14th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. G. J. Bell) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I have to inform the House that I have received from the Prime Minister a letter addressed to him by the Governor-General, forwarding a communication from Lady Forster, conveying her thanks for the resolution of sympathy passed in connexion with the death of Lord Forster. The letter from Lady Forster reads as follows: -
I am deeply touched by your letter of the 19th March forwarding me the communications received from the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, conveying the sympathy of both Houses on the death of my husband Lord Forster. The feeling which they express I know to be as genuineas was his affection for the great Common wealth in which he was so proud to be the King’s representative. I shall greatly value the bound copy of the Speeches and the Resolution which is to be forwarded later on.
Yours sincerely, Rachel Forster.
– Will the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties inform the House and the country what has become of the promised trade treaties with the following countries: - Belgium, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, Poland and Czechoslovakia ? Is it a fact that the honorable gentleman has also negotiated trade treaties having similar prospects of success with the following countries: - Greenland, Lapland, Iceland, Tibet, Liberia, Pitcairn Island and Ruritania ?
Question not answered.
– Will the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties inform the House and the country whether negotiations for trade treaties with Belgium, France, Germany, Japan,
Italy, Poland and Czechoslovakia have been abandoned? If not, will he be prepared to allay the anxiety of a large section of the Australian people by making a statement to the House on the whole question before the adjournment next week ? Will he also give honorable members an opportunity to discuss the proposed trade treaties before Australia is irrevocably committed?
– With the exception of the negotiations for a trade treaty which were opened with the Government of Italy, the other negotiations are still proceeding. With respect to the last part of the honorable gentleman’s question, no trade treaty can come into operation before it is submitted to,, and receives the consent of, this Parliament.
– Replying recently to a question, upon notice, relating to assistance in the production of power alcohol, the Prime Minister said that, according to the Commonwealth fuel adviser, Mr. Rogers, there were better prospects of obtaining oil from the distillation of shale and the hydrogenation of coal. As Sir David Rivett, the chief executive officer of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, is about to proceed overseas to investigate the production of oil from coal, will the right honorable gentleman instruct him to investigate also the possibilities of obtaining power alcohol at a cheaper rate from the byproducts of the sugar industry and other primary industries, in view of the considerable sum which has already been expended in the provision of plant and machinery and in the investigation of the subject in Australia?
– I shall be very pleased to ask Sir David Rivett to make these inquiries if the time at his disposal will permit him to do so.
Trade with New Zealand.
– In regard to the trade treaty which is being negotiated with New Zealand, will the Acting Minister for Commerce ensure that the potato industry of Australia is not injured by the introduction of diseased potatoes from the dominion?
– I can assure the honorable member that the matter to which he has called attention will receive full consideration.
– Will the Acting Minister for Commerce state whether it is a fact that the New Zealand Ministers who were invited to attend the forthcoming meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council will be unable to be present because of pressure of parliamentary business? If so, what steps does the Government propose to take with respect to the embargo imposed by New Zealand upon the importation of citrus fruits from Australia ?
– The Government has just received cabled advice that the Minister for Agriculture in New Zealand andhis adviser will be prevented by pressure of parliamentary business from attending the meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council that is shortly to be held in Canberra. Arrangements have been made for the New Zealand Trade Commissioner to attend on his behalf. In addition, the case for the Commonwealth which has been prepared in connexion with various fruits will be presented immediately to the Government of New Zealand.
Delay in Hearing.
– In view of the delay ‘.which has been occasioned in the hearing, of several important basic wage cases, because the illness of Judge Beeby makes ..impossible the constitution of the full bench of the Arbitration Court, willthe Minister representing the Acting Attorney-General give immediate consideration to the advisability of releasing a judge of the High Court to enable the hearing to be proceeded with?
– I shall bring before my colleague, the Acting AttorneyGeneral, the position as outlined by the honorable gentleman to whom I shall communicate the result.
– I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General whether it is a fact that an offer has been received from a commercial aviation company for the carriage of the English air mails between Narromine and Sydney at no greater cost to the department than is at present incurred in their carriage to Cootamundra, and thence to Sydney, although they would reach Sydney a day earlier than under existing arrangements ? If so, is the department considering whether advantage can be taken of. it?
– I shall obtain the information which the honorable member seeks.
I take this opportunity to reply to a question which the honorable member asked me last week with respect to an air mail service from Adelaide to Bourke.
Tenders for a weekly air service between Adelaide and Bourke were invited in the latter half of 1934. Tenders were received, and a recommendation was submitted by the Air Contracts Committee. Cabinet decided not to accept any of these tenders, but authorized an invitation of tenders on the basis of a through service Perth-Adelaide-Bourke. Before tenders could be called for this through service, the Postmaster-General’s Department announced the formulation of proposals for an inter-capital air mail service. The establishment of a Bourke-Adelaide service is therefore in abeyance.
A regular twice-weekly service between Adelaide and Broken Hill and Narromine to Sydney is operated by Adelaide Airways Limited and W.A.S.P. Airlines Limited. At Narromine, connexion is available with the regular CootamundraCharleville service, operated by the Butler Air Transport Company, but these services are not used for the conveyance of overseas air mail to and from Adelaide.
Destruction of Trees
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral been directed to the following article which appeared in yesterday’s Melbourne Herald?
The fate of the hundred’s of grey box eucalypts along the Hume Highway is sealed. During the next few weeks axemen will fell mile after mile of them to make way for a telegraph wire of the Postmaster-General’s Department . . . “The lines will have to romain where they are,” he, (Mr. Lawson, Deputy Director of Posts and Telegraphs) said, “but the Department will not cut trees unnecessarily.” Referring to the fate of 116 trees growing along the Coleraine-road, near Hamilton, Mr.- Lawson said that there was no way of saving them. In this case the Hamilton Electricity Supply Company wishes to fell the trees, many of which are more than 200 years old, and the pride of the district. The company asked the department to place their wires near those of the Postmaster-General.
Will the Minister bring under the notice of the Postmaster-General the question of altering the route of the line, if necessary, for the purpose of preserving these trees, which are of great scenic value along the highway?
– I know, from my own experience as PostmasterGeneral, that the rem-oval of trees along highways is considered with meticulous care by the department, whose policy is to avoid the unnecessary destruction of trees; but it must be recognized that the public needs telegraphic, telephonic and other services.
– Could not the wires be placed underground?
– Yes, in some cases; but, in most instances, this would be too costly. For financial and other reasons, overhead wiring is necessary. If the laying of lines underground had been compulsory, the telegraphic and telephonic services now enjoyed by the people of Australa would probably have been reduced by half. As I have said, the department exercises the utmost care in regard to this matter, and only such trees and their branches are removed as is essential in preventing interference with the services which the department must give to the public. However, the matter will again be brought under the notice of the department, and I can assure the- honorable member that every effort will be made to preserve the aesthetic appearance of the highways.
– Has the Government formulated any scheme for supplementing the work of the Australian Trade Commissioner in the East by advertising Australia in that region through the medium of broadcasting?
– The honorable member referred to this matter on Friday last. I find, on inquiry, that the programme services of the national broadcasting system are the responsibility of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. A short-wave station, 3LR, is operated by the Postal Department. The commission uses this for transmissions to remote parts of Australia, and may be prepared to consider the possibility of doing something along the lines suggested by the honorable member. It is understood that the Travel Association makes use of short-wave stations controlled by Amalgamated Wireless Limited. Therefore, there is no difficulty in the way of this form of advertising our products being utilized, if the Department of Commerce thinks that it would be productive of good results.
– Has the Treasurer seen a report in the Brisbane Telegraph of the 5 th May last, in which the Acting Premier of Queensland, Mr. Pease, i3 reported to have said -
There was a distinct likelihood of the amount to be raised by the Commonwealth and States being reduced by one-third compared with 193S-36. Such advocacy of reduced loans is not in the best interests of the people.
Can the Minister say whether Mr. Pease’s statement is correct? Has the Treasurer, as Chairman of the Loan Council, been responsible for the advocacy of reduced loans mentioned by Mr. Pease?
– I have not seen the press report to which the honorable member has referred; but, assuming that the Acting Premier of Queensland made the statement attributed to him, I would say that he is anticipating the proceedings of the Loan Council. It is impossible at this stage to say what the borrowings for works for the next financial year will be. No effort has been made, either by me or by the Commonwealth Government, to make any reduction of the loan expenditure of the States. Discussion of the matter is completely premature.
– In view of the statement by the Minister for Defence (Mr. Archdale Parkhill), as reported in to-days Canberra Times, that the desire of the Commonwealth Government is to complete its plans for defence against raids, what is the type of the latest planes on order for the Royal Australian Air Force, what will be their approximate speed, and what engines will they have?
– It is not usual to supply details of that kind in regard to defence matters. Nevertheless, if the honorable member places his question on the notice-paper I shall endeavour to give him all the information I can on the subject.
– What explanation has the Government to offer for the absence of the Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies) and the Minister for Commerce (Dr. Earle Page) from the reception of the ex-Governor-General, Sir Isaac Isaacs, upon his arrival in London? Is not their absence likely to suggest discourtesy to, and lack of respect for, one who has served this country in a very distinguished way?
– I have no official knowledge whether the Ministers referred to were present at, or absent from, the reception, but their absence would not in any way indicate the slightest lack of respect on the part of this Government for the ex-Governor-General of Australia. He received the greatest consideration and respect from Ministers every day he occupied that position.
– Not at all times.
– At all times. When he left, this Government, of its own volition, made the necessary arrangements by which he found it possible to visit England to pay his respects to the King. It was I, on behalf of the Commonwealth. Government, who suggested that visit to His Majesty. This Government made all the necessary arrangements, and will be asking the Parliament at a later stage to approve whatever financial provision has become necessary in relation to it. Every thing was done by this Government to pay the fullest respect to a man in whom it had the utmost confidence.
Mr.E. J. HARRISON.- In view of the widespread dissatisfaction in the printing trade, and the restriction of business brought about by the present high postage rates on printed matter, will the Postmaster-General give further consideration to the representations made by the recent deputation from the New South Wales Master Printers’ Association, which asked for the reduction of the multiple from one penny for 4 oz. to one half-penny for 2 oz., thereby stimulating industry and increasing the revenue of the department?
– I shall be glad to bring the matter under the notice of the Postmaster-General, so that he may consider it, and, if thought desirable, make a recommendation regarding it.
– I ask the Treasurer whether it is a fact that shipments of petrol are imported into Australia as crude petroleum and that large quantities of petrol distilled therefrom do not pay excise duty because of some provision under a. customs by-law? If so, will the Treasurer give the House some idea of whether there is a serious loss of revenue occurring as the result of such provision ?
– The answer to the first part of the honorable member’s question is: No. That also applies to the second part of it.
– Concerning the importation of 2,000 boxes of Japanese butter into Great Britain recently and the intimation of the Acting-Minister for Commerce that the Government was having inquiries made in regard to them, has the honorable gentleman received any reply, and if so what is the nature of it? If no reply has been received, will he acquaint honorable members with the contents of any future communication which may be received upon thismatter ?
– So far no information upon the subject has been received, but as soon as definite information comes to hand, it will be made available to the House.
– In view of the regrettable mishap to the SS. Taroona, will the Prime Minister see that the normal service to Launceston is maintained while repairs to the vessel are being effected ?
– Mr. Speaker, in his capacity as member for Darwin, brought this matter under my notice, and asked that some special provision might be made to ensure the continuance of the shipping service along the north-western coast of Tasmania. The effect of such a proposal would not only apply to the north-western coast, but also achieve the object of the honorable member for Bass. The Government immediately brought the matter under the notice of the shipping company and expects to receive an early reply.
– I ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether you will exercise your influence to have microphones placed in this chamber for the better hearing of honorable members and visitors? I understand that they are being extensively used now in churches and places of entertainment in Great Britain and have been found to be a great success. Is it possible to make similar provision in this chamber?
– I was not aware that it was thought- necessary to instal microphones in this chamber, but I shall, nevertheless, have inquiries made.
– I ask the honorable Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral when the central regional station at Dubbo will commence operations?
– I shall obtain the information from the Postmaster-General and let the honorable member have it in writing within a day or so.
– I ask the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties if it is correct, as reported from Tokio, that Osaka traders have passed a series of resolutions regarding trade with Australia and have forwarded them to the Commonwealth Government? If so, can the Minister inform the House of the nature of those resolutions?
– Apparently, a considerable number of resolutions have been passed by various Japanese organizations with respect to Japanese trade with Australia, but I fear that it would take me far longer than is permissible at question time to convey to the honorable member all the views expressed in those resolutions.
– In view of the fact that citizens of any Australian State are Commonwealth citizens, that the State of New South Wales is one of these States, that this particular State is the one first settled by white people, and consequently its laws are founded upon the laws existing in England at the beginning of the last century, that since that time its legislation has not kept pace with modern English legislation-
– Order !
– That consequently, while there is only one offence to-day in England for which the death penalty can be exacted-
– Order ! The honorable member in asking a question is not entitled to convey information or express his own opinion.
– I ask the Prime Minister, as the highest political officer of this Commonwealth and the political representative of nearly 7,000,000 people, will he take action and make every possible effort on his part, even though the matter does not practically come within the ambit of the Commonwealth, to prevent the execution of a boy eighteen years of age next Thursday?
– The matter to which the honorable member refers is a very grave one, indeed, but is one entirely outside the realm of this Commonwealth Parliament and Government.
– Dodging the issue again!
– . Under those circumstances, the Commonwealth Government cannot interfere in this matter.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior if any of the captains of raiding Japanese pearl-shell sampans, which have frequented Australian waters during the last two years, have gone through the usual procedure prescribed for vessels entering Australian waters and landing their crews on Australian soil, and if it is a fact that for the last two years the Government has found itself powerless to deal with raiding sampans? If so, in view of the relentless efficiency with which the Japanese themselves supervise foreign visitors to Japan, will the Minister consider the advisability of arranging an exchange of Canberra and Tokio politicians and civil servants?
Question not answered.
– Can the Treasurer explain why collections of income tax are only £4,000,000 for the ten months of the financial year ended the 30th April, compared with the budget estimate of £8,000,000 for the full year? Were income tax assessments kept back so that the surplus for the full year would not be any greater than the indicated surplus of something over £3,000,000? Does he believe that the budget estimate will be realized during the two months remaining to collect income tax ?
– The great bulk of income tax collections is received during the latter part of the financial year, particularly during the last three months, so that the receipt of only £4,800,000 out of an estimated £8,800,000 is not unusual. I assure the honorable member that there has been no holding back of assessments, and it is probable that an amount very closely approaching the budget estimate will be collected by the end of the year.
The following papers were presented : -
Canned Fruits Export Control Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1936. Nos. 52, 54.
Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1936, No. 62.
Meat Export Control Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1930. No. 39.
Norfolk Island Act - Public Works Ordinance - Regulations.
Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Territory (Administration i Act-
Ordinances of 1936 -
No. 4 - Aboriginals.
No. 5 - McMillan Mortgage Discharge.
Regulations amended, &c, under -
Crown Lands Ordinance (Commonage ) .
Electric Light and Power Ordinance. Papua Act - Ordinances of 1936 -
No. 3 - Gold Buyers.
No. 4 - ‘Petroleum (Mining).
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act -
Ordinances of 1936 -
No. 15 - Real Property.
No. 16 - Housing.
Money Lenders Ordinance - Regulations.
Wine Overseas Marketing Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1936, No. 51.
Messages from the Governor-General reported transmitting Supplementary Estimates of Expenditure and Supplementary Estimates of Expenditure for Additions, New Works, Buildings, &c, for the financial year ended the 30th June, 1935, and recommending appropriation accordingly.
Ordered to be printed and referred to Committee of Supply.
In Committee of Ways and Means:
Consideration resumed from the 8th May, 1936, (vide page 1457) on motion by Mr. Casey -
That, towards making good the Supply granted to His Majesty for the services of the year 1936-37, there be granted out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, a sum not exceeding £7,236,800.
– I desire to call attention to the f ailure of the Department of the Interior to provide a Government battery for the crushing of ore on the Tennant’s Creek gold-field. Ever since the field was first discovered I have advocated the installation of a Government battery. At the present time there are batteries - and batteries - at Tennant’s Creek. The first was erected by a Mr. Schmidt, an old cattleman of the territory, to treat his own ore from his own mines. He knew but little of mining, and has since paid well for his lack of knowledge. He asked for nothing from the Government, but to be left alone to treat his own ore; he did not even ask for water. He put down his own bore with his own station equipment, priding himself on his independence. Then, . to his sorrow, he began treating outside ore, and the Government, rather than erect batteries at convenient distances to obviate long and uneconomic haulage, gave him certain labour concessions, provided that he agreed to crush ore for other miners. Ever since then there has been trouble. A crop of people - ostensibly wishing to crush miners’ ore, but really actuated by a desire to use their position in order to become mine owners - has sprung up. These persons have prevailed on the Government to provide water for them, and they are now operating as professional claim jumpers - though they work in kid gloves, of course. About twelve months ago, when I was in Sydney, I had an interview with some of the Pitt-street miners who the Minister, unwittingly and by his very sincerity, has helped to get a grip on the Tennant’s Creek field. Any one with -a knowledge of mining is aware that there is little money to be made by treating miners’ ore, but the business provides an ideal method of locating the richer shows, and the Pitt-street miners, whose representatives are now on the Tennant’s Creek field, are well aware of this fact. The people in Sydney told me ‘a most entertaining story, thinking, no doubt, that they were dealing with another inexperienced official of the Department of the Interior, on whose sympathy they could prey. They did not deceive me, however, because their insincerity was obvious. The pretty story they told to me was, briefly, this: If I could secure for them a bore in the centre of a. group of leases, they would rise to the occasion magnanimously, and help the pioneering digger by erecting a battery. Throwing some salt over my left shoulder, I left them, and subsequently warned the Minister, in writing, not to entertain any such proposal. The first kindly act of the Pitt-street gentlemen was to secure the best lease in the Tennant’s Creek area by the old paper method, and so successful have some of the new companies been, that without erecting, the battery they now practically control the field. No battery has been erected, even as I prophesied, and these companies have prospered under the Government’s system of virtually subsidizing professional claim jumpers. Of course, all the companies operating on the field are not of this kind, but it should have been obvious to the Minister long ago - as I -advised him by letter - that his correct policy was to supply a Government battery. It could also be a research battery, to illustrate the latest methods of extracting gold from high and low-grade ores. Moreover, the presence of such a battery would be art incentive to miners to develop those numerous finds that are now in the doldrums, because it is uneconomic to cart ore to a. central battery. 1 shall not enlarge on this matter as, no doubt, honorable members are familiar with the position. The following letter, which I received recently from a miner at Tennant’s Creek, presents the point of view of the real diggers, who constitute 95 per cent, of those engaged on the field : -
I would esteem it a favourif you could let me know if there is any possibility of the Federal Government erecting a battery at Tennant’s Creek, and, if not, could anything be done to erect a battery and allow payment for it on terms. One of your Ministers visited Tennant’s Creek some time ago ‘before I came here, and he stated that, if the two batteries in existence on the field did not give the leaseholders in the field a fair deal,he would favorably consider the erection of a. State battery. “ As the charges for crushing are out of all reason, perhaps you may be able to induce the Minister to now consider the advisability of the erection of a public battery.
Smith’s battery charges are £2 per ton for crushing; no cyanide plant is erected there, and a payment is made on an assay of the sands over and above 6 pennyweights in the sands. That would mean that if the sands contained6 dwt., it would become the property of the battery, and gold at £8 14s. per ounce would mean £2 12s. 2d. worth of gold per ton left in the sands, which becomes the property of the battery, and makes the battery expenses £4 12s. 2d. per ton.
Fazil Dene’s battery charges are £2 per ton for crushing, and £1 per ton for cyanide treatment; and, on top of this, any silver lost in the process has tobe paid for, and any one taking ore there has to find their own amalgamator, which costs about 3s. per ton. If a line screen is required, an extra charge of fis. per ton is made. The fact that an amalgamator is not employed indicates Mie lax and slipshod methods adopted, and, on top of this, cartage from our lease is 25s. per ton extra. The charges would be approximately : - Smith’s battery, including cartage, £5 17s. 2d. per ton; Fazil Dene’s battery, including cartage, £4 8s. per ton. The above charges would mean, at Smith’s battery, nearly 12 dwt. in expenses; and, at Fazil Dene’s, over 10 dwt. in expenses, before the leaseholder gets any return at all.
In view of developments which have taken place in modern mining technique, these charges are a disgrace to Australia, particularly when it is known that in the United States of America, even after having to thaw the ground, men can show a profit on returns of 4 dwt. and 2 dwt. The letter continues -
There are many shows here that will pay and keep quite a number of men in profitable employment if ore can :be crushed at a reasonable price. These shows- are now idle, and men are leaving the field in search of work elsewhere, as at present they cannot make them pay,- whereas, if a government battery was here, it would change the whole situation immediately.
Many of the leaseholders gave options over their claims to ,the U.B..O. Company, who are operating here; this company, after making a pretence of working one or two, suddenly dropped sixteen of them in one day and left tho owners gasping. In passing, I may mention that they did not have an option over our show, so I have no axe to grind with them.
