3rd Parliament · 2nd Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow -
– Arising out of the answer I wish to know whether the Government received by the last mail a confidential letter or any letter on the subject?
– It was in view of a letter which we received that I gave that answer.
– It does not give much information.
– We cannot give any information while the matter is sub judice.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow -
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers -
Papua - Ordinances of1907 -
No. 2. - Public Service.
No. 3. - Native Children Custody and Reformation.
No. 4. - Criminal Code Amendment;
No. 5. - Post and Telegraph.
No. 7.- Jury.
Defence Acts1903-1904. - Regulations (Statutory Rules1907, No. 63) and Standing Orders for the Commonwealth Military Cadet Corps, 1907.
Debate resumed from 30th August (vide page 2650) on motion by Senator Best -
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 inlieu thereof the following 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 a system be formulated and submitted for consideration, and this Bill, or so much of it as relates to agriculture, be held over until such is done, and the same be communicated to the House of Representatives.”
– When the debate was adjourned on Friday, I was referring to the rather curious andunsatisfactory nature of the report of the experts on which the Government have framed this Bill. I was pointing out that from this side of the Chamber the reports had received a great deal of adverse and, though adverse, just criticism. There is, however, another aspect of the question which I think it would be well for the Senate to consider. I desire to know whether the Government gave direct instructions to the experts and a free hand in order to ascertain ifany of the products enumerated in the schedule of the Bill were likely to be grown in Australia with economic success. From the Minister in charge of the Bill we have not received any definite information to that effect. Of course, the answer which experts will give may depend verylargelyupon how a question is stated to them. It is quite possible that in the instructions or other guidance given to the experts, that important aspect of the question was not presented to them, nor were they required to give a definite answer thereto. On the other hand, were the experts practically told in effect that the Government had about £500,000 which they intended to spend, or, for that matter, to waste on a bounties system for the purpose of assisting certain agricultural industries ? Did the Government practically say to the experts, “ We have more revenue than we can deal with. We have £500,000 to spare; we want to place it at the disposal of both Houses, and we wish you to give us the best advice in order to save our faces when the Houses are proceeding to scramble over the . apportionment of the money?” If the experts were asked to give definite and accurate information on the chances of economic success in any one or more of the proposed industries, then their reports are not only unsatisfactory, but discreditable. But if, on the other hand, they were told that there was ,£500,000 to be spent, and simply asked to give what advice they could in order to save the faces of the Government while the apportionment of the money was proceeding, all I have to say in regard to the reports is that they are not only highly ingenious, but also highly satisfactory both to the experts and to the Government. I find myself at a difficulty in arriving at any clear principle, or want of principle, in regard to the distribution of the money. There appears to be nothing but chaos in that regard. I have prepared a table which shows not only the total value of last year’s importation of the various products mentioned in the schedule, but also the total amount of the bounty which is assigned by the -Government to each item in the schedule. Last year we imported £22,894 worth of raw cotton, and to the production of that article a bounty of ,£48,000 is apportioned. Of New Zealand flax we imported last year ,£77,374 worth, and to the production of that article a total bounty of £30,000 is assigned. Of flax and hemp we imported last year .£89,907 worth, and to the production of those articles a total bounty of £40,000 is assigned. Of jute we imported last year £5,265 worth, and to the production of that article a total . bounty of £45,000 is assigned. As regards sisal hemp, I have not been able to ascertain the amount of last year’s importation, but to the production of that article a total bounty of £[30,000 is assigned., Again, as regards mohair, I have not been able to ascertain the value of last year’s importation, but to the production of that article a total bounty of £20,000 is assigned. Of copra we imported last year £175,329 worth, and to the production of that article a total bounty of £75,000 is assigned. Of cotton seed we import practically none, and the Government propose to give a bounty of £8,000 upon the production of that article. Of linseed-meal and oil-cake the total importation for last year was £7,308 worth, and to the production of those articles a total bounty of £[25,000 is assigned. Of uncleaned rice we imported last year £ir7,9ro worth, and to the production of that article a total bounty of £5,000 is apportioned. As regards rubber, I have not been able to ascertain the value of last year’s importation, but the total bounty assigned for the production of that article is £[30,000. Of raw coffee we imported last year £46,745 worth, and to the production of that article ‘a total bounty of £12,800 is assigned. Of dates we imported last year £21,556 worth, and to the production of that article a total bounty of £15,000 is assigned. From that compilation of figures I am utterly unable to ascertain on what principle or ground the proposed bounties have been apportioned to the various items. I think that when the Senate is asked to assent to the expenditure of an enormous sum it is entitled to know exactly the reason why a bounty is assigned to the production of an article. If there is any principle in the apportionment of the money, it will be highly instructive to the Chamber if it is pointed out by the Minister in charge of the Bill, should he think it worth while to reply to the criticisms from this side of the Chamber. Probably some honorable senator will be able to enlighten us on the principle, or should the Bill reach Committee, perhaps out of the chaos which, is apparent on the face of the schedule, some financial or mathematical genius may be able to ascertain the formula which has guided the Government, or which should guide us if we are ever called upon to alter the amount assigned in each instance. I have given the figures respecting jute, cotton seed, and raw coffee. Now take tobacco leaf of high grade. Last year we imported the comparatively enormous amount of £285,106 worth of tobacco, and for the production of that article the Government propose to offer a bounty of only £[20,000. Last year we imported .£340, 385 worth of preserved .fish. To that industry the Government propose to give a bounty of only £[50,000. It is the duty of the Minister in charge of the Bill, before it gets into Committee, to answer the strong criticisms that have been expressed upon the experts’ reports, and to explain the discrepancy between the amounts of the bounties proposed and the total value of the importations. It is his duty, and the duty of the supporters of the Bill, to give the reasons and principles for these astounding variations, if there is any rhyme or reason in any one of the amounts proposed. I have no practical knowledge of these industries, and in that regard I am probably in the same position as most other honorable senators, but I can only see in the long list of the schedule one item - cotton - which has any prospect of financial success. Cotton has been grown in Queensland with some success in years gone by. We know also from the reports of the experts of the Queensland Department of Agriculture that there is a strong probability ( of its being successfully grown, let 11s hope in the immediate future, certainly in Queensland and possibly in some of the other States. I may be taunted with the fact that in face of that opinion I am going to vote in favour of Senator McColl’s amendment, and therefore against the second reading of the Bill. I can. assign many reasons for taking up that position. One is that it is no more necessary to vote for the expenditure of nearly £[500,000 to be scattered over a number of industries in which success is absolutely impossible, in order to conduct successful experiments upon one promising item, than it is necessary to burn down one’s cottage in order to get a cut of roast pig. If the Government had been honestly and genuinely sincere in their belief that by a system of bounties they could begin gradually to develop new agricultural industries in Australia, they would have taken the business-like precaution of selecting first one or two products that might be stimulated with reasonable prospects of success, either by a grant for scientific research or by a direct money grant. After those care- - fully conducted experiments had proved successful, they could then have asked Parliament for additional grants. If the Government had expended -£30,000 or £40,000 upon one or two items of that kind - a sum which neither Chamber would hesitate to allow them to expend if the revenue was at all elastic - and could have shown ‘successful results, they would have been amply justified in asking for an exension of the bounties system. Any business man in Australia if he contemplated extending ‘ais operations in any particular department would first go about it tentatively. He would devote £5,000 or £6,000 to the development of some new branch of industry and ascertain how far that expenditure was warranted. If the venture in that case was successful, he would be justified in asking his partners to allow him to spend more. If he could point to successful experiments, his partners would probably meet him. I do not think any man in Australia would spend even 500,000 pennies, let alone ,£500,000, on experiments in tropical or semi-tropical agriculture upon the information which the Government have obtained from the experts, or the information which they are so far concealing .from us. Although, as a representative of Queensland, I am strongly -tempted to take another course, believing as I do that there is some chance of economic success in the growth of cotton, still I shall vote against the Bill, because the expenditure of nearly £[500,000 on all the .items in this schedule would be not merely reckless, but profligate. I have another objection at this stage to voting such an enormous sum of money in the form of bounties. The proposal should not be entertained by this Chamber at this juncture until the Tariff question is settled. I should have preferred that Senator McColl’s amendment should take the form of a direct attack upon the Government and a direct negative to the Bill until finality is reached about the Tariff. Until the financial arrangements of the Government have been agreed to, or at least have become known to and criticised by the Senate, we are not justified in assenting to the expenditure of this enormous sum on what is absolutely a system of experiments. I strongly believe that a Government can do a great deal for the industries of a country mainly by letting them alone. The reason assigned for a protective Tariff is the stimulation of industries. Before we can tell whether any industry requires to be fostered by means of a bounty, we must first consider the question whether the protective Tariff tabled by the Government in another place does not give sufficient encouragement to it. The view is held by some protectionists that protection is a sufficient stimulus to industries. The consumer will have to pay for those industries which -are locally “fostered- through the medium’ of the Tariff. For a system of bounties, on the other hand, the ‘.whole community is called upon to pay. How are we to tell what industries require either a Tariff stimulus or a .’ bounty stimulus or both, until the Tariff is before us ? If there is any virtue whatever in protection, some of these industries doubtless will be benefited by it, but we cannot tell to what extent they will be’ benefited until the Tariff has been thoroughly discussed and passed by both Houses. That is an argument that a protectionist might use against the bounties system’ at this juncture. We cannot entertain the hope that’ the Tariff w.ill be a free-trade one, but even if it be passed ultimately as a revenue Tariff, the proposals in this Bill may be considered from the point of view of a national contribution to assist these industries. The difference between a bounties system and protection is that the onus of a protective Tariff is borne by the consumers of each protected article, but the incidence of a bounties system is borne by the whole community. My objection to the Bill at this stage is that with a new Tariff under consideration, and an enormous Budget which has only been laid on the table of one House, neither the Government nor the members of this Senate are justified in giving their assent to the policy of encouraging industries by a bounties system. The financial policy of the Government, has not yet been disclosed, or, if disclosed, has not yet received the assent of either House. I shall support the amendment, which is really an indirect attack on the Bill as introduced, on the ground that it will be wise to restrain every item of Government expenditure until we know exactly the financial position of the Government, and the nature of the Tariff which will be imposed upon the whole of Australia. We want to know exactly where we are. When we consider other items of expenditure that have been indicated to us, the obligation is cast upon us of scrutinizing carefully every proposal for the expenditure of money. In deciding to give my vote against the second reading of the Bill, I am not opposing !the principle of assisting industries by a system of bounties-. Fortunately, with anything like a wise and economic management of our Treasury, Australia is sufficiently rich, and the coffers of the Commonwealth are, and I hope will be for some time to come, sufficiently full, to allow us to support with some degree of liberality hot only the agricultural but many other industries. I shall give my vote in no sense in opposition to the principle of . bounties, but I say that the Government are bringing the proposal forward in the wrong way and at the wrong time. I ant “directing, my opposition to the Bill mainly upon financial grounds, in view of thepresent financial position of - the Government. The Right Honorable William Ewart Gladstone, who would certainly be regarded even bv this Chamber as. one of the masters of finance, laid it down that “ Government was finance ant! finance was government.” What is the financial position of the. Commonwealth Government? ‘We have a. right to criticise it, seeing ‘ that we are asked to vote £500,000 for bounties. The first fact that strikes us is that these financial proposals have .led to the abandonment by one Minister of his former position in the Cabinet. We know now - though we were a long time before we found the real reason for the recent defection - that the ex-Treasurer was entirely opposed to the financial .proposals of the Government, and altogether out of sympathy with the rest of the Cabinet. One important principle of finance upon which he differed from his colleagues was that which closely affects the financial relations of the Federal and States Governments. I wish at this stage to draw attention to a remarkable tendency in Commonwealth expenditure. The total’ expenditure of the Commonwealth in the year 1901-2 was ;£’3>733,2i8. The expenditure has risen in 1907-8 to the enormous sum of £5,976,000, or within £IO.3.000 of the Commonwealth’s one-fourth of Customs and Excise. It is as plain as the proverbial pillar that the Commonwealth Government has come almost to the end of its tether, and, except for direct taxation or increased taxation of some kind, will soon be brought to a standstill. Otherwise, the Government can only go on at this rate by bringing itself or some of the States close to bankruptcy.
– Will the honorable senator vote for a progressive land tax?
– That is the haven to which honorable senators opposite are endeavouring to drive the Commonwealth. A land tax is the only solution that is offered when, any one points ‘ out the enormous expenditure incurred. We are invariably told that the Commonwealth has this refuge. No matter how extravagant its expenditure may be- and I am one of those who hold that it is excessively extravagant in many directions - the answer invariably made is that we have always the land which we can tax. It would seem that the Government were being helplessly or recklessly driven by one party in this Parliament, upon which their very existence depends, on to the rocks.
– Why make wild and whirling statements about extravagant expenditure which the honorable senator cannot prove?
– It seems to me that it is the grossest of extravagance for the Commonwealth Government to have increased expenditure by 70 per cent. whilst the population of the country which we govern has only increased by1.75 per cent.
– But has the Commonwealth expenditure increased by 70 per cent. ?
– I have given the figures, and. a simple arithmetical calculation based upon them shows that the increase closely approaches 70 per cent.
– What is the increased revenue?
– The increase of population in 1 906-7 as compared with 1905-6 was only 1.75 per cent., and that is about equal to the normal annual increase of the population during the. last seven years.
– What kind of expenditure is it that has increased?
– I am referring to the expenditure of the Commonwealth Government.
– Is it expenditure on the transferred services or not ?
– If my inferences from the facts are. wrong it will be quite easy for honorable senators to refute them.
– Why not state the true facts of the case?
– The figures which Ihave given plainly show what the increase is. The source fromwhich I have taken them cannot be challenged. The growth of expenditure is certainly enormous, and it seems to me that there is to be no end to it. Yet the Government asks Parliament to spend half-a-million of money on bounties, oninformation which is so unsatisfactorythat I venture to say that the ordinary man in the street would scarcely buy a dog on such a recommendation.
– There have been increased revenue and increased facilities throughout Australia.
– And there has been payment for public works out of revenue.
– Honorable senators may endeavour to explain away the facts if they choose. I give them for what they are worth. The volley of interruptions shows that the point is striking home.
– Why should not the honorable senator be honest?
– Order !
– I have looked at the newspapers of the various States, and I can find scarcelyany support whatever in any State for the bounties system as here proposed. Now, I believe that if any State will benefit from the appropriation of money for the purposes of a systemof bounties, Queensland will, probably, gain most of all. That reminds me of a remark made by Senator Dobsonwhen he was adversely criticising this Bill . He pointed out that important tropical agricultural industries will, probably, be undertaken in the Northern Territory, and suggested that the Government; instead of proposing a miscellaneous grant of halfamillion, should reserve a sum of£40,000 or £50,000 for expenditure there. I think however, that the. Constitution would not permit effect to be given to such a proposal. Under the Constitution the Governmentcan give no preferential support to any particular State industries, qua State industries. It must grant bounties,if it grants them at all, on terms which are open to all. the States-, and must not give a preference to any particular State. That being so, the State of Queensland would, I think, come in as an applicant a long time before the NorthernTerritory could apply.
– If the Commonwealth takes over the Northern Territory, it will not become a. State immediately. It will be a Territory of the Commonwealth, as Papua is to-day.
– That does not matter. So far as my reading of the Constitution enables me to interpret it, preference must not be given to any State or any industry upon Australian soil. It is impossible to say that we will give to a farmer in the NorthernTerritory a bounty of 5s. on every£1worthof produce, whereas we will givea bountyof only1s. inthe £1 to a
Queensland producer of the same product. Now, I have read in several newspapers indications that the present financial position of the Commonwealth is causing dis- trust and alarm owing to the fact, that after six years of Commonwealth Administration we are within ^103,000 of our limit of expenditure.
– There was no alarm so. long as the Commonwealth Government was paying thousands of pounds to the States over what they were entitled to receive.
– That remark is more or less irrelevant. Our course in the future must either be for .less expenditure or we must relax the Braddon section, and it is because of an intention to relax the Braddon section that a Minister has left the present Cabinet. He dissented from his colleagues in that matter, and considered that the States had a right to rely on the section as their sheet anchor. When we know that a Minister has resigned because he does not agree with his colleagues, when we find the Prime Minister saying that the Braddon section is one under which the States must be protected, and when we know that the States themselves have disregarded the bounty proposals of the Ministry, and have devoted their attention to its financial position, it behoves us to bring the Government up sharply to a realization of what that position is. I will take the opportunity of reading a leading article which appeared in the Courier of the 29th August.
– Does the honorable senator say that he cannot find any newspaper in which encouragement is. given to this Bill? Does he mean to say that Queensland is opposed to the bounties system ?
– I do not say thai. Queensland is opposed to the bounties system. 1 am not opposed to it. A Bounties Bill submitted to Parliament at the proper time, and in the proper form, would probably receive as strong support as this Bill is receiving strong opposition.
– A very nice “ sit on a rail “ attitude !
– The honorable senator may apply to my attitude any term of vituperation that he can think of. But it is plain and intelligible. If the honorable senator chooses to impute sinister and unworthy motives to me I shall not reply to him. In the present state of our finances there is not a single State in Australia in which it is not pointed out that we cannot afford to pay away so much for the encouragement of agricultural industries. The article from the Courier shows this very plainly.
– Where is that newspaper published?
– In Brisbane;, it is generally recognised as one of the leading journals in Queensland.
