2nd Parliament · 3rd Session
The President took the chair at 3. p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs, without notice, if he has yet received a reply from the AttorneyGeneral regarding the case of the Pocahontas?
– No ; but I shall make further inquiries, and ascertain the facts for the honorable senator.
Senator KEATING laid upon the table the following papers : -
Amended Public Service regulations Nos. 104 and 1634 Statutory Rules 1906, Nos. 77 and 80; repealed regulations Nos. 17, 18, 21, and 90, and substituted new regulation No. 21, Statutory Rules 1906, No. 79.
Bill received from the House of Repre- sentatives, and (on motion by Senator Playford) read a first time.
– I crave the indulgence of the Senate for a few minutes to make a personal explanation. I was not in the Chamber on Friday, 21st September. On the previous day I spoke about the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill, and said that I was paired. I was paired with Senator Guthrie up to 1 o’clock on that day, as Senator McGregor stated, and with Senator Symon for the afternoon. After that day I was absolutely free.
– The honorable senator was paired with Senator Symon on Friday.
– I was not.
– The honorable senator was.
– Let the honorable senator be fair.
– When was the vote taken ?
– Order ! There can be no debate on a personal explanation.
– I wish to state the exact facts as I know them, because I am concerned in this matter.
– The honorable senator is concerned, very much indeed.
– Yes, and I shall defend myself against any man.
– The honorable senator needs, to do so.
– Or against any insinuation.
– There is no insinuation, but a straight out charge.
– That is not complimentary to the man who utters it.
– Nor to the honorable senator, either.
– I must ask Senator Pearce not to interject. Senator Fraser is making a personal explanation, and there can be no debate.
– Senator Pearce has had his turn.
– Yes, he has.
– I shall have my turn again.
– When I was not present, I was accused by the interjector, when I had no opportunity of replying.
– The honorable senator must confine his remarks to his own personal explanation, and not make allegations against anybody.
– I am merely replying to what Senator Pearce has said. I shall state the facts, which cannot be altered by any kind of representation. On Thursday, the 21st September, I was paired up to 1 o’clock with Senator Guthrie, and after that hour with Senator Symon. After that day I was absolutely free. I had any amount of business in my office waiting to be dealt with. Had I been paired on Friday, the 21st September, should I have remained in an ante-room all day waiting for a division to take place ? When 1 spoke on the Thursday, I fully expected - and I think that everybody else did, too, though I am not “ in the know “ with some persons - that the division would take place within an hour or so. I. appealed to honorable senators whether that was not the expectation when I spoke on that day. Had the division taken place on that day, of course I could not have voted ; but when it was delayed over that day, then I was free to do what I liked. I made up my mind that if there was to be a late sitting on Friday night, either to sleep on one of the sofas, or to try to get a pair, which, no doubt, I would have been able to get, because every one of my honorable friends on the opposite side, including even Senator Pearce, has always been willing to oblige me with a pair.
– I shall never pair with the honorable senator again, after the deliberate breach of honour which he committed.
– I ask Senator Fraser to confine himself to his own explanation.
– My intention, sir, was not to refer to the matter, but, on reading Hansard in my own home, I found that a reflection had been cast upon me, and I do not choose to allow it to pass without a contradiction. After Thursday night. I repeat, I was absolutely free. I remained on the premises, as honorable senators know, all that day. I did not come into the chamber, because I was suffering from a slight cold, and did not wish to expose myself to a change of atmosphere. I remained in an ante-room all the day, and, of course, I was free to do as I liked. Had the vote been delayed until Friday evening, my intention was to try to get a pair, and go away.
But, as it was taken late in the afternoon, I had to vote, because I was not paired. That is the whole explanation of the matter, so far as I am concerned. I know nothing about any complications, good, bad, or indifferent.
– I rise to make a personal explanation, because the statement just made by Senator Fraser reflects upon a statement I made here on Friday, the 22nd September. When Senator Fraser came here on that day, and illicitly cast his vote, he knew that statements were going to be made about him ; but he had not the courage to stay and answer them - he ran away.
– Order. A personal explanation must be confined to points in respect of which an honorable senator has been misrepresented or misquoted. He must not make an attack upon any one.
– I shall not make an attack, sir, but shall convict the honorable senator out of his own mouth.
– Order. The honorable senator is going beyond the limits of a personal explanation. It is laid down in distinct terms in the Standing Orders that,in making a. personal explanation, no senator must reflect on the conduct of another senator. He must confine his remarks to matters upon which he has been misrepresented.
– I have been misrepresented, because Senator Fraser stated that he was not paired on Friday. I said in bis hearing that hehad indicated that he was paired on Friday, and he did not refute my statement. He is now denying the statement attributed to him, that he was not going to vote on the third reading because he was paired.
– The honorable senator is not making a personal explanation, but is discussing the conduct of Senator Fraser.
– The statement made by Senator Fraser is a reflection upon me, because it contradicts an assertion made by me in the Senate, which, up to the present time, has not been questioned. It has taken the honorable senator a very long time to make up his mind on the subject.
– I really must ask the honorable senator to conformto the Standing Orders. He is going altogether beyond a personal explanation, and is making accusations to which Senator Fraser cannot reply. As I have previously stated, these explanations are really irregular, because they have reference to a matter of which the Senate takes no cognizance.
– I knew of the matter only through Hansard.
asked the Minister representing, the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Will the Minister lay on the table of the Senate a copy of the bank guarantee entered into 011 behalf of the contractors in London for the new mail service ?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows: -
Not at present, but if the honorable senator desires to see a copy of the document confidentially, the Postmaster-General has no objection to his doingso.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
In view of the proposals of the officers comprising the Naval Committee who have reported on the subject of naval defence of the Commonwealth, and the necessity of early action in the direction of adopting their proposals to some extent - Will the Government consider the advisability of ordering one or more of the vessels at once, and obtaining the sanction of this Parliament to that course?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is as follows: -
Yes. I will bring the subject before the Cabinet at its next meeting.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : - 1 and 2. No.
Debate resumed from 28th September (vide page 5674), on motion by Senator Playford -
That the Bill be now read a second lime.
Upon which Senator Dobson had moved by way of amendment -
That all the words after “That” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ further proceedings on the Bounties Bill be postponed -
– I am thoroughly in accord with the principle of giving bounties for the encouragement of Australian industries that are likely to become profitable; but I think it is a pity that a proposal involving a radical departure from the policy hitherto pursued by the Commonwealth should be brought up for discussion at this late stage of the session. We should devote at least a week to the consideration of a measure of this kind, and yet we are asked, within the period mentioned, to rush through half-a-dozenBills of the first importance. Most of the bonuses that have been offered for the encouragement of industry in Australia have been attended with failure; but the reputation of the system has been saved by one or two conspicuous successes, which have been due to judicious management and efficient supervision under expert advice. The present scheme appears to have been hastily conceived and ill-digested. The information furnished to honorable members with regard to the industries which it is proposed to encourage is insufficient, and we are being asked to embark upon a most important venture, involving the expenditure ofL500,000, under conditions which will not permit of our giving to the question the consideration to which it is entitled. In the first instance, the Government proposed to offer a bonus for the encouragement of the production of chicory, but after they had gained a very small amount of knowledge upon the subject they hastily withdrew the item. Numerous other alterations have been made in the schedule, and no reliable information has been afforded to us with regard to the industries which it is proposed to encourage. The course now being adopted is, apparently, upon allfours with that which has been followed in regard to other matters. For example, instead of at the outset laying down the lines of general policy upon which we should proceed in regard to our defences, we have been continually chopping and changing about, with the result that the present condition of affairs is far from satisfactory. I am afraid that some of the industries in respect of which it is proposed to grant bonuses cannot be developed here with any prospect of success. We should have the very best expert advice upon a subject of this kind, so that we might be in a position to arrive at a sound judgment regarding the industries which should be selected for encouragement by bonuses. The facts contained in the memorandum submitted to us are of the most meagre character, and the statements are, in some cases, hardly correct. The document has been drawn up by two or three gentlemen who, although they are, no doubt, able men, cannot be regarded as experts. Consequently, the information they have been able to impart is not such as we should have placed before us when we are discussing a matter of such vital importance. If we grant bonuses for the encouragement of industries which, after they are once fairly established, cannot stand without the aid of subsidies, or the as sistance of prohibitive protective duties, we shall waste the public money. Why the Government should have adopted this method, I am unable to say. We have in Australia sources from which could be obtained the fullest information on this subject. We have Departments of Agriculture, technical experts, curators of experimental farms, and heads of agricultural colleges, who are specialists in economical plant development - men who have spent a life-time in the study of economic plants that are suitable for countries like ours, and who have experimented with hundreds of cultures, which would probably be profitable if industries were established with regard to them. But, apparently, these men have not been consulted. What the Government should have done was to convene a conference of agricultural experts from every State. We should have had represented the directors of agriculture, the heads of agricultural colleges, the curators of experimental farms, the vegetable pathologists and entomologists, besides other experts, whose duty it is to devote the whole of their time and their expert knowledge to the development of plant industries of an economic nature. These men could have formulated a schedule of industries which were worthy of development by the granting of bounties. Until something of that kind is done we should take no steps committing the Commonwealth to the expenditure of ^500,000 in specified directions, which in many instances will. I. believe, lead to disaster. It is admitted that the experimental farms and Departments of Agriculture in Australia have done excellent work. Yet the Commonwealth Government, apparently taking not the slightest notice of them, is blindly proposing to subsidize industries without considering whether they are likely to be successful. The directors of these institutions could have given us the fullest information as to whether Australian conditions favoured the cultivaion of certan plants. Some of them have expermented by hybridization and other methods to produce economic plants suitable for Australian cultivation, as has been the case with cotton, as cultivated in Queensland by Dr. Thomatis. The first criticism on the Bill which I have to offer is that it is proposed to grant bounties to too many industries; and in the second place, that the bounty, in many cases, is not half sufficient for the purpose in view. It would be infinitely better to adopt three or four plant cultures from which we had an assurance that great Australian industries might be built up, like the butter industry of Victoria and New
South Wales. The Government should have selected two or three plant industries that it believed would be of enormous value if fostered in Australia, and’ should have devoted a larger bounty to them, so that there might be an opportunity of bringing experiments to a successful issue
– Bounties for the iron industry would do a lot of good.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.No doubt they would. There is a danger that special kinds of economic plants will be cultivated for the sake of securing part of the bounty, and for that purpose only ; so that, directly the bounty ceases, the industries will die. We should guard ourselves against wasting money on industries some of which have hardly a chance of success in Australia under present conditions. It is proposed in the schedule of the Bill to grant bounties to twenty-three different industries. The list is absolutely unlimited, because the Bill provides that bounties may be granted to any other industries that may be prescribed. The Minister has power to grant bounties to any industry in Australia, so long as the total amount does not exceed .£75,000 per annum for ten years. It is even proposed to grant bounties to some industries that are already established, and are, to a certain extent, flourishing. Take, for instance, the olive oil industry of South Australia. Other industries are mentioned in the schedule that are not likely to be developed bv reason of bounties being granted, or that would only be developed so long as the bounties continued to be paid. In Victoria, practically the only successful bounties have been those granted for the export of butter. The signal success of the bounties in that instance has redeemed Victoria for all the failures - and they are many - that she has had. This State has granted bounties for the production of raspberry pulp, vines, and tobacco, and has afforded substantial financial assistance towards the production of sugar from beet. But these industries were not established, either because the efforts made were on wrong lines, or through lack of technical knowledge. It was actually proposed in a previous Bill to grant a bounty on spelter, under which the Broken Hill Company - perhaps the richest company in Australia - would have pocketed the whole amount without increasing its output in any way whatever.
– If the Broken Hill Company can produce spelter it does not require a bounty.
– Of course not, because it is already making a handsome profit from it. These things are proposed Without sufficient expert and technical knowledge. The fact that the proposals have been altered from time to time is sufficient evidence that the criticism offered in Parliament has shown the Government the futility of some” of its proposals. In reference to the butter bounties in Victoria, the State Government offered straight out ,£250,000. In that case, however, it was dealing with- an industry natural to the soil, which merely wanted encouragement ; an3 the Government was justified in offering _a large sum for the purpose. But we are offering sums like ten, fifteen, or twenty thousands pounds, and the result will be of no benefit” whatever. Let us turn to the schedule. The first item is cocoa. It is proposed to grant a bounty of id. per lb. on the dried beans, and the bounty to be granted to the industry altogether is to be £18,000. Now, cocoa, the product of the cacao plant, only grows to the fullest advantage between the fifth and twelfth degrees of latitude, north and south of “the equator. If honorable senators look at the map of Australia thev shall find that even Port Darwin is more than twelve degrees from the equator. Yet it is proposed to grant a bounty for the establishment of an industry which, on account of the very geographical position of Australia, is not best suited to our conditions. While cocoa can be and is grown upon the sea level, it cannot be made commercially successful unless it is produced at an altitude from 1,500 to 2,000 feet above sea level. Where in Australia can we find a place between the 15th parallel of south latitude and the equator which contains rich alluvial soil, which is well watered, and well drained, and which attains an altitude of from T.500 to 2,000 feet above sea level? Yet upon this industry it is proposed to spend £18,000. In order to supplement the information which I obtained from agricultural experts in Java and the Federated Malay States, J have looked up the Encyclopedia Britannica, the articles of which - as honorable senators are aware - are all contributed bv eminent authorities. The publication! affirms that’ the cacao plant flourishes best within the 15th parallels of north and south latitude. That statement confirms my previous declaration that it will only grow well almost under the equator. Its natural habitat is Central America, Southern Mexico, and the West Indies. It is an extraordinary thing that outside of those countries it has rarely been successfully cultivated.
– Does it not grow well in Kandy ?
-So far as I am aware, it has not proved a commercial success in any countries other than those I have mentioned. It has noi been a success in the Federated Malay States or in the Straits Settlements, and it cannot be called a success in Java. The cacao tree is a delicate one, which must be grown under shade. It must be planted close to certain shade trees in order that it may be sheltered during the hottest part of the day. As honorable senators are aware, when a tree is practically shut out from the sunlight, insect pests become extremely troublesome. There is scarcely a tropical product which is so. afflicted by these pests as is the cacao tree. I maintain that the production of cocoa is not an industry which is suitable for Australia. The plant might possibly be grown in New Guinea. Australia, however, is unsuited to its’ cultivation, by reason of its geographical situation. Yet it is proposed to spend a considerable sum to establish an industry which, in all probability, will not prove a commercial success. I admit that it is quite possible to grow cocoa, but in discussing this matter we must view it from the stand-point of whether the industry can be made a commercial success, and whether the production of cocoa can be so increased as to develop an export trade.
– The honorable senator’s statement is not borne out by the report of Mr. Howard Newport, the agricultural expert of Queensland. He says that there are plenty of localities in that State which are suitable for its culture.
– Is the Minister referring to the curator of the gardens at Cairns?
– I would point out that cocoa has never been cultivated commercially in Queensland. It is quite possible to grow the cacao tree and cocoa beans, but I venture to say that when an attempt is made to produce beans on a commercial scale it will prove unsuccessful. For instance, we are growing sisal hemp in New Guinea at the present time, but the highest expert advice is that the conditions there are totally unsuited to its production. I have obtained this information from men like Dr. Treub, one of the greatest authorities upon tropical agriculture in the world, and from Mr. Ridley, of the Straits Settlements, who has spent the greater portion of his life in the development of tropical agriculture. I cannot understand why the Government propose to spend £4,000 annual ly for eight years upon the production of coffee. In my opinion, the £32,000 involved in the proposal will be absolutely wasted. At the present time coffee is practically a drug in the market. It scarcely pays to grow it in Java and the Federated Malay States, where the best plantation labour - that is, Tamil labour - can be procured for 6d. a day. The reason is that the enormous production of coffee in Brazil has rendered its cultivation elsewhere almost unprofitable.
– And in Brazil, the Government prevent new plantations from being established.
– At one time the cultivation of coffee was the most profitable industry carried on in the Malay States. To-day, however, thousands of acres of magnificent coffee trees are passing out of cultivation, simply because it does not pay to pick the berries. In Java there are 65,000 acres of coffee under cultivation. There, however, it is largely grown by forced labour, under a system which was initiated by General Van den Bosch in 1832. The natives living in the Preanger regencies are each forced by the Government to cultivate fifty trees, to pick the berries, and to hand them over to the Government. For these beans they receive 21/4d. per lb. Obviously, the cultivation of coffee under such circumstances can never be dreamed of in Australia. The coffee production of the world amounts to 2,160,000,000 lbs., of which Brazil supplies 1,534,000,000. or practically 75 per cent. In the report which has been circulated amongst honorable senators, it is stated that the average price which it is hoped the growers will receive is9d. per lb. I am inclined to think that the price which would be realized would be nearer 4d. or 5d. per lb. The two chief kinds of coffee are the Arabian and Liberian. The former would not grow successfully at a less elevation than 1,500 feet above sea level. It is a more delicate plant than is the Liberian, and is very susceptible to disease. Only twelve or fourteen years ago the coffee crops in Java were practically swept away by disease. The growers of Ceylon started to plant tea instead. Liberian coffee can be grown on the sea level, and it is a strong, healthy bush, which, however, produces an inferior class of coffee. It can be grown without any artificial shelter - that is, without any shade to protect it from the sun’s rays - but, I believe that, when grown under these circumstances, the quality is again reduced. The Commonwealth Government propose to offer a bounty of1d. per lb., without making any conditions whatever as to the quality of the article produced. It would seem that the simple object is to have a certain quantity grown ; and the man who proposes to plant Liberian coffee on the sea level, or in any other suitable locality would not bother about shade trees, but would produce the cheapest kind of coffee, in view of the fact that the bonus is a fixed amount. The offer of the Government is an absolute inducement to grow the cheapest kind of coffee, in order to obtain the bonus, which amounts to 25 per cent.
– This is a nice way to bring in a Bounties Bill - without inquiry !
– I do not wish to dwell further on the question of coffee. I may, however, quote Dr. Willis, Director of Agriculture in Ceylon, and admittedly a most able man, who was asked by the Government of the Federated Malay States to go there last year, or the year before, and report on the industries of the States. On page 56 of his report, paragraph 243, Dr Willis, speaking of coffee in the Malay States, says -
Though now depressed, this was formerly the chief agricultural industry of the country, as far as estate agriculture and export trade were concerned.
Over production in Brazil, with consequent low prices, which affected the Liberian coffee grown in the Peninsular even more than the Arabian coffee of other countries, have rendered coffee cultivation almost unremunerative. A few well-managed estates in good soil in the coastal districts can still make coffee pay its way, but practically all the older and the native coffee plantations are now represented by lalang wastes - that is the native grass - while the younger ones, and most of the European plantations, are planted up with Para rubber, or at times with cocoanuts.
Of course, when the trees become of sufficient size, they kill off the coffee plants which growl between -
It seems a pity to see such magnificent coffee bushes as may be found on many estates in the Klang district choked out by rubber, but of course it is inevitable under the circumstances.
With testimony like that before us, is it wise to spend money in the way proposed on a production like coffee? It would appear that, on account of the prices, there has been a cessation of a wellestablished industry in countries which, from every point of view, are eminently suited for the cultivation of that commodity. As to cotton, honorable senators from Queensland are more competent to speak than myself. I have, however, seen cotton grown in the German possessions of the Pacific, and in the experimental gardens of the Straits Settlements and Java. In no case have I seen cotton culture a success. It does not follow, however, that the culture of cotton would not be a success in Australia. So far as soil and climate are concerned, I believe that Australia is admirably suited for cotton cultivation. Cotton does not grow well in a very damp climate nor in very rich soil. If the soil be rich, the cotton bush develops wood instead of bolls of cotton, and, so far as geographical position is concerned, I think that Australia is admirably suited for this industry. There is an indigenous cotton in the Northern Territory, and that fact is indicative of the suitability of this country for the industry. But we have to consider other factors besides those of soil and rainfall - we have to consider the question of labour. It is significant that this is the third attempt to create the cotton industry in Australia. At the time of the American Civil War, the cotton industry assumed very large proportions in Queensland. From 1862 to 1871, some 8,000,000 lbs. - that is, 3,600 tons - of Queensland cotton lint were sold up to1s. 11d. per lb., though, of course, the prices were extraordinary at that time. At the time of the greatest expansion of this industry, there were 14,000 acres under cultivation in Queensland ; but it may be said that the enterprise was stimulated by the fact that the Queensland Government gave a large bonus for every bale of cotton exported.