I am enclosing a sketch of the holdings in the vicinity of our lease, and, if it is decided to erect a battery on the creek, I respectfully request that this part of the field receive consideration, as water has been obtained six miles from here. Dr. Woolnough has expressed the opinion that this part of the field is going to prove the best, and lie has promised to visit our lease on his return to Tennant’s Creek. Tha general opinion here is that the companies interested in the mines are making an effort to starve the leaseholders out. It looks very much like it, as the following instance will show: Myself and two partners gave an option over our lease to a buyer in Sydney. The show was sampled and proved satisfactory: a report was made by the man who inspected and sampled, and he recommended the purchase. Business would have certainly resulted <had not a company promoter, who has interests in mines here, sent a telegram to our prospective buyer stating that he could purchase the mine much cheaper. This man had nothing whatever to do with our mine. I have never seen him, or written to him, and I know nothing of him. Our show was certainly never offered to him, and I have no desire to make the acquaintance of such an unscrupulous individual. In consequence of his telegram, no business resulted. To my mind, and I venture to think you will agree with me, this was a deliberate attempt to starve us out. I am prepared to furnish you with the names of all parties concerned, and 1 am appealing to you to help us to checkmate this bunch of rascals. The fact that the inspector reported favorably and recommended the purchase of our mine is,’ you may agree, evidence that it is a valuable property. A grab sample of the ore we have at grass was taken by an engineer and assayed 1 oz. 1 dwt., and we can profitably work it if we can manage to get a battery, as the lode is from 30 to 50 feet wide, with a shaft sunk 30 feet alongside the lode, with crosscut commenced, showing better values than on the surface. Dr. Woolnough described the ore as jasper and quartzite, and, up to date, this and the adjoining leases are the only lodes of their kind on the field.
We have worked the Show continuously for eight months and proved its value, and it has cost myself alone £270 to date. If you can help us in any way to get a battery on terms or otherwise, we will greatly appreciate your good offices.
The writer of this letter concludes by pointing out that he does not associate himself with those who recently made insulting remarks concerning myself and the Minister. He knows my attitude, and has described in plain language the difficulties under which the miners at Tennant’s Creek are forced to work, and, I suggest, the Government cannot ignore his representations. He is a newcomer to the field and his letter merely reiterates the spoken and written advice I tendered to the Minister long ago. The crux of the problem arises from a difference of opinion as to the methods by which the field can best be developed. By its system, under which it has unwittingly subsidized numbers of these miners by supplying them with water .and certain of the amenities of life, the Government has not really got to the root of the trouble. The solution of the unemployment problem at Tennant’s Creek, and the ability of the digger to survive, are dependent on the provision of a Government battery. I have not time to go into details now, but I emphasize that the present difficulties appear to arise from a conflict between private enterprise and the Government in providing certain essentials, such as water, on the field. “We find that, after one man spent £500 to purchase a truck for the carting of water at a minimum cost, the Government also started carting water in competition with him. That is hardly fair. By telegram I put it to the men as to whether the system of subsidizing the carting of ore, until a battery could be erected, was satisfactory, and as I expected they replied that this would remove the difficulty only temporarily, and that the problem would not be really overcome, until a government battery was provided. The Government should take steps to enable this field to be developed on a truly scientific basis. I am. aware that it is not anxious to build up a gold-mining department. I presume that it has not the necessary technical staff to do so. Consequently, I suggest that it should appoint Sir David Rivett to take over the complete control of the gold-mining industry in the Northern Territory. That gentleman is not only an eminent scientist, but also an able administrator. I anticipate that the Minister will reply to my remarks by recounting the money that has been spent on this field in the provision of schools, hospitals, police, water, roads, a warden’s office, and other facilities. Expenditure in this direction, however praiseworthy, will not help to solve the real problem now confronting these miners. There is nothing in the world stronger than the prop on which it. stands. The prop on which the Tennant’s Creek gold-field stands is batteries to remove unemployment and permit syndicates to work small shows.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Prowse).The honorable member has exhausted his time.
.- The granting of supply gives honorable members an opportunity to comment upon the way in which they think the Government should prepare its taxation proposals for the next financial year. As we have reason to believe that there will be a large surplus this year, we can anticipate substantial tax reductions in the next budget proposals of the Government. In view of the disturbed condition of international affairs to-day, I expect the Go vernment will utilize at least some of its surplus, as it has done in recent years, to further strengthen our defence system ; if it should do so it will have my support. 1. sincerely trust that the Government will use whatever surplus it has left after apportioning a sum for defence purposes in making some effective and necessary reduction of taxes. There are items of expenditure appearing in this year’s budget which are not likely to be repeated next financial year. In view of the passage of legislation providing for a homeconsumption price for wheat we may expect that the usual provision for affording relief to the wheat industry will not be necessary next year. As that and other items of expenditure should not be included in the next budget, and as the present rate of taxation has provided us with a substantial surplus, I trust that some substantial and really effective reductions of taxation will be made. An overhaul of certain aspects of our taxation laws and their incidence is long overdue. I refer more particularly to the onerous incidence of land taxes upon Australian pastoralists who, during recent years, have been operating at a loss.
– Not many of them.
– In recent, years nearly all of the pastoral companies which publish their accounts have been passing through very lean times, and a reduction of the land tax is well merited. There is. no need for me to mention instances in which remission should be made, but while I admit that there is some justification for a continuance of the land tax upon lands on which, as the result of national policy, there is a large unearned increment, there is no ground whatever for continuing the tax on pastoral holdings which have depreciated in value in recent years, and have been conducted year after year at a loss. Further, I hope that there will be some reduction of the heavy emergency taxes now imposed. I trust that there will be a reduction of the sales tax rate, and that there will be further exemptions. The super tax on property income is another tax which will bear reconsideration, with a view to its complete abolition, because it has been a very effective element in maintaining high interest rates on mortgages.
– If we do that, we must reconsider clause 75 of the Income Tax Assessment Bill 1936, recently passed by this chamber.
– The Chairman will not permit me to discuss that subject on . this motion. I would remind the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) that some of the emergency customs duties, imposed during the depression, had no relation whatever to the protection of any Australian industries. One that is constantly in my mind, is the very heavy tax upon tea - a beverage used by the poorest, as well as the wealthy, persons in the community. I hope that when the Treasurer is framing next year’s Budget he will recommend that the tax on tea be abolished. A good deal is to be said in favour of a reduction of the petrol tax, but I am not going to join with those who, without making suggestions as to how the loss of revenue can be made up, by economizing in certain Government services, or by excluding some items of expenditure now incurred, are constantly asking for its abolition or substantial reduction. In view of the surplus likely to be obtained this year, and the improved conditions generally, I believe that the Government should reduce the petrol tax, making progressive reductions, and should make a greater allocation from this source to the States for road construction purposes. I direct the attention of the Treasurer to the reduced proportion of our total revenue derived from direct taxes, and the increased proportion derived from indirect taxes. In 1920-21, of the total revenue of the Commonwealth, 39 per . cent, was derived from direct taxes; in 1921-22, it was 44 per cent.; but from that year until the present, a constantly decreasing proportion of our revenue has been derived from direct taxes. The proportion for the last year was only 20 per cent. The estimate for the current year shows that not more than 20 per cent, of the anticipated revenue will be derived from direct taxation. The following table shows the amount of direct and indirect taxes received from 1920-21, to 1934-35, and shows the percentage of direct taxation : -
When taxes were first imposed they generally had some relation to a specific item of expenditure, hut we find now that there has been developed a system of imposing taxes wherever there is a field that can be exploited without regard to any specific item of expenditure. Under this system there is a constantly increasing resentment among the people of many of the taxes levied to-day. The people do not mind paying heavy taxes which are to be directed to specific items of expenditure understood and approved by them. For instance, when the States imposed special taxes for the specific purpose of giving relief to the unemployed, heavy as those taxes were, they aroused no resentment. Furthermore, when the flour tax was imposed for the assistance of the- wheat industry, those people who understood the purpose of that tax and the needs of the wheat industry were in no way restive under the increased burden. Similarly the war time profits tax, and other taxes imposed for certain specific purposes, which met with the approval of the people, were not objected to. Among the people I find a lack of understanding of the purposes for which most of the Commonwealth revenue derived from taxation is ultimately used. There seems to be an impression that a great part of it is used to maintain a Public Service much greater than is necessary. The truth is that, of the . estimated revenue of about £77,000,000 for this year, not more than £2,890,000 will be used for maintaining the Parliament and all of the ordinary departments of the Commonwealth, excluding the Defence Department and the business undertakings. To counteract the incorrect impression under which many taxpayers labour it would be advisable to give greater publicity to the purposes for which the Commonwealth revenues are used. I believe that if the people were acquainted with the purposes to which the revenues are applied they would be less resentful of the taxes which they are called upon to pay, and there would be inculcated in their minds a realization of the obligation, when they are advocating reduction of taxes, to make some suggestion as to where the loss of revenue could be offset. I believe that a large proportion of our people is sufficiently levelheaded and public-spirited that, if placed in possession of the facts concerning the uses to which Commonwealth revenues are applied, they would not clamour for sweeping reductions of taxes without accompanying those requests with suggestions as to where practical economies could be effected or items of expenditure could be deleted.
– I am glad that the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) has again raised the matter of the provision of a government battery at Tennant’s Creek. Some twelve months ago, accompanied by the honorable member, I visited Tennant’s Creek, and I informed those interested in mining there that, in view .of the fact that two private batteries had already been provided and that an addition to one of them was in the course of construction, the Government proposed to give to the owners of the private batteries an opportunity to show what services they could give before it would consider the provision of a government battery. I indicated that if private enterprise gave adequate facilities, crushed in an efficient way, and charged reasonable prices, the provision of a Government crushing plant would not be necessary. I had hoped that before now the charges levied by those privately-owned plants would have been substantially reduced. But, unfortunately, that has not occurred, and I agree with what the honorable member said as to the very heavy toll which the present charges take from the returns of those who are sending ore to the batteries. About a fortnight ago. I received some disquieting news with reference to the position at Tennant’s Creek, in the light of which I instructed the Deputy Administrator, Mr. Carrington, to visit the area, and, in collaboration with the mining warden, to send me a report dealing in detail with the battery position, and making recommendations as to what action should be taken. I have only to-day received that report, and, while I have been able to skim over it, I have not yet studied it in detail. In view of the failure of the private owners of batteries to reduce charges, however, a strong case has been made out for the provision of Government crushing facilities. I hope to be able to indicate to the honorable gentleman in a day or so what decision has been reached. Meanwhile, I assure him that it is the desire of the Government and of the Department of the Interior to do everything possible to enable the field at Tennant’s Creek to be fully developed.
.- I am pleased that the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) has referred to the need for greater crushing facilities at Tennant’s Creek, but I regret that, from the very outset, he did not advocate the establishment of a Government battery there. During the visit of the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson)’ to the Northern Territory, a subsidy was granted to encourage sinking for water to provide for the working of the private batteries at the field. Since then a large number of people has been forced off the field by the private battery- owners working on Government subsidies. They have been forced to forfeit their mines to big companies for “white paper,” as the honorable member for the Northern Territory described it. Knowing that the charges levied by the private battery-owners made the profitable working of their mines impossible, they had no course other than to sell out at whatever price they could get. The honorable member for the Northern Territory said that these people have been forced off their leases by “ kid-glove “ methods. The blows that struck the men were so heavy as to suggest that there was a horseshoe in the glove. The Labour party supported the honorable member when some time ago he moved the adjournment of this House to discuss matters relating to the Northern Territory, but from the time he rose his speech was a general criticism of the Labour party, which has tried always to help the people in the territory. Had lie advocated a State-owned battery he would hmm rendered a service to his people. The Labour party is’ concerned for the welfare of all the people in the Northern Territory and particularly the working miners at Tennant’s Creek. Yesterday telegrams were sent to the members of this House appealing for the establishment of a State battery there.
– I have never let these people down.
– The honorable gentleman has no vote in this Parliament. The only effective thing he can do is to support members of this party who will introduce propositions to help his constituents. Unfortunately, the honorable gentleman is opposed to the installation of State batteries and to State enterprises generally. He prefers the Government to subsidize the owners of private batteries. We have been told of a certain Aga Khan who has a twohead battery on the field. Do honorable members realize that that individual has no stone crusher? It would be just as useful to send men there with knapping hammers, as to install batteries with no stone crushers. When the Minister for the Interior spoke on this subject recently, he told us that there was, at present, no stone available for crushing. Does the honorable gentleman realize that from 20 inches to 30 inches of rain has fallen on the field in recent months, with the result that transport has been impossible? Mail matter has not been delivered on the field and in this part of the country for months. There was, at one stage, a break of eight weeks between mails from Burketown. The only contact that the people had with the outside world during that period was through services provided by the Inland Mission, which sent its aeroplane across to Burketown. This organization, unlike the Government, does not tax the people of this country, but it provides them with necessary services which are really the function of the Government.
The honorable member for the Northem Territory ought to realize by this time that the only way he can benefit his constituents is by fighting for them. He must fight for them, whatever Government may be for the time being on the treasury bench. The development of the territory is a government responsibility. »
It is deplorable that although 70 per cent, of the people of this country are still being taxed to provide unemployment doles for the remaining 30 per cent., the Government is allowing this promising mining field to remain undeveloped. Work could be found there for thousands of people. The telegram which I have received on this subject reads as follows: -
Eighty-six thousand pounds worth gold won : thousands vet in sands.
The miners are charged £3 10s. a ton for the treatment of their stone.
– Shame !
– On top of that they have to pay a £1 a ton cartage if they are within fifteen miles of a battery, which brings their costs to £4 10s. a ton without the payment of a shilling in. wages. If gold were at the old standard price, it would be impossible to work the field under present conditions.
We are now told by the honorable member for the Northern Territory and. also by the Government that a reduction of costs may be hoped for; but we demand some practical action, not promises, to help these people who isolate themselves for months at a time in order to find work and wealth, rather than subsist on the dole. People like this seem fated to be robbed by the mining speculators and private monopolies in the cities. I am surprised that more honorable members of this Parliament, who have visited the field, have not taken up their case. The telegram goes on to say -
Can give geologists confirmation one hundred fifty thousand tons half-ounce stone one mine thirty miles from batteries. Last week they crushed fifty tons twelve weights stone. Had to pay out cash. Only got fifty .per cent, extraction. Same area radius five miles five hundred thousand tons similar stone in sight. Financial impossibility pay three pounds ton crushing cyanide one pound ton cartage. That more than gold worth without labour. State mills similar Western Australia same charges would employ thousand men. Ministers statement regarding not sufficient stone keep batteries going is distortion facts. Quotes month when rain prevented trucks travelling three weeks. Engine battery foundations sank and caused further delay. Afghan battery two head has no rockbreaker can only put through fine ore. Hence no stone offering. Those batteries situated one end thirtymile field. Question economic one. Estimated north-west and east well over million tons half-ounce stone battery owner has over twenty large leases only working few.
Why should the Government compel the miner to work while it allows leaseholders to retain possession of un wor keel properties ? The telegram continues -
They recently let tribute one mine. Tributors wanted put ten men on cent milling but company prevented. They don’t want stone. How can nien hang on with no assistance? Big companies must get their leases. Make strong appeal as only thirty weight stone possible.
Could there be a. worse condemnation of the Government than a recital of those facts? A 30 dwt. proposition anywhere else in the world would be given substantial Government support to ensure its development. In South. Africa, 2 dwt. propositions are being operated successfully, while many shows are making a good profit out of 5 dwt. and 6 dwt. stone.
The whole trouble is that very few people reside in the Northern Territory, and as their representative in this Parliament has no vote, the Government is not very greatly concerned about the situation. Since the assumption of control of the Northern Territory by the Commonwealth Government, the population there has declined. Yet we still talk about the need to fill the empty spaces of this great continent.
Tlie gold-mining industry has in the past been responsible for great developments in Australia, and history could repeat -itself in the Northern Territory. We hear a good deal about crime waves in the south, and in New South “Wales at present about half a dozen young men are under sentence of death by hanging. Most of these crimes can be attributed to poverty which causes men to resort to robbery, in the course of which murder is committed. The Government is proposing to expend £39,000 in the territories of the Commonwealth by the end of September, but how will the money be used? Will any of it be expended on the erection of Government batteries in the Northern Territory? It is true that part of the money will be required for civil service salaries, but even the service is under-staffed. For instance take the few police who are stationed in the far north; they cannot protect the people. The Government has shown that it is incapable of protecting even the pearling industry of North Australia. The Japanese are peacefully penetrating our empty north, but the Government remains inactive. It is time that the members of this Parliament- took a hand in the matter, to ensure the development of the valuable mineral resources in northern and central Australia. If the circumstances which I have outlined accurately describe conditions at Tennant’s Creek, they are a disgrace to this Government. After much agitation, the Government has provided a water supply, hospital facilities, and educational conveniences for the people of Tennant’s Creek. It was the duty of the Government to do this.
– Only partially.
– That is so. There was a time when water had to be carted for many miles and people were paying 5s. a gallon for it. Why should these unfortunate citizens of Australia remain the prey of, and be starved out by, the mining speculators of our big cities? Geologists, scientists, and others have a part to play in the development of our mining industry, but it has always been the prospector with his dish, and the miner with his pick and shovel, who have discovered the mineral deposits of this country. Can honorable mem bers mention any field discovered by persons other than prospectors? The Government should act quickly. I suggest that on the adjournment of the House to-night, the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) should again raise this matter. If he does so, he will have the support of every member of the party to which I belong. If the honorable member cares to do so, he can force the Parliament to remain sitting until the Government does something more than make promises to the miners. The honorable member has been sitting in this House for nearly two years, and, though many promises have been made to him, not one has been honoured. The Government has been content merely to provide the minimum services at Tennant’s Creek. It has already accepted responsibility for the care of the sick at the field, and has appointed a school teacher at the field to educate the children, but surely it will not claim that its responsiblity ends there. Recently comment has appeared in the newspapers regarding the low salaries afforded to scientists required for the work of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. It has been mentioned that salaries as low at £5 10s. a week have been offered to men possessing science degrees. If the salary offered to university graduates is so low, what would be the cost involved in providing a school teacher at Tennant’s Creek? Men are crying out for employment and the country is crying out for gold, an exportable commodity for which there is an unlimited market ; - if properly developed, the mining field at Tennant’s Creek would absorb a large number of these men and add greatly to the production of gold. An expenditure of £20,000 on the field would result in the dole payments being diminished by not less than £50,000. To-day, highly educated children are denied an opportunity to work. Australia owes a debt to the mining industry and to the men who went down into the bowels of the earth to mine the gold, which has added so much to the wealth of this country, only to contract phthisis and end their days in hospitals! Not until a Labour Government occupied the treasury bench was any attempt, made to require mining speculators .to spray underground workings of the mines in order to lay the dust which filled the lungs of the unfortunate miners.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- We have heard a good deal this afternoon about the Northern Territory, and al-, though I recently visited that portion of the Commonwealth and informed my mind as to the conditions there, I do not propose at this stage to deal with it. I shall take an opportunity to do so at a later date.
– The honorable member promised the miners that he would.
– There is, however, one matter of extreme importance for which I promised to do all I could, and that is the construction of a railway line from Alice Springs to Darwin. I shall not rest content until that work is carried out. The control of the Northern Territory was handed over to the Commonwealth by South Australia, and there is in existence to-day an agreement between these parties providing for the construction of a line from Oodnadatta to Darwin, and the Commonwealth Parliament is in honour bound to honour that undertaking.
– What about a line from Camooweal across the Barkly Tableland?
– When the main line is constructed I shall probably support the building of spur lines to open up the country on either side of it.
Mention has been made of the probable tourist traffic from Australia to the United Kingdom iri connexion with the coronation ceremony. It is estimated that 20,000 Australians will visit England next year. On the assumption that each person going abroad will spend about £500, it will be seen that not less than £10,000,000 will be taken out of this country by them.
– Not so much as that.
– I hope that there will be reciprocal traffic from England to this country and that 20,000 Englishmen will visit Australia to learn at firsthand what this great Dominion has done. Recently Victoria celebrated on a grand scale its centenary; but the success then achieved will doubtless be eclipsed by the celebrations in connexion with the centenary of
South Australia. Just a9 it is necessary that we should advertise abroad, so also should we advertise at home. I am proud of the record of those pioneers who did so much for the development of this country, particularly in South Australia. Australia is in need, of not only tourists from England, but also settlers with capital.
– What about a few Irishmen ?
– We have numbers of good Irishmen in this country, and Welshmen and Scotsmen also. We need to attract British people to Australia in order that they may see its advantages and perhaps be induced to settle here. A great attraction is afforded by the Centenary celebrations now taking place in South Australia. [Quorum formed.] I urge the people of this country to “ See Australia first”. Particularly do I stress the advisability of visiting South Australia during its centenary celebrations. None who do so will be disappointed, for every section of the community is being catered for. Already a Centenary Empire Exhibition is in progress, and no one who can possibly visit that spectacular and educational display should fail to do so. There will be a round of sporting engagements extending over many months. On the 16th May, the King’s Cup race will be run at Adelaide, and on the following Saturday a race meeting will be held at Gawler. Those who visit that flourishing centre on that occasion will see a good race and enjoy a pleasant outing. From the 5th to the 12th September, many thousands of people will flock to Wayville to the Royal Centenary Show, whilst others will watch the contestants in the Centenary Golf Championship between the 4th and the 26th of that month. A feature of the programme, which should be particularly attractive, is the Floral Festival and Pageant, extending from the 17th to the 26th September. The major celebrations will follow later in the year, culminating at Glenelg on the 28th December, when the centenary of the proclamation of the State will.be commemorated. The 18th December will witness the finish of the interstate air race, and from the 18th to the 22nd of that month, representatives of New South Wales and South Australia will contest a cricket match. An air pageant and also the opening of the Port Adelaide Cup racing carnival will take place on the 19th December. Three days later, motor cars from Sydney, Melbourne, Broken Hill and Perth will conclude the “ Monte Carlo car rally “. Christmas Day will witness the finish of the cycling derby and the commencement of the centenary tournament of the South Australian Lawn Tennis Association. The younger members of the community of both sexes are being catered for. The Girl Guides will hold an international camp from the 25th December to the 1st January. The Boy Scouts’ corroboree will extend from the 26th December to the 4th January. The £500 automobile Grand Prix is set down for Boxing Day, and from that day to the 2nd January, the yachting championships of the State will be decided. Bowlers will engage in the Centenary Bowling Carnival from Boxing Day to the 2nd January. I shall not enumerate all the other attractions which will be provided; suffice it to say that no section of the community has been overlooked in the arrangements. There is every justification for believing that South Australia will witness a great influx of visitors this year. The centenary celebrations will afford the people of the other States, who I am afraid are not sufficiently acquainted with South Australia, an opportunity to gain firsthand knowledge of the many attractions and the great potentialities of the central State. I am impelled to make these observations by my. desire to acquaint the people of other portions of this great. Commonwealth with attractions which lie near at hand in the central State, and on behalf of the people of South Australia I extend to members of this Parliament a hearty welcome to the various gatherings which will mark that State’s centenary.