The question is therefore raised as to. how future Federal expenditure is to be met, and in this connexion one has to remember that no pro-‘ vision has as yet been made for the most expensive of the Commonwealth Government’s, schemes. Speaking on this question the other night, Mr. Watson said that those members who were in favour of extending the Braddon clause, and at the same time were opposed to direct taxation, should frankly admit to the country that there would be no money for old-age pensions, the acquisition of the Northern Territory, and defence works. Mr. Watson omitted to notethat there would also be no money for the construction of ari Australian navy, the building of. a Federal capital in some remote part of New. South Wales, and the construction of two projected transcontinental railways, to say nothing of the machinery still necessary to put the Commonwealth in proper working order.
The leader of the Federal Labour Party onlymentioned this financial difficulty to hint that further taxation might be necessary and to find an excuse for the imposition of a confiscatory land tax: This was apparent from his declaration that the attempts made by the State to. bring about closer settlement by the purchase of big estates had proved a great failure. Evidence as to such failure was not givenand could _ not be given ; but evidently he was desirous of finding an excuse for confiscating private lands by means of unjust taxation instead of allowing the States to repurchase lands at a fair valuation. So muchhas been -said about the iniquities of the new Tariff that people are apt to forget that the Labour-Socialists are not committed to any Tariff, and that they are pledged to land taxation with the objective of land nationalization.
I am delighted to hear .honorable senators of the Labour Party cheer that statement,, because this article and mv exposition may help to define the position.
– The honorable senator should not be too rough on honorable senators on this side, because if they were not present there would be no one to listen to- him.
– If that compliment is addressed to me, I may meet it in kind by saying that the doors of the chamber are not barred to any honorablesenators.
– There. would be no quorum if honorable senators on this side retired from the chamber.
– Then if as a result of that the Bill would lapse so much the better. I think one is always justified in meeting a taunt such as that addressed to me by Senator Lynch in kind. I will read that last sentence again -
So much has been said about the iniquities of the new Tariff that people are apt to forget that the Labour-Socialists are not committed to any Tariff, and that they are pledged to land taxation with the objective of land nationalization.
– That is not true.
– The writer of the article is responsible for the statement, and not I. But I quite agree with the writer of the article that land nationalization, while not so prominently put forward now as in the past, is still an objective, though a very vain one, of the Labour Socialist Party.
– It is not.
– I am glad to have that contradiction on the responsibility of the honorable senator. The article continues -
Mr. Watson has never been able to explain away his memorable proposal that large estates should be made to pay a shilling in the pound on their rental value - a proposal which means the expropriation of the rental value.
– He never made any such proposal.
The result, he claimed, would provide for closer settlement ; and now he is prepared to use the additional argument that more revenue is required for Commonwealth purposes. Even if it be assumed that Mr. Watson, like the Acting Prime Minister, would be content for a while to draw still further on the Customs revenue after the expiration of the Braddon clause, there would still be the need for further taxation, forced by the Commonwealth Government, but imposed by the State Governments.
Senator Pearce has interjected that Mr. Watson never made any such proposal.
– He never said that he was prepared to propose a tax of is. in the
– I happened to be in Queensland at the time the statement was made.
– By whom?
– By Mr. Watson. There is no doubt that the statement was made by that gentleman in Queensland.
– The honorable senator cannot prove it.
– Every one of . us seized upon it at once, and Mr. Watson’s attention was drawn to it, especially by the Brisbane Courier. A representative of that newspaper interviewed him on the subject, and explanation after explanation of his remarkable declaration was made. At a subsequent meeting in Queens land Mr. Watson acknowledged that it was a slip, and that he never intended to say it. He confessed that he had gone too far, and further than he had intended. I support the view taken in the Brisbane Courier’s leader in the matter.
– Order. I ask the honorable senator not to continue to discuss that question. The question of land value taxation is really not pertinent to the matter now before the Senate.
– I admit that, but the remarks I have made were drawn from me by an interjection from Senator Pearce. There is another reason why I should from the point of view especially of the finances of Queensland scrutinize very carefully the proposal for this expenditure’ of nearly £500,000.
– They have a big surplus in Queensland this year:
– That surplus is becoming remarkably thin, and under the . treatment it is receiving from the State Government, I am afraid it will become a minus quantity in less than twelve months. The very little surplus we have in Queensland requires to be very delicately nourished and handled in these days. An extravagant expenditure of nearly £7500,000 by the Commonwealth is likely to seriously cut into the revenue which Queensland may expect to get from the Commonwealth, and. honorable senators representing that State will be doing only their duty -if they scrutinize such a proposal very carefully. In connexion with the return by the Commonwealth to the States of three-fourths of the revenue derived from Customs and Excise, the following is the present position : Queensland is to receive £72,347 less than her proportion of the three-fourths of the Customs and Excise. I do not notice any of the honorable senators from Tasmania present; but it would perhaps be comforting to them to know that Tasmania is to receive £23,106 less than her share South Australia is to receive only £239 more than her share of the three-fourths of Customs and Excise revenue,’ Victoria only £5,070 more, and New South Wales .£167,381 more. ‘I point out that since the initiation of Federation the State Treasurer of Queensland has been the chief sufferer in this connexion. In three years of the six during which we have been ‘federated, Queensland received less, and on one occasion about £60,000 less, than- her share of the three-fourths of Customs and Excise revenue.
– What did she get by way of sugar bounties?
– We can deal with that whan we are considering the Tariff. Queensland is this year to get £72,347 less than her share of threefourths of the revenue from Customs and Excise, and while I ‘can quite understand that the Treasurer of that State would be willing to receive very kindly a proposal to encourage the development of any industry in the State he would be disposed, on the other hand, to view with the closest suspicion a proposal by the Commonwealth to incur an extravagant expenditure of nearly £500,000 when such a .proposal involves to him the payment of over £70,000 less than the share’ which Queensland has always a right to expect she will get from the revenue from Customs and Excise. The Queensland Treasurer is not likely to view with favour any proposal as a result of which he may be called upon at any time, as he has beencalled upon repeatedly before, to make good by taxation in some form or another, a loss on the share of the three-fourths of Customs and Excise revenue ^returned to his State. In the circumstances, I think I shall be excused if- I leave the problematical chance of the success of the agricultural industries dealt with in this Bill/ and keep my eye and, as long as I can, my hand, upon Commonwealth expenditure.
– When did Queensland have to make good a deficiency in the amount returned to her by the Commonwealth?
– That is a pertinent question. I think that in 1903 or in T904 Queensland received £60,000 odd less than her share of the three-fourths of the Customs and Excise revenue. There was” a State deficiency of ,£150,000 at the same time, for which the State Treasurer, had temporarily to provide by Treasury Bills or in some other form. He was obliged to impose an increased income tax, reduce allowances to local authorities, and retrench every branch of the Civil Service. In one sense the whole community had to suffer by reason of the f acf that the share of the three-fourths of the Customs and Excise revenue which’ .the State Treasurer had a moral -if not an absolute legal right to expect to receive’ was not forthcoming. When I find that the State Treasurer of Queensland is to receive ,£72,347 less than Queensland’s share of the three-fourths of the Customs and Excise revenue, and that, notwithstanding the fact that the supporters of the Government in another place are clamouring for a prohibitive Tariff, we are being asked under this Bill, to consent to what I deem to be extravagant expenditure, my vote on the. second reading of the Bill must be held to be an intimation that I think the Government should postpone the expenditure of this money. In voting in that way I shall be doin? what, according to my lights, will be most advantageous tothe interests of the State I represent.
– Is not the honorable senator aware” that, as a matter of fact, the Commonwealth has returned to Queensland no less than £60,000 over and above her share of three-fourths of the revenue from Customs and Excise ?
– the honorable senator is quite right.
– Then what is the honorable senator growling about?
– I quite admit that the Commonwealth Government have returned more that three-fourths of the Customs and Excise revenue to the different States. They are probably : not entitled, under the Constitution, to expect that they shall never individually get back less than their, share of the three-fourths of the revenue from’ Customs and Excise^ but I have pointed out that Queensland has been the sufferer iri this connexion, whilst New South Wales and Victoria have received hundreds of thousands of , pounds in excess. The revenue of Queensland from ‘Customs and Excise has been steadily decreasing, -and to such an extent!; “that .-when the credit and debit : balance ‘ between the Commonwealth and the State was settled, Queensland received less than her . share of the three-fourths of Customs and Excise revenue upon three different occasions.
– But over the whole period Queensland has received £60,000 more than her/share. The honorable senator should not hide that fact.
– The honorable senator may use that argument for what ‘it is- worth; but I am considering the position from the point of view of the State’ Trea- surer of Queensland. In view of his position, and in view of the submission of an exorbitant, prohibitive Tariff, I think I am doing my duty in resisting proposals which seem to me to involve extravagant expenditure.
– Why does the honorable senator harp upon the statement that the State Treasurer of Queensland is not getting the amount returned to which he is entitled, when, as a matter of fact, he has received a good deal more?
– I do not intend to detain honorable senators much longer. It is not my rule, on the second reading of a Bill, to discuss its details, but I must direct attention to clause 6 of this Bill, which provides that -
Every grower or producer who claims bounty under this Act shall specify the rates of wages paid in respect of the labour employed by him, other than the labour of members of his family, in growing or producing the goods, and the Minister, if he is of opinion that the rates so paid are below the standard rates paid in the place or district in which the goods are grown or produced, may withhold the whole or any part of the bounty payable.
I draw the attention of the Minister to that remarkable clause, and ask him to say what section of the Constitution enables the Parliament to dictate the rate of wages which shall be paid in any industry. I can find no such authority in the Constitution.
– Can the honorable senator find a section which forbids it?
– Only what is expressed or directly implied in the Comstitution empowers the Parliament to legislate. The Minister of Home Affairs must be aware of the fact that, in view of recent decisions given on appeals from the State Courts to the High Court, any attempt to regulate the rate of wages payable in an industry is likely to be declared unconstitutional.
– It is not very long since the honorable senator relied upon the doctrine of implication to establish a point he was making.
– It is true that some time ago I was drawing the attention of the Senate to the fact that by the doctrine of implication it might be able legally to extend the written powers of the Constitution. But what doctrine of implication can be applied in order to enable us to extract from the Constitution the power to determine the rate of wages payable in any State? I draw attention to the matter because there is in the air anew financial policy, which is called “ the new protecyion.” The Government is really a coalition. Strong support from a section of the coalition is given to the Government, in the fond, and, I think, delusive hope that by allowing the prohibitionists in the Government section to have their way they may counteract the effect by the imposition of such stringent conditions that they will be able toregulate by law the price of labour. That is a serious position for either the Government or for those whose standing in the Parliament depends upon the fact that they are pledged supporters of the interests of labour. The Minister in charge of this Bill must know that, in view of the decisions which have been given recently, it is an absolute delusion to hope that it will be constitutional, under this or any other Bill, to enact the rates of wages to be paid in any industry-
– In the interests of humanity.
– Certainly one of the most humane things which a private individual can do is to see that the ox which treads the corn shall not be muzzled. I strongly sympathize with every effort which may be made, either outside or here, to lighten the lot of the working man, but in our legislation we are bound by the Constitution. It appears to me that the proposed expenditure on bounties, and the prohibitive Tariff proposals of the Government, are due to a sort of understanding on the one side that a protective Tariff shall be made prohibitive on the condition that wages shall be arranged according to the wish of that section without whose support the Government could not live for one moment. I beg to sound a note of warning, both to the Government and to that section of their supporters, that there is not a line in the Constitution which justifies their proposition. Recent decisions of the High Court go to suggest that probably we are right in our contention that the Constitution is directly opposed to such legislation. It seems to me that the two parties are playing, so to speak, the role of the donkey and the carrots. The socialistic section in each Chamber, who make the condition of the working man their sole ambition, are, I think, being made to play the role of the donkey to the Government Tariff. It is well that their attention should be drawn to the fact that they are pursuing a course which, in the long run, must turn put to be an unsafe one. I am of opinion that clause 6 of the Bill is absolutely unconstitutional. That question of course, cannot be decided until the “ new protection “ Bill is submitted, but I take advantage of this occasion to sound a note of warning. For the financial reasons which I have given, even though possibly the Queensland cotton industry may suffer a little, I believe that I shall best do my duty by voting against the Bill.
– Whilst I intend to support the second reading of the Bill, still it appears to me that, by the time it emerges from Committee, it will resemble a blank sheet of paper, that is, if the expressions which have been indulged in by certain honorable senators are worth noting. We have heard rather peculiar expressions used ir relation to several Bills, but this is the most unique debate I have ever listened to. Honorable senators have discussed not only every plant, but .every form of finance, and 1 should think everything else which the English language can express. I consider that the Government acted wisely in introducing the Bill at an early stage of the session, thereby affording to honorable senators an opportunity to express their views relative to the granting of bounties. It has been urged, and I think rightly urged, that the evidence we have of the success of bounty-fed industries is not by any means encouraging. But we have to take into consideration the fact that in some instances the bounties have failed because, as in the case of this Bill, I think, too large a ground was attempted to be covered by too small a financial effort. In my judgment a very sensible exception to that rule it, the butter bonus, which was granted in Victoria. A vote of £250,000 was applied in bonuses to the development of the butter industry, which by no mean* could be termed an experimental industry. The majority of the unsuccessful bounties of which we have historical knowledge have invariably been those which have been applied to purely experimental industries. The fault I have to find with this Bill is that it appropriates bounties not only to matters of real experiment, but also to matters which, I think, have been shown bv experiment to be utterly useless in Australia. Take, for instance, the item of raw coffee, which I shall assist honorable senators to remove from the schedule. That is one of the items which have been experimented with and without the assistance of a bounty. Past experience points very clearly in the direction that it would be a waste of money and effort to attempt to coddle the coffee industry in Australia. It has been pointed out by honorable senators that it is an indus try which must be carried on by men who are engaged in other agricultural pursuits. Brazil alone grows enough coffee to supply the world’s requirements, and the. surplus production has to be destroyed-. Not only have the planters had to destroy coffee plants, but they are prevented by the Government from putting in plants for a cer- tain period. In those circumstances it appears to me to be ridiculous for the Commonwealth to- offer a bounty of £1,500 a year in the hope of establishing a successful coffee industry. It is not often that Senator St. Ledger and I agree, but we do agree as to one item in the schedule to the Bill. I am almost prepared to assist in the deletion of every item save that of cotton. I believe that we should run less risk in assisting to establish by means of bounties industries which must ultimately fail, at least for a long time to come, if we simply appropriated a sufficient sum to establish a successful cotton industry. From the evidence we have, I believe that there is more likelihood of establishing that industry successfully than there is of establishing any other industry in respect of which a bounty is proposed. I do not disagree with the principle of a bounty, but I consider that in all these matters we ought to have some regard to the possibility of developing an industry until it becomes a commercial success. That is one point which should be kept clearly before our minds. I believe that if the remaining seventeen items are retained in the schedule in not one instance will the industry become a commercial success by means of the proposed bounty. I do not think there is any hope of cotton growing being made a very profitable industry through the expenditure of only £6,000 a year for a short period of eight years. Such a proposal does not offer much encouragement to the industry. If we are to attempt to grow cotton, let us have at least some regard for commercial principles. If we do, we shall wipe out about half of the items below cotton in the schedule, and add those amounts to the bounty for cotton growing. That is the attitude that I shall take up in Committee. I intend fo vote for the deletion of a great many of the items, and to endeavour to increase very materially the amount to be devoted fo the cotton bounty.
– - I intend to support the second reading of the Bill. I cannot support Senator McColl’s amendment, because in every State colleges have already been established to impart technical education, and to conduct experiments in all branches of agriculture. I have always believed that bounties are a very good means of assisting an industry over the critical stage of the first few years of its existence. I agree with Sens tor Henderson that the amounts proposed for several items in the schedule could be very well added to the amount for the cotton bounty. I hold in my hand a photograph, of which I have given the Minister a copy, of a selection where very little agriculture, as we generally understand it, is carried on. Dairying is conducted there, and green feed is grown for the stock. Cotton is also grown. The soil is very well adapted for that plant, being fairly deep, with a clay bottom. Small selectors are making great efforts around Rockhampton to take up this industry. It is not being carried on in large plantations. I do not believe that the industry will ever be a success in large plantations in Queensland, like it was in South America. I hope, however, that it will be made a success with a system of mixed farming, especially in the drier belts of country. If I did not think so I should not advocate a bounty for it. Nearly every person who is able to afford it, in the district shown in this photograph, is taking a hand in the industry. When we see the selectors themselves trying to make a success of it, the least we can do is to assist them over their initial difficulties, especially as they are not rich men. We can do that in the first instance by granting a bounty for a certain number of years, at the end of which time it will have been proved thoroughly whether the industry can be made a success or not. I know that at one time cotton was grown in Queensland, but the venture was not a success, as there were other occupations in Southern Queensland that paid better, and for which the land was more suitable. In the northern parts, however, the land is not suited for ordinary crops on account of the dry seasons, but the cotton trees, once they get a fair start and their tap-roots get down to the clay sub-soil, will stand a -fairly dry climate. I cannot see my way to vote for all the items in the schedule. For some of them at present there is no possible chance of success, but if it can be proved to me at any time that there is a possibility of making a commercial success of them, or of their helping to settle people on the land, I shall be quite prepared to support the giving of a bounty for them. We have been eight or nine days debating the second reading of this Bill, and as we shall,, no doubt, have to discuss each item in Committee I do not propose to make a long speech now. Senator Henderson referred to coffee. There is not the slightest doubt that coffee can be, and has been, successfully grown in Queensland. Whether it can be made a successful article for export purposes is another question. I do not think it can in face of Senator Henderson’s statements about Brazil. At the same time, I would remind the honorable senator that the object of all our protective legislation is to prevent the wholesale importation from cheap labour countries of articles which could be made or produced here. That applies to coffee which is produced in Brazil by cheaper labour than is obtainable in Australia. I believe that eventually the production of coffee will be made a success in Australia for our own market. This will happen as more experiments are conducted, and as more settlers take up the pursuit. The settlers in the Cairns district, in particular, are making continuous efforts in this direction. All the coffee needed in the Commonwealth can be grown here in the future, although not perhaps just now, with a fair bounty and a protective duty of 3d. per lb. When the Bill is in Committee I shall state my reasons for not supporting some of the other items in the schedule.
