3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I shall be very pleased indeed to inquire whether the papers are immediately available; and, assuming .they are not too voluminous, 1 shall willingly comply with the suggestion of my honorable friend.
– Perhaps, in order to assist my honorable friend, I may be permitted to say that the papers are not so voluminous as the minutes of proceedings in which, they are continually referred to by the speakers. I have been looking through the minutes of proceedings, and my honorable friend will find that even for his own convenience it is desirable that the papers should be made available.
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, whether he has obtained further information on the subject of the number of wire netting factories in the Commonwealth ?
– I have obtained the following information -
At present, there are in .ill twenty-four wireworking factories, employing 656 hands, in the Commonwealth, of which - so far as the statistical records show - one only makes wire netting.
In New South Wales and Victoria, there were the following numbers in 1905 and 1906 -
Wire-workers include others besides makers of wire-netting.
The Statistics Act of the State concerned, for obvious reasons, prevents the publication of information respecting a single industrial establishment. The principle involved was reaffirmed by the 1906 Conference of Statisticians,, and approved by the Commonwealth and States Governments, for this reason, complete information as to wire-netting establishments cannot be given.
– I desire to ask: the Minister of Home Affairs, without notice, if he has yet obtained any information with regard to the cost of the» State quarantine establishments and Boards of Health?
– I have not obtained the whole of .the information for which the honorable senator has asked ; but I am endeavouring to get it.
– I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council, without notice, if he has yet taken any steps in the direction of having the reports of the two branches of the Tariff Commission bound in two separate volumes? I would remind the Minister that if the reports were so bound, and in covers bearing distinguishing colours, it would be a convenience to every honorable senator. The binding would not be expensive, and the bulk produced would be quite small.
– On the same day as my honorable friend put his question, or on the following day, I asked the Department of Trade and Customs, if possible, to see their way to comply with his request.
– I very much regret that so far I have been unable to lay the N avigabon Bill before the Senate, but that is through no fault of myself or the Government. Unfortunately the final report of the Navigation Commission has not yet been received. We expect that it will be received within a week, and if it is, I. should say that with very little delay the Navigation Bill will be introduced here. Subject to anything which may transpire subsequently, I may go so far as to say that if the final report is received this week I hope to be able to move the second reading of the Bill on Friday week.
– Is the Bill ready ?
– The Bill is in rough draft, but of course it cannot be completed until we have had an opportunity of perusing the final report of the Navigation Commission. .
– May we not have a copy of the rough draft?
– It is too rough.
– May I ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council if the rough draft depends upon the report of the Navigation Commision?
– No; the smoothing of the rough draft depends upon that report.
– I understand that the Navigation Bill has been in print for a little time, and the report is not yet printed. I desire to know the connexion, if any, between the two things.
– I can assure my honorable friend that it will be of very great value to the Government to know his representations. It will enable us to give full consideration to the views of himself as well as of the others who were appointed with himselfto investigate the question.
– As one of the Commissioners, he might throw some light on the reason why the report has been delayed.
Is it a fact that upwards of three years ago the Pull Court of the State” of New South Wales gave judgment in favour of that State’s claim that goods imported by the Government of that State were not liable to duty as demanded by the Government of the Commonwealth?
Did the Commonwealth Government make application or appeal to the Privy Council against such judgment?
Was such application or appeal subsequently abandoned by the Commonwealth Government ?
Has it been in the power of the Commonwealth Government to appeal to the High Court of Australia against the judgment of the Supreme Court of New South Wales ?
Has the Commonwealth Government made any application or appeal to the High Court in. opposition or relation to the said judgment of” the said Supreme Court?
Has the Commonwealth Government obeyed the said judgment?
Is not the position of the Commonwealth Government in relation to this matter that of art. unsuccessful litigant who will neither obey the judgment of the Court whose decision it evoked nor appeal against such judgment?
Is it the intention of the Commonwealth Government to disregard the law, as laid down by the Supreme Court of New South Wales?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow -
– Was not the real reason that there was an appeal to the Privy Council, and that subsequently when the Commonwealth Government abandoned that appeal it was too late to appeal to the High Court ?
– I believe so.
– And they did not ask that the time for appealing should be extended, as they could have done?
– I believe so.
– Then “No” was not an answer to the fourth question !
asked the Minister re presenting the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Eastern Extension Company if they would put, their cables across Bass Strait under offer to the Commonwealth ?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow -
– I move -
That this Bill be recommitted for the purpose of reconsidering clause 100 and the second schedule.
I have already announced my intention of submitting this motion, and my reasons for so doing. Clause 100 relates to notaries. Senator Walker. - Does not the honorable senator intend to ask for the recommittal of clause 4, in order to insert “ promissory note” after “bill of exchange” in the definition of “ bill “ ?
– What the honorable senator asks for is provided in subclause 2 of clause 100, which says that -
The form given in the second schedule may be used with necessary modifications, and, if used, shall be sufficient.
. -What clause deals with the question of stale cheques? I do not mean the case -of a bank which has closed its doors, but the ordinary provision with regard to a cheque being stale after a certain time has elapsed.
– The Committee added a second sub-clause to clause 79.
– Will the Minister consent to recommit clause 79? I am strongly of opinion that a period of twelve months is too long, and will be inconvenient for everybody. I desire to make the period six months.
– A period of six months was named in the new sub-clause when it was first proposed.
– The Bill, as it now stands, names a period of twelve months. I should like to test the feeling of the Committee on the question.
– I am willing to consent to the recommittal of sub-clause 2 of clause 79.
Question amended accordingly.
– It seems peculiar for an honorable senator to desire, once an amendment has been carried, to have the Bill altered to the way it stood previously.
– The provision was not in the original Bill.
– The Committee decided the matter, and I hope they will stick to their decision.
Question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee (Recommittal) :
Clause 79 -
– - My chief object in proposing to alter the period of twelve months to six months is to consider the interests of the public generally, or, at any rate, of that part of the public who are accustomed and able to draw cheques. It would be inconvenient for a man who has drawn a cheque to find that it could be held out against him for as Jong as twelve months. The shortening of the period would be to the advantage of the public. On the other hand, it must not be made too short in a country of such vast areas as Australia, but with our present postal facilities, or want of them, there is ample time for a cheque to travel from any part of Australia to another and return again in less than six months. When I first suggested a period of six months, I considered also the possibility of a cheque drawn in Australia being sent to some other part of the British Empire. After making inquiries, I think that six months would be ample even for that. I also inquired from many of the leading bankers both here and in another State, and found it was their unanimous and express desire that a period of six months should be enacted. Therefore, six months is long enough from the banker’s point of view, while it is in the interests of the public that their cheques should not be out for more than six months.
– A man might lose a. cheque.
– Even then he would not lose his right to recover the debt. In making a cheque stale, we do not interfere with any rights as between plaintiff and defendant in a case. If we did, the same argument would apply to a period of twelve months.
– We do not want people to have to go to law over it.
– The honorable senator is quite willing to make a cheque stale and of no value at the end of twelve months. The question of going to law is no more involved if the period is made six months. The whole question is the convenience of the public. Any honorable senator would much prefer after he had drawn a cheque to know that it must be presented within six months, and not be held over for twelve ‘months. A man may ‘ draw a cheque and may wish to leave Australia for England “before twelve months have elapsed. He would naturally want to have his account cleared, and would consider it somewhat objectionable to leave an open account for twelve’ months. It is difficult on the spur of the moment to bring forward definite arguments about an arbitrary matter of this kind, but I have come to the conclusion that six months would be ample for all purposes of interchange in the Commonwealth, and even for interchange between the Commonwealth and other parts of the Empire. We shall be consulting the interests of public and bankers alike if we reduce the term. I move -
That the word “ twelve “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ six.”
– This sub-clause was not in the Bill as originally submitted to the Senate, but an amendment by Senator Walker, in Committee, to insert a provision of this character, was carried with a modification. His proposal provided for a period of six months, but the Committee made the period twelve months. It was pointed out on that occasion that regard must be had to the peculiar conditions obtaining in many of the remote parts of Australia. In many instances storekeepers, or others in business who handle a good deal of money, act almost as bankers. Men who receive their wages for, perhaps, a lengthy period in the shape of cheques cash them with a storekeeper of that kind, who possibly holds cheques for a very long time ; at any rate, for a much longer period than anybody in a metropolitan area or any of the provincial towns would do. He perhaps holds a great number of cheques until he comes down to town to transact some of his business, which may happen only once or twice regularly in a year. In these circumstances, it might easily happen that he would have in his possession a number of cheques which had run beyond a period of six months.
– Does a business man hold his cheques until he goes to town personally ?
– It is ‘only in remote centres that such a thing happens.. I have been assured by persons who have had actual experience that it does happen sometimes. Cheques are’ in circulation practically in the same way as bank notes at great distances from the centres of population in which banking institutions have their branches. It is quite conceivable that in Australia, perhaps more than in any other country, cheques would remain outfor a particularly long time. I recognise with Senator Clemons that it is very difficult, in discussing a matter that must be setteld more or less on arbitrary principles, to lay down any hard and fast rules as to the practice in any particular place, but in all the circumstances we shall be conserving the interests of the customer, the banker, and the general public if we make the term twelve months. The liability of the; drawer in law still ‘ remains for’ a period of six years from the time he draws the cheque, but .this provision is simply to enable a bank, at the end of a certain period, to say, “That cheque is stale. We do not propose to honour it, but refer the holder back to the drawer to recover the amount of the cheque.” After the previous discussion, honorable senators saw the wisdom of extending the period to twelve months, and will, I think, see no valid reason for “ departing from that attitude now. I believe .that banks now, in many instances, hesitate about honoring .cheques that are out for longer than six months.
– What power has a ban’k to say that, after six months, it will not pay the drawer’s cheque ?
– It has apparently no power to do so, unless it has made a rule to that effect, acquiesced in by the customer, and forming part of the contract, express or implied, between him and the bank. Ordinarily speaking, a bank has no power at law to dishonour a cheque for a period of six years. All we are providing is, to a certain extent, to protect the banker, and to convenience the customer, but the convenience of the public must also be consulted. Taking into consideration the convenience of everybody concerned, it will be found that twelve months for a country -like Australia is a very fair and reasonable term.
– I object to the proposed amendment. According to the Minister of Home Affairs a debt due under a cheque can be collected at any time within six years. I point out that in country districts men commonly accept cheques from persons whom they consider sound, and put them away for months together until they have some occasion to visit a town in which there is a bank’ at which the cheques can be cashed. If the amendment proposed were agreed to a man keeping a cheque in this way would find when he got into the town, perhaps seven or eight months after he had received the cheque, that he could not cash it, and it would be necessary for him to go back to the drawer and get another. I think that the period of twelve months represents a fair compromise. Hundreds of people are in the habit of taking cheques from men whom they consider “ as good as the bank,” and they keep them for long periods until, having to go to the nearest town at which there is a bank, a convenient opportunity is afforded to cash them. If the amendment were accepted, it would be very inconvenient for these people to find, on presenting them at the bank, that the cheques they had kept so long were no good, and it would be necessary for them to get fresh cheques from the drawers.
– Perhaps they could not do so.
– That is so. Perhaps the drawer of a cheque made stale after a period of six months might turn round to the man who asked him for a fresh cheque, and say, “ I have already paid you, and I hold your receipt. You will have to go to law if you want another cheque.” I think that the Committee ought not to undo what it has already done.
– There is another aspect of the clause which has been overlooked. Its wording does not suit my view of what it should be, even though the amendment I have proposed should be accepted. It was amusing to hear Senator Sayers speak in a spirit of antagonism to the banker.
– I spoke in the interests of the public.
– The honorable senator seems to think that the interests of the public and the interests of the banker in this matter are in conflict-
– - I know nothing about the banker’s interests.
– The honorable senator referred to the banker’s interests. As soon as I suggested an alteration of the. period to six months, the honorable senator interjected that that would suit the banker. I point out to the honorable senator that the provision as it stands is eminently in the interests of the banker, because it says that the banker shall not be responsible, or incur any liability by refusing payment of a cheque. The . true meaning of the provision is that after the lapse of twelve months the banker is to be at liberty to pay or not to pay on a cheque, as he thinks fit. That is the kind of provision for which Senator Sayers expresses so much admiration in the interests of the public.
– I dealt only with the period.
– I am dealing with the whole sub-clause. I think that the period should be reduced to six months, and we should amend the sub-clause so as to provide that after the expiration of six months from the time it is drawn, a cheque shall become absolutely valueless. That would be a convenience to the public. We have, further, to consider the interests of the drawer, and I ask what security the drawer has under this provision. He may find out on scrutiny of his bank pass-book that one of his cheques drawn twelve months before has not been presented for payment, and unless he communicates, with the banker to stop payment of the cheque, as he can do at any time, he will be left in a state of complete uncertainty, and will not know whether it has been cashed or not.
– As a matter of fact, it is impossible to stop a cheque.
– I assure Senator Givens that it is always possible to stop payment of a cheque. I think that at the expiration of six months a cheque should be absolutely waste-paper, and no discretion should be given to a banker to say whether he would or would not cash it. To use the phrase of Senator Best, the cheque should become automatically of no value whatever. If the sub-clause were altered in that way, the public would be convenienced. We certainly should not leave it to the discretion of a banker to honour or dishonour a cheque as he thought fit.
– I held the view that twelve months would be a very much more convenient period to provide than six months. I still hold that view. In remote parts of Australia, cheques are continually being held for long periods.
– They are a form of currency.
– As the honorable senator says, in some instances they serve the purposes, of currency for months together. In my opinion, twelve months may be regarded as a short period. _ It seems to me that the drawer cannot possibly be injured in any way. The man who draws a cheque should at the time he draws it have money to his credit to meet it. If the cheque is not presented, the money is npt drawn, and its presentation at whatever time it is- presented, is simply the collection of a debt. It was agreed that the responsibility” of bankers should be limited to some reasonable period after a cheque is drawn, and’ Senator Walker proposed that the period should be six months. I think it was at my instance that the period was altered to twelve months, but at that time there ‘ was a consensus of opinion in the Committee tha.t twelve months would be a more convenient period than six months. I hope the Committee will not depart from that view.
.-It was not my intention to again raise this question, but as Senator ‘Clemons has done so, I shall, qf_ course,_ support his amendment. A point that nas been overlooked is that it would be an advantage to the drawer of a cheque if in a case where a cheque was lost a bank could return the cheque as stale after six months, because he would know then that he would be justified in giving a duplicate cheque. The advantage’ to the drawer in such a case would be greater if the .period were fixed at six months than if it were fixed at twelve months.
– I am aware that it is not always desirable to draw general conclusions from particular cases, still, when one has a particular case brought under his notice, it is liable to influence his judgment. I intend to give a vote for the longer period, and I do so because of a particular case which has come quite recently under my notice. I have some little property at a place 40 milesfrom one town and 50 miles from another, in each of which are three banks, and a shorter distance from a town in which thereis one bank. This should indicate to honorable senators that there is no great, difficulty in presenting cheques for payment at this place. Some time in April last I gavea cheque to a man who had completed a. contract’. He went to work on an adjoining, property, and only a fortnight ago he purchased a team from me, and paid me, as a portion of the purchase money, with my own cheque. Here was a man who did, asmany bush workers do, put my cheque iri. his pocket satisfied that he could cash it when he wanted the money. When such a thing could occur in a fairly settled district, with reasonable banking facilities, what might not happen in the outside districts of Queensland or of Western Australia?
– The honorable senator is simply showing that the man ran a risk, and he would encourage other men torun such risks.
– I would do nothing, of the sort. The man had the option, if he chose, to present the cheque next day and get payment for it. I have shown that, in a district which, in view of thepresent development of Australia, may be regarded as a fairly settled district, such a thing could happen, and I ask what might not happen in this way in the outside districts of Queensland or of Western Australia, where for months together men never visit a town Which can boast a bank ? Senator Clemons has, however, raised another point, that, according to his reading of the sub-clause, it is left optional with the banker whether he will honour or dishonour a cheque. I agree with the honorable senator that no banker should have that option.’ We should decide the law, and not leave it to the caprice of one banker to do one thing and to the discretion of another banker to do another thing.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [3.42]. - I think there has been’ some misconception in the framing of this provision, because as the sub-clause now stands it gives statutory power to a banker to_ dishonour anybody’s cheque after a certain interval.’ That is a position in which I do not think we should put a banker. A cheque, like a bill of exchange, wilh certain differences, must be presented within a reasonable time to make the drawer liable.
But it is a very different thing to say that a banker shall be at liberty to dishonour a cheque which perhaps the drawer may wish to see paid. Under this sub-clause a banker is given power to dishonour a customer’s cheque, and that is a very unpleasant thing. A customer may always protect himself if the reasonable time does not give him the protection, by stopping his cheque.
– I do not think that any bank ought to be allowed to dishonour a cheque.
– That is so. The stopping of a cheque does not mean that the drawer thereby relieves himself from liability to pay the debt it represents, but it interposes an obstacle to the immediate payment, and requires that it -shall be referred to the drawer. It should not be left to the banker to dishonour a cheque if he pleases, but, after a certain time, whether three, six, or twelve months, the cheque should be made no longer a negotiable instrument. Probably the longer the time fixed the better. I do not at this moment see any ad vantage to be gained by shortening the period to six months. Certainly if the period is made six months, we shall hasten the time when the banker may dishonour a cheque which it may be desirable that he -should pay. The clause requires amendment at least in the direction suggested by Senator Millen.
– I think that every argument which we have heard upon the clause this afternoon was brought forward when the subject was discussed last week. The clause as it stands is the result of a compromise as between the interests of the drawer of the cheque, the holder, and the bank. The argument which weighed chiefly with the Committee in making the term twelve months was that cheques are a form of currency in the remoter parts of Australia, especially in Queensland. Western Australia, and the Northern Territory. Senator Clemons was not here when we had the long discussion on the clause, but he may take it from me that every possible interest was considered.
– I desire to withdraw my amendment, as the majority of the Committee seems to be in favour of the twelve months period. The term is arbitrary, but if the majority approves of it I shall not object.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania) [3.493. - I move -
That all the words after the word “payable” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ all liability upon such cheque shall cease.”
If this amendment be carried the clause will read - “ Where a cheque is not presented for payment until twelve months after it becomes payable, all liability upon such cheque shall cease.”
The amendment will affect the drawer as well as the holder. The whole of the liability in respect to the cheque will go. I do not think that it would be safe to say “ all liability in respect of such cheque shall cease,” because then we might possibly interfere with a debt of which a cheque was an admission. But if we insert the words “ all liability upon such cheque “ we shall be perfectly safe. I think that it is the desire of the Committee to provide that at the end of twelve months a cheque as a negotiable instrument shall cease to have any efficacy.
– I really think that Senator Clemons’ new amendment is more serious than the last one was. I said before that the liability in respect of a cheque is governed by the ordinary law with regard to contracts and endures for six years. If we legislate to interfere withthe law in that respect we shall be interfering with well-established principles of the common law without good justification for so doing. In the first place if we provide that “ all liability upon such cheque shall cease,” though we may not relieve the original drawer of a cheque of. responsibility in respect of the transaction for which the cheque wasgiven, yet as the cheque may have passed through several hands since it was drawn, the interest of other persons may be affected.