.- I desire to bring before the Government the claims of a number of returned soldiers who, although they enlisted for active service wherever required, have been denied service pensions because they did not actually engage in fighting in certain zones defined in the act. I have in mind a man who, after 1..100 days service abroad, returned to
Australia permanently invalided, but has been unable to obtain a service pension. His case is typical of a number of others. These men volunteered for service in any locality, and it was not their fault that they did not serve in the areas set out in the act. The man to whom I have referred did not enter the fighting line because he was detained at Tel-el-Kebir in order to train others. Yet he is denied a pension. I hope that the Government will favorably consider the claims of these men.
I urge the conversion to the automatic system of the existing manual telephone exchange at Mascot. Every municipality in the districts served by it - Alexandria, Mascot, Waterloo and Redfern - has asked that an automatice exchange be provided to serve the business people in the area. In no other district of equal size in the Commonwealth are there so many business places.
– Does the honorable member believe in mechanization?
– I have always believed in mechanization, and always shall believe in it. Most of the firms whose factories are situated in the area served by the Mascot Exchange have their head offices in the City of Sydney. They find the present manual exchange altogether inadequate for their needs. If there is one area in Australia which should have the benefit of an automatic exchange, it’ is that to which I have referred. Representations have been made to the Government to effect the conversion, but on each occasion it has replied that the existing manual exchange has not yet outlived its usefulness and should be continued for a further period. I know that the Minister for Defence, when he held the portfolio of Postmaster-General, was considering the advisability of making the change. I therefore hope that he will use his influence to induce Cabinet to comply with the requests from the various municipalities. In a letter to me, under date of the 6th instant, the Municipality of Mascot states -
The council does not consider the service rendered under the present manual control is satisfactory, particularly . in view of the importance of the district from an industrial point of view. Instances of serious delays in disconnecting a number after completion of conversation or failure to obtain an answer were given, and on the reasonable assumption that these difficulties are experienced by the whole of the subscribers on the exchange, it is considered that the serious interference with business generally certainly justifies the immediate conversion of the system.
Complaint lias also been made by the Waterloo Municipal Council. As the industrial expansion in the Mascot and Waterloo districts is proceeding so rapidly, no time should be lost in converting the Mascot manual exchange to the automatic system.
Another matter to which I direct attention is the serious injustice suffered by a large number of experienced seamen through, a regulation enacting that seamen registered under the Transport Workers’ Act on the 31st March last, and having to their credit two months continuous service on shipboard since that date, shall receive first preference at every call-up. Some registered seamen have not had a call since the 31st March. Therefore, unless the regulation is amended in some particular, they will have no chance whatever of getting first preference. I have been- informed that a number of experienced seamen on the Adelaide Steamship Company’s Dilga were only three days short of their two months continuous service when that vessel was docked recently for overhaul. They were given an assurance that, when the ship was recommissioned, they would be re-engaged, but the regulation has effectively shut them out from re-employment and so they are unable to qualify for first preference. Many similar cases have been brought to my notice, and I have approached the Minister on the subject, but this is the first time that I have mentioned it in the House. I am not asking that those who refused to respond to the last call should receive consideration. My plea is on behalf of those able-bodied seamen who complied with the regulation but through no fault of their own are unable to get work. One mau of my acquaintance has been at sea for 27- years, but beca*use he has been unable to qualify for first preference men with perhaps only two months seagoing experience get preference over him. I hope that the Government will alter the regulation, in justice to experienced seamen who have complied with the law. When in Sydney, I am interviewed, almost every day, by as many as 30 and 40 seamen, who urge me to ask that the regulation be amended so that they may again have an opportunity to earn a livelihood. Some honorable members may say that the majority of the seamen who are now out of work have only themselves to blame, because during the recent dispute they were led by Communists. On thai; point I have nothing to say. My one concern is that decent, able-bodied seamen, with many years of service to their credit, should be given a chance to secure employment again. I hope that the Government will, without delay, amend the regulation.
.- On Friday last the light .honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) made a very valuable contribution to the debate on the subject of the drain on London funds, due to the heavy outward tourist traffic from Australia. Another drain which is also objectionable, because it prejudicially influences the national character of the people, is due to the volume of cheap American literature, which is imported into this country, without restriction. Three powerful agents in the formation of national character are the printed word, as represented by books and periodicals, the cinema, and the radio. Some measure of control is exercised over the importation of films, although it is true that we still get a fair proportion of objectionable films and gramophone records; but the so-called American literature comes in without any form of censorship. Thousands of tons of trashy periodicals, printed in the United States of America, are distributed in Australia annually. The bookstalls in all our cities and towns are lined with cheap magazine literature, imported from America, with only the merit of cheapness to commend it. These magazines feature crime, bloodshed, sex attraction, and the exploits of American heroes in the wilds of Africa, all of which appeal to the imagination of the young people. That may be fitting in the United States of America, where there is a large underworld population which has been recruited from the ranks of negroes and Southern Europeans who, at the time of their emigration to that country during the last generation, were already deeply steeped in the atmosphere of superstition and ignorance, and provided a fertile field which has been well exploited by the producers of literature of this class. The principle followed by these publishers is that used in film production, of first making an original and from it turning out many thousands of copies at a cheap rate. This class of so-called literature is being dumped in Australia to the extent of thousands of tons. It is second-hand stuff for which there is no sale in the United States of America, and because of the cheapness at which it is retailed in Australia, local men of letters and printers are deprived of employment that might otherwise fall to their lot. The newspapers in this country are not altogether blameless ; even the best of them publish syndicated serials which have their origin in the United States of America, their only recommendation being that they cost less than would similar material produced by an Australian. The propagation in Australia of a foreign national outlook is not only undesirable but also distinctly detrimental. Being preponderatingly British in descent and ideals, we should endeavour to preserve our own racial characteristics. Our younger people particularly should not be subjected to the influence of literature, films, and radio programmes of this class. I offer no objection to what may properly be termed literature, whether it be serious or humorous. All scientific and commercial works having an educational value should be admitted to Australia free of duty, but .a heavy duty should be imposed upon, or there should be a total exclusion of, the rubbish which is now being distributed ad libitum, I have no wish to add to the anxieties of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) in connexion with the branch of his .department which has the responsibility of censoring imported literature, but I suggest that the class of publications to which I have drawn attention is much more harmful and objectionable than is the Communistic literature to which apparently the department confines its activities, and I trust that steps will be taken to limit its distribution.
I invite the Government to support the request which has been made for a visit by the Acting Minister for Commerce (Mr. Thorby) to Western Australia during the ensuing recess, so that he might make personal observations of the ‘condition of the wheat-farmers in the northeastern belt of that State. . I am confident that such observations would lead to his recommending the granting of urgently needed assistance.
I urge reconsideration of the case of. commercial men who are obliged to incur considerable expense in the preparation of sales tax returns. These men are really doing the work of the Government. The tax is collected at a very low cost. In. New Zealand, a discount of 2 per cent, is allowed on this account. The state of the finances warrants the granting of some recompense.
The petrol tax also is due for revision. Half promises have been, made in this connexion, but financial considerations have always been urged as an excuse for the withholding of relief. While admitting that it is not possible to grant all the requests which are made, I submit that the users of petrol are, as a class, unfairly taxed, and that there should be some remission of the tax.
Just prior to the last period of the session, a deputation representative of the British motor-car industry placed before the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) and the Minister for Trade and Customs particulars concerning the position of that industry. Although no definite promise was made, there was some sort of assurance that the Government would do what it could to render assistance. It is our duty to give to the industry whatever help is practicable. Our aim should be to encourage the Australian manufacture of bodies for British cars. That object will not be achieved if we permit the continuance of existing conditions, the effect of which is to drive British cars off the Australian market. Assistance should be given either by the free” admission of bodies for a limited period, or by the reduction of duties on chassis and panels, and the removal of primage duty. The best course would be to admit free of duty, for a limited period, a fairly liberal quota of British chassis, subject to an undertaking being given by British car manufacturers . that, if granted this opportunity to re-establish themselves on the Australian market, they will commence manufacture in Australia.
– I have received a complaint that a number of employees of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, who are engaged in connexion with the erection of telephone lines in the Brisbane metropolitan network, are being dismissed because of insufficiency of funds for the continuance of this work. They point out that there is no need for this retrenchment, because plenty of work is available, some of it having been held up for over two years. On one or two occasions previously the department issued a number of notices of dismissal just prior to the close of the financial year. I share the opinion of these men, that the Postmaster-General should take steps to avoid their dismissal, even for only a week before the end of the financial year. All of them are returned soldiers and, on that account, are entitled to better treatment.
I have also received a complaint from wardsmen in the Rosemount General Hospital. For many years, and until quite recently, these men were provided with uniforms free of cost. The Repatriation Department then decided to allow them £4 a year for the purchase of uniforms. This sum is regarded as totally inadequate. The money is not even paid in one amount, but at the rate of ls. 8d. a week. The purchase of uniforms should be ‘the responsibility of the Government. These returned- soldiers are receiving only a small wage. Each wardsman should have five uniforms a year to enable him to carry out his duties in a satisfactory manner. The present allowance leaves him about 9s. 2d. out of pocket, without allowing for laundering expenses. The cost of laundering a uniform is ls. 9d., which means that each wardsman is £3 5s. 2d. out of pocket annually over this matter. I hope that it will be brought under the notice of the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Hughes), with a view- to inducing the Government to supply the uniforms, and to pay for the laundering of them.
I was pleased recently, to hear the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) direct certain questions to the
Minister for Health (Mr. Hughes) with respect to statements at the health conference held in Canberra, made by Lady Latham against Sister Kenny’s methods for the treatment of crippled children. A statement was published in the Canberra Times to the effect that, as a result of the confere. ice held in Canberra, it was hoped that the Government would consider the desirability of subsidizing the work being carried on throughout Australia in the treatment of crippled children. The value of Lord Nuffield’s gift for this purpose was emphasized, and I agree that it is regarded throughout the Commonwealth as a boon. Yet I claim that the value of this gift is not so great as that of the work done at Sister Kenny’s clinic in Brisbane. The Queensland Governmenthas gone to great expense in establishing one of the most up-to-date clinics in Australia, and probably one of the most modern to be found in any part of the world, for the treatment of children suffering from paralysis. In common with many other honorable members, I have had the privilege of visiting this establishment, which is doing wonderful work. It has definitely cured scores of children who were cripples for many years. Even adults, after a few weeks’ treatment, have shown vast improvement, and some of them have been almost completely restored to normal health. I understand that other State governments are following the lead given by the Government of Queensland. Surely this is a matter of national importance, which should be taken up wholeheartedly by the Commonwealth Government. I trust that it will provide on the next Estimates for a substantial contribution to the Queensland Government for its remarkable efforts in this direction.
.- I support the request made by the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory), and the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse), that the Acting Minister for Commerce (Mr. Thorby) should be sent to Western Australia to investigate the conditions experienced in large portions of the wheat belt where the harvest failed last year, and where the usual seasonal break has not occurred this year. The settlers in the areas affected are suffering a major disaster. Until last year the farmers throughout Australia had been the victims of depression and unfavorable seasonal conditions for several years. Last year, over the greater part of the wheatgrowing areas, the conditions were fairly favorable, and the consequent mitigation of the difficulties due to drought and depression went a considerable distance in the direction of setting farmers generally on the road to rehabilitation; but, when Western Australian primary producers might have expected some relief from their hardships and retrogression, this calamitous failure of the season caused a further set-back, and resulted in hardship, misery and widespread ruin, such as has not been known anywhere in Australia for more than 20 years. I appeal to the Government not to let slip this opportunity to show the people of Western Australia that there arc advantages in being part of a large and strong Commonwealth. If federation is to mean more than sentiment or a name, it should enable the weaker States to enjoy the benefits which should flow from co-operation under the federal system. The people of Western. Australia, consider that they do not receive the attention from this Parliament that is obtained by those States situated nearer the seat of government, and I earnestly beg the Minister to consider this matter promptly and sympathetically, with a view to active steps being taken to sustain these unfortunate fellow-citizens of ours in their day of tribulation. I congratulate the people of the districts concerned upon the prompt way in which their case has been brought under the notice of this Parliament by the honorable member for Swan, and the honorable member for Forrest, who have always been active in upholding the rights of primary producers generally. In this instance, however, we have to consider more than what is due to farmers generally. There is an urgent claim for special support for those who are struggling against the blows of exceptional misfortune and unkindness of the elements. Considering the national importance of welding the people of Australia together, in the face of the dangers that confront us from across the seas, this Government should quickly and effectively assist these people to come through their dreadful misfortune, and once again win their way back to a position as prosperous and self- supporting citizens, taking their share in the common effort to protect our country and to make it progressive and secure.
.- Under the War Precautions Act, the Commonwealth Government took power to prohibit the publication, in Australia, of any newspaper printed in a foreign language, and the .War Precautions Repeal Act 1920, enabled regulations to be made under which the Government took unto itself the right to continue to prohibit the publication of such newspapers. At the present time, a number of newspapers published in Australia are printed in a foreign language, but repeated applications made by a section of the Yugoslav community for permission to issue a newspaper printed in their national tongue have been refused by the Government. It does not seem to be prepared to give them consideration. I have received a number of communications from various bodies requesting me to protest in the national Parliament against the attitude which the Government has adopted in this matter. The Yugoslav community in this country is considered to be a reputable class of citizens. The very fact that the Government permits their admission to Australia shows that no discrimination should be made between them and people of other races. The relations between Yugoslavia and the Commonwealth are on a most friendly basis. Only the other day a representative of the International Labour Office, who was in ‘Canberra, informed us that, in many directions, particularly in regard to social legislation, Yugoslavia was superior to Australia, which is fast receding into the background in this respect. For these reasons, I do not think that Australia has anything to lose by the publication of a newspaper representing the views of these people, who are progressive in their native country and are desirous also of being progressive in Australia. On behalf of the organizations which have communicated with me on this matter, I voice my protest against the attitude of the Government, and urge it to reconsider its decision.
From time to time, the Government has stated that, when conditions would warrant it, a restoration of the cut in invalid and old-age pensions would be granted. Having passed certain legislation, the Government is now sheltering behind it, with the result that a pensioner is entitled to receive relief only when the cost of living index figures rise to a certain level. In view of the fact that the Government has frequently announced that Australia has returned to a state of prosperity, I consider that the time has arrived when it should give effect to its promise to restore the pension rate to the original amount of £1. When the basic wage was fixed in New South Wales recently, the Industrial Court considered that a woman could live on £1 15s. 6d. a week, but after an agitation had been raised against this decision, the State Government took steps to increase that amount by 2s. a week. If it is held that the minimum amount upon which a single person can live is £1 18s. a week, it cannot be claimed that the old-age pension of 18s. a week is sufficient, particularly when out of that miserly amount the pensioner has to buy food and clothing, and provide himself or herself with accommodation. With the approach of winter, I, in company with other honorable members, have requested this Government to make some allowance, either by way of grants, or an increase of the pension, to enable these unfortunate persons to obtain blankets and warm clothing. But the Government continues to maintain that the pensioners are able to live on 18s. a week, although after thorough investigation, an arbitration court has decided that it is not possible for any person to live upon an even greater amount.
The revenue which the Commonwealth Government collects from taxes on petrol is supposed to be ear-marked to provide for the extension and improvement of main roads throughout the country. It was originally intended that the money should be advanced to the various States, which would spend it through the avenues of main roads boards and municipal councils on the improvement of main roads. My electorate covers about one-half of New South Wales, particularly the outback country, and I have travelled thousands of miles through those parts. I find that the local governing bodies are not provided with sufficient funds to keep the main roads in proper repair. Municipalities also complain that the streets in their towns are used by people who pay petrol tax to the Commonwealth authorities and nothing to the municipalities. For instance, a person who conducted a hire passenger service pays hundreds of pounds each year to the Commonwealth, but the municipality which maintains the streets that he uses from day to day receives nothing from him. .Figures produced recently in this House show that the receipts from the petrol tax have increased from approximately £3,000,000 to the present figure of £9,000,000. By far the greater proportion of that money is retained by the Commonwealth Government, which, instead of having it spent on the improvement of main roads throughout the Commonwealth, as it was originally intended, applies in in various other directions, such as meeting interest and other payments. In my opinion, taxes raised for specific- purposes should be expended only for those purposes. When people pay heavily for the improvement of roads, they are entitled to receive that benefit, and the money should not be diverted to other directions.
In this chamber to-day, a question was asked as to why the Government did not avail itself of the facilities which are at present offering to enable overseas air mail to be brought direct from Narromine to Sydney, thereby saving from 12 to 24 hours in delivery. At the present time, an air mail service operates between Narromine and Sydney, but the overseas air mail passes through Narromine on to Cootamundra, whence it is conveyed by rail to Sydney. The object of an air mail is to give a more speedy service to the people who pay for this facility, and therefore they should receive the most expeditious service offering. When the facilities arc actually existing, the Government has no excuse for not availing itself of them. The mail service is bi-weekly, and the Government could make use of it without having to pay a subsidy; because the company which operates the Narromine-Sydney service is, I understand, prepared to carry mail matter at the usual rates.
Within recent months, some serious aviation accidents have occurred, and planes coming to Sydney and other centres have become lost. These could have been avoided if the Government had possessed the foresight to establish radio Deacons, which for many years, have been in operation in the United States of America, where flying probably is more advanced than in any other part of the world. The Commonwealth Government has recently taken steps to establish a radio beacon near Mascot, but this action should be followed by the provision of similar facilities on existing air routes in outback areas, so that planes travelling in New South Wales to and from Sydney, and, for that matter, in other parts of the Commonwealth, should have the advantage of their immense assistance when requiring to be directed to their destinations in unfavorable weather.
The establishment of an emergency landing ground at Katoomba is an urgent necessity. At the present time, I know of no emergency landing ground in the mountains, although all air services plying between Sydney and the outback districts are obliged to pass over this geographical barrier. The absence of such provision is most serious, and singleengined aeroplanes cross the mountains at grave risk, whenever the weather is uncertain. In the event of mechanical trouble, they would have nowhere to land in an emergency, except on rocks and scrub, in which case there would be little hope of the occupants escaping with their lives. The Government should rectify this omission by supplying the emergency ground, which would give added safety to the operation of existing services. I emphasize that the route across the mountains is being used by regular air mail services, and it is also followed by owners of private planes who desire to reach provincial centres. A similar request for the establishment of an emergency landing ground on the southern air mail route, where the planes also cross the mountains, has also been made, and I hope that the Government will not wait for an accident to occur before it. bestirs itself. It should not stand by, claiming that the matter is not one of urgency, and when an accident occurs, say that the matter must be attended to at once. Immediate action is called for, and consequently the Government should not delay.
I commend the attitude of the Minister for Defence (Mr. Archdale Parkhill) in refusing to accept the British proposals in regard to the Anglo-Australian air-mail services. In this connexion, I hope that he will remain firm, and will not relinquish Australia’s rights to conduct air mail services to the Imperial authorities. It is generally recognized that in the development of such mail services, Australian interests should not be placed in the hands of an overseas combine, and the Commonwealth should have some share of the responsibility in the running of the various enterprises concerned. Past experience of the operation of the Anglo- Australian air mail service, indicates that the AustraliaSingapore section has been conducted more successfully than the London-Singapore section. From time to time statements have been made that the British Government holds a commanding interest in Imperial Airways, but I point out that Imperial Airways is a private company, is not associated with the Government, and is in no way bound to adopt the suggestions of the Government. Like any other aviation company, being a purely private concern, its aim is to make profits. If any overseas country were to secure the exclusive right to operate the services in which Australia is interested, it would mean that English aircraft would be flown for all time on the route, and if the day should arrive when the aviation industry could be established in Australia, the Australian manufacturing company would not be in a position to supply the aircraft required on the overseas service. The Government should not lose sight of that aspect.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
!- Ever since I entered his Parliament, I have advocated the further development of Central Australia and the Northern Territory. Upon this occasion, I rise to urge the Government to take some action towards the realization of this objective. It is now 25 years since the administration, of the Northern Territory was taken over from South Australia by the Commonwealth, and to-day the population of that area is considerably less than it was then. There is a duty devolving upon the Commonwealth Government to make it possible to develop and populate that part of Australia. For some years past I have advocated the completion of the north-south railway, which, at present, is completed from Adelaide to Alice Springs in the south, and from Darwin to .’Birdum in the north, leaving a gap of about 550 miles to be covered. About this time last year I visited Central Australia, in company with the Minister for the Interior, and some other members of Parliament. We went as far as Alice Springs by train, and then, covered between 2,000 and 3,000 miles in motor cars, travelling north, south, east and west. I was astounded to see the possibilities of this area, and was disappointed, to observe that so little had been done by the Commonwealth Government to encourage development.
