1st Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator ST ANIFORTH SMITH presented a petition from the Chamber of Manufacturers of Western Australia, praying for the repeal of sub-section (8) of section 3, and of section 1 1 of the Immigration Restriction Act.
Petition received and read.
– I desire to ask the Postmaster-General, without notice, first, how the design for the new ninepenny postage stamp was arrived at, and secondly, seeing that the names of the six States are not arranged either in alphabetical order, or in accordance with their respective populations, what plan was adopted?
.- Norare they arranged in accordance with the manner in which the States are named in the Constitution.
– I observe that New South Wales, the largest State in the union, is named last on the stamp.
– The design was taken from a medal in my possession. It will be found that the name of the State which was founded earliest is placed nearest to mother earth. That is the order in which, I think, the stones in a building are generally placed.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
– I wish to ask the Postmaster-General, without notice, whether, when the report of the Committee of the whole Senate is presented, the Government will have the standing orders reprinted, with the amendments, for the convenience of honorable senators?
– I have no objection to the standing orders being reprinted as desired by the honorable senator. I presume that the matter will be attended to by the Standing Orders Committee.
– I have the honour to inform the Senate that, on Friday last, accompanied by members of the Senate, I presented to His Excellency the GovernorGeneral the address in reply to his speech, and received the following answer : -
Mr. President and Gentlemenof the Senate
I am gratified in receiving your address in reply to the Speech delivered by me on the occasion of the opening of the second session of the first Parliament of the Commonwealth.
I note with pleasure your assurances of continued loyalty to the Throne and Person of our Most Gracious Sovereign.
I earnestly hope that the result of your deliberations in Parliament will be beneficial to the people of Australia.
Governor-General. 19th June, 1903.
Senator DRAKE laid upon the table the following papers : -
Correspondence relating to the Pacific Island Labourers Act.
Transfers approved by the Governor-General for the year 1902-3.
Regulations relating to Commonwealth Military Forces.
asked the Post master-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked Senator Higgs, upon notice -
If he finds from a perusal of the paper on “The Navy and the Nation,” read by His Excellency the Governor of Victoria, at the Fitzroy Town Hall, on the 11th June instant, that such paper expresses no opinion as to the desirability or otherwise of the Commonwealth paying an increased naval subsidy, will he still proceed with the motion of which hehas given notice dealing with this subject and adhere to the language used in such motion ?
– In answer to the honorable and learned senator I have to say -
I have perused the paper read by His Excellency the Governor of Victoria, Sir George Sydenham Clarke, and I regret to find that I am confirmed in my opinion that the lecture was an incursion into the field of Federal politics. The title of the lecture, “The Navy and the Nation,” is a misnomer. In a lecture on the navy, one would have expected to find some reference to and description of the type, names, &c., of the best warships now in use in the British navy, the number of war vessels, officers, men, &c. There is no such reference or description. The paper is a carefu lly- prepared d ocument on naval defence, relatins certain events in naval history, basing thereon certain ingenious arguments more or less sophistical, and deducing therefrom certain conclusions more or less romantic and exaggerated. It is si ngular that those arguments and conclusions oppose the case put by the supporters of Australian local defence, and coincide in a striking manner with the views expressedby the advocates of an increased subsidy to the British War Department.
– I rise to a point of order. I wish to ask whether the honorable senator is in order in what he is reading as an answer to a question ? It appears to be a speech.
– Is it not “sufficiently ambiguous “ ?
– I will call the attention of Senator Higgs to Standing Orders 116 and 117-
In putting any such question -
That is, a question asking for information - no argument or opinion shall be offered, nor any facts stated, except so far as may be necessary to explain such question.
In answering any such question, a member shall not debate the matter to which the same refers.
I confess that I was not listening very carefully, and I may be wrong ; but it seems to me that Senator Higgs was debating the matter. I do not say that positively, because, as I have stated, I did not exactly hear what he was reading.
– Does not that standing order relate to debate on the part of the member who asks the question ?
In answering any such question a member shall not debate the matter.
That is to say, he shall answer the question and shall notdebate thematter in reference to which the question has been asked.
– On the point of order, I submit that the honorable senator ought to confine himself to answering the question that has been put to him. He should submit his written answer to you, sir, and let you decide whether it is in order.
– I will ask Senator Higgs to start afresh.
– I will do so -
I have perused the paper read by His Excellency the Governor of Victoria, Sir George Sydenham Clarke, and I regret to find that I am confirmed in my opinion that the lecture was an incursion into the field of Federal politics. The title of the lecture, “The Navy and the Nation,” is a misnomer.
– I rise to order - that is not an answer to the question.
– I cannot say that the honorable senator is debating the question, so far.
– He is not answering the question
– I regret thai; the honorable and learned senator, who. was so anxious for information, does not like it now he is getting it.
– I do not think that the honorable senator has infringed the standing order so far.
In a lecture on the navy one might have expected to find some reference to and description of the type, ninnes, &c., of the best war-ships now in use in the British navy, the number of war vessels, officers and men, &c. There is no such reference or description.
– I think that is debatable matter. It relates to what, in Senator Higgs’ opinion, should or should not form the subject-matter of the lecture.
– Touching the point of order, I wish to say that Senator Dobson, in asking me this question, has placed me in a somewhat ambiguous position before the public. I was anxious in making my reply to give some explanation as to why I placed my notice of motion upon the businesspaper.
– If the honorable senator will follow the example set by Ministers of the Crown in answering the numerous questions which have been put to them during the last few years, I think he will be in order.
– I . saw the other clay that, in answer to a question put by one of the members of the House of Representatives, the reply given by a Minister occupied about two-thirds of a column of the Argus. In preparing this lengthly reply I have evidently followed a bad example. But I propose to proceed until you call me to order. These interruptions are unseemly, especially on the part of an ex-Chairman of Committees. I state further -
The paper is a carefully-prepared document on naval defence, relating to certain events in naval history, basing thereon certain ingenious arguments more or less sophistical.
– I think the honorable senator is now proceeding to argue the matter. He will see for himself that he is proceeding beyond an answer to the question which has-been put to him. Certain standing orders have been adopted by the Senate, and I have to carry them out. Whether they are right or wrong is not a question for me- to determine. As I have to carry them out, I will ask the honorable senator to aid me in doing so.
– Is Senator Higgs going to persist in his motion ? That is the question.
– The only question is, it seems to me - Does Senator Higgs intend to proceed with his motion ?
– Yes, Mr. President. I have read the type-written copy of the lecture of the Governor of Victoria, and I find that it is a paper on naval defence, supporting views which, to my mind, are the views of those who approve of the proposed new naval agreement.
– The honorable senator is arguing now.
– That is the reason why I propose to continue with my motion. I find that the paper supports the views of certain political parties.
– I think the honorable senator can say that, and I ask him not to say any more.
In regard to the language of the motion I beg to say that, in carrying out what I conceive to be a public duty-
– I do not think the honorable senator can argue as to the language of his motion.. He is asked whether he is going to proceed with it.
– I have questioned Senator Higgs as to the language of his motion.
– I beg pardon; I am wrong. .
– - I have no wish to unnecessarily wound the feelings of any one. My desire is to assist in upholding the undoubted rights and privileges of Parliament. Those rights and privileges were defined for us in 1688, at the time of the great English revolution, when the people expelled King James II. ;from the throne, and elected another in his stead. Amongst those undoubted rights is the right of Parliament to rule. The King now never makes a public utterance on a matter of public policy unless instructed to do so by a Ministry responsible to Parliament.
– Does not the honorable senator himself think that he is out of order ? I must ask the honorable senator’s assistance in carrying out the standing orders. I put it to him : does he not think he is arguing the matter ?
– I do not think so. I am not dealing now with the lecture of the Governor of Victoria, but with the language of my motion. I wish to state my position and the reason for the language I have adopted ; because I consider–
– I have put it to the honorable senator several times that he should aid me in carrying out the standing orders, and I must now rule that the only questions which he can answer are - whether he intends to proceed with the motion of which he has given notice, dealing with the speech of the Governor of Victoria, and whether he will adhere to the language of it? He has already given reasons at great length, and he now proceeds to argue the question. Whether he is wrong or right as to his motion, I do not think he can do that under the standing orders.
– Then I shall have to postpone the greater portion of my reply until my motion comes before the Senate. I only desire to add that -
Iam not wedded to the terms of the resolution, and if there is a sufficiently unanimous expression of opinion on the part of members of the Senate confirming the constitutional practice that State Governors shall not throw the weight of their vice-regal position and influence into the scale either for or against the supporters of any political views, I shall be willing, on leave being given, to make the terms of the resolution somewhat less pronounced.
– The honorable senator should do it of his own accord.
– The honorable and learned senator should not have asked me a question if he did not want to hear the reply.
Resolved (on motion by Senator Dob son) -
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act to repeal the 16th section of the Post and Telegraph Act 1901.
Resolved (on motion by Senator Drake) -
That leave of absence for three weeks be granted to Senator O’Connor on account of urgent private business.
The PRESIDENT reported the receipt of the following message : -
The House of Representatives requests the concurrence of the Senate in the following resolutions, which were agreed to by the House of Representatives on the 19th instant, viz. : -
That these resolutions be communicated by address to His Excellency the GovernorGeneral for transmission to the Secretary of State for the Colonies.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Seeing that a number of persons have been employed for a considerable length of time in the postal and other branches of the public service of the Commonwealth as temporary hands, and seeing that such persons will, in accordance with section 40 of the Public Service Act, shortly be thrown out of employment, has any recommendation been made by the Public Service Commissioner with a view of employing these persons permanently ?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
No such recommendation has been made by the Commissioner. There is no power under the Act to transfer temporary employesto the permanent staff. Under the provisions of section 40 of the Public Service Act, the servicesof temporary employes cannot be retained for a longer period than six months, or nine months in spec al cases where, in the public interest, such a course is necessary.
Ordered (on motion by Senator Higgs) -
That there be laid on the table of the Senate a detailed return showing the estimated number of Chinese, Japanese, Hindoos, South Sea Islanders, and other coloured aliens in each State of the Commonwealth.
Resolved (on motion by Senator Drake) -
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act relating toNaturalization.
Bill presented and read a first time.
Debate resumed from 18th June (vide page 1093), on motion by Senator Drake -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– I have read the debates which have taken place on this Bill, and I am entirely opposed to it. I think it is unnecessary, and most unjust in its incidence. After reading the speech delivered by the Postmaster-General, in moving the second reading of the Bill, it appeared to me that its object was to make those States, which up to the present time have used no locally-produced sugar, pay for it as if they really had consumed it. It was admitted that the supply of locally-grown sugar last year was insufficient for the requirements of the Commonwealth ; it was admitted - and in this connexion I am referring to the debates in both Houses of Parliament - that if the supply were sufficient to meet the requirements of all the Australian States, there would be no necessity to resort to any legislation of this kind. But it was urged that because the production of sugar in the Commonwealth was at present only sufficient to supply the needs of Now South Wales and Queensland - presumably at a lower rate than the other States have to pay - the remaining States which have obtained no benefit from this industry should pay a contribution to the highly benefited States of Queensland and New South Wales. Those are the two more favoured States, for Australiangrown sugar is chiefly produced in Queensland, whilst its next door neighbour carries on a huge industry in refining it. The strong argument that was used - and of all the meretricious arguments I have ever heard, it is the worst - was that South Australia, for example, derived great benefit from the fact that the Commonwealth had imposed upon the inhabitants of that State a duty of £6 per ton on imported sugar, instead of the duty of £3 per ton whichpreviously existed. That is the immense benefit which South Australia has received ; an extra £3 per ton is taken out of the pockets of the lieges there ! It is true that in the palmy days of the industry in Queensland, and at a time when there was no law prohibiting the employment of black labour, South Australia found that a duty of £3 per ton was quite sufficient. When everything was halcyon that duty was found to be sufficient to preserve the revenue of South Australia. The duty was increased to £6 per ton - certainly not to assist Victoria and South Australia, but wholly for the purpose of aiding the industry by a tax which it was thought would be practically prohibitive. It is said that it is well to impose this heavy burden upon the people in order that we may gain the ultimate benefit that we expect to result from it. But instead of tending to the enrichment of South Australia, the duty of £6 per ton on imported sugar is really an impoverishment, because it has to come out of the pockets of the people before it can reach the coffers of the State. The State receives the money, but from whom does it obtain it? It takes it from the pockets of the people. Notwithstanding this fact, however, it is urged that South Australia is receiving a benefit from this increased duty, and we may expect to find that our wealth will be measured, not according to the moneys we receive, but according to the amounts that we have to pay away. Of all the ingenious juvenile arguments I have heard, this is about the worst. It is meretricious and futile on the face of it, but it is what the supporters of the Bill are driven to. It is practically the only argument they can use, because they admit that when the supply of sugar produced in Queensland becomes sufficient to satisfy the requirements of all Australia the existing law will work fairly and justly and that there will be no cause for complaint. I can conceive of no argument more strongly in favour of the present law than that. The States are to contribute their share of the £4 per ton, on a population basis, in respect of the locally produced white-grown sugar consumed throughout Australia, but very little of which comes to any of them at present, except Queensland and New South Wales. They have to wait until the industry has advanced sufficiently to enable the proposal to work on a fair basis, and they are to pay not only for beingsupplied, but to be supplied as well. New South Wales has been thrown into this proposal owing tothedifficultyof discriminating between the sugar-producing States, and the impossibility under the Constitution of providing for a bounty unless its operation be general throughout the Commonwealth. This is the only way in which the proposal can be carried out, and because it is the only way it should not be done. If the only way to cany out this proposal is to work a monstrous injustice againstone State, and in favour of another, that fact affords the strongest argument against the adoption of the course proposed. Until some better scheme is discovered we should not resort to what must be a palpable injustice. Why has this proposal been made ? My honorable friends of the Opposition say that Victoria and South Australia are being legitimately punished in this way for having lent their support to the abolition of coloured labour. It is asserted that because South Australia and Victoria induced the. Commonwealth to adopt the policy of a white Australia they must take with the adoption of that policy the responsibility of compensating those that have been injured by this new freak of legislation. That was the line of argument adopted by Senator Walker and one or two other honorable senators of the Opposition. I do not propose at this stage to discuss the policy of a white Australia. I have always thought that we have been far too hasty, and that we have done at the beginning of the Commonwealth what might have been left to be carried out some years hence. I have been against the policy from the first ; but still it is the law and I am bound to accept it. Treating it as the law, I wish to see what right Queensland and New South Wales have to this special treatment. In what way have we so legislated as to give them a claim upon the Commonwealth for compensation in respect of the non-employment of black labour in this industry. Neither State has a tittle of a claim for more consideration than has been shown to them. New South Wales has admittedly none. Last.year it produced one-fifth of the sugar grown in the Commonwealth, and it produced nearly the whole of it by white labour. Therefore that State has not been a victim to what has been described as the insane legislation which we have adopted in regard to the policy of a white Australia. Is Queensland a victim? Not in the slightest degree. When we passed legislation providing for a white Australia, we took care to enable Queensland to carry out all its existing contracts ; to continue to import coloured labour up to the end of this year, and to employ that labour together with that which they had already at handuntil the year 1907. Whetherthat legislation was right or not, what more could Queensland have asked ? That legislation having been passed and that line of policy having been adopted, what right has Queensland to ask for more? It might have been more convenient for the planters to continue the employment of coloured labour, but numerous laws that we pass are more or less restrictive in effect. Laws relating to labour are notably so, for they tend to diminish the profits of those whoemploy it. Butwhen an Act dealing with a great public question - dealing with the true policy of the State - is passed who ever thinks of making a demand for compensation for every man, woman, and child who, by reason of that legislation, will not derive such profits as they obtained before ? . If such a demand could be made, legislation could not be passed. The business of the Government could not be carried on. The claims upon the State would be intolerable. We always assume, in every instance in which an existing practice is varied to the detriment of any individuals, that those individuals have no claim for compensation. When the Act for the abolition of slavery was passed the position was different. Slaves were property and could be vended. I am dealing only with the matter from the point of view of the liability of a State to make compensation. Having deprived people of their property the Government granted the compensation which they thought they ought to give. But in this case we have deprived the Queensland planters of nothing. No man has a right to assume that all the conditions of labour which exist to-day will exist for all time, and to speculate on the assumption that the existing condition of affairs will never be altered. New laws are being passed every day interfering with the relations of capital and labour in every form, and I say that government would be intolerable if it were handicapped by having responsibilities thrown upon it in this way.
– Surely the honorable and learned senator would keep the bargain until the time our notice expires.
– In 1907?
– And we allow the importation of kanakas up to the end of this year.
– I am dealing with the law as it is, and I say that the sugar planters have been treated with great liberality so far as it is concerned, and that they have no reason to claim any compensation. They have had no injury done them by this Commonwealth which, in my opinion, is a subject for compensation at all. The policy is one thing, but, admitting the policy, I think the administration has been kind and considerate in allowing the sugar planters to import kanakas during this year.
– That is a part of the policy.
-It is a part of the policy if the honorable senator pleases. That is the policy we have adopted, and so far as one part of the policy is concerned, though disagreeing with and opposed to it I accept it, and, in respect of the major portion of the policy, I say that it has been kind and considerate. What claim have the sugar planters got? None whatever. Why is this provision made ? To compensate them, because we have deprived them of that to which they were not entitled, or to which they were entitled only on the terms previously agreed upon.
– We do not deprive them of black labour for four years more.
– Exactly ; that is what I am saying, and I thought I made myself clear. We declared for a policy of a white Australia, but considering that Queensland had a number of persons under contracts which would not expire for some time, and considering further that it might be harsh to put the law into force immediately, we, out of consideration for the planters, and in order to avoid doing them any injustice, allowed them not only to continue in employment those whom they had engaged until 1907, but also to introduce fresh kanakas during this year solong as they were all cleared out in 1907. I say that in doing that we exhausted their claim to consideration. The rest became a question of State policy on quite other grounds - the advisability of by some method or another promoting a native industry.
– Does the honorable and learned senator understand that Queensland would have to pay more under this Bill in 1902-3 ?
– I do not see why she should have to pay more.
– But she will, and the honorable and learned senator seems to argue as though Queensland under this Bill were receiving some relief.
– I have no doubt that the better knowledge of the Bill possessed by the Postmaster-General would enable him to point out endless anomalies and monstrosities which I have not been able to detect. If this Bill will put Queensland in a worse position than she is in now, I am against it on that ground. Queensland, at the present time, is in quite a fair position. She gets a protection of £3 per ton for black-grown sugar, and a protection of £5 per ton for whitegrown sugar, and surely that ought to be enough if the industry is any good.
– That is a bad protectionist argument. The honorable and learned senator should cast his mind back to the Tariff debate.
– What I understood the Postmaster-General to say was that Queensland will not have as much protection under this Bill as she has now.
– I say that under this Bill in 1902-3 Queensland would be in a slightly worse position, because she would have to pay rather more on the population basis than she would have to pay on the basis of consumption.
– How much ? Only a few hundred pounds.
– But Senator Downer is arguing on the supposition that Queensland is to derive some great benefit from the Bill.
