2nd Parliament · 3rd Session
The President took the chair at 3.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Motion (by Senator Higgs) agreed to -
That there be laid on the table of the Senate a copy of the petition and the names of the signatories thereto, having reference to the Eastern Extension Company; also a copy of the Postmaster-General’s reply to the said petition.
Senator PLAYFORD laid upon the table the following paper: -
Form of the United Shoe Machinery Company’s lease and licence in reference to the Goodyear Lockstitch Outsole Stitching Machine set.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That the paper be printed.
– I do not think that it is worth while to waste good money in printing the paper, as it contains nothing of interest or importance.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Would not cruisers such as the Katoomba, recently on the Australian Station, be suitable for the purpose of training naval reserve anil naval cadets?
Will the Government make application to the Government of the United Kingdom for one of such vessels as a training ship?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow: -
In reference to the third question, t may inform the honorable senator that the’ Naval Board is sitting now to advise me upon matters connected with naval defence, and that this particular point is under their consideration, with a view to a recommendation being made.
– Arising out of the answer, I desire to ask the Minister of. Defence when he remitted to the considers tion of the Naval Board the subject-matter I contained in the third question of Senator Pearce, and generally the subject-matter contained in his questions?’
– The whole subject connected with Naval Defence was remitted to the Naval Board, I think, about a week or a fortnight a/go.
– Was this specifically mentioned ?
– Still arising out of the answer, I desire to ask a question, because I think that the Minister has not quite understood me. He has just stated to Senator Pearce that in regard to the third question he has asked the Naval Board to deal with the question of the use of obsolete cruisers as training ships.
– I did not say so.
– That is what I understood.
– What I said was that the question is being considered by the Naval Board.
– May I ask the Minister to kindly repeat his answer to the third question?
– I understood the Minister to say that he has remitted the whole question to the Naval Board.
– I remitted the whole question to the Naval Board, and among other matters which they will consider is that of whether or not it is advisable to have a training ship.
– Arising out of the answer, I desire to ask the Minister whether he has distinctly asked the Naval Board to consider this specific question - the advisability or possibility of using such vessels as training ships?
– The honorable senator said he did.
– No; I said that I had remitted the whole question to the Naval Board.
– Will the Minister specifically request the Naval Board to consider the question of the advisability of using such a vessel as the. Katoomba for the purpose of a training ship in Australasian, waters?
– If the Board, in its report, should not refer to that question. I shall certainly call their attention to it and ask them for an expression of their opinion,’ but I think that it will be done as a matter of course.
– Arising out of the reply,- 1 wish to ask the Minister of Defence if the Pyramus and other vessels belonging to the Australasian Naval Squadron are fit for duty in the event of an emergency arising? ‘
– I am not in a position to answer the honorable senator, but 1 believe that there are only two classes of vessels which can be considered absolutely efficient in naval warfare, namely, armoured cruisers and battleships. I believe that the vessels to which the honorable senator refers are only ordinary cruisers.
Case of Mr. D. W. Green
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
Will the Government lay on the table of the Library all papers in connexion with the inquiry held about twelve months ago in the case of Mr. D. W. Green, Acting Postmaster at South Fremnntle, including the finding of the Inquiry Board ?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is, Yes.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
In how many instances, where the value exceeds j£ioo, bave the Customs assessed goods for ad valorem duties under the powers given by clause 160 of the Customs Act?
– The information will be supplied. It will take some, little time to get the information,’ but I shall take care to supply it to the honorable senator. If, however, I should’ not, perhaps he will call my attention to the omission, and he will get the information m due course.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Whether, in view of an early prorogation of Parliamrnt, the Government propose to deal with any further progress reports from the Tariff Commission this session?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows : -
The Government propose to consider, all the progress reports from the Tariff Commission thru it proves possible to deal with this session.
– Arising out of the answer, I have to ask the Minister a further question, because, if I understand him aright, he has not answered the question as to whether the Government propose to deal with any further progress reports. I desire to ask the Minister if his answer means that the Government will submit for the consideration of Parliament any further progress reports? I do not ask whether the Government will consider the reports, because, between the two questions there is an enormous difference. 1 ask the Minister if he can specifically answer my question ?
– No, I cannot. I have already answered the question as to whether we intend to consider the reports. If the honorable senator will put a question on the notice-paper, I shall endeavour to get a reply.
– Arising out of the answer, I desire to ask the Minister of Defence if he can give the Senate any idea as to the date upon which the Parliament will be prorogued, if any further reports are submitted to the Government-
– I do not think that that question arises out of the answer. It is a different question altogether.
– The Minister of Defence said that the Government would deal with the progress reports of the Tariff Commission if possible.
– That they will consider all the reports.
– Is not an inquiry as to when the prorogation will take place a different question altogether?
– It certainly struck me as an appropriate question, in view of the fact that the Government have expressed a desire to close the session on the 30th September.
– I think that it is a different Question altogether.
– Do I understand from the Minister of Defence that he wants me to give notice of a question, because, if he does, it is too late for me to do so to-day ?
– I shall raise rio objection to the honorable senator being allowed to give notice of a question.
– I wish to point out to the Minister that there is an enormous difference between the Ministry considering progress reports which the Tariff Commission may send in to them and their submitting such reports to the consideration of Parliament.
– There can be only one construction of the words “ deal with “ the reports.
– May I ask the Minister if he will be prepared to tell me to-morrow, without giving notice of a question, if the Government will submit to the consideration of Parliament any further progress reports which may be presented ?
– I do not think that is a fair question for the honorable senator to ask. I think that it is for the Government to consider when progress reports are sent in whether they ought’ to ask the Parliament to deal with them. Until they have received progress reports, they are not in a position to express an opinion as to whether they should ask Parliament to deal with them or not. They would only be tying themselves up if they were to do so.
– I do not wish to tie up the Ministry, nor do I desire the Ministry to tie up the Tariff Commission. The Minister will see - and that is the reason for my question - that if he asks the Tariff Commission to go on sending in reports to the Ministry which will not . be used for the purpose-
– I ask the honorable senator not to argue the question.
– I do not wish to argue the question, but merely to explain the reason why it is being as’ked.
– The Minister has said that he cannot answer the question.
– I cannot answer it.
– With great . respect, sir, the Minister has only said that he cannot answer it now.
– The Minister has said that he cannot answer the question until he has seen the reports.
– I only ask permission to explain to the Minister the difference in the case of my question.
– The honorable senator might ask the Minister whether the Government want to put upon the Tariff Commission the responsibility of stopping the sending in of further reports. .
– I ask permission to be allowed to point out to the Minister that there is a considerable difference between compelling the Tariff Commission to send in progress reports that Parliament will not consider this session, and sending in reports that it will consider. For that reason, I hope that to-morrow he will answer my question as to whether Parliament will be asked to consider the reports.
– The honorable senator ought not to argue the question. He has asked the Minister a question, and received an answer.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
– I move -
That fruits and potatoes be not included among pioscribcd goods in clause 7, Statutory Rules No. 52, under the Commerce Act.
At a time when a great deal of interest is being, shown in the wealthy manufacturers of this country, I think it is not unreasonable that I should ask honorable senators to afford some help to the small producers to enable them to dispose of the products of their labour on the soil. I take this action, not onlv at the request of the producers, but also because I feel “that many of the regulations under the Commerce Act, which were tabled some time ago, will, in operation, have the effect of adding greatly to the expense of the poorer producers. I have here a petition from the Chamber of Commerce, of Hobart, dealing with this question. I was unable to present it to the Senate, because of a technical informality. It is signed by the President, Vice-President, and Secretary of the Hobart Chamber of Commerce, and it appears that under the Standing Orders of the Senate, where such signatures appear to a petition they must be under seal. It is now impossible for me to comply with that formality, and I take this opportunity of reading the petition. It is as follows: -
We, the Hobart Chamber of Commerce, respectfully beg to enter our protest against certain clauses in the proposed Regulations under the Commerce Act, as given herein, with our reasons for such objections.
Part III. Clause VIII. Section B. - The label or brand shall set out in legible characters a true description of the goods, the word “ Australia,”’ and the name of the State in which the goods were made or produced.
We strongly object to have the exports from this State go out under the common derivation of Australian, not only on the principle involved, but also because of the multiplicity of brands that such a regulation will cause. Take the case of apples exported. It will be necessary for the packages to have the registered trade or shipping mark of the exporter, then the variety of the apples, and the contents will have to be specified, followed by the words “ Tasmania “ and then “Australia ; so that a bushel of New York apples would be branded as follows : -
One bushel apples, New York Pippins.
In the case of manufactured articles, such as jams, the label would have to bear the name of ihe maker, followed by the variety of the jam itself, and then “ Hobart, Tasmania, Australia,” which seems to us farcical ; but even more important than the above is the princinle that Tasmanian manufacturers and exporters object most strenuously to be forced to sell their goods as “ Australian,” as in several instances it would be the cause of actual monetary loss. Jam manufacturers, who are interested in similar works in New South Wales and Victoria, stale positively that jams manufactured under identical conditions in each State sold on the open market in Africa and other places do not command the same price, and that the Tasmanian article at the present time realizes from 2d. to 3d. per dozen more than that manufactured by the same makers under similar conditions in sister States, and which advantage would be jeopardized if all goods have to go forward under one common derivation.
The Chamber would also call your attention to the report of the Conference of Manufacturers and Experts recently held in Sydney in connexion with this Commerce Act, in which it was unanimously agreed that such a practice was undesirable, and we cannot do better than attach hereto copy of the report dealing with this particulars clause : - “Extract. - We cannot agree with the suggestion that, in additiotn to the State of origin, the packages should be branded ‘ Australian.’ Such a multitude of brands as would be occasioned would cause illegibility in the brands of the cases, while of still more importance is the fact that each State desires to retain, in as large a measure as possible, its own individuality, and are not prepared to ship exports under the common derivation ‘Australian.’ Trade has been developed for the various products ofthe different States, and it would be misleading and against the interests of producers if the term Australian ‘ becomes general.”
These are extracts from reports of experts whom Sir William Lyne called in to advise him on these matters, although, in many cases, he did not subsequently take their advice.
Inspection. - The members of the Sydney Conference previously alluded to also suggested a clause that in the event of any inspector’s decision being questioned by the exporter such exporter should have the option of referring the matter in dispute to the Collector of Customs at the port of shipment, and supplemented this clause by the following report : - ” Extract. - The reason for this clause is the fact that manufacturers or exporters are not agreeable to have an. inspector who may possibly not possess the technical information of a manufacturer or trader in goods to have the final decision as to what was or was not to be exported. Instances may arise where it is purely a matter of opinion as to what should or should not be forwarded, and it is not fair to manufacturers and others who, perhaps at great expense, have put up a certain article for export, to be at the mercy of any individual inspector who might refuse to pass goods submitted. Without reflecting in any way on the general body of inspectors, provision must be made for referring any matter in dispute outside the inspection in question.”
That provision has not been included in the regulations.
The excision of such a clause as mentioned above is a very serious matter indeed to the exporting community, and some provision for immediate appeal should be provided, particularly in the export of such articles as apples, where steamers might be in port with just sufficient fruit alongside to carry out contractors’ obligations, and which, for trivial reasons, might be rejected by some inspector, in which case the ship would probably have to go away partially empty, and contractors be mulcted to the extent of dead freight thereon. Some provision must be made for an immediate appeal, so that such matters can be fixed up without delay, and the Collector at the port of shipment can easily arrange for expert evidence to be tendered and adjudicated thereon.
Your petitioners therefore pray that the proposed regulation will be amended in such a way as to meet the particular cases referred to herein.
James Murdoch, President
Another petition on the subject from the Fruit Growers’ Union of New South Wales was some time ago presented to the Senate, and in it the petitioners say -
The provisions of the Bill requiring exporters to give notice of the particulars of articles for export, as well as that regarding the inspecting of such articles, will prove most harassing and injurious to the exporters of perishable articles such as fruit, and will also, we believe, be to a great extent unworkable.
There we have the opinions of those who ought to know their own business, and I ask honorable senators to pause before they permit the operation of regulations which will involve additional expense to the producers, and may shut them out of good markets. It is impossible for us to say that nature will produce anything up to a particular standard. These regulations are after all only provisional, and even within the last few days, especially in the case of butter, they have been materially altered by the Minister himself. So that it is no answer to my observations to say that, having been framed, they cannot be altered now. They are, as I have said, only provisional regulations, and, while they may become law in a few days if no protest is made against them, it is not yet, I think, too’ late to secure necessary alterations.
– No, I do not; and it is very evident that Senator McGregor is not a producer of apples. When the producer has to send his goods to England, and pay freight on them, he will not knowingly send an article which will not be likely to realize the freight.
– That may be true with respect to apples, but there is no doubt that adulterated leather is sent home.
– That is not a matter which I have taken up. I direct attention to the fact that potatoes are very drastically dealt with under these regulations. Each package is to be labelled with the name of the exporter, a description of the potatoes, a statement that they are free from disease,that they are sound and clean, where they are going, and the name of the exporting State and of Australia. In addition to these requirements, it is provided by the regulations that potatoes must be on the wharf at the place of export one clear day before they are exported.
– Where does Tasmania export to? Only to two places outside the Commonwealth - Manila and New
Zealand. The Act does not apply to InterState trade.
– There is also South Africa. The Minister says that there are no exports within the meaning of the Act between Tasmania and South Australia or the other States.
– That the. Act does not apply to Inter-State trade.
– Under the heading of “ Inspection of Exports,” Regulation 14 provides that -
Where by the law of any State any goods are required to be inspected and approved bv a State authority before export, and the Minister is satisfied that such inspection and approval are as efficient as inspection and marking under these regulations, the Minister may direct that such inspection and approval shall be accepted in lieu of examination and marking under these regulations.
In the case of South Australia and Tasmania there are States regulations dealing with exports to the other States, and it will be in the power of the Minister; under the regulation I have quoted, to prevent exports from one State to another.
– Nothing of the sort.
– The regulation says sso.
– No; potatoes are required to be inspected before export, and we accept the certificate of the State officer.
– But we are going to work under the local Acts.
– No, we are not; we are merely going to use the local inspectors.
– Regulation 14 provides that where by the law of any State goods are required to be inspected and approved by a State authority before export, the Minister mav direct that such inspection and approval shall be accepted.
– The local inspector will see that the fruit or potatoes are sound,, and we shall accept his certificate.
– I may say that I have had legal advice, and I am assured that my view is the correct one.
– Does the honorable senator think that the Minister ought not to have that power?
– We do not interfere between State and State; this is a matter of export.
– But a State law may refer to exports to another State.
– We deal only with exports to foreign parts; and if, for instance, there was a law preventing the export of potatoes from South Australia to Victoria, except under certain conditions, we should have no power to interfere.
– The present Minister may not interfere, but future Ministers may.
– I - Is there any considerable export of potatoes from Australia ?
– Only a few tons at a time are exported.
– The ship-, ments of - potatoes aire very precarious. Sometimes large quantities are sent to South Africa or Manilla, and, strange to say, there have been considerable exports recently to New Zealand. Certainly . the export of potatoes is not large, and had it not been for these regulations, I should not have raised the point. However, there is another regulation to which I desire to cai/ attention. The potatoes, in addition to being branded ir. a certain way, and havingto remain for twenty-four hours, or one clear day, in a certain place for inspection before export, have to be free from disease and clean.
– Why not?
– Does the regulation mean that the potatoes have to be washed ?
– It means that the potatoes must not have a lot of scabs on them. The honorable senator knows what scabby potatoes are.
– I am afraid that I do not.
– D - Does the regulation not practically mean that there shall not be an undue quantity of dirt or soil with the potatoes?
– I do not know ; that is a point for us to consider.
– I have found as much as 20 lbs. or 30 lbs. of dirt at the bottom of a bag containing x cwt. of potatoes.
– Some clear definition of cleanness ought to be placed in the regulations. It is all very well to say that potatoes for export must be free from dirt, but, coming as they do out of the earth, .there must be dirt attached ; and, as a matter of fact, potatoes keep all 1 the better on that account. Of course, there ought not to be too much dirt, but the price might be regulated by the quantity in the bag.
– W - Would the inspectors not exercise a discretion in this connexion ?
– I desire to show the expense which these regulations will entail on producers. The stacking of potatoes for one clear day means what may be a very serious expense. I have received a telegram from Devonport, where potatoes are largely shipped, assuring me that it is perfectly impracticable to stack potatoes in a given place near the steamer for twenty, four hours; and, further, that producers find it impossible to mark each package with the name of the grower and other particulars required. All this will mean an additional expense of, possibly, 5s. per ton, and that, of course, is a very serious matter to producers. I introduce the subject because it is better that the public should know what is being done under the regulations.
– Is not the honorable senator crying out before he is hurt?
– Unless the regulations are disagreed with, or modified, in the meantime, they will come into operation on the 1 st October. My suggestion is that potatoes and fruit should be exempt from these regulations. These are exports, and not imports, so that there is not involved any danger to the health of the people in this country ; and, in my opinion, the regulations impose entirely unnecessary expense. The exporter gets his return according to the quality of his produce, and, under the circumstances, I ,ask the Senate to carefully consider the expert opinions which I have laid before them, and also the resolutions of the Conference of Officials and Trade Representatives held in Sydney. The paper for which I called, and which was Laid on the table of the Senate ai little time ago, informed us that all the recommendations which had been made to the Minister had been agreed to except two. That, however, is not the case, as is shown, by the petition which I read. For instance, in regard to apples, it was recommended that a certain quantity, say 10 per cent., of inferior apples, not deleterious to health, should be allowed for export. Codlin moth, when it has once left the apple, does not any longer affect the fruit, and, in addition to not being deleterious to health, it does not much interfere with the sale. The codlin moth may often prevent the further ripening of the fruit ; but, unless the disease be largely present, the sale is not prejudiced. There was also the suggestion that -
Notice of intention to export as provided by the Commerce Act, clause o, may cover the season’s export.
That has _not been allowed. Then it was suggested that -
In the event of any inspector’s decision being questioned by the exporter, the exporter shall have the option of referring the matter in dispute to the Collector of Customs at the port of shipment.
That lias not been done. These are recommendations by experts chosen by the Minister himself for their special qualifications, and they ought to have the weight they- deserve. Reasons are given for the recommendations, and I hope these will be read most carefully by honorable senators.
– Several times during this week, when a certain Bill was under consideration, the Minister of Defence has told us that it is not desirable to delay legislation until an evil actually arises. This afternoon, therefore, it comes with a little ill grace from the honorable gentleman that he should regard the comparatively small export business in potatoes as a reason for not acceding to the request of Senator Macfarlane.
– Why, I offered Senator Macfarlane the chance of bringing the matter forward on a Government day !
– That is so; but this afternoon the Minister has rather poohpoohed the suggestion made by Senator Macfarlane, on the ground I have indicated. The potato business, however, may develop, and therefore it is desirable to see “that nothing is done to prejudice it. The regulation to which Senator Macfarlane refers is -
The export of the goods enumerated in this regulation shall be prohibited unless there is applied to the goods a trade description in accordance with this Part.
The goods to which this regulation applies are - Butter, canned meat, cheese, condensed or concentrated milk, condensed skimmed milk, dried milk -
Senator Macfarlane makes no request in regard to these commodities. Then follows the item “fruit,” which he asks shall be exempted. The list is made up of hares, honey, jam, leather, potatoes; and the honorable senator also asks that potatoes shall be exempted. Honorable senators see that the list is a considerable one, and with that list, as a whole, Senator Macfarlane does not ask the Senate to disagree.
– He asked that the whole of the exports in Tasmania should be exempted.
– Only with regard to potatoes and fruit, and he is on very good ground in making that request. Potatoes are a commodity that represent a very small value per ton. Very frequently the price in Tasmania is only£1, £2, or £3 per ton;£4 is a very high price. If the trade is to be delayed while certain formalities are gone through, the shipping expenses are increased appreciably. All that Senator Macfarlane asks is that the trade shall not be interfered with by these regulations. Are there any solid grounds for believing that good can result from this interference in respect of potatoes?
– Would not that line of reasoning apply to every other class of commodities enumerated?
– To a very large extent it would. But it may be urged that the regulations with regard to the other commodities do not hamper the trade to a very great extent. It is otherwise in regard to potatoes and fruit. They are not shipped in large quantities by great firms. They represent largely the trade of small dealers. The people of Tasmania urge that the trade of their farmers is likely to be seriously interfered with if these regulations are insisted upon. What is required ?
The trade description to be applied in accordance with this Part shall comply with the following provisions : -
Then regulation 8 provides -
The trade description to be applied in accordance with this Part shall comply with the following provisions : -
There is quite a lot of work to be done in connexion with a very small trade, and Senator Macfarlane suggests that these requirements in regard to the goods mentioned are onerous ; that they interfere with trade, and that they are likely to prevent its success. It is an entirely reasonable thing that the trades affected should request that the regulations should not be made to apply to these two items which, unimportant as they are in the trade of Australia as a whole, are yet of very great importance to Tasmania.
– There are only two points with which I have to deal in connexion with fruit and potatoes. Those points are first the alleged unnecessary character of the regulation requiring that the word “ Australia “ should be branded on packages for export; and, secondly, with regard to the quality of exported fruit or potatoes as the case may be.
– Is there not another point - the delay in inspection ?
– That is incidental. If the goods have to be inspected in order to see that the quality is as described there will be of necessity some delay. Whatwe have to consider is whether we shall insist upon the branding and upon the regulation with regard to stating the quality of exports. The Act was passed for the express purpose of providing that when produce was exported from Australia it should be of such a quality as to do credit to us, and that the name of the Commonwealth should be plainly marked upon the goods, so that there should be no deception whatever in regard to them. It requires that there shall be a true description of goods coming into Australia, and that on the other hand, so far as we are concerned, if our people ‘ ex- port to foreign countries they shall place upon their packages such a description as will be faithful and true. I have received a report from the Comptroller of Customs, in which he points out first that the provisions as to fruit are, as a matter of fact, not so stringent as those which were suggested by the representatives of the growers of the States at the Conference held in May last. The. growers suggested the adoption of a standard case for export.
– I do not think that we object to that.
– The growers actually proposed it.. In the regulations we have not adopted the suggestion. An objection was made from some other parts of the Commonwealth, and the Minister of Trade and Customs, after looking into the suggestion, thought that it was better not to adopt it. Another suggestion of the Conference was that fruit found to be defective should not be permitted to be exported. The regulations allow that fruit to be exported so long as the trade description correctly describes it as to its soundness. The Minister did not adopt the suggestion of the Conference in that respect. The regulations, therefore, do not prevent the export of apples affected by codlin moth. The consumers in England do not mind if the fruit is a little bit worm-holed. They have some experience of codlin moth, and do not trouble so much about it as we do. The regulations merely require a proper description to be given whatever the fruit maybe. The Conference of growers wanted another thing which the regulations do not insist upon, and which would have made the matter still more troublesome. They wanted the apples to be graded. The regulations do not require that they shall be graded. We have considerably reduced the limitations imposed upon the growers. But the regulations do require that goods for export shall be branded with the name of the Commonwealth. What harm is there in that? There is nothing in the regulations that any reasonable man should not agree to. I am a grower of apples, though I very seldom export directly. The rule is that small growers sell their fruit to large exporters. The small man does not find it to be very profitable to export for himself. He cannot very well send a few hundred cases to England. It is a great deal better for him to sell his apples on the local market to one of the large exporters, who knows how to make the business pay.
– As a matter of fact the small growers do not export for themselves in Tasmania.
– No, they do not. They export through large firms. The memorandum from Dr. Wollaston states -
The only points upon which the recommendations of the Conference differ from the Regulations are as to the use of the word “Australia” in the trade description, and the statement of weights of canned goods. The fruit representatives wished to retain to each State its own individuality. No good reason appears to have been advanced to show that the word 11 Australia” following after the name of the State in a description can possibly destroy such individuality.
What difficulty is there in a grower marking his goods, “ John Jones, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia “ ? What difficulty is there about putting the word “ Australia “ on his cases ?
– It looks easy enough, but the difficulty is that thousands of cases have to be marked in a very short time.
– The name of the exporter and the name of the State have already to be marked, and it need not take twO seconds to add the word “ Australia.” It can be put on with one dab of the brush.
– Very little the honorable senator knows about it.
– I know quite as much as Senator Mulcahy. The marking is done with a stencil plate and a brush. It does not occupy half-a-second, and the extra word does not make a scintilla of difference, so far as the cost is concerned. I think that we ought to insist that the name of Australia, and not merely the name of a State, shall be placed upon our exports. Then the regulation as to quality is objected to. I think we ought to have it. We have agreed not to interfere in the matter of the size of apples, and not to trouble about a variety of things that the Conference proposed. They wanted, as I have said, to have a standard case adopted for export purposes. The regulations do not require that. Personally, I think that it is a mistake not to do so. We ought to have a standard case so far as fruit is concerned. At present some growers use a case of one size, and some of another, the result being confusion. . A case of apples should contain exactly the ordinary standard bushel. It is impossible to describe, a bushel of apples by weight, because one kind is heavy and another kind is light. In the case of the stone pippin perhaps 50 lbs. go to the> bushel, whereas codlin apples may not run to more than 40 lbs. to the bushel. Fruit should be sold by measurement, and a standard case is required.
– As to weight.
– As to measurement, and .not as to weight.
S’enator Macfarlane. - Weight or measurement.
– If a fruitgrower has a standard bushel case, it will hold exactly a bushel. However, the fruitgrowers in Tasmania did not trouble about the question of having a standard case. They can, if they like, continue to use their old stringy-bark cases, or use the cases which are made of pine and other woods in other parts of Australia, and which certainly are far more sightly. They can do exactly what they like in that regard. There is no particular standard as to size.
– Would the Minister allow different weights to be used, provided that the measurements were the same?
– Undoubtedly. A bushel is always a bushel, and it does not mean weight, but measurement.
– Apples are sold by the pound very often.
– They are sold by the pound retail, but by the bushel or half-bushel case wholesale. A bushel is the recognised measurement for apples. A bushel case, no matter what description of apple it may contain, is sold by measurement, and that is the proper system to adopt.
– By the case, and not by the bushel.
– I do not care whether the growers use- a half-bushel case or a bushel case, but certainly they should use a standard case so that every one mayknow that it contains a certain measurement of apples. Then the fruit exporters recommend that -
Fruit for export found to be affected by any of the following pests shall be deemed not fit for export : -
Fruit fly, Australian (Tephritis) Tryoni)
Fruit fly, European (Halterophera Capitata)
San Jose scale (Aspidiotus perniciosus
We have not included that recommendation in the regulation. Perhaps it ought to have been done in some cases, but still it has not been done. We allow a man, if he likes, to export apples with even these pests upon them, and leave it to the persons to whom they are exported to protect themselves against the introduction of the pests.