We visited Tennant’s Creek, where, during the last two years, extensive mining operations have been in progress by men who have come from all parts of Australia, and who are carrying on there under conditions of considerable hardship. I was convinced that there was a great future before the field if it were properly developed. When I was there water ‘for mining and domestic purposes was costing 10kl. for 40 gallons. Successful mining is impossible under such conditions. Certain recommendations were made to the Minister, and since then several bores have been put down, and water has been found. A township has sprung up at Tennant’s Creek about nine miles south of the old telegraph station. When I was there about 900 people were living under canvas, but they were quite prepared to endure such hardships as were necessary if the Government would assist them by boring for water, and by installing a government battery for crushing ore. One bore that has been put down near where the hotel stands provides, I understand, an almost unlimited supply of water, but it is not suitable for domestic purposes. A mining field of approximately 1,500 square miles has been gazetted in this area. I traversed a great part of the field, and found that it was gold bearing almost throughout its entire extent. In many parts ore containing from 12 to 17 dwt. has been discovered, but it is impossible to work such ore under present conditions, because transport ‘and water charges are too high. As honorable members are aware, I am., in most things, an advocate of private enterprise, but in this instance I am prepared to depart from my principle, and urge the erection of a government battery, because I believe it would be for the good of the miners engaged on this field. Under present conditions, it is hardly worth crushing and treating ore containing less than an ounce of gold to the ton. A government battery should be erected, and, even if it worked at a loss, it would be worth while, because it would keep thousands of men on the field earning an honest livelihood. I discussed this matter with Dr. Woolnough recently, and he agreed with me that, though it had not been proved that the gold went to any depth, there was enough gold on the surface to keep thousands of men employed for a long time if working conditions were reasonable. At the present time, however, far from the number of men on the field increasing, it is actually decreasing. Disappointed men are leaving the field every day because they cannot make a living. I have had a little mining experience, possibly just enough to be dangerous. I brought home many samples of ore from the Tennant’s Creek field, and in my spare time at home dollied the samples, and washed the dust. In many instances, quite good returns were indicated, and in every instance there were traces of gold.
The Northern Territory and Central Australia are undeveloped, and are also unpopulated, and that is a danger to which we should not shut our eyes. A little while ago, I was talking to a friend who had just returned from japan, where he had been entertained by a wealthy Japanese. They had discussed Sir John Latham’s goodwill mission, and matters relating to trade, and the Japanese said that all the talk regarding goodwill and friendly relations could be taken with a grain of salt. Millions of Japanese were aware of the fact that in Australia there were hundreds of thousands of .square miles of undeveloped land, while in Japan there was not land enough to support the people. I remind honorable members that it is our duty to develop this continent. I do not advocate the bringing in of immigrants for whom there will be no employment, but we should endeavour to bring in the right kind of immigrant, whom we can place on the land, and who will help to fill our empty spaces. The Minister for Health (Mr. Hughes) has made public reference to the matter, and I take this opportunity of again bringing it before the notice of honorable members.
Much has been said lately about the need for reducing taxation. I am in favour of reducing taxation, but I am puzzled as to just how it can be done. The very people who are crying to the Government to-day for reduced taxes are holding out their hands for Government bounties. Practically every primary industry in Australia, except the woolgrowing industry, is to-day in receipt of a Government bounty in one form or another, and as long as this continues, how can the Government reduce taxation? The time has arrived when the Government must consider seriously the cutting out of bounties. They have become a habit, and every section of industry sends its representatives to Canberra asking foi- bounties. Taxation returns disclose that farmers, other than wool-growers, but including fruit-growers, wheat-growers, dairymen, &c, provide only 1.70 of the total taxes raised. The pioneers of this country managed to get along without Government bounties.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Prowse).The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I desire to refer to a matter which concerns the industrial side of the Attorney-. General’s department. About twelve months ago, the Attorney-General’s department appointed Mr. Blakeley to police certain arbitration court awards concerned chiefly with banking and insurance institutions. I understand that his duties were confined mainly to these two spheres. In this matter, however, I request that he be permitted to ascertain whether the facts which I am about to relate .are correct.i, They concern the firm of’ Dudgeon and Arnell Proprietary Limited, tobacco manufacturers, of Lons- dale-street, ‘ Melbourne. This company has deliberately repudiated an. agreement, in “respect of its employees, with the Federated Tobacco Workers Union, and, since the date of the dispute, has refused to meet representatives of its employees or even the Melbourne Trades Hall Council as representatives of the trade union movement. The dispute, which has continued since March, 1935, was brought about through the refusal of the company to honour its obligations under this agreement, which was signed in January, 1930, by the directors and secretary and other officials of the company, and gave the company the right to manufacture tobacco, in any way or shape it liked, provided that, where a new system of manufacture displaced labour, the employees affected should be given other work, which, in the opinion of the company, they were physically able to perform. It remained in operation for six years, until March, 1935, and benefited the company. The company, however, wanted to discharge four old employees who had served it faithfully for an average of 50 years. The old men were told that they could apply for the old-age pension, and that the company would pay them 12s. 6d. a week. It will be noted that, under the pension law, pensioners are allowed an income of that amount. The union refused to accept the company’s decision; it desired that the directors of the company should honour their obligations in the uncovered agreement. This the company refused to do, and forced the old men out, although the manager admitted that he had no fault to find with their work. The manager of the company then sent a registered letter to the secretary of the union, notifying him that, on and after the 26th March, 1935, the company did not intend to recognize the union, but would “hire and fire “ as it liked, and would pay what it liked, and that all agreements between it and the union would be null and void. The union officials used every endeavour to heal the breach, but were unsuccessful, the manager even refusing to see them. The matter was then placed in the hands of the Victorian Disputes Committee, which requested a conference with the directors of Dudgeon and Arnell. This was refused; indeed, the members of the committee were grossly insulted, for when Mr. Monk tried to talk to Mr. Hook, a director of the company, the latter said, “ Nothing doing,” and hung up. To force the dispute, the manager of the company put up notices in the factory to the effect that the factory would be closed down for ten days at Easter, 1935, this, in the opinion of the union, being done to evade payment for those holidays. The company also discharged two girls without giving any reason for its action. The employees then requested the officials of the union to inquire as to the company’s attitude. They did so, and were informed that no worker in the company’s employ would be paid for the two holidays as they were not at work. It was then pointed out that the company was obliged to pay for the holidays as their employees had worked for part of the week in which the holidays fell. The company replied that it had already notified the union that it would not recognize the union after the 26th March, 1935, and would adhere to that decision, as it intended to manufacture at a cheaper cost. For six weeks the union and the Disputes Committee constantly endeavoured to negotiate with the company, but failed. At the end of that period, members of the union employed by the company held a stopwork meeting at the Melbourne Trades Hall, and carried a resolution that they would not return to work until they were paid for their Easter holidays, and until the two girls, who had been dismissed, were reinstated. These employees have now been out for the last twelve months, and it has cost the federation thousands of pounds to maintain them in their splendid fight to retain their wages and conditions.
Only recently this Government reduced the excise duty on tobacco manufactured from 100 per cent., Australian leaf. Although Dudgeon and Arnell Limited received this concession, they even flogged their employees by reducing the wages of those still in their employ. Repeated requests for a settlement have been made. A deputation from the Disputes Committee and the union met the directors of all the other big manufacturers to find ways and means for bringing about a settlement, but without result.
I have outlined briefly what is happen^ ing in this dispute. The attitude adopted by Dudgeon and Arnell Limited is typical of some classes of employers and manufacturers; it is similar to that adopted by another firm, Waygood-Otis Proprietary Limited, lift manufacturers, in another dispute to which I referred recently on an adjournment motion. Apparently some employers have no respect for industrial agreements. On the one hand, they are prepared to accept all the protection which our customs and excise duties provide, and on the other hand, they regard an employee as no more than a commodity to be bought and sold in the open market, and subjected to any conditions which they feel inclined to impose. .That, I suggest, sums up the attitude of Dudgeon and Arnell in this dispute. Very often we hear it said in this House, when industrial matters are being considered, that we should endeavour to bring employees and employers together, to enable them to conciliate by holding what are termed “ round table conferences”. On such occasions it is urged that industrial agreements between employees and employers should be arrived at in an amicable way. In this dispute, the union endeavoured amicably to come to an agreement; yet the company refused to recognize obligations under its agreement on the very firstoccasion on which it found it convenient to disregard those obligations. In this instance, it refused to recognize the good service of employees for periods averaging 50 years, by giving these men other work, which the firm was prepared to admit they were capable of performing. This difficulty was met fairly and squarely by the employees through the representatives of their organizations, both direct and indirect; that is, by their own representatives, and by the Disputes Committee, which is usually called in on such occasions. It may be stretching the authority of the industrial side of the Attorney-General’s Department, but I think a set of circumstances has arisen from this dispute which would justify the Government in permitting officers of that department to inquire into it. I suggest this course to ‘Ite Minister, even if it is only to furnish the Government with knowledge of what certain manufacturers are prepared to do in such circumstances.
– I should think that this dispute would be a matter for either a Victorian wages hoard or the Federal Arbitration Court. I do not think it comes within the awards in connexion with which Mr. Blakeley was appointed as an industrial inspector.
– If we consider Mr. Blakeley’s duties strictly, that may he so. I suggest, however, that if the Government were willing -to recognize that special circumstances existed in this case, such as the fact that this companyis engaged in an industry which is receiving very adequate protection at the hands of this Government, and that this Government expects this company to honour conditions which its competitors are obliged to honour, it might, through inquiries by industrial officers of the Attorney-General’s Department, or through officers of the Excise Department, regard it as a duty to find out what is going on in the industry generally. It might, for instance, he ascertained if one manufacturer, by not recognizing the proper wages anc! conditions, was getting an unfair advantage over another. If the majority of those in an industry can pay to its employees a just remuneration for the work they perform, I feel sure that no honorable member is willing to allow the others to avoid their just responsibilities. It seems to me, however, on the facts I have just given, that Dudgeon and Arnell Limited are securing a most unfair advantage over other employers in the same industry. That is a position which should he remedied. After all, every union is anxious to avoid having its employees put out on the street as the result of its endeavours to fight for its principles. I point out that this dispute concerns mostly female labourers, whose wages in this industry are not particularly high, even at the best of times. Since this dispute started members of this union throughout Australia have endeavoured to maintain those out on strike, and naturally their resources have been so depleted that it- is impossible for thom to continue to give. :such help. I, do not think this Government -should sit. idly by and allow such a set of circumstances, which are obviously unjust, to continue. Dudgeon and Arnell Limited should not be permitted to take advantage in this way of the protection afforded to their industry by this Government. The Treasurer (Mr. Casey) mentioned that, as the employees involved were not engaged in clerical work they would not come within Mr. Blakeley’s jurisdiction. I admit it, and I anticipated that what the Treasurer has said would be advanced as a reason why this Government should take no action, but I put it to the Treasurer that, if the Government recognizes that special circumstances exist in this case, it could authorize the industrial officers of the Attorney-General’s department to investigate ohe matter and apprise it of what is happening, or might permit officers of the Excise Department, in the course of their ordinary duties, to discuss this matter with the employees concerned, and obtain from them an account of what is happening. I should be failing in my recognition of efforts made by other honorable members to settle this dispute if I did not mention the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway)-, who has done his best to straighten the matter out. To be quite frank with honorable members, this dispute has been brought under my notice ‘by the Sydney branch of the union, which is vitally affected because it is the strongest branch numerically and financially, and has had a heavy drain on its finances for the last twelve months. Members of the Sydney branch discussed this matter with me, and asked me to bring it under the notice of the Government. They suggested that, through the officers of the industrial department of the Attorney-General’s Department, or of the Department of Trade and Customs, it might be possible to mark this firm as un-Australian in its attitude towards Australian conditions, and as one not deserving of the tariff protection which it has enjoyed over a great number of years.
– Listening carefully as I have to the speeches delivered during this debate, I cannot help realizing that we are now approaching the financial season, when Treasurers are reviewing the operations of this financial year and considering the taxes to be levied next year. It is also the season when the taxpayer builds his annual hopes of some measure of relief from tax burdens. In this financial year of buoyant revenue and an assured surplus these hopes should not be in vain. It would be quite improper, in fact ungracious, to forget that the tax remissions since the Lyons Government has been in power, amount to over £.10,000,000. There are many who think that the remissions should have been much greater, but I repeat that it would be ungracious to overlook the fact that the Government has been able to make the following remissions : income tax, about £300,000; land tax, £1,200,000; entertainments tax, £140,000; sales tax, £3,700,000; primage, over £945,000; and customs and excise, £1,205,000; or a total of over £10,000,000. The Prime Minister (‘Mr. Lyons), speaking at the Ashfield Town Hall a week or two ago, is reported to have said -
Il<! had never had an)’ other principles to guide him in taxation other than that no Government had any right to continue to collect any more revenue than was necessary for it to carry on government, and his first budget had contained relief as had every one since.
Many suggestions have been made to the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) concerning further remissions, next financial year. That point has already been sufficiently stressed, but we must realize that essential and social services must be maintained.
– And cuts restored.
– There is one essential service which every honorable member will admit by virtue of world .affairs generally looms largely before us to-day, and that is our obligations in the matter of defence. Our expenditure in that direction next financial year may possibly be greater than in previous years, but no honorable member will deny that such expenditure is necessary. I have no very definite reasons for believing, but I hope, that it will be possible to make further tax reductions, and also to restore some of the cuts mentioned by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) which were made during the years of financial stringency.
I urge the Government to consider the appointment of a Minister to represent the Commonwealth at Washington. If the right person were selected he could, by encouraging wider co-operation between the two nations, render invalu- able service not only to Australia but also to our friends in that great country across the Pacific. It would be wise for Australia to avoid quarrelling with that country on the ground of ill-balanced trade. In any case, whatever we may say, the United States of America cannot be said to be in the wrong. It docs not force Australia to purchase goods from it. Such goods are ordered from America presumably because they are needed here. For instance, American machinery is purchased and sold in Australia because of the superiority of its manufacture and, in some instances, because of superior salesmanship. By prohibiting certain imports from the United States of America and penalizing others to depress inward trade, Australia might easily do more harm than good. Last year the Commonwealth purchased only a little over 2 per cent, of the total exports from the United States of America. That country, therefore, is not likely to become gravely agitated over such a small customer’s grievances, real or imaginary; but if it wished - I do not think it would - to become, shall I say, nasty, it might look elsewhere for its trade and friendship. Taking a long-range view, as we are often advised to do, the goodwill and. friendship of the United States of America should be welcomed and courted. The United States of America is a Pacific power whose co-operation may be vitally and urgently needed in circumstances which it is easier to imagine than to state, and which it would be inadvisable to particularize. Practically the whole of the machinery of transport and manufacture of this country is kept -running with American lubricating oil, apart from fuel oil. Over 90 per cent, of the lubricating oil used in Australia today is obtained from the United States of America, and thousands of gallons are used daily on the’ railways, in factories, on the farms and mines, and in pra’ctically every branch of industry. That is the position as every honorable member knows. There are, of course, some who will say that supplies of this commodity could be obtained from the NetherlandsEast Indies or some other source. In 1934-35, approximately 13,275,000 gallons of lubricating oil were imported into Australia, and of this quantity 12,495,000 gallons, or over 90 per cent., came from the United States of America. The trade balance between two particular countries cannot be measured effectively. Omitting the United Kingdom, Australia buys more from the United States of America than from any other country, and, apart from the United Kingdom, Australia sells more to Japan than to any other nation. But the United States of America is Japan’s best customer. Obviously, the United States of America is an appreciable contributor to the capacity of Japan to purchase Australia’s wool and grain. Trade may be and is bi-lateral, triangular or multi-lateral, and this is not only inevitable but is really beneficial. In the final aggregate of course world trade must balance exactly - our exports are another country’s imports and our imports are another country’s exports - and if all the nations strive to secure for themselves individually an excess of exports over imports, they are simply attempting what is mathematically impossible. I do not wish to deliver anything in the nature of a lecture to honorable members-, because they know these things as well as I do. I do not, however, wish this opportunity to pass without referring to this subject, which is one to which I have given considerable thought. If Australia takes steps to-‘ balance its trade with the United States of America, we may be putting ideas into the heads of other nations. Last, year we exported to Belgium twelve times the quantity of goods Belgium exported to Australia, China purchased from us eight times the value of the goods we purchased from that country.France imported from Australia about five times and Japan nearly three times as much as we purchased from those countries. Do we wish those good customer countries of ours to think that this condition isan iniquity which should be met by reductions of imports from Australia? Thosecountries have grounds for reprisals, but of course we desire nothing of the kind.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m. [Quorum formed.]
– The United States of America may be thanked for a service of great benefit to this Commonwealth. In that country recently there has been conducted an enterprising publicity campaign on behalf of wool. The “wearwool “ campaign in America has been effective in that it has considerably stimulated consumption. In the current statistical year, that is since last June, America has bought Australian wool in increased quantities. In the calendar year, 1935, its total imports of wool from Australia were worth £5,600,000, which is, according to the. Commonwealth Satistician, three times as much as it took in 1934. Is this, then, a favorable time to make complaints or to suggest a disturbance of commerce? Australia has many favorable trade balances, and some unfavorable ones which is a necessary consequence of the varying requirements of the different countries, but, in the total, there is a reasonable excess of exports, as is necessary, of course, in a debtor country. Whether or not that excess, for the time being, is as large as it should be, the position may be not improved, and it may be easily aggravated, by artificial interferences with the natural flow of commerce. Anyhow, let us not quarrel over trifles - indeed, let us not quarrel at all if it can be avoided - with a nation whose friendship should now be considered of great value and may be regarded as potentially of immense importance.
– I should like to follow up the suggestion made by the honorable member for Lilley (Sir Donald Cameron) that some of the surplus that is anticipated for the current year might well be spent in improving the Commonwealth defences. I agree entirely with that suggestion, provided the money is to be spent in what I and many other people consider is the right direction. I have always been in favour of expenditure on the foundation of a defence scheme which involves the development of our technical industries. But it seems to be quite wrong to be spending money on the placing of batteries of guns around the coast, at intervals of 300 and 400 miles, while disregarding the need for developing the metal industry, dockyards, and other technical facilities which are essential to our defence. All the world realizes that such industries are the basis of any sound defence scheme. We have seen this week the sorry spectacle of the port of one of the principal capital cities not being able to dock a small interstate steamer. What would be the worth of flying boats and war vessels if we were not able to repair them? All experts agree that the repair of implements of wai- is just as necessary as the ability to purchase them new. The proper way to make the defence scheme more perfect would be to encourage the metal industries, to improve the rolling plants at Newcastle, or wherever they may be situated, and to increase the technical facilities of the capital cities. ‘We should do everything to make these industries up-to-date for peace-time operations, and so equipped and organized that they may be quickly changed over to military purposes in time of war. The standardization of peacetime technical plant is the basis of all European defence schemes. Our main railways, at least, should be of uniform gauge, and rolling stock should be standardized so as to bo adaptable for war as well as peace purposes; each truck should be able to carry a certain number of guns or horses. Moreover, it is the duty of the Commonwealth Government to collaborate with the States to modernize the docking facilities, which hitherto have been regarded as the responsibility of the States only. To show how obsolete is the dock accommodation in the various States, with the exception of New South Wales, it is only necessary to refer to the accident to the Taroona, a very small steamer in comparison with most modern vessels, which runs between Launceston and Melbourne. When it was partly disabled this week, the small repairs required could not be effected at Port Melbourne, and the vessel had to be taken to Cockatoo Island dock. We now concentrate all shipping repair work, however small, from all over Australia, in the one dock. The Cockatoo Island dock is the most up-to-date in Australia, of course, but the reason for the present policy is largely the agreement entered into by this Government with the people to whom it leased the dock, that, to a limit of £40,000 a year, it would make up to them in money what it could not provide in work. Probably this provision was necessary in the lease, so that the Commonwealth Government could make a good bargain with the lessees, but it is part of a very short-sighted policy which is calculated to injure the defence scheme of the Commonwealth. One of the first matters the Minister for Defence should consider is how he can co-operate with the various States, at least the principal States, to help them and their harbour trusts in the provision of up-to-date docking facilities adjacent to the capital cities. 1 know that the Minister for Defence is trying to have a modern dock established in Western Australia and another at Darwin, the backdoor of Australia. He may consider that that is sufficient for him to do at the moment, but it is just as important that an up-to-date dock should be provided in the port of Melbourne, and the Minister should confer with the State government and the Melbourne Harbour Trust to this end. The existing dock at Williamstown was built 60 years ago. It was then the largest dock in Australia, but it has remained practically unchanged, notwithstanding that a complete revolution has taken place in shipping all over the world. The ships dreamed of when the Williamstown dock was built, have since come and gone out of existence. Hardly one ship that comes to Australia now could be repaired in it. That is a blot .on the efficiency of an Australian capital city, and it is the duty of the Minister for Defence to remove it. He should not waste time debating whether this responsibility belongs to the State or the Commonwealth. When we are dealing with questions of defence, we must consider the interests of Australia as a whole.
Another reason why the docking facilities of the various capitals should be brought up to date is, that if all the work is to be handed to the Cockatoo Island Dockyard, it will. be choked. up with small repairs. I venture ,to .say that that, is the position how.” 0,ne of; the reasons why shipping companies and others, such as the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, have small ships built overseas, is that while they know that the Cockatoo Island Dockyard can build ships, they are afraid that the congestion of small repair jobs may unduly delay construction.
– That is not possible.