– I am glad to hear one honorable senator support the Bill, because so far nearly every speaker has found fault with it. I yield to no one in my desire to assist production from the soil. Any useful article that our soil can produce ought to be encouraged in every possible way, but when I look at this proposal for boun- ties I’ am reminded, as pointed out by Senator McCoIl, of the disastrous consequences that ensued to Victoria a few years ago when bonuses were given for pursuits which- the people did not understand. I shall vote for Senator McColl’s amendment, because I believe that knowledge is power, and knowledge must be acquired before experiments are made in these directions at the people’s expense. Many of these industries have been shown to be quite unsuitable to Australian conditions in the present circumstances. Coffee is considered to be one of the best, but Senator Givens, in supporting it, dwelt on what could be done by the small farmer with the help of his own family. That is a thing that we ought to encourage, but if it is to be in a tropical country, under a hot sun, and if the utilization of the labour of women and children is the only way to make it pay, then we are getting on very dangerous ground.
– Because it is bad for women and children to work in the open fields in the tropics.
– I know a woman who has lived there for forty years, and who could knock spots off the honorable senator.
– I have heard Senator Givens say himself that women and children ought not to work in the open fields in the tropics. Another item in the schedule which was mentioned particularly by the Minister is that of combed wool or tops, for which a bounty aggregating £10,000 is to be offered. That is an industry that there is no prospect at all of establishing to any useful extent for export purposes. I hold in my hand a letter from one of the largest users of yarn. He says -
We ourselves use from forty to fifty different varieties of yarn which no one spinner could turn out. The capital invested by an English combine to turn out these varieties of yarn is £5,000,000.
This shows that it requires different machinery for every different kind of yarn, and different combings are used to make the different yarns. It is very unlikely that for many years to come a large industry of that nature will be established in Australia. The whole of these items appear to have been strung together to please different parties, without any real knowledge of the circumstances, and in defiance of the report published last yearon the Bounties Bill. We ought to instruct the people who drew up this schedule, as well as those who will carry on the work on the soil. I shall support the amendment, and vote against the second reading. It would be very much better if the Commonwealth could in the matter of agricultural education work with the States, as has been done in America, where 700 teachers areemployed to give instruction to the people, before we enter into this experiment.
– I intend to vote against Senator McColl’s amendment. I do not know whether he gave the question very much consideration before moving it, but if he had kept his eyes open to what has been done by the various States Governments, he would not have complained of the want of agricultural education in Australia, nor would he have tried to hustle the Commonwealth into the premature establishment of an agricultural bureau.
– If we attempted to establish an agricultural bureau, we should have the States Premiers up in arms against us.
– Of course; we should have Mr. Carruthers crowing like a rooster, the Premier of Tasmania, Captain Evans, howling like a captain giving orders in a storm, the Premier of Western Australia threatening secession, and so on all round the compass. My own opinion is that Senator McColl wanted to fire off a speech on agricultural education. He came to the conclusion that this was an excellent opportunity, and he at once took advantage of it. I would appeal to him as an Australian patriot, as a man who desires to see the resources of this Commonwealth developed, and its population largely increased, as a man who is anxious, I suppose, to make it as prosperous as possible, to withdraw his amendment. Having made his speech, having given us a large amount of useful information with regard to what is being done in the United States, having, so to speak, achieved his purpose, he might allow a vote to be taken upon the straight-out issue of whether the Bill shall be read a second time. It must be evident to Senator McColl that he has not a leg to stand upon. His contention is that we ought not to give bounties for the establishment of the industries referred to in the Bill until a complete system of agricultural education has been initiated by the Commonwealth.
– Until the growers have had some instruction.
– If the honorable senator has been casting his eye over the Commonwealth, he must know that the various States have already established agricultural colleges. In Queensland, where, in all probability, coffee can be grown in large quantities, an expert has been employed by the Government to teach the people. Indeed, so far as was possible with their limited resources, the States have gone to great lengths in the direction of
Agricultural education. My honorable friend ought to be satisfied in the meantime. I am as sure as I am standing here that if the Commonwealth Government were to propose to establish at great expense an agricultural bureau, the States Parliaments,. Governments, and Premiers, and probably the people also, would be unanimous in their disapproval. For my own part, I believe in the institution of systems of education of that character.
– Let us assist the States.
– By passing this Bill we shall be assisting the States. Senator McColl’s principal objection to this Bill disappears when we examine the facts. In almost all the States-I believe in every one except Tasmania -there is an agricultural college, with experimental farms in full working order, and all the necessary paraphernalia. We ought, for the present, to be satisfied with that, and it disposes of Senator McColl’s objection to the Bill. If he wishes to postpone the giving of bounties for the encouragement of various industries until a Commonwealth bureau is established, I am afraid it will be many yars before anything is done towards the development of our tropical and subtropical areas. While the States are engaged in the work of agricultural education, they have no power under the Constitution to give bounties for the encouragement of industries. That power has been completely taken out of their hands. A duty, therefore, lies upon us, as representing the Australian people, if we think it desirable to give bounties for the encouragement of such industries as are worth encouraging, to take steps in that direction.
-i think the States can give bounties conditionally.
– I am informed that they can give bounties with the consent of the Commonwealth Parliament. But whether that is the case or not, the Constitution provides that if bounties are given, there shall be no preference to any. State or part of a State- that the bounties must be available throughout the Commonwealth. The question we have to consider is whether it is wise in the interests of Australia to grant bounties. I think it is. Australia, a little over one hundred years ago, was a barren, almost uninhabited country. The early settlers in New South Wales, and on the Swan River, situated, as they were, in probably the most fertile localities on the continent, were unable to grow sufficient food to maintain themselves, and had to be supported by shipments sent from the old country. Indeed, so acute did the position become so far as the Swan River settlement was concerned, that a large number of people there had to be deported because sufficient food was not grown to support them. Contrast that position with what we find to-day. We find Australia, not only able to maintain her own population, but exporting large quantities of food to other parts of the world. This position has only been achieved by very great pains and labour. The men who founded Australia were not, I am glad to think, men of so little faith as are some who find a place in the Commonwealth today. Some of those who have spoken on this question are content that we should rest upon out oars. They say, “We have done well ; let us rest content with what has been achieved, leaving it to posterity, or to the fates, or to Providence, or to some unknown power to extend the area of development.” But I think that is altogether an unworthy attitude to take up. If the men who held power in Australia 50 or 80 or 100 years ago hadbeen governed by such ideas, we should have had to-day no Australia worthy of the name. The continent would be still in its original condition of barren unproductiveness. No matter how well: we have succeeded in the past, we must continually stretch forth our hands and try, by every method that can possibly be devised, to create new avenues of industry for. the population of this continent, which is growing, growing, growing, cotinually. One thing can be said for the proposal of the Government. It is a proposal to establish industries in the tropical and sub-tropical portions of this continent. We have heard a great deal lately about the necessity for peopling the northern portions of Australia. We have heard senator after senator declaring that while the north is empty Australia is in danger. I quite admit that. While any portion of the continent is practically empty a certain amount of danger exists. It ought to be our policy, not only to increase the population in the more settled parts of Australia as rapidly as we can, but also to penetrate into the tropical and sub-tropical regions.
That, to my mind, is exactly what the Government is seeking to do. It is seeking to establish, by means of bounties, industries which are chiefly tropical- “and subtropical in their character. There are the coffee industry, the cotton industry, and several other industries mentioned in the Bill, every one of which will, I believe, ultimately be payable. . I have not been in Queensland a very long time - about twenty years - but I can remember when that State, rich as it is in natural pasturage, was not able to produce enough butter to supply half the population that is now there. Queensland had the same climate, the same pasturage,’ and the same rainfall as she has to-day. The opportunity was there, just as it is now. But the people were not sufficiently educated to take advantage of the natural opportunities.
– Not sufficiently educated to milk a cow ?
– They could milk a cow, and they carried on dairying, I suppose, as well as they could in those days. I remember hearing graziers say that if they got a pound of butter per week from a cow it was considered a very fair average. But now, I think I am safe in saying that any dairyman who did not get from 4 lbs. to 7 lbs. of butter per week per cow would think that he was not carrying on his business successfully. That has been accomplished by education. Some people will say that protection had nothing whatever to do with it. But I claim that the first fillip given to the butter industry in Queensland was when Sir Thomas McIllwraith imposed a duty of 3d. per lb. uponimported butter. Previous to that we got most of our butter from New South Wales. After that date we were able not only to supply our own needs but to begin exporting. I do not say that the duty did everything, because, undoubtedly, instruction in dairying did a great deal.
– And in the breeding of good cattle.
– That is so, but the breeding of good cattle may be considered as a part of dairying education. There is an example of an industry that was not established under the bounties system. I am aware that in Victoria a bounty was given in connexion with the production of butter, and we know what the industry has become in Victoria to-day. Probably without the bounty,- under existing conditions, and with the land monopoly which prevails in this State, it would not have. been possible to bring the industry to the position which it now holds. In any case, I think the Government are doing the right thing in trying to encourage the production of tropical plants and productions generally. Most honorable senators who have already spoken favour a bounty for the production of cotton. I quite agree with them. I believe that, just as Australia is to-day the great wool-growing country of the’ world, if the cotton industry is properly managed she will, within 25 or 30 years, be the great cotton-growing country of the world also.
– If we get the necessary population.
– If we have the industry we shall get the population. Cotton grows like a weed in parts of Queensland, and, indeed, almost all over the State. The only thing that is wanted to bring the cotton industry to a successful issue is organization, and some such encouragement as is proposed to be given in the Bill we are now discussing. I believe that the cotton ‘industry in Australia has a very great future indeed before it. I believe that within from 25 to 50 years notonly will Australia, as I have said, be the great wool-growing and also the /great wool-weaving country of the world, but she will, in addition, be the great cottongrowing and cotton-weaving country of the world. Living in this early stage of Australia’s history, we should keep our eyes for ever fixed upon the future, and try to lay our foundations, both political and industrial, so broad and deep that the mighty fabric which undoubtedly will be reared upon those foundations will be an enduring one, something of which our children and our children’s -children may reasonably be proud, and which will give the fullest scope to the development of the Australian continent. While I agree with’ very much that has been said with regard to cotton, I regret that a general attack appears tohave been made on the proposed bounty for coffee. I think coffee growing is an industry which is worthy of encouragement. We have been told that. Brazil grows the world’s supply of coffee,, and that it really is not necessary in Australia that we should embark in an industry which is not likely to be payable, and-, in which we should have such a formidable competitor. If that reasoning had beenapplied in the past to the various industries, which are now established in our midst, we should have had no industries at all.
– The honorable senator will remember that I exploded the Brazilian figures quoted by the experts.
– That is so. I do not see why we should enter into competition with Brazil in the world’s market for coffee, but I do say that as we can grow coffee here easily, we ought to be able” to supply our own requirements. Some honorable senators have said that coffee cannot be grown in Queensland, but I have seen dozens of coffee trees growing.
– I have listened to the whole debate, and I never heard any honorable senator say that.
– Unless I have made a very great mistake, that statement was made. ‘ Within two miles of the place where I live coffee is very largely grown. I have drunk coffee made from berries, grown at that place, and ground on the. premises, and I think it was the finest I ever tasted in my life. What has been done there it is possible to do over a very large portion of the State. For the edification of honorable senators I propose to read some extracts from an article which appeared in the Queensland Agricultural Journal of the 1st March, 1900, on the subject of coffee growing. This article was written bv Mr. Howard Newport, Instructor in Coffee Culture. He heads his article “ Coffee, the Poor Man’s Crop.” I believe that meets exactly what the Government desire to do under this Bill. They wish to assist industries in which men with little capital can easily engage. If that be so, I know of none that is more likely to succeed than coffee growing. Mr. Newport writes -
The cultivation of coffee in Queensland differs in several essential points from its cultivation in most countries in which it has hitherto obtained a foothold. The principal points to be taken into consideration in searching for new land and localities may be taken as temperature, rainfall, climate, soil, and labour. Of these, the first three might perhaps be looked upon as one and the same, and summed up in the term “ climate.” But there are many instances where, though the temperature be not too low and the annual rainfall neither too large, too small, nor too much at a time, the cultivation of coffee is impossible for other atmospheric conditions, such as liability to cyclonic disturbances, &c.
Being a tropical plant, the area within which it can be successfully propagated is limited, but in this zone it will adapt itself marvellously to very different conditions, and in doing so -the growth, and nature of the tree will change considerably. In acclimatising itself to an arid, sandy soil, a uniformly high temperature, a low rainfall; or a dry climate, the small short almost stunted growth becomes pronounced ; and in the rich soils, comparatively heavy rainfalls and humid temperature, the long stem between, the axis and the large and loosely-built leaf and tree become in a few generations suchmarked characteristics, that even on being transplanted from the one extreme to the other, these are retained so long as to cause the plant tobe given almost a different name.
In the natural spreading of the cultivation of coffee from the point where it was first grown, as a commercial product, it has gone from country to country each in turn,’ while having very similar climatic conditions with better or richer conditions of soil.
These remarks are introductory, and I pass over a considerable part pf the article and come to that portion of it in which the writer shows how it it possible for the small man to engage in the industry and make a profit. Referring to the area in Queensland, he writes -
The area here is practically limited to what each grower can for himself and by himself keep in order and cultivate. To take a 10-acre block as an example - not necessarily thereby implying either that it is inadvisable to attempt more or that less would not pay - I think that the majority of farmers would smile at the task of cultivating so little ; but to growers in other countries 10 acres of growing coffee with never a “ coolie “ to cultivate would seem a very different thing. The weeding of such a block would mean under our conditions the going over it once in four to six weeks with a horse cultivator (the work of say five days) or with a hand-cultivator (say ten days), or a hoe (say twenty days’ work), during the dry weather; and- in the wet months the sickling down of weeds before they seed would be still lighter. The handling and pruning of this block at the same time is well within the scope of the owner to do, as also any other little work necessary to growing coffee. And these works will then practically have cost what the growers in many countries now pay for superintendence alone, the difference being that in this country the white man (European) can work, and in working do a vast amount more than the Oriental, while in nearly every country where coffee has hitherto been cultivated manual labour by the white man is a physical impossibility.
Taking it for granted that a farmer can work 10 acres, let us look at the output.
I have a letter before me quoting the average yield per acre in Coorg, South India, at ?.’ cwt., and if statistics were taken for the whole of South India, Ceylon, Java, Honolulu, and all the high-grade coffee producing centres of the world, I doubt if the average would exceed 5 cwt. In Queensland we have a very possible (and frequently reached) 20 cwt., a probable rs cwt. to 16 cwt’. as an average, and an easy and ordinary 10 cwt. to r2 cwt. with very little attempt at cultivation, per acre. This with a “best possible” of 28 cwt. off an acre of under 700 trees. It might be argued that the extra bearing capabilities of coffee being admitted, the actual necessity for so much labour is not obviously lessened’ for its gathering. But consider the cost of scrambling over 40 acres of steep land for 5 tons of coffee and then carrying it the enhanced distances (unavoidable in the larger area) - and he is here referring to the conditions under which coffee is cultivated in most of the coffee-producing countries - to the cost of collecting the same amount from easily accessible approximately situated land of one-fourth of that extent. It means practically that the same expenditure of energy will produce a greater result - or less labour - for the same work. In picking, the work must undoubtedly be reduced as much as possible on account, is I have said, not of the cost of the labour so much as its scarcity.’ Even picking a 10-acre block, .giving 10 cwt. or 5 tons, means some 15 tons of cherry, which, spread over three months or so, would keep two men or boys hard ‘at it. Practically it means, therefore, that two men or boys will be necessary for even 10 acres, besides the farmer himself. Were this multiplied by ten, the obtaining .of sufficient hands would be almost an impossibility, as can be readily understood, while the extra hand or two needed is generally readily obtainable. Now as to the paying. This 5. tons off 10’ acres, if sold at ,£50 a ton (I am purposely quoting figures so low that even the most pessimistic cannot cavil at on the score of over-sanguineness) would give a gross income of ^250. . Deducting, say, £2 a week for the owner’s living, a balance of about £150 remains, out of which to pay for the two helping hands for a few months; transport of crop to town,
And. interest on or part repayment of the initial cost spread over the first three or four years - surely a fair margin. It will be seen, therefore, how coffee, as ‘ an industry in Queensland at the present day, is” practically debarred the large capitalis’t with his thousands of acres, while the “workers- the men. who have -a selection on which, perhaps, the’ wife and family are’ already resident - the men who have employmentin many of the local industries that need them’ only for a given- period of the year - and especially the men who* .without - any outside work,having enough only ‘to see -them’, through the Initial period of waiting’,’ tak,e up- small selections and make coffee culture their work : these’ can’ make, if not- a fortune; at least a- very good’ and comfortable -living of it: and independence. In this way ‘coffee culture in .Queensland will’ be, and already is in many instances, the small selector’s best paying crop, or what would be a better expression th.m the poor man’s crop - the * working-man’s crop.
