14th Parliament · 1st Session
The House of Representatives on the 22nd May, 1936, adjourned until a day and hour to be fixed by Mr. Speaker, and notified by him to each honorable member. The House met pursuant to such notification.
Mr. Speaker (Hon. G.J. Bell) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– by leave - Since the adjournment, Parliament has unfortunately suffered the loss of one of its members, Senator William Carroll, whose death occurred in Sydney on the 29th May. His parliamentary colleagues were aware of his failing health, and could not but admire the wonderful spirit which he displayed in continuing to carry out his public duties. He had attended a sitting of the Senate as recently as the 7th May.
The late senator’s parliamentary career commenced in August, 1923, when he was elected to the Legislative Council of Western Australia. In 1925 he was elected to the Senate as a representative of Western Australia, being re-elected at the 1931 elections. He was a member of the Commonwealth delegation of the Empire Parliamentary Association which visited Canada in 19 28, and a member of the Select Committees on Beam Wireless Charges. Australia to England, 1929, and the Central Reserve Bank Bill, 1930. He had been a Temporary Chairman of Committees since 1932.
Senator Carroll was held in the highest respect in this Parliament, both for his earnestness in his public work, and for his sterling personal qualities. We deeply regret the passing of a sincere friend and colleague. To his widow and family we offer an expression of our heartfelt sympathy. I move -
That this House expresses its deep regret at the death of Senator William Caroll, a former member of the Western Australian and Commonwealth Parliaments, places on record its appreciation of his meritorious public service, and tenders to his widow and family itssincere sympathy in their bereavement.
.- I second the motion, with exceeding regret. The late Senator Carroll was well-known throughout Western Australia as a citizen who endeavoured to do his very best for all sections of the community. He was a man who held very strong convictions, but with an intense sense of justice. His controversies wore always marked by fair dealing towards those who differed from him. He is held in memory in Western Australia as a good citizen and a fairminded man, who was animated by the highest ideals of public service. Although he was better known in another place than in this chamber, I feel confident that all of those who were acquainted with him respected him for his sterling personal worth. I express to his widow and children the deepest sympathy of honorable members who sit on this side of the chamber.
– I desire to associate myself with the motion that has been moved by the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) and seconded by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin). By the death of Senator Carroll I have lost a loyal colleague and a very close personal friend. As has been said, the late honorable senator possessed outstanding public qualities, and rendered valuable public service. In addition, he had a most charming personality, with which were allied indomitable cheerfulness under the greatest of difficulties, an unvarying fund of humour, and illimitable good sense. The party which I have the honour to load, of which the late honorable senator was a member, associates itself with the motion of condolence that is to be forwarded to his widow and family.
.- As one who was associated with the late Senator Carroll, I desire to support the motion. Throughout my association with the late honorable senator, I found him to be, as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr.Curtin) has said he was, just and honorable in all his dealings. He was a man of sterling qualities, and I wish to add my tribute to his memory.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.
– by leave - I regret to inform honorable members of the death, in Melbourne, on the 26th June, of the Honorable Samuel Mauger, a former member of this chamber, and a member of the first Commonwealth Parliament.
Mr. Maugercommenced his parliamentary career in December, 1899, when he was elected to represent the division of Footscray in the Victorian Legislative Assembly. He resigned his seat in May, 1901, and was returned unopposed as the first member for Melbourne Ports in the House of Representatives. He represented that division from 1901 to 1906, and Maribyrnong from 1906 to 1910. The record of his parliamentary service indicates that during his early association with this House he served on several select committees and royal commissions. Later he attained ministerial office, being Honorary Minister in the Deakin Ministry from October, 1906, to July, 1907, and Postmaster-General from July, 1907, to November, 1908.
Membership of the first Commonwealth Parliament has a special significance for the Australian people. Unfortunately, time is thinning the ranks of those men who, like Mr. Mauger, were privileged to be so closely associated with such an important development in the history of our country.
Mr. Mauger maintained an active association with many civic and social organizations in the State of Victoria, and in all his work displayed those qualities of capacity and sincerity which characterized his work as a member of the Commonwealth legislature.
I invite honorable members to join in an expression of deep sympathy with his widow and family.I move -
That this House expresses its deep regret at the death of the Honorable Samuel Mauger, a former member of the Victorian and Commonwealth Parliaments and Commonwealth Minister of State, places on record its appreciation of his meritorious public service, and tenders to his widow and family its sincere sympathy in their bereavement.
– I second the motion. The late Mr. Samuel Mauger belonged to a generation of Australians who played a conspicuous part in the evolution of this Commonwealth. He was animated by the humanities to an extent probably greater than that of the normal man. Certainly he identified himself more keenly than did the great mass of the community with the lot of those who felt the oppression of society; he did his utmost in his endeavours to succour the weak; he was the friend of those who were in distress. The late honorable gentleman played a most prominent part in those movements which ultimately led to the enactment of legislation for the regulation of industrial conditions, and was a determined opponent of injustice as between employer and employee. The
Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) has said that he was numbered among those whose ranks are now becoming thin, in that he had the honour to serve in the first Parliament of this Commonwealth. Although I have no personal recollection of the late honorable gentleman at that time, none the less, I have no doubt that those who sat in that first Parliament were notable, not only because they composed an historic band, but also because they could not have come to this Parliament without the highest public credentials.
– I wish to associate the name of the absent member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Drakeford), with the tribute that is being paid to the memory of the late Honorable Samuel Mauger, and I should also like to associate my own name with it, for Mr. Mauger waB a representative of the electorate of Maribyrnong, and also the first member for the division of Melbourne Ports, which I now have the honour to represent. I was personally associated with Mr. Mauger in hia activities in connexion with the AntiSweating League for many years, and also in the fight to keep conscription out of Australia. The late honorable gentleman did a lot to bring that fight to a successful issue from the point of view of those who held the same opinion as himself. I was also associated with him in many efforts connected with , the Indeterminate Sentences Board, and many boys and girls in this country have a great deal to thank him for that their first slip did not have a more serious effect upon themselves. For twenty years ho and Dr. Charles Strong have been regarded as the first social workers in Victoria. The honorable member for Maribyrnong, who is now in New Guinea, and I both represent electorates which were previously represented by the late Mr. Mauger, and we wish our names to be sincerely associated with this motion of condolence with the members of his family.
– Having been closely associated with the late Honorable Samuel Mauger during practically his whole career as a member of this Parliament, I desire to support the motion moved by the Prime
Minister (Mr. Lyons). I was particularly pleased to hear the tribute paid by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) to the memory of one who, in his time, was a very conspicuous figure in this Parliament and in Victoria, and who, during the whole of his life, was devoted to the service of humanity. He was a most remarkable man. Personal interests were sacrificed for what he believed to be the public good, and in the cause of those who were in distress he stinted no effort. Always he was actuated - by the highest and noblest motives. One most noteworthy thing about the late honorable gentleman was that his views upon the public questions of the day were always coloured by his deep Christian beliefs and principles. ITo call for his services was disregarded. He spoke on Saturdays, Sundays and all other days of the week to uphold the causes to which he had practically devoted his life. In this Parliament he was respected as a courageous fighter, and a vigorous and practical debater, who was conspicuously fair in all that he said and did. During his membership of this Parliament, after the federation of the Australian States had just been established, he showed a deep concern for the well-being of the whole of the Commonwealth of Australia, having in mind both its primary and its secondary industries. Naturally: being a Victorian, and the representative of Melbourne Ports, which is the centre of many large factories, he was particularly in touch with the conditions of manufacturing concerns, but he stood not only for the interests of the people who possessed the factories and made profits from them, but also for the persons employed in industry throughout Australia. In their interests he made many sacrifices. In his private life he was exceedingly amiable. He was a wonderfully loyal friend. In the early debates in this House, it was frequently said, “ Oh, that emanated from 66 Bourke-street.” That was the number of the premises then occupied by the late honorable gentleman. Surely it was a compliment to ‘his activities and energies and a tribute to the interest he took in the great questions of the day which affected the life and well-being of all Australians ! Mr.
Mauger was a worthy representative of his constituency. That he was held in the highest esteem by the community was shown by the fact that when the first representatives to this Parliament were being elected, he was returned unopposed. That his abilities were appreciated by his fellow members was shown by the fact that he was a member of four or five of the early select committees appointed by the Parliament, and in connexion with which he did notable work. Mr. Mauger has left behind him a very fine record of service, and it must be a source of great consolation to his widow and family to know that he is rememberedso distinctly in this Parliament. And he will continue to be remembered as an honoured, beloved and worthy citizen, and a great statesman who did notable work in the foundation of the Australian nation.
.- I desire on behalf of many Labourites throughout Australia, and particularly many in Melbourne, to speak a few words concerning my beloved friend, the late Honorable Samuel Mauger. He was a man in a thousand. If only one man in every 1,000 inhabitants of this country were like him, Australia would be a better place. I believe I was his oldest friend. We were friends long before he entered politics. For a time we were members of the same political party, but afterwards we separated insofar as parties were concerned. Throughout his life Mr. Mauger did nothing but good, for which he deserved the love and regard of his fellow men. Our friendship with one another endured to the last.I was associated with him in the fight against sweating, and he did wonderful service in connexion with that cause. As the honorable member for Darling Downs (Sir Littleton Groom) has truly said, Mr. Mauger always sacrificed his personal interests to the interests of others. He never considered himself when any conflict arose between his own interests and his duty to his fellow men. His association with the fire brigades of Melbournewill also be long remembered. He was a true lover of God. and there was no strain of bigotry in him. I hope that the few words that are being said to-day in honour of his memory will bring solace to his dear wife and the members of his family.I have long held the view that those whom we love and lose in this life will be among the first to welcome us when we pass through the shadows and join the majority. One of those whomI hope first to greet will be Samuel Mauger, my beloved friend and fellow-worker for humanity in this life. That we have not many like him is, I think, largely due to to the fact that we lack opportunities to see the miseries of life. I know that every member of this Parliament would wish to do his best to provide every child, woman and man with proper food, shelter and clothing, and yet a feeling is abroad to-day that parliamentarians do not do all that might be done in this regard. There are still people who go hungry and still children who lack shelter, although Christ Himself, 2,000 years ago, took the little children in His arms and blessed them. I am not speaking against any one in particular at the moment, and I know how sympathetic the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) has been in every case which I have brought before him, but we should make it our first duty to see that every mas, woman and child in the community has proper food, shelter and comfort. I refer to this subject because in the last conversation I had with Mr. Mauger, reference was made to the milk supply, and he said to me, “ Doctor, is it not astonishing that we do not do our duty in the halls of Parliament as we should do when we are there?” When the cry for war arises millions of pounds can be found. Why not find them when there is need for them to feed the hungry and give them shelter? Mr. Mauger was a great lover of peace, and it was his delight to do his best for the countless millions for whom Christ has ordained that there shall be life and peace. I hope that many will follow in the steps of the late Mr. Mauger and that the sorrow of his wife and family will be solaced by the realization that his memory is revered.
.I do not propose to add to the eulogies which have been so deservedly pronounced on this great Australian. I was associated with the late Mr. Mauger for many years, and in the course of that time I came to understand why the people who knew him not only respected but also loved him. I rise now to say that a number of Mr. Mauger’s friends and admirers in his own State are making a move to establish some kind of memorial - material or non-material - which will perpetuate the memory of this great man. I hope that these remarks and the report of them which may subsequently appear, will induce people in the other States who respected and honoured the late Mr. Mauger to participate in this memorial.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.
