15th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. G. J. Bell) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Will the Acting Minister for Commerce state whether the Government has been approached by representatives of the fruit-growing industry in the Commonwealth with the proposal that it impose a levy on all fruit sold in Australia for the purpose of establishing a fund to advertise Australian fruit overseas? If not, has the Government considered such a proposal, and will the honorable gentleman indicate its attitude towards it?
– The Government has been approached. The matter hasbeen considered, and it isbelieved that, in view of the very peculiar circumstances involved, it would not be practicable to collect such a levy. However, I assure the honorable gentleman that the matter of advertising certain Australian fruits, both at home and abroad, will be discussed by the Australian Agricultural Council, which is meeting in Canberra to-morrow and on Friday..
Motion (by Mr. Lyons) agreed to-
That the House, at its rising,adjourn until 10.30 a.m. to-morrow.
– Is it the intention of the Government to use wholly for commercial purposes the commercial aerodrome which it proposes to establish near Newcastle or is it also intended, with a view to future developments, to use it for air-force training? Further, does the Government intend to establish an air squadron at Newcastle?
Mr.THORBY. - There is no intention on the part of the Government to establish au air squadron at Newcastle, but extensive fortifications, associated with the coast defence scheme, are being established adjacent to Newcastle. The aerodrome referred to by the honorable member is to be used essentially for civil aviation purposes and will not be used by the Defence Department. In the event of an emergency, however, it would automatically come under the control of the Defence authorities.
Motion (by Mr. Lyons) - by leave - proposed -
ThatGovernment business shall take precedence over general businessto-morrow.
Mr.CURTIN (Fremantle). - I have no objection to the motion on this occasion. The businesslisted by private members for to-morrow happens to stand in my name. It relates to a subject which I have had before the Parliament on a previous occasion. I wrote a minority report upon it which is available to honorable members, and it may be referred to, I hope with considerable support, in connexion with a bill which may be dealt with within the next few days.
Motion agreed to.
– In view of the fact that a state of drought exists at the. present time in the grazing areas of four States, being the worst drought of a century in one State, does not the Treasurer consider that an amendment of (he hardship sections of the Land Tax Act is an urgent necessity, so that the Deputy Commissioners may be instructed that the land tax shall not be collectible with respect to properties which, by reason of drought or low prices, have not made any profit in the year of assessment?
– This matter is actually under consideration at the moment. I take it that the honorable gentleman refers to section 66 of the Land Tax Act. I can give no undertaking that the Government will act in the manner suggested by him, but I assure him that his representations will be given full consideration.
– I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General whether it is a fact that certain B class wireless broadcasting stations are setting aside given periods for broadcasting in foreign languages? If so, will the honorable gentleman take steps to see that all broadcasting is carried out in the English language?
– I shall not take such steps, because I consider that the matter broadcast by these stations is of educational value, is made use of by the Departments of Education, and is of material service to the people of Australia.
– Will the Treasurer state whether it is the intention of the Government to include in the allowable deductions under the Income Tax Act contributions payable under the national health and pensions insurance legislation? Has the honorable gentleman been in consultation with the governments of the States in an endeavour to learn their attitude in this particular matter?
– I hesitate to give an offhand reply to the honorable gentleman’s question, but it is my firm impression that contributions payable under the national health and pensions insurance legislation will be considered as part of the necessary expenses of conducting a business. The Common wealth has not been in communication with the governments of the States in this regard, but I shall endeavour to obtain for the honorable gentleman the information he desires.
– In view of the bearing that the proposed national health and pensions insurance legislation will have upon the’ social service legislation of different States, some of the provisions of which are similar to the provisions of the National Health and Pensions Insurance Bill, and also of the effect of the measure on the taxpayers and wage-earners of Australia, I ask the Prime Minister whether the Government will take the initiative in convening a conference of Commonwealth, and State representatives with the object of avoiding anomalies which may otherwise arise ? I refer, in particular, to the widows’ pensions and child endowment legislation of New South Wales and possibly to the unemployment insurance scheme of Queensland. Pending the holding of such a conference, will the Prime Minister consider the advisableness for withholding further discussion of the bill now before this House?
– I do not think that a conference is necessary. Opportunity will be given to the representatives of State governments and to other persons to submit their views to the Government, and all views submitted will be considered. I am hopeful that the Commonwealth scheme will be helpful and not injurious to the States as a whole. In any case, we shall be prepared to receive representations from the States. I do not think that it is necessary to postpone the resumption of the debate on the bill, for, I think, all honorable members will agree that, in consequence of the importance of the measure, the debate will be lengthy.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether he will agree to postpone the resumption of the debate on the bill from the 19th May, as now proposed, to the 24th May, which would be the first sitting day in the week following the date on which it is now proposed to resume the debate? If that course is adopted, two clear parliamentary weeks will have elapsed between the time of the submission of the bill by the Treasurer, and the resumption of the debate on it by myself. In making this proposal to the -Prime Minister, I ask whether he is aware that the speech which the Treasurer delivered, and of which he undertook to make copies available to interested persons throughout the Commonwealth, together with copies of the bill and actuaries’ report thereon, could not, in the nature of things, reachWestern Australia until about to-day? Is he also aware that citizens of Western Australia would be sadly handicapped in endeavouring to inform me or any other honorable members of this House of their views on the bill before, at least, the 24th May?
– I shall consider the suggestion of the Leader of the Opposition, but it will be necessary to examine the Government’s programme of legislation to ascertain the possible effect of a postponement of the resumption of this debate. However, as the honorable gentleman is not suggesting a long delay, I shall confer with the Treasurer to see what can be done to meet his wishes.
Mr.BEASLEY.- Is the Prime Minister able to make to the House anyprogress report concerning the transpacific shipping service, in connexion with which the Commonwealth is committed to the payment of a portion of the cost of the building of two new liners? Will the right honorable gentleman also state whether the report whichappears in to-day’s newspapers, in which it is stated that Commonwealth Ministers now abroad have consulted with the Government of Canada, and that differences which existed have Very largely been removed, is correct? I am interested, on behalf of maritime workers, in learning before the vessels are actually constructed what provision is being made in connexion with registration and the accommodation for the men concerned.
– I have seen the report to which the honorable member has referred. Nothing of an official character has reached the Government, which would indicate that the position has altered in recent times. When the last advice was received some time ago, the prospects of an early settlement were not very bright. If any discussions are taking place in London, they will be not merely with Canada, as the honorable member has suggested, but also with the other parties to the proposal.
– It has been said that Canada was a stumbling block.
– We do not say that exactly. Canada is only one of the parties. I am hopeful that discussions will take place overseas between all the parties.
– Will the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs state what steps are being or have been taken in the direction of restricting the circulation of indecent literature in Australia?
– by leave- Following upon strong agitation by a large section of the community and vigorous protests by various public and religious bodies, the Government has given consideration to the advisability of taking action to prevent the importation into the Commonwealth of certain literature of an undesirable character in which crime and criminal activities are featured and which give undue emphasis to matters of sex. It is recognized that there are many reputable publications in which crime and even horrors are judiciously presented and which have definite literary and intellectual merit. To these no exception can be taken. Certain publications are, however, being imported into Australia, which have no literary or ‘ intellectual value and are obviously published in order to cater for those seeking to satisfy depraved tastes for morbidity, sadism, sensuality, &c. These books are usually printed in luridly attractive covers and frequently a table of contents is printed on the cover in which is included a title or titles of a suggestive nature. The books are retailed at prices ranging as low as 3d. or 4d. a copy. The Customs Act prohibits the importation of blasphemous, indecent or obscene works or articles, and it has been the practice for many years to refuse delivery of publications which are definitely within the category of obscene, indecent, or blasphemous.
A large number of the publications typical of those now in question has been examined by officers of the department, and it has been found that, while some could be classed as obscene or indecent within the meaning of the existing prohibition, many of them, although of an undesirable character, could not be so classed. A similar view was expressed by the members of the Literature Censorship Board by whom a number of copies were examined. Honorable members will, I am sure, agree that literature of the type of that, now referred to cannot but have a harmful effect upon the community, particularly upon the young folk and adolescents. In supporting representations made by him for a ban on such importations, the Premier of Sew South Wales stated that a large number of these publications were found among the effects of a young man recently found guilty of murder.
The Literature Censorship Board has reported that certain of the publications reviewed by it, whilst not within the existing prohibition, are injurious. After the fullest consideration the Government has decided that in the interests of the community the sale of undesirable literature of the type under consideration should be prevented and to this end approval has been given to the issue of a regulation under section 52(gr) of the Customs Act prohibiting the importation of literature which, in the opinion of the Minister for Trade and Customs, unduly emphasizes matters of sex or crime or is calculated to encourage depravity whether by words or by picture or partly by words and partly by picture. There is no intention to interfere with reputable detective or crime stories which have definite literary merit.
– In connexion with the Government’s decision to deal effectively with the importation of improper literature and publications from overseas, has the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs observed the remarks made by the Coadjutor Archbishop of Sydney (Dr. Gilroy) concerning local publications of a similar character, and what action docs the Acting Minister propose to take to deal with them?
– I did see the remarks attributed to the Venerable Archbishop and I have received complaints from several parts of Australia about the same matter, but local publications are the concern of the State authorities and not of the Commonwealth.
– 1 ask the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs whether the decision as to imported publications will rest with the Literature Censorship Board or with Customs officials? ls it intended to include in the ban those publications popularly known as “ penny dreadfuls “ which, apparently, without any serious consequences, formed the basis of the early reading of members of the Commonwealth Parliament?
– It is not the intention to have the magazines referred to censored by the Censorship Board, which is composed of professional men whose time is well occupied. They were good enough to give 25 hours of their time to reading the magazines complained of in order to bring a report .before the House. “ Penny dreadfuls “ do not come within the category. It is not the intention to ban booklets of that description, which many honorable members doubtless have been guilty of reading, so that they may still bc available to those who desire them.
– Has the attention of the Acting. Minister for Com,merce been drawn to a statement published in Fair Play, the British shipping newspaper, on the 24th March, under the heading “ New Japanese Liners”, which reads as follows: -
According to the Tokio correspondent of The Times, the Japanese Government hae decided to provide, by means of a subsidy of 60 per cent, of the construction costa, two new 20.500 ton passenger liners for the Pacific service. The ships will cost 48,000,000 yen, which is equivalent to £2,800,000, of which the Government will contribute 28.800,000 yi;n, spread over five years.
If the Minister has seen this statement, will he give consideration to the necessity for advising the Government on the wisdom of providing a subsidy for certain shipping lines operating in the Pacific, the continued existence of which is vital to Australia?
– My attention has been drawn to the report read by the honorable member, and I assure him that I shall take into consideration the suggestion he has made.
– Has the Minister for Defence seen a report in this morning’s issue of the Sydney Morning Herald to the effect that the Chamber of Manufactures of New South Wales has decided to establish a fund for the purpose of training reserve pilots for the Air Force? Has this movement the blessing of his department? If so, is it intended to take steps to extend it to other States? If nothing is being done in that direction, will the honorable gentleman investigate the possibility of extending the movement to other States through similar bodies?
– This movement originated with, and is being organized entirely by, the Chamber of Manufactures in Sydney. 1 have not been directly consulted as to the advisability of associating it with the Air Force. The object of the movement is to train pilots, not necessarily for the Air Force, although the pilots so trained would be available for all purposes. I shall make contact with the authorities organizing the movement, and seek to obtain full information, which I hope to make available to the honorable member within the next couple of days.
– In view of the large number of pupils in the various country training schools of the royal aero clubs in Australia who have, been trained up to the A licence standard, will the Minister for Defence consider giving such pupils preference, other things being equal, for appointment to the Royal Australian Air Force in order to encourage young men to acquire the art of flying?
– I remind the honorable member that the training given in the Air Force is very different from that given to pupils by aero clubs. However,I shall given attention to the point he has raised in the hope that due consideration may be given to the fact that these youths have already learned to fly civil planes before they apply for positions in the Air Force.
– In considering the migration policy, has the Prime Minister given consideration to the great extent of unemployment that still exists in industrial areas, and has he considered any proposal to remove, or assist in the removal, of those unemployed persons from those centres to enable them to obtain employment in other areas ?
– Yes, the Government has given consideration to all of the circumstances to which the honorable member refers. It also, of course, cannot fail to give consideration to the fact that the quarterly statistics of unemployment show steady improvement. Further, it would be useless to wait until all the unemployed had been absorbed before proceeding with some form of migration. If we did so we should be doing something that has never been done in the past, because migration has always proceeded even in periods when unemployment has been much greater than it is to-day.
– Has the Government given consideration to repatriating men from industrial areas, where there is a considerable amount of unemployment, such as the Newcastle coal-fields, and Broken Hill, to other places where they may find employment, as is done in the case of immigrants?
– No consideration has been given to the matter raised by the honorable member. I have never heard of such a proposal, but if the honorable member will submit a suggestion in regard to it it will receive consideration by the Government.
The following papers were presented : -
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointment ofW. B. Smart. Department of the Treasury. Superannuation Act - Fifteenth Annual Report of the Superannuation Board, for year 1936-37.
Austraiian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act - Regulations amended- Statutory Rules 1938, No. 42.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired at - Mr Eliza, Victoria - For postal purposes.
Darwin, Northern Territory - For Defence purposes.
Laverton, Victoria - For Defence purposes.
– Can the Acting Minister for Health inform the House when the collection of aboriginal articles which was donated to the Commonwealth by the late Dr. Basedow will be set up for exhibition somewhere in Canberra, and can he inform the House what steps are being taken to see that the various articles are protected against deterioration whilst awaiting exhibition?
– The Basedow collection cannot be set up for exhibition at the present, because there is no room in the Institute of Anatomy for it. The same remark applies to the Lindo collection and to the Papuan collection” of anthropology which was sent down from New Guinea by Sir Hubert Murray. In regard to the care of these collections, I must admit that there was some serious concern last year on account of the presence of borers in the woodwork, but that has been attended to by officers of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. I have been assured during the last few days that there is at present no danger of any further deterioration in these valuable bequests, which are at present stored in the basement of the Institute of Anatomy.
– Is the Acting Minister for Health in a position to state what progress has been made in the investigation by the Commonwealth Medical Board into the effect of wheat dust on waterside workers’ handling bulk wheat?
– Not a great deal of progress has been made. Up to last week, when I was in consultation with the authorities in Sydney, only 25 waterside workers had submitted themselves for examination. The Department of Health is most anxious that this inves tigation should be completed. I am thankful to the honorable member for Dalley and to the secretary of the union concerned, Mr. Mullins, for their cooperation in this matter. I ask them at this point to have the workers concerned submit themselves to the officers of the department in Sydney so that an official decision on this matter can be arrived at, and presented to Parliament.
– Has the attention of the Minister for the Interior been drawn to the report in the morning press that a fleet of 116 pearling vessels has left the Caroline Islands for northern Australian waters? Does the Minister realize the importance of the pearling industry in northern Australia and what has the Minister done further to protect that industry?
– Ihave not seen the report, but I have heard some mention of it. I direct the attention of the honorable member to the fact that pearling in northern Australian waters is almost invariably carried on outside territorial waters, over which the Commonwealth, of course, has uo authority or control. The Commonwealth has at the present time a patrol system and it is expected in a short space of time to have that patrol improved by the availability of two additional vessels, one under the control of the Department of Trade and Customs and one under the control of the Department of the Interior. The function of the patrol is, amongst other things, to see that there is no poaching in territorial waters and no interference by the crews of pearling vessels with Australian aboriginals.
– Is the Minister for the Interior aware that the Japanese pearling fleet of 116 vessels, which is to operate in the waters of northern Australia, is capable of taking away 3,480 tons of shell during the season, which is double the world’s requirements, and that this will have a serious effect upon the Australian pearling industry?
– The honorable member must recognize that the Commonwealth has no control over vessels operating outside Australian territorial waters.
If the Japanese fleet raises more shell
Chan the market can absorb it mav be serious, but the matter is quite beyond my control.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior whether there is any likelihood in the immediate future of my being given an answer to a question which I asked about three weeks ago on notice regarding tyres and tubes?
– The question referred to was not a matter concerning my department. If inadvertently there has been some delay in drawing the attention of the appropriate department to this matter, I express my regret and assure the honorable gentleman that there will be no further delay.
– About two weeks ago, I asked the Minister for External Affairs whether he had received a report in connexion with the proposed removal of the capital of New Guinea from Rabaul. He replied that he had received a report, and that he would soon be in a position to say what was to be done. In view of the anxiety of the people of Rabaul regarding the position, I should like to know when a decision may .be expected?_
– This matter was raised in Cabinet, but an opportunity .for full consideration has not yet occurred. I am hopeful, however, that such an opportunity may be found this week. I repeat the assurance I gave earlier that I am sensible of the urgency of the matter, and that no undue delay will take place.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Defence been drawn to a statement published in the issue of Aircraft for the 2nd of May that those aeroplanes which recently experienced difficulty in reaching Essendon during a dust storm were not fitted with receiving apparatus to pick up the ultra short waves used by the direction finding station there? In view of the fact that we are approaching the season of fogs, will the Minister give an assurance that the position will be remedied in the near future ?
– In the first place, I point out that the directional finding station at Essendon was established by the civil aviation branch of the Defence Department. The responsibility for installing the necessary apparatus in the aeroplanes rests on the private companies operating the various airlines. Until all the States bring their legislation into line, and have it proclaimed, the control which the Commonwealth can exercise over civil aviation is limited, and does not extend to compelling civil aircraft to install the apparatus necessary to take advantage of direction finding stations at Essendon and other centres. However, the principal passenger lines are now, on their own initiative, installing such apparatus. All the State Parliaments except New South Wales have passed acts to bring their legislation dealing with aviation into line with that of the Commonwealth. Action in New South Wales was delayed because of the recent election in that State, but the Premier has given an assurance that the matter will be dealt with immediately. The Parliaments of Victoria, Tasmania and Queensland have passed legislation, but it has not yet been proclaimed, while in South Australia and Western Australia the legislation has been passed and proclaimed, and the Commonwealth air regulations are now in force in those States.
– Can the Prime Minister state when the debate will be resumed on the ministerial statement on international affairs? I raise the matter now because it is desirable that the House should have an opportunity to debate the subject before the meeting of the Council of the League of Nations, and also before any action is taken with regard to the licensing of waterside workers in connexion with the loading of material for a certain foreign country.
– I shall look into the matter.
– Is the Prime Minister able to say what action is to be taken by the Government to prevent the exploitation by foreign interests of the iron ore deposits at Yampi Sound? If the Government has not yet decided upon its policy, when is it likely to do so?
– This question has already been answered twice during the last few days. There is no change in the situation.
– The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) last night discussed silicosis among stonemasons, and referred to certain communications between the Arbitration Court and the Government. A search has been made of the records in the Prime Minister’s Department, the Attorney-General’s Department, and the Department of Health, but so far we have not been able to discover any correspondence from the court on this subject. If the court will be good enough to supply the Government with a statement showing what it wants, immediate consideration will be given to the matter.
– Has the attention of the Minister for the Interior been drawn to a report that the Government intends to pay the fares of men from the southern States desirous of securing employment on public works in Darwin? Is there any truth in the report, and if so, where may particulars of the scheme be obtained?
– I have heard on a couple of occasions, a rumour that it is the intention of the Government to assist persons, tradesmen and labourers from the southern States, to go to the Northern Territory in connexion with the Government’s projected defence and public works programme there. I take the opportunity, in reply to this question, to make it quite clear that there is no intention on the part of the Government to make available any assistance to tradesmen or others to go north, and also to make it plain that the Government itself does not, except in rare instances, engage labour to carry out public works. The practice is to call tenders, and the necessary employees are engaged by the successful contractors. It would be a wise procedure for any one before proceeding to the north with the thought of getting work there to take the precautions of first ascertaining from successful tenderers that there is work awaiting them.
– Yesterday, the honorable member for Boothby (Mr. Price) asked me if I was prepared to lay on the table the report of the Tariff Board dealing with duties on undressed oregon. Upon inquiry, I find that this paper was laid on the table of the House on the 24th November, 1936.
– In various replies which I have received from Ministers in answer to questions in regard tooregon, I have been informed that the Government was giving the matter consideration. In view of the Minister’s reply to-day, I now ask what was the report to which consideration was being given?
-Following the honorable member’s question, yesterday - and that is the only one which has been submitted to me - I made inquiries and ascertained that the report to which I have just referred was the only one that has been considered. In addition a deputation at which the honorable member for Boothby was present, waited on the Prime Minister on Friday last, in connexion with this matter. I can only repeat that the only report of the Tariff Board in connexion with undressedoregon in the hands of the Department, is that which was laid on the table in 1936; even then it was some two or three years old.
– If no report on oregon has been received, will the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs have made by the Tariff Board as early as possible a report in connexion with the price of oregon, and the effect on employment in this country of the importation oforegon logs?
– As the honorable member is aware, I am only Acting
Minister for Trade and Customs and consequently am not fully cognizant of all the reports that may be available. I assure him, however, that the most sympathetic consideration will be given to hia request. I know that he is genuinely concerned in regard to the matter, which has been a hobby of his for several years. Anything that 1 can do to help him will be done with pleasure.
– In view of the raising of rents throughout different metropolitan areas, and of the fact that 200 families in Canberra are waiting for houses, will the honorable gentleman have an inquiry made into the importation of Oregon, particularly in the light of information placed before the Prime Minister by a deputation last Saturday, illustrating the very great importance of this industry? If the predecessor of the honorable gentleman was furnished with reports and they cannot be located, will he obtain a further report immediately from the Tariff Board ?
Before the Minister answers that question, if he intends to dc so, I remind honorable members that questions which are based on the reply to an earlier question are not in order. A number of questions which fall within that category have been asked this afternoon.
– The honorable member should be aware, from the answers that I have already given, that I have been active in an endeavour to ascertain what reports are available on the subject of oregon. He should also be aware that on Friday last, the Prime Minister assured a deputation that this matter would receive every attention. An officer of the department has been deputed to make inquiries, and is now engaged on that task.
– In view of the agitation by overseas interests and foreigners in favour of the importation of oregon into Australia, will the honorable gentleman see that, in any investigations that are being made, consideration is given to the workmen in Australian forests, particularly those who, in the hoop pine forests of Queensland, would be affected by the importation of Oregon?
– The honorable member may rest assured that his representations and those of all other honorable members will be given full consideration.
– In connexion with the decisions of the Government to ban certain sports in Canberra, will the Minister for the Interior state whether he was advised to do so by the same authority as advised his predecessor, Mr. Paterson, to impose a ban on the admittance of Mrs. Freer into the Commonwealth?
Question not answered.
– Will the Minister give instructions that the anticipated movements of the patrol boat Larrakia are kept secret; will he obtain a report from the captain of the Larrakia for presentation to this House, so that people of the southern States may judge whether the press reports of the interference with native women by pearlers in northern waters are not exaggerated?
– I shall give consideration to the points raised by the honorable member
– Did the Minister for Defence recently make a statement to the press to the effect that the floating dock at Newcastle is not needed for defence purposes? If so,, what reasons actuated that statement?
