to shorten the war, and British policy is to continue to search for peace on a basis honorable to all parties. There is no question of going behind the back of the League in such matters. It is obvious that the three powers which can most directly and effectively achieve a settlement are Great Britain, France and Italy; but any proposals must be in accordance with League principles, “ within the framework of the League “, as it is termed, and acceptable to all parties concerned, Italy, Abyssinia and the League.
The Commonwealth Government has no knowledge that any definite proposals have yet been formulated which will comply with the above conditions, but if and when they are made, they will be immediately placed before the League. That thisis the view of the Commonwealth Government is shown by the following extract from the Commonwealth Government’s reply to the Italian Government previously referred to: -
It is of the opinion that these representations should he made to the League, along with any views which the Italian Government holds as to the requisites for a just and speedy settlement of the dispute.
In conclusion,I would say that His Majesty’s Government in the Commonwealth of Australia earnestly hopes that means for such a settlement may soon he found acceptable to Italy, to Abyssinia, and in accordance with the spirit and principles of the League. This sentiment, I feel, is echoed by the whole of the Australian people.
There are two other matters incidental to the main dispute about which I feel honorable members would appreciate some information. The first is the reported tension in the Mediterranean, and the second is the position in Egypt. The first was largely due to a hostile press propaganda in Italy, and strong antiBritish attacks which went so far as to threaten Malta and Gibraltar. Before the present crisis, Italy maintained in Libya approximately 20,000 men, and, despite the recent withdrawal of one division, the present strength is still over 50,000 as against numerically much weaker British forces in Egypt. Naturally, there has been a certain amount of apprehension as to the safety of vital lines of Imperial communications, but I can say that, with the subsidence of the press campaign and the moderate tone now adopted, following on friendly and satisfactory conversations between the British ambassador and Signor Mussolini, the tension referred to has considerably lessened.
As regards the disturbances in Egypt, the press reports have been much exaggerated. On 7th November, Mohammed Mahmoud, the leader of the Wafd, the Nationalist party, which has passively co-operated with the Government in recent months, attacked the Government and the Prime Minister, Tewfik Nessum, both for continuing to govern without a constitution and for allowing undue British influence in Egyptian domestic affairs. It is true that Great Britain has “ advised against the reenactment, of the constitutions of 1923 and 1930 since the one was proved un workable and the other universally unpopular “. For some time the Egyptian Government has acted without a constitution. The relations between the British and Egyptian Governments have been maintained, however, on a correct and harmonious basis. The present international dispute on the Egyptian frontier has brought home forcibly to the Egyptian people their reliance on Great Britain for defence and economic security. Consequently there is a more general desire for friendly co-operation than has been evident for years. The speech of Mahmoud was followed by demonstrations on the 13th November in Cairo and Tanta, mainly by students on academic and political grounds. At both places the police had to fire once. About 115 policemen and demonstrators were injured. The situation is now well in hand, . and no untoward incidents have since been reported.
I do not propose to touch on the military situation in Abyssinia itself, as the operations are reasonably well reported, as far as the war censorship of the participants will allow, by reputable press correspondents, and the Government can add little ofvalue to the press messages which have been published.
In conclusion, I feel that honorable members will agree that the League of Nations has, by its commendable and efficient handling of the present dispute, proved itself capable of carrying out one of the main objects for which it was formed. It has greatly enhanced its prestige as an instrument for the maintenance of peace and, where war actually breaks out, for the localization of hostilities. The League has given evidence of the deterrent effect of the unified cooperation of nations in the cause of peace, and, we believe, will come through the present ordeal a greatly strengthened and more effective organization forthe peaceful settlement of all international disputes.
– byeave - On the 2nd December, the honorable member for Cook brought to my notice a report in the press that lubras in the Wave Hill district were being harshly treated. The article in question was referred to the Administrator at Darwin, who has now furnished the following advice: -
In October, 1934, eight sick aboriginals were taken by lorry from Wave Hill to Katherine. On medical examination three female aboriginals were found free from disease, and orders were issued for their return home. On the 18th October, 1934, authority was given for their fares by lorry, and for the issue of rations to them. Two departed by a lorry owned by a Mr. Nelson on the 20th October, while the third travelled by the mail lorry on the 27th October.
The statement that the lubras had to walk to Wave Hill is, therefore, incorrect.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
In doing so I wish, on behalf of members of the Government, to express the hope that all honorable members will have a very good time during the Christmas season now approaching. It is hoped, also, that all Australians will share in that good time. On behalf of the Government, I want to thank honorable members on both sides of the House for the assistance that they have given during the year. There were times, of course, when all did not see eye to eye on matters discussed or on methods applied to carry through legislation; but, after all, even though political differences may continue to exist, we close the year all good personal friends, all free to wish each other a happy Christmas and a good time in the New Year.