There is a great deal more that I could quote in support of my contention that coffee growing is - an industry worth assisting by means of a bounty, but I think I have read quite enough to influence honorable senators, that is, -unless they have definitely made up their minds to strike coffee out of the schedule. There is no doubt that coffee can be grown profitably in Queensland, and that, in all probability, the industry would be in- a very much more prosperous condition at this moment had the Federal’ duty been as high -as was the State ‘duty.’
Under the State Tariff, which gave coffee a protection of 4d. per lb., the industry assumed very respectable dimensions, but the moment the duty was reduced by the Federal Parliament to 3d., the production began to fall off.’ I am of opinion that, if the proposed bounty is given, the production of coffee will be stimulated throughout the northern portion of Australia. I do not wish honorable senators to run away with the idea that the northern portion of Queensland is the only part of Australia where coffee can be grown. The bounty could be earned right across the northernportion of the continent, from Cairns on the one side -to Broome on the other. I am sure that my honorable friends from Western Australia, who are as anxious for the establishment of new industries as we Queenslanders can possibly be, see the desirability of adding an industry to those. which already exist in their own State. I do not intend to say any more with reference to coffee except that’, if its production, is sufficiently encouraged, I .’ expect that within a very few years we shall be producing enough to supply our own requirements. The next step will, no doubt, be -the export, of coffee, but meanwhile that is not, so far” as I can see, within practical reach. I. do not intend to delay the second reading of the Bill by discussing the other items in the schedule, as they have been very exhaustively treated by the various speakers. But before sitting- down I wish to refer to the financial-. aspect, of the . question. Some speakers, while agreeing with the idea of giving bounties, have -yet declared their opposition to the Bill, because the Commonwealth cannot afford the money… - The stock argument -is . that, taking -into account the additional expenditure disclosed in this” year’s Budget, the Commonwealth will very soon be at the end of . its tether. . That appears to me to be-taking a very restrictedview of a large subject. Under the Constitution the Commonwealth has unlimited powers of taxation, and if it finds it necessary .to exercise” them in the interests of Aus-, tralia, then I trust that it will not hesitate to do so. We hear a great deal about not hampering, or disarranging the financial condition of the States. I would be one of the last to- lay violent hands upon any of the’ financial arrangements of the States. But’ I believe the interests df the ,people of the Commonwealth, as’ a whole, are of very much greater importance than whether a particular State Treasurer, is to’ get- ‘his coffers’ “filled in a certain way and’ is1 to have a surplus or a deficit. I believe that the sooner Federal finance is boldly divorced from State finance the better it will be, not only for the States, their Parliaments, and their Governments, but also for the people of Australia as a whole, and more particularly for the Commonwealth Parliament and Government. I think that the present system, by which the Commonwealth raises very large sums every year, and theStates snend those sums, is an altogether wrong system, and the sooner we can put an end to it the better. Of course I have no intention of outlining now how I consider the present position ought to be put an end to. I do not think that in any scheme for promoting the development of Australia’s industrieswe ought to be hindered by considerations affecting the States Treasurers. If we do wrong, then the people of the Commonwealth will visit our wrong doing upon our own head ; we are responsible to them within the four corners of the Constitution. In my judgment we ought to assume as many of our constitutional powers as possible. I do not say that we ought to take them over holus bolus right away, but I maintain that we should keep continually extending the boundaries of Commonwealth influence until it embraces every power which is conferred by the Constitution. Now, the power of encouraging the development of industries by means of bounties has been given to the Commonwealth. The question we are called upon to consider now is whether it is wise in the interests of the people of Australia to agree to the policy outlined in thisBill. The products with which it specially deals are, as I have said, tropical and sub-tropical products. I appeal to those who believe in extending the area of settlement right away to the most northern and most western portions of the continent to vote for the second reading of the Bill. They may think that some of the products referred to in the schedule are too unimportant to behelped. But I would remind them that many of our largest industries to-day had but a small beginning, and that if the people who launched them had been animated by the ideas which seem to dominate some speakers on the subject here, then we should have no industries worth calling such to-day. I intend to vote against the amendment of Senator McColl, because the instruction in agriculture which he demands is being given by the various States, and because I do not think that the time is yet ripe for the Commonwealth to undertake the mighty task of establishing a national bureau of agriculture. Let us do one thing at a time, and do that well. We shall be doing well, I conceive, by voting for the second reading of the measure, and by offering bounties upon the production of such products as are enumerated in the schedule. I do not intend to detain the Senate any longer.
– What about the large estates?
– The President, I think, declared that an amendment in that direction would be out of order in connexion with a Bill such as we are discussing. I yield to no one in my belief that the large estates in each State to-day are doing more to impede the progress of this continent than anything else which could be named. I will assist every honorable senator, inside or outside this chamber, on every occasion when an opportunity occurs, to attack and disrupt big estates.
– I must remind the honorable senator that he is going beyond the subject before the Senate.
– How are men to grow these products unless the big estates are burst up?
– That question is not before the Senate at present.
– I do not think there are many big estates in the tropical or sub-tropical portions of Australia. There is plenty of land there. There are a number of large estates in the Cairns district, but a considerable area of Crown lands is still available.
– Is not the small estate just as bad as the big one, if it is withheld from use?
-I quite agree that it is.
– I ask the honorable senator not to pursue that subject further. A question has been asked him, but there is no necessity for him to reply to it. I have already pointed out that I do not consider that subject in order in the debate on this Bill.
– I shall not pursue the subject further. I shall vote for the second reading, and against Senator McColl’s amendment.
– As I know the Senate is anxious to go to a division on the second reading of the Bill, I do not intend to labour the question. I am quite in sympathy with the objects of the Bill, which are to assist new industries, to protect those already in existence, and to endeavour to ascertain whether there is a possibility of starting a new industry in any portion of Australia. This policy will help us to add to the population of the Commonwealth. You, sir, have ruled this afternoon that we cannot refer to the question of bursting up large estates, although I think it is involved in the consideration of the subject. I shall, therefore, not refer to it. I shall decidedly oppose Senator McColl’s amendment, and vote for the second reading of the Bill, reserving to myself, at the same time, the right to oppose certain items in the schedule. Senator Stewart has said that there are items in the schedule considered by some honorable senators to be too unimportant for consideration. But I think every item in the schedule is worthy of the serious consideration of honorable senators. I hope consideration will be given to each of them in Committee. By passing a measure of this description, we shall be helping, not only to foster and establish on a firm basis Australian industries, but also to add to our population, so that on any occasion when we may be threatened by an invading foe we shall have here a manhood to defend us. I take this opportunity of calling the attention of the Government to an industry that was brought prominently before the people of Australia at the . recent Fisheries Conference held in Melbourne. I refer to the possibility of creating a sponge industry in Australia. Sponges have been found on the Australian coast-line in Western Australia, South Australia, and Queensland. Only a few days ago the Chief Inspector of Fisheries in Western Australia supplied me with a sample of sponges found at Cottesloe Beach, in Western Australia. I laid them on the table of the Senate club-room for honorable senators to see. I am speaking, particularly of the sponges that have been discovered in Western Australia, not wilh any desire to introduce into the debate my parochial feeling, but with the object of inducing the Government to consider the question of encouraging an industry which, according to the experts, there is a possibility of establishing. Expert opinion has been obtained on the sponges found on the Western Australian coast. Australian experts said they were of good quality and of good commercial value. Reports as to their value were sent to the Agent-General of Western Australia in London. He endeavoured to secure the opinions of experts there, but, strange to say, the result was adverse. I discovered, on inquiry, that the sponge market in London is entirely in the hands of a combine or trust, who are not anxious to see any new sponge introduced. I am, therefore, under the impression that the reports from London are somewhat biased on that account. Another effort is being made in London to secure an Opinion as to the value of the Australian sponges, independent of gentlemen connected with the combine. Samples of the same sponges have been sent to Europe and America, and favorable reports have been received* entirely bearing out the opinions of the Australian experts. I desire to read an extract from the Report on the Fishing Industry, Western Australia, for the year 1906, by Mr. Gale, the Chief Inspector of Fisheries. He says -
Prospecting for sponges was carried out by the Department during the latter end of the year in portions of our Northern waters, and large quantities of different varieties were discovered in the vicinity of Turtle and Lacepede- Islands. A bulk sample of these has been sent to the Agent-General for expert opinion and valuation, but up to the present, no official report has been received.
Conflicting local opinions have been expressed 01 all sides as to the value of recent discoveries in various localities; a large majority being favorably impressed towards their commercial value. Samples were sent to Mr. Pether, Government Lithographer, who uses a quantity of sponges in his department, and he has reported inter alia, as follows : - “ Some of the sponges left by you at this office were very hard, and scratched’ the work : consequently they were of little value to us. Others of the same parcel were softer. These were found suitable for general rough work, and stand the test fairly well. The sponges found off Cottesloe Beach have stood the test splendidly, and for our purposes generally, are equal to the best Turkey Sponge.”
The first mentioned by Mr. Pether were Shark’s Bay sponges and were, before being tested, recognised as being of poor quality. The second lot mentioned were from the North-West and were gathered during my last prospecting trip. Some time after this report was received I visited the Lithographic workshops with Mr. Pether. and saw these sponges after two months constant use. The men attending the machines informed me that for wear and tear they were equally as good as the imported ones, and were still in good condition. Considering that the nature of the .work done in the Lithographic Department subjects sponges to a very severe test, this evidence from practical men is very encouraging.
On the other hand, I have received discouraging reports from private sources in London relative to the commercial value of sponges from our coastal waters, and inthe absence of official information and with these conflicting reports, it is a difficult matter to form any opinion as to the value of recent discoveries.
Applications have been received for the exclusive right to gather sponges from our coastal waters, varying in areas from 3,000 square miles up to 19,000 square miles. These have all been refused.
– I ask the honorable senator not to pursue that subject too far, because it is not directly applicable to the Bill.
– I did not think I should be out of order in referring to the possibility of creating a new industry in Australia.
– I do not desire to prevent honorable senators from expressing their views, but when a matter goes beyond the scope of the Bill, I must direct the attention of honorable senators to it before they go too far. The Bill itself provides for. a system of bounties to be granted upon certain products specified in the schedule. Strictly speaking, the debate should be confined to the four corners of the Bill itself. It is not possible for the honorable member to put “ sponges “ into the schedule, nor do I understand that he desires to do so.
– I did think that there was a possibility of calling the attention of the Government to the matter in Committee under the item of “ fish.”
– The honorable senator may possibly be able to draw the attention of the Government to the matter in Committee, but he cannot go into it at any length. The item is simply “ Fish, preserved.”
– I bow to your ruling, sir. I shall simply say, in conclusion, that I intend to support the Government when the second reading is put, and shall reserve the right to deal with the various items when the schedule is before the Committee.
– It is not my intention to occupy much of the time of the Senate after the many eloquent speeches that we have heard. I take it that this is a Bill that we should deal with in Committee. Probably, when that time comes, some of us will have to say something that has not yet been said. I am one of those who would have liked to see the introduction of the Bill delayed until after the Tariff had been disposed of, because there may be some items for which we are asked to give bounties, but which are being protected by duties. Although I do not object to the principle of bounties, being one of those who think that a bounty is the least harmful form of protection, I should like, at the same time, to see all bounties given on the tapering principle, beginning with a maximum amount, and gradually disappearing. It would be the same principle as that adopted by a parent who gives his son assistance for a few years to start in business, so that ultimately he can be independent. I am rather afraid, from the terms of the Bill, that the bounties are intended to continue at the same rate each year, until the whole amount voted is expended. If that is done, there will be a great danger of our committing ourselves to giving continuous bounties, as happened many years ago in Queensland in the case of the cotton bounty. It would be greatly to the advantage of the community if we knew from the start to the finish exactly the amount we intended to give for each particular bounty. I should like to hear from the Government whether they consulted the representatives of the States with regard to the bounties proposed to be given ? One State Government might be inclined to favour a bounty for a particular industry, whilst a second State Government might desire a bounty for another. In the multitude of counsellors there is said to be wisdom.
– We asked each State to send an accredited representative to the Conference of experts.
– But those representatives were not consulted by the Government when this Bill was framed. There is nowadays a good deal of unfortunate friction between the States and the Commonwealth. I should like to see that friction lessened, and I believe that the States Governments would have been pleased if the Commonwealth Government had consulted them on this subject. I intend to vote for Senator McColl’s amendment. I appreciated highly the ability and informative character of his speech, and I should like to see his views carried into effect.
– He told us that in America it was the building of railways that opened up the deserts.
– Well, ever since I have been a member of the Senate I have been in favour of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway survey, but that is not before us at the present time. I do not . object to bounties on principle, but when such a system is instituted I should like to see a tapering principle of payments adopted, so that an industry would not be likely to come to an end as soon as the bounty ceased.
– I rise to say only a few words in reference to a subject with which I did not deal in moving the second reading of the Bill. I could not have dealt with it, indeed, because I could not read into the mind ofthe honorable senator who is responsible for the amendment now before us. I wish to say a few words, in order that there may be ho misunderstanding as to the reason why the Government have taken this course, rather than that suggested by Senator McColl, and by Senator Symon, who spoke after him. Senator Findley, in his speech on Friday, made reference to what I intended to say, and largely anticipated what it would have been my duty to place before the Senate. He alluded to the opinions expressed at the Hobart Conference in 1905, when the Premiers of the States met the then Prime Minister of the Commonwealth and some of his colleagues. On that occasion the question of establishing a Commonwealth Department of Agriculture was exhaustively discussed. The report of the Conference at page14 contains details of the debate under the heading “ Developing Resources.” We find that Mr. McLean, the then Minister of Trade and Customs, submitted, in what must have been a fairly lengthy speech, the views of the. then Government with regard to this matter. The Commonwealth Government proposed, in all friendliness, to the States Premiers and their colleagues, that there should be established a Federal Department of Agriculture to work in harmony with the Governments of the States for the purpose of promoting the development of the agricultural resources of the country, and disseminating a knowledge of uptodateagricultural methods and systems. After Mr. McLean had explained very carefully the views of the Government, the first State Premier to address himself to the subject was Mr. Carruthers, who, on page17 of the report, is represented to have said -
I look with very great concern at any time on proposals to enlarge Commonwealth functions. I do not think it was ever contemplated that the Commonwealth Government or Parlia ment should extend its operations by, for instance, the establishment of a Department of Agriculture. The various States, and of course I speak of my own State in particular, have taken great steps towards the enlargement of our cultivation by introducing new plans and methods, and I think that Mr. McLean has shown consideration to matters upon which our opinions are united ; but when it comes to a question of the Commonwealth Government taking up the business, then I say, “ No.” It must be first shown that the States are incompetent to do this work. The Commonwealth Government have plenty to do in other ways. We Havein our State Department ofAgriculture, and by administration and necessary legislation, done much to encourage our young men, to go on the lands of the State.
Mr. Morgan, who at that time was Premier of Queensland, expressed his opinion of the proposal, and went on to say-
Mr.McLean has devoted himself to the question of encouraging immigration, but I would remind him that the Commonwealth has done nothing yet in regard to the appointment of a High Commissioner.
It is observable that those who are opposed to the Commonwealth doing anything invariably complain when any definite proposal is made that the Commonwealth has not done something else. They are always ready to support something to which the Commonwealth has not yet endeavoured to give practical application, but the moment the Commonwealth proposes to give practical application to that principle in which they profess to believe they always finda reason for not supporting the practical application of it at that particular time, and suggest that the Commonwealth should do something else.
– That criticism applies particularly to the Tasmanian Premier, Mr. Evans, who approved of. the Commerce Act before it was passed, and then objected to it.
- Mr. Morgan concluded his remarks as follows-
I do not think, however, a case has been made out for the establishment of a Commonwealth Department of Agriculture ; and I am against it for other reasons - because it would be overlapping State works, would involve fresh expenditure, and accomplish very little good.
Mr. Jenkins, the Premier of South Australia, said
I think nothing would be gained by the Commonwealth taking over the general management of the Agricultural Departments. We have agricultural colleges, agricultural experts in various lines, and find it all we can do to find the revenue to keep theDepartments going. My opinion has been that by general agreement between the States in the matter of export and prevention of diseases; as far as agricultural and horticultural departments are concerned, we can accomplish all without the establishment of a Federal Department.
Later on we find that other States Ministers spoke in the same strain. Mr. Daglish, the Premier of Western Australia, concluded his opposition by saying -
I do not desire to take up the time of the Conference, but I should be very sorry indeed to see the proposal to establish a Federal Department ofAgriculture carried into effect.
Mr. Evans, the Premier of Tasmania, opened his opposition to the proposal by saying-
My Government are distinctly opposed to the creation of any new Federal Department. We think that the Federal Government have sufficient Departments under their control, and when their administration has been perfected, then would be the time to consider the establishment of additional Departments.
Mr. Evans went on to point out that his experience in Tasmania was that fruit had been exported which was a discredit to the State, that they did not want to have a repetition of such an occurrence, and that therefore there should be united legislation to deal with the question.
– This Bill does not do that.
