14th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. G. J. Bell) tool the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
The following papers were presented : -
Dairy Produce Export Control Act - Eleventh Annual Report of the Australian Dairy Produce Board for year 1935-36, together with statement by the Minister regarding the operation of the Act.
Railways Act - Report on Commonwealth Railways for year 1935-36.
River Murray Waters Act - River Murray Commission - Report for year 1935-36, together with statements showing gaugings made at gauging stations, and quantities of water diverted from the River Murray and tributaries.
Ordered to be printed.
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determination by the Arbitrator,&c. - No. 15 of 1936 - Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.
Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1936. No. 134.
Colonial Light Dues Collection Act - Regulations amended- Statutory Rules 1936, No.. 135.
Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules. 1936, No. 142.
Customs Act - Regulations amended - Statu tory Rules. 1936, No. 141.
Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1936, No. 144.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired at Kempsey, Now South Wales - For defence purposes.
Norfolk Island Act - Customs Ordinance - Regulations.
Public Service Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1936, No. 143.
– Is the Minister for Commerceyet in a position to make a statement on the much-debated long-term meat agreemont with Great Britain?
– I am not yet in a position to make the desired statement.
– Is the Ministers for Defence in a position to makea statement regarding the negotiations, which the Commonwealth has been conducting with the State of Victoria with respect to the establishment of an air port at Fishermen’s Bend?
– I am not able to add to what has already appeared in the press, to the effect that considerable difference of opinion exists between the two governments as to the value of the land required for this air port. The suggestion has been made that a trust representative of all the interests involved be constituted with the object of establishing this air port, and at the same time ensuring . the non-alienation of the land from the ownership of the Government of Victoria. The . first aspect is being considered by Cabinet, and’ I hope to be able to make a. more definite statement at a little later stage.
– Two weeks ago, I placed on the notice-paper a series of questions in relation to war service homes. To a number of them I received replies, and with respect to the balance was informed that the information would be obtained. Will the Minister in charge of War Service Homes advise me as to how long I am to be required to wait for this information, which should be more readily available?
– I shall convey the request of the honorable member to the Minister in charge of War Service Homes, who, at the moment, is absent from the chamber, to see what may be done.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether it is a fact that, the Government intends to appoint the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Abbott) as Administrator of the Northern Territory?
– The whole subject of the administration of the Northern Territory is under the consideration of the Government, but finality has not yet been reached in regard to it. It is not intended to make an appointment in the immediate future.
-Is the Treasurer aware that at post offices in New South Wales application forms for invalid and old-age pensions are still being issued containing the intimation that- the pension shall be a charge against the property of a pensioner at the time of his -or her decease? If not, will he verify the fact by having inquiries made, and instruct the department ‘ to withdraw those misleading forms and issue new forms?
– The forms referred to were withdrawn some considerable time ago, but a number of them may still be in the custody of certain post offices. I shall see that effect is given to the honorable member’s suggestion.
Sentence Imposed on Aborigines.
Mr.E. J. HARRISON. - Will the Minister for the Interior state whether action has been taken following upon the announcement by Judge Wells, of the Northern Territory, of his intention to communicate with the honorable gentleman in regard to the alteration of the ordinance under -which, on the 29th July, he sentenced three aborigines to imprisonment for three years, on the ground that, in his opinion, such a sentence was too severe ?
– I received from Judge Wells only to-day a letter conveying certain recommendations in connexion with this mutter. I have no doubt that those recommendations will be sympathetically considered by the Government.
– In view of the very favorable reports that have been made of the work of the inspector appointed by the Commonwealth Government to police certain Federal Arbitration Court awards, and of the impossibility of one man covering properly the area embraced, will the Attorney-General conaider the advisableness of appointing a second inspector to undertake this class of work?
– I shall look into the matter.
– When the Govern ment is considering the appointment of an assistant to Mr. Blakeley will inquiry be made to ascertain whether the State authori ties in Queensland are prepared to police awards in North Queensland, particularly in regard to the butchering trade?
– I shall be glad to consider the point raised by the honorable member. It has not previously come to my attention.
– Will the Minister for the Interior state whether the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner has been able to make any progress towards the institution of a third service weekly on the trans-Australian line between Port Augusta and Kalgoorlie?
– The Commonwealth Railways Commissioner has informed me that he has been in touch with the Railways Commissioners of Western Australia and South. Australia, and that he and they are satisfied of the necessity for this additional service, but that some considerable difficulty hai arisen in connexion with alterations of the time table, as they involve a certain amount of Sunday work in either Western Australia or South Australia. I hop* that those difficulties will shortly be removed.
– Having regard to th« discussions which have taken place ia this chamber concerning the agreement with Great Britain in connexion with the England-Australia air mail, will the Prime Minister give an assurance that the Government will not enter into any agreement which will have a duration of fifteen years ?
– I am unable to give any undertaking in regard to any particular part of the agreement. The whole matter is now under the consideration of the Government. Ministers are in consultation with the British authorities, and, in due course, we shall .make an announcement as to the details of the agreement, which will be subject to ratification by this Parliament.
– Will _ thi Minister for Defence state whether it is a fact that the new fighting planes being delivered to the Royal Australian Air Force are capable of a maximum speed of 190 miles an hour, and will the Minister give an expression of his opinion as to whether these planes are modern or obsolete, taking into consideration the face that the latest bombing planes supplied to the British Air Force are capable of a speed of over 300 miles an hour?
– The planes ordered by the Air Board for the Defence Department are British machines of the latest models. Their speed is at the rate the honorable member has mentioned, 190 miles an hour, and they have a range of approximately 2,000 miles.
– Has the Prime Minister read the suggestion made in Melbourne recently, and enthusiastically received throughout Victoria, that in connexion with the coronation celebrations, a public appeal should be made for assistance in providing employment for young men, similar to the appeal launched in connexion with maternity welfare during the celebrations held to commemorate the jubilee of the late King George V.? In view of the fact that the present King, when Prince of “Wales, ‘ made a suggestion in this direction-
– An honorable member should not mention the name of His Majesty the King, with a view to influencing a reply to a question.
– The matter will be considered.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from the 14th October (vide page 1119), on motion by Mr. Casey -
That the first item in the Estimates under Division 1 - the Senate - namely, “ Salaries and allowances, £7,900 “ be agreed to.
– I direct attention to an instance of serious mismanagement on the part of the Government. On the 22nd May last a bill was under consideration providing for the imposition of a tax on graziers for the ostensible purpose of raising £300,000 to increase the sale of wool, and to discover further uses for it. It was said that the object of the bill was to improve the position of the grazing industry, and to promote employment. When I rose to speak, I was requested by the Minister in charge of the House to ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage, to enable the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties (Sir Henry Gullett) to interpose with a statement regarding the Government’s policy of trade diversion. I point this out in order to show that, while the Government was taking action in one direction for the purpose of finding new markets and uses for wool, it was at the same time proposing a counter action. In adopting that policy the Government made a serious blunder, for, instead of increasing our market for wool, the demand was seriously curtailed, and the price was reduced. The policy in regard to trade diversion should have been determined, not by the Executive, but by the Parliament. The Government was unwise in making its announcement of policy within a few days of the close of the sittings,, when no opportunity was available to honorable members to question its action, in this chamber. As the Parliament remained in recess for a long period the Government was able to avoid much adverse criticism. In enunciating the new policy the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties said -
That desirable object has not been achieved. On the contrary the trade diversion policy has resulted in the loss of valuable markets and has done away with much of the employment which would have existed in this country had the Government formulated a more sane trade policy. Dealing with the same matter the Minister said -
If we are not to come to a national standstill, primary production must be increased, and the only way it can be increased is by selling more of our rural output in the British market. Happily that market, although perhaps approaching a state of surfeit in some primary commodities, has still room for further supplies from the dominions. These additional supplies, however, can only be furnished by the displacement of foreign supplies.
We have no guarantee that there is to be any displacement of foreign supplies in the British market. As a matter of fact, because the local British meat industry and other rural industries have been subsidized, large quantities of produce previously imported are now grown in England, and there has been a decreasing market in Great Britain for Australian . goods. The ‘Commonwealth Government’s anticipation of an increased British market for Australian produce has, therefore, not been realized. By its trade diversion policy the Government has thrown away something real for something elusive. The policy itself was largely designed to benefit the British manufacturers of cotton goods, yet far from Australia being able to secure, by way of agreement, a guarantee of an increased share of the British market, Great Britain has renewed trade agreements with foreign countries, which have resulted in a diminution of Australia’s share of the British market. Speaking in Tasmania on the 26th June, 1934, the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) is reported to have said -
It is futile for us to expect Great Britain to niter her policy or to place our hopes in greater inter-Empire trade … In the first place I wish to refer to those who urge that Australia, by some magical process, should endeavour to foster greater Empire trade. No one would be more pleased than I to see Britain taking all our exports and excluding those of foreign countries; no one would be happier if a self-contained Empire were practicable, and capable of solving all our economic difficulties.
He stated further -
According to those who talk so freely about finding the solution of all our marketing difficulties in greater Empire trade, it is only necessary to make some noble gesture, and Great Britain will continue to allow us free access to her markets for our surplus primary products.
He went on to say -
It sounds very simple, but it displays an utter disregard for three paramount facts.
The first is that if we permit the unrestricted import of manufactured goods, many employees in secondary industries will bc put out of work, factories will close, and the greatest market for Australia’s primary products will be endangered, because the fact is often overlooked that 55 per cent, of our primary products are consumed in Australia, the greater portion of it by persons dependent upon the prosperity of our secondary industries.
The second point that is overlooked is the crux of the whole position. It is this: Great Britain, rightly or wrongly - it is not for us to say - has decided to encourage her agriculture to the highest possible pitch of production. She has evolved in the last two years an elaborate marketing machinery directed town ids this end. Along with nearly every other European country, she has determined to make herself, as far as possible, economically selfcontained, and will not be deflected in thy slightest degree from her declared agricultural policy, which contemplates the imposition of restrictions upon imports.
The third point disregarded is that the United Kingdom has contracted obligations, in her treaties with foreign countries, which prevent her imposing severe restrictions upon foreign meat and dairy products, unless she also imposes restrictions upon dominion products of the same kind.
The right honorable gentleman also said -
The present British Government is absolutely determined to pursue the course upon which it has embarked. Those who urge that the solution of our marketing difficulties i.s to be found in reduced tariffs for our secondary industries, surely have forgotten what recently happened when New Zealand - which is net a manufacturing country - made a similar proposal to Great Britain.
The Government of New Zealand offered to permit the free entry of British goods if Great Britain would give, in return, an open market for the products of New Zealand in Great’ Britain. The British Government, however, pointed out that while it appreciated the offer of an open market in New Zealand, certain agreements had been made with foreign countries which would prevent the dominion from securing an increased share of the British market. The Prime Minister further said -
The utterances of British leaders within recent months show how futile it is for us to expect Great Britain to alter her policy, or place our hopes in greater inter-Empire trade. What, then, was Australia to do? if Britain, the greatest consumer of Australia’s primary products, flatly says “ this much and no more two courses were open to the Commonwealth.
The right honorable gentleman stated that one of the only opportunities Australia had to increase its exports was to seek vigorously for foreign markets. That statement is answered by the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties. He says -
Obviously it would brighten our trading position with our good customer.! if a larger share of our imports were purchased from them instead of from countries which have very little capacity for the absorption of Australian products.
There can be no doubt that Japan has been a good customer for Australian goods. To improve our position, naturally we must sell to countries prepared to buy from us. Japan has purchased about the same quantity of Australian wool as Great Britain has for internal use because a large proportion of the wool imported into Great Britain is processed and exported to other countries. The action of the Government lost valuable markets to Australia inforeign countries. It has ‘been said in defence of the Government’s policy that it was carried out for the protection of
Australian markets and that we must, as far as possible, trade within the British Empire. The following table showing the trade relations between Japan and the various parts of the British Empire for the years 1933 and 1935 is taken from the Monthly Return of Foreign Trade of Japan issued by the Department of Finance, Tokio -
These figures show that Great Britain, South Africa and New Zealand are not perturbed about the increased imports from Japan and about the enormous increase in the adverse trade balance with that country.
In 1933 the imports into Great Britain from Japan were valued at 87,849,073 yen. By 1935 the value had grown to 119,458,148 yen or an increase of 31,609,075 yen, while during the same period the value of British exports to Japan fell from 82,548,928 yen to 82,160,481 yen. Britain’s adverse trade balance in the same period rose from 5,300,145 yen to 37,297,667 yen. This enormous increase in the value of the imports of Japanese goods into Great Britain in recent years has caused grave suspicion to arise in many quarters that British importers and middlemen are reexporting Japanese goods to other countries. The value of South Africa’s imports from Japan rose from 26,740,815 yen in 1933 to 32,769,002 in 1935, au increase of 6,028,1S7 yen, whilst the value of its exports to Japan in the same period rose by only 448,526 yen. Its adverse trade balance thus increased from 22,427,821 yen to 2S,007,4S2 yen. The value of Japanese imports into New Zealand were valued in 1933 at 6,452,500 yen, and in 1935 at 11,304,745 yen, an increase of 4,852,245 yen. The value of the goods exported to Japan from New Zealand in that same period increased from 2,399,741 yen to 6,363,973 yen, and New Zealand’s adverse trade balance with Japan increased from 4,052,759 yen to 4,940,772 yen. It will be seen, therefore, that in respect of each of those countries nil appreciable increase occurred in the value of the goods imported, with the consequent result that their trade balances suffered. Yet, in spite of these facts, the trade emissaries of GreatBritain have bulldozed this Government into taking serious action against Japan.
Let us look for a few moments at Australia’s trade position in respect of Japan. In 1933, our imports from Japan were valued at 51,416,425 yen, and in 1935, at 74,793,151 yen, an increase, of 23,376,726, while in the same period our exports to Japan- rose in value from 204,586,330 yen to 235,128,031 yen, and our favorable trade balance rose from 153,169,905 yen to 160,334,880 yen. Yet the muddling and ineptitude of the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties has destroyed this valuable market. Japan, as a matter of fact, provided us with a favorable trade balance of about 160,000,000 yen annually. We must remember, also, that Great Britain seems content to maintain an import trade from Japan that has increased by enormous leaps in recent years and resulted in a trading deficit of about 37,250.000 yen. It will be remembered that the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Mulcahy) brought into this chamber some little- time ago a piece of pottery exported from Great Britain containing goods, and the pottery had been manufactured in Japan. I fear that a good deal of that kind of thing is being done.
I wish now to make a comparison between certain returns covering the six months ended the 30th June, 1935, and t.hfc six months ended the 30th. June, 1936. Hie table is as follows: -
These are the latest figures available. They show that Great Britain has increased its imports in the latter of those two periods cited. Its adverse trade balance for the period ended the 30th June, 1935, was about 6,750,000 yen, and for the period ended June, 1936, about 24,000,000 yen. Great Britain actually increased the value of its imports from Japan for the first half of 1936 as against the first half of 1935 by 33,417,115 yen, Canada increased its imports in the same period by 1,500,000 yen, South Africa by 2,400,000 yen, and New Zealand by 959,000 yen. In the same period Australia increased its imports by about 1,750,000 yen. A.! though Great Britain increased its imports from Japan by 13,000,000 yen, in the latter of the two sixmonthly periods, Australia’s increase of imports was only about 1,750,000 yen, being less than the increase in the case of either Great Britain or South Africa, and very little more than that of Canada and New Zealand. Great Britain and other dominion countries have not, however, stupidly rushed in to offend a good customer; much less have they taken Ihe serious action of which this Government has been guilty of imposing restrictions against imports from Japan. This Government, as one might say, waved its flag and talked about maintaining the standard of living and protecting the Empire, but other dominion countries have not done anything in the matter. The figures in respect of Great Britain, Canada, South Africa and other parts of the Empire indicate that those countries have increased their imports from Japan during the last two years to a far greater degree than has Australia, but they are not alarmed. The Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties has adopted measures which have undoubtedly imposed a definite and discriminatory tax upon a good-customer country. The muddling administration of this honorable gentleman has undoubtedly resulted in a serious loss to the wool industry of the Commonwealth. The Minister has endeavoured to divert attention from the criticism of the Opposition of his muddling administration by alleging that the Labour party has adopted a proJapanese attitude, and is, in effect, advocating and assisting to maintain lowwage conditions, but I ask the honorable gentleman whether we are to take it that, in spite of the Japanese trade situation disclosed by the figures I have cited in relation to Great Britain, New Zealand arid South Africa, the governments of those countries are increasing their imports from Japan for the specific purpose of encouraging low-wage conditions ? I do not know that Australia is called upon to make substantial sacrifices in the absence of any similar action by Great Britain or the other countries concerned. Why should Australia impose prohibitions against Japan to assist British manufacturers when Great Britain itself is not prepared to take similar action? If the policy of the Government would be likely to strengthen any Australian industries, it would have the wholehearted support of the Labour party, but that is not the position. Japan - has been one of our best customers, for Japanese competition undoubtedly had the effect of maintaining wool prices in
Australia at a period of depression when severe difficulties were felt on every hand. That the active Japanese competition in the wool market actually maintained the price of wool is undeniable, for immediately the Japanese buyers withdrew the price of wool fell. At the opening wool sales this year,. prices were substantially less than at the same time last year. At the present time, whilst the prices of better classes of wool, which are bought largely by European countries, are reasonable, average to inferior wools, which formerly were bought largely by Japan, are substantially down in value.
– The honorable member has his facts wrong.
– What I have said is correct. As a matter of fact, thousands of bales have been withdrawn from sale, and it is estimated that at the end of the series much of the wool will be left on the sellers’ hands. The Sydney Morning Herald, in commenting on the actual position of the wool market, said that prices were reasonably satisfactory for the better class wools, but disappointing for average to inferior wools. Dawson and Son - a firm of British brokers - reported -
It is unfortunate that the AustralianJapanese dispute has not been ameliorated, -as it is disastrous to the wool-grower.
The Textile Mercury and Argus of the 4th September, in reporting the opening of the Australian wool-selling season, said -
It is clear that if normal Japanese competition had been forthcoming -there would have been a strong and dear opening of the selling Season
It is a well-established fact that the prices paid for wool in Australia are at least 20 per cent, below the prices ruling for similar wool in South Africa. It must be remembered also, that the prices paid in South Africa are measured on a sterling basis, whereas the Australian prices are recorded in Australian currency. The Sydney Morning Herald states -
It is estimated that South African wool will be 40 to 50 yen a bale above the Australian price.
That means that the Australian woolgrowers receive £2 or £3 less a bale than the South African growers. The Government is not carrying out a sane policy by taking money out of the pockets of the wool-growers. Any policy which does away with variety of customers and keen competition is not in the interest of the sellers of a commodity. If we have fewer buyers we must expect lower prices. By rushing in and offending a good customer the Government has bungled the position, and seriously hampered one of Australia’s leading industries. Japan has taken certain action to import wool from other countries. The Sydney Morning Herald on the 20th September last, reported that this year Japan would purchase 180,000 bales from South Africa, 80,000 from New Zealand, and 40,000 from South America. A further article in the Sydney Morning Herald expresses the belief that Australia .will be a substantial loser as the result of the Government’s policy, because not only has Japan deserted the wool market in Australia, but it has also made regulation? providing for a percentage of wool substitutes to be used in all woollen manufactures. Once the wool textile machinery of Japan has been converted for the use of wool substitutes, and wool substitutes come into use, Australia cannot hope to -recover -much, of the market that it has lost. Germany has also made it compulsory that woollen goods shall contain at least from 20 per cent, to 30 per cent, of wool substitutes. .Not only are the graziers themselves affected by the damage that must result to the Australian wool trade; every person in the country towns and country districts, whose livelihood depends on the size of the wool cheque, must also be affected. The men who are employed on the wool-growing properties will be substantial losers. If this industry languishes there will be a great diminution of employment; when men directly employed lose their income those working in country centres dependent upon them also lose their means of living. The Government’s policy will greatly retard the development, of the country centres. It will affect, not only the prosperity of those actually engaged in the production of wool, but also that of persons engaged in other country businesses - both owners and employees - whose well-being is dependent on income from wool. In fact, the prosperity of the whole country will be seriously retarded.
Last year the price of wool averaged about 14d. a lb., but this year the average is only 13d. a lb. The fall of Id. a lb. on a 3,000,000 bale clip will mean a loss of about £3,500,000 to the country.
– The good wool has not yet reached the market.
– As a matter of fact, it is the inferior clips that are not reaching the market, because there is poor demand for inferior wool since Japan is no longer a purchaser. It is estimated that because of the fall of the price of wool about £7,500,000 will be lost to Australia this year. It will be seen, therefore, that the whole country will suffer. The Australian trade balance last year was hardly sufficient to meet the overseas interest bill, and with the substantial falling off of overseas trade as the result of the policy pursued by the Government it can be expected that Australia will not have a sufficient trade- balance at the end of this year to meet its commitments overseas.