– I can understand the confusing and confused interruptions that necessarily occur, because, as Senator Dobson has truly said, the matter is one of inexplicable difficulty. The puzzle, to my mind, is to find out why on earth the Government have introduced this Bill. The only explanation I can find is the fact that South Australia is paying £106,500 in customs and excise duties, and is not liable for any portion of the amount paid or payable in rebates. Victoria is much in the same position, but it has consumed white-grown sugar to the value of £1,250. I wish to know why the present rebate provisions of the Tariff Act should be unworkable? I find that it is said that we cannot possibly separate sugar grown by white labour from sugar grown by black labour. Why can we not? It appears to me that it should be merely a matter of supervision, and that it is quite practicable. I should think that the ingenuity of a clever Government might have found some way out of that difficulty without resorting to a subterfuge like this, which on the face of it works the injustice of giving New South Wales £4 per ton on a large quantity of sugar which she produces by white labour. One would think that the ingenuity of the Government would have been exerted to its utmost before they introduced a Bill in order to make two States who do not get more sugar from the producing States - because they cannot get it as the producing States use up all their sugar - pay for the disadvantage. They are to be punished for the failure of the producing States to supply them, and that in addition to the punishment which the Commonwealth inflicted upon them, by compelling their people to pay an exorbitant duty of £6 pelton on imported sugar, instead of a duty of £3 per ton which they paid previously. The reproach is all on the other side, and not upon Victoria or South Australia. The production of the other States has not been sufficient, though it was represented that it would be,- and we hope it will be. I do not know how long it will take, but the circumstances at present are admittedly not as favorable as they were. We, in South Australia, now have to pay £6,000 a year, roughly, for the “ benefit “ of not being supplied with sugar produced in the Commonwealth. We may have to pay £12,000 a year, because, if last year’s production were doubled, it would not be much more than enough to supply the requirements of Queensland and New South Wales. We may therefore have to pay that £12,000 a year to assist an industry which does not benefit us by one penny, and assists only the States in which it is carried on. When the production had reached such a stage as to be sufficient to supply the requirements of all the States we are told that the rebate provisions of the Tariff Act would work very well. The Tariff Act works very well now, and the difficulty arises simply and solely because the producing States do not produce enough sugar to supply the Commonwealth consumption. More illogical and unjust legislation than that which is now proposed I have scarcely ever heard of. It proceeds from no disposition to remedy any wrong to Queensland, because she has suffered none; from no reason .to complain of existing legislation, because it is good if properly and carefully administered ; but it proceeds simply from a paltry jealousy of the States who do not take sugar produced in the Commonwealth, because they cannot get it, and a disposition to make those States pay for what they cannot get, and for what they will not be able to get for many a long day. But this Bill does not end there. There is another feature of it which is slightly unusual in fiscal legislation. This Bill is made retrospective. The revenue under the Tariff Act has meanwhile been collected in the ordinary course by the Commonwealth, and it ought to have been paid over from month to month, according to the Constitution, to the States entitled to it. It has not been paid over, but has been retained for somewhere about eighteen months. Now, at the end of that period, it is proposed to confiscate it by retrospective legislation. That is now proposed, though in the meantime Victoria and South Australia have proceeded with their legislation, on the understanding that this money was theirs under the combined effect of the law we have passed and the Constitution, and would come to them in th’e ordinary course. They have made their business arrangement on the understanding that this money is part of their revenue, just as much as if it were in their own Treasuries, and yet eighteen months later a Bill is coolly introduced to devote that money to some other purpose altogether. I do not say that we have not power to do this, because there are not many limits to our powers within our ambit of legislation. It is, however, an extraordinary proposal. I do not remember anything of the kind in my experience, nor have I read of such a proposal. We are asked to take money, illegally detained for eighteen months, away from the States to whom it ought to have been paid, after they have made their financial arrangements, and to say to them - “ We intend to appropriate it for another purpose altogether.” We should hesitate long before we pass retrospective legislation of this kind operating upon funds that do not belong to us, and we should rather be prepared to endure a large loss than to lay down an important and dangerous constitutional precedent, which may lead in the future to even greater abuse. One word more as to the right of Queensland to complain. Queensland, the Northern Territory, and parts of Western Australia, are the only tropical portions of the Commonwealth. Let us see what the opinion of the people controlling those portions was when they legislated upon the subject. It is instructive to us who represent the States together to know what the States separately thought was the proper course to adopt, when legislating in their own behalf. I begin with Queensland.
– The action taken in Queensland is very misleading.
– It is ; it has misled me. In Queensland in 1885 an Act was passed for the abolition of black labour from the vear 1890, but that Act did not contain a single word about making any compensation to the planters. The Queensland Legislature in passing legislation dealing with their own planters, deprived them of the right to use black labour after 1S90, but proposed to give them no compensation whatever for taking away their assumed right. That is very instructive, as showing the opinion of Queensland. The Act was repealed in 1892, two years after it was passed, but the repeal had no relation to that part of it. It was repealed on the ground that it was thought advisable to go back to black labour, and for no other reason. So much for the Queensland precedent. When South Australia started, it intended to work the Northern Territory with black labour. Country was taken up rather greedily by a number of persons, who were quite prepared to use black labour.
– Who never intended to work at all.
– Some of them did, but others did not. AVith some it was a mere speculation, but with others it was a bond fide intended settlement. Later on came this wave of feeling against black labour, and it was so strong that one of the Ministers, who is not 1 00 miles from the chamber, said he would rather have the territory an uninhabited waste than see any black people there. Quite regardless of the circumstances in which persons acquired property or anything else, legislation was passed to prevent the employment of any further black labour. No compensation was ever thought of. These are the only two instances in Australia in which there has been any legislation of this description, and in both instances it was recognised, quite properly, that except to the extent of putting persons in the same position as they were in before - that was, to get rid of persons they had to send back or to fulfil obligations for which they were liable and which they did not wish to repudiate - no claim cculd be made by anybody against the State merely because it passed legislation to prevent the employment of any particular kind of labour in the future. I know that in the Senate there is a strong feeling in favour of the Bill from different points of view. Some honorable senators desire to see it passed for the purpose of punishing States - and promiscuously the innocent with the guilty - that went in for white labour only ; and others because it will benefit their own States. We are all very apt unduly to look through rather a golden medium at anything which will benefit our own State. It is also hard to look in quite a friendly way at what is antagonistic to one’s State. There ave so many States interested in the Bill that I suppose it will be carried, but I wish to enter my solemn protest against it. I say that it will do a gross injustice to both Victoria and South Australia. Even at this, last moment I hope that honorable senators who came here with a disposition to vote for the Bill will carefully reconsider the matter, and say whether, after all, the present Act is not adequate, and whether we should resort to the extreme step of passing a Bill of this kind for the purpose of helping Queensland - although, according to Senator Drake, it will not this year be helped at all - and of helping New South Wales - a State which is not entitled to help - and of punishing Victoria and South Australia simply because they have been compelled by the law of the Commonwealth to pay taxation, and by that means have got their Treasuries a little fuller than they would have been otherwise. I sincerely hope that, even at this late stage, the Senate will not carry the second reading, or, if it is carried, that the Bill will be so modified in Committee that many of its objectionable elements will be removed.
– I thought that after the very lengthy debate last session we had pretty well got rid of the question of fiscalism in this Parliament ; but evidently it is quite as green a subject as ever. We know . that it has always been prolific of much discussion ; and the longer Parliament sits, the more prolific the discussion seems to become. I have heard some novel ideas advanced in the debate on this Bill. I have heard honorable senators affirm quite solemnly that rebate and bonus are practically synonymous terms. I cannot understand how any one who has given any thought to the matter can speak in that way. It must be obvious that instead of the excise being a bonus it is a tax on the sugar industry.
Any assistance which is given to the sugar industry has, first of all, to be collected in the shape of an excise duty. It is erroneous to say that we are giving any advantage to the industry when we give a preference to white-grown sugar over black-grown sugar. The industry has “ to p(ay the piper,” so to speak, no matter what else may be done for it in the shape of a, protectionist duty. There can be no two opinions about thequestion that it is the industry alone which has to pay for ‘ any difference we make between one kind of labour and the other. I think that the address of Senator Downer was an extremely selfish one. It exhibited very little of the broad sentiment that he so often expressed when we were legislating for a white Australia. At that time he, quite as much as any one else, lauded the principle of a white Australia. But to-day, because his State has to pay a very small trifle, he looks at the question from quite a different stand-point. If legislation is to be passed in such a spirit, then it is good-bye to the higher sentiments which should actuate us. Senator Smith has said that the arguments of Senator Downer were not in accordance with protection. Of course, Senator Smith may be following the lead of Mr. Chamberlain, but he made a statement the other night that certainly was not in accord with the principles which he has enunciated here. I find that he has changed his opinions on fiscalism very considerably since he entered the Chamber. I do not know what the people of Western Australia will think of that change, more particularly the members of the Free-trade Association, of which he is president. When he spoke to the second reading of the Bill last week, he said -
It will thus be seen that, instead of any injustice being inflicted upon any State by reason of the imposition of this excise duty, a very great benefit is being conferred upon the States among whom the revenue so obtained is distributed. The imposition of the duty has been a distinct advantage to the various States.
– From the financial point of view.
– If that is the honorable senator’s idea of the advantage to the States from the financial stand-point, I cannot understand the position which he has so often taken up here.
– I was speaking purely from the stand-point of the State Treasury.
– No doubt the honorable senator, perceiving his inconsistency, wishes to improve his position somewhat in the eyes of the members of the Free-trade Association. He may think that they will have to look out for another president if this sort of thing goes on, and no doubt he is trying to improve his position with them.
– The honorable senator is barking up the wrong tree.
– I may have been barking up the wrong tree when I said that the honorable senator had changed his opinions on fiscalism, but I certainly think that the words I have quoted from his speech show that his position today is not consistent with the attitude which he has so often taken up here. The subject-matter of the Bill ought to be approached in a broad and generous manner. If the sugar industry is to be conducted by white labour, then some modification of the measure is certainly an essential. I am pleased to see that Senator Glassey has given notice of an amendment which 1 believe will make the measure more acceptable to the majority of honorable senators. If it is inserted, and white labour is used in the production of sugar for twelve months the sugar planters will be entitled to the bonus. Senator Downer has referred to the incidence of the tax. I hold that it is in no way altered by the Bill, lt alters the method of collecting the duty, but that does not necessarily mean that there is any alteration in the incidence of the tax. I hold that, in view of the emphatic demand for a white Australia by the people at the general elections, they will have very little hesitancy in agreeing to any little price which they may be asked to pay for the fulfilment of that great ideal. The little expenditure which has been necessitated in order to provide a way of supplanting black labour with white labour is so trifling that he must have a very small soul indeed who would offer any objection. I know of no country which has got rid of, or is likely to get rid of, black labour at such a small cost. When we remember the millions that England had to pay to get rid of slavery in the Empire, and the millions that the United States had to spend in order to get rid of slavery in the Southern States, we may congratulate ourselves upon the fact that we are getting rid of black labour at a very small cost indeed. In his speech Senator Dobson exhibited an amount of sympathy for white labour that was rather startling to hear coming from his lips. It was quite unusual ; and I am inclined to think that it was the kind of sympathy that is generally called “ crocodile “ sympathy. It was, I think, shown for the time being, merely as an argument, without any real sympathy being behind it. The same old wheeze was trotted out when the subsidy paid to steamship companies for the carriage of mails between Australia and Europe was being discussed. I take it that Senator Dobson’s sympathetic remarks regarding the hardships imposed upon the white labourer in inducing him to work in the sugar industry were merely caused by the cost of white labour. I can assure him that if he wishes to do away with the disadvantages in connexion with any of the industries of Australia under which white workers labour, he will have plenty of opportunities. Indeed, he has had many opportunities of doing so in his own State. He was a Minister for a long time in Tasmania, but I am quite unaware of anything that he ever did during his occupancy of office to justify us in believing that he has any great sympathy for the white labourer, or to justify him in expressing such sympathy. However, if he will assist the labour party in this Chamber, I can promise him numberless opportunities for the purpose. Senator Neild has also expressed what I take to have been crocodile sympathy for the white workers. He referred to the wives and children of the sugar-growers in Queensland having to participate in the very laborious work of sugar production. But we know that the wives and children of farmers all over the world occasionally lend their assistance in the fields. I do not see anything startling in the fact that the farmers of Queensland, to some extent, adopt the same practice as is pursued elsewhere.
– There is no other country in the world where women and children work in the sugar-cane fields.
– I do not see a bit of difference between farmers engaged in the sugar industry and those engaged in growing wheat or any other kind of produce.
– Or in digging potatoes.
– There is no comparison.
– It is the same kind of laborious work. Queensland may be a bit hotter than other parts of Australia, but there are farmers in Queensland producing other crops than sugar. If we are to extend our sympathy to the one kind of producers I do not see why we should not sympathize all round. If, however, Senator Neild wishes to put an end to this kind of labour he will havehis opportunity of assisting the labour party to do so, not only in Queensland, but in other parts of Australia also. I hold that to provide a safeguard which will prevent black - grown sugar being smuggled through the Customs as sugar produced by white labour, we may very well agree to the provisions of this Bill. I feel quite certain that if we do nothing to lessen the amount of black labour in Queensland we shall, at the end of the stipulated time, have quite as much black labour engaged in the sugar industry in Queensland as there is now. We wish to see the employment of black labour lessened as much as possible. Unless we give the planters who have employed black labour some encouragement to employ white men instead, we shall have a very unsatisfactory state of affairs prevailing at the end of the term when we expect to see the kanakas decreased in number. The proposal of Senator Glassey will have theeffect of giving an extra amount of assistance to the planters, which all other honorable senators should be willing to give to them.
– Senator Downer, in opening the discussion this afternoon, broke entirely new ground. I do not intend to follow him to a large extent, inasmuch as he absolutely denounced both the proposal of the Government and the suggested amendment upon their proposal. He set himself rather a vain task in attempting to prove that neither the one nor the other is necessary. I believe that the mind of the Senate is made up, that either the proposal of the Government or that of Senator Glassey - or, as a further alternative, that of Senator Millen - must be accepted. It is agreed that something must be done to relieve the present situation ; and what we have to set ourselves to decide upon is either that we shall adopt the proposal of the Government or one of the two suggested alternatives. But I should like to remind Senator Downer and one ortwo of our other protectionist friends - particularly the protectionists from South Australia - that when they so heartily cheered Senator Downer when he complained that the £6 per ton on sugar is a protection to the sugar-growers in Queensland and New South Wales, and, therefore, a burden on the South Australian taxpayers, for which they receive no corresponding benefit, they forgot that, dur- ing the whole of the Tariff discussions which took place last session, it was time after tune drummed into our ears that the Queensland and New South Wales senators who happened to be free-traders, and also representatives of the sugar-growing districts, should consider the interests of the other parts of Australia in return for the benefits that were to be conferred upon the growers of cane in the two States I have mentioned. When it was proposed to impose a high duty to benefit the Victorian iron foundries - a duty of 25 per cent, on mining machinery - and a high duty for the benefit of the growers of wheat and the producers of salt in South Australia, and also when so much was said about the claims of the Tasmanian hop-growers for consideration, an appeal was made to the New South Wales and Queensland senators. It was said that in these matters there should be reciprocity. But now Senator Downer says that, because sugar is not produced in South Australia, therefore the imposition of £6 per ton duty on foreign sugar is a tax and a punishment - he had the audacity to say that it was a punishment - imposed upon the poor, unfortunate taxpayers of South Australia. He forgot that last session he and the other protectionists reminded us, when they wanted duties on wheat, salt, mining machinery, and other commodities, that we should impose these duties for the benefit of Victorian and South Australian producers and manufacturers, in consideration of the duty on sugar which they were willing to support. I well remember Senator Styles making a personal appeal to me, as a free-trader representing a State where sugar is produced, that this £6 per ton duty carried with it an obligation to protect the industries of Victoria and other States. I did respond to that appeal, only I objected to the amount of reciprocity which they wanted. They wanted about ten times more than I thought they ought to get. But still I was willing to give them a fair thing. It is just as well to confront those senators with each other, and to bring before them the shadow of last session, now that Senator Downer urges that this £6 per ton duty is a burden on South Australia. It is also just as well to remind him and other enthusiastic protectionists that, when protectionists proposed to foster local industries, it was even urged that if the proposed protection was not sufficient it should be increased, in order that the protection might be such as to compel the public to purchase from the local manufacturer. I reply now, in Senator Downer’s own words, that if this £6 per ton on sugar is not sufficient to make South Australian consumers buy sugar produced from cane grown in Australia, the duty ought to be £12 per ton.
– We could not get it.
– Senator Playford interjects that we could not get so high a duty. What was the great protectionist argument that was used last session ? It was that, until you give a sufficient encouragement to the local producer, and make your Tariff barrier so high that the foreigner cannot possibly creep in at all, people will not risk their capital and their enterprise in local industries.
– The honorable senator is talking of prohibition, not of protection.
– What is the difference between them 1 I know that there is a difference in the science of economics between protection and prohibition, but I have failed to find that difference realized here. I have failed to find any marked difference between the protectionist party and the prohibition party in the Senate. I refer to these matters not as having any particular bearing on the question under discussion, but to remind honorable senators opposite that the ghost of the past rises up to confound them. In discussing this Bill I propose to offer some criticism on the statements which have been made upon the experience we have so far had of the white Australia policy. Honorable senators have taken advantage of the Bill to speak in general terms. As one representing the State that is most concerned in this matter I think that I shall not be intruding upon the time and patience of the Senate in giiving an answer to those criticisms. It is astonishing to me what a mean and miserable opinion some honorable senators have of their fellow Australians. There are white men who, on every opportunity which presents itself - in fact, if a convenient one does not present itself they exhaust their ingenuity in manufacturing one - condemn absolutely and cast reflections upon either the character or the stamina of the white working men pf the Commonwealth of Australia. That view is echoed and re-echoed in this Chamber on every opportunity which is provided. Thediscussion of this measure has not been lost sight of. Further advantage has been taken of it.
– Who said that?
– There are a number of honorable senators here who truly represent and freely express the opinion which is held and expressed outside the Senate. They hold the most mean and miserable opinions of the character and stamina of the white working men of this country.
– I repeat that it is so, and for proof of my assertion I rely on the utterances and persistent actions of the particular men to whom 1 refer.
– Prove it.
– In all probability I shall individualize before I resume my seat. I was proceeding to point out, when I was interrupted, that I could understand this line of conduct on the part of one or two classes of persons. Some people have a particular personal purpose to serve. As long as they can reap large profits from the employment of an inferior alien race, the love of greed will induce them to do so, even though the employment of that race may mean the degradation of their fellow Australians who occupy a lower position in the social and industrial scale than they do. There is another class of people who condemn the white workers on general principles - =who condemn them out of an unholy spirit of sympathy with those who say that any ambition on the part of the white working man is undesirable, and should be suppressed. There are others again who, in connexion with the sugar question, make bold statements denying the ability and stability of the white workers. They do so, not ‘ from pecuniary motives, or because they have any sympathy with those who are eternally opposed to the white workers and would like to crush them, but from pure ignorance. It is absolutely useless for honorable senators to say that persons who are utterly opposed on general principles to any ambition “ on the part of the white workers do not exist in the Commonwealth, and that they fail to find a voice and representation in the Senate.
– I would remind the honorable’ senator that the experiences of every-day life prove my assertion. Our daily press, our Hansard, and the official records of every State Parliament of Australia prove it. It is useless to deny the existence of these classes. They do exist, and unfortunately those who hold this mean and miserable opinion of their fellow white colonists get into power, while the great majority of the white working men of Australia fail to reciprocate their feelings. If they did, these men would not exercise the authority and power that they do at present. There is another class to which Senator Neild, who made some very wild statements during his speech on the second reading of this Bill, belongs. I refer to the class who make assertions from sheer ignorance of the facts. I am very sorry that Senator Neild is not present. I intimated to him that I intended to speak during the secondreading debate, and if he were here he might be willing to withdraw certain .statements made by him, and thus probably save the time of the Senate by rendering it unnecessary for me to deal with them. The honorable senator repeated the old cry, which has been heard times out of number, that the white man cannot, or, if he can, will not work in the cane-fields of Queensland. I believe that Senator Dobson has given expression to precisely the same opinion. Those who hold this view say that the experience of the policy of a white Australia has proved that, at any rate in Queensland, white men will not or cannot work in the canefields. When Senator Neild was speaking I endeavoured, by way of interjection, to ascertain the particular case in which he said white men had failed to work, under fair conditions, in the cane-fields. I did not succeed in obtaining a reply to my query, and therefore, I have been compelled to look up the information for myself.
Senator Neild said, in reply to an interjection, that the experience of the Mossman Mill Company went to prove his assertions. He based his charge as to the failure of the white Australia policy, and his accusation against the character and stamina of the white workers of Queensland, on what he alleged were the true facts of the Mossman Mill incident, as published in a pamphlet signed by the manager and secretary.
– Were the statements in that pamphlet true ?
– They were absolutely untrue.
– It is easy to say that.
– It is very easy for a man to make an accusation, and it is equally easy for another to give a denial to the charge, but I intend to furnish proof of my denial. When an honorable senator makes an accusation against a body of men, he should particularize in such a way as to render it possible to get at the facts, so that a reply may be made to his charge.
– The facts were given in that case.
– Senator Neild made a general accusation against the white workers of Queensland, but refused to particularize. Upon being pressed for more details, he said that he was referring to the Mossman Mill case in particular, and that the experience of the directors of that company was that of many others. That was a very unfair statement to make, because if the honorable senator knew of other cases which were equally bad, he should have furnished the details so as to enable a reply to be made to his charges. It happens that the Mossman Mill Company published a pamphlet which they distributed very widely throughout Australia. 1 believe they sent a copy of it to every honorable senator, except those who constitute the labour party.
– I received a copy.
– Then the honorable senator is a most favoured individual. It is alleged that the Mossman Mill Company made an honest effort to adopt the white Australia policy; that they did all they could to encourage their farmers to harvest their cane by white labour ; that one man who took a contract to cut cane by white labour was unable to fulfil it, and that he absconded and forfeited his deposit df £50.