– No; there must be some freedom from disease.
– We have left the apple-grower with as much freedom as can be conceived. We have not troubled him, except in two particulars. We have only required him to add the word “Australian “ to his ordinary brand, and to describe truthfully the quality of the fruit in his case. He may pack the biggest rubbish in his case, if he is foolish enough to do so, so long as he declares that it is rubbish.
– Under the Act, a man cannot export rubbish.
S’enator PLAYFORD. - Perhaps not.
– The exporter is required to state that the fruit is sound and clean.
– The regulation does not say that the fruit shall not be unsound. We do not restrict the exporter at all. He can send away what he likes, but we require him to be honest and truthful, and to declare exactly what he is exporting.
– Is the Minister quite sure that a man can export as much codlin moth as he likes? Is that being allowed ?
– I think so. I do not think, that there is any provision in the regulation to prevent that being done.
– I think it is a great blunder:
– I am inclined to think that if I had been called upon to frame the regulations, they would have been far more stringent than they are. It appears to me that the Minister of Trade and Customs has met the fruit-growers in every conceivable direction that he could so as not to put them to unnecessary expense or trouble.
– We shall watch the South Australian apples now when thev come to Western Australia.
– We have no codlin moth in South Australia. When I inquired in Perth how it was that Western Australia stopped the introduction of our apples, I was told that it was done on the ground that in South Australia we had codlin moth, but, as a matter of fact, we had not, although there was codlin moth to be seen all round Perth at the time. I made that discovery when I went into a garden with a gardener named Newman. In Western Australia they refused to admit the fact for some years. Sir John Forrest told me that there was no codlin moth in the State, and that, therefore, South Australian apples were excluded. I told him that there had been codlin moth in Western Australia all the time, and at last that fact had to be acknowledged. .
– It cannot be found in Western Australia except in apples from Tasmania or South Australia.
– In regard to the export of potatoes, all we require is that they shall have a label attached to them bearing in legible characters a brand of’ which the word “Australia” shall form part, and which shall specify the net weight or quantity. We do not say that a man shall not export even frost-bitten potatoes. We only say that he shall give a truthful description of quality and surely we cannot ask him to do less when he is exporting to foreign parts. If men export potatoes of excellent quality, and the shipment arrives at its destination in good condition, very likely they will find a market, but if they send away potatoes of inferior quality, they will get a bad name, with the result that they will not be able to build up a market. Our object is to place all the producers on the same footing, so that when a trade is built up bv a. prudent shipper in, say, Manila, it shall not be destroyed by a man who would not scruple to ship there a quantity of inferior produce. I ask the Senate not to agree to the motion.
– At the present time the motion concerns Tasmania in a larger degree than any other State, but, if what I hear be true, in the future it will also concern other States, perhaps in as large a degree as it now concerns Tasmania.
– Last year we exported apples from Western Australia.
– At the present time Tasmania is deserving of special consideration because, after very great vicissitudes, the export of fruit has grown to a very large and important trade. Very serious troubles were encountered in establishing the trade. It is one which deserves every consideration at the hands of the Parliament, and requires every advantageous economic condition to enable it to be carried on at a profit.
– In Tasmania, they would have built up a far better trade, and obtained higher prices, if- they had had a system of inspection as in South Australia. South Australian apples bring a better price than do Tasmanian apples.
– The Minister is only stating what most of us know already. Some years ago in Tasmania we tried to introduce a system of inspection, but it was surrounded with very’ great difficulties which he apparently does not quite appreciate. Tasmania is the largest appleproducing State, but it is the most distant from its principal market. It is also the latest in season. In Victoria apples are ready for picking earlier than in Tasmania ; in South Australia thev are ready earlier than in Victoria, and in Western Australia thev are still earlier. Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia enjoy, too, a great advantage in their comparative nearness to the old country.
– And the Tasmanian growers want to make up the difference by sending bad stuff away.
– No, and I trust that the honorable senator will not purposely misrepresent me hen I am desiring to put the case fairly. In Tasmania we have no desire to export bacl stuff. The question is, what is bad stuff? What ane person may characterize as bad stuff may be perfectly good stuff in the judgment of another person, as experience has demonstrated. Tasmania is behind in -the season, and in the period of transport, and at the same time it is the largest appleprod udin g State. We are here, I take it, as Australians, and not merely as the representatives of our respective States. It is our duty to try to foster, especially in Tasmania, which has many other disadvantages to compete with, any producing interest which is making wealth in a proper way, and that is by exporting surplus products. From Tasmania we have a longer distance to send our fruit, and. so far as th<> Home trade is concerned, it has to be concentrated in six or seven weeks. In that short space we have to ship all the apples we can export in order to get a market there.
– D - Does not the fact that Tasmania is behind in season account for its apples not securing as good a price as earlier apples?
– I am not discussing the question of prices now. but pointing out that we ought to do everything in our power to develop production, and export rather than do anything which would tend to defeat that purpose. I believe that every honorable senator is animated by that desire. A large boat comes alongside the pier at Hobart on a Friday, and on the following day at noon she has to leave.
– But the shippers would know for a week or two before that she would come in on that day.
– Apparently the Minister is forgetting that time is the essence of the- contract, and that the time between the plucking of the fruit, and the stowing of the cases in the ship, should be as brief as possible, owing to the disadvantageous conditions under which Tasmania labours.
– That is one of the Tasmanians’ .great mistakes. In South Australia we find that it is a great deal better to pick the apples, and let them sweat a little.
– In South Australia the conditions are altogether different from those in Tasmania. Surely the Minister knows that the time between the gathering of the fruit and the stowing of the case in the ship’s hold should be as brief as possible, even in the case of South Australian fruit.
– That is not .so in the c:ise of South Australia.
– At any rate, in Tasmania it is essential. A mail-boat or a specially-chartered steamer between 5.000 and t 2,000 tons comes alongside the pier at Hobart on a. Friday Time is the essence of the contract with her. She requires to make a quick despatch, and in order to do so must employall the labour available, because it may be necessary to handle and put on board anything from to, 000 to 50.000 cases of fruit.
– That can be done verv quickly if the fruit is there; and it ought to be there when the exporters know that the ship is coming in.
– The fruit must be collected very rapidly, and it is necessary that it should receive as little handling as possible, and be placed on the London market with the utmost despatch. Will these regulations help or hinder that?
That is the whole question - will these regulations help or hinder the export of fruit from Australia? .
– The branding of the cases should not be a difficulty since they can be branded before the fruit is put into them.
– It is easy to talk in the flippant way in which the Minister spoke of the branding of cases. In the honorable senator’s view the branding of all cases with the word “ Australia “ is a mere nothing. But I point out that all these brands have to be stencilled on, and the operation ‘must take up a great deal of time. It cannot be done in half a second, as - the honorable senator suggested. According to the regulations, the case must be branded with a description of the apples it contains, the weight or quantity, the State of export, and also the word “Australia.” I presume that it would not be sufficient under these regulations to brand a case with the letter “ T “ of the contraction “ Tas.” in lieu of the word “Tasmania.” I suppose that it will be necessary to brand the cases with the full words “Tasmania” and “Australia.” We have had submitted to the Senate the views of the Hobart Chamber of Commerce on this question, and I say that the views of the men who are interested in looking after the conditions of commerce in Tasmania or any of the other States are entitled to be treated with every respect by the members of the Senate. The members of the Hobart Chamber of Commerce show that, under these regulations, in the case of a shipment of, say, 50,000. cases of apples, every case must bear, in addition to the mark of the exporter, such a statement as “ one bushel apples,” “ New York Pippins.” or “ Scarlet Permains “ as the case may lie. and then the full names “ Tasmania “ and “Australia.” Some honorable senators may think that that is no great task to impose upon exporters, but where the export trade has developed to enormous dimensions, it is a very serious thing. The apple industry is one in which children have to be engaged, the whole of the children of a family and of a neighbourhood may be employed in connexion with the picking and packing of apples for export, and, in the circumstances under which they are exported, a great deal of work has to be pressed into a few hours. Instead of helping the exporters, as we should do, the Government are proposing the imposition of irritating conditions of a most embarrassing kind. I give every credit to the Minister of Trade and Customs, and admit that it is the intention also of the Act that the products of Australia exported shall be such as shall earn a good reputation for Australian exports gener-ally. That is very desirable and proper, but we should not forget that the exporters have their own responsibilities. In Tasmania, this trade has grown enormously. It was at first regarded as something chimerical to propose . the export of fruit from Tasmania to Great Britain, and, as a matter of fact, the freight at first amounted to 200 per cent, on the value of the article, apart from handling charges. By degrees, the export trade has been developed, If has been found that we can deal with this product fairly well, and the present trade is a very large one. On the subject of the difficulty of deciding what is good and what is bad fruit, I give honorable senators an illustration from practical experience. Some time ago, in Tasmania without legislating .on the subject, we instituted a kind of voluntary inspection of fruit for export. An inspector reported that a certain shipment brought forward was unfit for export,, and would damage the whole of the cargo with which it was desired that it should be sent Home. The exporter, a man named Wright, said that he would take all the responsibility as he knew the English market. The inspector probably had somewhat narrow views upon the question, and regarded Mr. Wright’s shipment as unfit for export, on the ground that the apples he desired to send away were too small. The cargo taken away at the time included some of the finest brands of apples exported from Tasmania, and one little lot of about 200 cases that fetched the highest price in the English market, was the shipment objected to by the inspector. There may, therefore, be differences of opinion as to whether exports me good or bad.
– We should not interfere with a man in such circumstances. He could export his apples in just the same way as was done then.
– We are being confronted by these declarations by Ministers as to what they intend to do. I ‘ give Sir William Lyne every credit for not desiring to embarrass the export of Australian products in any way, but we have to take the law as it stands. The law should be one which can be administered according to its letter and spirit, and while the present Min ister of Trade and Customs may declarethat he is prepared to administer this law leniently and liberally, he may be succeeded by some one actuated by narrower motives or provincial in his views, and who may administer the law strictly. The matter is one of the very greatest importance to Tasmania. Senator Macfarlane asks honorable senators to disagree with these particular regulations, and if they should do so, there is nothing to prevent the Minister of Trade and Customs bringing down improved regulations to-morrow if he pleases.
– They would be a good deal more severe than those which are now objected to.
– That would savour of vindictiveness. Although Sir William Lyne may occasionally make some disparaging references to his native land, I do not think he would display a vindictive spirit in dealing with Tasmanian exporters. All that is asked is that honorable senators shall express their dissent from these regulations.
– Which are very mild.
– It is those who wear the shoe that feel the pinch. The objection to these regulations has come from the Hobart Chamber of Commerce, which is composed of men who know all about the fruit export trade, and their conclusions on the subject are entitled to every respect. I hope that the Senate will agree to Senator Macfarlane’s motion, not in any sense as a rebuff to the Minister, bub in order that these regulations may be again considered by him, so that others may be framed which will fit Tasmanian conditions better than those to which objection is taken.
.- When the Commerce Bill was before the Senate, I remember that I impressed upon honorable senators opposite the necessity of exempting fruit and potatoes from its provisions. There is all the difference in the world between the export of fruit and potatoes and the export of articles like butter, and other goods which can be adulterated, and the adulteration of which can be discovered only after analysis. I pointed out that in the case of potatoes a purchaser opens a bag and looks at its contents. It is not necessary that thev should be certified to as being sound and clean. because he can see whether they are sound and clean for himself.
Iri the same way at Covent Garden an intending purchaser of apples can have the top knocked off one or of fifty cases before he buys them, and the article is then plainly before him. Although I am quite sure that our honorable friends opposite desire to do nothing to discourage our export trade, I am quite certain that that will be the effect of these regulations, because they will put obstacles in its way. From some remarks which have fallen fi om him, I think that the Minister does not quite understand the difficulty of the position in which Tasmanian exporters are placed with regard to the export of apples and potatoes. We export from 300,000 to 400,000 cases of apples in a season. The Minister says that the apples will be on the wharf waiting to be shipped. But in very many cases that will not be so. Sometimes Jones and Company, who manage the greater part of the export business in Hobart, have arranged for the shipment of so many cases of Cleopatras, or of Adams Permail] apples, and it is found that at the time they should be shipped they are not quite matured. Jones and Company may receive a wire from the grower, to the effect, “ Adams Per,main not fit for shipment for another week.” and thev then have to telegraph to some other district such as that of New Norfolk, which is not so moist as is the Huon district, to send down, perhaps, 500 cases of apples to take their place, on the very morning that the ship is to sail. The apples have then to be brought to the wharf and taken on board by the big steamer, which may be delayed an hour or two, in order to receive them. Does not the Minister see how difficult it would be in such a case to comply with the regulation requiring all these brands to be put on the cases ? What I ask the honorable senator to do is to prevent these regulations becoming law, until he has made inquiries from experts as to the cost of carrying them out. How are these lengthy brands to be put on 500 or 1,000 bags of potatoes? I never saw any one try to brand potatoes. I have seen, woolpacks branded, but they present a surface almost as firm as the side of a box.
– How is a bag of flour branded ?
– It presents a much more even surface than does a bag of potatoes. I ask the Minister in justice to the representations of the Hobart Chamber of Commerce, and of men who export more apples, than are exported from any other
State in the Commonwealth, and who have pioneereed and created the English marker for Australian fruit, not to allow the regulations with respect to fruit and potatoes to become law until he has ascertained by reliable evidence what the cost of carrying them into effect is going to be. I think that is a reasonable request, and I hope it will be acceded to. Owing to bad weather or floods, growers may not be able to supply the potatoes they have undertaken to supply, and it may be necessary for the shipper to telegraph to Burnie or to Devonport at the last moment, to know whether 500 bags of potatoes can be obtained from some other source, to complete a shipment.
– This does not affect the interchange of products between the States.
– I am aware that it does not, but we ship potatoes to some places outside of the State, and I hope we shall do so to a greater extent in the future. As Senator Mulcahy has said, instead of encouraging our exporters the action taken is calculated to discourage them.
– Will potatoes be shipped to South Africa from Tasmania in bags ?
– Potatoes are shipped in bags now.
– There will not be one shipment of potatoes in bags.
– They may have to be shipped in boxes. I think that Senators Macfarlane and Mulcahy have made out a good case, and in deference to the representations of the Hobart Chamber of Commerce the Minister should take every precaution to ascertain the cost which will be involved under these regulations, and should obtain the opinion of experts on, the subject before allowing them to become law.
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER (South Australia) [4.58]. - I should like to say a word or two on this matter, because I have some practical experience in the shipping of apples. I venture to suggest that the Minister of Defence does not know very much about that subject. The honorable senator has made one or two statements which, I think, justify me in saying that. First of all he stated by interjection that we get a better price for our South Australian apples, because there is inspection of the export in that State. As a matter of fact, there is no inspection of the export of South Australian apples.
– I did not say any such thing.
– I certainly understood the honorable senator to say so.
– The Minister said so by interjection distinctly.
– What I said, by way of interjection, was that if the Tasmanian people had inspection they would very likely get a better price for their apples.
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER.The Minister certainly made some statement with respect to South Australia in this connexion. However, the fact is that there is no inspection of the export of apples in South Australia. I obtained a letter from the manager of the Export Department, in which he stated that out of 70,000 cases shipped only 13,000 cases were inspected, and I gave that information to Senator .Macfarlane. The reason that those thirteen cases were inspected was simply that they were being shipped through the State Export Department. Another statement of Senator Playford was that apples are not shipped in small quantities; but, as a matter of fact, I myself have frequently shipped twenty cases, and, last season, as few as ten cases, at a time. There is no difficulty or trouble about shipping a small number of cases.
– It is not usual.
– If honorable senators imagine that firms who ship 20,000 or 30,000 cases always ship their own apples they are quite mistaken. In South Australia one of the largest shipping firms, Messrs. George Wills and Co., who often export 20,000 cases, never ship any of their own apples; and only a little while ago I was speaking to another exporter in a large way of business, who has, during the last two or three years, shipped annually, on the average, 20,000 cases, nearly all of which, however, were from small growers, for whom he merely acted as agent. This shipper told me that only on rare occasions did he purchase apples to fill up the space for freight he had engaged, and never when he could avoid doing so. 1 do not know what is the case in Tasmania, but I can say that in South Australia the great bul’k of the apples shipped are from small growers; and I ask my friends of the Labour Party not to play into the hands of the middlemen by adopting regulations which will undoubtedly have that effect. I understand that one of the main principles of the Labour Party is that the consumer and the producer should be brought as nearly together as possible - that the middlemen should not be unduly helped. The Minister of Defence alluded to the suggestions made by representatives of the apple trade; but it must be remembered that all those representatives were middlemen.
– Is Mr. Laver a middleman ?
– He is nothing of the sort ; he is a gardener and grower.
– He is a grower and a middleman as well. What I say is that none of the small producers were represented on that occasion.
– The argument of Senator Baker could be used against Chambers of Commerce, which consist of middlemen.
– I am speaking of the shipment of apples, of which I have had personal experience ; and I emphatically assert that these regulations unduly favour and help the middlemen to the detriment of the primary producer, who’ by these regulations is asked to place no fewer than eight different brands on the cases for export. To begin with, the intending exporter has to place “apples” on the case, in order to describe the contents. Then he has to show on the case the net weight; though why there is this regulation I cannot conceive, in view of the declaration just made by Senator Playford, that apples should be sold not by the weight, but by the bushel. The third inscription which has to be placed on the case is the name of the State, followed by the word “ Australia.” When Sir William Lyne was in South Australia a deputation waited upon him with a request that “South Australia” should be considered sufficient, in view of the fact that these words combine both State and Commonwealth. Sir William Lyne promised to give the matter consideration; but, so far as I know, he has not done so - certainly the regulations do not show that the request has been favorably considered. Then, in addition, the producer must place “ sound “ or “ unsound “ on the case. Now, who on earth would be such a fool as to place “ unsound “ on cases of apples which he was exporting ? Undoubtedly, an exporter would inscribe the word “sound” ; but I can see no necessity for this regulation.
– The producer has not to inscribe “sound” or “unsound,” but has to state the condition of the apple.
– In what way could a producer describe the condition without the use of either of those words ? According to regulation ‘ 8 -
In the case of fruit and potatoes, the trade description shall specify their condition as to soundness. ‘
– Yes, “ their condition as to soundness.”
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER.What description could a producer give except “ sound “ or “ unsound “ ?
– If Senator Baker looks at page 6 of the regulations he will see that the trade description must be given by declaration.
Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER.I shall deal with that point by-and-by. For his own protection, the producer has to place on the case a description of the apples, showing their grade ; because it is no good exporting apples unless they have been carefully selected, graded, and packed.
– There is nothing about grading in the regulations.
– I know that. But the producer has to give this information for his own protection - in order to get a fair price. If an exporter sends apples which have been carefully selected, graded, and packed, and hits a good market, he may think himself lucky if he averages 12s. a case; but I may point out that the expense of buying cases, packing, shipping, and so forth, comes to very nearly 8s. Under these circumstances, is it reasonable to suppose that a man would export apples which were inferior, when, to do so, would be only to cover himself with loss? Even with the greatest care, apples sometimes deteriorate on the voyage to England, Germany, or elsewhere, in which case they fetch a much lower price than 12s., and heavy loss is incurred. Next, the producer has to send the apples down to some place for examination. That may seem a small matter to honorable senators generally, but it is by no means a small matter to the exporter. If the importer is getting a profit of only is. or 2s. per case, and he has to incur the extra expense of storing them at some place for inspection, that profit disappears. Some time ago, I endeavoured to ship apples to Broken Hill, and I found that the New South Wales authorities, on the plea that there is codlin moth in South Australia, and none at Broken Hill, required the cases to be examined. What harm codlin moth would do at Broken Hill I do ‘Snot know, but there is the regulation. When I communicated with the authorities, I was told that if inspectors were sent to my place to carry out the inspection, I would be charged two or three guineas. I pointed out that I did not expect to get more than a profit of is. or is. 6d. per case, and that, under the circumstances, I could not afford to pay three guineas for inspection. I was then informed that I might send my apples down to a store in town, where, on giving two days’ notice, I could have them inspected ; but that plan would have run away with still more money. To middlemen and exporters in a large way of business such a regulation is not a serious matter, because they have their own stores in town, and when 500 or 1,000 cases are inspected at once, the cost per case is not large. But in the case of an exporter in a small way, who intends to ship at the outside, say, 50 cases, such arrangements mean ruin ; and, in the face of the difficulties presented, I gave up that branch of the business. I do not say that similar results will happen in every case; but the expense of storing the apples at some place for inspection will be found to be prohibitive to many small growers, who will be forced to sell to the middlemen ; and I am sure that is not an effect which either honorable senators or the Government desire. Further, the producer has to make a declaration as to the soundness or unsoundness of the fruit. I do not know whether honorable senators have considered this aspect of the case; but I repeat that all these obstacles play into the hands of the middlemen. I say nothing about potatoes, because on that point I yield to Senator Playford’ssuperior knowledge. As to apples, however, I can speak with authority, whereas I know that Senator Playford has not had any experience, lately at all events, in the exportation of apples.
Senator MACFARLANE (Tasmania) [5.10]. - I urge upon the Senate the importance of assisting the poor producer. By our legislation we have materially helped large manufacturers, and we ought to do all we possibly can for those engaged in primary production. So far from increasing the expenses in the export business, we ought to keep them down to their lowest limit, and on this ground I ask honorable senators, before it is too late, to adopt the motion I have proposed.
Question put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 4
Question so resolvedin the negative.
Senator KEATING laid upon the table the following paper : -
Copy of an agreement between the Governments of New Zealand and of the Commonwealth for the establishment of reciprocal Customs Tariff relations between the two countries, together with a copy of a schedule of proposed alterations in the Commonwealth Customs Tariff of 1902 designed to give effect to the said agreement.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
I have taken the unusual course, for a private senator, of introducing this Bill, because I have come to the conclusion that the Government either has not the time, or, as is more probable, has not the inclination, to deal with the question during the present session. My object in introducing the Bill is to remove, if possible, a blot from the Constitution which the Federal Parliament has conferred upon Papua, that blot being the establishment of a nominee Legislative Council instead of an elective body. It is a reflection upon the Commonwealth that, itself possessing probably the freest Constitution in the world, it should, in granting a Constitution to this Territory, revert to the old conservative idea of a nominee Legislative Council. I wish to give honorable senators an opportunity to remedy that mistake. The Constitution passed by this Parliament recognises the necessity of the white people in Papua being represented on the Legislative Council. Section 29of the Papua Act says that -
The Legislative Council shall consist of the Lieutenant-Governor and of the members of the Executive Council, together with such nonofficial members as the Governor-General appoints under the seal of the Commonwealth, or as the Lieutenant-Governor, in pursuance of instructions from the Governor-General, appoints under the public seal of the Territory.
Sub-section 3 of section 29 provides that -
So long as the white resident population is less than 2,000, the number of non-official members shall be three; but when the white resident population is 2,000 or more, an additional nonofficial member shall be appointed for each 1,000 of such population in excess of 1,000.
But, instead of giving the white residents any voice in the choice of their representatives, their appointment has been left practically in the hands of the GovernorGeneral - which practically means that the three non-official members will be the ‘nominees of the ‘Lieutenant-Governor of Papua. 1 believe that three gentlemen have been nominated. I do not know who they are, nor even what theirnames are. They may be fairly representative of the people, or they may not. That is all a matter of chance. But if the measure which I have introduced is passed, the white residents of Papua, male and female, will have an opportunity to place the men of their choice upon the Council. I suppose I am correct in assuming that every member of the Senate is a democrat. If we are to have the white people of Papua represented in the Legislative Council, it is much better that their representatives should be chosen directly by themselves than indirectly by the Lieutenant-Governor and the Governor-General. Here, perhaps, I may quote a sentence from the speech of Senator Symon, when moving the second reading of the Bill conferring the Constitution upon the Possession. He said -
This is the first occasion, so far as I am aware, on which a pure democracy, such as exists under our Commonwealth Constitution, has had an opportunity to show how it can colonize and govern a Dependency. ,
The Commonwealth being a “ pure democracy,” it might have been thought that we should pass on our purity, so to speak, to our offspring. But we have not. We have in this case - inadvertently, perhaps - passed on to them the old style of conservativenominee Council system, which so far as I have been able to discover, has never worked effectively in any Colony.
– It has worked very well for a time.
– I am not sure of that. For a very long time Western Australia was governed by a nominee Council, and no progress was made. As a matter of fact, the beginning of the progress of Western Australia was almost coincident with the inception of responsible government, if I am not mistaken.
– Coincident with the discovery of gold.
– That may have had something to do with the inception of responsible government, because we know that, under the old autocracy, mere prospectors were looked upon as being in the same category as dingoes and foxes. Instead of their being encouraged upon the runs of the squatters, they were very often hunted off. But we need not pursue that aspect of the question. We are, as Senator Symon said, the representatives of a pure democracy ; and, in giving a Constitution to our first Dependency,we should pass on to it the rights and privileges that we ourselves possess. I do not know that it is necessary that I should give any facts with regard to Papua. According to the report furnished to Parliament by Mr. Atlee Hunt, there were, when he was there, 573 Europeans there, of whom 170 were females. They were engaged in mining, trading, agriculture, and timber-getting. A very fair proportion of them are Government officials and missionaries. Some of the miners told Mr. Atlee Hunt that proper consideration was not given by the administrative authorities to their representations. Others seemed to be quite satisfied without having direct representation on the Legislative Council. But it is not a matter of whether they are satisfied or dissatisfied. It should be a question of whether a Parlia ment, constituted as this Parliament is, ought to pass on to our Dependency a Constitution which we should never have accepted for ourselves. I hope that the second reading of the Bill will be agreed to to-day, because not much time is left during the present session to get it through the Senate in time to give another place a chance of passing it.
Motion (by Senator Playford) proposed -
That the debate be adjourned.
– This is merely an attempt to shelve the issue.
– Every one knows what it means.
– We ought to have a little time to consider the subject.
Question - That the debate be adjourned - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to; debate adjourned.
Debate resumed from 9th August (vide page 2548) on motion by Senator Dobson -
That the Senate while recognising that the Government has clone good work in establishing a uniform scheme for the training of cadets, regrets that only about one-tenth of our youth can now take advantage of such scheme, and is of opinion that Ministers should amend the Defence Act and provide for a universal system of gymnastics, military drill, and rifle practice, to be applied to all boys and youths in the Commonwealth up to the age of18 years, such scheme being urgently required -
To prevent the physical deterioration of our youth.