– A cheque is dated on the face of it.
– A man may have received a cheque, and may not have been in a position to present it. within the particular period prescribed.
– A man ought to know the law. He will know that after twelve months a cheque is of no use.
– Suppose that a cheque has run twelve months less a fortnight, and that it has been posted to a man in payment of a debt. Say that he receives it within a few days before the period of twelve months has expired, but has no opportunity within the period of returning it or of presenting it. Say that the cheque is in his hands after the end of the twelve months. Upon whom would the loss fall in such a case?
– Upon whom would the loss fall under the clause as it now stands ? Cannot the banker refuse to pay ?
– Under the clause, the holder of a cheque would be dependent upon the banker’s caprice.
– But the cheque would still be good against the drawer under the clause as it stands. The holder could go into Court, even though he had not seen the drawer, and sue him upon the cheque two or three years afterwards. He could sue any of the persons who had indorsed the cheque prior to its coming into his hands. I think that it would be dangerous to say that all liability in respect of a cheque shall cease at the end of a period of twelve months. It would, in my opinion, be highly undesirable and unjustifiable to interfere with the present law on the subject. In this clause we should simply make provision for the relations between the banker and the customer.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [3.55]. - We are now enacting or re-enacting a code which has been the law in England for a very long time, and which has also been’ the law in some of the -States for a considerable period. It is an exceedingly dangerous thing to make new-fangled alterations in a code without the gravest consideration. After listening to the debate, I think that the Committee will be well advised in eliminating the sub-clause altogether as well as in rejecting my honorable friend Senator Clemons’ amendment upon it. A cheque, like every bill of exchange, has to be presented within a reasonable time, but non-presentation within a reasonable time does not discharge the liability of the drawer of the cheque unless some prejudice has resulted to him - by the insolvency of the hanker, for instance. .The drawer remains liable upon his cheque as long as it happens to be out and unpaid. By the provision which we are discussing we are going to enable a banker, absolutely without rhyme or reason, ex- cept that a certain interval has elapsed, to dishonour a man’s cheque.
– To exercise his discretion.
– He ought to have no discretion. I object to a banker being authorized bv Statute to dishonour my cheque which I may have given in some remote part of the continent, and which may have taken a long time to come down. I object to a banker having power to indorse my cheque- “ payment refused.” My cheque, is fas higher authority to the banker to make payment than any statutory authority.
– In London chequesare “ staled “ after fifteen days.
– They can be called stale after any period thehonorable senator likes, but nevertheless I object to a banker being empowered to dishonour any cheques after any ‘ interval whatever.
– He would not dishonour them; it would be the law which, said that a cheque was no good after twelve months.
– I object to a banker having power to put a blot’ upon the credit of his customers.
– To write “stale cheque “ upon a cheque would not do that.
– The banker would probably not write “ stalecheque “ upon it. There is nothing to compel him to do so. I have no desire u> use a term which is disrespectful to any one, but the position is that some understrapper or clerk would simply write across the cheque “payment refused.”
– He would not. He would write “ stale cheque.” That is the invariable practice amongst bankers.
– But isthat what bankers would write?
– Certainly. The honorable senator may not have seen a cheque so treated. I have seen a good many.
– A banker who marked a cheque “ stale cheque “ would be liable for damages for’ dishonouring the cheque. Undoubtedly, the practice between banker and customer isvery important; but, as Senator Walker knows, that is a very delicate matter indeed.
– I’ do not say that it was done within a period of six months.
– Suppose that a customer had wanted his cheque to be paid?
– He would understand the practice.
– I admit that the only way to. do it, if it is tobe done at all, is by the amendment, but I would urge upon the Minister that heshould omit th’e sub-clause. Then we should have no trouble, and the banker, if he is entitled now to return a cheque as stale, might continue to do so. But,’ short of that, I think that we should be treading on very dangerous ground in dealing with, the matter at. all.
– I think that Senator Symon very correctly sized up the situation when he said that “the relation between banker and customer is very delicate indeed. On (looking through Hamilton’s Australian Banking Law since the amendment was proposed, I notice that on page 102 of the second edition a refer,ence is made to stale cheques, showing that in England the banker is placed in rather a difficult position in that regard. Hamilton says -
In England bankers, it seems, are bound by usage to exercise caution in paying cheques which are presented a long time after they are drawn. Such cheques are called stale. It would appear that if a banker pay a stale cheque, he does so at his own risk, and that if he pay it to a wrongful holder he cannot charge the drawer wilh its amount. He is, it is said, bound to make inquiries ; and payment without inquiries or a reference to the drawer would be irregular, and out of the usual course of business.
Notwithstanding the fact that, according to the law, the drawer of a cheque is still liable on the cheque for a period of six years, what is the period which will render a cheque stale in England is very much less than it is here. Hamilton goes on to say -
The Bills of Exchange Act 1882 provides that a bill payable on demand is deemed to be overdue within the meaning of the section relating to the negotiation of overdue bills, when it appears on the face of it to have been in circulation for an unreasonable length of time. What amounts to an unreasonable length of time for this purpose is a question of fact. In determining whether the time is reasonable or not, the nature of the instrument, the facts of the particular case, and the usage and trade of bankers must all be considered.
Then, as illustrating what is a reasonable time in Great Britain, where, of course, banking transactions and the drawing of cheques are confined more to certain classes of the community than is the case in Australia, Hamilton says -
A cheque negotiated eight days after date was held not to be on the footing of an overdue bill, and the same was held with respect to a cheque given to the plaintiff seventeen days after its date ; but a cheque taken two months after date has been considered stale. A person who takes a stale cheque takes it at his peril. In Australia, however, cheques seem to be regarded by many bankers as continuing authorities to pay to which a banker may conform without inquiry. They are rarely, it is believed, treated as stale, nor, as a rule, is payment of them refused on the ground that a long time has elapsed since they were drawn, unless the drawer’s liability to pay has been discharged by the operation of the Statute .of Limitations.
In England, in the absence of any express rule or principle of law, the banker seems to be bound by the usage of his business to make due inquiries before he honours a stale cheque. If he honours a stale cheque he does so at his peril, and it has been held in Great Britain that a period of two months elapsing between the drawing and the presentation of the cheque has constituted it stale. On the other hand, as Hamilton points out, in Australia a cheque seems to be regarded by bankers as a continuing authority, to be determined only by the Statute of Limitations. He does not assert that that is general, because he says that a cheque is rarely treated . as stale.
– Does he give the authority of a case for that statement?
– No. The authorities for the application of the Statute of Limitations are O’Ferrall v. Bank of Australasia and Hutton v. Glass. It has been stated by Senator Walker that after a period of six months banks frequently refuse to honour cheques on account of their being stale. I think I have seen cheques which have been out for a longer period than six months returned by the bank. I do not remember whether’ they were marked “ Stale” or “ Too long out,” but they bore an expression to that effect, which, however, did not impute anything in the nature of insolvency or inability to meet the cheque on the part of the drawer. I feel sure that on reflection honorable senators will agree with Senator Symon that the position is a very delicate one. In whatever we do, it behoves us to so provide that .we do not throw any imputation upon the drawer of the stale cheque. At the same time, we can, I think, safely’ legislate somewhat in conformity with what would seem to be a compromise between the British practice and what evidently is the practice with many banks in Australia. I hope that we shall not legislate to make a cheque of no validity after a certain period, but that we shall let the determination of liability rest upon the Statute of Limitations, and provide that at the end of twelve months the banker shall be in a position to decline to honour a cheque. Of course it is open to a banker, as has been said, to exercise a certain amount of caprice, and to say that ‘he will honour A’s cheque after a period of twelve months and more if he is in funds, but that in regard to B, he will stand on the law, and will not honour his stale cheque. We know there is a practice that after a cheque has become- what is known or regarded as stale in Australia, the banker may still return’ the cheque as stale without any imputation against the drawer. He may do that at the present time.
– There would be an imputation where he had an option, but there could be no imputation if there was no option.
– After a certain period, when a banker thinks that a cheque is stale, then, .for the protection of the customer, he very often declines to honour it. He refers to the cheque as “stale,” or as -something to that effect. That is done in some instances, perhaps, because a cheque may have got into the wrong hands. The holder may have held it fraudulently and secretly for a considerable time, and when, perhaps, he thinks that the recollection of the lost cheque has faded from the mind of the drawer and the banker, he attempts to put it into circulation, and through the bank.
– In such a case the drawer would stop payment of the cheque, so that there could be no question of faded recollection.
– The man may have passed the cheque on to an innocent third party months afterwards, and the third party may have brought it to the bank, and the. bank, thinking that the cheque had been out rather too long, holds- it up. Then there may be cases in which a bank knows that a customer had given out a cheque a considerable time before, and that it had been held for some purpose or other. When it is presented, after the expiry of six months, the bank, knowing the nature of the drawer’s business, and the peculiar circumstances under which, at certain times, he may have to conduct it, says : “ We see no reason why we should treat that cheque as a stale one,’.’ and so it is paid. I think that the reason why ‘it is left to the option of the banker is because he generally knows the nature of his customer’s business, and is able in many instances to judge whether a cheque has. or has not been out rightly for a lengthy period. I think it is advisable to leave that discretion to the banker. For these reasons we can, in my opinion, fairly leave the clause as it stands. We need not assume that the option would be exercised by the banker unjustly or harshly.
– As I was against Senator Walker’s amendment in the first instance, and preferred ‘the clause to stand as it was, defining a reasonable time-
– But it did not.
– It said-
In determining what is a reasonable time regard shall be had to the ‘nature of the instrument, the usage of trade and of bankers, and the facts of the particular case. -We ought to be very jealous of the credit of the man who gives a cheque and has money in the bank to meet it. If payment of a cheque is refused under any pretence it injures the credit of the drawer. The money belongs to the depositor, and not to the bank, and he has a right to say when his cheque ought to be paid. If any question arises, undoubtedly the bank ought to refer to the drawer. I prefer the period to be fixed at twelve months- rather than at six months ; but after what Senator Symon has said, I think that it would be better to omit the sub-clause!
– I am rather surprised at the fact not being recognised more generally that the banks take this course for the benefit of their constituents. Suppose that a stale cheque drawn by A,’B, and Company in the same town came into a bank. The bank would telephone to the drawer, or send a message round to him before returning his cheque as stale. -Has it occurred to honorable senators that, owing to a cheque having been out for a long time, a duplicate cheque may have been issued by the drawer? It has never injured a person’s credit to have a cheque come back marked as “stale,” because that word has a distinct meaning.
– It is never used.
– I am glad that my honorable friend has never had occasion to use it. In some cases it is a very awkward thing for a bank to pay an old cheque. The drawer may say at once to the bank, “ Surely owing to its old date you might have sent the cheque back to me. Some time ago I issued a duplicate of that cheque.” I hope that the subclause will be retained as it stands.
Sub-clause agreed to.
Clause 100 -
– I move -
That after the word “ protested,” line 2, the following words be inserted : - “ and the services of a notary cannot be obtained at the place where the bill is dishonoured.”
The amendment, if carried, will restore the clause to its original form. The honorable senator, at whose instance those words were left out, advanced the view that the Bill as it stood made provision for work for solicitors and notaries. I pointed out then, and do so again, that the only case in which a notary would be required for protesting the dishonour of a bill would be that of a British or other bill from outside the Commonwealth which was dishonoured here. As the clause now stands, it provides that any householder or substantial resident of the place may in the presence of two witnesses ‘ give ai certificate attesting the dishonour of the bill, and that might be rather a dangerous condition in which to leave the law. Bills of exchange entering the Commonwealth from abroad may be dishonoured here, and somebody, relying upon that provision, might endeavour to get from a householder a certificate of dishonour. The householder, unaccustomed to doing anything of the kind, as he very likely would be, might issue the certificate in such a form that it would be of very little use.
– How could he when he is supplied with the form in the Act?
– Notwithstanding the most strenuous efforts of Parliament from time to time to provide simple forms to be used by the public, we often find some reputedly intelligent members of the public making very serious blunders in using them. A notary is an officer who attests documents in one country for use in another. Throughout the other parts of the British Empire, as well as in foreign countries, it is the custom for notaries to attest certain documents which are to go outside that country into another. The attestation by a notary public is in such cases accepted abroad straight away, so to speak. The Courts of a foreign country will often take judicial notice of it. On the other hand if a document attested by a witness who is not an official is presented, the Courts of a foreign country cannot take judicial notice of it, but are compelled to seek other evidence.
– They will take it if it is legally protested, just as they will in a case where a notary is not available.
– I do not think they will. We provide that where the services of a notary are not available it shall be competent for a householder or substantial resident to issue a certificate. In that case, however, it would be set forth that the services of a notary were not obtainable. -Most of these bills will be dealt with by business men, who in ordinary circumstances would avail themselves of a notary’s services. Other persons into whose hands the bills might come, and who were not accustomed to notaries, might endeavour to rely upon the provision as it stands, and find that they had “ fallen in.” Phillimore, in his International Law, speaks thus of the office of a notary -
The chief organ of the Voluntary jurisdiction is the Notary Public, who is, in fact, a kind of international officer, to the testimony of whose acts all civilised States give credit - an officer less known and more restricted in his powers in England than on the Continent, but iri England also a well-recognised and important functionary.
In all civilized States throughout the world a protest of dishonour made by a notary is regarded as effective. Therefore, the supposed advantage to be gained by the amendment previously made in this clause, or the supposed detriment imposed upon notaries, does not balance the disadvantage caused by the establishment of an unsettled system of law, which will not harmonise with the law in other parts of the Empire, and in foreign countries. I ask the mover of the original amendment to recognise the advisableness of restoring the clause to its old form. In the Encyclopedia of the Lams of England, vol. 9, appears a somewhat lengthy article on the notary, in which it is stated - “ The general functions of a notary consist in receiving all acts and contracts which must, or are wished to, be clothed with an authentic form; in conferring on. such acts the required authenticity ; in establishing their date ; in preserving originals or minutes of them, which, when prepared in the style and with the seal of the notary, obtain the name of original acts, and in giving authentic copies of such acts.” The office of a notary is thus described by the only English text-writer upon the subject (Brooke, 3rd edition, page 12), but the description more accurately applies abroad than in England. By commercial usage, now embodied in the law, the intervention of a notary is in some cases necessary, and in others advantageous, in the proceedings consequent upon the dishonor of a bill of exchange.
– It says that his services are necessary only in some cases.
– They are necessary in “the case of foreign bills. There is ho necessity to invoke them in connexion with the dishonour of an inland bill of exchange in the Commonwealth, nor does the Bill make any such provision. It did propose to make it necessary to obtain the services of a notary, wherever available, in connexion with foreign bills of exchange dishonoured in, the Commonwealth. No doubt it would be advantageous in connexion with al! bills, but it is only necessary, and we only propose to make it so, in connexion with foreign bills. Further on the article says -
It is the duty of a notary to keep a record of the transactions in which he is employed. The protesting and noting of bills of exchange, for instance, ought to be entered in his notingbook
So that, apart altogether from the actual value of the notarial attestation in a foreign country, the duty and practice of a notary is to” keep records and minutes of transactions of the kind-. Consequently, there is in the country itself a record of the transactions, although the original papers may have gone abroad. It has been suggested that “ notary “ is practically a synonym for “ lawyer.” It is not so. A great number of lawyers are not notaries, and there are many notaries who are not lawyers at all. Further on in the .article in the Encyclopedia of the Laws of England, the following appears -
Admission to act as a notary is governed by the Acts 41, George III., c. 74; 3 and 4 William IV., c. 70; and 6 and 7 Victoria, c. 90. The appointment of notaries is by the Archbishop of Canterbury, through the Master of the Court of Faculties.
– H - How are they appointed here?
– By the Archbishop of Canterbury.
– Simply because he used to be an officer of an ecclesiastical Court.
– The Archbishop has admitted to the office of notary persons who are not members of the legal profession at all.
– I said they were mostly lawyers in Australia.
– I think not. Some of the functions of a notary are sometimes conferred in the case Of Great Britain upon Consuls abroad, who have to authenticate particular transactions. A notary’s position should be regarded as somewhat analogous. It is an established practice throughout all civilized countries to use the services of notaries, and unless there is a solid justification for a departure from it, we shall be well advised to adhere to it. The elimination of the provision requiring a notary to attest the dishonour of a foreign bill will not have the effect of benefiting persons who might be regarded as unable to afford to pay the notarial fees. The great bulk of those interested will be persons who receive bills of exchange, in the course of outside business transactions. In an endeavour to eliminate the necessity for a notary, and the consequent costs, we might mislead some people into the belief that all they had to do was to go to a householder and get his attestation of dishonour. I am not prepared to say how that would be regarded abroad, but . all civilized nations look one to the other to have responsible officers to authenticate particular acts.
– A notary has absolutely no responsibility.
– He has considerably more than a private householder. He is a registered officer. He has to make application for appointment. It is. not very easy for anybody to be appointed as a notary. No matter how great his qualifications, or how excellent his credentials may be, he will find that a considerable time passes after his application goes in before it can be even favorably entertained. The authorities have to be thoroughly satisfied of has responsibility and integrity before his appointment. After being appointed and becoming entitled to receive the’ fees pertaining to the office, a notary - unlike a householder, who might be selected at random - will not probably so conduct his business as to render himself liable to forfeit his office. The better he can conduct his office the more intimate his knowledge of the business, and the more careful he snows himself in preserving the records and transactions of his office in his books, the more likely is he to attract a clientiele which will return to him something in the nature of an income. If an individual holding a foreign bill of exchange seeks to have it protested by a householder who may or may not be substantial, but whom he believes to be substantial, what record is there of the transaction a day or a week afterwards? In the most perfect good faith the householder might be prepared to protest the dishonour of the bill, asthe matter would not be one which would come in the ordinary course of his business transactions. On the other hand, officers who are appointed for the special purpose may be relied upon to do the work correctly, so that no question can be raised abroad as to the exact form of the certificate. Such an officer would also, in carrying out his duties, make his own records of such transactions, which in the last resort might’ be relied upon should the original documents be lost in transit through shipwreck or otherwise. In every sense of the word, we know that a notary would be much more responsible than any private individual could be, so far as these acts are concerned. In the circumstances, seeing that we are not, by this provision, taking away from notaries fees which might be collected from persons ill able to bear them, I would ask Senator Givens to consent to restore the Bill to its original form, in order that we may have provisions dealing with this important matter of the dishonour of foreign bills of exchange framed on lines which have proved to be satisfactory heretofore, and in absolute conformity with similar provisions in all civilized countries with which we have commercial transactions.