– In reply to a previous question by the honorable member, I pointed out that the floating dock at Newcastle is not part of the defence organization; it is not under the control of the Commonwealth Government, but. is associated with a department under the control of the New South Wales Government. The Commonwealth Government is not counting upon the floating dock at Newcastle for any defence programme at present being carried out. I may add that I have made arrangements for certain naval authorities to visit Newcastle in the near future, due notice of which will be given to the honorable member.
– Can the Minister inform the House if an appointment has yet been made as Australian Trade Commissioner in Canada to fill the vacancy caused by the transfer of Mr. McGregor to the United States of America?
– No such appointment has yet been made. It is news to me that Mr. McGregor has been transferred from Canada.
– Does the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation realize the serious implications contained in the statement of the AuditorGeneral with regard to the alleged unjustified payment of pensions to certain ex-soldiers ? If so, and in view of the fact that the Repatriation Commission has not taken action under Section 45K of the Repatriation Act to appeal against those decisions, what action does the Government propose to take to clear the names of the appeals tribunals and of the twelve returned soldiers concerned of the implication that the payment of those pensions is unjustified ?
– I discussed the matter with the Minister for Repatriation when I submitted to him the question asked by the honorable member yesterday. The Minister informed me that he has called for reports from the Chairman of the Repatriation Commission and also from tha chairmen of the various appeal tribunals. “When these reports are available a full statement of the position will be made.
– Will the Prime Minister state whether it is correct that the Government has instituted an inquiry into the ship-building industry in Australia? If so, is the inquiry being held for the purpose of facilitating and expediting the Government’s naval construction programme?
– A question relative to the attitude of the Government towards theship-building industry was replied to at some length to-day by the Acting Minister for Commerce.
– In view of the promise repeatedly made by the Prime Minister to the people of this country, that in any action taken by the Government to implement a scheme of assisted migration action would also be taken to protect the interests of the workers of this country against loss of employment, will the right honorable gentleman say what steps in this direction have been taken?
– The steps taken by the Government in relation to migration, including that aspect of it to which the honorable member has referred, have been very clearly outlined to this House by the Minister for the Interior.
– Will the Prime Minister state when the Government intends to give to honorable members of this House an opportunity to continue the debate on the Statute of Westminster, and to arrive at a decision upon it?
– When it is proposed to resume the debate, due notice will be given to the House.
– Has the Prime Minister any information to give to the House in regard to the progress of the Government’s declared policy that there shall be established in this country an industry devoted to the building of motor car engines?
– I think the honorable member will . appreciate the fact that, immediately the Government is in a position to make a statement in connexion with this matter, it will do so. The responsible Minister has already pointed out that some delay has occurred in the receipt of the report of the Tariff Board. At the present stage the Government can give very little time to the consideration of the matter, but I assure the honorable member that no time will . be unnecessarily lost in dealing with it.
– In the event of the Government deciding not to proceed with the project for the manufacture of motor chassis in Australia, will it immediately remove the duty of . 7d. per lb. weight on car chassis entering Australia?
– The Government does not anticipate that failure will attend the efforts that are being made to commence the manufacture of motor chassis in Australia. I have already pointed out that we have not yet had time fully to consider the matter. I have always been hopeful that the industry will be established in Australia. In such an event, the question raised by the honorable member will not have to be considered.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that almost the whole of the opposition, indeed hostility, to the manufacture of motor car engines in Australia, was brought about by the activities of certain big importing companies, the chief of those companies being the Ford Company of Canada ?
– I am afraid that I am not aware of that fact. On general grounds, I believe that most of the opposition to the manufacture of Australian goods comes from importers. That is as far as I can go in this case.
– Can the Minister indicate to the House when the Tariff Board report on the manufacture of motor car chassis and engines will be placed on the table of the House?
– I am not able at the present juncture to answer that question.
– Can the Treasurer advise the House as to the amount which has been received from the levy imposed on wool produced in Australia, and as to how it has been disposed of?
– From memory, I believe that the levy of 6d. a bale has so far been responsible for the raising of about £75,000 a year. The Government, of course, is not responsible for the disposal of the proceeds of the levy, but acts only as the intermediary of the industry, and at its instance, in imposing it. The proceeds are passed on to the Australian Wool Board, which has the disposal of them.
– In view of the press report published some months ago, to the effect that the Administrator of the Northern Territory intended to institute further surveys in Western Arnhem Land with a view to opening up that area for settlement, will the Minister for the Interior see that any money voted for the Northern Territory does not pass back to the Treasury, but is devoted to its development ?
– I am not familiar with the projected surveys to which the honorable member has referred. Doubtless this matter arose before I entered the Ministry. I shall make inquiries into it, and give consideration to the point raised by the honorable member.
– I ask honorable members to give notice of any further questions they may have in mind, or to ask them to-morrow.
CustomsTariff Amendment (No. 1).
Consideration resumed from the 10th May, 1938 (vide page 1007), on motion by Mr. White (vide page 427) -
That the schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933-1936 be amended as hereunder set out . . .
.- When the committee adjourned last evening, I was replying to an attack that had been made by certain Government members on the tobacco industry in North Queensland. The first point to whichI desire to reply is in relation to land valuations. Last evening I read a telegram that was received by the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Martens), when the tobacco industry was being debated in this chamber in 1932, at the peak period of its prosperity. That telegram contained the statement that the highest price realized for freehold land was £3 an acre, payable in ten years, at 5 per cent, interest. It had been stated that the prices paid for tobacco land made it impossible for the industry to carry on; in other words, that they were responsible for the overcapitalization of the industry. The Government of Queeusland, realizing that there was a danger of speculators getting into the industry, took care to see that exploitation was hoc practised; and there were very few cases of excessive prices paid for land. Pull credit must be given to the Scullin Government for taking the initial action in establishing this industry, when it increased the import duty on foreign grown leaf from 3s. to 5s. 2d. per lb. That duty gave an opportunity for investment to those men with a small amount of capital who were desirous of going on the land, and also enabled many others who were out of employment to secure a means of livelihood. The Scullin Government implemented its tariff for the purpose, not only of encouraging this industry, but also of putting into effect its policy of a White Australia, by shutting out black-grown foreign tobacco and stimulating the white-grown product. The establishment of this industry - did much in the direction of opening up huge tracts of land which, until then, ha.<l remained undeveloped. The result of the Scullin tariff was that Mareeba became the Virginia of Australia - the description applied to it by an extobacco expert from New South Wales. The industry continued to progress, and towns became well established. This development was, Undoubtedly, valuable from a defence view-point. During the discussion of the Loan Bill in this chamber a few days ago, general recognition was given by honorable members to the value of settlement as an aid to defence. 1 contend, therefore, that the significance of the tobacco industry in that regard should not be overlooked. Unfortunately, a change of government occurred at a critical time in the development of this industry, and the Lyons Government, in February. 1932, reduced the customs duty on tobacco leaf from 5s. 2d. to 3s. per lb. In December of the following year, it increased the rate to 3s. 6d. per lb. At that time the excise duty was also increased from 2s. 4d. to 4s. 6d. per lb. The result of these fluctuations of duties greatly disturbed the new industry. Many thousands of growers and business people lo=t practically all their assets, and thousands of workers found themselves once more out of employment. This was,, undoubtedly, due to the Government stifling the industry by reducing the customs duty.
It has been argued by persons opposed to the establishment of thetobacco industry in Australia that our own people will not smoke Australian-grown tobacco. Usually the people who make that statement are nonsmokers. It must be admitted that the first Australian-grown tobacco leaf marketed was not of high quality. Unfortunately, the tobacco combine purchased this leaf and labelled the tobacco manufactured from it as “ Australian tobacco.” As our smokers had acquired a taste for Virginia leaf, it was not surprising that they found the first tobacco manufactured from the Australian leaf to be unpalatable; but to-day the leaf produced in this country is equal to that produced in any other part of the world, and we may entirely disregard the statement of certain non-smokers that our people do not smoke tobacco manufactured from the locally-grown leaf.
During last August I attended the tobacco sales held in Mareeba, and observed the procedure adopted. The farmers grade their tobacco, and send it to market where it is examined and classed by buyers of the British Tobacco Company (Australasia) Limited, who put their own value upon it. The growers are, as a matter of fact, compelled to take what they are offered by these buyers. They have insufficient capital to enable them to hold on to their product in the hope of procuring better prices, and the officials of the combine know this to be so. The plain truth is that the combine takes advantage of the difficult and precarious financial position of the growers. The average price realized for the tobacco sold at that time was about 2s. per lb. I discussed production costs with one of the best-known growers in the Mareeba district, and he informed me that, leaving out of account the value of his own labour, and that of his wife and family, it cost him 2s. 3d. per lb. to put his tobacco “leaf on the market. It has been said, on occasions, that the tobacco-growers receive 4s. per lb. for their leaf, but tie quantity of leaf for which that price is paid could be wheeled away in a barrow. Under existing conditions the tobacco-farmers cannot afford to employ outside labour except at harvest time, when they are compelled to employ graders for a few weeks. If it were not that most of these men are married, and have families which help to do the work on the farm, they would not be able to maintain operations.
An examination of the returns of the two principal tobacco manufacturing firms in Australia shows clearly where the profits from this industry really go. 1 direct the attention of honorable members to the following details supplied to me from official source;! : -
These figures indicate that the dividend on ordinary shares in the British Tobacco Company (Australia) Limited has increased substantially in the last three years, while that on ordinary shares in Carreras Limited increased from 124, per cent, in 1935 to 33 per cent, in 1937. These two companies manufacture 90 per cent, of the tobacco required by the Australian market and they make a handsome profit. When their dividend rates become unduly high they resort to the practice of issuing bonus shares. This is shown by the following report which appeared iu the “ Business-Robbery “ column of the Sydney Bui id in- of the 30th March, 1933:-
Carreras Limited, makers of Craven “ A “ cigarettte announced a three-for-two cash issue at par and a three-fur-two bonus issue, all ordinary shares, to ordinary shareholders. There are at present 200,000 5s. ordinaries issued held mostly by Carreras Loudon.
If this industry were organized on a reasonable basis, both the tobacco-growers and the smokers of Australia would be getting a fairer deal. The Government should investigate the profits, and clip the wings, of these two combines.
The Labour party’s policy is to encourage all forms of primary and secondary industry. It has endeavored to develop all kinds of businesses in this country. In consequence of the policy initiated by the Scullin Government the manufacturers of Australia were helped substantially during the depression period, and since that time they have enjoyed an era of remarkable prosperity. We realize that secondary industries must be developed. In this connexion I direct attention to the following statement which appears in Professor Giblin’s book Australia J930:- lt is to he expected that our future development in Australia must be chiefly by secondary industries. If we cannot succeed in efficient secondary industry then our growth will be very small and fitful.
If the Government wishes to encourage the development of secondary industries in this country, it must increase the amount of employment available by assisting in the expansion of commercial enterprises. I subscribe wholeheartedly to the policy enunciated yesterday by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition who put the cose very clearly and effectively from the point of view of the Labour party. * Quorum formed. *
– From the debate that has occurred, I have gathered the impression that honorable members are fairly well satisfied with the tariff proposals of the Government. I should not intervene if it were not to say a few words which I think should be said on the subject of the Canadian preferential tariff. I notice that there are a limited number of items in which the duties under the preferential tariff are to be increased against Canada. This raises an extraordinarily important question: Is it the intention of the Government in the new agreement to extend to Canada the whole of the preferential concessions which were automatically given to it under the original Ottawa Agreement ? I say “ the whole,” but, as a matter of fact there were a few important exceptions, and those exceptions are added to slightly in this present schedule.
The story of this deal with Canada is an interesting one. Honorable members may remember that in 1930 or 1931, Mr. Parker Moloney, who was Minister for Markets at that time, went to Canada on his way home from the Imperial Conference, and on behalf of the Commonwealth entered into a trade agreement with Canada, the feature of which was an exchange of British preferences between the two dominions. It was an exceptional arrangement and one which, in my view, should never have been made. I am not at the moment criticizing Mr. Parker Moloney or the agreement that was then made; I just make that comment in passing. That agreement was exceptional for this reason: Mr. Parker Moloney undertook to give to Canadian goods in this market, with the few exceptions I have stated, the same margin and same number of preferences as Australia was giving to the United Kingdom. Canada undertook to give to goods of Australian origin the same preferences as it gave to goods or produce of British origin. But let me show where the difference between the two dominions lies: Canada is a great manufacturing country. It is one of the great exporting countries of the world. Canadian secondary industries have for many years been far advanced, and so the effect of our extending preferences to Canada was that we opened the Australian market and Australian secondary industries, not only to preferential competition from the United Kingdom, but also to preferential competition from the Canadian manufacturers. Australia received no real reciprocal benefit, because we were then even much less than now not an exporter of manufactured goods, and had very little that we could export to Canada. Therefore, Canada’s preferences to Great Britain, which were mainly on manufactured goods, although they came to Australia, were of very little value to this country. My view is that it was a one-sided bargain at the outset. But worse was to come. In the next year, 1932, we entered into the Ottawa Agreement and greatly expanded our preferences to the United Kingdom, in the main on manufactured goods. Automatically those preferences went to Canada. There was not time in those crowded weeks at Ottawa to clarify this matter and to put the trade between the two dominions on the basis that it should occupy. With some exceptions, the Ottawa Agreement started off with these enlarged preferences to Canada, given under Mr. Parker Moloney’s agreement. Whilst we were at Ottawa, as I say, there was neither time to make a proper adjustment nor had Canada’s trade with or exports to Australia shown any increase worth worrying about between the time of the making of Mr. Parker Moloney’s arrangement and the making of the Ottawa Agreement. In the years since, about six years, Australian manufacturers have been subjected to industrial competition not only, as it was intended at Ottawa, on goods from the United Kingdom, but also on goods from that very powerful manufacturing country of Canada. There were two victims of this anomalous and wrongful position, one the Australian manufacturer and the other the British exporter, the latter because with few exceptions he has to compete on equal terms with Canadian manufacturers. Over many items Canada continues to enjoy the preferential benefits given to it at Ottawa. A Canadian trade delegation came to Australia last year and it was out of this matter that I resigned from the Government. I do not. intend to go into it in detail, but I press upon the Government the need not to repeat in the new agreement that mistake and that grave injustice to manufacturers of Australia and the United Kingdom. The British market is worth £50,000.000 or more a year to the Commonwealth; the Canadian market this financial year might be worth £2,000,000; yet, with some exceptions we continue as the result of an error to give the same preferential rates over most of our tariff to the industrialists of Canada that were given to the industrialists of the United Kingdom. It is not very wonderful, therefore, that our trade with Canada is showing an amazingly one-sided development. In the year in which the first agreement with Canada, the pre-Ottawa agreement, was made, the value, in sterling, of Canadian exports to Australia was £1.300,000, compared with £844,000 worth of imports from Australia. Even in the Ottawa year the figures were about the same; for two years there had been no progress. But from the time that we added the extra Ottawa margin to the preferences which Canada already enjoyed under Mr. Parker Moloney’s agreement, the growth of the balance of trade favorable to Canada has been astounding, and, in my view, improper. For example, the balance of trade in favour of Canada in sterling in 1932-33 was £1,350,000, whereas in ‘ 1935-36 it had grown to £4,320,000, and for the nine months ended March of this year our imports from Canada had advanced to £7,750,000, compared with £1,681,000 worth of exports to Canada. The position is most unsatisfactory. I agree, of course, that these balances are unavoidable between some countries; but deliberately under the original agreement, and continued under the Ottawa Agreement, we give British preferential treatment to Canada, and have opened up the Australian market to two preferential competitions instead of one. Apart from that, it is not fair to the British exporter to this country that he should have to compete on such terms with Canadian exporters.
– Are the Ministers who have gone abroad cognizant of this?
– Yes, they are. I raised this matter in full when the Canadian delegation was in Australia last year. At that time, I urged very strongly upon the Cabinet that we should adjust the balance., and under my proposals Canada would still have had a substantial balance in its favour. Cabinet, however, decided otherwise. It decided that, with the exception of a few items like those in the schedule before the committee, the position should remain where it was. In view of the grave anomaly that existed, I could not be a party to, and would not be the Minister responsible for, introducing this “ tuppennyha’penny “ schedule to Parliament. For that reason I left the Government. It is true that Canada is making certain additional concessions to Australia with a view apparently to adjusting this balance. I can only say that an officer of the Commerce Department and one who is in the best position in the world to measure these matters, says that the annual value of these additional concessions would not exceed £10,000. These are the little concessions which the Government announces it has received from Canada! The position as I see it is totally unsatisfactory, very improper, and unfair. I strongly urge upon the Acting Minister - I do riot desire to awaken a controversy on it - that our delegation overseas should not repeat the error which was made at Ottawa. There was no time to rectify it at Ottawa, and I had no time in the few months in which I remained Minister for Trade and Customs upon my return to adjust it. When I moved to adjust it since, at the first time it could be adjusted, I failed. But when that agreement is being rewritten, all preferences wall for a start, I hope, be taken from Canada, and given back to Canada, preference by preference, as we may decide to do under agreements. As the position now stands, Canada has all the preferences, and we take them away from time to time. But, as they are our preferences, they should come back in our hands; they should not remain in Canadian hands. We should give to Canada concession for concession as our negotiations with that dominion are carried on.
– I agree with the honorable member for Henty (Sir Henry Gullett) that this is not the time or occasion to deal with each individual item, but it is the occasion briefly to discuss the fiscal policy. of our country, and generally to review the past and the present, in order to see if it is satisfactorily meeting the requirements of the people, and to ascertain if there are any defects which should be tightened up. I differ from the honorable member for Henty who said that there seemed to be general satisfaction in regard to the protective duties which are operating to-day. I think that there is a good deal of discontent regarding existing duties on many commodities, but those commodities are not included in the schedule now before us. However, I desire to draw the attention of honorable members to the general principles underlying Australia’s fiscal policy. Is the policy achieving all that it could? Is our recent practice of making treaties, and most-favored-nation bargains with various countries bringing satisfactory results, or might it not be better to get back to the old principle of using the tariff simply to protect Australian industry, instead of as a bargaining instrument in the making of treaties with other countries? I think we have drifted in the wrong ‘direction, and that our position is not as satisfactory now as it used to be. The Acting Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Perkins)’ admitted that everything was not well with the Ottawa Agreement. Some of us predicted these unhappy results when that agreement was first framed, but at that time the Minister did not agree with us.
Australian industry has frequently suffered because of the lack of any easy and rapid method of preventing attempts to defeat the protective purpose of the tariff. Our customs officers are as efficient as any in the world, but they are bound by regulations which cannot usually be amended quickly. I know of instances in which industries have lost a whole season’s trading, because inflexible regulations have made it impossible quickly to prevent the dumping of goods from overseas. I refer, particularly, to the dumping of fashion frocks and dresses from Canada during the last three or four years. The attention of the officers of the Trade and Customs Department was drawn to what was taking place. They made inquiries, and were convinced that the Australian industry was being harmfully affected, but no action could be taken for some months because, according to the terms of the treaty between Australia and Canada, notice had to be given to the Canadian authorities that it was
J/r. Holloway. proposed to invoke the anti-dumping provisions of the Customs Act. In the meantime, vast quantities of these goods had arrived, and were offered for sale at a price with which the Australian manufacturers could not compete. Everybody knows that in some countries, and not always the large manufacturing countries either, manufacturers have specialized in the making of certain articles to such an extent that they can produce them more cheaply than is possible in any other part of the world. In some of the FrenchCanadian provinces certain firms are able to produce women’s frocks and dresses at prices with which no one in Australia, or even in Europe, can compete. In fact, there is a close commercial association between those manufacturers and some of the great Parisian clothing firms, just as there is between Canadian manufacturers of other goods and corresponding American interests across the St. Lawrence. Moreover, in Canada, the season for fashion frocks is ending just as oura in Australia is beginning. At the end of the season there is always a considerable surplus which is bought up by Australian retail firms, sent to this country in shiploads, and offered to the public here at prices with which Australian manufacturers have no chance of competing. Thousands of Australian girls employed in making similar dresses are in consequence placed on half time or less. The firms which cut the material before the season opens are deprived of their employment for the following season, and the wholesale firms supplying materials are also affected.
– Is there no duty on the dresses?
– Yes. it was doubled last year, largely as the result of representations made by me. but still it is not high enough to prevent the entry of this end-of-season stuff. Imported dresses are retailed at one guinea when the price for similar dresses of Australian manufacture is four guineas. The great Australian emporiums now have their agents in Canada buying up these dresses before the opening of the Australian season. They know that whatever they do must lie done quickly, with Be result that shiploads of clothing are put on the water at once so that they will be assured of entry before the tariff can be tightened up to deal with the situation. 1 ask the Acting Minister to inquire into this matter wth a view to preventing a repetition of what has been going on for some time.
Clever business men are constantly discovering new methods of defeating the purpose of the tariff. For tariff purposes goods are classified under various headings, but eventually some business manager or accountant discovers, perhaps, that if articles are partly assembled, they can be brought in without paying duty, or at a lower rate of duty. This was done in regard to X-ray plants. The parts for X-ray equipment are being made in Australia, nf a quality equal to any in the world, and as cheaply.
– Not as cheaply.
– The making of this equipment should be encouraged in Australia. The men engaged in it are skilled craftsmen who would be invaluable to the country for military purposes in the event of war. i recently had proof- of the efficiency of Australian manufacturers. Whilst in the Northern Territory, .1 saw two professors of the Adelaide University, who were associated with a group of men engaged in taking X-ray photographs of aborigines, for the purpose of ascertaining why the natives had “ boomerang “ shins. Professor Hackett showed me an excellent little plant which the party was using, and asked me to guess where it was made. I suggested Sweden, Berlin. Essen or the United States of America, but I was informed that the plant had been made in my own State, Victoria. The professor afterwards met me in Melbourne and gave me a list of various hospitals in and outside Australia which had been equipped with this kind of plant. He alao showed me a letter from the greatest radiologist in the world, now employed in a leading London hospital, who declared that the best plates he had c 71 produced had been obtained by using this Australian-made equipment. The Lyons Government was instrumental in giving this industry a protective duty, but it was later discovered by competing manufacturers overseas that by a variation of the methods of assembling the parts the duty could be evaded. Although
I understand that this evasion has now been overcome, a considerable time was occupied in framing regulations to prevent it. The tariff machinery should be made sufficiently flexible to enable such evasions to be coped with immediately.
Let me give another illustration. A handful of returned soldiers, whose leader was in charge of transportation activities in London during the Great War, established an engineering plant in my electorate. They were approached by a rubber company, and informed that a new idea adopted overseas, in order to »ave expense to the primary producers, was to attach grooved wheels to tractors so that they could carry pneumatic tyres. This small organization in my electorate acted upon that idea, and did so with great success. The American manufacturers had concentrated on a lighter wheel, which did not suit Australian conditions. The Australian firm patented its product, but the American manufacturers are now sending back to this country a similar article that is gradually but surely forcing the Australian firm out of business, although it was the first to adopt the new idea. .1. arn now negotiating with the department to have this disability rectified. We should tighten up our tariff policy, so that some authority may take prompt action to prevent small and struggling Australian manufacturers from being financially ruined. I am a protectionist up to the hilt, and I believe that 80 per cent, or 90 per cent, of the people of Australia favour real protection. Although the opinion was widely held at one time that a straight-out freetrade policy was the best, I do not believe that anybody takes that view now. I heard the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) declare himself to be an out-and-out freetrader, hut to-day he recognizes that the interests of the people generally have to be considered, and he does not approve of exploitation. Between freetrade and the policy of strict protection, there is the revenue-raising policy.