– by leave - It is with regret that I refer to the death, in Sydney, on 27th July, of another member of the first Commonwealth Parliament, the Honorable Sir Albert Gould. He first entered Parliament in 1882, being elected to the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales, and was a member of that chamber until the year 1898. He attained ministerial office in the Government of New South Wales, holding the portfolio of Minister for Justice from March, 1889, to October,1891, and again from August, 1894, to August, 1898. The late honorable senator was a member of the Legislative Council of New South Wales from April, 1899, to June, 1901, in which year, at the first general election for the Senate, he was elected to represent the State of New South Wales. At the three following general elections he was re-elected. From February, 1907, to July, 1910, Sir Albert was President of the Senate. He retired from that chamber on the expiration of the Sixth Parliament, in 1917. His public services were recognized by the King in 1908, when he was created a Knight Bachelor. His name was familiar to many of the present members of the House of Representatives, but few of us had the privilege of personal association with him in this Parliament. We know, however, of his intellectual gifts, his marked ability as a member of the legislature, and the distinction with which he occupied the office of President of the Senate. Evidences of his sincerity of purpose and devotion to the cause of public service can be found throughout his long association with the public life of Australia. In inviting honorable members to express their deep sympathy with the members’ of the late Sir Albert Gould’s family, I move -
That this House expresses its deep regret at the death of Lieutenant-Colonel the Honorable Sir Albert John Gould, K.B., V.D., a former member of the New South Wales and Commonwealth parliaments, and a former State Minister and President of the Senate, places on record its appreciation of his distinguished public service, and tenders to the members of his family its profound sympathy in their bereavement.
Mr.CURTIN (Fremantle) [3.23].-I second the motion, and I do so with exceeding regret, because one more of the members who shared in the establishment of this Commonwealth has gone to his last rest. I doubt sometimes that the people of Australia to-day really appreciate the importance that belonged to the establishment of the Commonwealth, and the great privilege enjoyed by those who, at that time, had, by their public service, sufficiently earned the confidence of the people to justify their return at the first federal election either to this House or to another place. Before the establishment of the Commonwealth, Sir Albert Gould had served for eighteen years in the public life of New South Wales, and the fact that he was elected on four occasions to the Senate is evidence of the very high regard entertained for him by the electors of his generation. As the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) has said, he was elected President of the Senate, and must unquestionably have impressed the members of that chamber with his high personal qualifications. I regret exceedingly the passing of another founder of the Commonwealth, and extend to his family my deepest sympathy.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places.
Motion (by Mr. Lyons) - by leave - agreed to -
That Mr. Speaker be requested to transmit to the relatives of the deceased the foregoing resolutions, together with copies of the speeches delivered in connexion with thorn.
Assent to the following hills reported : -
Wireless Telegraphy Bill 1938.
Removal of Prisoners (Territories) Bill 1935.
States Grants (Local Public Works) Bill 1936.
Appropriation (Unemployment Relief) Bill 1936.
Customs Tariff 1936.
Customs Tariff (Exchange Adjustment) Bill 1936.
Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) 1936. Excise Tariff 1936.
Supplementary Appropriation Bill 1934-35.
Supplementary Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill 1934-35.
War Pensions Appropriation Bill 1936.
Supply Bill (No. 1) 1936-37.
Wool Tax Assessment Bill 1936.
Wool Tax Bill 1936.
Wool Publicity and Research Bill 1936.
Petroleum Oil Search Bill 1936.
Dairy Produce Export Control Bill 1936.
Income Tax Assessment Bill 1936.
THE LATE Mr. T. J. PETHYBRIDGE.
– I have received from Mrs. T. J. Pethybridge a letter expressing thanks to the House for its resolution of sympathy.
– I have in my possession a petition, addressed to the Prime Minister and signed by a large number of old-age and invalid pensioners resident in Queensland, praying for the restoration of pensions to the original amount of £1 a week. Am I in order in presenting it as a petition to this House?
– If the petition is addressed to the Leader of the Government it cannot be presented as a petition to the House.
.- I lay on the table of the House a copy of the report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission, dated the 16th July, 1936, on the applications made by the States of South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania, for financial assistance in 1936-37 from the Commonwealth under section 96 of the Constitution, and move -
That the paper be printed.
Motion agreed to.
– by leave - Following the decision of the Privy Council in the James case, the Ministry has given the most careful consideration to the best course to be taken by the Commonwealth to safeguard the interests of primary production, the joint Commonwealth and State schemes for the orderly marketing of primary products having been rendered unconstitutional as the result of the decision.
The Government feels that it is expressing the view of the large majority of the people when it says that it would be disastrous for Australia as a whole if the system of orderly marketing of a number of important primary products were allowed to lapse into chaos.
It is assisted in this conclusion by the fact that the Privy Council decision has disclosed a gravely anomalous position, viz., that there is no power in any Parliament, Commonwealth or State, to provide for the effective and stable control of marketing. This gap in the constitutional powers of the parliaments can be filled only by popular vote at a referendum. The Government, therefore, after an exhaustive examination of all the possibilities, has decided to seek an amendment of the Constitution. A pronouncement as to its exact nature will be made to Parliament as soon as possible.
– Has the AttorneyGeneral seen the statement in the press attributed to Mr. E. E. Field, president of the Farmers and Settlers Association, who, in commenting upon the decision of the Privy Council, said -
It appears to me a travesty and reflection on our boast of self-government when a judicial tribunal 13,000 miles away can create chaos in our domestic affairs.
Will the honorable gentleman take steps to make the High Court of Australia the final court of appeal in matters of this nature?
– I have not had the advantage of seeing the statement to which the honorable member has referred. As the question raises a matter of government policy I am not in a position to reply to it.
– I ask the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties whether he is in a position to inform honorable members as to the present position of the trade negotiations with Japan?
– Negotiations with Japan which had been in suspense for some time were renewed upon the 28th August, and were continued for approximately five days. During that time proposals towards a settlement were advanced both by the representatives of the Japanese Government and by myself as representing the Commonwealth Government. A proposal then advanced by the Commonwealth Government was taken into consideration by the Consul-General for Japan and is now under the consideration of the Japanese Government. In the circumstances, the Commonwealth Government is of opinion that it is not in a position further to discuss this matter at the moment.
– I ask if it is a fact, as was stated by the president of the Primary Producers’ Association of Western Australia, that the Prime Minister placed at the disposal of representatives of wool-growers certain confidential information and documents in respect of negotiations proceeding between this Government and the Government of Japan in regard to trade relations? If this be true, what explanation has the right honorable gentleman to offer to this House for divulging to private persons information which, so far, has been withheld from members of this Parliament?
– On a previous occasion, when the honorable member was in Perth, I replied to the suggestion now made by him. I did not submit to that conference any private or confidential documents whatever. One telegram was made available to it. It came from a member of this House who at that time was in the East and who in the last words of his telegram said that the Government might make the contents of the telegram available to representatives of the Graziers Association. That is the only document which I submitted to that conference. I certainly gave information to a body of men who represented those who were directly concerned with the negotiations that were proceeding, but it was given in the strictest confidence. As I said publicly some time ago, I would be pleased to give the same information to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin), but details of negotiations so delicate as these could not be broadcast to the world.
– Was the information given to the other body, as declared by the president of the primary producers’ organization ?
– I gave information as to the discussion that had taken place between the Japanese Government and ourselves, and I have no apology to offer for having done so. These graziers represented the .people who would be directly affected by any arrangement made with Japan in regard to the wool trade, and they were entitled to know from time to time what was taking place. The only complaint that I have heard on other occasions is that the Government should have consulted the bodies directly concerned at an earlier stage. Therefore, I feel that there is no need for an apology.
– Will the Prime Minister lay on the table of the Library for the information of honorable members the documents which he says he has placed at the disposal of the woolgrowers ?
– I have made it clear that I did not submit any document except a telegram, which was a private communication received by the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties. What I really did on that occasion waa to amplify the information which I gave in two broadcasts over the air to the people of Australia.
– Will the Prime Minister make a statement to the House setting out the results of the calling for offers in connexion with the taking over of the Newnes Shale Oil works ?
– The circumstances surrounding this matter are such that I am unable to make a statement at the moment, but I hope to be able to do so in the near future.
– Can the Prime Minister give the House any information concerning the Government’s intentions following the decision of the International Labour Office on the 40- hour week proposal? Has the Government come to any decision to give effect to that policy generally, or in the services under its control?
– On a previous occasion, as the honorable member is aware, the Government endeavoured to have an investigation into the merits of a shorter working week. It was first suggested that a conference be held between representatives of the various parties that would be affected by any change, but that suggestion was not accepted by the representatives of the workers. Later it was suggested that a comprehensive investigation might be held by the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, but that suggestion also was rejected and a deputation from the Australasian Council of Trade Unions, which met in Melbourne, made it quite clear that it did not desire any investigation whatever to be made into this matter. The Commonwealth Government, therefore, as it later outlined to the Premiers Conference, had to take the stand that the only bodies that could deal with the question satisfactorily were the industrial tribunals of either the Commonwealth or the States. When the matter was brought to the notice of the Premiers in Adelaide, as was promised to Hie deputation from the Australasian Council of Trade Unions, the proposal was defeated by a majority of the States.
– Is the Commonwealth Government accepting that decision?
– The Commonwealth Government had already decided that it would leave the final decision on this matter to the tribunals properly constituted to deal with it.
– In view of the fact that Australia is a Member State of the International Labour Office, does not the Attorney-General consider that the Government is under some obligation to implement the decision of that Office by at least approving of the principle of a 40-hour working week?
– I ask the Assistant Minister for Commerce whether there has been any agreement between the Commonwealth Government and the Queensland Government regarding the farmers’ debt adjustment legislation?
– No agreement has been arrived at, but the Queensland Government has been fully advised of the requirements of the Commonwealth law to enable it to comply with such legislation so that it can participate in the distribution of the funds made available.
Position op ATTORNEY-GENERAL
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral whether he has informed himself concerning a discussion which took place in this Parliament in March last upon what was conceived to be his ambiguous position in representing different interests before the Privy Council, namely, the Commonwealth Government and the Government of Victoria, and alao whether in view of the consequences of the Privy Council’s decisions and the policy recently announced by the Federal Government, he does not feel that his position is compromised as chief advisor to the Crown ?
– The answer to the first part of the honorable gentleman’s question is, “ Yes, “ and to the second part it is, “ No.”
– The Minister for Commerce recently visited Great Britain to attend the world conference on sugar, but that conference was not held. Can he give the House any details of the failure to hold such a conference? Further, can he state what representations were made by him to the British Government and whether they were successful ? Briefly, can he give a report to the House of happenings in connexion with that conference?
– Despite the failure to hold the world conference on sugar, the delegation which visited England to deal with this matter was completely successful, in being able to prevent a contemplated reduction of 7 per cent, being made in the export of sugar from Australia. With respect to preferences, the British Chancellor of the Exchequer has given a definite undertaking that these will not be altered without eighteen months’ notice.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether the Government has been considering the advisability, or otherwise, of reconstituting the Interstate Commission and whether it is true, as has been reported, that he may accept one of the honoured positions on that commission ?
– -I am afraid that the honorable member does not read the newspapers or he would not need to ask that question. If there is one question to which I have answered “ No “ more often than to any other question, it is this one.
– I ask the Minister for Defence if it is the intention of the department to establish aerodromes in the metropolitan area in .Sydney in addition to the Kingsford Smith aerodrome at Mascot ?
Sir ARCHDALE PARKHILL.Doubtless it will be necessary as time goes on to acquire additional areas for civil aviation purposes in the neighbourhood of Sydney. As I understand the honorable member has in mind a site at Randwick, in his electorate, I inform him that that particular site will be taken into consideration in this connexion. ‘
– Will the Prime Minister take steps to consult the Government of Western Australia with the object of preserving for the use of the Empire the valuable deposits of iron ore at Yampi Sound, in view of their proposed exploitation by Japanese mining interests?
– The control of the work of developing the deposits lies in the hands of the Government of Western Australia. The only power which the Commonwealth Government could exercise in the matter would be to refuse to permit the export of the ore to Japan, and it feels that it would be no more justified in preventing the export of iron ore than it would be in preventing the export of wool.
– Has not the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited been exporting iron ore for a long time?
– Yes. The Commonwealth Government has used whatever influence it has in the direction of securing the investment, as far as possible, of British capital in the Yampi Sound deposits.
– Will the Minister for Defence make a statement as to the progress made in the present campaign to secure additional troops for the Commonwealth Military Forces?