– Does the honorable senator know what the bonus was ?
– I forget the exact amount, but I know that it was very large. However, the industry practically became extinct. Twenty years later, it was resuscitated, when the Queensland Government gave a large bonus on the first factory, then established at Ipswich. From 1890 to 1897, the cotton industry had a second life; but it again became practically extinct. Ten years later, we findthe Commonwealth Government proposing to resuscitate it on a very much cruder plan, and at a less expenditure, than before. I think that for five years the Commonwealth Government propose to grant £4,500or £22,500 altogether.
– Is the honorable senator relying on the old schedule? There is an amended schedule.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.There have been so many alterations that I may be wrong. I see now that the Government offer £6,000 instead of £4,500.
– That is the result of a blunder in sending up the Bill in the form it reached us.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.I now see that the Government propose to spend £30,000, as against £22,500, the figure first mentioned.
– Not necessarily ; that is the maximum in any one year. The whole amount is £75,000.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Under the. circumstances, I do not think that we can look forward to a permanent recrudescenoe of cotton culture in Australia. Undoubtedly, we have had Sea Island cotton - which I believe originally came from Peru - and a new variety, or hybrid cotton, called carovanica, produced by Dr. Thomatis, at Cairns, and sold by him at11d. per , 1b. It is not so much a question of the planting or the growing of the cotton - the whole trouble is in the picking and preparation, which require an enormous amount of labour. Mr. John Bottomley, in his article on cotton-growing in the Northern Territory, says -
We came to the conclusion that cotton could be successfully cultivated by the farmers in small and easily-worked areas (from 5 to 10- acres) as an adjunct to other crops, but that it could not be successfully grown in large plantations.
If the farmer is going to plant 5 or 10 acres of cotton as a subsidiary crop, I should say, from my little experience, that he and his family will have a very busy time in the picking. There is 1,000 lbs. weight in every acre, and that means an enormous number of cotton bolls. The farmer and his family would be fairly busily employed in the cotton-picking season in managing the crop of i or 2 acres
– What is the picking season in the Northern Territory ?
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.I do not know exactly. I come now to the proposed bonus for fibres - flax, Ramie, sisal hemp, hemp, New Zealand flax, pandanus, and such other fibres as are prescribed. It is evidently the intention to grant a bonus for the production of fibre of any kind. Why cotton was not included amongst the fibres I do not know, because it is also a vegetable fibre. Rhea or Ramie fibre is, probably the finest vegetable fibre produced in the world. It is remarkably strong and of magnificent lustre and smoothness.
– Is that what silk is made of sometimes?
– An imitation silk is made from it. It will produce three crops a year, but an acre does not return more than 250 lbs. of fibre for each crop.
– What climate is suitable for it?
– I think that the northern portion of Australia is suitable so far as locality is concerned. The difficulty in connexion with the Ramie fibre is really the cost of the extraction of the fibre from the plant. It grows to a height of 4 feet or 5 feet, and then the branches are cut down and the fibre is produced from the stems, which are stripped of leaves and branches. It is necessary to split the stems to remove an outside bark to get at the inside fibrous bast which produce the fibre of commerce. The work is simply enormous in proportion to the result. In the Malay States people knowing the quality and value of the fibre established several plantations and invested a considerable amount of money in the cultivation of the plant. They found that it grew well, and the quality was excellent, but even with the cheap labour which could be employed there, the enormous amount of work necessary to extract the fibre from the plant rendered the whole enterprise an absolute failure, and those who invested in it got scarcely a penny of return from their expenditure. The extraction of the fibre from the plant requires an infinite amount of patience and trouble, and the real question to be considered is whether it is possible for us to be successful in producing Ramie fibre when other countries have not been successful. This fibre is so expensive that it comes into competition practically only with silk. It requires a hot atmosphere, moist ground, and a shaded situation.
– Does the honorable senator say that Queensland is, not suitable for the production of this fibre?
– I say that the northern parts of Australia are suitable for the growth of the Ramie plant, but the enormous amount of work involved in the extraction of the fibre renders it absolutely impossible, in my opinion, to make a commercial success of it. All that I have to say with regard to the production of fibres is subject to the qualification that if machinery can be invented for the easy and expeditious extraction of the fibre from the leaves and stems of these various fibrous plants, there is, no reason why all the fibres mentioned in the schedule should not be produced in Australia with great success. . Unless such machinery is invented, I think that the cultivation of Ramie fibre and possibly sisal hemp will not be a success in Australia owing to the enormous relative cost of the extraction of these fibres. I believe that in Mexico a machine has been invented called the “ Ras.pado,” meaning the “ rasper,” which has been found to be useful for- the extraction of fibre. In some cases serong acids and certain alkaloids are used for . the extraction of fibre, but these injuriously affect the quality of the fibre itself, and fibres are usually extracted by hand processes. For instance, the sheath leaves of the manilla hemp, the botanical name for which is musa textilis, having been cut off the plant, are put under a hand machine something like a tobacco chopper, and drawn backwards and forwards till the pulp is scraped out, and there is nothing but the fibre left. The amount of work is enormous and out of all proportion to the value of the fibre if we are to pay high wages for its production. The sisal hemp plant does not begin to yield for four or five years, and the leaves aTe generallycut just as the plants begin to send up a flower stem. It grows best between the 16th and 21st parallels of latitude, and I know of no more suitable place for its cultivation than that portion of Queensland between Cairns and Mackay, which practically fulfills all the conditions necessary for the successful cultivation of the plant. It is one of the most promising of the vegetable fibres for production in Australia The cost of extraction of the fibre is the whole problem. It is not a question of cost of cultivation or of suitability of soil or climate. The whole difficulty is the cost of the extraction of the fibre from the leaves of the agave. The next fibre referred to is New Zealand flax, which, I think, is known as New Zealand hemp. I believe that the production of this fibre is an industry which is eminently Entitled to assistance in the form of a bonus. Undoubtedly we have soil and climate suitable for the plant. It has been a success in New Zealand, where it is indigenous, and there is no reason why it should riot be successfully grown in Australia. It has proved a commercial success in New Zealand, and is a commercial plant for the cultivation of which we might verywell grant a bonus to induce Australian farmers to take it up. It grows best on volcanic soil, or well-drained marshes, and it will grow well on clayey soil also if it is well drained.
– It requires a big rainfall.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.That is so. I believe that in the southern portions of Australia New Zealand hemp would have every chance of being successful, and the proposal to grant a bonus for its production is justified.
– If it were successful would it pay farmers better than the crops thev at present produce?
– It would be a subsidiary industry. The farmers might grow an acre or two of New Zealand hemp, as farmers do in New Zealand, and could cultivate it in spare time. The industry has been undoubtedly advantageous to farmers in New Zealand, and the same conditions should, I think, apply in Australia.
– It would be a subsidiary product of the farm.
– Yes. The farmers would not need to devote the whole of their time to flax culture. They could grow other crops at the same time, and I think we should do what we can to develop mixed farming in Australia. I come now to deal with the proposal to give a bonus for the fibre of the pandanus. or screw pine. This pine grows well all over New Guinea, and in North Queensland, in the Federated Malay States, and the Malay Peninsula. I would ask the Minister whether it is proposed to grant the bonus for the fibre obtained . from the leaves of the pandanus. or from the serial roots of the plant. In Mauritius the leaves are used for the production of very rough fibre, which is used for making substitutes for gunny bags, and for tying up bundles of produce. So far as I know, that is the only commercial uses to which pandanus. fibre has so far been put. I suppose that the Government intend to grant a bonus for the production of fibre from the aerial roots of the pandanus tree. The trunk of the pandanus tree springs from a pyramid of serial roots, 10 or 15 feet from _ the ground. These roots undoubtedly contain fibre which is estimated to be worth from £20 to £25 a ton, but so far as I know there has never been any commercial industry established in the fibre produced from the aerial roots of the pandanus tree. It seems to me somewhat extraordinary to propose a bonus for a fibre when we do not know how much it will cost to produce it, and whether it has any commercial market when it is produced. In the reports submitted by the Government this fibre is said to be equal to or superior to New Zealand flax. I have a sample of pandanus fibre, extracted from the serial roots of the tree, which I shall be glad to show honorable senators. It is not a strong fibre, and I doubt very much whether it is equal to New Zealand flax. I think that before proposing to grant a bounty on pandanus fibre, the Government should have conducted experiments to determine its commercial value. They should have caused a considerable quantity of pandanus roots to be collected, and the fibre extracted from them should have been handed over to well-known purchasers of such goods, with a view of determining whether it has any commercial value. It is ridiculous to think of our having plantations of pandanus, since it grows wild throughout New Guinea and Northern Queensland. The question is whether a plant indigenous to certain parts of the Commonwealth territory can be turned to profitable account, and in order that ‘ that may be determined we need not grant a bounty, but merely conduct experiments.
– Would pandanus fibre be suitable for making binder twine ?
– I do not think that it is strong enough. Th!e bundle of pandanus fibre in my hand came from New Guinea, and on examining it honorable senators will find, that it is not nearly as strong as is flax. A bounty on the production of pandanus fibre may or may not lead to the establishment of an industry, and I repeat that we should first of all determine whether the commodity has a commercial value. We have not sufficient information to enable us to determine whether we are seeking to stimulate by the Bill the production of the best of all economic plants that can be grown in Australia. We cannot say that the list covered by the schedule is the best that could be selected. I have already pointed out that we should endeavour to promote the cultivation of New Zealand flax by means of a bounty. Coming to the next item in the schedule, I think it is a mistake to include a number of oil-producing plants in the one item, and to say that we will give a bounty for the oil extracted from any one of them. We know that in South Australia the production of olive oil has proved a commercial success. In that State there are from 80,000 to 90,000 olive trees growing at the present time, and something like 12,000 gallons of olive oil worth retail from 10s. to 12s. per gallon is annually produced there. As the industry has already been established in South Australia, the bounty will go largely into the pockets of the proprietors of existing plantations. If, however, a bounty would lead to the extension of the culture of the ‘olive tree in Australia, I should not object to its being granted. There is nothing more ridiculous in the whole schedule than the item relating to the Granting of a bounty for the production of rice. It is admitted that no other food product requires a, greater amount of labour for a given result. Rice requires not irrigated, but flooded, land. The rice-grower must first secure a piece of land practically as level as a billiard table. He must then build a bank around it, and keep it continually under shallow water.
– In small plots.
– Rice must necessarily be grown in small plots, unless one is able to secure a large area of absolutely level country. The crop must remain in water from the time that it is planted until it begins to ripen. Irrigation in Australia is a costly process, but the cost of obtaining absolutely level land, building an embankment around it, and keeping it constantly under water, would be infinitely greater. In other countries where rice is grown, the natives stir up the mud within the embankment until it has almost the consistency of cream, and the plants, which are grown in nurseries, are then planted out by hand. Another point to be remembered is that a reaping machine or harvester could not be used to reap the crop. The areas would be too small, and the land would be too boggy to allow of their use, and I doubt if horses could be used in ploughing such boggy country. In Java, the Federated Malay States, and India, the water buffalo is used for this work. Dr. Willis, the Director of Agriculture in Ceylon, in dealing with the Federated Malay States, reports : -
There are few crops which are more trouble to grow, and which bring in less return, than rice, as grown by the Malays. . . He himself would prefer, if he must cultivate, to grow “ dry grains” on ladang clearings, which yield greater returns, and cost far less in labour.
– He is referring to hill crops.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Either hill or various other roots crops. In the Krian district, in the north-west of the Federated Malay States, the Government planted with rice an area of practically 100 square mile’s, and spent about £160,000 in an effort to encourage rice production there. In the centre ‘ of the peninsula there is a range of hills, and near the sea coast the ground is almost level. It is only one or two feet above the level of the sea, and is excellently suited for rice culture, since the streams coming down from the hills can be diverted over the embanked lands. And yet, although Tamil labour could be obtained at a cost of only 6d. per day, the effort of the Government to produce rice in that quarter proved a failure. The Chinese have now devoted a large portion of the land to the production of sugar, although neither irrigated land nor that which is constantly under water is necessary for the growth of sugar-cane. In Australia we desire as much as possible to husband our water, but honorable senators will recognise that an enormous quantity of water would be required for rice cultivation. In the hotter parts of Australia, where rice could be grown, the evaporation is from 60 to 80 inches per annum, and the soakage there must also be enormous. The price of rice is so low that it would be ridiculous for any one to incur the great expenditure necessary to prepare the land for its cultivation here. Rice is grown in further India, Rangoon, China, Java, and other places. In Java most of the ground used for its production was first prepared 1,500 years ago, and almost ever since then rice crops have been raised upon it. Rice is the staple food of the Javanese, who export their surplus. Dr. Willis, from whose report I quoted a minute or two ago, goes on to say that -
Rice, even with the best land and the best yield in the Malay States, is not a very profitable crop. In the Krian district in the season 1903-4, the average crop, as we have seen, was 412 gantangs per acre, selling at $33 - a Malay dollar is worth 2s. 4d. -
This is a very small return, compared to that given by cocoanuts, tapioca, rubber,or sugar. It cannot, therefore, be expected that people will take up rice cultivation for commercial purposes, so long as they can find more profitable and less laborious cultivations in which to en-
I shall not elaborate the subject. I think that I have shown that there is no other plant industry from which, in proportion to the labour and trouble, so extremely small a return is obtained. It is also proposed to give a bounty upon the production of rubber. That is a proposal which, I think, is quite justified. The rubber tree has wonderful vitality, especcially the Hevea Braziliensis, which is grown on the Amazon. It will grow anywhere in the tropics.Put in order to be grown to the best advantage, it requires, first of all, a heavy and evenly distributed rainfall. It will not grow well where monsoonal winds mean alternating dry and wet seasons. It requires a rich, friable, welldrained soil. All these conditions are obtainable in Australia. As nearly one-half of the northern part of Australia is in the tropics, rubber growing is an industry which, I think, we can well afford to encourage. It is now proposed, for a period of ten years, to give an annual bounty of £14,000 upon the production of rubber. Within the last few days the Government have announced their intention to raise the item of £9,000 in the. schedule to the higher amount. But it is not stated how the bounty is to be paid. It takes at least five years before the trees are fit to tap, that is before any profit is obtained from their cultivation. I would urge the Government to give a bounty of so much per acre on the planted trees for the first five years, upon the condition that the trees shall be planted in a way approved by the authorities, and shall be kept clean and free from insects and other pests while the bounty is payable. All over the world a man hesitates to incur a large expenditure upon the cultivation of a plant which he knows will not give him a magnificent return until it begins to bear. I am not exaggerating when I say that, at the present time, it is equal to 300 per cent. per annum. For five or seven years, however, it is all outgoing, and that is what prevents many persons from going in for rubber culture. It means an enormous expenditure for five or seven years without any return. Suppose that, under proper supervision, a man put in 100 acres under rubber cultivation, and that he was given an annual bounty of 4s. per acre for a period of five years while the trees were developing, then the money would be applied in the best possible manner. As soon as the trees began to bear, he would not want a bounty, because his profits would be immense. We should give a bounty, not upon the prepared product, but upon the cultivation of a most valuable tree. It possesses wonderful vitality, and will live for sixty or seventy years. In all it is proposed to spend in the ten years £140,000 upon the production of rubber. If for a bounty of £1 or £2 per acre we could get men to cultivate 140,000 or 70,000 acres, they would secure a return of about£3 per acre per annum for a period of fifty or sixty years, provided that the present price of rubber was maintained. It is an industry which, once established, is practical ly permanent. I would strongly recommend the Government togrant a bonus in the way I have suggested.
– Does the honorable senator mean a profitof £3 per acre per annum ?
– That would be a low estimate.
– Does the honorable senator call that a profitable occupation for a man to engage in?
– If a man had a rubber plantation of 1,000 acres, and he got a profit of £3 per acre - in some cases in the Federated Malay
States it ‘amounts to £6 per acre-7-it would mean a profit of ,£3,000 a year.
– I would sooner grow apples.
– With the cultivation of rubber many products can be well grown as catch crops. In the Federated Malay States coffee is practically going out of culture, except as a catch crop between rubber and cocoanut trees, because Liberian coffee starts to bear in the course of two or three years, and a return can be secured without great expenditure. Various fibres can be profitably grown as catch crops between rubber trees. Oil producing plants, such as the ground-nut, are grown as the natural corollary to rubber planting, because an. annual return is thus obtained while the rubber trees are developing. It is also proposed to give a bounty upon the production of kapok, which is a. very inferior sort of cotton tree. I do not know of any country in which it is grown purely as a plantation industry. In German New Guinea I have seen the tree used as live posts for fencing on account of its white-ant resisting quality. It will grow to a considerable height in a year or two. Perhaps it is one of the most quickly growing trees known. The trees are planted at a certain distance from each other, and a barbed wire is run along these living posts for fencing. In certain parts .of the Dutch Possessions in the East Indies the trees are used as telegraph poles, and kapok fibre production is a subsidiary industry. Java exports a considerable quantity of the fibre to Australia for the purpose of stuffing mattresses, and possibly, for other manufactures.
– It is very largely used now for bedding. It has practically displaced feathers.
– Our experts _ say that it is a very valuable tree to cultivate here.
– If it is whiteant resisting it would be a valuable tree in the northern States.
– I do not know whether any one has ever laid down a plantation of kapok trees. In German New Guinea people pick the bolls of cotton - and very inferior stuff it is - and it is used principally. I think, for bedding. There is one other complaint that I have to make. There seems to have been no attempt made by the Government to induce the cultivation of economic plants that grow best in arid or semiarid regions. A large portion of Australia is arid or semi-arid, and the Government would do magnificent work if they could induce the cultivation of certain plants which grow best in places, with a very light rainfall, such as the dry and sandy portions of Australia. Not one of the enumerated plants, except a kind of rubber which I shall mention, will grow in any place unless there is a good rainfall. The Government ought to encourage the cultivation of certain economic plants which would grow best in places practically unused on account of their aridity.. I know of only one kind of rubber which will grow in a dry, sandy place. That is the rubber known as Ceara, the botanical name of which is Manilcot glaziovia. It grows best in dry sandy places, and comes third in the list of rubbers, so far as value is concerned. The first in value is, of course, the Para rubber, and the second is what is known as the Rambong. The Ceara rubber cannot be grown very well in New Guinea and Java, because a dry sandy soil is necessary for its growth. A large portion of Australia would be eminently suitable for its cultivation, and if the Government specially desire to fill up the waste places in Australia by establishing valuable industries, thev cannot do better than offer a bounty for the cultivation of Ceara rubber.
– I suppose that some rainfall is necessary to insure the growth of the tree?
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Yes, some rainfall is undoubtedly necessary; but the tree requires to be grown in dry sandy localities. There is another industry which I think might very well be encouraged, and that is the cultivation of the date palm. The date palm is grown in the northern parts of Africa and Arabia, where it provides the staple article of food, and also in Asia Minor and Persia. It flourishes between the Equator and the 30th or 40th degree of North latitude, and the greater part of Australia is embraced within the similar zone to the south of the Equator.
– The honorable senator must recollect that the Arabs say that the date palm’ must have its roots in water or its head in fire.
– Yes, I am quite aware of that ; but I am dealing now with the geographical limits within which the date can be cultivated. D.ate palms have been largely planted upon the northern shores of the Mediterranean, but do not fruit there, because the climate is not sufficiently hot. The leaves of the palm tree are there used for ceremonial and decorative purposes. We have large tracts of country where the climatic and other conditions are absolutely similar to those which prevail in Asia Minor, Arabia, and Persia, where the date palm is largely cultivated. I think that we should do well to experiment with the cultivation of the date palm, and, if possible, encourage the production of dates in Australia. As Senator Playford has stated, the palms can be cultivated only where there is a hot dry climate and moist soil. In Melbourne, the date palm will grow but not bear, because the climate is not sufficiently hot.
