14th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. J. H. Prowse) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister in Charge of Development in a position to make a statement as to the progress of the investigations into the possibility of developing the fishing industry, particularly in Bass Strait, off the east coast of Tasmania, and at Flinders Island and Cape Barren Island?
– I shall confer with the Minister, and at a later stage make ‘whatever statement can he made in regard to the matter.
– In view of the many reports that have been published iu connexion with the attitude of the Government regarding the export of iron ore from Yampi Sound, will the Prime Minister take the earliest opportunity to make a public pronouncement of the in.tentions of the Government?
– I shall be very glad to do so.
– In view of the rumours and the speculative statements that have appeared in the press regarding the Fishermen’s Bend site for an airport, will the Minister for Defence state whether any negotiations are proceeding between the Commonwealth Government and the Government of Victoria?
– As honorable members know, certain negotiations took place some months ago. It was then decided that the interests concerned in the area should meet to consider whether a trust or a corporate body of that nature should establish an airport at Fishermen’s Bend. I have not learned what took place during my absence from Australia, but I gather that the matter has not been very far advanced within recent months. I shall, however, make further inquiries, and advise the honorable member.
– Is the Minister for Defence aware that a magazine called the Militia Monthly is published with the permission of the Defence Department? Does the honorable gentleman know that the following statement was made in the editorial of the issue of the 1st August : -
Would you be a “ rebel “ and the Government “loyalist’’? I venture to say you would be a “ rebel “ ; and proud of it. And this is tho state of affairs in Spain.
– The honorable member is not entitled to refer copiously to any press matter.
– Has the Minister any knowledge of the formation, with the authority of the Defence Department, of. an organization described as “ The Silent Sentinels “, the purpose of which is to overthrow constitutional authority?
– I am unable at the moment to make any statement in regard to this publication. I know that the Defence Depart”ment has refused innumerable requests from different persons to recognize, in any way magazines that they proposed to publish. I know of no permission or authority having been given to any publication. It is not the practice of the department to take sides in a matter of this kind, or to accept responsibility for what appears in magazines of this nature. I shall, however, make inquiries into the matter.
Training of Pilots
– In view of the fact’ that the majority of the air-minded youth of the Commonwealth come from industrial centres and the poorer classes of the community, will the Minister for Defence state whether the Government has considered the subsidizing of fees charged by civil aviation companies for the training of pilots?
– I desire to say, in the first place, that the airmen of the Commonwealth are drawn from all classes of society. This matter was given consideration, and the view held so far is that it is advisable that the training of airmen should be done through the air force, as is the case in Great Britain, as that practice, because of the excellent training they receive, gives short commissioned pilots an opportunity later to obtain employment in the civil aviation services. It is for that reason that, up to the present, no encouragement has been given to the proposition that the Government should subsidize private colleges for the training of pilots. The matter is, however, receiving further consideration.
– Is the Minister representing the Postmaster-General aware that postal inspectors have gone through the Newcastle area and prosecuted many unemployed who are using wireless receiving sets without having a licence to do so ? Does the honorable gentleman know that these inspectors are now proceeding through the distressed areas of the coalfields with the object of prosecuting those who had receiving sets installed prior to becoming unemployed, but are now unable to pay the licence-fee? Will the honorable gentleman -withdraw any pending prosecutions, and give sympathetic consideration to the reduction of the licencefee in the case of those who are unemployed ?
Sir ARCHDALE PARKHILL.Naturally, I am unaware of the circumstances which the honorable member says exist. I would only say that in the ordinary conduct of the business of the Postal Department, supervision is exercised to ascertain who pays the licence-fee and who does not. I assure ibo House that no discrimination whatever is shown in the making of these inquiries. I can say quite emphatically that these inspectors have not been asked to go through the coal-fields, or specially to prosecute unemployed persons. I shall, however, bring the matter to the notice of the Postmaster-General.
– Will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General state whether the law relating to the payment of a wireless licence-fee applies to aboriginals, who are not entitled to pensions benefits or the maternity allowance?
If it does, will the honorable gentleman ascertain from the Postmaster-General if it is possible to exempt them until they are given full citizen rights?
– I shall endeavour to obtain the information for the honorable member.
– I ask you, Mr/ Deputy Speaker, following your replies to my questions in regard to the purchase of a Canadian-made refrigerator for Parliament House, Canberra, in preference to an Australian-made article, as to whether tenders were invited, and, if so, in what way and by whom were they considered -
– I shall endeavour to obtain all the information that the honorable member seeks.
– Will., the Minister for the Interior communicate with the Administrator of New Guinea to ascertain whether there is any truth in the report that is circulating, that oil in commercial quantities has been found in Dutch New Guinea in close proximity to British territory?
– I shall direct the attention of the. Minister for External Affairs, who deals with that territory, to the question asked by the honorable member.
– In view of the reply given by you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to a question that I asked on the motion for the adjournment of the House yesterday, regarding the failure of the lift on the House ofRepresentatives side of this building, are you aware that the lift again became inoperative this morning, and do you not think that action should be taken to prevent these occurrences?
– I can only inform the honorable member that I shall have further inquiries made into the matter.
– Will the Minister for the Interior state whether action has been taken to zone the town of Darwin into residential, industrial, and business areas, and what action he proposes to take to give to the residents of Darwin a workers’ homes scheme similar to that in operation in the States?
– It will not be possible to do as the honorable member suggests in regard to the zoning of Darwin, until certain decisions have been come to by the Defence Department.
The following papers were pre- sented : -
League of Nations - International Convention concerning the use of Broadcasting in the cause of Peace.
Legal Proceedings in Civil and Commercial Matters - Conventions between the United Kingdom and -
Messages reported transmitting Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure and Estimates of Expenditure for Additions, New Works, Buildings, &c, for the year ending the 30th June, 1938, and recommending appropriations accordingly.
Ordered to be printed, and referred to Committee of Supply.
– It affords the Government a great deal of satisfaction that, in this year in which it has to render its account to the people of the Commonwealth, it can call attention to a. higher level of material prosperity than has been experienced since the onset of the depression. Indeed it can be said that the present level of prosperity is higher than it has ever been in the previous history of this country. This is a statement of which there is no lack of proof of a convincing character. No matter where we look we find a continuous record of achievement and improvement in the economic sphere. Production has reached peak after peak, prices have improved, unemployment has diminished, real wages are higher, savings bank deposits have reached record levels, and the overseas trade position has shown a remarkable improvement. Conditions in the sphere of private finance are equally satisfactory. Monetary conditions are easy, and the Government’s policy has assisted in restraining any unhealthy tendency towards increasing interest rates. The position of the banks is sound, and ample credit facilities are available for creditworthy borrowers.
From the social point of view the most important measure of improvement is the unemployment situation. The bestsingle index available over the whole period is the unemployment percentages reported by the trade unions to the Commonwealth Statistician. These figures reached their peak of 30 per cent. in the second quarter of 1932, shortly after the Government took office.
As honorable members are aware, unemployment has consistently and regularly declined, quarter by quarter, since that time, until to-day the percentage is 9.7. Indeed, there is good reason to believe that the improvement has been even greater than these figures indicate. A more complete measure available for New South Wales shows that only 6.5 per cent. of all dependent on and available for employment were unemployed in June, 1937, compared with 26.5 per cent. in
June, 1933. If the full-time equivalent of part-time relief work is included a3 employment the present percentage is still further reduced to 5.3 per cent. A similar figure for men wage-earners in Queensland, based partly on statistics available from the unemployment insurance scheme, is 5.7 per cent.
Confirmation of the accuracy of .this analysis is afforded by the statistics of employment in factories. In 1928-29 there were 450,000 employed. The number fell to. 337,000 in 1931-32. It then increased steadily year by year until in 1936-37 there were approximately 518,000 persons employed full-time in Australian factories, a much larger number than has ever been recorded before in the history of the Commonwealth. Moreover, this is an average for the year and it is estimated that the number employed in June, 1937, was approximately 535,000. This represents a volume of factory employment of 19 per cent, above that of 1928-29. The increase since 1931-32 means that on the average no less than 36,000 persons have gone into full-time factory employment in. each of the intervening years. This is for factory employment alone. If employment throughout Australia be taken into account more than 500,000 persons have obtained full-time employment since 1931-32 - an average of nearly 95,000 per year.