I feel that during the year the country itself has made substantial progress towards better things, and I am hopeful, even now, that better counsels will prevail with regard to the industrial trouble with which we are confronted, and that the transport services of the Commonwealth will be resumed and carried on in the normal manner over the Christmas season and into and through the New Year.
I express my gratitude to my colleagues in the Government, and to members of my own party for their loyalty and cooperation in the work that has been attempted and done. At the same time,
I express my appreciation of the attitude taken by the Opposition, which during this part of the session has been courteous to me personally, and considerate to the Government.
On behalf of honorable members on this side - and I feel I can speak for members on both sides of the House - I want to express my appreciation of the manner in which you, sir, have conducted your duties as Speaker. In recent times we all know you have carried out the duties associated with your office under very great difficulties, particularly as regards health, but you have shown very great courage and fortitude in doing so, and all honorable members hope that that courage and fortitude will no’ longer be required from you in the New Year, because of your complete restoration to your normal health. All honorable members will also join in expressing appreciation of the undoubted ability you brought to bear in carrying out your duties and especially of the impartiality shown by you to honorable members and the consideration extended to all of us.
To the Chairman of Committees the thanks of all honorable members of this House are due for the way in which he has carried out his duties and supported Mr. Speaker in the work that the Chair has done.
To all the officers of the House, to all the attendants, to the members of the Hansard staff, and to every one associated with the Parliament on the official side, we owe a very deep debt of gratitude. Their efficiency and loyalty have made the work of honorable members very much easier than it otherwise would be.
On an occasion like this we cannot overlook the services rendered by members of the press gallery. They, too, have brought to bear upon their work great efficiency and ability, and we all appreciate the consideration towards honorable members; frequently it amounts to generosity. Sometimes we are not quite happy about the criticism that is levelled against us, and may wish to change places with members of the press gallery. But it is a great compliment to them that at the end of each difficult year we and they remain good friends. I, therefore, thank them for the help that they have given to the Parliament itself, and for the service that they have rendered to the people of this country.
On behalf of the Government, I once again express personal gratitude to all for the help that they have given during t he session, and hope that this Christmas, and the New Year which follows it, will be the best that Australia has experienced within recent times.
.- I am glad indeed to have this opportunity to express the wish that this recess, which will be marked by the be thoroughly enjoyed by all honorable Christmas and New Year festivities, will members. I can say in all sincerity that they have deserved it.
I should like to express to the Leader of the Government (Mr. Lyons), and his colleagues, my personal sense of gratitude for the consideration that they have extended to me in our contacts, both official and personal. During the last two months I have had reason to discover for myself that there is some truth in the statement made by one honorable member, that certain offices are at night time attended by a bed of brambles. I feel, however, that I can say that honorable gentlemen opposite, and particularly the members of the Ministry, have done their best to ensure that I should be as free from embarrassment as is reasonably possible in the discharge of duties which I confess to have found exacting, and the responsibilities of which I fully appreciate. I am thankful for the very generous consideration that has been given to me by every member of the Ministry. That remark applies also to every member of both parties opposite, and to my cousins in the corner behind me, with whom I may be in much closer relation shortly. I am more than indebted to the honorable gentlemen of my own party for their encouragement and support all through this session, and I hope to make manifest to them that I reciprocate this in every possible way.
To you, Mr. Speaker, I offer my compliments and, if it is not an impertinence, my congratulations upon the manner in which you have presided over the House. We are all very conscious of the high sense of duty which marks your presidency over our deliberations. I subscribe entirely to the statement of the Prime Minister that you have displayed marked ability, and also exhibited unquestioned impartiality. On behalf of the Opposition I sincerely hope that you will speedily be restored to your full health and vigour, and that you will have a very pleasurable Christmas and a happy New Year. In respect of the Chairman of Committees, I sincerely hope that whatever there has been of unpleasantness will be as though it never was. If we have any feelings at ‘all in respect of what might have happened before a certain decision was made, we feel in that regard also that things areas though they never were. We shall commence the next session the best of friends, and I am quite confident that, regardless of what has been said, and of whether it was justified or not, at no time did the Chairman of Committees lose one tittle of the personal friendship which honorable members on this side of the House have always felt towards him. I express to the Clerk, the Clerk Assistant, the attendants of the House, and the officers associated with the Library, our sense of indebtedness to them for the help they all give to us, and our appreciation of the zeal they display in the discharge of their duties. To Hansard I offer my compliments on the uncanny perspicacity with which they make clear things in respect of which we ourselves are sometimes in doubt. The Parliament is to be congratulated upon the high standard of the Hansard staff. To the gentlemen of the press - old colleagues of mine with whom 1 should be proud to work again, but with whom I hope fate will not for many years cast my lot - I offer my greetings upon this festive occasion. I trust that they will have a happy Christmas. I endorse what has been said about their devotion to their work. I shall offer to them elsewhere a more minute criticism of their virtues. I sincerely hope that every member of the Parliament will have a pleasurable Christmas and a prosperous New Year.