To teach them loyalty and patriotism, and give them such lessons in discipline and obedience as will develop and improve the moral side of their nature ; and
To teach them howto defend their country and thus probably obviate the necessity of applying a scheme of universal military training to the manhood of the Commonwealth, or greatly lessenthe tax such a scheme would entail upon the revenue of the Commonwealth and the time of its citizens if such a scheme should hereafter prove to be necessary.
– - I have very few words to say in support of the motion, as I think that Senator Dobson has made out a very fair case. I am very pleased to notice that the Minister of Defence has paid some attention to the question of the training of cadets. He has given us an assurance that extra attention will be paid to the subject, that the number of cadets will be increased, and that, if possible, the movement will be further developed. In these circumstances, I cannot understand why he is not able to support the motion. I do not think that any one will deny that the application of a universal system of gymnastics, military drill, and rifle practice to all boys up to the age of eighteen years would, to some extent, have the effect of preventing the physical deterioration of our youth, teaching them loyalty and patriotism, and giving them such lessons in discipline and obedience as would develop and improve the moral side of their nature. I take the reference to teaching the boys “ loyalty and patriotism ‘ ‘ to mean patriotism to their native country, and also to Australia as part of the British Empire. If the boys are taught how to defend their country, it may obviate the necessity of adopting a system of universal military training, and also greatly lessen the cost which, if it. were rendered necessary hereafter, the adoption of such a scheme would entail upon the Commonwealth. I believe that the time is rapidly coming when almost the whole of the people of Australia will favour the adoption of some kind of universal training - not necessarily compulsory service or conscription, which is repulsive to the ears of some persons - not only for the youth, but for the manhood of Australia, so that they shall be able to supply a citizen soldiery whenever it may be required. If the basis of a citizen soldiery can be secured by the passing of the motion, as
I believe it can, I think that the Senate will do very well indeed to pass it. It will have my hearty support.
Debate (onmotion by Senator Best), adjourned.
Debate resumed from 23rd August (vide page 3284), on motion by Senator Pulsford -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
SenatorPEARCE (Western Australia) [5. 35]. - It is my intention to support the second reading of the Bill, but not, I confess, with very great enthusiasm. The only ground on which it will receive my vote is that the abolition of the canteen would lessen the opportunities tor drinking. That seems to me to be the only virtue of the Bill. It is said that if the canteen were abolished, men would go outside to drink. The American quotations which have been cited refer to men going outside the canteen and visiting low grog shops. But I do not think that the licensing laws of any of the States are so loose as to allow that class of drinking establishment to exist.
– I can only speak for Western Australia ; and I do not think that its licensing laws allow that class of grog shop to exist. Of course, the honorable senator can speak for his own State.
– Does the honorable senator say that in Western Australia sly grog shops do not exist?
– I do not think that the licensing laws of Western Australia allow the existence of what can be called low grog shops.
– They are to be found in every State.
– I do not know of any in Western Australia.
– Then the honorable senator does not know much about the goldfields.
– I have a fair knowledge of the gold-fields, and I do not think it can be said that any sly grog shops exist there. At any rate, there are no barracks on the gold-fields. I intend, whenever the opportunity arises, to vote to lessen the opportunities for indulging in the use of strong drink. I regret that we have not the power to deal with the whole drink question. We can only deal with the subject in a limited manner. I hesitated in making up my mind, because I believe in the principle of local option being, applied to the drink question rather than prohibition, but I could not see how it could be applied in this case, because, in order to be effective, it must be applied to districts, and not to one drinking place. For these reasons, I intend to support the Bill.
– I intend to vote against the second reading of the Bill. I ha.ve been very much impressed by what I have heard in the course of the debate. In my experience of the Defence Force, I did not hear of any evil resulting from the presence of the canteen, either in barracks or in camps, and judging from the opinions of persons in authority which have been communicated to the Senate, I feel more strongly than ever that great evils would result from the abolition of the canteens. In my opinion, the whole position is summed, up in what was said, I think, by one of the American officers who was quoted By Senator Turley. I think that there is no harm in repeating and endorsing from .my own experience the statement that every man in charge of soldiers would desire that they should be total abstainers, but that, failing that, the next best thing is that their means of getting, drink should be under the control of the authorities - that it is better that they should be able to have what they desire in camp or in the field under proper regulations, than that they should’ be compelled to go outside and get what they want. To my mind, that reason is quite sufficient to justify me in voting against the Bill. I do not agree with the statement of some honorable senators that it is a matter of putting additional temptations in the way of the soldier. If he is not a teetotaller, that is to say, if he makes a practice of taking a little drink occasionally he will either have it in the barracks or the camp, or else he will have it outside. It is better, I think, that he should have his drink under the former con.dition, and therefore I. shall oppose the Bill.
– I think it will be generally admitted that the debate has been of an extremely one-sided character, because the so-called temperance advocates have misrepresented the evil, in order to put forward a case in support of the abolition of can teens. I believe that every argument which has been advanced in favour of the Bill has been met with half-a-dozen arguments on the other side. I do not remember a debate on a question of this kind, certainly not in the Senate, which has been so one-sided. I recognise that the side against the Bill have made out such a good case that it is not necessary to support it with very many words, and I do not think that I should have risen to speak had it not been for the remarks made by Senator Pearce. It has been remarked by many persons that as a rule a temperance advocate is very intemperate in his language, but I cannot say that that dictum applies to Senator Pearce, who is a strict total abstainer, and who, to my knowledge, in his speeches on the temperance question, has always been very temperate indeed inhis language. But when he says that the licensing laws of Western Australia have not been evaded or have not encouraged the establishment of the low-class public-houses of which we have heard so much in this debate. I am satisfied that he knows very little of the conditions which obtain in most parts of that State, more particularly on the gold-fields where, as is only natural, and as I suppose is common to all new goldfields, a state of lawlessness concerning the licensing laws is observable to a verv pronounced degree.
– The barracks are not on the gold-fields, but on the coast.
– The military camps might be held on the gold-fields.
– They are held on the coast.
– Senator Pearce complained about the effect of the licensing laws.
– Is not Senator de Largie showing the value of control ?
– I know the district in which the barracks’ are situated, and I know that there are no low grog shops there.
– There is no better illustration of the advantages of regulating the drink traffic than can be found in Western Australia. I speak with personal experience, because I was well acquainted with Gwalia on the eastern gold-fields, before the State hotel was erected, and I have lived at the State hotel. One has only to compare the previous conditions with the present conditions to be convinced at once that the regulation of the drink traffic, more particularly in the form of a State hotel, is the only cure for the drink evil. What is a canteen but a State hotel ? It exists under the auspices of the Government, and is regulated by Government officers ; and in supporting its abolition, Senator Pearce is, I hold, violating the principle of the State hotel which he has supported time and again. I had occasion to go to Gwalia before the State hotel was established there, and when it was a perfect Bedlam and hotbed of evil owing to the drinking and carrousing of every kind that went on there. Prostitutes, and men who lived on those unfortunate persons, made a good living in that part of the country, because there was no licensed public-house nearer than a few miles from the town of Leonora. Persons took advantage of the opportunity to establish sly-grog shops there, and the state of affairs to which this led was mainly the reason for the institution of the State hotel in Gwalia. The people of Leonora, believing that it would interfere with their interests, were opposed to the proclamation of a township at Gwalia, but the Government were faced with the necessity of doing something to put an end to the awful state of affairs existing at the place, and they came to the conclusion that the only way in which they could clear out all the bad characters who were living on the miners there was to establish a State hotel at the place. They did so, with the result that on my first visit to Gwalia after the establishment of the State hotel, I was more than surprised at the altered demeanour of the people and the improvement in every aspect of society in that locality. One could go into the State hotel with some assurance that he would not be insulted, or would not have a rough to deal with. It was possible there to get good liquor and to be treated as one had a right to be treated. “Under the old condition of affairs it was not possible for a man to go into any place in the township in which liquor was sold with any assurance that he would come out of it alive. This should be accepted as some proof that there is no better way in which the drink traffic can be regulated than by the agency of the Government. .
– The honorable senator is aware that I do not need conversion on that point.
– By proposing to vote for the abolition of the canteen, and the abolition of Government agency in the control of the sale of liquor to a section of the community. I think the honorable senator is violating the principle to a certain extent. I had another experience in New South Wales. At the mining township of Kembla, when I was there, there were no hotels established, and, so far as I know, there are none there now. The nearest licensed house was at some considerable distance from the township. I have no doubt that the proprietor of the mine, the late Ebenezer Vickery, a man who took a very great interest in the temperance movement, thought that if he could prevent the issue of hotel licences for any property over which he had control he would be able to do something for the advance of the movement in which he was so much interested. But what was the result? I lived for some years at Kembla, and I can say, without fear of contradiction, that there was more drinking at that mining township than in any other township along the southern coast of New South Wales. Everyweek end drink was carted up to that place wholesale, and in greater quantity than would have been consumed if there had been a ‘regular public-house established at the place.
– Where was that?
– I am referring to the township of Kembla, and if Senators Pulsford and Walker will make inquiries as to the condition of affairs at that township, they will be convinced of the force of my contention that the very worst thing that can be done in the interests of the temperance cause is to afford opportunities for the establishment of slygrog shops by preventing the sale of liquor under regulation and control.
– I quite agree with’ the honorable senator. I am. on the same side with him in this matter.
– I am glad to hear that. For the reasons I have urged, and because I have heard no reason advanced by the other side in favour of the abolition of the canteen, I shall vote against the second reading of the Bill. The consumption of liquor will go on despite anything we can do, and in the light of such experiences as I have related I am unable to understand how any one can be found prepared to support a Bill designed to entirely prevent the sale of liquor in canteens. The sale of liquor is one of those things which we can regulate and control, but cannot entirely prevent, and I hope that the Bill will be thrown out.
– - I have listened with considerable interest to the debate which has taken place on the second reading of this Bill. To those who have spoken on the measure from either side I give credit for all sincerity, and T claim from them the same credit for sincerity in the expression of my conviction that in voting against this Bill, and in favour of the retention of the canteen, I am doing what I believe to be best in the interests of those concerned. I believe that there is more misery caused in the world through excessive drinking than through any other agency.
– Bacl economic conditions are the root cause that drives people to drink.
- Sen Senator Findley may hold that view, but to any one who has knocked about the world it is patent that there is an enormous amount of misery caused by excessive drinking. What assurance have we that those who frequent canteens will be benefited by the passing of this Bill? How can honorable senators for a moment believe that by passing this Bill we shall reduce the amount of drinking by those who now drink at the canteens ? Senator de Largie has related from his own knowledge what has occurred in mining camps where no licensed houses for the sale of drink have been established. A similar state of affairs has come under my notice in mining camps some miles from centres of civilization, and in which houses have not been licensed for the sale of drink. I have in mind at the present time at least two places where the establishment of sly-grog shops was due entirely to the fact that the men in the locality would have strong drink, and there was no licensed public house within a distance of some miles. The result was that the parasites of society who seem to infest every place, established sly-grog shops in which they sold liquor of the worst quality, or of no quality at all, and thus did enormous injury to those who would drink, while they put illegal -profits into their own pockets. It has been urged during the debate that if we abolish the sale of liquor in canteens there will be some danger of sly-grog selling in them. In re Dip it is contended that as the canteens are under control that danger is not likely to be very serious. But it seems to me that where some hundreds of men are assembled if the canteen is established at some distance from the nearest licensed public house, those who will have a certain quantity of drink under any circumstances will find the means of getting it through some of their comrades, and that it will be surreptitiously introduced into the canteen by individuals who may desire to make a profit out of it. That may be a somewhat far-fetched idea, but I believe that ‘there is such a danger. If I thought for a moment that we could do any service to those who, at present, are able to bil)’ drink in military canteens, and would be acting in their interests by prohibiting the sale of strong drink in them, I should be prepared to vote for the Bill. But it has already been pointed out, and may well be repeated, that we have not the power to deal with the sale of drink except in canteens. As a Federal Far liament we have not the power to prevent the sale of drink within a few hundred yards of a canteen. The men who frequent canteens are kept in barracks as prisoners - they are allowed a certain time off, and those who are unable to exercise self-restraint, and who, at times, take more drink than mav be good for them, vould get it outside if they could not get it in the canteens. If they are able to get the drink they require in the canteens, we are entitled to assume that they will be supplied only with the best quality of liquor, and that they will not be allowed to obtain sufficient to intoxicate them. If they have to go outside to get drink, they will be able to get it in unlimited quantity, and as much as they please to purchase. Seeing that we have not the power to prohibit or regulate the sale of strong drink outside Federal Territory, which includes all places over which the Federal authorities have control, military canteens amongst others, it seems to me that it would be absolutely useless for us to pass this Bill even from the point of view of those who conscientiously believe in temperance and in the restriction of the drink traffic. The instance of the State hotel at Gwalia, referred to by Senator de Largie, is deserving of consideration. In this morning’s newspaper I read a statement made on the authority of a member of the Victorian Legislative Assembly, with respect to the history of the State hotel in Gwalia, and what has taken place there during the last twelve months.
– Did he quote his authority ?
– The statement was made on my authority. I supplied the figures, and I have always advocated State hotels.
– I - I was not aware that the member of another place obtained his facts from Senator Pearce.
– The honorable member stated so.
– Tha That certainly escaped my observation; but the fact only insures that the statements are correct.
– I should not have interposed if Senator de Largie had not seemed to think there was ai reason for keeping back the fact.
– T - There is no reason for S’enator Pearce to interject to the effect that he is in favour of State control of the liquor traffic. However, the contrast between the conduct of the Government hotel’ at Gwalia and the conduct of privatelyowned hotels is very sharp. In the hotel at Gwalia. no man is served with more than a limited quantity of drink, and if he insists on calling for more, he is taken on one side and quietly informed by the man in charge that he cannot be supplied.
– It a man nas the slightest sign of drink about him. he is not served at all.
– I - I quote these facts to show that the main object of the hotel at Gwalia is not the making of profits, and in this we have a concrete example of the State ownership and” control of the liquor traffic to a limited extent. T have never wavered in my belief that the collective control of this traffic would be the best possible policy in the interests of the temperance party ; and ‘I regard the Commonwealth control of the traffic in canteens as a step, if only a small step, in that direction. We should be making a great mistake in the .interests of” temperance, and in the interests of the Forces, who would always be able to purchase liquor outside, if we were to carry this Bill. I am as earnest as any man could be in my desire to see the evils of the drink traffic swept away - I am a thoroughly sincere advocate of “ temperance, though nol of absolute prohibition, and, therefore, I aim opposed to the measure. The Minister of Defence appears to me to be rather inconsistent in his attitude. In the course of the debate he said, “ It is human nature; when you prohibit a thing which people desire, they will at once try to get it.” The Minister has since told us that he intends to prohibit the sale of all liquors, except beer and wine, in the military canteens, but, in view pf his former declaration, such a step is inconsistent on his part. However that may be, the Minister proposes to follow a precedent which has worked very well ; and we are informed by medical and scientific authorities that the greatest evils arise from alcoholic drinks other than beer and wine. The Minister may be quite right in the step he proposes to ta/ke; and if, as probably will prove to be the case, men are satisfied with wine and beer in lieu of the stronger form of liquor, it will be a step in the right direction. On this point I am in accord with the Minister of Defence, and I shall vote against the second reading of the Bill.
.- This Bill has, I have no doubt, been introduced with the best of motives; but the intentions, worthy as they are, may, if carried out, largely result in frustrating the objects of its promotors. We have to decide whether we believe that the Bill will achieve its object, and I give every credit to Senator Pulsford and those associated with him for a firm belief that the measure will do’ something to check the great evil of drink. After listening to their arguments, however, I am forced to the conclusion that, praiseworthy as “their effort ist it will probably end, I shall not say in disaster, but in rendering worse the evil they hope to check. In my opinion, the great evil of the drink traffic throughout the Commonwealth arises partly from’ bad Licensing Acts, and partly from the corrupt administration of the Licensing Acts. I am not so much concerned with sly-grog drinking, bad as it may be, as with the existing conditions in every State, arising from the two causes I have indicated. When I consider the way in which liquor is sold in military canteens, I recognise the fact that, whether that sale be under military regulation or not, ‘it is quite possible for liquor to be dispensed there without the element of profit entering into the transaction. Of all the disastrous circumstances in connexion with the drink traffic in this, as in other communities, none is so bad in its effects as the profit derived from the sale of drink to men. I do not know enough of military organization to know whether the element of profit is altogether removed from canteens.
– There is no personal profit ; but whatever return there may be is expended for the benefit of the men themselves.
– If there were the element of personal profit, I should do my utmost to remove it, because, in my opinion, no profit ought to accrue from the sale of liquor.
– That would make the drink cheaper.
– In no case would I allow .any profit to be made.
– - It would be better to keep the present prices, and apply the profits in providing amusements for the men.
– I am not much concerned about that. I consider that the element of profit’ ought to be removed when liquor is sold in canteens, because it is the element which is the most objectionable in the ordinary methods of .selling drink in public-houses. Reference has been made to the State ownership and control of the liquor traffic; and I have wondered publicly and privately why the Labour Party, whose chief political ambition at the present time is to nationalize industries in their various phases of ownership, distribution and exchange, have never, so far as I have been able to ascertain, brought into prominence the question of the nationalization of the drink traffic.
– We cannot do everything at once.
– Quite so; but I am at liberty to say something as to the order in which the Labour Party choose to achieve the objects they have in view.
– The nationalization of the liquor traffic is a plank in the platform of the Labour Party in every State.
– What power have we to deal with the liquor traffic?
– What power have we to nationalize the tobacco industry?
– The nationalization of the liquor traffic is urged in the last speech of Mr. Prendergast, the leader of the Labour Party in Victoria.
– I ask Senator Givens what power we in this Parliament have to nationalize the land, the tobacco industry, or any other industry ?
– The tobacco industry represents a monopoly which could not be dealt with by a State, and we have ample power under the Constitution/ to deal with the land as we propose.
– We have no power, and Senator Givens is aware of the fact, to deal with the nationalization of anything. I do say, however, that as a first practical start, the Labour Party, in their attempt to carry out their mad schemes of nationalization, would have done much to gain, perhaps, the sympathy of men. like myself, to whom the idea of nationalization is abhorrent, if they had moved in the direction of the nationalization of the drink traffic. Had the Labour Party done so, they might, as I say, have got the sympathy of many men who positively hate nationalization, as representing the destruction of industry.
– If the honorable senator thinks our schemes are mad, why not give the people an opportunity to vote against them?
– I must ask the honorable senator not to discuss other schemes.
– I am not discussing any other scheme.
– I was not referring to Senator Clemons, tout to the honorable senator who interjected.
– It is a significant fact that the Labour Party should at the present juncture be endeavouring to bring about, not the nationalization of the drink traffic, but the nationalization of the tobacco industry. I repeat that I have heard no prominence given by the Labour Party to the question of controlling the drink traffic by means of State ownership.
– T - Then the honorable senator cannot have read the report of the debate in the Tasmanian Parliament the other day, when the labour members of that Parliament gave great prominence to the question.
– I am dealing with the Federal Parliament, and I challenge any member of the Labour Party to show an instance within the last three years of that party bringing into prominence the question of the State ownership and control of the drink traffic.
– What about the Papua Bill?
– Yes ; honorable members advocate the State ownership and control of the liquor traffic in New Guinea, but they are prepared to permit any number of public-houses in Australia. That’ is the attitude to which I object.
– The honorable senator desires a Socialism which will suit himself, and not a Socialism which suits others.
– I do not desire, and I am not advocating, Socialism, but merely drawing attention to the attitude of the Labour Party on the drink traffic.
– I h I hope we shall be able to give the honorable senator an opportunity of voting with us on the question.
– I shall vote against the second reading of the Bill, because I think that under the canteen system of disposing of liquor there is a much better opportunity to effect the same sort of control - and I saythis advisedly- that may be Obtained by the State ownership and sale of liquor. In my opinion, the Bill would not promote the cause of temperance in our Military Forces, but, on the other hand, would do harm; and for that reason, and for no other, I shall vote against the second reading.
– I wish in the first place to refer to some remarks made as to the reason why this Bill has been introduced. It has been suggested by one or two honorable senators that the Bill has been brought forward as an electioneering dodge. There are two answers to that charge. In the first place, as to the House in which the measure originated, I have to state that it was placed on the business-paper of the House of Representatives last year - a year and a half before a general election was likely to occur; and it was only because the Bill was not reached that it was not dealt with last year. As far as the Senate is concerned, I point out that the Bill is in charge of a senator who has no occasion to face the electors this year. It is obvious, therefore, that the suggestion that there is an electioneering motive at the bottom of the proposal is entirely mistaken. It has been stated by one or two honorable senators that some supporters of the Bill have been very intemperate intheir remarks. I think I may reply that honours are fairly easy in that respect. I have heard opponents of the Bill charge supporters of it with being fanatics. I, who have been a temperance advocate all my life, and who have been always ready to do all I could to promote the cause of temperance, resent that imputation, because, while I am in favour of temperance, and wish to promote it in every way, I have never lost sight of the grave and overwhelming importance of personal liberty. I remember that when the Papua Act was under discussion, I quoted a remark made by an eminent English churchman, who said that he would rather see England free than sober. I quoted that remark as showing the ground on which I stood. When the Bill came into my hands, this was the ground upon which I put it before the Senate. I stated -
This Bill is intended to make our army as a fighting machine more efficient for the purposes for which it is established. It is on that ground that I especially ask the support of the Senate.
In this respect I find that a statement has been made by Major-General Miles, of the United States Army, who says -
In this most important hour of the nation’s history, it is due to the Government from all those in its service that they should not only render their most earnest efforts for its honour and welfare, but that their full physical and intellectual force’ should be given to their public duties, uncontaminated by any indulgence that shall dim, stultify, weaken, or impair their faculties and strength in any particular.
That is the ground, and the only ground, upon which I have taken charge of the Bill, and have asked for support for it. If it should be the opinion of the Senate that the army as a fighting force cannot be strengthened by the measure which I have brought forward, my arguments fall to the ground. Honorable senators should recognise the great -importance of the cause of temperance to Australia; and if any advocates of temperance, feeling to an overwhelming extent the evils that result from the consumption of intoxicants, should allow themselves occasionally to speak warmly, their efforts, I claim, should be regarded with esteem, and not with scorn. I find that there is considerable difficulty in getting at the truth as to the position of matters in America in respect of canteens. That largely arises from the method in which legislative affairs are conducted in the United States. Legislative proposals are first of all dealt with by Committees, reports of whose proceedings do not seem to be published. I have not been able, therefore, to obtain that full information which I should have liked to get. I must recognise that the speeches delivered in the Senate have been of a very high order. I do not suppose that any measure that has been before this Chamber has been more carefully debated. The address delivered by Senator Turley showed most laborious investigation, and was. well worthy of the subject, well worthy of the Senate, and well worthy of the speaker. But I have found that a good many of his statements, some made on the authority of army officers in the United States, are more or less untrustworthy. I will tell the Senate why. It seems that there has been a tendency to exaggerate, and within the last eighteen months the Secretary of the War Department in America has issued a minute calling upon officers in the army to be careful in the reports which they issue on this subject. I am very sorry that I am driven into a corner in the matter of time, but I think it advisable to read this statement -
The Secretary of War invites attention to the foregoing correspondence, and requests the officers of the army in charge of troops, who in their annual reports are called upon to speak of the operation of the anti-canteen amendment, to state the facts only, and not their opinions. The good faith of the army in making these reports, unlesson their face they are impartial statements of the facts which have come to the knowledge of the officers, will, in the heat of controversy, certainly be attacked if there is the slightest internal evidence of a bias on the part of witnesses.
It is quite evident, from the fact that the United States Secretary of State for War has issued such a memorandum, that statements were afloat to which at least the suspicion attached that they were not quite accurate. How far that inaccuracy attached to the reports which came under the cognizance of Senator Turley and Senator Findley I am not aware. But it does seem that there is some doubt as to their complete accuracy. It is impossible for me to deal as I should like to do with the remarks made by Senator Playford, owing to lack of time. But there is one point to which I must allude. Senator Playford is under the impression that the expenditure on drink in military canteens is of a very limited character, and that drinking on the Dart of soldiers is very moderate. I must differ from him.
– That was proved up to the hilt by Senator Millen.
– I will refer to the remarks made on that topic. Senator Playford, in the figures which he quoted, showed that the expenditure on drink in the Sydney barracks was£479 in the year. But he added that the outside cost of the liquor consumed would have been£800. Senator Millen gave us the expenditure on drink in Australia generally, and went on to observe that the expenditure on drink in canteens was only odd per head. But that was the expenditure on cheap liquor. In order to compare it with what it would have cost to buy the same quantity of liquor outside, we must take the £5 odd as representing an expenditure of between and £9per head, which would have been the cost if the men had consumed the liquor outside barracks. In addition to the fact that in the canteens the soldiers consume drink to the value of between £8 and £9, it has to be remembered that a certain number of them consume drink outside. That has to be added to the amount consumed in the canteens. We have not the figures for outside consumption, and do not know the amount of money the men spent in that way. Therefore it is impossible to make a fair comparison between the expenditure by soldiers who live in barracks and by the public generally. That is quite clear. I have received a private letter on this subject from a gentleman, in which he says that there is a large amountof evil connected with some of the small canteens, and that if canteens are to be allowed at all they should be confined to head-quarters. I ask honorable ‘senators to let this Bill go to a division. I hope that it will get into Committee. If then honorable senators do not care to pass it as it is, they can make it apply only to ardent spirits. If they do not like to adopt that course they can easily refer it to a Select Committee.
Question - That the Bill be now read a second time - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
Senator KEATING laid upon the table the following paper: -
Copy of a schedule of proposed alterations in the Commonwealth Customs Tariff of 1902 designed to differentiate between certain dutiable goods,the produce or manufacture of the United Kingdom and imported direct in British ships, and similar goods not the produce or manufacture of the United Kingdom, or not imported direct in British ships.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 29th August, vide page 3544) :
Clause 18 -
For the purposes of this Part of this Act, competition shall be deemed to be unfair if -
under ordinary circumstances of trade it would probably lead to the Australian goods being no longer produced or being withdrawn from the market or being sold at a loss unless produced at an inadequate remuneration for labour ; or
the means adopted by the person im porting or selling the imported goods are, in the opinion of the ComptrollerGeneral or a Justice as the case may be, unfair in the circumstances.
In the following cases the competition shall be deemed unfair unless the contrary is proved : -
If the competition would probably or does in fact result in an inadequate remuneration for labour in the Australian industry :
If the competition would probably or does in fact result in creating any substantial disorganization in Australian industry or throwing workers out of employment :
If the imported goods have been purchased abroad by or for the importer, from the manufacturer or some person acting for or in combination with him or accounting to him, at prices greatly below their ordinary cost of production where produced or market price where purchased :
If the imported goods are imported by or for the manufacturer, or some person acting for or in combination with him or accounting to him, and are being sold in Australia at a price which is less than gives the person importing or selling them a fair profit upon their fair foreign market value, or their fair selling value if sold in the country of production, together with all charges after shipment from the place whence the goods are exported directly to Australia (including Customs duty).