The Government has raised the bogy of labour conditions in this country being affected by imports- of Japanese goods, but the policy of the Government will mean a lessening of production which in turn will mean a lessening of employment both in the country towns and in the cities of Australia. It will further mean that the volume of trade in wool will be diminished, and that the income from it, which freely circulates and consequently increases employment, will be equally diminished. Australia will suffer considerably by any diminution of the hitherto existent favorable trade balance. If the Government’s argument that Japanese goods must be shut out of this country because they endanger Australian labour conditions be carried to its logical conclusion, we must also close the door on all imports. If we did so, we should be boycotted by other countries. What then would happen to our standards of living? We have been told by the Minister that the balance of trade concerns goods actually manufactured in Australia. Goods manufactured in Australia would not be so greatly affected as would British -products. That the Government should have acted in this way towards one of Australia’s best cus tomers is most unfortunate. It shirked its responsibility in this matter by transferring the burden to a committee which has endeavoured, unsuccessfully, to negotiate with the Japanese authorities. So far, it has not been able to arrive at an agreement acceptable to the Government. The policy of the Government is not in the best interests of Australia, particularly its country districts. I have recently travelled through much of the outback country of New South Wales where .1 found that the people generally were Lostile to the Government in this matter. I emphasize that the importation of these goods would not affect the Australian standard of living in the slightest degree. On the contrary, the admission of cheap goods would enable people with small incomes to improve their standard. Tingreater the cost of goods the lower their capacity to buy them. A trade agreement has recently been entered into with Czechoslovakia where the standard of living is higher than in Australia. It would, indeed, be unfortunate for Unpeople of Australia if the Government of Czechoslovakia follows the lead of the Commonwealth Government, and refuses to trade with Australia because of a fear that .the standard of living for its own people might be affected thereby. The Minister said that the decision arrived at will mark the first step iu a considered policy, and place our overseas financial affairs on a sound and enduring basis. The Government’s attitude on this subject will not improve the trade balance with other countries which for the past five years lias averaged £19,000,000 in favour of Australia. Last year, Australia’s trade balance was £17,000,000. If the position becomes much worse Australia will, before long, be unable to meet its overseas indebtedness. The Government should give heed to the figures which I have given relating to the trade between other British dominions and Japan, and not lightly offend a good customer. Some time ago, when Australia was seeking to dispose of more of its primary products in Great Britain, Mr. J’. H. Thomas, Secretary of State for the Dominions, stated that the policy of tho Brit; sh Government was to consider, first, the interests of its own producers, and. after them, the interests of the dominions.
I hope that the Commonwealth Government will adopta similar attitude towards Australian producers,If the Government were to display a more truly Australian sentiment, and less jingoism, it would be better for this country.
.- I desire to present tothe committee the case of a returned soldier who has applied for a pension. Quorum formed.] Probably I can do so best by reading a letter which 1 addressed to the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Hughes) on the 8th of June, 1936-
The Right Honorable the Minister for Repatriation,
Dear Mr. Hughes,
Re Shepherdson, A. W., 4590: Pte.: 51st Btn. - I am in receipt of the enclosed letter from Mr. H. Stuchbu ry, honorary secretary, sub-branch, Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia, Collie, Western Australia, in response to which yesterday 1 visited Collie, and in company with Shepherdson and his brother who is receiving a pension waited upon Dr. H. Raymond Smith, who has been attending Shepherdson for the past ten years and who then carefully examined him in my presence, and immediately certified as per statement enclosed. Having seen this man, and in the face of his nearly four years splendid war record - enlistment age eighteen. 7-12 years - in fact seventeen. 7-12 years. Within two months of landing in France was wounded and suffered shell shock - this was in August, 1916. In January, 1917, he was again wounded, gun-shot wound right arm. which turned septic, wounded again in action in September the same year, whenhe was admitted to the Norfolk Hospital, England, with gas poison and burnt all over the body. Subsequently his ease was diagnosed as conjunctivitis and aphonia. Lastly, in April, 1918, he was again admitted to hospitalwith gun-shot wound left leg. It is most difficult for me to realize why this man has been refused a pension. It may be that some technical difficulty stands in the way, but I understood we had got beyond mere technical points. If wo look at the man whose service we accepted, the grand servicehe rendered, and now the totally broken hero he is, there should be no hesitation in granting a. pension. Dr. H. Raymond Smith, having attended Shepherdson for so long understands his case better than any other medical man. However, if it is necessary, the Collie branch of the Returned Soldiers League undertake to convey the claimant to Perth to appear before any two independent medical men for examination and report. Personally, I do not press cases of which I have any doubt. In this case. I feela great injustice will be done if a pension is not speedily granted. I beg of you. sir, to have this caseurgently re-examined in the light and weight of all the facts. Could it be possible that a man could go through the hell that Shepherdson did without it being the cause of his present or some other trouble ?
Yours truly, (Sgd.) Jno. Hy. Prowse.
Immediately after the examination, Dr. Raymond Smith certified as follows: -
Collie, 7th June, 1936.
Dr. H. Raymond Smith.
This is to certify that I have frequently attended Mr. Alfred Shepherdson for asthma since 1920.
Hewas gassed, wounded and suffered from shell shock, and had three years and ten months of war service.
He was a perfectly healthy young man at the time of his enlistment, and now certainly, as the result of his war service, he is a man broken in health and unable to secure employment on account of having to lose so much time from work. 1 am strongly of the opinion that Shepherdson should be receiving a full pension. (Sgd.) H. R. Smith.
Dr. Smith had been attending him, but a Dr. Cameron, who has since died, and a Dr. Vivien, who is now in Albury, had also attended him over a period of seven or eight years, while he was employed at a timber camp in Dwellingup, Western Australia. Unfortunately, Dr. Vivien’s records of the case have been destroyed, but there can be no possible doubt that the man has really suffered, ever since he returned to Australia, as the result of his war experiences. Everything in his record does him credit. The files show that the time he spent actually fighting while on active service was far above the average, and when he returned to Australia, feeling some temporary benefit from the voyage, he did not report his illness, but preferred to shift for himself without making any claim on his country. There can be no doubt, however, that his health had been undermined, and eventually he collapsed at his work. At first he was off for only one day at a time, then for two or three days, and then for longer periods, until finally he was unable to work at all. All that is preventing him from obtaining a pension is the opinion of the tribunal that his condition is not due to war service. Then, what the devil is it due to! The opinion of the tribunal is not the opinion of this Parliament, and is not in the spirit of the act passed by this Parliament. Section 39b of the act reads -
Subject to this act the commission shall, in the determination of appeals, act according to substantial justice, and to the merits of each case, and shall give an appellant the benefit of any reasonable doubt. .
It will be observed that in this section, in two places, the word used is not “may”, but ‘shall”. I am bringing this matter up in order not to obtain advertisement, but to ensure, if possible, that the man gets justice. I visited him, saw him stripped, and talked with his brother. The brother, by the way, who i3 suffering from the same complaint, applied for a pension on his return to Australia, and has been drawing it ever since, although his condition is not so serious. The tribunal states that the appellant has a nasal affection which might possibly have brought on the condition from which he is suffering, but surely it may be assumed that the condition of the nasal passage is also due to the man’s experiences while on active service. I have gone through the official file dealing with the case, and everything thereon supports the view that he should receive a pension. I appeal to the Minister for Repatriation not to take a merely departmental view of this matter, but to allow his sense of justice to guide him in arriving at a decision more in keeping with the promises given to this mau and to others before they went to the war. [Quorum formed.’] He has been under observation almost continuously by Dr. Smith and other doctors since he returned from the war. No one would impugn the honesty of Dr. Smith, and surely he may be expected to know more about the man’s case than would another medical man a couple of thousand miles away. The returned soldiers’ branch at Collie has offered to bear the expense of taking the man to Perth to be examined by two independent medical men if the department will abide by the result. I have studied the files carefully, and the doctors have used some technical phrases which I do not understand. I asked a member of the tribunals to explain the case to me, but the further his explanation proceeded, the more I was convinced that an injustice was being done to this man. I ask honorable members, in considering this matter, to sweep from their minds everything but the bare facts. At the age of seventeen years and seven months this man was accepted in perfect health for war service, he served at’ the front for four years, he was wounded and sent to hospital on four occasions, and he suffered from septic poison of his wounds, and from gas poisoning. On his return home, owing to his youthful optimism, no doubt, he made no application to the Repatriation Department, as he might have done iu his own interests, but he preferred to say to himself, “ I am glad to be back in Australia, and I shall look after myself without aid from the Government.” Subsequently he developed chest trouble. Is it not more likely that his chest trouble would be due to gas poisoning on the war fields of Flanders than to life in the beautiful forests of Western Australia? I hope I have made my point clear to the Minister. Departmental officers may say that this man’s chest trouble is due to nasal defects, but the fact remains that to-day, with a wife and family to support, he is helpless. I have every evidence to show that he cannot be called a “ sponger “ on the community. I repeat that a medical practitioner says that his disabilities are due directly to war service, and to no other cause, but members of the tribunal who have dealt with his, case have npt even seen or examined him, declare that they are of opinion that his disabilities are not due to war service. If a vote were taken in this committee as to whether or not hi3 present disability is due to war service, I should have no doubt as to its verdict. I should like an independent medical examination of this man to be made. So earnestly do I make my appeal to the Minister on this man’s behalf that I shall not mar it by referring to any other matter arising for consideration in the budget.
– The case which the honorable gentleman for Forrest (Mr. Prowse) has brought before the committee is one which be has discussed with me on several occasions. I cannot be expected to be as familiar with its details as the honorable gentleman, but, as I have told him many times before, I shall exhaust every means in order to see that justice is done to this man. I resent the suggestion made by the honorable member that I should fail to do justice to any man.
– I merely asked the Minister to do justice.
– I think I can justly claim that my work in the interests of the returned soldiers repudiates such a charge. However, I assure the honorable gentleman that I shall make the most- searching and exhaustive inquiries in order to see if something can be done for this unfortunate man.
.- Listening to the debate on the budget, and the congratulations showered ad nauseam upon the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) by honorable members opposite, one feels that one is at a meeting of a mutual admiration society instead of a national Parliament. This observation applies even to the speech of the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron). Word went round the lobbies that the honorable member was going to flay thu Government, and particularly the Minister for Commerce (Dr. Earle Page), but when the honorable member unmasked his guns, we found they were squibs that went off with less effect than pop guns. However, there is milk in the cocoa-nut, and, consequently, some excuse can be found for the fulsome flattery voiced by honorable members opposite. Perhaps they wait in anticipation of favours to come, such as a trip to the coronation ceremonies, or a possible hoist up the social ladder, or, perhaps, the prospect of ministerial appointment or other opportunities of taking a seat among the mighty. Clashes between the United Australia party and the Country party may demand the displacement of some, and the exaltation of others.
I shall endeavour to show that the budget is not so wonderful as honorable members opposite would have us believe, and that the boasts made by the Treasurer concerning the achievements of this Government are but extravagant empty phrases. I have said on several occasions that un less we are prepared to approach the problem of our aggravated economic position with a willingness to_ make definite and fundamental alterations of our financial systems, national and private, we shall never solve our economic difficulties. However, I do not propose to deal with that phase of the budget today. I content myself with that expression of my economic faith.
I reiterate that there is no justification whatever for the congratulations voiced by honorable members opposite in respect of the budget. On the contrary, I regard it as a budget to be condemned. It has been called, very aptly, a rich man’s budget. It is the policy of-
For ho that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath.
Through taxation relief, £8,000,000 has been given to the wealthy interests of Australia, including those, no doubt, who provide the party funds of honorable members opposite. A small percentage of that huge concession will be sufficient to replenish the Government’s party funds. In this country, and in others where a government upholds vested interests, and the capitalistic system generally, it has been the practice invariably, whenever a budget or any other means suitable for the purpose is under consideration, to look after the interests of wealthy supporters. Money is extracted from the pockets of the people as a whole, and surpluses are given back to wealthy interests in the form of reductions of taxes. Thus these interests are recouped from the Treasury for the money which they provide for party funds, and the party funds, morally speaking, come out of the Treasury. For these reasons, this budget can be called a scheme to stimulate party funds.
Unemployment is still the major problem confronting this country, yet the sole mention of it in the budget is the boast that the Government has been able to rectify the unemployment position to a large extent. Honorable members have been given a lot of figures to- show that employment has increased. ‘ In the first place, I point out that most of the people whom the Government claims to have put back in employment, are engaged on relief work. These people are said by the Government to be employed, and, according to the standard of honorable gentlemen opposite, they are employed, because such employment represents the standard to which the Government desires to bring the workers generally. Honorable members opposite are thus consistent when they count relief workers as normally employed. The budget makes no suggestion of any attempt to place a few shillings more in the pockets of the workers for the coming Christmas season. In answer to a question by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) admitted that the Government did not propose to consider the matter. The Government is definitely side-stepping a 40-hour week.
– The party to which the honorable member belongs is side-stepping it.
– The only variation I would make would he to advocate a 3.0-hour week. It will be interesting to know what the honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Frederick Stewart), who claims to be the champion of the shorter working week, will have to say on the subject. The honorable member who has received a good deal of publicity over the subject, suggests that the attitude of the Government is pure political nonsense. The Government should face the facts instead of merely talking about a shorter working week. Every economist who has studied world problems, including unemployment and the purchasing power of the people during the last ten years, has claimed that a reduction of working hours must be made. The League of Nations, through the International Labour Office, is dealing with the subject in the only way possible by distributing propaganda throughout the world, thereby endeavouring to persuade the nations of the world to realize their responsibilities. Governments are muddling along in the same old way, and do not seem to realize that a change is essential.
The Treasurer can at least be congratulated upon his astuteness in grasping at every possible straw in an endeavour to make the budget appear satisfactory. Although we are told that drought conditions in the United States of America and Canada have caused wheat prices to rise, the Treasurer tried to create the impression that the budget he presented was responsible. Few wheatgrowers will derive any benefit from the higher prices because most of them have already sold their wheat. Those who farm the farmer will get the advantage. Before next year’s harvest, when the farmers are still holding their wheat, some one will discover that the drought in the United States of America and Canada was not so severe as anticipated, and that the world’s stocks are not so low as anticipated. Prices rise only when speculators are holding wheat. That happens not only in connexion with wheat but also in respect of every other primary product. If honorable members representing country interests devoted their time to ensuring that these thieves who handle the farmers’ product could not get the benefit of the farmer’s labour, happier conditions would prevail in our primary industries.
The Treasurer also said that building activities had increased. Of course they have, but that is merely because the capitalists are taking advantage of low wages and reduced prices for material to build, rebuild, or renovate play houses, picture theatres, hotels and stores. There has been no increase in the number of homes built.
– That is nonsense.
– Some may have been built in the State represented by the honorable member where the State Government is constructing timber and iron dog kennels of one room. Statistics disclose that 90 per cent, of the increase in the building trade is due to capitalists taking advantage of the cheaper conditions prevailing and erecting buildings such as I have mentioned. Money is not being expended in erecting homes for the less fortunate members of the community. People are compelled to live in hovels which are a disgrace to the landscape. The following paragraph appeared in a capitalist newspaper, the Sunday Sun -
The Health Officer of Melbourne, Dr. Dale, declares that in that city 200,000 live in “ dreadful little tunnel houses, unfit for humans “.
Whether Melbourne is worse than Sydney, or Sydney worse than Melbourne in respect of housing, is a question that might Ve discussed.
– Every big city has a number of such houses. .
– Of course it has. Capitalists are investing their money in large buildings when there is an acute shortage of houses. This allows the rent.rackers operating in Sydney and Melbourne to increase the rentals of tunnel houses in which 200,000 people live in Melbourne. Notwithstanding the prosperity in Australia, of which the Treasurer speaks, two or three families are living in one house which should not be permitted in a civilized community.
– Does the honorable member suggest that the slum area of Woolloomooloo has not improved during the past ten years?
– A . State Labour Government and not this Government was responsible for improvements effected there. The honorable member should travel through my electorate from Helensburgh to Dapto. According ro travellers, Bulli Pass and Sublime Point may be numbered among the outstanding beauty spots of the world, but the scenery of that wonderful strip of coastline is marred by the hovels of the working class. These unfortunate persons are accommodated in little tin huts and humpies, and although the municipal councils concerned are willing and anxious to embark upon a policy of home construction for them, they are unable ro obtain the necessary finance for this purpose. In my opinion, the adoption of an adequate housing scheme, in order to care for the poorer classes, should be the first consideration of this National Parliament. But this Parliament steadfastly declines even to consider such a proposition.
-How many houses were erected in New South Wales when Mr. Lang was in office?
Mi LAZZARINI.- I emphasize that this National Parliament alone can operate the instrumentalities of credit in order to provide the necessary finance for an adequate housing scheme. Large sums could be advantageously expended in providing men, women and children with the habitations to which they are entitled. Long ago, Great Britain and other countries embarked upon housing schemes. Between 1930 and 1935, the British Government expended £65,703.000 on the erection of homes for the workers, and since 1919 it has built 1,207,571 dwellings for them. But such a work must be a national undertaking.
– It ‘ is a National Government, not a Labour Government, that is carrying out that policy.
– The housing scheme was initiated by the British Labour party ; there is plenty of evidence to be found in the Library to prove that; and the scheme was so successful in practice that other political parties saw fit to continue it. In Germany, 3,000,000 homes for workers have been erected by the Government, and, alt hough other European States have not embarked upon such an extensive policy, they have made considerable progress in this connexion. This year, the Dominion of New Zealand plans to spend £3,000,000 upon the housing of its people. But, in spite of these examples, Australia, apparently, is to take no action in this respect. Apart from the slum areas of the capital cities, inadequate housing accommodation for the workers is obvious throughout the length and breadth of this great continent. Even between Canberra and Sydney honorable members may see from the train windows humpies made from a few sticks and hags with a coating of whitewash; and many of these improvised habitations are occupied by unfortunate persons who lost their employment during the depression. In view of those circumstances, I consider that it is tragic that honorable members should congratulate the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) upon his “ excellent “ budget. Although many of the principal Australian cities are overcrowded, and in Sydney alone 200,000 persons are living in “tunnel” houses, land settlement is languishing. The Sydney Sunday Sun and Guardian stated - “ Farmers’ sons are leaving the land to join the police force and the railway department because they cannot get holdings of their own,” said Mr. J. B. Cramsie, a former chairman of the Meat Board, yesterday, urging a vigorous closer settlement policy.
Unfortunately, this has been a feature in Australia for many years. And it is not confined to Australia, because the parties in office in other parts of the world have adopted the same economic doctrines as honorable members who support this Government.
– A few minutes ago the honorable member praised the British Government for its housing policy.
– These conditions are the result of the economic history of the world during the last 100 years, and I challenge the honorable member for Martin (Mr. McCall) to deny that fact. Unfortunately the Labour party, in Australia and in other parts of the world, has never held office for periods sufficiently long to enable it to implement its policy.
Mr.LAZZARINI.- Because ithas held office a couple of years, and then been twice as long in opposition.
– What is the reason for that?
Mr.LAZZARINI.- The reason is to be found in the misrepresentation and malignant lies which have been thundered forth by the capitalistic press, and by the employment of party funds to sidetrack the people in regard to the election issues.
– There are other reasons.
Mr.LAZZARINI. - Ho w many elections have been fought and won in Australia on the sectarian issue, or on loyalty to the British Crown, and flag-wagging? [Quorum formed.] I suppose that the Minister for Repatriation (Mr Hughes) “sooled” more men to the battlefields than any ten men in Australia, but I can cite for his information 200 or more instances of the brutality which has been meted out to returned soldiers by doctors; who lied, and who knew that they lied, when reporting to the Repatriation Department that the present condition of the applicants for pensions was not duo to war service. I regret that adequate hospital accommodation is not provided for the sick, including those victims of the economic tragedy who are obliged to seek admission topublic hospitals because they are unable to pay the fees of private institutions or have treatment in their own homes. In the metropolitan area of Sydney alone, 3,000 persons are seeking admission to public hospitals, but are obliged to wait until beds become vacant. According to statistics, the Australian children attending schools to-day number 40,000 less than the total in 1932-33. What does that diminution portend? What does it mean to the future of the nation? The whole cause is economic dry rot; the economic conditions of the country are such that the race has become stagnant. While the Minister for Health is crying out for a greater population, the population is actually shrinking. The only remedy is so to alter the economic position that the people will be happy and contented, and their children will not be starvelings. The reduction of the sales tax by 1 per cent, benefits none but the wealthy; it has not the slightest effect on the prices of the food and clothing purchased by the worker on the basic wage, but has an appreciable effect on the prices of motor cars, expensive fur coats, and the dress clothes of the well-to-do. I repeat that the budget offers not a single concession to the poorer sections of the community. The surplus of which the Treasurerboasts is realized by the extraction of pennies from the poor. That is proved by the figures which the honorable gentleman has placed before us. From this source the sum of £8,000,000 has been raised without the flutter of an eyelid. The request for the reduction by even one penny of the price of something that the poor have to wear is met by the honorable gentleman with the statement that in the aggregate the loss to the revenue would be £50,000 or £60,000 a year.
– Such as the exemption of tea and boots.
– However it is analysed, the budget is a rich man’s budget. The Treasurer also made casual reference to the necessity to issue treasury-bills, to meet what he termed the lag in revenue. Because of this lag, the associated hanks are to get a “ rake-off “ In all countries that operate as Australia does, there must be a lag of revenue after the close of the financial year. Income tax constitutes one of the largest sources of revenue, and there is certainly a lag until it begins to come in. The Treasury knows approximately what the tax receipts will be by a certain date, and gives an I O U to the associated banks, on which they draw interest. I should like to be told what would be economically wrong or financially unsound in the Treasury itself issuing cheques against probable taxreceipts, and thus avoiding the payment of interest to any private financial institution. The Commonwealth bank could accommodate the Government, interest free, with respect to that lag, without doing any detriment to its business or adopting unsafe measures.
Much necessary employment could be provided if the Postal Department were not so financially starved. I make jio complaint about the administration in New South Wales, the only State with which I am acquainted, but I do say that every electorate, certainly every country electorate, is starved in regard to postal services, the provision of which would furnish considerable employment and return a handsome profit almost immediately. In the Cronulla peninsula in my district, after leaving Helensburgh, from Lilyvale to Thirroul, the primitive conditions of 50 years ago still obtain; there is no attempt at a mail delivery, although the population has increased considerably, and it is only a narrow strip of coast, with houses on both sides of a single road. Even a telegram is not delivered, the residents having to wait until they receive from the semiofficial post office a notification that there is one to be collected. Recently, a telegram was sent, to a man in this district, advising him of the death of his brother, and it lay in the office for a week before he was advised of it. From Fairy Meadow to Tarrawanna there is a fairly large area, the residents of which have to collect their own mails. When representations are made for a postal delivery for any district, the .reply is that for a year or two the service would be run at a loss. A request for a public telephone is not granted unless those who seek it are prepared to defray a portion of the cost. These cheese-paring methods are adopted by a department that has a turnover of millions of pounds annually, because it is starved of funds. For two or three, years, those who live in Green Valley, Hoxton Park, Austral and like places in the environs of Liverpool township, have been agitating continuously for postal services, and have not succeeded in obtaining them.