– The only information which I am in a position to give at this juncture is that the campaign is proceeding satisfactorily, and that it is anticipated the required number of men will be obtained. I cannot state the exact number of recruits enrolled, but as soon as certain reports come to hand - they are expected within a week or ten days - I shall be glad to inform the honorable member fully regarding the matter.
– Will the Minister for Defence state what progress has been made in the negotiations regarding the inauguration of a flying boat service to provide an aerial link between Australia and Great Britain? Is it the intention of the Commonwealth Government to participate in the establishment of such a service ?
– When the Attorney-General and the Minister for Commerce were in London they were asked to obtain from the British Air Ministry full details in regard to this proposal. The information has been obtained and submitted by the Minister for Commerce in the form of a report, which was considered yesterday. Certain aspects of the matter are being further examined by officers of various departments and it is anticipated that the report will come before Cabinet again at an early date. It is probable that the decision reached will then be announced in the House.
– Will the Minister for Health add to his splendid work in regard to the nutrition of children and babies by instructing the Health Department to issue a leaflet to the citizens of Canberra on the subject of how to avoid contagion through the filthy disease of scabies?
– A report has been obtained from the Director-General of Health in regard to the matter arising out of a statement made at a recent meeting of the Advisory Council. I may say that the Government intends to have a leaflet issued without delay to the inhabitants not merely of Canberra, but of the Federal Capital Territory as a whole. I may point out that the means of control adopted in this Territory are ample and are far more rigid than those in any other part of Australia. The report to which I have referred reads as follows: -
Scabies or “ the itch “ is caused by a minute round mite, just visible to the naked eye; the female of which burrows into the thin skin of the webs of fingers, wrists and lower abdomen, lays eggs which hatch into larvae in three days and reach maturity in ten days.
Symptoms are itching, worse at night.
Transmission. - The mite is transmitted by clothing, towels and bed clothes. Disinfection of the house alone is of no value in the control of the disease.
Cure. - Sulphur ointment applied for throe or four days, and either boiling, hot ironing, or baking in an oven all materials in contact with patient; if these latter details are not carried out, re-infection ofthe treated patient occurs.
Means of control. - Information as to occurrence is obtained from -
Action taken by the Commomwealth Department of Health. - The patient is referred to medical adviser for treatment, and advice is given by the Commonwealth Department of Health re disinfestation of clothing, &c., and fumigation ordered (see pamphlet attached). If patients live in country or are indigent, or refuse to get other medical advice, treatment is undertaken by the Commonwealth Department of Health.
The number of cases which have been reported in the Federal Capital Territory for the twelve months is thirteen.
– Can the Minister for Defence inform the House of the latest developments in the manufacture of aircraft in Australia?
– When the House rose at the end of last session the position was that, at the instance of a group of Australian industrialists prepared, at the request of the Government, to take up the important work of manufacturing aircraft in Australia, a delegation had been despatched to Great Britain and various other countries to study certain aspects of the manufacture. At the present time it is only after very great delays that the necessary supply of aircraft for defence purposes can be obtained from overseas. It is equally apparent that, in the event of hostilities occurring, it is unlikely that we should be able to obtain any supplies of aircraft at all. For defence purposes, therefore, it is absolutely essential that Australia should manufacture its own aircraft. Accord ingly, arrangements have been made with certain industrial firms to carry out this work. This delegation has now returned, and the company which is now about to be formed is seeking a site for the erection of a factory. As soon as it has been built the company anticipates that within twelve months it will be able to manufacture planes both for defence training purposes and for civil aviation.
– Can the Minister for Defence inform the House as to what degree of success, if any, has attended the efforts of the Commonwealth Government to establish an airport at Fishermen’s Bend? Further, what degree of success has attended the efforts of the Premier of South Australia to secure the establishment of a factory for the manufacture of aircraft at Port Adelaide?
– The matter of the establishment of an airport at Fishermen’s Bend has been given consideration by Cabinet, but I have yet to obtain certain further details before a definite statement may be made in regard to it. I expect to be able to make that statement to-morrow. The choice of a site for the establishment of a factory for the manufacture of aircraft is entirely within the province of the manufacturers themselves, and I have not interested myself in the matter. I understand, however, that sites are being inspected in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales, but that a determination has not yet been come to.
– Will the Minister explain why the claims of Tasmania, which possesses cheap hydro-electric power and other natural facilities, are being overlooked ? Will he give the assurance that that most important State will receive consideration ?
– I have endeavoured to make it clear that the choice of a site for the establishment of an aircraft factory is not a matter with which I, as Minister, have had anything to do; nor has the Government. The matter is one entirely for the manufacturers themselves.
– Will the Minister give the names of the manufacturers, so that representations may be made to them?
– I shall make a full statement on the matter later. I assume that honorable members will give the manufacturers the credit of having sufficient sense to take into consideration all the natural advantages possessed by the different sites in Australia, and finally to decide upon that site, whether in Tasmania or any other State, which is most advantageous to them in their manufacturing operations.
– Is tho Minister for the Interior aware that certain syndicates, which are boring for oil, particularly in the Maitland district, and which claim to have found definite indications of oil in their bores, have experienced great difficulty in getting an inspection made by the committee appointed by the Commonwealth Government, comprising Doctors Woolnough and Wade, to direct the expenditure of the sum of £250,000 made available by this Parliament last session! If the Minister is aware of these facts, does he not consider that an inspection of these plants should be immediately undertaken for the purpose either of assisting the enterprises financially or of advising them to discontinue wasteful expenditure in further boring?
– I shall make inquiries into the matter raised by the honorable gentleman and furnish him with the information.
– Will the Prime Minister inform the House whether the Government has made any suggestion either to the Government of Great Britain or the Secretary-General of the League of Nations at Geneva in connexion with the strengthening or re- construction of the League of Nations in accordance with the recent recommendation agreed to by the Assembly of the League of Nations?
– The matter has been given some consideration by the Government and has been referred to a subcommittee of Cabinet, which will later submit a report.
– In view of the satisfactory trading returns of the Postal Department, I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster- General whether consideration will be given to the. mitigation of the financial guarantees required of residents in outlying suburbs before public telephones are installed for their convenience?
– I shall be very glad to place before the Postmaster-General the suggestion which has been made by the honorable member, but I am quite sure that the Minister has already had the matter under consideration.
– Is the Prime Minister in possession of any information as to when the Royal Commission on Monetary and Banking Systems is likely to conclude its inquiries? If he is not, will he endeavour to expedite finality in that matter, so that the report of the commission may be brought before honorable members for their consideration?
– I am afraid that the commission must take its own time in this matter. We cannot expedite its deliberations, but I point out that it has held its public sittings in all States, and the taking of evidence is practically completed. It is not expected that its report will be available for some time. The evidence is now being arranged in its proper classifications, for example, banks, insurance companies, &c. Portion of the evidence so classified has been placed in the Parliamentary library, and the revised proofs of evidence have been in the library for some time. Nevertheless, the Government has no information as to the actual time that the commission will take in completing its investigations.
– Will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General inform the House whether consideration has been given to a reduction of licence-fees for wireless sets?
– I am sure that the matter has been taken into consideration, and that the budget speech will disclose the outcome of the official investigation.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Defence been directed to Statutory Rule 112, under the Defence Act, which was made on the 19th August, 1936, setting out that working hours at munition factories shall be 48 a week; and also to Statutory Rule 107, made on the 12th August, 1936, setting out that working hours at naval depots shall be 40 a week? Will the Minister take action, as provided under section 33 of Statutory Rule 107, to determine that the reduced number of hours shall be worked each week at munition factories?
– Is the working of a 48-hour week in munition factories and other Government establishments an indication of the Government’s policy in relation to working hours throughout the Commonwealth ?
– The hours worked in the munition factories controlled by the Defence Department are arrived at by negotiation by an industrial body. That is in accordance with the policy announced by the Prime Minister with respect to this matter.
-Has the Treasurer any report to submit to the House in connexion with national insurance?
– The matter is still receiving the active consideration of the Government, which has the advantage of the presence and the work of two British public servants. As yet there is no report available to place before the House, nor do I expect that there will be one for some considerable time.
– I ask the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties whether the Commonwealth Government has yet given to the British Government the necessary notice of denunciation of the Ottawa agreement? Will he make it clear in any future negotiations that Australia should have the right adequately to protect and develop its secondary industries, and that the Commonwealth Parliament should be the final arbiter as to the rates of duties to be imposed, irrespective of any recommendations of the Tariff Board?
– No notice has been given with respect to the determination of the Ottawa agreement. The second part of the honorable member’s question relates to a matter of policy, with which it is not the practice to deal in answer to questions.
– In view of the fact that the Commonwealth Constitution empowers the Commonwealth Parliament to pass laws pertaining to marriage and divorce, is it the intention of the Attorney-General to introduce a bill to amend, consolidate, and bring into conformity the marriage acts of the different States, in order that one law may operate throughout the Commonwealth? In any amending measure, will the honorable gentleman provide that, where a citizen is able to fulfil the rights of citizenship, that shall be considered his or her domicil ?
– The subject of the honorable member’s inquiry has not yet been determined by the Government. His suggestions will receive consideration.
– Will the Prime Minister state what the position is at the moment in regard to the Statute of Westminster ?
– On a previous occasion, in reply to a question by the honorable member, I said that Cabinet had decided to bring this matter forward when the Attorney-General returned from abroad, and that meanwhile the bill was being circulated among the governments of the States. The matter was raised with tho States at the Conference of Premiers held recently in Adelaide, and comments have been received from some of them. As soon as all the States have furnished us with their comments, we shall be able to proceed with the measure in this Parliament. It will be dealt with during this session.
– In view of the fact that I have endeavoured for the last five years to obtain an up-to-date post office in South Brisbane, and that the honorable member for Brisbane has now succeeded in obtaining approval for the construction of a new general post office on the north side of the river, will the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral assure me that a new building will be erected on the south side on the site obtained by the department many years ago?
– I am unable to give to the honorable member any definite information as to the date when this work will be put in hand. I can merely assure him that I shall again bring the matter under the notice of the Postmaster-General and ascertain the exact position.
– Following immediately upon the signing of the Ottawa agreement, it was reported that negotiations had been begun regarding subsidized shipping in the Pacific, and that different dominions, but particularly Australia and New Zealand, as well as the Crown Colony of Fiji, were endeavouring to come to some arrangement in regard to the matter, in which the British Government also was vitally interested. Many years have passed since these negotiations were commenced. The Prime Minister of New Zealand recently made a very definite statement with respect to the matter. Is the Prime Minister in a position to disclose the stage which has been reached in the negotiations ?
– Various phases of the matter were considered in London by the Minister for Commerce and the AttorneyGeneral, with representatives of the other dominions concerned and of Great Britain. The whole matter, but particularly the subsidy and the relative amounts to be contributed by each of the governments affected, has been referred to the
Imperial Shipping Committee, the report and recommendations of which are being awaited.
– Some months ago the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral informed me that plans and specifications would be prepared for a new broadcasting studio at Hobart.Will he now state what progress has been made with them? Is it true that they have been relegated to the limbo of forgotten things?
There are no “limbos” in the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. I shall be very glad to obtain the information and supply the honorable member with it.
– On two occasions recently the Minister in charge of War Service Homes promised the Municipal and District Councils Association of South Australia, that he would meet it in conference in Adelaide with respect to matters affecting war service homes, but apparently he has not yet been able to fulfil that promise, another gentleman who is not a Minister having deputized for him. Can he afford some satisfaction by agreeing to visit Adelaide at an early date to hear the representations that these persons wish to place before him ?
– It is not my fault that I was unable to fulfil the promise that I would receive this deputation in Adelaide. In response to a request from the Prime Minister to attend a meeting of Cabinet in Melbourne, I was obliged to pass through Adelaide without stopping on my return from Western Australia; instead of spending two days there, I spent only three-quarters of an hour. The Commissioner of War Service Homes, supported by the Deputy Commissioner, acted for me on that occasion. While in Adelaide during the Premiers Conference, I had not the time to receive a deputation. I have, however, promised that at the first favorable opportunity a Minister will receive this deputation in Adelaide.