In determining whether the competition is unfair, regard shall be had to the efficiency of the management, the processes, the plant, and the machinery employed or adopted in the Australian industry affected by the competition.
.- It appears to me that the use of the word “ probably “ in a clause of this nature is rather inapt, because it relates to things which would have to be proved. It is first used in paragraph a of sub-clause 1. It does not appear to me that it should be used there if it is intended to serve any useful purpose, because the Court would have to decide whether under ordinary circumstances of trade the competition would lead to certain results. The use of the word “ probably “ could only tend to confuse matters. But the objection to it is stronger when we come to sub-clause 2, because there it deals with cases in which competition shall be deemed unfair unless the contrary be proved, and thus throws upon the defendant at once the onus of proving something. What he would have to prove would be that the competition would not “ probably “ result in an inadequate remuneration for labour. Clearly, a person should not be called upon to prove that something was not probable. It is not necessary to use the words “ would probably or” in paragraph a of sub-clause 2.
– I agree with the honorable senator’s objection, but I would remind him that the word is used also in clause 6.
– I shall not make up my mind as to whether I shall move the omission of the word “ probably “ from paragraph a of sub-clause 1 until I know the views of the Government on the point. But in that sub-clause I find a provision which I think very unsatisfactory, in that it would create a complication with regard to States legislation, and that is the reference to an “ inadequate remuneration for labour.” If we turn to the interpretation clause, we find that - “Inadequate remuneration for labour” includes inadequate pay or excessive hours, or any terms or conditions of labour or employment unduly disadvantageous to workers.
By what standard would the Court have to be guided? Suppose that the prohibition we have spoken of related to the whole of Australia, then the recognised rate of payment for labour in each State might be different. Some States have Wages Boards and others have not. ‘The Court would have to interpret a Federal Act according to a standard which had been set up byStates legislation. If the’ rate obtaining in one State were different from the rate obtaining in the other States, in some cases it might force the Court into the position of over-riding State legislation, in deciding what was an adequate remuneration for labour. If it were to decide on the higher rate, it would be enforcing a high rate in one State, where, perhaps, a lower rate obtained.
– Does not the honorable senator think it quite possible that the Court would differentiate between the States ?
– I do not know whether it could do that..
– Why not? In one State the rate of wages might not be fair.
– Even within a State the Arbitration Court has allowed a variation.
– In almost every award the Arbitration Court does that.
– Quite so; but it would be very injudicious to require a Federal Justice to say what was an adequate remuneration for labour in the different States.
– No; the wage would be already fixed, and he would say whether, in his opinion, it was an adequate wage.
– By doing so, the Justice would be practically saying that in his opinion a certain rate of remuneration was adequate or inadequate. And if that rate were to be followed in all the States, it is quite clear that the Court might be jamming itself up against State legislation. It is very undesirable, if it can be avoided, that there should be anything like conflict between Federal and State legislation.
– - I recognise all the difficulties which Senator Drake has pointed out. I believe with him that if the Bill were enacted the troubles which it would throw upon those who would be called upon to administer its provisions and those in respect of whom it would be administered would be interminable, but the responsibility for that position would rest with those who had supported the enactment of the legislation. Although I see no advantage at this stage in introducing an amendment, still I would point out to Senator Drake that the word to which he objects has already been passed in clause 6, where it is used in two places.
– That is no reason why it should be passed in this clause.
– I think that the whole Bill is complicated and absurd, and that the use of the word is ridiculous; butstill, having adopted it in one clause, there seems to me an advantage in retaining, it here, because, if the Justice found in a provision dealing with unfair competition the words “if the competition would, probably or does in fact result,” and that from another clause the word “ probably “ had been left out, he could only assume that Parliament meant something different in one case from what it did in the other. Whether the use of the word is right or wrong, it seems to me desirable to adopt the same phraseology whenthe same object is intended.
– We might knock the word out of clause 6 on recommittal.
– If I thought that there was the slightest possibility of making ari amendment to improve the Bill I would take that course, or support an amendment if moved by any one else. But the feeling against the amendment of the Bill has proved so strong on every occasion ,. that it appears to me that its opponents have done all that could be expected of them.
– Senator Best’s amendment was carried b>r an overwhelming majority.
– Amendments which are incubated between the Ministry and’ some of their supporters form one class of amendment, but there has been no encouragement, held out to honorable senatorson this side to make improvements.
– Because they are opposed to the whole measure.
– That is perfectlytrue, but the Minister cannot say that our amendments have not been offered bond fide with the object of improving the Bill. Not one amendment has been offered from thisside to destroy its fundamental principles. We can claim that we have sought to improve the measure, so far as it is capable of improvement. Although I think that the major portion of the Bill should be amended, still I am not prepared to move an amendment when I see that, rightly or wrongly, the Committee has determined toadopt the Bill much as it stands.
– I do not think that Senator Millen is taking the right course.
– I am not going to run my head against a stone wall.
– During the progress of the Bill the honorable senator has suggested amendments if he has not moved them, and although he has not succeeded, so far; in convincing honorable senators on the other side, still I do not see why we should despair. If we continue to point out what, in our opinion, are objections in drafting and in substance, it may be that, if we cannot convince the Government, we may convince some honorable senators. In the division on the constitutional point, if I remember aright, one or two honorable senators who had not previously voted in that direction voted for our amendment. It is our duty, I think, to point out any imperfections. If the Government refuse to accept amendments when suggested the whole responsibility will rest upon them. At the same time, a considerable responsibility will rest upon honorable senators on this side if we do not point out what we consider to be defects. I propose to move that’ the words “ would probably or,” be left out.
– It is very desirable that, in considering this Bill honorable senators should remember that we are sailing upon an unknown sea, which is absolutely uncharted. There is nothing in the experience of other countries to guide us in connexion with this part of the measure. In the first and second part of the Bill there are occasional references in marginal notes to the Sherman Act, or to something else which is American; but in the third part honorable senators will find that there is no reference to America in any of the marginal notes. The meaning of that is that every one of the clauses in this part has. been thought out, built up, and constructed here. In a matter of such immense importance, it is quite obvious that there are many openings for error even from the point of view taken by the Minister. I venture to say that within clause 18 there are possibilities of trouble which the people of Australia1 little dream of. I direct the attention of the Committee to one matter in connexion with the clause which lets “the cat out of the bag” as to what the Bill is before us for.
– Who is holding the the bag?
– Senator McGregor is doing his share in that direction. This clause makes it quite clear that the Bill is introduced, as I think most people are already well aware, in the interests of manufacturers, and I might almost say of certain manufacturers, in Australia. There are several references in it to “ the manufacturer,” and in sub-clause 3 there is a reference to the processes, plant, and machinery in “ the Australian industry.” These references clearly show that the manufacturing industries are those which it is proposed to support, and I ask honorable senators to be a little bit critical of this clause in consequence, and to remember that there are other industries in Australia of relatively overwhelming importance when compared with the manfacturing industries. I direct the attention of honorable senators to the fact that an importer in one State, being charged with unfair trading in any line of business, may lead to a prohibition of those goods, not only by himself, but by every other importer in the State and in every other State in Australia.
– My amendment will deal with that.
– I am aware that Senator Pearce has seen this difficulty ; but I am pointing out how great the objection to this legislation really is, and the serious outlook which it brings before us. With respect to the amendment suggested by Senator Pearce, do honorable senators believe that we shall get over the trouble if we limit the prohibition to one importer? Will that do very much good? Can he not employ an agent to bring in the goods for him? If this clause is to be passed, with or without the amendment suggested by Senator Pearce, it will involve a very wide-spread trouble to spring from a very small cause. The clause practically makes it a crime for anybody to buy cheap goods. I should like honorable senators who, before Christmas comes, will have to face the electors, to think out what this means. Let Senator Playford think what he will have to do in Adelaide when he faces an audience largely composed of lady voters. Let the honorable senator consider to-night how he will then, justify proposals to make it impossible, or at least extremely difficult, for cheap goods to be imported and sold in Australia.
– The ladies of South Australia! .nave; no desire to buy cheap goods, if that would prevent the employment of their own people. They have no wish to buy goods produced under sweated conditions in any part of the world to compete with the productions of their own people.
– This clause says nothing about sweating. It does not provide that goods produced under sweating conditions shall not be imported, but that if goods are bought cheaply abroad, and so can be imported here, and sold at a price which will enable them to compete in our market with similar goods produced in Australia, it shall be an offence to import them.
– Of what use are cheap goods if we have not the money to buy them ?
– That is a very old gag. If people have the money to buy cheap goods, and have not the money to buy dear goods, will they, thank Senators Best and Playford for putting the price of the articles they require beyond their reach, and so preventing them from obtaining them? Life is one long struggle to the great mass of the people. They are possessed of limited means, and must make what thev have go as far as they possibly can. One of the main results of legislation such as that which is embodied in this clause will be to make it difficult for people to spend their money to such advantage as thev otherwise would be able to do.
– They would not have any means at all if the honorable senator had his way.
– In that remark, Senator McGregor raises a very big question. The honorable senator knows, or ought to know by this time, that what he says is all humbug. The great work of Australia is the production of commodities which we send abroad to the value of tens of millions of pounds sterling annually, and the goods that come here from abroad are but the final results of the work of our producers. If it were not for the possibility of importing goods from abroad, of what use would it be for us to produce goods for export? If Ave legislate in such a way that people can only get a limited instead of a large quantity of goods from abroad, we shall be only making it hard instead of easy for them to live. That is my reply to Senator McGregor’s interjec tion. The honorable senator ought to know that what I say is true. I have not yet found any member of the Senate, 01 any one else, who is ‘prepared to face this very obvious statement of the economic position of Australia. Let honorable senators go to the country districts, and tell the producers, whether they be pastoralists, farmers, or miners, “ You are producing pastoral or farm produce, or gold or other minerals. You must send your productions abroad, and
Ave intend by our legislation to be careful as to what you shall get in exchange. We do not desire that you shall get ‘bargains, but that you shall be able to get only dear goods in exchange.”
– H - How does the honorable senator account for the fact that nearly all the miners in Australia are protectionists ?
– They are not, and the honorable senator ought to know that they are not. The great mining State of the Commonwealth is Western Australia, and in the first Federal Parliament that State had in the two Houses eleven free-traders out of twelve representatives It is, therefore, ridiculous for Senator O’Keefe to say that all the miners of Australia are protectionists.
– It is quite wrong for the honorable senator to sum up Western Australia in those terms. That State sent representatives to the Federal Parliament because they were Labour men, and not because they were either freetraders or protectionists.
– We had a good deal to do Avith the question in the first Federal Parliament, and it is on record how the representatives of the great western State voted. We know very well that the statement now preferred to the Senate by Senator O’Keefe is inac-‘ curate, to put it mildly. Not only is it to be wrong for people to import cheap goods, and obtain bargains, but if an importer has made a mistake by buying goods abroad at their full price, and has missed the market - if he has bought goods for the summer or winter trade, and has missed that trade, and the goods> are left on his hands - and he finds it necessary to sell them cheaply to get rid of them, this clause provides that if he sells them at a price below the cost of production, it shall be a crime. Is (not that an offence to common sense? Yet, here it is embodied in this proposed legislation in black and white.
Let honorable senators get this and similar facts into their heads, and consider, if they are not prepared to make some alteration in this measure, how later on they are going to face the electors and explain these absurdities to them. I should like very much to know what is meant by paragraph b, of sub-clause 1 of clause 18. I find from the clause that, for the purposes of this part of the Act, competition is to be deemed unfair if, in the opinion of the Comptroller-General, it is unfair. That is practically what paragraph b of sub-clause 1 amounts to. It is a very neat way of putting it, but there are other words in between which may be more difficult to interpret. The clause provides that -
For the purposes of. this part of this Act, competition shall be deemed to be unfair if -
the means adopted by the persons importing or selling the imported goods - are, in the opinion of the ComptrollerGeneral, “ unfair in the circumstances.” Is not that going it rather strong? The Minister of Customs is really to be the Czar of Australian trade, and the Comptroller-General is to be used to pull the chestnuts out of the fire for him. In sub-clause 1 we have the words -
For the purposes of this part of this Act, competition shall be deemed to be unfair if -
under ordinary circumstances of trade it would probably lead - and so forth. Then, as Senator Drake has pointed out, the word “ probably “ opens up a vista of extraordinary possibilities which cannot be viewed without alarm. What is to prevent a manufacturer going to Dr. Wollaston, and complaining that some rival in. trade has imported half a dozen cases of goods, the sale of which will injure the trade of the complainant, and asking the Comptroller whether he cannot see his way to advise the Minister to stop the importation ?
– The honorable senator fancies that the Comptroller is going to be an idiot.
– The Minister has taken power which would enable him to turn the Comptroller-General into an idiot pretty quickly.
– The ComptrollerGeneral will soon be an idiot if he has to administer this Bill.
– I think he will. We have it on the authority of Dr. Wollaston that, in dealing with Acts relating to commerce, he may not be allowed to have an opinion.
– But this Bill specially says that Dr. Wollaston shall have an opinion.
– When I referred to this point the other day, Senator Playford interjected that Dr. Wollaston is only a servant, recognising that the ComptrollerGeneral will have to do as he is told.
– Of course; but the Comptroller-General can have an opinion, and express it to the Minister.
- Senator Pearce is answered by Senator Playford, who says that the Minister will tell the ComptrollerGeneral what the latter has to do.
– -If the Bill provides that Dr. Wollaston shall do a cer tain thing he will have to do it.
– And he will have to do it under the direction of his master, the Minister of Trade and Customs. In order to put a tangible question before the Committee, I move -
That the word “ probably,” in paragraph a of sub-clause 1, be left out.
.- In order that there may be no misapprehension, I point out that we are now dealing with the proof required - for the whole of the purposes of this part of the Bill - that competition is unfair. It is not only for the Comptroller-General, but for a Judge as well, to decide whether competition is unfair. It has been pointed out again and again, that the gist of the offence is unfair competition, and if competition is held to be unfair, the intent will be assumed. In the sub-clause, in which Senator Pulsford has moved his amendment, it is provided that, on certain things being proved, the competition shall be deemed to be unfair, and no opportunity will be given to the defendant to disprove it.
– Yes, there will.
– No; that is what the Minister of Defence evidently does not understand.
– The matter will not at that point have reached the stage of proof, but merely of inquiry.
– The first sub-clause covers the whole of this part of the Bill, and it provides that, “ for the purposes of this part of the Act, competition shall be deemed to be unfair,” &c, which relates to everything that may come before the Court for determination. The competition is to be deemed to be unfair when certain things are proved, and, as I have said, no opportunity is to be afforded to the defendant at that stage to disprove the allegation. In the second sub-clause, competition is to be deemed to be unfair unless the contrary is proved.
– The opinion of the Justice will be formed on the evidence before him.
– On this evidence. For instance, according to the sub-clause with which we are now dealing, if the Judge is satisfied that, under the ordinary circumstances of trade, the competition will probably lead-
– The Judge will hear the evidence of both sides.
– That is not so. The difference between the two sub-clauses is that, according to one, the competition is to be deemed to be unfair, while, according to the other, the competition is to be deemed to be unfair unless the contrary is proved. The things referred to in paragraphs a and b of sub-clause1 have to be proved to the satisfaction of the Court ; and, when that has been done, the Judge has to find that the competition is unfair, even though any amount of evidence could be given by the defendant to prove that it is not unfair. It is clear that the Minister was not aware of the effect of this provision, but now that he does know, he ought to raise no objection to the amendment.
.- Senator Drake, and those who think with him, find it very convenient to overlook what is the keystone of the position, when they ignore the terms of clause 19, as follows : -
The Comptroller-General, whenever he has received a complaint in writing and has reason to believe that any person (hereinafter called the importer), either singly or in combination with any other person within or beyond the Commonwealth, is importing into Australia goods (hereinafter called imported goods), with intent to destroy or injure any Australian industry-
– That says “ has reason to believe.”
– Surely Senator Drake would not wait until an industry had been ruined?
– A complaint is made in writing to that effect to the Comptroller - General, namely, that certain goods are ‘ being imported with intent to destroy or injure an Australian industry by their sale or disposal within the Commonwealth in un fair competition. Then the ComptrollerGeneral gives a certificate to the Minister, who has to consider the matter. After that has been done, the Minister’s duty is to refer the case to the Court; and these are the questions for the Court: -
On receipt of the certificate the Minister may -
By order in writing refer to a Justice the investigation and determination of the question whether the imported goods are imported with the intent alleged -
That is the essence of the whole thing - whether the goods are being imported with the intent alleged - and if so, whether the importation of the goods should be prohibited either absolutely or subject to any specified conditions or restrictions or limitations.
In this connexion it is also necessary to observe that - the Justice shall be guided by good conscience and the substantial merits of the case, without regard to legal forms or technicalities, or whether the evidence before him is in accordance with the law of evidence or not.
– Does the honorable senator hold that a man may be guilty of unfair competition, and yet have no intent to damage an Australian industry ?
– Intent cannot be proved in any other way.
– A man cannot, and will not, be convicted by the Judge, unless the latter is satisfied that the intention of the importer is to injure an Australian industry. The Judge will be animpartial man - a member of the High Court accustomed to the sifting of evidence - on whose judgment, judicial knowledge, and fairness every confidence has to be placed. He has to consider whether the intent exists, and if it does, then he has the right to prescribe the terms on which the importer may be permitted to bring in the goods.
– Would there not be a conviction if it were shown that the importer intended to subject Australian goods to unfair competition?
– Yes. that is the very object of theBill. Senator Drake has referred to sub-clause 1 of clause 18 as follows : -
For the purposes of this part of the Act, competition shall be deemed to be unfair if -
under ordinary circumstances of trade it will probably lead to the Australian goods being no longer produced or being withdrawn from the market or being sold at a loss unless produced at an inadequate remuneration for labour.
If the Judge finds that to be the case, he will find what it is the object of the Bill to have consummated. We desire to protect our industries from what is unfair competition; and it would surely be unfair competition if it would have the effect of destroying our industries. This is not a mere matter of allegation. A judicial tribunal, after careful and full investigation as to the merits of the case, quite apart from all legal technicalities, will have to find, as a matter of fact, that the competition is going to injure or destroy an industry. Is that not reasonable and fair?
– How could it be found, as a matter of fact, that the competition was going to destroy an industry ?
– If the Judge does not so find the prosecution will fail.
– It is not a matter of fact, but a matter of assumption.
– The Bill says that the Judge must find this, as a matter of fact.
– How could he do so ?
– By the evidence of the plaintiff and the defendant, the latter of whom will beat liberty to produce whatever evidence he chooses. The whole merits of’ the question will be gone into by the Judge and if he comes to the determination that the competition would result in Australian goods being no longer produced or being withdrawn from the market, he will find that the goods are being imported with intent. These are the terms of the Bill, and we cannot ‘get away from them. It is not as if some political tribunal was constituted for the purpose of determining these questions of fact.
– But the Minister has to decide as to whether there is a prima facie case.
– The Minister has no power, further than to refuse to send the case on. or not to send it on.
– Yes, he has ; he can stop the goods in the meanwhile.
– That is so, but the position may be met by the importer entering into a bond to a satisfactory amount.
– A great concession !
– But honorable senators have been arguing as though the Minister had power to come to a determination as to whether the goods should be admitted or not.
– The Minister may not send the case on to the Justice.
– If so, then the goods may come in.
– Quite so.
– Then of what is the honorable senator complaining?
– The Minister may refuse to permit some goods to come in while admitting other goods.
– No; if the Minister takes on himself the responsibility of refusing to permit the goods to be imported, he will have to send the question on to the highest tribunal in the land. If that tribunal finds that the design and intent of the importer be to wipe out an industry, and the Judge so finds, the Judge will, by giving effect to the provisions of this measure, do what is necessary to preserve our industries. My honorable friend cannot ignore those facts. They are in the Bill, and they will be the law. Under these circumstances, it is quite unreasonable to suggest that the importer is being unfairly and unjustly treated, and that the innocent man is going to suffer loan alarming extent. His intent to do harm has to be found by the Judge before he can be dealt with.
– While I cannot hope to influence the determination of the Committee, I am pleased to take part in an interesting discussion. I wish to point out that, to my mind, there is one dominant fact with’ which Senator Best carefully avoided coming to grips. I am going to show how dangerous it is - not unusual, but dangerous - to read only a part of a clause. My honorable friend read to the Committee part of clause 19, but he stopped at the very part where he ought to have gone on.. The clause reads -
The Comptroller-General whenever he has received a complaint in writing, and has reason to believe that any person (hereinafter called the importer) either singly or in combination with any other person within or beyond the Commonwealth, is importing into Australia goods (hereinafter called imported goods with intent to destroy or injure any Australian industry -
My honorable friend stopped there.
– I think I read on to “ unfair competition.”
– My honorable friend distinctly stopped before he came to that part of the clause. I made a note of the fact at the table.
– I feel absolutely certain about the matter.
– Well, if my honorable friend did read on - and, of course, I have to accept his assurance - he quite lost sight of the remainder of the clause in his argument. I ask honorable senators to bear in mind what unfair competition means. It means, according to sub-clause 2 of clause 18, in rough words, the selling of goods at less than the local price.
– It means selling goods at much less than the cost of production.
– I am dealing with one case, where these goods come in, and are sold at a lower price than the current rate.
– 1 do not think it i.s right to say “ the current rate.” The Bill says “ greatly below the ordinary cost of production where produced “ - that is, at the place of origin.
– I was trying, foi the sake of brevity - which is dear to the heart of this Committee - to summarize the effect of clause 18. There are several, paragraphs in it. One deals with the disorganization of local industry. Imported goods can only disorganize local industry by being sold at lower than local prices. Another paragraph deals with competition resulting in an inadequate remuneration for labour. The imported goods can only occasion an inadequate remuneration for labour when they are sold at lower than the local price, t summarized the effect of the clause by saying that unfair competition is denned as the selling of an article at less than the local market rate. I think that is not an inaccurate summary. If that be so, we have to read clause 19 as meaning that the offence which the ComptrollerGeneral has to inquire into is the intent to destroy or injure an Australian industry by selling goods at less than the local price. That is the meaning of the clause, and that is exactly where Senator Best, if he quoted the words, as he said he did, absolutely failed to keep them in his mind when addressing the Committee. My honorable friend smiles. I think it is enough to make any one smile, that he. with his knowledge, of the law, should get up and try to impress the Committee with such an argument. He sought to make extremely light of the power of the Minister. I am always loth to refer to individuals, but when it is affirmed that (he Minister is not likely to. and never does, differentiate between individuals. I wish to remind the Committee that quite recently we have_ had an admission from the Government that in one particular case the Minister of Trade and Customs, exercising the Dower which he may possess, has absolutely allowed the manager of one particular factory to grade his own butter. After instances of this kind, what is the use of telling us that Ministers are impartiality itself, and that they never by any means differentiate between individuals ?
– There were special circumstances in that case.
– I never knew of a case where I could not find special circumstances if I wanted to do so. It is impossible to say anything worse about the Bill than that it is a measure under which in special circumstances the Minister may do one thing to-day and another thing to-morrow. The fault that I find with the whole course of legislation which this Parliament has been passing is that we have left so much to the Minister, leaving him to determine, in special circumstances - it may be with special individuals - what course of action he will take.
– That is a power which we left to the Minister in the Papua Act, with the honorable senator’s help.
– With my help, left anything to this Government ! My honorable friend surely makes a mistake. I would not even leave them their portfolios if I could help it.
– The honorable senator would not leave anything with them, I am afraid.
– Yes, I would leave them my honorable friend. Senator Best has pointed out that all the Minister could do would be practically harmless. Probably, to his mind. it is a mere nothing that a man should have his goods hung up for two or three months; but to men of commercial knowledge, like Senator Mulcahy, it is evident that it makes all the difference between” a profitable investment and a grievous loss whether an importer can put his goods on to the market at a certain time, or whether they are tied up until the Minister has inquired into the case. In some instances it will mean that the goods will be rendered valueless owing to the loss of the season’s market.
– The importer can give a bond.
– What is the good of telling me that, if the Minister takes a sovereign! of mine, I can have it if I plank down twenty shillings.
– -It will only be necessary to plank down a. little bit of paper with a name upon it.
– Would the Minister be likely to take a bond like that? He would want to know that the bond was of good substance and value before he would allow the goods to go out. He would satisfy himself that that bond, if presented, was worth twenty shillings in the pound. Therefore, it is idle to say that the man could get his goods. He could only get them by depositing money, which would be liable to be forfeited if the case went against him. The whole position is that the clause makes the competition unfair if the goods are sold at less than the local price.
.- Having listened to Senator Best’s speech, and to the eloquent interjections of the Minister, I can suggest an amendment that will put honorable senators to the test. Those who have told us again and again that in this clause the defendant can give evidence to show that the competition was unfair will surely have no objection to put that in the Bill. I propose, therefore, if Senator Pulsford will temporarily withdraw his amendment, to move that the words “ unless the contrary is proved “ be inserted. They are words which are used in sub-clause 2.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Senator Drake) proposed -
That after the word C! unfair,” line 2, the words “unless the contrary is proved” be inserted.
– I put forward an argument just now which brought forth an encouraging interjection from the Honorary Minister. That was, that, as we have left certain words in the previous clause, we should adhere to them in the clause now under discussion, to make the Bill uniform. The Minister cordially agreed with that view. I may, therefore, reasonably appeal to him to support Senator Drake’s amendment upon the same argument - that it is desirable to make the Bill uniform. There can surely be no objection to inserting these words, which appear in an earlier portion of the Bill. I trust, therefore, that the amendment will be agreed to.