– The tenacity with which persons who have in the past possessed any privileges hang on to those privileges is simply marvellous. After a full discussion of the merits of the case, when the Bill was previously before the Committee, we struck out the provision making it compulsory to employ the services of a notary public to protest a bill of exchangewhen the services of such an officer were available. Not content with having put up a good fight on behalf of the privileged notaries on that occasion, the Minister of Home Affairs now asks the Committee to waste an hour or two in reconsidering the matter in order to try to restore a provision which honorable senators on a previous occasion deliberately eliminated from the Bill. The honorable and learned senator has indulged in a great deal of special pleading in support of his particular view of the amendment. He has said that we ought to get into line with respect to this matter with the rest of the civilized world, but I point out that the fact that there has been a close corporation of lawyers and notaries in every civilized country up to the present is not a good reason why we should continue to extend the same privileges to those people for all time.I have not the slightest doubt that the members of the legal fraternity and their off-shoots, the notaries public, will be found sticking up for each other in every portion of the civilized world. I have never disputed that, and I shall not waste time in doing so now. I point out that my amendment, which was previously adopted by the Committee, does not prevent any one from availing himself of the services of a notary, a lawyer, or anybody else. Any one who has a bill to protest may, under the Bill as it now stands, go to any notary he pleases to get his bill protested. On the other hand, if he thinks it wise to do so, he can get any reputable householder or substantial resident to do the work for him. After all, what is a notary? It is, I think, a fairly full definition to say that he is an official appointed for the purpose of attesting documents, but any ordinary intelligent person can do that just as well as a notary. I fail to understand why a man should be compelled, when he does not desire to do so, to pay heavy fees to a notary to do something which he can get equally well done by other persons without having to pay those fees. The Government recognise that the protesting of these bills of exchange can be efficiently performed without the services of a notary, because in this clause they made provision that this work might be done by a householder where the services of a notary were not available. Senator Keating said that all sort of mistakes would be liable to be made by persons who are not notaries, but I fail to see that business people, frequently dealing with bills of exchange in the course of their ordinary business transactions, are likely to be incapable of filling up the form set out in schedule 2, when an eight-year-old school boy could fill it up correctly.
– Does the honorable senator think that a boy eight years of age could correctly fill up the form?
– Yes. He would find it all set out for him, with the exception of a few blanks, and a boy eight years of age ought to be able to fill up those blanks. If he could not do so, he would be no credit to his schoolmaster. I see no reason why we should restore the clause to its original form. This is one of the matters in which we might have a little free-trade. Why should I be compelled to pay a fee to a notary, or to employ such an officer, “if I do not wish to do so ? I do not understand why the close preserve of lawyers and notaries public should be protected by this Committee. Since my amendment was adopted I have received at least a dozen letters from notaries public and lawyers, asking me to forego my opposition to what is now proposed by the Minister. I have not replied to any of them, but I can now reply to them all by saying that I wish people to be allowed to conduct their own business in any way they think fit, and I do not wish that they should be compelled to pay fees to any privileged class in the community. If I have bills of exchange to protest, why should I be compelled to go to a notary public in Collinsstreet, when I could get one of my fellow senators to do the work; or, to use the words of the bill, “ any householder or substantial resident of the place,” to protest them for me? I am not certain whether the word “ substantial,” as used in this clause, means that the resident shall weigh so many pounds avoirdupois, or be so many inches tall. I shall certainly resist the amendment. The Committee rejected a similar provision at a previous sitting, and no good reasons have been given why we should go back on the decision then arrived at, and place notaries public in a privileged position, where they must be employed, whether a man wishes to employ them or not, and simply because the legal fraternity, who seem to possess so much influence with the present, and with all other Governments, wish to make this work a close preserve for these gentlemen.
– - In my opinion the Minister has himself presented the strongest argument why the clause should not be altered. He has pointed out that it will affect only foreign bills of exchange which are handled by persons of business standing in the community.
– I said that the greater number of foreign bills of exchange - the only bills to which this would apply - would Be handled by business people.
– That is so. They would be handled almost entirely by people engaged in business transactions between
Australia and the outside world. That is one of the best reasons which could be offered for refusing to reinsert the words which the Committee previously decided to leave out. These business men are men. of intelligence, and know exactly what they are doing. They could render this service one to another, and there is no reason, why they should not do so. It is not proposed that they should go to any one outside indiscriminately, and they would know that they would be protecting their own interests in making use of each other for the protesting of bills of exchange. I see no reason why we should continue to uphold a system by which this class of work is left to persons who may have had somewhat similar duties to perform as church officials under a custom and practice established over a thousand years ago. The Minister of Home Affairs has himself shown that it is not absolutely necessary that the protesting of bills of exchange should be done by notaries public, since the Bill, as presented, made provision for the performance of the work by a householder or substantial resident if a notary were not available. There is no reason in the world, so far as I can see, why business men in places like Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney, and Adelaide should do this work for each other’. At present they have to go to a notary, but if they were relieved of this method of doing business no one can believe that any inconvenience would be caused.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted, be inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Senator KEATING (Tasmania) Uo2]- - I asked that this schedule be recommitted because I intended to move an amendment on it, consequential on the amendment just negatived, but as I see that the opinion of the Committee is unchanged, and that certain honorable senators whom I had expected to see voting on this side were not present during division, I shall not submit the amendment.
Schedule agreed to.
Bill reported without further amendment; report adopted.
Debate resumed from 23rd August (vide page 231 1 ), on motion by Senator Keating -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Senator McColl’ had moved, by way of amendment -
That all the words after the word “ That “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “in the opinion of this Senate the development of agriculture will be better attained by a carefully organized system of agricultural education and scientific experiment than by the giving of bounties; and that proposals for such « system be formulated and submitted for consideration, and this Bill, or so much of it as relates to agriculture, De held over until such is done, and that the same be communicated to the House of Representatives.”
– It is my intention to support the amendment moved by Senator McColl. I shall do so, I may inform the Minister, from no contrary spirit. I realize that the Government, in proposing to offer bounties for the establishment of industries, have acted under the belief that those industries can be permanently established. I desire however, to submit for consideration whether the establishment of an Agricultural Bureau, with all the advantages that it would give to the different States, in regard to land culture in all its varieties, would not be a more permanent factor in achieving the objects which the Government has in view. In ‘my belief the benefits to be derived from the establishment of such a bureau would be permanent, and would tend towards the welfare of the community at large. The United States Agricultural Bureau, to the organization of which I propose to refer, is of such a character that I feel sure details concerning it will not only be interesting, but a revelation to honorable senators. If a similar institution were established in Australia, its influence would extend throughout the Commonwealth, and it would tend to the establishment and development of industries suitable to Australia, and which would be successfully carried on here. Such a bureau would have the assistance of competent experts, possessing a thorough practical knowledge of soils, seeds, methods of cultivation, climate, and meteorology, and who would be able to advise and educate our producers. But the industries which the Government by this measure wish to assist are in themselves of such a speculative character that Ministers will be taking upon themselves a grave responsibility by spending the money in such directions. I feel certain that the -£400,000 odd which it is proposed to spend would be better spent in establishing such a bureau as Senator McColl’s amendment indicates. After all, the soil is the pivot around which all industries centre, and must be the main factor in the development of Australasia. But I shall vote against this Bill for other reasons. In my estimation; the bounties scheme should be considered in connexion with the Tariff. Instead of its preceding the consideration of the Tariff, it should follow that measure. We have a very large expenditure to face if the proposals foreshadowed by the Government are to be carried out. We are to have an old-age pensions scheme, a defence scheme, and a Commonwealth occupation of the Northern Territory. By-the-by’e, I should like to say a word or two about that matter, because my views have been misinterpreted. I am not opposed to the Commonwealth taking over the Northern Territory - indeed, I believe that it is our duty to take it over.
– Why ?
– Because_ I conceive that, when forty years ago South Australia pluckily. took upon herself the full responsibility of developing that great land, she entered upon a task greater than she could sustain. She now confesses that she is unable to continue to bear the great expenditure involved. When we consider the responsibility and expense which South Australia has already had to endure, the Commonwealth, in my opinion, would scarcely be acting Federally, in the highest interpretation of the term, if we did not favorably consider the question of taking over the Territory. But that does not prevent me from expressing a strong antagonism to the agreement which was entered into by the Prime Minister, and which I consider inequitable, especially as we have not been vouchsafed a scrap of information as to why those values were fixed, why those conditions were agreed to, and what we have to do in connexion with the development of that vast Territory. Considering the great expenditure which will have to be incurred, and remembering that, according to the Treasurer, we have only a little over £100,000 to play with at the present time, it seems to me to be most, injudicious to inaugurate a system of bounties with a view to assisting industries, most of which I can prove are absolutely speculative, and some of which do not need any help from the Commonwealth., In view of our financial position, I shall vote against the Bill for the reasons I have given. The principle underlying bounties is one against which, theoretically, little can be said. We know that many nations have adopted the principle. I will not say that in many instances the expectations have been realized. I remember the time when the British Government offered a- bounty of £50,000 each for the building of three first-class battle-ships, according to a certain design. I believe that the money was well spent. We all recognise that in that case the ship-builders accepted a very grave responsibility, because they had to provide for all modern requirements. Upon the Government of the Commonwealth rests a very grave responsibility. If the bounties are successful, they will take the credit. But if the bounties are not successful, then those who will have suffered will be infinitely [‘more to be considered ‘than the Government. In my opinion, a Government should only submit a system of bounties on irrefutable evidence that they will achieve their object. It is cruel and unjust to induce men and women without practical knowledge to sink their little capital in industries, and devote the best years of their lives to working under semitropical conditions. To an irresponsible Government failure means little, but to a worker it means a considerable sacrifice. Victoria’s last experiment with bounties cost £233,000. I venture to affirm that in every instance, except one, the bounty was a failure, and even in that case it cannot be said that it achieved a real success. I recognise that, as regards the dairying industry, the bounty did a certain amount of good, although the channels through which the money was spent were such as to cause Australia to blush.
– Does the honorable senator say that all the experiments in connexion with bounties in Victoria have been failures ?
– No. As regards the. expenditure of .£233,000, all the bounties were failures, except in one case. I have looked at the expert evidence upon which the bounties provided for in this Bill have been based. Speaking as a business man, I consider that if ever there was a document which damned a proposal with faint praise the report of the experts on this Bill does. In the case of almost every item, qualifications are given. I do not like to pass an opinion upon the ability of the experts, but as regards one or two matters, on which I possess personal knowledge, it does seem to me that they have based their conclusions on. very flimsy evidence. Under existing conditions, what is the prospect of success with the specified industries? The conditions are against everybody but capitalists. If honorable senators will read the report of the experts they will find that in the tropical area the bounties must inevitably go to capitalists, whom my honorable friends opposite dislike. Take, for instance, the bounty which is offered on the production of copra. . A cocoanut tree takes from six to seven years before it fruits. The bounty is not to be given to small men who clear the land and put in the trees, but at the end of seven years, under the terms specified in the Bill, it will go to capitalists, who have had sufficient capital to enable them to await the results from the planting of the trees’. It is only capitalists who can go in for the production of copra.
– There are no small men engaged in that line.
– That is no reason why small men should not engage in the industry. In Ceylon and the Philippine Islands thousands of small men are engaged in the production of copra. I shall assume that the bounty is to be given for the purpose of assisting men and women who are on the soil- to engage in industries for which they are suitable. It is stated that,, with two or three exceptions; the bountiesare offered for the purpose of inducing’ white persons to emigrate to the Northern Territory and other tropical places. Ha.vewe a surplus population ? Is it businesslike to take persons from the thinlypopulated States, which are crying out for suit- able labour, and plant them in an almost unknown land under conditions which few men would like their fathers, brothers, or sisters to endure, and probably without a practical knowledge of the work to be done?
– To what part of Australia does, the honorable senator refer when he speaks of “an almost unknown land “ ?
– I am referring to the Northern Territory. In Australia we have under intense cultivation12,000,000 acres of land, which is equal to . 78 per cent. of the total area, and during the past two years only 8,000 additional acres have been brought under cultivation. Practically during that period we have done nothing in that direction. Within five years Canada placed 13,000,000 acres under intense cultivation, and established 81,000” homesteads.
– What does the honorable senator call intense cultivation in Canada?
– “Intense cultivation” has the same meaning everywhere.
– In Canada the area under cultivation is mostly devoted’ to wheat growing.
– That is intense cultivation, and the 12,000,000 acres under crop in Australia includes the area devoted to wheat growing. It is almost impossible, I think, to grasp the importance of those figures and the lessons which they ought to convey to legislators. I propose to refer as concisely as possible to the surroundings connected with the different industries in respect of which we are asked to sanction bounties. Take, for instance, high-grade tobacco. In their report, the experts say -
As there appears to be a good opening in Australia for the production of the higher grade qualities of tobacco, the members of the Conference gave this matter careful attention.
Industrial conditions in the Commonwealth seems to indicate the wisdom of encouraging the production ofthe various raw materials in their most valuable form. Some of the best qualities of leaf have a value as high as 5s. per lb., while over 20 years ago some Northern Territory tobacco sold by auction at Hamburg at the rate of 2s.11d. per lb. Against this we have the fact that the tobacco at present being produced in the Commonwealth has a merchantable value of only about 4d. to 6d. per lb.
The importations into the Commonwealth are already very heavy, the items being as under : -
As tobacco can successfully be produced in all the States, there should be no justification for these large importations, which are made in the face of a heavy Customs impost.
The following fact is of interest : - In1902 Cuba exported 29,800,000 lbs. of tobacco, worth 12½ million dollars, or an average of1s.9d. per lb. This is the kind of tobacco Australia wants to grow.
The Conference, therefore, recommends that a bonus of 2d. per lb. be given for the production of tobacco bringing10d. per lb. and upwards.
From the report of the Tobacco Commission and another report, I intend to give a few illustrations which I think will throw considerable doubt upon the accuracy of those statements. Writing yesterday, Mr. Shaw, managing director of the British Australasian Tobacco Company Proprietary Limited, said -
We have not the tobacco to make cigars here, as it requires a special leaf, and we have been experimenting for years.At the present time experts have patches here and. there in different parts of the State, but it is a slow process. When the American leaf is put in here it grows a different tobacco, and consequently it means years of experimenting. The same with the ordinary leaf.
I shall now give the evidence submitted before the Tariff Commission as shortly and concisely as I can. I want to show that, so far as we can see, tobacco has been successfully grown here, but for some reason the production has fallen completely away, as was proved by the evidence placed before the Commission. I find the following on page 14 of the Commission’s report -
Those figures show the immense advance made by the imported leaf as against the locally grown, although as a matter of fact, the manufacturers would be able to pay double the difference between the two tobaccoes in favour of the Australian leaf, because of the increased profit that they would naturally get. I take the following from the evidence of Mr. Jacobs, on page 71-
The duty on the imported leaf is1s. 6d. per lb., and the average price of making is10d. per lb., making a total of 2s. 4d. per lb. The price for local leaf is from 4d. to 6d. per lb. ; nevertheless, the bulk of consumption is imported leaf, because it pays better. If equally good Australian leaf were obtainable it would pay the manufacturers to give 2s. per lb. and save money. This is the reason why manufacturers are bound to spend money improving local production.
As a matter of fact. Dixson’s have spent £30,000 in experimenting, with the object of getting the very tobacco for the production of which this Bill offers a bonus, but practically without success.
– Where did they spend it?
– In many directions. They had a farm at Wagga, over which they lost , £10,000. On page 120, the following appears in the report of the evidence of Mr. Peter Thompson - 1598. Would it not be to the interests of the Government to encourage the use of local as against imported tobacco ?- They would have to produce an article suited to the taste of the consumers. That would not be in the Government’s hands. Eighty per cent. of the smokers in the community will use American tobacco ‘in preference to Australian.
The next witness I shall quote is Mr. J. J. Schuh. Senator Pearce will agree with me that he was one of the ablest witnesses before the Commission. The following appears in the report of his evidence - 1216. In the manufacture of your cigars do you use any Australian tobacco? - No. 121 7. Why is it not used? - Because we do not consider it suitable. Its combustion is not satisfactory by any means.
I come now to Mr. Currin, who was imported by Messrs. Dixson at considerable expense, to give the benefit of his advice to the tobacco-growers. On page 151 he is’ reported as giving the following evidence - 2637. Is the Australian leaf, in your opinion, inferior to the American? - Yes, it is lacking in natural aroma and flavour.
The next witness is Mr. W. S. Campbell, Director of Agriculture, New South Wales -
It seems to me that if our people would only take up the growing of tobacco there would be no necessity for imported leaf at all. Of course, the flavour is not, and probably would never be, the same as that of the American tobacco.
Mr. Thomas Davis, of the New York and Brooklyn Tobacco Manufacturing Company states, on page 195 - 3905. You buy the Australian leaf at an average of 6d. per lb. ? - Yes, that is a three months’ average. 3906. And you pay 2s. 4½d. for the imported leaf? - Yes; that is, inclusive of1s. 6d. duty. 3907. If the colonial leaf were as popular, or equal ‘in quality, to the imported leaf, would it pay you better to use more of it? - Yes, certainly ; but it is not. 3908. It is not equal in quality? - No. 3909. Is it a matter of public taste, or is there something radically deficient in the quality of Australian leaf ? - Both. The highest grade of Australian-grown tobacco leaf is not nearly of so good quality or flavour as the imported leaf. 3910. Do you know whether that arises from the cultivation or manipulation, or what do you think is the reason for the difference? - I should say, first of all, that it largely arises from the cultivation. It also arises from climatic conditions, and, personally, I am inclined to think that the soil has something to do with it. I have had an experiment made in our factory with the highest grade leaf grown in the State, and the result was very unsatisfactory. 3911. By Senator Story. - Was that quite recently? - Yes; I could put it on this table. I tried to smoke it, and could not. There is something peculiar about Australian leaf that is absent from the American. I am not sufficiently an expert to determine what it is. With all due deference to the opinions of others, I do not think we shall ever be able to grow in Australia the high-grade tobacco leaf that is grown in America. 3912. You think, then, there is a substantial difference in the quality? - I do.
Mr. Hugh R. Dixson gave the following evidence - 4394. Your associated companies have taken some interest in endeavouring to improve the quality of Australian-grown leaf? - Undoubtedly. I have done so personally in the old company I was attached to. Dixson Tobacco Company must have lost between , £20,000 and £30,000 over it.
I shall take now Mr. William Cameron, one of the principal manufacturers in Victoria - 5402. I presume you have a knowledge of the various kinds of tobacco leaf? - I think so. 5403. Have you compared American leaf with Australian-grown leaf? - I have. 5404. Can you state shortly to the Committee what are the differences between Australian and American leaf? - That is a very difficult question to answer. The Australian-grown leaf is a rank leaf. It is lacking in aroma, and it is not cured as it ought to be. The rankness is not overcome in the curing. The quality of leaf is such that it does not give the same aroma or taste to the smoker as the American tobacco does. 5405.To what do you attribute that? - I do not think it can be overcome. It may be due to the very heavy land on which it is grown. 5406. Do you think it is due to the curing or the growing? - I think partly to the curing, although I am not now speaking as an expert. I am merely expressing my private opinion. I should say that it is partly due to the heavy soil and partly to the way the tobacco is cured ; and then there are climatic conditions which we have not yet succeeded in overcoming in Australia. It is a question whether we shall ever overcome them.
I next come to the evidence of Mr. Smith, tobacconist, of Adelaide, and I find the following -
In your opinion, if the Australian grower produced an article equal to the American leaf he should get a much better price for it than he does? - Undoubtedly he should.