I shall conclude with a reference to the administration of the Repatriation Department. The legislation dealing with service pensions went through Parliament with a great flourish of trumpets, but was only camouflage to deceive honorable members on this side of the chamber who had been constantly reminding the Minister for Repatriation of the promises he had made to the returned soldiers. Australia, it was said, was to be a country fit for heroes to live in. These heroes are rotting in sanatoria in my electorate, and are daily expectorating their lives away without assistance from the department. The case was related this afternoon of a young fellow who was not a malingerer but wanted to stand ah his own feet, and did so. The canker begun by the deadly gases unloosed in the barbarism of Avar took its toil as the years went by, and he became consumptive. He is now told by the medical referee, who does not know his job, that his condition is not due to war service. I say that that doctor lies, and knows that he lies. He lies deliberately, in order to save the department a few shillings. The late Sir Neville Howse, as Minister for Repatriation, in response to pressure exerted by honorable members on this side, introduced legislation for the establishment of a tribunal to which every “ digger “ whose claim was rejected by the Repatriation Department could appeal. I have yet to find the soldier who has received any benefit from that tribunal. I ‘do not think there is one case on record; in every instance the verdict is in conformity with that given by the Repatriation Commission.
– No one believes that for a moment, not even the honorable member.
– I know of no case in my electorate of a soldier having had his appeal upheld by that tribunal. The honorable gentleman, who is himself a returned soldier, ought to be fighting the cause of the returned soldiers instead of upholding what is detrimental to them.
– I try to- be fair.
– “ Brass hat “ fairness, I suppose. Then came the service pensions, in connexion with which the term “ unemployable “ has been substituted, for the term “ permanently and totally incapacitated”. I suppose that if a man can just crawl about he can he employed at something or other. Henry Ford found that in certain occupations in his factory totally blind men were more efficient than others who had their eyesight. A man without legs can sit in a chair and count bolts into boxes. Unless a man is paralysed in all his limbs, he can do something. There are soldiers who drew the invalid pension because they were totally and permanently incapacitated and were denied a service pension on the ground that they were employable. The service pension is supposedly granted because of certain disabilities occasioned by war service, and irrespective of the applicant’s economic position. Will honorable members say that anything resembling justice is done when an unfortunate man who has been gassed, and is an inmate of a sanatorium, is refused the service pension, whilst a business man with an income of £2,000 a year gets the full pension? Men in affluent circumstances should be called upon to give up their pensions for the time being, on the understanding that the payments will be restored to them in the event of misfortune overtaking them. The Treasurer tells us that all is well, and prides himself on having brought down a budget that is calculated to rehabilitate the finances; but that is a hollow and unjustifiable boast.
.- I intended at the commencement of this debate to confine myself to the financial aspects of the budget, but as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) has introduced the Australian-Japanese issue,I feel called upon to deal with this subject, and in particular, to answer some of the charges made by the honorable member. Like the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties (Sir Henry Gullett), I am astonished at the stand taken by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in regard to the JapaneseAustralian trade situation. I am also surprised to note, according to the speeches made in this debate, that the honorable member has not received the support of his own party on this national issue. In my. opinion, he put forward strong arguments, embarrassing to the Government, in favour of the case for Japan. The people of Japan may have been given an exaggerated idea of the importance of the honorable member’s remarks. As the negotiations are still proceeding, Japan possibly considers that it should maintain an uncomprising attitude, but I am sure that the Government will steadfastly pursue the course which it has taken. It has presented its policy in a clear and decisive manner, and the Japanese Government has also given a definite reply. I find it hard to accept the statement of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that nobody could accuse him of leaning towards Japan. He must know that his remarks are calculated to protract the negotiations, because the Japanese negotiators would take courage from the honorable member’s attitude, which must be detrimental to the primary producers whom he represents. [Quorum formed.] If this issue had not been raised, the probability is that the progress of the negotiations towards a favorable conclusion would have been expedited.
Having regard to the smallness of the population of Australia, and our enormous output of primary products, our dependence upon strong and secure export markets becomes strikingly obvious. This country exports 93 per cent, of its wool, 75 per cent, of its dried fruits, over 50 per cent, of its wheat and butter, -about 50 per cent, of its sugar and cheese, and over 25 per cent, of its lamb and beef. Therefore, we are vitally dependent upon export markets for the continued prosperity of our primary industries. These figures are sufficiently arresting, but it should be remembered that Australia is now only in process of development, and, as time goes on, it may become even more dependent than it is to-day upon its export trade. Out lamb, mutton, and beef export industries, particularly, are scarcely out of their infancy. It is necessary, therefore, for Australia either to maintain and expand its overseas markets or stagnate. Where are these markets available to-day, what are our prospects of holding them, and in what direction is expansion most likely? The more we consider these questions the more we must realize our absolute dependence on British markets, which take 93 per cent, of our butter, 91 per cent, of our cheese, 97 per cent. of om- mutton and lamb, 92 per cent, of our beef and veal, over 70 per cent, of our fruits, and 46 per cent, of our wheat. Great Britain is also the biggest buyer of our wool, taking 32 per cent, of it. In other words, Britain buys more than half of our total exports of all kinds, which is more than four times the total purchases by any other country. “When we consider the direction in which expansion of our trade is likely to occur, we appreciate the tremendous value of the British markets. During the five depression years - from 19-29 to 1935 - our sales of butter to Great Britain increased by 166 per cent., our beef sales by 141 per cent., and our lamb sales by 123 per cent. The value of Australian mutton placed on the British market more than doubled, our sales of wheat almost doubled; a similar story may be told in regard to wool, wine, fruits, and other products.
These figures emphasize three fundamental truths about which there can be no dispute. Australia, as I have said, must either maintain or expand its export trade, or stagnate. Secondly, Great Britain is easily our best customer, and for many items of our exportable produce, offers the only markets available; and, in the third place, those are our only markets which give promise of an expansion of our trade. I regret that I cannot point to favorable prospects on the continent of Europe. But Great Britain cannot continue to buy our products, let alone increase its purchases from us, unless we in turn are prepared to buy a certain quantity of British goods. If we desire to expand our markets, we must recognize the need foi” reciprocal trade. No matter how much Great Britain may desire to enable the dominions to increase their markets, it cannot do so unless it sells a considerable proportion of its exports to them. If we want an expanding British market for our produce we cannot ignore this fact. This is not putting Great Britain first; it is simply viewing Britain’s trade position in the light of its reactions to our own. Great Britain cannot continue to give more and more preference to the dominions when foreign countries which are buying its goods are clamouring for a share in the British market. Consider the trade relations between Great Britain and Argentina. We are demanding a greater share of the British meat market It is significant that the exports of British cotton piece-goods to Argentina are increasing, and it is disquieting to learn that the sales of British cotton piece-goods on Australian markets are diminishing. These goods constitute our chief item of trade with Great Britain. Measured by value cotton piece-goods are of natch greater importance than any other item. Next to India, Australia is Great Britain’s best overseas customer for cottons. The loss of the Australian market by Britain might fairly be likened to the loss by Australia of the British market for any of its important primary products such as wool, wheat, butter or sugar. Also of great importance to Great Britain is the Australian market for artificial silk.
– The loss of the Japanese market for our wool is also of great importance.
– Although Japan has totally ceased its purchases of our wool, prices have been maintained, and, in some classes, have risen. The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Collins) showed me figures indicating that one wool clip grown in his electorate had averaged 17d. per lb. But what would be the effect on Australia if Great Britain ceased its purchases of our primary products overnight? The loss would be inestimable. We should have no other market in which we could dispose of our surplus primary products.
– Our wool prices would have been much higher than they arc to-day if Japan had competed for our wool.
– In the past Japan has purchased wool from Australia. It must have a product which all the world needs. Great Britain, however, takes from us other surplus primary products which all the world does not want, and will not buy. The position should be sufficiently clear to lead us to the conclusion that we are absolutely dependent on British markets for the sale of our surplus primary products.
An examination of the statistics clearly reveals that at the rate at which Japan was capturing our textile markets its goods would almost entirely oust, within a short period, not only British textiles but also those of other goodcustomer foreign countries. The phenomenally low prices at which Japan was selling its artificial silk and cotton piecegoods clearly demonstrated that its aim was to establish an absolute monopoly in the Australian market. The stage had been reached when J apan had practically achieved this objective by capturing almost 90 per cent, of the total Australian market for artificial silk, and about 45 per cent, of the total market for cotton piece-goods. This advance has been made within recent years. It seems to me that a. study of the trade figures is well worth while. Between 1932 and 1935 the exports of artificial silk goods to Australia increased from 8,000,000 square yards to 66,000,000 square yards, whilst the exports of cotton piece goods increased from 36,000,000 square yards to 87,000,000 square yards. During the same period, however, the exports of British cotton piece goods to Australia diminished by 50,000,000 square yards.
– Great Britain imports from Japan twice as much as Australia.
– There was every indication that the Japanese manufacturers would have gained a complete monopoly in respect of these goods in the Australian market; in fact they admitted that in 1.936 they would have been able to sell 100.000,000 square yards of artificial silk goods in Australia but for the trouble that has occurred. While on this point I de.sire to answer a statement which has been made that the success of the Japanese manufacturers in the Australian market has been due to the inefficiency of the British cotton piece goods industry. Statistics show, however, that the export trade of every country has seriously diminished as the result of the competition of Japan. Taking the percentage relationship from 1927 to 1934, the total exports of cotton piece goods from Great Britain to all countries declined by 52 per cent. ; from the United States of America, by 60 per cent; from France, by 50 per cent.; from Italy, by 50 per cent.; from Germany, by 63 per cent. ; and from Holland, by 68 per cent., whilst during the same period Japanese exports to all countries increased by 78 per cent. Is it any wonder that 76 countries, including every portion of the British Empire, with the exception of New Zealand, have taken action to restrict Japanese imports?
– Did Great Britain impose any prohibition against Japan?
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition referred to the discriminatory action taken by this Government. If discriminatory action has been taken it cannot be compared to that taken by the honorable member as Minister for Trade and Customs in the Scullin Government. The effects on trade of the surcharges and prohibitions imposed against good customer countries by that Government aggregated £10,984,000. Of that total, British trade was affected to the extent of £7,464,000. Yet the honorable member had the effrontery to make a vitriolic attack on the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties, and accuse him of talking with his tongue in his cheek. The honorable member said also that the Minister had bungled negotiations with Japan, and had acted like a bull in a china shop or a pig in a parlour. Apparently he is an authority on the conduct of bulls in china shops and pigs in parlours. The stand which this Government has taken in regard to foreign trade should have been taken by the Scullin Government but it avoided its obligation. The total effect of the prohibitions and surcharges imposed in respect of Japanese goods by the Scullin Government amounted to only £244,000, while those imposed in respect of British goods, despite the fact that Great Britain is a good customer country of ours, amounted to over £7,464,000. Japanese textile manufacturers and exporters during -the last three years continuously and drastically reduced their prices to levels against which no European country or the United States of America could compete. The prices of artificial silk goods imported during February last show that of six countries excluding Japan, the United Kingdom was the lowest with an average price of 14d. a square yard, while the average price in Japan was 4fd. a square yard with some lines as low as 2d. a square yard. Between January, 1935, and January, 1936, Japan halved the price on five lines of cloth selling on the Australian market. The Prime Minister stated that if Japanese exporters had not reduced their prices so drastically they could still have enjoyed a large share of the Australian market and have received much more money than they have in the last two or three years. I, too, believe that if they had not resorted to indiscriminate price cutting they would have avoided the unsatisfactory position that exists between the two countries to-day. Had they been content even to double their prices, those prices would still have been 100 per cent, below those of other competing countries. In my opinion it is incontestible that the real objective of the Japanese was to break through the principle of British preference by the displacement of British imports and the establishment of a monopoly in the Australian market. I can imagine no other reason for the successive heavy price reductions over such a short period.
– Other countries have done the same thing in commercial competition.
– But they have made nothing like the enormous reductions effected by the Japanese. If Japan were entitled to special consideration because of its great purchases of Australian wool and wheat, surely it was unreasonable to extend this consideration at the expense of Britain, which is a larger buyer of Australian wool, a much larger buyer of Australian wheat and flour, and a .buyer of 90 per cent, of our remaining exportable primary products for which no other market is available. In other words, for every £1 spent in Australia by the Japanese, £4 is spent by Britain. We must remember the fact that Japan depends upon the Australian market for 95 per cent, of its supplies of wool. That wool is a commodity that all the world wants, is proved by the fact that since Japan has withdrawn from the Australian market the price has , been maintained. Britain, in relieving the Australian market of surplus primary products, is buying from us many commodities which we cannot sell elsewhere.
– Does not Great Britain sell elsewhere some of the goods it buys from Australia?
– A large portion is consumed in Great Britain, and the balance is exported.
– It is exported all over the world.
– I cannot see that that makes any difference. Japan also exports a considerable proportion of the wool purchased from Australia. Japan purchases from Australia 95 per cent, of its requirements of wool. In 1931 the Japanese exports of woollen piece goods to all countries amounted to only 3 per cent, of its total consumption. In 1932 it doubled its exports to 6 per cent., and in 1933 trebled them to 18 per cent. By 1934 Japan exported 27 per cent, of the wool purchased from Australia, and displaced other countries in the markets of Great Britain and Europe.
– Great Britain resells our wool in the raw state.
– It is true that Great Britain exports a portion of the wool purchased from Australia, but that is of definite advantage to this country, in that the Old Country is able to take a larger quantity of Australian primary products. At no time has the Government sought to shut Japanese textiles out of the Australian market. The new duties were determined after a most exhaustive comparative price survey extending over many months, during which the invoice prices of all imports of cotton goods and artificial silk were compared. There is no doubt that the duties now imposed afford Japan an ample opportunity to retain a substantial share of the trade. It is pertinent to point out to the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) that, during the period 1927-35, Japan increased its trade with Australia by 47.9 per cent. That surely should have weighed heavily with Japan before ii took action to abolish its trade with this country. Before moving in the matter of the duties, the Government spent several months in negotiations with Japan in an endeavour to make a friendly arrangement under which that country would limit its textile exports to an agreed level. Japan has entered into arrangements of this kind with other countries. In this connexion, its dispute with India in 1934
Ls worth recording. In October, 1933, the Indian Government notified the Japanese Government that it would end the Indo-Japanese Treaty of Commerce within six months. At the same time, it passed an act for the safeguarding of Indian industries, which authorized the Viceroy to impose at his discretion higher duties on foreign goods, with the object of protecting local industries and trade with Great Britain. Under the authority of that act, the Viceroy increased the duty on Japanese cotton goods to 75 per cent., as compared with the duty of 25 per cent, levied on imports from the United Kingdom. Japan retaliated, and a conference of representatives from England, India and Japan was held. After prolonged discussion, a three-year agreement was reached under which India agreed to buy from Japan cotton fabricsnot exceeding 400,000,000 square yards a year. That quantity represented a reduction of 35 per cent, below previous purchases. In return, Japan agreed to buy from India 1,500,000 bales of cotton, or 100,000 bales less than the total purchases in 1932. India was also to levy a duty of 50 per cent, on cotton goods, while at the same time permitting the duty of 25 per cent, on British goods to remain unaltered. If Japan could compromise with India and other countries, why is it not prepared to compromise with Australia’s Although I believe that we shall be able to come to a working arrangement with Japan, the prospects of success have been very much hampered by the speech made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition on this matter.
– It was long overdue.
– And how the Opposition now regrets it !
– The Commonwealth Government has been hopeful of arriving at an agreement with Japan. When the Australian case was presented to the Japanese negotiators, they replied, after consultation with their Government, that they must insist upon the retention of 90 per cent, of their trade with us in artificial silk, and that there should be no restriction whatever of the quantity of cotton piece goods imported, and no alteration of the duties imposed in respect of them. They definitely stated that, if their wishes were not respected,
T4l] and if we varied even the quantities of their imports or the prevailing duties, they would take action against us.
– Where was that published ?
– The honorable member knows full well that that statement was made, first of all, to the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties, who conveyed it to the Cabinet. It was subsequently made public by the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), in his first .broadcast speech in regard to this matter. That recalls to my mind the complaint which has been repeatedly made, that negotiations of this kind should not be conducted in secret, and that the Government should have referred this matter to the Tariff Board. Dealing with the subject of trade treaty-making, the Prime Minister, in his policy-speech delivered at the Sydney Town Hall, on the 24th August, 1934, said -
The makin” of a treaty with another country is essentially a matter for negotiation, and it is not practicable to conduct negotiations of this character through the Tariff Board. The Government, therefore, proposes to ask the new Parliament to give to the Minister power to negotiate such foreign trade treaties and, in accordance with the practice that has been adopted in many countries, to put them into force immediately, by proclamation, subject to the proviso that they must bc satisfied within a fixed period by Parliament itself. Unless this degree of elasticity is allowed it does not appear to be possible to deal with the many questions that will arise in the arrangement of trade treaties with some of our best customers.
The Government was undoubtedly given a definite mandate to conduct trade negotiations in the manner outlined in that speech. As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition lias said that the whole business has been bungled he should have explained where the bungling occurred, but he did not do so. Tariff action was not taken against Japan until it became evident that there was little hope of an agreement being reached. The nature of the Government’s actions should be examined before any allegation of unfairness to Japan is made. It has been conservatively estimated that the effect of the new duties would have reduced Japan’s trade with Australia by only about £100,000 for the remainder of 1936. Over a period of years the reduction was estimated at £700,000 per annum from Japan’s total exports to Australia of nearly £5,000,000 sterling. No doubt this amount could have been considerably reduced had Japan acted reasonably and not adopted an uncompromising attitude. I believe that a reduction of that estimated figure could even now he effected, but that, of course, is only my own opinion.
– If a reduction were effected, would it not mean a corresponding reduction of the preference granted to Great Britain in the Australian market?
– It would mean a. limitation of the rate of expansion of Japanese trade with Australia. It would also mean that the Government would be able to maintain its treaty obligations with Great Britain and continue effectively to protect Australian industries. Australia is just on the threshold of great developments in the use of cotton for manufacturing purposes. I do not suppose that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) would wish to hamper development of our cottonmeanufacturing industry. If we are to protect this industry we must control the expansion of the Japanese trade in the local market.
– What has Great Britain done to counter the flood of Japanese imports into the United Kingdom ?
– Almost prohibitive duties - much higher than our new duties - have been imposed.
– -Japan replied to Australia’s proposals by prohibiting the importation of all Australian goods into Japan. In other words, in order to effectuate its uncompromising stand, it blackened out trade with Australia, to the value of £12,000,000 per annum. I point out to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that whereas the tariff measures of the Commonwealth apply to all countries Japan’s retaliatory measures were limited, against which definite discrimination was applied to Australia. I believe that certain other countries protested against the action, of the .Commonwealth Government in imposing embargoes, but Japan, as the country most affected, was the principal objector. We have always been on the friendliest terras with the Japanese people, and I sincerely trust that the difficulties at present being encountered in our negotiations for a satisfactory trade basis will speedily pass, and that we shall be able to retain an international friendship that has been so beneficial to both countries in a personal and trading sense. In 1934, Sir John Latham, during his visit to Japan as the leader of a goodwill mission, summed up the attitude of the Australian people when, in making a national broadcast to the Japanese, he said -
The people of Japan in the first instance protect their own industries, and, after rightly conserving the interests of their own people, are prepared to enter into friendly commercial relations with other people. In the same way in Australia we protect our own industries. As a part of the British Empire we then naturally and properly consider the interests of the British Empire and its various parts. We are then prepared to make trade arrangements with the countries which trade generously with us.
I feel sure that the Government will take no hasty steps in the course of these negotiations. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has had no hesitation in seeking to embarrass the Government in the conduct of the negotiations.
– I have had no hesitation in seeking to protect the interests of the Australian people.
– The Government has a definite trade treaty policy, and I trust that it will adhere to it. i believe that the stand it has taken will prove to be in the best interests of Australia. The stand that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has taken, however,, has been unfortunate. It is very difficult to understand what the honorable gentleman wishes to have done, but those who have read his speeches will no doubt form their own opinions as to his attitude. I have my opinion of it. His bearing proves to me that he leans towards Japan ; otherwise he would not have introduced this issue into the debate. I believe that, if we face our problems squarely and with determination tempered with caution, we can face the future with confidence. One thing can he said: Australia’s economic foundations are sound. They are sounder now than they have been since 1914, and we must not allow them to ‘be disturbed. We must erect a superstructure as dependable as the foundations, but this does not mean grasping at every prospect that promises immediate benefit. In the realm of external trade it means weighing immediate returns with prospects of permanency. This policy alone gives a reasonable guarantee that there will be no slipping back. The Australian people have a contribution to make towards the building and maintenance of the Empire. They have been right in their policy of protection and in their determination to maintain a high standard of living, especially for the workers. I believe, also, that the Government is right in the stand that it has taken in the trade disagreement with Japan.
Mr.Forde. -i wish to make a personal explanation-
– The honorable gentleman will neverbe able to explain himself.
– The Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties (Sir Henry Gullett) will never be able to explain his attitude, but my attitude is quite clear. I stand for Australia and Australian industries, and not for the traitorous action by which the Government is sacrificing Australian industries and besmirching the fair name of protection in this country.