– If the honorable member examines the position more closely he will come to the conclusion that I have reached. If that is not the position the Commonwealth Government should protest against Burns, Philp and Company Limited having two small steamers for the Australian coastal trade, which will be subsidized by the Commonwealth, and patronized by the Australian people, built in China. The placing of that order in China is a slur on Australian industry, and is unfair to the Commonwealth Government which is helping the firm to maintain its services.
I join with the honorable member for Lilley in asking for the expenditure of some of the surplus revenue on defence, and I suggest to the Minister for Defence particularly, and the Parliament generally, that we should pay first attention to the fundamentals of the scheme, rather than commence at the top. Our aim should be to ensure that we are able to maintain in a proper state of efficiency vessels, aeroplanes and all other instruments of war. The Minister will agree, that even in peace they must be overhauled from time to time if they are to be kept in readiness. Therefore, I urge the Minister to assist the Victorian Government and the Harbour Trust to modernize the docking facilities at Melbourne.
The Minister for Defence has promised to restore to their former level the ammu”nition grants to Australian rifle clubs. I know that he intends to carry out that promise, but I suggest that he should expedite action. The rifle clubs should be encouraged. No one could suggest that the well organized and harmonious bodies which engage in pastime practice shoots and quarterly competitions are a menace to any other nation. This auxiliary defence force can be encouraged and enlarged without offending our neighbours.
When we are distributing surpluses, the Postmaster-General’s Department should receive more generous treatment than it has received in the past. I think that the department should have the right to spend some of the money, because it earns a great deal of it. For eight or nine years people have been asking for the removal of an eye-sore from the City of Melbourne; it is so central that it cannot fail to be noticed by all visitors. I refer to the rear portion of the central post office, which is in the midst of a business area whose buildings are becoming more modern every day. Yet adjoining the handsome main building of the post office in Elizabeth-street, is an old tin shed, which is a disgrace to the city. This building is on Commonwealth property. I do not know whether any difficulty in relation to the tenure of the land has prevented the Government from constructing a suitable building on it, but many requests have been made for the removal of the present eyesore. The Government is at present paying heavy rentals for suites of elaborate offices in Collins-street and elsewhere in the city. If it would erect a proper building on this valuable site, it could save a large part of the payments at present being made to private landlords. It is highly desirable that this unsightly building should ‘be demolished, for it gives visitors to Melbourne a very poor idea of the city.
I wish to refer briefly to the dispute between Dudgeon and Arnell Proprietary Limited, tobacco manufacturers, of Melbourne, and their employees, respecting
Which the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) made some comments. The circumstances surrounding this dispute are disquieting, and I suggest that the inspector appointed under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act, Mr. Arthur Blakeley, be requested to investigate the whole subject. For many years the tobacco combine preferred to make private agreements with its employees. This was particularly so in the years when the combine was making large profits and did not desire any public investigation of its affairs by the Arbitration Court. The agreements were renewed year by year. The smaller companies, such as Dudgeon and Arnell Proprietary Limited, did not take part in the negotiations, and bore no proportion of the cost involved; but they invariably accepted the conditions agreed upon, and made agreements in conformity with them to cover their employees. The agreements were signed on ‘behalf of the employees by the officers of the Tobacco Workers Union. Recently, however, when the company made a breach of its current agreement and was taken to task for it by the employees’ representatives, it took a step which I did not think it would take, for it, always had a. good reputation; it sought legal advice as to its liability under the agreement. It has never been contended, so far as I know, that there was more than a moral obligation on the company to honour the agreement. The legal advice it obtained was to the effect that, as the agreement was signed only by the officers of the union, it was not binding on the company. Actually, therefore, no binding agreement had ever been made between the company and its employees. All agreements of this nature are signed by the officers only, and yet this is the first time such an excuse has been made. I trust that the Government will direct the conciliation and arbitration inspector to investigate this matter.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
– In view of the buoyancy of the revenue, I support the request made by other honorable members that the Government should give serious consideration to the granting of further remissions of taxes. I refer particularly to the desirability of reducing the petrol tax, as so far no relief has been given in this direction. Strong representations have also been made to the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) from local authorities and associations, urging that a greater proportion, of the revenue from that tax be available for road construction and improvement. Obviously, there cannot be much reduction of taxes so long as the State governments continue to bring pressure upon the Commonwealth Government for financial assistance. Suggestions for new activities by the State governments are sometimes accompanied in these days by a proposal that the Commonwealth Government be asked to provide financial assistance for the purpose. Already considerable amounts of Commonwealth money have been expended from time to time to assist the State governments in carrying out their normal functions, and this assistance can be justified. I have no doubt that the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) will give full consideration to all the proposals made to him for the remission of taxes, and that he will bear in mind the sound general principle that taxation should fall upon the shoulders of those who are best able to pay it. With the probability of much heavier defence expenditure, it must be obvious that the Government will be unable to make remissions of taxes as great as it would wish. Even though the League of Nations continues its efforts in the cause of peace - and we certainly hope that it will do so - the necessity for the adequate defence of Australia cannot be overlooked. I am pleased that two honorable members have indicated by their speeches to-night that they favour a reasonable defence policy. I do not wish to make any specific suggestions on this point, except to express the hope that the Government will realize the wisdom of doing everything possible to develop essential industries which would be of value to Australia if it should be involved in war. The essential industries which had been established in Australia prior to the outbreak of the Great War proved to be of immense value to the Commonwealth, and rendered sterling service to the nation and its allies in those dark days.
Though we may not be able, at the moment, to take practical steps to increase our population, we must bear in mind that, with our responsibility in the Pacific, it is essential that, in the near future, the population of this country shall be considerably enlarged. I merely mention that point to-night, for lack of time forbids my developing it.
I wish now to make a plea for the provision of financial assistance for the Council for . Scientific and Industrial Research on what may be called a longrange basis. The work of the council has been invaluable to the primary industries of Australia. The ninth annual report of the council for the year ended the 30th June, 1935, came to hand after the Estimates were passed last year, and we had no opportunity to discuss the recommendations of the council, but I direct attention to the following observations, to be found at page 8 of it: -
The Council would be placed in a much sounder position, and the general efficiency of its operations would be increased, if there were some definite policy for continuity in its financial arrangements. This could be effected either by the payment into the Trust Account from time to time of sums en eli sufficient for a period of years, or by the declaration by thu Government of ‘ a decision to provide fixed annual sums over a period of years. At first sight the latter might appear to be a departure from conventional practice. However, within the last year or two the Government has set aside fixed annual sums for Jive years for certain special investigations, e.g., those in connexion with gold-mining, fisheries, tobacco, and citrus preservation, and it needs but a logical extension to the whole of the Council’s work of the principle thus adopted to give to the Council a satisfactory degree of financial continuity which is denied it by the present method of annual appropriation.
Obviously, research work must be seriously hampered unless- the officers engaged in it are assured of some continuity of operations. Experimental activities of the kind engaged in by the council cannot stop half way, to be of value they must be earned to their full conclusion. That the work of the council is thoroughly appreciated is disclosed by the following paragraph in the report: -
In the last financial year it obtained contributions from sources other than its ordinary vote from the Treasury of no less than £41.349, and that it is estimated that these contributions for the current financial year will be increased to £50,31)1.
In other words, private individuals and organizations have demonstrated in hard cash their approval of the work that is being done. I, therefore, appeal to the Treasurer to bear in mind, when the Estimates are being framed, the need for providing an adequate amount of money t-j enable our research operations to be maintained on a proper basis. The value of the discoveries made by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has far more than recouped the nation for the amount of money expended upon this institution. Exceptionally good work is being done in dealing with plant diseases. The report states in this connexion that -
No information is available in Australia regarding the loss caused through weed pests. It has recently been estimated that in the
United States of America weeds cost the farmer £000,000,000 a year.
As honorable members know very well, plant and animal pests occasion immense loss to the farmers of Australia, and whatever is done to counteract such ravages must add to the wealth produced by the community. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research deserves well of this Parliament, and I ask again that adequate financial assistance be provided for it.
We have heard during this discussion, and on numerous other occasions in this House, of the great loss incurred by the tobacco-growers through pests of one kind and another. The Council points out in its report that -
A very interesting stage lias been reached in 1 the tobacco investigations which are being conducted by the Council’s Division of Plant Industry. Firstly, as regards blue mould which is so serious a hindrance to the development of the tobacco-growing industry in Australia, the division’s investigations had previously shown that the disease could be seed-borne and that although it could be eliminated in the seed by treatment with dilute silver nitrate solution, even with clean seed there was considerable liability to infection in the seed bed. It has now been found, as a result of experiments at Canberra, that tobacco seedlings subjected to vapour from benzol during night time do not develop the disease. The State Departments of Agriculture are collaborating with the Council’s officers in testing this process on a large scale and trials will be conducted from Queensland to Western Australia during the coming season. If these trials confirm the results of the work already done, tobacco-growers will be able to obtain supplies of disease-free seedlings and the discovery will be of outstanding value to the tobacco-growing industry.
That practical illustration of the value of the work of the Council could be supplemented by others equally impressive. Investigations into the aroma of Australian tobaccoes have been undertaken with satisfactory results. I hardly need say more concerning the value of this organization to the nation.
The ratification of conventions of the International Labour Office is a subject that should receive more attention in Australia than has hitherto been given to it. I do not blame the Commonwealth Government for the lack of action in this connexion. I know that the State governments have been approached on various occasions since 1929, to secure their cooperation in implementing the various conventions that have been agreed to at international labour conferences. I understand that the subject is to be discussed again at the next Premiers Conference. So far more than 40 conventions have been agreed to at international labour conferences, but only ten of these have been ratified by the Commonwealth.
– GROOM. - The Commonwealth Government is not at fault, because so many of them deal with matters under State jurisdiction. Recently I asked the Attorney-General to furnish me with a statement showing the n umbel’ of conventions which had been framed, and the degree to which they had been given effect to in Australia by the Commonwealth and the States.
– The State governments have no authority in this matter.
– Many of the conventions deal with matters that are under the control of the State governments. The information supplied to mc by the Attorney-General, to which I invite the attention of honorable members generally, shows the exact position that has been reached. The subjects dealt with in certain conventions have been already legislated for by all the States, others have been touched upon, and some have not been dealt with by some of the States as they do not apply. It is only reasonable that the Commonwealth Government should be assured of more effective support by the State governments than it has hitherto received in this matter. The States should play their part by. signifying their preparedness to comply with the provisions of the convention, so that they might be ratified. It may be said, of course, that the ratification of the conventions is not necessary in some of the older countries where the conditions covered by them are already established, but it is desirable on account of the moral effect upon other nations. Maxwell Garnett states in Organizing Peace that in 634 instances States belonging to the organization have adopted, or to use the technical word “ ratified “ such conventions, and, on each occasion, the convention has become the law of the land. Mr. Garnett also points out that in India the working week of adults has been reduced from 72 or more hours to 54; that in Japan, the lowest age at which children may enter factories has been raised from nine to twelve years, and that Persia has made illegal the horrible conditions which used to spoil the lives of child weavers of carpets. I urge that where possible these conventions should be adopted by the Australian Governments, because of their moral effect on other countries whose goods may come into competition with the products of the Commonwealth. The acceptance of these conventions is as much a part of the peace programme as is the League of Nations itself. I am pleased that the Government is taking this action. To those outside of this Parliament, who have appealed to me for Commonwealth action, I have pointed out that the States equally with the Commonwealth have a responsibility to give effect to the conventions.
Requests are continually being received from residents in the cities and larger towns throughout Australia for the establishment of- public telephones. Public telephones afford a facility that is absolutely essential in outlying districts and in city areas and large towns where so many people cannot afford to pay the cost of a private telephone. In my opinion, the amount of £16 fixed as the minimum revenue which a public telephone should yield, is altogether too high. Recently, an application for the establishment of a public telephone in a thickly populated centre near a hospital was brought under my notice. There are in the locality a few stores, whose telephones have been used by the public, but many people object to asking business people and private persons for permission to use their telephone. The applicants were told that the revenue from a public telephone was estimated at only £12, and unless somebody would guarantee the additional £4 this convenience could not be provided. I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General (Mr. Parkhill) to consider whether it is not possible to lower the guarantee required before a public .telephone is installed.
Another matter upon which I desire to touch briefly is the building of post offices in country towns. Postal buildings erected in some country towns are not only a credit to the department, but alao an ornament to tlie towns in which they are erected, and people have every reason to be grateful for the service provided. But in some towns, postal business is transacted in buildings that are not worthy of the Commonwealth or the towns. I have in mind, particularly, Lowood, just outside Ipswich, and I appeal for the construction there of a new post office.
The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I do not propose to take up any of my time in making appeals to the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) in regard to the allocation of the surplus, because, as the Government has already decided its programme, I believe it would be useless to do so. I desire, however, to bring’ before the notice of honorable members the failure of the Government to grant some further measure of relief to invalid and old-age pensioners, by increasing the rate of pension. Honorable members who recollect the methods employed by the Government to bring about a reduction of the pension, will remember that, in order to prevent Parliament from ever taking action to increase the rate of pension, the Government introduced a new scheme under which, so it was alleged, the rate of pension was to be no longer the plaything of political parties in this Parliament. The rate of pension was fixed at the very lowest figure, and provision was made that it should rise or fall in accordance with the variation of the cost of living index figure. The reductions effected, in the first place, under the financial emergency legislation, were continued by the first Lyons Government, and further reductions were imposed. Today, when the revenues are buoyant, and the Government is able to show a surplus, nothing is being done to remove some of the injustices imposed on that section of the community. While proposals have been adopted, which have ameliorated the effects of the financial emergency legislation in almost every other direction, the claims of the pensioners have been disregarded. Members of Parliament have seen fit partly to restore their own salaries and allowances, which were reduced under the financial emergency legislation. Public servants also have had their salaries partially restored ; but the unfortunate pensioners, who were called upon to make the greatest sacrifice of all, are neglected by the Government. No doubt, when government supporters are called upon to explain to the electors their failure to deal fairly with the pensioners they will point out that as the rate of pension may be varied only in accordance with the rise and fall of the cost of living, the matter is beyond their control. What they will neglect to tell the people, however, is that the arrangement under which the rate of pension was so fixed can be repealed by this Parliament, and a new scale adopted. I think it will be very difficult for those members who have voted for the partial, restoration of their own salaries and allowances to explain to the invalid and old-age pensioners why they have to wait for such an abnormal rise of the cost of living figures before they will be entitled to an additional 6d. a week. As a matter of fact, the pensioners can. never be any better off under this arrangement, because the higher the pension goes, the higher is the cost of living. A paltry increase of 6d. a week for every 100 points by which the index figure rises will not compensate them for the large increase of the cost of living which must precede such pension improvement. What is the intention of the Government in regard to this matter ? Every honorable member has received requests from his own electorate in regard to the Government’s attitude on this important question. I am sure that if we were able to peruse the replies given by government supporters to requests of this sort, we would find that they had adopted the cowardly attitude of hiding behind the scheme established by the Government in order to prevent the rate of pension from ever again being restored to the very low figure of £1 a week, which the Labour party considers to be absolutely insufficient.
On many occasions a great deal of dissatisfaction has been expressed in this chamber in regard to the methods adopted by the department in the examination of applicants for pensions. Many applicants are called upon to undergo what is nothing short of a third degree examination as to their means, and their private lives, in order that their eligibility may be determined. They have to undergo a very strict and exacting examination, and many applicants, because of the intimate personal questions which they have been called upon to answer, have left the office in tears. So great has been the mental distress inflicted upon them that they have refused to go back for further questioning, preferring to forgo the pension rather than risk a repetition of a harrowing experience. This practice is not adopted in connexion with other applications for assistance from Commonwealth revenue. When it has been proposed to afford relief to other sections of the community, and it has been sought to provide for the institution of inquiries into the means of the proposed recipients, members in this chamber have stood up in righteous wrath and said that it is wrong to inquire into the private means of any individual in the community. The so-called representatives of the primary producers in this chamber demanded the elimination from the wheat bounty legislation of certain clauses designed to provide that only those in necessitous circumstances should receive assistance from the Government. Yet, the unfortunate pensioners who have not sufficient influence in this Parliament to be able to get some measure of relief continue to be subjected to harassing inquisitions. One of the things about which applicants for invalid pensions complain most bitterly is that they have to go before a medical officer appointed by the Government in order to establish their qualification for the pension. Often the medical officer does not conduct a thorough examination to determine whether they are qualified for the pension or not. The applicants are not allowed any say as to the doctor before whom they must appear; but are simply directed to present themselves to a particular doctor for examination. Members of the Labour party have repeatedly asked that in fairness to the applicants, a panel of doctors should be submitted to each applicant, who should have the right to select therefrom the medical officer who should examine him. If that were done, I feel sure that some of the doctors against whom we have complained, and who are paid a certain amount for each examination, would receive very few visits from applicants for pensions, because of their unenviable reputation. One of the doctors, concerning whose methods of examining applicants for pensions many complaints have been made, is Dr. Ludowici. I feel sure that if applicants for pensions were allowed to make a choice from a panel of doctors, Dr. Ludowici, instead of, as at present, drawing a greater amount of Commonwealth revenue than any other member of the medical fraternity in NewSouth Wales, would have no income whatever from that source. The only reason why Dr. Ludowici continues to bo the largest recipient of Commonwealth fees for the examination of pension applicants is that the Government is anxious to keep down expenditure; it does not want to give pensions to deserving persons if it can avoid doing so. The easiest way to avoid this liability and escape the direct responsibility for so doing, is to have the examination of applicants conducted by doctors who will carry out the wishes of the Government. Replies given by the Treasurer to questions by honorable members are not always satisfactory. I have in mind an old-age pensioner whose case the Treasurer promised to investigate when I raised it previously. He is now nearly 80 years of age, and has been separated from his wife for about 40 years. The pair have not been judicially separated, and as there is no agreement in existence the department has refused to increase the man’s pension to the maximum amount. Apparently, it is determined to keep his pension as low as possible. In reply to. my request that it be increased, the Treasurer stated -
I draw attention particularly to the sentence : “ The law also provides that a pension shall not be granted to any person who has, within five years preceding the date of his claim deserted his wife “. As this man separated from his wife nearly 40 years ago, I fail to see how the department can claim that the law prevents it from increasing his pension to the maximum rate.
We have heard a good deal of the sympathy of the Government with returned soldiers and their dependants, and also the dependants of deceased soldiers. Recently I brought under the notice of the Minister the case of a man who enlisted when only a boy, he having been carried away by the propaganda of those who urged young men to enlist. He contracted “ war fever “ and offered to serve- I
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. “Prowse).The honorable member has exhausted his time. !
.- The Government is in the happy position of being in receipt of increasing revenues, with the prospect of a surplus of about £4,000,000 at the end of the financial yeal’. When considering his next budget, the Treasurer will doubtless take into consideration the possibility of reducing taxation. I urge him to give serious consideration to a reduction of the tax on petrol. Originally this tax was levied in order to assist in the making of roads throughout Australia; but so lucrative has it proved, that the greater portion of the proceeds is now used to supplement the general revenue. On account of the growth of motor traffic, with its high speeds, many local bodies find great difficulty in maintaining their roads in good condition. I suggest that the Commonwealth should make more money available to the States, to be expended by the municipalities in the making and maintaining of roads in good condition. There is a tendency on the part of many municipal bodies and State authorities to concentrate on a few roads, particularly main and tourist roads, and to neglect other roads which are necessary for the trans port of produce to market. While this may be correct in many ways, roads aiding development should not be neglected. In my opinion, a greater sum should be made available to the States from the petrol tax for the upkeep of district roads.
A gentleman, who has spent years in the Northern Territory, recently expressed the opinion that whatever development took place in the territory the motor truck would play an important part. As petrol in the Northern Territory costs about 4s. a gallon, it will be seen that those who undertake exploratory and developmental work there are faced with considerable expense. The removal of the tax on petrol - about 7¼d. a gallon - would confer a real benefit on those who are endeavouring to develop this portion of the continent. I ask the Treasurer to give to this matter serious consideration.
Last week the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) advocated a campaign to advertise Australia’s attractions, with a view to encouraging tourist traffic. Although, owing to its geographical position, Australia cannot hope to attract tourists in such numbers as is possible to some other countries, a great deal can be done in that direction, as the experience of New Zealand has definitely proved. In every country that I visited last year, New Zealand was well known, largely aa a result of effective advertising, whereas Australia was not so well known. I agree with the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. John Lawson) that radio could be used to induce salaried officials in eastern countries to spend some of their furlough in Australia. A definite advertising scheme should be carried out in Canada, and the western states of America. When in Vancouver last year, I saw a film which Mr. McGregor, Australia’s trade representative in Canada, had prepared for the information of business people there. Although not long, the film was most attractive, and likely to stimulate interest in this country. In advertising Australia by means of films, Mr. McGregor is doing good work. More, however, could be done in this direction. On the vessel on which I travelled home, there were approximately 100 people, mainly from California, but only two of them came as far as Australia, and only one remained here for any length of time. But most of the passengers contemplated a somewhat prolonged stay in New Zealand. A great deal more could be done to induce residents of Los Angeles and other Californian cities to visit Australia. I urge the Government to take up this matter with the States and tourist associations to see if some more progressive steps can be initiated.