– We have cultivated date palms at Hergott Springs, but only where there is plenty of water at the bores.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH..There are plenty of places along creek beds, and in the neighbourhood of springs, where date palms would grow admirably, and if the Government offered^ a bounty for the encouragement of the industry, I am sure that successful results would be brought about. The dates which we buy in the shops are a travesty of the real fruit. Fifty per cent, of the so-called fruit is sugar, 8 per cent, is albumen, and 12 per cent, is gummy matter, and we get only 32 per cent, of the real fruit. Therefore, the article which we buy, and place upon our tables, is but a poor imitation of the luscious fruit grown in Arabia and the other countries which I have mentioned. We annually import 1.300 tons of dates into the Commonwealth, and surely it would be worth our while to cultivate a tree which would grow admirably in Australia, particularly in the arid portion of the Continent, provided that moist ground can be found in which the trees can strike their roots.
– How many years elapse before the tree comes into bearing?
– From five to ten years.
– It will not bear in less than ten years.
– I have seen “date palms of less than that age with unripe -fruit on them.
– The quantity of dates yielded in the first years of bearing are not worth considering.
– I think that the best of the proposals of the Government are those relating to the cultivation of fibres, such as sisal hemp and New Zealand flax. With regard to oils, the cultivation of ground nuts could perhaps be carried on successfully. The olive oil industry has already been conducted with profit. I thoroughly approve of the proposal to promote the cultivation of rubber, and I trust that the Government will specially consider the question of encouraging the growth of the Ceara rubber. I think that it is worth our while to consider whether we should not offer a bounty for the production of beet sugar, which can be grown in the more temperate regions of the continent. Beet sugar might be cultivated with every prospect of success, not so much perhaps in Gippsland as in the rich volcanic soil of the Warrnambool district. I believe that if the beet sugar industry had been followed up in the Warrnambool district it would have proved a success - provided, of course, reasonably cheap labour could have been procured. I am very doubtful whether we could produce tinned fish in successful competition with the herrings and salmon which are imported. Herrings can be purchased, exclusive of the duty, for 3d. per tin, and I do not think that we could produce fish of equal quality at such a price as that. I know that we have any quantity of fish in our waters, and possibly it might be possible to give a fillip to distinctive industries, which could not be very well pursued in other countries. The northern shores of Australia abound with the green turtle that is so much appreciated by aldermen and others.
– Was it a green turtle that De Rougemont is said to have ridden ?
– Yes. These turtles swarm along the bays and sandy islands of the northern coast of Australia, and yet no attempt has been made to establish what I believe would be a valuable industry. I feel perfectly sure that these turtles could be rendered into soup which could be canned and profitably exported to other parts of the world. - ‘
– We have utilized the turtles and beche-de-mer in Queensland.
– So far as beche-de-mer is concerned, the prices obtained for the article are quite sufficient to insure the collection of the slugs without any special bonus. We should do better to encourage the establishment of turtle soup canneries than to promote the preservation of fish, which would enter into competition with the products of the northern world. Mr. Savill Kent is stated to have declared that the small fish which swarm round the piers of Thursday Island and elsewhere are the true sardine of commerce, and if that be so, attention might be turned to them with profitable results. The object of the Government seems to have been to encourage the establishment of industries which would be subjected to the greatest amount of competition, and which would have the smallest prospects of success. I do not believe that we could ever can fish to compete against herring and” salmon^ but I do think that Ave could create a valuable turtle industry, and possibly, if we have the true sardine, a successful industry in that direction. As to a bounty on milk, I say at once that if we can assist the great dairying industry that has done so much for the Commonwealth, we ought by every means to do so. But to my mind the question whether we can produce powdered, sweetened, and condensed milk is one for experts to determine. If it pays the farmer better to condense or powder his milk than to have the cream extracted for buttermaking and use the skim milk for his calves and pigs, we should be well advised to grant a substantial bounty in the hope of bringing about that result. But the question for experts to decide is whether we can produce condensed milk successfully in our climate. At present the industry is principally carried on in cold climates like those of Scandinavia and Switzerland.; though I believe the industry is also conducted to some extent in Great Britain. Is our climate suitable?
– We can produce artificial cold now.
– Of course it is possible, within limits, to produce an artificial climate. In the report before us it is stated that a hot climate results in quicker fermentation, so that at the time when the farmer gets his milk to the factory it has reached a condition which renders it unsuitable for condensation. If that be so, there is a difficulty which it will require expert knowledge to overcome. If the question be decided in the affirmative we shall be well advised in spending a con siderable sum of money to bring about such a result.
– I should think that if we can make butter we can make condensed milk.
Senator STANIFORTH SMITH.Experts differ. Some tell us that, owing to the more rapid fermentation which takes place in a warm climate, the milk will not keep unless certain preservatives are put into it which are injurious to health. I must apologize for taking up so much time in dealing with these matters; but I have had some personal knowledge of all the industries that I have mentioned. I have seen the plants to which I have referred growing and under treatment. Therefore, though apologizing for the time which I have occupied, I think I can claim to have given information which should be of use to the Senate. I agree with part of Senator Dobson’s proposal, though I do not think that the bounties paid by the Federal Government should be subject to control by the’ States. I do not agree that the Bill should not become operative
Until Ministers have consulted the Government of each State, and ascertained if they will administer the Bill if it becomes law, and lend the aid of their experts. to carry out its objects.
That may or may not be advisable. But I certainly agree with the second portion of the honorable senator’s amendment, that the Bill should be postponed - to enable Ministers to obtain from the Agricultural Departments of the said States a report upon the desirability or otherwise of granting any, and what, bounties for the production of products from the soil, and as to the probability of a permanent industry being established in any of such products.
That is exactly what I have been endeavouring to point out - that the proposal to grant bounties to an unlimited number of industries without ascertaining whether they are suitable for Australia is a mistake. We should single out such industries as are most suitable, and devote a large proportion of the Government money to grant assistance to them. The selection of those industries requires, of course, the greatest care and attention, and the most expert knowledge. I venture to say that these proposals have not received such attention. Therefore. I think that the Government would be well advised if thev did not seek to pass the Bill now. If passed, it would commit the Commonwealth to an expenditure of £500,000. We should be bound to pay the money, provided any sort of product mentioned in the schedule was produced, irrespective of quality. We ought first to have a conference of the chief agricultural experts of Australia, who should carefully consider all the products mentioned, and should report upon those that are likely to become’ national industries. They should not be confined to a particular part of Australia. Two or three industries picked out from the list would be ample. We should then be able to develop them with the fullest assurance that, with proper assistance, they would be successful. We should thus add to the prosperity of the country. But I am absolutely certain from what I have seen of some of the industries mentioned in the schedule, that, .if adopted, it would only result in a loss of the money voted, that no industries would be created, and that, at best, a few would ^simply linger on until the bounty was exhausted. Then there would be a howl for its continuance, or for increased protection out of all proportion to the value of the industry. Even in respect of cotton - the growth of which has been commenced on two previous occasions - as soon as the bounty ceased, there would be a howl for its continuance, or for a duty of something like 100 per cent, on an article of clothing which is most used by the poorer classes of the community. All of these matters require the fullest consideration, and more expert knowledge than it is possible for us to obtain at the end of a session. Such important proposals should not be passed without full consideration. The same remark applies to other important Bills which, unfortunately, have only been received in the last days of the session, but it. applies particularly to this measure. Therefore, I hope that it will not be passed.
– The very interesting speech which we have had from Senator Smith must carry a considerable amount of weight with the Senate, because he has given a great deal of time and study to the matters to which he has referred. We know that he has taken the opportunity dunn”- the last two parliamentary recesses to study tropical and sub-tropical agriculture, and subjects pertaining to them. There is no doubt that he is well able to express a trustworthy opinion. The granting of a bounty to some of the articles in the schedule would, in my opinion. result in no advantage whatever. Indeed, it would be little short of a crime to do what is proposed. The particular article to which I should like to refer is powdered) milk. When the ‘Minister of Defence was moving the second reading of the Bill, I asked whether he had any information to give us on the subject, in addition to that furnished in the paper that has been circulated. I am in favour of granting bounties to encourage the establishment of new industries in Australia where sufficient reason can be urged for the adoption of that course. At the same time, I require some assurance that the commodities which they produce will bestow a tangible benefit upon the country. Take the case of dried milk as an illustration. I have sufficient knowledge of that article to enable me to say that it would be a pity to see it produced in Australia under any conditions whatever. One has merely to smell it in order to be convinced that it is absolute rubbish, and that its protection ought not to be fostered. To my mind, the conversion of good milk into an article of that description represents only so much waste labour. In the early days of the Western Australian gold-fields it achieved such a bad reputation that the miners would consume it only in cases of dire necessity. Quite recently we passed an Act which was intended to prevent the production of articles the consumption of which would have a deleterious effect upon the health of the community. It seems somewhat contradictory, therefore, that we should now lie asked to sanction the payment of a bounty to foster an industry in powdered milk. Further, I fail to see any particular reason why we should extend encouragement to the condensed milk industry by offering manufacturers a bounty of Jd. per lb. upon their product. At the present time I believe _that the industry is making a fair amount of headway, and consequently requires no artificial stimulus. Already no less than thirty-nine different brands of milk are being produced within the Commonwealth. This commodity enjoys a protection of id. per lb., which, in my opinion, is ample. At the present time the article which comes into competition with Australian condensed milk realizes a far higher price than does the local manufacture. Nestles’ milk is universally admitted to be the very best article of the kind imported into the Commonwealth, and probably it is the best in the world. That milk commands io3. per dozen tins more than does the Australian article, and therefore it cannot be urged that our local manufacturers are subjected to unfair competition. Of course, the process by which Nestles’ milk is preserved so that it will withstand all climates is a trade secret. I know that in Western Australia that article will maintain its purity under almost any circumstances. The Australian article will not do that. It will not keep in a warm climate, and until ‘ our chemists - I believe it is more a matter for chemical knowledge than for anything else - discover the secret of preserving milk, it is idle to talk of extending more protection to the local production. But whatever may be urged in favour of the Government proposal in respect of condensed milk, cer.tainly nothing can be said in support of the proposal to grant a bounty upon the production of dried milk. Whilst I am unable to explain the method by which dried milk is produced, P understand that the liquid is evaporated, and that it leaves a powder behind. My experience leads me to believe that by that means all the nutritive properties which were originally in the mil£ are practically lost. I now wish to say a few words in regard to the proposal ‘to grant a bounty upon the production of coffee. When the Tariff was being framed, I well remember how Senator Higgs and others declared that if a reasonable measure of protection were extended to that article, Queensland in a few years would be able to supply the Australian market. Prior to that period several of the States did not collect a duty upon coffee. In New South Wales, Victoria, and Western Australia it was admitted free. But in order to encourage coffee cultivation in Queensland we levied a heavy duty - namely, 3d. per lb. - upon that product, and we were promised that within a few years Queensland would practically supply the whole of the requirements of the Commonwealth.
– What is the amount of protection which is at present enjoyed by coffee?
– We granted that commodity practically the measure of protection which was asked for. In Queensland the duty upon it, prior to the enactment of the Federal Tariff, was 4d. per lb.
– I think that honorable senators who intend to vote £500,000 in the direction proposed by the Bill ought to listen to the debate. [Quorum formed.]
– The present duty of 3d. per lb. upon coffee is equivalent to about 33 per cent, ad valorem. Surely that represents a fair amount of protection. Under these circumstances one might reasonably have expected that the growth of the industry would have been considerable, seeing that since - the Federation was established the whole of the Australian market has been opened to the coffee-planters of Queensland. I find that, between 1901 and 1904, there was no increase worth mentioning; indeed, for some years there was a decrease. In 1901, there were 130,000 lbs. of coffee produced, which decreased, in 1902, to 113,000 lbs., and, in 1903, to 83,000 lbs. In 1904, there was a slight increase, which practically brought the production back to what it had been in 190 1. It will be seen, therefore, that there has been practically no increase in the production of coffee during the years in which a duty has been imposed on. the imported article. Under all the circumstances, we might naturally have expected a great increase; but, as a matter of fact, out of the total of 1,000 tons of coffee placed on the Australian market, only 38 tons were produced in Australia. I do not think that, under all the circumstances, a good case has been made out for any further encouragement of coffee cultivation. I know that there are a number of honorable senators ever ready to vote money for almost any purpose; but it would be unreasonable to support the Bill with any hope of doing the industry any permanent good. Coffee cultivation is absolutely stagnant; and it would be a pity to attempt to force it in the way proposed. There is one industry to which we should have been well advised to give some consideration. During last session, a resolution was passed in the Senate affirming that some kind of encouragement ought to be extended to the employment of white labour in the pearl-shell industry. I see no mention of that industry in the Bill ; and this. I think, is a great mistake. The pearl-shell industry is practically monopolized by Japanese, Malays, and other men of colour; and clearly some effort should be made to introduce white labour. During last recess,
I had an opportunity to visit the northwest of Australia, and, from what I saw, I think that with reasonable encouragement white labour would displace coloured labour.
– Pearl shell has fallen very considerably in price.
– I think that the price has gone up again. In any case, there are other articles - sugar, for example - the price of which has fallen, but the production of which is encouraged by the Commonwealth. I suppose that sugar was never so low in price as it has been during the time bounties have teen given on its production by white labour. In my opinion, the pearl-shell industry presents as good a case for assistance of the kind suggested as doesthe sugar industry. White labour has been a success in the case of sugar; and I think we could say that it would be a success in the case of pearlshelling. As to many of the articles mentioned in the schedule, I am in favour of a bonus, but I am against others, including that in the case of powdered milk. It would be a pity to encourage the production of this commodity, because, in my opinion, it is downright rubbish. I support the second reading of the Bill, in the hope that in Committee the measure will be made a much better one than it is at present.
– The principle of bounties is certainly less objectionable than that of protective duties. In the case of bounties, the public know to what extent they are asked to pay; and who will get the money, always supposing that there is the proper machinery for the distribution of the bounties. A bounty is adirect payment, whereas a protective duty is indirect ; and, in the case of the latter, the middleman, and not the industry itself, may reap the advantage.
– Unfortunately, that also applies to bounties.
– That is so, particularly when there is no proper machinery for insuring that the bounties are properly applied. That is really the objection to the Bill.
– There is no machinery at all under the Bill.
– There is absolutely no machinery. It is proposed to pay bounties to various industries over which the Commonwealth, not only has no control, but in regard to which there is no machinery to insure that the moneys are properly applied. Honorable senators will remember that in connexion with the butter bounties charges were made that the people who produced the butter were not receiving the advantage - that the bounty was received by the middleman. If that were the case with a State Government having full control by means of an. Agricultural Department, how much more risk of it will there be in the case of the Commonwealth Government, who have no Agricultural Department, and are not even sufficiently in touch with the industry to see that the money is applied in the way intended ? In the case of cocoa and coffee, for example, what is required is not encouragement to the person who manipulates the coffee or cocoa after it is grown, but to the person who actually grows it; and to do this it is necessary to have an Agricultural Department, or, at any rate, an Agricultural Bureau. In mv opinion, the Bill asks us to put the cart before the horse. At the Hobart Conference, the Commonwealth Government consulted the Premiers as to the establishment of a Federal Agricultural Bureau ; and that, in my opinion, was working on the right lines.I believe the time has arrived when there ought to be a Commonwealth Agricultural Bureau, and a Statistical Bureau in connexion therewith. The Bill, however, makes no such provision, and since the Hobart Conference nothing more hasbeen heard of an Agricultural Bureau.
– The Premiers were opposed to the proposal.
– And the proposal was practically dropped by the Commonwealth Government. In my opinion, the idea of an. Agricultural Bureau should not have been dropped even if it were opposed by the Premiers. There are many directions in which a Commonwealth Agricultural Bureau is required.
– Hear, hear.
– The Agricultural Bureau of the United States has been of incalculable benefit; and until we have a similar Department I am loth to give other Departments,, not connected with agriculture, the power to spend money in the way proposed in the Bill. My opinion is that under the circumstances, the money would not be spent with the best results. I am sure that the Senate is much obliged for the very instructive speech delivered by Senator Smith; but I think the information supplied by that honorable senator ought to have been supplied by the Government. We had some information as to the possibilities of success in some of the lines mentioned, but the Government cannot brush aside the statements made by Senator Smith. Those statements challenge an answer, because they indicate, in regard to some of the lines, that not only would it be difficult to establish industries, but that even if they were established, the chances of permanency would be very small indeed.
– To which lines does the honorable senator refer?
– The honorable senator should have remained in the chamber whilst Senator Smith was speaking. I do not propose to repeat what that honorable senator said. He referred to various lines.
– Will the honorable senator mention one of them?
– Coffee and cocoa were two lines the honorable senator mentioned.
– He said in one part of his speech that coffee would not pay and in another that it would pay.
– I admit that there seemed to be some inconsistency there. Referring to the fibres, Senator Smith showed that in the case of some a bonus is unnecessary, and that in the case of others it would be unwise. The same may be said with respect to other lines to which the honorable senator referred.
– What about cotton?
– I do not know anything about cotton. I want an agricultural bureau to provide me with information about it.
– What we do know is that on two occasions at least a bonus has failed to establish its production.
– Senator Smith pointed out that the history of Queensland showed that at one time there were 14.000. acres under cotton in that State. Until recently its production had practical ly ceased, though it appears now to be coming into prominence again. The history of the industry, ‘however, indicates that it is not likely to be a permanent one in Queensland.
– I think it will be as big an industry here as is wool growing.
– If the honorable senator will look into the history of cotton growing in Queensland he will find that there have been several very discouraging features in connexion with it. With regard to the coffee-growing industry, as Senator de Largie has pointed out, we have already given a substantial protection of 3d. per lb. to that industry. In spite of that, it has been a declining one in Queensland. It is remarkable that it has also been a declining industry in some other countries. Only recently I was reading an article on Brazil, which contained an incidental reference to the coffee industry. In this article it was pointed out that owing to planters continually enlarging their plantations, the over-stocking of the market, and falling prices in the world’s market for coffee, so much distress was being occasioned that the Government of Brazil actually prohibited the planting of any more coffee in the country. That seems to me to indicate that coffee growing is not an industry to which we can look forward as having any great future before it in Australia. It may be that climatic and other conditions are suitable to the growth of coffee in various parts of Australia, but no one can deny that the conditions in Brazil are suitable, and if the industry does not succeed there, and has brought about conditions of hardship to those engaged in it, it is not one on which we should be asked to spend the taxpayers’ money. In the circumstances I am not prepared to vote for a bonus on coffee. As regards cocoa, the Government have given us no information that it is likely to become a profitable industry in Australia.
– We cannot be positive on every line.
– That is so, but we all know the history of this Bill. We all know that what happened was that Mr. Ewing, the Vice-President of the Executive Council, and Mr. L. E. Groom, the Minister of Home Affairs, were appointed a sub-committee of the Cabinet. They devoted some time to the consideration of these matters, and brought forward this proposal. What are the qualifications of those gentlemen? Are they qualified to lead us in a matter of this kind ? Are they qualified to speak with any authority on the expenditure of money for these purposes?
– They took expert evidence. If the honorable senator will refer to the statement which they have submitted he will find that, in connexion with cocoa they had a report from Mr. Howard
Newport, of the Queensland Department of Agriculture.
-Where is that report ?
– It is referred to in the statement of the Committee of the Cabinet. In connexion with linseed oil, there is a reference to a report from Mr. J. Knight, of the Department of Agriculture, Victoria, dated12th February, 1906.
– The Minister would appear to be specially favoured in this matter, because, so far as I knew, the paper to which he refers has not been circulated amongst honorable senators.
SenatorPlayford. - I understood that it had been.