– Does tho honorable member say that, no matter what price Australian manufacturers may charge, there should be no competition from imported goods?
– No. The revenueraising policy is found the most attractive by all governments. It makes the national balance-sheets look well, and suggests good administration. Many ministries try to pile up surpluses by getting large receipts from customs and excise duties. Therefore, they make the duties as high as they possibly can, as long as there is sufficient margin to enable imported goods to be brought in. That is an insidious process which is gradually destroying the effectiveness of our protective policy. Had Australia enjoyed greater fiscal protection than has been experienced during the last few years, much benefit would have accrued to its secondary industries. The temporary prosperity and reduction of unemployment are not entirely due to our fiscal policy. There are various factors contributing to the present condition of affairs, but, even if the tariff were entirely responsible for the improved position, why not tighten up the protective policy, and get even more business for Australia? We should not be satisfied until 100 per cent, of the goods that could be manufactured in this country are made here. In Canada and the United States of America, the’ tendency is to buy only goods of local manufacture. We, too, should say, “What price 100 per cent. Australian?”
– I should like to know the attitude of the overseas ministerial trade delegation to treaty arrangements contemplated with the United States of America and other countries. We should be informed as to whether the primary and manufacturing industries are likely to be benefited as the result of the present negotiations. Under the Ottawa Agreement, Australia suffered to a considerable degree, and any new proposals for trade agreements should have preliminary consideration by this Parliament. We should know the basis of the negotiations, and we should be told whether restrictions are to b- applied to any of our primary exports. A conference with overseas representatives recently took place in Australia, and certain proposals were made. I endeavoured in this House to ascertain to what extent the decisions of this conference might affect the attitude of the Government to the great primary industries. Australia’s only way to make satisfactory progress is to have an ever-increasing market for its primary products, and we should not sanction any policy which would place a restriction upon production. Judging by our experience of measures brought down by this Government in the past, particularly favorable results cannot be anticipated. A bill was recently passed imposing a levy on wool, with the avowed object of increasing wool sales and obtaining increased markets and improved prices. I have been informed that, under this measure, £75,000 has been raised; but, if the results obtained up to the present time are to be taken as an indication of what may be expected as the result of the efforts of this Government in this direction, the position is not very satisfactory. A representative of overseas manufacturers came to Australia and promised on their behalf that in addition to the money raised under the Government’s scheme, funds would be provided by those he represented on a pound for pound basis in an endeavour to obtain new markets for wool in Great Britain, on the continent of Europe, and in other countries. The manufacturers have not responded in that respect, and have left the burden to be shouldered largely by the woolgrowers of Australia and South Africa. Lucrative positions have been created overseas for certain persons, but I do not know that any good results are accruing to the industry. Throughout Australia, the growers are suffering from the effects of drought, and, in my opinion, the present levy should not be forced upon them, seeing that it is unlikely to produce favorable results. Recent figures disclose that exports of wool to the United Kingdom for the nine months ended the 31st March, 193S, totalled 2,340,000 centals, as against 2,460,000 centals during the previous nine months ended the 3lst March. 1937, a falling off of 120,000 centals. The reduction of our exports to other British countries during the same period was from 17,000 to 15,000 centals. Belgium, with which country Australia has entered into a special trade agreement, has purchased far less of our wool during the last nine months than for- merly. The figures have dropped from 1,126,000 centals for the nine months ended the 31st March, 1937, to 688,000 centals this year. Belgium is a country with which we could reasonably expect to increase our trade. If trade agreements are to bring good results, surely we should have achieved them as the result of the trade agreement with Belgium, yet our exports to that country have fallen by one-half, despite the fact that £75,000 has been levied on the wool industry for the purpose of improving markets. Comparing the nine months ended 31st March, 1938, with a similar period in the preceding year, our exports of wool to Italy have fallen from 276,580 centals to 264,069 centals; to Japan from 555,084 centals to 434,507 centals, and to the United States of America from 643,382 centals to 40,968 centals. The very substantial falling off of our exports to the United States of America has been brought about by our trade diversion policy. Instead of attempting to negotiate with specific countries in respect of specific commodities, the Government would be wise to adopt a uniform policy in its trade relations with all countries, for only in that way can Australia hope to secure a favorable balance of trade with other countries. Our trade relations with both the United States of America and Belgium have not improved as the result of the policy carried out by the Government. Because of its tinkering in trade matters, exports of Australian wool for the nine months ended 31st March, 1938, as compared with a similar period in the preceding year, fell by £A.13,500,000 ; the quantity shipped was less by 91,375,600 lb. It is further estimated that there will be a reduction of about £16,000,000 in the wool cheque for the full season. This deplorable state of affairs has been brought about by the trade policy of this Government despite the fact that the wool-growers of Australia have been taxed to provide funds to find markets for their product. Neither the trade diversion policy nor the expenditure of the wool levy has overcome the difficulties of the wool industry in this country. The singling out of one country for preferential trade arrangements at the expense of another must inevitably result in disaster. One factor causing resentment to the people of the United States of America is the Government’s policy in respect of the importation of motor cars and chassis. I have been informed that the United States of America is not prepared to negotiate with Australia in trade matters until such time as all restrictions on the importation of American goods into this country are removed, and the United States of America is placed on an equal footing with other countries. It cannot be denied that the restrictions placed on the importations of motor cars from the United States of America have caused great aggravation not only to the American people but also to importing agents in Australia. Quotas were established on the basis of importations during less prosperous times, with the result that two or three companies which were fortunate enough then to be selling many cars have now the lion’s share of the Australian market. The quota system is very unfair in its operation, and is open to a good deal of suspicion. I believe that the Government should impose a definite duty, as high as is found necessary, on motor cars and chassis, and make it applicable to all makes of cars which should be permitted unrestricted entry into this country. If that were done a good deal of the dissatisfaction that exists amongst importers at present would disappear. The Government in its trade negotiations with other countries has not always had prominently in mind the interests of the Australian people, and by clumsy dealing has caused in other countries a great deal of antagonism which should not exist. The policy of imposing trade restrictions has been an unfortunate one, and the lessons we have learned from it in the past should deter us from continuing it. I believe in the protection of primary and secondary industries in order to give them an opportunity to assist in the development of this country and to provide employment for our people. “We should be told what is the attitude of the Government in connexion with these matters, but because the Government is composed of two parties with entirely conflicting views in some respects, it is difficult to get a definite pronouncement on matters of this kind.
For instance, the Acting Minister for Commerce (Mr. Archie Cameron) until recently, at any rate, held very opposite views from those which we must assume from the speeches of honorable members opposite are held by the Government of which he is now a member. Speaking in the South Australian House of Assembly during the budget debate on the 18th October, 1932, the honorable gentleman said -
We have a most remarkable state of affairs arising out of the deliberations at the Ottawa Conference, and we have attained certain preferences as a result of those negotiations which will enable us to compete with our primary products in the markets of Great Britain and some of the British Colonies.
What have w-e given in exchange for that? Members should look through the new tariff schedule published in the Advertiser a day or two ago. ft is one of the most fearful things which has ever been put into print. T.t shows 4-10 increases in the tariff.
We are saying we are giving some consideration to Great Britain in enabling her people to secure the market for her surplus products in Australia in return for her people giving us special conditions in the markets of the United Kingdom. But the public will pay.
What Australia set out to do at the conference was to obtain two things - the first was more favorable consideration in the way of marketing our produce in Great Britain and some of the British countries overseas; and the second was some consideration for primary production in Australia by enabling the British producer to got his manufactured article into Australia under a lower tariff; but what do we find? There have been 400 increases in the tariff and only twenty reductions.
Asked what his party was doing about it, he went on to say -
The merger of the Liberal and Country parties makes no difference whatever to my views or to the Government led by Mr. Lyons, who has no political principles for guidance at all, and who is just a piece of flotsam on the sea getting nowhere.
Asked whether he was not part of them, he said - >?o, that cannot bc put over me.
Replying to a further question immediately asked by the State Treasurer inquiring whether the honorable member did not help them at the election, he said -
From the primary producers’ point of view, it was choosing the lesser of two evils, and I never had any delusions at all as to Mr. Lyons. The career of Mr. Lyons to some people is a disappointment, but I am not disappointed, because 1 have never founded any hopes in him. The attitude he took up before thu emergency committee last year on the question of the tariff, proved that he never had an ounce of backbone in his make-up. lie went on to say that he had always regarded the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) as “ a piece of political plasticine.” This gentleman i3 to-day a member of the Cabinet, and, because of that, I believe we should be told exactly what is to be the attitude of the Government and of the delegation now overseas, in regard to this important matter. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) is now closely associated in Cabinet with the Prime Minister in whom, in 1932, he had but little faith; he cannot doubt the feelings of the Opposition when they hold similar views. In view of the opinions which he expressed so forcibly on other occasions, and the fact that he is now occupying an important position in the Ministry, the Parliament should be informed exactly of the Government’s trade policy before any further trade agreements are made. I should also like to be informed what the Government proposes in regard to the levy on wool for which no service is being rendered to the wool industry whatever.
Mr. WILSON (Wimmera) [4.43 J. -I propose to make a few remarks on the broad principles of tariff policy. During the last decade, there has been some variation, I think, of the attitude of primary producers generally to the tariff policy of Australia. As has been mentioned by a number of speakers to-day, there has been in the past very solid opposition to the policy of protection by primary producers. That opposition has, to a great extent, been broken down because of a realization on the part of those producers that they have something very considerable to gain from the market that has been assured to them in Australia by the development of secondary industries. Furthermore they are hopeful that the Government will give some recognition to their claims for a share in the protection policy of Australia. They realize that the ordinary method of tariff protection cannot be applied to exporting primary industries, and in such circumstances say that protection should be given in an inverse way by some scheme which will provide for the fixation of a home-consumption price, lt is neither fair nor just that those exporting industries alone should be subject to the blast of world competition, and be expected to carry on and supp’.v themselves with all that is necessary for the conduct of their operations from a highly protected market. That argument, 1 know, has been advanced many times in this chamber, and I believe that honorable members on both sides recognize the justice of it. It is the obvious duty of i lie Government, while so freely according protection to secondary industries hi Australia - with which I am not quarrelling - to provide means which will enable our primary industries to carry on successfully, it is scarcely necessary for me to say how great are the fluctuations which take place in the value of our exportable products. I have wheat in mind particularly. Previous speakers to-day have i referred to the levy imposed on the wool industry for the purposes of publicity and research - in other words, to help to find markets and improve production. When that levy was mooted I opposed it. I am conscious of the fact that the wool which wu produce does not need boosting in any considerable degree in the markets of the world. Its quality is well known, and it is eagerly sought after by all countries. That levy was imposed on the advice of certain individuals, for a specific reason that cannot possibly be justified. I know that to-day some of the money derived from it is being expended in providing world trips for interested persons. The representatives of the wool industry who are members of the Australian Wool Board represent only a very small proportion of the woolgrowers of Australia, and in my opinion do not really express the true opinion of the bulk of the wool-growers. I asked the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) to-day if he would consider the application of a similar scheme to the wheat industry. I had a reason for doing that. I did not expect him to say that he was in favour of it. I do not think that the Government would be in favour of it. The wheat merchants of Australia as a body say to this Government, “ Hands off the wheat industry; we want no control; we want an open go”. I believe that the Government is sympathetically inclined towards that attitude, and that it 13 not willing or anxious to place the wheat industry on a stable basis. The « Leal-growers have been fighting for recognition for a long time’, and I believe that the day is coming - and .1. hope that it will come very shortly - when governments will no longer be able to refuse to accede to their just requests.
I should like to say a word or two on the trade diversion policy of the Government. We have the spectacle of certain individuals touring the world in search of markets for our wool, yet some time ago this Government introduced a trade diversion policy which at one swoop removed from and kept out of our market for a long time the second best customer that we have ever had for our wool. The amazing thing is that that group of honorable members which calls itself the Country party acquiesced in that attack. I heard scarcely one voice raised in opposition to it. We in Victoria opposed it with all the strength that we possessed, and explored every avenue in an endeavour to prevent the Government from continuing its policy. I mention this matter merely in order to show the inconsistency of the Government. It. is prepared to impose a levy on the wool-growers for the purpose of sending individuals in search of markets, yet it brings down a policy o* this description which cuts the ground from under the feet of one of our best customers.
– The Government did not impose the levy: it was imposed at the request of the growers in every organization throughout Australia.
– Broadly on the subject of the tariff, I believe that the world is coining to a realization of the fact that there must be a freer interchange of trade. I am of the opinion that one country is waiting for another to move in that direction. I realize that selfpreservation is the principal law of nature, and that we must maintain our industries until all the countries of the world are prepared to act unitedly in breaking down trade barriers. I am therefore compelled to subscribe to the policy of - reasonable protection for our industries.
The logical result of a policy of prohibition, such as has been advocated by honorable members on both sides of the chamber, must eventually be to the detriment of the surplus primary production and raw materials of this country. I believe that that is one of the things which to-day is causing grave concern throughout the world. The German Consul in Victoria, at our conference in that State this year, presented to us figures which indicated that Germany purchases Australian goods to the fullest extent that the exchange will allow. He also indicated that that country wished to purchase a larger quantity, but had not the credits to do so. Where there is no exchange of trade, there are no credits with which to huy. If we continue to apply a policy which will cause us to lose all our export markets, we must be prepared to face the position of thousands of persons going off the land throughout Australia. That is what happened during the years of the depression. We should then have to evolve a different economic system. There would have to be a complete rearrangement of our ideas in regard to economics and our monetary and banking system.
I have made this small contribution to the debate in order that honorable members may know where I stand on the subject of the tariff.
– I agree with what the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Wilson) has said, and consider that the Government should assist the primary producers to a greater extent by means of the tariff. Tasmania is not very greatly interested in wheat growing. It is a wheat-importing State, and has to obtain its requirements from the mainland. Notwithstanding that, however, I have always taken a keen interest in the wheat-growers. While I was overseas, I made myself acquainted with the arrangements for the marketing of Australian wheat. The honorable member for Wimmera was correct when lie said that the wheat merchants in this country control prices. In that respect, they have the support of this Government. The growers are not receiving the market price for their wheat at the present time.
About three months ago the newspapers reported that Russia proposed to send a considerable quantity of wheat to Great Britain, and a week later it was reported that Russia had bought a considerable quantity of wheat. Why did it not use what it had produced?
– It was too far to send it from the Black Sea.
– That is what the honorable member tries to make the wheatgrowers believe. All that he thinks about is drawing the wheat bounty. For too long have we listened to specious statements by honorable members who are sent here to represent the wheat-growers. The sooner the wheat-growers wake up to the real character of their representatives the better. Before the Minister for Commerce (Sir Earle Page) went to England in 1936, I met him in Sydney. The price of wheat was then about 2s. 8d. a bushel. I said to him. “ Before you return, wheat will have gone up to 4s. a bushel.” He replied, “ You are an optimist. You and I will never see wheat at 4s. again”. I retorted, “ Time will tell “. Before he returned, the price of wheat had risen to over 5s. a bushel. As the honorable member for Wimmera has said, the growers have no say in the fixing of the price. It may be argued that Australia does not control and has nothing to do with the wheat market. I read in one newspaper the statement that the price of wheat had dropped by 6d. a quarter in Liverpool because rain had fallen for two hours in Adelaide, and had revived the wheat crop. Such a statement is ridiculous; two feet of rain would not have made any difference to the quantity of wheat in the world. The party to which I belong will always assist men like the honorable member for Wimmera, who is not afraid to say what he thinks. Those whom he represents are the backbone of the country. It is to them that Ave have to look to absorb the unemployed. The inauguration of public works will not permanently solve that problem. People must be settled on the land, and given proper assistance to market their products.
I wish now to refer briefly to the condition of the fruit industry, and the difficulty that is being experienced in taking advantage of overseas markets. I have particularly in mind the German market. I suppose more apples are grown in my electorate than anywhere else in Australia. “We also grow practically all the hops used in Australia., and we are now developing the tobacco-growing industry there. In consequence of the difficulties fruit-growers are experiencing, many of them are forfeiting their properties. Numerous fruit trees have been grubbed up, not because the quality of the fruit produced was unsatisfactory, but because markets were not available. This Government is kept in power by the Country party, which declares, “ Our purpose is to assist the primary producers. In fact, that is the only reason why they are here.” Yet the Country party cannot bring sufficient influence to bear upon the Government to force it to help producers to market their products in certain overseas countries from which orders could easily be obtained. I was informed by one firm in Tasmania that it had received orders from Germany for 9.0,000 bushels of apples, but it could not supply the fruit, because the Conference Shipping Line, which has a monopoly, declined to accept the cargo. The companies said, in effect, ““We will not ship apples, for plenty of other freight is offering.” The members of the Tasmanian Fruit Board have been greatly disturbed over this attitude, and have, . I understand, requested the Government to intervene in the interests of the fruit-growers. This particular order could have been fulfilled at 6s. a bushel f.o.b., and no risks would have been incurred. The experience in this connexion is similar to that of a previous occasion, when orders were received for 30,000 bushels of fruit to be landed at Port Said for the market in Palestine and Egypt. The shipping companies on that occasion refused to open the hatches of their vessels to allow the fruit to be landed at Port Said. One firm in Hobart informed me that it had received orders for 20,000 bushels of apples outside the regulation sizes for the market in Palestine and Egypt.’ Sturmers of 3 inches, and Democrats and other apples of 3 inches, which cannot be shipped for £he British market, could have been shipped to fulfil this order; but the shipping companies declined to accept the cargo- This is a serious state of affairs, and it is high time that the Government took the matter up with a view to compelling the companies to accept cargo of this kind, particularly as the local market is over-supplied, and the fruit in question, because of its large size, cannot be marketed in Great Britain.
I am glad to say that the tobaccogrowing industry is now being established in Tasmania. The Government is making a great mistake in not taking more active steps to encourage this industry in that State, as well as in other States in Australia. In 1930 I interviewed a number of tobacco experts in Canberra, and they told me tobacco leaf of good quality could not be grown in Tasmania, as it was too far south. Our people, however, experimented in the production of leaf, and to-day they are able to produce a high quality product at a profitable price. Many workers are finding employment in this industry in Tasmania, particularly in the Derwent valley. Although I am a non-smoker, I have been informed that tobacco made from Tasmanian leaf is of very high quality and equal to any produced elsewhere in the world. This being so, the Government should foster the industry. Australia spends millions of pounds per annum in importing tobacco leaf from oversea^. In my opinion there is no need to do this. It has been said thaileaf of different qualities must be imported from abroad for blending purposes. I disagree with that view. At one time we were told that it was necessary to import hops from other countries, particularly America and central Europe, to blend with our own hops in order to produce an article suitable for use by the brewers. But no hops have been imported into Australia for many years, for it has been discovered that our own hops are quite suitable for local use. I believe that if the Government would take steps to prohibit the importation of tobacco leaf it would soon be found that the Australian leaf met all requirements. Incidentally, the adoption of that policy would prevent the sending of millions of pounds of money to America every year.
Another new industry being established in Tasmania which merits the fullest possible degree of protection is that of paper manufacturing. In a few months, papers of fine quality will be produced in a factory that is being established at Burnie. Steps have also been taken to establish a newsprint factory in southern Tasmania. Factories are also being established in other parts of Australia, particularly in Victoria. The interests concerned in these activities are not actuated by charitable motives, or merely by a desire to provide employment for our people. The Australian users of all sorts of paper have for a long time past found difficulty in obtaining supplies or in making contracts, and so they have decided to establish the industry in Australia. The experimental stage has long been passed. It was said at one time that Australian hardwoods were unsuitable for the manufacture of newsprint, but that statement, like many others in respect of proposed manufacturing activities in Australia, has been disproved. It has now been established that paper made from hardwoods is superior to paper made from softwoods. As Australia has unlimited forests of timber suitable for paper manufacturing, and as the industry would provide employment for many thousands of people, the Government should give adequate encouragement to the companies interested in the enterprise. Full protection should be provided against the activities of foreign paper manufacturers, who will undoubtedly try to dump their surplus stocks in this country.
I urge the Government to give close attention to the various matters that I have brought under notice in this brief speech.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
Incommittee (Consideration of Administrator’s message) :
Motion (by Mr. Casey) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue hemade for purposes of a bill for an act to provide for the adjustment of the salaries and allowances of Ministers of State and of the allowances of other members of the Parliament and for other purposes.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Casey and Mr. Thompson do prepare and bring in abill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill brought up by Mr. Casey, and read a first time.
.- I move-
That this bill be now read a second time.
The bill which I have the privilege to bring before the House on behalf of the Government has three principal objects : -
Dealing first with the restoration of financial emergency reductions, honorable members will remember that as part of the Premiers plan which was evolved to meet the difficult financial position in which all Australian governments found themselves, arbitrary reductions of salary were imposed upon Ministers, members of Parliament and all Commonwealth employees. The rates of these reductions ranged from 18 per cent, in the caseof the lower salaries toa maximum of 25 per cent, on higher salaries, the average reduction being about 20 per cent. It was stated at the time, by the Government of the day that these reductions would be restored as the financial circumstances of the Commonwealth permitted and in pursuance of that undertaking restorations have been progressively made from time to time.
The last of the reductions which were imposed upon Commonwealth officers and employees by the Financial Emergency Act, that is, reductions other than those which were due to automatic adjustments in respect of variations in the cost of living, were restored in 1936. The only salary reductions then remaining were those still applicable to members of Parliament and Ministers which, alter provision had been made for a 10 per cent, restoration on that occasion, were still subject to reductions as follows: -
The Government feels that there is no longer any warrant for the retention of these reductions. The bill provides for the repeal of the relative sections of the Financial Emergency Act imposing reductions on the parliamentary allowances paid to members and Ministers. It is proposed that the resultant increases of such allowances will operate from and including the next periodical payments made after the passing of this bill. This is in accordance with the procedure which was followed in connexion with the original reduction and also in accord with the subsequent partial restorations. To give effect to the restoration of Ministers’ salaries, the bill provides for the necessary amendment to the Ministers of State Act, whereby the existing71/2 per cent, reduction is restored. It is proposed that this amendment will take effect from the date this bill becomes law.
I now come to the provision in the bill for the special allowance of £1,500 a year to the Prime Minister to meet expenses arising by virtue of his office. I do not believe it to be necessary for me to make any apology on behalf of the Government for the inclusion of this provision in the bill. In my judgment it is long overdue, and the allowance proposed is far from being excessive. I believe honorable members will agree that the holder of the office of Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, whoever he might be, should be placed in a position to discharge his duties and responsibilities, official and otherwise, in a manner worthy of that highoffice. The obligations that the office of Prime Minister came? are such as to impose an extremely heavy financial drain on those who from time to time are called to that office, and it is felt that all parties will share in the view that the Leader of the Commonwealth Government should not have any cause for financial concern during his term of office.