Then it is said that another man, named George Taylor, undertook to complete the contract ; that he lodged a deposit of £50 on the understanding that if he completed the contract the deposit lodged by him would not only be returned, but that he would also receive the £50 .deposited by the first contractor. Senator Neild said that in spite of that additional inducement Taylor and his men failed to complete the work, and thus forfeited £100. There are a number of other matters relating to this case, but I wish to point out that Mr. Taylor has replied in the public press of Australia to the statements made in the pamphlet issued by the Mossman Mill Company. Further than that, he handed a sworn affidavit setting out the details to the Minister for Trade and Customs, who, after investigating the facts by every means within his power, stood on the public platforms, from one end of Queensland to the other, and refuted the statements made by the Mossman Mill Company. That fact has been allowed to pass unnoticed, while this wretched pamphlet, which has not a tittle of fact to support it, has been trotted out by Senator Neild, who made no attempt to learn the other side.
– Did the man complete his work 1
– I shall refer to the whole of the circumstances surrounding this case. Dealing first of all with the question of forfeiture I would point out that Taylor’s gang of cane-cutters undertook by contract to cut what was alleged to be 6,600 tons of cane, more or less, and to supply it to the mill at the rate of 40 tons a day. They went to work and found that the cane was what is known as “grubby” cane. Any honorable senator who is at all familiar with the subject will know what grubby cane is, and it is singular that the very first cane that these men were called upon to cut was of that description. Grubby cane is very dry and hard, and as a rule it seldom pays for cutting. However, the men set to work, and after they had cut 1,200 tons it was discovered by the Mossman Mill Company that there were still some 7,600 tons cane left. They asked for a fresh agreement, and Taylor then contracted to supply the mill with 70 tons of cane per day. At that time labour was plentiful, and Taylor increased his gang to 35 men in order to supply the mill at the rate named. He continued to cut the cane up to the end of October, but suddenly he received the following letter from Mr. Harry S. W. C. Roberts : -
Mossman Central Mill Company Limited.
Mossman,vi? Port Douglas, 24th October, 1902.
Mr. Geo. Taylor,
Dear Sir, - It being now necessary to reduce your cane deliveries to forty (40) tons per day, I am instructed to give you one (1) week’s notice to do so, as specified in the agreement between yourself and this company.
Thus, after Taylor had beencuttingcane at the rate of 70 tons a day, he received one week’s notice, in accordance with one of the provisions of the agreement, to reduce the supply to40 tons daily. He naturally reduced his staff, and went on supplying the mill at the lower rate. After going on under that arrangement for a time, he suddenly got a letter from another individual, dated 26th December.
– Who is that other individual?
– The letter is signed “ C. J. Cress, for the secretary.” The secretary to the Mossman Mill would appear to be a very peculiar person, because the person signing the pamphlet is a Mr. O’Gorman, a Mr. Roberts signs the note giving notice of reduction as secretary to the Mossman Mill Company, and in this final letter we have a Mr. Cress signing for the secretary.
– The late secretary, Mr. Roberts, is now no more : he is dead.
– Well, he has left his hand behind him, and I have the imprint of it here. In this particular document we are introduced to another secretary. It says -
Mr. George Taylor, Mossman.
Dear Sir, - I am instructed to informyou that, according to cane deliveries for some considerable time past, which have only averaged 38? tons per day, it is impossible for you to harvest all the white rebate cane as per your agreement before the termination of the present crushing season, thus causing the growers and the company a great loss. Owing to the average daily supply nob coming near the amount of your contract, this company is reluctantly compelled to notify you that your contract is cancelled through nonperformance of the conditions contained therein ; therefore you are to discontinue work on Saturday afternoon, the 27th inst.
Mr. Taylor goes on to point out that they finished their cutting and loading, and then knocked off. I want honorable senators to understand that they loaded their 40 tons a day, and then 70 tons a day. Then they received the intimation that they must reduce the quantity, and on the top of that, without any prior intimation, they are told that their contract must be broken because they are only supplying 38? tons per day. This is in the face of the fact that out of the 6,600 tons of cane they originally contracted to trash and cut, over 6,000 tons had been dealt with up to this time, because the intimation they received was given three weeks before the end of the crushing season, when, according to the mill’s own statement, there were only 591 tons of cane left. At the very time these men were told to knock off, they were cutting, according to the Customs receipts, 251 tons a week. Hindoos were employed to deal with the 591 tons that were left. The Customs returns supplied are very significant. I find in a document headed “His Majesty’s Customs - Memorandum for George Taylor,” returns for December 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, and 27, giving the number of trucks, their weight, and so on, and from the 22nd to the 27th December it appears that they supplied 209 trucks of cane, weighing 251 tons 4 cwt.
– Or more than 40 tons per day.
– That showsthat the plea that they were not supplying the necessary amount of cane was all moonshine. Now, as to the forfeiture : When the company deliberately and designedly broke the contract Taylor went down to Cairns to get legal advice, and he followed that up by sending an intimation to Mr. Buchanan that if he did not within fourteen days return the ?100 deposit, a writ would be issued for its recovery. In the meantime, all the men concerned in the contract with Taylor were anxious to get their money and get away to do some other work. They desired to come to some compromise, and finally the result was that Mr. Buchanan drew up a letter and said that if Taylor would sign it he would give them the ?100, but if not, he would fight the issue of the writ. This was a proposal made to men whose money was in Mr. Buchanan’s hands, and who desired to get away with it and make the best use of it they could. What was more natural than that they should say to the man representing them-“ Take the money, accept the terms, and let us go about our business.” Taylor then went to Buchanan and said - “ I will accept the terms, and I will sign that letter on condition that it is not to be used for any political purpose.” On that stipulation Taylor signed the letter, with the result that he got the £100, and the letter was no sooner signed than Buchanan published it broadcast throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth. Those are the leading facts concerning this matter, and I say that they show that it was a pure trick from beginning to end on the part of the company, in order to try and discredit the white Australia policy which had been adopted by the Federal Parliament. It does not redound to the credit of any honorable senator when he has these facts within his grasp to make use of his position to put forward one side of the case which is so manifestly unfair, without giving due credit to what may be said on the other. It is in that way that I view the statements made by Senator Neild.
– Has the honorable senator got the letter to which he refers ?
– The full letter is here, and I have in my possession the sworn affidavit of Taylor, which was afterwards confirmed by the investigations of Mr. Kingston’s officers, and which Mr. Kingston was so satisfied about that he used it publicly on platforms in Queensland, when addressing the people of that State. In the most open way, every publicity has been given to; the categorical denial made by Mr. George Taylor. Let me mention a circumstance to show the unfair methods which have been used. Mr. Kingston referred to this matter on the platform in Cairns- the very place where the incident is supposed to have occurred - when speaking to one of the largest public meetings ever held in that town, where, if what he said had not been correct, it would have been promptly contradicted. In making the contract with the farmers growing sugar - I think this was at the Mulgrave Mill - the farmers asked if they had the permission of the millowners to adopt the white Australia policy. They were told that they would receive the permission of the mill-owners on condition that they employed a gang of not less than thirty men. As Mr. Kingston said, that was a grossly unfair condition, because they should have been allowed to manage their own affairs, and they should have been allowed to say whether they required a large or a small gang. But that is not the worst of it. Another condition was that, while employing white labour, they must agree to pay for the keep and expenses of the kanakas in the meantime. So that, to carry out the white Australia policy, the conditions imposed upon these men were that they should employ white labour in large gangs, and should also keep the black labourers on the plantation at the time, without doing any work at all.
– Were these statements by Mr. Kingston denied ?
– They were made by Mr. Kingston on the public platform in Cairns, and they were not denied. I should say that thestatements werealsomadeby Mr. Kingston when the planters sought to trap him at a dinner out at the Mulgrave Mill. When there by himself in the midst of them, he repeated the statements, and they had no answer to make to them. The right honorable gentleman also told a deputation of the Chambers of Commerce, and many representatives of the sugar districts who waited on him in Brisbane on his return from the north, that from 14 to 15 percent. of the farmers in the Mackay district had already come under the white Australia provisions, and that he had their assurance that not less than another 50 per cent. were quite willing to come under them during the next year. In the face of startling facts of this description is it not absurd that an honorable senator representing a big State like New South Wales should try by making one-sided statements in this Senate to convince the outside public, who may listen to and heed his remarks, that the white Australia policy has been an absolute failure? Mr. Frank Kenna, who, at the present time, is the Queensland State member for the Bowen district, was down here not long ago, and he informed me that so well satisfied were the sugar farmers in the Proserpine district of the value of the white Australia policy that the few who had gone in for it did not intend to go back upon it, and that at the very least 60 per cent. of the farmers in that district would adopt the policy. Is it to be imagined that these men will go in forthatpolicy if they cannot rely upon getting white men to do their work ? I intended to saysomething with regard to the “fearful and dreadful” condition of health in which the adoption of the white Australia policy is likely to leave the white-working people of Queensland, but I shall only make this remark upon it. When honorable senators speak about the fearful conditions of climate and soil in North Queensland, they only cause a smile of contempt to cross the lips of people who have lived and worked in North Queensland. I was born there, and I have worked there all my life, and I never suffered so much in health as when I came down to the “ beautiful” climate of Melbourne ; I never suffered so much discomfort as I did during the time of Melbourne’s “glorious” winter, such as we are experiencing at the present time.
– The honorable senator looks a great deal better than when he came down.
– If that be so, it is due to the fact that the stamina which the climate of North Queensland puts into a man enables him to withstand even the Melbourne climate.
– If the honorable senator goes back to Cairns he will be dead in a month.
– I do not think so. I lived in the North nearly all my life, and it is an absurdity to say that white men cannot stand the North Queensland climate. I have no objection to Senator Dobson, or any other senator, saying that he is such a weak, puny, putty individual that he could not stand the climate of North Queensland, but I absolutely deny his right to say that because he is a weak, puny, and putty individual, therefore no other white man could stand the climate.
Senatorfraser. - The climate of Cairns is worse than that of Mauritius - in the cane fields.
– I could wish with all my heart that honorable senators when speaking about North Queensland would speak with some knowledge, or, if they have no personal knowledge, that before they give utterance to wild statements such as thatwhich SenatorFraser has just made, they would make themselves acquainted with the facts by some other means. There are any number of men in Victoria with whom SenatorFraser must be familiar who have been in the district of Cairns, and who can tell him otherwise. I may say that, as a matter of fact, I believe there is no spot in the whole of the Commonwealth of Australia which receives more money from tourists seeking for health and comfort in relief from business as does the little port of Cairns.
SenatorFraser. - It is, no doubt, a nice place for a trip in winter.
– The honorable senator surely would not dream of making a trip into the seventh circle of the Inferno, and he would, no doubt, try to get as near heaven as he could.
– I have found it hotter in November in Melbourne than in Cairns.
– There is another statement here from a cane-grower in the Mackay district named Shannon. I do not wish to say very much more upon this matter, but there are one or two striking paragraphs in a statement he made in an interview given to a representative of the Brisbane Courier, and republished in the Toowoomba Chronicle. I consider that the people of Australia are greatly indebted to both the Brisbane Courier and the Toowoomba Chronicle for their efforts to put the statements of each party before their readers. Of course we claim the Toowoomba Chronicle as a very sterling advocate of the white Australia policy. We do not claim the Brisbane Courier as an advocate of that policy, but we cannot help commending that journal for its fairness, because while it publishes statements to suit its own view, it spares no pains to publish statements from the opposite stand-point. It sent a representative to see Mr. Shannon when he went to Brisbane from the Mackay district, and to ascertain his opinion on the employment of white labour. From that interview I quote the following passages : -
What has been your experience with white labour? was the first question asked. - It turned out better than I expected, was the reply. I intend to make a success of it, if possible, and a good many others had the same desire. Putting it briefly, it worked well. It cost me about 4s. per ton for the harvesting right through, and that figure must be taken in connexion with the fact that it was a bad crop to harvest, as the cane was comparatively light, and a man had to cut a lot of cane to make up a ton of weight, and the weather was very distressing in October, there being bush fires about.
What white labour did you employ? - The best men we had were young Queenslanders, farmers’ sons from the Brisbane and Logan districts. They worked remarkably well, were a sober lot, and spent no money. They took their cheques home. We had also some men of the class usually found on railway works - a really fine lot. Of course the work of keeping the cane clean was distressing, but the men stuck to it splendidly.
Was there any scarcity of labour? -No. For every man we wanted i n December we could have got ten.
And about wages ? - Well, I paid wages, and did not let any contracts. I went upon the principle of getting good men, giving them good wages, and expecting good work from them. I may say, broadly, that the men in the district cleared about 30s. per week each after paying for their food. The matter of the food comes in here. And this is what I consider an economic principle ; good food and a good cook are cheaper than low fare and a bad cook.
Mr. Shannon a successful grower acts on the principle of feeding hismen well and paying them good wages, with the result that they are thoroughly satisfied. He carried out the intention of this Parliament, made a good profit, and got good men to do his work. Senator Neild has stated that he intends to move an amendment to prevent applicants claiming the rebate who have sweated their wives and children.When he was pressed, by interjection, he refused to state who were the sweaters. He would make no definite statement which could be followed up, either to be confirmed or to be contradicted if untrue. That method of argument can only be characterized by a term which would be unparliamentary. He did say - and, in making this statement, he went too far the other way, unless he was prepared to go the whole way - that the sweating of the women and children on the cane-fields occurred in North Queensland, and that the only result we had achieved was doing away with the sweating of the kanaka, and sweating the wives and children of the sugar farmers instead. It was a most cruel statement to make, and, in my opinion, it was absolutely unwarranted. He made the charge, but he refused even to indicate the district where this state of affairs is supposed to exist, although I pressed him so often by interjection to do so that I must have nearly exhausted your patience, sir. The sugar districts in North Queensland are the Mackay, Proserpine, and Cairns districts. In the limited time at my disposal since the charge was made by Senator Neild. I have failed to find that there exists in any district the state of affairs which he alleged to exist. I give a point-blank denial to his assertions in that regard. It does not reflect credit on the honorable senator that he should make a statement of that kind, branding a class who have no opportunity of defending themselves. To say that it would not tend to the good character of the debate, if he gave the names was a most unworthy evasion of the subject, if it was not a deliberate shuffle from the position. He was not asked to give the names, but to indicate the districts, and that he declined to do. He went on further in his denunciations, which to some extent took the character of ravings, to say that he spoke from information gathered on the spot. On what spot? He would not give the slightest indication of what spot it was. I not only deny that the sweating of women and children goes on in Northern Queensland, but I deny that it goes on in any portion of that State, either in the sugar districts, or in any of the other agricultural districts. The honorable senator made a singular admission in his speech. In common with Senator Fraser and a few others, he holds that the white man cannot cultivate sugar cane in Queensland, because the work is too laborious and the climate is too trying. Now, before he resumed his seat the other day, he said that the farmers’ wives and children cultivate the sugar-cane in that State. That is, the men cannot do it ; but the women and children are doing it. Surely it is not necessary for me to point out the moral of an address of that description.
Senatorfraser. - I have always said that white men cannot do it in Cairns and the North. I maintain the accuracy of that statement until it is proved to be wrong. A year or two will tell whose opinion is right.
– That is a plain candid statement. There was a time when the honorable senator was perfectly justified in making that statement ; but now he is not justified in adhering to the statement, because white men are growing cane, are harvesting cane, and are successful in the industry; where a coloured labourer does not touch the cane from the time the ground is ploughed until the sugar is sent to the refinery.
– My answer is that only 15 percent. of the Queensland planters now grow cane by white labour.
– That is no answer to my statement: There are 15 per cent. of the men who had an opportunity of coming under the white Australia policy last year. But there is a very large percentage of the growers who have not been provided with an opportunity to do so, and there is also a large percentage who are either gifted or cursed - it is not my province to say which - with a type of mind similar to Senator Fraser’s, and who are convinced that nigger labour is the only possible labour to make sugar growing pay. These men would never in any circumstances get clear of their dearly beloved nigger in order to give their fellow-colonists a decent show to make an honest living. We shall always, I presume, have with us these unconvinced and stubborn people. But, because they stubbornly refuse to do what is obviously the right thing, that is no argument against the wisdom of the policy which Parliament thought fit to adopt. Leaving that portion of the subject, I come more particularly to what we shall have to decide, I presume, by division. The Bill provides that, after the 28th February of this year, every grower who has employed black labour in the planting of his cane shall not be able at any time to reap the benefits of the bonus. Notwithstanding what he may do after that date in the shape of trying to honestly carry out the policy of a white Australia, the mere fact that a coloured alien has had a hand in the planting of the cane will prevent him from reaping the full advantage of - the bonus. The reason advanced by Senator Drake, and others who have agreed to support the Bill, is that they make the date arbitrary in order to further that policy - as it were to compel the planters to immediately adopt the policy, and at the same time to inflict a punishment on those growers who have up to the present defied or flouted the will of this Parliament. I venture to say that the provision will have absolutely the contrary effect. I desire precisely what they desire - that every encouragement shall be given to the sugargrowers to adopt the policy, but I claim that when you stipulate that after the 2Sth February of this year everybody who has not adopted the policy at that date shall not be entitled to get the bonus, you cut away all the encouragement and inducement -which the Parliament intended to hold out to the growers. There will be absolutely no encouragement or inducement to any farmer, be he large or small, to embrace the policy and employ white men. It is perfectly absurd to say that the provision is framed in the interests of that policy, while at the same time the Bill says that the planter may import, until the end of this year, kanakas to any number, subject to any restriction in the Queensland Act, and also enter into a three years’ agreement. The Federal Act says to the planter - “ Up to the end of this year you can employ kanakas to work your plantation for a term of three years, with the option of a renewal for six months,” and then this Bill says - “ We shall punish you for employing the kanakas you import.” If it was the intention of the Government to say that the white Australia policy should commence on every sugar-field on the 28th February of this year, why did they not provide in their law that no further importation should take place after that date under a three years’ engagement, with the right of renewal for six months. The thing appears to me to be perfectly absurd. Why, the Government are endeavouring by this very provision to do with the sugar farmers what Mr. Kingston himself so scathingly denounced at Cairns with regard to the Mulgrave Mill. He denounced the contract of the mill-owners which provided that the farmers must employ white men and keep the nigger in idleness. The Government by this Bill are making precisely the same provision - that the sugar planter must, after the 28th February of this year, employ white men, and keep their kanakas with whom they have engagements. The thing is absurd ; it is nonsensical. Another matter to which I wish to refer - and I ask honorable senators to think of this very seriously - is that in reading the debates which took place in the House of Representatives, and in listening carefully to what was said in this Chamber, it seemed to me that the arguments revealed a misconception of the very nature of sugar-growing. The Minister for Trade and Customs himself repeatedly pointed out - and was followed in the statement ‘by a large number of other members - that it was in the planting of the cane particularly that the employment of white labour should be encouraged, because, it was said, the planting was the most important and laborious portion of sugar-cane production. It was urged that the benefits of the white Australia policy would be felt more particularly in regard to the planting. Changes were rung upon that idea in a great many ways. The idea is absurd. A contrast between planting and harvesting may easily be drawn. In growing wheat you plant for one year only ; but in growing sugar-cane you plant one year and maj* reap up to ten crops from the one planting. The general average throughout Queensland is six crops from one planting.
– Does that mean in six years?
– Yes; six crops in six years. In other words, from one planting you can, on an average, get one crop and five rattoons ; but in the Mackay district I myself saw a crop being cut from the ninth rattoon. That crop returned 21 tons to the acre ; and they grow rattoons in Queensland which only yield 15 tons to the acre. As a matter of fact the cane that was crushed at the Mossman mill, about which there has been so much talk, only averaged about 15 tons to the acre. The statement that the planting is the most important portion of sugar-cane production is an evidence that those who make it do not know much about cane-growing. The PostmasterGeneral cannot call to mind one contention of the opponents of the white Australia policy to the effect that a white man could not plough the ground and plant the cane. The argument has always been that it is after the cane is mature and ready for the mill, so far as nature can make it ready - that it is in the harvesting, the trashing, and cutting of the cane - that the presence of the kanaka is necessary. It was only then that the white man was alleged to be unable to work in the canefields. All along it has been recognised by all parties in Queensland that the great difficulty to get over is what the Minister for Trade and Customs was pleased to call the harvesting of the cane. The rebate which has been allowed was granted for the express purpose of enabling the sugargrower to employ white labour to trash and cut the cane. Therefore, the contrast attempted to be drawn between the planting and harvesting of the cane is a most misleading one.