It would pay a manufacturer to buy a locallygrown tobacco rather than the imported? - Yes, if the quality were the same.
How do you account for the deterioration in the quality of tobacco? - Simply because Australian leaf is mixed with the American.
I find these statements in the evidence given by Mr. Solomon Levy, who is a cigar manufacturer -
The witness referred to was a cigarmaker in Adelaide, and in giving evidence before the Tariff Commission said that two cigars made of Australian leaf would kill an elephant. Have you heard of that? - I read it in the newspapers.
Would you be surprised to learn that the witness since then has smoked two cigars of Australian leaf and is still alive?-I have done it myself, and I am still alive. There is, of course, some leaf better than others, although Australian grown. Still, there is a certain “ twang “ about it that you cannot take away no matter how it is steamed or treated.
I next take the following from the evidence given by Mr. Neville, Instructor of Tobacco Culture of the Queensland Agricultural Bureau.
On the whole, what do you think of the future of the tobacco industry in Australia? - I feel sure that if the industry is properly protected we shall be able, within the next ten or twelve years, to supply half of the tobacco consumed within the Commonwealth. There is a certain type of tobacco - aromatic tobacco - which we cannot produce, or which we have at least been unable to produce hitherto. The soils suitable for the growing of aromatic tobacco lie in the western districts, where the rainfall is insufficient, or on the uplands of Queensland, where we cannot get the water necessary in connexion with transplanting operations.
– That weakens the honorable senator’s argument considerably.
– I wish to put the position fairly before honorable senators. It is clear that there is considerable doubt as to whether we shall be able to grow the finer qualities of tobacco leaf suitable for the manufacture of cigars. I venture to say that the inquiries of those personally interested in the manufacture of tobacco will be admitted to be more reliable than those of Government officials, however good their intentions. If a suitable leaf could be produced here, it would result in great benefit and increased profit to the manufacturers of cigars, and when they have not been able to secure a suitable leaf, it is open to very serious doubt indeed whether the results of a bounty in connexion with the growth of tobacco would be such as should commend the proposal to honorable senators in their position as trustees of other people’s money.
– Success is built up from failure. In Victoria, the growers went in for quantity and not quality, and the cultivation of tobacco leaf was left mainly to the Chinese.
– I propose now to deal with the proposed bounty on copra, and this is a question on which I can speak from a practical point of view, as I could not in respect of the tobacco industry, seeing that I am a non-smoker. Copra is the kernel of the cocoanut. The cocoanut’ palm is grown throughout the Pacific Islands, Ceylon, the Philippines, and to a very limited extent, indeed, in Australia. At Mackay, there is a small plantation of cocoanut palms, from the nuts of which copra is made. I have no hesitation in saying that in the Northern Territory there is land adapted to the growth of the cocoanut palm, but they will make a very grave error who believe that persons entering upon this industry in the Northern Territory may expect a “fairly good return for their money merely because it will have Government backing in the shape of the bounty proposed. I quote the following from the report of the Conference of States Officers on the Bounties Bill -
The cocoanut palm flourishes in the coastal portions of tropical and sub-tropical Australia. While no systematic attempts have been made to cultivate it in this continent isolated plantings have proved very successful. There isno doubt that it will grow luxuriantly along our northern sea-board. Quite a number of products can be won from the cocoanut palm, a fact which makes its cultivation in Australia highly desirable. A cocoanut plantation takes about five years to come into bearing, and when once established it lasts for sixty or eighty years. Probably no plantation requires less labour and expense to keep it in profitable condition.
The most important product is copra, or the dried kernel. . . . The trade in copra and the other products of the cocoanut has each considerable importance. . . .
As the industry is one of promise to Australia, the Conference recommends a bonus of 15 per cent. on the market value of the copra produced for ten years.
Honorable senators must not forget that not a penny piece in the way of bounty will be paid to any one until the trees get into bearing, and the copra is made into oil; and I may inform them that there is only one oil mill working at the present time in Australia. That is one which I had the honour to build for the firm I then had the honour to represent. The Manchester Cooperative Company had a copra mill built, but it has been closed for three years, and I believe Messrs. Kitchen and Sons had a small mill, which is also closed at the present time.
– They can combine this industry with others.
– They cannot; but perhaps the honorable senator knows much better than I do. The Conference further reported, on the subject of palm oil -
The oil palm will flourish in tropical Australia, and has already been grown with success in the Northern Territory. It produces a fleshy fruit with a kernel inside, both of which yield a valuable oil.
I do not know that I need weary honorable senators with further quotations from the report. Whilst I might find some fault with the conditions stated in the report, the results deduced are fairly correct. Allowing for Australian conditions and wages, I have been at considerable pains to find out what would be the cost of production of copra in Australia as compared with the cost in the Islands. Up to the time when the trees would be in full bearing, the cost in Australia would amount to from £36 to £45 per acre. That would include the clearing of the land, the planting of the trees, and cultivation to the extent of keeping the plantation free of weeds and any growth which would prevent the trees obtaining the full benefit of the soil.
– That is, to establish a plantation from primitive conditions ?
– That is so; and it would cover the time until the trees were bearing. In the Solomon Islands the cost would be only £12.
– Does the honorable senator include the price of the land?
– Yes, I include everything. I have taken the price of the land in some of the Islands, and I have not taken the price of the land in Australia in every case, because I thought it possible that the Government might give some of it away for the purposes of cocoanut plantations. The nuts have to go through five processes - collecting, drying, cutting up, and so on - before they are shipped, and whilst in Australia this work would cost £6 per acre, in the Islands it would cost only £2. The average yield would be one-half ton per acre.
– What would a ton of copra be worth?
– The experts put the price at £12 per ton, or £6 to the halfacre, and I think that is fairly accurate. But there is this to be said - That whilst three or four years ago the price of copra was j£8 per ton, it is now about £12 per ton, and it has been £16 per ton. The question is whether with the enormous production that is going on throughout the whole of the cocoanut-bearing countries, the present price is likely to be maintained under normal conditions. I would ask honorable senators whether they do not think they would be fit for a lunatic asylum if, having money to invest, they decided to spend it in the production of copra in Australia, when they could invest the same money three times as profitably in the copra-producing islands in Ceylon and in the Philippines? Are we justified in using Commonwealth money as we would not think of using our own? If I were looking, at this matter from the personal point of view, I should be inclined to encourage the copra industry in Australia, because it would benefit the firm which I had the- honour to represent for many years, and in which I still have an interest. That firm possesses the only mill working’ in Australia, and it crushes copra to the extent of 20,000 tons a vear. The more copra that is brought into the market the more advantageous it is to Lever Bros. . But surely it must be evident that the money which it is proposed to spend in- this direction could be more wisely applied as suggested by Senator McColl’s amendment. In that way we should do an immense amount of good in the Commonwealth, whereas by encouraging the growing” df the cocoanut palm for copra in Australia we shall simply be speculating with, the people’s money in a business which may or may not be profitable. I do not say that the money would be lost if the present price were kept up, but that price is abnormal.
– How can the price be abnormal ? The honorable senator has himself told us that, some time ago, it was £8 per ton, that it rose to £16, and that it is now £12. Surely, then, the latter price cannot be abnormal?
– But the price is going down week by week. I cannot honestly say that I believe that the present price will be maintained. Senator Trenwith is too wise a man to invest his own money in such an industry, knowing that the same amount of capital would yield him three times as much profit from the same business elsewhere.
– Why would such an investment be more profitable elsewhere?
– Because in the Islands the cost of labour is considerably lower than in Australia. Now, I wish’ to refer to an item upon which the experts are emphatic in their recommendation. They say with regard to jute -
It was’ the unanimous opinion of the Conference that the cultivation of certain fibres is worthy of the most generous encouragement. Prominence was given to the matter of jute production. As the raw material of which bags are made, the question of jute supply vitally affects most producing interests in the Commonwealth. The recent heavy increase in the price of all bags and sacks has caused some disquietude amongst farmers, who are naturally concerned when they find the price of the bag holding their wheat equal to an impost of 2d. per bushel.
It is known that jute will grow readily all over the moister portions of Northern Australia. Being an annual, a crop can be raised within a few months of the planting of the seed.
In 1904-5 India had 2,845,000 acres under jute, the crop being 7,450,000 bales, an average of about half-a-ton of fibre per acre. The price to-day per ton is £26 10s. c.i.f., so on these figures the industries should have a future in Australia. The importation of jute manufactures into the Commonwealth is considerable, approximating One million pounds worth a year, and the amount is likely to increase.
The experts go on to refer to an article published in the Town and Country Journal in Sydney to prove the advantage of growing jute in Australia. The article stated -
Woolpacks arc dearer in Sydney than for the past twenty years. New packs, this season’s importations, weighing n£ lbs., in bales of 50 packs, loose or fast lid, are 3s. each to-day in Sydney, as compared with is. gd. six years ago. An extra 3d. each pack is paid, if the bales are broken. Packs shipped from ‘Calcutta at the end df last season are to-day in Sydney 2s. iod. each. These high rates affect the squatters and sheep breeders generally. A great many more woolpacks are used now than formerly, owing to the increase in the New South Wales clip. It is estimated that there are ten million more sheep in New South Wales than three years ago. There is also a greatly increased demand for jute for the United States and other parts of the world. Jute is nowadays used for a large additional number of purposes as compared with a few years back.
Since the article referred to was written, sacks, which were 8s. 6d. per dozen, have gone down to 5s. 6d., but more recently, owing to the loss of a large cargo, the price has gone up again to 6s. 6d. The fact is that there is no article with regard to which the tendencies are so speculative as jute in its manufactured condition. Theexperts have, unfortunately, left us to place our own interpretation upon the most vital figure in their estimate. They put down the price of jute at about ^25 per ton. They estimate the cost of cultivation in Calcutta and India to be 52s. per acre. Since this estimate was published, I believe that the price has gone down to £20 per ton. But the experts also say that the price per ton to-day i§ £26 10s. .c.i.f., and that there is a large future for the growth of jute in Australia. I venture to object absolutely to a boom price being fixed upon for such products, in order to encourage people to embark upon their growth. I object to encouraging men and women to invest their money in a business upon speculative values, which have really no practical relation to ordinary prices. What does it mean when it is said that the cost of cultivation is 52s. per acre? It means that, practically, the whole cost is spent upon labour; and what does labour cost in India? The maximum wage for a man there is 4d. per day, and there are women and “children employed in the industry who on an average are paid from one- half -penny to three farthings per day. If, then, it costs 52s. per acre to cultivate jute in India, what would it be likely to cost to produce such a crop in Australia? I venture to say that it would not realize a profit, but would show a very serious loss indeed. I think that the gentlemen who drew up this report have been very negligent indeed in making such a statement as they have done, and in not giving us any idea as to” ‘the relation between the cost of production in the countries to which they refer and the probable cost in Australia. How can we, as business men, induce the people of Australia who have money to invest to embark- in such ail industry upon such a statement, as is placed before us in this report? I am not saying whether this industry is in itself one that could be successfully grafted on to other industries in this country. But I object to being asked to vote, for a bounty for the encouragement of any industry until I know exactly what the conditions are. I want to know all the details which are essential to enable me to form a judgment as to what the probable results will be. I know a Sydney manufacturer of bags’ who has suffered a considerable loss in consequence of the action of the Government. He complains that, whilst the Government have placed a duty on jute, they have allowed bags to come in free. The consequence has been that this manufacturer, who employed fifty hands, and has purchased machinery to enable him to carry on his business, finds that he cannot conduct it profitably. He informs me that one of his customers, with whom he had a contract last year, has asked him to renew that contract in ten days. He is placed in this position - that if he cannot enter into the contract on the same terms as before, bags from Calcutta will be used.
– Is the honorable senator referring to hessian bags?
– I am referring to cement bags. This manufacturer came to me in a very sad state about what the Government has done. Next I wish- to refer to rubber. The report of the experts says -
The cultivation of the rubber tree in some of our tropical areas calls for attention. Owing to the steady and increasing demand for rubber that prevails throughout the world, rubber producing trees are being planted in large quantities in all tropical countries.
That this valuable tree will thrive in our northern latitudes is well known, although it is more than probable that New Guinea will prove a better home for it. Many exaggerated statements as to the profits to be made from newlybearing rubber plantations have from time to time appeared. There is no reason, however, to doubt the payable results won from the plantations when the trees have reached an age at which they may be tapped.
Lest it should be overlooked, let me mention here, in regard to copra, that it is most unwise and most unprofitable to plant anything between cocoanut trees while they are growing. The trees demand exactly the same care as do the trees in a first-class orchard. If a man is not careful, he may not get his cocoanut trees to bear until two or three years after the usual bearing time, and the crop of nuts which he will get will be decreased very materially. Modern planters use the plough, and adopt every possible means to strengthen the trees by securing to them all the nutriment they can obtain from the soil.
– The trees bear in six years from seed.
– The trees bear in six years if they are properly cultivated, but not otherwise. Reverting to rubber, the experts go on to say -
The heavy expenses incidental to the initiation of a plantation, and the long period that elapses before any returns can be expected, are the main drawbacks to the industry. The idea of catch crops being possible in the meantime is, in our opinion, misleading. It is also to be remembered that the chemists of the world are actively in search of a’ synthetic substitute. In this connexion, it is well to bear in mind how the German chemists ruined the indigo industry of India.
At the present time, a synthetic substitute for rubber is claimed to have been discovered in the form of some preparation of wheat, which successfully admits of vulcanization, in which essential qualification other would-be-rubber substitutes have so far failed. In addition to the long delay that must be experienced before the rubber-planter can obtain any return for his heavy expenditure, there is always the possibility that the research chemist may evolve in his laboratory some substance that may render of little or no value, the planter’s costly undertaking. In spite of all these considerations, the members of the Conference, haying regard to the general importance of the industry, and the necessity of securing settlement in the tropical parts of Australia, agreed to recommend a bonus of 10 per cent, for ten years.
– Would it not be a terrible thing if a chemist were to discover a substitute for bread? What would the farmers do .then ? .
– I ask the honorable senator, as a sensible man, whether, in the face of the report from the .experts, he would engage in the rubber-growing industry in Australia ? Whether the conditions which apply to the production of copra do not also apply to the production of rubber ? Am I to understand that he thinks that it will be wise for the Commonwealth to spend thousands of pounds in encouraging a speculative industry’? Does he believe that he will be acting rightly in encouraging men to devote the best years of their lives in developing a speculative industry, with the knowledge that the risks, both as to the price and as to the article itself, under local conditions, will be very great indeed ?
– The honorable senator might just as well say that a man ought not to plant trees because he might die before he could expect to get a return from his labour.
– I see no parallel. “I am speaking from a business stand-point, and, both as a business man and as a trustee for the people, I decline to allow their money to be used in encouraging the development of industries which I believe do not offer any fair prospect of being successful. The next item I propose to deal with is rice. In a very able article which he wrote, Mr. J. C. Watson said that when going up one of the rivers in the Northern Territory he found along its banks a swamp averaging five miles wide’ which would be suitable for the growth of rice. . He forgot, however, to mention the class of labour he was going to place on the five-mile marsh to grow rice and reap it. That is a very important consideration, I think. Referring to rice, the experts say -
The importations of rice into the Commonwealth are sufficiently large, and its value as a food product is so well established that the encouragement of its production in Australia is much to be desired. It is, however, a product which is principally raised in Asiatic lands, and the following conditions are necessary for its successful cultivation. The best varieties of rice are grown in swamps or level irrigated ground, and the initial stages of its cultivation are carried out while the land is entirely under water. Rice is also grown largely in the swamps of Southern United States - Carolina in particular - and is partially worked with white labour. A good quality of rice is also produced by white labour in Northern Italy. Coming nearer home, in the Northern Territory, near Port Darwin, Messrs. Kloppenburg and Erickson, with the help of aboriginals, some 25 years ago, harvested 8 tons of uncleaned rice - swamp variety - from 5 acres of land, which represents a gross return of about £20 per acre. This may be regarded as a very satisfactory yield.
According -to the Paris Journal d’ Agriculture
Tropicale, for January, 1906, a population of 5,000,000 people in Cochin China annually cultivate 3,600,000 acres of rice, and Saigon alone exports annually about half a million tons.
Upland or hill rice, which, as its name implies, grows on dry land, is perhaps more within the scope of Australian producers. As far as climate and soil are concerned, there is no reason why it should not be extensively cultivated in Australia. It is produced, for instance, on a large scale in Manchuria, where, although its summers are warm, the winter is much colder than ours.
It is possible that both varieties of rice may be harvested by the stripper, in the same vijay as wheat or oats.
That is very rarely done.
There appears to be no reason why they should not be sown by the seed-drill on irrigable land. It will be seen, therefore, that the cultivation of rice opens up an entirely new field. It is open to doubt if it can be successfully exploited under Australian conditions. The industry, however, is sufficiently important to deserve encouragement, and the Conference recommends a Bonus on uncleaned rice at the rate of 20s. per ton, . for a term of 5 years.
– All their conclusions are contradicted by the evidence.
– Although we cannot spare the means to meet absolute requirements ‘ for the defence of Australia and for other purposes, yet we are asked by the’ Government to use public money in encouraging the development of an industry which is essentially an Asiatic industry. We are asked by the Government to take that step for no other reason, so far as I can perceive, than to play upon the imagination of the people, and to pursue a will-o’ - the-wisp, with the hope that their expectations may be realized. In their report the experts damn each proposed bounty withfaint praise. They ought to have damned the bounties more emphatically than they did. I how come to the item of cotton, which, I admit, has been grown here. Concerning that item there is some wonderful evidence which it is very difficult to bringinto harmony. . The experts say -
After considerable discussion the Conference recognised that the cotton industry is deserving of encouragement. At the same time the members agree that the prospects of the industry inAustralia are not specially promising.
Can we imagine any one, after inviting the assistance of experts, submitting their evidence and asking us, as level-headed men, who have been placed here to safeguard the interests of the Commonwealth,, to utilize the public money in an effort to establish the cotton industry? From what I know of the cotton industry, I think it is unfair to offer a bounty upon the production of the article. I believe that it can be grown in Australia profitably without the aid of a bounty. In 1904 Mr. A. J. Boyd, F.R.G.S., Queensland, editor of The Queensland Agricultural Journal, published a pamphlet entitled “ Cotton Cultivation in Queensland.” I proposeto quote his estimate of the value of cotton. If it be true, the marvel is that every farmer in Queensland does not rushinto the cotton industry. Let us see how much a farmer can realize from 10 acres of cotton by selling his crop at 2d. per lb. After giving details of the cost of producing an acre of cotton, Mr. Boyd setsout the return as follows -
An industry in which aman with 500 acres can make a net profit of£5 os. 4d. per acre, after paying all expenses, certainly does not require a bounty to assist it, but I assume that the experts had other evidence besides that of this gentleman, who I suppose can be classed as an expert, seeing that he is the editor of the Queensland Agricultural Journal. He gives an estimate to show the effect of ginning on the returns per acre, in this way -
Undoubtedly, a1,000-lb. crop at1½d. would pay him better than the above-mentioned cropsPicking being confined to his own family, his expenses are only £1 4s. 8d. per acre, and his return £6 5s., leaving a credit balance of £5 os. 4d. It may happen that the grower decides on having his cotton ginned. In this case he will pay £1 os.10d. per 1,000 lb. for ginning at1/4d. per lb., but he gets back the seed as well as the lint; 600 lb. of seed at £4 10s. per ton is worth £1 4s.1d., or 3s. 3d. more than the cost of ginning. In the United States, the ginning establishments will clean, the farmer’s cotton, taking the seed in payment. How does ginning affect the returns per acre?