Proposals have been made many times in past years that some such allowance as this should be made to the Prime Minister, but the present holder of that office (Mr. Lyons) has not, until now, been willing to consider the matter. I might mention that this proposal is now put forward after the present Prime Minister has occupied the position for over six years. We feel that the office he holds should reflect the highest standard of courtesy and appropriate hospitality to distinguished visitors to Australia and important guests of the Government. Honorable members will remember that last year the British Parliament enacted legislation which provided for the increase of the salary of the British Prime Minister from £5,000 a year to £10,000 a year, and for the standardization of other British Cabinet Ministers’ salaries at the rate of £5,000 a year. The reasons which were advanced in support of that proposals are relevant to the proposal before the House to-day. Of course the total emoluments of the Prime Minister, if this bill becomes law, will still be only a fraction of the amount received by the British Prime Minister.
In referring to this matter it would not be out of place for me to invite the attention of the House to the fact that the Prime Minister receives at present a total remuneration which is less than that paid to a number of Commonwealth public servants. I do not for a moment decry the amounts of money that we pay to senior public servants, because I believe that they earn every penny of their salaries, hut honorable members will agree that it is somewhat invidious that the holder of an office carrying with it the very great responsibilities that attach to the Prime Ministership should receive less than that paid to our senior publicservants. The proposed allowance is totake effect from the date of royal assent.
It is, I believe, not generally known that members of this Parliament of full ministerial rank do not draw the full parliamentary allowance paid to members and senators. There is a deduction of £200 a year from the parliamentary salary on attaining ministerial rank. We have made provision in this bill to cease the practice of making this deduction from the parliamentary allowance paid to Ministers and holders of parliamentary offices, who are, of course, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Chairmen of Committees. In other words, we propose to place Ministers and holders of parliamentary offices on the same basis as other senators and members as regards the amount of their parliamentary allowance.
The Government feels that the amount paid to Ministers is inadequate, having regard to their responsibilities, and believes that the present proposal will be accepted as a reasonable one. The responsibilities of Ministers are constantly increasing and their tasks make it impossible^ - and indeed improper - for them to limit their expenditure in ways that are possible to most other sections of the community. The full remuneration of a Federal Minister to-day is no more - indeed I believe it to be less - than it was 20 and 30 years ago - and in the meanwhile the cost of living has increased very considerably. A salary of £2,000 a year to-day is the approximate equivalent of £1,150 in the early years of federation.
– -Taxes have increased too.
– Yes, and responsibilities are constantly increasing.
The increase of the cost of living is a factor which has been taken into consideration in the fixation of salaries for public servants generally, and to a great extent in the determination of salaries in the commercial world at large. It may interest honorable members to know that, even when all the provisions of this bill become law, the total emoluments of Federal Ministers will still be below - and T believe appreciably below - the salaries of ministers in Canada, and in South Africa, and, of course, very much less than half the remuneration of persons in equivalent ministerial positions in the United Kingdom. Honorable members will be interested to be reminded of the fact that the salaries of the higher paid public servants have necessarily been greatly increased during recent years, with the result that to-day the salaries of senior public servants are in many cases more than double that which was paid for corresponding offices in the early years of federation.
I do not think any one will cavil at the statement that the responsibilities of Ministers of the Crown to-day are very much greater than they were, say, twenty or thirty years ago. Moreover, apart from the decreased purchasing power of money, the calls upon a Minister’s purse by reason of his office are very much greater to-day than they were in the past. For these reasons, the Government believes that the removal of this reduction which has existed upon parliamentary allowances of Ministers and holders of parliamentary offices is entirely justified.
The provision in the Ministers of State Act is for the remuneration of Ministers only. There are ten Ministers and four Assistant Ministers. It has been the practice for many years for provision to be made, from the Cabinet Fund, for adequate remuneration to Assistant Ministers and to the Whips. If this bill becomes law members ofl the Government, at the instance of the Prime Minister, will take steps to so allocate the Cabinet Fund that the procedure of the past will be continued.
There is another provision in this measure that I have not previously mentioned, and it is this : In 1931, when the Financial Emergency Act was first passed, provision was made to give His Excellency the Governor-General power to proclaim limits of taxation to which federal parliamentarians and public servants could be subjected to in various States. It was felt that, as the Federal Parliament was imposing considerable cuts upon members of Parliament and Commonwealth employees, they should not be subject to what might be in some cases penal rates of taxation in the States. This power was taken to limit the incidence on federal parliamentarians and public servants of the rates of both income tax and unemployment tax in the States. The limit of income tax was that of the highest rate obtaining in any of the States at that time, which was, if I remember rightly, South Australia. Commonwealth parliamentarians and public servants have thus never been shielded from any of the effects of income tax in any of the States, but there has been a shielding from a certain range of unemployment relief in some of the States, the degree of the shielding varying from State to State.
– What is the limitation now fixed?
– I have not the figures here, but I know it varies as between one State and the other. The Government believes that there is no justification for the retention of this privilege, and it is proposed to wipe out the relevant provisions in the Financial Emergency Act. In the Financial Emergency Act of 1931, provision was also made that persons in receipt of remuneration from the Commonwealth, who voluntarily relinquished any part of their salaries, would be exempt from both Commonwealth and State taxation on the part so relinquished. Certain highly-placed individuals in receipt of Commonwealth salaries had, during the depression, voluntarily given up part of their salaries, and the provision was inserted in the act to ensure that they would not be taxed on that part which they had surrendered. I believe that there are no longer in operation any of those voluntary salary cuts, so that the provision is now unnecessary.
It is necessary that the clauses repealing taxation sections of the original act should coincide with the beginning of the new financial- year for taxation assessment purposes, and it is therefore proposed that the repeal of sections 19 and 20, which are the relevant sections, should come into operation on the first day of July, 1938.
Mr. CURTIN (Fremantle) [5.40”.With a great part of what the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) has said, I am in agreement. I have said before that the time had arrived when honorable members of this Parliament should have restored to them the allowances of which they were in receipt before the Financial Emergency Act was passed. I speak as the representative of a party which believes in payment of members, payment to be on a basis commensurate with the services rendered, and the loss of other earning capacities which the nature of parliamentary work necessarily involves. We should not have to face the possibility that Parliament, now or in the future, may be deprived of the services of desirable citizens because of the personal los3 which they would have to suffer by becoming members. I also believe that the inevitable expenses which must be deducted from the allowances of members of Parliament should be taken into account when measuring the allowance itself. I make no personal complaint about this; I am looking at the matter as Parliament itself should, in an entirely impersonal way. I am looking at it from the point of view of those citizens who may aspire to take my place; who may, in the course of time, even succeed in doing so. To my successor I say that it is of the highest importance that he should realize that he will suffer, not only because of the distance of his electorate from the capital, entailing as it does separation from his family, but also because of expenses he will have to incur of which he does not now know, and which he cannot foresee. Whether the candidate be typical of that great body of Australians who receive £6, £7, £8 or £10 a week, or whether he be a commercial or professional man in receipt of a much larger income, he will, upon becoming a member of this Parliament, find himself involved in expense or losses beyond his calculations. The man on the lower income, who may ‘believe that the difference between his wage and the allowance of a member of Parliament represents a great increase of income, has failed to take into account things of which at present he has no knowledge. Take, for instance, those men associated with an important public estate - the journalists of Australia, with whom I have had a long and pleasurable association. My active membership of that profession was much more profitable, in a pecuniary way, than has been my membership of this Parliament. These men, as well as the others to whom I have referred, are of the kind which ought properly to aspire to represent their fellow citizens in this Parliament. Mr. Casey. - Who, the journalists?
– They, among others. All of them who have ever attended this Parliament have reflected credit upon their profession, and have rendered valuable service to Australia. The allowance received by a member of the Commonwealth Parliament at the present time does not permit him to live on, a standard superior to that which he would have enjoyed were he not a member, having regard to the qualifications he must possess to be eligible for election. I lay it down as essential to any system of payment of members that service to the public in Parliament ought not to involve a member in any monetary sacrifice over and above that which might normally be suffered by persons engaged in. civic duties in any other capacity, and carrying on their ordinary occupations at the same time. It. is only proper that every patriotic citizen should be prepared to make some sacrifice if he desires to serve in the national Parliament, but he ought not to be called upon to make heavy monetary sacrifices as well as the sacrifice of separation from his wife and children. We have knowledge of too many cases of members of this Parliament passing on to join the great majority and leaving their widows in such circumstances as to necessitate the taking of some action by Parliament. Undoubtedly, there have been many more borderline cases in which no action was taken, but in which the need for it certainly existed.
I agree entirely with the proposal to restore parliamentary allowances, and I believe that Ministers of the Commonwealth Parliament are entitled to the provisions which this bill makes. A Minister of State for the Commonwealth is not an inferior person, while he holds that office, to those officers of his department whose work he supervises and for which he is responsible to Parliament and the country. I make no comparison of the relative merits of departmental heads and Ministers of the Crown, but I believe that a Minister is at least entitled to a remuneration in keeping with his position, :»>id sufficient to reimburse him for the severe drain on his private resources which his position involves. I agree entirely with the provision which it is proposed to make for the Prime Minister. Regardless of who may be the future Prime Minister of Australia, I say that the office should be made as important in fact as it is in name. I feel a sense of remorse that previous Prime Ministers of Australia have not been treated as it is proposed in this legislation to treat future Prime Ministers. The humblest citizen of Australia, with no private resources whatever, should, if he possesses the necessary qualifications, be placed in a position to discharge any of the offices and social duties attaching to the position of Prime Minister, and no occupant of that position who may happen to possess immense private wealth should, for that reason, set a standard which it would be impracticable for his successors to maintain. The effect, of that on the national life can easily be understood, and, in the provision contemplated under this legislation, this Parliament is doing the proper thing to make clear to the people the very great importance which attaches to the office of the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth. This is a democracy, we are legislating for a nation, and the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth ought to be treated, in his association with the allowance which the Parliament makes for this office, in a way that is worthy of him and of the nation of which he is Prime Minister. With regard to the provision for Ministers, I merely remark that Ministers themselves are the best judges of what is reasonable and proper to provide in this respect. I am not able to say what deductions are made from the Cabinet Fund, but I believe that this bill has seen submitted to us by the Ministry with a full sense of its responsibility. I shall support it in its entirety, and I shall vote for it all the more determinedly, because the Prime Minister of this country is now being regarded by this Parliament as a citizen whose office is not only of great significance, but. in the life of the nation, of the greatest significance.
Mr. HAWKER (Wakefield) [5.531.- I hope that the;> Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) and the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) will leave time, before the bill passes through its final stages, to enable the
Government to restore in full those cuts in repatriation allowances and benefits which were made by administrative act at the time when the financial emergency legislation was passed. I concur in the principle, embodied in this measure, of members of Parliament participating in the restoration of cuts, as it becomes general- I go further than that with regard to the allowances and salaries of Ministers. In the past, the Prime Minister of Australia has not been treated, even in a remote degree, in a manner commensurate with the importance of bis office in a democracy. He has received inferior treatment, when comparison is made between his salary and those of certain officers in t)he. Public Service, and persons in private employment. To the extent that this bill rectifies that position, as distinct from the restoration of salary cuts, I support it without qualification; but the removal of the salary cuts of members should not be made until the restoration to all members of the Public Service, the pensioners and all who receive repatriation benefits is complete. Up to a few days ago that restoration had not been completed. I understand that some payments have been fully restored in the meantime, but that even those are not complete. I should be sorry to have it said that members of Parliament had restored their own benefits in advance of a full restoration to other sections which are not less deserving. If a full restoration has not yet been effected, I hope that it is in the process of being made. Therefore, I ask that the hill be not passed through its final stages until there is no doubt as to a full restoration to returned soldiers and others. I refer not only to the rate of payment, but also to the elimination of the means test whereby the allowances received by dependent mothers of exsoldiers have been substantially reduced. Subject io that appeal to the Government, I support the measure, and I definitely favour the provisions which make due recognition of the importance in a democracy of the position of Prime Minister. I recognize the fact that Prime Ministers are broken by overwork, and have to sacrifice practically everything else in the world to do their job.
They are, therefore, entitled to reasonable recognition by the people of this country.
.- 1 draw particular attention to the methods adopted by the Government, not only in bringing about a restoration of payments which were reduced under the financial emergency legislation, but also by embodying in this measure a provision for an increase of salary. For a considerable time, the Labour party has advocated the removal of all cuts under the financial emergency legislation, and at every available opportunity has endeavoured by irs votes to give effect to that policy. Under this bill, however, it is provided that an additional sum of £1,500 shall bo made available to the Prime Minister. That, I claim, constitutes an increase of his salary. It is of no use’ to say that this extra money is to cover certain expenditure now incurred by the Prime Minister. The present occupant of the office has been in that position for nearly seven years. I do not accept the suggestion that he has been paying out every year the sum of £1,500 to meet expenses incurred in the entertainment of overseas visitors. At this stage, I would not be permitted to discuss whether expenditure in this direction is justified. On numerous occasions when I have perused the budget papers, I have seen amount after amount provided on the Estimates for the entertainment of overseas visitors, or a sum allocated for the entertainment of a delegation from another part of “the world. Therefore, if we have dealt with this matter in the budget, I fail to see why there should now be an increase of salary for the Prime Minister amounting to £1,500 to meet this particular outgoing. It would have been honesty on the part of the Government, if it considered that the Prime Minister was underpaid, to have brought down a measure for the specific purpose of raising his salary; but, in my opinion, in order to secure the passage of such a proposal, the Government thought it safer to embody it in a measure which included the restoration to members of this Parliament of certain sums by which their allowances were reduced under the financial emergency legislation. The Government has not dealt fairly with’ the Parliament or the people in this instance.
Honorable members on the ministerial side who attempt to justify this increase have made comparisons between the payments made to the Prime Minister and those made to some members of the Public Service. I agree that the Prime Minister should be recognized as the highest official in the land, and that no public servant should receive a higher salary than he; but, if comparisons are to be made to sec whether certain persons are remunerated to a greater degree than they deserve, we should contrast the salaries of the Prime Minister and some of the higher-paid public servants with the incomes of other members of the community, such as the unemployed citizens, or those who, on account of old age, can no longer provide for themselves.We have not dealt with the latter as generously as we might have done. Let us consider the great disparity between the few shillings a week paid to the unemployed workers, the£1 a week received by invalid and old-age pensioners, and the amount paid to many other people, which is out of all proportion to the service which they render to the community. We should not cloud the issue by comparing the salary of the Prime Minister with those of higher paid members of the Public Service. No doubt this bill will be agreed to, because the Government has sufficient numbers in this Parliament to assure that result, but, before it is passed. I desire the present Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) to give the House particulars of the exexpenditure incurred in connexion with the entertainment of overseas visitors, which is not covered by the items passed in the annual estimates. We have no exact information, but as far as we can gather, the present remuneration of the Prime Minister out of the ministerial pool is £2,200 per annum. It is beyond my understanding to believe that the Prime Minister of Australia, on a salary of £2,200 per annum, has. in the last seven years, been paying away out of his own pocket no less a sum than £1,500 a year for the entertainment of overseas visitors. That will take some explanation. We are given to understand that this additional amount is to be provided for the purpose of entertaining overseas visitors. Evidently then, the Government contemplates more lavish entertainment. I have no objection to the Prime Minister or the Government entertaining representatives of other governments, scientists, doctors, or other men who have performed some useful service to society in their own countries, but a wise discrimination must be exercised because, in the past, expenditure incurred by the Government in the entertainment of many people has not been warranted. I hope that some information will be made available to the Parliament before this measure is passed. Dealing with the restoration of the ministerial allowances, I remind honorable members that some considerable time ago, when the number of Ministers was increased, the Government increased the amount voted to the ministerial pool. Subsequently, the number of Ministers was reduced, but no reduction of the appropriation for the payment of ministerial salaries was made. These are matters upon which the Parliament is entitled to the fullest information. It has often been said that a member of Parliament receives too high a salary, but as a Labour representative dependent wholly upon his parliamentary allowance, I desire to make it very clear that the income of an honorable member is not the amount actually paid out by the Treasury each month: it is the amount that he can actually call his own after meeting the many calls made upon his resources. Speaking broadly, to say that an honorable member receives £950 a year, or £1,000 a yearas is proposed by this bill, is not fairly stating the case. I shall not, however, be foolish enough to say to the people of this country that my position as a member of Parliament entails some personal sacrifice on my part, because I recognize that my position has to a great extent been improved as the result of the opportunity presented to me by the workers of East Sydney to come to this Parliament. Neither does membership of this Parliament entail any personal sacrifice on the part of any other honorable member. Nor is there any actual sacrifice on the part of one who may have an opportunity to occupy the post of Prime Minister of this country. All I ask of honorable members is to be just as considerate for the well-being of other members of the community when they are discussing other forms of legislation to assist those who have not an opportunity to advance their views directly in this House.
– I agree with the honorable member for “Wakefield (Mr. Hawker) that it is a pity that a measure of this sort should be brought forward while there still remains in operation, by regulation at any rate, portion of the Financial Emergency Act, especially in relation to repatriation benefits.
– I should like an opportunity to speak on that matter.
– Perhaps the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) may be able to dear away some of the misunderstanding. I agree that the Prime Minister has been inadequately recompensed since the inception of federation, and I am glad to see that a move is being made in the right direction which will place him in a position that will enable him to do the things which, by virtue of the office he holds he should do. Provision is made in the bill for a restoration of 5 per cent, of the allowances made to private members. I regret that opportunity was not taken by all parties during the recent general elections, to say very definitely to the people that it was proposed to restore the last cut made in members’ allowances.
– It is part of our policy.
– We told the people we should do so.
– I listened to the policies of all parties, and I can honestly say I never heard this subject mentioned on one occasion; it has been kept in the background however much the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) may say it is part of the policy of the party to which he belongs. I think that the people who are entitled to say whether or not there should be a restoration of members’ allowances to the full amount are those who put us here. I believe it is right and proper that the allowance which a member receives should be the amount that is current at the time he is elected. There should be no restoration of the allowance at any rate until such time as the people have had an opportunity to express their opinion upon it.
– We did not consult the people when the cuts were made.
– I agree that the people were not then consulted, but I do not think that that is a proper analogy. I regret that opportunity was not taken during the election campaign to inform the people that one of the earliest legislative acts of the new Parliament would be to restore members’ allowances.
.- I do not wish to delay the passage of this bill. I think our Prime Minister should be paid a salary equal at least, to that of the highest paid public servant. Members of Parliament in the past have been fooled ; they have not stood up for their rights in respect of their remuneration as have the public servants generally. If we eliminate Minsters, the highest paid man in this House is not a member of Parliament, but a public servant. As long as a public servant is well behaved - or is not found out - and does not get drunk too often, his salary is raised year after year, and if he is moderately endowed he sometimes attains the highest position in his department, f or which his ability does not always fit him. Members of Parliament, however, are not so fortunately placed; they have to face their masters at the end of every three-year period, at which time they are very keenly criticized. For 48 years I have had on the notice-paper of the Commonwealth Parliament and the Parliament of a State a motion asking that the principle of the initiative, referendum and recall should be embedded in the Constitution of this country. I do not believe that any country will be fully democratic unless that principle is accepted. Perhaps the most wisely governed country in Europe at the present time is Switzerland, whose people have adopted the principle of the initiative, referendum and recall. I am doubtful, by the way, if the question of the increase of parliamentary allowances were put to the people whether it would receive their approval. In the unwillingness of the people to agree to any change may be found the reason why there is such lukewarm support for the adoption of the principle of the initiative, referendum and recall. While 1 was in SwitzerlandI visited the International Labour Office at Geneva, at which a conference was thenproceeding. After leaving Geneva I learned to my horror that a referendum had been held while I was there of whichI had not been aware.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
-I have always held, andI still hold, that no public servant shouid be paid a higher salary than is received by a member of Parliament, who is supposed to do whatever is requested of him. In my opinion, the law-maker should be the most highly paid official. He has to face his creators every three years in Australia, and every fouryears in other countries. The public servant never faces his creators. He passes an examination, and if he does not commit too many faults, or is not found out, year after year, by seniority, he rises to a higher position, until eventually he may receive far more than the Prime Minister of Australia. I do not say that brains should not be recompensed, but I do maintain that public servants are paid very liberally. In my early days in the Parliament of Victoria, the police were splendidly organized. The amount paid to the force in salaries and retiring allowances was greater than was paid in all the other States of Australia and New Zealand combined. It became such a burden that injustice had to be done, and the amount had to be reduced. Any person who cares to peruse Hansard will be astonished to find how much Victoria paid to its police force. Although the population of New South Wales exceeded that of Victoria by150,000, the cost of the police force in Victoria was double that of New South Wales. It appears to me that public servants are very shrewd men, who look after their own interests. I believe that when science rules the world there will be no war and no waste. I hope to live to see the day when the law-maker in Australia will be able to echo the sentiment of the old Roman who said : “ To be a Roman is greater than to be a King “. I admire greatly the speech of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward). I have had a long experience of political life in this country - 49 years this month - and I regard it as one of the most courageous speeches that I have ever heard, and as truthful as it was courageous.
Let us consider the allowances that are paid to members of Parliament in Great Britain. The rank and file member receives £400 a year and, I believe, pays his own travelling expenses. I understood my leader (Mr. Curtin) or the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) to say that the Prime Minister of England has had his allowance increased from £5,000 to £10,000 a year.It is time that that increase was made. The Statesmen’s Year-Booh for 1937, at page 7, gives the allowances paid to members of the British Cabinet. The Prime Minister, who was also First Lord of the Treasury and Leader of the House of Commons, in that year the Right Honorable Stanley Baldwin, received £5,000 per annum. The Lord President of the Council, the Honorable J. Ramsay MacDonald, received £2,000 per annum. The Lord Chancellor, the Right Honorable Viscount Hailsham, received £10,000 a year. That one of his Ministers should receive more than the Prime Minister was an infamy, and I am glad that the anomaly has been rectified. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Right Honorable Neville Chamberlain, who is now Prime Minister, received £5,000. The Secretary of State for Home Affairs, the Right Honorable Sir John Simon, received £5,000. The Secretarv of State for Foreign Affairs, the Right Honorable Anthony Eden, received £5,000. The Secretarv of State for the Dominions, the Right Honorable Malcolm MacDonald, received £5,000. The Secretary of State for the Colonies, the Right Honorable William Ormsby-Gore, received £5,000. The Secretary of State for War, the Right Honorable A. Duff-Cooper, D.S.O., received £5.000. The Secretary of State for India, the Right Honorable Marquess of Zetland, received £5,000. The Secretary of State for Air, the Most Honorable Viscount Swinton, received £5,000. The First Lord of the Admiralty, the Right Honorable Sir Samuel Hoare, received £4,500. The President of the Board of Trade, the
Right Honorable WalterRunciman, received £5,000. The Minister of Health, the Right Honorable Sir Kingsley Wood, received £5,000. The Minister of Agriculture and fisheries, the Right Honorable W. S. Morrison, received £2,000. The Secretary of State for Scotland, the Right Honorable Major Walter E. Elliott, received £2,000. The President of the Board of Education received £2,000; the Lord PrivySeal, £2,000; the Minister of Labour, £2,000; the First Commissioner of Works, £2,000 ; the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence, £5,000; and the Minister of Transport, £2,000. Then there are what are described as “ Other Ministers”. The Attorney-General, Sir Donald B. Somervell, received £4,500 and fees. I am informed that sometimes the. fees amount to £20,000 a year. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster received £2,000, and the Postmaster-General, £2,500. It is to the credit of Australia that it pays its Director of Posts and Telegraphs a higher salary than that. The Minister of Pensions recei ved £2,000 and the SolicitorGeneral £4,000 and fees. In his case also I believe that the fees are considerable. The Lord Advocate received £5,000, and the Solicitor-General for Scotland, £2,000. That ends that part of the sermon.