– Still the Minister for Trade and Customs has been all through the sugar country.
– He has never seen a cane cutting. I should like Senator Charleston to understand distinctly that it does not matter whether the Minister for Trade and Customs, or the whole of the Federal Government, have been through the sugar districts of Queensland every cutting season for the last twenty years ; if they came back and said at the end of that time that the planting of the cane was the most important process, they would be saying something that was not correct. It simply is not so. If they fail to understand the true position it does not matter how many times they go there. My objection is that they do not go often enough to enable them to understand the process of cane production.
– The members of the Government did not say that, they did ? The critics of this Bill said that we were proposing to pay bonuses for sugar not grown by white labour.
– I have looked up the debates, and the statement I have criticised was not only made by Mr. Kingston, but by many who supported him in the contention that the bonus was to be given for the planting of the cane, because they thought that was the most important portion of sugar-growing. The thing was so startling to me that I could not help making a note of it.
– Was that in the House of Representatives ?
– Yes ; and it is reported in Hansard. It was pointed out that under this particular provision, if the grower planted his cane with black labour and in the very next year he registered with the intention of continuing to grow his cane with white labour, he could not receive the bonus because kanakas had assisted in the planting. Mr. Kingston, by way of inter jection, said - “ No ; unless he re-planted.” What does that mean ? Mr. Kingston said that the grower could come in under this particular provision provided he was ready to dig up his roots and re-plant.
– That would be a nice state of things !
– I should say that it would be ! These ideas can only arise in the mind of the Minister because of his misconception of the true position. He was evidently arguing from the stand-point that the growing of sugar is like the growing of wheat, where you plough and harrow your land every year and sow a fresh crop ; whereas, as a matter of fact, the sugargrower gets on an average six crops from one planting.
– It is evidently a profitable business.
– I have always said that I could not see, considering the price of cane and the amount paid for labour in the growth of it, how it was that the grower of cane by white labour required such a terrific amount of assistance to keep his head above water, while the wheat-grower can do without it. I have never expressed any other opinion, and do not desire to do so now. But I should like to draw the attention of the Postmaster-General to this point - that when he himself was in Queensland during the last recess, he and Mr. Kingston on the public platform both expressed the pleasure they felt at the success of the white Australia policy as formulated by the Government and adopted by this Parliament. They quoted from every platform where they spoke, the amount of money that had been paid in rebates, and they gave the number of farmers in different districts who had accepted the white Australia policy. They quoted with approval and joy the number who intended to come in under this policy. I know that it gave them much satisfaction to know that the small sugar farmers in Queensland looked upon the Federal Government as their saviour during the severe trouble that came over them last year, when this very rebate or bonus saved many of them from dire distress. It was a pleasant thing for the Government to know .that they had been able to do so much good, and that they had created a feeling of gratitude in the minds of the sugar growers. The members of the Government made the most of this point at the meetings they addressed. They were entitled to do so. But did the sugar growers get that benefit under such provisions as are contained in this Bill ? No ; nearly every one of the farmers who came in under the policy we have inaugurated had planted his cane with kanaka labour. If, in the first instance it had been stipulated that no sugar grower in Queensland could reap any benefit from the white Australia policy if his cane had been planted by black labour, there would be very few farmers claiming rebate in Queensland or New South Wales. The very provision which the Government are trying to induce the Senate to accept in this Bill would have defeated their own policy, and would have prevented them from having the extreme pleasure of receiving the heartfelt gratitude of the sugar growers of Queensland. I sincerely trust that honorable senators will defeat the Government proposal in this respect, and accord their support to Senator Glassey’s amendment, which meets the case fairly and squarely. Before sitting down I would point out two little matters in connexion with this subject, which should appeal to those honorable senators who are wavering upon the question, or who have not made up their minds one way or the other. Throughout the whole of this much debated issue of growing sugar cane successfully with white labour, many solutions have been offered, not the least of which - in fact I believe the one which should receive most acceptance - is that if you break up the large plantations and convert them into small sugar farms, managed by families, you will go a long way towards settling the labour difficulty and promoting the successful growth of sugar by white labour. That view has been held for many years. Arrangements were made bv the Queensland Government on several occasions to induce planters to give up their large holdings, which they did not work successfully, and convert them into small farms. With that object in view, the present Chief Justice of Queensland, when a member of the State Parliament, erected two central mills in the Mackay district as an experiment. The result was that he demonstrated to the holders of large plantations in that district that a small farmer, with an uptodate mill, could produce sugar under conditions more favorable to those employed by him, while, at the same time, reaping a larger profit than under the old system. These two central mills led the way to the action of the Queensland Parliament in erecting central mills in different districts, and that action was supported both by Senator Drake and myself. The mills were erected in order to encourage the farmers to take up small farms, and thus subdivide the large plantations. But how will the Government proposal operate in regard t« the large plantations ? The Government provide in this Bill that if the kanaka has once touched the cane no bonus shall be given in respect of the sugar produced from it, no matter how many times the land may have changed hands, and’ irrespective of what the holdings may be. If the holder of a large plantation, believing firmly as many of them do, that white men cannot successfully grow sugar, hangs on to his coloured labour to the last, and a number of farmers then take up portions of his holding and proceed to grow sugar according to the policy of a white Australia, what will be the result? The very measure- we arenow discussing will not enable those farmers to obtain any portion of the bonus, because of the fact that the prior holder of their plantations has employed kanakas to plant the cane. That is not the way to encourage the cutting up of large plantations. We shall really put an obstacle in the way of the adoption of that course.
– The honorable senator is presuming that the planted cane will go over with the farm t
– Exactly. If that were not done we should have to go back to the ridiculous proposition of the Minister for Trade and Customs, that all cane grown by coloured labour shall be dug up and replanted. There are many farmers holding small plantations who assert that they cannot grow cane successfully without the aid of coloured labour, while there are many others who desire to give white labour a chance. But if a farmer who decides to grow sugar by white labour buys a farm from a man who has planted with black labour he will not be allowed a fair opportunity to test the true value of the policy of a white Australia, because qf the fact that the previous holder employed kanaka labour in putting in the cane. I trust that honorable senators who, like Senator Downer, object to the Bill altogether, will realize that either the proposal submitted by the Government or one or other of the amendments suggested by Senator Glassey and Senator Millen must be accepted, and that it is well that we should wait until the Bill gets into Committee before determining which of these we should accept.
– I should like to make a passing reference to the words which fell from the lips of Senator Dawson in regard to myself. It is true that when the Tariff was before the Senate 1 appealed to him to help us to save the machinery industry of Victoria.
– And all that we obtained was a duty of 12£ per cent, instead of 10 per cent.
– Yes. The result was that instead of helping us to fix the duty at 25 per cent, as we desired, the honorable senator supported a reduction of the duty to 7 1 per cent.
– I was in favour of machinery coming in free.
– That is the way in which the honorable senator responded to my appeal. I did not meet him in the same spirit when the sugar duties were under consideration. I voted and spoke in favour 4 m z of a duty of £6 per ton on imported sugar, which was equal to 50 per cent, of the cost of the article, so that I was a consistent protectionist throughout. I did not hesitate to support that measure of protection, although Senator Dawson failed to respond to what he has described as my eloquent appeal on behalf of the machinery manufacturers of Victoria. Much has been said about the proposed rebate to - be allowed those who grow sugar by white labour. These people, however, have not been ruined by the adoption of the policy of a white Australia. They have not suffered as some of the manufacturers of Victoria have suffered by the reduction of our duties. I desire to know when a Bill will be introduced to recompense the Victorian manufacturers for the loss they have sustained 1
– They are able to export machinery to America.
-I am not referring specially to patented machinery. It is true that we are exporting patent machinery to South America, but it consists of a special line of harvesters invented in Victoria, whence most good things come. I believe that Senator Dawson is thoroughly con- . versant with the sugar question. He has opened my eyes this afternoon to the real position, and I begin to wonder whether this Bill is necessary. He has proved that white men can and will work in the cane-fields of Queensland, and he asserts that they can do any of the work that the coloured races can perform. That being so, let the planters employ white men or give up their cane-fields. Why should we give them any assistance of this kind?
– Is not the honorable senator a protectionist ?
– I can readily account for the attitude adopted by honorable senators who come from New South Wales - a State which will receive the lion’s shareof the benefit to be conferred by this Bill. If I had not known something to the contrary, I should have thought that this Bill had been framed by the Government of New South Wales rather than by the Government of the Commonwealth. I can well understand the silence of the Government of New South Wales, and of the usually noisy Mr. Philp. They have seen this Bill, and are perfectly satisfied. Senator De Largie brought forward the question of Federal sentiment. That is a good old “gag” to trot out when you desire to obtain something from the people of certain States, and do not intend to give anything in return. It appears to me, however, that we must regard this matter from the stand-point of the hard cash to be paid by those who derive no direct benefit from the Australian sugar industry.
– Western Australia does not derive any benefit from it.
– I know that is so, but when one looks into the figures which have been furnished by the PostmasterGeneral he is somewhat staggered. It is proposed that the excise duty shall be distributed upon a consumption basis, while the rebate shall be paid per capita. Let me show what a nice little arrangement this is : Under this proposition New South Wales, which has grown sugar by white labour for the last 30 years, will receive, on the consumption basis, £168,000 excise in respect of the 56,000 tons of Australian sugar she consumes, while she will contribute £21,642 towards the rebate. Contrast these figures with the treatment to be meted out to Victoria. Victoria will receive £24,000 for the 8,000 tons of Australian sugar she consumes, while she will pay on a population basis £18,786 towards the rebate.
– What will she derive through the Customs duty on sugar ?
– I shall come to that point presently. In other words, New South Wales on a consumption basis - and I am not grumbling at that - will receive seven times the amount that Victoria obtains in the form of the excise duty.
– The honorable senator means that the consumers pay that amount?
– I admit that such is the case, but the money passes through the Commonwealth Department into the coffers of New South Wales. That State will receive seven times the amount that Victoria will obtain, while she will pay only £3,000 more by way of rebate - that is the Government proposition.
– Where does the honorable senator find those figures?
– I have taken them from the printed statement circulated by the Postmaster-General. On page 3 of that statement it is set forth that £168,000 is the estimated excise duty received by New South Wales on 56,000 tons of Australian sugar consumed there during the year 1902-3. It seems to me that Senator De Largie hit the nail upon the head, although he did so perhaps unwittingly, when he said that the consumption basis was the proper one to adopt. No doubt it is. If we are going to allocate the excise to each State in proportion to theconsumption of Australian-grown sugar - and this is a fair way of looking at the mat ter - why should we not allocate the rebate according to the consumption of white Australian-grown sugar in each State? The position would then be altered.
– It would alter from year to year.
– It must alter under the Government proposal. Surely the PostmasterGeneral does not suppose that the quantities which have been named are fixed?
– They will vary very slightly.
– We are told that the Government scheme will work out all right by-and-by ; that when sufficient sugar is produced in New South Wales and Queensland to supply the requirements of Australia, there will be no bother. It is natural to suppose that there will not beany trouble, because all the other States will do the paying under this arrangement ; but are we to wait until that time arrives for fair play and justice to be dealt out to us ? I have never heard of a more outrageous or unfair division. It is natural that honorable senators from New South Wales should smile, for that State will enjoy the lion’s share of the benefit of this proposal. Let us see what it is according to Senator De Largie’s idea. These amounts should be arrived at on a consumption basis. That seems fair, and I believe that it would be the correct thing to do, seeing that the Constitution provides that the customs and excise duties shall be allocated in that way. The excise calculated in that way would amount for New South Wales to £168,000, but that State would have to pay £44,400 rebate, instead of £21,642 as proposed by this Bill. In the case of Victoria the excise on the consumption basis would amount to £24,000, and the rebate upon the same basis would be only £2,500, instead of £18,786 as proposed under this. Bill. Now as to the duty. Of course we get the import duty, but who pays it ? It is the people of Victoria, South Australia, or Tasmania, as the case may be. In the case of Victoria the import duty is paid into the Treasury here, but the money does not come out of the pockets of the people of Western Australia; it comes out of the pockets of the people of Victoria.
– Who pays the excise duty in New South Wales 1 Is it not the people t
– The people pay the excise duty, but it is their share of the rebate under this Bill that I am complaining about.
– And in any case the excise duty is much less than the import duty.
– It is only one-half of the import duty. There is another consideration which presents itself to a protectionist mind, and which I have not heard touched upon yet. According to the tables with which we have been supplied, we in Victoria must have sent something like £700,000 out of this State for sugar ; while in Queensland they have kept the whole of their money paid for sugar in the State, and have also received money from other States. It is a matter for consideration whether this is not worth thinking about. Was it not one of the arguments in support of the imposition of a duty of £6 per ton upon sugar that we should keep the money in the country and give employment to our own people ? Queensland and New South Wales have had all the advantage of the arrangement, whilst the people of Victoria have sent £700,000 to Mauritius or some other country for sugar, and they had to pay £6 per ton duty upon it when it was landed here. That has been the position of all the States with the exception of New South Wales and Queensland. In those States the difference between the revenue a.nd excise duty, some £5 per ton, has acted as a protective duty. I do not grumble at that, nor, as one of the representatives of Victoria, do I grumble at contributing something towards the rebate proposed, but I do complain of the method of payment, and of the amount which it is proposed that each State shall pay. New South Wales produced 85 per cent, of her total production of sugar by white labour, and we are told that she has been doing that for many years, yet she has to pay between £21,000 and £22,000, or only £3,000 more than Victoria, and, whilst we only get £24,000 from the excise duty, New South Wales gets £168,000. I shall certainly oppose the proposed distribution of the rebate, and, speaking on behalf of my own State, I think the proposal of the Bill is most outrageous and unjust. The condition of things in South Australia is worse than in Victoria, only in a smaller way. In the case of South Australia there is an absolute loss, because that State got no excise duty at all. I should like to put two or three figures before the Senate to show the relative position of the States if different ways of dealing with the question were adopted. On a population basis, after paying the rebate, New South Wales would have £76,968 and on a consumption basis £123,600, whilst under this Bill it is proposed that she shall have £146,35S after paying her share of there-, bate, as set forth in the schedule of this Bill. On a population basis Victoria would have £67,133, that is net, after deducting the rebate from the excise. On a consumption basis she would have only £21,500. I think that is the fairest way, but under this Bill she would only have £5,214. The difference between the excise she would receive on the 3,000 tons of Australian sugar she consumed and her share of the rebate would only be £5,214, whilst the difference in the case of New South Wales would be £146,35S. I do not know that I can add anything to what I have already said.
– The honorable senator has made out a very good one-sided case.
– If the case I have made out is half as much one-sided as the proposal in the schedule to this Bill, I must have done something out of the ordinary run of things. It appears to me that New South Wales, employing nearly all white labour, is to take the lion’s share of the rebate, or as much as all the other States put together, and to do about one-third of the paying. New South Wales will under this proposal pay £22,000, which is about 36 per cent, of the total amount. That will be her share of the paying under this Bill. I complain that it is not fair to adopt the consumption basis in the apportionment of the excise to each State, and then to adopt a population basis for the allocation of the rebate. Either a population or a consumption basis should be adopted for both. I am not complaining that Victoria should be asked to pay a share of the rebate, but I say that she should not be penalized in the way proposed by the Government. If the schedule attached to this Bill was not prepared by the New South Wales Ministers it ought to have been.
– I wish only to say a very few words on ‘ this question, which has been very fully debated. I should like to remind honorable senators that this Bill has nothing to do with the question of a white Australia or with the question of free-trade and protection, both of which have been dragged into the debate. In the course of the remarks I may make I may tread upon the corns of some of the white Australia gentlemen, but it will be absolutely unintentional, because I have done something in my own State towards securing a white Australia, and at a conference held in Sydney I did what I could to induce the whole of the States to adopt uniform legislation to keep out black and yellow labour. I was one of those who assisted in that matter, though whether I took a principal part in it or not I do not know. My views on the question of a white Australia have been known for a great many years, and I have never seen occasion to alter them. But this not a question of a white Australia at all ; it is a question of common fairness. We decided last year that we would give a rebate of £2 per ton to those persons who grew sugar from either beet-root or sugar-cane by white labour. That is absolutely the law in this country ; but we are asked by the present Bill to say that we shall not give the amount by way of rebate, but as a bonus, which is quite a different thing, and which causes the incidence of the tax to fall differently upon the different States, and inflicts, as I contend, hardship and unfairness upon certain of the States, whilst it benefits unmistakably the State of New .South Wales, which really ought not to get any benefit under the circumstances, to a greater extent than any other State in the Commonwealth, not even excepting Queensland. But what has taken place in the interval? Not only did we pass a law last session that this money should be paid by way of rebate, but we are under a Constitution which distinctly provides in the latter part of section 89 that-
The Commonwealth shall pay to each State, month by month, the balance in favour of the State.
What has taken place in the interval ? The Government have not only disregarded the law we passed last year with regard to the rebate, but they have acted in contravention of the Constitution, and instead of dividing ‘ this money month by month as directed by the Constitution, they have kept it in a suspense account. They have, I believe, given a small portion away to Queensland, and a little to another State, but they have practically kept the whole of the amount in a suspense account, and they now ask us to deal with it in a manner quite different tothat upon which we agreed last year. They are further proposing to make this Bill retrospective in its character, so as to deal with- something which we settled last year.’ The Ministry have absolutely defied the Constitution, and they are asking us by this Bill to say - “ We shall not call you to account for it, but we shall agree that what you did was right in the peculiar circumstances of the case.” I contend that they did wrong all through the piece. They had no right to keep that money in the suspense account when the Constitution distinctly directs that they shall divide it month by month among the various States.
– How long have they kept it ?
– It does not matter how long. It would not matter if they had kept it only for a day ; but, as a matter of fact, they have kept it for many months.
– Each State got the one-fourth the Constitution allowed it.
– I say that they had no right to do what they have done in defiance of the wishes of Parliament, as expressed in the legislation of last session, and in defiance of the Constitution.
– Did not each State get the one-fourth which had ‘to be returned ?
- Senator McGregor does not appear to understand the position. Section 89 of the Constitution provides that -
Until the imposition of uniform duties of customs -
The Commonwealth shall credit to each State the revenues collected therein by the Commonwealth.
It is then provided that the Commonwealth shall debit to each State the expenditure therein of the Commonwealth incurred solely for the maintenance or continuance as at the time of transfer of any Department transferred from the States to the Commonwealth. And then under paragraph (6) it is provided that the Commonwealth shall debit to each State -
The proportion of the State according to the number of its people in the other expenditure of the Commonwealth.
Having debited all the expenditure, the Commonwealth has then to give the balance to the various States, and the question of the one-fourth has nothing to do with this matter. The one-fourth is the limit of the amount that the Commonwealth can expend, and has nothing whatever to do with this case. Then the third sub-section of section 89 provides -
The Commonwealth shall pay to each State month by month the balance (if any) in favour of the State.
I have stated the position we are in, and I say that many Ministries have been turned out of office for less playing with the Constitution than that. Yet the Government coolly ask us to make this Bill retrospective. They should have divided the money received from excise amongst the States month by month long before -this. If they considered that the arrangement for the payment of a rebate was not a good one, and that a bonus would be a more just and a fairer principle to adopt, they could then have introduced this Bill, but they should certainly not have made it retrospective. I have stated the position we have to face. If the Senate should consider a bonus fairer than a rebate it should say to the Ministry - “You ought to have acted in accordance with our instructions and the directions of the Constitution Act, and we shall not, under any circumstances, make this Bill retrospective in its operations.” Coming to the question of a bonus or a rebate, the growth of sugar is confined- to two States. The article having been grown in these States, and the expenditure having been incurred there for their benefit, surely the States which gain the benefit to be derived from the bonus ought to bear the burden? Why should we who gain no benefit pay under this bonus system 1 Look at the position of South Australia, which consumes no Australian-grown sugar. This year it will have to pay to the Treasurer £5,000 odd on account of this alteration of the law under which we understood that the rebate was to be paid by the States that grew or consumed the article.
We had not the slighest anticipation that South Australia would be called upon this year to provide this money. The Bill, is wrong in principle. The Government ought not to have paid into a suspense account the moneys which they received from the excise duty. The Bill should not be retrospective in its effects. Let me now refer to two or three statements which have been made. When honorable senators are on their feet, they let out things which, I believe in their saner moments, they would not utter. I suppose that there is no man who would more strongly support this bonus system than Senator Dawson. Arguing not so much in favour of the bonus or rebate, as against certain statements by Senator Neild, and also on other points which are not affected by the Bill, he had finally to admit that they did not want the bonus. He considered that the poor wheat-growers in the various States who were struggling against adverse circumstances, and who were, so hard up, were just as much entitled to the bonus as the sugar-growers in Queensland or New South Wales. Here we have an admission - made in an unguarded moment, I believe - that a bonus is not wanted for the sugar-growers. Senator De Largie has said that there is no difference between a rebate and a bonus. Evidently he has not read the excellent return which has been laid upon the table.