.- I rise to supplement,, and possibly to correct, some remarks which I directed to the Minister for Defence (Mr. Parkhill) recently in connexion with the policing of industrial legislation. I then suggested that inspectors under the Factories and Shops Act of Victoria should also be appointed inspectors under the federal law, in order to cope with the difficulty which has arisen in that State as a result of a decision of the High Court that an award may cover an employer, even though ho does not employ unionists. Difficulty has arisen because certain employers who have been made respondents to an award, and yet employ no unionists, have refused factory inspectors’ entry to their premises on the ground that they are not subject to the State law. At the same time they admit that they are not complying with federal awards. They feel that there is no need for them to do so because only the union could compel them to comply with the awards. As they employ no unionists, the unions are unable to obtain the information upon which a prosecution could be commenced. The power vested in the Commonwealth Government under the Arbitration Act should be exercised ; inspectors under the State acts should be made inspectors ‘»(. police awards of the federal court. But this would hardly be sufficient in the clothing trades. There are allegations of sweating by clothing manufacturers who make all articles of attire for both men and women, other than footwear and head wear, as well as other articles of cloth, and they also handle. furs. The Amalgamated and Allied Clothing Trades Union, more than any other union, deals with the problems of sub-contracting and of outdoor work - work done by people in their own homes. It also deals with a vast assemblage of crafts and trades. In Victoria the union has endeavoured to police the award by means of its own officials, and its work in that direction has been highly commended by judges and officials of the Arbitration Court. Its officers are authorized by the Court to enter and examine ‘factories but in the present trouble the union has found that the task of enforcing awards is too great for it. The appointment of more officials by the union would be one way of meeting the difficulty, but a better proposal is that the Government should appoint an inspector for the clothing industry, whose duty would be to co-operate with, and reinforce the activities of union officials - not to supersede them. I should like the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) to refer this suggestion to the officials of the Arbitration office in Melbourne, and particularly to the Registrar, to see what they think of it.
I now direct attention to the everrecurring difficulty of dealing with claims for invalid pensions. The act states that a claimant shall not be entitled to a pension unless he is permanently incapacitated from work, and the regulations state that he must be totally and permanently incapacitated. Shortly after I became a member of this House there was a discussion as to whether a person in receipt of an invalid pension should be entitled to earn as much as 6s. a week. The Treasurer was at first of opinion that this was permitted, but later he withdrew that opinion. The second schedule to the- Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act provides for the payment of a special pension to members of the Forces who axe totally and permanently incapacitated. Thos* words are defined as meaning incapacitated for life and to such an extent as to preclude the applicant from earning other than a negligible percentage of the living wage. As the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act ls now administered, a person totally and permanently incapacitated may not earn even a small amount, apart from the pension. If the same interpretation applied to the words “ totally and permanently incapacitated “ appearing in the Invalid and Oldage Pensions Act as is given to the same words in the Repatriation Act, I think that the difficulty which I have mentioned would be removed. I also direct the attention of the Treasurer to what was done when the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act was amended last year to provide service pensions for members of the Forces who are permanently unemployable. Section 4 of that act, which amends section 22 of the principal act, defines “ permanently unemployable “ as meaning “permanently incapable, by means of physical or mental disablement, of being employed in a. remunerative occupation”. That, I take it, would mean a person who is permanently incapable of competing on equal terms with his fellow workers.
In my opinion the administration of pensions is somewhat harsh. I have had brought to my notice cases of limbless persons whose invalid pensions have been forfeited simply because they have earned a little money from the sale of newspapers. Another . case is that of an epileptic woman, who is totally unemployable because no one can predict whenthe fits will recur; yet her pension has been refused, because she was capable of doing some work in her own home. I should like the Treasurer to consider whether or not the interpretation of the words can be widened and the administration of the act liberalized. Another mutter which I have mentioned on prior occasions is the action of the Administration in imputing to claimants property which they may have transferred to their children many years prior to lodging their applications. The act provides that the disposal of property in order to qualify for an invalid pension invalidates a claim. I accept the policy of that provision. But the Pensions Department goes beyond that. It insists that property of winch an applicant has dispossessed himself, not with the intention of qualifying for a pension, must, for the purposes of the act, be treated as his property. I can see no warrant for this in the act, nor can I see that it can be applied by the regulations. I suggest to the Treasurer that the matter should be reconsidered. A parent who gives property to his child can not re-take it. It legally belongs to the child. In Victoria, and, I believe, in all States, a volun tary conveyance of property is irrevocable in law.
– The honorable member will admit that it would be difficult for the department to discover intent.
– Yes, and I admit that the department’s attitude is justified in all cases where it is satisfied that the alienation of property was for the definite purpose of qualifying for a pension.
– -Doubt must arise in all. cases, except those in which there is admission by ‘ the. applicant.
– I am dealing with cases in which the department admits that there was no suggestion that the applicant had deprived himself of property for the purpose of qualifying- for a pension.
Mr.Casey. - ‘That might be the department’s polite manner of conveying an intimation to the applicant.
– No. I have been advised of cases in which the alienation of property took place many years before the applicant had any intention of seeking a pension.
– In the last twelve months the administration has been very much liberalized.
– Yes, and I hope that, in the course of time, as the result of representations made by honorable members, including myself, it will be still further liberalized.
All honorable members are interested in the negotiations for an agreement between the Commonwealth and New Zealand Governments, concerning the export of Australian citrus fruits to New Zealand. In 1913, when the late Mr. Andrew Fisher was Prime Minister of Australia and Mr. F. M. Fisher was Minister for Defence in New Zealand, a reciprocal arrangementwas made in respect of invalid and old-age pensions administration. The New Zealand Government gave an undertaking that the period of residence in Australia of an applicant for a pension in New Zealand would be regarded as residence in the dominion, and the Commonwealth Government gave a similar undertaking with respect to applicants for Commonwealth pensions who had come to Australia from New
Zealand. That agreement was ratified by New Zealand in 1913, but it has never been ratified by the Commonwealth. The members of the present New Zealand Government, when they were in opposition, were extremely anxious that it should be ratified, and this is also the general desire of the people of the dominion, as far as I can judge from a perusal of the parliamentary debates. I hope that this Government will give the matter its early consideration.
.- As there is now every prospect of another substantial surplus in the present financial year, as the result of returning prosperity, the Government should consider seriously proposals for a further reduction of taxation. [Quorum formed.]
For the last two or three years I have felt that taxation has been unnecessarily heavy. Successive surpluses have prompted organizations representing certain sections of the community to appeal to the Government for assistance which I consider should not have been given to them. The honorable member for Echuca (Mr. McEwen) has suggested that the wealthy pastoral companies and squatters are in grave difficulties, and should receive some assistance. We all know that these people have their agents here to apply early for their “ cut “ out of any surplus. In order to discourage this tendency the Government should frame its estimates of revenue more in accordance with its estimates of expenditure. It is not wise “for a government to budget for a large surplus because, as we have seen, pressure is so often brought to bear on the Ministry to get concessions, and one section usually succeeds in securing an unfair proportion of the surplus wealth. It is no exaggeration to say that about 50 per cent, of our pastoralists are also wheat-growers on a large scale. Yet, though they make a profit on wool or fat lambs they claim to participate in the bounties and relief made available to wheat-growers.
– Does the honorable member think that there should not be any remissions of taxation?
– The honorable member for Echuca apparently considers that the land tax should be the first to be reduced.
Honorable members are well aware that any person whose property has an unimproved value of less than £5.000 is exempt from that tax. I am unable to understand how any one can have the effrontery to advocate the removal of this tax from wealthy land-owners, while there is emergency taxation like the sales tax, which bears heavily upon the poor in the community and increases the difficulties of the workers. I hope that the Government will turn a deaf ear to the solicitations of certain vested interests. I have made it a practice to plead for the man on the lowest rung of the social ladder, and with the smallest income. The wealthy men are well able to look after themselves. To suggest that those who are in affluent circumstances should be the first to benefit from remissions of taxation is wicked. The sales tax was imposed as an emergency measure. No tax has been responsible for more litigation, or has caused greater disturbance among the business community. The small man is practically being driven out of business by the harsh nature of the investigations which are conducted by sales tax officials. Whenever a merchant or a small business man makes out a sales tax return, the most inquisitorial investigation is conducted by these officials. I know of men who have been forced into bankruptcy, not by the tax, but by the penalty imposed by the department. According to my experience, it is one of the worst taxes ever imposed on a “business community. The proprietor of a cash-and-carry business or departmental store can purchase £100 worth of goods at a time on a cash basis, and thereby obtain a discount of 5 per cent, or 10 per cent. The small shopkeeper not only cannot secure such terms, but is also penalized by having to pay a sales tax which he cannot collect from his customers. Before any other remissions are made, this tax should be reduced to at least 2½ per cent., even though that might mean a loss to the revenue of £3,000,000 or £4,000,000; The methods adopted in its collection are such that the revenue derived from it would probably expand despite the reduction of the rate.
In connexion with the granting of invalid and war pensions, a very, serious injustice is suffered by applicants. whose cases are on the border line. I have had the honour to represent a soldier in the prosecution of his claim. When the case came before the Repatriation Board, I sought and was refused permission to be present at the medical examination. I had a similar experience before the Assessment Tribunal. I obtained medical advice outside the department, and was assured that, lacking representation by a medical man, this soldier would find it impossible to obtain justice. I arranged for one applicant to be medically examined in my own home. He had been shot through the lung, and applied for a pension on three grounds: first, because of the wound which had healed; secondly, on account of spondylitis; and, thirdly, by reason of weakness of the heart’s action. I was informed by the medical officer that the claim would probably be disputed on two issues, and that, in connexion with the heart’s action, he said that’ five doctors might agree that the effect was as claimed, and another five might disagree. Recently, I had another case of a man whose pension was stopped after payment had been made to him for fifteenyears. Four years after its withdrawal, I had the pleasure of getting it restored to him, but at the lowest amount. He was not, accorded the privilege of a check by a medical officer of the tests imposed on him.
– (Mr.Riordan). - The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I desire to comment on the largeness of the expenditure upon our Defence Forces, first, because I believe that the money could be better expended in other directions, such as in providing food, clothing and shelter for the many thousands of persons who are without them to-day, and. secondly, because I consider that there is growing up in this country a military clique such as has existed in other countries, which has no regard for Parliament, and pays no heed to inquiries that may be made from time to time by elected representatives of the people. Many hon- orable members will admit that when, they have attempted to obtain information from the military authorities or the “Naval Board, they have received at most one or two lines which have not conveyed the information desired. Australian youths are being trained in a manner that is not conducive to the future welfare of this country. No attempt is made to instill into them the ideals of Australian citizenship which are so much spoken of but, unfortunately, are so lightly regarded by many governments. The people of Australia would know nothing of the happenings at naval and military establishments were it not for the fact that occasionally aggrieved parties are prepared to state their case to members of Parliament. A lad named Arthur Nursey entered the Royal Australian Naval College; Flinders Bay, as a cadet midshipman. Within one month, the complaint was made to his parents that he was not complying with the requirements of the naval authorities, and not conforming to matters of discipline in the college. A fortnight later he was discharged, and his parents experienced considerable difficulty in obtaining either from the Naval. Board or. from the Minister for Defence (Mr. Parkhill) a satisfactory explanation of the reason for that action. The boy himself has said that on different occasions he was subjected to certain impositions. One was by a third-year cadet for having failed to stop and stand to attention when spoken to; another by a. fourth-year cadet because he did not stand when addressed in the reference library; and a third, again by a fourthyear cadet, for incorrect marching. He knew of no other complaints against him. The parents, thinking that the departmental action may have been taken because it was believed that there was something morally wrong with the hoy, communicated with Vice- Admiral Sir Francis Hyde, and the mother received the following reply: -
I am directed by Vice-Admiral Sir Francis Hyde to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of 21st April, 1936, relative to your, son, and to assure you that, his withdrawal from the Royal Australian Naval College was not on account of criminal or vicious acts, but for the reasons which have been communcated to you by the Naval Board and the Minister for Defence.
The reason communicated by the Naval Board was that he was not considered suitable for naval training. It was said that he would have a bad influence on the other boys in the college. I quite appreciate the refusal of a boy with any spirit to conform to such conditions. He might have exercised an influence on the other boys, but it would have been beneficial. The majority of the officers who control Australian naval and military establishments are importations, who attempt to introduce codes which operate in other parts of the world, but are entirely unsuitable to Australia and should not be tolerated. I hope that the Minister will, supply the parents of this lad with full details of the circumstances which led to his discharge from: the college. I urge him not to adopt the usual course of merely supplying the Naval Board with a copy of my remarks ; because, if so, the parents concerned will be unable to make any further progress with their inquiries.
I have endeavoured, by means of questions addressed to the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Hughes), to obtain some satisfaction in regard to the many complaints brought under my notice concerning the operation of the amended regulations with respect to the granting of service pensions. I have since ascertained that, to some of the questions which I asked, the Minister was unable to reply. I find that to one returned soldier, a reply was sent by the Minister as follows : -
I have your letter dated 20th ult., in which you ask me to advise you whether you are eligible for a war pension. Without having the full particulars of your case before me, I am unable to do this; but if you are a member of the Australian Imperial Force, and served in a theatre of war, and are now, through physical disability, unemployable, you will be eligible for a service pension under the amending legislation now before the House, and which will como into force on the 1st January. Whether you are entitled to a War pension is another matter, and the fact that you are in receipt of an invalid pension would not prevent you from getting a service pension.
The returned soldier sought further information, and evidently the Minister became doubtful as to how the act should be applied to this case, for he then replied -
With further reference to your letter of the 10th December, and your call at this office when you interviewed my secretary, I am asking the Repatriation Commission to advise me as to whether the information contained in my reply was correct or not. When my inquiries are complete I will write you again.
Those were the replies received from the Minister who introduced the amending bill. After giving his interpretation of .the effect of the measure, he asked the Repatriation Commission whether the information he had supplied was correct. He promised that a hand-book would be prepared in connexion with service pensions. If I am not mistaken, he said that it was in course of preparation. I trust that it will be issued as soon as possible, because I have received numerous complaints from returned soldiers’ organizations. Only last week-end, I was invited to attend the Randwick Military Hospital. This institution is not, in the electorate which I directly represent. in this Parliament. I was asked to take the matter up because, according to these returned soldiers, they had communicated with their own member, .,the honorable member for “Watson (Mr; Jennings), but he had neglected to obtain particulars of their requests.
– That is not correct.
– I can produce statements from inmates of the Randwick Military Hospital to the effect that requests were sent to the honorable member to attend the hospital on many occasions, and that he has not responded to them. I can substantiate my statement. I was unable to attend the hospital last Sunday because I was engaged elsewhere on party business ; but the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Mulcahy) visited the institution and interviewed many of the inmates, returned men who are suffering from tuberculosis. One of them, named Dwyer, assured the honorable member that certain requests had been made to the honorable member for Watson to hear their complaints.
– I rise to make a personal explanation-
- (Mr. Riordan). - The honorable member may not make a personal explanation at this stage.
– At the Randwick Military Hospital it was said that a petition had been prepared and signed by over 70 tubercular ex-soldiers, that they desired it to be presented to this Parliament, and that it was given to the honorable .member for Macquarie (Mr. John Lawson) over three weeks ago. It has not yet been presented to Parliament.
– That statement is utterly and unequivocally false, and I ask for its withdrawal.
– I ask the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. “Ward) to withdraw the statement to which objection has been taken.
– I point out that I have merely repeated information supplied to me by returned soldiers at the Randwick Military Hospital.
– I claim that the remark is not only utterly false, but also offensive to me, and, therefore, I ask for its withdrawal.
– 1 see nothing offensive in the remark.
– I rise to a point of order. I submit that the honorable member has made an accusation which reflects upon me.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.There is no point of order. The honorable member will have an opportunity later to correct the statement to which he takes exception.
– The correctness of my statement can easily be ascertained by interviewing the returned soldier inmates of the hospital. They will substantiate what’ I have said. When the amending legislation dealing with the service pension was under discussion in this chamber, it was understood that tubercular soldiers and others, in addition to receiving the pension, were to be given medical attention at the expense of the Government; but the men at Randwick complain that, when they entered the hospital for treatment, 10s. a week was deducted from their pension.
– That is done at all military hospitals.
– If that be so-
The honorable member has exhausted his time.
– I rise to a personal explanation. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) stated that returned soldiers who are inmates of the Randwick Military Hospital had asked me to wait on them in connexion with a petition which they desired to present to the Minister for Repatriation. On no occasion has such an application been made to me. I had a request from a returned soldier named Dwyer, and, as far as my memory serves me, the matter was taken up with the Minister. I can, I think, produce correspondence showing that the case was dealt with in the proper channels. There are two very strong representative returned soldier bodies in the district which will verify my activities.
– The honorable member is now going beyond a personal explanation.
– I also desire to make a personal explanation concerning the accusation levelled against me by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), when he said that I had refused properly to attend to a petition that was presented to me, signed by certain tubercular ex-soldiers. Probably the men to whom he referred came from the sanatorium at Wentworth Falls. Shortly before their removal to the Randwick Military Hospital, I made a special visit to the Wentworth Falls institution, to discuss with them the amended Repatriation Act. I explained its provisions, noted such objections as the ex-soldiers had to the measure, and forwarded their requests to the Minister. I asked them, in the event of their leaving Wentworth Falls and going to any other hospital, to communicate with me, should they need my assistance in any matter of that character. In one or two instances I have had communications from them. I have received no petition of any kind that has not had full and sympathetic attention, and at no time have I failed to give proper attention to communications which I have had from them. The allegation .levelled against me by the honorable member is simply a vile calumny, of a kind that only he, of all honorable members in this chamber, is capable.
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. John Lawson), I submit, is out of order in saying that the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) had uttered a vile calumny, of which only he was capable.
– If the cap fits, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) can wear it, too.
– The honorable member’s cap would not fit me. I submit that to describe an honorable member as a calumniator is offensive, and a breach of parliamentary decency.
– If the remark is offensive to the honorable member for East Sydney-
– In view of the calibre of the honorable member who has made the remark-
– Order ! The honorable member for Corangamite-
.- I propose to discuss the subject of military training from a different view-point from that of other speakers. The Minister for Defence (Mr. Parkhill), the Defence Department, and the officers of the permanent forces and the militia, are doing all in their power to make the present system’ of training a success, but I regret that there seems to be a growing tendency on the part of certain employers to refuse to co-operate with the department in the matter of giving leave to their employees to enable them to do military training. The period of training now provided - twelve days a year - is little enough, and six days of this time is spent in camps of continuous training, where probably the most beneficial instruction is received. If an employee cannot obtain leave to attend a camp of continuous training, he, to all intents and purposes, loses the whole of the benefit of the training year. Many units have gone into camp shockingly weak in numbers, due partly to poor recruiting, but more often, I am afraid, to inability to obtain leave. I am told that one firm in Melbourne will not engage a man if he is a serving member of the defence forces. How can any system of training succeed if the community adopts such an attitude towards it? A six-days’ training period is not much, particularly when one day is spent in marching into camp and another day in marching out; and the efficiency of a unit must suffer if a proportion of its personnel is unable to attend. In some instances I realize that it is impossible for the members of the militia to obtain leave. This applies, for example, in country centres if camps are held at a time when there is a danger of fire, or when some seasonal occupation must be undertaken. I emphasize that there is no system which interferes less with the industrial life of the community than does the present system of voluntary training, but if a greater measure of co-operation is not forthcoming this system will stand in a very real danger of failure. In direct contradistinction to the attitude adopted by those employers, I cite the following extract from the speech of the Secretary of State for War, Mr. Duff-Cooper, when he introduced the Army Estimates into the House of Commons on the 12th March last -
I would make an appeal, not only to honorable members, as I have done, on behalf of the Regular Army, but also to employers in the country, who can do more than anybody else in recruiting for the Territorials. We have recently been set a very fine example. Lord Rothermere, a gentleman with whom I have not always seen eye to eye, has made the announcement that he will give to every young man in his employment who joins the Territorial Army two weeks’ full holiday in order to attend his camps, and full pay, without allowing it in any way to interfere with such holiday as that employee would otherwise enjoy. If other employers were to follow that example, it would go very far towards solving our difficulties, and I sincerely hope they will.
That attitude of mind could well be adopted, even in a modified form, by some Australian employers. I think, too, that the time has come when a review of the present system of training will have to be made, and when the Minister may have to consider the institution of the granting of an efficiency bonus similar to that which used to exist in the British Territorial Army, and which has been restored quite recently. I hope that the Government will inquire into the possibility of prevailing upon employers to grant leave to those members of their staffs who are members of the voluntary forces.
Recently the Postal Department increased the hours of attendance at various country post offices - an action which met with universal approval. If a post office is opened only from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. it is of little advantage to the farmer, because during those hours he is normally not at home. The period from 6 p.m. to 8 o’clock is most suitable for his requirements, and even if the country post offices were open for only those two hours he would receive more benefit than from the ordinary hours. I feel sure that an increase of revenue would result from the greater use of the telephone if the hours were extended as I suggest.
At present private mail hags are granted at a rental of £2 a year. Several farmers have suggested to me that it might be possible to allow this rental to be paid half-yearly instead of yearly. I hope that the department will consider the possibility of meeting this desire. .
Country telephone directories are now published only once a year, in November, and I recently asked that they be published twice yearly. The department informed me that it was not, at present, possible to accede to this wash, “but that the position would be reviewed next November. I hope that the result of that review will be favorable to my request.
The honorable member’ for Brisbane (Mr. George Lawson) to-night made several references to the treatment of crippled children, a matter which is of paramount importance to this country, and has to be regarded not only from the health viewpoint, but also from the economic viewpoint. There have been outbreaks of the disease known as infantile paralysis, three of them occurring over a period of twenty years, and, although they were minor outbreaks, the residual effect of them has been that the Commonwealth is now providing £1S,000 per annum in invalid pensions. Surely, as prevention is better than cure,
Ave should make it our business to turn potential cripples into healthy, useful citizens of the community. I should like to see a system for the treatment of potential cripples introduced, with the federal authority exercising a guiding control, and the States establishing centres and sub-centres to radiate from the children’s hospitals, in order that the patients may be attended in their own homes by trained physio-therapists.