Increased production has marched hand in hand with diminished unemployment. The value of our recorded material production rose from £305,000,000 in 1931-32 to about £432,000,000 in 1936-37. Allowing for lower price levels, the physical volume of production in the year just closed was far in excess of that of anypredepression peak year.
Building and construction, which is not included in the above-mentioned production figures, has increased since the depths of the depression at an even more remarkable rate. Comparable records are available only for the six capital cities and their suburbs and certain country districts, but the allAustralia figures, which have been estimated by the Commonwealth Statistician, show an increase from slightly over £8,000,000 in 1931-32 to the very high figure of £43,000,000 in 1936-37.
In the case of iron and steel output, the Australian production at the end of the last financial year was about double that of 1928-29.
The relation of our internal prosperity to export prices and the volume of export production is too well-known to need emphasis.
Dominating the situation in the year just ended was the high price of wool. Wool prices reached rock-bottom in 1931-32, the clip bringing only £35,000,000. There have since been wide variations of the price of wool. In 1936-37, the average price was 16.48d. per lb., and the clip realized £66,900,000 - not far from double the value of that of 1931-32. Present quotations are somewhat above this price.
The wheat market also improved remarkably, largely on account of unfavorable crop conditions in oversea countries, which reduced world stocks to very low levels. Those concerned with wheat production will need no reminder of the disastrous consequences of the reduction of the price of wheat from about 4s. 8d. a bushel in 1928-29 to as low as 2s. 8d. in 1930-31. and its continued low level until well into 1935. The value of our wheat crop was £38,300,000 in 1928-29. It fell to £25,000,000 in 1930-31” and to £21,000,000 in 1934-35. In the year recently closed it brought £39,200,000.
Substantially increased prices have also been recorded in other important export commodities, notably in butter, meat and metals.
There was an all-round increase of 20 per cent, in export prices in 1936-37 as compared even with the satisfactory level of 1935-36. It is sufficient to say in this connexion that a few months ago the average Australian currency price of all our exports touched the same level as the average for 1928.
The total value of. our exports - including gold and silver - in 1936-37 was £126,200,000 sterling. The value of our imports was £90,500,000 sterling. Of the favorable balance of £35,700,000 sterling a little over £22,000,000 sterling was required for Government and local body interest, in addition to several millions of pounds for sinking fund remittances.
After allowing for the net effect of other inward and outward payments, it is estimated that our total credits were sufficient to settle ail our oversea liabilities and add the substantial sum of something like £20,000,000 sterling to our reserves of London funds. A corresponding improvement took place in the liquid reserves of the banking system.
This result has been achieved in a year which opened with much criticism of the Government’s financial and economic policy. If the critics had had their way, the Government would have undertaken unnecessary experiments in monetary policy which might have had serious consequences.
While imports in the year recently ended were rather higher than in 1935-36, there has been little increase of imports of goods competitive with Australian production. Of the £7,000,000 increase £5,000,000 was in non-competitive lines, mainly raw materials, machinery and petrol. The increased employment in Australian factories, to which’ 1 have already referred, is sufficient evidence that Australian industry was in no way prejudiced. An analysis of our imports shows, indeed, that about 50 per cent, of our total imports are raw materials of industry, 14^ per cent, capital equipment for industry, and about 12 per cent, motor vehicles and parts and petrol. Only about 23-J per cent, consist of finished consumers’ goods, and a substantial proportion of these is of a kind not competitive with Australian industry.
I can, therefore, conclude this brief review of the present economic position on an optimistic note. Employment and production expanded during last year - as indeed they have throughout the Government’s term of office - at a satisfactory rate. The price disparities between primary and secondary products which were so marked in the depression years have been almost entirely removed, and export prices in particular are very favorable. London reserves have been greatly strengthened, and the banking system is comfortably liquid.
Since the Lyons Government assumed office in December, 1931, the public debt of the Commonwealth, as distinct from that of the States, has been reduced by £11.019,000. Particulars of the debt are as follow : -
In the five-and-a-half-year period, the average rates of interest payable in London and in Australia in respect of the aggregate Australian public debt steadily fell, the figures being -
The interest burden per head of the’ population of the .whole Australian public debt - in Australia and overseas for Commonwealth and States, including the cost of exchange - is but little more to-day than it was sixteen years ago. The following table shows the position in Australian currency: -
Between October, 1932, and J une, 1936, all maturing and optional redeemable loans domiciled in London were converted at progressively improving rates of interest. These loans totalled £198,000,000 and the annual amount of the savings in interest and exchange was approximately £4,000,000.
A further conversion of £12,360,000 was arranged in June, 1937, resulting in an additional saving in respect of interest and exchange of £46,000 per annum. The yield to the investor on the new loan issued in London in June last was £3 16s. 2d. per cent.
– The Leader of the Opposition is descending to party tactics in this matter.
-. - Not at all!
– Not only shall I not withdraw, but I also repeat what I said previously ; the Leader of the Opposition is twisting figures.
– I ask that that statement be withdrawn. I used no figure but that which appears in the document from which the Treasurer is reading. I did not invent any figures.
– The honorable member does not like the presentation of these figures.
– It can easily be seen that an election is approaching.
– At the time of this issue, the London market was considerably disturbed by uncertainty in regard to the future of gold and by conditions in Europe.
Further loans totalling £11,410,000 will mature in London on the 1st February, 1938, and must bo dealt with before that date.
During 1936-37, two loans of £7,500,000 each were issued in the Australian market under the auspices of the Loan Council. The first issue in November, 1936, gave a yield to the investor of £3 19s. 4d. per cent, per annum, whilst the yield from the second loan, issued in April, 1937, was £3 19s. Id. per cent, per annum.
Of the November, 1936, loan, £2,000,000 was left in the hands of the underwriters. For some months afterwards interest yields from Commonwealth securities showed a rising tendency. This was slightly checked before the issue of the April loan, and in later months yields from our securities continued to fall. At the present time, the loan issued in April, 1937, at £3 19s. Id. shows a return on the market of a little less than £3 16s.
The Loan Council has decided to limit its raisings for State and Commonwealth loan purposes for 1937-38 to £16,000,000. The Commonwealth share of this amount will be £2,500,000 all of which is to be used for grants to the States for farmers’ debt adjustment.
On the 15th December, 1938, internal Australian consolidated stock and bonds totalling approximately £72,700,000 will mature. The bulk of this loan now carries interest at 4 per cent., and the balance bears interest at 3 per cent. The conversion of this loan will be a task of considerable magnitude, and it is highly important that everything possible should he done to keep market conditions favorable for a successful conversion, on satisfactory terms.
The operations of the sinking fund are now assuming considerable importance. In the present financial year the receipts will for the first time exceed £10,000,000. The amount to be provided for State sinking funds is £5,580,000, whilst £4,630,000 will be payable to the Commonwealth sinking fund - a total for the fund as a whole of .£10,210,000.
Since the establishment of the sinking fund in 1923, over £75,000,000 has been provided for the redemption of Commonwealth debt, whilst, in addition, since States’ sinking funds were established in 1928, over £37,000,000 has been paid to the fund for the redemption of State debts.
The movement in the aggregate public debt of the Commonwealth and the States is shown in the following table: -
As has already been stated, the public debt of the Commonwealth itself decreased in this period by £11,019,000.
State budget results continue to improve.
The following table shows the composite budget results for Commonwealth and State budgets over the last eight years : -
The following table gives the estimated, and the actual, revenue and ordinary expenditure for last year: -
Customs and excise revenue, and all other items of revenue except income tax, very closely approximated the budget estimates of twelve month ago.
The customs and excise revenue was estimated to yield £43,100,000 and actually yielded £42,993,000. Sales tax, estimated at £8,000,000, amounted to £8,008,000, whilst estate duties, estimated at £1,800,000, produced £1,793,000.
Largely due to more rapid payment of outstanding arrears, revenue from income tax, which was estimated at £7,480,000, produced £8,556,000, an excess of £1,076,000.
On the expenditure side, a grant of £150,000 made to the States last Christmas for special unemployment relief had not been included in the budget as presented to the House last year.