– He said that there was a difference ; and he added that he could not understand those who said there was no difference.
– I am very sorry if I misunderstood the honorable senator. It is the contention of Senator Millen, who is supported to a very considerable extent by Senator Dawson, that we should not fix a time when cane-growers can no longer come under the operation of the Bill - that it should operate right on from the 28th February until it is exhausted. Their argument is certainly a very strong one. In the first place it is that in ninety-nine. cases out of one hundred the growers who have come under the Sugar Rebate Act originally planted their cane with black labour, and were precisely in the same position as those who may come under the law next year, having, in the meantime, dispensed with black labour. Their cane was, however, originally planted with black labour. They argue - and it appears to be a very strong argument - that if we give the bonus to the men who happen to come under the Bill on or before the 58th February last, we ought, in common fairness and justice, to give it to men who are willing to dispense with black labour after that date. If the object is to encourage the production of cane by white labour, we certainly ought to give the bonus to men who, through being under contract with kanakas, are not in a position to get rid of them until the lapse of twelve months, or eighteen months, or two years, or more. I do’ not know what the Minister will be able to say in reply to the case which has been put, but it appears to me to be absolutely unanswerable. I cannot see any difference, between one class of planters and the other. If the object is to encourage the substitution of white labour for black labour, we ought to allow one class to come under the Act precisely as we allow others, because there is practically no difference in their position, having all planted their cane with black labour. If we do not take that course the planters who have been under contract with kanakas will not try to employ white labour in any circumstances, and the bigger estates will be worked instead of being cut up into small lots which a man could manage with the assistance of his family and a few labourers. On big estates the planters will undoubtedly use kanaka labour as long as they can. If the object is to extend the growth of sugar by white labour, and to ease down the trouble that may be occasioned at a time when nearly the whole of the kanakas will have to leave, we ought to simply say that the cultivation of the land for twelve months by white labour shall enable the planter to get the bonus or rebate, whichever may be agreed upon. In the interests of South Australia and Victoria, as well as for other reasons, I hold that it would be. a great deal better to adhere to the rebate system than to adopt this entirely new system in the very peculiar circumstances in which it is proposed. I can hardly forgive the Ministry for a change of front for which I can see no possible reason, unless it is to placate a number of persons in the mother State.
– Like Senator Playford, I feel that senators representing other States than Queensland and New South Wales can hardly view the measure with any great satisfaction, seeing tha.t the payments which originally came from two States have to be debited against all the States. I suppose that the Government’ have good reasons for proposing this change. They have certainly given us a very good reason in this respect, that had Queensland kept out of the Commonwealth, probably she would not have interfered for some years with this labour question. We must remember that it was the votes of other States’ as well as the votes of Queensland which practically settled the question, and that had the representatives of Queensland in the Senate and the other House all been opposed to the adoption of the white labour principle on the cane-fields, the representatives of the other States would have got up an agitation until it was carried out. In Western Australia we were all pledged to the abolition of kanaka labour in Queensland, irrespective of what its desire in that respect might be. We must feel that, to a certain extent, we have brought this trouble on our own head. The people of Western Australia brought it on themselves by demanding the use of white labour on the cane-fields.
– Why should it be a bonus instead of a rebate? Queensland will lose £862 under the bonus system.
– Because the rebate would fall primarily upon two States. Queensland will not sacrifice so much under the bonus system as she did under the rebate system. The honorable senator took some exception to the remark of Senator Dawson that he did not look upon the measure as being entirely necessary. He pointed out that, when he- compared the wheat-growing industry with the sugargrowing industry, the latter seemed to him to be the more profitable ; and Senator Playford seemed to draw the inference that the proposed bonus is not necessary.
– Senator Dawson was on his free-trade fad at that particular moment.
– The honorable senator must remember - and I feel sure that Senator Dawson intended to point out - that those of us who voted for the rebate last session, as we shall vote for the bonus this session, did not vote in that way because we thought it was necessary in order to establish the sugar industry in Australia. If it were a question of establishing a new industry I should not vote for this Bill, because I- believe that it could be established without the assistance of a bonus. It was established in Queensland, and worked under certain conditions - the presence and the use of a large quantity of cheap servile labour. The Commonwealth comes into existence, and at one fell swoop it cuts off vested interests, and says to the planters - “Within a certain number of years we shall abolish the use of cheap servile labour, and compel you to fall back on white, independent, and reliable labour. We recognise that in the displacement of coloured labour by white labour there will be an interference with the vested interests which have been recognised by the law of your State. In order to ease the blow, and compensate them for their vested interest in cheap labour, we propose to grant them a bonus. That is how I regard this Bill, and how I am sure Senator Dawson looks upon it. My view is borne out by the fact that the Bill is only a temporary measure, and that the rebate of excise originally proposed was only a temporary expedient intended to last till 1907, running concurrently with the Pacific Islands Labourers Act, which provides that the kanakas shall be deported from Queensland before that date.
– We have kept them out of other States without such provisions.
– In the State of Western Australia we have not required to keep out any kanakas by legislation. No attempts have been made to implant the sugar industry in the State I represent, but if any planters like to try the experiment in the northwestern portion, they will be able to take advantage of the provisions of this Bill.
SenatorFraser. - The sugar industry in Queensland was started without any of these advantages.
– The planters had the right to employ cheap servile labour, and also had the advantage of £5 per ton import duty on sugar. I take exception to some of the remarks that fell from Senator De Largie, but on quite different grounds from those which appeal to Senator Playford. I understood Senator De Largie to say that some people believe that a bonus and a rebate of excise are synonymous, and that he supported that statement. I am of opinion that they are synonymous in operation, but different in their incidence. The incidence of taxation is all we are altering now.
– Making the wrong man pay !
– Whether it is the right or the wrong man who pays is a matter of opinion ; but at any rate attempts were made to compel the consumers of sugar grown by white labour to pay for the. transition from black labour to white in Queensland. Now we propose to make the whole population pay, whether they consume white-grown or black -grown sugar. That is the position.
– What the honorable senator calls payment, I call allowance.
– It is a matter of payment so far as the taxpayer is concerned. The difference is that instead of those States which consume Australian grown sugar bearing the burden, the whole Commonwealth has to bear it, irrespective of the incidence of consumption. One statement which I should like to make in connexion with this Bill is that it does not seem to have struck the Queensland senators that this new arrangement places them in a more disadvantageous position than the old one did in one respect. This is a question which, undoubtedly, will be raised in 1907, with regard to the continuance of this kind of legislation. Under the old system, the parties to the continuance of the present policy - the parties who are most interested - were New South Wales and Queensland. But under this Bill greater opposition will be aroused to the continuance of the bonus, because of the fact that the whole of the States of the Commonwealth will have to bear the burden. This fact must ultimately affect the question of the continuance of the bonus, and must, therefore, be of great interest to Queensland. The representatives of Queensland should bear in mind that they are bringing that opposition into the scale against them whenever they come - if they do come - to ask for the continuance of the bonus. They will now have the interest of four States against them, whereas under the former arrangement no such opposition would have been aroused. Now, I wish to say a word with regard to Senator Glassey’s amendment. That amendment is a natural consequence of such a Bill as this. But there is one contingency which will arise that I should like Senator Glassey to contemplate. We will suppose that a grower is registered as being entitled to the bonus, because for twelve months he has cultivated his plantation with white labour. We will suppose, also, that this is the last year for the profitable cultivation of his rattoons, and that next year he contemplates replanting. It may easily happen that the grower may say - “For twelve months I will cultivate with white labour, and so secure the bonus,” but when it came to replanting, he might use coloured labour after having secured the bonus on his last crop. Then, having replanted with coloured labour, he might work his plantation for twelve months with white labour and claim the bonus again. Then he might say, “I will dispense with my kanakas or Hindoos” - because he need not necessarily employ kanakas j he could employ Hindoos without having any agreement with them - and might register for the bonus for the next twelve months. It seems to me that we might allow a man by that clever bit of manoeuvring to take advantage of this bonus for two years, at any rate, out of the four years, although he employed coloured labour during part of that time. That is a contingency which we should provide against. We should insert some such provision as that, after having registered as a grower by white labour, if a planter goes back to black labour, he should be disqualified from the bonus.
– If he returns to black labour, because he cannot help himself - what then ?
– I should say that, under no circumstances, if a planter returns to black labour, should he be allowed to secure the bonus.
– I do not want to encourage the perpetuation of coloured labour.
– It seems to me that there are two years to be looked after - the year when the grower simply cultivates and gathers his crop, and the year when he not only cultivates and gathers, but plants his crop. It seems to be reasonable to suppose that in the year when the planter plants, harvests, and cultivates his crop he must employ far more labour than iu. the year when he cultivates and harvests his crop.
– He does not plant and harvest in the one year.
– I know that. Sometimes, as we have been told, one planting will last for six years. The planter plants in one year, and harvests his crop, say, after twelve months.
– Generally after about eighteen months.
– Even if he could not harvest in the same year as he planted,, what could he do? He could say - “In this year I have to plant and shall not get a crop. Therefore I shall not be able toobtain the bonus and shall go in for coloured labour.” He will not harvest any crop that yeal-, and therefore there is no inducement to plant with white labour. Indeed, the- inducement would be to plant with coloured labour. Having done so, the planter could continue for twelve or six months, as the case might be, employing Hindoos or Chinamen, whom he would not need to engageunder agreements.
– He would be disqualified for two years.
– Having harvested the last crop which could profitably be takenoff his plants, he could say - “ I shall, haveto plant fresh cane this year, and will engageHindoos or Chinese to do the planting.” Having done so, he could dispense with them and employ white men. Having employed the white men for twelve months, hewould be eligible for the bonus. I contend that we should provide against such a contingency by a clause to the effect that if,, after having registered as. a grower by white labour, a planter subsequently reverts to the employment of coloured labour, sodefeating the meaning of this Bill, he shall be disqualified from the further benefits of the bonus. I would suggest either that a new sub-clause be added to Senator Glassey’s amendment, or a fresh clause inserted altogether. Some such words as the followingmight be used : -
Provided that such bonus shall not be paid in th& case of a grower who having previously registered under the Excise Act of 1.901, or under this Act, as a grower of sugar by white labour, subsequently becomes a grower of sugar by black, labour.
Perhaps Senator Glassey will look into the matter, with a view of seeing whether it is desirable to add. my proposal to his amendment. I now want to take exception to the remark of Senator Playford, deprecatingany allusion to the policy of a white Australia in dealing with this question.
– We have settled that question.
– I thought so, too ; but seeing that Senator Walker, Senator’ Dobson, and Senator Fraser last week in speaking on this Bill made a vigorous onslaught on the policy of a white Australia, and Senator Playf ord did not protest, but remained silent, it was only appropriate that a reply should be made.
Senatorfraser. - I merely said that the kanakas had nothing to do with the question of a white Australia.
– Senator Frasermade a most vigorous attack on the principle of the white Australia policy, as contained in this Bill, and other senators who have supported this kind of legislation had the right to rebut that attack.
– It is a blunder from beginning to end.
– No more thorough rebuttal has been made of any statement than that madeby Senator Dawson this afternoon. If his speech needed amplification - and it does not - I have here an affidavit signed by Mr. Taylor bearing out Senator Dawson’s statement. Mr. Taylor has published it in the newspaper from which Senator Dawson has quoted. He refers to specific statements in the pamphlet which has been alluded to. I put it to honorable senators who care to look into the matter that this pamphlet bears upon the face of it the imprint of a trick to defeat the white Australia policy. It was a most audacious trick. I am surprised that any reputable firm, or that the president and secretary of any association, should have identified themselves with such a pamphlet as this when they knew that the means of refuting it were available in Queensland.
– Why did Mr. Taylor sign that letter ?
– I will read to the honorable senator what Mr. Taylor says -
I asked for the deposit money, £100. I was sure of getting the money for the cane, and I asked the general manager for the deposit. He said he had nothing to do with it ; it was in the hands of the directors. This was after I had seen Buchanan. I went and saw the acting secretary, Mr. Crees, and he said the directors had left it all to the chairman of directors, Mr. Buchanan. I asked Buchanan for the deposit money, and he asked me to sign a document, to the effect that we had not fulfilled the conditions, and that we were getting it by the grace of the directors. I saw the men and they would not sign it. They were shareholders with me in the deposit. I went back and told Buchanan, and said that I did not understand the word “grace.” The men advised me to go to Cairns and get advice on the matter. I got advice, and from Cairns sent a letter. When I came back to the Mossman the men were all in a hurry to get away, and told me to make the best arrangements I could, but get the money. I then saw Buchanan, and he told me the conditions were the same as before. He wrote out a letter for me to copy, and I objected to several things, which he modified. One thing was “ by the grace of the directors.” He substituted “favour” for it. There was something else, bub I cannot remember what it was. That is what I meant by “a much worse letter. “ I asked him what he wanted the letter for, and he said he only wanted to justify himself with the shareholders ; he wanted to make no use of it whatever outside the mill company. He said he would make no political use of it. He told me that distinctly. There is no doubt about this. I am quite positive. I would not have signed the letter of8th January had I known it was bo be pub in a pamphlet and issued.
I ask honorable senators to bear that fact in mind.
– When was that statement made ?
– No date is given.
– If it was written only a week ago it would be impossible for a reply to be available now.
– I assure the honorable senator that the paper from which Senator Pearce is reading is the Minister for Trade and Customs’ copy of the affidavit.
– The affidavit continues -
The only thing I was sorry for was that I did not have the £100 myself, and I would have chanced it.
I ask honorable senators to consider the situation in which this man was placed. He was representing a syndicate consisting of some twenty men, who were all clamouring for their money in order that they might get away and add to their earnings elsewhere. With the distinct pledge of the manager of the company that he only wanted this letter to justify himself with the shareholders, and that he would not make any political use of it, is it a matter for surprise that this man, in order to avoid any trouble, should have signed that letter ?
– Does the honorable senator justify the signing of such a letter?
– I say that having regard to these distinct pledges and to the pressure of his fellow workmen who desired to get away, Taylor was quite justified in signing the letter. He continues in his affidavit -
I never wrote that letter of my own free will. He (Buchanan) is not belling the truth in saying I did. He wrote the letter andI copied it; and he said, “ Those are theterms, and the terms only.”
He goes on to say that -
During the time the men were cutting, I think they averaged about 7s. 2d. per day.
In order to show how worthy of credence the pamphlet issued by the Mossman Mill Company is, let me draw the attention of honorable senators to the statement made at page 4, that -
The average number of tons of cane delivered per day up to the 3rd September, was 3578, and, with the combined gang, 528, although in the latter case the contractor agreed to deliver not less than 70 tons per day.
There is a very ingenious piece of sophistry associated with that statement. The agreement for the delivery of 70 tons per day was not made until after the 3rd September, but that fact is not mentioned. The statement which appears in the affidavit, and in the letter to the press, that the gang was supplying more than 40 tons per day, is borne out by the Customs returns. Surely it cannot be contended that this man, who was a sub-contractor to a planter, had means of faking the Customs returns so as to cause them to agree with his own figures 1 The returns show that 250 tons a week were delivered, and that gives an average of over 40 tons a day.
– That took place after the contractor had received a letter requesting him to decrease the daily supply.
– Yes. The trap was very well laid. First of all, Taylor and his party were told that they must cut 40 tons a day. They did so. Then they were instructed to supply. 70 tons a day. They carried out that instruction, and suddenly they received an intimation that they were to reduce the supply to 40 tons daily. Taylor then recognised that he would not require so many hands, and after he had allowed a number of his men to scatter to the four winds of the earth, he was called upon within a few days to increase his output. Was that fair treatment 1
– If that statement is true it was very unfair.
– I was satisfied that the honorable senator’s spirit of fair play would lead him to look upon the matter in that light.
– I repeat that if the statement is true the treatment was very unfair.
– Taylor has made an affidavit, and if the statements contained in it are untrue he can be prosecuted for perjury. He has also written a similar letter * to the Queensland press. The other side have also had an opportunity to refute his statements in the public press, but they have not attempted to avail themselves of either course. I should like to point out that this incident occurred in connexion with a mill further north than any other in Australia.
– There used to be a mill further north than the Mossman mill.
– It is now further north than is any other mill in Australia, and 6,000 tons of sugar-cane were cut and harvested there by white men in the heat of December. We might well say that this mill, instead of being called the Mossman Sugar Mill, should be known as the “Mossman Lie Factory.” Such a term would properly designate its character. Before I resume my seat, I wish briefly to refer to what I regard as a very amusing paragraph which has appeared in the press relative to the rebate On sugar. I find that those who desire to make out a case for Federal extravagance, have set down the amount expended by way of rebate on sugar as new expenditure by the Commonwealth. In that way they have sought to bolster up their case for Federal extravagance. That statement has been made not only in the press, but by the Law Institute, while the supporters of what is known as “the reform movement” have made the same assertion on the public platform. In order to make up a total expenditure of £600,000 per annum, these people have included the £60,000, which represents the rebate on sugar, in their estimate.
– I intend to support the second reading of this measure, for I think it is absolutely necessary in order that a very serious misconception may be removed. When the’ Bill providing for ‘the rebate on sugar grown by white labour was passed, I was under the impression - and I believe that impression was shared by every member of the Parliament - that the cost of cleansing Australia of the kanaka and other coloured labour was to be borne, pro raid, by the people of Australia. It was discovered subsequently, however, that under the Act, that distribution could not be made. I must say that I was very seriously disappointed with the anti-Federal speeches which were delivered this afternoon in the Senate. It would almost appear as if the Federal spirit having leapt up to the heavens, so to speak, has collapsed, and is crawling wretchedly across the surface of the earth. We have no Federal spirit. We have honorable senator after honorable senator declaiming against the States which they represent being called upon to pay any portion of the cost of a white Australia.
– They do not represent the opinions of their constituents.
– That belief is the only pleasing feature in connexion with the debate. I do not believe that those who spoke in that strain represented the views of their constituents. Does Senator Downer tell me that the people of South Australia object to pay their share of this cleansing operation ?
– The honorable senator may gather from my speech what they object to.
– It is one of those matters which I cannot understand. It is impossible to believe that the people of Australia, having come deliberately to the decision that the kanakas must be sent out of the country at any cost, and having made up their minds to bear a portion of that cost, are now anxious to avail themselves of some legal quibble, and crawl out of their responsibility. I was especially surprised to hear Senator Playford express the hope that this Bill would not be made retrospective. Does the honorable senator desire that Queensland and New South Wales shall pay the whole cost of this policy t If Port Adelaide were being strongly fortified, it would be just as reasonable for me to contend that South Australia should pay the whole cost of such fortification. The bringing about of a white Australia is just as much a national concern, and the cost of it ought to be borne by the whole community, just as is the defence of South Australia. That is the position I wish to submit. Australia is not to be made white in the interests of Queensland. This policy is to be carried out in the interests of the whole continent, and that being the case, the entire continent should be called upon to bear a share of the expense. I was very sorry to hear Senator Pearce give expression, in a faint way, to the anti-Federal spirit. He said that the people of Queensland might find in the end that this Bill would injuriously affect the industry, if the proposal were made to extend the period during which the bonus would be paid. That is a matter for the future. Let vis do justice for the present, though the heavens fall. The consumption of sugar has really nothing to do with this question. What we are dealing with is the cleansing of this continent from the kanaka. The whole continent has taken the business in hand, and the whole of the people of Australia should pay the cost. I intend to support the amendment of which notice has been given by Senator Glassey, for I think it is much fairer than the proposal in the Bill. In view of the fact that our object is to bring about a white Australia I think we ought to give every encouragement to all those engaged in the industry to employ white labour. That is why I intend to support Senator Glassey’s amendment. I trust that the majority of the Senate will also vote for it, because I believe that in that way we shall be promoting the interests of a white Australia much more powerfully than if we agree to the Bill as it stands. I intended to have something to say with regard to the utterances of Senator Neild and Senator Fraser, but after the complete and scathing exposure by Senator Dawson, I think that will be altogether unnecessary. There is, however, one matter to which Senator Neild referred, upon which I should like to say a word or two. The honorable senator told us that in some of the districts cane-growers were qualifying for the rebate by sweating their wives and children, by working them in the cane-fields. I met a number of women in the Mackay district, who, before the rebate was ever heard of, were in the habit of working in the cane-fields, and with their children also. We know that it would be impossible to carry on any kind of agriculture in Australia without the aid of women and children. If we are to pass laws prohibiting women and children from engaging in agricultural occupations, so far as this continent is concerned, we might as well shut up shop. For my part, I believe that work in the fields is a great deal better for the physical health, the comfort and happiness of women and children, than is employment in the slums of the city. I would much rather see them working in cane-fields, orchards, conducting poultry farms and operations of that character, than I would see them behind counters, sitting at sewing machines, or in the various occupations which they follow in our large cities. I may tell the honorable and gallant Senator Lt.-Col. Neild that, at one place in the Mackay district, where Mr. Bamford and I spoke, a unique honour was conferred upon us. After we had addressed a meeting, one lady got up and moved a vote of thanks to us. In doing so, she said that she had cut, planted, and loaded cane, and that she had also trashed cane. I can assure honorable senators that she did not look a bit the worse for it. I was a good deal surprised to hear that, but I was very much more surprised when another lady got up to second the motion, and explained that she also had cut, loaded and trashed cane, and had hoed it. I was assured that a number of women in the Mackay district had done this work, and some of them had gone into the fields, I am proud to say, rather than employ kanakas. I do not think it is desirable to continue the discussion on this Bill. I am very glad that the Government have introduced it, but I hope that the Postmaster-General, as the representative of the Government, will agree to the modification to be proposed by Senator Glassey, which, I think, is in the right direction.