– I should like to be able adequately to express my appreciation of the very kind words uttered by the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) regarding my work as presiding officer of this. House. I can say in all sincerity that I appreciate very sincerely the co-operation I have always had from honorable members generally. I thank both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition on my own behalf and on behalf of the Chairman of Committees (Mr. Prowse), the officers of the House, the Hansard staff and the attendants, for what they have said. I am glad to know that the work of these officers and attendants is fully appreciated. I know, probably better than any other honorable member, the excellent way in which they discharge their duties. They are capable, and, as the Prime Minister said, they are loyal. I frankly admit that, without the assistance I have had from the officers of the House, I could not have carried out my work in a way worthy to be appreciated, as apparently it has been by the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and honorable members. I reciprocate the very good wishes that have been extended to myself, to the Chairman of Committees, to the officers of the House and to the staff generally for the Christmas season. I hope that we shall all return in the best of health and renewed in vigor, each able to play his part in a way which will enable us to do the best we can in the interests of Australia, if not of ourselves.
.- I join with other honorable members in exchanging the good wishes appropriate to the season. I hope and trust that those whom we know as the “ under dogs “ will have a happy Christmas. I have always felt sympathetic towards the members of the Hansard staff, because I am strongly opposed to all-night sittings of parliament. Surely our intelligence should be equal to devising means to avoid them. Parliament has the power to apply the closure, and it should be applied. My doctor advises me not to to attend all-night sittings, and I am following his advice. In that respect I have to thank one of the best Government Whips who has ever held the position during the last 46 years, because he seems always able to arrange a pair for me.
For the last 46 years I have advocated the nationalization of health services, and even before then, as a student, I took part in debates in favour of the same principle.
In Canberra, the national capital of Australia, we had until recently a national hospital, but national control has now been abolished in favour of administration by a board which, I hope, will be a success. I plead with the head of the Health Department for more sympathetic administration in regard to the hospital. I have here four letters which, with the permission of the House, I wish to be incorporated in Hansard without reading them. They will explain my point of view.
– I rise to a point of order. When permission is given to incorporate unread matter in Hansard, we should be sure that it is not couched in language to which exception could be taken, or that it does not contain personal reflections.
– These are the letters that have passed in regard to the employment of nurses, sisters and other officials at the Canberra Hospital.I give an undertaking that they contain nothing objectionable. I should be the last to take advantage of the permission of the House to incorporate in Hansard anything to which exception might be taken.
Leave grantedto incorporate the following letters: -
Department of Health,
Canberra, F.C.T. 18th October, 1935.
The control of the Canberra Government Hospital will, from 7th November, 1935,be undertaken by the Canberra Community Hospital Board.
You are hereby given formal notice of the termination of your engagement as an employee of this department as from the close of business on6th November, 1935.
This formal notice is being given in accord with the desire of the Canberra Community Hospital Board. (Sgd.) j. H. L. Cumpston,
Director-General of Health.
Canberra Community Hospital,
Canberra, 29th October, 1935.
In reviewing the staff positions the Board of Management has decided to invite applications for the position of Sister, and for which your application in due course will be welcomed. In the meantime it is desired to know whether you are prepared to accept reengagement for a period of twenty-eight (28) days from 8th November, 1935, under existing conditions.
Your reply addressed to the chairman is requested not later than 31st October, 1935.
Yours faithfully, (Sgd.)J. S. Crapp,
Chairman Board of Management.
Canberra Community Hospital Board,
Canberra, 31st October, 1935.
For your information it is desired to state that advertisements are being inserted in the Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne Argus, under date 2nd November, 1935, inviting applications for the position of sister.
Yours faithfully, (Sgd.) J. S. Crapp.
Chairman, per S. H.
Canberra Community Hospital- Board,
Canberra, F.C.T. 19th November, 1935.
Canberra Community Hospital,
I have to inform you that your application for the position of sister at this hospital was unsuccessful and the board, therefore, has decided not to continue your employment beyond 4th December, 1935 - this being in terms of thelast agreement - viz., 28 days from 7th November.
Yours faithfully, (Sgd.) John S. Crapp,
Department of Health,
Canberra, F.C.T. 2nd December, 1935.