-Has the Treasurer any information with respect to the proposal of the Government of New Zealand, to finance during the next twelve months, through the Central Reserve Bank, a housing scheme involving an expenditure of £3,500,000? If he has no information in connexion with the matter, will he obtain it, with a view to financing a similar scheme in Australia?
– The Government has no information of the nature referred to by the honorable member, but the matter will be given consideration.
– Will the Minister for Commerce state whether it is a fact that prices for average to inferior grades of wool are down by from 5 per cent. to 10 per cent? Has there been an unusually large number of withdrawals of lots listed for sale? Is it a fact that 9,000 fewer bales were sold at the recent wool sales in Sydney, compared with the same period of the 1935 sales?
– In the absence of the Minister for Commerce, I inform the honorable member that there is no abnormal feature connected with the present series of wool sales in Australia. The prices are considered very satisfactory. The Government is watching the whole of the activities in the interests of the wool industry of the Commonwealth.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs whether he can inform the House as to what action, if any, the Commonwealth Government has taken up to the present with regard to the serious disturbances - indeed, the state of war - existing in Palestine and Trans-Jordania ? Has the Commonwealth Government involved itself in the matter in any way either in support of the policy of the Imperial Government or otherwise?
– I shall refer the honorable member’s question to the Minister for External Affairs, but in the meantime he need have no undue anxiety.
– I ask honorable members to reserve any other questions they may have until to-morrow, in order that the Treasurer may proceed at once with the introduction of the budget.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Nauru - Errata in connexion with report to the Council of the League of Nations on the administration of Nauru during the year 1935, laid on the table on the 22nd May last, and ordered by the Senate to he printed.
Apple and Pear Bounty Act - Regulation a - Statutory Rules 1936, No.64.
Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act - War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal - Report for year 1935-36.
Bankruptcy Act - Rules Amended - Statutory Rules 1936, No. 101.
Census and Statistics Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1936, No. 109.
Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act and Customs Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1936, Nos. 66, 85.
Commonwealth Bank Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1936, No. 71.
Customs Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1936, Nos. 69, 86, 87, 92, 97, 103, 104.
Dairy Produce Act - Regulations Amended -Statutory Rules 1936, No. 65.
Dairy Produce Export Charges Act. - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1936, No. 108.
Dairy Produce Export Control Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1936, No. 102.
Defence Act - Regulations Amended, Ac. - Statutory Rules 1936, Nos. 75, 98, 100, 111, 112, 117.
Excise Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1936, No. 99.
Flax and Linseed Bounties Act - Return for year 1935-36.
Income Tax Assessment Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1936, No. 94.
Iron and Steel Products Bounty Act - Return for year 1935-36.
Inscribed Stock Act - Regulations Amended -Statutory Rules 1936, No. 72.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired at -
Campbellfield, Victoria - For Quarantine purposes.
Darlinghurst, Sydney, New South Wales - For Telegraphic, telephonic, and other like services.
Darwin, Northern Territory - For Defence purposes.
Kalgoorlie, Western Australia - For Postal, telegraphic, telephonic and other like services.
Pendle Hill, New South Wales- For Postal purposes.
Rottnest Island, Western Australia (2) - For Defence purposes.
Saddleworth, South Australia - For Postal purposes.
Meat Export Control Act - Regulations Amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1936, Nos. 84, 91.
Naval Defence Act - Regulations Amended, &c. - Statutory Rules 1936, Nos. 70, 77, 78, 79, 107, 110, 118, 119.
Navigation Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1936, No. 81.
New Guinea Act -
Ordinance of 1935 - No. 41 - Uncontrolled Areas.
Ordinances of 1936 -
No. 1 - Appropriation (No. 2) 1935-36.
No. 2 - Poor Persons’ Legal Assistance.
No. 3 - Hire-purchase Agreements.
No. 4 - Customs.
No.5 - Marriage.
No. 6-Probate and Administration.
No. 7 - Tenements Recovery.
No. 8- Superannuation.
No. 9 - Customs Tariff.
No. 10- Motor Traffic.
No. 11 - Maintenance Orders (New Zealand) (Facilities for Enforcement ) .
No. 12 - New Guinea Antiquities.
No. 13 - Judiciary.
No. 14 - Mortgagors’ Relief.
No. 15 - Foreign Judgments (Reciprocal Enforcement).
No. 16 - Liquor.
No. 17 - Public Service.
No. 18 - Lands Registration.
No. 20 - Cemeteries.
No. 21 - Criminal Code Amendment.
No. 22- Supply 1936-37.
No. 23 - Status of Married Women.
No. 24 - Laws Repeal and Adopting.
No. 25- Instruments.
No. 26 - Adoption of Children.
No. 27 - Mines and Works Regulation.
No. 28 - Petroleum.
No. 29 - Native Labour.
No. 30 - Mining.
No. 31 - Shipping.
Northern Territory Acceptance Act and
Northern Territory (Administration) Act-Ordinances of 1936 -
No. 6 - Licensing.
No. 7 - Mining (Validation).
No. 8 - Weights and Measures.
No. 9 - Supreme Court.
Papua Act - Infirm and Destitute Natives
Account - Statement of Transactions of Trustee for year 1935-36.
Papua and New Guinea Bounties Act - Return for year 1935-36.
Patents Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1936, No. 89.
Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations Amended- Statutory Rules 1936, No. 113.
Public Service Act -
Appointments - Department -
Attorney-General’s - J. R. Crawford, G. Henshilwood, R. R. Michell, G. H. Rance, J. T. Stephenson, S. J. Watson
Public Service Act - continued.
Appointments - Department of - continued -
Commerce - A. N. Boulton.
Health - A. M. Andrews, J. J. Gard,
J. J. Lawrence, H. D. M. L. Murray, J. S. Wannan.
Interior - W. G. Draper.
Trade and Customs - E. H. Foster.
Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1936, Nos. 76, 88, 106.
Quarantine Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1936, Nos. 82, 93.
Railways Act - By-law No. 70.
Raw Cotton Bounty Act - Return for year 1935-36.
Seamen’s Compensation Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1936, No. 73.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act-
Ordinances of 1936 -
No. 18 - Bank Holidays.
No. 19 - Qucanbeyan Lease.
No. 20 - Careless Use of Fire.
No. 21- Canberra University College.
No. 22 - Hospital Tax.
No. 23 - Companies (Investigation of Affairs).
No. 24 - Poisons and Dangerous Drugs.
No. 25- Companies (Investigation of Affairs) (No. 2).
No. 26 - Liquor.
No. 27 - Fish Protection.
No. 28 - Juvenile Offenders (Detention ) .
No. 29 - Leases.
No. 30 - Land Valuation.
No. 31 - City Area Leases.
No. 32 - Industrial Board (No. 2).
No. 33 - Advisory Council.
No. 34 - Qucanbeyan Water Supply.
No. 35 - Plant Diseases.
Regulations Amended, &c., under -
Building and Service Ordinance.
City Area Leases Ordinance.
Hospital Tax Ordinance.
Industrial Board Ordinance.
Sulphur Bounty Act - Return for year
Transport Workers Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1936, Nos. 80, 105.
Treaty of Peace (Germany) Act - Regulations Amended- Statutory Rules 1936, No. 83.
War Service Homes Act -
Supplemental Agreement, dated 1st May, 1936, between the War Service Homes Commissioner and the State of Western Australia.
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1936, No. 74.
Wine Export Bounty Act - Return for year 1935-36.
Wireless Telegraphy Act - Regulations Amended- Statutory Rules 1936, No. 90.
Wool Tax Assessment Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1936, No. 95.
Messages reported transmitting estimates of revenue and expenditure and estimates of expenditure for additions, new works, buildings, &c., for the year ending the 30th June, 1937, and recommending appropriations accordingly.
Ordered to be printed, and referred to Committee of Supply.
– In presenting the budget for 1936-37, it is my privilege to record continued improvement in the position of Australian finance, and to submit proposals for the reduction of taxation, the expansion of the defence programme, the restoration of certain expenditure reductions, and other matters of government policy.
General Conditions in Australia.
Before giving the budgetary results for 1935-36 and the Government’s proposals for 1936-37, a short review of conditions in Australia may appropriately be made.
In practically every direction, the position of the people of Australia has materially improved in the last twelve months. Evidence of this is to be found particularly in the improvement in employment, as well as in the almost general rise of export prices, in statistics regarding overseas trade, in the steady growth of savings bank deposits, and in the continued and increased confidence of the people as expressed in investment and the inflow of money from abroad into Australia.
In 1933-34, when wool prices averaged 15.84d. per lb. theclip yielded £63,000,000. In 1934-35 prices averaged only 9.75d. per lb., and the value of the clip was £40,400,000. Last year prices recovered to 14.01d. per lb., and the clip produced over £58,000,000.
Last year export prices for butter were on a higher level than in recent years. The present outlook, as regards both the season and prices, is promising.
Seasonal conditions in overseas exporting countries have been responsible for a. marked increase of the price of wheat. For the seven months ended July, 1936, the average price was higher at 3s. 7d. a bushel than for any similar period since 1928. Wheat produced in 1935-36 was of the value of £26,740,000 as compared with £20,970,000 in the previous year. Even if the recent high level of 4b. 7&d. a bushel be not maintained, wheat-growers have a very much happier prospect than in recent years.
The general position of export prices as a whole may be seen from the following table of index numbers at half-yearly intervals (base 1,000 in 192S) :-
Generally, seasonal conditions in Australia are particularly good.
The steady increase of employment, which began shortly after the previous Lyons Government came into office, has been maintained throughout the year. The percentage of unemployment reported by the trade unions to the Commonwealth Statistician reached its highest level - 30 per cent. - in the second quarter of 1932. The improvement since then is indicated by the following figures: -
It is estimated that about 335,000 persons have got back into full-time employment in Australia since early in 1932.
There has been a greater percentage full of unemployment in the year just ended than in any previous year since the depth of the depression.
Although these percentages are based only on a proportion of employable persons, the improvement they indicate is confirmed from other sources.
The general improvement is also reflected in savings bank deposits, which have increased in recent years as follows : -
Another reliable indicator of improved conditions is the building industry. The total value of building operations in the capital cities and suburbs has increased as follows: -
A feature of the overseas trade position for 1935-36 was the recovery of the export trade as compared with the previous year. Under the influence of an all-round improvement in world prices, especially wool and wheat, and of the continued expansion of gold production, exports reached a new high level since 1929-30 of £stg. 108,000,000, as compared with £stg. 90,000,000 for 1934-35.
Imports in 1935-36 reached £stg. 85,000,000 as compared with £stg. 74,000,000 in 1934-35. The increase continues to reflect revival of the purchasing power of the Australian community, and indicates the continued demand for further raw materials and machinery.
Of the £stg. 11,000,000 increase in imports, £stg. 9,000,000 is accounted for by increased imports of non-competitive goods, mainly machinery, motor vehicles, and petrol. The prominent position of metal manufactures and machinery indicates rapid growth and improvement in the equipment of secondary industries.
This movement, in turn, accounts for appreciable shrinkage in the rate of growth in imports of finished goods.
The steady increase in the number of factory employees in Australia over the last five years is of interest in this connexion and affords further evidence of expansion -
The favorable commodity balance increased from £stg. 16,000,000 for 1934-35 to £stg. 22,000,000 for 1935-36. The slight extent to which the trade balance failed to provide the £stg. 23,000,000 necessary to meet our overseas interest bill, was made good by the migration of capital from overseas to Australia.
The last several years have seen progressive betterment of the Australian economy. In many directions we have caught up with and passed the peak of activity of the pre-depression decade. The economic future of Australia and of the world appears to be brighter than at any time since 1929 - although this happier prospect is unfortunately accompanied by a serious deterioration in the international situation.
The series of London conversions initiated by the Government in October, 1932, and carried through with such conspicuous success by the High Commissioner, Mr. Bruce, was completed last year when two further operations - of £21,657,0.00 and £16,551,000 respectively - were arranged on the London market. All maturing and optional redeemable loans have now been converted, and there will be no need for further conversion operations in London until towards the end of 1937.