Of the excess receipts of 1936-37, totalling £1,276,558, the Government proposes to set aside £1,000,000 for public works of the Postmaster-General’s Department and to apply the balance, £276,558, in reduction of the. accumulated deficit of the Commonwealth.
The accumulated deficit totalled £17,216,000 on the 1st July, 1935, but reductions of £213,000 and £1,068,000 were effected in 1935-36 and 1936-37 respectively. The reduction now proposed will bring the total down to £15,658,000.
In the present financial year, the Postal Department requires £3,250,000 for postal, telegraph and telephone works which are urgently necessary to meet public requirements. Money market conditions make it undesirable for the Commonwealth to raise any of this money by loan. Accordingly, the Government proposes to apply £1,000,000 of last year’s excess receipts to works of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department and to provide the balance of £2,250,000 from the general revenues of this year. 1937-38 Finances.
The Government has given serious consideration to the subject of taxation in connexion with its financial proposals for 1 937-38.
I wish to pass in review before honorable members the taxation record of this Government since it assumed office in December, 193.1. It is a record in which the Government takes some pride, not only for the extent and value of the reductions effected, but also for the manner in which the relief has been distributed among all members of the community.
The reductions began in 1932-33, in w hich year a flat exemption of £250 per annum of income from property was substituted for the sliding scale previously in operation under the special property tax. Land tax was reduced by331/3per cent. Sundry exemptions were granted from sales tax and from customs primage duties largely in relation to primary production.
In 1933-34, very extensive reductions of taxation were made in the income tax field. The rate of the company tax was reduced from about1s. 5d. to1s. Taxation of life assurance companies was adjusted so that taxation was only charged on the excess income after allowing a deduction of 4 per cent. on the valuation of liabilities. The personal exertion rate was reduced by 15 per cent. The special tax on property was reduced from 10 per cent. to 6 per cent. The previous year’s reduction of the land tax rate was increased from331/3 per cent. to 50 per cent. Entertainments tax was. abolished altogether.
The sales tax rate was reduced from 6 per cent. to 5 per cent. and sundry extensive exemptions were granted to primary industry, medicines, food, building material, &c. Customs (British preferential) and excise duties were greatly eased both in general and, in particular, on the following: Primage duties were reduced from 10 per cent. to 5 per cent. and in some cases to 4 per cent., beer duties were reduced by 3d. per gallon; and the duties on tea were reduced by1d. per lb., and by the removal of the 10 per cent. primage. Customs and excise duties were substantially reduced on spirits and on benzol.
In 1934-35, further exemptions were granted from the incidence of sales tax, again chiefly in respect of primary products, building material, and foodstuffs. Extensive reductions of and exemptions from primage duties were also granted.
In1935-38, the special tax on property was reduced from 6 per cent. to 5 per cent., and further exemptions were made from sales tax and primage. Excise duties on Australian-grown tobacco were lowered.
The budget for the year 1936-37 provided very extensive taxation reductions. In income taxation, the special tax on property was abolished, the personal exertion and property rates were lowered by 10 per cent., a £50 deduction from income was granted in respect of a dependent wife or female relative. The rate of sales tax was reduced from 5 per cent. to 4 per cent., and a widespread range of further exemptions of necessaries of life was granted. Substantial primage exemptions were granted on certain articles of British manufacture.
The taxation reductions of which I have spoken have been of great benefit to all sections of the community, and are positive evidence of the desire of the Government to keepthe taxation burden to a minimum.
I think I can best convey to honorable members the effect of this series of reductions in the rates of taxation by saying that, if the sales tax had remained to-day at the same rate and on the same field as in 1.931-32, we should be collecting no less than £18.000,000 from sales tax instead of the £7,700,000 that we expect to collect this year. Similarly, in the case of income tax, we should be collecting £15,500,000 on the 1931-32 basis instead of £9,000,000 as estimated this year, whilst land tax would be yielding £3,000,000 instead of £1,500,000. These three taxes combined would have been yielding £36,500,000 at the 1931-32 rates, instead of the £18,200,000 included in the budget for the current year.
In other words, taking these three major fields of federal taxation into account, the Government has, in effect, halved the burden on the Australian people.
In view of its formidable and inescapable increased obligations for the immediate future, the Government regrets that it is unable still further to reduce taxation in this financial year.
The total estimated revenue for the year is £85,190,000, made up as follows : -
Between 1933 and 1936, the average annual increased expenditure on invalid and old-age pensions was £675,000. In September, 1936, the rate of pension was increased from 18s. to 19s., which resulted in expenditure in the year recently ended of practically £14,000,000 - an increase of £1,200,000 over the previous year.
On the 30th June, 1937, there were practically 300,000 invalid and old-age pensioners. The net annual increase of their numbers is approximately 12,000.
The Governmentis now glad to be in a position to increase the rate of pension from 19s. to £1.
The expenditure for 1937-38 will be approximately £15,900,000, an increase of practically £2,000,000 over that of last year. This increase is accounted for in three ways : by the normal growth in the numbers of pensioners, by the cost of the additional shilling - an annual cost of about £800,000 - and by the fact that, in this financial year, there happen tobe 27 instead of the normal 26 fortnightly pension pay-days.
In his statement to the Parliament on the Imperial Conference, the Prime Minister has dealt with the discussions on Empire defence and the principles that should govern the development of Australian defence.
As has been announced by the Prime Minister, the Government has decided to make substantial provision in this budget for a furtherstage in the strengthening of our defences.
The total financial provision for defence from all sources in 1937-38, including commitments, is £11,531,000.
The actual expenditure for defence from all sources in 1936-37 was £8,067,000. The increased provision in this financial year is formidable, but the Government is convinced that it is no more thanis essential in the world conditions that exist.
The approximate allocation of the £11,500,000 as between the various services is as follows : -
Honorable members will readily appreciate the great difficulty that faced the Government in setting out to make financial provision for defence expenditure of the high order of £11,500,000, an amount greater by nearly £3,500,000 than that expended last financial year. This problem was made more difficult by the necessity to make provision for substantially increased expenditure over and above that of last year in several other directions, notably £2,000,000 for invalid and oldage pensions, £700,000 for increased payments to the States for federal aid roads, £830,000 for post office works, £1,000,000 for rural debt adjustment, and £200,000 for youth employment.
It may be asked why the Government does not attempt to spread this largelyincreased provision for defence over a longer period of time than one financial year. The reason is that all the Government’s proposals for increased defence expenditure are essential, and time is the essence of the contract. All the proposals have to be put in hand at the earliest possible moment. Defence expenditure is not translated into actual armaments overnight. Of necessity a considerable period of time must elapse between the voting of the money and the resultant increased strength of our fighting services. The Government is, therefore, convinced that the whole of its present programme should be undertaken now in the interests of the security of Australia.
So far as defence expenditure is concerned, there are four sources of finance available - the budget, the defence equipment trust account, the civil aviation trust account, and the loan fund.
As honorable members are aware, the Government has adopted the practice in past years of paying into the defence equipment trust account as much as possible of the excess of receipts over expenditure at the close of each financial year, and of drawing on this fund, which lias, of course, been created from budget revenue of past years, to assist the budget in respect of defence expenditure in subsequent years. The transactions in this connexion have been explained in detail in the last three budget speeches. The year 1936-37 closed with approximately £3,000,000 to the credit of the defence trust accounts. We propose to expend or commit the whole of this sum in the current financial years towards making financial provision for defence.
I have used the words “ expend or commit” advisedly, as it is improbable that the whole of the Government’s orders for defence equipment will fall due for payment in 1937-38, but, as the whole amount will be committed, I believe it is only right so to inform the Parliament and to make provision for its possible expenditure.
We propose, in addition, to appropriate from the budget for this same purpose - a sum of £6,000,000, which is the maximum amount that it is possible to carry on general revenue without increasing the existing rates of taxation, and having regard to the heavy additional charges that the budget has to carry in other directions.
The sources of revenue that I have mentioned account for £9,000,000 towards the £11,500,000 for which financial provision has to be made.
The Government proposes to find the remain ing £2,500,000 for defence from loan. Bearing in mind the circumstances of the times, together with the fact that we are obliged to carry on the budget a considerable volume of what would normally be loan expenditure, the. Government believes that it is fully justified in making provision for £2,500,000 of defence expenditure from loan.