In this case, the net profit by ginning would reach £6 16s.11d. per acre, as against£5 os. 4d. if the crop was sold in the seed. If those estimates are at all within reason there can be no possible justification for giving a bounty to such an industry, which yields double the profit to be gained from any cereal crop throughout Australia. I come now to the question of coffee. The experts report as follows -
While a very general feeling prevailed that coffee planting was not likely - at any rate in the near future - to become an important Australian industry, Conference is of opinion that steps should be taken to encourage it.
It is undeniable that coffee of a good quality can be produced over large areas of the tropical and sub-tropical portions of the continent. The returns, however, from the plantations, are not at all alluring, while the consumption of coffee by the people of the Commonwealth is on a very slender scale. The experience of the chief coffee-producing countries of the world - and these are countries where an abundant supply of cheap labour is obtainable - does not afford much hope for the extensive and successful exploitation of the industry under Australian conditions.
That is not very favorable -
In Brazil, for instance, sufficient coffee is produced to meet the requirements of the whole world, the figures being as under : -
It is generally understood that a large proportion of the crop was destroyed, so as to keep the production within the consumption -
It is also an ominous fact that, according to the Trofeifpflamer - a recognised authority on all tropical matters - the planters of Brazil have not only destroyed large quantities of coffee berry because of the low prices prevailing, but have also pulled up the bushes growing on large areas of coffee plantation, and are using the land for other purposes.
The records available of Australia experience in coffee-growing are by no means encouraging. In the year 1903 there were 318 acres under coffee in Queensland, the total yield being 83,632 lbs. Valuing this at9d. per lb. - which is allowed to be a fair average price - the return would not be more than£10 per acre. Considering the labour involved in clearing and preparing the land, in picking and cleaning for market, and bearing in mind the fact that the plantation does not become productive until it is four years old, this return appears totally inadequate.
With all these disadvantages, the fact remains that coffee of a good type can be produced over large portions of Northern Australia, and accordingly a bonus of1d. per poundfor eight years is recommended.
I condemn this proposal with all the force at my command. The recommendation of the experts is absolutely inconsistent. Ex-Senator Staniforth Smith, in his report on Papua, Malay, and Java, states that coffee was planted there in considerable quantities, but that the result was absolute failure as regards its being a profitable industry. It has therefore been discontinued. I take it that the two most important questionsbefore us within the near future are the development of our lands and the provision of naval defence. I intend to show shortly how our lands can be developed, and how this money, which it is proposed by this Bill to spend upon what I may call speculative industries, could be safely invested for the benefit of the whole of the people in that direction. In the second place, if the money was spent in encouraging shipbuilders by means of a subsidy for torpedo boats, submarines, or gun-boats, it would be infinitely better spent. We all recognise that for many years to come we shall be dependent upon the old country for our means of defence. But I think the time has arrived when this young Commonwealth should initiate a policy by . which in a small way we can show the mother country that we are doing all that lies in our power to help to defend ourselves, so that we may be able to stave off the dangers that are around us, and that at any moment we may have to grapple with. The man who inaugurates an industry such as the building of torpedo boats, gunboats, and submarines will have to face a very heavy initial expense. He must obtain models and engage experts of experience from the old country, who will command large salaries. If we undertook to encourage an industry of that sort we should be acting well within our powers. It would be money well spent in the interests of the whole of the Commonwealth, arid not in partial or restricted areas, as will be the case under this Bill.’ I shall refer now to what I consider the crux of the whole question of agricultural production. I wish to thank Senator McColl for the very able speech which he delivered, and for the valuable facts and figures which “he placed before us, and which he must have been at considerable pains to obtain,’ in order to show the value that Australia would derive from the establishment of a Commonwealth Agricultural Bureau. The investment of money in that direction would yield ten times as much as these bounties will ever return. I earnestly ask the Minister to give full consideration to Senator McColl’s speech. Does he not realize that this sum of ^412,000 if spent in creating a Commonwealth Agricultural Bureau would be a far sounder and -better investment than if it were dissipated in giving . small sums to create . or develop industries which, to say the least, are largely of an uncertain character? It is impossible to ignore ‘the great practical and developmental work that has followed the agricultural policy adopted in the United States, Canada, and Germany. Does not the Minister realize that the very industries selected in this Bill for initiation and development would have a greater probability of permanent success through the practical educational effect of the direction and guidance of experts? In America, experimental stations have been established in almost every State, and the highest professional expert knowledge is given to every inquirer in regard to suitability of lands, climate, and chemical1 adaptation of soils. I might refer to the good work that has already been done in some of the agricultural colleges in Australia. Mr. Potts, the head-master of the Hawkesbury College, New South Wales, has rendered! inestimable service to that State. One cannot fail to be struck, when visiting that institution, with the advantages which will be derived by the young men who are being educated there in every; phase of agricultural work. Practically every one of those young men goes back .to his own district from the college as a missionary or teacher. When I visited the college, Mr. Potts gave me practical illustrations of the results of his work. He told me of instance after instance of young men who had gone from the college, generally with very little means, but had almost invariably succeeded through applying to the cultivation of thesoil the technical knowledge they had gained of agricultural chemistry. As a matter of fact, practically every young man who leaves the Hawkesbury College is engaged almost immediately. Applications by the hundred are received for their services.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.4.5 p.m.
– I wish to say a word or two of the work being done in Java. Java is about half the size of Victoria, and has a population of 61,000 whites and 28,000,000 natives. Whilst in Australia we have 12,000,000 acres under intense cultivation, there are 8,000,000 acres so cultivated in Java. This, to a large extent, is the work of Dr. Treub, who is recognised as one of the greatest living authorities on tropical agriculture. If” the Commonwealth could secure the services’ of Dr. Treub to take charge “of a Commonwealth Agricultural Bureau, the cost involved would be money well spent. The Honorable Staniforth Smith, who was well known and respected as a member of the Senate, makes the following statement in his report concerning Java -
A very large proportion of the surface of Java is covered with mountains, only portions of which are cultivable. In spite of this no less than one-quarter of the total area is actually under cultivation, while considerable areas are required for pasture. The agricultural land held by the natives has an area of 7,227,587 acres, of which only 163,591 acres are unplanted. The lands of Java can be divided into “ Sawah,’ or irrigated land, and “ Tagal,” or dry land. By far the largest proportion of the natives’ land consist of irrigated puddy-fields, as rice is the staple food.
Mr. Staniforth Smith gives an estimate of the crops grown, and the value of the exports, particulars of which I need not weary honorable senators with, and he goes on to say -
At the head of this little world of science is Dr. Treub, perhaps the greatest living authority on tropical agriculture - the master-mind who has brought all these research establishments and information bureaux into existence, and who has developed the botanical gardens to their present state of excellence.
I remind honorable senators that in Japan also there is a great movement going on for the extensive cultivation of the land. General Booth, in one’ of his reports, states -
There you have the small-holdings principle worked out wilh a vengeance. Tens of thousands of families obtain sufficient support from onefifth of the quantity of land that we are reckoning on for our scheme at Boxted. One of my staff personally inspected a small farm belonging to one of my soldiers - a peasant farmer outside Kobe - consisting of an acre and a quarter of land, from which he obtained a generous livelihood for himself and family, with something over for an old-age pension.
It is said that the happiest race of people known live in the island of Guernsey, and those who, like myself, have visited the island, must have remarked the beautiful gardens, the well macadamized roads, and the pleasant houses. The average acreage cultivated by farmers in Guernsey is about 8 acres, and a poor man is almost unknown there.
– There is no land monopoly there.
– I believe the honorable senator is correct, and that there is no land monopoly there.
– We want to hit the land monopolists with a brick.
-We do. ‘ If I could stamp them all out to-morrow on equitable terms I would do so. I can give one illustration of the evils of land monopoly which should be as convincing as many. I was speaking some years ago to Mr. Benn, manager of the Aberdeen Meat Works, who I consider is one of the ablest men in his own walk of life to be found in Australia, and certainly in New South Wales. He comes from New Zealand, and he told me that there was almost as much land lying between the northern district of New South Wales, running from Armidale down to the rivers, as in New Zealand. He said that it was as good land, and had as good a rainfall as the land in New Zealand, and there was a sufficient area of it toprovide homes for thousands of yeoman freeholders. Yet we find all that land practically locked up in large areas, and used for the fattening of sheep and cattle. If a law could be passed-
– Order ! The honorable senator is getting away from the subject.
– I intended to apply that statement by saying that in the Commonwealth of Australia we do not lack good land, but the land we have is not put to its proper use. The work of the agricultural colleges in America, Canada, and Germany has been referred to by Senator MoColl. and I shall make some quotations to show the tremendous advantages which, may be derived from the teaching of agricultural colleagues by persons engaged ii* the cultivation of the soil. I propose to make a few quotations from a publication issued’ by the American Bureau of Agriculture. The first has reference to the principles governing the relationship of the Department of Agriculture with . the experimental stations, and at page 167 of the publication referred to I find the following -
Although the Act establishing, the agricultural! experiment stations made them practically independent of one another and of the Department of Agriculture, the relations of these two great agencies have in reality been very close. They have been drawn together by a common purpose, and as their work has progressed they have of tea found themselves in positions of mutual helpfulness and dependence. They have developed together. Together they have demonstrated the utility of agricultural investigation and shown its practical importance to the farmer and the horticulturist. They have laid the foundation, of a science of agriculture as a basis for teaching, and have won the confidence and appreciation of the general public to such an extent as. to make their continued development possible.
The period covered by the experiment station movement in this country has seen a great change in the Department of Agriculture, both in character and in material equipment. The Department has become in effect a great experiment station, with probably the largest personnel and the most liberal appropriations of any institution of its kind. Congress has year by year increased its appropriations for investigations independent of its administrative work, and its organization has steadily developed along the lines of a central experiment station. But it has lacked Some of the characteristics of an American station in its equipment and methods of work, and these differences, together with the wide distribution of the stations throughout the country, have made the reciprocal relations of the Department and the stations the more important.
Then at page 568, on the subject of agricultural colleges and their work, this statement is made -
College instruction in agriculture is given in the colleges and universities receiving the benefits’ of the Acts of Congress of 2nd July, 1S62, and 30th August, 1890, which are now in operation in all the States and Territories, except Alaska, Hawaii, and Porto Rico. The total number of these institutions is 65, of which 63 maintain courses of instruction in agriculture. In 21 States the agricultural colleges are departments of the State universities. In 15 States and Territories separate institutions having courses in agriculture are maintained for the coloured race. All the agricultural colleges for white persons and several of those for negroes offer four years’ courses in agriculture and its related sciences leading to bachelors’ degrees, and many provide for graduate study. About forty-five ofthese institutions also provide special, short, and correspondence courses in the different branch of agriculture, including agronomy, horticulture, animal husbandry, poultry raising, cheese-making, dairying, sugar-making, rural engineering, farm mechanics, and other technical subjects. The officers of the agricultural colleges engage quite largely in conducting farmers’ institutes and various other forms of college extension. The agricultural experiment stations with very few exceptions are departments of the agricullural colleges. The total number of persons engaged in the work of education and research in the land-grant colleges and the experiment stations in 1905 was 5,406; the number of students in these colleges, 59,812 ; the number of students (white) in the four-year college courses in agriculture, 2,638; in short and special courses, 3,885. There were also 1,624 students in agriculture in the separate institutions for negroes. With a few exceptions each of these colleges offer free tuition to residents in the States in which it is located. In the excepted cases scholarships are open to promising and energetic students; and, in all, opportunities are found for some to earn part of their expenses by their own labour. The expenses are from $125 to $300 for the school year.
Then follows a list of the stations, with their locations, the name of the institutions, and the work that they profess to do. On page 564 is a passage dealing with the organization of Departments -
The bureau of chemistry investigates methods proposed for the analysis of plants, fertilizers, and agricultural products, and makes such analyses as pertain in general to the interests of agriculture. The work on foods includes the analysis of adulterated products, experiments to determine the effects of adulterants on the human organism, and the investigation of food products imported into the United States. The bureau does chemical work for some of the other bureaus and divisions of the department, and for other departments of the Government which apply to the Secretary of Agriculture for such assistance.
On pages 173-5 is a passage dealing with the principles underlying the work of the Departments of Agriculture and Experimental Stations.
On the other hand, there are very many things which the department could not have carried to practical conclusion, certainly not with the success that has been achieved, had it not been for the favourable conditions and co-operation afforded by the stations. This union of effort and resources has been an economy of the departments’ funds in carrying out its work, and has served to bring it closer to the farmers. For example, if in its sugar-beet work the department had been obliged to rely upon cooperation with farmers as a means of determining the range of adaptability of this crop and the practicability of its cultivation, vastly more time and expense would have been involved, and a large proportion of the trials would have been of no value owing to failure to follow directions. There would also have been an absence of constant trained observation upon the growing crops and of carefully weighed deductions at the close of the trial. As it is, the facts were secured mainly by the sending out of the beet seed and the extension of the franking privilege of the stations. The dissemination of alfalfa growing is also an illustration of successful co-operative effort in which the stations took a prominent part. Not only the adaptation of the crop to different localities had to be determined, but the best methods for putting in theseed and securing a stand, and these matters have been the subject of a large number of experiments at the stations. In arid farming the department and the stations have supplemented each other in an important way, for while the department has introduced many of the things which are proving successful in developing farm ing under restricted rainfall, the stations have exploited these crops in their regions, tested their adaptation, and even conducted special branch farms as a basis for their intelligent introduction. Such farms are maintained at State expense, for example, in North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Kansas, and Nebraska, and in several other States on a less formal basis. New plants and crops cannot be safely introduced from remote regions without preliminary experiments to show their value and to adapt them to the new locality ; and the experiment stations, which will be called upon sooner or later to advise farmers regarding their culture are the natural and most suitable agencies through which these preliminary trials can be made. Such trials, like practical experiments in other lines, have a value which does not attach to tests made by farmers unless the latter are closely supervized and controlled, for they are conducted under suitable conditions by trained observers competent to interpret the results. These things show the intimate relations which almost inevitably exist between the work of the departments and the stations. Consciously or unconsciously, these two agencies depend in a large degree upon each other for suggestions for materials and for results, and their activities are guided as a matter of course by these reciprocal relations.The advances in agricultural science are so complex as to their source that it is often difficult to assign the credit equitably, because there have been so many contributory causes, the real value of which is often difficult to measure.
On the question of co-operation in agricultural experiments this work states -
For example, the appropriations for conducting experiments in animal breeding and feeding, for continuing the work in plant breeding and selection for testing plant introductions, for studying the influence of environment upon the competition of cereals and sugar and starchproducing plants, for determining the adaptability of grape stocks, for studying market conditions affecting the fruit and vegetable trade, for the improvement and extension of cereal production, for work upon grass and forage plants, for drainage and irrigation investigations, for work in connexion with the ravages of the cotton boll weevil, and for studies on human food and nutrition - all make special mention of the experiment stations as co-operating agencies. But the lines of work to which co-operation has extended are in fact far more diverse and comprehensive than indicated by the congressional acts. For several years past co-operation has embraced the culture of field crops and vegetables of various kinds, of special crops like cotton, rice, and sugar beets, the breeding and adaptation of cereals and other plants, the . control of insect pests and plant diseases of various crops, the water requirement of crops and .ils application, alkali reclamation, feeding and breeding experiments with animals, experiments in butter and cheese-making and curing, and various phases of arid farming.
At page 34 plant industries and crops are dealt with -
Plant investigations have been a feature of the Department’s work since its establishment, although the organization of the bureau of plant industry was not effected until July i, 1901. It consists now. of eleven offices^ each of which is charged with the handling of a group of important plant problems. The work is carried on by 508 employes, about 60 per cent, of whom are engaged in scientific work. The work of the bureau is designed to bear directly on the practical questions which daily confront the tiller of the soil.
Achievements in cotton seed breeding are referred to in the following passage -
In the breeding and improvement of cotton the first experiments of the Department were begun in 1899. At this time little had been published regarding cotton breeding. Careful methods of breeding were devised, and methods of judging cottons by score cards worked out, which have become standards for work in this field of investigation. The frequency of natural crossing in the field was studied so that different varieties might be grown without risk of mixing and deterioration. The correlation of characters, the laws governing the splitting up of hybrids, the form of plant and other important matters have been carefully studied. Reliable advice can now be given to cotton-seed growers and breeders.
In regard to the encouragement of rice production it is stated -
Rice has received special attention during the past six or seven years. The Japanese or Kiushu variety was brought into the country and disseminated. Since this introduction the development of the rice industry in the south has been phenomenal. Between 1899 and 1904- the rice acreage of Louisana and Texas increased from 210,396 acres, yielding 179,919,293 lbs. of rough rice, in 1899 to 610,700 acres in 1904, yielding 869,426,800 lbs., an increase of upwards of 190 per cent, in acreage, by far the greater increase being in Texas. In 1899 Texas had 178 acres of rice, in 1899, 8,711 acres, while in 1904 the acreage had increased to 376,500, or more than 43 times the area under this crop six years ago.
On page 46 the question of coffee cultivation is dealt with. I draw special attention to this, because I think it is important as applicable to our tropical districts -
Coffee has received special attention in Port Rico. Studies of coffee in other regions have been made with a view to profiting by the results obtained in those regions. Several of the supposed principles of coffee culture have beenfound on being subjected to scientific study to have only local application. It has been shown that the value of shade which is recognised in a number of coffee-growing sections is “ dueprimarily to the fact, that the shade trees are of the leguminous family.
In regard to rubber, it is stated -
Important investigations have been made of the rubber industry in Central America. These studies have developed two important facts. First, that the rubber tree does not require to> be grown in regions of great and continuous humidity, as heretofore believed, but thrives and produces better in districts subject to .1 distinct dry season. The second important fact is that contrary to previous popular and scientific opinion, the same species of rubber does not extend throughout the Central American region. The reports which the Department have published have served as a warning to the public of the essentially uncertain character of a number of undertakings in rubber culture, and have undoubtedly saved to the American Republic millions of dollars.
– But where were those experiments tried?
– Throughout the United States of America. In almost every State there is an experimental station, and as a rule it is affiliated with the Central Bureau.
– It is said that rubber will grow very well and profitably in the Northern Territory.
– Are the institutions of which the honorable senator speaks all Federal or State and Federal?
– They are very nearly all Federal institutions. As a rule, the experimental stations are affiliated with the Central Bureau. They all recognise the authority of the parent society, and if they want any advice or assistance, it is freely given to them.
– Are those experiments and investigations carried out in the United States alone, or all over the continent of America?