– Only a few months ago, salaries in Great Britain were reorganized and all Cabinet Ministers except the Prime Minister now receive a flat rate of £5,000 a year.
– I notice that the bill makes provision for an amount of £16,950 in respect of the Ministry. Divided among ten Ministers, the amount for each would be £1,695. If I am not mistaken, they also receive their parliamentary allowance of £1,000. Therefore, each would draw £2,695.
– From that sum has to be deducted the amount which the Cabinet allocates in respect of the Assistant Ministers and the three Government Whips.
– I understand that there are payments which considerably reduce the amount which each Minister receives. If I knew what they were, I would give them.
Let us now turn to another civilization, which I consider is the most democratically formed in the world. 1 refer to Switzerland. In its population there are three nationalities, German being the most populous,French coming next, and Italian third. Three languages arc spoken in the federal parliament. To my mind, that raises far more difficulty than is caused by the long distances that have to be covered in Australia. Throughout the length and breadth of Australia, the one tongue is spoken and the one language written. In Switzerland, three tongues are spoken - German, French and Italian. A member of the Labour party in this Parliament named Webster on one occasion spoke for fifteen hours. That must have been a wonderful exhibition of endurance. Imagine that occurring in Switzerland. If an Italian member spoke in his native tongue, a member on the French side of the House would have the right to demand the translation of his speech. When I had the honour to be in Switzerland last year, I learned that a translation takes a little longer to make than does the actual speech.
– Order ! I hope that the honorable member will connect his remarks with the bill.
– I believe that what I am saying will prove interesting to honorable members, and certainly educational to those who read it in Hansard. However, perhaps I may mention the salaries that are paid in Switzerland. I hope that honorable members will not experience a shock when they learn what the position is in that country. Members of the federal House are paid 30 francs - roughly £1 8s. - a day when they are present. The gentleman who occupies a position similar to’ that which you occupy in this House, Mr. Speaker, is not supposed to be deaf, dumb and blind. He must see that there is a majority present in the House, and, if there is not, the roll is called and any members absent are fined. In addition, the members get 20 centimes per kilometre travelling expenses to and from the capital. There are seven members of the Federal Council, who may hold no other office or engage in no other business. They receive £1,280 a year each. This reminds me that, when Mr. S. M. Bruce became Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, he completely withdrew from all active interest in the business of the firm with which he was connected, so that he could devote himslf wholly to his duties as Prime Minister. I have often thought that it would be a good thing if all members of our ministries and parliaments could entirely withdraw from outside business activities. Labour men, as a rule, are obliged to do so, the only exceptions being, so far as I can remember,, some members of the Victorian Legislative Council; but they, as Mark Anthony said, are “ honorable by law.” The president of the Federal Council of Switzerland receives £1,400 a year, but he is elected for only one year, and there must he an interval of a year before he may be re-elected. The vice-president receives the same salary as the members of the council. Salaries are on a more generous scale in the United Kingdom, being more in keeping with the emoluments provided in olden times for kings, emperors and dictators. Some of the dictators of ancient. Greece were good ‘men, but they frequently failed because they wished, like Napoleon, to found dynasties.
In my opinion, Switzerland is the most democratic country in the world, for 50,000 of its electors may, at any time, as the result of a referendum, initiate legislation which the Parliament must carry irrespective of which party or what ministers may be in office. There are- 22 cantons in Switzerland, but three of them are divided into two sections, which give in effect 25 cantons and semicantons. The neutrality of Switzerland is perpetually guaranteed by an agreement made in 1815 by Austria, Prussia, Great Britain and Portugal.
– I must ask the honorable member to confine his remarks to the- bill.
– All right, sir. In the United States of America ten ministers get 15,000 dollars a year each, or something over £3,000 in Australian currency. The President of the United States of America gets 75,000 dollars a year, or something over £15,000 in our money. He is also entitled to £5,000 a year travelling expenses.
I have received some complaints from branches of the Labour party in my electorate concerning the proposed travelling expenses granted to our Prime Minister and other members of the Ministry, but I have had some experience of the cost of travelling overseas, and I do not think that the amounts provided are too high. In any case, the Prime Minister carried out his duties overseas in a splendid way.
I wish now to refer to the public and private wealth of the community. The Pocket Compendium of Australian Statistics for December, 1937, gives the following information : -
Unfortunately, I have not been able to obtain any later official information. Dr. Wilson, the present Commonwealth Statistician, is a very able man, and has been very courteous to me; but I have not been able to secure from him the information I desire on this subject. I therefore engaged some accountants in Melbourne to estimate the present private wealth of the community, and they put it down at £6,000,000,000. It is difficult, of course, to get at the public wealth of Australia for the potential value of our unsold land, our public railways, our water conservation works, and other public utilities is difficult to estimate. There is difficulty also” in making an estimate of the mineral wealth of the country, for different methods are used in each State to estimate it. Some authorities estimate to a depth of twenty feet, and others to a depth of 50 feet. The accountants that I engaged to make this estimate for me were of the opinion that the public wealth would probably be about half the private wealth. Their figures were checked for me by a super-accountant, whom we call an actuary. It seems to be beyond question from the opinions expressed by these authorities, that the public and private wealth of the community approaches £7,000,000,000, which for a community of less than 7,000,000 persons is remarkable.
My purpose in making these remarks, Ls lo express my deep regret that in a country which is so wealthy it is impossible to get the Government to take active steps to ensure that each child in the community shall be provided with at least two pints of milk each day. Although I am more than 84 years of age, I have bad to make public appeals and collect pence and half-pence to raise a fund to provide milk for needy children. By the courtesy of the proprietors of our picture theatres, I have spoken personally on this subject from seventy theatres. I suppose my film has been displayed to more than 150,000 people. I make these statements not to gain any party kudos, but to assist needy humanity. I hope the time is not distant when every child in Australia will be assured of not less than two pints of milk each day.
– The honorable gentleman’s remarks are clearly irrelevant to the bill.
– I think I have shown, sir, by your indulgence, that this country is sufficiently wealthy to pay reasonable salaries. The figures relating to other countries were obtained from the Statesman’s Year-Booh and Whitlaker’s Almanac, two invaluable publications from which, all my life, I have been in the habit of making extensive extracts. Perhaps, I may be permitted to conclude my speech with a little joke. When my son was born - so long ago, that I almost forget it - dear old Mr. Church, who was in the Library of the Victorian Parliament, came to me and said, “Dr. Maloney, we have just learned of the birth of your son. We wish to suggest a name for him. We think you should call him William, after yourself; Mulhall, after the great Victorian statistician, and Whittaker’s Almanac, because you so often quote them in Parliament.” I commend this volume, together with The Statesman’s Y ear-Book and The World Almanac of the United States of America to the careful study of all young people.
I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for your indulgence, and honorable members generally for their courtesy in listening to me with such good temper.
.- My purpose in speaking is not to delay the passage of this bill or to extend the period of suspense which no doubt the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), Ministers and possibly even rank and file members are suffering with regard to the possible fate of this bill, or to embarrass the. Government by adverse criticism of its action. I quite realize that there are members of the community and possibly members of this Parliament who even now do not believe in the payment of members of Parliament. Even to-day these payments are euphemistically referred to as “ allowances “. Some years ago a certain member of Parliament who then represented the constituency now represented by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) in opposing some small restoration to members of Parliament, said that he was opposed altogether to payment of members of Parliament. He added that those honorable members who were wealthy, of whom he was one, should band together and pay in a certain proportion of money from their own wealth to provide remuneration for the poorer members. It is almost inconceivable that in these supposedly enlightened days any honorable member could suggest that the great majority of the members of this Parliament should receive remuneration out of the pockets of himself and a few other honorable members. Yet that statement was made by the person who only a few years ago represented Fremantle in this House. He was one of those who believed we should get back to the “ good old days “ when in the absence of any specified salary, too many members of Parliament provided for themselves in a way which was not the honest method employed at present.
I have always believed that the highestpaid man in the Public Service of the Commonwealth, with the possible exception of the Governor-General, should be the Prime Minister. It is farcical that not only the Prime Minister, but also Ministers receive less salary than public servants who are under their control. I also believe that there are many of the public servants who have high scientific and technical attainments who are not paid a salary commensurate with their qualifications. Positions are advertised calling for high qualifications and offering very small salaries. On the other hand it is quite possible that some of the higher-paid public servants ave receiving more remuneration than they are entitled to, but that matter is not now before us.
It is necessary for us to realize the exact position which will arise if this bill is passed, and I have no fear that it will not be; there has been no real opposition to it. The Prime Minister will receive an allowance of £1,500 a year, Ministers the £200 a year of which they were deprived 30 years ago, and, in addition, a restoration of 7-J per cent., making a total of about. £300 a year extra. Rank and file members will receive £50 restoration.
Mention has been made of unemployment relief taxes. I see no reason why members of Parliament should not pay tax. As a matter of fact, I realize that, with this restoration, members will be called upon to pay extra income tax, and I make no complaint. I point out, however, that the decision to remove the limitation of 6d. in the £1 on State taxation of Federal parliamentarians and Commonwealth public servants will mean that the rank and file members will be mulct in from £15 to £20 per annum in additional tax payments. In Queensland, federal members will be called upon to pay £15 or £16 a year extra in unemployment relief tax. I merely point this out so that the people will realize that, instead of getting an extra £50 a vear, at any rate in Queensland, members will be getting £20 a year less than that amount. I believe that the same position exists in Tasmania and certain other States.
– It does in New South Wales.
– Yes, I understand that that is so. I believe that if we value ourselves cheaply, we cannot blame the electors for taking us at our own valuation. There is no conceivable reason why, because a person is a member of this Parliament, he should not be entitled to travelling expenses just as public servants from the highest to the lowest receive travelling expenses when engaged on public business. When I joined the Public Service in Queensland at a salary of less than £80 a year I received an allowance of 15s. a day when travelling, and later, when I received a higher salary, the allowance was 17s. 6d. a day. Most people seem to think that honorable members of this Parliament receive food, lodging and drink free of cost, and travelling expenses as well. Many people, as a matter of fact, believe that we pay no income tax, Federal or State. A great many delusions exist throughout the community, in regard to the position of members of Parliament. I take this opportunity to make it quite clear that members of this Parliament receive only the remuneration that they are paid, and have to pay for food, lodging and drink, and, apart from Ministers, do not get any travelling expenses while all Ministers and members pay taxes. Many people are of the opinion that when members travel to this Parliament or about Australia upon political duties they are making increased profits, whereas the reverse is the case. Members of this Parliament, particularly those from fardistant constituencies, are entitled to some consideration in respect of travelling expenses. Every public servant from the Director-General of Posts and Telegraphs, who receives £5.000 a year, and the Chief Justice of the High Court, who receives £3,500 a year, down to the lowest junior clerk, receives expenses when he travels on behalf of the Government. Look at the farcical position that exists now! If the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatires (Mr. Curtin) or the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator
Collings) travels on political duty and is accompanied by a secretary, he receives no travelling allowances whereas his secretary is allowed 17s. 6d. or £1 ls. a day. The result of this is that the political leader of the Australian Labour party and the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate receive remuneration very little more than that received by secretaries who happen to be travelling with them. 1 commend to the Government the suggestion that members of Parliament when engaged on the business of the country should receive travelling expenses. It is a move that is long overdue.
Mr. BLAIN (Northern Territory) [s.431 - In rising to support this bill, 1 not. only commend the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) for the able manner in which he presented it, but also compliment the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) for the lucid way in which ho spoke to it. If the honorable gentleman’s speech is reported correctly in the press, it will let the people know just what we are doing here and why we are sent here; also that most of us are sacrificing something in being here. One honorable member suggested that we made something by being elected as members of Parliament, but 1 happen to be one of those who did not. To be a member of this Parliament means monetary sacrifice at least for me. I refer again to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition. If that section of the press which has in the past, with such assiduity, criticized this Parliament and subjected it to scorn, prints that speech in the manner of which it is worthy, a new status will have been given to this Parliament which is long overdue. Honorable members from outlying parts of the Commonwealth suffer, perhaps more than other honorable members, from certain disabilities, and I wish now to compliment the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Baker) on the fearless manner in which he approached this matter. If we have not a good conceit of ourselves we cannot expect the public to think much of us. I believe that something should be done to remove .the disabilities suffered bv members representing large, outlying electorates such as the Northern Territory, and the electorates of Kennedy and Kalgoorlie. At the present time, the representatives of those electorates must pay their own expenses when they travel, and this is a heavy drain on their resources. When senior officers of the Public Service travel in company with Ministers they receive £2 2s. a day, and it would not be too much to make a similar allowance to members of Parliament. This matter was ventilated some time ago by the late member for Kennedy, Mr. D. Riordan; he voiced too the sentiments of my predecessor, Mr. Nelson. It should be possible also to introduce a system of zoning, so that the members representing the more distant electorates would receive something extra because of the disability they suffer. In June, I shall have to travel through my electorate in company with the Minister for the Interior, and it would be only fair that the one who is representing the electorate should receive travelling expenses for the journey.
– With the general principles of this bill I am in entire agreement, and particularly with the provision for more adequate remuneration for the Prime Minister and Ministers of the Crown.’ One of the defects of the Australian outlook is that we are somewhat apt to grudge proper remuneration to those who bear great responsibility in public positions. When men in private business earn great incomes, although we may be somewhat envious, our reaction is to wish them good luck, but unfortunately, we do not carry this spirit into our attitude towards those holding important public positions. I did not quite follow the details of the proposal submitted by the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Baker), but I agree with him that a more generous allowance should be made to the Leader of the Opposition in this House and in the Senate. The Leader of the Opposition occupies a position as important as that of any member of the Government. In fact, when he is as conscientious as is the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin), in his work, the work is more strenuous than that of the average Minister, because he has to study every bill introduced by every Minister. If a move is made in the direction of more properly recogniz ing the services of the Leader of the Opposition, it will receive my most enthusiastic support.
As for the allowances for private members, I believe that a full restoration is logical and proper provided the Treasurer can assure me that every cut made under the Financial Emergency Act, and regulations having the same purpose, has now been restored in full. It would be a shocking thing if we restored parliamentary allowances and did not complete the job by making these other restorations as well. I should like to receive an assurance that the reductions made in respect of pensions payable to officers’ wives have been completely restored, and that the “ means “ test in the case of mothers of soldiers killed in action has been abolished. If the Treasurer can give me those assurances I am willing to support the bill in its entirety, and with enthusiasm in the case of allowances to the Prime Minister and Ministers ; but if those cuts have not been restored, I am not prepared to support the bill.
– in reply - Reference was made by various honorable members to repatriation benefits, and I desire first to discuss the matter of war pensions payable to the parents of deceased soldiers. Prior to the passing of the Financial Emergency Act in 1931, war pensions were payable to parents of deceased soldiers on two grounds : first, to parents based on the extent of their dependence prior to the deceased soldier’s enlistment, and without regard to the means of the parent; and, secondly, to any parents of deceased soldiers who might be at any time without adequate means of support.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. G. J. Bell).It is out of order for the Minister to give particulars of the “ means “ test, or of what pensions are payable under the Repatriation Act. The Minister may, of course, state whether or not cuts in those pensions will be restored.
– I do not propose to speak at length, but as the matter has been brought up, I should be under a disability if I were not allowed to explain the situation as it exists at present.
– The Treasurer may give an assurance regarding the restora- tion of pensions to a member -who has stated that on such an assurance will depend his support of the bill, but there is a great difference between that and making an explanation regarding war pensions, and how they were affected by the Financial Emergency Act.
– With great respect to you, Mr. Speaker, I am under a disability if I am not permitted to reassure honorable members in regard to such repatriation matters as you have allowed honorable members themselves to discuss. I am attempting to show honorable members that the disabilities which they fear still exist, do not, in fact, exist.
– The Treasurer may certainly say that.
– It is of no use my saying it unless I can give proof of it.
– That would be going far beyond any points raised by other members.
– I bow to your ruling. I confine myself to saying that I believe that, in other circumstances, I could have established the point that, in respect to war pensions of parents of deceased soldiers, no parent who is in need of the pension has suffered any disability by reason of the cut.
– Many of them have, as I pointed out last week.
– In respect of officers’ wives a certain levelling up was effected by regulation in 1931. Prior to that officers’ wives received higher pensions, but under those regulations all such pensions were reduced to the one level of 18s. a week. However, returned soldiers suffering from disability did not have their pensions cut at all. I am also glad to be able to give an assurance that in the Senate to-day, a motion is to be tabled for the repeal of certain regulations imposing a cut of 20 per cent, in the pensions of certain classes of dependents. Included among these are mothers of deceased unmarried soldiers, and widows whose husbands died within three years of discharge, their deaths being due to other than war disabilities. The restoration also applies to widows who re-married, and lost their pensions, but who were again widowed. It is hoped that the new regulation will be promulgated at an early date.
In respect of repatriation costs as a whole, I point out that in 1931-32, before the cuts became effective, the total cost was £8,350,000, while the cost for the current financial year is £9,000,000.
-I cannot allow the Treasurer to go into that matter now. It is outside the scope of the bill.
– The number of pensions had declined-
– Order! I cannot allow the Treasurer to make statements that are out of order.
– I bow to your ruling, but-
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 -
Sections nineteen and twenty of the Financial Emergency Act 1931-1936 are repealed.
– I move -
That, after the word “ twenty the words ‘ section 42, sub-sections 1 and 2, and section 43 “ be inserted.
The provisions of the Financial Emergency Act which I have just mentioned are the relevant parts which apply to the classes which have not yet received restoration of the amounts by which their payments were reduced at the time of the passing of the act. I desire now to correct mistaken statements which I have previously made in this chamber. Relying on my memory, I have said that these cuts were made by administrative act, and not by legislation. In that belief I have previously stated that I understood the cuts made by legislation had been restored, but that certain cuts made by means of administrative acts had not been restored. On making inquiry to-night, I find that the restorations previously omitted related to cuts made by legislative act. It seems to be an extraordinary reflection on the Ministers responsible for the introduction of the previous amendments to the Financial Emergency Act under which certain restorations were made that those to which I have now referred were overlooked. I cast no reflection on the Treasurer (Mr. Casey), who is tremendously overworked, on account of his own heavy duties as Treasurer, and those which he discharges on behalf of other Ministers. Sub-sections 1 and 2 of section 42 refer to allowances which have been paid to the wives of officers who are on pensions. Prior to the passage of the Financial Emergency Act there was a small differential rate in favour of the wives–
– I submit that the honorable member is out of order.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Prowse).The typewritten copy of the amendment placed in my hands goes beyond the order of leave. As the amendment would increase the appropriation, it is out of order.
– I accept the ruling of the Chair, and have no choice but to oppose the clause until an undertaking is given by the Government that it will take into consideration, at the earliest possible moment, the full restoration of the pavments to which I have referred.
Mr.BRENNAN (Batman) [9.5].- In supporting the clause, I shall add nothing to what has been well and sufficiently said in another debate by my leader. My only object in rising is to remark that my support of this clause, and of this bill, is entirely without prejudice to, and irrespective of, the claims of other individuals whose cases do not arise for consideration under this measure.
.- The Government is not doing justice to the Commonwealth public servants in introducing legislation that would reduce their salaries by allowing an increased State tax to be imposed upon them. This measure means that these public servants would be taxed by the State authorities to the extent of 9d. and up to11d. in the£1. The States should not be allowed further to tax Commonwealth public servants.
.- I appeal to the Treasurer to agree to the adjournment of the discussion on the committee stage of the bill. Members have not seen this measure until this afternoon, and they should have an opportunity to compare it with the existing legislation.
– I support the request made bv the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory). Clause 4 merely provides for the repeal of sections 19 and 20 of the Financial Emergency Act 1931-1936. The previous clause repeals sections 6,8, and 9 of that act. The committee has had no opportunity to study the effect of these clauses. It is inadvisable for the Government, at one stroke, to reduce the payment made to Commonwealth public servants by allowing the State authorities to tax them for unemployment relief to a greater extent than the 6d. in the £1 now permitted under the Financial Emergency Act. The Treasurer (Mr. Casey) will no doubt say that this provision was inserted in the act because it was thought that members of the Commonwealth Public Service had had their salaries reduced under the act, and that no further reductions should be effected by means of State taxation. It is contended by most members of the committee that the Commonwealth Government realized at the time that the salaries of State public servants were fixed by a tribunal, and that we should not give the States an opportunity to reduce by ls. in the £1 the salaries which were claimed by the tribunal to be the reasonable remuneration for the Commonwealth Government to pay. A great injustice would be done to Commonwealth public servants by pressing through a clause of this nature, which cannot be readily understood by the committee, and which would impose a great disability on Commonwealth public servants.
– Section 19 of the Financial Emergency Act reads as follows: -
The Governor-General may, by regulation, prescribe the maximum amount, rate, percentage or extent of taxation to which the remunerationofanysenatorormemberofthe House of Representatives (including any senator or member who holds a- parliamentary office), of any Minister of State and of any officer or employee, may be subject -
In other words, the Governor-General was given power to set a definite upper limit to the rate of direct income tax, or tax for any special purpose., such as unemployment relief, which any parliamentarian or public servant could he called upon to pay.
– Was that a definite policy, or merely a solatium?
– lt was because of two facts. One was the relatively heavy cut imposed by this Parliament, on parliamentarians and members of the Public Service, which are now, by this bill, finally to be restored; and the other was that in certain States certain sections of the community had been threatened with penal rates of taxation. Those two facts, taken together, induced the government of the day to make this provision in its financial emergency legislation. The necessity for this measure of caution has passed, and 1 cannot see any justification for allowing the provision to remain any longer in the law. The honorable member for Denison (Mr. Mahoney) spoke, of some action on my part that would increase the taxation of Commonwealth public servants. I must attempt to lay that ghost. This clause is designed merely to place Commonwealth public servants on the same basis as State employees in respect of State taxation. At present, the situation now exists that a State employee may be sitting side by side with a Commonwealth employee, a3 happens in various taxation offices, both receiving the same rate of remuneration, but the State employee, being subject to a higher rate of State tax than his fellow officer of the Commonwealth Service. Sorry as T am for the Commonwealth public servant who will have bis rate of tax increased by the elimination of this privilege, I can find no means to justify its continuance. I expect that it was necessary at the time, but I suggest that that time has now passed. The amending clause actually affects only the Statue of New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania, but all of them in varying degree. There is nothing more in this clause than that, but if any honorable member has any further* doubts on the subject 1 shall be glad to attempt to answer them.