The circumstances that lead up to this decision are as follows : -
As. honorable members will be aware, the loan council is endeavouring to limit its demands on the Australian money market to a total of £16,000,000 for all governments in 1937-3S. The necessity for this largely arises out of the imminence of the loan conversion operation of £72,700,000 that will fall due towards the end of 1938. Of this £16,000,000, the Commonwealth Government will have only £2,500,000, all of which it is necessary to allocate to rural debt relief. The Government is therefore obliged to carry on the budget a considerably greater volume of works and other items that would normally be expected to fall on the loan fund - indeed to an extent very considerably in excess of £2,500,000. I shall give an analysis of these items at a later stage.
In these circumstances, the Government feels that the carrying of £2,500,000 of defence expenditure on loan instead of on the budget is justified.
For the reasons that I have given, it is considered inadvisable at the present time to take this loan money from the Australian market. It is proposed, in the first place, to raise £2,000,000 sterling, the equivalent of £2,500,000 in Australian currency, on Commonwealth treasury-bills from the Commonwealth Bank in London, and at an appropriate time to fund these short-term securities from the proceeds of a public loan.
Procedure on these lines has an added advantage in the fact that the Government will be faced with the necessity to meet financial commitments in Britain on account of the purchase of defence equipment that cannot be manufactured in Australia, to the approximate amount of £2,000,000 sterling in the current financial year. These commitments will thus be met without necessity for encroaching on our existing body of London funds which we are in course of mounting up as rapidly as possible.
The arrangements to enable this method of finance to be carried out will present no difficulties.
The’ following, therefore, is a summary of the means that the Government proposes to adopt for financing its defence proposals for 1937-38 : -
– That has yet to be decided.
My colleague, the Minister for Defence (Sir Archdale Parkhill), will, at an early date, place before honorable members full particulars of the Government’s defence programme.
The following statement compares the proposed expenditure of the Commonwealth for public works in 1937-38 with the actual expenditure in 1936-37.
This table shows the substantially increased obligations of the Commonwealth Government for public works in 1937-38 : -
The sources from which the above funds are provided are: -
The above brings out the fact that nearly £7,750,000 of public works and the like are being carried on general revenue.
The figures for defence in this table represent the approximate defence expenditure in Australia on works. Expenditure in Great Britain for equipment and for other purposes has been omitted.
Grants to the States for farmers’ debt adjustment, amounting to £1,500,000 in 1936-37 and £2,500,000 in 1937-38, which it is proposed to provide from loan, have also been omitted.
As the result of the liberalization of the Maternity Allowance Act in September, 1936, approximately two-thirds of the allowances paid since that time have been at the rate of £5. The total expenditure on maternity allowances for the twelve months ended 30th June, 1937, was £370,150, an increase of approximately £34,600 over the expenditure during the previous year.
It is estimated that the total expenditure for the current financial year will be £380,000.
The concessions granted to war pensioners in recent years and the better provision made for the medical care and treatment of incapacitated men, have involved considerably increased expenditure. War pensions and repatriation are expected to cost £212,000 more this year than last year, and £1,400,000 more than four years ago. The total cost of war pensions and repatriation in 1937-38 is estimated at £9,016,680.
The Government proposes to increase the rate of the war service pension from 19s. to £1, involving an additional charge of £21,000 on the budget.
The Government has been acti ve during the last year in matters of public health, and it intends to continue and extend this activity during the forthcoming year. It has already passed a Medical Research Endowment Act and has provided the sum of £30,000 for the first year to give effect to the purposes of this act. As the Government believes that it can do a great deal in co-operation with the State governments to assist public health projects, especially in rela- tion to the health of women and children, it has provided this year the sum of £100,000 for a special campaign for this purpose.
Believing that the campaign for the eradication of cattle tick can be accelerated, the Government has increased by £25.000 the subsidy provided for this purpose.
The grants for aerial medical services and for investigating problems of nutrition are being continued.
The. Government is giving close consideration to the question of national insurance in respect of unemployment, health and pensions.
A report on unemployment insurance by Mr. Godfrey II. Ince, Chief Insurance Officer of the British Ministry of Labour, was recently discussed with the representatives of the States at a conference in Canberra. It was then arranged that certain aspects of unemployment insurance should be further examined by a committee of officers and actuaries representing the Commonwealth and the States. A report is expected from this committee within a short time. The matter will then be further taken up with the State governments.
Sir Walter Kinnear, Controller of Insurance in the Ministry of Health in Great Britain, recently presented to the Government a report on health and pensions insurance. This report, like that of Mr.Ince on unemployment, is highly valuable and is now being considered by the Government.
A sum of £75,000 has been included in the budget towards meeting the initial expenses of national insurance.
When the Commonwealth Superannuation Act was passed in 1922 its provisions were limited to persons permanently employed under the Commonwealth Public Service Act. Officers of Departments such as the High Commissioner’s Office, War Service Homes, Repatriation, and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research were thus excluded.
Many of these officers, while they have not come within the technical definition of “permanent officers”, are actually in the permanent employ of the Commonwealth and have rendered good ‘ service over very long periods.
The Government has decided to grant superannuation rights to as many as possible of such officers, together with the right to furlough for long and meritorious service.
It is expected that the additional liability of the Commonwealth in the first year in which these proposals become effective will be approximately £7,500.
This will gradually increase to a peak in the thirtieth year.
The necessary legislation will be introduced to give effect to the Government’s proposal.
The improvement of the national eco nomic outlook is reflected in the development of the services rendered by the Postmaster-General’s” Department.
It is the constant aim of the Government to give the public improved postal, telegraphic and telephonic services.
There are 29 regular internal air services, covering approximately 17,000 route miles with a flying mileage of approximately 3,000,000 per annum. At p resent there is a twice-weekly air mail and passenger service between Great Britain and Australia. The new Empire air mail scheme, with thrice-weekly services in each direction, is expected to come into operation in this financial year.
Telephone facilities have been increased and benefits extended, particularly in the country. Forty-nine additional telephone exchanges were opened last year and the number of rural automatic exchanges increased by 23.
Telephone trunk lines are an important factor in broadcasting and were used for this purpose on 12,500 occasions during the year. For the broadcast of the Coronation ceremonies, 96 separate broadcasting stations were linked up by approximately 20,000 miles of trunk lines.
The Government is pleased to have been able to make use of Australian manufactured material to a far greater extent than in the past.
Six additional national broadcasting services were provided last year, bringing the total to 21, of which twelve are in country areas. There are 80 commercial broadcasting services and listeners’ licences increased during the year by 109,000 to 952,000.
The continued and progressive expansion of the Postmaster-General’s Department involves substantial expenditure on new works, for which the sums provided from all sourcesin recent years have been -
In 1936-37, the postal revenue totalled £15,811,502. The revenue for 1937-38 is estimated at £16,700,000.
In 1936-37, the postal expenditure, including new works payable from revenue, amounted to £15,320,062. For 1937-38, the expenditure from revenue for these purposes is estimated at £16,225,000.
Honorable members will observe, as regards both revenue and expenditure, that the increase for the year is approximately £900,000.
In addition to the expenditure included in the above figures, it is proposed to apply £1,000,000 of the excess receipts of last year to works of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department.
During the recent Imperial Conference the opportunity was taken for representatives of the Governments of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand to discuss the question of the competition of the American Matson Shipping Line with the British lines operating in the Pacific. As the result of these negotiations it is expected that an agreement will be entered into by which two new vessels will replace those at present ‘operated by the CanadianAustralasian line. This line, under the new arrangement, will be subsidized by the four governments concerned. It cannot yet be stated what the exact amount of Australia’s share of the subsidy will be, but the sum of £10,000 has been provided to cover any commitments which may arise in 1937-38.
Consistent with its policy of development, the Government is making larger sums available for scientific research. Provision is made for a governmental expenditure in this direction during 1937-38 of £170,000, as against £138,000 in 1936-37.
It is gratifying to find that the lead set by the Government and the excellent results obtained by the scientific research work of the council have been followed by increased financial support from the industries concerned. The amount of contributions from industry in 1937-38 is £77,000, against £64,000 last year. The Government has accepted, in addition, the offer by the Government of Queensland of a sheep station of 44,000 acres for the purposes of blowfly research, pasture improvement, &c.