Mr.White. - I rise to a point of order. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) said that he wished to make a personal explanation, but I object, on behalf of my colleague, to the use of the offensive words “ traitorous action “ and ask that they be withdrawn.
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition cannot make a general statement under the guise of a personal explanation. He must indicate wherein he has been misrepresented.
– The honorable member for Martin (Mr. McCall)-
– I rise to order. The Minister for Trade and Customs drew attention to an offensive remark by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition concerning a member of the Government. I also take exception to the remark and ask that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition withdraw the words “ traitorous action”, and apologize for having made use of them.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The Deputy Leader of the Opposition cannot, at this stage, make a general statement. He must indicate wherein he considers that he has been misrepresented. As objection has been taken to the use of the words “ traitorous action “ on the ground that they are offensive, I ask that they be withdrawn.
– In deference to you, Mr. Collins, I withdraw the words “ traitorous action “.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN. The words must be withdrawn unconditionally.
– All right. The honorable member for Martin (Mr. McCall) said in the course of his speech that any one who criticized the Government’s conduct of the trade negotiations with Japan was on the side of Japan. That statement was untrue and offensive to me, and, I take it, to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin), the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron), the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory), the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clark), the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Garden), and other honorable gentlemen who have criticized the bungling action of the Government in. this regard. The attitude of the Labour party, which is also my attitude, is quite clear, although it has been misrepresented. I stand for full protection of the industries of Australia. I stand for the imposition of duties which will be adequate to protect Australia’sindustries against the industries of other countries. I will support the Government wholeheartedly in anything it does to protect our industries.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable member is exceeding the limits of a personal explanation and I ask him to resume his seat.
– All I wish to say is that statement that I am on the side of Japan is not correct.
– I shall make a very brief reference to the Government’s trade negotiations with Japan. I support in every respect the protest made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition on this subject, particularly in so far as it relates to the so-called Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties (Sir Henry Gullett). When the Scullin Government imposed embargoes on imports into this country in order to rectify a seriously adverse trade balance the present Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties said that the action was an insult to a good customer country, although the Japanese Government offered no objection to what had been done. If such action was insulting at that time it is very much more so now. The honorable member for Martin (Mr. McCall) said that the speech of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition on this subject, indicated that he had a leaning towards Japan, but the people of Australia are not likely to be misled by a statement of that kind. The past actions of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition indicate clearly where he stands. I am sure that every honorable member of the Labour party supports the honorable gentleman in the stand that he has taken.
I wish now to refer to a matter raised by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) relating to the administration of the Postal Department. This huge business undertaking returned a profit of more than £2,000,000 last year, and it is therefore deplorable that such miserable and paltry salaries should be paid to some of its employees. The position of un-official postal officers in Australia is most unenviable and the small return that is made to them for their valuable services to the whole community is inexcusable. As an illustration of the cheeseparing policy of the department I direct attention to the case of an un-official postmaster in my electorate who, last year, handled departmental business amounting to £6,845 19s.8d. The only recompense he received was £69 15s. If any private employer did that he would rightly be called a sweater. As a matter of fact, the post office is one of the worst sweating establishments in the Commonwealth. An increased commission has been granted, but, providing that the turnover this year is the same as it was last year, the payment will amount to only £79 5s. Such treatmentis not fair, and does not reflect credit on this Commonwealth, and much less on the department responsible for it. Similar treatment of postal employees is happening all over Australia.
I quote from the Sydney Daily Telegraph of to-day a report of a speech made on Tuesday by the PostmasterGeneral (Senator A. J. McLachlan) : -
An appeal for cleaner and more wholesome programmes of B class radio stations throughout Australia was made to-day by the PostmasterGeneral (Senator McLachlan), at the opening of the annual convention of the Federation of Commercial Broadcasting Stations.
He said he based his appeal on the sensitivity of people about their home life and their dislike of the intrusion of anything distasteful. “ From my point of view, the responsibility is yours,” Senator McLachlan said. “ To you are granted the licences, and if these things occur, I can look no farther. “I want to see broadcasting raised to the level it will ultimately achieve. Like the press, it is going to become one of the estates of the realm.”
He asked B class station managers to guard against those who submitted scripts and then “ stepped over the line “ when before the microphone.
They should not forget that people were most sensitive about their home life and religious beliefs.
The Broadcasting Commission had its own problems. “ It has the musical world to satisfy,” he said.
My reason for quoting that speech is the many letters I have received complaining that literature concerning certain contraceptives is received through the post by many persons in my electorate. When I brought this matter under the notice of the Postmaster-General’s Department I received the reply thatthe department could do nothing so long as the letters in which the literature was contained bore a 2d. stamp. The postal department has been able to prohibit the postage of many other things, and I refer in particular to newspapers. The honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) produced in this House a few days ago a copy of the journal The Soviets of To-day, which the postal department refuses to transmit by post. I challenge the Minister to show me anything in that publication to justify the department in refusing to handle it. To say the least, . the publication is much cleaner than the advertising literature of which my constituents have complained. lt .should be possible for the post office to prevent this matter from being mailed. Lt is of no real use or value, but if people do want it, they can send for it. Those who do not want it should be protected against advertising matter of this kind being sent into their homes. The post office should make up its mind that the dissemination of this literature through the post office shall not continue.
Another matter in which the Labour party is vitally interested is the shorter working week. That the matter is of concern to the United Australia party is shown by the decisions at its conferences. The Government has shelved that issue. We have been told that it stands for the principle of a shorter working week; but it wants some tribunal to examine it. The Labour party is not bound to a 40-hour working week, but it does believe in a reduction of working hours. The Government instructed its delegate to vote for a 40-hour week at the International Labour Conference at Geneva, and yet voted against it in this House. The Prime Minister has since stated that the Government intends to let the Arbitration Court determine whether or not a 40-hour working week should be instituted throughout industry in Australia. The Arbitration Court will not give effect to a 44, or even a 48-hour week, and the chances of its instituting a 40-hour week in industry are negligible. There are industries in this Commonwealth to which it could be applied forthwith, and if this Government were honest when it sent the honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Frederick Stewart) to Geneva, and instructed him to approve the principle of n shorter working week, it should be ready to apply the 40-hour week, at any rate, to those industries which can afford it. It will not do so, and has placed the responsibility for further action on the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. Ministerial supporters on a previous occasion tried to throw the blame on the Queensland Government, because it would not enable a certain judge in that State to be a member of the proposed commission to investigate the shorter working week. But they avoided mention of the fact that that judge not only could not get away from Queensland at that time, but also can never get away from that
State for any lengthy period. This House, when ‘ it had the opportunity to do so by a vote, should have declared that a shorter working week would be to the advantage of Australia. By doing so, it would have done something for which Australia has hitherto been famed; the pioneering of reforms for the improvement of the conditions of the working class. Instead, however, the Commonwealth is lagging behind Europe, some countries of which have established a 40- hour week with success in many industries. The Prime Minister suggested that the Government has been blocked in this matter by the trade unions. The trade unions do not want a shillyshallying inquiry into something which has been inquired into over and over again, and has already been fully reported upon by the honorable member for Parramatta. The honorable member went to a great deal of trouble to discover what effect the shorter working week has had in other countries, and he thoroughly investigated the principles at the International Labour Conference. His report on his attendances at that conference proved that the shorter working week could be instituted in this country without detrimental effect. The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) was twitted in this House today on this matter, and, like the honorable gentleman, I am not married to a 40-hour week. I want the people who do the work of the nation to get more of the good things of life and more leisure in which to enjoy them, and those privileged persons who do nothing at all, to get not so many of the good thing3 as they at present enjoy. This Government has not done all that it could do in the matter of improved conditions for the working classes. It could easily introduce the reforms suggested by the honorable member for Werriwa. For instance, it could build houses for the workers on terms which would enable the purchasers to meet their obligations. According to the Assistant Minister for Commerce (Mr. Thorby), the Government of Queensland has been extravagant in building homes for the people on reasonable conditions. If supplying homes at a rate which enables the occupants to meet their obligations is extravagant, then I hope that the Queensland Government will continue to be extravagant for a long time. Addressing the Country party conference at Brisbane on the 15th August last, the Assistant Minister for Commerce made the following sweeping statement, as reported in the Brisbane Telegraph: -
NoIntention of Making Money Available to Extra vagant States.
Vigorous condemnation of the Queensland State Government for what he called its failure to fall into lino with the Commonwealth and the other States in connexion with the federal rural rehabilitation scheme was delivered to-day by the Acting Minister for Commerce (Mr. H. V. C. Thorby), inan address before the conference of the Queensland Country party.
Mr. Thorby said that while the Federal Government was anxious to help the primary producers it had no intention of making available money in order that the latter might be seized by an extravagant State Government, incapable of handling its own affairs, to swell its revenue or reduce its deficits. Mr. Thorby said that after listening to some of the remarks of the speakers at the conference he thought that there were amongst them some who did not realize the difficulties which the Commonwealth had encountered in dealingwith Queensland. After it had granted bounties to help the production of several industries it had introduced the rural rehabilitation scheme making available £12,000,000, of which Queensland’s share was £1,500,000. Every State,with the exception of Queensland, had passed legislation to provide the machinery for the distribution ofthis loan and every State had participated with the exception of Queensland.
That is only partly true.
– Ishall quote the Premier of Queensland, Mr. Forgan Smith, in answer to the Assistant Minister. The following extract is from the Brisbane Telegraph, of the 17 th August last : -
” I regard the attack of Mr. Thorby, the Acting Federal Minister for Commerce, upon the Queensland Government as a poor attempt to confuse the minds of the primary producers of this State. It is useless for the Federal Government to attempt to throw its responsibility upon others in this ridiculous fashion.” . . Early in May last, the Acting Premier wrote the Prime Minister suggesting that our act be amended to allow the final approval of the board in respect of Crown debts to rest with theGovernor-in-Council, and at thesame time pointing out that some Commonwealth authority should have the final approval of Commonwealth Crown debts. No reply, however, was . received from the Commonwealth until 23rd July last, when a letter was received approving of the proposal in regard to State Crown debts, but adding that in the view of the Commonwealth Government the proposed amendments should not purport to extend the debts due to the Commonwealth . . .
– I am quoting Mr. Forgan Smith.
– That does not prove that he is right.
– But he is entitled to, and does, give to the Assistant Minister the lie direct. Mr. Forgan Smith proceeded - . . It may also be mentioned that inMarch last the Commonwealth Government was required to amend its legislation and other States have done likewise as required. The Queensland Parliament, however, has justmet and the belated reply of the Commonwealth is receiving the closest attention of my government, involving as it does, not only questions of State sovereignty, but differentiation in respect of Commonwealth and State Crown debts. . . . He could nothave read the Queensland act; atany rate, he was woefully ignorant ofits provisions. In the Queensland act it was definitely provided in section 7. that no payment under any composition or scheme of arrangement, should be made m respect of any debt due to the Commonwealth or the State or to a governmental authority. Could any section be plainer than that?The funds from the Commonwealth, moreover, are to be specifically paid to a special “ Federal Aid Rehabilitation Fund” so that his allegation that the State might seize such moneys is as unjust as it is ridiculous. Mr. Thorby’s cr iticism is unwarranted, offensive, and untrue. He knows that the federal measure was altered in committee and departed considerably from the original proposals of the Commonwealth and State. He knows that even the Federal Government in March last, were forced to further amend their own bill and he should also know that it is the Commonwealth itself that is responsible for the present position of the rehabilitation scheme.
– He has now agreed to do what I advised him to do.
– The Queensland Parliament had passed legislation, but, not being in session, had no opportunity to amend it as Mr. Forgan Smith has now agreed to do. The Assistant Minister’s statement was only half true, hut it was good propaganda.
– It brought the Premier of Queensland up to scratch. He has now agreed to amend the legislation.
– The Assistant Minister seems able to pull his own leg, but he cannot pull mine. If his statement had not been contradicted it might have had grave results in Queensland. As a matter of fact, advantage of it was taken by the country press of Queensland to charge the State Government with extravagance. I challenge the honorable gentleman to show me one instance in which that Government has been extravagant. If the Commonwealth were doing for Australia as good work as is being done by the Government of Queensland, it would be a benefactor to this country; yet the Assistant Minister visited Queensland and said : “ The Commonwealth Government objects to making money available to an extravagant government”.
– What the Government of Queensland is doing is largely being done with money which the Commonwealth is providing.
– The honorable member forgets the obligations imposed upon the Commonwealth Government by the financial agreement. In this budget the Government has done nothing for the general masses of the people. I agree with the honorable member for Werriwa that the promised reduction of the cost of living as the result of the remission of sales tax will prove a myth ; no advantage will be passed on to the poorer people. The reduction of the rate of sales tax will be of use only to the wealthy supporters of the Government. I have no doubt that next year, when an election is impending, a budget similar to this one will be introduced. It is a remarkable fact that the Government, which before introducing the budget told the House that it could not do the things it is now proposing to do, has remitted millions of pounds of taxes to its rich friends; indeed, it is stated on good authority in the Sydney press that some of tlie big business houses will each profit by about £30,000 a year from the tax remissions. 1 can understand the supporters of the Government claiming that this is a good budget. The propaganda contained in the Brisbane Telegraph of the 15th
August probably served its purpose for a time, but it has since been completely disproved. The Assistant Minister says that the Queensland Government now intends to do what he suggested to it some time ago. It would have acted in the same way without any suggestion from him, or the propaganda to which I have referred. I deny that that Government is extravagant. It is doing more for this country than is any other Australian government. That has always been the record of Labour in Queensland; but another government, similar in its political outlook to the present Commonwealth Government, undid much of its good work. Fortunately, the Forgan Smith Government has repaired much of the damage, and in the years to come it will continue to do great things for Queensland, and, indeed, for the Commonwealth as a whole. It is now opening up large areas of rich country in the northern parts of the State. It may be claimed that that is possible only because of money provided by the Commonwealth; but the fact remains that that productive country is being put to good use, and that the Commonwealth will benefit from the activities of the State Government. The Commonwealth is not doing more for Queensland than it ought to do; indeed, it has adopted a parsimonious attitude towards that State. That is because the banks still determine the policy of this country, irrespective of the Government in power. The present Commonwealth Government meekly submits to the dictation of the banks, as is evidenced by the fact that, when the Loan Council asked for £10,000.000, the banks placed the limit at £9,000,000, and the Government accepted that reduction without protest. The Government of Queensland, which ha3 been accused of extravagance, cannot get sufficient money to develop its territory and to place on it a population which would be our best safeguard against invasion. The country cannot be developed without the expenditure of money. To what better use could money be put than in opening up good land ? To those who ask where a market will he found for the produce from these new lands, I say that some of it will be disposed of in the Commonwealth, and the rest in other countries* as at present. I am convinced that, in order to increase the population of this country, proper provision must be made. In the Palmerston country, west of Innisfail and out to Millaa Millaa, the Queensland Government is proceeding along sound lines. It has reversed the usual policy, and has determined that roads shall precede settlement. The Palmerston country is only one of many areas which the Queensland Government is attempting to develop; but without money these lands cannot be successfully settled. A policy, under which people are taken from the land and induced to settle in the cities, is foolish; but, unfortunately, many young Australians, who have been reared on the land, and would make successful settlers, are unable to obtain holdings in the land of their birth. Yet some time ago the Commonwealth Government endeavoured to make arrangements with chartered companies from overseas to develop the Northern Territory. Satisfactory arrangements could not be made, however, and the project fell through. There is no need to look outside Australia for settlers for this country, because there are many young Australians who would make a success of land settlement, if given a chance. Their chances of success would be much greater than those of persons unacquainted with Australian conditions and climate. If concessions are to be given at all, they should be given to suitable Australian citizens. The Government is not acting wisely in being so parsimonious in this connexion. Because of the dictation of the banks, there is no money for the development of this wonderful country; but, if a war broke out in Europe, and the British Empire became involved in it, there would be no scarcity of money to prosecute the work of destruction. The banks would then rush in to assist the governments of Australia. It is strange that the money which so quickly came into existence in 1914 and 1915 was not available in 1928-29. The Loan Council and the several governments of this country should tell the banks that money must be made available for the settlement and development of thiscontinent. In respect of money for developmental purposes, the States are in the hands of the Loan Council. Their activities in this connexion are governed by the amount of money made available to them. I agree with the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini), that this is a rich man’s budget. Truly the Government looks after its own supporters.
According to newspaper reports, the by-election in the electorate of Kennedy will not take place until next February, when the referendum proposals will be submitted to the people, the reason being that a separate appeal to the people would cost about £2,000. I do not know whether the newspaper reports are correct; but, if they are true, the Government has made a mistake.
– The Government has not decided anything of the kind.
– Practically the same statement appeared in both the Sydney Morning Herald and the Labor Daily. I hope that the report is not correct.
– It is absolutely unfounded, as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) knows.
– I accept the Minister’s assurance, and am relieved to hear it. I could scarcely believe that the report was true, and that the electors of Kennedy wouldbe disfranchised for four months for a mere £2,000.
– The question of cost was not considered by the Government.
– I am glad to hear that statement, for I should not like the electors of Kennedy to be without direct representation in this chamber for so long a period.
– Many people would be disfranchised were an election held immediately.
– I do not urge an immediate election ; but I ask that it be held as soon as can be arranged. When it suits the Government to hold a byelection,the question of cost does not concern it greatly.
I should have been pleased had I been able to congratulate the. Treasurer (Mr. Casey) on a budget which made full restoration to invalid and old-age pensioners and all others who suffered under the financial emergency legislation, including members of this Parliament. before further concessions were given to the wealthy supporters of the Government. I assume that this will be done next year. In fact, I expect that it will be done because then a general election will be pending.
.- The Treasurer (Mr. Casey) and the Government are to be congratulated on this budget, which can truly be described as the best that has been brought down in this Parliament since our years of prosperity. Unlike the honorable member who has just resumed his seat, I congratulate the Government upon its reductions of taxes, and particularly its reduction of that direct tax about which the Opposition is so critical, namely, super tax on income derived from property. I emphasize this point because I feel that in a young, undeveloped country like Australia it is essential that we should endeavour by every means at our command to attract new capital, and I suggest, particularly to honorable members opposite, that it is impossible to attract new capital if we proceed to penalize it in a particular way through direct taxation. I congratulate the Government also on its reduction of indirect taxes, such as sales tax, and on the further exemptions which it has made from that tax which, with one or two exceptions, will remove anomalies arising under it. I am aware that the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Garden) will say that the reduction of sales tax is not of any benefit to the poorer sections of the community, but I entirely disagree with that view. I feel that nearly all of the benefits of these reductions and exemptions will be passed on to the wage-earners of this country. That fact has already been evidenced by the reduction of the price of tea and cocoa, and various other commodities in daily use in every household in Australia.
The Government is to be congratulated on having sufficient confidence in the prosperity of this country to be able to increase the invalid and old-age pension by ls. a week. I hope, however, that because it has done this it will not abandon its proposal to institute a scheme of national insurance. I would have been prepared to wait quite patiently had no increase of the invalid and old-age pen sion been made had I thought that in the immediate future we could establish an unemployment, old-age and health insurance scheme; and I feel equally certain that the pensioners themselves would have put up with that sacrifice in such circumstances. The institution of a national insurance scheme is one of the most important matters calling for the attention of this Government at the present time. During the years of depression I often wondered whether my business would survive or whether I would not suddenly find myself thrown on to a labour market, which at that time could not absorb further labour. I can, therefore, readily appreciate the feelings of wage-earners who, at that time, did not know from week to week whether dismissal, with its accompanying dread of unemployment and sickness,’ was awaiting them. I urge the Government most strongly to press on as speedily as possible with its inquiries into a scheme of national insurance.
– It will do so in the sweet by-and-by.
– I have more confidence in this Government than has the honorable member.
A budget debate gives to honorable members an opportunity to discuss various phases of Australia’s economic life, such as its trade, business, commercial and industrial conditions generally. I propose to discuss two industries in which Australia is vitally interested, namely, meat and wool. My main motive in doing so is not because I happen to be a primary producer and, incidentally, grow those two products, but because I feel certain, as honorable members will agree, that these two industries are the foundation upon which Australia’s prosperity rests. I shall discuss the meat industry for the further reason that at the moment I am very closely associated with it, and there are one or two aspects of the meat trade which I wish to place before the committee. On this subject I speak entirely as a private member of this Parliament, and not in my capacity as chairman of the Australian Meat Board. I accept complete responsibility for anything which I may say, and do not wish it to be thought that I am expressing the opinion of that body which is thoroughly representative of the industry. Australia’s meat export trade is about to enter upon a new era. I say this because: first, a body has recently been formed in Australia with the object of co-ordinating Australia’s meat export trade; secondly, we know that at any moment a new long-time meat agreement will be finalized between Great Britain and the dominions; and, thirdly, this year for the first time it can be said that Australia’s trade in chilled beef has progressed from the experimental stage. It can no longer be said that our shipments of chilled beef are only experimental. Honorable members will recollect that before the Ottawa agreement meat from all over the world was pouring into Great Britain without any restriction whatever, and not only beef producers, but also mutton and lamb producers in Australia and the other dominions, were faced in 1931 with disastrous prices. The home producer in Great Britain itself was also forced to produce at a price which was entirely unprofitable.
– But the public paid a high price for meat all the time.