London debt amounting to £198,513,275 has now been converted, with resultant saving in interest and exchange of approximately £4,000,000 per annum, of which £850,000 accrues to the Commonwealth and £3,150,000 to the States. A striking feature of these conversions is the progressive improvement of the rates of interest at which the conversion loans were floated. The first short-term issue in October, 1932, gave an effective rate of interest of £41s. 2d. per cent. The last short-term issue in June, 1936, gave an effective rate of interest of £2 18s. 6d. per cent. The first long-term loan was issued in February, 1933, and yielded 4 per cent. The last long-term loan was issued in January, 1936, and yielded £3 5s. 9d. per cent. The average rate of interest on all the loans dealt with was reduced from £50s.11d. per cent. to £3 10s. 2d. per cent., a reduction of £1 10s. 9d. per cent. These highly satisfactory results were made possible by the action of the Government in steadfastly adhering to a policy of prudent and sound finance. They reflect the improved standing of Australian credit in London.
Particulars of this series of conversions are shown in the following table: -
Two new loans were issued during 1935-36, on behalf of the Loan Council, making a total of eight new loans floated in Australia since the national debt con version in July, 1931. Particulars of the two loans raised in the last financial year, and of the six previous loans, are as follows: -
Thus, on the average of the last four financial years, the Commonwealth has not claimed the 20 per cent, of loan moneys to which it is entitled under the Financial Agreement. The average has been 11.3 per cent. The policy of the Commonwealth has been to keep its loan requirements to a minimum in order to allow State governments as free access as possible to the loan market.
Although the yield to the investor of the loan raised in June, 1936, was higher than that of any of the loans issued during the past four years, the loan was not fully subscribed by. the public, £1,800,000 having to be provided by the underwriters. This was due in large measure to the increased demand for capital by private enterprise and to renewed confidence of investors in industrial stocks.
The following statement shows the movement of the public debt since the 30th June, 1932:-
The net increase of the aggregate public debt of Australia in the four-year period was approximately £67,954,000. State debts increased by £75,799,000, while Commonwealth debt decreased by £7,845,000.
Although there has been an annual growth of the aggregate Australian public debt, the average rates of interest payable on the debt domiciled both in London and in Australia have steadily fallen ai follows : -
The interest burden per bead of the population of the whole Australian public debt in Australia and overseas for Commonwealth and States, including the cost of exchange, is but little more to-day than it was fifteen years ago, as will be seen from the following table: -
Included in the aggregate Australian public debt at the 30th June, 1936, is £80,388,000 of short-term unfunded treasury-bills and debentures, of which £33,375,000 is held in London by the Commonwealth Bank and £47,013,000 is domiciled in Australia and is held in approximately equal parts by the Commonwealth Bank and the trading banks.
Loan services of the Commonwealth and States, and revenue deficits of the States, are now being financed by funded loans. New treasury-bills are being issued only to meet the lag in revenue. in the early part of the year. All such bills are repayable before the 30th June in each year. The total volume of treasurybills is thus practically stationary, being affected only by temporary transactions.
In 1935-36, the receipts of the national debt sinking fund totalled £9,097,000. For 1936-37 the receipts are estimated at £9,717,000, of which £5,300,000 will accrue to the State sinking funds and £4,417,000 to the Commonwealth sinking fund.
The following table shows the movement in State deficits since 1929-30 : -
As the Commonwealth accounts showed an excess of receipts over expenditure of £3,567,000 in 1935-36, the aggregate result of all government budgets in Australia for that year was a surplus of £1,137,000.
Financial YEAR 1935-36.
The following table gives the estimated, and the actual, revenue and ordinary expenditure for last year:-
In addition to the expenditure as shown above, a special payment of £500,000 was made to the States out of excess revenue of previous years in accordance with proposals which were announced when the budget for 1935-36 was brought down.
The improvement of revenue over the estimate was principally under the following heads: -
In the Postmaster-General’s Department, the revenue exceeded the estimate by £165,000, whilst the expenditure was £22,000 below the estimate - a net improvement of £187,000.
Increases of expenditure over the estimate were, apart from small variations, as follows :- Federal aid roads £279,000, which was offset by increased revenue from the petrol tax, and relief to primary producers, £1,275,000. Of the latter. £1,016,000 was due to payments to wheat-growers, and £259,000 to payments to other primary producers for fertilizer bounty and the like.
In the following table an effort has been made to group Commonwealth expenditure under the principal headings by bringing togetherin a condensed form payments of a like nature, so that a quick survey may be made of the position : -
The figures shown above do not include the sum of £4,160,000 paid to defence trust account in 1934-35 or non-recurring grants to the States of £2,000,000 in 1934- 35 and £500,000 in 1935-36, provided out of excess receipts of previous years.
The above statement indicates that the bulk of Commonwealth expenditure is of an inescapable nature and that a relatively small proportion is for departmental and other services.
For 1935-36, the Commonwealth budget resulted in the receipts being £3,567,720 in excess of the expenditure.
The Government proposes to deal with the excess receipts as follows: -
The non-recurring grant of £500,000 to the States is proposed in aid of the budgetary position of the States as a whole, and will reduce to this extent the calls on the loan market. A similar grant was made in 1935-36, whilst, in 1934-35, a non-recurring grant of £2,000,000 was made.
Out of the excess receipts of 1935-36, it is proposed to set aside a sum of £2,000,000 to assist in carrying out the new defence programme. Parliament will be asked to appropriate this sum for payment to the defence trust account. In 1934-35 an amount of £4,160,000 was paid to this account out of the excess receipts of the three years ended the 30th June, 1934. The position of this account and the Government’s proposals in regard to defence will be dealt with later.
In the four years ended the 30th June, 1931, an aggregate deficit of £17,216,000 was incurred in Commonwealth accounts. It is now proposed to apply £1,068,000 of the excess receipts of the Commonwealth in 1935-36 towards the reduction of this deficit. This is in addition to the sum of £213,000 applied in reduction of the deficit in 1935-36.
From the time it became apparent that there would be a substantial excess of receipts over expenditure in the Commonwealth accounts for 1935-36, the Government has not been without requests and advice from various sections of the public on the subject of its future financial policy. These observations have ranged over the whole field of federal taxation, direct and indirect, and have also included proposals for additional and varied grants to the States. All these proposals have had the careful consideration of the Government. In placing before the Parliament the proposals in the budget for 1936-37, the Government has endeavoured to select those forms of taxation the reduction of which is likely to have the most beneficial economic effect.
The Government was faced with selecting one or other of two simple alternatives - either to reduce both direct and indirect taxes to the full extent that was possible, consistent with our obligations, or to make some appreciably lesser tax reductions and to make increased money grants to the States. Of these two alternatives the Government is confident that, in presenting a budget providing for substantial remissions of taxes, it is acting in the best interests of Australia as a whole.
Notwithstanding the increased sum of £1,336,000 required from revenue for the development of defence, and the growing cost of old-age pensions, the budget provides for remission of taxes to the amount of £5,275,000 in a full year, and for other expenditure proposals costing £1,235,000 in a full year. In the present year these revenue remissions will cost £3,868,000, whilst the expenditure proposals, including defence, will cost £2,311,000. The total cost of the revenue remissions and expenditure proposals in the present budget is therefore £6,179,000, and the total cost of all these adjustments in a full year will be £7,846,000. The burden of these revenue and expenditure alterations on the budget next year will thus be £1,667,000 more than this year.
In 1933, the rate of sales tax was reduced from 6 per cent. to 5 per cent., whilst from year to year the list of exemptions has been extended. As compared with the peak period, the total value of the concessions made to date is £3,740,000 on an annual basis.
The Government proposes to recommend to the Parliament the provision of further relief from sales tax to the amount of £3,000,000 for a full year. The rate of tax will be reduced from 5 per cent. to 4 per cent., involving a loss of £2,000,000 per annum, whilst further exemptions to the annual value of £1,000,000 will be provided for. The cost of these concessions for the balance of the present financial year will be approximately £2,000,000.
In the selection of classes of goods for complete or partial exemption the Government proposes to follow its established policy of seeking, in the first place, to provide for the exemption of goods which are the prime necessaries of life. This policy provides the greatest possible relief to those least able to bear the burden of the tax. Opportunity has also been taken to provide for exemptions which will remove certain anomalies and will simplify the administration of the law. Among the exemptions will be certain goods generally referred to as “ consumable aids to manufacture “, these being goods which are used up or consumed in the process of manufacturing other goods.
The reduced rate of tax will apply to all taxable transactions on and from to-morrow, the 11th September. This will mean that sales tax returns for transactions in the month of September will be based on the rate of 5 per cent. for the first ten days of September and 4 per cent. for the balance of the month.
The full list of exemptions will be set out in the amending bill that will be introduced shortly. These exemptions will take effect as from the date of assent to the measure.
Certain remissions of primage duty are proposed which will total approximately £170,000 for a full year and approximately £128,000 in the current year.
The Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 containing the uniform taxation provisions, agreed upon by the Commonwealth and the States following the inquiry by the Royal Commission on Taxation, was passed during the last sitting of Parliament. Uniform income tax legislation has also been passed by the Parliaments of New SouthWales and Tasmania, and bills to a like effect have been introduced into the Parliaments of Victoria, Queensland and South Australia. The Government of Western Australia has announced its intention to introduce a bill on the subject in the near future.
In addition to dealing with uniformity in taxation, the 1936 Commonwealth act contains a number of concessions to taxpayers. The most important was the introduction into the act for the first time of a concessional deduction of £50 for a wife, or in the case of a widower, for a female relative caring for his children, where the wife’s or female relative’s personal income does not exceed £50. It is estimated that this concession will involve a remission of income tax to the extent of £320,000 for a full year.
Concessions have also been granted in the 1936 act to non-residents. The most important was the granting to all nonresident individual taxpayers of the same statutory exemption as is allowed to residents. This concession will, it is esti mated, involve a remission of approximately £50,000 for a full year.
The Government proposes to make reductions of income tax. One of the most severe forms of emergency tax imposed in 1930-31 was the special property tax. In 1933-34, the rate of this tax was reduced from 10 per cent. to 6 per cent. Last year the rate was reduced to 5 per cent. As stated in ray budget speech last year, the Government recognized this tax as a. severe form of emergency taxation from which relief should be given as soon as a reasonable opportunity presented itself. The Government considers that the opportunity has now arrived and proposes to abolish the tax, the remission resulting thereby being estimated at £1,300,000 for a full year.
In addition, the Government proposes to reduce the rates of normal income tax on individuals by 10 per cent., in respect of both income from personal exertion and income from property. This concession will involve a remission of approximately £435,000 for a full year.
Owing to the fact that all the assessments cannot be issued in sufficient time to collect the tax before the 30th June, and also on account of belated payments, the full amount of the foregoing remissions will not be reflected in the revenue of the year.
Since 1931-32, the only variation in the rates of normal income tax was a reduction in 1933-34 of 15 per cent. of the rate of tax on income from personal exertion.
The following table shows a comparison of the normal rates of tax at present in force and the 1931-32 rates, in relation to the 1915-16 basic rate: -
The effect of these remissions of income tax is as follows: -
No variation of the rates of tax is proposed in respect of land tax or estate duty or the income tax on companies.
The proposals for the remission of taxes may be summarized as follows: -
In reducing taxes to this extent, the Government is adhering to the policy it has consistently adopted, namely, that taxes should be reduced to the fullest extent consistent with Commonwealth obligations.
The fields of taxation in which reductions are now being made are those which, in the opinion of the Government, are entitled to preference as being not only most justified, but also most beneficial to the people as a whole. Endeavours have been made to hold the balance fairly, not only as between direct and indirect taxes, but also as between emergency taxes due to the depression and pre-depression taxes.