– The experiments to which I have been referring are carried out in the United States, but in Canada there . is a bureau which does similar work. I believe that the credit for the initiation of the Agricultural Bureau is due to Germany.
– Can the honorable senator state the amount which the American Congress appropriates annually for those purposes?
– The information is given in the book which I shall be very pleased to hand over to the honorable senator presently. As I have been afraid that my voice would not hold out very long,’ I have only quoted that information which I think most relevant to the question before the Senate. I have desired to show conclusively to the Minister of Home Affairs that, even in the interests of the industries which it is proposed to develop, the amount of the bounties could be better expended upon the establishment of an Agricultural Bureau similar to that of America. Take, for instance, the Northern Territory. An Agricultural Bureau could carry out there scientific and practical experiments which would place at the disposal of the Government facts which would enable them to offer bounties upon the production of those articles which, they would know beforehand were likely to be permanently successful.
– The honorable senator knows, of course, that in the Northern Territory, South Australia did establish experimental gardens, and so on.
– I am aware of that, and it was very creditable to the State. I think the honorable and learned senator will recognise that, during the last two or three years, the developments in science and agricultural chemistry have been so rapid as to make it almost a necessity for the Commonwealth to establish an agricultural college, which would be of eminent service to the producers in every State.
– The honorable senator wants a bureau established where there are very great variations in the climate?
– I do. On the value of the soil, this writer says -
The soils of the United States are considered as the greatest natural economic endowment of the American people, far exceeding in the value of their annual products all of the returns secured from mines and fisheries. It is the purpose of the Soil Survey work to outline the most economical method of securing’ the utmost efficiency in the handling of these soils and in the production of food products from them. The questions involved concern not only the farmers themselves, but also every person interested in labour, commerce, manufacturing, or professional life. The problems are fundamental. The studies thus far made of the soils of the United States include the survey of 197 separate areas, located in 44 States and Territories. These surveys aggregate 63,621,120 acres, or 99,408 square miles. They have been so distributed as to constitute a study of soil conditions in all the different physical divisions of the United States and for all of the chief staple crops. In addition the special conditions favouring the production of special crops under intensive methods of agriculture have also been studied. Surveys of the tobacco soils of the United States have been made in sixteen different States. Their results show that the variety of leaf produced is controlled largely by the texture of the soil upon which the crop is raised. Thus, the heavy clay soils produce a thick, gummy leaf, while the lighter sands produce wrapper leaf and bright tobacco.
I have tried to state from my point of view the advantages which will be derived from the establishment of an Agricultural Bureau. Should the Senate decline to accept the amendment, and read the Bill a second time, it is my intention to move the amendment which has been circulated. When white men, women and children are asked to live and work under severe tropical conditions, deprived of the privileges which are enjoyed by their fellow citizens in the Commonwealth, surely a great responsibility is placed upon the Commonwealth to see that their interests are carefully safeguarded by regulations, that their lives are made as comfortable as circumstances will permit, and especially that drinking facilities shall be restricted. I recognise that at the present time the States have jurisdiction in these matters. It must be remembered that in many districts there is no Arbitration Court or Wages Board. I decline to limit the wages to be paid according to the surrounding conditions, because it might result in initiating a white man’s slave State. I do not believe that a tropical country is a white man’s natural home. I consider that if white men settle in tropical districts the result will be a weak, degenerate race. I am aware that white men can work on the littoral of the Persian Gulf ; in fact, an honorable senator has told me that in his opinion there is no difference between a white man and a black man except as regards the colour of the skin. He has affirmed that wherever a white man can work there a black man can work, and vice versa. Apparently in his opinion a black man can work in the Arctic Zone equally as well as a white man. When we recollect that in England, which has offered a free home to the coloured races of the world, there are practically very few coloured men, we must realize that if a black man could work wherever a white man can work that country would have been inundated with black labour, especially when we take into consideration the wages and conditions- obtaining there as compared with other countries. We may hold as a general principle that Australia should be preserved for white people, but I believe that there is an exception to every rule. Where we find that it is impossible for white people to live and work consistently with the social conditions which prevail in every other portion of Australia, we should be doing a real good to the white race by introducing into certain districts under strict regulations, British coloured races, I do not say in- large numbers, but in numbers applicable to the needs of those districts, and to be employed under conditions which would prevent free intercourse between the white and coloured people. Some time ago I expressed that opinion in the Senate, and notwithstanding all that has been said on the other side, I adhere to it. I hope that I am wrong in my view, and that we shall find that the white man can develop the resources of Northern Australia, and maintain that physique which we pride ourselves belongs to the Englishspeaking race.
– The honorable senator does not believe in restricting the liberty of the subject. If he desires that .coloured Britishers should be allowed to come in, why should he want to restrict them ?
– Because I desire, that, as far as is practicable, Australia should be a white man’s country.
– Then why have a subject race here under conditions such as the honorable senator has stated ?
– Do I understand from the honorable senator that it. is his wish that if white men cannot work in those tropical districts they should be left unpopulated ?
– White men are working there now.
– That may be so. Because white men can work’ on the littoral of the Persian Gulf it does . not follow that it is their natural home. Would the honorable senator like to send his mother, his sisters, and brothersthere to work in the rice fields, sugar plantations, or rubber plantations ? No, he would be the first to flinch from sending his kith, and kin into tropical regions. I agree with Senator McColl in his desire that this great continent shall be what we -hope it will’ be - the future Britain of the Southern- Seas. As I listened to the honorable senator on Friday, my memory went back thirty or forty . years, and I thought I was listening to one of the great free-trade orators of that day. When I heard the honorable senator speak of the primary industries, and of this country becoming an . exporting country, I was reminded of the fact that we still had room for him in the free-trade ranks. I shall be very glad to welcome my honorable friend into our ranks, and then I think he would have a brighter prospect of seeing his ideals realized. There is one thing, however, which we must never forget, and which General Booth in his statement has made clear, and that is that in commerci’al and industrial affairs no country has shown such an expansion as has Japan, and that China is following suit. If we imagine that we are going to become exporters, trading in the Southern Seas, we may reckon that there we shall find a competitor who, so far as I can judge, will be able to manufacture every article of commerce on much cheaper terms than we can do. Therefore it behoves us to put our house in order if we wish to realize our ideals. With all the earnestness I can command, I put it to honorable senators that, in order to attain our ends, no money could be more profitably spent in the interests of the Commonwealth than upon the establishment of an Agricultural Bureau on the lines, so far as it is practicable, of the great institution in the “United States.
.- It is a little disappointing to find that some honorable senators seem to take very little interest in this Bill. The measure appears to be one of the very greatest importance, for it asks us to spend £412,000 in fifteen years. I should say that it asks us to waste it, because I am certain’ that a great part of the proposed expenditure will not achieve the object which we all have in view - that is, . to give bounties in order that some permanent industries may be firmly established on the soil. We all desire to stimulate production, to encourage land settlement, and to inaugurate a better system of cultivation. But the great difference between the two sides of the Senate is as to the means of doing this. Ministers appear to have chosen the wrong way. We must all have listened with very great pleasure -to the splendid speech of Senator McColl last Friday. He has put before us an alternative which we cannot pass by without very serious thought and discussion. Senator Gray has also given us excellent arguments and valuable data about other countries, which ought to lead us, as I hope they will, to support most heartily Senator McColl’ s amendment.
– Honorable senators opposite do not give the supporters of the Bill a chance of putting their view of it.
– There will be plenty of opportunity, but I have had my notes prepared for the last three weeks, and I have been told by my party to keep the debate going. I want also to get rid of my speech. A great many people in this world, including politicians, seem to have a very exaggerated notion of the benefits which can be derived from an Act of Parliament. It is a common error to make, but I do not think I know of a case in which that error has been more emphatically committed than the present. It is all very well to see a fancied benefit1 or advantage, or to imagine that a certain slate of things will bring industrial prosperity. Some honorable senators at once jump to the conclusion that if they pass an Act of Parliament they will have secured the advantage and made certain of all the benefits. Evils arise which we desire to put down, and, in the same way, some honorable senators, in their innocence, think that they have only to pass an Act of Parliament ‘and the evil will be removed. The teachings of all history, even examples at our very doors, go to show that an Act of Parliament sometimes accentuates an evil, and operates in the very reverse way to what those who passed it intended. When people imagine that by passing an Act of Parliament they will insure certain advantages and benefits, they generally leave out of their calculations the most important factor of human nature. Unless that factor is taken’ into consideration Acts of Parliament are very often nothing but waste paper.
– If the honorable senator followed out that line of argument, he would be against all Acts of Parliament. He would become an anarchist.
– In passing an Act of Parliament we must take into account the factor of human nature.
– Human nature is so variable.
– Therefore, the Act of Parliament will not always act in the way it was intended to act. Fortunately for those of us who argue on this side, we have some experience to guide us, and Senator McColl, who knows more about it than I do, declares that the very large and extravagant bonus system of Victoria ended in failure with regard to every item except the common one of butter.
– That success was so great as to justify the whole business.
– The honorable senator cannot get rid of my argument in that way. Butter is a very homely commodity, which any old woman can turn out with a churn. It is not very wonderful that the bonus succeeded im that case, with all the facilities of land and labour present, and with all the other conditions ‘favorable. How does the honorable senator get over the fact that a failure was made in every other item ? I have a list of the bonuses offered by Victoria. Their name is legion. I will read only a few of them.
– Were those .industries established in Victoria?
– They were supposed to be established, but they all ended in failure:
– Was the bonus paid?
– Some of the bonuses were paid. Here are some of the objects of the Victorian bonus system : “ Growers of grapes, fruits and general vegetable products.” That was a failure. Factories for fruit canning, fruit drying, dairying, raisin and currant making, &c, was another class of items. These bonuses were also a failure, except as to the dairying. The raising of currants and raisins came later, after the expenditure and loss of thousands of pounds. The next item was “ Importation of new varieties of seeds and plants.” That. was a failure. Then there was “ Technical education by the employment of experts to supply instruction.” That is the only sensible proposal in the whole lot. Another was “Introduction of new machinery and appliances.” That was a failure. “ Publishing agricultural reports and illustrations in connexion with educational work “ - that began to take on years afterwards. It was also proposed to give bonuses “ For the encouraging of the planting and cultivation of forest trees.” Every one of these was more or less a failure. The Act passed in New South Wales was also to a great extent . failure. I am not sure that that Stat r ali point to a single industry which has been permanently established on the soil by this bounty-fed system.
– In the honorable senator’s own State some industries have been established by the bounty system.
– Then, I ask, where is the demand or the reason for this Bill ? Senator McColl said that it was not a party measure; but it is in this respect, that it is part of the policy of the Government, with their ultra system of protection, and their efforts to do something for everybody. They are not content with bringing in an enormous protective Tariff to benefit the manufacturers of Victoria and other States, but desire also to make a friend of thefarmer, and show him that they are alive to his interests by giving this sum of£41 2,000. It was originally£600,000. They want to make the farmer believe that the Government are his friends also. You cannot have a Tariff of ultra-protection on everything such as Sir William Lyne has proposed, and pretend for one moment that you are also the friend of the farmer. On the one hand, the Government are proposing a bounty on cotton. Machines which cost about , £2,000 each are required to gin the cotton, but in the Tariff a duty of from 30 to 35 per cent. is imposed on all machinery. Although this may not be a party question in one sense, still it is part of the rotten policy of the Government. It is impossible to give these bounties and to expect the industries to succeed as they ought to, if by means of the Tariff an enormous duty is placed on machinery, which will absolutely penalize the man who desires to buy a machine in order to earn the bounty which the Government ask and expect him to earn. When a similar Bill was before the Senate last yearI succeeded by a majority of only one vote in having it laid aside. I pointed out then that the report of the experts, as laid before us, was a most impracticable document. It gave no information to guide us, nor did it attempt to prove, with regard to a single item, that a permanent industry would be the result of the giving of a bounty. Since then the Minister of Home Affairs has, I understand, obtained further reports from the experts. Those are before us, but they seem to be little better than the previous one. I have the greatest respect for experts. If one of them were in the gallery, I should try to obtain from him all the information possible. But while they may be very good at theory, and have a perfect knowledge of their sciences, they do not seem to have a particle of practical ability among them. I read with astonishment the report upon which the Minister of Home Affairs has the temerity to ask us to spend this , £412,000. Those experts have broughtbefore us a lot of information, which, however, is not stated in very logical sequence. They appear, after giving the evidence, to wind up in every instance with a recommendation that such and such a product ought to be encouraged, as it will be of the greatest use to the Commonwealth, and they, therefore, recommend a bounty. But in almost every instance their recommendation is absolutely contradicted by the evidence which they have supplied. They do not appear to have exercised the slightest judicial skill or to have looked at the question from the point of view of practical agriculturists. They do not seem to have the slightest idea of what a farmer’s life is, or what it means for a man to risk his capital in trying to grow new products or in seeing that the soil is fit for them. They have given noevidence whatever as to whether white labour can do the work or not. They have absolutely shirked the whole labour question.
– I wonder what they went to school for?
– In their own particular line as theorists they may be very clever men, but their whole report, from first to last, is silent as to any practical application of their theoretical knowledge.
– They would have been wasting time had they gone into the labour question, because Australia has declared in favour of a White Australia policy.
– That may be so. I am not going to touch the labour question. I shall suppose that we are all going to be loyal to the policy of a White Australia. But that is all the more reason why these men ought to have shown that the industries can be carried on with white labour. We have our own little Territory of Papua, with its half million of natives. If rubber is to be grown there, or half the products that are mentioned in their report, it was their duty to show that, under a White Australia policy practical farmers in Australia could, with the white labour at their disposal, or with any white labour that might be introduced, cultivate these products and establish permanent industries in face of such competition. What is the good of their report unless they show that?
– How can the honorable senator expect a better report from men, some of whom never had any agricultural knowledge until they were pitchforked into a Government billet?
– I am sorry to hear that. It only confirms my opinion that they may be most skilled and experienced teachers of the theory of agriculture, but are not practical men. There is not a practical mind amongst the lot of them. I read a very interesting book the other day by Mark Twain on Christian Science. I am going to treat this report as he treated Mrs. Eddy’s writings. He simply paraphrased them, and tried to show how inconsistent and illogical the lady was.. Let me be Mark Twain for one minute with regard to this report. This is, with a slight variation, what the experts say on cotton -
The members agree that the prospects of the industry in Australia are not specially promising…. During the American civil war the commodity was produced in Queensland, Western Australia, and New South Wales, but judging by the rapid abandonment of the in- dustry, it did not prove as lucrative as other crops…. We find that in the year 1882 - and under the stimulus of a bounty and high prices - 717 acres of. cotton were planted in Queensland, the yield being 212,370 lbs. of ginned cotton, or a return, at ordinary market price of £8 per acre, which allowing for the work involved in growing and marketing the produce, leaves a very slender margin for the producer…. Except for the fact that cotton seed has recently become valuable because of the oil that can be extracted from it, and the cake which can be manufactured, from the residues, the cotton industry would be utterly without hope in Australia…. With the resumption of cotton cultivation in the United States at the close of the war, and the abrogation of the bonus, the industry was practically abandoned.
The bonus offered was£5,000 for the first 5,000 yards of cotton goods, but the manufacturing company ceased business very soon after the bonus had been paid over.
– There is not much of Mark Twain about this !
– The authorities appear to be unanimous that cotton will be unprofitable to Australian growers, and after giving us all these dismal sentences, they go on to say -
While fully recognising the weight of the facts already quoted, the Conference deems it advisable to afford some encouragement to those who may be inclined to initiate an industry for which the country is well suited.
There is the whole of their testimony. and it is absolutely against any hope of the establishment of a permanent cotton industry in the Commonwealth, and yet the experts wind up by recommending a bounty. During the debate on the” Desert Railway,” one honorable senator was “ hauled over the coals “ because he said that a certain report was made to order. But the honorable senator used only a common phrase to describe what occurs when a number of experts are asked to advise upon a certain course, and are aware that the person who asks them wishes them to advise in a particular way. In this case the experts were aware that it was a part of the policy of the great Deakin-Lyne Government to bolster up agriculture. They knew that the Bounties Bill of last session had been laid aside for lack of expert information, and they have given the best report they could, knowing that a favorable report was expected of them. I invite honorable senators to consider the way in which they have allowed their judicial judgment to be absolutely overriden by the very evidence they put before us in their report. I ask Senator Keating to say of what use the evidence submitted by the experts is to support a proposal for a bounty on cotton. They have pointed out that in the past such a bounty has not resulted in the establishment of the industry, that those who manufactured a certain quantity of cotton to enable them to secure the bounty gave up the manufacture as soon as they had secured the bounty, and they go on to say that the chances of the success of the industry in Australia are very doubtful.
– Before the honorable senator is done with cotton, is he not going to read the report of Mr. Jones, the Queensland expert?
– What does Mr. Jones say?
– The honorable senator will find what he says at page 7 of the report.
– The expert from either one State or the other knows nothing about the subject.
– When the honorable senator gets up we shall get all the information.
– Senator St. Ledger is not very complimentary to Mr. Jones, who is the acknowledged authority on the subject in Queensland.
– There must, of course, be some evidence in favour of the proposal, or the Government could not submit it.
– Mr. Jones did not attend the Conference, but he furnished a report, and as the Queensland representative he is better versed in this subject than were any of the representatives of the other States.
– I think that Senator Keating would have been ashamed to introduce the Bill if he had not Mr. Jones’ report to rely on, because the other experts have produced evidence entirely against the proposal, though all recommend the bounty. On the subject of coffee, the experts report -
While a very general feeling prevailed that coffee planting was not likely - at any rate in the near future - to become an important Australian industry, the Conference is of opinion that steps should be taken to encourage it.
It is undeniable that coffee of a good quality can be produced over large areas of the tropical and sub-tropical portions of the continent. The returns, however, from the plantations, are not at all alluring, while the consumption of coffee by the people of the Commonwealth is on a very slender scale. The experience of the chief coffee-producing countries of the world - and these are countries where an abundant supply of cheap labour is obtainable - does not afford much hope for the extensive and successful exploitation of the industry under Australian conditions.
And yet they go on to say that the Conference was of opinion that steps should be taken to encourage the industry. Could there be a greater contradiction than that which is found between such a summing up and the evidence on which it is based ?
– Does it not mean that the smaller the chance of a business succeeding naturally the greater the reason for a bounty?
– My honorable friend has given a very good reason, but I should not like to insult these experts by throwing it at their heads. They goon to say -
It is also an ominous fact that according to the Trofenfflanzar - a recognized authority on all tropical matters - the planters of Brazil have not only destroyed large quantities of coffee berry because ofthe low prices prevailing, but have also pulled up the bushes growing on large areas of coffee plantations, and are using the land for other purposes.
The records available of Australian experience in coffee growing are by no means encouraging. In the year 1903, 318 acres were under coffee, and there are now 167 acres.
With all these disadvantages the fact remains, that coffee of a good type can be produced overlarge portions of Northern Australia, and accordingly a bonus of1d. per lb. for eight years- is recommended.