– But the moment Federal legislation dealing with that very subject was passed, Mr. Evans complained of it. The very gentleman who, as a responsible Minister, askedfor it headed the opposition to it. Having previously pointed out that it was urgently required, he then said that it was going to bring ruin on the State, even before the measure was brought into actual operation. The Conference adjourned for lunch, and after luncheon the Prime Minister, Mr. Reid, feeling that there was a good deal of misconception on the part of the representatives of the States, took occasion to supplement the remarks made by his colleague, and to some extent to elaborate and explain them. He said -
One aspect of the question has been misunderstood. The Minister of Customs has not in his mind the formation of a huge Department of Agriculture. If the Commonwealth were to interfere with the existing agencies, it would begin by muddling instead of improving. We will endeavour to keep quite clear from any interference in matters of public usefulness already established in the States. A number of useful objects could be served by work which the States are not doing, and in work which the States cannot do so well as the Federal Government; but there is no desire to go in the same track.
But even the assurance that the Commonwealth Government wished to work in har mony with the States, and not in any way to interfere with the proper working out of the States systems of agricultural education did not satisfy the Premiers. Mr. Carruthers again returned to the subject, and said -
I think the Federal Government should drop the matter. I will offer bitter opposition to any attempt made by the Federal Government to take over the power to establish a Federal Department of Agriculture.
– That is a different thing.
– The honorable senator who has moved the amendment wants to establish a Federal Agricultural Bureau. But Mr. Carruthers stated at the Conference in1905 that he would offer bitter opposition to any attempt by the Federal Government to establish a Department of Agriculture; and Mr. Carruthers having sounded that note the rest of the Premiers played tunes accordingly. This was the second assertion by Mr. Carruthers during that debate that he would offer opposition to all Federal action.
– He certainly has not toned down since then.
– What are we to do in the matter? Are we to accept the assurance made by a private senator that if we establish a Federal Department of Agriculture, the States will work in harmony with us - or, as I think he expressed it, in a. co-ordinate manner- to bring about the results we are endeavouring to achieve in the. interests of the people of the Commonwealth ? Or are we to believe that the States Premiers have altered their attitude? At thistime, Mr. Reid was endeavouring to elicit the sympathy and cooperation of the States in many directions. But on this matter he was rebuffed by every one of the States Governments. Has anything since taken place to indicate that their attitude has been altered on this matter? If it has been altered at all, I should think, in view of the utterances of the last speaker, Senator . Walker, that their attitude of hostility would be even greater now than it was then. But are we to stay our hands and do nothing? The Commonwealth Government and Parliament are charged not only with duties; but with responsibilities, and why should we hesitate to perform those duties until it is ascertained whether each and every one of the States Governments will work in harmony with us? Have we not to consider what the obligations of the occasion are, and to rise to those obligations, whether others are prepared to rise with us or not ? That is what the Government have done in this connexion. They communicated with each and every one of the States Governments since the session of Parliament last year, and asked them to send a representative or representatives, to discuss the important matter of bringing before the Federal Parliament a measure for the granting of bounties to bring into existence new industries, and to aid industries in their initial stages, which might otherwise languish and go out of existence. The States Governments knew very well what we wished to do. Several of themresponded to our request by sending representatives. These representatives met in Conference, were furnished with a report of what was done in 1906, and went into the whole of the question.
– The whole of the question?
– Yes ; the whole of the question, of which the honorable senator dealt only with a part, and a very infinitesimal part. We have submitted the result without any qualification at all. We have put the report of the Conference into the hands of honorable senators, and that report has been criticised. The gentlemen forming the Conference have given their views, which, after all, are estimates as to the probability of the successful establishment of different industries. If they have erred at all, I think it has been on the Conservative side. But, at any rate, their opinions havebeen based on the business aspect of each of the matters with which they dealt. But above even the business aspect of a particular industry there are greater considerations - considerations of policy, considerations that’ make for the development of this vast Commonwealth, for the maintenance and supremacy of the white race in it, for the holding of this territory for people of our own kith and kin. Theseare considerations which the gentlemen attending the Conference rightly left to others to deal with. But, as far as they could, they have analyzed with care the possibilities of establishing different industries. They have gone into the history of industries that have been established; they have sought to discover why in some cases they were successful, and why others at first successful afterwards failed, and they have given us the results of their investigations. Although as actual business investments the: industries dealt with may appear, to a solitary individual, considering the prospects of a particular business, and nothing else, not to afford a very great degree of hope, still we must have regard for the other considerations of which I have spoken. It is our duty to afford every opportunity for the establishment of any industry which will give employment to our people, increase the productiveness of the Commonwealth, and direct to our shores any increased number of acceptable people of our own colour from abroad.
– Let the Government propose to apply the money to immigration.
– Here is exactly an illustration of what I was saying just now. If the Government came down with a proposal to apply this money to an immigration policy, one of the very first who would stand up here and claim that the present was not an opportune time to give effect to the wishes of the Government in that regard would be Senator St. Ledger.
– Let the Government try it.
– The honorable senator might possibly be found speaking an favour of the proposal, and voting against the second reading of the Bill to give it effect.
Senator Needham. That is the honorable senator’s usual demeanour.
– Order !
-I do not care about that, but I do know that it is always the policy of the opponents of a Government to ask that Government to take back a proposal which they have submitted, and bring down something else. I have been illustrating this from the proceedings of the Premiers’ Conference. When the Government do bring down something else those who asked for it are the very first to show their hostility to it. That has been the experience of every Government since the formation of the Commonwealth. It has not been confined to the present Government. Every Government that has been in office in the Commonwealth has had the like experience. In bringing down these proposals, the Government have shown, as even some honorable senators who are opposed to them have admitted, that they are bonâ fide in their attempts toincrease the productive- ness of the Commonwealth, to open up new avenues of employment for those already here, and afford additional inducements to people abroad to come here and find profitable occupation and sustenance for themselves and families, that they might increase our population, and our strength in defence, and stand side by side with us not only in the industrial army of the Commonwealth, but hereafter also should the occasion ever demand it, in another army which will protect these shores for the people of our own race.
SenatorMcCOLL (Victoria) [5.55].- I should like, with the concurrence of the Senate, to amend my amendment as suggested by Senator Symon, so that it shall read as follows -
That, in the opinion of this Senate, with a view to the development of agriculture, a carefully organized system of agricultural education and scientific experiment should be established and thoroughly tried before the present scheme of bounties is adopted by Parliament, and that proposals for such a system be formulated and submitted for consideration, and this Bill be held over until such is done; and that the same be communicated to the House of Representatives.
– I object.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out be left out (Senator McColl’s amendment) - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 -
There shall be payable out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, which is hereby appropriated accordingly, the sum of Four hundred and twelve thousand five hundred pounds during the period of fifteen years commencing on the first day of July, One thousand nine hundred and seven, for the payment of bounties in accordance with this Act.
.- I should like to know from the Minister in charge of the Bill whether when we are dealing with the schedule it will be possible to leave out any particular item and transfer the amount of the bounty proposed in respect of that item to some other item in the schedule? Because if the clause is allowed to pass without that information having been elicited the probability is that we shall be in a quandary when the schedule is reached. I have my own opinion with regard to some items in the schedule. I should like to see the schedule altered in certain respects, but if we cannot strike out an item and transfer the bounty in respect of that item to another item, I shall then know how to act.
– My honorable friend has raised a question of very great difficulty. I cannot ignore the fact that in another Chamber it was ruled that as a message had been brought down from His Excellency, new items could not be introduced, nor the destination of existing items altered.
SenatorSir Josiah Symon. - We can strike out items.
– Yes, but it will not be competent for the Committee to introduce new items or to strike out an item and transfer the bounty proposed in respect of that item to an existing item .
– It is not desired to increase the sum total for the bounties.
– We cannot increase the total sum to be appropriated. On the whole, I would strongly urge the Committee not to attempt to do what my honorable friend has suggested.
– Then we shall vote under duress.
– So far as this Bill is concerned, I cannot expect to getany sympathy from my honorable friend.
– I did not go against the granting of bounties.
– The honorable senator did not make any observations which led me to expect strong support from him. I urge those who are supporting the Bill not to attempt to alter any of the figures in the schedule.
– Then what is the use of our dealing with the Bill ?
– It will be quite competent for the Committee to omit or to reduce any item. I believe that if any other course is taken it will be the means of creating such a serious complication that it may finally result in the loss of the Bill. I trust that my honorable friends who favour the Bill will accept my advice and consider the matter from that stand-point.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [6.4]. - I do not know what is in the atmosphere of the Chamber, but I have been considerably mystified by what Senator Best has said. I understand that what Senator Findley rose to suggest was that clause 2 should be postponed until after the schedule had been dealt with, in order that if alterations should be made in the schedule, clause 2 could be amended accordingly.
-Not exactly that. What I wished to know was whether it would be permissible to strike out an item and totransfer the amount set apart for that item to another item in the schedule.
– The time for us to deal with that will be when we come to the items in the schedule.
– I had a double object in view in asking the question. If one item were struck out, it would reduce the total amount, and necessarily clause 2, as regards the amount of the appropriation, would have to be altered.
– What I understood my honorable friend to be dealing with was the postponement of the clause until the schedule had been dealt with.
– There is no objection to that.
– That is the usual practice. Then Senator Findley wants to obtain the view of the Minister on a point before it arises . I would suggest to him that we had better get to the schedule before it is raised. If it is a matter onwhich he feels strongly, he can obtain a ruling from the Chairman, and, if necessary, a ruling from the President. As to the first point - the postponement of the clause - there is no trouble, but as to the second point, I suggest that my honorable friend should raise it on any itemwhich he wishes tobe struck out, with a view tochange the destination of the amount attached thereto, or to increase an item by a corresponding diminution of the amount proposed for another item.
.- When I was in the Tasmanian House of Assembly, and it was apparent that the Committee wanted to reduce or to increase the amount mentioned in a Governor’s message, progress was reported, and other business taken until a new message had been brought down, in accordance with what the Premier understood to be the will of the majority.
– I suggest to the honorable senator that this point should not be discussed at the present time. I allowed Senator Findley to ask a question, because I understood that it related to the policy of the Government. The proper time to consider whether, under our Standing Orders, the Committee can make an alteration of thatkind, is when it comes to deal with the schedule.
– I only wished to reply to Senator Best, because I thought that he had tried to make a mountain out of a mole hill. Apparently, he wishes us to pass the Bill as it stands . I know that, insucha case, the general practice is to postpone the clause until the schedule has been dealt with, and to alter the amount in clause 2 to correspond with any alterations made in . the schedule. On financial grounds alone, I think that £412,000 is far too much for the Government to ask the Senate to appropriate for the payment of bounties, I contend that it should be reducedby £200,000. I amnot in favour of this method of encouraging industries, but if it is favoured by a majority of honorable senators, I wish to make the schedule as complete as I can, by picking out those cases where I think that there is a hope of obtaining a permanent industry by the grant of a bounty. In the first place, however, it is necessary to determine how much money we can afford to spend in that direction. Can we afford to spend £100,000 or £200,000 or £400,000? When the Bill was originated in the other House, it provided for a total expenditure of £600,000 odd. But that amount was reduced by , £200,000, and I earnestly ask honorable senators to reduce it still further by that sum. I wish them to reserve some money for the development of the Northern Territory, and for appropriation in another Bounties Bill, after we have ascertained how we have fared with this experiment, which is supported by expert evidence, but not practical evidence.
– Most of our experts are practical as well as theoretical.
– In my opinion, there is not one practical man amongst the four or five gentlemen who signed the report on this Bill. I had not previously read a more impracticable report. I have received evidence from a practical man - a practical chemist - that nine-tenths of this money will be wasted if it is expended as is proposed. It is, therefore, my duty to avail myself of every opportunity to get the proposed expenditure reduced. If the development of industries is to be encouraged by this method, let us fix at once the amount which we can afford to spend. Do not let us talk about the construction of railways and other great works, and the payment of bounties, without having ascertained where the money is to come from. If a majority of the Committee favour the grant of bounties in respect of one-half or two-thirds of the items enumerated in the schedule, I ask them to reduce the total amount which is appropriated in clause 2, and to say what sum they are willing to apply to this experiment. I move -
That the word “ Four,” line 3, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ Two.”
– Senator Dobson should wait until the Committee decide what items are to be passed, and what amount is to be expended on each. Then will be the time for him to move to reduce the aggregate amount.
– I desire to get to the battle-ground, but I should like it to be theright one. Senator Dobson is putting himself and others of us on this side in a false position by proposing to bind us down to an amount of £212,000. I urge the honorable senator to accept the offer to postpone the clause, and to deal with the question on the schedule.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [6.17]. -I think Senator Dobson has moved the amendment under a misapprehension. If it is dealt with, the clause cannot be postponed. In order that the suggestion made by Senator Findley, and assented to by the Vice-President of the Executive Council, mav.be adopted, Senator Dobson had better withdraw his amendment.
.- I have not misapprehended what I want, or the effect of my amendment. Under the. Bill as it stands, honorable senators have £412,000 to play with. There are seventeen items in the schedule, some of which might with advantage be left out.
– The honorable senator is dropping into a trap.
– Senator Lynch should see that a scramble for £412,000 is one thing, but a scramble for £200,000 is quite another. If the majority of the Committee want the clause postponed, I am willing to withdraw my amendment.
– I hope Senator Dobson will not withdraw the amendment. He knows exactly what he wants. He thinks the amount stated in the Billis altogether too much. Other honorable senators, who are apparently supporting him part of the way, do not know what they want, and are asking him not to press his amendment, lest he should put them in a difficulty. Senator Dobson’s position is eminently logical.
– Is the honorable senator supporting it?
– I am opposing it ; but still it is logical. He thinks the total amount should be £212,000.
– He does not care whether it is for coffee or hemp.
– I do not think that is correct. The honorable senator says that there may be times when it is perfectly legitimate to grant bounties to assist agricultural industries, but he does not believe in some of these items. If he holds that the Commonwealth can only afford to pay £212,000 for thatpurpose, he should be allowed to test the feeling of the Committee on the question.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [6.21]. - If Senator Dobson persists in the amendment, it really means duplicating the work of the Committee.
– I have offered to withdraw it.
– Personally, I am indifferent whether he withdraws it or not. If. the amendment is negatived, and the schedule is afterwards reduced, we shall have to reconsider this clause. It seems a business-like proposal to postpone the clause until the schedule is dealt with. The Vice-President of the Executive Councilhas agreed toitspostponement, but apparently cannot resist the temptation of seeing Senator Dobson tumble over a precipice.
.- I ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
– I object.
– I understood that the Vice-President of the Executive Council consented to the postponement of the clause.
– So I did, so far as we are concerned.
– I wish to withdraw my amendment and allow the clause to be postponed. I desire to reply to Senator Chataway’s interjection that I did not care whether coffee or hemp was chosen as the subject of bounty. I do care.Under my amendment, if it were carried, the Committee would have only £212,000 to play with.
– It is too much to play with.
– It is too much from my point of view. Senator Trenwith would like to see the amount . £4,000,000, as he is so full of protection and bounties and the propping up of artificial industries. Whatever sum the Committee in its wisdom reduced this proposed vote to, honorable senators would then have to take more thought and care in dealing with the schedule, and choose some items out of the seventeen as deserving of bounties, while rejecting the others. That would be business. It is what I should do if dealing with my own money. It is my duty, as a trustee of the money of the public, to act conscientiously.. Almost invariably clauses of this sort are postponed until the schedule is dealt with, but, in the peculiar circumstances of this case, I see good reason for departing from the usual practice. We should first decide what we can afford. It might be as much as £250,000, but it ought not to be £412,000. Before we are very much older, Ministers will be inclined to agree with me that they had better go a little slower financially. Any set of children or dolts could put on the table Bills giving protection or bounties to everybody out of the taxpayers’ money in a most unwise and unpractical manner. My honorable friends opposite will be taught a lesson in financial economy before they are very much older, but I am afraid they are past learning anything. They are cocksure that we shall feel bound to swallow the Bill whole, because it has passed through another place. Honorable senators will find Ministers asking them subsequently, in the most earnest manner, not to destroy a line of the schedule. It has been asked why men cannot grow cotton or tobacco in the Northern Territory. The Northern Territory is not settled. Recently certain allotments were put up there for sale, whereupon one honorable senator asked a question which indicated his objection to the Northern Territory being dealt with in any way until we had an opportunity of discussing the agreement. There are no farmers there. There are shopkeepers and officials, and a fair number of pastoral holdings, but most of the pastoralists themselves do not live in the Territory. Their industry is carried on with the help of two or three white herdsmen and a number of natives. Settlers in the Territory might be able to take advantage of this Bill in three or four years time, when people elsewhere had got a start. It would be wise to reduce the amount and reserve some bounties for those who afterwards settle in the Territory. We could have a second Bill later on, based on the experience gained from this one.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45
– I should like to elicit a definite opinion from the Minister in charge of the Bill as to whether, if in any one year £20,000 is to be spent on coffee and £20,000 on cotton, and only £10,000 is actually spent on coffee, £30,000 can be appropriated towardsthe encouragement of cotton growing? I have read the debate which took place in the other Chamber, and the principle to which I refer does not seem to have been clearly laid down. I wish to know whether the total amount to be spent in any one year on any item included in the schedule is all that can be spent on account of that item ; in other words, whether it is not within our power to appropriate money specified in the schedule as to be spent on one item to another?
– That is correct.
– Do I understand that if we reduce the total amount to be spent by £100,000, we have no power to increase the bounty allocated to any particular item in the schedule ?
– We think not, but the honorable senator is raising a very difficult constitutional question.
.- I had prepared a long speech in support of my amendment, but as I understand that the Committee is not inclined to support it, I ask leave to withdraw it.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause 3 - (1.) The bounties under this Act shall be payable on the production in Australia of the goods specified in the first column of the First Schedule.