Mr.FISKEN.- The British public were getting cheap meat in 1931.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
Mr.FISKEN.- At Ottawa it was agreed by the Government of the United Kingdom, and the various governments of the dominions that, with a view to raising prices, the importation of foreign meat into Great Britain should be restricted, but that the dominions should have free access to that market. In carrying out this arrangement, it was later agreed with Argentina and other foreign countries that the supply of chilled beef from foreign sources should be reduced by 10 per cent., and that the supply of mutton and lamb should be reduced by 35 per cent. There were also agreements with various foreign countries regarding the supply of pig meat, but I do not need to go into that aspect now. The effect upon the mutton and lamb market was immediate and startling. Australian lamb producers, who had been receiving from 8s. to 9s. for lambs in the year prior to the making of the Ottawa agreement, were able to obtain 15s. during the following year, and since then, the price has varied from 15s. to as high as 30s. Recently, I was speaking to a prominent producer of lambs who told me that, during the year before the signing of the Ottawa agreement, the average price he received for lambs was 8s., whereaslast week, for lambs of inferior quality, he obtained a guinea. That speaks volumes for the benefits derived by the lamb and mutton producers of Australia as the result of the Ottawa agreement. Unfortunately, the benefits accruing to beef producers have not been so pronounced. Nevertheless, 1 think that the beef producers have received better prices than they would otherwise have received, even though the prices are not higher than they were before. Were it not for the Ottawa agreement, I am convinced that prices would have been a great deal lower. Under the terms of that agreement, the dominions were given unrestricted access to the British market until 1935, after which date Britain was to have the right to impose restrictions. Though certain quotas were named by Great Britain, and agreed to by the dominions, up to date Australia has virtually had unrestricted access to the British market in respect of beef.
I have already said that, in my opinion, the Australian meat industry is entering upon a new era, in support of which I point out that we are about to conclude a new longterm agreement with the British Government which will take the place of the Ottawa agreement. Although no pronouncement has yet been made by the Government, if various guesses are anywhere near the mark, we may assume that the foreign supplier is about to be cut another 5 per cent, on chilled beef, and , that this quantity will be allotted to the British dominions. If that be correct, it will mean that Australia, during the currency of the agreement, will be able to increase its supply to the British market by about 15 per cent. Provided that the currency of the agreement is for not more than three years, this will enable Australia to expand its exports up to the limits of its capability. It is also hoped that, by the inauguration of councils and conferences in Great Britain, we may be able to regulate the importation of meat into the United
Kingdom. It is proposed that there shall be .set up au Empire Meat Council, which will consist of representatives of the various Empire countries supplying meat to the United Kingdom, together with representatives of the producers of meat in the United Kingdom. This council will endeavour to regulate Empire supplies coming upon the market in the United Kingdom. Over and above that, and working in conjunction with it, there will be inaugurated a meat conference, consisting of representatives of the council, and also of representatives of foreign suppliers, principally Uraguay, Brazil and Argentina. In this way it should be possible, not only to provide for the sending of increased supplies from Australia to the British market, but also to arrange for a more constant supply of meat, from all sources to the market in the United Kingdom, thus avoiding periodica] gluts, with their consequent disorganization of prices. It is also hoped that the Australian Meat Board will shortly open an office in London under the control of a London representative. We hope that this appointee will be able to carry on the excellent work begun by the two Australian delegations which visited Great Britain during the last eighteen months. I recently asked a question of the Prime Minister on this subject, suggesting that steps be taken to inaugurate suitable publicity work in Great Britain. I suggested that steps should be taken to keep before the authorities in Britain the fact that, although the figures for Australian and Argentina exports to Great Britain were practically the same, Australia was an infinitely better customer of Great Britain than was Argentina. This fact should be kept constantly before the British public. I was amazed, and a little alarmed, to learn . recently of the propaganda which the South American meat interests were persistently advancing in Great Britain, in which they pointed out, erroneously I think, the enormous importance of the South American market to British exporters. It seemed to me that the Prime Minister misunderstood the purpose of my question, thinking that I was criticizing his work, and that of other Ministers in London. That was not the case. I realize that he and other Ministers did most valuable work in London, but I point out that this propaganda must be continuously counteracted, and the sooner there is a man in London whose sole work this will be, the better for the Australian meat interests.
Another reason why, in my opinion, the meat industry of Australia is entering upon a new era, is that our chilled beef trade may now be regarded as having passed beyond the experimental stage. During this year we shall send to Great Britain 400,000 cwt. of chilled beef, and this very considerable trade ha3 grown from nothing during the last five years. However, though we are exporting a considerable quantity of chilled beef, there is still room for improvement in the quality of the meat, and in regard to the condition in which it arrives on the British market. I realize that it; is going to be difficult to improve the quality, but I believe that this Parliament can do much to help. During a recent tour of Queensland, in the course of which I visited the various meat works, I was impressed with the high quality of the beef which came from certain properties which had, over a period of years, bought good stud sires, and I was appalled at the poor quality of the beef from properties that had neglected to do this. The Government should take what steps are necessary to encourage the importation of stud sires from Great Britain. -I admit that something has already been done in the way of subsidizing freight charges on the importation of stud stock, but even more is necessary. One of the best forms of assistance which could be rendered to the cattle industry would be to subsidize even more generously the importation of stud stock. The Shorthorn Association of Great Britain publishes an annual at the back of which is recorded the exports of stud stock from Great Britain to the various countries of the world. It is shown in this publication that whereas Argentina buys some hundreds of stud bulls each year from Great Britain, Australia buys, in some years, only one or two, and has never bought more than a dozen in any one year. If we are ever to be in a position to compete successfully with Argentina, it is absolutely essential that we improve the quality of our herds by the importation of stud sires from Great Britain.
Much might also be done to help the cattle producers by improving railway transport from the outback areas to the sea coast. At the present time, wellbred stock, trucked in excellent condition, are sometimes so long on the road that they arrive badly bruised and, to some extent, wasted, after their long railway journey. If we could obtain quicker transport it would be a big help to the industry.
A survey should also be made in North-Western Australia to see if it is not practicable to improve transport facilities to the meat works at Wyndham. Since those works have been opened, all the stock from the Kimberley district in Western Australia and from a large portion of Northern Australia, which is under the control of this Parliament, has been walked to Wyndham along one stock route. I cannot speak from personal knowledge of the route, but I understand it is limited in width, that cattle have been tramping over it for a number of years, and that it is eaten out and generally unsuitable as a stock route for fat cattle. Although some excellent cattle are grown in the Kimberley district and in the Wave Hill and Victoria River districts in Northern Australia, the condition in which they arrive at Wyndham is deplorable. I think that I am right in saying that of the cattle treated at the Wyndham works last year, only 40 per cent, were passed or approved for export by the Commonwealth Meat Inspector, which means that 60 per cent, had to be exported as boneless beef. The quality of our cattle may not be as good as we desire, but no one can suggest that it is so poor that 60 per cent, of the cattle treated at those works should be exported as boneless beef. It is entirely a matter of transport to the works. The Australian Meat Board at its last meeting in September asked the Government to have a survey made of the north-western portion of Australia to see if it is not possible to provide an improved means of transport into the Wyndham Meat Works. The hoard did not suggest the form which the survey should take. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green > I understand favours a rail- way running some 200 miles south-east into the Northern Territory. Speaking with a limited knowledge of the subject, I should say that a railway is the only practical scheme. It is possible to use motor transport for sheep, but that form of transport for cattle, more particularly in that locality where the country is rough, would be uneconomic. I do not wish to labour the question, but I suggest that if it were desired to slaughter 300 bullocks a day it would be necessary to utilize 120 motor lorries and trailers, each of which would need to be attended by two men. Moreover, the life of such vehicles in that country would not be long. If anything is to be done it may be worth considering the desirability of constructing a railway, and in that regard I have no doubt that the Western Australian Government would be pleased to collaborate with the Commonwealth Government, particularly as the Wyndham Meat Works is the property of the Western Australian Government. The construction of a railway would open up a large area of country and result in a larger number of cattle being treated at Wyndham. During the last six years an average of 35,000 head of cattle has been treated there, and the number has been increasing from year to year. If cattle could be landed at Wyndham in practically the same condition as they left the fattening grounds, the returns should pay a fair proportion of the interest and depreciation charges on the railway. Moreover, we have a duty to this country, to the Empire, and, in face, to the world, to make the best possible use of the undeveloped north.
The Government could also assist the industry by improving the facilities for shipping chilled beef. However good may be the condition in which the cattle reach the works, the voyage period is altogether too long. Argentina has an enormous advantage over Australia in that the voyage from that country to Great Britain is about three weeks, while about the same time is occupied between northern Queensland ports and Melbourne. The inadequate port facilities such as there are in Queensland makes the period much longer. Vessels load at Gladstone, where there is a depth of only 20 feet of water, then proceed to Townsville and then to Bowen, and generally up and down the Queensland coast before eventually coming south to Sydney and Melbourne and then on to England. The Commonwealth Government should confer with the Queensland Government on the matter of improving the port facilities on the northern Queensland coast. During the last few months the Minister for Commerce (Dr. Earle Page) has been endeavouring to improve the shipping position, and the members of the Australian Meat Board have also had a conference with the representatives of shipping companies interested in the chilled beef trade. The board is hoping that it will be possible to arrange for some boats to proceed north about from Australia instead of following the usual southerly route; but, unfortunately,- as a great deal of the produce exported is shipped in southern ports, the possibility’ of large-scale shipment by ‘ a northerly route is unlikely. Personally, I do not think it is feasible to get many boats to go north unless they carry only chilled beef, and I cannot see how we can produce sufficient beef to make that possible economically. The beef on the boats proceeding by a northerly route could compete with Argentina beef, particularly in respect of the condition in which it would arrive. Experiments carried out by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research show that if we can land chilled beef in the United Kingdom in about 45 days or less, there will not be any deterioration, but if the period is extended beyond 45 days, the deterioration is likely to he marked. We must, therefore, endeavour to obtain an improved shipping service from Australia to Great Britain. The honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) says that seasonable conditions have an important bearing on the export of chilled beef. I direct the attention of the committee to some interesting experiments conducted in Northern Queensland by Mr. Brice Henry and others with a new grass known as panicum, which thrives in tropica] areas. I understand that cattle can be brought in and fattened on the coastal areas, and I should like the Commonwealth Government, iu conjunction with other governments, to consider the use of this grass.
If it were found possible to fatten large numbers of cattle in the coastal areas at all periods of the year, it might get over the difficulty pointed out to me by the honorable member for the Northern Territory, that all our cattle are produced in one season of the year, and that, during these months, the large South American meat supplies are being shipped to the British markets. Should the experiment prove successful on a large scale, one can visualize the possibility of young cattle being brought in from the gulf country to be fattened in the coastal areas, and this would enable a larger quantity of breeding stock to be carried in the back country. I hope that every possible assistance will be given by the Government in the carrying out of this important experiment.
I have stressed the great value of the British market to our mutton and lamb export industries. There is still room for tremendous expansion of this valuable section of our export trade, and every effort should be made to secure world trade in these commodities. Attempts are now being made in the United States of America and various European countries to break down some of the trade barriers that were erected during the years of depression. Although I am a great advocate of Empire trade, it would be better for the world if economic -barriers were removed, and if we increased our trade with foreign countries. Although an empire that is strong, from the point of view of defence, has a great influence in preserving world peace, I think that an empire that trades almost wholly within its own boundaries is perhaps a danger to peace, because some countries which desire to purchase our raw materials cannot do so, as they are unable to sell to us. Therefore, I trust that our dispute with Japan will soon be amicably settled. The Government has been bitterly criticized for its action in this regard, and I am wondering to what extent the criticism is due to a desire to help the wool-growers and how much of it is caused by the anxiety of some honorable members of the Opposition to take a big stick with which to- beat the Government. As a matter of fact, I do not consider that the woolgrower is in the serious position which some honorable members would have us’ believe. I speak as a wool-grower who takes a vital and personal, as well as public, interest in this matter. I have made careful inquiries from high authorities in the wool trade in Victoria, and I am given to understand that the wool market is now from 5 per cent, to 7^ per cent, dearer than it was at this time last year. In reply to those who contend that there has been large withdrawals of wool, I am assured by the same high authority that the withdrawals are almost normal for this time of the year, and that those that have been made in Victoria, at any rate, are entirely of continental types qf wool, which would never have been bought by Japan in any case. It stands to reason that if Japanese competition now existed in the Australian market the price would Tse raised at least a little.
– By how much?
– I cannot guess how much, and the most competent, wool authority in Australia could not hazard such a guess. It is quite wrong to compare South African prices with Australian prices, because South Africa has a barter agreement with Germany, and at the present time there is in that dominion a fictitious Japanese demand. I point out that those countries which a.rc unable to buy in the South African market because of Japanese activity are probably fulfilling their requirements in Australia. I hope that honorable members, especially the honorable member himself, will remember the policy enunciated by the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clark), that the wool industry is the foundation stone upon which Australian prosperity rests, and that everything should he done to help the wool-growers to produce wool at a reasonable cost and to sell it in the best markets in the world, meaning that reasonable opportunities should be afforded to all countries to trade with Australia. I hope, therefore, the Opposition, which has done infinitely more than the present Government to shut foreign countries out of the Australian market, will learn by this dispute with
Japan that it is essential that we should endeavour to trade with all countries in the world. If that can be done, I feel certain that this best of budgets will be improved upon in the future.
.- In listening to the adulations of ministerial supporters, I feel that they are intensely satisfied with the budget which the Treasurer (Mr? Casey) has presented, but I can assure the committee that a vast majority of the Australian people are deeply disappointed with its contents. The Government claims that there has been a national recovery, but such a recovery is not reflected in the lives of the people. There are still indications of hardship and poverty, and the condition of many of the people is as distressing as it was during the height of the depression. An indication of the success or otherwise of the Government’s financial policy is to be found in the standard of living to which a majority of the people have to submit, and an examination discloses that that standard is much lower than it should be. With a succession of surpluses, the Government should have been able, not only to maintain a reasonable standard of living for the masses, but also to’ improve upon past standards. The Government prides itself on the fact that the number of unemployed persons has been reduced; but, although the percentage of persons registered as unemployed has decreased, the figures do not indicate the number of persons actually out of work. When honorable members consider the number of men who are engaged on relief or part-time work, it will be realized that the problem of unemployment is by no means solved. Furthermore, the employment of men on relief work has reacted to the detriment of another section of the community who were formerly in fulltime jobs, inasmuch as they are now compelled to share these jobs with others. This has led to a general lowering of the standard of living of those who comprise the basic wage-earners. The average standard among the wage-earners of Australia is definitely below the standard that has been set for them by industrial tribunals. An analysis of the budget reveals that there has been a definite decline of the number of tax- payers with incomes between £200 and £500. It is certain that they have noi gone on to a higher grade, because the table which shows the number of persons with taxable incomes between £501 and £1,000 also reveals a substantial decline. The conclusion I draw from these figures is that there has been a movement of the incomes of those persons on a low standard of remuneration towards an even lower one. This “ budget of national recovery “, therefore, discloses that the position of those who have favorable balances and substantial incomes has improved, while the circumstances of those on lower incomes have retrogressed. The Treasurer might well revise his assertion that there has been a general improvement of the well-being of the community.
As a refutation of that statement, I need only cite the remarks of the Minister for Health (Mr. Hughes) in regard to mal-nutrition, particularly among children, which is one of the most alarming features of our community life. That condition of affairs which is but the reflected condition that arises from the impoverishment of the lowerpaid classes who are not afforded a proper opportunity to secure for their dependants, and for their children in particular, the nutriment, care and comfort which are so essential for the development of a race of young persons who will be the future citizens of this great Commonwealth, is proof of the falsity of the Treasurer’s assertion in regard to national rehabilitation. That recovery may be held to exist in terms of figures in the sense of budget calculations, but it obviously doe3 not reveal its presence in the real life of the community. Some time ago a medical examination was held of 1,000 children in Melbourne, and the report showed that only 17 per cent, of them were considered to be free from physical defects. Admittedly, many of the defects were of a minor character - for instance, bad posture, slight evidence of rickets, malnutrition, and defective teeth accounted for a large proportion; but the figures can, nevertheless, he regarded as being far from satisfactory, and constitute a challenge to this Government to’ make some provision in order to correct what is one of the most alarming features of Australian life to-day. Unless we are prepared to maintain the physique and general condition of health, particularly of the child life of the community, posterity will, indeed, despair of the position for which we are wholly responsible, because of our neglect in this connexion. I pay a tribute to the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) for the magnificent work which he has undertaken in Melbourne in an endeavour to meet the serious situation by voluntary subscriptions towards supplementing the milk supply for necessitous children in the schools. But this situation is not confined to Melbourne. If a census were taken of every city, town and hamlet throughout Australia it would probably be found that there are children in the majority of them who are not receiving the full measure of comfort and nutriment which is so essential and desirable for their present health and for the development of a healthy race of citizens.
Another circumstance which is most necessary for providing a higher standard in the life of the Australian people is that the condition of home life shall be made more desirable, comfortable and secure. Of all the responsibilities that devolve upon any government, surely the major one is to ensure that the general housing of the citizens shall be of the highest possible standard. At the last elections one of the outstanding features of the present Government’s programme was to initiate a suitable housing policy which would not only secure to the poorer classes homes that would make a real improvement in the domestic life of the people, but also provide considerable work for the unemployed. Although this Parliament has now entered upon its second year no indication has come from the Government as to how and when it intends to devote its labours to implementing this policy, and so far we have heard nothing whatever about the promised housing scheme.
I direct attention to the attitude adopted by this Government in regard to the war service homes scheme which is associated with the housing of our returned soldiers. It appears to me that the administration of the Government has been particularly harsh and unsympathetic towards the occupants of war service homes, and when it is recognized that it affects a class of Australian citizen to whom so many promises were made, and who had the right to expect that this would form part of their repatriation, we have every justification for challenging the condition which this Government seeks to visit upon them. An analysis of the figures showing the .number of occupants of war service homes, and the original contracts which were taken up by returned soldiers for those properties, reveals a wide disparity. The number of contracts now in existence totals 27,570, the number of houses rented under the provisions of the scheme is 2,700, and 42 of the dwellings are vacant and awaiting occupiers. That makes a total of 30,312, but it will be found that the number of contracts which have been made for that number of homes is actually 42,363. I can only conclude that approximately 12,000 contracts have had to be sacrificed.
– Some of the occupants of war service homes have been evicted by the instructions of this Government.
– That is so. Many of the persons who were occupants of those homes, and who were included in the figures which I have quoted, were returned soldiers who have been evicted. In South Australia I know of definite instances of men who had actually suffered as a result of active service, being evicted from their war service homes. During the last fortnight, the Minister has been very reluctant to supply me with figures showing the total number of persons evicted from war service homes, and for this reluctance I hold the Minister-in-charge of War Service Homes (Mr. Hunter) responsible. A fortnight ago I directed a series of questions to the Minister, but only portion of them were answered. One question which T asked was, “ How many orders of eviction have been instituted by court proceedings in each State”? The answer that I received was, “The information is being obtained “. It is quite evident that those associated with the department desire to withhold this information as long as possible. I am determined that they shall be required to reveal exactly the hardship caused to many previous occupiers of war service homes. Another question that I asked was, “ How many persons in each State occupying war service homes have been requested to vacate the homes?” A number of purchaser* have not actually been evicted, but considerable pressure is being applied in an attempt to induce them to surrender their properties. Many of these persons are receiving an inadequate pension, and are thus unable to discharge their obligations to the department. Consequently, they are doubly penalized. The information sought in this question also is in the process of being obtained. There is need for a complete review of the attitude adopted by the present Government and the Parliament towards repatriation generally, including the housing of returned soldiers. The War Service Homes Act makes definite provision for the adequate housing. It is impossible to place this scheme on the same business basis as other housing schemes, because returned soldiers are not in the same position as other members of the community in their ability to earn a livelihood. The eviction from a home of any returned soldier, and, for that matter, any civilian, is a disgrace, if, by reason of unemployment and other adverse - circumstances such as have been experienced during the last five years, he is unable to discharge obligations which he undertook when his circumstances were such that he could see his way to meet them. If there is one agency which should provide adequate means for- the housing of the people, surely it is the National Government! Its obligation is not confined to those who served abroad, and by reason of that fact may enjoy the advantage of preference in employment, but embraces the whole of the people. I could quote many cases of definite hardship, but I shall merely mention one inconsistency the reason for which I challenge any honorable member to explain. I find that the War Service Homes Department was prepared to let a home at a rental of 17s. 6d. a week to a person who would not accept the obligation to purchase it, but when the widow of a returned soldier was agreeable to sign a contract for its purchase fixed the charge at 18s. 2d. a week plus rates and taxes.
– The rent is fixed according to her income.
– Can the honorable member show any justification for a charge of 18s. 2d. a week, plus rates and taxes, in the case of the widow of a returned soldier who would accept the obligation to make the property her own, compared with 17s. 6d. a week in the ease of a civilian who would not do so?
– The honorable member is not stating the case fairly.
– I am stating the case truthfully, and I am prepared to hand the relevant documents to the Minister.
– Does the rental asked include any sum on account of repayment.?
– I suppose that it does.
– It would not do so in the case of the civilian.
– Surely in his case allowance is made for depreciation and interest on the capital cost! There is no reason why he should be given an advantage over an applicant who is prepared to purchase the property. I ask the Minister if he has any satisfactory explanation to offer. I feel that a great injustice is being done. Many returned soldiers cannot be expected to complete the purchase price of the homes they have contracted to buy. If there is reason and equity in the assistance given by the Government to many interests in the community, including the wheat-growing, apple and pear, citrus, and other primary industries, with a view to maintaining in a condition of solvency those who are engaged in them, surely other sections of the community which have suffered by reason of unemployment and other disabilities have every right to expect similar consideration! The Government would do well to afford a substantial measure of relief to those who to-day are suffering as the result of prolonged unemployment and also those who have injuries sustained during war service abroad. These matters affect the real life of the people of this nation. Members of the Government pride themselves on their achievements, and foster the impression that there has been real economic recovery. I invite them to give serious consideration to the conditions to which I have directed attention, especially as they affect the child life of this country, which should be our principal care.