In arriving at a decision as to the fairest and most beneficial forms of taxation relief, the Government has not only kept in mind the relation between revenue from direct and indirect taxes in the federal sphere, but has also taken into account the direct taxes imposed by the State governments. There is only one body of taxpayers in Australia, and they have to bear the burdens of both Commonwealth and State taxation in all its forms.
The Government has given very careful consideration to the question of reducing taxes other than those included in these budget proposals. The cost of reducing customs and excise duties on petrol, beer and spirits to such an extent as to ensure the reductions being passed on to consumers, is so great that the Government has been reluctantly compelled to exclude them from the remissions. Land tax has been halved in the last four years, and now produces £1,200,000, as compared with an average of £2,846,000 for the five years ended June, 1931.
The total estimated revenue for the year, after allowing for remissions of taxes, is £81,550,000, made up as follows : -
The estimated revenue for 1936-37, as above set out, includes £530,000 of trust fund balances proposed to be transferred to revenue during the year.
During recent years, the direct financial assistance rendered to the States has shown an upward tendency. Excluding relief for wheat-growers and other primary producers, the contributions to the States from Commonwealth revenues for 1934-35, 1935-36, and 1936-37 are as set out below -
The above figures do not include the grants of £2,000,000 and £500,000 made to the States as a. whole during 1934-35 and 1935-36, respectively, out. of excess receipts of previous years, or the grant of £500,000 proposed to be made in 1936-37.
In 1935-36 special grants, totalling £2,750,000, were paid by the Commonwealth, on. the recommendation of the Commonwealth Grants Commission, viz. : - South Australia, £1,500,000 ; Western Australia, £800,000; and Tasmania, £450,000. This represented an increase of £350,000 on the total of special grants paid during. 1934-35.
The third annual report of the commission has now Been received, and contains recommendations that the payments for 1936-37 should be as follows : - South Australia, £1,330,000; Western Australia, £500,000; Tasmania, £600,000- total, £2,430,000. This is a decrease of £320,000 below the total paid last year, although it is still in excess of the 1934-35 grant.
The commission has reiterated statements made in its previous reports that the adoption of an automatic formula for the determination of these grants over a period of years is not practicable, and has based its recommendations on the amounts necessary to raise the finances of the claimant States to approximately the level of the other States. The effect of this method is to reduce the grants when the finances of the claimant States show a greater improvement than those of the non-claimant States, and vice versa. South Australia and Western Australia both improved their economic position more than the average in 1934-35, that is, the year on which the commission bases: its conclusions, and reduced grants are recommended accordingly for those States. On the other hand, the improvement in Tasmania was less than the average, hence the increase of the grant proposed for that State.
The Government proposes to seek parliamentary approval for the grants recommended by the commission. The commission’s report is being tabled to-day.
Last year, with a view to relieving unemployment, the Government undertook to. provide£l00,000 from revenue for the purpose of subsidizing interest and sinking funds on loans raised for public works by local governing authorities. Subsequently, it was decided that, grants for this purpose would be made by the Commonwealth through the States, at the rate of £100,000 per annum for ten years. These grants will enable many authorities to undertake public utility works which otherwise would have been beyond their capacity.
The present Federal Aid Roads Agreements between the Commonwealth and the States, which expire on the 31st December next, provide for payment to the States of 2£d. a gallon in respect of petrol imported, and of 1-Jd. a gallon in respect of excise petrol. It has been agreed between the Commonwealth and State governments that these agreements shall be extended for a period of six months. The estimated payments to the States on this basis, in the present financial year, total £3,000,000.
The Government has decided to submit to Parliament proposals for new agreements with the States, to cover a further period of ten years, commencing on the 1st July, 1937. It is proposed that these agreements shall provide for payment to the States of 3d. a gallon on petrol imported, and 2d. a gallon on excise petrol. It is proposed that this should be given effect to by a continuance of the Federal Aid Roads Agreements with the States, in their present form, for a further period of ten years on the existing terms and conditions - and that a further ½d. a gallon of the customs duty and a £d. a gallon of the excise duty should be made available for the same period for the purposes of roads, works, or forestry. The additional cost in the first year of the proposed new agreements, namely, 1937-38, is expected to exceed £600,000. The basis of apportionment amongst the States will be the same as that provided for in the existing agreements.
Invalid and Old-age Pensions.
Honorable members will remember that the Government introduced, in 1933, a scheme whereby the maximum rate of invalid and old-age pensions was designed to increase with increases in the cost of living. The pension rate was accordingly increased in July, 1935, from 17s. 6d. to 18s. a week, following an increase of the price level.
The total expenditure for the twelve months ended the 30th June, 1936, was approximately £12,800,000, the highest amount expended in any one year in respect of this service since its introduction in 1909. The increase of approximately £1,000,000 over the preceding year was due partly to the increase of the maximum rate of pension from 17s. Cd. to 18s. per week and partly to the increase of the number of successful applicants reaching pensionable age. On the 30th June, 1936, there were 287,235 invalid and old-age pensions in force, an increase of 13,257 during the twelve months.
It is estimated that the net increase of the numbers of invalid and old-age pensioners in 1936-37 will be about 13,500, at an estimated increased cost, over and above 1935-36, of about £600,000.
The Government proposes to increase the maximum rate of invalid and old-age pensions from 18s. to 19s. a week. This will be given effect to as from the next pension pay-day following the passage of the necessary legislation. The estimated cost of this liberalization is £760,000 per annum.
The Government is happy to find itself in a position, by reason of the improved general financial position, to make this increase of ls. a week to invalid and old-age pensioners. This increase will give the pensioners a greater purchasing power than they have had in any previous year since the introduction of invalid and old-age pensions.
The existing provision in the act, whereby the rate of pension varies in accordance with the cost of living, will be amended to give effect to this increase of ls. a week, by substituting a new scale of index numbers for that at present in the act.
The estimated total expenditure for the present financial year on invalid and old-age pensions is £13,980,000.
The present scale of payments is £4 for a first child to those with an income not exceeding £208 per annum - the pay- ments rising by 5s. for each surviving child under fourteen years of age, up to a maximum payment of £5. The allowable income limit also rises by £13 per annum for each surviving child up to a total of £299.
It is now proposed to liberalize the law by providing for payment of an allowance of £4 10s. for the first child and £5 in every case in which there is any previous surviving issue under the age of fourteen years.
The Government had proposed to exempt amounts paid as unemployment relief tax from computation as income for maternity allowance purposes. However, owing to complexity arising from varying provisions in this regard in the various States, the Government proposes instead to increase the amount of allowable income from £208 to £221 per annum in the case where there is no previous surviving issue, and to allow a corresponding increase throughout the existing income scale with a maximum income of £312 per annum instead of £299 as at present. This concession is of considerably greater value than exemption from unemployment relief tax.
The increasing scale of allowable income for each child will still be retained to determine those eligible for the allowance.
The cost of these liberalizations is estimated at £55,000 per annum, and £42,000 this year.
As from the 1st January last, a number of additional concessions and benefits were granted to certain ex-members of the Australian Imperial Forces, and the Naval and Air Forces. Provision was made for service pensions for certain classes of ex-members of the forces, for restoration of commuted pensions and for additional pension and other benefits to certain dependants. In addition, provision was made for certain ex-members of the forces to receive medical treatment in repatriation hospitals or sanatoria and for improved treatment facilities and more modern hospital accommodation for patients in repatriation institutions.
The Government believes that these concessions have substantially relieved the position of a large number of deserv ing cases, that, under the law as it stood, were suffering some degree of hardship.
In this budget the Government proposes to increase the rate of service pensions by1s. a week, and also to increase by1s. 6d. a week the pensions to children of incapacitated soldiers. Several other minor concessions will be made to remove anomalies in the existing legislation.
The estimated annual cost of the additional concessions proposed in this budget is £162,000. In addition, the Government is providing £123,000 in the budget for the extension and improvement of repatriation hospitals and institutions.
In 1931 the salaries of Commonwealth employees were subjected by the Financial Emergency Act to reductions as part of the plan for the rehabilitation of Government finances. The scale of reduction was as follows: -
As part of the plan to restore these reductions as the finances permitted, restorations totalling 10 per cent. have been made as under: -
These salary restorations in the last three years freed all service salaries up to £485, 1930 standard, from any reduction under the Financial Emergency Act.
In view of the general improvement of Commonwealth finances, it is now proposed completely to restore the salaries of all Commonwealth employees to the normal rates. Where the salaries of employees are, under ordinary legislation, subject to automatic adjustment in accordance with cost of living variations, such adjustments will continue to operate. The present cost of living reductions, as compared with the 1930 standard, total approximately £1,300,000 per annum and will, as stated, continue to operate.
The cost of this restoration in respect of the public service and other Commonwealth employees will be £97,000 for a full year and £74,000 for the current year.
Inrespect of allowances to members of Parliament and salaries of Ministers, the Government proposes that a partial restoration be made, viz., by an amount equal to 10 per cent. of the normal rate. The reductions then operative will be -
The cost of this partial restoration will be £13,000 for a full year, and £10,000 for the current year.
The Government, having regard to the great importance of public health, and the necessity for close co-operation between the Commonwealth, the States, and the medical profession, has decided to establish a National Health and Medical Research Council.
Additional funds are being provided to make the work of the Department of Health more effective, with special reference to cancer, maternal welfare, and the nutrition of the people generally.
The trend of recent international events has emphasized the importance of national defence. At the time the first Lyons Government assumed office, bright hopes were held that the burden of armaments would be relieved by reduction on the part of the heavily armed powers and the elimination of competition through agreements limiting the fighting strength of the various nations.
The results have proved disappointing. They are doubly so tothose democratic nations such as Great Britain and the dominions which have strenuously supported policies for the limitation and seduction of armaments, andthe maintenance of peace.
While steadfastly pursuing a policy to this end,the Government, in view of its grave responsibility for national security, must, nevertheless, take the world as it finds it. The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom recently said -
Taking “risks for peace”has not removed the dangers of war. ‘We have really no alter- native in the present state of the world but to review our defences and to provide necessary means both of safeguarding ourselves against aggression and of playing our part in the enforcement by common action of international obligations.
The great strides made in recent years in the development of air communications is an important reminder to Australia that, in spite of our geographical remoteness, we cannot ignore happenings elsewhere.
Without being alarmist, the Government wishes to put clearly before the people of the Commonwealth the provision that it is incumbent upon them to make for national defence. The defence vote this year will be the highest in the history of the Commonwealth, but it is essential constantly to bear in mind that the burden entailed by preparedness is small in comparison with the human and monetary cost of war.
The Government, therefore, is making provision in this financial year, not only for the amount required for the final stage of the three-year programme, but also for £1,480,000 for the commencement of a new programme.
My colleague, the Minister for Defence, will, at an early date, place before honorable members full particulars of the Government’s proposals for defence.
The increasing financial provision for defence in recent years is shown in the following table : -
The position of the defence trust account, is as follows: -
In 1934-35 an amount of £4,160,000 was paid to the account out of the accumulated excess of revenue over expenditure for the three years ended the 30th June, 1934. Of thissum £2,228,054 was expended in the last two financial years, leaving a balance at the 30th June, 1936, of £1,931,946.
During the present year theGovernment proposes to pay a sum of £2,000,000 to this account out of the excess receipts of 1935-36. The total sum available in the account at the 1st July, 1936, will thus be £3,931,946. Allowing for the estimated expenditure from the trust account for the present financial year of £1,952,008, it is expected that there will be a balance at the 30th June, 1937, of £1,979,938, which will be available towards assisting the defence programme after that date.
The Government has decided to proceed with the completion of the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. The erection of this building, which, in addition to its function as a national memorial, is to house the war museum, was proposed shortly after the war. Although Parliament passed the necessary legislation in 1925 and certain funds were provided in 1928-29, the subsequent depression prevented the completion of the structure. The Government has now decided, subject to the requisite appropriations, to complete the memorial in this and the two following financial years.
During 1935-36 there was a further substantial increase in all branches of post office business. The resulting increased revenue has enabled the department to provide better facilities to the public intelephone, telegraph, broadcasting, and mail services.