If I were a Minister I should be ashamed to put a document of this kind before Parliament, and ask that on such evidenceParliament should vote away £412,000 of the taxpayers’ money. I should like to askboth representatives of the Government inthe Senate whether they took intoconsideration the altered financial circumstances of the Commonwealth when proposing this enormous expenditure ? Have they taken into consideration the fact that the expenditure for the current year is estimated to exceed that of last year by over £800,000? Have they taken into consideration the fact that only £103,000 will be left in the hands of the CommonwealthGovernment from a revenue of over £10,000,00z from Customs and Excise, after the three-fourths proportion has been returned to the States? Have they asked themselves where the money is to come from for the large works and undertakings we have in view.
– Sir William Lyne has said that it is to come from a land tax.
– It is impossible to conceive that Ministers can have considered the financial position of the Common wealth in submitting this Bill. To go back to the point I raised a little while ago, I repeat that the States have not asked for this Bill through their Agricultural Departments. I should like to ask the Minister of Home Affairs whether he does not think we should pause before- enacting furtherlegislation in connexion with which we shall be overlapping the work of the States Governments? It is perfectly true that thegranting of bounties rests with us, but wehave not a single agricultural expert in theservice of the Commonwealth to advise us,, and we must work the whole bounty system through the Agricultural Departments of the States. We shall be dependent on them for the carrying out of the provisions of this measure, and it does not seem to methat there is a practical agriculturist in any of the States Departments.
– If we cannot get reliable advice from these gentlemen, fromwhom are we to get it?
– These gentlemen may be very competent to advise asto theories of tropical agriculture, but I find in their report no hint that any one of them possesses any practical skill as a farmer or as an agriculturist.
– They are expert horticulturists and botanists, but they are not capable of speaking as to the commercial possibilities of an industry.
– They are just the sort of men that Senator McColl’s amendment provides for.
– I am sure that I should enjoy a chat with any one of them very much, and might obtain from him a great deal of useful information, but the Minister will agree that before the Committee stage on this Billis completed it will be necessary to prove that, there is some reasonable hope that the granting of these bounties will lead to the establishment of some permanent industry. Are we to understand that if that proof is not forthcoming our honorable friends opposite will be prepared to support this Bill blindly? In all the circumstances, would it not be better that we should lay this Bill aside and get on with our legitimate work ? Is it not better that we should ask ourselves what we intend to do to provide for an adequate system of defence, for old-age pensions, and other things for which people are calling out, and set aside a measure for which there has been no demand whatever?
– The honorable senator is always very anxious for old-age pensions when that subject is not being discussed.
– That is a very unfair interjection, but I ask the honorable senator to leave me out of the question, and say whether he and his colleagues on the other side are prepared to allow the questions of’ the Federal Capital, the “ Desert Railway,” old-age pensions, and so on, to stand aside, when many people are calling out for their settlement, and vote nearly half-a-million of money to give effect to this Bill?
– Why does the honorable senator not call things by their proper name? We have had no “Desert Railway “ under discussion in the Senate.
– That is a short title for the railway referred to. In connexion with the proposed bounty on jute, it is stated in the report of the Conference thatin 1904-5 there were 2,845,000 acres under jute. But from an article which I cut from one of the Melbourne newspapers referring to the first official forecast of the (Indianjute crop, it appears that there are 3,855,500 acres under jute in India, or just about 1,000,000 acres more than the figures supplied by the experts.
– Do I understand the honorable senator to say that the experts have got within 1,000,000 acres of the right total ?
– They have.
– That is marvellous.
– I should like further to point out that the experts quote the price of jute at £26 10s. per ton, whilst in the article to which I have referred it is stated that a few years back, in 1897, the price was £9 10s. per ton. Considering the enormous increase in the area of land devoted to the cultivation of jute, can any one foretell whatthe price is going to be, and will any one say that it is likely to be anything like the figure quoted by the experts? I should like them to tell us whether they have recommended the proposed bounty on jute on the assumption that the price is £26 10s. per ton, £9 10s. per ton, or £15 per ton.
– Of what use would it be for them to tell the honorable senator when he would not believe them?
– I should be prepared to believe them as soon as any one else, if I had practical proof of the accuracy of their statements. The article to which I have referred contains the following -
Jute is cultivated in practically only one part of India, namely, Bengal and Eastern Bengal, the soil, climate, and supply of labour being especially suitable for the crop. A small quantity is grown in Madras, but the plant is not identical. Attempts have been made for many years past to grow jute in other tropical countries, but with little or no practical result so far.
There is a warning which the experts have not given us, and in my opinion it is quite sufficient to dispose of this item. Over 3,800,000 acres are under cultivation for jute in the only part of that country where its production is attempted. It requires a particular kind of soil, a suitable climate, and cheap labour. This brings me to another practical point. I suggest to the Minister in charge of the Bill that it would be right to insert a clause to the following effect. I take it that the regulations under the measure would provide the conditions under which claimants for bounties must make application, but I doubt whether the regulations will go far enough. The Bill gives the Minister power to prescribe the minimum quantity of goods to be produced, the proportion in which, the bounty shall be payable to claimants, the manner in which the market value is to be determined, and the time within which, after the production of the raw material, the production of goods in respect of which bounty is claimed shall be completed. I think we ought also to provide that every claimant of the bounty shall give particulars, to be examined by experts, showing where he is going to cultivate,and what land he has, in order that the experts may ascertain whether the land is suitable. He should state what labour he intends to employ, whether he will employ white men, imported Italians, two or three natives, or halfadozen Chinamen ; what capital he has to spend on his land, and what outlay he will be able to sustain every year.
– If the experts said that the land was suitable, but the crop proved a failure, would not the applicant have a grievance against the Commonwealth, and be able to sustain a claim on that account?
– That is a difficulty which might occur. I want to prevent a man from starting operations before he is ready in order that he may be an early claimant for the bounty, when, if they only knew the land which he was going to cultivate, and the capital which he had, the experts might be able to advise him beforehand whether he could possibly succeed or not.
– Has not the cultivator to take the risks in that respect ?
– He has to take risks, but we also take risks in respect of the payment of the bounty, when a little consideration might show that there was no hope of the cultivator continuing the production of the crop in question.
– If the crop is not cultivated the bounty will not be paid.
– A man’ might get hold of a fresh piece of land, cultivate it fairly well, and treat it generously so long as the bounty was paid, but when the bounty ceased he would cut down his supply of manure and his labour, and there would be no crop at all.
– The cure for that would be more bounty.
– Of course it would be. Cannot Senator Keating devise a clause which would prevent these bounties being as great a failure as others have been in the past? We ought to learn from experience, and make this a more perfect Bill than others have been. When bounties were given for the planting of vines in Victoria, all kinds of people planted. Many did not even take the trouble to cultivate marketable vines. They did not take the trouble to ascertain from practical men what were the right stocks to plant. We do not want that sort of thing to happen under this Bill. If my honorable friend does not introduce such a clause as I have indicated, I shall, in Committee, take steps to provide that every applicant for a bounty shall give evidence of his bona fides. We have a right to expect that applicants shall enable our experts to form a judgment as to whether they are likely to succeed. We are dealing with new . products, many of them connected with tropical agriculture. Surely a man who is going to claim money from the rest of the taxpayers should satisfy us that he has a reasonable hope of establishing a permanent industry. Such a clause might also be useful in preventing men from wasting their money, and a warning to others to devote their capital and attention to something which they understand, and to leave tropical agriculture alone. The Minister should be careful to provide that some of the benefits obtainable under this Bill shall go to the Northern Territory. What hope is there of farmers there being able to take advantage of the measure if the whole of the bounties are to be appropriated before they get a chance?. We cannot settle the question of taking over the Northern Territory this year. Would it not be wise to keep back £50,000 or £100,000 of this vote for the purpose of establishing various branches of tropical agriculture there? I admit that. there are no farmers there now, but Judge Herbert has suggested that many tropical products can be grown under a system of mixed farming. If a man is engaged in cattle and horse breeding at which he makes a living, he can slip in coffee or tobacco or jute, and thereby increase his income. In Tasmania the most successful farmers are the mixed farmers. A man has a few acres of orchard, and a larger area under cereals, in addition to which he goes in for pigs or dairying. If a man has only one crop, he stands a great chance of being ruined in a bad season. Therefore, Judge Herbert suggests, and, I think, rightly, that if we want to try’ the experiment of producing tropical crops in the Northern
Territory, it should be done under a system of mixed farming. A man -can have 5 or 10 acres under coffee or jute, and gain practical experience, employing, if possible, white labour.
– This Bill does not exclude farmers from doing that in the Northern Territory.
– By the time practical farmers have established themselves in the Northern Territory the bounties will have been absorbed by persons in other parts ‘ of the Continent. If we are to spend this enormous sum in bounties, let us keep part of it back for use in the Northern Territory. With regard to the question of rubber, I read some time ago in the newspapers that £10,000. had been subscribed in Victoria to develop the rubber industry in Papua. We all know that Mr. Staniforth Smith has given great attention to this subject. What are we going to do in regard to rubber production in our Possession? Would it not be wise to wait and see how the industry progresses in Papua ? We have there some of the best soil in the world, a suitable climate, and plenty of labour. Would it not be well to give a bounty to those who are trying to produce rubber there? But we are leaving Papua out of consideration, and giving a big bounty to people in Australia to grow rubber. If the industry can be made a success in Papua, so much the better. If an enormous income can be derived from the production and export of rubber from that country, what a grand thing it will be. But what is the use of rushing this proposal forward when experiments are being made .under favorable circumstances in our own territory? Can any one suppose that there is a better chance of rubber production being carried on in Australia than in Papua? The conditions are all in favour of Papua. Senator Gray, in his long and useful speech, has pointed out that we can spend our money in much more useful ways than bv giving bounties as proposed in the schedule to this Bill. Senator McColl’s speech on Friday ought to-be studied with attention. Much useful information may be derived from it. Would it not be well to devote the money to purposes of agricultural education rather than dole it out as is here proposed? Suppose we were to devote .£500,000 during the next fifteen years to the purposes of ah agricultural college as good as any in the world, barring neither America nor
Java. Suppose we engaged the best experts, and encouraged scientific experiments in that direction. I venture to say that £500,000 spent in that way would give an infinitely better return than the same sum paid in bounties to men growing things haphazard, without knowing whether they were going to establish a permanent industry or not. Last year I asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council whether the Prime Minister had communicated with the British Cottongrowing Association in regard to employing capital in Australia. I inquired whether it was intended to suggest that cottongrowing experiments might be conducted in the Northern Territory or Queensland, with the consent of the States. I suggestedthat we might offer the association our help in making the experiment a success. The reply which I received, was that the Prime Minister had not communicated with the British Cotton-growing Association, but would do so. The matter seems to have been forgotten. Here is an association of some of the richest men in the world, formed in Great Britain four or five years ago, for the object of making inquiries in all parts of the British Empire in regard to the growth of cotton, and establishing it as a British industry, so that the consumer might be independent of supplies from America, where there are trusts and rings which put up the price of cotton. Why should we not have communicated with this association? We should have said to them, “ You put up the money, and we will find the land; we will do anything to help you within reasonable limits, provided you show that cotton can be cultivated here.”
– It is for the States to do that.
– The Commonwealth could have taken steps, with the consent of the States. The Prime Minister is interfering With the business .of the States in trying to induce immigration to Australia. He is alleging that the States do not move quickly enough, whereas we all know that whatever Mr. Deakin may think of inducing immigrants to come to Australia, the whole of the Labour Party is against it. He would have done the right thing in inducing the British Cotton-growing Association to spend some of their capital here, communicating with the Premiers of the States, and asking them whether they would not provide * 10,000 acres of land which the association could lease, or, if it preferred, purchase on fair terms. Senator McColl made two or three very good points. For instance, he showed that the grant of the bounties will not help the small men. They will benefit, not the small farmers, but the rich agriculturalists or the men with capital who can club together, take up land, buy machinery, and clear and plant the land with a view to getting the bounty offered upon the production of the article which they are growing, making their calculations beforehand and knowing perfectly well that the bounty, added to the value of the product, will defray all their expenses and leave them a fair interest on their outlay. Rich men will benefit from the enactment of the Bill, but we shall all be sufferers, because I do not think a case can be made out that the grant of a bounty is likely to lead to the establishment of a permanentindustry. In regard to the bounty offered upon the production of fibre, I propose to quote a passage from a letter by Mr. A. McNaught in to-day’s newspaper. To some persons it may appear a very simple thing to grow flax and hemp, particularly New Zealand flax, but what does this correspondent point out in his letter ? He mentions that there are certain’ fibres native to Australia which he has been producing, but that when he asked if a bounty could be given in respect of their production, he was told that a bounty could only be given in respect of the production of foreign plants. He goes on to say -
The history of New Zealand flax shows the difficulty of establishing a new fibre industry. Although New Zealand flax to the value of £380,000 has been exported in one year, in the early days of the industry despair reigned, and thousands of pounds were expended in fruitless attempts to make ‘ the industry a commercial success.
I do not know who Mr. McNaught is, but he appears to be acquainted with the subject on which he is writing. He mentions that thousands of pounds had been spent and almost wasted in trying to establish the industry in New Zealand. It is a success now, but at one time despair reigned because thousands of pounds had been spent unsuccessfully. No information on that head, however, is given in the report of the experts on this Bill.
– Of course, the honorable senator knows that flax is indigenous to New Zealand, too.
– Quite so. We all know that New Zealand has a soil which is as rich as any soil in the world, and that it has a suitable climate and magnificent rainfall. Concerning the item of fibre, more inquiries ought to be made. We ought to get some evidence from New Zealand. Surely it would be worth while to ascertain by telegram how long it has taken to rear the industry in that country, how it was started, and how much money was expended in that direction. No information of that kind is furnished in the report of the experts. In my opinion, it is a very disappointing document. I hope that the amendment will be carried, but if it is not carried,and the Bill is read a second time, I shall do all I possibly can to get the total amount of the bounties reduced. I am obliged to you, sir, for pointing out to me that, according to a standing order, it is irregular to instruct a Committee of the Whole to do anything which otherwise it has the power to do, and that, therefore, my contingent amendment for an instruction to the Committee on the Bill to reduce the total amount of the bounty by £200,000 is not in order. I can see now that the Committee will have thepower, if it thinks fit, to reduce the amount from £412,500 to £212,500. If I can satisfy honorable senators that, having regard to our financial position, or even if our finances were more flourishing than they are, it is too much money to spend under the authority of one Bill, leaving nothing for the development of the Northern Territory, then it will be for the Minister to bring down an amended schedule and apply the reduced amount to the payment of bounties upon the production of such articles as he thinks there is a reasonable hope of growing profitably and permanently.
– I was very glad indeed to have the privilege of listening to the last three speakers from the opposite side of the Chamber, and I congratulate Senators McColl and Gray on their nicely prepared speeches. I was also pleased to obtain a lot of the information which they furnished. At the same time I cannot agree with all that they said. Unlike the last speaker, I have not been carrying about a speech on this subject in my pocket for the last three weeks. I have not even gone to any considerable trouble to prepare a speech, but I intend to move an amendment to Senator McColl’s amendment in order to show my position. I admit that I do not know muchabout what articles will grow in tropical countries. But I have always held the opinion that if by the expenditure of a small sum a man can make two blades of grass grow where formerly only one blade .grew he is a benefactor to his country. It is not my intention to say much in reference to the Bill as it stands. But as a protectionist, and also as a farmer of over forty years’ standing, who gave a pledge to the electors that the interests of the primary producer would1 always have his “.first consideration here, I was rather amused when I heard Senator Dobson quoting so much in reference to the farming community and their interests. Perhaps it was done with a nice motive. When gentlemen are electioneering sometimes they go out of their way in that regard. I am also very pleased that Senator McColl stated the area of land throughout the Commonwealth, and gave certain information with reference to other countries. But in that respect I do not propose to follow his example, or that of Senator Dobson. I propose to speak as a farmer, and to touch upon one question which so far has not been referred to. If there is a’ doubt let us take advantage of it. If there is one industry more than another which we are assured we can assist without running the chance of losing <our money, that is the safest industry for us to encourage. Senator McColl referred to the great progress which is being made throughout the Commonwealth, but I would remind him that even in the State which he so ably represents the agricultural interest is on the wane, as I shall prove by reading an extract from the Bulletin of last week, and I hope that Senator Dobson will listen to it, because I presume that it emanates from an expert -
Victorian Statist Drake has just issued his -wheat-area statistics for 1907-8. He shows that there is an actual shrinkage in the area tinder crop in Victoria this year compared with last year - 2,263,301 acres last year; 2,133,000 acres this year. In the whole of the Western District there is only one county - Ripon - with enough land, under crop to be worth including in the detailed statistics; and even Ripon is down for a miserable 69,800 acres, which is actually about 3,000 acres less than it was the previous year. Evidently, in the absence of a progressive land-tax, the absurd prices demanded - whether you rent land or buy it - have driven men out of the State. They have got sick of working for the landlord and the mortgagees.
– That does not show that agriculture is on the decline.
– Dairying has enormously increased.
– If the acreage under cultivation has decreased has not agriculture declined to some extent ?
– Undoubtedly it has, and that applies to Victoria.
– The best proof of the honorable, senator’s assertion is that the rural population in Victoria has been decreasing every year.
– I was going. to point out that people are leaving the State. South Australia is also going through the same experience. I hold in my hand a statement which was made two years ago by the Commissioner of Crown Lands, when he was dealing with a Bill for the compulsory re-purchase of land for closer settlement, to place population on the soil. If I can show by his statement that under a certain rule or mismanagement South Australia had lost thousands of its population, then I shall move an amendment to Senator McColl’s amendment for the purpose of bringing about a remedy which will cure the difficulty. When moving the second reading of the Compulsory Repurchase of Lands Bill, the Commissioner of Crown Lands said -
The Government did not like the word compulsorily, but at the same time it was found that it was a choice between securing the estates or allowing the people to continue to leave the State. The population was going faster and faster, and would continue to go unless they secured land for the people. They had in these large estates about 1,700,000 acres of good land inside the line of rainfall, and about twothirds of it was arable land, well fitted for the purpose of Closer Settlement. It was chiefly alongside the railway lines, and if they could utilize that land they would improve the traffic on the railways. Someone had stated that people were not leaving the State, but figures supplied by the Statistical Department showed that the population of South Australia in 1S85 was 307,433. During the ten years ended December 31, 1894, it increased to 343,237, the actual increase being only 35,804. The natural increase, the excess of births over deaths, for the same period was 67,895, so that during the ten years they lost 32,091 by emigration. On January 1, 1895, the population, was 343,237. During the ten years ended December 31, 1904, it increased to 368,652, the actual increase being only 25,417. The natural increase, the excess of births over deaths, during the same period was 52,561, so that during the 10 years they lost’ 27,144 by emigration. That directly contradicted the people who said that the population was not going away. During the 20 years they had lost about 60,000 of the population, and now, instead of the population being 437,000, which it would have been, had they retained the natural increase, it was 368,000. It was a great reflection on a young country when it could not retain its natural increase.
I hope Senator Symon is listening to these figures.
– The honorable senator knows where they went. During the ten years, from 1894 to 1904, there was the great exodus to the Western Australian gold-fields.