Adverting to your letter of 27th November, relative to your position at the Canberra Community Hospital, it is desired to inform you that, as the matter of appointments and termination of appointments to the Canberra Community Hospital is now in the hands of the Canberra Community Hospital Board, this department cannot take any action in the matter of the termination of your appointment.
Yours faithfully, (Sgd.) , J. H. L. Cumpston,
Chairman, Nurses Registration Board,
Territory for the Seat of Government.
Canberra Community Hospital,
Note: - This lady has addressed the Nurses Registration Board, making an inquiry which this letter does not adequately answer.
I have interviewed Mr. Green, member of the board, and the Assistant Minister (Mr. Hunter) and have been assured that each of the nurses and sisters who may not be re-appointed will receive a testimonial of her services in the Canberra Government Hospital.
I was a patient at the hospital for some time, and kept a fairly keen eye upon proceedings there. I found that the work of the matron, the nurses and sisters and, indeed, of all members of the staff, was splendid. I emphatically state, however, that the hospital should have been provided with a continuous hot water supply such as is available at the hotels. If, for any reason, it is not thought desirable to employ a staff to stoke the furnace continuously, there is an unlimited supply of electricity which could have been used to provide hot water. I am sure that if the Government had given the necessary directions this would have been done. The refrigeration service is also insufficient, because I found that icecream sent to the hospital could not be kept in proper condition, and, after a time, melted into a soup-like consistency. Eventually I had to give instructions that no more ice cream was to be sent to me, although the doctors recommended it as a valuable food. I hope that, under the management of the board, these things will be attended to better.
When it was decided to hand over the administration of the hospital to a board, the engagement of all those employed at the hospital was terminated by notice. We may disguise this as we like, but, as Plato said, “If you take away from me the means by which I live, I shall starve, and you will kill me all the same “. I do not think that the Government, in this regard, should have followed the same practice as is followed by the business man who dispenses with the services of his employees when he disposes of his, business. The only harsh statement that I make regarding this incident is that steps for the termination of the services of employees, including nurse’s, sisters, and even, I believe, the matron, were taken with the cold-blooded ferocity of a business man. I am sorry that the principle of the nationalization of health services has . been abandoned in the capital of Australia.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 5.44 p.m. until a date and hour to be fixed by Mr. Speaker.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
l asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
In view of the fact that the Australian Broadcasting Commission revenue for 1934-35 is £79,803 greater than the previous year and the surplus of £95,079 is equal to 23.5 per cent. of the revenue, will the PostmasterGeneral consider reducing the listeners’ licence-fees?
– It is the policy of the Government to constantly review the financial aspect of broadcasting, but there is no intention at the moment of making any change in the licence fee. It may be appropriate to direct attention to the fact that the commission is not yet in a position to provide the assets which are needed to place the national service on a satisfactory basis, more particularly in the direction of suitable studios, and it is consequently essential that some reserves should be accumulated for this purpose.
e asked the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1 and 2 -
The travelling allowances are as follows: - Canada: Trade Commissioner, Assistant Trade Commissioner, 10 dollars a day; New Zealand: Trade Commissioner, £2 a day, Assistant Trade Commissioner, £1 10s. a day; Japan, China, and N.E.I. : Trade Commissioners and Assistant Trade Commissioners receive reimbursement of actual costs incurred in travelling.
Italo- Abyssinian Dispute: Oil Sanctions.
s. - Yesterday the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) asked me which State member of the League of Nations initiated the proposal for the imposition of an embargo upon oil supplies to Italy. I now desire to inform the honorable member that the Commonwealth Government received this proposal from the SecretaryGeneral of the League of Nations on behalf of the Co-ordination Committee and advice is not given as to what State member initiated this or any, other proposal. “ Telegraphist’s Cramp”.
– On the 29th November the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) asked the following questions, upon notice: -
I am now in a position to inform the honorable member as follows : -
Excise Duty on Beer.
e. - On 27th November the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) asked the following questions, upon notice: -
I am now able to furnish the honorable member with the following information : -
The net revenue collected from the excise duty on beer for the twelve months preceding the alteration in duty was £4,883,015 and for the twelve months following the alteration in duty the net amount collected was £4,781,883, showing a decrease of £101,132. 2 and 3. Following on the reduction of 3d. a gallon in the excise duty on 5th October, 1933, the larger breweries in all the States were communicated with and in every case a reply was received that the prices charged by the breweries had been reduced by the amount of the reduction in duty. The smaller breweries were not communicated with, but it is reasonable to assume that competition would force them to make a similar reduction.
Commonwealth Government Printer, Canberra, F.C.T.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 6 December 1935, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1935/19351206_reps_14_148/>.