Provided that, in the case of fish preserved as prescribed, the fish have been caught in such waters and under such conditions as may be prescribed, and, in the case of other manufactured goods, the goods have been made from Australian products.
– I wish to ask the Minister whether he is prepared to insert the words “ bastard jute “ in the proviso to sub-clause I ? Bastard jute is a product which is obtained from a species of wild hibiscus, which grows largely in the Northern Territory, and in Queensland. From it an excellent fibre is made, which finds a ready market in London. At present the fibre is being produced, and it realizes something like £25 or £26 per ton in London. I believe that if an inducement were offered it would be profitably manufactured in considerable quantities.
– Does it come within the schedule?
– The schedule makes provision for a bounty on jute, but the Bill provides that the bounties must go to the grower. Seeing that the tree from which bastard jute is procured grows wild, it is quite clear that the bounty could not go to the grower, unless it went to Providence. I suggest that the words “ bastard jute “ should be inserted in this clause, so that a bounty might be paid to the manufacturer.
– I move -
That after the word “ caught,” line 6, the words “ by white labour only “ be inserted.
The object of the amendment is that, as far as possible, we shall encourage the employment of people of our own colour, and preferably of our own race, in the industries for which bounties are paid. In this instance we want to insure that the fish shall be caught by the employment of white labour.
.- Coloured men sometimes make good fishermen. Suppose there are half-a-dozen fishermen working together who employ a black cook, who sometimes takes a line. Would his employment prevent the fishermen from claiming the bounty? I throw no doubt upon our great policy of keeping our own country for our own race, but in seafaring matters it is impossible to draw the line as exactly as can be done in regard to industries conducted on shore. There may be a coloured person who has been living for years in Australia, employed as cook on board a fishing craft. If he took a line occasionally it would be impossible to separate the fish caught by him from the fish caught by the white fishermen. If one black man catches half-a-dozen fish out of a hundred, will that’ prevent the fishermen from claiming bounty on the whole quantity ?
– I believe that a provision in this Bill deals with aboriginals and half-castes?
– Yes, the proviso to clause 4.
– I hope that they will not be disqualified, because they are often employed on the northern coasts.
– They are not disqualified.
Amendment agreed to.
.- I move-
That after the word “ prescribed,” line 6, the words “ bastard jute “ be inserted.
Of course bastard jute is made from a natural product of the country, and unless these words were inserted the bounty could not be claimed by the manufacturer while it could not be paid to the grower.
– I do not know anything about bastard jute. I have never seen it until to-day. I do not know whether it would be classed with ordinary jute or whether it is totally dissimilar. If it is a kind of jute I can see no objection to the amendment. But I hope that Senator Chataway will give us more information asto whether it is used for purposes similar to those for which jute is employed, or whether the term is one of convenience. Products are often called by the same name as other things of commercial value from which they are in reality dissimilar. We know what cherries are, and we often hear of wild cherries, which, however, are totally different. I should like to know something more about bastard jute before I can agree to accept the amendment.
– I have seen a considerable amount of correspondence in connexion with this material. I know that producers of bastard jute fibre in Queensland have been offered £26 per ton in London. The stuff is used for exactly the same purposes as ordinary jute, namely, for making bags and so forth. While I am not prepared now to give fuller particulars concerning it, if the Minister will afford me an opportunity to have the clause recommitted, I shall be prepared to give full information. It appears that the subject has been brought before the AttorneyGeneral, possibly in his capacity as member for Darling Downs, with a view to securing his sympathy.
.- I also have seen some correspondence on this subject. I believe that a large quantity of bastard jute could be sold if it were shipped to Melbourne. I saw a letter in which a firm in Melbourne offered to take 100 tons at ^27 per ton. At the present time the commodity goes to waste when the trees are cut clown. I do not know the quantity of bastard jute that is obtainable in Queensland and in the Northern Territory, but there must be a large amount of it. The Minister would certainly not do wrong in permitting the amendment to be inserted, and if we afterwards found- that it was not advisable the words could be struck out.
.’ - I - I observe that bastard jute has been the subject of some correspondence with the AttorneyGeneral, who had charge of this measure in another place, and his reply was that at the first convenient opportunity, when the question of granting further bounties was under review, this matter would be dealt with. That would seem to indicate that the view taken by my colleague was that bustard jute was an article that was not included amongst the items enumerated in the schedule. For that reason I could not at this stage consent to the amendment. But I see no objection to giving Senator Chataway an opportunity of submitting the amendment on a future occasion, when, no doubt, he will be able to furnish a good deal of information to show in what respects bastard jute is like other articles mentioned in the schedule.
– In view of the very satisfactorystatement by the Minister, I ask leave to withdraw my amendment for the time being. At the same time, I should like to point out that the quotation which the honorable senator made from the remarks of the Attorney-General by no means settles the question as to whether bastard jute is not included under the item “jute “ in. the schedule.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 4 and 5- agreed to.
Clause 6 -
Every grower or producer who claims bounty under this Act shall specify the rates of wages paid in respect of the labour employed by him, other than the labour of members of his family, in growing or producing the goods, and the Minister, if he is of opinion that the rates so paid are below the standard rates paid in the place or district in which the goods are grown or produced, may withhold the whole or any part of the bounty payable.
Senator NEEDHAM (Western Australia [8.2]. - I move -
That the word “may,” line 9, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “shall.”
The object of the Bill is to permit of the expenditure of a certain amount of money for a definite purpose, and it is the intention that the bounties provided for shall be given only where certain conditions obtain regarding the rates of wages, the conditions of labour, and the colour of the persons engaged in the several industries. But, as at present framed, the payment or withholding of the bounties is left entirely to the discretion of the Minister. I do not desire to impute motives to any Minister of the Crown, but Ministries do not last for ever. Recent examples in Australia would lead to the belief that, as a rule, they last but a very short period. If the Senate, in its wisdom, determines that certain bounties shall be paid, in a certain way, and when certain conditions have been complied with, we should not leave a loophole which would permit of the indulgence of Ministerial vagaries or whims.
– What the honorable senator desires is already provided for, as under the Acts Interpretation Act “ may “ has the same meaning as “shall.”
– The clause at present provides that the Minister “may,” in certain circumstances, withhold the whole or any part of the bounty payable.
– To substitute the word “shall “ would make no difference.
– It is the Minister’s opinion that will determine the payment of the bounty.
– If the Minister administering the Bill is in favour of its policy, he will no doubt be prepared to give it effect, but if he is not in favour of the policy, he might withhold the payment of a bounty where it ought to be paid. The matter should not be left optional with the Minister, but be made mandatory. I think that if we substitute the word “ shall “ for the word “ may “ it will make the clause mandatory, and that is what I desire to do.
– If Senator Needham is in earnest, a simple way out of the difficulty with which he has been dealing would be to strike out the word “ Minister “ and make the matter dependent upon the will of Parliament. If we make provision in the clause permitting the Minister to say that in his opinion proper conditions have been Observed, it is immaterial whether we afterwards say that he “may,” “shall,” or “must” withhold the whole or any part of the bounty. The whole point is that the matter is left to the opinion of the Minister and not to the wisdom of Parliament.
– I would ask Senator Needham to withdraw his amendment, because it must necessarily be ineffective. Following the Sugar Bounties Act, which contains a similar provision, the clause throws upon the Minister the onus of ascertaining whether the conditions prescribed have been observed, and proper wages paid. It would be in pursuance of the opinion which he had formed in regard to these matters that the Minister would or would not pay the bounty. That would not in any way be affected by the substitution of the word “ shall “ for the word “ may.”
Clause 7 -
No person shall -
obtain any bounty which is not payable ;
obtain payment of any bounty by means of any false or misleading statement; or
present to any officer, doing duty in relation to this Act or the regulations, any document, or make to any such officer any statement, which is false in any particular.
Penalty : One hundred pounds, or twelve months’ imprisonment.
– I should like to know whether, under this clause, it would be possible for any action to lie against the Minister? If, for instance, a person embarking in one of the industries referred to in the schedule had, or thought he had, a grievance against the Minister, would he be able to prosecute his grievance at law? If he would, I feel that it is our duty to insert in the Bill some provision which would absolutely debar any man from suing the Minister, and in that way, perhaps, involving the Commonwealth in expense. It is possible that a man engaged, say, in the cotton industry, and thinking either that he did not receive his fair share of the bounty, or that others engaged in the. industry were treated with some degree of favoritism, might engage the Commonwealth in a costly law action. If anything, of that kind is possible under the clause, it should be prevented.
– I understand that the honorable senator wishes to know whether a man. who has qualified for a bounty under the Bill and does not receive any bounty, could bring an action against the Minister or the Government?
– I think not. This is a provision which simply makes bounties payable. In their essence, bounties are in the nature of gifts. There is no contract entered into by the Government with the individual grower under any of the provisions of this Bill. A person becomes entitled to a bounty, and the bounty becomes payable. If it is not paid to a man who has qualified to receive it, his redress would not be by an ordinary action at law to recover something to which he claimed to be entitled, but would be of a political character. He would probably make application to Parliament, and Parliament would deal with the Minister or the Government in whatever manner it thought fit in the circumstances.
– I should like to ask the Minister of Home Affairs whether he has carefully considered the effect of paragraph c in this clause. I do not knowwhether it has been copied from some similar measure, but it seems to me to be rather infelicitously worded. A penalty of £100, or twelve months’ imprisonment, is an extremely stringent penalty to impose upon a man who presents a document false in any particular; especially if, after all, he is in no way responsible for the document. Then it is also provided that a similar penalty mav be imposed in the case of a man who merely makes a false statement, not an affirmation or an affidavit, on which he might be open to a prosecution for perjury..
– The penalty is for an attempt at fraud.
– I should do what I could to prevent fraud, but Senator Givens must see that under paragraph c a man might render himself liable to the full penalty of £100, or twelve months’ imprisonment, by making a statement to an officer which was false in any particular.
– The penalty referred to would be the maximum penalty.
– That is so. But, in my opinion, in certain circumstances, the mere subjecting of a man to a prosecution, though the case might be dismissed as trivial, would be too severe a penalty.
– The penalty applies to paragraphs a and b, as well as to paragraph c.
– I. do not object to the imposition of a penalty where it is deserved, but a man might commit an offence under paragraph c which, would be so trivial as not to warrant his being brought before a magistrate, and for which it would be a hardship to impose a fine of is. I do not know that there is any of us so certain of all his acts that he is in a position to say that he will not at some time present a document or make a statement that will not be absolutely accurate in every particular. I would ask Senator Keating whether the clause has received full consideration, and whether such a provision is included, for instance, in the Customs Act ?
– I wish to direct attention to the wording of paragraph c. Under it no person shall, under the penalty provided for - present to any officer doing duty in relation to this Act or the regulations any document -
That might stand, because, in the case of a document, it might be possible to show that it was knowingly and wilfully made false, but the paragraph continues - or make to any such officer any statement, which is false in any particular.
An incorrect statement might be held to be a false statement, and it might be made very innocently indeed. Certainly, where inquiries are made under the’ Bill by any officer, the attention of the person from whom the information is sought, should be drawn to the consequences of a false statement. It might happen, as in the case of Excise prosecutions, that the services of in formers would be resorted to, and farmers might be trapped into making inaccurate statements by persons willing to take advantage of the provisions of paragraph c. I suggest that it is a remarkably dangerous provision to make, because, by the use of the words “ any statement,” we may encourage a host of informers to go about and try to trap persons, as is constantly done in the case of Excise prosecutions.
– I do not think that I can put my hand on any provision in a Statute from which this clause may be said to have been taken or drawn. We have collected into one clause what mav be described as the different offences which may be committed under the measure in fraud of the revenue. Offences which may be committed for the purpose of obtaining by false or fraudulent pretence bounties to which the claimants are not entitled are all lumped together in paragraphs a, b, and c, and to them is attached a penalty of £100, or twelve months’ imprisonment. It is hardly necessary for me to say that, under the Acts Interpretation Act, that is the maximum penalty or fine which may be inflicted in any case. I recognise with Senator Clemons that a person may offend under paragraph c in a very immaterial and perfectly innocent manner. . But, on the other hand, we have to consider that, while any offence may be very trivial or even innocent, an offence mav be committed under that paragraph which may be of a most’ grievous or heinous character. After all, we can only lay down an arbitrary rule, knowing that under the Acts Interpretation Act, the Court is bound to regard the penalty as a maximum. We trust to the Court, recognising the circumstances of every case, to say whether a substantial or nominal penalty shall be imposed. In some instances the Court may be disposed to say that the proceedings should riot have been brought against the person, but those cases, I think, will be very few. I believe that the responsible officers will look into the facts, and act accordingly.
– There will be’ no costs given against the Crown.
– In this State costs are frequently given against the Crown. When I moved to insert an amendment to that effect, in either the Customs Bill or the Judiciary Bill, it was pointed out to me that it was not necessary, because costs were given by the Court where the merits of the case were against the Crown. That practice did not obtain in Tasmania, and for that reason I moved the amendment. Since then, I have noticed frequently that costs have been given against the Crown, and in Victoria fairly substantial costs. It is only recently, I think, that legislation has been introduced to limit the amount of the costs which shall be paid in successful appeals against the Crown in cases of summary conviction. That, I think, to a certain extent also meets the criticism of Senator St. Ledger, who has drawn attention to the fact that in this clause we include as a penal offence the making of a false statement to -an officer. We have to regard public officers as reliable and trustworthy. I hardly think that we should anticipate that a public officer, knowing the law, will deliberately go out of his way to trap an unwary farmer into making a statement which, though false, is absolutely immaterial, for the purpose of penalizing him under the measure. It must be remembered that we are appropriating a very large sum, to be expended over & period of fifteen years. . We must to a very large extent depend upon the statements of the claimants of the bounties. They must furnish the Government first with, a statement of what they propose to do, and then with a statement showing the nature of the labour which they have employed, the wages which they have paid, and the other conditions of the law which they have fulfilled. We could not, perhaps, have inspectors to verify or check the statements of farmers in the least settled portions of the Commonwealth. They must realize that on their statements largely will depend the payment of the bounties. We must throw a responsibility upon them. They must realize that they must be accurate and truthful in their statements. In this clause we practically say to them, “ If you make a false statement or present a false document, you will commit an offence, °and, according to the gravity of the crime, you may be fined up to £100, or imprisoned up to twelve months.” In order to protect the revenue, we must hedge round the grant of bounties with a sufficient safeguard. It is only for that reason that we include in this clause what we conceive to be all possible methods of falsely and fraudulently drawing any bounty, and penalize the offenders by imposing, arbitrary though it may seem, one penalty, recognising that it is a maximum penalty, that the Court will interpret the law in a reasonable manner, according to the circumstances of. each case, and that the officers will not take action- unless there has been a guilty intent, and a false and fraudulent attempt on the part of an individual to advantage himself at the expense of the community.
– Senator Keating has just used a word which, if introduced, would remove my objection. If the words’ “ and fraudulent “ were inserted after the word “false” no one would object, I think,, to paragraph c. I am most anxious that no one shall defraud the revenue, and’ that the bounties shall be properly earned. It would make a distinct ‘improvement in paragraph c if my suggestion were adopted by the Minister. As the clause is printed, a man may be brought before a magistrate because he has been inaccurate, whereas if the words “ and fraudulent “ were inserted, he could not be dealt with in that way. In the Bill, I see no definition of the word “officer.”
– In paragraph c of this clause, we find the words “ any officer, doing duty in relation to this Act.”’
– I can quite conceive that when a case comes into Court, a question may arise as to whether the person to whom a document has been presented, or to whom, a false statement has been made, can be regarded as an “ officer doing duty in relation to this Act.” Unless a definition is inserted, I should think that it would be better to substitute, the word “person” for the word “officer,” which is not used in any other part of the Bill. If Senator Keating will agree to the alteration, it will make it still more certain that a person acting fraudulently will have to pay the penalty provided.
– I suggest that paragraph c should be amended so as to read - present to any officer, doing duty in relation to this Act or the regulations any document with intention to defraud or make with such intention to any such officer any statement, which is false in any particular.
– Paragraph b deals with all that.
– Paragraph b seems to me to provide for the obtaining of the bounty, while paragraph c deals with a step towards obtaining it. It is quite possible that, in order to obtain the bounty mentioned in paragraph b, certain statements oral as well as written, may have to be made, but the essence of the offence will be the intention to defraud, not the intention or accident of making a false statement. If the Minister does not think that in my suggestion I am showing rather undue leniency to those seeking bounties, I shall be very much inclined to propose the amendments I have indicated.
.- I cannot see that the clause is open to any criticism. Paragraph c creates an offence against the Act which stands by itself. It says that any person who presents to an officer doing duty in relation to the Act any document which is false in any particular shall be guilty of an offence. The question of fraud is dealt with in paragraph b, which deals withthe person who tries to obtain payment of a bounty by means of any false or misleading statement. If a man deliberately puts in a false document, or makes a false statement with a view to obtaining money which does not belong to him, he commits a crime, and deserves to get imprisoned for six or twelve months. Under paragraph c a man may either wilfully or unwittingly put in a document containing a false statement. If he does it wilfully he can be fined £100 or be imprisoned for twelve months. If he does it unwittingly the fine may be1s. We could not have a more elastic provision. The draftsman seems to have considered every possible objection, and to have drawn the clause so as to meet the very difficulties that have been raised.
Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) [8.31]. - The part of the clause that is open to criticism is paragraph a, which makes it an offence, liable to fine or imprisonment, for a person to “ obtain any bounty which is not payable.” Paragraphs b and c meet cases of the improper obtaining of. bounties either by means of a false or misleading statement, or by means of a document containing a false statement, offences which should certainly be punished severely. Under those two paragraphs, if the statement or document is erroneous, but with no wrongful intent, the Court will impose a light punishment or refuse to convict. In fact, the authorities may withdraw the information if if is shown that the false statement was innocently made. By those paragraphs it is intended’ to close two openings for getting at the authorities in relation to. these bounties. Paragraph b deals with the actual obtaining of the money by? a false or misleading statement, and paragraph c provides that the using of the false statement or document is to be punished according to the degree of turpitude, even if the money is not obtained. But paragraph a requires consideration. If a man obtains a bounty which is not payable he will be obligedto pay it back. But if the money is paid over to him quite innocently, and he accepts it in the same way, without any suggestion of a false or misleading statement, why should he be made liable to a penalty of £100 or to be imprisoned, or to have a conviction recorded against him at all? It makes an offence of what, under the language of paragraph a, is a perfectly innocent thing.
– If a man obtained a bounty that was not payable would it not practically be stealing?
– Under paragraph b it would be stealing, but not under paragraph a. Any one who offends against paragraphs b or c is rightly punishable, and, to my mind, the penalty is not severe enough.
– He could not get the bounty under paragraph a unless he represented that he was entitled to it.
– The only way he could come under paragraph a is by an innocent mistake. The money might be paid over to him by mistake. There is no element of criminality about it as the paragraph is worded.
– He would never be prosecuted under those circumstances.
– What would a man be charged with under paragraph a?
– Obtaining money under false pretences.
– That comes under paragraph b. All that it would be necessary to show in establishing an information under paragraph a would be that the man had received the money. Undoubtedly, he ought to be made to pay it back, and it would be recoverable without any provision of this kind.
– The paragraph means that if the bounty is paid to the wrong man by mistake then the wrong man gets twelve months.
– That is exactly the position. The man who paid it, and the man who received it, might both have thought that the latter was entitled to it.
– The idea is to collect into one clause all the possible cases in which attempts can be made to defraud the revenue under the guise of obtaining bounties, payable under this Act, -on fulfilment of the conditions of- the Act. Paragraphs b and c deal with cases where a false or misleading statement has been made, either orally or in _ writing. In a subsequent clause the Committee will be asked to provide penalties for persons who, by counselling, aiding, or abetting, procure the commission of an offence against the Act, directly or indirectly, by any act or omission. It may be possible for an individual to fraudulently obtain a bounty -without making any statement, orally or in writing, and without any act, but merely by omission.
– Under paragraph a a person who’ innocently receives the money is liable. The word “ fraudulently “ is not used.
– We do not use the word “fraudulently” in the Act. That -matter has been threshed out, so far as regards other Commonwealth legislation. Parliament has recognised, as a matter of general policy, that it is not always advisable to insert the words “ fraudulently,” “ maliciously,” or “ knowingly.” It is best to leave each case to be determined upon its merits. If the Department is satisfied that there is fraud, or guilty intent, although it may not be able to prove it up to the hilt, it is open to it to take action. If the Court is of opinion that :guilty knowledge accompanied the act of omission, it may impose a penalty. That has been the policy in connexion with the Customs and other Acts. Senator Dobson rightly pointed out that the draftsman has practically anticipated in this clause the criticisms which have been levelled at it. Paragraph a would meet a case where a man, by omission, commits, or attempts to commit, a fraud. If only paragraphs b and c were left in, a man might shelter himself behind the defence that he had furbished no false or misleading statement or document,’ that the bounty had been forwarded to him, John Smith, and that he had taken it. The Department might not, perhaps be able to prove absolutely that he knew it was intended for another John ‘Smith, and that he had kept it. If a. man ^obtained a bounty which was not payable, and took every reasonable means to restore it, there would be very little likeli hood of a prosecution. If there was, the Court would not impose a penalty. I am only giving that as one illustration. No matter how comprehensively we endeavour to encompass all circumstances in drafting legislation, before very long something crops up in actual practice which is outside the Act itself. The experience in all Parliaments has been that amending Acts have had to be passed from time to time. A measure is thought to be of so drag-net a character as to cover every possible case of attempted evasion of the law, but before long the ingenuity of man devises some means of driving a coach and four through it, and an amending Act becomes necessary. It is possible for a man, by the omission to make a statement at all, to obtain payment of a bounty. If we believe that he did so with a guilty mind and fraudulent intent, although we may not have all the technical evidence to prove the fact, we have power to point to the law, and say, “We are able by this provision to bring you before a Court, which may mete out punishment to you to the extent of twelve months’ imprisonment, or a fine of £100.” In answer to what Senator Clemons said about the word “ officer,” there is no derfinition in the Act. This is the only instance in which the word is’ used, and for that reason a definition has been omitted. The qualifying words are “ Doing duty in relation to this Act.’.’ It has been pointed out that under this. Act some of the persons who may chirn or qualify for * bounties will be very far removed from the larger centres of population. It maybe -that we shall not always be able to employ a man -who is permanently in the service of the Commonwealth to deal with those individuals. In those circumstances there is no objection to using both the words “officer” and “person.” We could insert after the word “officer” the words “.or other person.” With regard to the matter that has been mentioned by Senator St. Ledger, I have already pointed out that, so far as concerns abstaining from > including the words “with intent to defraud,” or “ maliciously,” or “ fraudulently,” we are following a practice that has been pursued by preceding Parliaments in respect to. many of our penal Statutes. The general principle of the common law is that before a penalty is imposed the Court satisfies itself of the guilty mind of the party.’ It has been found that our Statutes are much more effective in preventing fraud when . framed as . we have . framed . them ; in ‘ the past. In many of the States although the legislation has been very stringent, prosecutions have been surrounded with considerable difficulties, because the prosecutors have not only had to prove the commission of the offence, but the guilty intent of the person who committed it. In many cases it is impossible to do that.
– Has the Commonwealth been put to that test?
– We have usually provided, as a matter of procedure, that the commission of the act shall be an offence, and, that being proved, the onus rests upon the individual to prove the absence of guilty intent. My honorable friend must know how very difficult it is in such cases as frauds against the revenue to get right into the mind of the individual who has committed an offence, and to prove guilty intent. The principle upon which we have acted is that if we prove the offence, we have not completed our case, but the onus falls upon the accused person of proving the absence of guilty intent. To that extent the Commonwealth has been more successful than the States previously were in dealing with these matters ; and some of the States, recognising the superiority of the Commonwealth system, have, I believe, since followed it. It is for us to prove the facts, and for the defendant himself to prove the absence of a guilty intent. If we had to prove the guilty mind of the accused, offences would, in many instances, go absolutely unpunished. Every case is judged upon its merits. With the exception of the amendment which Senator Clemons has suggested, I ask the Committee to pass the clause as it stands.
– I have not moved an amendment - I have simply suggested one.
– Then I move-
That after the word “ officer,” line 6, the words “or other person” be inserted.
That amendment will not only cover the case of an individual who may be a permanent officer of the Commonwealth, but also of an individual whose aid or assistance may be employed for a definite purpose under this measure.
– I think that amendment would make the clause safer.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause also consequentially amended and agreed to.
– I move -
That the following new clause be inserted - “7A. - (1). Any person who monopolizes or at tempts to monopolize or combines or conspires with any person to monopolize any of the bounties payable under this Act on the production in Australia of any of the goods specified in the first column of the First Schedule is guilty of an offence.
Penalty : Two hundred pounds. (2.) Every contract made or entered into in contravention of this section shall be absolutely illegal and void. (3.) ‘ Person ‘ for the purposes of this section includes corporation and firm.”
The Committee will see obvious reasons for inserting this clause. Many of us have satisfied ourselves that several combines have been organized in the Commonwealth, and the probabilities are that the expenditure of £412,000 will be sufficient inducement to create monopolies for the express purpose of obtaining bounties. The object of the clause is to prevent any such thing happening as a number of unscrupulous men calling themselves agriculturists acting together for the sole object of securing the bounties provided by this measure. I do not know that there is any particular danger of such a thing being done, but we live in a smart age when some men are determined to get money - honestly, if they can, but to get it. Some persons, for the purpose of securing by illegitimate means the bounties payable under this measure might combine in the manner contemplated by the clause, and it is just as well to prevent them.
– I have only recently seen this amendment. It is, I notice, drawn in conformity with section 7 of the Australian Industries Preservation Act, and in the sense that it is in accordance with that measure, and is designed to prevent the growth of monopolies, it is a worthy proposal. But it has occurred to me whether the clause properly comes within the scope of the Bill. The Bill is to provide for the payment of bounties on the production of certain goods. It is quite possible that persons may combine together for the purpose of obtaining the money tobe granted. If they succeeded in getting the money to the detriment of others, it is quite possible that they might ultimately stop the production of some particular commodity. Section 7 of the Australian Industries Preservation Act reads -
Any person who monopolizes or attempts to monopolize or combines or conspires with any other person to monopolize any part of the trade or commerce with other countries, or among the States with intent to control, to the detriment of the public, the supply or price of any service merchandise or commodity is guilty of an offence.
– I do not see how a bounty can be monopolized. It seems to be impossible.
– Probably the proposed new clause will not stand every test of criticism, because bounties are distributable. If, for instance, one individual, and one only, were to engage in the production of a particular article, in respect of which a bounty was payable, he would be the only individual who would be entitled to claim the bounty.
– He would not be a combine.
– But the clause says “ any person who monopolizes or attempts to monopolize.”
– Is it not possible that a combine might make a monopoly in tobacco, say, in every State of the Commonwealth ?
– The first part of the proposed new clause provides that any person who monopolizes any of the bounties payable under the Bill is to be held guilty of an offence. Suppose only one individual in the Commonwealth grows something in respect of which a bounty is payable, whilst no one else takes any interest whatever in the production of that article, he might get the whole of the bounty payable in respect of it in any one year, and, if he did, would he not be punishable under the new clause?
– Probably he would, but that is not intended.
– I see no objection to the principle of preventing persons combining together to “corner” a commodity, obtain the whole advantage from it, and unfairly shut out other people.
– - Would not the AntiTrust Act deal with that?
– It is a dead letter.
– The Australian Industries Preservation Bill makes it an offence for persons to combine together to monopolize any portion of the trade or commerce with other countries, or amongst the States, with intent to control, to the detriment of the public, the supply or price of any service or commodity. But the proposed new clause provides that any person who monopolizes or attempts to monopolize shall be guilty of an offence.
– The element of restraint of trade is not dealt with in the new clause.
– I point out that an ingredient in an offence under the Australian Industries Preservation Act is that the combination to secure a monopoly must be shown to be to the detriment of the public. That element is not dealt with in the proposed new clause, and I would ask Senator Henderson not to press the clause at this stage. I repeat the objection to it, that an individual who honestly and legitimately might be the only person drawing the bounty by reason of the fact that he is also the only person who has gone into the industry would be subject to its penal provisions. I hope the honorable senator will take an opportunity to further consider the clause, and will not at this stage press it upon the Committee.
– I fully recognise the force of the argument that the clause would apply to an individual who might be the only person prosecuting a particular industry. I shall, at the invitation of the Minister, take the opportunity to which he has referred, and by leave of the Committee I shall for the time being withdraw the clause.
Proposed new clause, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause 8 agreed to.
.- I desire to submit a new clause. At present I have it drafted only in the rough, and the Minister might undertake to see whether it would not be wise to have a clause drawn to cover what I propose. I intend to move its insertion before the clause dealing with regulations, because, if it is accepted, it will be necessary to amend clause 9. In my address on the second reading of the Bill, I pointed out that in order to secure to the Commonwealth the full . beneficial effect of the proposed bounties, we should compel a man who desires to earn a bounty under the Bill to send in an application for leave to enter for it. In that application I think he should set forth certain particulars with regard to the locality in which the product is to be grown, the capital he is. prepared to invest in the industry, the quantity and quality of the labour he proposes to employ, _ and the reasons he may have for believing that he can establish a permanent industry. I have referred to documents which show the failure of the application of the bounties system in Victoria many years ago. In” one case persons anxious to obtain the bounties offered for the production of grapes started before they were ready,. and planted vines of inferior quality. The bounty was a failure, because people planted vines regardless of their quality, and merely in order to obtain the money. In this Bill we are dealing with what will be new industries, cotton, rubber, rice, jute., and things of that sort, that so far have not been grown to any extent in Australia, and to enter upon such industries will require careful consideration. Under the clause I intend to propose, the public would be protected by making it necessary that the consent of the Minister should be given to an application to earn any of the bounties provided under the Bill. Protection would also be afforded to the applicants. For instance, if a man sent in an application to grow cotton or coffee, he would mention the locality where he proposed to carry on the industry, and the capital he had available for the purpose. The Minister would be able to refer his application to the experts of the Agricultural Department, and I presume to practical men also, and thev might be in a position to point out to the anxious applicant that the land he had selected would be unsuitable. The soil might be chemically examined, and it might be proved that the essential. elements necessary for the successful growth of the product were not to be found in the locality chosen.
– Would not the honorable senator’s objections be covered by clause 4?
– No. I do not wish that we* should pay a bounty to a man simply because he produces so much jute, rice, or coffee. What I desire is that men should seek to earn a bounty under the Bill only where they can show that they have the necessary capital, land, and labour, and that there is a reasonable prospect of the establishment of a permanent industry. The bounties system has failed in the other States as well as in .Victoria, and we know that bounties offered on two different occasions for the growth of cotton failed to establish a permanent industry. I move -
That the following new clause be inserted :- “ 8a. Any person desirous of’ earning any bounty mentioned in the Schedule shall give notice to the Minister of his desire, and shall in such notice state the situation of the land where he intends to grow the goods in respect Df which the bounty is to be earned, the amount of capital, quality and quantity of labour he proposes to expend in t)>e production of the Roods, and all such .other particulars as may he prescribed. No person shall be paid any bounty unless the Minister, bv writing, under his hand, approves of the conditions under which he intends to produce the goods mentioned in the said notice.”
– Would the honorable senator ask the applicant to send in his bank-book to the Minister, that he; might know what credit balance he had?
– I should certainly say that in his application he should statehow much he is prepared to spend in theindustry. Senator McColl, in his admirablespeech on the second reading, showed how necessary it is that we should have the ad-, vantage of education, science, and experiment, before we invite men, by the offer ofbounties, to attempt these new industries. Honorable senators have rejected Senator; McColl’s very wise amendment, and I contend that the operation of the measure should be safeguarded in some way. I think that the person, desiring to earn a bounty should state in his application the situation of his land, the amount of capital he has available, and the other particulars to which I have referred. He might disclose the fact that he has only £100 to expend in start-: ing an industry, and it might be possible to point out to him that to start the industry with any hope of success would involve1 the expenditure of £I,000. In the case of an industry requiring the employment of machinery, it would be possible for se man to grossly under-estimate the amount of capital he would require. The experts who could be consulted by the Minister might be in a position to prove to an applicant that what he proposed to do must fail, and to suggest to him methods which would lead to success. I would ask Senator Keating to say whether he is prepared to give me an answer with respect to the proposed new clause now, or whether he will consider the’ proposal I have made in connexion with other matters which have been deferred for consideration?
– Senator Dobson, in the new clause he has moved, has entirely ignored the personal equation. He asks that a person desirous of obtaining a bounty under the Bill should notify his desire to the Minister, and in his notification set forth, in respect of a particular production, the situation and extent of the land on which he proposes to carry on his industry, the quantity and quality of the labour he intends to employ, the reasons for his hope, and the amount of capital he is prepared to embark in his enterprise. But what about the applicant’s personal capacity? One individual with a certain amount of capital, the employment of certain labour, a certain area of land in an excellent situation, might not be able in the production of a crop to do half as much as might be done by another whose land would be less favorably situated, who would employ less labour and less capital.
– That all goes without saying, but is the honorable senator serious ?
– I am serious, because I think Senator Dobson has overlooked the fact that it is not proposed that the bounty shall be paid at the time an individual embarks upon the production of the goods referred to in the schedule. If the new clause were accepted, and an individual desired to satisfy the Minister that he had a suitable site, a sufficient area, and sufficient labour and capital to embark upon a particular industry, it is possible that the experts would be unable to dissuade him from entering . upon the industry.
– Senator Dobson has now a better opinion of the experts than he had before.
– Exactly. If the experts tried to dissuade the. applicant, and he said, “ I do not care.; I know my own business best,” and went on with his work, and was not only successful, but outstripped all his competitors, would Senator Dobson say that he should not be entitled to the bounty. I think he will see that such a provision would be absurd and unworkable. Are we to ask the individual, after he has submitted to the Minister all particulars as . to his intention and capacity to produce an article, to accept the judgment of the Minister of the Department as to whether or not he should proceed? Suppose that, if the judgment were against him, he chose to go on, and succeeded, is he to be qualified for, or disqualified from, receiving the bounty ? I think that my honorable friend is confusing two different things. He has spoken of the premature haste with which a number of persons went to plant vines in Victoria immediately after the Victorian Act granting bounties was passed.
– I am speaking of a fact which ought to guide us.
– That is just where my honorable friend is making a mistake. I understand that in Victoria the bounty was given for planting ; but under this Bill the bounty is to be given for the production of the article.
– What is the difference between planting a bad sort and picking a bad sort?