– I can inform the honorable senator that the Commissioner of Crown Lands stated repeatedly that they left the beautiful State of South Australia because they could not find suitable land to settle on with their families.
– Those who had land went also. Where did they go?
– Numbers of them lived in the drier portions of the country. I lived in that outside country myself for four years. ‘ A number of farmers settled there, but found they could not live there.
– They were starved out.
– They were. Then, when they wanted to go somewhere else, quite a number of them told me that their families went to the West or wherever they could find employment, so that they could keep the old people on the farms.
– M - Many of them have taken up land in the West, because they. could not get land in-South Australia,
– A lot of them have gone to the West and taken up land there. In the face of those facts, this is a problem that we might well look to. I am not one to interfere with State rights any more than I possibly can, but the question before us is how to bring about a remedy. I have quoted the case of an area of 1,700,000 acres, most of it splendid agricultural land, with railways running through it, and with an excellent rainfall, as I may tell Senator Dobson. As honorable senators know, the squatters when they have the opportunity, pick the eyes out of the country. With railways running through the land, what a good thing it would’be if it were only possible to repurchase it and let the people settle upon it as they wish to do. The same thing obtains in that State as in Victoria. If a few blocks of land are offered by the Land Board, 400 or 500 people may apply for them. If we want to increase our population we must open up these lands. I should like Senator Symon to listen to what happened with regard to the Yongala estate, although I have quoted it in the Senate before.
– Will not the honorable senator give others the benefit?
– I want to make sure of the honorable senator, because he is a little shaky. When the late Mr. McCulloch died, South Australia took the opportunity of securing a grand estate of about 60,000 acres, two-thirds of which, at least, was really good agricultural land. It’ carried very little population while held by one family. When people go in only for wool growing, there are very few men employed once the fences are up, except a.t shearing time. Now, according to the latest figures, as shown by parliamentary reports, there are 127 families settled on the estate. A family is generally taken to represent five. Consequently, if 127 farms are being cultivated, you get a fine settlement, reckoning five to each family. Practical men like Senator Dobson will recognise that all the townships around such a settlement are benefited. The Yongala estate was noexception to that rule. Jamestown, Yongala, and other townships around benefited greatly. Even Mr. Butler, the conservative ex-Premier of South Australia, admitted that the Yongala settlement had been a great success, and that the farmers had done well, not only for themselves, but for the Government. They had spent a good deal of money in building houses for themselves, and had reaped really good crops. The result was that they had paid their rents up to date and, Mr. Butler added, the extra amount derived from the carriage of wheat by the railway that ran alongside the estate was equal to the amount the Government had to borrow to repurchase the estate. I think I am making out a good case. I hope I shall have Senator Dobson’s support when I move an amendment in this direction. It is patent to every one that good must ensue when large estates are cut up into holdings of 400 or 500 acres. My experience as a farmer is that if you have 500 acres of good quality land with a good rainfall, if your head is on the right way and you are not afraid of work, y oilcan make a good living out of it. Senator Dobson and other speakers explained their idea of education for the farmer. At Roseworthy, in South Australia, we have had anagricultural college established for a long time. On one occasion I was invited by the Government to act as an examiner of the- toys of the college in practical agriculture. The college has done a great deal of good. Boys belonging not only to South Australia, but to other States, are being trained there, and are given practical experience in a better system of farming. The system of farming in South Australia has been so greatly improved during the last ten years that the average of the crops within Goyder’s line of rainfall has been increased by one-third. When I move my amendment, I hope I shall have the support of Senator McColl also. Before concluding, I wish to refer to the State of Victoria. Since I have been travelling between Adelaide and Melbourne, although most of the journey has been in the dark, and I have not been able to see so much of the land as I would like, I have noticed that a great deal of it is held by a few men. I hope when I have finished my speech that honorable senators who differ from me will attempt to show wherein they think I am wrong. I have advocated the cutting up of large estates in South Australia, and I thoroughly believe in that policy, whether it is called Socialism or anything else. At one time the Parliament of South Australia granted a bounty on butter, and it was said to be attended with great success. In that State, we have established an export depot, and this year it is expected that over 200,000 lambs will be frozen there for export to England. The Government does the killing, freezing, and marketing, and they pay the farmers and squatters who supply the lambs every farthing to which they are entitled, deducting only actual expenses. I presume that those engaged in the dairying industry in South Australia had been reading about the butter business in Victoria, because there was a suspicion amongst them that they were not- being fairly treated by the middleman. Some of the farmers believed that when they sent their cream to the factories, they did not get a square deal. I do not know whether they were justified in the view they held, but a Royal Com- mission was appointed to make inquiries on the subject. In the meantime, however, the Government of the State took action which some people would describe as Socialism. We have a Labour Premier in South Australia, and the State Govern-‘ ment there established a Government butter factory. They received the farmers’ cream at the factory, and I understand that farmers who have sent their cream to the Government factory have had no occasion to complain. I can tell Senator Dobson that if the people of his State took up a little of this Socialism in an earnest spirit much good would follow to the primary producers . I said I would refer to the position in Victoria in connexion with the occupation of land.- I was disappointed to find that Senator McColl made no reference to the subject. I find that 8 per cent, of the occupiers of land in Victoria own 53 per cent, of the alienated lands. Of a total of 52,987 land-holders, 4,498 hold more land than is held by all the rest put together; 550 families or corporations own one-half of the alienated land in Victoria; 116 individuals, families, or corporations own one-fourth of the alienated land of the State. . I find also that in 1896 the Government Statistician said that in eight years cultivation had considerably decreased. I have referred already to what has been done at Yongala, where they have land that is not nearly so good as the land in Victoria!, where millions of acres are held by a comparatively few persons. The position here is that there are millions of acres of good land practically unutilized. I do not care to exaggerate in any calculation I make, and I should not like to say how many families might be settled upon that land. Four or five hundred acres of good land should keep a family of five. In Victoria, the rainfall is equal, and in many parts greater, than the rainfall in South Australia, and if we can do what I have said we can in South Australia - and I make the statement as a practical man - why should not the same be done in Victoria? This leads me to’ the amendment I wish to move in order to test the opinion of some of our conservative friends, and to make them prove by their votes whether they are the farmers’ friends or not. I plead here on behalf of ‘the class to which I belong. I know their hardships, and I know how some of them have been driven from South Australia. I am here to fight their battles although I am a member of the united Labour Party. I put the case before honorable senators, and I challenge contradiction of any of the statements I have made. I hope that Senator McColl is now ready to hear the amendment I desire to move upon his own, so that we may be able to pull together to bring about the desired object of assisting the primary producers, enabling them to get -the land they require, and enabling our young people to get married and settle down in life, and obey the first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. I propose to move as an amendment. upon Senator McColl’s amendment -
That after the word “ attained,” line 4, the following words be inserted “by such legislation as will break up the bis; estates of land now unutilized and held in large areas.”
I think that is a very reasonable amendment.
– Why not add those words to my amendment ?
– No ; Ipropose to cut off a little of the honorable senator’samendment.
– I may as well tell the honorable senator at once that he will not be in order in submitting any amendment at the present time. The Standing Orders are very clear as to the amendment of any such amendment as that which is before the Senate at present. They provide that -
When it is proposed to leave out words in the original question in order to insert or add others, no amendment to the words proposed to be inserted or added can be entertained until the question that the words proposed to be left out be left out has been determined.
So that, until the Senate has determined whether or not the words proposed by Senator McColl to be left out shall be left out, no other amendment can be submitted. If the Senate determines that the words proposed to be left out shall be left out, the question will then arise, if an amendment of the character suggested by the honorable senator is submitted later on, whether or not it is in order.
– Will not the question also arise as to whether Senator Russell, having spoken on the second reading of the Bill, can subsequently move an amendment ?
– If it is found that such an amendment as the honorable senator has suggested can be submitted, Senator Russell, having exhausted his right to address himself to the main question, will require to get some other honorable senator to move his amendment.
– I thank you, sir, for directing me. I have no wish to “ stone-wall “ or kill time, and I wish to inform honorable senators that I have not been put up by the party to which I belong to move the amendment I have suggested. I do not know whether Senator McColl was assisted by any one in pre- paring the amendment he has moved.
– No . one knew anything about it. I am in a party of one here.
– I am very glad to hear that. I hope that honorable senators will address themselves to the amendment I have suggested. I should like to hear how it appeals to Senator Millen’s logical mind. I ask honorable senators, in dealing with this Bill, to say where is the remedy to be found for the defect I have pointed out. If we can put a few thousand people upon the lands of the Commonwealth which are at present unutilized, we shall be doing a grand thing for them and for the Commonwealth. I thank honorable senators for the patient hearing they have given me.
Debate (on motion by Senator Millen) adjourned.
Senator KEATING laid upon the table the following papers -
Defence Acts 1903-1904 -
Electoral Act: Interference with Voters - Tobacco Manufacturers.
Motion (by Senator Best) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– Before the Senate adjourns, I desire to direct the attention of the Minister of Home Affairs to a matter to which reference is made in the Geelong Times of to-day. It deals with what I think has at least the appearance of an infringement of the Electoral Act. I recognise the delicacy of the matter to which I wish to direct attention, and I wish it to be thoroughly understood that there is on my part no illwill towards any man, party, or association in connexion with the matter.. My only desire is that, should it be clearly shown that a wrong has been done which is punishable under the Electoral Act, the matter shall be taken into consideration at once. The article to which I refer is practically a synopsis of correspondence. It is printed under the headings “ Corio Election Episode, Interesting Correspondence.” I will read the whole of it -
An extraordinary abuse of the power of a lodge over the individual rights of its members, and particularly over their public rights as citizens, has been shown in the recent action of the Loyal Brunswick Lodge No. 4, meeting at Geelong, in reference to Mr. R. N. Carbines, a prominent business man of the town. It appears that during the last Federal elections the two candidates, Messrs. Crouch and McCay, were asked to meet delegates from the Orangemen and confer with them about rescinding the Federal Parliament’s resolution on Home Rule. Mr. Crouch, having strongly supported Home Rule, refused to abandon his ground, but Mr. McCay met the committee, the result being that the Grand Lodge of the Loyal OrangeLatittion of Victoria passed a resolution supporting Mr. McCay’s candidature. This the Queenscliff Lodge refused to follow, and several members of the two other lodges in the Corio constituency refused to vote against Mr. Crouch. Amongst those who had known Mr. Crouch for several years as a personal friend and political supporter was Mr. R. N. Carbines, of Geelong, and he, in spite of the lodge’s resolution to support Mr. McCay, thought he had a right to exercise his vote as he chose. In consequence, on election day, one of his vehicles was lent for the use of Mr. Crouch’s supporters. As soon as the result of the election was known he received the following letter : -
You are hereby summoned to attend a meeting of your lodge, to be held at our lodge room, Protestant Hall, Yarra-street, on Wednesday evening, January 2nd, 1907, at 8 p.m.
Business. - Charge against you received by me. Copy enclosed.
By order of the W.M.
Copy of charge as named on enclosed summons.
I hereby charge Bro. R. N. Carbines with conduct unbecoming an Orangeman, under Rule No. 14.Deposit enclosed, 10s.
The above is correct copy.
By order of committee.
Mr. Carbines then wrote Mr. Pittock, the secretary, who is also District GrandMasted of the Orange Lodge, asking under what rule he had offended, and for a copy of the charge and the name of his accuser. He received as a reply this letter : -
DearSir and Bro. -
Ihave seen Bro., the W.M., re your note, duly received, and as the rule is clear in these cases, he does not see what I can do more than in my previous note or summons. The charge was received, a copy sent to you verbatim, by order of the committee. I believe it is connected with election matters, but as I did not lay the charge, nor did it emanate from me, I have no authority more than to lay same before you, and I trust you will be there, so that the lodge may have both sides to deal with. Note- The meeting date is the ordinary. Could not get the hall on the special night fixed, so called committee to deal with the dates.
Mr. Carbines was further informed that the charge was laid under rule 10, which reads : -
Any member guilty of violating a resolution of the Grand Lodge shall be liable to expulsion.
Mr. Carbines then asked that the Grand Master, Mr. O. R. Snowball, should be appealed to as to whether he should not know the name of his accuser, and finally it appeared to be a Mr. L. F. Richardson, of the Market Square, Geelong. This was conveyed to him in the following letter : -
The answer came this morning. The G.M. says charge should be lodged with the secretary, who has, under the rule, to send a copy of the charge (signature included) to the person charged and stating when and where the charge will be dealt with. According to this, I now add the name of the brother laying the charges - Bro. L. F. Richardson.
On the 6th February,, Mr. Carbines attended the lodge, and Mr. Richardson charged him with breaking rule 10 by violating a resolution of the Grand Lodge by supporting Mr. Crouch at the election, and after some discussion he was found guilty by a majority of allowing his horse and waggon to be used on Mr. Crouch’s behalf. The Worshipful Master present was Mr. Tingate; the secretary, Mr. J. E. Pittock; and treasurer, Mr. Richardson. Several members protested against any action which would interfere with another member’s right to vote and support whom he pleased at a Parliamentary election, and it was said that nearly every member of the Queenscliff lodge, and a large number of others who were Protectionists, would also have to be punished. Finally Mr. Carbines was told he was found guilty by a majority, and he was afterwards notified that he was suspended from membership of the lodge for twelve months from March, 1907. He received this “sentence” in this letter from the secretary : -
Loyal Brunswick Lodge,
Geelong, April 10th, 1907.
To Bro. R. N. Carbines,
Dear Sir and Bro. -
By authority, I beg to inform you that the lodge has confirmed the recommendation of the committee, “ that you be suspended for a period of twelve months from the March meeting,” unanimously. It should have been dealt with, as you are aware, at the March meeting, but, as I was away, it was overlooked in my notes, having to leave home very hurriedly, hence the lodge putting it from March.
Secretary No. 4 L.O.L.
Since then Mr. Carbines attended a meeting of the lodge, but was ejected by the master, Mr. Tingate, and secretary, Mr. Pittock. Accordingly he wrote the Grand Lodge as to whether it confirmed his suspension, and received as reply : -
Loyal Orange Institution of Victoria.
Grand Secretary’s Office,
Protestant Hall, Exhibition-st.,
Melbourne, nth June, 1907.
To Mr. R. N. Carbines, Geelong, -
Dear Sir, -
In reply to yours of the 4th inst., I beg to inform you that your suspension has been confirmed.
For an answer to your other question, I must refer you to the secretary of No. 4, Geelong.
I remain, yours truly, (Seal) J. A. BAKER, G.S.
It is said that a member of the Drysdale lodge has been blackballed for voting for Mr. Crouch, while on the other hand it is stated that an attempt will be made to suspend the Queenscliff lodge’s charter for so solidly supporting Mr. Crouch.
In addition to what I have read, I desire to call the attention of the Minister to section 177 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act, which reads as follow -
threatens, offers or suggests any violence, injury, punishment, damage, loss, or disadvantage for, or on account of, or to induce, any candidature, or withdrawal of candidature, or any vote, or any omission to vote, or any support or opposition, to any candidate, or any promise of any vote, omission, support, or opposition ; or
uses, causes, inflicts or procures any violence, punishment, damage, loss, or disadvantage for or on account of any such candidature, withdrawal, vote, omission, support or opposition shall be guilty of undue influence.
I call the Minister’s attention to these facts with no other desire than to see that justice is done in connexion with electoral matters. No matter whether by a society or by an individual, if the Electoral Act is infringed, I hold that it is the duty of the Minister to take action.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [10. 11]. - Before the Minister replies to Senator Henderson’s remarkable statement, I wish to ask him whether any result has been arrived at in connexion with the inquiry of the Government into the large number of cock-and-bull stories brought forward in connexion with the tobacco manufacturers last week ?
– I am. astonished that the Minister has made no reply to the serious matter which Senator Henderson has brought before the Senate. That it is serious, I do not think any honorable senator will question. Prima facieit appears to be a case of gross interference with the right of citizens of the Commonwealth to exercise the franchise which the Constitution has conferred upon them. I do not think that any action which could be taken to counteract such conduct on the part of individuals or associations could be too drastic. An honorable senator near me observes that the statement made is merely exparte. No one wishes to take action upon any exparte statement. But, on the face of it, a statement of that character, published in an independent newspaper, and giving all the facts in the form of correspondence, at least calls for inquiry. We have a right to expect from the Minister that he will promise that a searching inquiry shallbe made into the whole of the circumstances, and that action shall betaken to prevent such tactics being resorted to at any election in the future. We know that, as a matter of fact, the religious association in question - the Loyal Orange Lodge - has, throughout Australia, taken a very active part in Federal politics. It is a matter for sincere and profound regret that an association of any kind whatever, belonging to any section of the Christian religion, -should try to stir up bitterness and bigotry in the political life of this young country. Speaking as a Protestant, I know that the action of the Loyal Orange Lodge throughout Australia has been enough to make anybody feel ashamed to belong to a denomination which would harbor such persons. Instead of allowing the various Christian sects to live in harmony, they are trying to stir up bigotry of all kinds, and to make religion subservient to the basest political purposes. I refuse to believe that there is any warranty in the Christian religion for such a course of conduct. It is time that the Government did take some drastic action to prevent politics from being degraded by the introduction of sectarian bitterness and bigotry, as. has been done in the instance mentioned.
– Does tlie honorable senator think that religion degrades politics?
– I hold that the introduction of religious bigotry into politics degrades politics, and also religion. It is all very fine for honorable senators who are benefited by these religious organizations to stand up in defence of them, but when we have cited .a specific case where a man has been pursued with the utmost rigour, and punished because he has dared to exercise the franchise which the Constitution has conferred upon him, I think it is time for the Parliament to interfere, and to say that no such interference with his right as a citizen shall be tolerated. The matter is a very serious one to me, as a member of the denomination for which this bigoted organization claims sometimes to be the mouth-piece - a claim which I entirely repudiate - and it, therefore, interests me personally. I want the denomination to which I belong to keep its hands clean, and not to be mixed up in disgraceful affairs of that sort.
.- At the beginning of his speech, Senator Henderson said that he wished particularly to bring a matter under the notice of the Minister of Home Affairs. I listened carefully to him, and I think that, after reading- the extract from the newspaper, he quoted a provision in. the Electoral Act, and concluded by stating that, having brought the matter under the notice of the Minister of Horrie Affairs, he desired that attention should be given to it. I did not understand the honorable senator to put any question to me, or to ask me to express an opinion on the case. Other matters might lie, -and were, raised on my honorable colleague’s motion of adjournment, and if my honorable colleague had spoken to the motion he would have closed debate, hut he would have at the same time Stated that the representations made by the honorable senator would receive the careful consideration of the Government, .that whatever inquiries were necessary would be made, and that the matter would be referred in the ordinary course for advice. No Minister is expected, as honorable senators know, to give legal, advice on any question which is raised here, except perhaps in respect of a Bill which he is piloting through the Chamber. I can assure Senator Henderson that I listened to him, and heard for the first time the circumstances which he read from a Geelong newspaper of to-day. I also noted his reference to the Electoral Act, and I promise him that proper inquiry will be made into the circumstances.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.19 P-m- ‘
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 28 August 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1907/19070828_senate_3_38/>.