– Western Australia contains as much of the tropical portion of Australia as does any other State. We have an Agricultural Department in that State, and I know that there have been reports with respect to the suitability of the north-west of Western Australia for various forms of tropical culture.
– Mr. Howard Newport, of the Queensland Agricultural Department is stationed at Cairns, and I should think that a report from one expert on tropical agriculture would be sufficient.
– I do not think so. We should know what are the opinions of the experts of each of the States, as to the industries which it is possible to carry on successfully in each State. I am not prepared to vote money for the assistance of an industry on the recommendation of an expert on Queensland, of whose qualifications I know nothing. In this matter the Government have, I think, put the cart before the horse. They have no Agricultural Department and no officers prepared to carry out the work involved in the encouragement of agricultural industries by the payment of bounties.
– We have officers all over the Commonwealth. We have officers already appointed in connexion with the sugar bounty, we have Customs and Excise officers in every State, and we have every reason to believe that the States Agricultural Departments will give us every assistance.
– The officers of the Excise Department can scarcely be considered fit officers to carry out this work. In any case, I should imagine that their time is fully taken up, and they have been specially appointed in connexion with the administration of a particular Act. The Committee of the Cabinet have brought forward this measure practically as a proposal of their own. The Government have not told us, nor did the Minister tell us in his speech, who is going to pay these proposed bounties, or what machinery has been provided to safeguard their payment, and to see that the men who actually grow these products get the benefit of the bounty in each case.
– Surely we can do that by regulation?
– We require something more than regulations. Wherever bounties have been paid there is a tendency for the wrong man to get the benefit, and for the bounty to be paid without any material encouragement to the industry.’ The scheme proposed requires something more than mere regulations, and the report of a sub-committee of the Cabinet. It requires the establishment of a special Department. Until the Government and Parliament are prepared to take upon themselves, the responsibility of establishing a Federal Agricultural Bureau we should leave these things to the States Governments, to whom they rightly belong. There is nothing to prevent any of the States Governments paying any of these bounties with the consent of the Federal Government. If the Queensland Government desired to pay a bounty for the production of cotton or cocoa, I am sure that no member of the Federal Parliament would object to their doing so, or to the Western Australian Government doing the same thing. The States Governments could do this kind of thing far more effectively than we can. If the Government say “ The States are not moving in the matter, we think the case is urgent, and that something should be done, and we should do it.” let them take action in a business-like fashion, and take the full responsibility of establishing an Agricultural Bureau, as has been done in the United States. Then, when the Department was fully equipped, and we had our own officers, we could proceed to pay bounties, and would be able to insurethat the right men get the encouragement required. An item mentioned in the list is tinned fish. We have at the present time the pretty stiff duty of11/2d. per lb. on tinned fish, and so far no industry of any consequence has been established. I ask honorable senators whether it is not a fact that in most of the Capital cities in the Commonwealth an adequate supply of fresh fish is not obtainable. I know that the Perth market is never fully supplied with fresh fish and people have to pay far too high a price for fresh fish to-day. If there is a demand for Australian tinned fish the fairly heavy protective duties we have imposed should be sufficient to assist the industry.
SenatorFraser. - Any quantity of fresh fish is. destroyed at Queenscliff and at other places because there is no market for it in Melbourne.
– I have seen them destroyed, but their destruction is not because of the absence of a market for them.
– It does not follow that they would be suitable for canning. For instance, barracouta would hardly be suitable for that purpose.
– Barracouta are caught only now and again.
– They are very plentiful. I see no pressing urgency for the payment of a bounty on the production of canned or tinned fish. I think that we would do well to wait until the supply of fresh fish has been placed on a better footing. When we are able to satisfy our ownrequirements in that respect, we can make arrangements for the establishment of a canning and tinning industry. Most of the oils mentioned in the schedule are dutiable at the present time. There is a duty of 2S. per gallon on cotton seed oil, 1s. 4d. per gallon on olive oil, and 6d. per dozen quarter pints on castor oil. The last-mentioned is a fairly substantial duty. Even in Western Australia, olive oil is being profitably produced. The industry there is a small but a profitable one, conducted in connexion with monastery grounds owned by the Roman Catholic Church, and situated near Subiaco. I understand that a considerable quantity of oil is produced there, and that the revenue thus obtained assists the church to carry on a reformatory, theboys in which are employed to pick the olives. I do not think that we should be likely by the payment of this bounty to cause new plantations to be made. It seems to me that those already engaged in producing olive oil will secure the bounty and thus add to their present profits, whilst refraining, perhaps, from planting an additional tree. Senator de Largie referred to the desirableness of encouraging white men to engage in the pearl-shelling industry, and I may say that before he spoke, I had sent to the Government Printer an amendment providing for the inclusion of the words “pearl shell” in the item “Miscellaneous.” The pearl-shelling industry is carried on to-day in Australian waters, but, unfortunately, the earnings obtained from it are practically distributed only amongst coloured people who are not even permanent residents of the Commonwealth. They are mere birds of passage. They are allowed to remain here for only twelve months, and at the end of that time must be replaced by other coloured crews. We have evidence that the work could be carried out by white men. As a matter of fact, white men at one time engaged in the industry, and we need to offer an inducement to them to recommence operations. A bounty might, and, I think, would, have the effect of encouraging some white crews to take up the work of pearlshelling, and we should then have an opportunity to decide whether or not it was a payable industry for white men. It would be well worth our while to spend a few thousand pounds to enable us to determine that question. If that great industry were placed in the hands of white residents of the north and north-west coast of Western Australia, we should have there an effective garrison in time of war, whereas the alien population, earning a living by means of pearl-shelling is, at present, a menace to Australia, and would be infinitely more dangerous in time of war. If we firmly established the industry on the basis of the employment of only white labour, it would be worth, to Australia, practically half as much again as all the other industries mentioned in the schedule. I should like also to see provision made for the encouragement of the production of mica, large deposits of which are to be found in all parts of Australia, but more particularly in the dry, arid regions of Central Australia, the Northern Territory, Western Australia, and Queensland. These deposits are not at present being worked. Although mica is scarce in the markets of the world, it is difficult to induce capitalists to embark upon mining for it. If the Bill is taken into Committee, I shall move an amendment providing for a bounty being given in this direction. I recognise, however, that the objection which I have urged against other items might well be applied to a bounty for the production of mica. It certainly could not be levelled against a proposal to encourage pearl-shelling in this way, since the industry to-day is practically supervised and controlled by Customs and Immigration Restriction Officers, who could see that the bounty was properly paid. The objections raised against this Bill are very strong ; and those which I think may fairly be levelled against it are sufficient to induce me to support Senator Dobson’ s amendment’, though 1 admit that I do not like its first paragraph. Instead of consulting the States’ Governments, the Commonwealth Ministry should accept their full responsibility in this matter, and establish a Federal Bureau of Agriculture. As soon as that bureau had been established, they could- come forward with a well-defined policy for the assistance of agriculture generally. 1
– Have we not already before us quite enough proposals for swallowing up our revenue?
– A Federal Bureau of Agriculture would be of incalculable benefit to those engaged in the farming industry.
– «-Has not the honorable member shown that the States themselves have the machinery to do the work of such a bureau?
– In certain respects a Federal bureau could assist the farmers in a way that States’ Departments could not be expected to do. The experience of the United States of America is that the Federal Bureau of Agriculture is of great assistance in conducting experiments and applying science generally to the conditions existing in each State of the Union, and in disseminating amongst the farmers much valuable information so obtained. I believe that if we established a Federal bureau, we should have a similar experience. We could, for example, experiment with some of the unused lands of the Commonwealth. A good case can be made out for a bureau of agriculture, and I hold that these bounty proposals should follow, and not precede, its establishment.
– If the States’ Departments were up-to-date, we could not make out a very good case for interference on our part.
– I .think that we could. The Government, however, are not prepared to undertake the responsibility of establishing a bureau, and I shall, therefore, vote for the amendment.
I repeat that we are dealing with this Bill under circumstances that reflect no credit, either on the Ministry which introduced it, or the Chamber which is now discussing it. Let me point out, in the first place, how the Bill has been submitted to us. I presume that in another place the following proviso in clause 2 was inserted : -
Provided that not more than the sum of Seventy-five thousand pounds shall be paid by way of bounty in any one financial year.
I have to make that assumption, because Senator Playford has circulated an amendment which, if agreed to, will entirely alter the schedule. Apparently the House of Representatives provided that only £75,000 should be spent in any one year, without altering the schedule, which was drawn up in accordance with the original provision that the annual expenditure should not exceed £5°>000- That does not reflect much credit upon its method of doing business. I agree with Senator Pearce that the Government have supplied us with no information in support of the measure, with the exception of a printed document headed “Bounties Bill, General Statement,” which may have been circulated elsewhere, but has not been circulated here. I have examined this document, which contains a list of items, many of which are not included in the schedule, though it seems to have been anticipated that they would be, and to a large number of items is applied a note to the effect that the productions are mostly tropical, and the granting of a bounty in connexion with them might better be left for consideration until the settlement of the Northern Territory and New Guinea receive special attention. Most of the items in the schedule are also tropical productions, and the consideration of granting bounties in regard to them might well be deferred until attention is given to the settlement of the tropical parts of Australia and of New Guinea.
– -Does the honorable and learned senator consider that the Senate is merely a chamber of review?
– No. It has been sought to force that conclusion upon us, but I have always done my best to resist it. I am with Senator Pearce in thinking that it would have been infinitely preferable if the Government had determined to establish a Commonwealth Department of Agriculture for dealing with this matter. I ask who is to administer the measure? The words “ the Minister “ occur only once in it, namely, in clause 5, and I do not think that Senator Playford told us what Minister will have charge of the measure if it be passed. It certainly should not be administered by the Minister of Trade and Customs.
– Why not?
– Because he has already quite enough to do, since in addition to the administration of the Customs and Excise Tariffs he has the provisions of the Commerce and Australian Industries Preservation Acts to administer.
– -The Department of Trade and Customs will grow very much. It will have to take charge of navigation.
– I hope that navigation, if it is put into the hands of the Department of Trade and Customs, will be administered as the honorable senator thinks that it should be. I agree with Senator Pearce that before a proposal of this kind was made there should have been in existence a Department capable of giving us information in regard to its details. The stray remarks scattered through the document to which, I have referred do not justify the expenditure of a penny on bounties. I do not say that there is no item in the schedule which does not deserve consideration, but the statement to which I have referred gives us no warrant for agreeing to any proposal therein contained. It is often said that bounties may be voted for with less reluctance and with more pleasure than protective duties, because under the bounty system the public know exactly what they will be called upon to pay. No doubt that is so, though the experience of Australia is that a Parliament voting a bounty does not know into whose hands the money will go. In many cases it has certainly gone into the wrong hands, and we have no guarantee that that will not happen if we pass the Bill. If there were a Department which could properly ad minister the measure, we might have ground for believing that, having taken warning by past experience, it would exercise such care in the distribution of the bounties as to make it impossible for the money to go into the wrong hands. There is, however, no such Department. It is impossible to expect the officers of the Department of Trade and Customs, who have so much work already on their hands, to pay sufficiently close attention to the subject.
– It is only a matter of organization.
– The honorable senator seems to think that the present Minister is capable of organizing everything; but I do not think that there is any man in the Commonwealth who is capable of properly administering the Department of Trade and Customs as it at present exists, while if that Department is asked to deal with the intricate, difficult, and delicate question of bounties as well, we shall run a great risk of bringing the bounty system into utter contempt. There is the danger that, if we passed the Bill as it is the results would be so deplorable some years hence as to create an absolute aversion to the whole system, and possibly to prejudice, in some instances, a good cause, if my honorable friends like so to term it. I am quite convinced that if the Bill were passed in its present form history would record more than one disastrous failure. I do not believe that there is an honorable senator who has looked into the details of the Bill who can honestly come to any other conclusion than that the risk in adopting it is far greater than the Commonwealth should take.
– Of course, the honorable senator does not like Sir William Lyne
– I have divested my remarks of the personal element almost entirely. I have said that I do not believe that there exists a man, either in or out of Parliament, who could properly administer all the various functions which are sought to be imposed upon the Department of Trade and Customs. Surely I could not say anything more impersonal to Sir William Lyne than that ! There does seem to me to be a serious state of things when it is proposed to distribute so much money with so little information in our hands. The Ministry are, I suppose, committed to the Bill, simply because it is in print. I venture to say that they could scarcely assign any other reason. On their own snowing the information which has been sought and acquired is of the most meagre description. Items have been put in the schedule pell-mell, as if the object of the Ministry were simply to see how many different items they could find on which to spend, rightly or wrongly - probably wrongly - the public money.
– Quite a number of items was kept out.
– Those items are mentioned on page 2 of the paper. What is the answer to the Minister’s statement? It is that the articles are mostly tropical. Could any one conceive of a more inadequate answer than that the articles are mostly tropical? What is the assumption? It is that, being mostly tropical,, sufficient information has not been obtained, and the items ought to be put on one side. The fact is that almost every item of importance in the present schedule is a tropical item. What is the value of the Minister’s statement that items have been postponed for consideration until the question of the Northern Territory and Papua receive further attention, on the ground that they are tropical items? A more stupid, a more self -condemnatory remark, I suppose one could not find, certainly could not wish for, as a criticism against the Bill. I have no objection to any expenditure so long as it can be afforded. But I have the greatest possible objection to any expenditure which is not economical. The whole essence of the Bill, I take it, is, will1 the expenditure of this money result in economical advantage to the Commonwealth? That, I take it, is a. fair point of view from which to discuss the Bill. If we are to look for information on that point we are first confronted with this solid fact : that the Ministry do not know. Perhaps we ought to congratulate ourselves that we have had the opportunity of ascertaining form Senator Smith important facts relative to special items, which may help us to form a conclusion as to whether the money would be spent in an economical way. No one who listened to Senator Smith could fail to gather that he, who has had close personal experience with, many tropical products, has grave doubts - in .some cases I should say that he has no doubt at all - about the efficacy of the Bill. To deal seriatim with the items in the schedule, it is quite clear that Senator Smith has no doubt that cocoa could never be grown profitably in the Commonwealth. He could not have been clearer on any item than he was on that one. He gave special reasons why an attempt to grow the article would be attended with certain failure. Yet I find that the Ministry propose for nine years to spend £2,000 a year upon its production.
– If cocoa were not produced the money would not be spent.
– If the honorable senator could not say more than that in favour of the Bill he would not be using a very strong argument. I think he will agree with me that, at any rate, attempts will be made. Either the money would have to be kept by the Commonwealth, or efforts would have to be made, which would fail, the only result being that some citizens would have been induced to make an effort which they could not hope would be attended with success. I do not think that Senator Givens doubts for a moment but that some attempts would be made to get the bounty.-
– If the case is as hopeless as the honorable senator and Senator Smith think, I do not expect that any sensible man would make an experiment.
– I wish I could think that.
– The bounty is to be only id. per lb., and that is not much.
– I do not think that when the offer of an annual bounty of £2,000 is made there will not be some persons foolish enough to try to earn it or get it.
– They will have to produce a very large quantity in order to get the whole of the bounty.
– One of my chief objections to the existing schedule is that it contains no reference to quality. In the case of cocoa, for instance, it is proposed to give a bounty of id. per lb. on dried beans. What is to be the quality of them ? So far as I can gather from the Bill, if dried beans are produced, the bounty is to be paid, although they may be commercially valueless.
– According to paragraph a of clause 3 the beans must be of a merchantable quality.
– It would be dealt with in the regulations, if it were not provided for in the Act.
– I do not gather much comfort from the phrase “merchantable quality,” because that would cover the most inferior article which could be produced.
– With inspectors of food about?
– Unfortunately, too many articles of very inferior quality are produced and sold here.
– Only imported articles.
– I am dealing, unfortunately, with articles which we both grow and produce. One of the great disadvantages under which Australian industry labours, is that too little attention is paid to quality and too much attention to cheapness. I offer that criticism with regard to every item in the schedule. In every case the bounty is to be paid irrespective of any condition as to quality, except that which Senator Guthrie has discovered, and that is that the article shall be merchantable.
– The articles will be sold subject to State regulations. For instance, every State has a regulation that only fish of a merchantable size shall be sold.
– I am quite satisfied that the question of quality is almost wholly eliminated from the Bill. The bounties would be payable subject to compliance with regulations. Surely, in the case of a Bill which purports to grant bounties, one of the most important points to be considered is the conditions under which they shall be earned. The Bill contains no such provision. Of course the Governor-General may make regulations, and apparently the most important matters to be dealt with under the Bill will have to be provided for by regulation.
– In the matter of cocoa, all that the grower would require to do would be to produce the beans.
– Would that be the end of the matter?
– We propose to give so much per lb. for the beans.
– But surely the Minister knows that the beans vary very much in quality?
– They vary like everything else.
– Of course they do, and yet no provision is made for such variation.
– The beans are to be merchantable.
– That condition is, of no value.
– The regulations will make all the necessary provision.
– The term “ merchantable “ is applied at the present time to the most inferior articles sold in the Commonwealth. The moment an article is sold it becomes merchantable. My complaint against Australian products is that insufficient attention is, paid to the matter of quality. My criticism with regard to the absence of provision as to quality applies to the whole of the items in the schedule. In nearly every case the bounty is to be paid at the rate of so much per lb., and in other cases where the bounty is to be paid upon a percentage scale the market value is to be taken. No safeguard is provided, because so long as the articles are marketable at all, no matter how inferior they may be, the bounty will be paid. I do not presume to have that accurate technical knowledge with regard to most of the articles in the schedule that would justify me in making any definite or decisive statements with regard to them. I have to look for information wherever it is available, and I say frankly that I shall pay considerable attention to what has been stated by Senator Smith. I may point out some facts which are well known and meet with practically universal acceptance. A good deal is known about the production of coffee, and the economic value of the industry. Every honorable senator must know that for many years great efforts were made to grow coffee profitably in Ceylon, and that the industry although carried on by means of the cheapest labour, perhaps, in the world, failed.
– Disease in the coffee plants caused the failure.
– The question of labour must be considered in connexion with every one of these items.
– The question of labour had nothing whatever to do with the failure of the coffee industry in Ceylon.
– I did not say that it had. I stated that coffee had been grown in Ceylon under the cheapest labour conditions in the world. Yet it is proposed that we shall endeavour to grow it under what we hope will prove to be the dearest labour conditions. That in itself seems to me to be sufficient to condemn the whole scheme. How do the Government propose to provide against such a contingency as that which has arisen in Ceylon? We have no Federal Department of Agriculture, and I should like to know who would advise the coffee-growers in the event of their plantations being attacked by disease. Apparently, it is intended to encourage persons to engage in the industry, and to leave them to their fate in the event of their plantations being attacked by disease. Some of the remarks which I have made with regard to coffee might also aptly be applied to the cultivation of rice. Is it expected that the cultivation of rice can be profitably carried on in the Commonwealth? No one could have listened to Senator Smith without coming to the conclusion that that industry has absolutely no chance of being carried on profitably in Australia. Yet it is proposed to expend £3,000 per annum in granting bounties for the growth of rice.
– We might as well pitch the money into the gutter.
– Exactly the same thing might be said with regard to a number of these articles.
– Is it not possible that rice mav be grown on the Murray?
– - What ? Under fair labour conditions for white men? Rice can be grown only under special conditions, and by means of the cheapest labour. What is our ambition? To pit Australian workmen at 7s. or 8s. per day against the menial labour of the East at 6d. or, perhaps, 3d. per day, in an industry in which they will have no opportunity to make profitable use of their extra skill and higher intelligence? Skilled labour in Australia mav prove to be cheap if employed in industries where the workmen have an opportunity of displaying their skill and intelligence. But is it to be assumed for one moment that Australian labour, receiving fair wages, can possibly compete in rice-growing with the cheap labour of the East? It is in connexion with matters of this kind that we should recognise our limitations. It is our desire that white men should receive a proper rate of wages, and we should recognise clearly that, in certain departments of industry, the white man cannot compete with the cheap labour of the East. I believe this to be the fact where the special skill of the white man has not full scope, and .1 take it that we are indulging in quixotic legislation in endeavouring to stimulate the production of rice, coffee, and cocoa.