Special ‘attention is being given to research in regard to pastures for the northern summer rainfall areas and the control of insect pests.
The new forest products laboratory is now in being and advisory work on forestry forms an important part of its functions.
Food preservation research is proceeding successfully, particularly in regard to chilled meat, eggs, and fruit.
The fisheries investigation vessel will be ready early in 1938 and the work will be vigorously prosecuted under the guidance of Dr. Thompson, former Director of Fisheries, Newfoundland.
The Government is taking steps to facilitate research on behalf of secondary industry. The action that the Government has in mind should make for more economical production and be of substantial assistance to secondary industry.
The Petroleum Oil Search Act 1936 which came into operation in May, 1936, appropriated an amount of £250,000 for the purposes of encouraging the search for petroleum oil in Australia, Papua and New Guinea.
After investigation by the Commonwealth Technical Advisory -Committee, assistance for drilling and for geological survey work kas been approved for various companies and in several States, and the prospects of obtaining commercial supplies of oil are considered promising.
The Commonwealth Government, in conjunction with the Government of New
South Wales, has entered into an agreement for the development of the shale oil industry in the Newnes-Capertee area of New South Wales.
The governments will provide debenture capital to the amount of £500,000, of which £334,000 will be provided by the Commonwealth, and £166,000 by New South Wales.
In the present budget, £100,000 is being provided towards meeting the Commonwealth liability in this enterprise.
In coming to a decision in this matter, the Government has been influenced by the defence and employment possibilities of the enterprise.
For works in the Northern Territory a total sum of £120,000 is provided for 1937-38, as against £100,000 actually expended in 1936-37, the main items in the programme being the construction of a second vessel to patrol the northern coastline, the construction of Commonwealth offices, a- hospital, gaol, aboriginal compound and major water supply scheme at Darwin, a hospital and gaol at Alice Springs and the continued development of the Tennant Creek gold- field, including the installation of government ore treatment plants.
In addition a further amount of £60,000 is being provided in the .ordinary Estimates for roads and stock routes, water supply facilities, and assistance in regard to freights, rents, water boring, etc.
The programme of works, extending over several years, with the object of removing to Canberra the ^staffs of the Defence and Postmaster-General’s Departments, is being proceeded with. These works include the opening up of new sub-divisions, the erection of the main administrative block, accommodation for the Patents, Trade Marks and Designs branch of the Attorney-General’s Department, a new hospital, a high school and additions to existing schools, a considerable number of cottages and major extensions of the water supply and sewerage systems.
In accordance with the recommendation of the Royal Commission on the Monetary and Banking system, in the section of its report dealing with mortgage banking, the Government has decided to take steps to provide facilities for fixed and long-term lending.
It is proposed to establish a new department of the Commonwealth Bank to deal with this business and to devote portion of the profits of the note issue department of the bank towards the capital of the new mortgage bank department.
As the whole of the net profits of the note issue department is now paid into Commonwealth revenue, the adoption of this proposal will involve a reduction of revenue to the extent of over £200,000 in the present year.
A bill dealing with this matter will be presented to Parliament.
The other recommendations of the royal commission are at -present under consideration by the Government.
During recent years, the direct financial assistance rendered to the States has shown an upward tendency. Excluding relief for wheat-growers and other primary producers, the payments to the States from Commonwealth revenues for the last four years are as set out below -
The above figures do not include the grant of £2,000,000. made to the States as a whole during 1934-35, or the grants of £500,000 made in each of the years 1935-36 and 1936-37, out of excess receipts of previous years.
In 1936.-37 special grants totalling £2,430,000 were paid by the Commonwealth on the recommendation of the Commonwealth Grants Commission, viz. : -South Australia, £1,330,000; “Western Australia, £500,000; and Tasmania, £600,000. This represented a decrease of £320,000 on the total of special grants paid during 1935-36.
The fourth annual report of the commission has now been received and contains recommendations that the payments for 1937-38 should be as follows :- .South Australia, £1,200,000 ; Western Australia, £575,000 ; Tasmania, £575,000*- total £2,350,000. This is a decrease of £80,000 on the total paid last year. The Government has asked Parliament to approve the recommendations of the commission.
The operation of “the old Federal Aid Roads Agreements between the Commonwealth and States expired on the 30th June last, and in anticipation of that event a fresh agreement was negotiated with all State governments. That agreement was authorized by the Commonwealth Parliament at the beginning of the present session, and will shortly be submitted to the State parliaments for ratification.
As honorable members are aware, the payments to the States have been increased by id. a gallon of both customs and excise duty. The present payments equal 3d. a gallon of customs duty and 2d. a gallon of excise duty. The balance of the petrol duties is levied for general revenue purposes.
The payments to the States in 1936-37 for federal aid roads amounted to £3,039,000. During the present year it is anticipated that the payments will amount to £3,750,000, of which more than £600,000 will be due to the increase of id. si. gallon.
The new agreement will cover a period of ten years from 1st July, 1937.
The budget includes £200,000 for grants to the States to assist them in ‘providing technical training and securing skilled employment for youths. The States themselves are adopting measures to this end and the Commonwealth assistance is being arranged in co-operation with the States.
The Government is anxious to continue financial assistance to the apple and pear growers, by reason of continued low returns from the sales of their products at home and overseas. An amount of £50,000 is being made available, for general assistance to the industry, in addition to £10,000 for scientific research and £5,000 towards the cost of a publicity campaign.
A bounty at the rate of 2a. an export case on all citrus fruits exported to destinations other than New Zealand during 1937 is being paid. In previous years the assistance was paid in relation to oranges only, but the grant has been extended to assist small experimental shipments of grape fruit and lemons. It is estimated that the expenditure will he £8,000.
Following upon the Government’s pronouncement that the bounty would not be forthcoming unless the industry took the necessary steps to organize itself, a Citrus Advisory Council has been formed, representative of the industry as a whole.
Since 1932 the Government has paid a subsidy to primary producers other than wheat-growers to assist them to purchase artificial manures. A substantial increase of such use has been recorded and this must he reflected in the intensification of production and in better farming methods.
In order that the cost of this subsidy may be kept within reasonable limits with increasing use of fertilizers, the Government has decided to limit the payment of this subsidy to the first 20 tons of fertilizers purchased by any individual. The cost is estimated at £250,000 in this financial year.
To enable the Australian National Travel Association to intensify its publicity work abroad the Commonwealth grant to this body is being increased from £15,000 to £20,000. The association has recently appointed a representative in India in addition to its representatives already established in the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Australian trade commissioners also represent the association in New Zealand, Canada, China, Japan, Netherlands East India and Egypt.
The sum made available to the Australian Overseas Trade Publicity Committee for advertising and trade promotion in the United Kingdom, will be £30,000. In addition £7,500 is being made available for general exhibition purposes in the United Kingdom.
For advertising Australian products in the east and in special markets, £2,500 has been provided. This will be spent under the supervision ‘of Australian trade commissioners.
The total estimated expenditure for the year is set out in the following table, together with the actual expenditure of 1936-37 :-
The Government has been in office for nearly six years. During that period the Australian scene has very radically changed. From the valley of despair we have emerged into the sunlight. From the economic and financial point of view, the condition and the outlook of every section of the Australian people are entirely different to-day compared with the grim days of 1931. This has not come about by chance. We have been fortunate in the upward trend of world prices. But this alone could not have produced the favorable situation that exists in Australia to-day. Apart from its> activities in manifold other directions, the Government has assured to the people of Australia conditions of stability and confidence in economic and financial matters ; and through these conditions has encouraged the enterprise of the private citizen on which, in the final analysis, our system is based. Continued progress depends on the maintenance and stability and confidence, which this Government is convinced that it can ensure to the people of Australia in the future.
I believe that this latest of the series of budgets which I have been privileged to present to Parliament will help towards the attainment of these objectives, and that it will contribute towards the well-being and security of the Australian people.
I move -
That the first item in the Estimates under Division 1 - The Senate - namely, “ Salaries and allowances,£ 7,920 “, be agreed to.
The following paper was presented : -
The Budget 1937-38- Papers presented by the Honorable R. Gr. Casey, M.P., for the information of honorable members on the occasion of the Budget of 1937-38.