– The amendment now submitted would not put to the test the principle that Senator Drake thinks that honorable senators would be voting upon at all. I listened with a great deal of interest - and I may say, without any disrespect to him, with a great deal of patience - to the honorable senator when I heard him denning the meaning of this clause. Of course, f quite recognise that he, or any other honorable senator, may saythat the Bill is so complicated that it is surrounded with a great deal of difficulty. But I would point out that, although the honorable senator was right, as far as he went, unfortunately he did not go far enough in considering the effect of the clause. The opening words of the clause are, “ for the purpose of this part of the Act.” We have, therefore, to deal with the whole of the clauses coming under Part III., “Prevention of Dumping.” But my honorable friend, Senator Drake, so far as he went, confined himself to the consideration of clause 18 alone. He pointed out that it is provided in sub-clause 2, paragraphs a, b, c, and d, that, in certain cases specified, unfair competition is to be assumed unless the contrary is proved. He pointed out also that in paragraphs a and b of sub-clause 1, we prescribe what shall be deemed to be unfair competition, without any reference to “ unless it is proved to the contrary.” I point out to the honorable senator that what we are providing in clause 18, sub-clause 1, is more in the nature of a definition of unfair competition. What we are providing in clause 18, subclause 2. however, is a series of circumstances from which it may in evidence be presumed that the competition is unfair. “ unless the contrary is Droved.” Some reference has been made during the debate to clauses 19 and 20. Honorable senators will observe that in clause 19 it is proposed to give power to the ComptrollerGeneral to take certain action, after a complaint has been made to him in writing. The Comptroller-General mav send in a certificate to the Minister stating, in regard to certain goods - the ‘ particular imported goods which unfairly compete. After the certificate has been forwarded to the Minister, he might or might not remit the matter for the determination of a Justice. If it were remitted, the Justice would investigate the question of whether the goods were being imported with the intent alleged. It will be seen, therefore, that there are two stages. First of all, before a man could come under the operation of this part of the measure, it would be necessary for the Comptroller-General to consider the business conduct which was likely to be investigated, and to come to the conclusion that the importer was guilty of unfair competition. Having come to that conclusion, he would have to send on his certificate, but that would not conclude the matter. On the receipt of the certificate, the Minister might or might not remit the matter to a Justice, but if he did, the Justice would be charged with determining whether the importer was importing goods with the intention of destroying an Australian industry by means of unfair competition.
– How would that intention be proved?
– I do not intend to deal with that question at this stage. From this explanation of the procedure to lie adopted, it will be seen that, in the discharge of his functions, the ComptrollerGeneral would have to consider whether, in his opinion, unfair competition existed. And when he had determined that point, if the matter did get to the Justice ultimately, the latter would also have to determine whether unfair competition existed, because he would have to decide whether the importer was importing with the intent alleged. What is “ unfair competition “ is a question which would naturally suggest itself to the mind of the Comptroller-General in the first instance, and to the Justice in the second instance. If one or the other turned to the Bill, he would find that it had been laid down distinctly that competition should be deemed to be unfair if -
That is one definition, and if the circumstances were such as to warrant the ComptrollerGeneral coming to that conclusion, he could honestly and bona fide issue his certificate. If later on the Justice also found that the circumstances came within that definition, he would have to come to the conclusion that unfair competition existed. The other definition which Senator Drake, or, rather, Senator Pulsford, frequently Quoted, as if the words were highly inappropriate, reads -
The words of that paragraph, on which Senator Pulsford did not seem to lay very great stress, were, “as the case may be,” and “ in the circumstances.” First of all, it is provided in paragraph a that if the result of the competition were such that under ordinary circumstances of trade there would be that undesirable displacement, that would be unfair competition. But to guard against the possibility of their being some other unfair competition, the exact nature of which we cannot foresee, we provide in paragraph b, in general terms, that if the means adopted by the person importing or selling the imported goods are, in the opinion of the Comptroller-General, unfair in the circumstances, it should be deemed unfair competition. There may be means of competition which have never yet been resorted to either in Australia, or even in any other country in which industrial competition has been most strenuous. There may be means of competition which have yet to be devised, and we want the Bill to meet such cases.
– Why should the words “ unless the contrary is proved,” appear in sub-clause 2 and not in sub-clause 1 ?
– Because in subclause 1 they would be surplusage.
– Oh, no.
– Sub-clause 1 is more in the nature of a definition.
– I cannot see any difference.
– In the paragraphs of sub-clause 2 we set out a series of circumstances from which a presumption may be drawn, but paragraphs a and b of subclause 1 are more in the nature of a definition of unfair competition. For instance, if a State Parliament were to enact in a Criminal Code Bill that burglary shall be committed by any person who feloniously enters a dwelling-house by breaking in between sundown and sunrise there would be a definition so far as it went, but if it were to put in the words” unless the contrary is proved “ it would be surplusage.
– Does not that remark apply to paragraphs c and d of sub-clause 2?
– Surely they are definitions ?
– No. Paragraphs a and b of sub-clause 1 purport to be definitions of what is unfair competition, but when we define what shall constitute an of- fence we do not need to use the words “ unless the contrary is proved.” The use of that phrase would be surplusage in that connexion. Perhaps honorable senators would have seen the force of my contention better if clause 18 had been divided into two clauses. They would have seen then that sub-clause 1 is purely a definition of what is unfair competition.
– What is sub-clause 2 ?
– That is not a definition, but deals with proof. So far as procedure and evidence are concerned, it sets out what may be inferred from a certain set of circumstances, or what is called in law a rebuttable presumption. I can understand that the appearance of the two sub-clauses in the one clause is likely to suggest to the minds of honorable senators that the clause is dealing entirely with one thing, But sub-clause 1, I submit, is a definition, and the four paragraphs of sub-clause 2 are merely directions or indications to the Court as to what it may presume under certain circumstances, at the same time prescribing that the presumptions which it may make shall be what are known in law as rebuttable presumptions. For the purposes of this part of the measure, we must have a definition of what is unfair competition, and if we insert in sub-clause 1 the words “ unless the contrary is proved “ we shall insert words which are absolutely unnecessary, and which never appear in a definition.
– Surely they are equally unnecessary in sub-clause 2.
Senator KEATING. I have just pointed out that the paragraphs of that subclause are not definitions, but provisions as to evidence.
– With all due deference to the Minister, I think that paragraphs c and d are. Surely paragraph c is.
– It defines the circumstances but not the thing.
– It sets out the set of circumstances, from which it may be presumed, unless the contrary is proved, that the competition is unfair.
– It defines the circumstances, but it is not a definition.
– Under paragraphs a and b of sub-clause 1 it would be necessary for theJustice to be satisfied that the circumstances came within those paragraphs before he could find that the defendant had been guilty of unfair competition.
.- I thank the Minister for the patience with which he listened to me, and also for his courteous and full explanation. I should have preferred if, when I was speaking, he had put his colleague right on the subject, and had pot allowed him to contradict me point blank, and make it appear that I was stating something which was contrary to fact. However, he has admitted that I was right, as far as I went. I hope that I shall always be right as far as I go. Although Senator Keating has spoken of the paragraphs of sub-clause 1 as definitions, and of the paragraphs of sub-clause 2 as circumstances, I cannot see any difference between one and the other. It appears to me that they are as like one another as are Tweedledee and Tweedledum. Of course, the legal members of the Senate know the difference between the two subclauses. All along I have been pointing out that sub-clause 1 lays it down that under certain circumstances the proof of certain things shall be accepted as proof that the competition is unfair. But the other sub-clause provides that when certain other matters have been proved to the satisfaction of the Justice, then the competition shall be deemed unfair, unless the contrary is proved. Under that provision, after the evidence had been given to show that the competition was unfair, it would be open to the defendant to come in, explain the circumstances, and prove, if he could, that the competition was not unfair. Until Senator Keating made his explanation a number of honorable senators, including Senator Playford, were under the impression that the defendant would in all cases be allowed to come in and prove that the competition was not Unfair.
– I do not think that we were.
– I dare say that the honorable senator was not, but certainly Senator Playford was. We shall all agree probably in accepting Senator Keating’s statement that, for the purposes of this part of the Bill - that is to satisfy the Comptroller-General and the Justice - when certain matters had been proved to the Court the Justice would be bound to hold that the competition was unfair, and could not listen to any evidence to the contrary.
– I do not agree with that proposition.
– I am very sorry. It is the difference between proof and prima facie evidence. The things which would have to be proved are set out in paragraphs a and b of sub-clause 1,’ and if those things were proved to the satisfaction of the Justice, he would have to hold that the competition was unfair, and he could not hear any evidence from the defendant to show that it was not. Under the second sub-clause the matters referred to would be regarded as prima facie evidence that the competition was unfair, and then it would be lor the defendant, if he could, to prove that, after all, the circumstances, with his explanation of them, showed that, although, at first sight, the competition might appear to De unfair, it really was not so. Under paragraph a of sub-clause 1 what is provided is that the competition shall be deemed to be unfair if - under ordinary circumstances of trade it would probably lead to the Australian goods being no longer produced, or being withdrawn from the market, or being sold at a loss unless produced at an inadequate remuneration for labour.
The Minister says that that is a definition. I turn now to paragraph b ox sub-clause 2, and I find that it is provided that the competition shall be deemed unfair unless the contrary is proved - if the competition would probably or does in fact result in creating any substantial disorganization in Australian industry, or throwing workers out of employment.
I ask honorable senators to say what is the difference between these two paragraphs which justify the Minister^ referring to one as a definition and to the other as a circumstance? Why in the one case should it be held to be unfair competition, and in the other a rebuttable- presumption on merely prima facie evidence which may be disproved by the defendant?
– The persons charged could be heard in both cases.
– No. That is the whole point. The difference between the two sub-clauses is that the matters referred to in paragraphs a and b of sub-clause 1 being proved to the satisfaction of the Justice, he would be bound to hold that the competition was unfair.
– Who is to prove that?
– It will be proved by the prosecution.
– But the Justice must hear somebody besides the prosecutor. We need not contemplate that anything else is intended.
– Then will Senator Stewart support me in inserting the words “unless the contrary is proved” in subclause 1 . They appear in sub-clause 2 ?
– Yes, in order to make the clause clear.
– I may further explain the matter in this way. By paragraph b of sub-clause 1 it is provided that the competition shall be deemed to be unfair if- the means adopted by the person importing or selling the imported goods are in the opinion of the Comptroller-General or the Justice, as the case may be, unfair in the circumstances.
As the clause stands at present, when thathad been proved to the satisfaction of the Comptroller-General, or the Justice, he would be bound to hold that the competition was unfair, and he could not hear the defendant, who might be able to explain that the means he adopted did not constitute unfair competition.
– As a layman, I should certainly read it in that way.
– Supposing that it was proved that these means had been used, the defendant would not be allowed to prove that those means did not make his competition unfair.
– A layman would saythat the words “ unless the contrary is proved “ are used in sub-clause 2, and not in sub-clause 1, for some reason.
– I have given the reason. In the first case, the matters referred to in paragraphs a and b of subclause 1 are not considered as* affording a rebuttable presumption. In the case of sub-clause 2 these matters are considered only as prima facie evidence, and the Justice hears the other side, and decides on the evidence given by both sides. If honorable senators believe that, in connexion with the matters referred to in sub-clause 1. it is right that the defendant should have an opportunity to prove that his competition! was not unfair, they should vote for the insertion of the words I have referred to.
.- I must confess that I do not agree with the interpretation placed upon this clause by either Senators Drake or Keating. We have to imagine the offence with which the defendant is charged. The offence is that he did, with intent to destroy or injure an Australian industry, dispose of or sell certain goods within the Commonwealth in unfair competition.
– We are dealing with unfair competition.
– Of course we are, and that is the charge ; and if paragraphs a and b of clause 18 are a definition of unfair competition, as stated by Senator Keating, then the defendant has the right to rebut them. Moreover, the Justice has to decide whether the imported goods are being imported’ with the intent alleged. In Order to enable him to’ ascertain whether the goods were imported with the intent to destroy an Australian industry, and by means of unfair competition, he must hear both the plaintiff and the defendant. He must necessarily do so before he can come to a decision!. It is stated in sub-clause 1 that, for the purposes of this part of the Act, competition shall be deemed to be Unfair if - under ordinary circumstances of trade it would probably lead to the Australian goods being no longer produced, or being withdrawn from the market, or being sold at a loss, unless produced at an inadequate remuneration for labour.
That very question is involved in the charge. It cannot be suggested for a moment that the plaintiff has simply to make an allegation that the goods are imported and are being sold in unfair competition in order to secure a conviction. The prosecution must bring before the Court the necessary evidence to support the charge.
– The honorable and learned senator is not now arguing against the insertion of the words “ unless the contrary is proved “ in sub-clause 1.
– I am not. As a matter of fact, I do not think it makes any difference whether they are inserted or not. I confess that I find it difficult to. under.stand why they should appear in one subclause and not in the other. According to my interpretation, I contend that in any circumstances the defendant would be at liberty to say, “ I did not introduce these goods with the intention to destroy the Australian industry by unfair competition, and the effect of their introduction would not be to do so.” I say that necessarily the defendant will have the right to rebut the suggestions of paragraphs a and b of sub-clause 1. The objection to the paragraphs would not be so serious for the purpose of prima facie evidence so far as the Comptroller-General is concerned, but when the case goes before the Justice the matter is different.
– The honorable senator admits that the rules of evidence will apply to the trial in ‘Court.
– Undoubtedly; but subject to the good conscience provision.
– I understood the honorable and learned senator to state before that it was only a preliminary affair.
– I was referring to the preliminary examination bv the ComptrollerGeneral for the purpose of his certificate. I admit that it will be the duty of the Comptroller-General to summon the importer, and say to him, “ This charge is made against you. It appears to me that the effect of the. introduction of these goods will be the destruction of the Australian industry by unfair competition.’.’ But then, when the case goes on to the Justice, I say that the defendant must have the opportunity, without doubt, to tender evidence to show that the introduction of the goods and his competition will not destroy the Australian industry. There are questions of fact which the Justice has to find. He may have to determine the question - whether the importation of the goods should be prohibited either absolutely or subject .to any specified conditions or restrictions or limitations.
The defendant has the right to bring forward whatever evidence he pleases to show that he should not have imposed upon him any restrictions or limitations. If he is at liberty to submit evidence to that effect, it will necessarily be in the direction of disproving the matters contained in paragraphs a and b of sub-clause 1, if such evidence is available.
– I ask the honorable and learned senator to look at paragraph c of sub-clause 2. and say whether he cannot conceive a case in which the purchaser of a large quantity of goods abroad may import them with a perfectly innocent intention, although their importation may, under clause 19, be held to injure an Australian industry. Could the honorable and learned senator agree to such a man being punished and found guilty of an intention which he did not have?
– It is quite consistent with the bona fide carrying on of trade for an importer to import goods in the way described.
– Could he, as the Bill is worded, be punished under it for an intention he did not have, and merely because his importations might temporarily injure some Australian industry?
– The Justice cannot know what is in the importer’s mind ; but if he finds as a fact that the importation would, in the ordinary circumstances of trade, probably lead to the Australian goods being no longer produced or being withdrawn from the market-
– He would be deemed to be guilty of the intent.
– No doubt, if the Justice found as a matter of fact, from all the circumstances, that that was the intent, he could be punished; but it is quite clear to me that the Justice would hear evidence from the defendant to rebut the presumption in paragraphs a and b of sub-clause 1.
– I listened very carefully to Senator Keating’s statement of the case. I take it that the Government are opposing Senator Drake’s amendment, and while Senator Keating gave a clear exposition of how the clauses would probably operate, I think he gave no reason why the amendment should not be made, nor did the honorable and learned senator give any reason for the distinction drawn between subclauses 1 and 2 by the insertion of the words “ unless the contrary is proved “ in sub-clause 2. It seems to me that the clause has been badly drawn. I direct attention to the fact that in sub-clause 1 the phrase used is “shall be deemed to be unfair,” and in sub-clause 2 the phrase used is “shall be deemed unfair.” I suggest that it would be a good drafting amendment of the clause to insert the words proposed by Senator Drake in the first part of the clause, and to leave out sub-clause 2 altogether. To a layman it appears that when -the words “ unless the contrary is proved “ are introduced in subclause 2, there must be some reason for leaving them out of sub-clause 1. If rebuttal is possible under the first two sub-clauses, why not say so? If it is not necessary to use the words, why is it necessary to do so in paragraph 1 ? We do not desire to load the Bill with meaningless clauses. The Government are placed in the position that they ought either to accept Senator Drake’s amendment or strike out the second paragraph. I suggest that the Government accept the amendment.
– Quite apart from the legal aspect I think that Senator Best has put forward what may be regarded as the commonsense view of the clause. I am not saying that that is anything remarkable on the part of the honorable senator, but it does strike’ me as only common-sense to make it clear that while certain things may be assumed, every full and fair opportunity shall be given to a defendant to rebut the assumption. While I take that to be the common-sense view, I cannot get away from the idea that those who drafted the Bill held the opinion expressed by Senator Keating. There is internal evidence in the clause itself that those who drafted the Bill shared Senator Keating’s view; but, if so, I think that we ought to amend the clause. The reason I say that the clause supports Senator Keating is that if the two sub-clauses are intended to mean that the defendant shall have an equal opportunity under both for rebutting the assumption, I desire to know what is the use of paragraphs a and b of sub-clause 1. Senator Keating describes these paragraphs as a definition ; but I ask the honorable senator to compare paragraph a of sub-clause 1 with paragraph b of subclause 2, and say whether the latter is not merely a paraphrase. Sub-clause 1 declares that competition is to be deemed to be unf air if - under ordinary circumstances of trade it would probably lead to the Australian goods being no longer produced, or being withdrawn from the market, or being sold at a loss unless produced at an inadequate remuneration for labour.
That means the utter disorganization of the industry.
– Does that not contemplate that an industry might be carried on at a sweating wage, whereas paragraph b of sub-clause 2 contemplates the closing down of the industry.
– Senator Pearce will admit that if an industry can be carried on only at a sweating wage, it is disorganized.
– The men may not be thrown out of work.
– Men are not necessarily thrown out of work by a reduction of wages.
– The offence is to destroy or injure, and certainly that would be injuring.
– That is exactly what I am saying. Paragraph a of subclause 1 declares in five or six lines that competition is to be deemed unfair if an industry is injured or disorganized - that is, injured in relation to employer or employed. If we turn to paragraph b of sub-clause 2 the same thing is expressed in other words -
If the competition would probably or does in fact result in creating any substantial disorganization in Australian industry, or throwing workers out of employment.
Why are these two paragraphs put under different headings unless different meanings are to be read into them? It is quite clear that if the view which Senator Best has expressed is the right one - if the defendant is to have an opportunity in the one case, as in the other, to put forward rebutting evidence - it is unnecessary to have those two paragraphs, because one would be sufficient. For that reason, it appears to me that there is a great deal in the clause itself which supports the view put forward by Senator Keating. As I think that would be an utterly wrong and wicked view, I trust that the Committee will agree, in order to make the meaning abundantly clear, to adopt the amendment moved by Senator Drake. I admit that that amendment, if carried, would still leave paragraph a as surplusage; but it is better to have some surplusage than even a smaller measure of injustice.
.- I am not very clear what is the exact meaning of the clause, but I desire to ask Senator Keating two questions, the answer to one of which may tend to show that the amendment moved by Senator’ Drake ought to be accepted. The first question is whether in paragraph b of subclause 1 the use of the word “ Justice “ is not premature?
– - No.
– As I understand the clause, the matter first comes before the Comptroller-General in a preliminary stage ?
– But how can the matter ever come before a Justice in a preliminary stage?
– I think I called attention to the words “ or a Justice as the case may be.” The competition may be deemed to be unfair in the opinion of the Comptroller-General, or in the opinion of the Justice.
S’enator DOBSON. - But if, in the opinion of the Comptroller-General, at this preliminary inquiry, the competition is unfair, he will give a certificate, and, later, this certificate will require the Judge to determine whether the imported goods are being imported with the intent alleged.
There is nothing said about the means employed ; and as to the intent alleged we have to refer to clause 19. According to that clause the Justice has to find that the importation is with the intent to injure an industry by the sale or disposal of the goods within the Commonwealth in unfair competition. But, as I pointed out before, nothing is said about the means employed. A tradesman might carry on his business in a fairly legitimate way, but, with a desire to better his position, he might adopt means deemed to be unfair. The Judge, is not, however, bound by clause 19 to consider the means, though he is so bound by paragraph b of sub-clause 1 of clause 18.
– The word “ intent “ in clause 19 governs all the words down to “ unfair competition with any Australian goods.”
– But the word “ intent” does not govern paragraph b of subclause 1 of clause 18.
– “ Unfair competition “ comes in in the last few lines of sub- * clause 1 of clause 19. The Judge will still have to determine the matter, even though the Comptroller-General is convinced that the competition is unfair.
– What is the use of connecting the Justice with the preliminary inquiry ?
– It is not a preliminary inquiry. “ Unfair competition “ is defined in paragraph a of sub-clause 1 of clause 18 “ for the purposes of this part of this. Act,” and not for the purpose of the clause alone.
– My next question,. which may show that the words moved by Senator Drake should be inserted, is whether Senator Keating is of opinion that, when the Comptroller-General is giving the power to move in the matter, and certain things are done, that opinion is to be the absolute determination, without the defendant having any means of showing that the competition is not unfair?
– The defendant wilt have an opportunity.
– Not before the ComptrollerGeneral, I think.
– Sub-clause 4 of clause 19 says -
The Comptroller-General shall, before making his certificate, give to the importer an opportunity to show cause why the certificate should not be made, and furnish him wilh a copy of the complaint.
– Then there cannot be any objection to the insertion of the words moved by Senator Drake.
– The only objection is that they are surplusage.
– It seems to me that the words are logical and consistent with what comes afterwards.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move -
That the word “probably,” in paragraph a of sub-clause 1, be left out.
– Surelyhe honorable senator would not wait until an industry had been absolutely destroyed?
-My desire is that people shall not be scared to death by ghosts.
– There is no need for the word “ probably “ if, under ordinary circumstances of trade, the importation would lead to the destruction of an industry.
– The word is quite unnecessary for any honest dealing, and it will only facilitate improper interference, where there should be no interference whatever. It would be a very extraordinary case in which a man could not imagine that something would “ probably “ happen.
– The word is used in previous clauses.
– There is nothing to prevent our recommitting the Bill and amending those clauses.
– I do not like the Bill, and I do not care to sayanything in defence of it; but I certainly cannot follow the argument of Senator Pulsford. The word “ probably “ must be left in, it seems to me, because the clause deals with something which may happen in the future. This clause refers to what must be a specific shipment of goods; and it must be a matter of judgment as to what will be the probable effect of their introduction. Can we make the Comptroller-General or the Justice an absolute prophet? This is one of the results which show how absolutely impracticable this measure is. What will happen ? An invoice will be submitted to the ComptrollerGeneral, who will ascertain that certain articles, similar to others manufactured in Australia, have been purchased abroad at a figure so small as to be deemed below the cost of production in the coun try of origin. The Comptroller-General will know that competition will arise, but he cannot tell at what price the importer may sell, and can only assume, from the price abroad, that it will probably be low. If the word “ probably “ be left out there will be thrown on the Comptroller-General or the Justice the responsibility of determining the question of what may happen in the future.
– It seems to me to be a very unsatisfactory thing for a Court of Justice to be occupied in determining whether something is going to happen. I do not remember any Act of Parliament in which that expression is used. It is something quite new, strange, and portentous. I do not remember any Act under which a Court of Justice is required to sit and decide upon the probability of a thing. Of course, almost every case that comes before a Court is a matter of probability, but it is never so expressed in Acts of Parliament. A Judge and jury sit to try a case, and find certain facts; or a Judge sitting without a jury finds on evidence, after listening to both sides. But the word “ probably “ is here used. The Court is to hear evidence on both sides, and determine whether something will “ probably “ happen.
– Is not “ reasonable and probable cause “ an expression familiar to the honorable senator?
– This is just the same.
– No. In cases of libel, where a person has “ reasonable and probable cause “ to say a certain thing the term is used. But that is what exists in the mind of a certain person. The “ reasonable and probable cause “ is urged as a justification for saying certain things. But I never heard of a Court being required to sit and decide whether a thing is “ probable “ or not.
Question - That the word proposed to be left out be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That the following words in sub-clause 2 be left out : - “ In the following cases the competition shall be deemed unfair unless the contrary is proved.”
– I should like to call attention to the probable effect of this clause upon what I believe are called bargain sales. A man goes into the European market, and he buys goods cheaply. He brings them out to Australia, and may sell them at a price greatly below the ordinary cost of production. I believe that is done to a large extent with drapery goods, which at the end of a season are sold at a very low price indeed. They are brought out to Australia by merchants, and sold, I suppose, profitably to themselves. In these cases I do not think that there is any prima facie evidence of an attempt, by unfair competition, to ruin Australian industry. In a great many cases the goods do not compete with any Australian industry.
– Then the Bill would not apply.
– But some may compete, and some may not. Take a case in point. A man may purchase a quantity of drapery in the old country at a low price, intending to sell it in Australia. There may be a quantity of neckties amongst the goods. There is, I believe, a factory in Melbourne making neckties.
– There are scores of lines to which the same argument will apply.
– It would be possible under clause 19 for a rival trader to go to the Comptroller-General and point out that this importer was selling neckties at a price below the cost of production. All the machinery of this Bill would possibly be put into operation in a case of that kind. Yet I do not think that such conduct could properly be called “unfair competition.”
– The ComptrollerGeneral or the Justice must be left to settle these points.
– I am afraid that it will mean a terrible dislocation of trade. It must be borne in mind that we have already passed clauses which it is contended enable action to be taken in a State with regard to these matters. I call attention to paragraph d. In a case where goods are imported for a manufacturer, and are being sold in Australia at a price less than gives the person importing or selling them a fair profit upon their foreign market value, the competition is deemed to be unfair. Say that a man goes to England, or some foreign country, buys goods very cheaply, and sells them here. It does not seem to me to be right that that should be held to be “ unfair,” unless the contrary is proved. It is bringing matters down rather too low.
– The honorable senator should be satisfied with having introduced the words ‘ ‘ unless the contrary is proved.”
– Those words do not affect the point I am now making. I really think that the Committee might consider the desirableness of striking out paragraph d. I move -
That paragraph d of sub-clause 2 be left out.
– I hope that the Committee will have the wisdom to omit paragraph d.
– The honorable senator would like us to omit the whole Bill.
– I should ‘be glad if the Minister would have the wisdom to dump the whole thing into the waste-paper basket. But I have no expectation that he will be so wise in his day and generation as that. This paragraph is, I suppose, without a parallel in the legislation of the world.
– It shows how far in advance of other countries we are.
– I think it shows how much behind other countries - even countries like Russia and China - we are.
Does the honorable senator think that Russia or China would enact such legislation? Does he think that the Czar of Russia would cut off the head of any person who in Australia bought cheap wool and took it to Russia, or that the Mikado of Japan would deal in that way with, a man who bought cheap grain in Australia and took it to Japan?
– But we are not proposing to cut off the head of any one.
– That is only my figurative way of putting the position. If any one happened to get goods at a cheap price abroad, and sell them at a corresponding price in Australia, that would be a crime. If the measure is passed, I shall take advantage of every opportunity I can to let that fact be known. I consider that the backbone is going out of the community. We are getting to be a race of cowards, and to be afraid of our own shadows. I hope that the Committee will have the wisdom and common-sense to throw out theprovision.