Senator MACFARLANE (Tasmania).I do not intend to say very much upon this Bill. It seems to me that the necessity for it arises from mal-administration. It was clearly understood when the Excise Tariff Bill was before us that the receipts from the excise duties were to go to the State of consumption. We are told now that the results arising from that arrangement are unfair. Another difficulty that is raised is that sugar grown by white labour cannot be traced to cane grown by white labour. That I think is the contention of the PostmasterGeneral.
– That is so.
– I have heard that, but I am not sure that it has been proved. If that is proved, a necessity for this Bill will have been shown, but, if that cannot be proved, there is no necessity for this measure. There is, I admit, a difficulty in paying £2 per ton to the cultivator of the cane before the excise duty of £3 per ton is collected upon the sugar. That is a difficulty which must be surmounted by administration if this Bill is not passed. Some honorable senators are complaining of a loss of revenue to their States. In my opinion that arises in the first place from the free-trade policy within the Common wealth, and secondly, from the retention of the excise. I do not approve of this Bill, and I hardly think it is necessary; but I do recognise that the Commonwealth Parliament having passed the Alien Immigration Restriction Act and the Pacific Island Labourers Act, in equity the cost involved should be borne by the Commonwealth, and should be borne proportionately by the , States of the Commonwealth. In my opinion nothing could be fairer than the proposal that the payment should be on the population basis. I do not agree with Senator Walker that this is richly deserved assistance to the State of New South Wales. I do not think the assistance is richly deserved, nor do I quite agree with other honorable senators that there ought to be any differential treatment of Queensland and New South Wales. That I think is impossible.
– It is impossible under this Bill, but it would be just if we could carry it out.
– It would be just, but I think it is impossible to give effect to it. At present I do not feel justified in voting against the second reading of. this Bill, because I am not certain that the Postmaster-General is in error in the statement he makes as to the difficulty of tracing sugar grown by white labour. I hope that in Committee the bonus proposed will be reduced, as I think it is too high. I “ think also that we should provide that twelve months’ cultivation by white labour should be sufficient to secure the bonus to the grower. Those are amendments which might well be made upon the Bill.
– Some of the Ministerial chickens are coming home to roost, and they do- not appear to be very pretty birds. I listened this afternoon with a good deal of interest, and a sarcastic sort of pleasure, to statements made by eminent lights in the protectionist world, like Senators Playford, Styles, and two or three others, who do not seem to be quite happy. They, are very much like a cockroach that has been spinning round on a pin, the pin being protection. They have got into trouble, and they do not know how to get out of it. Three or four years ago, before federation was consummated, the question of the finances of fede-ration engaged a good deal of attention, and I pointed out the desirability of putting a good round tax on a limited number of items, so that the great mass of the trade of the Commonwealth might go free. I mentioned sugar as one of the few articles which might fairly be subjected to a heavy tax, and I said that a tax of .£7 per ton would produce a sum considerably exceeding £1,000,000, and that with a Customs duty of £7 and an excise duty of £1 per ton, every penny paid by the people would go into the Treasury, and be there for the use of the Commonwealth. No sooner had I made these statements than Sir Edmund Barton went through the Commonwealth addressing various public meetings, and, with every hair on end, he represented what a fearful thing it was that I was proposing - that there should be a tax of £1 per ton on the poor people who consume sugar. He tried to terrify them with the immensity of the exaction which I proposed to make on the pockets of the consuming public ; but he did not say I proposed that every penny the people paid should go into the Treasury. What did the Government do when they submitted their Tariff? They proposed not a duty of £7 a ton on sugar, but a duty of £6 a ton, the bulk of which ultimately - sooner or later- was to go anywhere but into the Treasury. That was the position, and today we have evidence that this is bringing about already a state of affairs, which is causing State to rise against State, and interest against interest, and creating anything but that brotherly sort of feeling which, I think, we senators wherever we sit, desire to exist. Something has been said . about the price of sugar. I believe there are some honorable senators who hold that, although a duty of £6 has been imposed, the people are not paying £6 a ton extra. I believe it has been openly said by several speakers in this debate that although the Customs duty is £6 a ton, yet sugar is not really enhanced in price thereby.
– - Not to the consumer.
– I am very glad to hear that statement made. It appears to me that a reasonable business man, or even a political man, before he committed himself to a statement such as that, would wish to know a little about the prices of sugar, not only in Australia, but in the great market of the world, and find out whether, if our Tariff had not been in existence, sugar would have been cheaper than it has been. The market which I suppose above all others controls the price of sugar in the world and indicates its value everywhere is the market for German beet sugar. In the year 1900, S8 per ‘cent, beet sugar1, which is used mainly for refining, was worth f.o.b. at Hamburg 10s. lid. a cwt., and last year it fell to 6s. 4d. a cwt.; a fall of 4s. 7d. a cwt., or more than £4 a ton, which placed sugar at a price unprecedented in the history of the world. What is known as first mark granulated sugar - like that which we are accustomed to use of Australian make - was selling in 1900 at 12s. 6d. a cwt., and last year it fell in Hamburg to 7s. 9d. a cwt. ; a fall of no less than 4s. 9d. a cwt. or £4 15s. a ton. If £4 be put on to a price and £3 be taken off, the addition made by the increase in price in these States can be very easily hidden. Again, in Queensland the price of sugar had been uninfluenced by any Tariff up to the date of the imposition of the Federal Tariff, but a reference to Queensland prices will show that the mere rumour of the imposition of a duty caused a gradual rise, and that, on the day after the Tariff was brought into the House of Representatives, the price was raised an additional amount, bringing it up to more than it had been two or three weeks before, of £6 a ton.
– Is that wholesale or retail?
– I am dealing with wholesale prices, and everybody, I suppose, has common sense to know that wholesale prices are ultimately the basis of retail prices. If sugar rises in value £5 per ton, the retailers do not take half-a-penny a pound off their price. That is not the course of business, and it is of no use to discuss things which do not and cannot take place. A little confusion in the price of sugar may arise in one way. There has been a great deal of sugar imported into Victoria owing to the shortage in Australia, and in the port of Melbourne the Colonial Sugar Company are apt to cut their prices, in consequence of the competition with the imported article, rather more than they do in some of the other ports ; but this does not amount to much. In Tasmania the duty had been £6 a ton, and it is £6 a ton to-day. In South Australia the duty had been £3 a ton, and it is double that amount now. It appears to me that the comparative failure of the Queensland crop has proved ; more or less of a blessing to several of the
State Treasuries, and in this way has demonstrated the folly of the system which has been adopted by the Commonwealth Government. I should like to draw attention to their original estimates of the yield from the sugar duties, and it will at once, I think, make it quite evident, even to Senator Playford, that the position he has taken up is not a justifiable one. In their original estimate the Government anticipated that South Australia would receive £33,000 from the excise duty, and £12,000 from the Customs duty. Instead of £47,000 it has received this year £97,000, being more than double the original estimate. Surely in the circumstances it is rather an unseemly thing for that State to object to a settlement of this rebate payment on the new plan proposed. There has been a disposition on the part of some honorable senators rather to pooh-pooh New South Wales, and to suggest that it is wanting to get this, that, and the other, and not to pay anything. I find that in New South Wales, which has consumed 67,000 tons of sugar, the consumers have used so much sugar this year that they will have paid £400,000. That is a very large sum ; but the State Treasury has only been enriched so far to the amount of £234,000, and if the rebate be deducted from that it will only then have received £188,000. Surely that is a very extraordinary state of things. Senator Styles is an adept in the art of putting things. I dare say that some honorable senators, especially Scotchmen, read some years ago a very interesting article by a Scotchman, under the nom de plume of A.K..H.B., on “ the Art of Putting Things “ - of making things look in a very different light from what they ought to do. There is the art of putting a thing, and there is also the plain way of putting a thing. I would suggest that Senator Styles has been adopting the A.K.H.B. style, and practising the art of putting things. I prefer to tell a plain tale. The plain record would be not a division, and a sort of comical comment on the duty which has been collected under one head, the excise, but the aggregate that has been collected from customs and excise duties. If my honorable friend had done that, all the force would have been taken out of the comments he made ; in fact, he would not have been able to make them. I will take the case of Victoria. I should be very glad, if Senator Best is going to speak upon the matter, if he will look at the figures I am about to quote. I have turned up the original papers which the Government laid upon the table in introducing the Tariff. They estimated that Victoria would receive in sugar excise £114,000 and from imported sugar £60,000, or a total of £174,000. Owing to the comparative failure of the Queensland sugar crop, Queensland sugar has not been available for consumption in Victoria. Victoria, being geographically comparatively remote from Queensland, has been a large centre for importing sugar. The result is that Victoria has received a very large amount of revenue - more than £300,000.
– Who paid it ?
– Who paid it? Have I not been showing that the consumers pay the duty ? The consumers of Victoria paid £300,000 odd, and that sum has gone into the Victorian Treasury. If there had not been a protective duty in operation, hundreds of thousands of pounds more would have been secured. Cannot Senator Styles see that he is only furthering my argument? It appears that Victoria has received £130,000 more than in ordinary years the Federal Government anticipated that she would receive. I might say that that is a state of things which ought not to be allowed ; that I claimed as a citizen of Australia that New South Wales should share in this large revenue obtained by Victoria. Mind, New South Wales would be sharing if the whole revenues of Australia were pooled ; but they are not pooled. The consequence has been that Victoria has received this money, and New South Wales has not. That is obvious. New South Wales is paying a great deal more than any other State, because her population is greater. But it is Victoria that is getting this large sum of money into her Treasury. Whilst we say that we do not ask for a penny of the amount’ of £3 extra per ton from customs, we do say that it is a very fair and proper thing that the £2 per ton bonus which is going to be given for retiring the kanaka from Australia shall be divided over Australia. I am a little bit surprised that Senator Drake did not draw attention to the fact which I am going to mention. The original estimate laid upon the table of the Senate by the Government showed that they themselves anticipated that this charge would be distributed over Australia. But it was not so distributed. What have the Government done? It is their duty to administer thelaw ; but I submitthat it is also the duty of the Government to break the law - to break any law - when justice requires it.
– That is rather dangerous.
– I admit that it is dangerous. This is a reason why, in selecting men to fill high offices of State, we ought to be very careful. There never was a Ministry formed that had not, some time or other, to take into consideration the question whether circumstances had not arisen requiring the suspension of a certain law. None can deny that under the Constitution the excise collected ought to have been distributed. But circumstances arose which made it necessary that the Government, if they were to carry out the intention of Parliament, should hold the money until Parliament itself could say what was to be done. In breaking the law in that way the Government obeyed the law more than they would havedone by paying the money away in the manner in which certain people say they should have done. I do not wish to debate the measure any further. I am prepared to support the second reading, and in Committee to assist in improving the Bill in one or two directions in which it is capable of improvement.
– My honorable friend who has just resumed his seat, for some extraordinary reason or other seemed to take what he called a “ sarcastic delight “ in observing what he regarded as some agitation on the Ministerial side of the Senate in connexion with the measure before us. I fear he is indebted to his fertile imagination for such an idea. Then - “still harping on my daughter “ - he proceeded to give us the benefit of a learned dissertation on the fiscal question in general, and on the sophistries of free-trade ; after which he went on - it was totally irrelevant, I admit - to indicate to us what were the prognostications of the Government some time ago as regards revenue. He wound up by inviting the Senate, by reason of the fact that some other States have benefited so far as revenue is concerned by the results of the legislation which has been passed,to believe that New South Wales had a right to share in the Customs revenue of Victoria.
– Oh, no !
– That is what my honorable friend said.
– Excuse me. The honorable and learned senator has misunderstood me. What I said was that the Victorian Government had received a great deal of money, but that I did not make any claim to the increased revenue that had come to them from imported sugar. With the protective incidence of the tax I did not interfere. I said that if we were so foolish as to agree to it we must bear the consequences. But I said that the £2 per ton rebate or bonus was a different matter ; that it affected all Australia, and that it ought to be divided on a population basis.
– Of course, I gladly accept what the honorable senator says by way of explanation. I can only assure him that I noted the fact that he stated that Victoria was sufficiently fortunate in having secured an additional revenue of £130,000 beyond what was originally anticipated, and then he went on to say that he claimed the right to share in that revenue on behalf of New South Wales. That is what honorable senators on this side of the chamber understood him to say ; but I am obliged to accept the explanation of the honorable senator, and of course I gladly do so. But while he quotes as against Victoria this additional revenue that she has been receiving, he fails altogether to recognise certain facts - first of all that there is within the limits of New South Wales one of the most important and valuable industries of that State ; an industry involving the employment of a large number of people, and a considerable expenditure of money ; an industry which we should gladly welcome in our midst under the same conditions ; and that that industry receives the benefit of the excise on sugar. The honorable senator, following out his system of logic, says that because Victoria has received an additional revenue of £130,000, or, in other words, because she has received a total revenue of £300,000, therefore her people should pay an additional £19,000 to New South Wales, that being the amount, upon a population basis, which, according to the Bill before us, Victoria will be called upon to pay. This Bill, as we have learnt, meets with the hearty and cordial support of my honorable friend.
– That £19,000 is not additional to the £300,000 ; it is out of that sum.
– Both sums would come out of the pockets of the Victorian people. I arn just showing the reasoning of my honorable friend. He argues that because we have received £130,000 in revenue from sugar more than was originally anticipated, we should therefore be called upon, against our inclination and our will, to disgorge £19, 000 upon the extraordinary basis set out in this Bill.
– That is not correct ; I did not say that “ therefore “ Victoria should do so.
– That is the honorable senator’s reasoning as I understood it. Were I to attempt to follow him in other directions, and particularly in regard to his remarks as to the effects of the protectionist Tariff recently passed - in alluding to which he seemed to take such a “sarcastic delight” - -he should take an equally “ sarcastic delight” iri the fact that numerous industries have been established under this very Tariff in New South Wales ; and further “sarcastic delight” in the fact that in leading lines New South Wales is now paying considerably less for her goods than she paid under the former free-trade Tariff of that State. These are matters to which T would ask him to turn his attention for the purpose of enjoying “ sarcastic delight “ if he desires to amuse himself in that way. Turning from the irrelevant matter into which Senator Pulsford’s speech has drawn me, I should like to make a’ remark or two in connexion with the measure before us. The matter has been put with such force by my honorable and learned friend Senator Downer and my honorable friend Senator Styles, and the contrasts presented in the figures quoted by Senator Styles have been so striking, that I would ask the Government to consider the extraordinarily contorted results which the Bill is likely to bring about. In this connexion I admit at once the unfairness of introducing the question of a white Australia.
– That is the whole * point.
– According to my view, the question of a white Australia had no right to be introduced into the present discussion.
– Who introduced the white Australia question into the debate 1
– I do not pause to inquire, but I am certain that the honorable senator had- much to say upon the point.
– In reply.
– That may be so. The point I desire to make is that according to the figures which have been circulated, the white Australia policy costs the Commonwealth something like £60,000 per annum ; that represents the rebate of £2 per ton on something like 30,000 tons of sugar grown by white labour in the Commonwealth. I consider the purchase of a white Australia is cheap at that price. I most cordially support that policy in every way ; but the only question now involved is the basis or method upon which this £60,000 is to be paid. That is the question to which we are obliged, I submit, to confine our attention. The point is whether that .amount should be paid by the States upon a consumption or a population basis. I venture to think that? we may be equally earnest for a white Australia, and hold that it should be paid for by either process. When a measure of this kind comes before us we are justified in inquiring how it will affect the States we represent, and anything we can bring before the Senate, as the States’ House, with a view of indicating that the operation of the Bill will have an unjust incidence so far as the several States are concerned, should be stated in order that that possibility may be avoided. I admit that the question is very complicated, and that the figures which have been circulated require the most careful and thoughtful consideration. In my judgment the only fair system upon which to pay this £60,000 is the consumption basis. According to the Constitution the excise itself is payable upon a consumption basis. The Constitution therefore lays down the principle upon which assessments of this kind should be made, in addition to which the present law provides for the payment of the rebates on the same principle. We have the advantage of a statement showing the distribution of the rebate upon a population basis as well as upon the basis of consumption. On the consumption basis, New South Wales, which possesses this enormous industry, receives by way of revenue an excise of £168,000 per annum. Upon the same basis - the rebate, of course, being actually part and parcel of the excise - she pap £44,400 by way of rebate. In this Bill, however, ib is proposed that she should be relieved of a portion of what she calls a burden, and that she should be called upon to pay upon a population basis a rebate of only £21,642 per annum, notwithstanding that she is the producer of this sugar, and that the rebate is in connexion with the very excise which forms part and parcel of her revenue. In other words, by this Bill we are asked to make New South Wales a present of £22,758. It is true that in Victoria we receive £282,000 by way of duty on imported sugar, and that we consume only some 1,250 tons of sugar produced by white labour in the Commonwealth.
– 8,000 tons.
– I admit that we consume a total of 8,000 tons of Australian sugar grown by black and white labour, but the Australiansugar grown by white labour which we consume is only 1,250 tons. Upon a consumption basis, therefore, we should only pay £2,500 ; but, accordingto the terms of this Bill, we are actually asked to pay an additional sum of £16,286. In other words, we are called upon to pay, upon a population basis, a total sum of £18,786. Victoria, who benefits least from this policy - although I do not strongly urge that point - is called upon to make this enormous contribution. It has been suggested that the distribution of the cost of the policy of a white Australia upon a population basis is the fairer one, and it has been urged that Victoria receives this additional revenue amounting to something like £130,000 in excess of former estimates. But the duty on imported sugar, from which we have received the sum of £282,000, is, to all intents and purposes, a revenue one, and protectionists never contend that revenue duties are not paid by the consumers. The people of Victoria have already paid £6 per ton customs duty for their sugar, amounting to this sum of £282,000 out of their own pockets, and they are also to be penalized to the further extent of £16,286. Because we have paid a duty of £6 per ton for our sugar in Victoria, while Queensland has paid only £3 per ton on some and £1 per ton on other sugar consumed by her, is it not rather unfair to say to the people of this State - “You did not consume Australian sugar, grown by white labour, but you should have done so; and although you have already paid £282,000 on imported sugar, we are going to penalize you to this additional extent.” I admit that, year after year, the revenue received from this particular item will vary, and may, perhaps, be more or less accidental. I agree that, two or three years hence, we may receive large consignments of Australian sugar grown by white labour, and, in that event, we shall be quite prepared to pay the rebate of £2 per ton upon it. But, in moving the second reading of the Bill the Postmaster-General stated that, if the production was equal to the whole consumption of sugar in Australia, these matters would be equitably adjusted, and that there could be no ground of complaint if we adopted the consumption basis.
– I said “probably.”
– Let us for a moment consider that contingency. As the result of the consummation of the policy of a white Australia-and I hope that we shall have it at an early date - Victoria would receive the excise of £3 per ton upon the 55,000 tons per annum consumed by her, or, in other words, a sum of £165,000 would be the excise that we should collect.
– Does the honorable and learned member reckon £3 per ton upon the whole quantity?