Ordered to be printed.
In Committee of Supply:
Motion (by Mr. Casey) agreed to -
That there be granted to His Majesty, for or towards defraying the services of the year 1937-38, a sum not exceeding £8,323,000.
Motion (by Mr. Casey) proposed -
That the Standing Orders be suspended, to enable the remaining stages to be passed with- out delay.
– The House ought -to be informed as to what is taking place. Honorable members have just had placed in their hands a number of papers, including the budget speech and this particular bill. During the distribution of those documents we have not been able to follow what has been occurring. I consider that we are entitled to know what course the Treasurer is taking. I do not know whether or not this measure is to be put through holus bolus without any discussion.
– I am merely introducing a Supply Bill the terms of which I shall describe to honorable members. The debate upon it will be adjourned until a later date.
– But the honorable gentleman is moving for the suspension of the Standing Orders!
– That is merely a formal motion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
In Committee of Ways and Means:
.- I move-
That towards making good the Supply granted to His Majesty for the services of the year 1937-38, there be granted out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund a sum not exceeding £8,323,000.
Perhaps this may be an appropriate time to state the purposes of this measure.
Under Supply Act (No. 1) 1937-38, which was passed in June last, provision was made for the ordinary services of the Commonwealth for the first two months of the current financial year. This present Supply Bill provides for an appropriation of £8,323,000 from revenue to cover expenditure for a further four months up to the end of December next.
– Why is Supply needed for four months?
– Unless we appropriate this amount, we cannot be certain that there will not be an interruption of the pay of public servants and the like.
The bill is based on the appropriations for last financial year, and the items represent approximately one-third of those appropriations except in the case of salaries, for which allowance has been made, in accordance wth the provisions of the Public Service and other regulations, to meet increases due to the rise of the cost of living. Similar provision was made in Supply Act (No. 1) 1937-38.
It has also been necessary to provide in this bill the full amount required to cover the cost of the general elections, namely £115,000.
I give the committee the assurance that no provision has been made for any new expenditure or for any departure from existing policy.
The amounts shown in the bill for ordinary services may be summarized as follows : -
In addition, in accordance with the usual practice, provision has been made for “Refunds of Revenue” and “Advance to the Treasurer “, the amounts being £400,000 and £500,000 respectively.
The Government proposes to proceed with bills covering appropriations for Works and Buildings, and grants to the States of South Australia,. Western Australia and Tasmania in accordance with the recommendations of the Commonwealth Grants Commission. The latter has already passed this House. It is not anticipated that it will be possible to pass the annual Appropriation Act during the present session, hence the need for this four months’ Supply Bill. I repeat the assurance that the bill is drawn on the usual lines, and is strictly in accordance with the relative expenditure of the last financial year, with the one or two exceptions I have mentioned and the provision for a general election. It does not make provision in respect of any new item of policy.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported and adopted.
That Mr. Casey and Sir Archdale Parkhill do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill brought up by Mr. Casey, and read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Casey) proposed -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Forde) adjourned.
Consideration resumed from page276. Ordered -
That the consideration of the General Estimates be postponed until after the consideration of the Estimates for “Additions, NewWorks, Buildings, &c.”
Additions, New Works, Buildings,etc.
Proposed vote, £40,100.
– In my budget speech, I indicated that the proposed expenditure from the Consolidated Revenue Fund for public works in the current year would be £7,721,500. Appropriation of the whole of this amount will not be necessary at present, since the following special appropriations have already been granted by Parliament : -
The amount now required to be appropriated is, therefore, £3,721,000. Details of this amount will be found on pages 276-287 of the Estimates, and also in the schedule to the bill now before honorable members. The distribution of this amount and the corresponding actual expenditure for last financial year are as follows: -
The decrease of £1,111,048 in departments and services other than business undertakings and territories is entirely due to the fact that provision for defence works from revenue is limited to £8,000 in this financial year compared with an expenditure of £1,132,036 in 1936-37. A comparison of the means of financing defence new works this year and last year is shown in the following table: -
To cover the proposed expenditure of £2,500,000 from the loan fund, a further bill will be submitted at a later date.
The expenditure on postal, telegraph and telephone works last financial year was £2,419,079. The provision in the present bill is £2,250,000, while, as indicated in my budget speech, £1,000,000 of last year’s excess receipts also will bo devoted to this purpose, making the total amount £3,250,000. I propose to submit a special bill to appropriate this sum of £1,000,000. The total provision of £3,250.000 is necessary to meet the everincreasing demands for these works, particularly telephone services. As honorable members know, this class of expenditure is of a distinctly reproductive character.
An additional £154,271 is provided for the continuation of the developmental policy in the territories.
Beyond these few observations, I do not propose at this stage to go into detail in respect of the specific works to be undertaken during this year, because later individual Ministers will furnish whatever information is desired by honorable members.
The practice in past years has been to consider the new works proposals of the Government as soon as possible after the budget has been delivered, and it is just as desirable this year, as in previous years, to make provision for the works to bo carried on without intermission. Works in progress at the 30th June as usual have been carried on up to the present time by drawing upon the Treas urer’s Advance, that being one of the principal purposes for which this elastic grant is provided. It is not usual to authorize the construction of new works out of the Treasurer’s Advance, except in special cases, such as urgent defence works. Generally speaking, this advance is used only to carry on works already in progress. The Government has submitted this measure as early as possible so that there may be no delay in the prosecution of these works.
Telephone Accounts - Pearl Shell Industry: Poaching interritorial Waters - Wireless Licence- Fee - Public Service: Returned Soldiers - Landing Ground for Aircraft at Katoomba - Tasmanian Shipping Service - Iron Ore Deposits in Tasmania - Wireless in Motor Cars - “ Militia Monthly “.
– In view of the necessity for the consideration of the various measures which have been placed before the House to-day, I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I have referred to the necessity for providing appliances which will register automatically the number of calls made by telephone subscribers. I have just received a letter from a business man at Narrabeen, in the electorate of Warringah, as follows: -
Congratulations on your efforts at Canberra yesterday. It is to be hoped that Sir Archdale Parkhill’s guns are more accurate than his telephone mechanism. I thinkhis statement in the House yesterday was most ridiculous. Only lately I complained about telephone calls, and the authorities explained that they had no control over mistakes in mechanism at the post office. I have not been game to ring up lately, as I generally get two or three wrong calls before beingconnected properly. They tell me that if you ring the exchange they will rectify it, but when I get my bill it does not look like it. The telephone runts are about five times what they ought to be.
I again draw attention to the necessity for appliances capable of registering telephone calls.
. -For the last three or four years the
Government has promised to assist the pearl shell industry by providing patrol boats to check the operations of poachers from overseas in territorial waters. Along the shores of the Northern Territory an effort has been made to keep poachers beyond the three-mile limit. Only recently we were advised that the patrol boats will not do duty on the north-west coast of Western Australia or in Torres Strait. I recently telegraphed to the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson) informing him that a sampan had been seen near Broome searching for water. There were 27 Japanese on board, also several Japanese women and children. This matter cannot be treated lightly. If such vessels were seen off the coast of New South Wales, Victoria or Queenshind, I am sure that the press would raise a hue and cry immediately, and the Government would be compelled to take prompt action. One half of the pearl shell industry in Australian waters is now in the hands of the Japanese. Pour years ago only one sampan came vo our shores, but to-day the number is large. These vessels are now approachng the north-western coast of Australia. When I telegraphed to the Minister about a poacher having been seen at Broome he replied in the following characteristic way in which he allows matters to slide: - [n reply to your telegram the Commonwealth has no power to prevent use of territorial waters of any State, that power being specifically retained by the States. Commonwealth .jurisdiction is confined to Northern Territory where we have the powers and funcions ions of a State. 1 1 was stated a month ago that the Commonwealth had no responsibility in this matter. The regrettable fact is that vessels belonging to the Defence Department ;ire available for the patrol of 1,000 miles of our northern coast line, but 9,000 miles of it is left defenceless. I trust that the Minister for Defence (Sir Archdale Parkhill) and the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White), who, unlike the Minister for the Interior, are men of action, will endeavour to see that strong measures are taken without delay. Australia has a menace at its back door, and the Government has promised for three years to deal with it.