– In the production of which it is almost impossible to make use of machinery.
– Quite so.
– We might as well put up the shutters altogether.
– Certainly, it would be better to put up the shutters than attempt to grow rice and coffee by the employment of labour at fair rates of wages for white men. With regard to the general question, I again ask what is our ambition? If it be assumed that white labour could compete successfully in such industries, I should hesitate seriously to doom white men to engage in them.
– The planting and pruning of a few coffee trees would not be nasty work.
– The question is whether the industry could be profitably carried on.
– We have to consider the conditions under which tropical products have to be grown. Although we might, in the course of a few generations, acclimatise our people sufficiently to enable them to engage in the cultivation of tropical products, we have not yet reached that stage, and we should be reluctant to embark upon any scheme with the object of inducing the white labour of the Commonwealth, for the sake of some pecuniary gain, to expend its energy in our tropical regions. I have” grave doubts whether by such means we should do any good to ourselves or to the people of this country. I admit that in a few generations we might have men acclimatised and accustomed to some of these industries, but I doubt whether we have them now. On the economical side, also, I do not think we can expect to develop a profitable industry, in coffee, cocoa, or rice. With regard to other items mentioned in the schedule, I think that it is quite possible that there is a good opportunity in Australia for the growth of flax. At any rate, in that case we should be following the example of a country which certainly ‘is not tropical, namely, New Zealand, where a considerable amount of success has attended the efforts made to grow flax. We may hope to attain similar success in Australia. As to the item “ Fish, canned or tinned,” I think the money proposed to be spent will be entirely wasted.
– Why ? Have we no fish in our seas?
– I do not think that round the coast of Australia we have such fish as can be canned or tinned pro,fitably.
– We passed a vote some time ago to provide a trawler.
– Yes ; and I begin to see why. The beautiful statement which has been circulated in connexion with this Bill contains more than one reference to the trawler. It was probably prepared before the item for the purchase of the trawler was put in the Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill, which has been passed. I can now see a connexion between the trawler and the fish industry. which it is proposed to encourage by fi bounty. But I do not see that we can hone to derive any advantage from granting a bounty on canned or tinned fish.
– The honorable senator would rather import them?
– I would rather import them if we cannot obtain them ourselves. It is better to do that than to do without them. At the present time it is extremely difficult to get fresh fish in Australia. ~The fishing industry should be largely improved before we begin to think of canning or tinning. Senator Playford ought to know, if any one in the Senate does, that it is quite unnecessary to offer a bounty for the production of olive oil. That commodity is being produced profitably in South Australia already, the oil produced there is most excellent in nuality, and it obtains a ready sale. I do not suppose that a gallon of it is wasted. The whole question is simply one of how much can be produced. However much has been produced in the past has .always been readily sold. If this bounty be given, I quite agree that practically it will be like the bounty given to the sugar-growers of New South Wales. It will be given to those people who have always been producing the same article without a bounty. If mv information be correct, it takes a considerable time before olive oil can be produced after plantations have been commenced. That “is to say . if a man went into the industry to-day, he would not get much of a crop until six or seven years had passed. The result will be that for the next six or seven years the £9,000 a year paid in bounty will be divided amongst those persons, mostly in South Australia, who already produce olive oil.
– No; amongst those who are starting to plant.
– If I understand the schedule, in every year the amount of £9,000 may be paid on account of oils, and that payment may begin at the end of next year. The money will therefore be divided among those persons who produce olive oil during that year.
– No; a portion of the money is to be paid to the producers of other oils.
– I venture to say that nearly the whole of the money will be divided amongst persons in South Australia who have already been producing olive oil profitably. I shall certainly oppose this, as I shall oppose most of the other items. What possible justification is there for dividing £9,000 a year amongst the producers of olive oil ? They have not asked for it, and are making a good profit without a bounty.
– £9,000 is the maximum on account of oils, and it is not to be paid entirely on account of olive oil.
– I admit that provision is made for the distribution of a portion of the money amongst the producers of other oils, but what reasonable expectation have we of any appreciable part of the bounty being distributed within a reasonable period amongst the producers of other oil than olive oil ? I say that it will not be so distributed, and time will prove the truth of my remark. I can well believe that it might be an excellent thing for Australia to grow rubber; and if we cannot induce people to embark in the industry without a bounty, we may seriously and safely consider whether it would not be economically desirable to grant a bounty for the purpose. But I shall be no party to grant a bounty on account of kapok. I know how it is used. I know that there is no more fertile source of disease. I am sorry that kapok is used at all, and I shall be still more sorry if anything is done to encourage the growth of it in Australia. I suppose the second reading of the Bill will be agreed to. ‘But when it gets into Committee, I certainly intend to oppose most of the items. I shall oppose them, because I think die expenditure is wholly unwarranted, and because I doubt whether, even if we had the information which we ought to have, we should be justified in spending so much money in the hope of an economical production in the future of the articles mentioned in the schedule. I believe that it is extremely dangerous to pass the Bill in its present form, because, in my opinion, one of its results will undoubtedly be to create disgust and contempt, and a strong objection to the whole system of bounties. The policy may be good, but the Ministry ought not to imperil it bypaying bounties under such an illconsidered Bill as this, upon which failure is written with regard to many of its items. We can all realize that, in discussing in the future any proposal to pay bounties on account of industries that might properly demand or deserve them, we snail be confronted with the illustration of failure that will be derived from this Bill. I do not believe that the most sanguine supporter of it believes for a moment that it will be a success. I further oppose it because I do not think that we are at present justified in indulging in an expenditure of £500,000, at the rate of £75,000 a year, for such a purpose. We have not that money to spare; and we certainly have not got it to spare in a case as to which we have not sufficient information. I hope that if the Bill gets into Committee, it will be very much amended. I shall vote for Senator Dobson’s amendment, because it is one that I think has no other object than to say to the Government, “Let us acquire sufficient information in order that we may know whether you are going to spend this money wisely, and also whether you have means of insuring, that the expenditure will be properly carried out.” That is merely a business way of approaching a very big subject; from lack of business methods in its preparation, I think the Bill is, and should be, doomed.
– I am sorry that we are called upon to consider this Bill at such a late stage of the session, because it is one which demands a very great deal of thought and research. Whilst I am strongly in favour of encouraging the establishment of new industries by the payment of bounties in cases where there is a reasonable prospect of success, I must confess that of my own knowledge I am satisfied that many of the articles enumerated in the schedule to this measure cannot be successfully produced here. A few years ago I spent a. summer in Ceylon, and I know from the knowledge which 1/ then acquired that the production of rice entails the employment of an enormous amount of cheap labour.
– So .does the production of wheat.
– That is not so. With the improved machinery now in use, wheat is produced at a very infinitesimal cost so far as labour is concerned, and Senator Guthrie ought to know it. It represents only a few shillings per acre now that the harvester is in use.
– That amount merely covers the cost of reaping it.
– The ploughing is clone by six-furrow ploughs, and the seed is sown by means of seed drills. It is ridiculous for Senator Guthrie to make an interjection of that character. But the labour that is employed in the production of rice is the cheapest that can be obtained in the world. Personally, I do not think that any money should be spent in encouraging the production of rice, or cocoa, or coffee. In respect of cotton, however. I know that cotton of the verv highest quality has been produced in Queensland. A few years ago a bonus was payable upon it.
– There was a bonus paid during the American Civil War, and from 1896 to 1897.
– But I fear that cotton cannot be profitably produced in Australia by means of white labour.
– In Queensland at one period there were 14.000 acres under cotton.
– I am aware of that. I have often visited the plantations. I know that a very high class cotton waa grown in Queensland, but I am doubtful whether it can be commercially successful if produced by Australian labour. Regarding flax, I am positive that it can be successfully grown in many parts of the Commonwealth. Its cultivation does not involve very much labour, and it is a very useful commodity. Concerning the proposal to grant a bounty upon preserved fish, I know that hundreds and hundreds of tons of fish caught in the bays of the Commonwealth during the year are returned to the sea, because there is no market for them. The fishermen of Queenscliff and Gippsland may perhaps obtain ten tons of fish to-day, and may say, “ It will be useless to forward more than five tons to Melbourne.” Consequently they return the balance to the sea.
– That is a substantial reason for canning.
– It is a reason for the introduction of a system of canning. I was a shareholder in a company in Tasmania which embarked upon the industry of preserving fish a few years ago.
– It was a failure.
– I do not know why it was a failure, but I do know that a very large quantity of good fish is obtained in the bays, harbors, and rivers of Australia, which ought to be tinned instead of being destroyed. I do not see any reason why the industry should not be made a great success.
– I fear that the fish monopoly is responsible for fish being returned to the sea.
– I know all about that. I spend my summers amongst the fishermen, and I know a great deal of them. It was upon my recommendation that the Queenscliff fishermen, a few years ago, established a co-operative company. Formerly they were accustomed to send their fish to Melbourne and to have it sold by an agent, with the result that they were unable to make a living. I said to them, ‘ Why do you not form a co-operative company, and have one of your own men in Melbourne to dispose of your fish?” They were quick to act upon the suggestion, and I believe that the shares of the company, originally10s., are now quoted at 20s. to 30s. each. But the truth is that the poorer classes of the community cannot afford to purchase fish because of the exorbitant prices at which they are retailed in shops, the occupants of which are required to pay high rents. If the fishermen of Queenscliff, Gippsland, Warrnambool, Belfast, and Tasmania, could tin their fish where they are caught, I believe that a very great industry would be built up.
– Miscellaneous fish cannot be tinned.
– I grant that barracouta cannot be tinned.
– Senator Smith means that two kinds of fish cannot be put in the same tin.
– Of course not. At certain seasons of the year hundreds of tons of fish can be caught along the Australian coast. At other periods there is a dearth in the supply. The fish come to the shores of Australia in shoals. They do not remain here all the year round. Their habits resemble those of the wild duck, which visit certain districts in flocks at particular seasons of the year. In respect of condensed milk, I say that we should not have any occasion to import milk from any part of the world. There is no country upon earth which produces more milk in proportion to its population than does Australia. Every working man can have his own cow, assuming that he lives a little distance from the city. In Queensland the milk industry is making very great headway. Messrs. McConnell and Sons started a preserved milk factory there four or five years ago, and are making a great success of it. I know nothing concerning the manufacture of oils, but certainly if the olive oil industry is already a success, it does not require any encouragement at the hands of the State. As to rice, I am certain that no bounty ought to be offered for this, because it is one of the cheapest commodities. It is grown with the cheapest labour in the world and an enormous amount of that labour is employed. Rice can be grown on plots no larger than the table in this Chamber. In Ceylon, Honolulu, and other hot countries, through which I have travelled rice crops are cultivated on little square patches on every hill, on little level spaces made for the purpose.. The items I have mentioned will not be a success ; yet, because of the other items, such as rubber. I think this Bill ought to pass its second reading, and be taken into Committee.
Senator Col. NEILD (New South Wales) [6.12]. - I cannot but think that this Bill has a very large element of sham about it. I am sorry to have to say that, but I find it impossible to otherwise regard the measure. On Norfolk Island to-day there is absolutely rotting some seven tons of first class coffee, which cannot be landed in the Commonwealth, except at such a duty as to render the trade unprofitable to those concerned. Yet it is proposed to take over Norfolk Island at such time as may prove convenient. It would have been much better to devote the time at our disposal to passing a measure which would have given to the colonists of Norfolk Island the relief they ask for; there have been deputations from the coffeegrowers of the island, asking that they shall be permitted to land their coffee in Australia. Again, it is proposed to give a bonus on the growing of rubber. Rubber grows naturally in New Guinea, and yet its products cannot be landed . here except under Customs duties. What is the good of our taking over the Administration of New Guinea if all we can do is to appoint a Royal Commission ? It is proposed to expend a large sum of money in encouraging the cultivation of rubber on the mainland, while the rubber, which naturally grows in New Guinea, is allowed to run to waste. I venture to think that, under the circumstances, I am not out of order in describing this Bill as a sham, in some respects at least. In the sugar industry, under a bonus, the number of acres in cultivation is materially decreasing. In New South Wales at least, the ground previously devoted to growing sugar cane under a bonus, is being devoted to the production of butterwithout a bonus. This shows plainly that it is not a bonus which makes an industry succeed, but the suitability of the industry to the local conditions. Some years ago, when bonuses were hanging in the air, I visited Victoria, and heard of a bonus of some £5.000 for the production of so many yards of tweed. If I was correctly informed at the time, a certain number of persons put their heads together, ran up a kind of corrugated iron shanty and, having obtained the £5,000, sold their establishment as old iron.
– When was that?
– That was in 1887.
– They made excellent tweed in Victoria in the early seventies.
– But if I am correctly informed, the firm which obtained the benefit of the bonus in 1887 are not existing to-day. I know that there are the best of Australian tweeds made in Victoria to-day.
– Such tweeds were made in the early seventies.
– Without a bonus.
– There was protection.
– That is so; but Senator Mulcahy altogether misses the point, which is that a factory was specially put up in order to collar the bonus, and that then the whole enterprise collapsed so far as Victoria was concerned.
– I do not remember that.
– I am speaking from information given to me at Ballarat.
– I think the bonus at that time was offered for the production of so manyyards of tweed.
– Yes, I think that was so.
– Tweeds were made in Victoria half a century before that.
– The honorable senator must be very dense if he does not see that the story does not affect the production of tweed in any shape or form, but simply shows that successful effort may be made to collar the bonus where there is really no permanence in the particular factory.
– The statement of the facts made to the honorable senator must have been very loosely worded.
– The honorable senator will see that there could not be a stipulation as to permanence, because as soon as the bonus is paid over, those concerned in the industry may do as they please.
– The plant necessary for such work must have cost three times £5,000.
– The plant, of course, could easily have been removed somewhere else. The sugar industry in New South Wales has been assisted by a bonus for the first time under Federation. A few coloured labourers were employed in the industry, but from the later sixties up to the present time it has been carried on almost exclusively by white labour, and until Federation without the assistance of a bonus. We now find that in the New South Wales sugar districts cane is being displaced by cows, and enormous areas of land that have been cleared of dense tropical or semi-tropical scrub are being devoted to the depasturing of dairy herds, and the production of butter.
– Because that is more profitable.
– It is more profitable. I may inform honorable senators that from the 1st January to the present time a butter factory established at Byron Bay has been paying an average of no less than £30,000 per month to farmers of the district for cream delivered at the factory. There are other factories almost in the immediate vicinity, and along the same railway line. A factory has been established at a place with a very long name, and popularly known as “Bimby,” which has sprung up with the rapidity of a mining township. When I was in the district a few years ago there was no such township, but now there is one as large as an ordinary mining township, and wholly dependent on the butter industry.
– It took New South Wales ten years to learn all that. We have been exporting butter for. the last eight or ten years from Victoria.
– New South Wales has been exporting butter for quite as long a period. I am not sayang a word to the detriment of Victoria. I have not mentioned the delectable country. I have not said anything to suggest that one State is doing more than another. I am showing merely that in the little part of Australia from which I come a business conducted under a bounty is being replaced by a business which is carried on without a bounty. There is another factory at Lismore, and, in fact, at every important centre of the district so ably represented by the Vice-President of the Executive Council. You may follow the Richmond River from the township of Ballina, at the Heads, where there is another butter factory, and a factory for Hutton’s brand of pineapple hams. You may follow the Richmond River from Ballina up to Coraki, where there is another factory, and you will find the river boats plying across the stream, which is about half-a-mile wide, picking up cans of cream at various places to take up to the factory at Coraki, or down to the factory at Ballina. Further up the river there is another factory at Casino, and throughout the district the chance to which I refer is going on. Sugarcane is giving place to cows where lands are favorably situated, though the cane still holds its own in some cases on flats and along the banks of the Tweed River, on hill-sides that are so steep that when the cane is cut and tied in bundles it is given a kick, and rolls down to the water’s edge. The question at issue is one of bounties to a large number of industries specified in the schedule, for some of which there is no justification. What do we want of a bounty for condensed milk, when the industry is being carried on in Australia to-day, has been in existence for years, and without any bounty?
– There is an import duty on the article.
– But we are dealing with a proposal to give a bounty as well as the duty, although the industry is in a flourishing condition.
– We have no less than thirty-nine brands of Australian condensed milk on the market.
– So far as the proposed bounty for the fish industry is concerned, it seems rather deplorable, in view of the great wealth of the sea all along our coast, that it should be necessary to offer a considerable bounty for the curing of fish. I remember, at least twentyfive years ago, partaking of some tinned fish from Fremantle. I think it had the label of a Perth firm on it, and I know that it was uncommonly good fish. Although fish was being cured in the manner indicated all those years ago, from lack of enterprise or encouragement, I do not know which, Australia does not appear to have made much advance in the tinning of fish. The question arises in my mind whether the giving of a bounty will overcome a difficulty which, unfortunately, exists in relation to a great many colonial products, by insuring sufficient public encouragement to make the industry a success. It is possible that, under the bounty system, some of these articles might be turned out a little more cheaply than at present, and that might lead to their being regarded with more favour by the public.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
– I recognise that I should be wanting in decorum if I occupied much time in opposing a measure that so many honorable senators have evinced a tendency to support. I could scarcely resume my seat, however, without a word of complaint that this important Bill, and others of even greater importance, should be submitted to us at a time when it is practically impossible for us to bestow upon them that consideration which we ought, as a deliberative assembly, to devote to them. A few months ago the Senate had to adjourn for three weeks, because we had no work to do. In that respect it was held up to public derision as a useless Chamber, but in the last hours of the Parliament it is asked to deal with the measure now before us, and many others, with an urgency for which there can be no excuse. It is not within the range of constitutional rule that any Chamber should be asked to legislate without opportunities for at least reasonable deliberation. I am not suggesting that opportunity should be offered for lengthy speeches, but I have learned since we adjourned for dinner that it is considered that an honorable senator is obstructing business when he makes a twenty minutes’ speech on a measure by which it is proposed to allocate hundreds of thousands of pounds of the people’s money in bringing into existence little undertakings that may succeed in winning the bounties offered, but may not be sufficiently successful to maintain a career of usefulness.
– Every one of our industries’ has been assisted .to obtain vigour.
– I take quite the contrary view.
– Even sheep-breeding has been so assisted.
– It is hardly necessary to reply to these valuable additions to the debate, .made by way of interjection by an honorable senator who immediately leaves the Chamber. Not one of the nourishing industries of Australia todayhas been coddled by a bounty, although in some instances they may have had the advantage of protective duties. I will admit that the sugar industry, for instance, has enjoyed such an advantage - if it be an advantage - as flows from the imposition of a Customs duty. I venture to say, however, that the Customs duties that have existed, or the. bounties that may have been paid in some of the States, have not contributed materially to the advancement of the butter industry, which is one of the 6,ear industries of Australia, prospective of much further extension, and must be for man>- years one of the most successful of which Australia can boast. The dairying industry, unlike a successf ul mining operation, settles a vast number of people on the soil, and provides a living, not for individuals, but for entire families. The households to be found in districts in. which the butter industry flourishes represent an aspect of family life to which the mining industry, with the exception, perhaps, of coal mining, is a stranger. The gold-miner, and the searcher after, metals generally, does not have the same opportunities for -the happy settlement of his family on the soil in the vicinity of his labours that are afforded ‘to those engaged in the agricultural, and particularly in the dairying industry.
– The metallic miner never settles on the soil ; he is always prospecting and preparing the way for other people to settle.
– That is so; but my honorable friend bv his interjection only indorses the proposition I have already submitted.
– Only emphasizes the honorable senator’s mistake. .
– I made no mistake. If the honorable senator thinks I committed one, I cannot help it. I cannot supply him with that keen sense of apprehension that I desire him to possess. The agricultural, dairying, and fruitgrowing industries afford better opportunities for the permanent settlement of the people on the soil than does gold or silver mining. In the case of agricultural, dairying, or orchard industries, the more the soil is cultivated - provided the work is carried out upon scientific lines - the more profitable the land becomes. The opposite is the case in relation to the mining industry. I do not wish to decry that industry, but I would point out that in the one case a man is improving the land all the time, whilst in the other he is reducing its value. The more one takes from a mine, the less valuable it is.