– I have already pointed out that this subclause is making an offence of that which really is not an offence. I believe that I am well within the mark in asserting that on the water and in the Customs sheds at the principal ports there are at this very time large quantities of goods which were bought in London for the Australian market at the end of the last summer season, and which to a certain extent, might for a time slightly injure Australian industries.
– Then we had better pass the Bill quickly.
– For what purpose?
– In order to stop that injury from being done.
– Are we to cut off our noses in order to spite our faces? A large proportion of these goods will pay the highest rate of duty which has been imposed, and of which I approve. That is the proper and legitimate way to keep out goods. Yet it is proposed to prevent the public from getting the benefit of this overplus of last summer’s stock. I again enter my protest against this insane legislation.
– A short time ago, Senator Playford assured me that it was ‘not intended to prevent persons from buying goods when they were sacrificed in the Home market and bringing them into the Commonwealth.
– Did he say that in the Chamber ?
– No, in conversation with me. I really cannot find language sufficiently strong to express my disgust at the provision. Not long ago, in Sydney, I went into a shop, where a bookseller showed me a pile of books all huddled together. I inquired casually, “ What are these books? “ He said, “ These are unsaleable books.” “What do you want for them?” I asked. When he replied, “I want£5,” I inquired, ‘‘Will you store them for me? “ and he said, “Yes.” I got 1,500 books for£5, and I immediately began to give presents to all kinds of institutions. For my own library, I picked out£5 worth of good books, and asked various friends to go and help themselves.
– At what shop?
– At the shop of Angus and Robertson. I was told that the books were the refuse of various libraries, but I found most valuable works amongst them. Under this Bill, if I were a bookseller, it would be a criminal act on my part to sell the books at a price less than that at which they could be produced in Australia. I hope that the Committee will be serious, and throw out the provision.
Question - That paragraph d of subclause 2 be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
. -I move-
That the words “ the efficiency of,” in subclause 3, be left out.
This is a consequential amendment. -
– What words does the honorable senator propose to insert?
– I propose to ask the’ Committee to add to sub-clause 3 the following words: - “being reasonably efficient, effective, and up-to-date.”
– These words were inserted in another clause the other night.
.- I have no objection to the amendment if the Government are satisfied with its language, but I have not yet seen the expression “ up-to-date “ used in an Act of Parliament.
– It was used by Senator Symon in an amendment which he proposed, so that I am following the lead of a high authority.
– And it has been used in a previous clause.
– I am not a purist in language, but I thought that the expression “ up-to-date “ was slang. I have not heard of it being used in an Act of Parliament. I am rather inclined to think that it would raise a smile when the Justice was called upon to interpret the term.
– This is only a consequential amendment.
– I observe that Senator Pearce gave notice of an amendment in which he used much better language. He then proposed to add to this sub-clause the following words : - being reasonably efficient and effective, and no competition shall be deemed unfair if the Australian industry is ineffective and inefficient in its management, processes, and machinery.
– This amendment is only consequential upon an amendment which was made the other day in another clause.
– What is it consequential upon?
– It is consequential upon the insertion of exactly the same words in a previous clause.
– I am sorry that Senator Pearce is not using the words which he used in his contingent notice.
– It was pointed out to me that the words I gave notice of would destroy the effect of the whole clause.
– Because it would make the competition hinge upon that one thing alone.
– I do not think so. At any rate, it would make quite clear what before was ambiguous in the sub-clause. On a previous occasion I pointed out that it was rather ambiguous, because it does not clearly state whether the fact that the management and the processes and the machinery were up-to-date should be a special reason, or whether it should be a reason for withholding the aid proposed to be given. I have no objection to the amendment, because I think that it should be a consideration in connexion with extending the provisions of the measure to the preservation of any industry. Perhaps I may have been misunderstood in regard to something which was said by Senator Millen when we were discussing another clause. I then referred to this provision incidentally, and it gave rise to a debate on the subject. I entirely agree with the view which was laid down by Senator Millen then with regard to the provision, so far as it applies to a system of protection by means of a Tariff. I think that the Tariff should be raised to just such a height as would compensate for the extra cost of wages, the proper conditions of living, and so on, in the country where the industry was protected. But I do not think that it should be raised to such a height as to encourage persons to manufacture under inefficient management, or by processes, plant, and machinery which were not up-to-date. That, however, will be the effect of this sub-clause. Whilst I consider that this a right principle on which to. go in dealing with protection by means of a Tariff, I think it is not a. proper principle to adopt where the attempt is made to give protection by means of prohibition. My idea of a protectionist Tariff is that it should protect our own industries, but not altogether shut out the importation of goods from outside, so that there may be a steady and fair competition between the imported article and the article locally produced. It is because this provision does not fit in with prohibition that I am confirmed in my opinion that protection by prohibition is not right. If we are going to have prohibition at all I do not see why we should not apply it for the benefit of all industries, including those that are not up-to-date. I repeat that I do not believe in protection by prohibition, but by means of a Tariff.
If we protect by meansof a Tariff it operates to benefit industries in all stages. Every industry , gets the full benefit of the protection afforded by a Tariff, whether it be large or small. Industries established in out-of-the-way places, and in connexion with which it has been said that distance gives them an additional protection, get equal protection from a Tariff with big industries established in large centres of population. But under this provision, as I pointed out before, the unfairness will be that aid will not be given to an industry until it becomes a big affair. This provision does not seek to aid struggling industries, which may be affected by the imported article, and be crushed out of existence. I ask honorable senators to take notice of the fact that under this Bill industries will only receive protection when they are completely organized, and are reaching out for a local monopoly. Some parts of the Bill are supposed to be against monoplies, yet under this particular provision aid will not be afforded to an Australian industry until it has been so far established that it can aim at securing a local monopoly. Then it can avail itself of the protection afforded by this measure to shut out outside competition, and to enable it to establish itself as a local monopoly. There is nothing in this Bill to help small industries. From first to last, and in every line, it is saturated with capitalism.
– I think that Senator Pearce’s amendment, while constituting an alteration in words, does not constitute an alteration in the intent of the sub-clause the honorable senator seeks to amend. It seems to me that the words of the amendment are not happily chosen, and will require some alteration before we adopt them. I take it that what is desired by Senator Pearce, the draftsman of the original subclause, and by the Committee generally, is that when the Comptroller-General or Justice is called upon to determine a question under this part of the Bill, he shall consider whether the management, processes, plant, and machinery in the local industry are reasonably efficient. The difficulty, in my mind, 19 as to whether Senator Pearce’s amendment exactly expresses that.
– It is expressed in exactly the terms the honorable senator has just used.
– I have no objection to the words of the amendment in themselves, but coupled with the words of the sub-clause, it seems to me that their meaning will be affected. If the amendment were adopted the sub-clause, as amended, would read -
In determining whether the competition is unfair, regard shall be had to the management, the processes, the plant, and the machinery, employed or adopted in the Australian industry affected by the competition, being reasonably efficient, effective, and up-to-date.
I think I might safely say that thatis a cumbersome form, although I make every allowance for the difficulty with which an honorable senator is necessarily confronted in seeking to frame such an amendment in the Chamber.
– I think that we require the words “ as to whether.”
- Senator Trenwith has detected what seems to me to be the weakness of the amendment. Without some such words as the honorable senator has suggested, it appears to me that Senator Pearce’s amendment may be read to be an affirmation that the processes, management, and plant are efficient and up-to-date. What we require is some form of words which will make it necessary for the authority to consider whether they are or are not. If Senator Pearce will accept Senator Trenwith’s suggestion that may overcome the difficulty.
.- The difficulty might be overcome if I were to move that the words “ to the efficiency of ‘ ‘ should be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ as to whether.” Personally, I am satisfied with the amendment as I have already moved it. If the amendment now suggested were made, the sub-clause would read -
In determining whether the competition is unfair, regard shall be had as to whether the management, the processes - and so on. I think it would be better to leave the amendment as it is.
– Personally, I cannot agree to allow the amendment to pass as it stands. Whilst the idea conveyed to the Committee by Senator Trenwith’s interjection was absolutely correct, I am afraid that the words he suggested would not fit in. What is wanted is a form of words which will convey a direction to the authorities called upon to adjudicate under this Bill to take into consideration the question of whether the management, plant, machinery, and processes in the local industry are reasonably efficient.
– Do not the words “regard shall be had” convey that direction?
– That may be so, but with the words of Senator Pearce’s amendment, the sub-clause might be construed into an affirmation that the management, processes, and plant of the Australian industry are reasonably efficient. I entirely agree with the object which Senator Pearce has in view, that only an industry which is carried on efficiently and with an up-to-date plant shall get the benefit of the proposed protection, that we should not by our legislation enable a laggard employer, an inefficient factory, and a slovenlymanager to compensate for their want of enterprise at the expense of the public
– We are all agreed upon that; it is only a question as to how we shall state it.
– Exactly ; and I admit that at the moment I am unable to suggest a form of words which will meet the difficulty. We might pass the clause now on the understanding that it will be recommitted to-morrow, if necessary.
– Why not carry the amendment which I have moved, and then let the Government consult their law officers as to whether any further amendment is desirable?
– The amendment originally proposed by Senator Pearce appears to me to be expressed in a more lucid form than the amendment now proposed or the original clause.
– The objection to that was that it might be held to be the sole determining factor as to whether the competition was unfair.
– It was a direct affirmation that where the machinery used was obsolete, the processes were ineffective, or the management slovenly, no consideration should be given to the industry.
– The honorable semitor might let it go now.
– I am not as old a parliamentarian as is the Minister, but I have had some few years’ experience. I know where I am now, but I do not know where I should be to-morrow if the Minister were then to say that the words to which we agreed to-night are all right, and
I should then have no chance of securing a recommittal. If the Minister will give an assurance that the clause will be recommitted should Senator Pearce, myself, or any other member of the Committee think it well to submit an improved form of words, there can be no objection to letting it go through now. No one knows better than does the. Minister the difficulty of drafting a satisfactory amendment in the Chamber, and we must now either discuss the question until we hit upon a satisfactory form of words, or adopt the much more business-like course of consenting to a recommittal, if that should be considered necessary to introduce a better form of words to-morrow. The Minister has already said that he is prepared to consult the draftsman, and it would not take two minutes to-morrow if it were found desirable to introduce a satisfactory form of words.
– U - Undoubtedly, the draftsman will be consulted, because the measure, as we amend it, must be sent back to another place. If it is found that the words we have inserted are not sufficiently explicit, better words may be inserted in another place, from which the Bill will be returned to us for reconsideration. I prefer that course to that suggested by Senator Millen, namely, that I should consult the Parliamentary Draftsman, and afford an opportunity for further amendment to-morrow. If it be considered by the Attorney-General and the draftsman that any alteration is necessary, that alteration can be made in another place.
– I am opposed to the clause as it stands, and also opposed to the amendment. I cannot see how any protectionist can possibly vote for a clause such as this, which strikes at the very root of the principle of protection. According to the clause, we say to the manufacturers of Australia, “We will protect you on condition that your management, machinery, and methods are up-to-date.”
– Quite right.
– It is very evident that Senator Henderson has not given any attention to the question of protection, or he would have known that industries do not spring up in a moment out of nothing, but are very often the result of long periods of evolution, and that, in order to extend assistance, we must give them command of the home market, and leave internal competition to perfect the management and appliances. But if we adopt either the clause or the amendment we shall simply give our manufacturers a stone when they ask for bread.
– Does the honorable senator think that the word “reasonably” meets his objections?
– I do not believe in the word “ reasonably.” In sub-clause 3 we are asked to as much as say that, if the machinery employed, for instance, in the weaving of cloth in Australia, is not equal to the machinery used in Great Britain, the United States, Germany, or any other highly organized country, then the Australian industry shall not have any protection. Did any one ever hear of such a ridiculous proposition? I could easily understand free-traders voting for the clause ; but how a protectionist, who has not taken leave of his senses, can support it is a conundrum. I am satisfied, as a protectionist, to give, as I say, Australian manufacturers the command of the Australian market, and to then allow internal competition to bring the industries to their proper position ; and if, at any time after that, the manufacturers form a trust which is to the detriment of the Commonwealth, they may be dealt with under the Bill. I do not know whether the Government intend to insist on this clause ; but, with one hand, to reach out protection to the probable or possible manufacturers of Australia, and, with the other hand, to take it away, is a mere pretence.
– And further, it will have the effect of building up monopolies.
– As Senator Drake points out, the Bill, instead of assisting struggling infant industries, will protect highly organized industries, and actually assist foreign dumpers to destroy the former. I call on every protectionist, who regards protection as a vital necessity, to vote against both the clause and the amendment.
– Just now the Minister of Defence made a suggestion which I have no doubt is bond fide so far as he is concerned, but which indicates that he missed the whole point of my remarks. Thehonorable gentleman said that he would consult the Parliamentary Draftsman, and that if more lucid words could be found he would adopt them. I point out, however, that there is a difference not merely in the words, but in the intention.
The fact that Senator Pearce was not satisfied with the original clause was the reason he suggested an amendment.
– The words I proposed were exactly those used in the other clause.
– Why was the alteration made in the other clause, except because Senator Pearce was not satisfied with the clause as it stood?
– That is so.
– The Minister of Defence now proposes to consult the very officer who drafted the original clause, and ask him if he can find any better form of words than that we have now adopted.
– The Minister now pro poses to ask the opinion of the Parliamentary Draftsman onmy amendment.
– It strikes me, from past experience, that the draftsman will express the opinion that there can be no better form of words than those in the Bill; and, for that reason, I cannot see the wisdom of the course suggested by the Minister. I ask the honorable gentleman again to consider the not unreasonable suggestion I have made, that we adopt Senator Pearce’s amendment, and that, if it be desired, an opportunitybe given to-morrow to recommit the measure, with a view to improving the amended form of the clause.
– Who is to decide as to the improvement?
– Is the Minister satisfied with the present words?
– I am satisfied for the present, but the words may be altered later if they are found to be objectionable.
– Who, then, is to be the judge?
– I can get the words altered in another place.
– The Minister now asks this Committee to abrogate its rights and responsibilities, and leave the Parliamentary Draftsman to determine whether the present words most effectively express our wishes.
– I understand that the honorable senator wishes to know whether the Parliamentary Draftsman approves of the present wording ?
– I wish to say that I look on the Parliamentary Draftsman as an officer whose duty it is to advise and assist, and not to be the judge of the work we do.
– Will the honorable senator tell me what he wants?
– I ask the Minister to afford us an opportunity to-morrow to recommit the Bill if any one makes a request to that effect.
– Am I to consent to a recommittal, whether the request be reasonable or unreasonable?
– Does the Minister think that any honorable senator is going to come forward with an amendment that could be termed absurd? Surely no one would waste time in trying to secure a recommittal for the purpose of making an absurd amendment ! If a recommittal is asked for, it will be because the honorable senator making the request honestly believes that he has framed a form of words which should be adopted.
– We have been on this clause all the evening, and if I agree to - a recommittal to-morrow the whole discussion may take place over again then. Once a debate of this kind commences one never knows when it will end.
– I should like the Minister to say straight out what he will do.
– I do not promise to recommit; but if a suggestion is made which commends itself to my judgment as reasonable I shall agree to a recommittal.
– I admit my inability to draft now an amendment which will satisfy my view as to the words which should be adopted, and will express the ideas of the Committee. The Minister understands the difficulty of doing this. Therefore I ask for the opportunity to draft,, between, now and to-morrow;, an amendment which will be an improvement upon sub-clause 3, and the promise of a recommittal for its consideration.
– I promise an opportunity to seek a recommittal, because, in doing so, the honorable senator will have to state what he proposes, and if I think that his proposal should not be considered, and the Senate backs me up, there will be an end to the matter. I do not wish to promise to go into Committee in any case, because in Committee honorable senators may speak as often as they like, and a great deal of time may be wasted.
– I thank the Minister for promising to allow me to exercise my rights.
– I wish to meet the honorable senator; but we have occupied a phenomenally long time in discussing the Bill.
– The Minister has caused more time to be wasted over this clause than would have sufficed to alter it. He, of course, may be a better judge than I am as to how far public business will be expedited by refusing my request.
– I have too often agreed to recommittals, and found out afterwards that I had made a mistake in doing so.
– I shall not make the request again. Senator Stewart has placed his finger upon a provision which raises the fiscal question. On the second reading, speaking as a free-trader, I stated that the effect of the Bill would be that those who would benefit by it would be the persons connected with our big industries. A number of my protectionist friends resented that assertion, regarding it, no doubt, as due to free-trade prejudice ; but now Senator Stewart, a protectionist, shows clearly that the measure will play into the hands of those connected with our big industries, and will assist in crowding out the little industries. Whilst I do not agree with the arguments put forward last night bv Senator Drake, I recognise that the Bill will have the effect which he affirms. I need hardly remind honorable senators that both free-traders and protectionists, if they differentiated at all. would prefer to do so in favour of the small industries as against the large, and I appeal to those who indorse that opinion to take action, even at the eleventh hour, which will prevent the whole of the benefits of the Bill from going to the big manufacturers in the cities of the Commonwealth.
– Would it not be better to throw out the Bill altogether?
– As a free-trader, I should gladly do so; but, although I recognise that that is impossible, I do not shirk my responsibility for making the ‘Bill as perfect as it can be made.
– The honorable senator will not ‘throw it up if he cannot throw it out.
– The honorable senator would be the last to forsake his post or abandon his guns, and I cannot do better than make a humble attempt to follow his bright example. Although I regard the Bill as a pernicious one, the obligation lies upon all of us, and particularly upon the protectionists, to see that its provisions will not lead to discrimination between one manufacturer and another, or between one industry and another; or, if there must be discrimination, that it shall be in favour of the small struggling industries rather than in favour of the big inflated ones. There may be some difficulty in framing amendments which will have this effect ; but that should not deter us from making the attempt. This difficulty cannot be greater than those which will have to be faced in connexion with the administration of the measure. To strike out the sub-clause, as suggested by Senator Stewart, would hardly accomplish the object in view. It provides that, in determining whether competition is unfair, regard shall be had to the question whether the management, processes, plant, and appliances of an industry are efficient. I do not see that it would assist the case which the honorable senator has at heart to strike out that provision. He should have interposed in connexion with clause 17, though there will still be an opportunity to give effect to the principles which he has enunciated if he will join to-morrow in the request for a recommittal.
– Will the honorable senator assist him ?
– Yes, if he asks for the recommittal of sub-clause 3.
– After half-past 4.
– Up to five minutes to 5.
– But not after that.
– Yes, if I am here; and, no doubt, if I am, I shall find the Minister present. It will still be possible for Sena to.- Stewart to-morrow to ask for a recommittal, and then to propose an amendment which would give effect to the object which he has at heart. Failing that he could propose a new clause. If Senator Stewart prepares a new clause and brings it forward, I am sure that, apart from the support that he ought to get from those who believe in protectionist principles, he will get mine - not on the ground that I am a supporter of the Bill, but because I believe that if it is going through it ought to be made a reasonable and equitable measure. Amongst other things which I think are necessary for the proper conduct of business is a sufficient number of honorable senators to conduct it. I am not quite sure that we have a sufficient number present now. [Quorum formed.”]
– I am very glad that the discussion, has drawn attention to the real character of the Bill. I wish I could have directed the same attention to it when we were discussing clause 17, because it is connected with the clause under discussion to a large extent. I do not think that Senator Stewart will be able to achieve all that he desires by striking out the provision to which he objects, because it will still be optional, in putting the Bill into operation, to give the benefit of it - whatever that may be - to the big industry, and not to the small one. But the important thing about this sub-clause is that it does showclearly what the intention of the Bill is. It is a most important provision ; and, as I have pointed out before, it is capable of two diametrically opposite readings. The interpretation given to it by the Government and accepted by most honorable senators is that the benefit of this measure will not be given to any industry unless the management, processes, plant, and machinery are efficient and up-to-date. No matter how strongly inclined the ComptrollerGeneral might be to give assistance to an industry he could not do it unless the industry had arrived at that stage when it was employing the most efficient plant, machinery, and processes, and when the: management was everything that could be desired. What does that mean?’ It means an industry that is fully equipped, anc’ that probably has, after years of operation and years of experience on the part of the management, put itself in such a position that it is possibly able to crush out smaller industries, and to compete for the whole of the trade of Australia.
– We have heard all this, two or three times.
– And it is very interesting. The last occasion when I directed attention to the point was when I was speaking on clause 17. Unfortunately, at that time a considerable number of honorable senators were out of the chamber, and did not hear the argument. It is quite clear that no help is to be given under this Bill to an industry until it has arrived at that stage when it is perfectly equipped. That is what I object to. I said, when speaking on the second reading, that I objected to the Bill because it means protection by prohibition, and I hold that that is contrary to the ordinary practices and beliefs of protectionists.
– In what worse posi’.. would the small’ manufacturers be under this Bill than if there were no such Bill?
– Their position would not be improved.
– They would be no worse off anyhow.
– They would be in competition with the highly equipped factories in the capital and also in competition, with the importers. They would be subject to that double competition. They might go down under it, and the big industry in the city would go ahead, and get more and more of the trade. Then, when presumably it was in a positionto stand alone - because it had adopted all the recent improvements in plant, machinery, and processes - the big industry would go to the Government and ask for still further assistance by absolutely, prohibiting the introduction of goods that could compete with it.. It is, I contend, no part of the doctrine of protection to shut out an article entirely. By destroying competition - the wholesome competition between imported goods and goods produced locally - the consumer is placed absolutely at the mercy of the local producer. Senator Findley knows that very well, and he would not, I think, at the present time assent to this measure if it were not for the provisions in it with regard to the remuneration of the workers. Special care is takento see that in all these cases part of the benefit of the Bill is given to the workers, that they shall receive due remuneration, and that their conditions shall be what they ought to be. I quite approve of that; and that is what I say has induced many honorable senators to accept the Bill. It is, however, clearly a capitalistic Bill. It is a Bill ostensibly to put down monopolies but which tends to create monopolies. It constitutes in itself a conspiracy between a certain section of workers and capitalists to fleece the consumers. That is the meaning of it ; and the usefulness of the clause under discussion is that it tells us exactly what is meant. Because, if you put the interpretation upon the clause that is, put upon it by the Government, the aid of this Bill cannot be given to any industry unless it has established itself in such a position that it is prepared to undertake the production of an article to supply the whole of Australia, and has therefore become a monopoly. This is a Bill which is supposed to put down monopolies, but it is perfectly clear that the object of it is to assist monopoly. I have not mentioned the odious name myself, but it has been mentioned by honorable senators opposite repeatedly. I refer to a gentleman who is engaged in the industry here, and who is known to be a strong supporter of the Bill. There is a case of an industry which for a long time has been competing with smallerlocal concerns. It has established itself in such a position that it is prepared to supply the wants of all Australia, but, under this measure, it could come and ask, not for protection by means of a higher Tariff which would apply all round, but for prohibition, which would give it a special advantage, and enable it to capture and retain the whole of the trade of Australia. That is not a thing which protectionists should desire - it is a departure from the true doctrine of protection. Scientific protection, as understood in Victoria so far, has been protection by means of a Tariff, and that Tariff was designed to particularly protect all the industries within that State. In asking for prohibition under this Bill, however, protectionists are taking a step which I think they will live to regret. This sub-clause is capable of two diametrically opposite readings. Surely in that case it is desirable to draft a clause which would state exactly what was meant ! The amendment which was first drafted by Senator Pearce seems to carry out that idea. It states distinctly in what way this consideration shalloperate. The peculiar feature of the sub-clause is that it says that consideration shall be had to the condition of the management, processes, plant, and machinery ; but it does not say whether that consideration is to sway the Court in a certain way or in exactly the opposite way. It would toe possible for the Court to come to the conclusion that the protection of the measure was not to be given to the factory which had all the up-to-date appliances, and which probably could stand without that aid, but was to be given to the other factories. Surely the English language is capable of framing a provision which would not be open to the possibility of such diametrically opposite reasons. We seem to be stuck. Senator Pearce tabled an amendment which would show what was meant, but he ran away from it and proposed another which would leave the sub-clause just as ambiguous as it is. and which, if adopted, would only have the effect of weakening the expressions used before in the clause. It is very weak on the part of the Committee to slum its work in the expectation that it will be corrected elsewhere. It should be able to frame any Bill in a form to which it would be prepared to stand.
– If the honorable senator objects to the provision, why does he not suggest a proper amendment?
– The more I look at the clause the less I like it. Senator Playford has said that we have had ample time in which to prepare an amendment. Now, for an ample time Ave have had in print an amendment which admirably meets my idea, and that is the original amendment of Senator Pearce.
– I gave the honorable senator a type-written copy of my amendment at the table three or four days ago.
– I assure the honorable senator that I did not look at the document until this evening. Being type- written. I apparently did not notice it, as I noticed his printed amendment on my file Avith others. As it is not too late to move his admirable amendment, because in either case the words-“ efficiency of” would have to come out, I wish to point out ‘ why it should commend itself to the Committee as an alternative to the words which he proposes to add. By his original amendment he proposed to add to the sub-clause these words - being reasonably efficient and effective, and no competition shall be deemed unfair if the Australian industry is ineffective and inefficient in its management, processes, and machinery.
At first sic-fit, it appeared to me that those words Went perhaps a little too far, but on reflection I am not at all certain whether thev do not present :the best form of amendment which has yet been offered. I gather, from interjections and other signs, that honorable senators quite accept the proposition that the Bill is not designed to foster or help negligent business men, obsolete plant, slovenly or inefficient methods of any kind, but is intended to insure that Australian industry, when properly carried on under good management and Avith good plant and appliances, shall be shielded from the unfair competition of unscrupulous persons outside. If that be the purport of the Bill, I can see no reasonable objection to the amendment of Senator Pearce, as originally drafted. On the other hand, to resist the view set out in the amendment is, unless, of course, Ave have an equivalent clause, to ask us to place the public of Australia - the great body of the consumers - entirely at the mercy of an industry which might be a generation behind the times, under incompetent management, and altogether without the spur necessary to keep it up to modern requirements. I am quite sure that honorable senators do not wish to do that, or, at any rate, if they do, I feel certain that the great body Of the public do not, and Ave have at least to pay a little consideration to them. I wish to deal now Avith another aspect of the question, which also bears upon the words it is proposed to delete. Senator Drake has just suggested that a case might arise where some factories would be efficient and others inefficient. What would be the determining factor there? Suppose- that in an industry there were twelve businesses Avith the most enterprising managers whom Australia could produce, and the most modern plant and machinery, and twelve businesses Avith inefficient management, obsolete plant, and ineffective machinery. How would the Court determine whether the industry was to receive the protection of the Act or not? In its efforts to determine the point the Court might have to take the number of hands. There might be an equal number in each case, or less hands might be employed Avith the superior machinery, where more capital Avas invested, than with the inferior machinery, where less capital Avas invested. How the Court could balance the capital against the number of hands is more than I can say. Under these circumstances, it appears to me that it would be better to strike out the sub-clause-, not because I do not think that some such provision is necessary, but because if Ave struck it out Ave should throw upon the Government the onus of drafting another that would more adequately express what the Ministers say is in their minds, and what is clearly in the minds of the members of the Committee.