The Government prides itself on its desire to conserve the rights of Australian industry. I was rather interested in certain slighting references of some honorable members opposite to the Opposition’s outlook in that connexion. 60 other party in this Parliament can claim to have so consistently supported all Australian industries, and encouraged all that is Australian. The charge made by honorable members opposite that the Opposition has shown concern for foreign interests is so far from the truth that it will not be seriously entertained by those who are aware of the facts. If I were required to show that the Government had failed to give support to important Australian industries, I could draw attention to its attitude to the motor body industry and the cement industry. The former plays a valuable part in the development of this country, and the cement industry supplies an article which is essential in the’ provision of defence equipment of a non-provocative character.
– Why nonprovocative
– In adopting means of defence we should do nothing to arouse the ill will of any other nation. We should endeavour to preserve peaceful relations with all other countries, and to bring about an understanding that will be a source of mutual advantage. The Government, through its low tariff policy, has done much to place the industries to which I have referred in a position of uncertainty as to their future prospects, although they- supply essential national requirements. The figures recently supplied to the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Price) in regard to cement imports are misleading, in that they do not include the cement carried on two vessels that foundered, which adds to the substantial and increasing imports which seriously threaten to overwhelm the local industry. The protection now given to the local industry will be greatly reduced at the end. of this year, and its success will be imperilled. Cement is used largely in the construction of modern highways. Last year, when visiting the United States of America. I noted with great interest the beneficial effects of up-to-date concrete roads which provide adequate transportation and give outback settlers ready access to their markets. The Government would be well advised to adopt a more Australian outlook than it has displayed, particularly during the last two years, so that stability may be given to local industries. Preference should not be shown to overseas interests, which seem to have a special claim on the present Government.
– Those honorable members who have listened to the speech of the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Fisken) will agree that his appointment to the Australian Meat Board is an excellent one. The honorable member, has taken a great deal of interest in the meat industry for many years, and during the twelve months of his membership of the Australian Meat Board he has given to his task a considerable amount of time and thought, which has been productive of very valuable results. Recently I had an opportunity to see the Australian product exhibited in the best of our markets overseas. I spent some ten days in Smithfield Market in seeing how our meat looked on the hooks. I came back from Smithfield with two ideas regarding this subject, one of which is that during the last five years the improvement of the quality of our meat has been exceedingly good. That idea was gained, not from my own experience only, but after discussion with those who sell our meat to the housewives and the small retailers overseas. But while the improvement that has taken place in the quality of the Australian product has been considerable, our competitors have done a great deal to improve the quality of their meat. Therein lies our danger. If we are content to say, “ Here we have a lot of sheep, lambs and cattle; they are good enough to send overseas”, and take no steps to improve the quality of them, we shall not retain the proportion of the British market which we enjoy at -the present time. The Government can do a tremendous lot to assist this important industry which, in the years to come, will mean so much to this country by inducing settlement, not only in the north, but also in the southern portions of Australia. It is the duty of the Govern ment to use every means to endeavour to improve the Australian meat industry. We know that mutton and lamb, especially lamb, of the Down class is required in the British market. Anybody at the Smithfield Market who knows anything about meat will say that Australia is sending to the British market extraordinarily unequal classes of lamb. That is true also of much of our beef. The honorable member for Ballarat has told us that an enormous quantity of beef is sent overseas boned, because it is not passed by the inspectors as suitable for export in a frozen or chilled condition. The Government should take into consideration the desirability of evolving a scheme for the assistance of this important industry because its successful development in Australia will do much to settle a large number of people on the land, and to provide a considerable amount of employment in sparsely populated districts suitable for its economic’ development. I suggest to the Government that, before considering any scheme of subsidizing the importation into Australia of stud stock, it should first inquire closely into the question of pasture improvement of those parts of Australia where it is urgently needed - the fattening paddocks near the ports where cattle will be killed for export. Certain public-spirited people in Queensland at the present time, prominent among them Mr. Brice Henry, are doing much for the improvement of our pastures; but this problem is too great to be tackled by one man or by one company, and is one to which the Government must give serious consideration. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, which has already done so much in the areas of Queensland infested with prickly pear, and the work of which has repaid ten times over its cost, should be asked to undertake an inquiry into pasture improvement methods suitable for the country in the north, which we want to use for fattening paddocks. Following on that, it is necessary then to go into the question of -the importation of stud stock. Whilst Australia is neglecting the importation of stud stock, Argentina is buying up everything worth while in the United Kingdom. Breeders in Argentina are spending for one beast alone up to 5,000 guineas. Possibly honorable members do not know that, during the last five years, the average value of stud stock imported into Australia was only £178 10s. Breeders in Australia are apparently endeavouring to compete with these lower-priced animals against the progeny of stud sires purchased by breeders in Argentina costing from 2,000 to 5,000 guineas. On one or two occasions Australian breeders have paid reasonable prices for stud stock, but we want more than that. The Government could do much for the improvement of our herds by importing to a much greater extent stud stock to be placed at agricultural colleges or selected stud farms throughout the cattleraising areas, so that their progeny might raise the standard of the herds throughout the Commonwealth. Great improvement could also he achieved in the facilities afforded for moving stock from the back country to the fattening paddocks at the ports of loading. At present, cattle trains dawdle through the back country, and the stock are badly knocked about and bruised “in transit, and arrive at their destination in a much worse condition than when chey were loaded on the trains. In Argentina, stock is end-loaded on the trains, and some of them pass through the length of the train before being penned into separate coaches. If we are to compete successfully against the other meat-producing countries of the world, we must learn from our competitors, and endeavour to improve on their methods. If our cattle arrived at the fattening paddocks in an improved condition, we should, in the course of a few years, be able to share to a much greater extent in the market in Great Britain that should eventually come to us or the other dominions. Though Australia exports only 400.000 cwt. of chilled beef per annum, the United Kingdom requires approximately 8,000,000 cwt. At present, we export approximately 1,750,000 cwt. of frozen beef per annum, an amount far in excess of that exported by any other country. New Zealand exports 700,000 cwt. of frozen beef, and the rest of the world about 250,000 cwt. “We are anxious to see the day when we shall be able to chill and send overseas the whole of our surplus meat, and have it landed in better condition than at present and sold at a correspondingly better price. To do this it will be -necessary to secure more speedy transport, not necessarily around northern Australia, but possibly through the Panama Canal, because we have to compete in the markets of the world against the products of Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay, with their comparativelyshorter transport. In discussing the possibility of shipping our meat through the Panama Canal with representatives of the meat industry in London, I was informed that they saw no reason why a ship should not be laden along the Queensland coast in the course of a few days, and then sent through the Panama Canal arriving in London in a little more time than is taken by the product of South America at the present time. The Government is already rendering assistance to the importers of stud stock by paying one-third of the freight on sud! importations. Two years ago no expenditure was incurred on this account, but last year the Commonwealth provided £1,500 for this purpose, and this year a sum of £5,000 has been placed on the Estimates for expenditure on thai account. The meat industry will he worth many millions of pounds to Australia, and will afford a considerable amount of employment to our people, and do much to settle the empty spaces of the continent.
One cannot help noting when investigating this question of meat products overseas, the danger that would confront Australia as an exporting country in the event of the outbreak of hostilities in which we were involved. As a nation dependent upon its exports, we must have ever present in mind the protection of those exports while in transit. Last year our exports were valued at £108.000,000. That trade is the very life-blood of this country, and, if it should be lost, unemployment, misery, and acute distress would occur to an appalling extent in Australia. “We also have to import certain goods which cannot be made, grown, or produced in Australia. I instance, specifically, tea and jute. If we had no supplies of jute, our farmers would be in great distress year by year.
The more I saw of the conditions at present prevailing in Europe, the more certain 1 felt that Australia was taking very serious risks in not providing adequately for its own defence. Germany and Italy, as we all know, at present form a bar right across central Europe. France fears the situation so greatly that it has for some time been trying to make up for its shortage of man power by using cement as an auxiliary to defence, as suggested by the honorable, member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin). Very large quantities of cement have beer* used to establish the “Maginot” line, which runs right along the eastern frontiers of France. Belgium has been extending the “ Maginot “ line, no doubt having in view the possibility of being drawn into any European conflict that may occur. This has decided Holland to form defences as well. Even Switzerland, which we all thought to be more or less neutral, as the home of the Red Cross and the League of Nations, has, in the last year, doubled its defence vote. Switzerland has a’ population of about 5,000,000, and Australia a population of about 7,000,000 ; but the expenditure on defence by Switzerland is £16,000,000, compared with our record defence vote of £8,000,000. In eastern Europe complications are occurring with the result that ententes of one kind and another are being formed. Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Rumania are working together; but Poland, standing as a bar between that country and Russia, is having its own little trouble with Germany. The whole situation is such that a stupid person could, at any time, by ill-considered or foolish action, cause a conflagration in Europe. If that occurred, Australia could not remain neutral.
At present our defences are quite inadequate. I have already suggested that, if war should occur, great damage might immediately be done to our overseas trade. I have not attempted to discuss neutrality, for neutrality is virtually an impossibility nowadays. Immediately a war occured ships, and therefore lives, would inevitably be lost, and countries which might desire to remain neutral would, without doubt, be drawn into the conflict. For the protection of our overseas trade, we must have some naval forces either as part of the British fleet or otherwise, to police our overseas trade and mercantile marine. It is necessary, too, that Australia should have some ports with adequate defences to permit of ships refuelling, revictualling and refitting, and for our freight ships to have a haven of refuge. The coastal defences of Australia are still inadequate, although they have been improved somewhat recently. It is particularly desirable tl at, in important centres like Newcastle and Sydney, defence works should be established to resist bombardment and assault.
An obligation rests’ upon every one of m us to do all in our power to defend our country; but a particular responsibility rests upon this Parliament to see that nothing is left undone that can be done for that end. At present 35,000 men are regarded as the maximum number of troops required in Australia on a peacetime basis, but an investigation would show that a considerable proportion of that 35,000 would be warrant officers and noncommissioned officers, who would be needed as the basis for expansion if hostilities should occur. It must be realized that hostilities occur much more suddenly nowadays than formerly, . and we therefore need to have a force available which would be adequate to meet an emergency if it should arise. I do not believe that our reasonable requirements are being met by the training of 35,000 in our defence forces.
Concurrently with such training as is now going on, we should increase our air force. It is unfortunate that, on account of difficulties overseas, the greatest trouble is being experienced in obtaining promptly the requisite number of aeroplanes for the defence of Australia. I am, therefore, of the opinion that we should go to great lengths to establish aircraft factories throughout Australia. At the same time we should be improving flying conditions throughout the Commonwealth. Our aerodromes and ground organization should be the very best possible in order that those men who are prepared to sacrifice their lives for the defence of their country, if the necessity arises, should be given every chance to help themselves. Although something is being done at present to improve our defences, we should go a great deal further than the Government has proposed.
Defence should be a non-party subject. I feel this so intensely that I should like to see the Council of Defence, which is the senior advisory defence body in the Commonwealth, co-opt as members the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition .in order that they may be kept fully informed on ail the serious subjects that come before the council for consideration. As defence is a non-party subject, I should also like to see established a standing committee on defence on which all parties in this Parliament would be represented, so that the Governmnent could, at any time, ascertain the views of the representatives of the various parties in Parliament on any subject vitally affecting our defence programme and outlook.
.- Every Government supporter who has spoken in this debate has congratulated the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) upon the budget. I begin to wonder, in fact, whether honorable gentlemen opposite have been instructed to do so, I should have been glad to offer my congratulations too had they been justified, but when I remember that several members of the present Government who were sitting in opposition in 1931, when curtailments were made in our social services, promised that complete restorations would be made immediately the finances of the country justified it, I find it impossible to offer the Government any congratulations. Large surpluses have been at the disposal of the Ministry for several years, but while it has granted substantial remissions of taxation, principally to people with large incomes, it has only felt able to increase invalid and ld-age pensions by ls. a week. In mv opinion the pension should have been raised to even more than 20s. a week. A degree of restoration has also been made in respect of pensions of dependants of returned soldiers, but unfortunately the situation is still far from satisfactory. It is most difficult in these days to obtain a pension for a returned man or the dependants of a returned man, although the most lavish promises were made to the men of Australia to encourage them to enlist. Unhappily, in consequence nf the effects of gas and tuberculosis, many ex-soldiers are, to-day, unable to work as hard as men not subject to these disabilities. Men who left their regiments on their return from the front believing that their health was entirely satisfactory have found to their sorrow that that was not the case. The situation is so serious that the Government should oblige every returned soldier to undergo a medical examination to ascertain the state of his health. The Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Hughes) no doubt gives careful consideration to all the claims that are submitted to him, but he is bound to administer the law as he finds it. The result is that it is as unlikely to-day that a new applicant will receive a pension as it is that an ordinary investor will win a Tattersalls sweep. I believe that if a returned man be knocked down by a motor car in the street he may be granted a pension, for the accident might easily be due to more or less dormant war disabilities. Such a man might not have been able to collect his thoughts as well as he could have done if he had not gone to the war. He probably would be suffering from some nervous disorder such as shell shock. If he was good enough to give his body to the nation in its time of extremity, the nation should be good enough to stand behind him on his return. The aim of the Labour party has always been to have justice done to the returned soldiers, and we shall continue to fight for them.
I agree with the statement of the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. E. F. Harrison) that Australia needs more recruits for home defence. Every ‘young man, and every man who is able to fight for his country should be trained to defend it. I do not believe, however, in the defence policy of this Government. H has built a naval sloop at the Cockatoo Island Dockyard. The expenditure on that work will confer benefit on the people of New South Wales. Munitions factories have been established at Maribyrnong in Victoria. Many millions of pounds have been, and are being spent on defence, but the great bulk is expended on the mainland. Tasmania is left out of consideration. Nothing practicable has been, done there in the matter of defence. I.f the Government were sincere in its wish to assist the smaller States, it would include Tasmania in the defence measures. It has proposed a referendum seeking an extension of the powers of the Commonwealth, but in view of the treatment meted out to the smaller States, 1 doubt whether the Government can expect a favorable vote. If the people of the smaller States were asked to vote on secession to-morrow, the VOting, would be two to one in favour of it. for the reason that they are not getting a fair deal. I considerthat Australia already has a navy sufficient for the defence of its shores, and, if the Government sincerely believed in its policy for the protection of this country, it would establish a standing army in each of the State capitals, and at every other vulnerable point. The people of Australia are not aggressors, and do not desire to send troops abroad. Therefore, what need have we of a navy beyond that which we already have? It is adequate to police the waters of Australia. If we were aggressors and intended to fight in other countries, we should need a large navy. But as we are not, and as our sole need is adequate home defence, we concentrate on the creation of a properly equipped standing army. The Minister for Defence (Sir Archdale Parkhill) would be well advised to give that matter his consideration. If Great Britain is at war, and needs our assistance in the shape of food products, metals and other commodities, it would be its duty to convoy those commodities overseas. It would also be its duty to convoy any troopships. A country of the area and coastline of Australia, with a population of only 7,000,000 persons should not waste more money on building warships to be sent out of Australia to fight the battles of other countries. The Government should distribute defence expenditure equally, or at least on a proportionate basis, anions the States. Tasmania, for instance, should have some industries that are either subsidized or conducted by the Commonwealth. It would be an easy matter to establish munition factories in Tasmania, which has all the minerals necessary, cheap hydro-electric power, and harbours second to none in the world. As a matter of fact, Tasmania possesses all the facilities necessary for manufacture and is also blessed with one of the beat climates in the world for the workers. But an unsympathetic Commonwealth Government has given no consideration at all to Tasmania, because it happens to be situated a few miles south of the larger States of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland.
The whaling industry has been developed by foreign countries. About ten years ago some Norwegians established a base at Hobart for a fleet of whaling vessels, consisting of one 12,000-ton depot ship and five small feeder boats. From Hobart they went to Antarctica and in one season captured sufficient whales to provide a profit after recouping themselves for their initial expenditure. Hobart is one of the nearest possible bases to the Antarctic whaling field, and the Commonwealth Government should see that the industry is developed for the benefit of Australia. It should also make Hobart the base, because Tasmania has had established in it very few industries, although its facilities are superior to those in the other States. At the present time several Japanese whaling vessels are exploiting the Antarctic seas. The depot ship of 20,000 tons is accompanied by a number of feeder boats. The Japanese are reaping the riches of the Antarctic at the expense of this country. In this matter Australia is standing still. It is taking no notice of the foreign exploitation of its heritage, and is in danger of not entering the field until too late. I consider that whaling is one of the industries which the Commonwealth Government could assist. It could also help Tasmania by using the Derwent River as the base for whaling operations.
I have listened with keen interest to the references that have been made in this debate to deliveries of mails in Australia. In many districts in Tasmania the deliveries have not improved for the last 30 years. In one part of the State, 30 years ago, two deliveries daily were made by horse wagon, at a cost to the Government of between £1,300 and £1,400 a year. The deliveries to-day are being made by motor vehicles at a cost of £700 or £800 a year. Yet, although the cost has been halved, the deliveries are no better to-day than they were 25, 30 or 40 years ago. It is time the Government looked into this matter of mail deliveries.
One honorable member on this side of the House mentioned unofficial post offices. The payments made to unofficial postmasters were reduced during the depression, in some instances by £26 a year; the allowances have never been restored, although it is claimed that the salaries of all the lower-paid persons in Australia in the employment of the Commonwealth Government have been restored. Those in charge of these allowance post offices work long hours. Some of them own the premises on which the official business is conducted, and although they are supposed to observe closing hours, business can be transacted at any hour on payment of a small “ opening “ fee; many of the postmasters are prepared at all hours of the night when people come into the villages to give them their mail. I trust that the reductions effected at the time of the depression will be restored.
Several honorable members have spoken of the great benefit of the mining industry to Australia, and I am sure that the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson) has a great deal of interest in this industry. He has had many requests from all over Australia, especially from the Northern Territory, for assistance. I have no fault to find with what has been done; the Minister cannot do too much to assist the persons engaged in gold-mining. But there are other parts of the country where assistance could be given. I refer particularly to the south-west of Tasmania. There is in that district, a large area that has never been prospected to any great extent. Many square miles of it have never been trodden by white men. Yet several honorable members refer to Tasmania as being a “ speck “. Only a few years ago a ship was wrecked on the south-west coast of Tasmania, and the sole survivor waa on the beaches there for more than eight months before he was found. That will give some idea of the isolated nature of the country. South-western Tasmania is one part where money could well bo expended in the development of the mining industry. It is a mountainous and highly mineralized area. One man on his return from the war accompanied his father to the district, and together they obtained £1,400 worth of osmiridium on the beach. The sluice boxes were washed away during a heavy gale. Gold, tin and .other metals exist in fairly large quantities. One prospector subsequently found another osmiridium field which gave employment to 1,000 men in 1926. “Without government assistance prospectors are unable to examine this country and it may be that vast mineral wealth remains unrevealed in consequence. A good deal has been said during this debate about our unemployed youths. Rather than pay to them doles, it would be better to provide them with full time work in searching for minerals, because should success attend their efforts and further valuable deposits be discovered, employment would be found for thousands of workers. Tasmania contains one of the largest copper mines in the world. Mount Bischoff has been one of the world’s richest tin mines. Although the present State Government has been in office for only about two years, it has, during that period, placed an almost bankrupt State in a sound financial position, and has practically abolished unemployment. So great is the confidence in the present administration in Tasmania that at the present time there are three or four large eight-storied buildings in course of construction in Hobart alone. Yet that Government has practically to fight the Commonwealth Government in order to obtain financial assistance.
– The Commonwealth has treated Tasmania well.
– I agree that the good work being performed by the Government of Tasmania has been recognized by the Commonwealth Treasurer. Although sadly neglected and handicapped as a member of the federation, Tasmania is a State with great possibilities and is deserving of every assistance.
Whilst Australian forests generally are being depleted of timber, Tasmania is pursuing a comprehensive afforestation policy. Thousands of acres of land are being planted with pines and, in addition, the State’s wonderful natural forests are being well cared for. The conditions as to rainfall, soil and atmosphere are such that the growth of the trees exceeds that of timber in any other part of the world. In country which 30 years ago was denuded of milling timber saw mills are again- at work. Forest lands require proper supervision in order to prevent their destruction by bush fires and various pests. I know that the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson) is giving consideration to afforestation problems, and I assure him of the support of honorable members on this side of the House for any sound scheme that he may bring forward. When in New York last year I met Mr. Dow, Australia’s Trade Com: missioner in the United States of America.
– He is doing a good job.
– I agree with the honorable member, and I regret that more money is not made available to him, for it would be well expended. While in New York I was asked by a lumber merchant named Pearson to inspect some walnut logs which his firm had obtained from Queensland. I was told that I could have two or three of the logs if I would pay the freight necessary to take them hack to Australia, and I was ashamed to have to admit that they were of practically no use. They were riddled by grubs, and full of knots. I am glad to say that not all of the timber obtained from Australia was of that description. Representatives of the firm explained that they had not asked me to inspect the inferior logs with a view to a reduction of the price. They stated their willingness to pay a good price for good timber, and added that they could dispose of 20 times as much as they were getting if the quality were right, because of the high value of Australian timbers for making veneers. Forests which produce timber of that quality should have been preserved; yet in order to make room for settlers, large areas of land were denuded of trees and the valuable timber they contained was burned in heaps. In order to grow less valuable crops, timber which would have realized a high price in ether parts of the world was destroyed. Unfortunately, that experience has been general throughout Aus tralia. In order to encourage settlement, valuable native forests have been sacrificed. Moreover, settlement has led to bush fires, and a consequent deterioration of the timber, because trees which are bruised or injured are much more susceptible to pests. I trust that the Government will assist the smaller States to develop their timber resources. A proper policy of afforestation would enable Australian forests to supply this country with its timber requirements for many years.