.- Do I understand the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) to say that this clause applies to income tax as well as relief or other State taxes?
– Actually, the relief has only applied to unemployment relief taxation.
– I think that the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Baker) has pointed out that, so far as Queensland is concerned, it imposes on members of Parliament representing that State an increased tax of £21. I do not know whether the amendment is worth the trouble of making.
.- My purpose in speaking is to make the position of the Commonwealth Public Service quite definite. This bil! is being dealt, with very hurriedly, and public servants cannot realize just how it will affect them. The honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Jolly) has discussed the clause as it affects members of this Parliament; I propose to consider its effect on Commonwealth public servants in Queensland only, because I do not pretend to be au. fail with the position of Commonwealth employees in other States. Honorable members are familiar with the history of this matter. As the result of many law cases dealing with the constitutional position, it wa3 decided that the States did not have power to tax Commonwealth public servants, members of the Commonwealth Parliament, or Commonwealth instrumentalities without their consent. The Commonwealth Government then consented to the imposition of such taxes, but some time ago it passed legislation which provided that no Commonwealth instrumentality, Commonwealth public servant or member of the Commonwealth Parliament would be required to pay more than 6d. in the £1 as the result of any legislation passed by the States imposing taxes on the people of those States. There is no objection to the payment of State taxes where there is good reason for their collection, but it is reasonable that the Government of this Commonwealth should fix at least a maximum rate to be applied to all Commonwealth public servants. If that be not done, the position may arise in which one government may be able to defeat the objects of another government. For instance, a State government wishing to do harm to the Commonwealth Government, may impose upon Commonwealth public servants a tax sufficiently heavy to cause them to be unable to carry out their duties, or to cause them to be underpaid by comparison with other employees, thus forcing them to seek increased salaries. As the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) has said, the existing position affects four States. In particular, as regards Queensland, the position is that until recently the unemployment relief tax was ls. in the £1; it has been reduced to Hd. in the £1. Every Commonwealth public servant in Queensland, irrespective of his salary, whether he be a boy starting on a salary of £100 a year or an executive officer receiving £1,000 a year or more, pays 6d. in the £1 unemployment relief tax on his gross income. The tax is taken out of his salary every fortnight. But for the clause which it is now sought to amend, he would have to pay Hd. in the £1. “We have to consider the repercussions of legislation such as this. If this bill is passed it means that the whole of the public servants in four States of the Commonwealth will find that, rightly or wrongly, they will have to suffer a considerable increase of State taxes. It is only fair that honorable members generally should realize exactly what they are doing by a clause of this kind. If the Treasurer is really sincere in his suggestion that the reason for this clause is because of the restoration of financial emergency cuts, why did he not bring it in when the full restoration was made twelve months ago to the Commonwealth public servants? Unlike State public servants, Commonwealth public servants are subject to cost-of-living reductions. This Government is able proudly to boast that it has made a full restoration for the simple reason that there has been such a tremendous drop in the cost of living since it has been in office. I appeal to the Minister to reconsider the position and to refrain from proceeding with this clause until such time as its effect on all the members of the Commonwealth Public Service has been fully ascertained after discussion with the representatives of the various public service organizations.
– I hope that the committee will pass this clause just as enthusiastically as it passed some of the earlier provisions of this bill. To judge by the discussion that has taken place, one would think that a differentiation was being exercised against Commonwealth public servants, whereas, as a matter of fact, the differentiation which has existed up to the present has been in their favour. By interjection, I learned from the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) that the reason for the insertion of the provision which placed a limit on the taxation of Commonwealth public servants by the States was because of the very heavy cuts in their salaries and also because of the fear of penal taxation being exacted from them. This danger no longer exists and is not likely to recur. The Treasurer has indicated, quite rightly, that, unless this clause is passed, State and Commonwealth public servants will continue to work side by side but subject to differen- tial treatment so far as some State taxation is concerned. But it is not only because of differential treatment between State and Commonwealth public servants that this clause becomes necessary; there is the wider sphere of the ordinary man who in many respects is not so favorably placed as either State or Commonwealth public servants, who does not enjoy the protection afforded to members of the Commonwealth Parliament and Commonwealth public servants. The justification for this whole measure, which would prompt me to vote for it, is that I see in it opportunity for a complete restoration of the status quo, not only restoration of benefits but also elimination of special provisions of the financial emergency legislation which were in the nature of a solatium. I am prepared to take the thick with the thin, and I think every other honorable member should be prepared to do likewise.
– While I do not doubt the sincerity of the last speaker (Sir Frederick Stewart) or of the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) in justifying the inclusion of a clause of this character in the bill, I must confess that I completely fail to appreciate the logic of the arguments they have advanced in justification of it. It would seem, on the face of it, that the Treasurer has decided to offer not merely members of this Parliament, but also a large number of Commonwealth public servants, as hostages to the various State governments in expiation of some wrong, either real or imaginary, which it is alleged the Commonwealth perpetrated on the States. Whether that is so or not, I do not propose to discuss. It would seem to me, however, that the Treasurer has brought down this amending clause because he possesses an over-sensitive conscience regarding the attitude he has adopted at various times towards the States. What I would particularly like to point out regarding the arguments advanced by the honora’ble member for Parramatta (Sir Frederick Stewart) and the Treasurer is that the disparity which they suggest that this clause will obviate if given effect was created deliberately when the clause in question was in serted in the original emergency legislation. When it was passed by this chamber, both the honorable member for Parramatta and the Treasurer, I believe, voted in favour of it. It was drawn by the present Chief Justice of the Commonwealth (Sir John Latham). The disparity now complained of was deliberately and consciously created by this Parliament when the original act became law; it operated then and has operated ever since. It was justified to this chamber when the original bill was before the House, and I do not see in what way conditions have altered to warrant an entirely different attitude towards it now.
– The restoration of the salary cuts is the justification. That was a solatium.
– I suggest that cuts were made in the salaries of State public servants to at least as great a degree as was the case in connexion with the Commonwealth Public Service and members of this Parliament. The same conditions which operated when the original legislation was placed on the statute-book operate now. The disparity complained of now was just as great then. Because that is so, I completely fail to follow the logic of the arguments advanced by the Treasurer in justification of this clause. I should like to have the honorable gentleman’s explanation of this, and also a statement of the probable cost to the public servants of the Commonwealth in increased taxation. It may be £100,000 a year; it may be more. The Treasurer should, at least, give us an approximate figure of the amount of additional taxation that will be imposed on Commonwealth public servants as the result of the passing df this clause.
.- I intend to support the clause as it stands. I do not consider that it is the function of this Parliament to protect some citizens of a State against the laws of that State in so far as they affect the rest of its citizens. That seems to me to be the fundamental principle in this issue. I am a citizen of Western Australia, and a member of the Commonwealth Parliament. Whatever may be the laws of that
State in respect of taxation, I should comply with them, now that all the special sacrifices which Commonwealth legislation imposed upon me have been removed. L consider that that principle must be equally valid in the case of Commonwealth public servants. When this provision was introduced into the financial emergency law, it was given a good deal of flexibility, in that the GovernorGeneral in Council was authorized to proclaim what should be the maximum figure beyond which a State law should not apply in relation to tax incidence to either members of the Commonwealth Parliament or members of the Commonwealth Public Service. That flexibility was allowed entirely because, at that period, we knew with definiteness the range of the cuts that would be imposed on Commonwealth public servants, but not what would be the degree and severity of the special taxation which the States would impose. The further factor was taken into account, that the special position of those citizens who were Commonwealth public servants, as compared with those who were not, was due to the fact that they had already suffered a tax in the enforced reduction of their salaries without reference to arbitration. Having regard to the fact that there was a dual impact on the salaries of Commonwealth public servants, namely, the contraction for which the Commonwealth Parliament was responsible, and the at that time unmeasured contraction- by reason of the taxation imposed by the States on account of their necessities, it appeared to me that this precaution in the legislation was a protection of certain wagestandards, and I supported it. That principle does not appear to me to be any longer valid. By this legislation, we are removing the last vestige of the financial emergency deductions from salaries, however they are determined - by the Parliament in pursuance of its authority, or by the arbitration machinery which the Parliament has set up under statute. Therefore, I say that we should allow the normal state of affairs again to be resumed in relation to either Com- monwealth public servants or members of the Commonwealth Parliament in their relations with the governments of the States. I would greatly regret the con tinuance of any special protection against State law in respect of either Commonwealth public servants or members of the Commonwealth Parliament. I considerthat that would not only place us in a privileged position, but also usurp for ourselves, even though we may have thesovereign power to do so, an authority over ourselves as State citizens which ought to be exercisable only by the State Parliament. It is perfectly true that some States tax at a higher rate than others on a given range of incomes. It may be unfortunate for a public servant of the Commonwealth to be transferred from Canberra to Perth. While in Canberra, heis subject only to the income tax imposed by this Parliament, and is free from the obligation to nay any State tax. It may be argued that we should, therefore, insist upon the exemption of all Commonwealth public servants from the obligation imposed by State taxation laws. I cannot agree with that. This is the sovereign territory of the Commonwealth. But Commonwealth public servants who reside in a State are citizens of that State, and I submit that the principle applicable to the citizens of that State should fall equally upon every citizen, whether he be a State public servant, a Commonwealth public servant, or a member of this Parliament. I support the clause.
.- There is one point which the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) might clear up in discussing the next clause of the bill.I think that I am correct in saying that, when the honorable gentleman was making his second-reading speech he was about to refer to the restoration of certain repatriation payments. I should like him to make an explanation on the point now.
– - I do not think that there is a great deal to add to what I have already said, except that, so long as we remain under the federal system, every citizen is subject to two taxing authorities, one the Commonwealth and the other the States. The taxation of the different States varies. We can control the incidence of taxation on ourselves in an emergency. In 1931 the Parliament, in its wisdom, did so. I suggest that that emergency has now passed, and I cannot for the life of me see any justification for the continuance of a privilege of this sort.
.- 1 am amazed at the attitude that is being adopted by the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) in tins particular matter. The result of this legislation, in which are included restorations to members of this Parliament, is to effect also a widespread reduction of the salaries of other members of the community. I would rather see the Government withdraw the bill, and forget about it, than perpetrate such an injustice. The protection given to Commonwealth public servants as the result of legislation passed by this Parliament has now been in existence for a number of years. There is no doubt that from time to time, in determining the rates of wages to be paid to Commonwealth public servants, consideration was given by the various tribunals to the fact that they were not liable for the payment of the same amount of taxation as would have been the case had not action been taken by this Parliament to limit the operation of State taxation laws. I agree with the honorable member who said that it was illogical to say now that it is desirable by this particular legislation to remove an anomaly caused bv the differential treatment of Commonwealth and State public servants; but T believe that the differentiation which originally existed has disappeared as the protection given has been taken into consideration when wage rates have been determined subsequently. As a matter of fact, when the emergency legislation was passed honorable members voted for the principle of differentiation between Commonwealth mid State public servants. I have a clear recollection of what actuated the Government when it passed the original legislation. At that particular time there was a conflict between the Commonwealth Government and the Government of the State of New South Wales. The Government of the State proposed to levy certain taxation with a view to obtaining the revenues which it said it needed in order to discharge its obligations. The Commonwealth Government at that time, being very anxious to do everything it could to cripple the Labour Government of New South Wales, passed this particular legislation with a view to pre venting that government from enforcing its legislation. There was no talk then about differential treatment as between Commonwealth and State public servants. The position is that to-morrow morning, if this measure passes this Parliament, a large section of the Australian public will become aware of the fact that they have suffered a reduction of the income they at present receive. They will also know that members of Parliament, who have the opportunity to deal with their own remuneration, have voted themselves a restoration of the cuts made under the financial emergency legislation, and that the Prime Minister of this country has bad his salary increased by £1,500 per annum. T.n these circumstances, if the Government is not prepared to meet the wishes of a considerable number of honorable members, and proposes to make certain restorations, in which members of this Parliament will participate, .by inflicting a cut on a large section of the Australian community, T would rather the bill was withdrawn and entirely forgotten.
Mr. ANTHONY (Richmond) [9.42 j.As.a new member, 1 do not wish to say very much in regard to the restoration of salaries, because 1 have some respect for honorable members with longer experience who have a better knowledge of the cost of maintaining the position of a parliamentary representative. It was with some misgiving that 1 listened to the introduction of this measure, because of the circumstances surrounding the restoration, one of which was the defence expenditure, which calls for some degree of sacrifice on the part of all members of the community. If I needed reinforcement for any opposition that I might have had to this measure, it would be furnished Ivy this particular clause. It appears to me that in order that members of Parliament may benefit to an amount of £5.000 or £10.000, Commonwealth public servants will be compelled to contribute probably several times that amount to the exchequers of the States. The position is not altogether as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) has stated it to be because, as I understand it, the exemption from taxation applies only to special taxation. J would direct attention to the fact that under this particular clause, a postmaster at Tweed Heads, in New South “Wales, would pay about 3d. in the £1 on account of special unemployment relief tax, while a postmaster on the same salary, performing the same service, and employed by the same employer at Coolangatta, on the. other side of the border, would pay Hd. in the £1.
– What about stationmasters at two border towns ? What is to be done for them?
– They are both under State laws, and their remunerations are fixed by State arbitration courts, but the salaries of Commonwealth employees are fixed, I understand, by the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, without taking into account the different rates of tax in the two States. Commonwealth and State employees in New South Wales and Queensland pay exactly the same income tax and shire rates and, in fact, all the taxes except the special unemployment relief tax. It was because I had in mind such cases as this that I asked a certain question of the Prime Minister this af ternoon in connexion with the National Health and Pensions Insurance Bill. If this clause is passed it is an additional tax on Commonwealth public servants, and if it must be imposed in order to ensure to Commonwealth Ministers and members of the Commonwealth Parliament some additional benefits, I cannot see my way clear to support it.
.- I do not wish any misunderstanding of my position to arise on this matter. I stand for the best possible conditions for the members of the Commonwealth Public Service, and always have done so. I am prepared to provide them with the maximum of decent wages. But I do not propose that they should be put into a different category in respect to taxation from other citizens of the State or district in which they live. I remind some honorable members from Western Australia that the Deputy Director of Posts and Telegraphs in that State receives a substantial salary, the amount of which I shall not mention. I should be ashamed to pass a law which would exempt such a salary from the taxation which applies to salaries of only half that amount of other persons in the Public Service.
– Or not in the Public Service.
– That is so. While 1 have the utmost regard for Commonwealth public servants I am conscious of the fact that they enjoy 52 weeks’ salary every year. They should not, therefore, expect to be put in a sheltered position regarding taxation. I hope they will not misunderstand my position. I shall endeavour to secure for them continuous employment, superannuation, and the highest possible wages, but I expect them to be in the same category as the humblest citizens of the State in which they live in respect to burdens which the State must carry.
.- The legislation with which we are dealing is related to measures passed during the time that Mr. Lang was rampant, and threatening the Commonwealth and every one connected with it, including members of the Commonwealth Parliament and of the Commonwealth Public Service, with all sorts of things. But that danger has passed, apparently for ever. Therefore, the need for the action which was then taken by the Commonwealth Parliament no longer exists. I support the view of members of this Parliament that members of the Commonwealth Parliament and Public Service should be considered in their dual capacity as Commonwealth citizens and citizens of the State in which they reside. There can be no sound reason for seeking to restrict the right of State governments to tax Commonwealth servants, except in some emergency of a kind which does not exist to-day. On principle there is no more reason for saying that we will limit unemployment relief taxation to 6d. in the £1 than for saying that Commonwealth public servants shall be altogether free from State taxation. The proper principle is that honorable members of the Commonwealth Parliament and of the Commonwealth Public Service have a dual relationship to both the Commonwealth and the State in which they reside. It is not, in my opinion, within the province of this Parliament, except in the case of emergency, to interfere with the right of a State government to impose taxation on reg]- dents within the State. As the Lang terror is no longer before us the steps that were taken to deal with it should be retraced.
.- I disagree with the policy enunciated in” sections 19 and 20 of the Financial Emergency Act. I think those sections should disappear immediately the financial emergency cuts are restored. But I do not think this bill is the proper place in which to deal with the matter. The purpose of this measure is to restore certain salaries and allowances to Ministers of State and members of the Commonwealth Parliament and it should be confined to that subject. The passing of this bill should not affect the position of other persons. If the House considers that the salaries and allowances referred ‘ to in the bill should be restored, it should restore them. If it considers that steps should be taken to deal with the position of certain public servants it should take those steps, but not in this bill. The subject matter of this bill should be dealt with on its merits without the intervention of any self interest. Most of us seem to think that the salaries of members of this Parliament should be restored to £1,000 a year. Because of that, we might be tempted to vote ‘for certain other provisions; but I submit that those other matters should be dealt with in separate bills just as the restoration of repatriation pensions - which we all thought had been restored - should be dealt with in a separate measure. It is not proper to deal with these extraneous matters in this bill. To do so, introduces subject matter quite foreign to the bill. In particular, the proposal in relation to Commonwealth public servants and certain State taxation, should not be dovetailed into this measure, but should be dealt with otherwise.
.- I do not see anr reason why we should not accept the proposal of the Government. I believe that all the people in a particular State should be uniformly taxed. The circumstances which prompted the introduction of the financial emergency legislation have happily passed: The purpose, in part at any rate, of that legislation, was to protect the members of this Parliament and Commonwealth public servants from certain heavy imposts which the Lang Government proposed to make in retaliation for certain actions of this Parliament. Mr. Lang had proposed to introduce an income tax of five shillings in the fi. It was realized that sacrifices had already been made - voluntarily insofar as members of the Parliament were concerned. We all know that at that time Mr. Lang was running wild; but he is no longer a menace to us.
– He is an asset to us.
– I believe that when the members of the Commonwealth Public Service who may be affected by this measure realize what is being done they will approve of it.
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Francis) has referred to the Leader of His Majesty’s Opposition in the Parliament of New South Wales as a menace. I regard that remark as an insult and I ask that it be withdrawn.
There is no point of order involved.
– I hold the view that as the reasons which prompted the introduction of the financial emergency legislation have now passed this legislation should be repealed. The Commonwealth Public Service was the first group of public servants to have the financial emergency cuts restored. I was grateful to be able to assist in the restoration. I have and always shall be glad to assist in improving conditions. My own personal position in this matter seems to me to be quite clear. If this clause is agreed to I shall be required to pay additional unemployment taxation in Queensland amounting to about £21 a year and I shall probably also have to pay an additional sum in extra income tax. It seems to me that if I receive this £50 extra parliamentary allowance I shall be required to pay most of it away in extra taxation, but as I consider the purpose of the bill to be just I shall support it.
.- The Government has introduced this measure allegedly as evidence that prosperity has returned. The purpose of the bill is to restore the salaries and allowances of Ministers of State and members of the Commonwealth Parliament to the amounts paid prior to 1931. It seems to me, however, that the round about way in which this is being done savours of the efforts which are sometimes made by prisoners in the dock to produce an alibi. On the one hand Government supporters have alleged that this section of the financial emergency legislation was introduced because of certain actions taken by the Government of New South Wales in 1931, and it is also said that the measure was retaliatory because the State government, at that time proposed to increase the unemployment tax to1s. in the £1.
– The Lang Government proposed an unemployment tax of 5s. in the £1.
– The honorable member for Parkes (Sir Charles Marr) is trying to draw a red herring across the trail. Because the New South Wales Government proposed to increase the unemployment tax to1s. in the £1, the particular provisions of our financial emergency legislation, which are now under consideration, were passed on the ground that civil servants had already made big sacrifices in reduction of salary. I am not in a position to say what caused the Government of the day to include sections 19 and 20 in the Financial Emergency Bill that it brought before Parliament, but there can be no doubt that that legislation was directed definitely against the Government of New South Wales. No mention of differentiation was made by those who supported the cuts at the time they were made. The same thing happened in New South Wales as happened here, the only difference being that it was slightly delayed in that State. Commonwealth public- servants lost up to 221/2 per cent, of their salaries in1931, and when the Stevens Government was returned in New South Wales in 1932 exactly the same demands were made on the State public servants as had been made in the previous year on the Commonwealth public servants.
– This Parliament has no jurisdiction over the State public service.
– The honorable member for Parramatta laid particular stresson differentiation but he did not use his influence with the Stevens Government to prevent differentiation between the Commonwealth service and the State service when the cuts were imposed and the Commonwealth imposed a limit of 6d. in the £ on the amount of unemployment relief taxes that could belevied on Commonwealth public servants. In 1932, as I have already pointed out. the Stevens Government reduced the salaries of its servants by 221/2 per cent, and imposed upon them a wages tax of 1s. in the £, whereas Commonwealth servants in that State could only be called upon to pay6d. in the £. Not only was there no talk of differentiation then but also until to-day there has been none. It is nearly twelve months since the salaries of Commonwealth servants were completely restored. If there is any validity in the. argument that differentiation exists between members of the two services, that argument was just as valid then as it is now and this legislation should have been brought forward twelve months ago and not now. As the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) has said, to the public the Government’s action will look suspiciously like an attempt on its part to use the public service as an excuse for bringing forward this bill. The Government is increasing the salariesof Ministers and members but at the same time is taking three or four times as much collectively as will be involved in that increase from the pockets of the public servants as a justification for doing so. I am not particularly concerned about parliamentary salaries and [ am not squealing about the amount of £15 or £16 of extra tax that I shall.be called upon to pay if this bill is passed, but I do object to the fact that that money which is taxed out of me will go, not to the purpose for which it is allegedly designed, namely, the relief of unemployment, but to the consolidatedrevenue of the State. The Government of New South Wales collects unemployment relief tax not only from members of Parliament but also from thepoorest workers of industry to the amount of £7,000,000 a year, and of that amount spends only £2,000,000 on the relief of unemployment, the remainder being absorbed into general revenue. This matter of differentiation between the Commonwealth and State public servants in respect of wages tax has been raised not only on the Government’s side of the committee but also, I am sorry to say, on the Opposition side. No matter how tins matter is approached, one can only conclude that the lower-paid workers in the Commonwealth service will suffer. For example, a basic wage earner employed in the Commonwealth service will be called upon to pay considerably more in tax than he is required to pay to-day. I am not, therefore, impressed by the argument that there is differentiation between the two services. The proper outlook for a Labour Opposition to have is that there should be a levelling-up, not a levelling-down. If we agree to the removal of what has been described as differentiation we shall agree to a reduction of wages of all Commonwealth public servants employed in the States, men who from 1931 until very recently accepted sacrifices, the need for which has now disappeared, if it ever existed. I was opposed to the imposition of salary reductions in the first place. I was opposed to the Premiers plan that brought them into being, and I cannot conscientiously bring myself to ask for further sacrifices from these people.
– Especially when the honorable member is getting an increase himself.