The honorable member for Indi (Mr. Hutchinson) has urged the Government to be more liberal in its allocation of the collections from petrol tax for the purpose of the construction of roads. I join with him in that plea, but I go further in that I should like to see it made condi- tional by the Commonwealth when it makes a grant to a State that at least 50 per cent, of the money shall be distributed directly among shires and municipalities in order that they may develop their minor roads. If this system were adopted, it would not only lead to an improvement of the roads in the various shires, but also give relief to the ratepayers by enabling municipalities to reduce their rates.
In common with other members of the committee, I listened with a great deal of interest to the speech of the right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) when he discussed the matter of tourist traffic, and made certain suggestions to the Government. It is an undeniable fact that a considerable sum of money left Australia last year because of the Jubilee celebrations, and it is equally
I true that an even larger sum will leave the country next year because. of the coronation of King Edward VIII. It. must be very difficult for Treasury officials to estimate even approximately what the effect of the tourist traffic is, but I imagine that the balance is substantially against Australia. The greatest drawback to attracting tourists to Australia lies in the distance of this country from England and Europe, but with the application of science to methods of transport, this drawback is becoming less and less every year. Australia possesses every resource necessary for the attraction of tourist traffic. Steps have been taken to advertise Australia, but a great deal more could still be done. The right honorable member for Yarra suggested that a number of small attractively designed booklets could be distributed widely, the honorably, member for Macquarie (Mr. John Lawson) recommended the use of broadcasting, especially with a view to advertising in the East, and the honorable member for Indi proposed a comprehensive use of the cinema. All of these forms of advertising are valuable, and are to a greater or less degree already in existence, but if they are to succeed they must be considerably enlarged. The possibilities of tourist traffic bringing money into Australia are enormous. The right honorable member for Yarra will know that a town in the electorate which I represent, and which waa formerly represented by him. is able to attract visitors and tourists, with the result that it now derives the greater part of its income from this source. If that can be done on a small scale, it can be done on a large scale. That it pays to advertise is a truism. The wool-grower3 have realized this. It appears to be almost ridiculous to say that to advertise beer is to increase its consumption, but the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Lane) will be gratified to learn that, as the result of adopting the slogan “ Beer is best,” the British breweries increased their sales by 1,000,000 barrels in one year. I regret the somewhat suspicious mind of the honorable member for Barton with regard to the speech made by the honorable member for Echuca (Mr. McEwen). The honorable member seemed to be very apprehensive concerning the removal of the land tax. I should like to debate the matter with him to show him exactly why the land tax is an unjust one, and why I hope that the Treasurer, when framing his Estimates for the next financial year, will give serious consideration to its removal.
.- In my opinion, the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) introduced a matter of great interest and vital importance when he referred to the evasion of federal awards. In Queensland, the federal awards are being abused by the employers to a considerable extent, because no provision has been made for inspection to see that they are being observed. In the town of Tully, inNorth Queensland, the butchering trade is covered by a federal award, which sets out that work shall not commence before 6 a.m., but it never commences later than 4 a.m., and sometimes it is as early as 2.30 a.m. Considerable noise is caused by the machinery, but there is no authority to restrain the employers in this instance. When I brought this matter under the notice of the Attorney-General in an endeavour to obtain the services of Mr. Blakeley, in order to ensure that the abuses would be rectified, I was told that Mr. Blakeley was busily engaged on other matters. I quite believe the truth of that statement, but, nevertheless, it is important that these employers should be made to obey the awards of the Federal
Court. Towards this end, the Federal Government should give authority to State industrial inspectors in Queensland to supervise federal awards, and if that were done I am sure that better ‘feeling would be created.
The federal clothing trades award also covers a large number of persons in Queensland, and a considerable number of breaches of it are committed. Previously this industry was governed by State awards, but for some reason or other it was insisted that the federal awards should apply. The result has been that, instead of the award being obeyed, it is’ now ignored, because no provision has been made to police it. This does not apply to all employers in the clothing trade, but among all employers there is always a section that has to be continually policed by inspectors in order to ensure their observance of awards. If such persons are permitted to disobey the terms of an award, they in turn compel those in competition with them to follow suit.
The honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Street) enlarged upon the statement made by the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. George Lawson) in regard to infant welfare. In this connexion, I commend the efforts of Sister Kenny, who has established centres in New South Wales and North Queensland, to overcome infantile paralysis. If the beneficial results of her work were more generally known, I am sure that great assistance would he given to her to extend her endeavours. I know Sister Kenny well, and, on one occasion when 1 was discussing this disease with her, she stated that she believed that the human family would benefit from an international conference of those who believed in methods of treatment similar to her own. She said, “ I do not claim that my treatment is the best, and that any particular person has all the best of everything in this matter, but if we were to obtain an interchange of ideas in this connexion, undoubtedly the human family would benefit “. A very prominent lady, at a conference held recently in Canberra, took Sister Kenny to task because she refused to publish certain particulars in connexion with her treatment. I have found no difficulty in obtaining any information I desired from her. For a long time she has been conducting her work in Queensland, and never have I experienced any difficulty in approaching her in an endeavour to elicit what is being done. Daily and weekly one can perceive the benefits that accrue to the children, particularly the small ones, who are treated by her. It is well to know that we have in Australia a woman like Sister Kenny, who is prepared to devote her time to this work. Anything which the Government can do to assist her will be worth while, and money devoted to this purpose will be well spent. No question arises of conflict with the medical fraternity, because she treats only those cases which have been given up by the ordinary medical practitioners. If it were possible, as Sister Kenny suggests, to institute a system for the exchange of opinions throughout the world on the best, method of treating this disease, it would, I believe, be of great advantage to humanity.
I am satisfied, that, in my own electorate, the Postal Department is doing good work. Money spent by the department in providing better postal and telephonic communication represents a good national investment.
– I desire to draw attention to the policy, or lack of policy, of the Opposition regarding defence. During this debate, wc have listened to an eloquent dissertation from the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. “Ward) regarding the management of the defence forces. Recently, the (honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) asked why we were not taking- steps to ensure that the independence of Austria was preserved.
– I asked what was being done in regard to the reintroduction of conscription in Austria, contrary to the Versailles Treaty.
– Very well, we shall let it go at that. The other day, the Labor Daily, a semi-official organ of the Labour party, referred to the men. on H.M.A.S. Sydney and H.M.A.S. Australia in the Mediterranean a-s conscript crews. This afternoon, the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) asked why the Government had not taken steps to deal with certain persons in Northern Australian waters. One would have thought that a party which aspires to govern Australia would feel the need for speaking with a united voice on the subject of defence, and we are justified in asking whether the Opposition really has any defence policy, or whether it is, for members of the Opposition, a matter of goasyoupleaseTonight, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) urged the Government to construct a dry dock in Melbourne.. It is time that some clear statement of policy was forthcoming from the Opposition. For my part, I have no doubt as to where I stand. I am one of those oldfashioned, conservative persons who believe in universal military training. I do not hedge in regard to that policy in the least, and I would impose it on this country to-morrow if I had my way. Some members of the Opposition seem to have the idea that the defence of Australia is wrapped up with the matter of a dry dock for Melbourne. In my opinion, it is not concerned with a dry dock anywhere. If Australia is to be defended, against raids, it will be done not by naval forces, but by mobile land forces, highly trained, and possessing high striking power. One honorable (member had something to say about restoring the issue of ammunition to rifle clubs. Asfar as the defence of Australia is concerned, the rifle is as obsolete as the blunderbuss. The only weapon that counts is the machine gun, and the Government should take steps to train our armed forces in. the use of this weapon.
Our broken railway gauges militate against the mobility of our forces, but, on the other hand, the country, for the most part, is fairly open, and lends itself to the use of motor units, provided we have the necessary equipment. Therefore, I say that the time is overdue when we should have a statement regarding defence, both from the Government and from the Opposition, particularly having’ regard to the international situation in the Pacific at the present time. When we consider the extent to which the revenue may be committed for defence purposes in the near future, it seems illogical for honorable members on this side of the
House to demand substantial remissions of taxation. It may be possible to make some remissions, and, if it be possible, I hope they will be made; but I am convinced that the people will stand resolutely behind any government which is prepared to face our responsibilities in regard to defence. We must rouse ourselves from that sense of false security into which we were lulled by the Treaty of Versailles and our membership of the “League of Nations.
I was surprised and alarmed to learn that the Commonwealth Government proposes to raise another loan of £3,000,000. We are fas*t approaching a position when our total interest bill will be equal to what we ‘had to pay at the time the Premiers plan came into operation. We all know how the Premiers plan benefited the country, and how a certain degree of prosperity has returned to Australia. Speaking at Glasgow, a little while ago, the Premier of Queensland was most eloquent regarding the benefit of the Premiers plan, and its effect in restoring prosperity to the people of Australia. Every honorable member, I think, lias been supplied with a copy of this statement; honorable members opposite ought to frame it. It is of the utmost importance that increases of the public debt should be avoided. We must recognize that, if we continue to Increase our public debt then, sooner or later, no matter what government is in power, we shall be faced with one or two awkward alternatives. I do not propose to discuss either of these alternatives tonight. I simply emphasize that it is essential for us to get down to budgetary equilibrium in State as well as in Commonwealth finance, and to cut our coat according to the cloth at our disposal.
.- It is interesting to note the different viewpoints put forward to-day in respect of the Government’s prospective surplus of £4,000,000. Many people will be disappointed if this surplus does not materialize. Although it is as yet merely conjecture, everybody seems to be cutting his cloth accordingly. Already further appeals for assistance have been put forward by those who claim to represent the primary producers in this chamber despite the fact that during the last four years these interests have taken out of the Commonwealth Treasury over £20,000,000 in subsidies and bounties. Other honorable members, particularly the honorable member for Lilley (Sir Donald Cameron), advocate that further reductions of taxes should be made, whilst at the same time, advocating a further huge increase of expenditure on defence. The honorable member did not make it clear whether he thought he could have it both ways. He did not make it clear how the Government, if it distributed its expected surplus of £4,000,000 in remissions of taxes, was going to spend huge additional sums on the extra defence provisions which he advocated. If the Government has any surplus on this occasion - and it appears to be confident that it will - it should distribute some of its beneficent gifts in directions totally opposite to those in which it has distributed similar gifts during the last couple of years.
Reference has been made to the degree of work, and the additional expense, entailed on shire and municipal councils, on roads on which they have to pay for the whole of the upkeep despite the fact that the Commonwealth Government collects and utilizes the whole of the petrol tax. In this respect, I refer to the vast number of properties in shires, towns and cities, owned by this Government, on which it pays no municipal rates. I have here a statement from the Town Clerk of Petersham, which is situated in my electorate, which shows that the unimproved capital value of properties occupied by postoffices and postal exchanges, and held by the Defence and Postmaster-General’s Departments, total £6,000, and on these properties this Government escapes municipal rates amounting to £143 15s. annually. In the Marrickville .and Leichhardt subdivisions this Government owns or occupies property of even greater value upon which it pays no rates. During the depression local governing bodies played a prominent part in placing men in work and took over a good deal of the responsibilities of the .State governments in that direction, with the result that most of them have been plunged into debt. They have received no relief whatever through the various grants made by this Government for the purpose of relieving unemployment. Usually such grants are given direct to the State governments which distribute the money to the municipal councils to meet expenditure on relief work done in their areas, but none of this money is used to pay for materials used by the men in doing such work. Consequently these councils do not receive any direct monetary benefit through such grants. I suggest to the Government - and particularly the Treasurer - that, if it intends to dispense any of its anticipated surplus for this year in the form of gifts, it should give consideration to these councils in the same way as the Commonwealth Bank acts towards councils in whose areas it owns property. I understand that, although there is no compulsion on the part of the Commonwealth Bank to pay municipal rates, it makes certain payments in lieu of rates to these councils for services which they render to the bank. If the Commonwealth Bank can do that, surely it is the duty of the Commonwealth Government to make similar payments in return for services which these bodies render to it in respect of its properties, but upon which no municipal rates are collected.
Although I have dealt with the subject on a number of previous occasions, I draw attention to the work of converting the Petersham telephone exchange from the manual to the automatic system. This has been dragging on in piecemeal fashion for a couple of years, and there has been a good deal of discussion about it. not only by the Petersham council, but also by other municipal bodies whose areas are embraced by this service. Through myself, these bodies have made repeated representations to the Minister to have this work expedited.
– Would that not put many people out of employment?
– I think not. Indeed, in the last analysis, it should increase employment. In one direction, certainly, the service of numbers of female employees will be dispensed with; but I understand from those who are in a position to know, that the upkeep of the new exchange will require a considerably larger number, of male .employees- than are now engaged. I am not an. authority on telephone matters; but I have been given this assurance by people who are familiar with them, and, therefore, should know what they are talking about. Under present conditions, however, the community is paying through the nose, as it were, for an inferior service. The subscribers pay an extortionate ground rent for telephones, and also so much a call. So serious were complaints in this respect that the Petersham council took up the matter of extortionate charges shown on the accounts of certain subscribers, but it appears that no matter what information is placed before it, the department always claims that its system of checking calls is infallible. Judging by the number of accounts challenged, I do not think that it is always in the right. I repeat that this work, which has already cost this Government £70,000, has been going on over two years, and I do not think that one-quarter of the number of telephones has yet been converted.
Another matter to which I draw attention is the supply of telephone cabinets in public places. The honorable member for Darling Downs (Sir Littleton Groom) complained to-day that the departmentwould not install these conveniences in public places because it did not think they would pay. I base my complaint in this respect on entirely different grounds. On a number of occasions when municipal councils in my electorate have made representations to have telephone bureaux installed in busy centres, the department has invariably replied to the effect that the investigating officer has inspected the site, and is satisfied, that the telephone would be a paying proposition, but that, because of th(e shortage of cabinets, the installations could not be undertaken for a considerable period. The honorable member for Darling Downs (Sir Littleton Groom) said that some of his constituents had been denied the use of cabinets because the department contended that they would be unprofitable. In many instances, the department has admitted that they would pay handsomely, but that they were unable to provide the service because sufficient cabinets -were not available.. Thousands qf men are available in the metropolitan,, area .to undertake the construction of (telephone cabinets, and their services could be profitably employed by the Postmaster-General (Senator McLachlan) in making cabinets, and in placing them in the positions recommended by municipal bodies where the department admits that they would be profitable. Despite the alleged return of prosperity, and the increased number of telephones in use, the same old excuse is being trotted out.
The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) referred to the dissatisfaction which exists amongst those who claim to be eligible for service pensions. When the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) introduced an amending repatriation bil] he explained the benefits it would confer upon applicants whose claims for a pension had not been accepted because they were unable to prove that their disability was due to war service. The further we probe into the subject of service pensions the more complicated it becomes. Up to the present, it is difficult to find an applicant whose claim has not been rejected on some ground which was unknown to those who heard the bill explained. The Minister for Repatriation promised that a handbook would be prepared similar to that published for the benefit of invalid and old-age pensioners when the property clause was inserted in an amending invalid and old-age pensions act, but nothing has yet been done.” The sooner the departmental officers get on to the job of preparing such a book, the better it will be for those believed to be entitled to service pensions.
I trust that before any further restorations are made in the matter of parliamentary allowances, public servants’ salaries or remissions of taxes, the Government will honour the definite pledge made in 1931, which was supported by honorable members on both sides of the House, that one of the first steps to be taken immediately after budget equilibrium had been reached would he to restore invalid and old-age pensions. That was the most definite of the promises made to any section of the community affected by the reductions under financial emergency legislation. Every honorable member who supported ; the “ reduction in 1931” claimed that’1 lie regretted’” doing” so: and said ‘ that immediately the finan cial position warranted he would support a restoration. The surpluses for the last two years have been used to remit taxes paid by the wealthier sections of the community. We have restored to a degree parliamentary allowances a.nd public servants’ salaries, and it is now the duty of the Government to honour the promise made in 1931 by restoring invalid and old-age pensions.
– In following with interest the speeches of honorable members on both sides of the chamber, I have noticed that the general consensus of opinion is that Australia has been restored to some measure of prosperity, and that doles of all types must be dispensed with as soon as possible. I should like to ask those honorable members, who have condemned primary producers for receiving assistance in the form of bounties during the last few years, what the position of the rest of the community would have been had our exporting industries been allowed to fall into. a. state of chaos. I commend the Government for the help which it ha3 given rural industries during the last few years, and I trust that as soon as these industries are able to stand on their feet all financial assistance to them will be withdrawn. I commend those honorable members who, in advising the Government of the manner in which it should improve its overseas trade balance, have said that we should attract as many persons from overseas as possible. Money spent on advertising Australia overseas would not be wasted. Large numbers leave Australia every year to visit Great Britain and other countries, and next year. .an unusually large contingent will be visiting Britain to attend the ceremonies associated with the King’s Coronation. We should attract visitors from other parts of the world, not merely because we wish them to spend their money in Australia, but because we would like them to become acquainted with Australia, and learn what we have to sell. One of the most important ways in which to promote prosperity is by increasing the number of overseas clients. [Quorum formed.] The restrictions placed on these people “by “customs and taxation officers are irksome, and do not encourage tourists ‘to visit Australia: I do not advocate that all control of this kind should be abandoned, but I think the necessary inquiries could be made much more tactfully than at present.
I congratulate the Government upon the result of its financial administration. Our customs and postal revenues are gratifyingly buoyant. This causes me to suggest that the Government should consider a reduction of postal charges and the provision of additional telephonic facilities. If action cannot bc taken in both directions, I appeal for favorable consideration of one or the other. I ask also for more considerate treatment of persons in charge of allowance post offices, many of whom have been unable to enjoy a holiday for several years. When these post offices are conducted in conjunction with shops, those in attendance are usually able to obtain relief fairly regularly, but when the post office is the only activity of the person concerned, it frequently happens that he or she is unable to get a holiday at all. I know that these offices are conducted under contract, and that the department is under no obligation to allow holidays, but, in view of the small salaries paid to the attendants, the Government should consider the appointment of a few relieving officers, who could attend at selected places, so that the persons usually in charge could enjoy a holiday occasionally.
I pay a tribute to the general efficiency of our Postal Department. Exceptionally fine service is rendered, particularly in the telephone and postal branches. But the Government would be well advised to give a little more attention to the position of temporary employees. It frequently happens #hat youths who spend two, three or even four years in the service of the department are dismissed when they reach a certain age. They are then unable to obtain work at a reasonable remuneration elsewhere, and are beyond the usual age for apprenticeship, and all too frequently are obliged to join the ranks of the unemployed. This is bad for them, and also for -the country.
Another matter that should be reviewed is the land-line charge imposed upon B class wireless broadcasting stations. As honorable members are well aware, these stations provide an invaluable service in the outlying districts of Australia. Many people who are unable to buy expensive wireless sets, and must rely on crystal sets or sets with one or two valves have to depend upon the local B class broadcasting station for entertainment. Obviously, if the land-line charges imposed on these stations are heavy the quality of their programmes suffers. The users of crystal or low-powered wireless sets have to pay the same amount in licence fees as those with more expensive sets. Whilst I do npt suggest that the B class stations should be allocated a portion of the wireless licence fee, I think it not unfair to ask that the land line charges they are required to pay should be reduced.
The defence of Australia is a matter of supreme moment to us. I was present recently at a battalion parade which should have attracted an attendance of several hundred, but the battalion could, not muster more than 100 men. This is a disgraceful and dangerous state of affairs. The Government should reintroduce universal military training. For a number of reasons which I shall not enumerate at the moment the voluntary system has failed to give satisfactory results. The young men of Australia should be obliged to undergo some sort of training, not only to fit them to take their part as soldiers if ever our country should be called upon to defend itself, but also to instill in them an appreciation of the value of discipline, which is at present not realized. The military forces of Australia should be enlarged. This would help to strengthen our defences and also, to some extent, relieve the unemployment market.
I appeal to the Government to assist in the maintenance and development of the aerodrome which has been established near Hamilton, in my electorate, by the local Water Works Trust. Such aerodromes would undoubtedly be of considerable value to the Commonwealth if war should occur. Aerodromes and landing grounds must become increasingly necessary in various country districts of Australia. The Defence Department assists certain activities in Australia on the offchance that they may be of use for defence purposes. As the aerodrome at Hamilton falls within that category I appeal to the Government for some contribution towards the cost of maintaining and developing it.
There is a general desire throughout Australia for a reduction of taxes. The federal land tax and the sales tax at once suggest avenues for action in this regard. I know that the Treasurer is anxious to effect such reductions of taxation as are possible.
– State deficits to the amount of about £4,000,000 will need to be financed this year.
– I am aware of that, and also of the other financial obligations of the Government; but I hope that as soon as possible taxation will be still further reduced. I suggest that the petrol tax should be more equitably used. Although the Commonwealth Government is at present collecting several million pounds a year through this tax it is dispersing to the States considerably less than it collects. No doubt the Treasurer will say that the Commonwealth is entitled to some of the money, but the disparity between the amount collected and the amount paid out to the States is too great, and I ask that the whole scheme be reviewed.
.- For some time I have been receiving requests from progress associations and municipal councils in my electorate for the provision of public telephone cabinets. In several instances, when these requests have been forwarded to the PostmasterGeneral’s Department for consideration, the department has advised that the estimated revenue from these proposed public telephones is not sufficient to justify their installation. I join with the honorable members for Darling Downs (Sir Littleton Groom) and Dalley (Mr. Rosevear), in urging that, in certain areas, particularly those adjacent to public hospitals, the department’ should be less influenced by considerations of revenue when dealing with applications for the establishment of these necessary public conveniences.