In the telephone branch the chief improvements have been in trunk line services, in automatic installations for rural areas, and in extended hours of service for country exchanges.
In the telegraph branch improved equipment has been provided to facilitate business, whilst in the postal branch provision was made for improved deliveries in the ordinary services.
The air mail service between Australia and Singapore was duplicated in May last, and consideration is being given to an extended scheme for the carriage by air of first class mails to and from Empire countries. Towards the cost of this scheme, a sum of £75,000 is being provided in the budget. Internal air mail services also will he improved.
The broadcasting services continue to progress. The number of listeners’ licences increased last year by more than 100,000, and at the 30th June totalled 825.000. There are now sixteen national stations in operation, and five new stations at Townsville (Queensland), Minding (Western Australia), Dooen (Victoria), Cumnock (New South Wales), and Kalgoorlie (Western Australia) are nearing completion.
The submarine cable across Bass Strait was brought into operation in March last, and has proved of great benefit to the people of Tasmania and those on the mainland.
The Government has decided to grant an export bounty of 2s. a case on oranges shipped to all countries other than New Zealand during the 1936 season. The cost is estimated at £4,500. With the object of establishing a citrus advisory board for Australia, a conference of representatives of the industry will be called.
Last year a bounty of 4d. a case was provided to assist growers of apples and. pears, the total amount involved being £82,000, Prices ruling overseas for these; fruits are still unsatisfactory, and for this reason it is proposed that a further sum of approximately £80,000 be provided in 1936-37 to supplement receipts from the export of apples and pears of the season ending the 31st December, 1936.
Subsidy on Fertilizers.
The subsidy granted by the Government in recent years to assist primary producers in the purchase of artificial manure for the production of primary products other than wheat has encouraged the use of fertilizers, with beneficial results. The Government has decided to continue the subsidy for the present year at the reduced rate of 10s. a ton. The estimated cost for 1936-37 is £310,000, as against £434,000 for the 1935-36 season, when the rate of subsidy was 15s. a ton.
In 1935-36 £1,916,000 was provided for assistance to the wheat-growing industry. Of this sum £1,151,000 was secured from the flour tax imposed from the 1st. July, 1935, to the 24th February, 1936, and the balance was a charge on the general revenue. In view of the fortunate and substantial improvement of the price of wheat it is unnecessary for the Commonwealth to contemplate further assistance to wheat-growers during the present financial year.
With a view to assisting the sale of Austraiian products abroad, and the tourist traffic, the Government has decided to increase the grants for publicity to the Oversea Trade Publicity Committee and the Australian National Travel Association.
The Government is providing substantially increased sums this year to enable the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to extend its activities with a view to securing greater national efficiency in primary and secondary industries. Last year the Government provided £140,615 for investigations and research”, and £26,947 for capital expenditure. This year the Government proposes to provide £187,043 for investigations and research, and £57,381 for capital expenditure on laboratories, a fisheries vessel, an agricultural field station, &c.
Simultaneously, . sources outside the Treasury - private persons, institutions and industries - are increasing their contributions to the council. They are providing £68,385 this year, as against £54,578 last year.
The work of the council is being extended to cover research in connexion with secondary industries, and to provide for training of scientists in research work.
The council is continuing its investigations into animal and plant diseases, pests and scourges, forest products, goldmining, fisheries, and many other problems of primary production.
In many directions the work of the council has already been of great benefit to Australia, and has effected savings far exceeding the expenditure. The extension of this good work should, I am con- vinced, be encouraged, not only by the Government but also by all institutions and industries having the welfare of Australia in mind.
The total estimated expenditure for the year, including provision for the budget proposals already explained, is set out in the following table, together with the actual expenditure of 1035-36: -
This summary does not include expenditure out of excess receipts of past years, namely, £500,000 for payment to the States in 1935-36 and £500,000 for 1936-37.
The special budget proposals already outlined may be summarized as follows: -
The following statement compares the proposed expenditure of the Commonwealth for public works and rural debt relief in 1936-37 with the actual expenditure for these purposes in 1935-36 : -
In considering theamount of Commonwealth expenditure to be provided from loan during 1936-37, the Government has kept in mind the position of the money market and the difficulty of raising all the loan moneys desired by the Australian Loan Council. At the meeting of the Loan Council in May last the estimated Commonwealth loan expenditure for 19.36-37 was, after discussion, set down at £3,750,000. The Government feels, however, that if the carrying out of its public works programme is to be assured, the prudent course is to make provision for not more than £3,107,000 from the LoanFund, and the balance from revenue.
The Postal Department is being granted £440,000 more this year for works purposesto enable it to meet the ever-increasing demands of the public for further services.
A further £383,000 is being provided for the Port Augusta to Red Hill railway, on which £122,085 was expended last year.
For works inthe Northern Territory a total sum of £114,356 is provided for 1936-37, as against £72,582 actually expended in 1935-36. In addition, an amount of £60,000 is being provided in the ordinary Estimates for roads and stock routes, water supply facilities, and assistance in regard to freights, rents, water boring, &c.
The centra] staff of the Commerce Department and some sections of other departments were removed from Melbourne to Canberraduring 1935-36. It is now proposed to undertake a programme of works, extending over several years, with the object of removing to Canberra the staffsof the Defence and Postmaster-General’s Departments. These works include the erection of administration buildings, a considerable number of cottages, additional school accommodation, and extensions of the water supply and sewerage systems.
It isa great satisfaction to be in a position to present a budget which has somany happy features. I do not pretend that the Government can justly claim all the credit for all the improvement of which this budget is the convincing demonstration. Many factors affecting the prosperity of a community are quite beyond the control of governments. This is particularly so in the case of Australia by reason of the fact that we depend in a substantial measure upon an export trade in which profits are determined by world prices. But I do claim that the policy of the Commonwealth Government has had a very great influence in bringing about the desirable results reflected in thisbudget. Unwise financial, monetary or tariff policy would have gone far to prevent the effective operation of the factors making for improvement. Artificial speeding up of activity in Australia through credit expansion might have had temporarily beneficial effects but would have introduced the probability of dangerous repercussions.
In addition to meeting our defence and other obligations the Government is most glad to have been able to improve the position of the invalid and old-age pensioners, and of incapacitated exsoldiers and their children, as well as to liberalize the law relating to maternity allowances. The Government is glad also to have been able by this budget to improve the position of every section of the Australian community. Those who are still, unfortunately, without permanent employment will have improved opportunities of being absorbed into industry consequent upon the spur to enterprise that the substantial tax remissions will bring.
Economic prophecy is a precarious venture, but so far as it is possible to attempt to forecast the future upon the basis of theexperience of the past,I may at least express a reasonable hope that this budget will be the beginning of a period of greater prosperity and happiness for the people of our country.
I move -
That the first item in the Estimates under Division 1 - the Senate - namely “ Salaries and Allowances £7,900”be agreed to.
The following paper was presented. -
TheBudget 1936-37-Papers presented by the Honorable R. G. Casey, M.P., for the information of honorable members on the occasion of the Budget of 1936-37.
Ordered to be printed.
Sitting suspended from 5.28 to 8 p.m.
In Committee of Supply :
– I move -
That there bc granted to His Majesty, for or towards defraying the services of the year 1036-37, a sum not exceeding £4,404,750.
As honorable members will remember, Supply Act No. 1 of this year, which was passed in May last made provision for the first three months of the present financial year. That period will expire at the end of the current month. As the appropriation under that act will then be exhausted, a further appropriation of revenue is necessary to meet ordinary requirements pending the passing of the Estimates for the current financial year.
The new Supply Bill provides for an appropriation from revenue of £4,404,750. which amount it is estimated will cover expenditures up to the end of November next. Provision is made for certain increased post office expenditure due to normal expansion, for certain urgent defence services, and for a few minor urgent new works for various departments, to be charged temporarily to Treasurer’s Advance. Provision is also made for increased expenditure on salaries, based on the budget proposals for the restoration of salary reductions. These increases, however, will not be paid until the financial relief measure embodying them has been passed by the Parliament and has received the royal assent. Apart from these relatively minor matters, the bill is based on last year’s expenditure and does not provide for anything which involves new policy. Although supply is sought for two months, honorable members will have an opportunity to debate the budget and with it, of course, the whole of the Government’s proposals, at as early a date as possible.
– Will the honorable gentleman guarantee that the guillotine will not be applied to the discussion of the budget and the Estimates?
– It may be advisable in the interests of all parties to fix a time for the passage of the Estimates as a whole. I have no doubt that such action would be taken iu agreement with honorable gentlemen opposite, in order that every item of the Estimates might be equitably dealt with. At the moment, however, the Government has no proposals in that regard. It is confidently hoped that well before the end of November, when this supply will be exhausted, the Parliament will have had full opportunity to debate in detail the general estimates of expenditure for the year. I trust that, by reason of the information which has already been made available in the budget speech, a fuller explanation of this measure will not be necessary. I commend the motion to the committee.
.- The Opposition will vote against the motion, because it feels that at this juncture there is no occasion for the introduction of a supply measure. Parliament has already passed a Supply Bill covering the first three months .of the present financial year. Honorable members will recall that during the consideration of that measure the committee was given to understand by the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) that before supply for the first three months of the financial year had been exhausted, Parliament would have reassembled, and the budget would have been introduced. The honorable gentleman said that Parliament would be enabled to examine in detail the various items contained in the Estimates for the next financial year. I submit that that statement carried with it the clear implication not only ‘that we would be able to examine the details of expenditure for the current financial year, but also that we would be able to control expenditure for the whole of the financial year with the exception of the three months for which supply was then “sought and granted. The motion which the Treasurer has just moved will, if passed, take out of the control of the Parliament the management of the finances of the country for a further two months, making a total of five months of the financial .year. I cannot for the life of me see why it is necessary on the 10th September to grant supply for the months of October and November. Even conceding that, in order adequately to examine the statement delivered this afternoon, and control the estimates of expenditure set out in the relevant papers, the budget debate proceeded beyond the 30th September next, surely the honorable gentleman ought to be satisfied with supply for the month of October! Why does he want it for November ?
– There is a good deal of other legislation.
– There is a good deal of legislation arising out of the statement delivered this afternoon. We might be in a better position to judge of the fairness of two months’ supply, based partly on last year’s expenditure and partly on an anticipated approval of certain fundamental provisions of the budget statement, if the Government were to proceed to the second-reading stage of that consequential legislation. That would not only give to the committee the fullest knowledge in respect of the policy and the proposed legislation of the Government, but also provide the fundamental safeguard of enabling Parliament to exercise some check, if check be desirable, upon contemplated governmental expenditure. The Treasurer, as I stated earlier, gave us to understand that the supply for three months granted to him before the recess, was required in order that the services of the Commonwealth might be maintained and covered, and that, before any additional supply was sought the committee would be in a position to control the expenditure of the Government from the 30th September to the end of the financial year. Although those were not actually the terms which he used, I submit that we may reasonably claim that his statement carried that implication. I urge the honorable gentleman to reduce his proposed £4,404,750 to £2,250,000. I undertake that if, in the last week of October, it should be apparent to the Government that full and proper consideration of the budget and the Estimates make desirable the passing of another supply billno unreasonable obstacles will be placed in its way. We should then know that the choice confronting us was cither a curtailment of the budget debate or the granting of further supply. At this stage, the committee is exposed to the possibility that, having been granted supply and lacking agreement within its ranks upon major items of policy, the Government might adjourn Parliament for a fortnight, three weeks, or a month, in order to permit the heterogeneous collection of mixed elements which constitute it to resolve their difficulties. I do not propose to abuse the parliamentary control of public expenditure merely to permit Ministers to accommodate themselves to the political difficulties which their administration has incubated. It can justifiably be said that during the recess they have not given anything in the form of a demonstration which would warrant the Parliament giving to them this additional two month’s supply before the budget has been considered. We shall not hold up this debate. I ask the Treasurer seriously to consider my suggestion to seek one month’s supply. If at the expiration of that period it is clear that more time is needed properly to deal with the Estimates and the legislation resulting from the budget, we shall feel justified in granting another month’s supply. Otherwise, the Government will be in command of the finances until the 30th November; a Government, mark you, which has muddled trade relations with certain of our customers, has exasperated the States of the Commonwealth, has bungled the matter of the constitutional powers of the Commonwealth, has arrived at a complete negation towards the issue of a 40-hour working week, which it undertook to affirm, at least in principle, and has produced utter confusion in respect of Commonwealth action in regard to the major problems of the country.