– How would it do to strike out the whole Bill?
– If I had my way I should strike out of the Bill all the provisions but those relating to the restraint of trade with which I have indicated that I am in accord. As it is not possible to do that, I think it is incumbent upon us to improve the Bill as far as it is capable of improvement.
– The honorable senator’s idea of improvement is to make the Bill ineffective.
– No, I do not wish to make it ineffective. We are all agreed as to the object that it is desired to achieve. It is generally admitted that the words proposed by Senator Pearce do not express quite what the Committee means, and my sole object is to secure the adoption of language which will convey what is intended. Therefore I cannot be accused of any desire to destroy the Bill. I have yet to learn that it is an offence against parliamentary decorum for a senator to seek for the best possible words in which to set out the desire of the Committee, One of the obligations resting upon the Legislature is to express itself clearly and lucidly. We have been told that it is sufficient for us to insert any words whatever, and to leave it to some unnamed and irresponsible officer to express his approval or otherwise, and afterwards to throw the measure upon the tender mercies of the other Chamber. I do not believe that any honorable senator would venture to tell his constituents that that is the way in which he discharges his parliamentary duties. When Ministers are so neglectful of their duties a double responsibility is thrown upon those who, like myself, think that the clause is imperfect, and that the amendment is equally so, to devise some means of clearly expressing what is intended.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 15
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
– I think that the Minister might reasonably consent to an adjourn; ment. This is a very important Bill, and, as we have no other legislation to guide us in framing its provisions, there is every reason why we should give it the fullest consideration.
.I am willing to assist in maintaining a quorum, as long as there is business to be done, and some useful work is being accomplished; but I strongly object to being kept here for hours, as we have been since tea time, unless some progress can be made. During the whole evening we have not finally dealt with one clause. The enemies of the Bill have been talking for mere talking’s sake, and with a view to blocking the Bill. I have no objection to sit as long as may be necessary to do the business.
– I rise to a point of order. Is it competent for an honorable senator to accuse other honorable senators of talking for talking’s sake?
– I hope that Senator Givens will” withdraw the words, because it is not in order to attribute improper motives to other honorable senators.
– I withdraw the words, and admit that I was quite wrong. I should have recognised that no man in his senses would talk as honorable senators have been talking for mere talking’s sake.
– I rise to a point of order. I have not been talking for talking’s sake, but with a very strong, keen sense of duty.
– What is the point of order?
– Senator Givens has charged other honorable senators and myself with talking for talking’s sake.
- Senator Givens has just withdrawn that statement.
– I wish to intimate that I am willing to assist in keeping a House so long as I see any determination to do business; but I shall not assist to keep a House for five minutes if I do not observe some disposition on the part of honorable senators or the Government to make some progress.
– I certainly think thatwe ought to have made more progress with the Bill. We have spent a considerable time on this one clause, and we have heard over and over again the arguments which were advanced on the second reading, and in connexion with previous clauses. To any fresh arguments we should, of course, be very pleased to listen.
– There is no doubt there has been fresh arguments, because the Minister has accepted an amendment, though it took two hours to convince him of its necessity.
– There has been no waste of time, because all the discussion has been relevant to the clause before us.
– The fact that the Government have accepted an amendment shows that we are open to conviction and not unreasonable. I must ask honorable senators, however, to assist me in making; some little further progress to-night. - I cannot of course, expect to complete the consideration of the Bill.
– Why not?
– I am afraid that after a certain hour some honorable senators may leave, and that it will not be possible to keep a quorum, with the result that the Bill would disappear from the noticepaper, and our last state would be worse than the first. Senator Symon. the leader of the Opposition, before he left to-day, told me that he was prepared to allow the Bill to go through to-day. and had he remained, I think I should have been able to do more than I have with my young friend, Senator Millen.
– We can complete the consideration of the Bill to-morrow.
– But we have devoted more time to this Bill than there is any necessity for. There has to come before us a Bill to amend the Constitution and that mustbe passed two months before the elections, in order to enable the question to be remitted to the people by referendum. Then,I remind honorable senators that until the Appropriation Bill, relating to new works and buildings, is passed, new works are at a standstill.
– I understand that the question before us is the addition of certain words, and I suggest that Senator Pearce. instead of submitting the amendment of which he has given notice, should propose the addition of the words which are common to both amendment’s, namely, “ being reasonably efficient.”
Amendment (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
Thatthe wordsbeing reasonably efficient” be added to sub-clause 3.
– It is my desire that we should now add the words “ and effective, and no competition shall be deemed unfair if the Australian industry is ineffective and inefficient in its management, processes, or machinery.” For the present, however, I merely wish to ask members to vote upon the addition of the word “and.”
– As a test vote?
– Exactly. Itherefore move -
That the word “ and “ be added to sub-clause
Question - That the word proposed to be added be so added - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That the words “effective and up-to-date” be added to sub-clause 3.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 19 -
The Comptroller-General, whenever he has received a complaintin writing, and has reason to believe that any person (hereinafter called the importer), either singly or in combination with any other person within or beyond the Commonwealth, is importing into Australia goods (hereinafter called imported goods) with intent to destroy or injure any Australian industry by their sale or disposal within the Commonwealth in unfair competition with any Australian goods may certify to the Minister accordingly.
The certificate of the Comptroller-General shall specify -
the imported goods;
the Australian industry and goods;
the grounds of unfairness in the competition ;
the name, address, and occupation of any person (not being an officer of the public service) upon whose information he may have acted.
The Comptroller-General may add to his certificate a statement of such other facts as in his opinion ought to be specified to give the importer fair notice of the matters complained of.
The Comptroller-General shall, before making his certificate, give to the importer an opportunity to show cause why the certificate should not be made and furnish him with a copy of the complaint.
On receipt of the certificate the Minister may -
by order in writing refer to a Justice the investigation and determination of the question whether the imported goods are being imported with the intent alleged ; and, if so, whether the importation of the goods should be prohibited either absolutely or subject to any specified conditions or restrictions or limitations;
notify in the Gazette that the question has been so referred ; and
forward to the Justice a copy of the certificate.
– I have an amendment to propose. The Bill is one for the repression of trusts and combinations, but under this clause it may be an offence for one individual without any combination whatever to take certain action. The clause with which we have just dealt is very stringent, and may interfere very prejudicially with trade. I am inclined to think that when disputes are brought before the Court, it will be found that some of these provisions are ultra vires. The American cases show that it has always been found very difficult to decide what is commerce between the States, and what is trading within a State. In this clause, we are dealing with imports, and the question will certainly arise as to when goods coming into Australia cease to be imports. A very subtle question is raised in the American cases as to the exact time when certain goods become exports. As soon as they may be so described, they come within the jurisdiction of the Federal power. A similar question will arise under this Bill, as tothe exact moment when goods cease to be imports. I think that it will be found that as soon as goods have passed through the Customs House they cease to be imports, and that the Federal power has no longer jurisdiction over them. In that event, all attempts to apply the provisions of this Bill to those goods after they have left the Customs House would be ultra vires. The powers conferred by the Bill will have to be exercised before they leave the Customs Department. We have been dealing with provisions relating to the prices at which imported goods may be sold in the retail market of any State, and I think great difficulty will be found in exercising the Federal power with respect to them after they have passed out of the control of the Department. It will be difficult before they leave the Customs House to prove such a thing as is provided for in the clause with which we have just dealt. I have in mind the possibility of a trader in one of the States ordering goods from abroad in a perfectly bondfide way, landing them in Australia, offering them for sale, and quite unwittingly offending against the provisions of this Bill’. He might sell these goods without any improper intention at a price below that at which they can be produced in the country from which he obtained them, and might, for instance, be harassed by a rival trader. A man carrying on business in the same street might know that he had received a shipment of goods that he must sell within a few weeks, or else lose the market, and thereby be induced to lay an information against him. I do not think it is intended that a man should be liable to persecution of that kind. The Bill is aimed at improper combinations to destroy Australian industry.
– It is also aimed at dumping.
– The honorable senator is quite right. Having regard to the fact that the operation of another part of the Bill is restricted to the actions of combinations, I fail to see why we should not have a similar restriction in respect of dumping. I should like this clause to be so restricted that it would apply only to a combination - it might be a combination consisting of a local business man, and some one outside Australia - to injure an Australian industry. I therefore move -
That the words “ either singly or,” in subclause 1, line 4, be left out.
– I am not quite certain that the amendment is one which, bearing in mind the scope of the Bill, particularly commends itself to me.’ Senator Drake has drawn attention, however, to what appears to be a very serious contradiction in two of the clauses, one of them being the clause with which we are dealing. This clause provides that -
The Comptroller-General, whenever he has received a complaint in writing and has reason to believe that any person . . is importing into Australia goods . . . with intent to destroy or injure any Australian industry by their sale or disposal within the Commonwealth in unfair competition with any Australian goods, may certify to the Minister accordingly.
Paragraph d of sub-clause 2 of clause 18, however, speaks of imported goods which are “being sold in Australia.” How is the Comptroller-General to take action in regard to the importation of goods which have passed through the Customs, and, probably, after distribution through a wholesale house, are being sold by halfadozen retail establishments? Yet paragraph d makes it one of the reasons why competition shall be deemed unfair that goods are being sold in Australia at a price less than will give a fair profit.
– It is not stated that they have passed out of the hands of the importer.
– Importers do not, as a rule, sell direct to the public.
– I know some do. Imported harvesters, for example, are sold by the importers.
– Speaking generally, importers do not retail goods; they do not act as retail distributors. Of course, there are cases like that to which the honorable senator refers, and I know that in Sydney large retail firms like Anthony Hordern and Sons, Mark Foy, and Marcus Clarke, do their own importing; but for every shopkeeper who is an importer there are probably 100 who get their supplies through the wholesale houses. Clause 19 directs the Comptroller-General what to do in regard to goods which are being imported in contravention of the law; but the clause which precedes it makes the offence which it is intended to prevent, that of selling goods to the public, and the goods can be sold only after they have passed out of the hands of the Customs officials, and, in most instances, out of the hands of the importers, too. It seems to me incumbent on the Minister to reconcile these apparently conflicting provisions, or, if there has been an oversight on the part of the draftsman, the Government, and the other branch of the Legislature, to rectify it. Clause 19 directs the Comptroller-General to impound goods if the complaint is made to him that they will enter into unfair competition with Australian goods, but in clause 18 unfair competition is defined as the selling of goods at reduced prices. How can the Comptroller-General take steps to impound goods which are being imported when the reason for impounding them is the fact that they are being sold in the shops”? The two provisions read together are ridiculous, and it is astonishing that Ministers do not take immediate steps to put an end to the clear contradiction which has been pointed out. They should be grateful to Senator Drake for having drawn attention to the matter; but, apparently, they are content to overlook any absurdities, so long as they can get the measure through somehow.
– I move -
That the words “ not being an officer of the Public Service,” in paragraph e, sub-clause 2,. be left out.
When an information is laid, the certificate of the Comptroller-General must specify the name, address, and occupation of the person upon whose information he has acted, except when that person is an officer of the Public Service. I think that the name of the informant should be specified in all cases, and that the amendment will commend itself to the common-sense of the Committee.
– Surely the Minister intends to tell us why the words proposed to be left out were inserted. His refusal to do so seems to inspire labour representatives with merriment; but less than a week ago, when he neglected to give them information on a less important matter, they became veritable volcanoes of indignation.
– The honorable senator was at the bottom of that.
– That is a poor sort of gratitude. The Minister himself has admitted that I saved him the trouble of making an explanation on that occasion, and, so far as any subsequent trouble is concerned, he cannot blame me, because I was not present. It seems to me that, where a general proposition is laid down that certain tilings shall be done, some reason should be given for it. I wish to know what that reason is, in order that I may make up my mind whether to support the amendment or not. The ComptrollerGeneral is called upon, in his certificate, to give the names., addresses, and occupations of persons upon whose information he may have acted. Why should there be an exception in the case of a public servant? It is not as though the public servant would act on his own volition and knowledge. He would not. In ninety-nine cases out of a hundred he would be acting on information supplied in a secret and underhand fashion. If a policeman proceeds against any person, his name is not suppressed. In this case, if an officer of the Department sets the machinery of the law in motion, why should he be kept out of the light? I hesitate to believe that such an extraordinary exception is made without good reason, but at the same time I plead that I and other honorable senators do not know what the reason is.
– In the majority of instances it would be a Customs House officer who gave the information under this clause. He would ascertain, in the course of his duties, that certain imports were coming in. In the Customs Act we protect Customs House officers in this respect. So we ought to do. Ibelieve that this provision is taken from the Customs Act, and it is for the protection’ of officers from, perhaps, huge combinations with great power, or individuals with great wealth, who might otherwise make matters troublesome for them.
– I am rather surprised that the Minister should offer a premium to informers. I am under the impression that some honorable senators opposite have a perfect horror of informers. Yet they propose to support a clause that encourages such people.
– The explanation of the Minister has convinced me, and if the matter is pushed to a division I shall vote against the amendment. The Customs officers occupy official positions, and any information which they give to the Department must be regarded as confidential. That is why the explanation satisfies me.
– The names, addresses, and occupations of persons who give information under this measure are not to be kept secret unless the informer is a Government officer. I cannot understand the reason for secrecy in his case. If this is left in the whole clause will as to the rest be useless, as all an informer will have to do will be to inform a Customs officer, and his name will not be disclosed. At any rate, it is wrong that the Customs officer should not state where he gets his information from. In the one case it is provided that the informer’s name and address shall be published, and in the other case the Bill says that secrecy shall be observed. The distinction is altogether wrong. .
Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 13
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I desire to omit from paragraph a of subclause 5 the following words - and if so, whether the importation of the goods should be prohibited either absolutely or subject to any specified conditions or restrictions or limitations.
But as Senator Pearce has informed me that he wishes to move an amendment after the word “ goods,” I only move now -
That the words “ and if so whether the importation of the goods,” in paragraph a, subclause 5, be left out.
I propose to omit the words I quoted, on the ground that it would not be a proper matter for the Justice to decide. It, is quite right that’ he should investigate and determine whether the goods were being imported with the intent alleged, and if he so decided, then the question as to any conditions or restrictions or limitations on the prohibition should be a matter for the Minister to settle. It is appropriate for the Justice to investigate and determine a question of mixed law and fact, as the question to be determined under the provision would be ; but it is not desirable that he should be called upon to go into small details such as would be involved in an inquiry which would enable him to specify the “ conditions or restrictions or limitations” on the prohibition. I do not know exactly what is meant by the term - in fact the Bill contains a great many things of which I’ do not know the exact meaning. But I presume that, if not entirely prohibited, the limited prohibition would be a prohibition, that the goods might come in and be disposed of under certain conditions - for instance, that they must not be sold below a certain price. If the Justice found that the goods were being brought in to be sold at a very low price with intent to injure an industry, he might say, “ These goods will not be entirely prohibited. They” will be allowed to come in but must not be sold under a certain price “ - Senator Playford, perhaps, may know whether that is the intention of the clause - or he might say, “ The goods shall not be sold in a certain place,” or that they should be sold under some other condition. I do not know whether any honorable senator has a clearer idea than I have of what is meant bv “ conditions, restrictions, or limitations” on the prohibition ; but if there is, perhaps he may be able to help me in my ignorance of the meaning. The point I take is that any possible meaning which might be given to the phrase would involve an inquiry into a number of trade details, which would be quite out of place in a Court of Justice. I cannot imagine a Justice of the High Court being called upon to lay down the exact conditions, or restrictions, or limitations on a prohibition against goods, which he held to have been imported with a criminal intent. If power is to be given in the measure to any one to allow the goods to be brought in and made some use of, the person to determine the conditions under which they should be sold should be not the Justice, but the Minister, who, with the assistance of his officers, would know the destination of the goods, and the circumstances under which the importer had intended to sell them. If the evidence showed an intention to sell the goods at very much below cost price so as to injure existing industries, the Minister might, after making inquiries, say that the goods should not be sold under a certain price, or should not be sold in a certain place, or impose some restriction of that kind.
Sitting suspended from 12.5 to 12.30 a.m.
– I should like to hear an expression of opinion from the Minister with regard to the amendment. I trust that he will not suppose that I desire to delay the passage of the Bill, or to take up time unnecessarily. The amendment is of an important character, and I trust that every consideration will be given to it. The question as to whether the defendant is guilty of an offence under the Act is a proper one for judicial determination, but the decision as to the disposal of the goods should be left to the Minister. It might be considered desirable to send back the goods to the place from which they were exported, or it might be considered that no harm would be done to any Australian industry if they were disposed of within the Commonwealth under certain conditions. The determination of this question would involve the consideration of a number of details in connexion with business, which could best be dealt with by the Minister under the advice of his expert officers. Moreover, if the Justice were to be called upon to decide what should be done with the goods, the investigation in the :Court would be very much prolonged, and the expenses involved would be greatly increased.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) [1 2-351- - I must indorse the protest of Senator Drake against leaving to the decision of a Justice questions which, after all, are matters of public policy. Under our system of government, we are supposed to separate judicial from legislative and administrative functions, but under the clause it is proposed to call upon a Justice to determine matters which should be left to the judgment and decision of either the Legislature or the Executive. Although we have been very careful to enact that certain things shall not be done, we do not impose upon the Justice any obligation to inflict a penalty in the event of his finding that an offence has been committed. It seems to me to be farcical to declare that certain things shall not be done, and to then turn round and say that the Justice need not inflict penalties for offences against the law unless he feels so inclined. It is the duty “of Parliament to distinctly lay down the law, and to fix the penalties, and certainly the obligation is imposed upon us to retain within our own special keeping the determination of all matters of public policy.
– This provision seems to me to be very vague and uncertain. The clause, so far as it relates to the disposal of the goods, is not clear as to what conditions are to toe laid down, or by whom they are to be imposed. Without entering into the question raised by Senator Drake as to whether the Minister or the Justice would be the best authority, it seems to me that we are conferring a power without defining what the power really is, and I think the Minister ought to explain what is intended.
– It is provided that the Minister, by order in writing, may refer to a Justice the investigation and determination of certain questions. It will be left to the Justice, therefore, to determine whether or not the goods are being imported with the intent alleged. At the same time, if the Justice finds that the goods are being imported with that intent, the clause leaves to him the further determination whether the goods shall be prohibited either absolutely or subject to any specified conditions, restrictions, or limitations. The term “ determination “ is frequently used in reference to judicial investigations ; and the determinations that would have to be made bv the Justice under the clause might be that the goods were being imported with the intent alleged. If he so determined, he would be obliged under this clause to proceed to further determine, as I say, whether the goods should be prohibited either absolutely or subject to specified conditions.
– What sort of conditions would those be, in the opinion of the Minister ?
– I am not in a position to detail them. The honorable senator has .said that this is a mattei which should be left to the Minister; but, as to that, of course, there may reasonably be differences of opinion. The jurisdiction of the Justice will not be invoked unless in a case that is abnormal or extraordinary - I do not mean abnormal or extraordinary in corelation to cases under the Bill, but in relation to ordinary trading transactions. That being so, and the Justice being left to determine whether the importation is with the intent alleged, it would be highly inadvisable to leave to him the determination, so to speak, of one-half of the transaction, “and then allow the Minister to do the rest. As to Senator Drake’s argument that the Minister would have the benefit or’ advantage of the experience of, his departmental officers, to guide him in imposing conditions and restrictions, I would point out that the Justice would also have that advantage. The moment the Justice proceeded to investigate and determine the issue, he would naturally have presented to him the case for and against the particular individual whose conduct was questioned. Would it not be wry much better, and would it not relieve the Minister of any possible imputation of acting in a way which might be influenced by personal considerations, if he were to present, or cause to be presented, to the Justice, not only all the material evidence relative to the intent of the person, but also all the material evidence relative to what should be the proper course followed under the circumstances.
– Would that not put the Justice in an equally undesirable position ?
– I do not think it would put the Justice in a position different from that in which Justices are frequently placed when determining as between parties in their equity jurisdiction.
– If it be proved that the goods are being introduced with the intent to injure an Australian industry, why should the Justice have an option’ as .to whether or not the importation should be prohibited ?
– There may- be peculiar circumstances. The goods may be of various classes.
– The goods might be allowed in under certain conditions.
– The possibilities of illegitimate trade - and I use this word in the same sense that I did previously - are so many, and so varied, that it is almost impossible to lav down hard and fast- rules to govern every case. I can quite understand that there may be in connexion with one particular instance of dumping, some peculiar circumstances or features which would call for a totally different order from that which might be made in another case - that is. to say, a restricted or limited order, rather than a general one.
– Apparently, I failed to make clear to the Minister the_ question which I asked by way of interjection. I am not now dealing with the question whether the Judge should have an option as to whether the prohibition should be absolute or conditional, but pointing out that, although the 1 intent may be proved, it is left optional with the Judge to say that there shall be neither conditional nor absolute prohibition. That is not what is intended. I know it is assumed, probably with good ground, that if a Judge finds that dumping has bee-n; committed or attempted, there ought to be no option in the matter.
– The Judge might say that, having regard to producers and consumers, it was advisable to have the dumping.
– Then it would not contravene the Bill. The Judge, under the circumstances I indicate, would already have taken into consideration all the interests mentioned by Senator Pearce, and, with all the facts before him, found the defendant guilty ; yet it is left optional whether he shall inflict the penalty which the clause provides. That does not appear to me to be a business-like provision. We have passed many laws under which we leave much to the Minister ; and now I think we are giving an unduly large latitude to the Judge. I do not for one moment suggest the possibility, at any rate , in our time, of any undesirable influences swaying the decisions of our Judges ; but if we get into the habit of passing laws of this kind, we shall open the door to thosespecial circumstances to which some reference has been made this evening. To my mind, this is a most serious difficulty in the administrative portion of the Bill, quite apart from its principles^ because it means that, although a man mav be found guilty, the Judge can still say he mav go free.
– I quite agree with the Minister that the task imposed is one which may be of a very invidious character. That being so, the question is whether it is not desirable that the task should be carried out by a Justice of the High Court rather than by the Minister.
– By a Justice, certainly.
– I question that. We are very careful indeed to keep our Courts of law as free as possible from contact with party, with trading operations, or with any matters with which questions of policy are likely to become involved ; and, therefore, it would be much better if the task were left to the Minister. The importation .of certain goods into a particular State might be objected to on the ground that it would injure an industry ; but we know that the conditions in the different States are so varied, that the importation of the’ same goods into another State might work no injury in that State. The Justice of the High Court, upon inquiry, might decide that the importation of certain articles to Victoria would injuriously affect a particular industry, but that their importation to Western Australia might very well be permitted. Such 3 state of things is possible under this clause, though it would involve an additional inquiry by the Justice as to the condition of the market in the different States of the Commonwealth.
– Why does the honorable senator worry?
– It is our duty to frame laws to which effect can be given without derogating from the views whichare generally held regarding the way in which justice should be administered. We should not enact legislation which is open to the objections to which I have referred.
– I favour the determination of the question of whether goods are being imported with intent to destroy or injure any Australian industry by a judicial authority, rather than by a political one. I would point out that the penalty provided for such an offence is the forfeiture of the goods so imported. That forfeiture may be absolute, or it may be modified in some way. But the provision in this connexion is an extremely vague one. The next clause provides that, from the date of the Gazette notice until the publication of the determination of the Justice, the goods which form the subject of the judicial investigation shall not be imported unless the importer gives to the Minister a bond for such an amount - not exceeding the true value of the goods for Customs purposes - as the Minister considers just and reasonable, by way of precaution in the circumstances, and conditioned to be void should the Justice determine the question in favour of the importer. That means that the importer could obtain possession of the goods by finding a bond for their full value. In other words, he might continue to destroy an Australian industry, and the utmost penalty which could be inflicted upon him would be the forfeiture of an amount which was equal to the value of the goods. In the meantime the goods themselves might have passed into consumption. What I wish to ascertain is the “conditions or restrictions or limitations “ which the Justice of the High Court may impose.
– We can only guess at the meaning of those words.
– Senator Mulcahy has raised two points, which show how extremely difficult it is to satisfactorily dispose of this Bill in a limited space of time. He prefers that the authority to determine the question of whether goods have been imported with intent to destroy an Australian industry shall be a judicial, rather than a political, one.
– I do not like a political authority.
– The authors of this Bill entertain quite a contrary opinion. Whilst under this clause they provide a judicial authority to decide questions of the character to which I have referred, under clause 23 they create the very Court of Appeal which Senator Mulcahy so much dislikes. In other words, an attempt is made to legislate in favour of an appeal from the decision of a Justice of the High Court to the Minister of the day. I would further point out, that, whilst under this clause we empower a Justice of the High
Court to direct that the importation of the goods shall be prohibited, the next clause might render his order absolutely void, because, in the interim, the goods might have been imported and sold. It is quite true that a bond to the value of the goods would be in the hands of the Minister, but that would in no way shield the industry which was being attacked.
– What is the honorable senator grumbling about?
– I am grumbling about being detained till this hour of the morning to discuss legislation of such a farcical character.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
– After the time thathas been wasted in dealing with an amendment of a somewhat frivolous character, I regret to have to delay the Committee by proposing a further amendment. The point has been raised as to whether the goods which may be prohibited under this clause are all goods of a certain class, or the goods of a particular importer who is guilty of dumping them. Some clauses seem to indicate that the goods aimed at are those of the importer who is guilty of dumping, but there are other clauses that appear to relate to all the goods of that class in Australia. Manifestly the intention is to deal with the goods that are being dumped by the importer. I therefore move -
That after the word “goods,” where second occurring in paragraph a, sub-clause 5, the words “by the importer or the importers specified in the certificate “ be inserted.
The certificate referred to is that of the Comptroller-General.
– Does the honorable member mean to restrict this provision to the particular shipment in question ?
– No; to restrict it to the goods mentioned in the certificate.
– Then the honorable senator should use the words “ the imported goods,” which appear in paragraph a of sub-clause 2.
– I do not think that is necessary.
– Might it not be inferred that under the amendment any one else would be allowed to import the goods ?
– Any one may import them, so long as he does not dump them. If an importer is guilty of dumping he may be made a party to any proceedings instituted. It is obvious that we do not desire to prohibit the goods of those engaged in legitimate trade. This is not a Bill to interfere with legitimate trade, and I think, therefore, that the amendment is necessary to make it clear that the intention is that goods which are the subject of dumping shall be prohibited. It would be open to the Comptroller-General to include iri his certificate the names of all importers who were dumping goods.