For some time I have urged that a permanent post office building should be constructed at Earlwood. Nearly every other commercial concern that conducts business there has considered Earlwood important enough to warrant the erection of decent buildings. Two years ago the Commonwealth Bank erected a very fine edifice at Earlwood for the conduct of its business, and both the Bank of New South Wales and the Bank of Australasia also -have built modern premises in that area. So far my requests for the erection of a permanent post office there have been turned down. Earlwood comprises a large residential district, and I have been informed by some of the officers of the department that the erection of a new post office is urgently required. I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General to inquire into this matter.
The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) brought forward a complaint by ex-soldier patients at the Randwick Military Hospital, and, in elaborating his case, mentioned my name. On Sunday last, as on other occasions when I have had a few moments to spare, I visited some of the patients at that hospital. The honorable member for East Sydney had asked me to call upon two patients there who had written to him, as he himself was unable to do so. One of them - a tubercular soldier named Dwyer - mentioned the grievances under which the patients laboured. I conveyed his information to the honorable member for East Sydney, and he has repeated it here to-night. Mr. Dwyer said that he had written to the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Jennings) several times.
– Mr. Dwyer was the only man who made a statement?
– Yes; he said that he had written to the honorable member. Four other gentlemen said that three weeks ago they had given to the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. John Lawson) a petition, to present to this Parliament, but that the honorable member had not yet done so. Though the statements made by the honorable member for East Sydney have been denied by both the honorable members for Watson and Macquarie, they can nevertheless be substantiated.
– There is a reply to them.
– The statements made by. the honorable member for East
Sydney were based upon information supplied by me, and I had got it from the patients concerned.
– Mr. Dwyer did not ask me to present a petition.
– The tubercular soldier patients at the Randwick Military Hospital have brought forward grievances which should be looked into. The number of these unfortunate men is being diminished every day;recently five deaths took place in one week among the tubercular soldiers in that hospital. The matters complained of are not so great that they could not be straightened out by the department . in a few days. For instance, complaint is made that if an ex-soldier in receipt of a service pension under the latest amendment of the Repatriation Act is forced to go into the hospital for treatment, a deduction of 10s. a week is made from his pension for hospital expenses, whereas a soldier who had been receiving a small war pension, qualifies immediately on entering hospital for the full rate of pension. Thus, a distinction is drawn between a soldier in receipt of an ordinary war pension and one receiving a service pension
– A deduction of 12s. 6d. a week is made in such cases in Queensland.
– No deductions should be made from pensions of that kind. Mr. Dwyer, who is suffering from hernia., has been a patient at the Randwick Hospital for seven or eight months.
– His case has been taken up.
– Possibly. The doctor in charge of his case recommended to the department in Melbourne that he should be provided with a truss, but the recommendation was not given effect. When a man has been confined to bed for eight months, the least the department can do is to give him a chance to get about. The condition of Mr. Dwyer is so bad that the doctors are unable to operate on him. In such cases, where the provision of an appliance would cost only 1 guinea or 2 guineas, it should be made available to the sufferer.I have no desire to pursue this subject-further, but I reiterate the statements made by’ the honorable member for East Sydney, and to say that they can be verified.
– As usual the honorable member’s statements are not -true .
– I regard that statement, as offensive to me, Mr. Chairman, and I ask that it be withdrawn.
– . The honorable member for Barton (Mr. Lane) must withdraw the remark.
– I withdraw it.
– I think I can safely say that there are more returned soldiers in my electorate than in any other electorate in New South Wales. I look after their wants and endeavour to do all that is possible for them. The department, however, has not dealt sympathetically with many reasonable requests which I have made. Many returned soldiers in the Barton electorate seek my aid; apparently they get no assistance from the honorable member who represents them.
.- I appreciate the way in which the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Mulcahy) has stated the position in relation to the Randwick Military Hospital, which contains returned soldiers from all parts of New South Wales. There are many cases deserving of investigation. I have visited the hospital on numerous occasions, and the records of the department will show that I have made representations to the Government on behalf of many of its inmates. I suggest that honorable members should exhibit the spirit of fair play and state the facts in their criticism of one another, even if in opposition. Following the remarks of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) this evening, I communicated by telephone with the Coogee and Randwick sub-branch of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia, one of the largest branches in New South Wales. The secretary assured me that he has not had any complaints from inmates of the Randwick Military Hospital in connexion with the matter to which reference has been made to-night. In view of what has been said I am afraid I am forced to state that he added that his sub-branch appreciates the representations I have made on behalf of the returned soldiers, as does also’the Maroubra and Kensington sub-branch of the league. The honorable member for Cook (Mr. Garden) will know something in this respect in regard to this sub-branch. I also got in touch with the Randwick Military Hospital, and was informed that the authorities bad not received any complaint about a petition. As to the remarks of the honorable member for East Sydney, it now appears from the speech of the honorable member for Lang, that only one man - Mr. Dwyer - has made any complaint m relation to a petition which, it is suggested by the honorable member, I was asked to present to the Minister.
– Mr. Dwyer said only that he had asked the honorable member for Watson to see him at the hospital.
– The position has, therefore, been greatly exaggerated by the honorable member for East Sydney. Mr. Dwyer has sent to me a number of letters. I understand that his case was previously taken up by the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison). Indeed, representations have been made on his behalf for some time and his claim has been investigated by the Repatriation Department. At no time did Mr. Dwyer ask me to call at the hospital for a petition. I propose to make further investigations into this matter. If evidence of my interest in the returned soldiers is sought, it can be obtained from the sub-branches of the league to which 1 have referred.
.- I take the opportunity afforded by this discussion to ask the Treasurer (Mr. Casey), when preparing his budget proposals for the next financial year, to give special and favorable consideration to those sections of the community which are most in need of assistance - to invalid and old-age pensioners. Several years have passed since the first financial emergency legislation, providing for reductions of pensions, was passed. At that time the pension was reduced by 2s. 6d. a week, but since then a partial restoration has been made, and now the pension is 2s. a week less than it was before the depression. The action of the Government, in arranging for the amount of the pension to rise or fall according to fluctuations of the cost of Jiving makes it practically impossible for the pension ever to. return to£l a week. It is estimated that; the present financial year will close with a surplus^ of about £5,000,000, and therefore, there can be no justification for continuing the reductions made several years ago, when a state of emergency existed. At that time all political parties agreed that restoration of the amount taken away should be made at the earliest possible opportunity. The time to make that restoration has arrived, and there can bo no excuse for further delay.
Public servants whose salaries have been reduced under the financial emergency legislation should be the next section to benefit. The Victorian Government has made full restoration of amounts taken from public servants under its emergency legislation, as have governments in other countries ; and since the Commonwealth Treasury is now overflowing, the Government should restore in full the salaries of those public servants who still suffer from emergency legislation. As the salaries of federal public servants now rise or fall in accordance with the coat of living, and there has been a fall of £36, not a great amount would have to be found to make complete restoration.
I make no apology for suggesting that full restoration should also be made to members of Parliament. There is no reason why they should be placed in a worse position than are other sections of the community. I do not believe in sectional taxation, whether it affects pensioners, public servants, or parliamentarians. If there be only a certain sum of money available, the pensioners should have first claim on it, and after them public servants and members of Parliament, in that order; but in view of the anticipated surplus, there is no justification for withholding from these sections’ of the community amounts which rightfully belong to them.
In discussing previous supply bills I have generally left matters affecting my electorate until the vote for the department concerned was under consideration. I have done so because of a belief that the general debate should be confined to tha discussion of matters of outstanding importance. On many occasions, however, because of the application of the closure, there has , been no opportunity to discuss items, connected- with, say, the Postmaster.General’s Department, and therefore, it appears that the only way by which matters affecting my constituents can he brought before Parliament is by dealing with them in the general debate. I again impress on the Minister representing the Postmaster-General the definite need for the erection, at South Brisbane, of a post office worthy of the city. The present building is in an out of the way situation, and is, in every respect, unsuited to the district. When the Minister for Defence (Mr. Archdale Parkhill) was Postmaster-General, he visited Brisbane and received a deputation which placed before him the whole of the facts, and I think he gave the request sympathetic consideration.So inconvenient is the present, building that many citizens of South Brisbane hardly realize that there is a post office there. The general practice is to travel about three miles to the very fine building at Woolloongabba. South Brisbane should have a post office second only in importance to the post office at North Brisbane. A site for the proposed building was purchased by the Commonwealth Government in 1926, at a cost of about £3,000, so there is now no justification whatever for further delaying the erection of the building. It is urgently needed, and will provide work for a considerable number of people.
I support the remarks of the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. George Lawson) concerning the broadcasting of political speeches over the Queensland national station from the Brisbane Constitutional Club, which about eighteen months ago, affiliated with the antiLabour forces in Queensland, grouped at that time under the title of “ The Country Progressive National party”. Within the last few weeks, this party has gone out of existence, consequent on the crushing defeats which its candidates suffered at State and Federal elections, and there has since been a movement, in which the lead is taken by the Constitutional Club, to establish in Brisbane a branch of the United . Australia party. In accordance with the usual policy of political organizations supporting the present Commonwealth Government, the Constitutional Club poses as a non-party organization. So also does the Queensland Women’s Electoral League, the lead ing anti-Labour women’s organization in that State.
– That is not an anti-Labour organization; it is in favour of Labour.
– I am afraid that the Minister’s knowledge of political organizations in Queensland is incomplete. The Women’s National Leagues throughout Australia are associated with the political party which supports this Government, and I repeat that the Queensland Women’s Electoral League has a definite antiLabour outlook. Established several years ago, its name does not indicate its political complexion, so that it gains many adherents who believe that it has no party affiliations. The Constitutional Club is in much the same position. Its title suggests a non-party organization, but a small paragraph published in the newspapers about eighteen months ago, stated that it had decided to affiliate with the Queensland antiLabour forces. Yet this body is allowed to broadcast political speeches every Thursday afternoon over the national network in Queensland. It is useless for those in charge of the broadcasting stations to contend that the speeches are not political in character. In every address of any importance the subject must necessarily be political. There is, however, a difference between a political address and a party political address, and the point I make is that if the Constitutional Club is to he allowed to broadcast political speeches regularly over the Queensland national network, the same facilities should be accorded the Labour party. Arrangements can easily be made for the Labour Club to furnish material for the speeches. I hope that the Ministry will give this matter early consideration.
– I told the honorable member, in answer to his question to-day, that the matter would receive consideration.
– We are asking that the Constitutional Club should be prevented from broadcasting political speeches weekly, but, if this is not done, we contend that the Labour Club should be granted the same privileges.
.- I impress upon the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) the need for more consideration being shown to applicants for invalid and service pensions, in cases where there is a dispute between the local doctor and the Entitlement Tribunal. I have taken this matter up with the Deputy Commissioner in .Sydney, and also with the Commissioner in Canberra, hut so far, without success. I submit that in all cases of dispute, the applicant’s doctor should be allowed to place the medical history of the claimant ‘before the commission. Too often, I fear, the examination by departmental doctors is perfunctorily carried out, and the claimant has to appeal once or twice before ‘he can get satisfaction.
So many War Service Homes are now coming under the rental system that returned soldiers should he given preference in the letting of them, particularly those who, by reason of ago or infirmity, are unable to work and cannot afford the rent demanded by private landlords. The rental charged to them so ou Id accord with the income and pension they receive. I have been made acquainted with the many serious difficulties and anxieties imposed upon the wives of such men as the result of having been compelled to vacate private property. It is impossible for a man in intermittent work to maintain the payments required by the War Service Homes Commission on a property valued at £800 for which he has assumed liability with a deposit of £10.
I sincerely trust that the PostmasterGeneral (Senator A. J. McLachlan) and the Government generally will insist upon the scrapping of the remaining manual telephone exchanges. I have particularly in mind an exchange of this description, in my district. Although the department has unwaveringly contended that it can render good service for a number of years, it is most unsatisfactory.
The honorable member for Darling Downs (Sir Littleton Groom.) has referred to the claim of the Postal Department for a guarantee of £16 towards the cost of providing a public telephone. I have had placed before me a request for a similar convenience, the cost of providing which was stated to be £28. Municipalities and individuals are constantly receiving this stupid demand for a guarantee towards the cost of providing this service. In view of the surplus revenue of the department, the community generally is entitled to the best service, particularly by the replacement of the out-of-date manual telephone system by the automatic system.
Mortdale, a growing suburb with railway workshops in the district, has only a provisional post office. I understand that the department has land on which a modern building could be erected. Many representations have been made to me by chambers of commerce, progress associations and political bodies that this work should be undertaken. I strongly urge the establishment of a post office that would be worthy of the volume of business transacted.
– It is generally realized that the petrol tax is allocated to the different States on the basis of - population, threefifths; and area, two-fifths. Victoria benefits on a population basis, but is penalized on an area basis, while the reverse is the case with Western Australia. The Northern Territory has the enormous area of 523,000 square miles out of a total of 3,000,000 square miles in the whole continent. If, in its case, the area basis were adopted, it would be entitled to an allocation of £175,000 per annum. I think it will be admitted, therefore, that there is inequality in the distribution of receipts from the tax. The amount which the residents of the Northern Territory contribute through the tax greatly exceeds the sum allocated for road purposes under the existing system. As the Territory is not regarded as a State it is denied the benefit of participation in this distribution of funds for road construction. Each State has three methods of transport - sea, rail and road. Because of the inordinate expenditure on comparatively useless touring roads, a good deal of sanity has been buried under cement along the coastlineIn the interior of the continent, however, petrol-propelled vehicles are the only means of transport. I urge that this consideration be given due weight in connexion with future appropriations for the development of roads in the Territory.
The Commonwealth Treasurer (Mr. Casey) has shovelled out money to spendthrift State Governments, which have not made judicious use of it. The New South Wales Forestry Department is spending money unwisely, because it is constructing roads into the bush at a cost of £500 a mile. The work carried out by means of the huge sums being advanced to the States for the relief of unemployment should be expended on works which will be of permanent value. Those interested in afforestation in New Zealand are trying to injure Australia by advising that New Zealand pine cannot be grown in the southern portion of New South Wales. A certain New Zealand company has already taken out of Australia £4,000,000 as capital for afforestation, and it claims that the pine which it cultivates can be grown only in that dominion.
I urge the Government to see that money voted by this Parliament for forestry purposes is expended to the best advantage of the nation. Every effort should be made to extend the activities, and increase the influence, of the Forestry School at Canberra. This Parliament should direct forestry policy throughout Australia, and should supervise the expenditure of all the money it now allocates to the States in this connexion. I deplore the fact that our Forestry School is not receiving from the States so many students as it desires. Our forests are a great national asset, and they should be made wealthproducers on a large scale. All the hills around Canberra, that are suitable for afforestation, should be planted with New Zealand pine. In the southern portion of this continent, as honorable members from South Australia well know, there is a large area in which the conditions are favorable to forestry operations, but it is not being fully utilized. From 6,000 acres of New Zealand pine it would be possible to cut 150 acres per annum for 40 years. This would give 10,000,000 feet of timber in the round each year, worth £100,000, and at the end of the 40 years the forest would have renewed itself. It is high time that the Commonwealth authorities assumed complete control of forestry policy.
The honorable member for Indi (Mr. Hutchinson) has spoken effectively on the subject of highways for tourists, but the roads which are of most value are those which assist in the development of the country. These should receive more attention than roads which merely provide speedways for tourists.
I agree with what has been said by the right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Scullin) in his excellent speech regarding the desirability of attracting overseas tourists to Australia. I point out also that there is plenty of scope for tourist traffic in the north of Australia. The buffaloes, alligators and Timor ponies1 to be found there would be a great attraction to visitors from the southern portions of Australia and from, overseas, and the possibilities of developing a tourist traffic in the north should be fully exploited. By providing accommodation for tourists near the mouths of the great rivers of the far north, where unique attractions await the visitor, useful work could be done. One of the leading buffalo shooters is arranging to take a party out for the purpose of making a sound film. This viall be a costly undertaking, and the thought occurred to me that this will provide an excellent opportunity for valuable scientific work to be done. I recentlymet a young scientist who is an expert in the classification of grasses, and I have pleaded with the leader of the expedition to allow the scientist to accompany him.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
– At an earlier stage in thi.debate, the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory), the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) and the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Hawker), asked that the Acting Minister for Commerce (Mr. Thorby ) should visit Western Australia and South Australia to investigate on the spot the problems of primary producers in those States. I am glad to be able to assure those honorable members that the Acting Minister for Commerce has made arrangements to visit those States during the coming recess. At a later stage, the honorable members concerned will be advised of the details of the trip, and no doubt they will desire to co-operate with the Minister regarding bis tour.
The honorable member for Swan and t:he honorable member for Forrest asked that further assistance should be given to the wheat-growers, particularly those of Western Australia. In this regard, I think it would be of interest to give particulars regarding the money that has been made available, both from loan and revenue sources, to the wheat-growers of Western Australia during the last five years. The figures are as follows : -
That makes a total of more than £3,000,000 during the last five years. In addition to that, under the rural debt relief legislation, Western Australia will receive this financial year about £150,000. If any further relief is necessary - and this may well be so as the result of the disastrous, season in certain areas - I think it is not unreasonable to expect the State Government to take it in hand.
The honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) mentioned unemployment, and suggested that the Statistician’s figures as now published do not reflect the true position. It has been recognized for a long time that the union figures do not give anything approaching an exact idea of the extent of unemployment. The Commonwealth Statistician has been active in this regard, and some of the States have introduced improved methods of collecting information. It is hoped that before long a more accurate set of figures will be available from the Statistician than has been the case hitherto. I have no wish to disparage the efforts of the unions to produce accurate figures, and I make no accusation against thom in this regard. In NewSouth Wales, where a definite check exists through the wages tax collections, it is shown that the real percentage of unemployment is considerably below that shown in the union return. In Queensland, information is available from the unemployment insurance authorities, and in that State, also, the figures are in consequence more reliable than in some of the others. In Tasmania the wages tax figures form a potential source of further information, and these are in process of examination. Generally speaking, the information now becoming available is of a more positive and direct character, and wherever such information is available, it tends to show that the degree of unemployment indicated in union returns is considerably exaggerated over what is probably the fact for industry as a whole.
– -That is a contemptible statement.
– The honorable member must withdraw that statement.
– I withdraw it.
– The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) ‘ referred to the procedure adopted during the budget debate last year. I have a lively recollection of what occurred on that occasion, and I know that, although the total time occupied by the debate was recognized by honorable members generally as adequate, a great deal of time was occupied with the discussion of the earlier items, and, in order to get the budget through, it was necessary to apply methods which restricted the time available for the discussion of the later items. The Government will certainly consider what methods it should adopt during the discussion of the forthcoming budget in order to spread the available time more evenly over the various items.
The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway), and the honorable member for Darling Downs (‘Sir Littleton Groom), raised the subject of industrial mobilization for defence purposes, and I have no doubt that the Minister for Defence took cognizance of their remarks.
The honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) suggested that a fixed sum should be made available over a period of years for financing the work of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. The financing of this institution presents many difficulties, and I do not think that it would help matters to make available a fixed sum each year. During recent years the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research vote has increased from year to year in order to meet increased obligations, and it is not possible to say in advance just how much will be required.
Several honorable members referred to the provision of postal facilities, and matters relating to invalid, old-age and repatriation pensions. These will be referred to the Ministers responsible.
The honorable, member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) discussed the sale of tobacco leaf in North Queensland, and said that the Dimbula Tobacco Association complained that only one sale had taken place this season. This matter will be brought under the notice of the Minister for Trade and Customs.
Regarding the federal aid roads grant, and the petrol tax, mentioned by the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Hutchinson), and the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Perkins), I do not think that honorable members wish me to embark upon a discussion regarding the allocation of this money among the States. I think it can rightly be said that the greater part of the tax collected should be regarded as revenue, and should not necessarily be devoted to road maintenance. This matter is set down for discussion at the next Premiers Conference in September next.
The honorable member for Echuca (Mr. McEwen) spoke of the need for educating the public regarding federal public finance, and I entirely agree with what he said. I have myself taken the trouble to publish articles in the press from time to time, but the position needs to be stated very frequently if it is to be generally appreciated. I ask leave to incorporate in Hansard a simplified analysis of the federal budget over the last three years.
– Is it the pleasure of the committee that the honorable member have leave to incorporate this analysis in his speech without reading it ?
– The table is as follows : -
Many other points were dealt with by honorable members. Their remarks will be perused in Hansard by the Ministers concerned, who will investigate the matters raised.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported and adopted.
That Mr. Casey and Mr. Archdale Parkhill do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill brought up by Mr. Casey, and passed through all stages without amendment or debate.
House adjourned at 11.46 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
e asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions arc as follows : -
The question of the continuance of sanctions is receiving the close consideration of the Government, but it is not proposed to make any statement at this juncture.
Further, although Australia, has lost trade with Italy to the value of over £300,000 in four months, the Australian trade must be considered as a whole and any loss of Italian markets has apparently been more than compensated for in other directions. For the period the 1st November, 1934, to the 31st March, 1935, imports into Australia were £30,861,418 (sterling) and Australian exports were £42,783,371 (sterling). For the period the 1st November, 1935, to the 31st March, 1936, imports were £36,569,053 (sterling) and exports £57,386,330 (sterling). Australian trade, considered as a whole, cannot accordingly be said to have been adversely affected by the imposition of sanctions upon Italy.
n asked the Minister for Repatriation, uponnotice -
– The information desired by the honorable member is being obtained.
Export of Merino Sheep.
r. - On the 6th May, the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clark) askedme to furnish him with information as to the number of merino rams and ewes exported from Australia since the present Government took office; particularly with regard to the country of destination.
I am now in a position to supply the honorable member with the following details : -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 12 May 1936, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1936/19360512_reps_14_150/>.