– I am assuming, by way of illustration, that the white Australian policy has been duly consummated, and that, as the result, the people of Victoria are being supplied with Australian sugar produced by white labour to the extent of our present consumption of 55,000 tons per annum. In that event we should collect an excise of £3 per ton. Upon a consumption basis, however, we should pay £2 per ton, or a total rebate of £110,000, while on the basis proposed in the Bill we should only rebate something like £18,786, or, say, £19,000.
– It would be more than that.
– It might be a little more than that, but I am only speaking generally for the purpose of argument. I would ask the Postmaster-General whether he, or any other honorable senator representing Queensland, would then insist upon the payment of this rebate according to a population basis.
– No fear.
– They would do nothing of the kind.
-The Bill substitutes the population basis, and a bonus is to be given.
– I am aware of that fact; but it is because of the existing exigencies that the Bill has been introduced. I am seeking to show how ultimately it moist seriously work against Queensland, a*nd the unreasonableness therefore of a suggestion of this ‘kind. I am urging with Senator Styles that the payment of the rebate upon a consumption basis would be fair and reasonable. I desire . to show how, with the development of the policy of a white Australia, the payment of the rebate upon a ‘Consumption basis will prove to be fair and reasonable, and far better than the contorted suggestion that the contribution towards the rebate shall be upon the basis of population. The whole scheme of the Bill is unreasonable and unfair. I would moreover urge this aspect of the question : That the policy of a white Australia was really not devised for the benefit of New South Wales. It was Queensland that we had in view.
– We had Australia in view.
– I admit that from the broader national aspect we had Australia in view, but we had immediately in our minds the kanakas who were labouring, not in Victoria nor New South Wales, but in Queensland. The point I am making is that we are asked by this Bill to present New South Wales with something like £22,000 a year as the result of a measure which was never devised for the benefit of that State, but was chiefly passed for the benefit of Queensland. That we should be called upon to make a contribution of that kind is most unreasonable. There are one or two of these figures which I find some little difficulty in following. I notice that in the memorandum circulated by the Treasurer of the Commonwealth regarding the payment of the rebate allowed upon Australian sugar grown by white labour, the net collections of excise, after deduction of drawbacks, is stated as £224,428? Then I learn that the rebates already paid amount to £61,267.
– That is the bonus to the growers, paid as they bring their cane to the mill.
– Then I have misunderstood the matter to some extent. I understood that there had been no payments of rebate, but that the money was being accummulated in a trust fund. I observe, therefore, now that the balance in the I trust fund, after providing for the deduction of £61,267, is £163,161. That sum is at present held by the Treasurer, but it should have been distributed in the ordinary course month by month, in accordance with the terms of the Constitution. I agree with Senator Downer that it is most unfair that this legislation should have - a retrospective effect, and that the sum of £163,1-61 at present held by the Treasurer, and to which the States are entitled upon a consumption basis, should be distributed upon the basis of population.
– The honorable senator did not know before that it was not paid over 1
– I did not know of it until I saw it stated in the papers circulated.
– The honorable senator thought it had been paid over in rebates ?
– We were justified in thinking that it had been distributed amongst the States according to the terms of the Constitution and the existing law.
– It is no excuse for stealing that you have not been found out.
– I am not unduly complaining, but I am urging that this sum of £163,161 which the Treasurer has at present in hand and which he seeks to make retrospectively subject to the terms of this Bill, ought not to be distributed in that way, but should be distributed upon the consumption basis. Even if the principle of this Bill is to apply to the distribution of the bonus in the future, I do not think that we have any right to confiscate this money in the way now suggested.
– The Treasurer gives his reasons for not having distributed the fund.
– That is so ; but at the same time he indicates his desire that it should be distributed according to the population basis under the scheme now propounded in the Bill.
– Because the other arrangement was unworkable.
– I think that would be very unreasonable, indeed. If the Senate sees fit to pass the second reading of this measure, in all fairness it should not be permitted to operate upon, the sum of £163,161 to which I have referred.
– I must admit that I find myselfat a loss to follow Senator Best throughout his argument. I cannot understand how the honorable and learned senator should deprecate in such strong terms as he has used, the introduction into the debate upon the second reading of this Bill of the policy of a white Australia.
– It is the basis of it.
– It is the basis of it. The attitude which Senator Best then assumed was well expressed by an interjection from Senator Pulsford that the honorable senator wished to have the play of “ Hamlet” without the Prince of Denmark. The whole basis of this legislation rests upon the policy affirmed by the people of Australia at the first Federal elections, which has been adopted by the Federal Legislature, and which we are giving effect to now by endeavouring to establish within the confines of the Commonwealth, a white Australia. I did hope that honorable senators, in applying themselves to the consideration of this Bill, would be motived by the consideration of the policy for the whole of Australia, and not for any one particular State, whether it be the particular State which an honorable senator represents or not. We have established by our legislation that in the sugar industry of the Commonwealth there shall not be employed after a certain time a certain class of labour. Those who opposed the establishment of that policy told us most eloquently that it would be impossible for the sugar industry to stand in. Australia unless those who had vested interest? in it were enabled to employ the cheap South Pacific labour. As a set off against that, in arranging the sugar duties we put an import duty of £6 per ton upon sugar coming into the Commonwealth, we put an excise duty of £3 per ton upon all sugar grown or produced within the Commonwealth, and to mark the distinction between sugar produced by white labour and sugar produced by black labour, it was arranged that those who employed only white labour in the production of sugar should get from the £3 per ton excise duty which they were called upon to pay a return of £2 per ton. I wish to know if honorable senators think that was a desirable principle to establish - the remission of £2 out of the £3 per ton excise upon Australian sugar grown only by white labour ? If honorable senators admit that that policy and principle are correct the whole question resolves itself into this - Who is to bear the brunt? Who is to pay the £2 per ton ? Experience since this policy was adopted has shown that, in the case of three of the States only, Queensland, New South Wales, and Tasmania, does the consumption of Australian grown sugar, and particularly that grown by white labour, bear any considerable proportion to the consumption of sugar imported to Australia from abroad? If we continue as we have done in the past, to debit to each State the amount of rebate of duty in proportion to the amount of Australian sugar grown by white labour which it consumes, it seems to me that we shall really be putting upon the Treasuries of those States a burden that they should not be asked to shoulder, whilst the other States of the Commonwealth, whose people are quite content to discard Australian grown sugar for sugar imported from J ava, China, Mauritius, or elsewhere, and to receive the full Customs duty of £6 per ton upon it, are allowed to go scot-free. Senator Best in addressing himself to this question has said that he is in favour of the policy of a white Australia.
– So long as it does not cost Victoria anything.
– Exactly. I was just coming to that. The honorable and learned senator has told us that he approves of the policy of a white Australia, and he says that the cost is something like £60,000 per annum in the remission of the sugar duties to maintain that policy. He has further said that he considers it cheap at the money. No doubt, he does, but he does not desire that Victoria should contribute one penny towards that £60,000.
– That is not so.
– It is a beautiful thing to hear honorable senators, representing a State, coming here to indorse these principles as mere abstract principles, and saying, “ A white Australia, yes, I approve of it. I think it is cheap at the money, we having nothing to pay for it.” But are the people of Queensland, New South Wales, and Tasmania alone to bear the cost of the establishment of a white Australia? Surely very few people at the time of the first Federal elections, when the question of a white Australia was put before them, expected that we were going to carry out this policy without any additional cost to themselves, withoutany loss to their Treasury, or without any additional taxation being imposed upon them? Is it not regarded as a general and well established principle in fiscalism, particularly by those who adhere to the protectionist cult, that the imposition of duties is designed with the object of enabling us to employ within our own territory labour at a rate of wage which is much higher than the rate of wage adopted in the competing countries beyond and outside us? Precisely on the same principle we act in endeavouring to establish a white Australia, to secure that those interested in the sugar industry, and who more particularly were instrumental in the introduction of kanakas should be induced to employ none but white labour. We necessarily considered that, in order that they may be placed on fair terms of competition, even within the confines of the Commonwealth, with those who would send their sugar here grown by the cheap labour of other countries - the people of the Commonwealth must submit to a certain amount of taxation in the nature of protection. We have given, in fact, to growers of sugar in Australia who utilize blacklabour a protection of £3 per ton, the difference between the excise and the import duties. We have given to the grower of sugar in Australia who employs only white Labour a protection of £5 per ton. That is the position. We have a differential protection of £3 per ton on sugar grown by black labour, and £5 per ton on sugar grown by white labour. Are people who prefer to consume Australian grown sugar to bear the cost of their consumption of the local commodity in preference to the imported article? Senator Best talked of penalizing the State of Victoria, but the honorable and learned senator would penalize those true protectionists in Australia who are prepared to consume Australian grown sugar produced by white labour in preference to the importations from the black labour countries abroad. We have been told by the honorable and learned senator, and by a colleague from his own State, that it is a foolish argument to adduce that, because Victoria, by reason of her large importations of foreign sugar has received a considerable amount of revenue into her Treasury, she should be asked to pay out of that revenue the sum of £22,000 to New South Wales. That is rather a disingenuous argument. Why it should be considered that Victoria, particularly, will pay out of her Treasury the sum that New South Wales will gain by the change of policy - from a distribution upon a consumption basis to distribution on a population basis - I am at a loss to imagine. The whole of the States will contribute to this in proportion to population, so that it will not be a case ofVictoria, and Victoria alone, paying out of her revenue from sugar the whole of the sum which is to go into the Treasury of New South Wales ?
– Why not divide the excise on the population basis also ? If you pool one why not pool the other ?
– The honorable senator knows very well that the excise duties are credited to the State in which the excisable article is consumed.
SenatorStyles. - Yes ; under the Act.
– If80,000 tons of sugar were produced in Queensland during the year, and if excise duty were paid on the 80,000 tons, and ultimately 1 2,000 tons of that quantity went into Victoria, the excise duty paid upon the12,000tonsinQueensland would, in accordance with the InterState adjustment arrangement, be credited to Victoria and debited to Queensland. The principle that we are now going upon is this : That the representatives of the various States - not of Queensland alone - have decided that, after a certain date, there shall be no employment of a certain class of labour in this industry, and, as a set off against any disadvantage which would accrue to the cane-growers, we have adopted the differential protective system. Having done that as part and parcel of the one policy, I consider that we should adjust the cost amongst the States on the same principles which guided them in affirming and establishing the policy. Another thing to which Senator Best has referred is that in Victoria, and in other States, there has been, according to the return, a very small consumption of Australian grown sugar of any kind. We have to remember that it is a return of the approximate production of sugar in Australia in the year 1902-3. I hope that at a very early datewe shall see a greater output of sugar in New South Wales and Queensland, that we may even see the production of sugar in other States, and that we shall endeavour as early as possible to see that the production of sugar overtakes the Australian consumption. And when that time comes about - and the whole of the circumstances will tend to the achievement of that result - these figures so far as they go will be of very little value as a guide for the adjustment of the cost of this policy even upon a consumption basis. I do not think that we can take the figures supplied by the Treasurer for that particular period as a criterion of what will be the event in the years to come. “With an import duty of £6 a ton and considering the bonus or rebate an excise duty of £1 a ton on white: grown sugar, there should be a considerable impetus given to the production of whitegrown sugar. With the £3 per ton protection which is given to black-grown sugar, there should be, at any rate during that period when it will still be permissible for the planters to employ black labour, a considerable impetus given to the production of black-grown sugar. Under these circumstances we may reasonably hope that the production of Australian sugar will tend, as the years go by, and in the very near f future, to overtake the consumption. Therefore, as suggested by the Postmaster-General in his speech, it would be only fair to assume that very few of the difficulties which now beset some of those who do not find themselves in accord with the policy of the Bill would crop up. We have affirmed this policy as an Australian matter, and considering that the bonus represents the cost of the policy, and that no objection has been raised so far as I know to the granting of a remission of duty to’ those who employ white labour, we ought to adjust that cost amongst the people of the whole Commonwealth as a national obligation, and not to particularly penalize the Treasuries of the States in which a preference is shown for the consumption of the local commodity. I certainly hope that the Bill will pass its second reading.
– I must confess that this measure has caused me a great deal of thought. I do not mean to pretend that it is not surrounded by a good man)’ difficulties. Notwithstanding what has been said, one is inclined to look at the question from the State point of view. I have been asking myself first, how the Bill would affect Victoria from that stand-point ; and secondly, what should be done in the interests of the whole people of Australia ‘( The Senate is the States House, and the question of States rights crops up to some extent. It is, therefore, all the more difficult for any one to make up his mind. I certainly am not in favour of one part of the Bill. But taking the measure as a whole, I think it ought to receive my support. I intend to vote ‘ for the second reading, and, if possible, to alter its provisions in a certain direction. The debate has ranged over a very wide area. The question of the ‘Tariff, as well as the policy of a white Australia, has been introduced. I am one of those who thought it was almost impossible to ignore those two elements in considering the question of a bonus on whiter-grown sugar. What did we do when we had the Excise Tariff Bill before us 1 We made a certain discrimination. Having regard to the peculiar circumstances in which Australia was placed, and to the limitations we had imposed upon the employment of black labour, we recognised that something had to be done. The question of a white Australia also came into play. Very early in our career we adopted, I think very wisely, the principle that in future Australia should be kept for the white race. Those two elements entered into the discussion on that occasion, and we tried to do what we thought was fair and just. The only .State which appealed to my mind then, as it does to-day, was Queensland. It deserves consideration, because it is really the only State, which has been affected very largely by o*ur legislation. When we are asked to change the rebate to a bonus, I am confronted with the fact that, under the Constitution, we cannot make an)7 difference as between State and State. I have to consider whether I should not vote for the Bill as it stands, or whether, if I take the rebate as the solution of the difficulty, I should inflict an injustice upon the very State which I have always thought should receive some assistance from this Parliament. Although it ma3r not be a popular tiling to vote £18,000 as proposed by the Bill, yet desiring to do justice to Queensland, and holding that it alone should not shoulder the white man’s burden, I am compelled, distasteful though it may be from the State point of view, to vote for the measure.
– That does not affect the question at all. The Bill makes a difference of less than £900 to Queensland.
– Whichever way we look at the question there are inequalities. If I take the tables which have been presented for our guidance -I find that, on a population basis, there are inequalities existing. And if I take the consumption basis
I find that there are inequalities also existing in that direction. No better plan than the one embodied in the Bill has been presented . Many States which have had to import sugar, which they could not otherwise have obtained, have had a considerable increase of revenue. In my opinion, those States ought to be able to pay something in return for that revenue in the way which the Bill proposes. I am free to admit that this measure, as well as other legislation, will cause much disturbance during, the first few years of the life of the Commonwealth. It has caused a disturbance in every State in the Union. I was sorry to hear the remark which Senator Dawson made this afternoon, with regard to the position that certain honorable senators have taken up in other matters. I do not think it can be said that those who believe in protection took a miserable attitude when we were discussing the Tariff. I disclaim any such intention. Wherever there was an industry to be fostered or established, I tried to do my best in that direction. But what did we find ? The representatives of some States were prepared to get the utmost protection for particular industries in their States, and when we appealed to them about the duty on machinery, it became a question with them of 7 per cent, or 10 per cent. I hope that if ever that question is reopened, no matter how unpalatable it may be to the interests of their States, they will try to do the fair thing in the interests of the Australian people. By carrying out the principles of this Bill, we shall settle a great question. If it is ever re-opened we shall be able to say “ the States have suffered from a pecuniary point of view, and therefore we are not. prepared to go back upon what we have done.” I say with Senator Best that if, at the price of £60,000, ot even £100,000, we can settle the question of a white Australia, we have secured it very cheaply, even though it does involve some inequality to Victoria.
– No one grumbles at that amount.
– The inequalities that have existed, and still exist, have, as I have shown, been brought about by the abnormal conditions that have prevailed during the last twelve months. The next advantage which we secure is that under this Bill we not only establish the sugar industry, but make it a white man’s industry. The people of Victoria have an interest in this, because, if we can expel the kanaka, the Japanese, the Chinaman, and other coloured aliens from the sugar industry of Queensland, labour upon the cane-fields may become very profitable indeed for men from the southern States who may go to Queensland. Thus, the policy we are now supporting, will redound to the benefit of the people of Victoria. Putting aside the mere monetary disadvantages, and looking at the question from the broad Australian point of view, I consider that the two advantages that will follow from this policy prove that it is a wise one to adopt. The amendment foreshadowed by Senator Glassey is a very good one, and unless the PostmasterGeneral has good reasons to urge against it, I shall be prepared to support it - of course* with the further limitation foreshadowed by Senator Pearce, that after the bonus has once been paid to a planter, if he reverts to the employment of coloured labour in connexion with the growing of cane be shall not further participate in the bonus. The question has given me cause fora good deal of consideration, and the points raised have been of such a character, that at first I was not able to seize the salient features of the Bill ; but after reviewing them with some care I consider that it is right to support the second reading.
– We have had a somewhat lengthy, but at the same time a fairly interesting and exhaustive debate upon this Bill. I need scarcely say that I shall give to its second reading my most hearty support. Here I join issue with my honorable and learned friend Senator Downer. I welcome the measure because I think it is just ; he opposes it because he thinks that it is unnecessarily unjust. The Bill changes the system which has been adopted for the encouragement of the production of sugar by means of white labour - a policy which the bulk of the Members of Parliament thought was wise and just, and which, I am quite certain, will in the future prove to be a prudent and diplomatic policy. With that end in view, it was decided that those sugar planters who registered as growers of sugar by white ‘labour, should receive a rebate of £2 a ton from the £3 per ton levied as excise. It has been proved, after experiment, that that method was unjust in operation, inasmuch as two States out of the six had to bear the whole of the burden, whilst the whole of the six benefited from the adoption of the white Australia policy. The States which have suffered are Queensland and New South Wales.
– And also Tasmania.
– Tasmania has suffered in another way. “ Hence the Government, in introducing this measure, propose that a bonus shall be paid instead of a rebate, and that the whole of Australia, which will benefit from the policy; shall pay for it.. The speech of Senator Barrett is highly creditable to him. It shows that he views the matter not merely from a “Victorian but from a broad comprehensive and Australian point of view. I was amused to hear the statement that this measure had no connexion with the white Australia policy. Senator Playford emphatically stated that it had no connexion with that policy, and Senator Best qualified that view by saying that the connexion existed only to a limited degree. In other words, those honorable senators welcome the adoption of the white Australia policy, provided it costs Victoria nothing !
– That is not so.
– Then I will say, provided it costs Victoria only a small amount.
– No; provided the rebate is fairly and justly apportioned on a consumption basis.
– The whole principle of our Constitution is that the taxation of the Commonwealth shall be in accordance with population.
– Excise is on a consumption basis.