– I should like the Minister representing the Postmaster-General (Sir Archdale Parkhill) to give serious consideration to the position of the unemployed, many of whom, by voluntary effort and with the aid of local subscriptions, have erected recreation rooms in various towns. The principal object is to keep young men profitably occupied, and an effort is made to give them vocational training. In some instances business people have donated wireless sets to these clubs of unemployed youths and it seems to me that it would not bc unreasonable to ask that the licence-fee be waived. Being unemployed, these young men have no money with which to pay the licencefee. I understand that inspectors are about to prosecute unemployed persons in the coal-fields districts whose wireless licences have not been paid. I suggest that such treatment would be unnecessarily harsh.
– A decision was reached by the Federal Cabinet in Brisbane in 1936 with respect to the re-admittance of returned soldiers to the public service. When an announcement to this effect was made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), the following headlines appeared in the daily press in bold type - “Dismissed Returned Men to bc re-admitted to Federal Public Service - Cabinet Decision To-day.”1 Naturally, that information was very pleasing to the returned soldiers temporarily employed in the Public Service, particularly in the Postal Department. In making the announcement, the Prime Minister said that the amendment of the Public Service Act would deal chiefly with men who were temporarily employed. Quite a number of men who had served the requisite period in a temporary capacity in the clerical division of the Public Service, thereupon made application for permanent employment, but found that provision was made for the permanent appointment only of those who had been employed in the general division. Returned soldiers generally regard this discrimination as very unfair. I- ask the Minister to go into the matter and ascertain if it is not possible to mete out equal treatment to returned soldiers, whether they have been employed in the general or in the clerical divisions of the Public Service.
.- When the Works Estimates were being discussed last year, I asked the Minister for Defence (Sir Archdale Parkhill) if money could be made available out of the provision for the Civil Aviation Department for the construction of a landing ground in the Katoomba district. It is unnecessary for me to refer to the danger to life in flying over the mountains. The Minister for Defence, in reply, said that provision was being made for that purpose and that the work would be carried out. I understand, however, that since then nothing has been done. A considerable amount of money is likely to be made available this year for defence purposes aimed at the destruction of life ; a portion of that money could well be used for the preservation of life. In the past, only too often, it has been the practice of the department to wait until a serious accident has occurred before taking preventive measures. This matter should be given very serious consideration. I now ask the Minister if the promised landing ground will be constructed in the near future.’
– I have no doubt that the Minister representing the Postmaster-General is aware of the dissatisfaction that has existed for some time in Tasmania in connexion with shipping and mail services to that State. It is hoped that a considerable improvement of mail services will take place in the near future when mails from the mainland to Tasmania are carried by air and more rapidly distributed over the various portions of the State. Great dissatisfaction, however, exists in connexion with the shipping service to the north-west coast and to Launceston via the Tamar. Further difficulty was created by the recent breakdown of the Taroona, which followed the withdrawal of the Nairana for overhaul. ‘A substitute vessel, the Wollongbar, was chartered to operate the service during the period when the other vessels were laid up, but could not do so satisfactorily. It was provided in the charter agreement that the Taroona should maintain the service, calling at certain north-west coast ports and pro ceeding on to Launceston. When the Wollongbar was placed in service the shipping company was approached to divert the Launceston vessel to the northwest coast ports. I communicated with the Postmaster-General in regard to this matter, setting out the entirely unsatisfactory position that has arisen as the result of the altered arrangements, and the inconvenience caused to the main body of passengers travelling between the mainland and Tasmania. In reply the Postmaster-General stated -
In the circumstances, it was considered that a single boat service would be unsatisfactory for such a rather lengthy period, and the shipping company was accordingly approached with a view to a substitute vessel being provided during the period the Taroona would be out of commission . . .
The Postmaster-General went on to say -
It may be mentioned that the shipping company was under no contractual obligation to provide a substitute vessel.
We are fully aware of that, and while I agree that the additional vessel has provided greater convenience to the people of Tasmania, I am at a loss to understand why the passengers who want to travel via the Tamar, which is the recognized direct shipping route, should be diverted to the north-west coast, and that passengers, averaging about 150 during the winter season, should be put to this inconvenience to meet the convenience of those who travel via Burnie who average only about 50. It has been represented to me in Launceston that this savours of more than the average amount of party politics.
– The honorable member is making it a party matter now.
– It is suggested that this has been done to bolster up the position of the honorable member for Darwin (Mr. Bell), and the right honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Lyons).
– That is very unfair.
– I am not, however, concerned about that aspect.
– Then why mention it?
– It seems the honorable member is concerned about it now.
– I am merely stating what has been, represented to me, not by people from whom I expect support, but from those who are, most likely, politically opposed to me. I regard it as my duty to bring the matter before the House. I enter an emphatic protest against the inconveniencing of the many, for the benefit of the comparative few. I ask the Minister to go carefully into the matter to see if it is not possible to obviate the inconvenience caused by the late arrival of passengers at the port of Launceston.
I desire to know if any recent survey has been made of the extent of the iron ore deposits in Tasmania. If not, I ask nhat such a survey should be undertaken by the development branch of the Prime Minister’s Department. There are three lodes known to exist, the chief among them being the Bio Tinto lodes on the west coast, which were first reported upon in 1903 by the Tasmanian Government Geologist. A company to operate the Rio Tinto lodes was originally formed in 1895, and continued operations for about two years, carrying out certain developmental work, after which, most of its capital having been expended, it was decided to close the mine pending the introduction of fresh capital. Since then no further work has been done. I understand, however, that investigations made in earlier years show that there is a considerable body of ore in Tasmania and, as Australia is short of steel, a survey should be made to ascertain the extent of the deposits. The lodes should be worked to provide a supply of ir.on ore for Australian requirements, and to give additional employment to Tasmanian workers.
.- Great injustice is being done to a very large section of the community by reason of the fact that drivers of hire cars have to pay wireless licence-fees for receiving sets installed in their cars in addition to the. licence-fees for the sets installed in their own homes. I quite understand that the licence-fee is properly collected from companies owning a number of hire cars. My grievance is, briefly, that whereas a man who has a motor car which he drives for pleasure can have a wireless in it without paying an extra wireless fee, a man with a motor vehicle which he uses for business purposes can-‘ not have a wireless in it without doing so.
– I do not think that that is so.
– I have a concrete case, which shows clearly that it is so, and I ask the Minister to accept my statement to that effect.
– I accept the statement of the honorable member that he believes that what he is saying to me is accurate.
– This is an anomaly which should be rectified without delay. I have been informed that there is nothing in the law which provides for the payment of a second licencefee by one owner, and that the procedure that I have described has been set up by the department. I hope that this grievance will be remedied without delay.
– As I entered the chamber a few moments ago the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) was dealing with the subject of shipping services to Tasmania, and by innuendo and suggestion endeavouring to imply that party political considerations were being borne in mind in dealing with the subject. The fact, of course, is that my own division of Wilmot includes part of Launceston so that some of my constituents are affected. All that has been done has had behind it the desire to assist not only particular parts of Tasmania, but also the State as a whole.
– That is not so.
– That is the fact whether the honorable member cares to admit it or not. He has endeavoured to show that because a request was made that a better steamer be put on the northwest coast run once in and once out each week the shipping company was being asked to provide an inferior service to Launceston. Surely things have come to a pretty standard when an honorable member argues that a request for a better vessel once a week to the northwest coast is inspired by party political considerations. In all the negotiations for years past for improved shipping services for Tasmania the- most modern vessels have been secured for Launceston. What actually happened in the present instance is that, owing to unforeseen circumstances, the most modern steamer, the Taroona, on the Launceston run has had to be taken off for a time owing to trouble with her turbines. The next best steamer, the Nairana, was then put on the Launceston service, and the Wollongbar, which is not so good, has been placed on the north-west coast during the period the Taroona is being repaired and the Nairana overhauled. In those circumstances an appeal was made for the better vessel to be permitted to call at the north-west ports once in and once out each week on the way to and from Launceston. This would not really affect the Launceston service except to the extent that it would add . to the running time of the vessel. I emphasize that even under this arrangement Launceston, and so Tasmania at large, would continue to have the better service. It would not be fair to confine the service to north-western ports of the inferior vessel. The improved service could be given to them in the way requested without inflicting any injury whatever on Launceston.