– May I ask what item the honorable senator is discussing?
– I am seeking to point out that the great dairying industry of Australia exists to-day without the adventitious advantage of bounties.
– That is certainly not correct so far as the industry in Victoria is concerned.
– I can carry on a conversation with one honorable senator, but not with three or four. A large sum is set down for the curing of fish, but that industry has been established in Western Australia for many years, and in New South Wales, too, many tons of fish have been successfully cured without even the encouragementas the ugly clap-trap phrase goes - of Customs duties. Now that we have a fairly stiff series of protective duties, it is proposed to give bounties, in addition, to induce persons to embark in various industries. The Bill, I understand, is to be altered materially by the substitution of a new schedule for that now contained in it, and pea-nuts is to be an important item in it. Then £14,000 is to be set aside for the encouragement of “ miscellaneous “ industries. That will afford excuse for expenditure in respect to any industry, no matter how unsuitable or paltry - even the breeding of polar bears or the propagating of tomatoes. It is playing with Parliament to put such a proposition before us. The Ministry should specify the productions for the encouragement of which they desire to grant bounties; but the largest item in the annual vote of £75,600 is £14,000 for miscellaneous industries.
– Including rubber and kapok.
– No sum is set down for the encouragement of rubber and kapok. The amount is to be prescribed by regulation.
– Parliament can refuse to sanction the regulations.
– It would be a simpler plan to leave out the item. Kapok is the product of a particular part of the world and nowhere else, and it is silly to think- that we can successfully transfer the kapok industry from the Malay Archipelago to Australia. Rubber, too, is practically a natural product in New Guinea, a territory which is connected with the Commonwealth in some form, though, seeing that the officials there, whose salaries we vote, have been held not to be responsible to this Government in regard to certain recent occurrences, it is difficult to say what the nature of the connexion is. If £10,000 will be. sufficient to encourage the production of cotton and coffee, £14,000 cannot be required for the production of rubber and kapok. What little game is it proposed to carry on without the knowledge of Parliament in respect to this item? Clearly there is something more in it than meets the eye, unless a lump sum has been put down merely to make up the £75,000 a year. Is it not paltering with Parliament, and with the decorum which should attach to legislative proceedings, to ask a miserable £3,000 for a bounty for the encouragement of a great industry like rice growing, and to demand £14,000 to enable cheap bedding to be made here? The Minister of Defence can defend many things, but I do not think he can defend this proposal. Probably he will tell us, as he .told us the other day in regard to another matter, “ I am Mowed if I know what it means.” There is something to be said for the proposal to encourage coffee growing, though there is already a very successful plantation at Kuranda, in Queensland, about which, no doubt, Senator Givens could give us a good deal of information. I very much question the wisdom of the proposed bounty for cotton, however, because we have excluded all coloured labour from our shores, and I do not think that, in the parts of the country where cotton can be successfully cultivated there is a sufficiency of child labour - that is what it really means - to make the enterprise a success. Take the next item of fibres. It is a perfect farce to talk about giving a bounty upon the production of New Zealand flax. It grows in every Chinaman’s garden. It will grow like a weed if it is given a chance. Therefore, it is not necessary to offer a bounty to encourage its production. What powdered milk exactly consists of I do not know.
– It might become a splendid industry.
– That is all right. I am not acquainted with the article. It is difficult enough to find decent milk in a liquid state, let alone powdered. I do not think that there is any justification for offering so large a sum as is proposed to encourage the production of oils. It seems to me that, when we will not allow cotton seed to come in without paying a duty, the Bill represents very largely an attempt to grease the fatted “sow, because not only has it been the will of Parliament to offer heavy protective duties, but now that those duties have notoriously failed to produce the promised effects, we are asked to find some other weight for the consumer’s back in the form of bounties. If the imposition of the duties had succeeded in creating profitable industries, as we were promised it would do, we should not have been asked, to pass this Bill. It is a proof of the failure of the attempt of a few years ago to bring industries into existence by financial coddling. As the coddling has failed in one instance, it is to be duplicated in order that industries which cannot be established under heavy protective duties may also be fostered by means of bounties. Under the circumstance, as I understand, that there is a majority in favour of the second reading of the Bill, I shall say no more.
– I intend to call for a division on my amendment.
– I shall vote for the amendment, not because I am not willing to give any reasonable support to an industry which it is thought can be established, but because I take exception to the singling out of certain industries for special coddling,, after it has been shown that they cannot” be brought into existence under the adventitious aid of heavy Customs duties. If ever there was a Bill brought into a Parliament that proved the absolute failure of Customs duties to induce enterprise it is this Bill.
– I am very glad that Senator Neild can “ lav the flattering unction to his soul “ that he told us when the Tariff Bill was under consideration that all the coddling we might give, and all the protectee duties we might impose would do no good in the way of assisting our industries, and so on.
– I did not say anything of the kind.
– I shall not pursue that subject, but come to two points on which i think it is only right that I should say a few words. Senators Dobson, Pearce, Smith, and others have all complained that we are putting what they call the cart before the horse, that before bringing in a Bill to grant bounties upon the production of certain articles, we ought to have established a Department of Agriculture. Let me trace the history of that proposal. When Mr. McLean, the late Minister of Trade and Customs, attended the Premiers’ Conference at Hobart, he made a most interesting speech, in which he asked whether the States would support the creation of an Agricultural Bureau by the Commonwealth,. Waxing eloquent on the subject, he pointed out how much more advantageous it would be to have a central Agricultural Bureau, similar to that in the United States of America, than to have a number of agricultural colleges scattered throughout the States. If my memory does not play me falsely, every Premier who spoke deprecated the suggestion. The States Premiers asked, “ Why should the Commonwealth establish a Department of Agriculture, with agricultural colleges, collect information on agriculture, and issue bulletins explaining how to grow particular products, and so on, when we already have such institutions in operation, and are prepared to do all that is necessary in the matter? “ The result of their protest was that the late Ministry dropped the idea, and the present Ministry have followed their example. If there is one honorable senator who is always telling, the Commonwealth Government to take the advice of the States, and go to them for information, it is Senator Dobson. He is constantly alluding to the necessity of our consulting the States. In his amendment, he proposes that further proceedings on the Bill be postponed -
Until Ministers have consulted the Government of each State, and ascertained if they will administer the Bill if it becomes law, and lend the aid of their experts to carry out its objects
In this matter, we have consulted the States, and they have all said, “ No, do not establish a Department of Agriculture.”
– The Government have not consulted the States about this Bill.
– We have consulted the States quite enough. If the honorable senator imagines tor a moment that we could have a .Department of Agriculture and agricultural colleges without incurring a very large expense, he is greatly mistaken. That very large outlay, 1 believe, can be saved. I agree with the States Premiers that, at present, there is no necessity to establish such a Department, because the States are maintaining agricultural colleges, to which, experts are attached. I believe that Queensland has done more in that respect than has any other State. When I was there not long ago, I had a conversation with some of their experts, whom I found to be most highly -intellectual and cultured men. Victoria maintains agricultural colleges, New South Wales issues a monthly journal, which gives an account of the doings at its various agricultural colleges, and contains the most interesting papers I have had the pleasure of reading. In South Australia, we have agricultural colleges. What they do in Western Australia, I do not know. What they do in Tasmania, I cannot say ; I suppose they have made no provision at all.
– We have a Council of Agriculture, with experts attached to it.
– It is said that a Department of Agriculture is needed for the purpose of- administering the measure. I contend that it is not wanted, and that, if established, it would be highly expensive. I contend that the object of the Bill can be carried out at very small Cost Honorable senators are curious as to who will administer the measure - whether it is to be the Minister of Trade and Customs, the Minister of Home Affairs, the Minister of External Affairs, or the Minister of Defence. If the task fell to me, I should appoint a highly-intellectual expert - the best I could get - place under him a clerk, and give the whole management into his hands.
– The Minister was praising the States experts, but he is now proposing to pass them over.
– Not at all. I should take advantage of any information or assistance they could give. No doubt both would be readily forthcoming, because the States Governments would be only too pleased to avoid the necessity of establishing a new Department, which would cost thousands of pounds, and would have to be maintained at their expense.
– Does the Minister think that one expert, with a clerk, would be able to manage the whole business ?
– Undoubtedly he would, with the assistance of the States, officers. Suppose that a man planted so many acres with coffee trees, and intimated that when they came into bearing he would make a claim for the bounty. Could we not enlist the assistance of some State officer on the spot who could report upon the plantation and indicate whether a bona fide effort was being made to establish the industry? Could he not report to us as to whether the land was properly cultivated or whether the trees were merely placed in holes here and there, whilst the soil between the holes was left undisturbed?. Now I propose to deal with the statement made by Senator Smith that we obtained no expert advice with regard to the industries which it is proposed to encourage. The honorable senator started with cocoa, and finished with kapok, and I shall do the same. He stated that cocoa could not possibly be grown in the Commonwealth - that the climate was not suited for it, and that it was utterly absurd to include it in the schedule.
– There are only a. few acres in the Commonwealth upon which it could be grown.
– We shall see. In the first place we did take expert advice, and the gentleman to whom we referred for information was Mr. Howard Newport, of
Cairns, an officer of -the Department of Agriculture, Queensland. He is well acquainted with the conditions under which tropical products “are cultivated, and knows thoroughly what he is talking about. What does he say ? He does not support the statment of the honorable senator, but gives testimony of an utterly different character. He points out that the cocoa tree requires a humid climate, a plentiful rainfall, and a rich alluvial soil. Its successful culture is therefore to some extent restricted, that is, as to climate and soil, but Mr. Newport says that in eminently suitable localities along the northern rivers of Queensland there is ample land to produce all the cocoa required in the Commonwealth. That statement at once disposes of the assertion that we have taken no expert advice, and also controverts Senator Smith’s statement that cocoa cannot be grown in the Commonwealth.
– The Minister should cable to Mr. , Cadbury, ‘ and ask him if he would buy such cocoa as the ‘Commonwealth could produce.
– I am not going to cable to Mr. Cadbury, on any one else. Now I will pass on to kapok. I could controvert the statements that have been made with regard to the intermediate items, but I think that sufficient time has already been occupied by this discussion. Senator Neild had a good deal to say about kapok - that it was absurd to grow this product which was used for making bedding. Senator Smith stated that kapok was produced in various parts of the Malay Archipelago, that the tree yielding it was a considerable size, and was used for posts for carrying, and that it was not worth our while to consider the question of encouraging its cultivation in the Commonwealth. We import kapok to the value of £20,000 annually, and I think that we might as well grow sufficient to meet our own requirements on the spot. Mr. Newport says -
Kapok, or silk cotton, obtained from the pods of the perennial tree Bombax pentandra. The trees grow quickly, and require no attention once established. It takes two to three yeaTS to come into bearing, but the harvesting of the crop is simple and suited to white labour. The cleaning or preparation of the kapok requires some machinery, which, however, is not intricate or expensive. The returns average about 50 lbs. of cotton per tree, worth, uncleaned, from ijd. to 3d. per lb., and cleaned, from y. to iod. per lb., according to the degree of cleanliness. None is produced in the country at present, and the imports are considerable. The culture is much easier than that of cotton, and has the advantage of being easier of harvesting unci preparation, and in being a permanent crop.
Why should we not spend a few pounds in encouraging the cultivation of this very desirable tree, and retain among ourselves the thousands of pounds which we now send out of the country?
Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out - put. The Senate divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Question - That the Bill be now read a second time - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause2 (Appropriation for payment of bounties).
.- Notwithstanding the very breezy and optimistic speech of the Minister of Defence, he has not attempted to answer most of the arguments which have been urged against the measure. The Bill stands charged with almost the whole of the criticisms made upon it, to which my honorable friend seems to have listened in vain. I should have thought that after the interesting debate, in which Senator Smith and others showed a great deal of knowledge relating to the items in the schedule, the Minister would have seen his way to reduce the amount asked for. I consider that the clause under consideration ought to be postponed, and if Senator Playford will not agree to that course, I shall have to move that the amount of £500,000 be reduced by one-half. Until the schedule has been discussed I think that we ought to postpone the consideration of the clause.
Motion (by Senator Playford) agreed to-
That clauses 2 to 7 inclusive be postponed until after the consideration of the schedule.
Cocoa (period during which bounty may be paid), nine years; (rate of bounty)1d. per lb. on dried beans; (maximum amount which may be paid in any one year),£1,000.
– I move -
That the words “ Cocoa, nine years,1d. per lb. on dried beans,” be left out.
All the information which was given to honorable senators this afternoon tends to prove that no bounty should be granted upon the production of cocoa.
– Did the honorable senator hear my reply?
– Yes. Nothing in the Minister’s reply constituted an answer to the case which has been made out for the omission of this item.
– I hope that the Government will resist the amendment. It is such articles as cocoa the production of which we ought to encourage most. The cacao tree merely needs to be planted and nature will do the rest. It produces a most valuable commodity, and its cultivation involves the very minimum of labour.
– No stronger reason could be advanced for the omission of this item than that which has been urged by Senator Drake, who contends that the production of cocoa necessitates the employment of only the minimum of labour. If his statement be correct, why should we grant a bounty for this commodity at all? I take it that we offer bounties ‘111 a view to increasing the employment of labour throughout the Commonwealth.
– With a view to increasing the wealth of the country.
– Surely it is desirable to afford employment to labour. Into whose hands will this bonus play? Senator Drake has said that the cultivation of the cacao tree necessitates the employment of very little labour - that after the trees have been planted, the grower has merely to wait for his crop. Consequently the bounty will fmd its way into the hands of capitalists.
– No, but into the hands of small settlers.
– How can a small settler afford to wait for six years for a crop ?
– He would not depend on cocca alone.
– I do not know where in Australia a small settler can be found who is prepared to embark upon an industry in which he will have to wait six years before he can reap his crop. Senator Drake stated that the cultivation of the cacao tree will employ very little labour.
– That is where the small settler comes in ; he can plant the trees himself.
– If that be so, he does not require a bounty. I cannot conceive of any item which ought to be rejected more readily than ought this one. Concerning the possibility of successfully producing cocoa, Senator Smith, who knows a great deal about this matter-
– What does he know?
– At any rate, he has given us a great deal more information in respect of this Bill than have the representatives of the Government. He has stated that there is no place in the world which is not within from 12 to 15 degrees of the Equator, and which does not attain, an altitude of from 1,500 to 2,000 feet above sea level where cocoa can be successfully grown. There may be such a place at the northern extremity of Cape York-
– What about Cairns?
– I do not think that the neighbourhood of Cairns is a very mountainous one. I do not think there is any mountainous land near Cairns suitable for this industry; and I hope the Committee will reject the item, because, in my opinion, it represents an absolute waste of money.
.- The Minister cannot expect us to pass this Bill without discussion, and I must saythat I regard this item as a mere throwing away of money. I do not think that the Minister is doing it intentionally, but he is, in my opinion, making an absolutely wrong use of the statement of the expert, Mr. Newport. I do not believe that the evidence of that gentleman was ever given with any regard whatever to a bounty on cocoa. His evidence is simply that of an expert in Queensland, and I presume it has been taken from the Agricultural Gazette, or some similar publication. The Minister will not, I think, assert that the statements of Mr. Newport are in any way an expression of opinion on the question whether a bounty should be granted on the production of cocoa. In one part of his statement, Mr. Newport says that along the rivers in Queensland there is suitable land for growing cocoa, but in another part he says that cocoa requires to be grown at an altitude of 2,000 feet. Now, there are no rivers in Queensland at an altitude of 2,000 feet.
– Oh, yes.
– It seems to me that there is a contradiction in Mr. Newport’s statement. I do not believe that that gentleman has ever been asked, or has ever considered, whether it would be wise for the Commonwealth to grant a bonus on the production of cocoa. If Mr. Newport had been asked the question, does the Minister think that he would agree that the paltry bounty of £1,000, now proposed to be increased to £2,000, would be sufficient, especially when it is considered that the cacao tree does not bear until the ninth year ?
– The bounty, as it stands in the Bill, is £1,000 per annum, or £9,000 altogether.
– The Minister appears to me to have utterly shirked the question of quality, which I take to be everything where cocoa is concerned. I was quite in earnest when I suggested that the Government ought to cable to Mr. Cadbury, or some other of the British manufacturers, because I think they would scorn the idea of buying a ton of Queensland cocoa. Experts would tell us that, for some reason which I do not know, Queensland is not a suitable place for its cultivation; and I do not believe that those who would obtain the bounty would be able to sell their cocoa. At any rate, the Commonwealth cannot afford to pay away £500,000 in this way ; and, of all the items, this is the one which can be omitted with most advantage. The Minister may try to “bullock” this Bill through, but all I can say is that we cannot afford the expenditure. I should be perfectly willing to grant a bounty for one good tropical industry in Queensland, but I hardly think it is fair or right that four tropical industries should all be assisted in the same State. I do not desire any bonus for Tasmania, nor do I desire to speak in any parochial spirit. But I do not think that four items should be passed all for one State, when none of the other States will have a chance of competing, and when, in any case, we cannot afford the money.
– The Senate, having agreed “to the second reading, I wish that now we could decide on some basis on which to work. A good many honorable senators believe in the principle of bounties, but, for several reasons, cannot support every item presented. I think the Government might consent to come to some compromise, and retain within the Bill only bounties to such industries as are of sufficient importance to justify this kind of assistance. ‘We have good reason to believe that the cultivation of cocoa and coffee could not be developed into important industries; and I think we might agree to strike out all items but those of cotton, gutta percha, and flax, the cultivation and production of which would employ a large number of people, and would be worthy of the name of “ industry “ in a national sense. I shall feel constrained to vote against anumber of the items for the reason that I think that we ought not, at the end of the session, and without proper consideration, to commit ourselves to an expenditure of £500,000. There is no doubt that we shall be under the obligation to find the money later, or be guilty of an act amounting to repudiation. I suggest that the Government should withdraw some of the minor items, and simply seek to have bounties granted in the case of the more important items I have indicated.
– The cultivation of cocoa is eminently worthy of assistance.
– The consumption of cocoa is not sufficient to warrant the expenditure, especially in view of the statement of the Minister that its cultivation does not employ a large amount of labour. The idea of those who vote for bounties is that they will provide labour within the Commonwealth.
– The value of our imports of cocoa is about £200,000.
– That is for the whole Commonwealth. I think the Government ought to show a greater readiness to compromise than they have shown in the past, because their endeavours to get Bills through by brute force very frequently defeat their own ends.
. -I hope honorable senators will consider what they are doing when they vote on this question. The object of every good Australian should be to produce within our own territory as many of the necessaries of life as we possibly can. We know perfectly well that cocoa can be grown in the northern parts of Queensland, and in the north-western parts of Western Australia.
– What proof is there of that?
– We know that cocoa can be there grown, though it has not been produced in very great quantity. I think that this bounty” would just give the industry that assistance which is necessary to send it along successfully. We ought to set out with the idea that everything we require, which can be produced in Australia, ought to be produced here. New countries have not been able to build up industries except in some such way as that now proposed. If I cared to go into the question of the creation of industries in Australia, I think I could prove that even those industries which glory in the name of “ primary,” as, for instance, the squatting, mining, and agricultural industries, have all had to be built up with the assistance of the community as a whole.
– I think these remarks would be more appropriate on a second reading.
– We are now being asked to extend that principle to smaller industries, which, in themselves, may be as necessary and desirable in the interests of the Commonwealth, as are the large industries I have mentioned. I ask honorable senators to take an Australian view of the Constitution if they can.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Senator Playford) agreed to -
That the figures “ £1,000 “ be left out.
Amendment (by Senator Playford) proposed -
That the figures “£2,000” be inserted.
Question put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Item, as amended, negatived.
Coffee (period ‘during which bounty may be paid), nine years; (rate of bounty)1d. per lb.; (amount which may be paid in any one year) £1,500.