– So far as Victoria is concerned, the difference between the two methods of payment is as between £18,000 on a population basis and £2,500 on a consumption basis. The Victorian senators to whom I allude are not prepared to concede that Victoria shall pay the larger figure. That is rather a narrow view. There is about it a flavour of parochialism which ought to be deprecated by the Senate. Some very good measures have been passed at the instance of the present Government, and some of the best of them have been the series which had for their object the establishment of the principle of a white Australia. It is rather a narrow view for certain honorable senators to urge, that their States are not prepared to pay a little in order that this principle may be carried into effect at an early date. I need scarcely say that although I welcome the Bill, it is, in my opinion, defective. I have already indicated one of the defects- by an amendment which I intend to propose. That amendment is n»t quite so full and comprehensive as it will be after the adoption of Senator Pearce’s suggestion. Undoubtedly he put his finger on a weak spot. That is to say, if. we carried my amendment in the form suggested, it would mean that if a planter who put in his sugar-cane with the aid of black labour, afterwards employed white labour, the bonus would have to be paid to him ; but there is the possibility that after obtaining the bonus, the’ planter might revert to black labour for a term. I propose to obviate that danger by amending my amendment in such a way as, I think, will meet with the approbation of- the majority of honorable senators. It has been contended, even during the present debate, that it is impossible to grow sugar to any great extent in Queensland, particularly in the northern portions of the State, without the aid of coloured labour. I have endeavoured on two or three occasions to combat that view, and I venture to say that I and other honorable senators have done so with a fair measure of success. I hold in my hand a return showing the number of those growers of cane who have registered under the present Act. It will be admitted, at any rate by all fair-minded senators, that, considering the short time the Act has been in force, it has been fairly successful. This return shows the names and addresses of persons in Queensland registered as white growers of sugar-cane, the acreage claimed by each, and also the amount of claim and rebate paid to each person for the yeal’ 1902-3. The Act has only been in force one year. I dare say that some obstacles may have been thrown in the way of its success by those who were opposed to the policy of abolishing coloured labour, otherwise the measure might have been more successful. For the purposes of this rebate Queensland may be divided into four parts. Tho’ extreme northern parts, including Cairns, about which we have heard so much from Senator Fraser and others, may be described as the No. 1 district. The No. 2 district includes Mackay ; the No. 3 district embraces Bundaberg ; while the No. 4 district comprises Maryborough, Logan, and the more southern parts. In the No. 1 or Cairns district, where we have been told that it is impossible to cultivate sugar successfully by means ofwhite labour, 37 planters were registered in 1902 as growers of sugar cane by white labour. I should, mention, however, that this is the most recently settled district, and that there are consequently fewer growers there than in other parts of the State. The area under sugar cultivation was nearly 2,000 acres, and the rebate claimed and paid under the Act passed last year was £4,273 13s.5d. I desire honorable senators to pay particular attention to the figures relating to the No. 2 or Mackay district, because it may be said that it is fairly far north, and is within the tropics. It has long been a settled part of Queensland, and embraces a wide area. In that district 519 growers were registered in 1902 as cultivators of sugar by means of white labour ; thearea worked by those persons was 12,333 acres, whilst the rebate claimed and paid under the Act was no less than £16,40311s.1d. It was stated by Senator Eraser, I think, that last year Queensland produced only alimited quantity of sugar. We may admit the correctness of that assertion ; but it must be borne in mind thatlast season was, perhaps, one of the worst that was ever experienced in our State. The country had suffered from a protracted drought, with the result that the sugar districts, especially in the south and about Bundaberg, suffered materially. In that way we may account for the small amount of rebate which wasclaimed and paid. At the beginning of this year the area under sugar cultivation was something like 90,000 acres, whilst no less than 36,138 acres were registered as being cultivated and worked by means of white labour. Thus, nearly half the total acreage is now being worked by white men, whilst no less than 1,522 cultivators are registered under our existing law. I think that these figures afford some, if not a complete, answer to the statement that has been made from time to time in the Senate, that in Queensland, and especially in the tropical parts of that State, it is impossible to grow sugar except by the aid of coloured labour. If this policy is given a fair trial, and more particularly if the Government accept the amendment of which I have given notice, honorable senators who have opposed this legislation will come to the conclusion, two or three years hence, that the course pursued has been a wise one. If my amendment is carried, those who have worked their farms all theyear round by means of white labour will have an opportunity of registering under the Act, irrespective of whether their cane was planted by black or white labour, while others will be able to register as their contracts with the kanakas expire. Without that amendment the Bill will be extremely defective, but with it, it will be found two or three years hence that the policy of carrying out the will of the people of Australia, so that this country shall be rid of the black labour which has tarnished the fair name of Australia for a considerable time, is a wise one. Those who have opposed this policy will then agree that their opposition has been in vain, and that the Government have acted prudently in carrying out the desires of the people in this respect. I wish to refer briefly to some statements which have been made by Senator Cameron, and particularly to certain allegations made by Senator Neild. It was asserted by Senator Neild that the sugar-growers had received a rebate on sugar grown by black labour, and not by white labour. That is a very bold and distinct statement. What evidence did Senator Neild adduce in support of it? I am bound to admit that the testimony which he brought forward must receive some attention. The honorable senator said that nominally the sugar on which rebate was paid was grown by white labour, but that in reality it was produced by coloured labour, and he asserted that he had received information to that effect from inspectors of canefields. That statement involves a very serious charge. Who are the inspectors of cane-fields ? They are Government officials, paid to see that the policy of the people of Australia - administered by the Government as the. executive authority - is duly observed. No rebate can be claimed in respect of Australian-grown sugar except on the production of certificates signed by these inspectors, setting forth that it has been produced by white labour. Yet Senator Neild asserts that he obtained this information from men whose certificates that this sugar had been grown by means of white labour were bound to be produced to, and accepted by, the’ Government before any demand for the rebate could be considered.
– The inspectors do not go to all the plantations to see whether black or white labour is being employed. They take the word of the planters.
– That statement must be considerably qualified.
– It was made to me whilst I was in Queensland.
– So far as some of the cane-fields are concerned it is absolutely incorrect.
– In certain cases it is absolutely correct. They cannot visit all the plantations.
– During an extensive tour which I made recently, I visited the Mossman and Cairns districts. I had a conversation with the inspector, and I can tell a tale wholly different from that narrated by Senator Neild in regard to the .information in the possession of the inspectors. Indeed, I challenge the statement made by Senator Neild. I ask the Postmaster-General to ascertain from these inspectors how far it is borne out by the facts ; whether they furnished the information given by the honorable senator, and if so, upon what grounds. If they supplied Senator Neild with that information, while at the same time they gave contrary information to the Government in order that the rebate might be obtained by the growers, the position is a very serious one. I am sorry that Senator Neild is not present. I have a very great regard for him, for in many respects he holds advanced views, but his assertion that the cane-field inspectors of Queensland have supplied him with this information demands some serious inquiry. I desire to allude to the statement made by Senator Downer that Queensland has no claim for compensation in respect of the .adoption of the policy of a white Australia. This is not merely a Queensland matter. The question is one that materially affects .the whole of the people of Australia. What would the people be prepared to give to root out the smell holes of Little Bourke and Little Lonsdale streets ? I confess that . upon two or three occasions I have visited those places, accompanied by detectives and others, and that I have seen there more repulsive sights than I have witnessed even in San Francisco. The Chinese dens which exist there are to be found on a smaller scale in Cairns and Cooktown, and the question which we have to consider is how much the people are prepared to give in order to secure the carrying out of this prudent policy. Senator Downer, however, asserts that Queensland has no claim to compensation. He designates the bonus which is to be given by the people of Australia for the adoption of this policy, as a compensation to the State from which I come. I am sure the honorable and learned senator will excuse me if I say that I repudiate the assertion that Queensland receives anything in the shape of a bonus. The people of “Queensland do not, by any means, lay a claim to compensation, but they do say that the people of Australia, as a whole, should be prepared to pay a fair sum for the adoption of this policy. Senator Downer says that the Bill is unnecessary, and that it will be unjust in its incidence. The honorable and learned senator also condemns the measure, because he says it gives compensation to Queensland for the loss of this particular class of labour. Senator Cameron goes a step further, and tells us that Queensland, having spoken, so strongly at the Federal elections in favour of the adoption of this policy, has no right now to come here cap in hand and ask the other States to assist her in carrying out the policy. Honorable senators from Queensland do not come here cap in hand. The Government, after mature consideration, and after giving the rebate arrangement a reasonable trial -with the view of fixing this matter upon an equitable basis, have come to the conclusion that the people of Australia should pay per ea/pita, for carrying out the white Australia policy, and that the whole burden of its cost should not rest upon the States of Queensland, New South Wales and Tasmania. Senator Downer supported this policy, and I give him credit for doing so, but it is not a proper or patriotic position for the honorable and learned senator to take up ‘ after assisting in the adoption of the policy, to tell us now that Queensland is asking for compensation for the abolition of this particular class of labour ; nor is it patriotic for Senator Cameron to tell us that we have no right to come here cap in hand to ask the people of Tasmania to compensate Queensland for the loss of this labour. I need ‘ hardly say that I repudiate these statements. I do not condemn honorable senators for representing their own States from their own point of view in a reasonable manner, orfor endeavouring to preserve their people from being burdened with taxation. But honorable senators from South Australia and a majority of honorable senators from Tasmania, came here to support the policy of a white Australia, and now when a little has to be paid in order to carry out the policy, those honorablesenators say - “ While we are favourable to the adoption of the policy and believe it to be wise in* the interests of the people of Australia, we are not prepared to pay for it.” Is that a manly or a proper position for honorable senators to take up at this eleventh hour ? I do not think it is. Although the Bill is defective to some extent, I welcome it as an effort to place this matter upon a more equitable basis than did the measure providing for the payment of rebates which we passed last year. As I have already said, I hope that when we get into Committee we shall amend the Bill in such a way that it will not retard the complete adoption of the policy of a white Australia. I am satisfied that if we accept the measure as it is proposed we shall find that instead of effecting the clearance of this particular class of labour at an early date, we shall only be encouraging the planters to keep their kanakas to the last hour which the law will allow. But that is not the only danger. Supposing we get rid of the kanakas, unless we affirm the principle embodied in my suggested amendment, we are likely to have another class of coloured labour employed which will be far more objectionable. I refer to Hindoos, whom, we have not yet passed a measure to exclude from Australia. If the Bill is amended as I propose, with the addition of the amendment suggested by Senator Pearce, it will be a fair and a reasonable measure, and will,. I believe, do much to further the complete adoption of the great principle of a white Australia. If the Bill is not so amended, I am satisfied that valuable as it is in principle, it will not be effective in clearing the Commonwealth, and the State of Queensland particularly, of coloured labour, at as early a date as is desirable.
– Before the Postmaster-General replies to the debate, I should like to say a word to justify my position, because it seems that most of the representatives of South Australia hold views opposed to my own, though I am thoroughly convinced that the people of South Australia are entirely with the Government in the present circumstances. I think I made my position fairly clear when speaking upon the Address in Reply, and there is very little remaining for me to deal with ; but I should like to call the attention of. honorable senators who are opposing this Bill to one or two facts. It has been stated that this Bill has nothing to do with the policy of a white Australia. I differ from that contention, because it is really a corollary of the white Australia movement. I should like to ask those honorable senators whether, when they were proclaiming themselves in favour of a white Australia, they imagined that they were going to get a white Australia without any cost to the States to which they belong. I do not think there is a man or a woman who has thought the question out in any of the States of the Commonwealth who is not entirely in accord with those who are supporting this Bill with a view of making an equitable distribution of the cost. We have been told that South Australia, particularly, took all possible steps to preserve herself from the contamination of the coloured races, and that Queensland did nothing of the kind. Did not the people of South Australia know the conditions existing in Queensland when tbey entered the Federation? I should like to ask some questions of certain honorable senators who were not here, and who very often are not here when they are wanted, like Senator Lt.-Col. Neild. I believe that that honorable senator is a soldier. I have no desire to cast any reflection upon the police force, but I think the honorable senator ought to be a policeman, because he is never here when he is wanted. Did not these honorable senators know very well when we were entering into the Federation, that we were entering into a union with the State of Queensland, which has great potentialities. Do we not know that they were prepared to take advantage of the great wealth which that State possesses, in a Federal union 1 I am sure that when we were passing the Alien Immigration Restriction Bill and the South Sea Island Labourers Bill, every honorable senator firmly believed that the rebate suggested in connexion with those measures was practically a bonus. There was not a single honorable senator who ever raised his voice in objection to the State to which he belongs paying a fair share under that arrangement. The whole question is : What is a fair share? Senator Styles says “ Hear, hear.” I should like to ask the honorable senator a few questions. I do not wish him to answer them, because he might answer them evasively ; I shall answer them for myself, and I shall endeavour to do so straightforwardly. When the duty of £6 per ton was imposed upon sugar for the purpose of encouraging a white Australia, the intention was that it should affect every State equally, that the people of every State should contribute fairly towards the maintenance of a white Australia, it did not matter whether it was in Queensland, New South Wales, or anywhere else. It was then generally supposed that in the course of a few years New South Wales and Queensland would produce enough sugar to meet the requirements of the whole of Australia. Undoubtedly that day will come, and I hope in the very near future. Knowing this we were prepared to sacrifice a little in the way of duty. Then, in order to provide against an extraordinary loss of revenue when that day did come, we imposed an excise duty of £3 per ton ; that was really a revenue duty. But so strong- was the inclination in favour of a white Australia that the majority of honorable senators said - “ To bring this about as soon as it possibly can be brought about, we will give all growers of sugar, who are prepared to employ only white labour, a rebate of £2 per ton.” Every honorable senator and every member of the House of Representa.tives who supported that provision did - so in the conscientious belief that every portion of Australia would bear its fair share of the cost. The Government believed, at that time, that it was quite possible for them to distribute whatever amount might be earned in that way all over the Commonwealth. But suddenly they found that section 89 of the Constitution was a bar in the way of their doing so. Everybody acknowledges that. There is not an honorable senator here who will deny that it was the general impression that it could be done. But the Government suddenly discovered that it could not be done. And now we fmd that provincial members of the Senate and of another place discovering a loop-hole whereby their particular States might escape paying their fair share towards the maintenance of a white Australia, jump at it. But I say that they have jumped at this loop-hole without the concurrence of the people whom they represent, and that is particularly so in the case of the people of South Australia. I should like to call the attention of Senator Styles to the fact that the people of Victoria consumed last year 47,000 tons of sugar imported from outside the Commonwealth, and 8,000 tons of Australian-grown sugar. New South Wales, on the other hand, consumed 60,000 tons of Australian-produced sugar, and 11,000 tons of imported sugar. But these consumptive individuals, who ought to be in a sanatorium, now say that they want everything done on the basis of consumption. Senator Styles says that under this Bill New South Wales has to contribute only £21,000, and Victoria £18,000, while Victoria consumes 8,000 tons of excisable sugar and New South Wales 60,000 tons. Let New South Wales pay on the basis of consumption, and it will pay an enormous sum whilst Victoria will almost entirely escape. Would that be a fair proposition 1 Let New South Wales take £180,000 from the revenue it derives from excisable sugar, and add that sum to the £60,000 it derives from imported sugar, and it will be found that it derives a revenue of about £240,000. Let Victoria add the £282,0.00 it derives from imported sugar to the £24,000 it derives from excised sugar, and it will be found that it gets a revenue of about £306,000. If you are going to do your business on the basis of consumption, do it both ways, and see whether Victoria or New South Wales, in proportion to its revenue from the same article, which was all considered in the adoption of the white Australia policy, will pay the most. I would ask the representatives of ‘Victoria whether it would be better to have the amount which it has to pay fixed on the basis of consumption. Whenever honorable senators consider fairly the amount of revenue derived from sugar duties they will find that it will be much fairer for Victoria to base her contribution on population than on consumption.
– New South Wales has the sugar industry, - and spends the money amongst its own people, and we have not the industry here.
– Victoria produces a great many articles with which it has been supplying New South Wales during the last twelve months, and probably it has profited a great deal more than New South Wales has done.
– Has not Victoria got the beet-root sugar industry ?
– The beet-root sugar industry is only within the bounds of possibility : the people of Victoria are too slow to develop it in a great hurry. Approximately the consumption of sugar in Australia is about- 200,000 tons. Supposing that New South Wales and Queensland were able to produce enough sugar to supply the States, and in a very short time I have no doubt that they will be in that position, how would the basis of consumption come out then ? Victoria would have to pay £60,000; New South Wales’ about £70,000 ; and South Australia between £20,000 and £30,000. But those conditions do not exist, and even when the peration of this Bill shall have expired the production of sugar will nob amount to the consumption. When we consider that the Bill is only to operate for period of four years, and that it will probably have the effect of bringing about a white Australia much sooner than we could do under any other conditions, then I hold that it is the duty of those who have advocated that policy to do all they can in that direction. There are many other aspects of the question which might be debated, but as I know that the Postmaster-General is anxious to say a few words, and to close the debate tonight, and as there will be opportunities in Committee to explain the position that different senators like to take up, I have no desire to detain the Senate. I hope that the second reading will be carried, and that in Committee nothing will be done to destroy the efficiency of the Bill, and that any amendment which may be carried will have the effect of improving it.
– I do not desire to detain the Senate more than a few minutes at this hour ; but 1 think that I ought to say a few words with reference to the argument in which Senator Playford charged the Government with having violated the Constitution, in not having distributed this amount of excise. I do not think he intended the Senate to give full force to his words, judging from the genial manner in which he spoke. In the paper which honorable senators have in their hands, the Treasurer has given a full explanation of the reason why that amount has not been distributed. He points out that under the Constitution heis required to distribute the excise amongst the States on the basis of consumption. Section 93, to which Senator Playford did not refer, requires that the distribution shall be made, having regard to not the State where the duty was collected, but to the
State where the excisable articles were consumed. The Treasurer commences to collect these amounts, and then he finds that, according to the strict reading of the Excise Tariff Act, he has to distribute the money according to the consumption of white-grown sugar and black-grown sugar in the several States ; but, as he tells us, the black-grown sugar and the white-grown sugar are both sent to New South Wales, where they are refined and inextricably mixed, and thence distributed amongst the States. He says that a technical compliance with the Constitution is absolutely impossible, because, when he finds that a certain quantity of sugar has been transported from New South Wales to any State, he cannot, state what proportion is white-grown sugar and what proportion is black-grown sugar. Senator Playford says that it can be ascertained by taking averages. In this paper the Treasurer has worked the thins: out on the basis of averages. He reckons that the sugar which goes from New South Wales to the other States is as four of whitegrown sugar to one of black-grown sugar ; but still that is. a mere guess, and he would not be justified by the letter of the Constitution in adopting that guess as his basis of distribution. As there is that uncertainty, he pays in the amount to a trust account pending a settlement of that question. Then he watches the operation of the excise receipts during the twelve months ending 30th June’, 1903. He finds that not only is this a very uncertain method of distribution - that is to say, it is uncertain whether he would be justified in distributing the money according to the letter of the Constitution, even if he were able to do so - but as a means of distributing the burden over the whole of Australia, it would be absolutely unreliable. He has shown by his action that he held himself free to advance money from that fund to any State that required it. Queensland had £25,000 advanced to it, and he was quite prepared to advance from the fund any amount that might be required by any State so long as he did not advance such an amount as to dissipate the balance he held until he was satisfied as to the exact basis on which he was justified in making the distribution. I think every one will agree that the Treasurer, in taking that action, was quite justified. He was in the position of a trustee for the various States that had consumed this sugar, and he was justified in holding that money in a trust account until he could bo perfectly sure as to the correct basis of distribution. Then, during this year, watching the movements of sugar and the payments of excise, he finds that the consumption basis for the distribution of the burden would lead practically to absurdities. Many honorable senators have spoken as though we were discussing the question of whether Queensland and New South Wales should bear the burden of paying the bonus, or whether it should be distributed on a population basis ; but that is not so. The Excise Tariff Act docs not provide that Queensland or New South Wales shall pay its own bonus, but it provides that the bonus shall be paid on the basis of consumption. Not only has that law led to an absurdity, but it is absolutely unreliable, so that it is impossible for any one to forecast from year to year what proportion any State would be called upon to bear. Putting New South Wales and Victoria out of sight for a moment, let us consider the question from the point of view of Tasmania and South Australia. Evidently Senator Downer was undera misapprehension when he said that a time might coma when the northern State would produce so much sugar that it would be able to supply the southern States, including. Tasmania. It so happens that out of a total consumption of 7,000 tons, Tasmania has been getting 1,800 tons of white-grownsugar from eitherQueensland or New South Wales, or from both according tothiscalculation - actually consuming so much of Australian white-grown sugar that its contribution to the payment of the planters is greater than it will be on the population basis. On the other hand, South Australia, just as far as Tasmania from the sugar-growing countries, is in this position : that out of its total consumption of sugar only about 500 tons was Australian grown - a quantity so small that it is not taken into consideration in some of the figures. We may say that practically the whole of its sugar has been imported. That is the result of 1902-3, but in another year the conditions may be entirely reversed. How could that be a fair or a reliable basis of making the calculations ? It might be worth the while of a State to export its locally-grown sugar, and to import in order to get rid of the burden. That is not altogether fanciful, because it was suggested by the Premier of New South Wales, in a letter which he wrote, and to which the memorandum by Sir George Turner, printed in the parliamentary paper on sugar excise, is a reply. Sir George Turner deals with the subject in this way -
I quite realize that it is within the power of the sugar importers and refiners to so manipulate matters as to have black sugar instead of white consumed, and to secure the import into New South Wales and Queensland of foreign sugar. Instead of the same being sent to the other States as at present ; and, no doubt, if it be in the interests of these gentlemen they will do so. This cannot be avoided, and the other States must run the risk.
Then he goes on to say that though this might possibly be done he could hardly understand the Governments of New South Wales and Queensland acting in collusion with the merchants and retailers to alter the natural course of trade. We do not suppose that they would do so, but the fact that it may be done exposes the whole absurdity of apportioning this burden on such a basis, which appears to me to be not only unfair but totally unreliable. Therefore, the Government propose, instead of treating the matter as a rebate, as it would be under the Excise Tariff Act, to repeal that portion of the Act and give the money as a bonus. I venture to say that in treating it as a bonus and distributing the burden over Australia on a population basis we are carrying out the wishes of the people of Australia and the intentions of the Legislature when they took action on the subject last year.
Question- That the Bill be now read a second time - put. The Senate divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause 1 agreed to.
Senate adjourned at 10.7 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 24 June 1903, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1903/19030624_senate_1_13/>.