.- I was inclined to resent the statement made by Senator Pearce that some time had been spent in dealing with a frivolous amendment, but having heard his proposal, I am satisfied that he was speaking prophetically. I recognised when I heard the honorable senator’s amendment that there are such things as frivolous amendments. If it is adopted, it will make any confusion that may exist worse confounded. Clause 19 provides that the goods with which it is dealing are ito be known as “imported goods.” These words are used in sub-clause .<? We can deal only with goods in regard to which the authorities have control.
– They have control, not over the value of the goods, but over in amount representing their value.
– It is when the goods are passing through the port of entry, and before they have obtained clearance, that the authorities can impound them, and it is in regard to such goods that proceedings should be taken.
.- The amendment would create an ambiguity. It is clear that the goods referred to are those specified in the certificate. If the amendment is adopted, the provision may be read to refer to other goods imported by the same importer.
– Clause 16 declares that “imported goods” and “Australian goods” include goods of those classes respectively, and all parts and ingredients thereof. Therefore, “imported goods” is a term meaning classes of goods, and the Justice reading this provision in regard to goods which are the subject of an action may interpret it to mean classes of goods. He may, under sub-clause 4 of clause 21, if he thinks fit. “ allow any person interested in importing imported goods to be represented at the investigation.” Why should other importers interested in importing a class of goods be represented at an investigation, if it is not contemplated that the importation of the whole class may be prohibited?
– Another importer may intend to import goods of the same class.
– Yes, and will therefore be interested in the investigation, and allowed to be represented. In view of the provisions to which I have referred, it seems to me necessary to require that the prohibition ‘shall’ specify the goods imported.
– Other importers might be interested, not in the fate of the particular shipment in regard to which the investigation is held, but in keeping open the channels for trade in a particular class of goods. Although the award of the Justice in regard to a certain lot of goods might be of interest .’to the importer of the second lot, it would (not affect that second lot, which, if necessary, would have to be the subject of a second prosecution.
– The person interested is not made a party to the ‘proceedings, although he is allowed to be represented at the investigation.
– I think that Senator Pearce would accomplish his end by inserting the word “imported” before the word “goods.” The Comptroller-General, in his certificate to the Minister, must specify the imported goods, and the Justice to whom the Minister remits the case has only to investigate and determine whether the goods so specified were imported in contravention of the law. He isnot to deal with any other goods. The clause seems to me to be clear. It appears to me that the clause is clear, but if it is considered necessary to make it absolutely clear, it might, perhaps, be wise to use exactly the same words as have been previously used, and make the clause read “ whether the importation of the imported goods should be prohibited.” That is the only way in which the clause should be altered, if at all. I do not think that Senator Pearce’s present amendment would make it any clearer.
– I trust honorable senators will give this clause a little more attention, and will not assume that because I have submitted an amendment I have done so merely for the purpose of taking up time. I have moved it for the purpose of improving the Bill.
– The honorable senator is ready enough to suspect others.
– I think I have good reason.
– Not so much as we have now.
– I direct the attention of honorable senators to the way in which the clause is framed -
The Comptroller-General whenever he has received a complaint, in writing, and has reason to believe that any person (hereinafter called the importer) either singly or in combination with any other person within or beyond the Commonwealth is importing into Australia goods (hereinafter called imported goods) with intent to destroy or injure any Australian industry by their sale or disposal within the Commonwealth in unfair competition with any Australian goods, may certify to the Minister accordingly.
The goods are “ hereinafter called imported goods,” to distinguish them from other goods of the same description, which are not the subject of the ComptrollerGeneral’s action. In sub-clause 5, in which I have moved my amendment, the question is whether the’ imported goods are being imported with the intent alleged. The term “imported goods” is used there. But when the sub-clause deals with the matter of prohibition, the term “ imported goods “ is dropped.
– Surely to say “ the importation of the imported goods “ is tautology.
– No; the “ imported goods” are the goods which are specified in the Comptroller-General’s certificate. Suppose the goods referred to are boots. Suppose that some importer is dumping ladies’ boots with intent to destroy an Australian industry, and that a complaint is made to the Comptroller-General. That officer, in his certificate, specifies that the action is taken on the subject of the importation of certain ladies’ boots. The Minister may refer the matter to a Justice to determine whether the particular ladies’ boots are being imported with the intent alleged, and if so, whether the importation of the said imported boots ought to be prohibited. I will withdraw my present amendment, with the view of moving another one to insert the word “ imported “ before “goods.”
– Does the Bill deal with any but imported goods?
– But cannot the honorable senator see that the goods here referred to are not goods generally, but the imported goods within the specific meaning of this clause ? It is a technical phrase applied to goods, not because they are imported, but because they are the subject of the action taken by the ComptrollerGeneral. If the phrase “ imported goods “ is properly used in one part of the clause it should be used throughout.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
That the word “imported” be inserted before the word “ goods,” where second occurring in paragraph a of sub-clause 5.
– I desire to ask you, Mr. Chairman, whether it is competent, without a recommittal, for an honorable senator to move to insert the word “ imported “ before “ goods “ ? We have had a division, and it was decided that the words which it is now proposed to amend should stand part of the Bill. I submit that we cannot, in this Committee, go back upon what we have done.
– I must uphold Senator Drake’s point of order. It would necessitate the reconsideration or recommittal of the clause to deal with Senator Pearce’s amendment.
.- Having disposed of the amend- ment by ruling it out of order, you, Mr. Chairman, have relieved me from the necessity of appealing to the Committee not to advertise to the world that our popular education system has been an absolute failure. I really think that Senator Pearce is under a little misapprehension.
– I rise to order. Has it not been ruled that Senator Pearce’s amendment is out of order?
– I am sure the Committee will bear with me when I say that I am not discussing the amendment. I thought that Senator Pearce was under a misapprehension as to what the clause meant. The impetuosity of my energetic friend, Senator Findley, should be re- strained.
– If I were under a misapprehension I should not go to the honorable senator for an explanation.
– I wish to take up the illustration which Senator Pearce gave in order to show how defective the clause is. If it is a good illustration, it furnishes a reason for voting against the clause. But if it is wanting in substance, as I think it is, the clause can be safely passed, quite irrespective of the amendment which has been ruled out of order. The honorable senator took the case of a shipment of ladies’ boots, and assumed that all that would be entered in the certificate^ of the Comptroller-General would be “ladies’ boots.” But, clearly, that is not so.
– If only boots of that class were being dumped, that is all that would be stated in the certificate.
– What would appear in the certificate would be not “ ladies’ boots,” but “ twenty cases of ladies’ boots.” That is a point which the honorable senator has overlooked.
– That is the same thing stated in another way.
– When we refer to sub-clause 5 5, we find no ambiguity about what would be involved. It would apply to the shipment of ladies’ boots which .were then metaphorically before the Court, and not to all1 shipments of ladies’ boots. All that the Court would have to deal with would be a complaint against, say. William Brown in respect of a shipment of twenty cases of ladies’ boots.
– But the prohibition might aaffect other shipments.
– The only mmatter before the Court would be that shipment.
– The prohibition might say that no further shipments would be allowed.
– No order which the Court could give could affect any other goods.
– Could not the prohibition say that no further shipments of those boots would be allowed ?
– Certainly not:
– Then what is the value of. the dumping provision? Would there be a separate prosecution in each case of dumping?
– I do not think so.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that we are to have a prosecution against a man unknown ?
– One prosecution would settle all cases of that class.
– The honorable senator is quite right ; because if William Brown were penalized for attempting importation under those circumstances, other importers would cease their operations immediately. When a decision on a point is given in a Court, what happens? Other persons do not test the point.
– But if the goods were on the way the authorities would have to make a fresh complaint against each importer.
– Exactly. Each shipment which was complained of would have to be the subject of a specific inquiry ; each .person who was complained of would have to be brought before the Court, and would have an opportunity to state his case, and judgment would be given regarding that person and that shipment. For that reason, it is impossible to alter the clause with advantage.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 20 agreed to.
Clause 21 -
– I move -
That the words “ expeditiously and carefully,” lines 1 and 2, be left out.
The use of these words would imply a reflection upon the Court. It is not a decent thing, I think, to ask a Court of Law to do its work expeditiously and carefully. A Court may always be trusted to do its work expeditiously and carefully, without a direction in a Statute.
– The whole question, as “ Senator Drake has pointed out, and as was pointed out by Senator Symon-
– And as was replied to very fully by the Minister.
– It may havebeen replied to very fully.
– He pointed out that exactly the same words are used in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, and that there is no objection to the use of them.
– That does not alter the argument at all. If the words were used in that case it was just as objectionable as it is in this case. We are asked to direct the High Court, in which we have every confidence, to proceed “ expeditiously and carefully,” as if this was the only case in which it was to so act, and as if ordinarily it might proceed without expedition and without care. I am quite certain that Senator Trenwith will recognise that whether the words were in the provision or not, the Court would proceed “expeditiously and carefully.”
– I believe that any Court we created would do so.
– We may rely upon the Justices to attend to the discharge of their public duties as carefully as they are capable of doing. In that case, what is the use of retaining the words in this provision? I shall not divide the Committee, but it appears to me that the words are unnecessary, and, if anything, a reflection upon the Court. Seeing that they could be of no use, the Minister might reasonably have consented to their omission.
– I move -
That sub-clause 8 be left out. [ have moved the omission of this provision, dealing with agricultural implements, oecause, apparently, it would make an invidious distinction. Under clause 17, in dealing with unfair competition, the Justice is required to have due regard to the interests of producers, workers, and consumers. But in another place there are certain honorable gentlemen who pose as being particularly the farmers’ representatives, and who, in every Bill, try to put in an exemption in his favour. This sub-clause is assumed to be an exemption in favour of the farmer. As a matter of fact, it does not carry things any further than does clause 17, but it does procure for certain honorable members in another place kudos for looking after the special interests of the farmers. The Committee should not lend itself to that kind of thing. One has only to look into the provision to see how meaningless it is. Under clause 17, the fanner is just as fully protected as any other section of the community, and there is no reason why he should get a special advertisement in this sub-clause.
– While I agree with Senator Pearce as to the futility of the sub-clause, I would point out to him that it would be unwise to strike it out. It would really accomplish nothing to the detriment of other sections of the community, and if it pleases some persons I can see no reason for its omission. We are doing our best to pass this measure through without unnecessary delay. But if we strike out the clause, we shall open the door to a further long discussion in another place. If there were anything baneful in the clause it should be struck out ; but it is like, “a chip in porridge” - absolutely ineffective. I agree with Senator Pearce that it was inserted to enable certain persons to pose before the farmer. It has been suggested in a weekly journal that if some persons had been on hand when the Ten Commandments were given out they would have suggested that they should not apply to those engaged in agricultural, viticultural, or pastoral pursuits. There is no doubt that that is so. Whatever immunity is sought for farming implements seems to me to be dependent entirely on the question of whether the goods are being imported under fair conditions.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 22 agreed to.
Clause 23 -
The Governor-General may at any time, >by proclamation, simultaneously with or subsequently to any prohibition under this Part of this Act, rescind in whole or in part, the prohibition or any condition or restriction or limitation on importation imposed hereby-
– Sub-clause 9 of clause 21 provides^ -
The determination of the Justice shall be final and conclusive and without appeal, and. shall not be questioned in any way.
Nothing could be plainer than that. Yet it is now proposed to provide that the Governor-General may rescind, in whole or in part, any prohibition, or any condition or restriction or limitaton on importation, imposed thereby. The question is whether we should give the Minister power to undo what has been done by the Justice - whether we are to close the front door and leave the back door open.
– The majority of honorable senators differed from the view expressed by me in connexion with a previous clause, and expressed the opinion that a prohibition would not operate with regard to the whole of a shipment made by an importer, so long as certain, conditions were complied with. If my view be wrong., this clause is unnecessary. If a prohibition were to apply to, say, only eight cases of boots out of a large shipment, there would be no necessity to ‘review the decision of the Court. In my opinion, it is because the prohibition will continue to operate in regard to an importer that this provision is necessary. If my reading is wrong, however, there is no need for the clause, because, if the Justice says that the goods shall be prohibited, I do not see why the Government should be constituted a court of review. If Senator Pulsford pushes the matter to a division, I shall support him.
– Surely Ministers will not sit like statues without making some attempt at an explanation.
– I think that the purpose of the clause is abundantly clear, although I quite agree with Senator Pulsford that it ought not to be inserted. It is provided in clause 21 that the determination of the Justice shall be final and conclusive, and without appeal, and yet it is proposed. to permit of an appeal, not to another Court, whose - proceedings would be open to the broad light of day, but to the Government. Thus the way would be opened for the exercise of that political influence which Senator Mulcahy and others, including, myself justly dread. What would happen is, I think, abundantly clear. In this particular matter, the Governor-General would have power to mitigate or lower the penalty imposed by the Justice, and this would probably lead to cases of gross interference. The questions arising would be determined, not altogether on the merits of the case, but according to the amount of influence that could be brought to bear upon an individual Minister, or upon the success with which an importer could present his case to the officers of the Department. If there is to be an appeal from the decisions of the Justice, it should be made to a Court, and not to the Minister. It is reversing altogether the ordinary procedure to have a review in secret of proceedings which have taken place in public. While I shall vote against the clause, I feel that if it be omitted there may be the possibility of injustice in that a defendant, after a case had been determined, might be able to show that some facts had come to his knowledge which previously he had not been able to place before the Justice, and that, therefore, could apply for the clemency which clause 23 permits the Governor-General to exercise. But the danger arises from the fact that we have already passed clause 21, which says that there shall be no appeal. I shall, however, vote to strike out clause 23, in the belief that if it be left out, the Ministry will never allow the Bill to become law with clause 21 in it, tout will seek to so amend the latter as to permit of an appeal from a single Judge to the Full ‘Court.
– In this clause there appears to be an obvious omission. Clause 22 provides that the Justice may order prohibition, or prohibition under certain conditions, and paragraph b of sub-clause 2 of that clause enables the Judge to reduce the amount recoverable under any bond. Clause 23 gives the Governor-General power to rescind wholly or in part the prohibition or any condition or restriction on importation imposed thereby, but no reference is made to paragraph b of sub-clause 2 of clause 22. I presume that it was not intended that the Governor-General in Council should have power to rescind or vary a prohibition, and not have power’ to vary an order which is equivalent to a fine. It may be, of course, that paragraph b in clause 22 was introduced after the Bill was drafted.
– When we were discussing clause 19 Senator Millen referred to the fact that the clause empowered the Justice, after having determined the fact of intent, also to determine whether a prohibition should issue, and, if so, whether it should be absolute or subject -to terms and conditions. The honorable senator also pointed out that we were giving a judicial tribunal functions usually entrusted to the political head. In reply, 1 expressed the opinion that it would be inadvisable, if we resorted to a judicial tribunal at all, to divide the duty between, that tribunal and the political head. I further pointed out that before the judicial tribunal would come to the second determination as to the prohibition, it would have the same advantage as the Minister had, of the evidence and experience of the chiefs of the Department. As a matter of convenience, the judicial tribunal will determine, first, whether there has been a breach of the Bill, and, secondly, whether proceedings shall be taken to restrain the continuance or prevent a recurrence of such breach. I agree that the latter part of the determination is a function usually entrusted to a political rather than to a judicial tribunal, and it is only so far as that is concerned that we propose to empower the Governor-General in Council to rescind in whole, or in part, the prohibition or any condition or restriction. It is riot proposed to empower the GovernorGenera! in Council to in any way modify or vary the decision as to whether a defendant is or is not guilty of intent. As I have said, the other part of the judicial determination is usually intrusted to the political head ; but if it had been proposed to divide the dutv at that stage, there would have been much more serious hostile criticism than was directed when that clause was under consideration. I think that clause 2 5 should, to some extent, meet the criticism that was then offered, because action will not be taken by the Governor-General in Council, except under very grave circumstances.
– How about the amount recoverable under the bond?
– That is a judicial rather than a political question.
,- I would point out to the Committee that an ordinary fine can always be remitted by the Executive. Under clause 22, the Justice may prohibit the introduction of goods either absolutely or conditionally, or he may reduce the amount recoverable under the bond. Then, under this clause, the Executive have power to vary the prohibition, but they have no power to alter the fine which has been imposed. I do not see that Senator Keating’s remarks had any bearing upon that point- If the Executive have power to rescind or vary the prohibition, why should they not have power to reduce the amount of the money penalty? It seems to me as if there has been an unintentional omission in this connexion.
– I wish to point out to Senator Drake that the assessment of the amount which may be claimed under the bond is a matter which must be decided at once, and decided upon evidence.
– So is the prohibition.
S’enator TRENWITH.- The real question at issue is how much is recoverable under the bond. Let us suppose for the sake of argument that a person has imported ,£10,000 worth of goods, and that a bond for that amount has been lodged with the Minister. Let us further suppose that during the progress of the trial the importer has distributed ,£5,000 worth of those goods. Should it be held that the goods have been imported with intent to destroy or injure an Australian industry, the distribution of those goods would constitute an offence. Under the circumstances, the Justice might say that it was a proper thing for the Government to recover the sum , of £5,000. That is the penalty which would be provided for any such breach of the law. A prohibition might then be imposed upon the importation of similar goods. But it is quite conceivable that circumstances might arise under which it would no longer be an injury for the goods to be imported, and, therefore, provision is made that the GovernorGeneral may modify the prohibition. The contingency which I have outlined appears to me to be a reasonable one, and would explain why, in the first instance, the Court is vested with power to deal with, these questions, and why the GovernorGeneral in Council is subsequently empowered to modify its decisions. It is obvious that a decision might be given by the Justice which ought not to be modified either to-day or to-morrow, or possibly next year, but which might, with perfect propriety, be modified the year after.
– Is that the correct interpretation ?
– It is one interpretation which presents itself to my mind, and it is a sufficient reason for the insertion of this provision in the clause.
.- To my mind the explanation advanced by Senator Trenwith is not altogether a satisfactory one. I asked the Minister the reason for what appears to be an omission, but instead of replying to my question, he referred me to another clause, and pointed out the difference between a judicial determination of the question of whether an offence had been committed and the issue of an order prohibiting the importation of goods.
– I said that the question of the amount recoverable under the bond was more of a judicial than a political one.
- Senator Trenwith has given a possible explanation of this matter, but I do not know that it is the proper explanation. I propose, therefore, to test the feeling of the Committee, and I move -
That the following words be added : - “ or may reduce the amount recoverable by order of the Justice under any bond.”
Clause agreed to.
Clause 24 -
In all cases of prohibition the determination of the Justice, and any proclamation affecting the same, shall be laid before both Houses of the Parliament within seven days after the publication in the Gazette, or, if the Parliament is not then sitting, after the next meeting of Parliament.
– Of course, the intention of the draftsman was to make the clause provide that the proclamation should be laid before both Houses of Parliament within seven days after the publication of the same in the Gazette, if Parliament were in session, and if it were not, within seven days after its next meeting. In its present form, however, the clause provides that the proclamation shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament within seven days after its publication in the Gazette, and if Parliament be not sitting, at any time after it does assemble. I would point out that in the Electoral Act,’ the Property for Public Purposes Acquisition Act, the Excise Act, and the Customs Act, a different form of expression is employed.
– It is obviously a. draftsman’s error.
– I move -
That after the word “ sitting,” line 6, the following words be inserted : - “within seven days.”
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 25 agreed to.
Clause 26 -
Any person who wilfully -
Penalty : One hundred pounds.
– The penalty providedin this clause seems to be likely to prove insufficient. Honorable senators can readily imagine that misrepresentation of a very grave character, which would inflict severe loss upon entirely innocent people, might take place, and I think that the Court should have power to order imprisonment.
– What does the honorable senator suggest?
– A penaltyof £500, or one year’s imprisonment, or both.
– I would accept an amendment providing that the penalty be £100 or twelve months’ imprisonment.
– Very well.I move -
That the following words be added : - “ or twelve months’ imprisonment.”
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
– I move -
That the following new clause be added - “ 26A. The provisions of this Act shall not apply to goods imported by the Government of any State.”
This amendment should commend itself to the judgment of honorable senators. It is necessary to avoid a possible means of trouble, and I trust that the Committee will at once agree to it.
– I ask the honorable senator not to press his amendment. We should have to limit it in the first place to goods imported for the use of a State. The honorable senator would not like to permit a State to import goods for private individuals, or for. the purposes of sale. We contend that the Bill does not apply to States ; there is no likelihood of any of the States ever coming under it.
– Then why not make our intention clear?
– If we inserted this provision in one Bill, it might be implied that certain other measures did apply to
– By leave, I propose to amend my amendment by inserting after the word “ by “ the words “ and for the use of.”
Amendment, by leave, amended accordingly.
– The whole object of this measure, declared almost in every clause, is to prevent persons from importing goods with the intention of or in a manner calculated to destroy Australian industries. If goods are not so imported, the Bill will not apply to them. To declare that it does not apply to the States seems, having regard to the proposed preference to Great Britain, to be an insult rather than a concession to the States. It would be absurd to provide in this Bill, which has been introduced only because it is alleged that some persons are laying themselves out to destroy Australian industries, that it shall not apply to any imports made by the States. The insult would not be as specific as it would have been in the case of a previous amendment, in which one country only - Great Britain - was named. It is not proposed to name the six States, and the Government of each State might say, “ This was never intended to apply to us ; it may apply to the other five States.” The reflection is not so clearly expressed in this case, but the amendment would nevertheless be an insult to the States.
– I understood Senator Trenwith to say that a clause of this kind was unnecessary, inasmuch as it is impossible to conceive of a State importing goods for the purpose of injuring an Australian industry. I quite agree with him, but those engaged in an Australian industry might feel that a State importation was injurious to them, and it mightbe possible for them to take advantage of the dumping clauses of this Bill, and to seek a prohibition against that State. I mentioned, on the motion for the second reading of the Bill, that the Government of New South Wales, in order to assist the farmers and other land occupiers in their strenuous fight against the rabbit pest, were purchasing 5,000 miles of wire netting at a price which, I understand, is likely to seriously disorganize the one netting factory we have in that State.
– But they are not proposing to sell that wire in New South Wales at a price below the cost in the country of origin.
– That is so; but if the statements of those interested in Lysaght’s factory in Sydney are to be accepted, the Government have purchased netting, and are prepared to sell it in New South Wales at a price which must seriously disorganize that factory. I do not think that rather than insert a clause of this kind, any honorable senator would run the risk of trouble in that direction. It is clearly a case in which the State has argued that the interests of the many must override those of the few. I do not think such a case was in the minds of honorable senators, but there is just a possibility that this and similar ones might be brought within the four corners of the measure. . Whilst I am not prepared to press my contention, I think that the Minister might either accept the amendment or suggest on.’; that in his opinion would more fully meet the object in view.
Question - That the proposed new clause, as amended, be added - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed new clause negatived.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Motion (by Senator Playford) agreed to-
That the Bill, as reported, be considered this day.
Motion (by Senator Playford) agreed to-
That the Senate at its rising adjourn until to-day at 11 a.m.
Motion (by Senator Playford) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I regret to have to bring under the notice of the Senate, at this late hour, the replies of the Government to questions asked in regard to reports of the Tariff Commission. Six members of Parliament are members of the Commission, and if they are called upon to continue to furnish progress reports, they must neglect their current political duties. I think, therefore, that the Government should take the responsibility of saying whether it will or will not deal with further reports. If it says that it cannot dead with further reports, because the length of the session will not give an opportunity to do so, the Commission will be able to suspend its labours, and give its members time to attend to their parliamentaryduties. But if the Government is prepared to deal with further reports, the Commission must go on considering evidence and preparing recommendations. If the Ministry cannot deal with any more reports this session, the Commission and the public ought to know it. I do not ask the Minister of Defence to give me a reply now; but I hope that he will consult his colleagues, and let us know what is determined. When I speak of dealing with the reports, I refer to the bringing forward of proposals for submission to the two Houses of this Parliament.
– While I think that honorable senators generally must sympathize with the members of the Tariff Commission, I should like to point out that, judging by what has appeared in the press, the Ministry is ahead of the Commission, and has already submitted proposals in regard to matters which are still under the review of the Commission, and in reference to which it, of course, has not reported. Therefore, instead of the Commission1 asking whether the Ministry is anxious to deal with more reports, the Ministry might well ask when the Commission is going to present more. It seems to me that the work of the Commission has, by the action of the Government, been rendered farcical. It was appointed to obtain information on which the Government might take action ; but’ now that it is on the eve of completing its work, the Government is putting proposals before Parliament in ignorance of what its recommendations will be. The Commission has discharged a difficulttask, at a considerable expenditure of time and trouble, and the Government is flouting that body in placing proposals before Parliament without waiting for its recommendations. If I were a member of the Commission, I should consider that the only course open to me was to hand in my resignation at once.
Senator Drake (Queensland) [2.30]. - I wish to raise a point of order in regard to the motion which has been agreed to in reference to the Australian Industries Preservation Bill. Standing order 204 says -
If a Bill be reported with amendments, a future day shall be appointed for taking the report.
Is a later hour of the same day a “ future day?”
– A future parliamentary day is meant by the standing order.
– In answer to the inquiry as to what business it is intended to take when we meet again to-day, I have to state that we shall proceed first with the Constitution Alteration (Senate Elections) Bill. Afterwards the Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill will be dealt with. In the afternoon I have promised to give Senator Mulcahy an opportunity to bring forward his motion relating to the Commerce Act.
– I hope that the Government will arrange to, adjourn at a morereasonable hour.
– It is not my fault that we are not adjourning at a reasonable hour this morning. As to the question put to me by Senator Higgs, I will bring the matter under the notice of my colleagues. But I desire to point out that the Royal Commission appointed to inquire into the Tariff is quite independent of the Government - absolutely independent of us in every way. I do not know whether it would be right for us to interfere with the actions of _ the Commission.It was appointed for a specific purpose, to inquire into a certain subject, and report. It is for the members of the Commission to bring their reports before the Governor-General.As to the statement of Senator Millen that the Government is ahead of the Commission’s reports, I think that he is altogether wrong. The matters brought before another place relating to the Tariff have in both instances, I believe, been the subject of reports by the Tariff Commission.
– What about mining machinery ? ‘ The proposals of the Government in that respect have not been reported upon by the Commission.
– I shall not go into details, as I have not the particulars before me. I will bring the matter under the attention of my colleagues, but I think that the answer will be in the direction that I have indicated.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 2.32 a.m. (Friday).
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 30 August 1906, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1906/19060830_senate_2_33/>.