Amendment (by Senator Playford) proposed -
That the figures “£1,500” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the figures ”’ £4,000.”
– This is one of the items to which 1 directed attention on the second reading, of the Bill. 1 pointed out that at the present time there is very liberal protection given for the production of coffee, and to add a bounty to that protection would, in my opinion, be perfectly useless. We have now a protective duty on coffee of 3d. per lb., which is equal to 33 per cent, ad valorem; and there has practically been no advance in the production of the article in Australia. So far no reasons have been advanced for the inclusion of this item in the schedule. Having received no information from the Minister, I naturally turned to the evidence given before the Tariff Commission. I found that only two witnesses were examined on the item of coffee, and that one of them, Mr. Scrivener, the UnderSecretary for Agriculture in Queensland, was opposed to the granting of a bounty. The only other witness was not examined on the question of the granting of a bounty for the production of coffee in Australia., but since he objected to the present protective duty, I take it that he would be opposed to such a system. Unless I am satisfied that the production of coffee in Australia can be stimulated by means of a bounty, I shall feel constrained to vote against the item.
Debate resumed from 28th September (vide page 5677), on motion by Senator Keating -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– I do not feel competent to deal at such short notice with the motion for the second reading of this Bill.
– It is only a machinery Bill.
– Still it is of very considerable importance. It comprises 33 clauses and a long schedule, and is to be brought into operation on the first occasion that the Commonwealth seeks to secure an amendment of the Constitution. A few days ago I managed to find time during the hurried rush of parliamentary business to examine the Bill, and came to the conclusion that it would be desirable to amend it in more than one respect. If Senator Playford insists upon the second reading being proceeded with now, he cannot expect the Bill to be rushed through Committee. It is not reasonable to expect it to be hurried through Committee unless we have had an opportunity to closely scrutinize it on the motion for the second reading.
– If the honorable and learned senator can advance sound reasons why we ought not now to go on with this Bill, well and good.
– I should have liked an opportunity to discuss the Bill on the motion for the second reading, and to point out certain amendments that I think are necessary.
– It has been on the business-paper for some time.
– Like some others, it has been too long on the business-paper, and so far as I am concerned, there are one or two that will remain there for only a short time.
– The second reading has already been adjourned once. How many adjournments does the honorable and learned senator desire?
– It is more or less indecent that we should be suddenly taken out of Committee and asked to proceed with the second reading of this Bill. Senator Playford himself stated earlier in the day that we were to conclude the consideration of the Bounties Bill this evening. Because we permitted him to report progress without calling for a division on the motion he now threatens to rush this Bill through without any debate on the motion for the second reading. This attempt on the part of the Government does not add much credit - and they need a lot of credit - to their general conduct of business during the last two or three weeks. If I am to be prevented from dealing with this Bill as I think it ought to be dealt with on the motion for the second reading, I shall have to take other steps in Committee. If the Minister refuses an application which can be legitimately made, for an adjournment of the debate, he cannot anticipate that the Bill will be allowed to go through Committee without a much closer scrutiny than it would have received had the motion for the second reading been properly debate’s.
– It is true that this, Bill is only a machinery Bill, but it is nevertheless important. It applies only to referenda relating to proposed amendments of the Constitution, but I should like to extend its application to referenda taken for other purposes. I appeal for guidance to you, Mr. President, as the interpreter of the Standing Orders. How can I achieve my object? Will it be possible for me, before resuming my seat, to move a motion containing an instruction to the Committee?
– No. A motion instructing the Committee cannot be moved except on notice.
– Would it be in order to move an amendment in Committee ?
– That would be for the Chairman of Committees to decide.
– If I allow the present opportunity to pass, and in Committee my amendment is ruled out of order, I shall be unable to do anything in the matter.
– The honorable senator must give notice ofhis intention to move a motion of instruction to the Committee.
– Clause 3 defines “Referendum “ to mean-
The submission to the electors of a proposed law for the alteration of the Constitution.
I wish to add the words “ or other purposes.”
– I cannot decide hypothetical points of order. It is the duty of the Chairman of Committees to rule in regard to amendments in Committee.
– I recognise that. The point may be taken that the amendment is not within the scope of the Bill, and, therefore, I wish to move an instruction to the Committee.
– Could not the honorable senator move an amendment of the title?
– That would not help him.
– If the second reading debate were adjourned until to-morrow, I could give notice of a motion instructing the Committee. I had intended to do so, but I did not think that the Bill would come on to-night.
– It would be useless to give notice to-morrow if the Bill came on then. Perhaps the honorable senator could obtain leave to .give notice to-night for to-morrow.
– I shall probably try to do so. It seems to me that in providing for a referendum we should allow other subjects besides proposed alterations of the Constitution to be submitted to the people.
– What other subjects.
– The Tariff, perhaps, and a thousand and one other questions, in regard to which it might be convenient to ascertain the popular will. As this is a machinery Bill, attention is naturally directed to its working clauses. I find that the Governors of the States are recognised, but that very little authority is given to them. Under clause 7 a copy of the writ, and of the proposed law, and of any statement attached to the writ, must be forwarded to the- Governors of the several States. But if that provision is to be of any use, the time within which these documents shall be forwarded must be specified.
– I thought of moving an amendment to the effect that it must be done immediately after the issue of the writ, or contemporaneously with the for- « warding of the writ to the Chief Electoral Officer.
– Then, under clause 16, the Governor of a State, or any person thereto authorized by him, may appoint a scrutineer at each polling place in the State. Apparently the Commonwealth electoral officers controlling the election will not have that power unless authorized thereto by the Governor. Now, while it is perfectly right that the Governors of the
States should have power to appoint scrutineers, seeing that the interestsof a State may be threatened bv a. proposed alteration of the Constitution, the Commonwealth, representing all the States, should also have the power. Under paragraph b of clause 18 any person authorized by the returning officer or assistant returning officer may be present at a scrutiny.. Why, then should not a returning officer or assistant returning officer be empowered to appoint a scrutineer? Asmatters forming the subject of a referendum would always excite a certain amount of party and public interest, I think that any section of the public should have the right which a candidate now possesses to appoint a scrutineer to watch its interests. I trust that the Government will amend clause i6r or allow it to be amended, so that a returning officer or assistant returning officer shallbe empowered to appoint scrutineers. It seems to me that the provisions of Part VI., which relate to disputed returns, create a somewhat singular position. Clause 27 provides that a petition disputing a referendum, return, or statement must be signed by the Attorney-General of the Commonwealth for and on behalf of the Cornwealth, and by the Attorney-General of the State for and on behalf of the State. That seems to me to be a strange provision. Apparently, in all cases, the State AttorneyGeneral, is to be in the position of a defendant. The Commonwealth will be responsible for the taking of the referendum,.’ and any person who challenges the proceedings must challenge its administration.. Surely then the Federal Attorney-General should not be made a party to a petitionto upset a referendum, but should be in the position of a defendant. I cannot see the: reason for paragraph c , which says that the petition must be signed by him. I can. quite understand that a State might ask for a referendum to be set aside, and in such, a case it would be quite proper that it should be represented by its own AttorneyGeneral, because no other person could beso well fitted to appear on its behalf. Inall cases I think !the Attorney-General of the Commonwealth ought to be in the positionof defending the taking of the referendum. These, of course,, are all points for consideration in Committee, and I have only’ mentioned them at this stage in order that honorable senators may have an opportunity to consider them, and see whether an amendment is not necessary in order to> make the Bill not only workable, but such an one as will not call for amendment after the general elections have been held.
.- The more I consider the proceedings that will take place at a referendum the more I am impressed with the apprehension that there will be a tremendous amount of confusion at the next general elections, and, from that point of view, the Bill is, I think, a very important one. Provision is being made for taking a referendum on a proposed alteration of the Constitution, which is spoken of as <:a proposed law,” and there seems to be reason to fear that there will be considerable difficulty in taking a referendum with regard to one alteration. If there are three or four proposed laws on which the electors have to vote, in addition to voting for representatives in the House of Representatives as well as the Senate, what is likely to be the position? It happened that in New South Wales advantage was taken of the last general elections to submit to the electors a State issue, and that was, whether the Legislative Assembly should be reduced in >number, and, if so, whether it should be fixed at 90, or say, 100. I have never heard that the proceeding has been reprehended, and therefore I presume that if at any time a State desired to take a referendum of that character, the Federal authorities would offer no objection. But certainly the practice would be attended with a great deal of inconvenience, and that is mot a causeless fear, because I know that within the last few weeks it was proposed in one Slate that a ‘State referendum should be taken at the Federal elections, although I believe that the idea has been abandoned since. At the time of the last general elections, I went to a. number of places in New South Wales. I was invited sometimes to go to a place to address a meeting on our Federal policy, and on meeting the committee I found that another gentleman was going to speak from the same platform. He was to take half-an-hour either before or after I spoke. Sometimes the choice was left to myself. A meeting might have assembled, presumably, in the first place, to hear about Federal politics, and a gentleman would rise and start to give reasons why the Legislative Assembly of the State should be reduced in number, and to state his views of what it should be. Very likely at the next town I visited I might find myself on a platfrom with a gentleman who represented the opposite party. I ask honorable senators to consider the frightful state of confusion that will be caused if we have election meetings going on all over the country, arid the electors addressed on proposed amendments of the. Constitution, as well as all the questions connected with the return of representatives to the House of Representatives and the Senate. We can all imagine what will be the condition of mind of an elector when he is told that he will have to vote on four or five different political issues. We have all been through the mill at times, and we know the difficulties which arise at an ordinary State election, and the number of electors who do not understand exactly how to deal with their ballot-papers. We may multiply that number by a dozen to represent the difficulties which will confront the electors at one of these fearfully mixed elections. I turn to clause 6 of the Bill which regulates the proceedings to take place in connexion with a proposed alteration of the Constitution. A writ is to be issued to the returning officer, and, with it the text of the proposed law, and also the text of all the sections of the Constitution which are affected thereby. I presume that the statement will have to show exactly how much of those passages from the Constitution is affected bv the proposed law, So with- regard to any proposed alteration we shall have probably a statement which will represent a sheet of printing. Take, for instance, the Constitution Alteration (Senate Elections) Bill, which has been passed. Is it to be expected that, from any statement of that nature which may be prepared, an ordinary elector will be able to understand what he has to vote on?
– The great bulk of them will not understand.
– Exactly. I do not notice that it is provided in the Bill, but I suppose that as this statement is to be made to the returning officer, he, in his turn, is expected to make its meaning clear to the electors. How is that to be made? Is it to be printed on placards and stuck up on the polling booths so that the electors may gather therefrom what is the official view of the meaning of the proposed alteration? If four or five proposed alterations of the Constitution be referred to the people, we can imagine how the walls of the polling booths will be placarded with these statements. They will drive the electors mad.
– A great many will not bother about them.
– The trouble is that a great number will not bother about the statements, but will say, “ We will not have anything to do with this business.” That will throw the determination of the question into the hands of a very few persons.
– There will be the same few ?
– No. Suppose that there is an organized body which desires that the proposed law shall be agreed to. They can pass round the message, “You will be given ballot-papers relating to amendments of the Constitution. Vote yes ‘ in each case.”
– They must get a majority of the people.
– It is only a majority of the electors voting which has to be obtained, and that, I take it, means a majority of the electors voting at the referendum, and not at the elections of representatives and senators. So, whilst the vast majority of the electors might be absolutely staggered and dazed by the description of the proposed law, a very small minority voting together, either in the affirmative or the negative, might secure an amendment of the Constitution. Surely this is too serious a matter to be dealt with in the manner proposed.
– Would the honorable senator have a separate referendum taken ?
– Rather than that the Constitution should be altered in the manner proposed, it would be better to have a separate referendum. It appears that the proposed amendments of the Constitution are being proposed merely because a general election is about to be held. It is easy for the Government, when they are pressed by clamorous supporters, to propose an amendment of the Constitution. It is difficult to foresee the lengths to which we may be carried in this direction if amendments of the Constitution are to be proposed in response to the demands of every small section. I. trust that when we reach the Committee stage, we shall exercise extreme care in dealing with the provisions of the Bill which relate to the description of the proposed law, and the methods that are to be adopted to convey to the electors the exact effect of the votes they are being asked to give.
– As I stated in my, opening speech, this is wholly a machinery measure. It provides, not only for the method to be adopted in connexion with the forthcoming referenda, but for that which is to be followed in regard to any referenda which may be held hereafter.
– The Minister is dealing only with referenda for the alteration of the Constitution.
– Just so. Senator Pearce pointed out that it might be necessary to take a referendum with regard to some other matter. Section 128 of the Constitution deals directly with references to the people of proposed alterations of the provisions of the Constitution, and the Bill is intended to provide machinery for submitting questionsof that character. It would, however, be quite possible to precede a referendum upon any other subject by passing legislation embodying the machinery provided for in this measure as it stood on the statute-book, or with such modifications as might be necessary to meet the circumstances. It might be possible to deal generally with referenda other than those relating to alterations of the Constitution by passing a Bill embodying the principles of this measure, or some of them, with certain modifications. I see no objection to amending clause 7 so as to provide for immediately despatching a copy of the writ to the Governors of the States. Similar remarks would apply to Senator Pearce’s criticism with regard to the absence of any provision empowering the Electoral Officer of the Commonwealth to appoint scrutineers. There may be some reason with which I am not familiar for not having made such provision, but, so far as I am personally concerned, I do not see why the Chief Electoral Officer, or the assistant electoral officers, should not exercise power similar to that reposed in the Governors of the States in regard to the appointment of scrutineers.
– The power to appoint scrutineers is vested in the States authorities merely to afford them protection.
– There may be some objection of which I am not aware, or it may be superfluous to make the provision suggested by Senator Pearce. So far as Senator Pearce’ s criticism of clause 27 is concerned, I would point out that the Commonwealth will not always necessarily be the defendant in the case of a dispute. Clause 26 provides that the validity of any referendum, or of any return or statement showing the vote, may be disputed by the Commonwealth, or by any State. The Commonwealth may consider that some irregularity has occurred, and that the true verdict of the people has not been returned, and they may regard it as necessary that the referendum should be inquired into, and its validity or regularity determined by a judicial tribunal. In such a case the Commonwealth would be the appellant,and a petition would have to be lodged and signed by the AttorneyGeneral, as the law officer representing the appellant. The criticism offered by Senator Drake would, perhaps, be more properly applicable to the policy of holding referenda relating to the alteration of the Constitution at the time of a general election. This is purely a machinery measure, whereas the honorable senator discussed a. question of policy. He suggested that the electors might be confused if two or three proposed alterations of the Constitution were submitted to them at the same time, and he has related his experience of the time of the last general elections in connexion with a matter submitted by administrative act to the electors of New South Wales. That cannot properly apply as criticism to this measure. It refers to policy as to when, and under what circumstances, to take the voice of the people upon a proposed alteration of the Constitution. That is the subject to which I submit the honorable senator’s criticism of this Bill would be more properly applicable. I am not quite certain, but, if my memory serves me rightly, in the Dominion of Canada quite a number of elections are generally held on January 1st - sometimes legislative elections, sometimes municipal elections, and elections for other public bodies ; and I believe that of late years, the electors have also been consulted with regard to certain definite proposals, as, for example, the granting of what are called franchises by municipalities to private bodies. I think I have seen in the Canadian papers results of such elections. So far as I know, that method has not been found inconvenient. The contrary, indeed, has, I should think, been the Canadian experience. . The
Australian elector, as one who is called upon to take his part in the Government of this country, is in no way intellectually inferior to his Canadian cousin.
– Does the honorable senator say that the Canadian system in that respect has been a success ?
SenatorKEATING.- I think lithas been, and it is for that reason that in Canada the elector is called upon to carry out different electoral duties on one day. We also hope to find that method convenient when we are consulting such a large body as the aggregate Australian elector, and are submitting at one and the same time various subjects for his decision. An elector may not be very much interested in the personnel of the particular candidates for whom he has an opportunity to vote. He may, however, be very much interested in an’ important proposal to amend the Constitution, and he will go to the poll to vote in respect of that. While there, he may choose also to exercise his franchise regarding the return of senators or a representative for the division in which he lives. On the other hand, he may not be very much interested in a proposed alteration of the Constitution, but may be interested in the personnel of the candidates offering themselves for election. He will go to the poll to vote for one of them, and beingthere he may also discharge “the other duty. From what I have seen of the Australian elector, I think he will take every opportunity to equip himself properly to discharge honestly and faithfully the duties devolving upon him. When the Constitution was being submitted to the people of the different States, they had, of course information furnished to them through the press, from the platform, and by means of discussions in various ways, for and against the acceptance of it. Later on, when certain alterations were made in the Constitution, some of which were purely textual amendments, while others were by way of addenda, the people were again appealed to. Copies of the Constitution containing the proposed alterations in different type - showing where words were proposed to be omitted or inserted - were circulated among the electors. I do not think that any honorable’ senator . who is familiar with that campaign will say that the people showed themselves incompetent to deal with what were undoubtedly complicated issues.
With these facts in our minds, and recognising that this Bill has no particular application to any special submission of a proposed alteration of the Constitution to the people, but is intended to be in the nature of permanent machinery for ascertaining the will of the people hereafter, on any such submission, I can safely claim that the Bill is not one that is calculated to bring out any strength of party feeling. On the contrary, it is one in respect of which we can all unite in endeavouring to perfect it, so that referenda of this character in future will be taken in such a way that we can be assured that, as far as it can be definitely and fairly ascertained, the will of the people will have effect.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clauses1 to 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 -
The provisions of Part X. (Voting by Post), Part XI. (the polling), and Part XV. (electoral offences) of the Commonwealth Electoral Acts 1902-1903 shall, so far as applicable, apply to the referendum as if it were an election of members of the House of Representatives, but subject to the modifications and provisions in this Act. (3.) In the application of Part X. of the said Acts-
– This is rather a complicated clause. It purports to apply the Commonwealth Electoral Act. I do not know why there is a limitation to the mode of election for the House of Representatives. I wish to inquire how that mode differs from that relating to elections for the Senate. We are told that the provisions of our Electoral Act shall apply “ to the referendum as if it were an election of members of the House of Representatives.” I wish to know why there is that limitation?
– There are in the Electoral. Act certain limitations in connexion with facilities for voting which relate to Senate elections, but do not apply to elections for the House of Representatives. Part X. of the Act deals with voting by post; and there are different provisions regarding the obtaining of postal voting certificates in connexion with the-. Senate than in connexion with the House of. Representatives. In any case, the provisions, so far as voting for the House of. Representatives is concerned, are equally liberal, if not more so, than are those in. respect of voting for the Senate. If I remember rightly, when we were discussing the Amending, Electoral Bill last session, Senator Pearce complained that, in connexion with the Senate elections, we were taking away the privilege of voting by. post. But in reality we were not doing so. I admit that it may be a little easier to obtain postal voters’ certificates in the case of elections for the House of Representatives than it is in the case of elections for the Senate. Part XI. of the Electoral Act relates to the polling arrangements in connexion with elections for both Houses of this Parliament, and, similarly, Part XV. relates to electoral offences.
– Then where is the difference?
– I admit that, in connexion with elections for the House of Representatives, greater facilities exist for obtaining absent voters’ certificates than exist in connexion with elections for the Senate
– In the short time that has been available to me, I have endeavoured to ascertain why the method followed in the case of elections for the House of Representatives has been adopted as a model in the taking of the proposed referendum. If we are going to adopt the provisions of our Electoral law in taking that referendum, the assumption is that we should adopt those which relate to the Senate elections, at which the whole of the electors of the States vote. Of course, it may be that there is nothing of importance involved.
– In voting at a Senate election, the elector can cast more than one vote. Provision is made for that in section 133 of the principal Act.
– Obviously, that section cannot apply to a referendum. Prima facie; however, we ought to adopt that method which is applicable to elections at which all the electors of the States vote.