– Yes. For seven years Commonwealth public servants were subjected to huge salary reductions amounting in some cases to 22$ per cent., and I believe they accepted them uncomplainingly. The reductions were gradually decreased until they received a full restoration, and P do not propose to support a government which is telling these “eople who received their last restoration nearly twelve months ago that they must forego some of it. I was opposed to the salary cuts and to the Premiers plan that originated them and, logically, I must be opposed to these men being forced to accept a reduction of wages simply on the plea that there is differentiation in taxation between the Commonwealth and State public servants.
Sir FREDERICK STEWART (Parramatta [10.SJ. - A good deal of the discussion in the last half hour has been due to misunderstanding of what sections 19 and 20 of the original Financial Emergency Act really mean. Section 19 specifically provided, that, after the reductions were made, certain other things should take place, and these certain other things were, of course, protection against undue taxation by any State on Commonwealth public servants or Commonwealth parliamentarians. Surely if these reductions have been restored there can be no grounds whatever for the privileged position of Commonwealth public servants being maintained. Section 20 does not deal with that matter at all, although the discussion would suggest that it did. That is one of the disabilities of having a debate on a bill of this kind immediately after it has been placed before honorable members. Section 20 deals with taxation of officers of the Federal Parliament and Federal departments who, not being arbitrarily affected by the Financial Emergency Act, voluntarily gave up part of their salaries. There w-ere some notable and commendable examples of high officials voluntarily foregoing considerable portions of their salaries.
Opposition Members. - What about Judge Lukin? He refused to reduce his salary.
– I entirely agree with the interjection and feel just as keenly as honorable members opposite on that matter, but many of these people did realize their duty and voluntarily handed back part of their emoluments, and it was right that they should have freedom from taxation on that part of the emolument that they did not collect. Protection was also given to State employees who acted similarly. They were given exemption from taxation on that part of their salaries which they did not collect. Neither of those two conditions now prevails. Not only have the compulsory reductions been restored, but the voluntary contributions are no longer made. In fact, section 20 has ceased to operate, and should be expunged. There is too much “ deadwood “ in our statute-book already. Even if there be any grounds for debating the proposed repeal of section 19 - and 1 cannot see that there is - there can be no possible reason lor retaining section 20.
– So far as I am concerned, I do not think that this measure should ever have been introduced. I agree with the honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Blackburn) that the clause dealing with the taxation of Commonwealth public servants residing in the States should not be in this bill at all, but should be part of a separate measure altogether. As for the proposed restoration of parliamentary allowances, that is a matter for members themselves. Personally, I do not agree with the proposal. I was not here to suffer the original cut in the allowance, but I can understand that those who did should feel entitled now to have it restored. I came here under a different contract. I was elected when the allowance was £950 a year, and there were other competitors quite prepared to take the job at that figure. I quite agree with other honorable members, however, who state that, a man who is entirely dependent upon his parliamentary allowance, does not have much left out of it by the end of the year, and it would be selfish of me to oppose the restoration to other members because of the peculiar circumstances in which I am myself placed.
With regard to the clause now under discussion, I do not agree that it should be made merely incidental to the proposal to increase parliamentary salaries. It has frequently been stated that Public Service salaries have been restored to what they were before the Financial Emergency Act was passed, but I understand that this is not actually the case. Prior to the passing of the act, salaries rose automatically when the cost of living increased, but that does not now happen. It would be more straightforward to treat the proposal for the restoration of parliamentary allowances in a separate measure, rather than bracket it with proposals for the reduction of the salaries of Commonwealth officers residing in Queensland and New South Wales, for that is what this clause amounts to. The fact that at present there is differential treatment as between civil servants in various States is beside the point. No doubt the factor is taken into consideration from year to year in determining salaries and increments. It is of no use saying one thing and meaning another. If the present maximum of 6d. in the £1 in regard to unemployment taxation on Commonwealth public servants’ salaries is abolished, some Commonwealth public servants will immediately become subject to a tax of Hd. in the £1, which would have the effect of reducing their salaries. In the circumstances, therefore, can it be claimed that ail Public Service salaries have been restored? Indeed, it is possible that some of them may be worse off than they were before the passing of the Financial Emergency Act. I would rather see the whole bill thrown out than that this injustice should be done.
Mr. JOHN LAWSON (.Macquarie) 1 10. IS . - If this clause does in fact possess all the merits which the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) claims for it, he should not be so niggardly in giving honorable members information about its possible effect on civil servants. The bill purposes to effect the restoration of parliamentary allowances, and provides about £10,000 for this purpose, but this clause may have the effect of imposing additional taxation amounting to from £100,000 to £200,000 on Commonwealth public servants. I do not wish at this stage to argue further the merits of what is proposed in the clause, but I point out that never before have 1 known a Treasurer to place taxation proposals before Parliament without being able to state approximately what would be the extent of the burden to be placed on the people. When T spoke earlier on the bill, I asked the Treasurer to give some indication of what this provision would cost Commonwealth public servants in additional taxation, but he ignored my request. I suggest that if he cannot say what the approximate cost will be, then the clause should not be passed. The suggestion of the honorable member for Bourke should be adopted, and if the Government still considers that this portion of the legislation should be enacted, it should be embodied in a separate bill. I suggest that the Treasurer should give the committee an indication approximately of the additional burden that will be thrown on Commonwealth public servants. I appeal to the Treasurer to discard the sphinx-like attitude that he has adopted in response to the request that he should disclose the total amount of the additional taxation that will be imposed on Commonwealth public servants if the bill is passed in its present form.
– I understood the honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Frederick Stewart) to contend that the clause would not affect members of the Commonwealth Public Service. That is not the case, and I intend to quote Section 19 of the Financial Emergency Act in order to controvert the honorable member’s contention.
– I did not say that it did not apply to any officer or employeeof the Commonwealth Public Service.
– Section 19 provides- (1.) The Governor-General may, by regulation, prescribe the maximum amount, rate percentage or extent of taxation to which the remuneration of any senatoror member of the House of Representatives (including any senator or member who holds a parliamentary office), or any Minister of State and of anyofficer or employee, may be subject -
The section specifically refers to officers and employees. It would appear that the words “ officer or employee “ would cover every employee of the Commonwealth Government. But in order to make assurance doubly sure I examined the interpretation section in Part 2 of the act, and I shall quote the definition in Section 6 of “ officers and employees “.
It is clear from that definition that Section 19 covers all officers and employees of the Commonwealth Public Service. As several honorable members desire me to quote Section 20, I shall do so -
a taxpayer holds any office under the Commonwealth or a State the salary of which -
is fixed by law and payable out of the general revenue of the Commonwealth or the State; and
is not reduced by the law of the Common wealth or of the State relating to the financial emergency; and
the taxpayer has agreed with the Treasurer of the Commonwealth or of the State, as the case may be, that the taxpayer will, in any year, for the purpose of assisting to relieve the financial stringency of the Commonwealth or the State, as the case may be, and to reduce the expenditure of the government thereof, accept, instead of the salary so fixed, some smaller sum, and allow the Treasurer to retain the balance in aid of the general revenue of the Commonwealth or the State, the following provisions shall apply: -
1 ) In the case of any such taxpayer holding office under the Commonwealth, the sum actually paid to the taxpayer in pursuance of any such agreement shall, for the purposes of any act of the Commonwealth or a State relating to taxation based on income, be deemed to be the salary of the taxpayer derived from that office, and the sum retained by the Treasurer of the Commonwealth shall not be taken into account for the purpose of calculating the taxable income of the taxpayer under any law of the Commonwealth or a State; and (2, In the case of any such taxpayer holding office under a State, the sum actually paid to the taxpayer in pursuance of any such agreement shall, for the purposes of any acts of the Commonwealth relating to taxation based on income, be deemed to be the salary of the taxpayer derived from that office, and the sum retained by the Treasurer of the State shall not be taken into account for the purpose of calculating the taxable income of the taxpayer under any law of the Commonwealth.
My object in quoting those two lengthy sections was to point out exactly the nature of the provision which the Government is foisting on us by including this clause in the bill. Before the debate commenced, a large majority of honorable members had not had an opportunity to examine the measure in its relationship to the principal act, and they are now asked by the Government to agree to the clause without being told its full purport. When members of this Parliament received a small restoration of salary - an amount of £75 a year, it happened that on the same day, the basic wage” in New South Wales was reduced by 2s. The press throughout Australia criticized the action of members of this Parliament in voting themselves an increase of 30s. a week in salary at the same time as the basic wage in New South Wales was reduced by 2s. I invite honorable members to consider this matter from their own viewpoint and realize what will be said to-morrow by the press if the bill is passed in its present form. The press will say that members of this House voted themselves a restoration of £50 per annum and at the same time imposed an additional burden of taxation on the membersof the Commonwealth Public Service. I know that some honorable members will declare that State governments have imposed this taxation, but if this bill is passed tonight, every Commonwealth public servant, from the lowest paid to the highest paid in New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia, will be called upon to make a contribution to the State exchequers. In Tasmania, I understand, the increase will be from 6d. in the £1 to 9d. The position of Commonwealth public servants in Queensland is rather more serious than elsewhere, because the increased unemployment tax will be levied upon the gross income without deductions. No amount of logic will convince these people that they are not being treated unfairly under this bill. I do not agree with the argument that Commonwealth public servants should pay in taxation whatever amounts State governments care to inflict upon them. I take the view that their salaries are fixed by the Commonwealth Public Service Arbitrator for the whole of the Commonwealth, and that those salaries should not be subject to deduction by State laws. The Commonwealth Government should have full control over its own servants and their emoluments. I, therefore, urge the Treasurer to withdraw the bill. He can do this without any loss of dignity. While I am in favour of the restoration of salaries I do not intend to vote for this measure in its present form, because of the injustice it would inflict upon Commonwealth public servants in the four States mentioned.
– I am glad that action which I took earlier in the discussion delayed the passage of this clause until honorable members understood its effect. If honorable members are afraid to oppose the clause because it might appear that they approve of the principle of the restoration of their own salaries, I point out that objection to the clause will not in any way affect the proposed increase of allowance to members. It merely repeals the provision in the Emergency Act dealing with reductions of salaries, including allowances of members of Parliament. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) said that he did not approve of Commonwealth public servants being placed in sheltered positions, compared with State public servants, and he instanced the position of the Deputy Director of Posts and Telegraphs in Perth, asking why such a highly-paid official should be relieved of taxation which lower paid State public servants were obliged to pay. But we have to bear in mind that S2 per cent, of the Commonwealth public servants are employees of the Postal Department, who, twelve months ago, received an increased remuneration by not having applied to them any longer the financial emergency cuts, yet now in a bill providing for restoration of allowances paid to members of Parliament are to be called- upon to pay increased taxation to the States. I am afraid that the Government has blundered in bringing forward this proposal in a bill ostensibly designed to restore allowances to members of Parliament, although, as a matter of fact, no additional remuneration will be received by members. I do not approve of State taxation authorities exercising control over Commonwealth public servants. If we emphasized, as we should, the importance of the national Parliament, we should, whenever the opportunity presents itself, urge the abolition of the various State Parliaments, so that the administration of all taxation measures would be in the hands of a central government. Should any government that might come into office in any State be permitted to harass or unduly affect the living conditions of those who are paid from Canberra by the National Parliament? Should their remuneration and living conditions be other than those fixed by the Commonwealth Public Service Board, or any other authority which is clothed with that responsibility? “We have a responsibility to those whom we employ, and I contend that the Government is committing a grave blunder in asking us to vote in such a way a3 will lead to increased taxes being imposed, when our cry has always been for the reduction of taxes, without giving public servants an opportunity to make representations to us. The Treasurer (Mr. Casey) has not been able to answer the pointed question of the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. John Lawson), who has asked him whether this tax will involve £100,000 or double that amount.
– How does he know?
– He does not know. Whenever the honorable gentleman brings down taxation proposals in this Parliament, he is able to state what revenue he expects to obtain from them. I have no idea of what the amount might be. Had not some honorable members been alert, this provision might have been sneaked through without our having an opportunity to express our views upon it. I hope that the Treasurer will withdraw the clause, at least so far as it affects the public servants of the Commonwealth.
– The Commonwealth Treasurer will not get any revenue out of this.
– I have neither said nor inferred that he will do so. I urge him to withdraw the clause, and thus remove the disability which it will impose upon our public servants. I should be pleased if the provision increasing the allowance of honorable members were also withdrawn.
.- Prior to the enactment of the emergency legislation, federal members and public servants were subject to the ordinary taxation imposed in the various States in which they resided. As I understand the position, that legislation limited the power of the States to impose taxation upon those affected by it. Complete restoration of salaries and allowances having now been made, the status quo ante should be restored, otherwise public servants of the Commonwealth and federal members would occupy a sheltered position in relation to the taxation of the States. That is the most natural and reasonable thing to do, even though the removal of the limitation upon the power of the States to tax us may result in the restoration that is now being made proving to be an “Irishman’s rise.” I disagree with the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser). The people of the whole of the Common- wealth, and not the Commonwealth Government, pay federal public servants and members of this Parliament. I. should like uniformity to be achieved in the taxation of both State and federal public servants. I can imagine a Commonwealth public servant, or even a federal member, having cause for complaint in regard to the severity of taxation in the different States. Eoi- example, taxation is very much heavier in Western Australia than in some of the other States, and, consequently, the Deputy Director of Posts and Telegraphs at Perth, is at a distinct disadvantage as compared with an officer of similar rank in a State in which the taxation is lower. If by some means their positions could be equalized, I should be perfectly agreeable to action along those lines being taken. I support in toto the proposal to place us in the position that we occupied prior to the passage of the emergency legislation.
. -I believe that the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) was quite sincere in intention when he included this provision in the bill. It probably occurred to him that members of Parliament in particular, having had their salaries restored, should 1h: prepared to be subject to the same conditions as all other members of the community. But he may not have visualized the widespread ramifications of this simple clause, which was designed in the first place to rope in parliamentarians. The raising of the allowance of honorable members, and the repeal of sections 19 and 20 of the emergency legislation, should be quite independent of each other. I stated earlier that I am not very greatly concerned in regard to the restoration of the. allowance to £1,000 a year. I was elected on the basis of an allowance of £950 a year, and was prepared to accept the position at that figure, but that may not apply to other honorable members who suffered a reduction under the financial emergency legislation. I am willing to concede that there may be some degree of fairness in the proposal to restore the allowance to its former level in their case. At the same time, the Government should see that members are treated fairly in the manner in which their case is placed before thu bar of public opinion. This repeal of the financial emergency legislation is being effected in such a way as to give the impression that, in order that honorable members may enjoy an additional £50 a year, numerous public servants will be taxed to an amount of £2 or £3 a year. That will have a considerable effect on a large section of the people of this country. There may be a good deal of merit in the contention of the honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Frederick Stewart) and others that the time hn% arrived when the whole of the emergency legislation should pass into the limbo of forgotten things. But there is a proper way to effect that purpose. I once heard it said of an unpleasant remark, that it was not what was 3aid, but the nasty way in which it was said, that mattered. It is not what this bill contains, but the nasty way in which the restoration is being made that will be censured by a very large proportion of the people of the Commonwealth, particularly Commonwealth public servants. The Government must take cognizance of the political effect of measures such as thi3, and the limitless ground there is for misunderstanding and possibly distortion of the facts of the situation. It will be argued with a good deal of force that had this proposal for the restoration of the salaries and allowances of Minister.-! and members not been made nothing would have been heard of the suggestion to repeal sections 19 and 20 of the Financial Emergency Act. That viewwill certainly be held by a large section of the community. Members of this House, and particularly Government supporters, should not bc put in a false position in this matter. It should not be possible for any one to distort the reasons for an honorable member’s vote on a particular clause. In my opinion, it will be improper to add to the amount of tax certain sections of the community would have to bear in order to secure an increase of salaries and allowances for Ministers and members. I therefore urge the Government to postpone further consideration of this subject so that it may be looked at dispassionately. There can be no doubt that if the clause be passed new taxation will be imposed on certain people.
.- I opposed the passage of the original financial emergency legislation, and have always been antagonistic to it. The particular sections now under consideration were designed to defeat the intention of the Lang Government to apply an unemployment relief tax up to 5s. in that State.
– That is the real position.
– The Commonwealth Government has no right to interfere with the right of a State Government to tax its citizens. That has always been my attitude. I cannot see any just reason why these sections should not be repealed. As a matter of fact they should have been repealed when the salaries of public servants were restored. Had this action been taken at that time, no one could have offered any objection. It has been suggested that if this clause be passed hardship will be imposed on certain public servants receiving the basic wage. I have sufficient faith in the honesty of the Queensland Premier, however, to believe that he will fulfil his promise to the electors of that State and introduce, among the first measures to be put before the new Queensland Parliament, a bill to remove workers on the basic wage from any liability to pay the State unemployment tax. If that action be taken, protection will be assured to the majority of the men employed in Queensland by the Postal Department, in whose interest certain honorable members have purported to speak to-night.
If this bill be passed I shall be under an obligation, personally, to pay an additional £20 odd a year in income tax, but I am happy to be in a position to do so, and I think Commonwealth public servants who may lx) obliged to pay unemployment tax in Queensland because they are receiving high salaries, will also adopt the same attitude. Rasic wage workers in the Commonwealth Service are not likely to be adversely affected by this action. I believe that Commonwealth public servants should be on the same footing as other citizens in a State in respect of taxation. They should pay no more and no less than other persons receiving similar incomes. That briefly is my attitude on this subject. It is also the attitude of the Leader of my party. I cannot support the view of some honorable members that this matter should be dealt with in a separate bill. I believe that this is the right timeand the right way to deal with it. The statement has been made in the course of the debate that it would be unfair to pass this clause because taxes in Queensland are higher than in other States of the Commonwealth. The “squealers” in Queensland are the wealthy people who are in a position to pay high taxes. Those arethe people in Queensland who are heavily taxed, and us they are in a position to. pay it is equitable that they should be> called upon to do so.
[10.55 J. - Some honorable members who have discussed this clause have overlooked the fact that it would be entirely unjust to allow the present practice to continue indefinitely. The lower paid members of the Commonwealth Public Service working in the different States will not be adversely affected by the passage of this clause. It must be remembered that when sections 19 and 20 of the .Financial Emergency Act were agreed to, the unemployment relief tax in most States was below 6d. in the £1. It was only later that higher rates were imposed. This tax has since been almost completely lifted from low incomes. A very small proportion of the people who pay this tax in NewSouth Wales pay more than 6d. in the £J . Only persons with high incomes pay at a heavier rate. It would be unjust and unreasonable for this Parliament to continue to protect persons in its employment who receive high salaries from the liability to pay unemployment relief taxes in the States in which they live. Such a procedure could not be justified by any logical process. These sections were passed originally because of the fear that a certain State government intended to impose an exorbitant tax on incomes’. The Commonwealth Government felt at that time that it was proper to protect its employees from any such action. The danger of anything of the kind has now passed. It. would be unreasonable for the Commonwealth Government to continue to countenance a system of discrimination in taxation between residents of the same State. I, therefore, hope that all honorable members will vote for this clause.
– The trouble is that this protection is being taken away in a bill which is designed to give Ministers of the Crown and members of Parliament additional emoluments.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 5 agreed to.
Clause 6 -
After section four of the Ministers of State Act 1035-1936 the following section is added: - “ 5. There shall be payable to the Prime Minister, out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, which is hereby appropriated accordingly, an allowance at the rate of One thousand five hundred pounds a year to meet expenses arising out of his office.”.
.- I am surprised that the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) neglected to give the committee any information on this clause. The wording of the clause suggests that the Government is adopting a subterfuge in order to increase the salary of the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons). It is inferred that the purpose of this provision is to allow the Prime Minister to meet from public funds some legitimate expense which he has previously met out of his own pocket. I may be forgiven, if I repeat what I said earlier, as the Treasurer has not supplied the information which I sought in my second-reading speech. We have no definite information before us on the subject, but so far as we can gather, the Prime Minister takes out of the ministerial pool £2,200 ner annum. Is it reasonable to expect any member of this Parliament or, indeed, any member of the general community, to believe that the Prime Minister has, during the last six or seven years, expended £1,500 a year of his own money on items for which the country should pay? Such a suggestion is preposterous. If me Prime Minister is incurring expenses which the Government regards as legitimate, why not leave his salary at the present, rate, and allow him to submit his claims to the Treasury for reimbursement? Such claims would be examined by a competent officer, and in that way the public would be safeguarded. If honorable members vote for the clause as it stands, they will vote merely to add to the salary of the Prime Minister, and he will not be answerable to Parliament as to the manner in which the money has been expended. I question the activities of the Government in many directions.
– Order ! The honorable member must confine his remarks to the clause.
– I am endeavouring to show that the Government could expend this money to better purpose. By its actions, and also by its neglect, the Government is not maintaining the general living standards of the people.
– The honorable member is out of order.
– I am not aware that the Prime Minister, or any other member of this Parliament, is in absolute need. It is true that members of the Labour party do not actually have for their own use the full amount of the allowance they receive. The majority of them are dependent on their parliamentary allowances. as they have no other sources of income. Attempts to alleviate some of the distress of their constituents makes heavy drains on their incomes. Many members opposite are in a different position as they have other sources of income. As I have said, no member of this Parliament is in absolute need, and, therefore, all the talk about the courage displayed by members of the Government parties in bringing forward these proposals, which include an increase of the allowance of the Prime Minister, is without foundation. The Treasurer failed to indicate what expenditure the Prime Minister had been called upon to meet that would justify the proposed addition to his allowance. I have noticed in the Estimates that considerable sums have been expended on entertaining overseas visitors, many of whom, in my opinion, were not worth entertaining.
– The honorable member is out of order.
– Provision has already been made to meet the cost of entertaining representatives of other governments, members of various delegations, visiting scientists, and others. The present occupant of the position of Prime Minister has never expended out of his own pocket the sums of money which this bill proposes shall be paid to him by way of reimbursement. If the expenditure he incurred was legitimate, and Parliament is expected to meet it, details of the items should be available to honorable members. “We on this side are not prepared to acquiesce in the action of the Government in including in a bill designed for other purposes a provision to increase the allowance paid to the Prime Minister by £1,500 a year. Such generosity contrasts strongly with the attitude of Government supporters towards other sections of the community. Time after time appeals made to the Government to increase the benefits under social legislation have fallen on deaf ears. Even appeals to assist those unfortunate members of the community who have no income, because they have no employment, have had a cold reception. It is therefore rather amazing to hear Government supporters talk of the absolute necessity to do something to prevent the present Prime Minister from making sacrifices and to enable him to retain his high office. It is even more amusing to hear them talk of the sacrifices they make in order to enter Parliament. Each member can speak for himself on this subject. All I say is that sill of them fight strenuously to be i ‘4? ~q cote (1
– Order ! The honorable member must know that he i3 departing from the clause before the committee.
– I am replying to some of the views expressed by Government supporters in favour of this proposal.
– Clause 6, which is before the committee, relates to an increase of the allowance payable to the Prime Minister.