– In participating in the budget debate I have no diffidence about referring to the proposed reorganization of the administration of the Northern Territory, to which the Prime Minister referred this afternoon. In what I have to say to-night I am . actuated by a regard for the interests of the territory, as well as for the honour of this House. Although it is common property that an honora.ble member of this House is to be appointed Administrator of the Northern Territory, the Government has not been sufficiently courteous to toll nlf - the member for the area which he will control - of its intention. I had to obtain the information second-hand from a rank-and-file member, who is not directly interested in the Northern Territory. I pass over the fact that the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Abbott), who, it is said, has been chosen to administer the Northern Territory, has no experience of either the tropics or administration. I regret that the honorable member is not present. Notwithstanding my personal regard for him, I do not think that he has the personality to make him a suitable administrator of the Northern Territory.
– Is the honorable member looking for another Hitler?
– In saying that, I make no reflection on the honorable gentleman; but I stress that, for some months, he has been the mouthpiece of a group of men who have been trying to borrow a large sum of money from the Government to forward a scheme for their own profit on the Barkly Tableland. The honorable member for Gwydir, moreover, is the author of a pamphlet, in relation to that scheme, which contains statement.1 intended to induce the Government to lend money. With many of those statements, I, as a staff surveyor who recently classified and valued, as a senior resumptions officer, the best stations on the tableland and in the adjoining country, profoundly disagree, regarding them merely as salesman’s talk. In my opinion, it is most improper that the Government should appoint as Administrator one who has been the mouthpiece of a group of individuals who seek to gain an advantage from the Government. In view of his connexion with these concerns, I ask how the honorable member for Gwydir can conscientiously accept the position, and claim not to be biased in favour of those pastoralists and speculators whose interests he has served. For the honour of this Parliament, I ask whether he will not withdraw his application for the position, and, if not, whether the Government will consider the advisability of asking him to do so. The appointment of the honorable member for Gwydir as Administrator of the Northern Territory was rumoured some months ago, when I was in my electorate, and, from the general protest which I heard, I know that his appointment will be thoroughly unpopular throughout the territory. I make these remarks quite impersonally. In any case, since Mr. Payne, chairman of the Queensland Land Administration Board, is to inquire into the affairs of the Northern Territory next year, the appointment of an Administrator might well be left till after his recommendations have been received, as I have already suggested to the Minister by letter. If, however, an appointment is to be made now, the appointee should certainly be a man experienced in tropical administration, and above the suspicion - even the groundless suspicion - of having a personal interest to serve in the territory which he will be called upon to govern. If I can assist to find such a man, either inside or outside the territory, I shall gladly do so.
– What are the personal interests to which the honorable member refers ?
– I trust that this matter will be regarded as above party, for it seems to me that the reputation of this
Parliament is involved in this appointment.
– What ground has the honorable member for saying, that ?
– The prospectus which I hold in my hand is sufficient to bar the honorable member for Gwydir from the appointment.
– Does the prospectus indicate that he is personally interested ?
– I do not say or believe that he is personally interested; but he is the mouthpiece of others who are personally interested. The Administrator of the territory should be above groundless suspicion.
– The term “personally interested “ may have another significance.
– I am dealing with this matter in an entirely impersonal way.
I congratulate the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Fisken) upon his valuable and informative speech regarding the meat export trade. I am concerned at the moment with the local distribution of our second-class meat, which is wholesome and good, but is just below the standard required for chilling. At the present time, most of this meat is sent overseas, and sold by the producers for as low as Id. per lb. A profit is made on it, but not by the producer. It should be possible so to organize the local market that it could absorb this second-grade meat at a price that would pay the producer. I have here a copy of an address which was recently broadcast by Mr. Edmund Burke, chairman of the Newcastle Abattoir Board. I have met this gentleman, and know’ him to be well acquainted with his subject. The address is called Rural Problems in Argentina; some of the problems confronting the producers there are our problems also. In the course of his address, he pointed out how the meat producers of Empire countries have benefited from the Ottawa agreement. I agree with him in that, and am glad to make the admission, because I was one who at first criticized the Ottawa agreement because it failed at the time to give us all we had hoped from it. Mr. Burke points out how the pastoralists of Argentina are trying to obtain control of their own product. We have long regarded the meatexporters of Argentina as our model in regard to chilled beef, and it now appears that we can look to the producers there to teach us something about the control of home markets as well. This is what Mr. Burke said in reference to Argentina -
The pastoralists freely assert that the prices offering are much lower than they would be if the cattle men were in ft stronger position in dealing with the highly organized refrigerating industry. However, partly arising out of propaganda carried on. by these interests, the Argentine Government, in May, 1032, set up a National Meat Commission with the object of supervising the meat industry. A bill drafted by the commission for the protection of the “livestock industry was adopted by the Government and became law in September, 11)33. It is a most interesting document to pastoralists. The principal provisions are that control of the meat trades should be exercised by an independent mixed body, composed of producers and State officials. This body proposes the establishment of a national abattoirs, and will endeavour to eliminate middlemen, aud encourage the formation of co-operative societies, in the first instance for the sale of meat, and subsequently for the industrial utilization of meat and by-products. Naturally, considerable resentment has been expressed by the refrigerating interests against these provisions.
The Australian meat board has an important work to do in the direction of organizing the local market, and particularly in obtaining satisfactory prices for that part of our production which is just below chilling standard. 1 do not propose to deal at length with the pig industry, although I am a producer myselft, but I wish to point out an anomaly in regard to the sale of the heavier grades of bacon pigs. We all know that the average weight of porker* is SO lb., whilst that of bacon pigs is 120 lb., hut the bacon factories will take pigs up to 160 lb. The point is, however, that, though they will take the heavier pigs, which are regarded as quite suitable for bacon, they will not pay any more for them than for pigs of only 120 lb. weight. po that the producer does not get the benefit of the extra 4.0 lb. That is not right. He should be paid for the extra weight instead of having to make a present of it to the factory.
I urge upon the Government the need for doing everything possible to foster the live cattle trade between the Northern
Territory and Singapore. The Administrator and the Lauds Department are anxious to develop this trade, and recently a man who visited Singapore reported most favorably upon the prospects. The people of Singapore are very anxious to obtain our cattle, and would be ready to receive consignments in November if the organization were complete and a boat available. I have approached the Minister for the Interior on the subject, but have been able to obtain a grant of only £100 for the purpose of developing this trade, although £2,000 was made available to enable an anthropologist to study the aborigines in Arnheim Land. The money would have been much better spent in developing the cattle trade. I suggest that the Government should take .steps to have a steamer of 5,000 or 7,000 tons made available for the carrying of live cattle from Darwin to Singapore. If we do not act quickly we may lose this trade for ever.
The honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Fisken) mentioned the desirability of developing harbours in the north. It is true that we have few natural port* north of Gladstone, but there are many rivers which, without blasting and by dredging alone could be made navigable for considerable distances. . If ports were developed at suitable points, cattle could be shipped from them instead of having to be brought across the continent at great expense, as at present. A dredge should be procured and kept permanently in the north on this work.
Nature has done much for us in Australia, but this is one instance in which we must do something to help ourselves.
Transport costs are one of the greatest obstacles to development in the north, but this difficulty could be greatly minimized if the Commonwealth Oil Refineries would make arrangements to transport petrol to ports in the north of Australia in tankers of suitable size for entering shallow waters. The petrol could be brought out in large tankers, and then transferred into the smaller ones for distribution to various points. At the present time, petrol which can be landed at Brisbane for 6d. a. gallon - disregarding the Commonwealth duty - becomes a very expensive commodity by the time it has been trans- ported by rail to the hinterland. So much is this the case, that even the city users of petrol are saddled with some of the cost, as otherwise the price in the interior would be utterly prohibitive.
Some reference has already been made during the course of this debate to the introduction of suitable grasses into the interior of Australia. I have in mind one gras3 found in the north, known as Townsville lucerne, which has been proved to be almost as rich in protein as is ordinary lucerne. It is thriving without cultivation around Darwin, even on the despised laterite soils that will some day have their real value recognized because of their physical condition. It has been found that it is even choking out spear grass, which, has little nutritive value except when it springs up in the rainy season after a burn. Then there is buffel grass, which I first discovered when doing survey work in the vicinity of Tea-tree “Well in Central Australia. It is a native of the Punjab, and was brought to Australia by the camel drivers in their camel packs years ago. It is of great value in areas subject to erosion, and for sandy soil generally because it sends out under the sand, shoots which spring up a yard away. Et is an excellent drought resister and holds the sand together, thus preventing erosion and drift. I suggest that the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research should be asked to investigate the possibilities of this grass. In 1931 I brought specimens of it with me to Brisbane where it was classified by the noted Government botanist, Mr. White. He conveyed the results of his examination to me after communicating with the representative of Dalgety and Company Limited, at Port Hedland, who gave the assurance that the grass was excellent feed for both sheep and cattle. It is excellent for sheep and cattle and should be propagated, particularly in the light, sandy, arid areas, because it not only binds the soil, but makes an excellent fodder. Another grass, phalaris tuberosa, should be propagated in our coastal areas p through New South Wales to Queensland. To-day, sufficient attention is not being given to this grass. If we studied these grasses and utilized them in producing better beef, thus creating greater settlement and more employment through the expansion of primary industries we would reap incalculable economic benefits. Colonel White, of Armidale, is a pioneer of phalaris tuberosa. I also grow it on my property at Kingaroy and it is doing well although the district i3 situated at an altitude of 2000 feet and has an annual rainfall of 30 inches. I have also examined specimens of it on the property of the honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Frederick Stewart). I urge the Government to undertake an investigation in order to see how far north this grass can be utilized in improving and extending existing grazing areas. I believe that it could be propagated as far north as Rockhampton and possibly further to a latitude where it would give way to Townsville lucerne, which grows luxuriantly during the monsoons, from November and December, and dies off about June. Even when dry it still retains its nutritive qualities, and poultry also thrive on it. Careful investigation should be made of the possibilities not only of these two fodder plants, but also of the Tully River grass of the Panicum sp., mentioned by the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Fisken), and the Buffel grass, to which I have previously referred. An agrostologist from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research should be appointed to find out in what areas each of these plants could best be grown, so that the grazing areas of the far north and the eastern seaboard, where the grasses at present grown are rather sour, could be clothed with sweeter pastures and thus given a greater carrying capacity
I cannot close my speech without referring to the mining industry in the Northern Territory. I remind the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson) that work of national importance requires to be done at Tennant’s Creek and Pine Creek. I have repeatedly endeavoured to show that the mining industry in that region has been neglected. This neglect has not been deliberate on the part of the Minister but has been due rather to the fact that he has not. quite realized the situation. I shall not now go into detail concerning the requirements of this field as a representative of the miners waited upon the Minister to-day and placed the needs of the district before him in a similar manner to that continuously adopted by myself. The geological formation at Tennant’s Creek has baffled all our geologists. Each of those who has visited the field, including Dr. Woolnough, has been obliged to change his view on this matter. Miners on the field to-day request that a qualified mining engineer make a thorough investigation of the formation of the field. Gold occurrences at Tennant’s Creek extend over an area of 60 miles by 30 miles. This whole area is faulted aud thrown with the result that gold is found in narrow and wide channels and lenses, going down deep in specular iron, but the actual method of occurrence of the gold has not yet been solved. It has been found to penetrate this iron, giving values of 10 ozs., specimen stone, and then to be lost again. To obviate unnecessary work it is essential for the miners to know in what way the gold impregnated channels and faults twist and turn, and that information can be procured only through an investigation by a mining engineer of world standing, having at his disposal the necessary funds and plant for sinking, crosscutting, and testing at depth. The difficulty is that whilst numerous surface shows exist they cannot be explored to any depth by the working miners. A mining engineer should be despatched to the field to carry out this job in order to ensure that this area will no longer be toyed with, but will be recognized as worthy of development in the national interests.
.- I join with other honorable members in congratulating the Government on its excellent budget, and I do so despite the fact that it has been scorned to a certain extent -by honorable members opposite, possibly for the reason merely that they are in Opposition. I congratulate it particularly on its remissions of taxes. Taxation relief was mentioned in the early days of this Government’s regime by the right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page), who suggested that at least £20,000,000 of taxes should be remitted. At that time, in the midst of the depression, such a proposal appeared to call for a miracle. In the interim, however, £15,500,000 of taxes have been remitted by Commonwealth governments, whilst £8,500,000 have been remitted by the States, New South Wales contributing £6,000,000 towards the latter amount. These figures emphasize the assistance given to the people of this country in recent years by the lifting from their shoulders of burdens which they were unable to bear. Furthermore, the fact that it has been possible to remit such large amounts of taxes reveals how excessive was taxation previously. This relief has resulted in much money being put back into industry, stimulating employment and creating purchasing power which otherwise would be lost to both producers and consumers. Certain honorable members have advocated that more money should be diverted from the Federal Government to the States. I do not agree with that view. I point out that much of the expenditure of loan money, which was attributed to the recklessness and wastefulness of the BrucePage Government, was in reality expended by the States. These governments expended £20S,000,000 of loan money, whilst the amount expended by the BrucePage Government was only approximately £13,500,000. At the same time, the latter Government reduced the public debt by approximately £40,000,000. People are apt to overlook facts such as these, and to tax governments with sins of which they were not guilty. I congratulate the Government on the assistance it has given to every form of industry, and to every section of the community. Certain honorable members have asked why it has not restored the old-age and invalid pension to the former amount of £1 a week. The answer is that, having regard to the cost of living to-day, as revealed in the index figures, the present pension of 19s. a week represents the greatest amount of money in terms of purchasing power which the pensioners have ever received, and if equal to 23s. 6d. in pre-depression days. Every section of the community has been assisted by this Government which has carried out a noble work in a businesslike manner.
I draw attention to the advocacy by “ the golden-voiced member for Adelaide “ - as the newspapers describe him - that. the gold-fields of Central Australia should be developed. I had the privilege of accompanying the ministerial party which visited Central Australia last year, and I was enabled to realize the potentialities of that area which in the past had been regarded as something of a desert. I saw the conditions under which the people worked at that time, and I believe that more has been done in that, area since the visit of the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson) than had previously been done in the territory by either the State Government of South Australia or previous Federal Governments during the last 70 years. The conditions on the occasion of our visit were appalling. The areas were badly in need of water supplies, public buildings, schools and administrative facilities. But under the capable and sympathetic supervision of the Minister, most of these needs have been attended to since his return to Canberra. The honorable member for Adelaide, who, I understand, was once engaged in mining operations in Western Australia, knows the conditions existing at Tennant’s Creek and has brought under the notice of the authorities the work which should be done if that mining field is to be developed. I congratulate the honorable member upon the strenuous efforts he has made in this direction, and I trust that before long further improvements will be made so that the mining operations in that locality will develop. The honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Fisken) referred to the necessity for greater transport facilities to enable the meat supplies from Northern Australia to be handled more efficiently. When in Northern Australia we were informed of the conditions militating against the production of first class chilled meat, and I trust that before long the Minister will endeavour to provide better transport facilities and a natural outlet for the cattle grown in the north. It should be practicable for the Commonwealth, possibly in co-operation with the Western Australian Government, to construct a railway from Wyndham through the Kimberley Ranges, and in that way to tap a portion of the Barkly Tableland. A line could also be constructed from a point opposite Vanderlin’s Island to the other extremity of the Tableland. It has been said that before the Northern Territory can be developed effectively it will be necessary to complete the construction of the north-south railway so that the northern cattle may be trucked south. If that were done they would be brought into- competition with those produced in the south. That is inadvisable; the cattle grown in the north should find an outlet from a northern port. When there is an abundance of grass the cattle could be sent from the north to glut the southern markets, to the detriment of southern producers.
– The northern cattle producers do not want that.
– Perhaps not, but there is a possibility of that being done. The cattle .producers urgently require improved transport facilities to enable them to find an outlet for their products in the markets of the world. The honorable member for Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) realizes the potentialities of the territory which he represents and I congratulate him on his able advocacy of its interests. Unfortunately, although he is allowed to express his opinion on matters brought before the House he is not entitled to vote. That disability should be removed. The honorable member for Ballarat and the honorable member for the Northern Territory urged the cultivation of suitable grasses in Northern Australia, particularly phalaris tuberosa, which has proved suitable in practically every country in which it has been grown. When, we went through the Northern Territory we saw country on the Ord and Victoria Rivers capable of producing good lucerne crops, and although there are persons who say that lucerne will not grow in some countries, wise men have said that the only country on which lucerne will not grow is that ‘on which it has not been planted. Other fodder plants such as subterranean clover have never been experimented with extensively in that country. I earnestly suggest that further tests be made, because I believe that the seed will germinate satisfactorily and produce good pasturage, particularly on fertile soils subject to heavy falls of rain during the wet season which extends from the end of October until possibly May. In inspecting the meat works at Wyndham, it was distressing to find that only a few carcasses of beef can be ‘branded as first-class Australian meat, the balance being shipped as boneless beef or used for local consumption. There are great possibilities in Northern Australia if proper consideration be given to. the needs of the settlers, and a determined attempt made to develop that vast territory on a national basis. Possibly those honorable members who represent metropolitan constituencies do not regard the development of Northern Australia as of much importance; but I appeal to them to support the agitation now being made for a more extensive development of the Northern Territory, in order to increase its population and enable it to add to the national wealth.
Although I believe that the Postal Department is endeavouring to provide the people with adequate facilities, certain officers in the department are notgiving to the public the service to which they are entitled. Other factors require special consideration, and particularly the lack of interest taken by inspectors in the conditions under which many of their subordinates live. I have known inspectors to say that their responsibility was only to see whether the offices were suitable, the service satisfactory, and that they were not expected to inquire into the conditions under which postal employees lived. The members of this Parliament have to act as intermediaries between the electors and the Government, and are as interested in the welfare of the employees as they are in the service provided. I know of an inspector who said that political influence would not have any effect; but, when Mr. Brown, Director-General of Posts and Telegraphs visited the place, he realized that it was not a matter of political influence, but of justice to* the employees.
I join with other honorable members in congratulating the Government upon its administration and the businesslike manner in which it has conducted the affairs of the Commonwealth.
– I do not intend to deal with the various subjects covered by the budget, because I discussed several important proposals of the Government when the Works Esti mates were under consideration. I propose to deal more particularly with the subject of industrial arbitration, which is of importance to all parties in Australia, and should be approached free from party political considerations. Se far as I can see, in raising this issue there is no personal or party axe to grind; we are merely concerned to benefit the people of the Commonwealth by securing uniformity in industrial matters. Many avoid the subject because they recall what occurred when Mr. Bruce’s arbitration proposal was rejected. Mr Bruce was criticized for the action he took, but he was right in one thing; he perceived only too clearly that, so long as a dual system of arbitration operates, serious difficulties will arise and all sorts of internal squabbles are inevitable. The mistake which that right honorable gentleman made, if I may presume to say so, was in suggesting that the Federal Government should vacate the field of arbitration, and leave it entirely to the States. Had Mr. Bruce advocated that the Commonwealth should exercise full arbitration authority, with the assistance of minor industrial tribunals, he would have received the support of the people. Under the present system, arbitration can be used as an instrument to pit one State against another, or a State against the Commonwealth, or vice versa. At present, owing to the multiplicity of awards, the people of Australia hardly know where they stand. We have not only a dual arbitration system, but also overlapping of Commonwealth” and State awards, and, in addition, clashing awards by different State tribunals. We have a medley of arbitration courts, wage boards and industrial tribunals, all doing similar work, lacking co-ordination and taking no cognizance of what is happening across the borders. Action is taken by these tribunals in one State regardless of what is happening in other States. If ever there was a case for federal arbitration action it is in the fixing of wages and conditions in industry throughout Australia. Certain industrial condition* which exist in New South Wales differ entirely from those prevailing in Victoria and Queensland, and, superimposed upon those, there may be conditions which do not bind the Commonwealth. I have some knowledge of the difficulties which are hampering industry and of the irritation created by this dual system. The present system is really more a triangular than a dual system, as there is not only an overlapping of Federal and State awards, but also an overlapping of different State tribunals. In these circumstances we have a plain duty to perform, and it is not to our credit that we should have allowed the present unsatisfactory state of affairs to have continued for so long. I do not intend to weary the committee with a long recital of incidents which have occurred in the history of industrial arbitration, or to show the chaos which has arisen; my purpose will be served if I quote from an article published recently in the Sydney Morning Herald -
Om: cannot find any better means of illustrating the undesirability of a dual system of arbitration than by reference to certain statements made from time to time by judges of the Commonwealth and State Arbitration Courts. In the carters and drivers case iu 1917 Mr. Justice Powers said -
I have never had a case in which employers have had greater cause to complain of the effect of Federal and State arbitration awards operating on the same industry, fixing different sets of conditions of work, and hours of labour, and wages awarded on different basic and other rates.
Again, in 1920, when dealing with an application to restrain the Queensland Industrial Court from determining a certain dispute, Mr. Justice Higgins stated -
This ease puts in a glaring light the inconvenience and danger of the constitutional position. Here are two tribunals - one constituted by the Commonwealth and one constituted by a State - handling the fame subject matters independently as if the other tribunal did not exist. There is no co-ordination, no interdependence between the courts, and the disputants are only too apt to treat the courts as rival shops. This position involves grave danger to industrial peace, and to the continuity of operations in industries. But 1 cannot see how the position can be avoided without a change of the Constitution.
From the foregoing remarks one may see that His Honour regarded the position as serious, and this viewpoint was also adopted by Mr. Deputy President Hewitson, in the South Australian Brassworkers’ Board case in 1924, when he said -
There are two Commonwealth awards operating in the same field as the determination. The resulting complications are chaotic. If it were desired to design such a situation it might be conceived by the disordered mental efforts of a commission of lunatics. Not only are there two living wage rates arrived at by different methods and different authorities, the very bases of the two jurisdictions also differ.