– And the list is not exhausted.
– Not at all. That short summary appears to me to justify the Opposition in opposing this grant of supply for a period much longer than the necessities of Government administration demand, the effect of which, furthermore, would be to deprive the Parliament of authority over the finances of the country for at least one month longer than the circumstances of the Treasury warrant. If the honorable gentleman will not accept my suggestion to ask for one month’s supply, we shall oppose the bill.
Question - That the motion be agreed to-put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Mr. Prowse.)
Majority . . 15
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
Resolution of Ways and Means founded on resolution of Supply reported and adopted.
That Mr. Casey and Mr. Lyons do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill brought up by Mr. Casey, and read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Casey) put -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. J. Bell.)
Majority . . . . 15
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Consideration resumed from page 44.
That the consideration of the General Estimates be postponed until after the consideration of Estimates for “Additions, New Works, Buildings, &c.”
Additions, New Works, Buildings, etc.
Proposed vote, £60.
– In my budget speech I set out fully the Government’s works proposals for the year . 1936-37, including those to be financed from revenue, and those from trust and loan funds. Details of these works will be found on pages 276 to 287 of the Estimates. Corresponding details are set out in the schedule to the Appropriation Works and Buildings Bill. I am about to deal only with the new works chargeable to the revenue account. A further bill will be submitted later to provide for certain works expenditure which the Government proposes shall be paid for out of loan moneys.
The total of the proposed expenditure on public works, &c., in 1936-37, as detailed in my budget speech and in the Estimates, is £7,684,305, as compared with £5,236,537 actually expended last financial year - an increase of £2,447,768.
The new expenditure is to be provided for as follows : -
The appropriation proposed from revenue for new works is as follows: -
The increase of the proposed appropriation for works from revenue in the current year over the expenditure in 1935-36 is £953,297.
The amount required for defence is £1,117,772. This is in addition to the amount of £1,952,000 to be expended from the defence trust account, which, as honorable members know, is financed from the excess revenue receipts of previous years.
The appropriation recommended for postal works is £1,750,000. A much greater amount could profitably be devoted to this service, which is definitely reproductive. The necessity, however, for a balanced programme, with due regard to all interests, forbids a greater allocation to these works. A further £600,000 for postal works will be included in the Loan Appropriation Bill for the year. The total proposed expenditure for postal, telegraphic and telephonic works is thus £2,350,000.
The increase of £278,709 in the provision for territory works is due mostly to the necessity for developmental policy, in regard to both the Federal Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. It is proposed to inaugurate a programme of works, extending over some years, with a view to the eventual transfer of all Commonwealth departments to Canberra, but the immediate need is to provide office and dwelling accommodation for the officers of the Defence Department and the Postmaster-General’s Department. Additional funds are also being provided for the development of the Northern Territory, particularly for mining development.
Full information with regard to the specific works proposed to be undertaken during this year will be made available, if desired, by the Ministers in charge of the respective departments.
For many years it has been the practice to deal with the new works proposals of the Government as soon as possible after the budget speech has been delivered, and without waiting for the general budget debate. This course is being followed by the Government this year, in view of the desirability of commencing the proposed new works at an early date. In view of the fact that the total proposed expenditure on public works considerably exceeds that of last year, it is particularly desirable that the new works should be considered promptly.
As already stated, the total proposed expenditure on new works from revenue in 1936-37 is £4,576,967. It is, however, unnecessary to appropriate the whole of this sum at the present time, because the following amounts are already available under special appropriations made in previous sittings of Parliament : -
Deducting this amount of £403,627 from the total proposed new works expenditure of £4,576,967, it will be found that the amount now to be appropriated from revenue for new works is £4,173,340.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of Governor-General’s message) :
Motion (by Mr. Casey) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of moneys be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to authorize the expending of a certain sum of money.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Casey and Mr. Hunter do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill brought up by Mr. Casey and read a first time.
.- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to appropriate from loan funds an amount of £600,000 for works to be carried out by the Postmaster-General’s Department. If honorable members will refer to the table towards the end of the budget speech headed “ public works, etc.”, they will find set out there in tabulated form, the details of the amounts to be expended during the current financial year on public works. The grand total is £7,684,305. This amount is to be drawn from loan funds, trust funds, and revenue.
The total of the loan Estimates for 1936-37, as set out in the budget, is £3,107,339. Full details of all proposed works chargeable to the loan fund will be found on pages 290-295 of the Estimates.
The £3,107,339 proposed to be expended out of the loan fund this year is for the following purposes : -
It is unnecessary to ask Parliament to appropriate the full sum of £3,107,339. Many of the amounts included in the proposed expenditure have already been appropriated in earlier sittings of the Parliament under special acts, such as those relating to Farmers’ Debt Adjustment, the Port Augusta to Port Pirie railway, unemployment relief works in the States, and grants to the States for mining and forestry. The only amount included in the proposed loan expenditure which has not already been appropriated is a sum of £600,000 for postal works. The present bill accordingly provides only for the appropriation of that amount. As explained in connexion with the proposals for new works expenditure from revenue, the total amount to be provided for post office, telegraphic and telephonic works in the present year is £2,353,000. Of this sum, £1,750,000 is provided for in the new works votes from revenue, and £603,000 is on the loan Estimates. Of the £603,000, £3,000 was provided in an earlier appropriation. All the postal works are of a reproductive character and are urgently necessary to meet the increasing demands of the public for better postal, telegraphic, and telephonic facilities.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Curtin) adjourned.
Invalid and Old-age Pensions - Service Pensions -5CL Boys’ Club - Sitting Days - Broadcasting Station at Cleveland.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) proposed.
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I again bring under the notice of the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) two urgent matters which I understand have already received his attention. I refer in the first place to the case of a woman who has been denied an invalid and old-age pension because the department contends that she is not totally and permanently incapacitated. A portion of the letter from the Deputy Commissioner reads -
The evidence shows, however, that whilst Mrs.- is not in good health, her condition is not such as to render her totally and permanently incapacitated for all work, and she is considered capable of rendering light household duties.
The department contends that because this woman is capable of washing up a few cups and saucers, and dusting furniture, she is not entitled to an invalid pension. The evidence submitted to the department proves conclusively that she can perform only light household duties, and consequently cannot obtain a position from which she could obtain sufficient remuneration to maintain herself. Many persons capable of performing light household work, as this woman is able to do, are deprived of a pension. The department is not giving effect to the spirit or to the letter of the act, and is administering it in an unsympathetic way.
A case brought under my notice shows the extent to which the Repatriation Department will go. A man who applied for a service pension, was informed by the medical officers of the Repatriation Department that as he was not unemployable he was not entitled to a pension. He then applied for an invalid pension, which was granted on the grounds of permanent incapacity. Although this fact was brought under the notice of the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Hughes) a communication has been received from his department stating that as the applicant is not unemployable, he is not entitled to a service pension.
– Was he engaged in a theatre of war?
– Of course he was. The fact that this man has been granted an invalid pension shows that the Repatriation Department is treating this man in an unusually harsh manner. Invalid pensions are not granted unless applicants are entitled to them.I have brought this matter forward in the hope that something will be done immediately, particularly in view of the fact that a service pension has been refused by the Repatriation Department to a man although that man is actually receiving an invalid pension on the ground that he is totally and permanently incapacitated. I trust that the Treasurer will bring the matter under the notice of the Minister for Repatriation and that he will request the Repatriation Department to grant this man a service pension.
.- I join with the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) in raising question against the manner in which the Repatriation Department is dealing with some claims for service pensions. As stated by the honorable member for Werriwa, persons who are eligible for and are in receipt of invalid pensions are refused service pensions. In delaying the payment of service pensions, the Government is paying persons only 18s. a week when they are entitled to 30s. weekly. I have felt for a long time that the medical officers of the Repatriation Department are unnecessarily harsh in interpreting the act, and in certain instances do not grant pensions to persons entitled to them. The Government should recognize that any returned soldier who receives an invalid pension is entitled to a service pension, more particularly if the invalid pension has been granted during the last five years. The Government should review the attitude adopted by the Repatriation Department, and give incapacitated returned soldiers the consideration they deserve.
A special feature of the programmes of the wireless broadcasting station 5CL and 5CK in Adelaide, has been programmes by the 5CLBoys’ Club, which are appreciated by thousands of listeners, not only in South Australia, but also in other parts of the Commonwealth. It has come to my knowledge that the Broadcasting Commission has already curtailed the time available for these programmes, and it is reported that it intends shortly to discontinue this feature altogether. It has been stated that the commission proposes to utilize in some other way the services of certain of the lads who have shown outstanding merit. I draw the attention of honorable members, however, to the fact that this matter concerns others besides those whocoutribute to the programmes; it concerns also the many thousands ofboys and youths throughout South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania who are members of the club. I can assure the Minister that if the commission carries out its purpose to discontinue this feature it will evoke a spirited public protest from those who are interested in the welfare of our youth, and who appreciate the value of the work being done by the club.I hope that the Postmaster-General, who has some influence over the Broadcasting Commission, willtake this matter up in order to ensure that the club may be able to continue its operations.
– During the last session of Parliament, the Government generously arranged that there shouldbe one long weak-end in three to enable those members of Parliament representing distant constituencies to returnto their homes. I suggest that, in the interests of those members, the same arrangement be made again.I also suggest that arrangements be made with the New South Wales Railway Department to run a day train from Sydney to Canberra on the day of the week upon which Parliament resumes its sitting, as otherwise members representing Queensland constituencies will have to travel to Canberra on the night tram.
Mr.MAR TENS (Herbert) [9.5].- It is nearly two years since I was given an assurance by the Postmaster-General that the broadcasting station at Cleve land, in North Queensland, would be ready for operation. The station is not yet in commission, and the general feeling among residents of North Queensland is that it will probably be ready just about the time that it has become obsolete. On a previous occasion, when I made inquiries, I was told by the Minister that I could tell the people in the north that the station would be open in July last. I did so, and the people have been disappointed. NowI am assured that it may be opened during this month. I should like to receive a definite assurance from the Minister representing the Postmaster-General as to when it will be opened. Licence-fees are being collected from the owners of radio sets in the north, and summonses have been issued against those who have declined to pay the fee; yet for the last two years the people have been asking for a service to which they are entitled, but which has not been provided. Some work has been done on the station, but it is not yet in operation, and the people of the north and north-west of Queensland have practically no otherservice than that provided by two or three small B-class broadcasting stations. The excuse made a little while ago by the department that the delay was due to a lack of water does not seem to be very satisfactory.
– I have taken a note of the statements made by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) regarding broadcasting programmes from the Adelaide station, and I shall bring the matter under the notice of the Postmaster-General.
Regarding the matter raised by the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. George Lawson), I am in a position to inform honorable members that the House will sit on Wednesday for the remainder of this month, and that consideration will be given to the provision of a long week-end during the remainder of the session. I realize that this arrangement was appreciated by honorable members last session, and steps will be taken to see whether the same arrangement cannot be entered into again. As for the train service from Sydney to Canberra, the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson) has arranged that a daily service will be inaugurated shortly, I think on the 2 7 th of this month.
The honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Martens) asked when the Cleveland broadcasting station would be in operation. I can assure him that there has been no unnecessary delay in this matter. The construction of a station of this kind takes time, and involves a good deal of technical work. The station has now been completed, and is under test. As soon as the tests are completed, which will bo in the near future, the station will be opened for service.
Regarding the subject of invnlid pensions raised by the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini), the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) has asked me to say that he will make the fullest possible inquiry into the matter.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at9.10 p:m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 10 September 1936, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1936/19360910_reps_14_151/>.