The honorable member knows something of the provision that is being made for a daily air mail service to Tasmania without surcharge. Launceston will bo the point of distribution, and from that city the mails will radiate throughout Tasmania.
– Shall we get a daily air mail service to Hobart without surcharge?
– It is our responsibility to get the mail to Tasmania. The distribution of it will be a matter to be dealt with within the State. I do not know ‘what time the mail will arrive at Hobart under the new arrangement, but at least Hobart will receive a daily mail which it does not get to-day. What the Government ha3 clone, and is doing, will help Launceston and, through Launceston, the whole State.
Moreover, arrangements have been made for additional overseas steamers to call at Hobart during the coming tourist season. While I was in London I interviewed the shipping authorities “which control the services to Australia, and requested that the number of vessels calling at Hobart during the tourist season should be increased. My request was acceded to with the result that during the coming season at least 44 overseas steamers will call at Tasmania. Launceston will reap an advantage on that account. It should have a substantially increased tourist trade on account of the calling of these additional vessels. Furthermore, the city will benefit by the distribution of the mails that come by air. Launceston will also benefit by the running of the Taroona and Nairana even though one of them may call once a week at the north-west ports. What has been done will benefit Launceston and the whole of the State.
.- The honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. A. Green) has again attacked the Government for what he chooses to regard as some dereliction of responsibility by it in dealing with illegal fishing in northern waters. It came as a surprise to the honorable member to learn that the Commonwealth Government had no jurisdiction whatever over territorial waters within the three-mile limit.
– That was four weeks ago.
– If the honorable member cares to examine Ilansard he will find that these matters were brought under notice in consequence of the action of a Minister of the Queensland Government. What the honorable gentleman seems to have just discovered has been known for several years. It is no new situation. Hie honorable gentleman’s electioneering speech might sound very well at Broome or thereabouts.
– The Government should do its job.
– The honorable member might well direct his remarks to the Labour Government of Western Australia for it is within the legislative province of that Government to deal with illegal fishing within territorial waters.
– They cannot deal with fishing outside the three-mile limit.
– The Commonwealth Government was requested by tie Government of Queensland to take some action in this regard, but, although we had no responsibility in connexion with illegal fishing in territorial waters, I, nevertheless, recommended that a fast patrol boat should be built to patrol the coast to deal with smuggling and also, perhaps, to exercise some indirect effect in regard to fishing, though such fishing might be in waters controlled by the State.
– Will the Government do the same for Western Australia?
– The vessel will be launched about October. She will be a fast craft, carrying fast speed boats, and she will be armed. Under the Customs Act, we can deal only with the protection of the revenue and the importation and exportation of goods. We cannot use the boat to deal with illegal fishing in territorial waters.’ We can watch a ship in territorial waters and, in certain suspicious circumstances, can give it twelve hours’ notice to depart, or order a ship within the territorial limits to heave-to for boarding. If the honorable member would read the Customs Act, he would ascertain how limited our authority is.
– The Government could prevent smuggling, and prevent the landing of prohibited immigrants.
– And it is definitely doing so. The honorable member cannot name a single instance in which we have not been vigilant in that regard. The pearling industry of Australia, as he is well aware, has definitely passed out of white hands. Very few white men indeed sail nowadays with the fleets from Broome, Darwin or Thursday Island to engage in pearling.
– The boats are owned by white men.
– Yes, but the honorable member is talking about what happened years ago as if it were a recent happening. This industry, which was started 50 years ago, has now largely passed out of the hands of the white men, except for the owners ashore.
– That is untrue.
– The honorable member should read what Idriess has to say on the subject. I have been out on these boats and I know what I am talking about.
– The Minister is making a lot of misstatements and I shall not permit it.
– The honorable member for Kalgoorlie must restrain himself. The Minister is entitled to be heard in silence.
– What the honorable member has been talking about is, to a large extent, the responsibility of the States. The Commonwealth ha3 jurisdiction over territorial waters of the Northern Territory because the Northern Territory is Commonwealth territory. That jurisdiction is exercised by the Minister for the Interior and the Larrakia has been working those waters. The honorable member should know something about the ordinance that was passed to deal with this subject, but, as he has chosen to launch an attack on the Government, I am entitled to reply to it and point out that he is attempting to saddle the Commonwealth Government with criticism that should be directed at his West Australian Labour friends. The patrol boat which is to be put into commission will, undoubtedly, have an indirect effect upon the conditions referred to by him.
– I have made some investigations into references made to-day by the honorable member for Cook (Mr. Garden) to a certain publication which had printed on its title page the words “ Printed by permission of the Defence Department,” and to certain contents to which he took exception.I knew very well that I had not authorized any such publication and also that people have been frequently refused permission to use the name of the Defence Department. Upon communicating with the Secretary for Defence, I was informed that he knew of no authority that had been given in respect of the publication mentioned by the honorable member. Yesterday, before the honorable member had drawn attention to this particular case, the proprietors of the journal were requested to take from the cover the words “ Printed by permission of the Defence Department” and also to remove from it the coat of arms. No official permission has been given, but it may be that as a result of some conversation with a junior officer, they thought that they had obtained it.
I have received from a supporter of mine a similar letter to that referred to by the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini) in relation to the installation of devices to check the numbers of calls made by telephone subscribers. I shall explain the position to him.
I shall bring before the PostmasterGeneral the request of the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) for the waiving of the wireless licence-fee in the case of the unemployed.
I remember the decision made in regard to the employment of returned soldiers in the Public Service to which the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. George Lawson) referred, but I am not sure about the details. I shall have inquiries made.
Discussions have taken place regarding the establishment of an aerodrome at Katoomba. I believe that the advisableness of establishing an aerodrome there was admitted. I shall, however, make further inquiries and let the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clark) know the result. The policy of the department is to prevent accidents rather than to wait for accidents to occur before taking action.
The honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) can rest assured that the iron ore deposits in Tasmania will not be overlooked in the survey which is to take place.
I admit that the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Mahoney) would not bring before the House any complaint which he did not think was a genuine one, but I cannot conceive of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department requiring a man to take out a second licence merely because he takes a wireless receiving set out of his house and places it in his motor car. A person who has one instrument in his house and another in a car which he uses for pleasure is charged only one licence fee.
– A man is required to pay two licence fees if he buys a car with a wireless set in it.
– As far as I know, the practice is to allow a man who has paid his fee to have as many instruments as he likes, so long as not more than one is in use at a time. I shall, however, obtain further information and supply it to the honorable member.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 1.2 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: - 1, 2 and 3. A preliminary and partial survey of the resources of iron ore in Australia has been made in conjunction with the States. This preliminary survey is incomplete, and a general survey is to be made in order that the Government may have the fullest possible information, based upon reliable data. The question of extending this survey to cover other minerals of national importance is also receiving attention. Consideration will be given to the question of making the report of the results of thesurvey available to honorable members when it comes to hand.
Canberraand Federal Capital territory :buildingmaterials.
Mr.Perkins asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
n. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
e asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Mr.White. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Transfer of War Exhibits to Canberra.
Mr.Mulcahy asked the’ Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
What was the total cost of transferring the war and other exhibits from Prince Alfred Park, Sydney, to Canberra?
Were tenders called for this work?
Will he supply the names of those who tendered and the amount ofeach tender?
What is the name of the firm which carried out this work?
Mr.Paterson. - The information is being obtained.
d asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The Postmaster-General has supplied the following answers: - 1, 2 and 3. Consideration is being given to the rearrangements which will be involved as a result of the Government’s decision to convey first class mail matter across Bass Strait by air without surcharge. The investigation is, however, not yet complete.
d asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice - 1.Is it a fact that many postal employees whohave been recently transferred to country towns in Victoria have found it impossible to obtain housing accommodation, and, as a result, have been put to additional expense through having either to pay board and lodging expenses for themselves and their families or to maintain a home in the metropolitan area in addition to paying their own boarding expenses?
SirArchdale Parkhill. - The matter will receive consideration.
n. - On the 25th August, the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. E. J. Harrison) asked the following questions, upon notice: -
I am now ina position to furnish the following information: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 27 August 1937, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1937/19370827_reps_14_154/>.