Much of the comment contained in the foregoing remarks of the South Australian position twelve years ago, is applicable to New South Wales to-day where we have a federal basic wage declared quarterly upon the basis of man, wife, and two children, whereas an entirely separate State living wage is determined half-yearly upon the basis of man, wife, and one child.
Is it to be wondered at that other countries regard our arbitration system as a subject for mirth? Those of us who know the position well, regard it as one of tragedy. We pride ourselves upon being foremost in the industrialpolitical field. It is true that in years gone by we gave a lead to other nations in this respect. To-day, however, we lag behind them in our social and industrial legislation. For this, our cumbersome, conflicting, and confusing arbitration methods are largely to blame. If the position be righted in that respect, we shall find that the rest will follow.
Latterly there has been much talk iu regard to the institution of a 40-hour week in industry in Australia. The honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Frederick Stewart) was sent to the International Labour Conference at Geneva as the representative of the Commonwealth. Government with the instruction that he should support a proposal for a 40-hour week in industry. I have read the speech which the honorable member made at the conference in favour of that proposal, and can say that no delegate supported it more strongly or enthusiastically. Some of the delegates opposed it on the ground that nothing could be done unless all countries were in agreement, and it was hopeless to expect unanimity. The statement was also made that in any case the application of the proposal would be impracticable because of differing standards of living and disparity of conditions in dear-labour and cheap-labour countries. It has been suggested that the principle should be adopted in Australia irrespective of what attitude might be adopted by other countries, in the same way as other social and industrial reforms were instituted years ago. [Quorum formed.] The last conference of the New South Wales branch of the United Australia Party, held in Sydney, passed a resolution in favour of a 40-hour week, lt is also known that the Commonwealth. Government proposed to conduct an inquiry into the matter. Before this reform can be effected, however, we must first put our arbitration house in order. The division of opinion in Australia is as great as that which exists among the different countries of the world. In New South Wale3, there is one law on the subject of hours - if it can be so regarded in view of the different States and Federal awards - and in Victoria there is another. Each State has its own ideas, and these frequently vary according to the nature of the industry for which an award is made. Without unanimity and uniformity, a shorter working week cannot be successfully introduced in Australia. With one State working 40 hours, another 44 hours, and a third 48 hours, disaster would overtake industry. I am concerned, not about what other countries are doing, but merely about the conditions that exist in Australia. Surely the time has arrrived for the adoption of a common understanding and a common rule throughout the Commonwealth ! The Federal Government is not impotent; it has the power to bring this about. An alteration of the Constitution would, of course, be necessary. Is there any doubt that, if given the opportunity, the people would vote in favour of the abolition of State arbitration tribunals and the establishment of one system to cover the whole of the Commonwealth? The Government could consider the taking of a referendum in connexion with industrial powers, concurrently with that which it proposes to take in connexion with marketing. There could be no confusion of the two issues. To say that that would happen would be to cast a reflection on the intelligence of the electors. It may be claimed that the conditions in one State differ from those in another, that a rule which might be applicable to the southern States could not be applied to North Queensland. That is quite true. But in the making of awards every factor would be taken into consideration. The obstacles are not , insuperable ; on the contrary, they are easy of adjustment. I suggest that a conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers ‘ should be held to. prepare the necessary machinery, for that, indeed, is the first step which should be taken. It is hardly to be doubted that after their bitter experiences of the past the States will support such a proposal. I believe that they would welcome it. A conference certainly would do no harm, but, on the contrary, would clear the air and tend towards the promotion of better conditions than now exist. The governments of Australia are as vitally concerned as are private employers, owing to the industrial undertakings in which they are engaged. I particularize the railway systems, in which there are many conflicting awards. The benefit of one arbitration system would be felt, not only by the business interests of this country, but also by the employees and, in addition, the governments of the States would be saved much worry, vexation and expense. In industrial arbitration it is easier to serve one master than two masters, and much easier to serve one master than half a dozen masters, as is the case at present. The policy of the New South Wales branch of the United Australia party is: complete industrial arbitration powers for the Commonwealth. This policy has received endorsement at different conferences of the party in that State, and was enunciated by the present State Government at the last elections. I repeat the hope that the Government will consider the taking of a referendum to alter the Constitution in the direction indicated. By so doing it will end the present confusion in industry and will render a great service to the Commonwealth and its people.
.- Tonight several Government members have congratulated the Ministry on the budget it has presented this year. In my view, the Government has failed completely to deal with unemployment, which is one of the greatest of the national problems that have faced ‘ Australia in recent years. Not the slightest provision is made for the relief of unemployment generally, or to find occupa- tions for the thousands of young men and women who leave school every year. On the other hand the Government has in mind the resumption of migration from overseas, the effect of which would he to flood the labour market in this country and augment considerably the army of unemployed. I admit that the Government has fulfilled its promises to the wealthy section of the community, by the remission of taxes aggregating millions of pounds; but no provision has been made for those who are less fortunately placed.
The honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) to-night made certain statements in regard to the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Abbott). I do not know whether the honorable member for Gwydir has the necessary qualifications to fill the position to which it is said he is to be appointed ; but, even if he has not, personal reflections upon him are to be regretted. I heard the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Collins) express the hope that the honorable member for the Northern Territory would he given a vote in this chamber. I would support such a proposal.
– When that occurs there will be a different representative of the Northern Territory.
– As the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Baker) has said, the vote will be cast by another individual. I understand that the Government fears that it will lose the Gwydir seat at the next election, and is desirous of placing the honorable member who now represents that electorate in a safe position. lt has also been said that the Government does not see eye-to-eye with the honorable member on the issue that has been raised regarding wool. Like other honorable members, he considers that the tariff policy of the Ministry is not formulated m Australia, but is dictated from London. Some time ago the British Government sent a High Commissioner to Australia, and he is now located in Canberra. The Labour party is not prepared to have our tariff policy dictated from either London or Tokyo ; it should be determined by the people of this country. I hope that after the next election a Labour government will be in power, and that a truly Australian policy will be given effect. It was disclosed during the last tariff debate that British manufacturers of confectionery had imported cheap Japanese pottery as containers for their goods, and that samples of this confectionery, packed in Japanese pottery, had been sent to Australia. Such is patriotism! It is surprising that some Australian industries can exist. Australian sugar is sold in London for £20 a ton, whilst manufacturers in Australia have to pay £32 a ton for the same article.
An attempt i3 being made to attract tourists to Canberra, but the accommodation available for visitors is enormously overtaxed. According to recent press reports, visitors have had to seek accommodation at the local police station. Some time ago, a discussion took place in this chamber concerning the leasing of the Hotel Canberra. A number of honorable members found it difficult to obtain accommodation when in Canberra, and a few of them are still residing in Queanbeyan. Some honorable members, including the honorable mem- . ber for Adelaide (Mr. Stacey), was loud in his praises of the accommodation provided at the Hotel Canberra under private enterprise; but, immediately they found that they could save a couple of pounds a week by living at the Hotel Kurrajong, they transferred their patronage to the government-controlled institution. The honorable member for Cook (Mr. Garden) informs me that accommodation at the Hotel Kurrajong will not always be made available to members of Parliament. I am surprised to hear that, because I consider that adequate provision should be made for us, and that we should be accommodated as close as possible to Parliament House, even within the precincts of this building, if necessary.
The administration of war service homes has been referred to by the honorable member ‘ for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin). Undoubtedly the department is still harassing many occupiers of these homes. During the last four or five years many of them have lost their employment and their payments have fallen into arrears. When they returned from the war they were thrown on the labour market, ill-fitted for arduous toil, and, therefore, unable to compete with many men who had not served at the front. The Government claims credit for what it has done for returned soldiers. Certainly it has given some of’ them a little preference - at the end of a pick and shovel. They are expected to do work for which, owing to war disabilities, they are unfitted. The honorable member for Hindmarsh referred to the case of a widow, whose object, apparently, is to make her home her own, and the department is grasping every penny it can extract from her. Some action is necessary to safeguard the equities of purchasers of war service homes, in the interests of their dependants. “When a woman has to rely on a widow’s pension B.he has no hope of being able to keep up the necessary payments. According to the present law, unless a returned soldier who is married makes a will leaving the equity solely to his wife, she will receive no benefit at his death. Purchasers of homes should be notified to that effect, in order that the interests of the widows may be safeguarded.
Complaints have reached me almost daily regarding the delay experienced in the hearing of applications for war pensions. I fail to see why eight or nine months should elapse before a decision is reached. If those entrusted with the work of considering these claims have too much to do, assistance should be provided for them. Several cases have been brought under my notice, one of a returned soldier whose application has been before the commission for nine months, and has not yet been dealt with. Another is that of a returned soldier seeking medical aid. If he has to wait so long for his case to be dealt with he will probably be beyond medical aid before lt is finally disposed of.
– That is what the Repatriation Commission wants.
– I would not say that, but I do say that the men are not given the sympathetic treatment to which they are entitled. In thousands of cases still awaiting hearing it is very difficult for the applicants to prove that their disabilities are due to war service. Medical men who have examined applicants for pensions have told me thai though there is no doubt that the disabilities which the applicants suffered were attributable to war service, it is absolutely unfair, so long after the war, to place the onus of proof on them. As a. matter of fact, one leading medical man in Sydney informed me that scarcely one man who had seen service in the firing line does not suffer some disability or another as the result of his experiences. He even went as far as to say that every returned soldier who made application for a pension should receive it. “But,” he added, “what about the taxpayers?” I am concerned not so much about the taxpayers as that returned soldiers are given fair treatment. During the war thousands of people in Australia made huge fortunes, and I would tax the excess profits made by them at that time to provide the money necessary for the payment of soldiers’ pensions.
According to many honorable members we are again facing the possibility of another international conflict. Only to-day I received a letter from a lady who is secretary of a branch of the League of Nations Union which reads as follows : -
I wish to express my regret and grave concern at the action of the Federal Government in introducing into secondary schools in Australia the senior cadet organization. What are the activities of this organization, and what is the ultimate aim? We are informed through the press of the decrease in the birth rate; we remember the wastage on life between 1014 and 1918 when many fathers were killed in a war to end war. Far better to teach the children and the young people the art of living . . . than the science of killing and destroying. We need courageous men to-day as we have never needed them before.
She makes an appeal to the Federal Government to stop engendering in the youth of Australia the war spirit, and to teach the young people the benefits of peace among the peoples of the world. These are matters of very deep concern to all right-thinking people. Full inquiry should be made into the reasons, not only for the delay on the part of the repatriation tribunals in dealing with the applications of returned soldiers for pensions, but also for the large number of applications rejected. I trust that the Government will also do something for the unfortunate unemployed of this country.
House adjourned at 11.39 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
son asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
e asked the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
y asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view of the decision to hold a referendum in regard to an amendment of the Constitution, is it the intention of the Government to grant a vote to every adult person living in the Federal Capital Territory; if not, why not?
– Section 128 of the Constitution, which sets out the procedure to be followed in connexion with proposed alterations of the Constitution, takes cognizance only of the States of the Commonwealth, and makes no provision in regard to the Territory for the Seat of Government. In the circumstances, it is not practicable to adopt the suggestion contained in the honorable member’s question.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
In connexion with his work in international affairs, the following tributes are also deserving of record: -
Extract from speech of M. Titulesco, Foreign Minister of Roumania, at close of last session of the League Council at which Mr. Bruce presided. - “ I have noted in you all those qualities of authority and of charm which mark you as a man of government and a member of the great race to which you belong. We have all of us been happy to work under your guidance, and I feel that the lessening of tension which marks the end of our work, after a. session which at its opening promised to be difficult is largely the result of your own influence.”
Translation of extracts from speeches at the conclusion of the Montreux Conference. (Lord Stanley, United Kingdom). - “Lastly, Mr. President, I should like to express to you. on behalf of my delegation our admiration and gratitude for the services you have rendered. I am particularly happy to have this opportunity of expressing these sentiments, because of the admiration which I have long had for the services you have rendered to your own country, to the British Empire and the whole world. I think that the conference will recognize unanimously that in yourself, sir, we have had the best president that we could possibly have found. It is largely because of your experience and tact that our task has been fulfilled with such expedition. It is hard to find words which are sufficiently fitting, and I must content myself with paying the president what I consider is the best of all possible tributes when 1 say that he has accomplished his task in the way that we all anticipated.” (M. Litvinoff - Union of Socialist Soviet Republics). - “This is not the first time that it has been my privilege to take part in conferences presided over by theRight Honorable S. M. Bruce, and I can only say that my admiration for his talents as a president has increased on each occasion. There can be no doubt that the excellent results which we have obtained during this conference are due in a large measure to the prudence, the tact and impartiality of our president. I have not yet reached an age at which I can look forward to taking no further part in international conferences: I can never hone to have a better president than Mr. Bruce.” (M. Aras - Turkey). - “I must refer once again to what was said at the last public session about our illustrious and esteemed president. Gentlemen, we should rejoice that those tragic happenings which marked one of the most heroic episodes of the Great War spared the Right Honorable Stanley Bruce so that one day he might come and preside here over the peaceful solution of the question of the Straits. Wo have found in him not only a personality outstanding in directing international debates, but each one of us has found in him a true friend. The Mon treux Conference is honoured by his chairmanship, and in my country his name will always be linked with the realization of a dream which has long been dear to the hearts of all Turks. I take this opportunity of expressing to him again our deep and sincere gratitude.”
Extract from speech by Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Eden) in the House of Commons on the 27 th July, 1936. - “ One other tribute I would like to pay on the subject, and that is to the eminent services of Mr. Bruce, the High Commissioner for Australia, who by his presidency of this conference, has added one more obligation to the many which the comity of nations already owe to him.”
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
Is he in a position to state what progress has been made in the discussions regarding the renewal of article 19 of the Washington Treaty, providing for the maintenance of the status quo in the Pacific in respect of fortifications and naval bases in insular territories and possessions ?
– The United Kingdom Government and the Commonwealth Government have been in close consultation on this question, and agreement was reached on the views to be advanced to the other powers concerned in the Quadruple Treaty of theWashington Conference. Diplomatic conversations are still proceeding, but the Commonwealth Government is not yet in a position to indicate the progress made.
Southern Europeans: Arrivals in Australia.
asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
Can he supply official figures relative to the arrival of Southern Europeans in Australia during each of the last three years?
– The following are the numbers of Southern Europeans who arrived in Australia during the past three years: -
During the eight months ended the 31st August, 1936, the number of arrivals of Southern Europeans was 1,904.
– On the 14th October, the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Jennings) ‘asked the following question, without notice : -
Can the Minister for Defence say whether 100,000 rounds of Mark VII. ammunition was condemned at the Anzac Range, Liverpool, yesterday, and if so, whether he will investigate this important matter?
I am now in a position to inform the honorable member that it has been reported that some of the cartridges supplied by the department for use at the rifle meeting recently held at Liverpool were unsatisfactory, in that the brass cartridge case did not entirely seal the propelling gases generated by the cordite charges. Thus, on firing, there was in some cases a slight escape of gas through the breach mechanism of the rifle close to the firer’s face. As a result of this report, the ammunition was tested during the meeting by officers of the Defence Department. These tests disclosed that the sealing function of the brass case was noi entirely satisfactory. Though ths accuracy of the ammunition is not materially affected, it was replaced. Approximately 100,000 rounds are concerned.
It is the practice to examine and test all ammunition at least once yearly. The lot concerning which complaint has been made was manufactured at the Colonial Ammunition Company, Melbourne, in December, 1920. It was tested within the last four months. At the test it appeared to be of outstanding quality from both an accuracy and condition point of view. There was no evidence whatever of the defects now reported. For these reasons, it was specially chosen for issue at the important N.R.A. meeting.
It is most un4fortunate that a defect has since developed in this lot of ammunition. However, it will now be definitely withdrawn from issue to rifle clubs, and extensive tests carried out to determine the quality and condition of 1920 ammunition remaining in stock.
Mark VII. ammunition made in the year 1920 has proved to he most popular with riflemen in both Hew South Wales and Victoria, and this is the first occasion ofl which any defect or complaint has been reported with ammunition manufactured during that year.
The department is at all times desirous that only the best quality ammunition is issued to rifle clubs, particularly for N.R.A. prize meetings, and officers and members of the rifle club movement may rest assured that this policy will be continued.
Search for Flow Oil.
s. - On the 9th October, the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) asked me the following question, without notice: -
Will the Prime Minister state what proportion of the £250,000 allocated for the search for flow oil in Australia has been applied for, give the names of the companies whose applications have been granted, and indicate what success has been achieved up to date? -
I am now in a position to inform the honorable member that, actually, no advances have yet been made under the provisions of the act. Six applications for advances amounting in all to £24,205 have, however, been received. Of this number two have been refused, one has been returned to the applicant company for further particulars, while the remaining three, requesting advances totalling £16,555, are at present under consideration.
s. - On the 13th October, the honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Frederick Stewart) asked me the following question, without notice : -
Will the Prime Minister inform rae whether he is prepared to make arrangements at an early date for honorable members of the House to meet Sir Walter Kinnear and Mr. Ince, departmental officers of the British Government, who are in Australia to advise the Government in connexion with social insurance in order that members of all parties may have the opportunity to learn at first hand the experience of Great Britain in this important matter?
As promised, I leave had inquiries made into the matter with a view to ascertaining whether arrangements could be made as suggested.
I am now in a position to inform the honorable member that the British
Government has found it necessary to recall Sir Walter Kinnear for urgent work in Great Britain. As a result he has had to confine himself very closely to his investigations in order that he might complete that part of his work that has to be done in Australia before his departure.
Mr. Ince has not yet completed his visits to the States for the purpose of studying employment conditions and statistics in the different capitals. When he has completed his survey of the position, the Government will give further consideration to the honorable member’s request.
International Labour Conference.
s. - On the 14th October, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) asked me a question, without notice, as to whether the reports of the non-government delegates representing the employers and workers respectively at the Twentieth Session of the International Labour Conference had been received. The former of these reports came to hand on the 30th September and the latter report was received on the 9th October. These reports, together with the report of the Government delegate, are at present in the hands of the Government Printer, and will be presented to Parliament in one paper as early as practicable.
On the 14th October, the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) asked me a question, without notice, as to whether all the correspondence with Sir Frederick Stewart concerning his instructions as the Government delegate of Australia at the Nineteenth Session of the International Labour Conference in connexion with the question of the reduction of hours of work had been laid on the table of the Library.
I desire to inform the honorable member that the papers at present on the table of the Library contain the whole of the instructions issued to Sir Frederick Stewart on the subject. Documentation was supplied to Sir Frederick Stewart for his use as a delegate on the history of the question, and copies of this documentation are being placed on the table of the Library.
Dock Facilities at Melbourne.
– On the 8th October, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Holloway) asked me the following question, without notice: -
Has the Prime Minister read the report which appeared in yesterday’s Melbourne press, of a conference which was held between the Government oi Victoria, and the Melbourne Harbour Trust with a view to again attempting to modernize the dock facilities at the port of Melbourne, the decision arrived a.t being that the work could not be undertaken without the co-operation of the Commonwealth Government? Will the right honorable gentleman consider the possibility of that cooperation being given?
I have now perused a press report of a meeting of the Williamstown City Council held on the 6th October, at which the need for a modern dry dock at Williamstown was discussed. The report indicates that arrangements for a further deputation to the Premier of Victoria were discussed by the council, and that during the course of the discussion reference was made to the desirability of a conference between the Commonwealth Government, the Victorian Government and the Melbourne Harbour Trust.
The question of Commonwealth assistance in connexion with a proposal for the provision of improved docking facilities at the port of Melbourne has already been fully considered by the Commonwealth Government this year, but the Government has been unable to see ite way to accord financial support to the project.
s. - On the 14th October, the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Watkins) asked me the following question, without notice: -
Has the Prime Minister received advice from any of the State Governments on the subject of migration, arising out of the discussion of that subject which took place at the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers at Adelaide last August, and if so, will he make the nature of that advice known to the House as soon as possible?
I desire to inform the honorable member that replies have to date been received from the Premiers of Queensland and Western Australia and that copies thereof are being placed on the table of the Library. A formal asknowledgment of ray communication of the 16th September, 1936, has been received from the Premier of Victoria. Copies of replies from the other State Premiers will be placed in the Library as they come to hand.
Broadcasting Station at Kalgoorlie.
– On the 13th October, the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) inquired as to the date on which the A class broadcasting station at Kalgoorlie will commence operations. I have since been advised that the precise date cannot be named, but efforts are being made for the service to commence about the end of the year.
s. - On the 9th October, the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Mahoney) raised a matter relating to the manner of investigation by the Repatriation Department into the circumstances of pensioners who receive- special rate pensions because they are thought to be totally and permanently incapacitated.
The question raised related to a special class of pensioner who receives a pension of £4 a week. This pension is payable only in those cases in which the pensioner is incapacitated for life to such an extent as to be precluded from ever earning more than a negligible percentage of a living wage, and in consequence if a pensioner docs so earn he cannot continue to be paid that rate of pension.
In some cases there is thus thrown on to the department the necessity of investigating from time to time the actual earnings of these particular pensioners, and as a consequence of such investigations it has been necessary, in some cases, to revoke tho grant of special pension and award a pension more properly in keeping with the pensioner’s actual incapacity.
These cases are investigated infrequently, and where possible such inquiries are conducted by officers of the department or by officers of the Commonwealth Investigation Bureau. In some States and in some localities officers of these departments are not available for tho purpose, and the necessary inquiries have then to he instituted through the Police Department, as no other means are available of securing the information necessary to determine the pension rate.
The Repatriation Commission does not instruct the Police Department as to the manner in which such inquiries are to be made, nor does it send police to the homes of neighbours of such pensioners. The method of pursuing the inquiries found necessary is determined by the Police Department itself, and the commission feels that such inquiries are made with discretion and tact and with due regardto the susceptibilities and interest .of the pensioners in question.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 21 October 1936, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1936/19361021_reps_14_151/>.