– In view of the indefiniteness of the provisions of this bill generally, and the absence of information as to what additional expenses have to be met, I have endeavoured to interpret the motive of the Government in granting an additional £1,500 a year to the Prime Minister. I referred to this matter in my second-reading speech, but when the Treasurer closed the debate he ignored my request for information. On many occasions the Treasurer has endeavoured to adopt that superior air of an ex- member of the Melbourne Club.
– Order ! If the honorable member does not confine himself to the question before the Chair, I shall ask him to resume his seat.
– I have been corrected; the Treasurer is still a member of the Melbourne Club.
– Order ! The honorable member will resume his seat.
.- The Government would be acting more fairly towards this committee and the country as a whole if it said straight out that it wished to increase the allowance of the Prime Minister by £1,500 a year, to be expended as he thinks fit. Instead, however, it asks for an increase to enable him to meet “ expenses arising out of his office.” The Government has not dealt fairly with the Prime Minister. If this expenditure is to be regarded as an expenses allowance, this committee is entitled to know how the expense is to be incurred. I agree with the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), that we should be informed of the special reasons for this allowance. If similar expenditure has been incurred in the past by the Prime Minister, and such expenditure has been fair and legitimate, the right honorable gentleman should be reimbursed. I am of opinion, and I held the view long before I entered this Parliament, that the Prime Minister should receive the highest salary paid to any citizen in the public life of the Commonwealth. For these reasons I am opposed to this sum being voted as an allowance. It should be appropriated, not as an allowance for certain expenditure which the Prime Minister may have to meet, but as a distinct increase of his salary. Furthermore, if he be compelled to incur legitimate expenses in entertainment arising out of his office, it should be left to Parliament to say whether he should be re-imbursed in respect of such expenditure. I repeat that the committee should not be asked to vote a sum by way of an allowance when we do not know how it is to be expended.
.- I have very little to add to what T have already said. The expenses of the Prime Minister’s office are very considerable indeed, and the present Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) has not been able, on his present allowance, to do the amount of entertaining befitting his office which he would have liked to have done. Personally, I hold the view that the provision now proposed should have been made many years ago in respect of the head of the Government.
– This Government has been in office for seven years.
– I believe that action in that direction should have been taken even twenty years ago. Up to the present the Prime Minister has not been agree- able to this being done.
– The Government has forced it on him?
– No. Within recent years this proposal has been placed before the Prime Minister onmany occasions, but, he has only lately agreed that this matter should be made the subject of legislation. Even at this stage he has not agreed with good grace. For the past six years he has carried out his duties to the best of his ability on his normal salary, less the reductions that were made under the financial emergency legislation. Belated though this action may be, I believe that it is not less than the right thing to do at this stage. Certain honorable members have inquired as to how this money is to be expended. How can one explain the details on which an expenses allowance will be used? The Prime Minister is hopelessly under-remunerated at present and this measure is a belated attempt to bring his income from all sources up to a figure which we believe to be reasonable.
– Could he not be allowed expenses for entertainment under the ordinary treasury vote?
– Expenditure incurred in the occasional entertainment of visitors, at which members of Parliament and 50 or 60 public servants usually attend, has been met, and will continue to be met, from the Treasury, and I do not suggest that the Prime Minister is going to be asked to meet such expenditure. I appeal to all sections of the committee to support this proposal. This discussion is not a pleasant matter for the Prime Minister. He is not seeking this increase, but members of the Cabinet have gone to some trouble to have this provision included in the measure.
– Why not increase the allowance in respect of the Prime Minister’s office?
– I think that the form of words in the bill is what it should be. I appeal to all honorable members to support the measure.
.- 1 entirely agree that the present remuneration of the Prime Minister is far from adequate. I said so in my secondreading speech, and I repeat it now. 1 point out that the recent increase of the salary of the Prime Minister of Great Britain was effected as a straight-out re-adjustment of salary and, I suggest, that is what we should do here. In the form in which clause 6 is drawn it is conceivable that some inquisitorial member of Parliament in years to come will ask for some itemization of the details upon which the Prime Minister of the day has expended the £1,500 voted to him as an allowance to meet expenses arising out of his office. That would be extremely unpleasant. Indeed, it would be very dangerous for any Prime Minister concerned if clause 6 were retained as it stands; in my judgment it is quite superfluous. The clause reads -
There shall be payable to the Prime Minister, out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, which is hereby appropriated accordingly, an allowance at the rate of one thousandfive hundred pounds a year to meet expenses arising out of his office.
I suggest that all the words after the word “ year “ in clause 6, sub-clause 5, be deleted. I take it that this £1,500 will be paid to the Prime Minister in addition to any provision made in respect of his office under the Ministers of State Act.
– I am not opposed to that suggestion.
– I wish to be frank about this matter. I agree that the PrimeMinister’s salary should be increased by £1,500, but being part of a salary, this sum should be subject to taxation, as is the salary which we fix for any other servant of the Commonwealth. Travelling and other expenses incurred by the Prime Minister should be exempt from taxation, but I should not vote for this increase of £1,500 if I believed that the Prime Minister intended definitely to expend it in such a way that he would have none of it as remuneration in respect of the high and distinguished office which he holds. I wish the committee to understand thoroughly that what I am concerned about is that we should raise the dignity and importance of the office of Prime Minister to a status which we think appropriate. That standard is best measured by an increase of £1,500 on whatever amount the Prime Minister is now receiving. I return to what I impressed upon the Treasurer earlier, namely, that I do not desire to protect this increased remuneration to the office of Prime Minister from the ordinary tax laws of the Commonwealth or of the States. I feel that the words “ expenses arising out of his office “ would have that effect, and would imply that he would expend this money in expenses associated with his office. That would create the possibility of an unhappy position occurring in the future should some honorable member ask for an itemized statement of such expenditure.
– I have no objection to the proposal of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin), but after a hurried consultation with a legal officer, I believe that it would be better, in order to make it clear that £1,500 is not to be the total remuneration of the Prime Minister, to alter the clause to read -
There shall he payable to the Prime Minister, out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, which is hereby appropriated accordingly, an additional allowance at the rate of One thousand five hundred pounds a year.
– If the honorable gentleman cares to move that as an amendment, I shall be happy to second it.
– I move-
That after the word “ an “ proposed now section the word “additional”be inserted, and that the words “ to meet expenses arising out of his office “ be omitted.
– I am glad that the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) has agreed to the suggested alteration. I concur in what the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) and other honorable members have said about the emoluments appertaining to the office of Prime Minister, and the expenses attaching thereto. I should much prefer to see the Prime Minister’s aggregate salary set out in the same manner as that of the Prime Minister of Great Britain is set out, so that every honorable member, as well as the people generally, may know what payment is made to the first citizen of the land. The Prime Minister of the Commonwealth has always been underpaid. The expenses incidental to the Prime Ministership, and to ministerial office generally, are extraordinarily high. From experience as a member of three governments, I know that Ministers are called upon to pay huge amounts out of their allowances for the remuneration of Assistant Ministers and Whips, in . payments for suppers for members and officers, and for cars to take members home when the House sits late, and for the entertainment of distinguished visitors. Such expenses have always been deducted by the Treasury from emoluments paid to Ministers, and during the regime of the Bruce-Page Government, these payments amounted to between £4,000 and £5,000 a year. I do not think that the country was aware of that, nor do I believe that it would expect that Ministers of the Crown should be put to the expense that they have to bear under the existing federal system. I should like to see the allowances of all Ministers set out in the Estimates. The total payment to the Prime Minister, whether it be £3,000 or £5,000 a year, should be stated. The salary of the High Commissioner in London is, I think, £3,000 a year, plus £2,000 a year as allowance for expenses. Trade commissioners also arc voted special allowances in addition to their salaries. Those allowances are given for the purpose of entertaining and to meet other expenses that are a legitimate charge against the budget of the country. Surely the same practice should be followed in respect of the Prime Minister and other Ministers. Honorary Ministers receive whatever amount their senior colleagues like to allocate from the ministerial pool. I should like the Cabinet to give consideration to what I think woud be preferable, namely, the payment of Assistant Ministers on a definite basis, the payments to all Ministers to be set out in a schedule, so that the people of the country would know the facts.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 7 and S agreed to.
.- I move -
That the following new clause be inserted: -
Notwithstanding anything contained in this act, sections 3 to 7 of this act shall not come into operation until sub-sections (1) and (2) of section 42 and section 43 of the Financial Emergency Act 1931-1936 have been repealed.
Sections proposed to be repealed - flection 42(Pension of widows and of members and wives and children of incapacitated members), flection 43 (Pensions io dependants) .
This amendment will, I think, bring into order matters which I wished to introduce by direct amendment to clause 4. It embodies the principle that members of Parliament shall not fully restore their own allowances until reductions have been fully withdrawn from other sections of the community, from whom sacrifices were required under the Financial Emergency Act. There may be sections other than those I have mentioned to whom reductions have not been fully restored. There may also be others who have enjoyed the equivalent of a full restoration, but in a different form. For instance, the allowances provided under section 42, subsections 3 and 4, of the Financial Emergency Act have been substantially restored, but not the two separate allowances covered by my amendment. The first of them applies to the war pension allowances paid to the wives of returned officers. Before the Financial Emergency Act was passed, a small differential rate existed between pensions payable to wives of deceased officers, and those payable to wives of soldiers. The minimum rate was 18s. a week, but in the case of officers’ wives the amount varied, according to the rank of the officer, between18s. and a maximum of £1 10s. a week. By the terms of the Financial Emergency Act, all were reduced to a common level. In Australia, there is not much attention paid to margins for skill and responsibility. The margin allowed in this case wa3 little enough, and it seems to me that in a bill which provides better margins for senior officers of State, the Government might well restore that differentiation that previously existed in regard to the pensions I have mentioned.
The other principal class covered by section 43 of the Financial Agreement Act includes mothers of deceased soldiers who had been dependent wholly or in part upon their sons. Under the Financial Emergency Act, a means test was introduced for those mother pensioners, of the same kind as was applied to oldage pensioners. That was one of the few instances in which the principle of means was introduced, instead of the principle of compensation for injury received. I attach the greatest importance to the restoration of the first of the two cuts. If the amendment is agreed to, it will be a direction to the Government to introduce a measure to restore the cuts before the 1st July, when the rest of the act will come into operation. I commend this small act of justice to honorable members with every confidence that it will receive their favorable consideration.
.- It seems to me that it is the intention of the honorable member who moved this amendment to create the false impression that this indirect leverage must be applied to induce honorable members to effect what he thinks ought to be ‘brought about. That is not the case. At an earlier stage, I raised the point that these proposals, quite praiseworthy in themselves, were extraneous to the purposes of the bill. When the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) proceeded to expound the matter, he was ruled out of order upon those grounds, with the result that honorable members were not able to assess the real merits of the case which the honorable member had submitted. I decline to allow myself to be forced into the position of having to agree to the honorable member’s proposal in order to protect such advantages as I derive as a member of this House. I decline to yield to the threat that if I do not do justice to this class of soldier, the proposed restoration of parliamentary allowances will be opposed, and possibly rejected.
– The honorable member is opposed to doing anything for the soldiers.
– Did I understand you to say that I was opposed-
– To doing anything for those who fought for their country.
– That is a cowardly and offensive suggestion, utterly unsupported by the history of my activities in this Parliament. It is. without a tittle of justification, but let it go. No doubt, it is worthy of the honorable member who dared to make it. I merely state that in the future, as in the past, every proposal, either to create original rights for soldiers, or to enlarge or restore rights they previously possessed, will receive from me the kindest consideration, and 1 resent the suggestion that I must be forced into doing my duty towards them by a threat that parliamentary allowances will not be restored. I submit that this is neither the place nor the time to bring in this amendment, and this applies particularly after the Treasurer was prevented from furnishing to honorable members the information regarding the subject prepared for him hy the officers of the department. This matter should be dealt with on its merits - and it has merits - in the proper place and at the proper time, and the earlier the better, but it should not be tagged on to the measure with which it is now associated.
Mr. CASEY (Corio- Treasurer) 1 11.38 . - I do not know to what extent you will permit me, Mr. Prowse, to debate this matter.
– The subject has been re-opened by the moving of this amendment. The Treasurer may discuss it freely.
– This Government has a good record in regard to its treatment of returned soldiers and their dependants. I have never had the privilege to administer the Repatriation Department, and I do not pretend to be familiar with all the details of the Repatriation Act, but I do know that in 1931 the cost of repatriation to Australia for pensions, &c, was £8,350,000, whereas at the present time it is £9,000,000. The cost of these services this year is higher, notwithstanding that there has been a sub stantial decline in the total number of pensioners and their dependants, due to deaths and children growing out of the dependant stage. There still remain under the terms of the Financial Emergency Act these two types of pensioners, who are still experiencing a certain difference of treatment when the present is compared with the pre-depression period. I shall explain briefly the two types. In the first, section 42 deals with certain reductions in the rate of pension payable to the wife of a disabled officer. Prior to the passing of the Financial Emergency Act, there was a differentiation in respect to the wife of an officer and the wife of a man of another rank. The latter received a pension of 18s. a week, and the wife of an officer received a pension of from £2 to £3 a fortnight, according to the rank of the officer. I. have never had representations made to me on this matter, and I must admit that it is new to me, as is section 42. I have no means of assessing the relative merits of a proposal to repeal section 42 and the proposals that other things should be done for returned soldiers. I remind honorable members that the Government has done a great deal more than restore the cuts in pensions under the Financial Emergency Act, and not the least that it has done has been the giving of service pensions, the cost of which this financial year will be £350,000, rising to £1,500,000 at the end of a certain term. I shall not deal with the increased facilities that have been made available in the hospitals for returned soldiers in variousstages of disablement. It is true that one or two financial emergency cuts have not been restored, and I cannot speak with full knowledge on the question of restoring those cuts. The second type arc dealt with under section 43, which imposes a means test prior to the granting of a. pension to certain classes of dependants of deceased soldiers. Prior to the Financial Emergency Act, pensions were paid to parents of deceased soldiers based on the dependence prior to enlistment, and without regard to themeans of the parent. Secondly, the pension was paid to any parent of a deceased soldier who was at any time without adequate means of support. The- returned soldiers committee, which was set up by a previous government to advise it in respect to economies that could be effected in connexion with repatriation, advised the Government that, in its -opinion, the Government had made more than liberal provision in dealing with cases in the first class. From then until now section 43 has remained in operation; in other words, a means test is provided for. The parent of a deceased soldier can obtain the pension if he or she is in need. I think that an income of ;!2s. Gd. a week is the test fixed; that is, if the income of the applicant does not exceed 32s. 6d. a week the parent of the soldier can obtain the pension if not otherwise disqualified. I think that is a reasonable standard for a means test. T cannot see that that provision imposes any great disability on the public, and I express the hope that the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Hawker) -will not proceed with his amendment. T am unable to assess the value of the amendment as compared with other changes that might be made in the future, and in fact might bc made before what the honorable member desires is achieved. It might turn out on investigation that the restoration to which he refers should not be made.
– I think that the Minister for Repatriation should give consideration to these matters.
– There were certain small disabilities which existed under the regulations, but they are being removed. Until to-day the 20 per cent, deduction remained in operation in respect of the following allowances: - (1) Those to the widowed mother of a deceased unmarried soldier. (2) Those to the re-married widow of a deceased soldier who has again been widowed, and (3) in respect of the widow and children of a soldier who died within three years of hi3 discharge from causes other than Avar service. These matters have been put right, and the regulations affecting the alteration will shortly be promulgated. The Government cannot accept the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Wakefield on the blind. I do not really know what it means, but I give the honorable member the assurance that the Government will look into the matter sympathetically and see what can be done.
– The Treasurer (Mr. Casey) stated with considerable moderation that the Government has a good record in regard to its treatment of the returned soldiers, but I think that is all the more reason why it should not allow its record to be blemished in even a small degree. The justification for the restoration of our parliamentary allowances is that we have removed all the cuts that were put on every other section of the community. I thought that that had been done some time ago, but, unfortunately, there are two cuts which, although minor in terras of the money involved, are important to dependants of deceased soldiers. I feel that we shall not be justified in passing this measure unless the Treasurer can give us something more than an undertaking to look into it. I realize that he has been called upon to perform a tremendous amount of work in connexion with the national insurance legislation, and perhaps this matter has not been brought under his notice in the way that it should have been. I feel that if it had been brought under his notice in the proper way something would have been done to rectify it. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) said that this is not the time and place to bring up the matter. I would suggest that this is not the time and place to restore our own salary reductions until we have restored all the cuts made by the financial emergency legislation. The honorable member for Reid has asked why I do not vote against the measure. I shall do so unless we have a definite understanding that the reductions made under the Financial Emergency Act are restored. I feel that we should have a much more definite assurance from the Treasurer than we have so far received and, unless it is forthcoming, I must vote for the amendment.
.- I have endeavoured, but in vain, to ascertain to what extent the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Hawker) and the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Fairbairn) are really actuated by altruistic motives and how sincere are their protestations on behalf of the people for whom they claim to speak. It is significant that the honorable member for Wakefield was not heard from his place on Thursday afternoon last when I raised this subject on the motion for the adjournment of the House. I can only say that it appears to me that he is now endeavouring to secure a little cheap publicity.
– Order !
– I think I am in order in asking the mover of the amendment what he has done on behalf of these people for so many years. After such a long period of inactivity he can hardly now expect to be accepted as the champion of their rights. The honorable member for Wakefield was actually one of those who supported in the first instance the proposal to cut this class of pension. I have been advised of a considerable number of cases that should receive the attention of the Minister for Repatriation, but it is not my intention to take this opportunity to give publicity to them. I shall take a more fitting opportunity to do so and I trust that when I bring these claims to the notice of the Treasurer he will be prepared to recognize the strength of the submissions I make.
– I am opposed to the amendment, because I consider that this bill is not the right place for it. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Hawker), who moved the amendment, said that Ministers for Repatriation had been neglectful of their duty in not rectifying the position earlier. I administered the Department of Repatriation foi’ some years during a trying period after the Scullin Government had been compelled to introduce the financial emergency legislation, which all members of Parliament at that time felt obliged to support. I know, however, that as the Commonwealth finances have improved the Government has been able by steps to restore the reductions made under that legislation. 1 do not agree with the suggestion of the honorable member for Wakefield that there should be a differential rate of pension for the widows of officers and soldiers. The widow of an officer, in many instances, is just as much in need of a pension as is the widow of a soldier.
– The position of widows is not in question. It is all right.
– The nature of the amendment suggests the payment of a differential rate. If the committee adopts it Parliament must accept the responsibility. The second part of the amendment deals with dependent parents of deceased soldiers. On this point, a means test has been applied; it is common knowledge that previously in certain cases, dependant mothers or fathers of deceased soldiers were drawing pensions who were not in need of them.
.- I had hoped that the Treasurer would be able to give the committee a more definite assurance that he would accept the principle of the amendment. I agree to some extent that this bill is not the best place for the amendment, but I was ruled out of order when I attempted to submit the amendment in another part of the bill. However, I have brought before the committee, the merits of the cases covered by the amendment. This is not the first time upon which I have discussed the matter, and therefore, the sneers of the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Makin) are not justified. I shall be willing to withdraw the amendment if the Treasurer will give me some more explicit assurance that the eases covered by it will be sympathetically examined, with a view to the removal of some of the injustices to which I have drawn attention.
– I do not know that I can give the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Hawker) a more definite assurance than has already been given. The point raised has been discussed frequently in the past, and it has been shown that action in regard to other matters is more urgent. For instance, the service pensions scheme was introduced at a time when reductions of other pensions made under the Financial Emergency Act were still in operation. I do not pretend to be familiar with all the provisions of the Repatriation Act, and for that reason, I hesitate to give an undertaking in more specific terms. I again assure the honorable member that the Government will give this matter further and sympathetic consideration. I do not think that the honorable gentleman will expect me to commit the Government to any greater extent than that.
– If I have the permission of the committee, I am prepared to withdraw the amendment.
Proposed new clause - by have - withdrawn.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
House adjourned at 12.3 a.m. (Thursday).
The following answers to questions were circulated : -
d asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
s asked the Acting Minister for Health, upon notice -
Did the Director-General of Health (Dr. J. H. L. Cumpston) give any official warning to theCanberra Dairy Society, or to any of its officers, of the approaching visit of Mr. L. T. Mclnnes, New South Wales Director of Dairying, prior to his visit to Canberra on the 3rd February, 1936?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
The implication contained in this question is without justification. As already stated the approaching arrival of Mr. Mclnnes was common knowledge as also was the fact of his actual arrival. At no time was there any suggestion that secrecy was necessary.
n asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
In view of the fact that on the 3rd May the honorable member for Kalgoorlie asked to be furnished with a list of the applications and names of districts in Western Australia from which applications for new rifle clubs have been received, and that the list, since provided by the Minister, docs not include the name of the Youanmi Rifle Club, which was forwarded in a letter from the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, and acknowledged by the Minister in December last, will the Minister get into touch with the Secretary of the Defence Department on this matter, so that the application of this body may be included in the list?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The list of applications for the formation of rifle clubs in Western Australia was obtained by telegram from the District Base Commandant, Perth, and did not include Youanmi. The omission of this application from the list was obviously an error, but the honorable member may rest assured that the application of the Youanmi Rifle Clubwill be included in the list, and its claims will receive full consideration in due priority. The District Base Commandant has been instructed to this effect.
s asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1.No.Enrolments have been temporarily suspended owing to the total for the Commonwealth having reached the figure of 50,000, which is the maximum that can be maintained within the present allotment of funds, vide Hansard of 3rd December. 1930, Vol. 152. page 2834.
Minister for the Interior: Visit to Northern Australia.
n asked the Ministerfor the Interior, upon notice - 1.Isit a fact, as stated in the press within thelast two weeks, that he proposes during the recess to visit nut only the Northern Territory, but the port of Wyndlmm, in the north of Western Australia, as well?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1.Yes.
s asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made,
And a reply will be furnished as soon as possible.
y asked the Treasurer, upon- notice -
– The information is being obtained, and a reply will be furnished as soon as possible.
n. - On the 4th May, the honorable member forWarringah (Mr. Spender) asked me -
What is the amount of freight earned over the past four years for outwards and inwards overseas freight, and what proportion of such amount is it estimated has been spent in Australia? 4. (a) Is it correct that Australia is the only sea nation in the world with a sea border where the Government has not provided any training for the mercantile marine?
I am now in a position to supply the following information : -
(a), (b) and (c). Authentic information of the nature sought is not available, and could not he supplied without considerable research andpossibly reference abroad.
Grounding of Ships on Queensland Coast.
asked the Acting Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
n. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Postal Department’s Surplus.
s. - On the 10th May, the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Wilson) raised the question of allocating funds from Postal Department surpluses to provide improved facilities in country districts and increased remuneration for allowance postmasters. The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answer : -
Provision is being mode in the Estimates for 1938-39 for improvement in facilities in country districts, including mail services, telephone exchanges,and the erection of new post office buildings. The scale of payments to persons in charge of non-official offices has been reviewed comprehensively, and the question of increasing the remuneration is under consideration by the Government. .
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 11 May 1938, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1938/19380511_reps_15_155/>.