.- To me, there seems to be a very clear reason why the method pursued in connexion with elections for the House of Representatives should be adopted in taking the proposed referendum. An election for the House of Representatives is entirely under Federal control. It is in the hands of this Parliament, and the writs are issued by the Governor-General, whereas elections for the Senate are, to a great extent, under the control of the States Parliaments. The latter may make laws in respect of them which the Federal Parliament may not make. For instance, the States Parliaments may fix the time for holding the elections. Further, the writs are issued by the Governors of the States. Of the two methods open to us, it seems to me we should adopt that which relates to elections which are purely Federal elections. The legislative provisions in respect of elections for the two Houses are almost similar, but, in case there should be any. difference, it is quite right that in taking a referendum we should adopt the method that is followed in connexion with elections forthe other Chamber.
– The State may modify our law in regard to a Senate election ?
– A State may legislate where we have not legislated. The Constitution makes the elections of senators to a very great extent a State matter, whereas the election of the House of Representatives is always a purely Federal matter. It is right that’ we should have regard to our laws for the elections for the House of Representatives when we are enacting analogous laws for the taking of a referendum. I should like the Minister to explain why the scrutineers are to be appointed by the Governors of the States. Why should the scrutineers not be appointed by the Governor-General?
– It is considered that in any proposed alteration of the Constitution the States haveaprimary interest analogous to the interest which candidates would have in an ordinary parliamentary election. Every alteration of the Constitution must in some way or other impinge on the Constitutions of the States. The States Governors, are, therefore, to receive copies of the writs, and are to appoint the scrutineers to scrutinize the voting in the interests of the States.
.- I am glad to hear that the honorary Minister recognises that any alteration of the Constitution may impinge on the rights of the States. That justifies us, as the re presentatives of the States, in being particularly careful about any amendment of the Constitution.
Amendment (by Senator Keating) agreed to -
That after paragraph (a), in sub-clause 3, the following new paragraph be inserted : - ” (aa) The postal vote certificate shall be in the form A1 in the schedule to this Act; and”
– I should like to know from the Minister whether the rainbow collection of literature which has been circulated amongst us is intended for the reading of the presiding officers and divisional returning officers. Does it include instructions in reference to the taking of the referendum? When these officers have mastered this literature, will they know what their duties are?
– I have received the same collection of literature, but I have not had time to look into it.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 5 and 6 agreed to.
Clause 7 -
A copy of the writ and a copy of the proposed law, or of the statement (if any) attached to the writ, shall be forwarded to the Governors of the several States.
– I move -
That after the word “be,” line 3, the word “forthwith” be inserted.
That is the word used in the following clause, and I do not see how we can impose any limit of time.
– I do not know that the word “ forthwith “ could properly be inserted where proposed. Clause 5 provides that the Governor- General may, issue the writ,and that it must be in accordance with a certain form; and clause 6 provides that the ‘Governor- General may cause to be attached to the writ a copy of the proposed law. or a copy of a statement in regard to the proposed law. Doubtless the desire is to use the word “ forthwith “ in reference to some time. But in clause 8 that word is used this way : ““forthwith after the receipt” of the original writ. I think that Senator Pearce’s amendment will be better placed at the beginning of the clause, and might be somewhat in this form : “ Forthwith after the issue of the writ.”
– Why not insert after the word “ shall “ the words “ immediately after the issue of the writ “ ?
– That would do, but it must be related to something.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That after the word “shall,” line 3, the words “ immediately after the issue of the same “ be inserted.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
The original writ shall be forwarded to the Chief Electoral Officer, who shall forthwith after the receipt thereof -
forward copies of it to the Commonwealth Electoral Officers for the several States; and
insert in the Gazelle a notification of the receipt and particulars of the writ, and a copy of the proposed law or of the statement (if any) attached to the writ.
– I have been looking to see what public notice or advertisement is to be given to the writ as soon as it is issued to enable the electors to know what they will be asked to vote upon. I find that under this clause the whole duty of the Chief Electoral Officer is to insert a notification of the receipt and particulars of the writ in the Gazette.
– As soon as it appears in the Gazette it will be copied by the newspapers.
– Not automatically?
– No, as a matter of news.
– Does Senator Keating attach any value to the insertion of these notices in the Commonwealth Gazette ? I know that it is the official organ, but who reads it? I should think that not even Members of Parliament read it.
– Newspaper people do.
– I do not wish to press for an amendment, if it is thought that the clause provides for sufficient notice, but I point out that these referenda will be complicated matters, and it is well that the public should have information concerning them as early as possible.
– Under this clause it will be the duty of the Chief Electoral Officer to publish a notification in the official Commonwealth Gazette, and as a matter of practice as soon as such a notification appears in the Gazette it will be noted by the various newspapers which will probably have a paragraph stating that it is notified in the last issue of the Commonwealth Gazette that a referendum is to be taken on such-and-such a question. In clause 9 we provide that the Commonwealth electoral officer for each State must give notice of the receipt and particulars of the writ in two newspapers circulating in the State. These officers will probably be better informed as to the best channels of communication through the press than is the Chief Electoral Officer. It will be their duty ‘also to have copies of the proposed law or of the statement, if any, attached to the writ, exhibited at post-offices, Customs Houses, and such other places in the State, as the Chief Electoral Officer directs. In that way, I think that all the electors will get due notification of the fact that they will be asked to vote upon a proposed alteration of the Constitution. We could not very well ask the Chief Electoral Officer to advertise throughout the States, and as a matter of fact, if we did so, he would probably take the advice of the Commonwealth electoral officers for each of the States in the matter.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 9 -
The Commonwealth Electoral Officer for each State shall forthwith after the receipt of the copy of the writ -
give notice of the receipt and particulars of the writ by advertisement in two newspapers circulating in the State, which notice shall include a copy of the proposed law or a copy of the statement (if any) attached to the writ : .
– We have in this clause a distinct limitation of the extent to which these matters will be advertised. The Commonwealth electoral officer for each State is, under this clause, to advertise the receipt and particulars of the writ, and a copy of the proposed law in two newspapers in each State, and I suppose that means two newspapers only.
– In Victoria the Argus and the Age.
– Probably that would be sufficient for Victoria, but I doubt whether a notificationin two newspapers would be sufficient in other States of the Commonwealth.
– The Herald, and the Daily Telegraph in New South Wales.
– They do not circulate in every electorate of that State, and electors in a number of small country towns would not see these notices. Surely it is desirable to advertise these notices in more than two newspapers in each of the States?
– It does not seem to be enough in the case of Queensland.
– Newspapers published in the south of Queensland do not circulate throughout Queensland.
– I do not wish to refer to my own State, but I am certain that publication in two newspapers in Queensland would not be sufficient, and I suppose it would not be sufficient in Western Australia either.
– Newspapers published in Perth have a very limited circulation on the gold-fields.
– We might say two or more.
– I am pointing out that I doubt whether the provision made in the clause would be found sufficient. I move -
That after the word” two,” line 5, the words “or more” be inserted
. I think there need be very little doubt that the necessary publicity will be given, because the matter at issue will involve some principle. ‘ The electors will never dream of trying to analyze the machinery by which effect is proposed to be given to flic principle involved in the questions submitted to them. First of all, there will be a discussion in this Parliament. I have very little doubt, for instance, that there is no active elector in Australia at the present time who is not aware that we are discussing a proposed alteration of the Constitution, with a view to making it possible to hold the elections at a more convenient time. That is the principle, and that is what the electors will say “yes” or “no” to. It is reasonable to suppose that they will trust this Parliament to make effective the machinery to give effect to the principle. If this Parliament does not do so, it is obvious that it would bequite impossible for the electors over the whole ofthe Commonwealth to make it so. It is highly probable that there is no elector in Austra - lia who is not aware that we have been discussing an alteration of. the Constitution with a view to making it possible to take over the debts of the States under conditions which are not at present provided for.
– It is probable that the information has not yet reached some parts of mv constituency.
– I am aware that the honorable senator’s State is a very large one, and that it is difficult to communicate with some of the more remote portions of it. In the circumstances, it is probable that in some parts of the State what we are proposing to do is not yet known, but I am confident that before the elections take place there will be very few, if any, electors in the Commonwealth who will not know the principle involved in the questions to be submitted to them at the referendum. I suggest that if it is provided that an advertisement must be inserted in all the newspapers throughout the Commonwealth the bill will be a staggerer.
– No one suggests that. The clause provides for publication in only: two newspapers in each State.
– For the reason that in the cities of Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, and, I believe Launceston, or Launceston and Hobart, there are two great dailies published.
– There are two newspapers in Launceston, and also two in Hobart.
– I think that in some, at least, of the States capitals, two great dailies which circulate throughout the whole State are published. My experience in Victoria, for instance, is’ that the Age and the Argus circulate in every locality more generally- than do any of the local papers.
– That does not apply to Queensland.
– I speak subject to the limitation that I am not familiar with the conditions in all the States .I feel, however, that without some limitation we may open. the door to a great deal of undesirable patronage, and to much discontent. If the provision as to advertising be limited as at present, there can be no clamouring for a share of this Government patronage, such as will arise if the limitation be removed. I agree that in one or two of the States there may be some difficulty, but generally speaking - certainly in South Australia, New South
Wales and Victoria - there will be no trouble in deciding what are the two newspapers that have a circulation all over the State. There may be some difficulty in Western Australia, Queensland, and Tasmania, of which I do not know, but I would urge, as the lesser of two evils, the passing of the clause as it stands.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 10 to 12 agreed to.
Clause 13 -
Each elector shall vote only once at the referendum.
– I wish to ask whether the same facilities will be given for voting at a referendum as are afforded at an ordinary election. For instance, if a man is living away from’ his polling place, will he be permitted to vote at any polling place upon satisfying the returning officer of his identity ?
– In clause 4, we provide that -
The provisions of Part X (Voting by Post), Part XI. (the Polling) …. of the Commonwealth Electoral Acts 1902-1905 shall, so far as applicable, apply to the referendum.
In view of this provision, an elector who was living at a certain distance from his polling place would be able to vote by post. Section 109 of the Electoral Act provides that -
Any elector -
who has reason to believe that he will on polling day be more than five miles from the polling place for which he is enrolled . . . may apply for a postal vote certificate.
– That will not be sufficient.
– Why not afford the same facilities as are given in connexion with voting at elections for the Senate? I refer to the issue of absentee voters’ certificates.
– Under clause 4, the voting by post and polling provisions of the present Electoral Acts will apply to these referenda.
– Is that sufficient?
– If the honorable senator will point out the particular provision of the existing Electoral law which he wishes to incorporate in the Bill, I shall be glad to consider the matter.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) . he does not think it desirable to insert after the word “ once “ the words “ on each proposed law.”
– The word “once” applies to the word “ referendum,” the definition of which makes the meaning clear.
– I suggest that the word “any” be substituted for the word “the.”
– I have no objection.
– I think that it would be better to adopt the amendment I have suggested.
– I would point out to Senator Pearce that, having regard to the definition of the word “referendum,” this clause really means that each elector shall vote only once at ‘ ‘ the submission to the electors of a proposed law for the alteration of the Constitution.” I think that the definition removes the apparent difficulty.
Amendment (by Senator Drake) agreed to -
That the word “the” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ any.”
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 14 agreed to.
– I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “ 14A. Where the polling for one or more referendums is appointed to lake place on the same day as the polling for an election for the Senate or a general election for the House of Representatives, an application for a postal vote certificate for the purposes of the election shall be deemed to contain an application for a postal vote certificate and a postal ballot-paper for the purposes of the referendums.”
The object of this amendment is to obviate the necessity for a separate application for a postal ballot-paper for the purposes of the ordinary election as well as for the referendum. Obviously if an elector cannot attend at his polling place to vote at the parliamentary election, he cannot attend to record his vote for or against a proposed law. If he applies for a postal certificate in respect to the one matter, his application is to be deemed an application for a postal certificate for both or all, and will be treated accordingly.
– A question was raised a few moments ago by Senator Stewart as to whether the provisions of the Electoral Act with regard to absent voters would apply to matters dealt with under this Bill. Under clause 4, Part XI. of the Electoral Act shall, so far as applicable, apply to the referendum, and that part includes section 139, which makes provision for recording the votes of absent electors.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Clause 15 (Use of ballot-boxes and polling booths).
– I think that it would convenience scrutineers and returning officers if a different ballot-box were provided for each set of voting papers.
– This clause is merely permissive.
– It will be regarded practically as an instruction.
– I think not.
– If all the papers are put into the one ballot-box, time will be lost in sorting them out, whereas it would give little or no trouble to the electors to place each voting paper in a ballot-box painted to correspond with the colour of the paper.
– The provision is permissive. It is intended that where thought desirable, only one ballot-box shall be used. At some polling places, so few votes will be recorded that one ballotbox would easily suffice. In Tasmania, the standard box is fairly large, but I have been told that in some parts of Queensland, inordinately small boxes have been used, and, of course, itwould be impossible for one such box to “hold all the votes recorded at many ‘ of the booths. If, however, we make it obligatory to provide separate ballot-boxes for the various papers, it will be impossible to comply with the provision at the forthcoming election, because of the remoteness of some of the polling places. For instance, there is in South Australia, a place so remote that I believe the rolls were sent some weeks ago, and a special convoy will be needed to take out the ballot-papers, the services of relays of linemen being utilized for the purpose-
– The clause provides that the ballotpapers for a referendum shall be different in colour from the ballot-papers for the election, but will a different colour be used for each question submitted to the electors?
– - I think so.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 16 to 20 agreed to.
Clause 21 (Return of result of submission by returning officers).
Clause verbally amended.
.: - Would it not expedite proceedings if the divisional returning officers were allowed to send first merely the number of votes recorded, afterwards transmitting the in-, dorsed writ and the parcels of ballot papers ?
– As a matter of administration, the number of votes recorded will be notified by telegraph. The clause, refers to the formal return.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 22 to 33 agreed to.
– I desire to ask whether it is intended to deal with the schedule to-night?
– There is nothing important in it.
– The form in which the questions are to be submitted to the electors is of very considerable importance. I know, and I expect that Senator Keating knows, that there has been considerable doubt as to whether the forms contained in the schedule are the best which can be provided. The draftsman had considerable difficulty in framing them, and it is material to the electors that the questions shall be placed before them in the best possible way. If the assumption is that the forms cannot be improved, of course, there is nothing more to be said.
– I did not suggest that.
– I think that the forms call for close scrutiny. They are going to act or fail to act as an instruction or aguide to the elector as to how and on what questions he is to vote. Seeing that we have dealt with all the clauses of the Bill, I suggest that we should have more time in which to consider the schedule. I do not suppose that Senator Keating wishes to rush the Bill through all its stages to-night.
– I think that pro gress should now be reported, in order that we may have time in which to consider the forms. It would involve no great delay.
– I agree with Senator demons that considerable attention should be given to the form in which the questions are to be submitted to the electors. I was unaware that the schedule does not sufficiently set out the subjects on which the electors will have to vote. For instance, form A is as follows: -
The Referendum (Constitution Alteration) Act 1906.
State of [here insert name of State.]
Submission of a proposed Law for the Alteration of the Constitution, entitled [here insert’ title of proposed law] to the Electors.
– If honorable senators think that they can offer any suggestions for the improvement of the ballotpaper which is proposed, and will be prepared to do so at a later stage, I shall be quite willing to accept from them any help in that regard.
– Take, for instance, form B -
Commonwealth ok Australia.
The Referendum (Constitution Alteration) Act 1906.
State of [here insert name of State.]
Submission of a proposed Law for the Alteration of the Constitution, entitled [here insert title of proposed law] to the Electors.
I think that it would be of great use to the Committee if we had a sample of the ballot-paper, so that we could see the form in which it would be presented to the electors.
– That will not be the entire form.
– That form will apply to anyquestion which may be submitted at a referendum.
– What is to indicate the title of the proposed law? And what is to indicate to the elector the matter upon which he is called upon to vote “ yes “ or “no.”
– In one case it would be. the Constitution Alteration (Senate Elections) Bill, and in another case the Constitution Alteration (State Debts) Bill.
– What else?
– That is all.
– Surely there will be something else.
– Not in form B.
– Where will the proposed amendment or addendum to the Constitution be stated for the information of the elector? Take, for instance, the Constitution Alteration (State Debts) Bill. The elector will be asked to say whether he is in favour of altering section 105 of the Constitution or whether he is in favour of adding to the Constitution a provision which would govern, modify, and alter that section. I take it that all that will have to be placed before him in some way or other.
– Not on this form of ballot-paper.
– Where is it to be stated ?
– It will be posted up at the. post-offices and Customs Houses and also announced in advertisements.
– We cannot submit a lengthy and perhaps involved ballotpaper to the electors.
– The Federal Constitution was not put on the ballot-paper.
– That was a different thing altogether. When an elector is asked to vote onthe question, “ Do you approve of altering section 105 of the Constitution : so as to enable the Commonwealth to take over additional debts of the States,” he ought to have the proposed alteration put before him, if possible, in a fairly concise and simple form, so that he may know exactly what he is voting on.
– We can give him a handbill.
– How will it be given ?
– It will be posted up.
– That will not be of much use to the elector.
– Let us deal with the schedule to-night. I shall not oppose a recommittal of it if that is desired.
– I should like more time in which to consider the schedule, because it involves an important question. Seeing that we have dealt with the Bill as far as the schedule, there would be no considerable delay involved in reporting progress now. But if the schedule were passed now we might discover afterwards that it could have been improved.
– If any honorable senator can suggest an improvement we shall recommit the schedule.
– It will not get to the report stage until to-morrow.
– If the honorable senator prefers to deal with the schedule to-night Ishall not object ; but I would prefer progress to be reported.
– I shall not oppose a recommittal if it is proposed at the report stage. I move -
Thatthe following new form be inserted: - “ Form A1.
The Referendum (Constitution Alteration) Act 1906.
Postal Vote Certificate.
Electoral Division of (here insert name of Division).
I hereby certify that of is entitled to vote at the referendum to be held on the day of19
Dated this day of 19.
– In form B it is proposed to give certain directions to voters. I f the elector is in favour of the proposed alteration he will make a cross in the square opposite the word “ yes,” and if he does not approve he will make a cross in the square opposite the word “ no. “ I think that we might go a little further and indicate in more specific terms the question upon which the elector is required to record his vote. What is the use of asking him, “ Do you approve of the proposed law for the alteration of the Constitution entitled,” and then set out the title of the proposed law ? The title will convey nothing to him.
– I submit that it would be idle to expect the elector to read a statement upon the ballot-paper that would be sufficient to convey to him the full meaning of the proposed alteration. We have to assume that he will be fully informed upon the subject before he goes to the ballot-box, and that all that we need do is to identify the subject upon which he is called upon to vote.
Proposed new form agreed to.
Schedule, as amended, agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Motion (by Senator Playford) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I should like to know what course the Government propose to adopt with regard to the order of business. A call of the Senate is to be made to-morrow for the purpose of considering certain important measures relating to the alteration of the Constitution. We also know that the Appropriation Bill has been received from the House of Representatives, and I should like to know whether that measure will.be submitted to-morrow. The Minister of Defence has promised to give us three clear days for the consideration of the Appropriation Bill, and as the time at our disposal is rapidly passing, I think that he should place it before us as soon as possible. I venture to suggest that as soon as we have dealt with the very important Bills to which I have referred, the Appropriation Bill should be proceeded with.
– What about the Tariff Bills?
– I do not wish to discuss anything but the Appropriation Bill at present. It is the unanimous wish of honorable senators that the fullest opportunity should be afforded for the discussion of the Appropriation Bill, and I hope that the Minister will redeem his promise.
– If I asked honorable senators to discuss the Appropriation Bill to-morrow, I should be told that they have not had time to familiarize themselves with it.
– We saw the Estimates months ago?
– I propose to pursue the ordinary course, and to proceed with the Electoral Validating Bill, the Customs Tariff Bill, the Excise Tariff Bill, and the Customs Tariff British Preference Bill. It is possible that we may propose some alterations in those measures, and by dealing with them in the first instance, we shall afford an opportunity for the House of Representatives to consider our requests or amendments whilst we are dealing with the Appropriation Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.3 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 1 October 1906, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1906/19061001_senate_2_35/>.