– My honorable friend will see that as soon as the things were planted in Victoria, the claimants were entitled to the bounty. If persons, no matter with what hope of success, proceed to grow any ofthe articles mentioned in the schedule of this Bill, and are not successful with their crop, the revenue will not be affected to the extent of one farthing. They will not get a bounty unless they produce the article in question. Surely we must allow each individual to avail himself of all information which can be supplied by States Departments, and to carry out his plans to suit his own convenience. If he produces the article, he will claim the bounty, and get it. If, however, in that year there is an overproduction of the article, then the regulations will provide that thebounty available shall be distributed proportionately amongst the successful growers. If an individual is not successful in producing a particular article enumerated in the schedule, though his efforts may have been most strenuous and most laudable, he cannot claim the bounty, and the revenue will not be affected. That is where , my honorable friend makes a mistake when he says that his amendment is moved for the purpose ofprotecting not only the revenue, but also the public. If an individual enters upon the production of an article, and his soil is not suited to its production, or the quality or quantity of his labour is not satisfactory, or his bank balance is not large enough to carry him through ; if, for any reason, he fails to produce the article,he will not get a bounty, and the public will not be affected. I think my honorable friend will see that his amendment is not appropriate to a Bill which provides for bounties to be paidonly upon production, and not upon plantation.
– While I do not agree with Senator Dobson to the full extent of his amendment, still he appears to have stumbled upon, and the Minister to have missed, an important provision which ought to be inserted. If a man wants to claim a sugar bounty, he has first to register the land on which he proposes to grow the sugar-cane in order that the Government, through their officers, may keep an eye upon him, and see that he employs the right sort of labour, and pays the proper rates of wages. Under this Bill, nothing of that sort is required tobe done. If it should be passed in its present form, then within twelve months, I could go to the Minister, and if I said, “ Here are ten tons of cotton which I have produced, and I want the bounty,” what chance would he have of proving whether I had employed the right sort of labour or paid the proper rates of wages? That point has been missed. In my opinion, Senator Dobson has done good in pointing out that there should be a provision requiring a man to register his land before he starts to grow a crop.
– Senator Chataway apparently thinks that Senator Dobson, by suggesting an impracticable clause, has done some good. He says that it is necessary to provide that, before a bounty shall be paid, there shall have been some registration of the claimant’s land. I assume that he is willing to apply that rule to every item in the schedule. If it is applied all round, how can we ask a fisherman to register the area of water in which he proposes to fish?
– The fisherman can register his boat, but, as a matter of fact, the bounty is to be paid upon the canning of the fish.
– I am not concerned so much with the question of registration as with Senator Dobson’s proposal.
– If the honorable senator had caught the words of my proposition, he would know that I purposely left out the word “ producer “ and put in the word “ grower.”
– I caught the words of the amendment. The honorable senator used the very words which he would use, if ten or twenty years hence he were moving for the production of a return showing the various conditions under which a bounty had been earned - a very desirable thing to do.
– I would rather lock the stable door before the horse got out
– I think that the honorable senator is really turning things topsy turvy whenhe requires a man to make a return before he has begun to grow a pound of, say, cotton. Moreover, it seems to me an exceedingly soppy argument to come from the honorable senator, holding the views which he does. He is practically saying that no man shall attempt to earn a bounty until he has gone to a paternal Government, and said, “ Please tell me whether I should be starting rightly in this or that direction ? “
– That is Socialism.
– It is Socialism of thu soppiest kind, and with which, of course, I have no sympathy. The honorable senator is also trying to tie up with red tape every honest man who may want to earn a bounty under the Bill. He is deliberately trying to impose regulations upon a man before he can move hand or foot in the direction of earning a bounty. I have no sympathy with such a proposition, even if it were practicable. I expect the Minister to refuse to accept the amendment, or even to discuss it seriously.
– Senator Dobson claims to have proposed his amendment because of some failures in Victoria. It is very singular that those failures should have led him to make this proposition, because they took place under the very conditions which he seeks to enact. In Victoria, we had successful and unsuccessful bounties. The ohe successful bounty on which the bulk of the money was paid was a bounty upon the production of an article. We did not ask a man to state the colour of his cow, or how many cows he had, or whether he hand-fed them or grazed them on natural grass. But we said, “If you produce the butter you will get the bounty.” That is exactly what the Government are proposing in this Bill.
– That was the only successful bounty in Victoria, so do not quote it.
– The particular bounties of which the honorable senator speaks as failures were those in connexion with which a man told the Department where his land was situated, and what he was planting. From one stand-point the bounties were not failures, because they secured what thev were designed to secure, and that was the planting of certain lands. Utterly useless planting took place. It proved that it was unwise to simply give bounties for planting, and that it was very much wiser for Parliament to say, “ Certain industries are desirable in this country, and persons who embark therein and prove their . bona fides bv succeeding will get a bounty.” That is the object of this Bill.
– Payment by results.
– Exactly. It is quite possible, indeed, it is probable, that a number of persons with insufficient knowledge will foolishly embark in an effort to obtain the bounties, but it is certain, I think, in connexion with such .products as are suitable to the Commonwealth that there will be a number of persons with sufficient knowledge, capita], and industry to earn the bounties and lead the way to the successful establishment of industries. Our object is not to secure that no citizen shall make a mistake - that is a very laudable thing in. itself, but it is not the purpose of the Bill - but to secure that inducements shall be given to persons to start industries which we think desirable.
– There is one aspect of this matter which I should like honorable senators to consider, and that is the position of the unfortunate farmer who, i.i his desire to get a bounty, may be deluded or misled by the advice of an incompetent expert. We have a glaring instance of what may happen. Fortunately or unfortunately, Queensland was not represented at the Conference of experts on the Bill. The other experts met, and made a report adverse to the growing of cotton. Suppose that one or more of those experts were in the employ of the Government, and that a farmer in Queensland applied for information as to how he should go about the growing of cotton. The expert might say, “ No, you. must not go in for cotton-growing. Look at what we said in our report about the chance of successfully growing cotton.” In that way an expert might dissuade an industrious farmer from engaging in the most profitable industry which I think could be taken up under the Bill. Conversely, suppose that a farmer were forced to put in an application, and that an expert, through his own ignorance of either the plant or the locality, advised the farmer fo go on with his work in spite of the nature of the soil. Suppose that the farmer expended his labour and money in the enterprise on the recommendation of the expert, and lost everything, he would have a strong moral ground for something more than sympathy at the hands of the Government. T remember a case in point. In a State which I shall not name, there was a Department of Agriculture which wished persons to take up an industry not unrelated to some of the industries which the Government are seeking to establish through the medium of this Bill. A Minister who thought that he knew a great deal about agriculture strongly encouraged the. making of the experiment. Wherever he and his officers went they pointed out the virtues of the particular plant, and how, after spending a few years in its cultivation, the farmer would be rolling in wealth. The plant was introduced, and some of the farmers undertook its cultivation, but an expert from a neighbouring State, who was very well up in the subject, happened to travel through the country and whispered to the Department that they had the wrong sort of plant and could never make a commercial success of it. The experiment was not gone on with, and the Department are now trying a new variety. It would be very easy for a similar mistake to happen under this Bill. We should let the clause alone, and allow the good or evil consequences arising from it to speak for themselves.
– I desire to press on the Minister in charge of the Bill the advisability of providing that persons who propose to claim the bounty shall register their land, as is done in connexion with the sugar bounty. Senator Clemons’ objection with regard to the fishing industry, is met by the fact that the bounty is to be given for canning and not catching the fish. The land which is to be the subject of cultivation should be registered, so that the Government can keep its eye on it. This is not a party, question, but a question of making the Bill carry out the honest intentions of the Government and of this Chamber.
– We - are giving advice to a number of people who do not want it. I happen to know a good many men who have embarked in the cotton-growing industry. Thev understand their business, having experimented for years. Our advice might mislead them. If they do not understand the industry any better than the generality of honorable senators, it will be a failure. We should not be tpo strict in binding the men down too much. They are putting their labour and money and brains into the work. If they make it a success, it will Le of great benefit to the Commonwealth. I do not believe in laying down” hardandfast regulations, especially with regard to the granting of bounties. If the men honestly earn the money, it should be paid to them. They have more at stake than we have, and we should give them as free a hand as possible in their attempts to earn the bounties in a bona fide manner.
– - I hope Senator Dobson will withdraw the amendment, which is really a piece of Socialism. It is an interference with private enterprise. There is an old saying in the country from which I hail that, ‘ The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” If a man has the land, let him cultivate it, bring in the produce, and ask for a bounty on it. He will then be in a position to explain where the produce was grown. If the amendment is carried, it will deprive men who are in a position like that I was in years ago, of the opportunity of earning bounties. 1 and others, who had just come out from the old country with only a few pounds saved, started farming in the northern areas of South Australia. We went upon the land prepared to work. We got ploughs, horses, and machinery, and put our hearts and souls into the task. This amendment would, therefore, interfere with private enterprise.
– The amendment, if carried, would only add a useless piece of lumber to the Bill. It would have the effect of causing to be gathered a lot of unnecessary information for very little purpose. There is nothing to compel the Minister to move, even after returns are furnished describing the land and specifying the amount of capital to Le expended. Already, under the terms of the Bill, the Minister has full power to call upon every applicant for the bounty to supply the fullest information. Senator Dobson bases his amendment on what happened in Victoria in the case of the bounty for the planting of vines. That has not the slightest application to this Bill. -In that instance, a man had merely to plant the vines and present a suitable surface to the inspector, and the bounty was practically earned. But under this Bill a man will have to put in strenuous work continuously over the whole period, bringing to bear all his energy, knowledge, and skill, in order to get the greatest returns before he can earn a bounty on what he produces. It will not be a case of scheming simply to present an appearance of having planted vines. A man will have to work all the year round and use his hands and his brains to the greatest extent of which he is capable. If there is not already power in the Bill for the Minister to secure all the necessary information, then I am disposed to vote for the amendment. If it is already provided for, as I believe it is, I shall not vote to load the measure with an unnecessary provision.
– Senator Chataway has twice directed my, attention to the fact that in the administration of the Sugar Bounties Act provision is made to compel those who intend to claim the bounty to register their land. Obviously the object of that was to enable the Department to keep an eye upon the land and the crops, and to see that the applicant fulfilled the conditions as to the employment of white labour only. The same could be done with respect to any of these bounties without making provision in the Bill. It is done under the Sugar Bounties Act 1905 by regulation provided for, in these words -
The Governor-General may make regulations not inconsistent with this Act, prescribing all matters which by this Act are required or permitted to be prescribed, or are necessary or convenient to be prescribed for giving effect to this Act.
– The clause in this Bill describes the particular purposes.
– There is first a general provision, and then certain particular purposes are detailed. The existing machinery for the administration of the Sugar Bounties Act could be brought into use in relation to this measure, and a proper check could be kept in respect of any particular crops for which it was intended to claim bounty, by providing in the regulations that the claimants should register in the manner prescribed. The provision in the regulations under the Sugar Bounties Act enables the Department to guard against imposition or fraud. There is in this clause not only a general power of making regulations, but certain particular purposes are specified. With regard to the point raised by Senator Lynch, the Government will undoubtedly be enabled to prescribe all kinds of conditions which the applicant for a bounty would have to fulfil before he could substantiate a claim. Clause 4 provides certain conditions which have to be complied with before the bounty can be paid. The Minister would have to be satisfied that those conditions had been fulfilled. ‘ Therefore, there is no need for the amendment that Senator Dobson has suggested, or for the information which he desires to insist that the Minister shall be at an earlier stage provided with.
– I. cannot say that I admire the consistency of the Minister. He has made a long speech, but I am not convinced by him that the information that we desire shall be given is provided for in the Bill. The Minister must recognise that Senator Chataway’s argument is unanswerable, and that, whether by way of regulation or under a new clause in the Bill, it must be provided that every man who is to earn the bounty shall register his name and address, and give certain other particulars. For the purpose of ridiculing my suggestion, the Minister has said that I propose that the Governor-General shall form himself into a kind of court to determine whether a man shall be able to claim a bounty or not. I simply desire that the applicant shall give information to the Government so that, when he comes forward with his claim for the bounty, his name can be looked up, and the police or an officer instructed to see that the crop for which the bounty is claimed is being, or has been, grown. For instance, how is the bounty on raw coffee to be paid? Is there to be no register of growers ? Is the money to be paid without the Government knowing anything about the growing of the crops until the bounty is actually claimed? “To pitch away £400,000 of the people’s money without any safeguard is what I call Socialism. My amendment is designed to bring about common-sense and intelligent administration. I have just read over again certain reports on cotton growing which were prepared some time ago. There is one by Mr. Bottomley, and another by Mr. Jenkins, both of whom point out that cotton growing in Australia is absolutely in the experimental stage. One expert points out that the cotton grown in India is unsuitable to the English market; another that all sorts of cotton can be grown in the Northern Territory ; another that it is impossible to say what kind of cotton can best be grown there. We want to give the growers the benefit of the opinions of the experts. My honorable friend sneered at me for my suggestion that we may get some good out of the advice of the experts, inasmuch as I ridiculed their opinions in my second-reading speech. But I recognise as much as any one can do the value of expert advice. In Tasmania our Agricultural Council consists not only of experts, but of growers from all parts of the State, some of whom are farmers, others orchardists, others pastoralists, and so forth. Does any one mean to say that applicants for the bounty will not be able to get good advice from such men? If a man’s capital is too small to enable him to cultivate a certain product, or if the proper sort of labour is not available, or if the land to be used is absolutely unsuited to the crop, would it not be just as* well that that should be known? In any. case, it can do no harm to have the names of the growers registered. Then, again, shall we not want to know in a year or two’s time how the bounties system is working? Will not members of the Senate bc frequently asking questions as to what money is being spent in bounties, and what results are being secured? The Minister has undertaken to consider two or three points before the Bill comes up again, but not one of them is so important as the matter now under consideration.
– Senator Dobson seems to be very much in earnest. Let me point out what he ought to do if he wishes to improve the Bill. Clause 9 is as widely permissive as any clause can be. It certainly necessitates the making of regulations. I suppose that Senator Dobson and Senator Chataway are going to approve the enormous power to be given to the Governor-General to make regulations under that clause. If so, they must recognise that it contains the widest possible power for the Governor-General to make regulations with regard to any detail whatever. There is no detail imaginable about which regulations cannot be made. Power is given to the Governor-General to prescribe anything which in his opinion may be necessary to give effect to the measure, just as the clause goes on to indicate what may be understood to be mandatory provisions. ‘ The clause leaves to the GovernorGeneral an enormous latitude generally, but it indicates that, whatever else the regulations do, they shall cover certain specific purposes. If Senator Chataway and Senator Dobson think that regulations such as they have referred to are desirable in the general interests of the Bill, they can move for the insertion of a special provision in clause 9. The test course open to Senator Dobson is for him to withdraw his proposed new clause, and to move an amendment on clause* 9.
-Colonel GOULD (New South Wales) [io.o]. - Our object is to make the Bill as perfect as we can, and at the same time to throw no obstacles in the way of persons desirous of earning a bounty. While I cannot agree with the whole of Senator Dobson’s proposed new clause, it provides for certain information being supplied which might very well be provided for in the Bill. If we look at the regulations for which the Bill provides we shall see that they are of great importance in respect to the particulars that must be supplied when an individual makes his claim for a bounty. Senator Dobson desires that an application shall be put in before a man starts cultivation.
– There is the alternative.
.- There is the alternative of prescribing by regulation all matters that are necessary or convenient to give effect to the Bill.
– Could anything be wider than that?
– Yes. We have to consider what the Bill means. It means that people are to get bounties after they have grown certain produce, and upon making certain applications. I admit that it might be perfectly within the power of the Executive to make any regulation appertaining thereto, but it is not so clear that it would be within their power to make a regulation that a man should give notice of his intention to endeavour to earn a bounty, and in that notice state the situation of the land on which he intends to grow the article for which the bounty was offered.
-. - That could be provided for under clause 9.
– I submit, with all respect, to my honorable and learned friend that that is a very open question, since the Bill makes no provision - with the exception of the conditions with respect to wages and the employment of white labour - as to the locality or other conditions under which the articles included in the schedule shall be grown.
– The question has already been tested under the Sugar Bounties Act.
– That, may be so. We may prescribe as many regulations as we see fit, and yet if their competence is tested in
Court it may be found that they go further than we have power to go under the Act. We should remove all doubt on the subject by the insertion of a specific provision giving the necessary power to make these regulations. I think the Bill would be improved by the insertion of some provision of the character indicated in Senator Dobson’s new clause, although I am not prepared to go to the extent the honorable senator proposes. We should not, for instance, require from an applicant a statement as .to the capital and quality and quantity ot labour he proposes to expend in the production of the goods. I think those matters should be left to the grower. He would know his own position best, and if he thought he could earn a bounty by a small expenditure of capital, I think he should be allowed to set to work and endeavour to” do so. I would not go so far as Senator Dobson proposes in providing that -
No person shall be paid any bounty unless the Minister, in writing, under his hand, approves of the conditions under which he intends to produce the goods mentioned in the said notice.
I think it is necessary only that the situation of the land should be stated in order that the Minister might be in a position to check statements subsequently made in a claim for a. bounty. An opportunity would then be afforded for the inspection of the land, and to see whether the article was really being produced in a bond fide way. A man might submit a ton of coffee beans and claim a bounty upon them, and there would be no evidence as to where they were grown. Such a regulation would, for instance, prevent a bounty being claimed on goods that were not grown in the Commonwealth, but in the New Hebrides, or elsewhere, and imported for the purpose of claiming the bounty. No obstacle should be placed in the way of any man. who desires to earn a bounty under the Bill, so long as sufficient information is supplied to the Minister to enable him to decide that a bona fide attempt to produce the article has been made. In any case it should not be in the power of the Minister to disallow any application.
– Senator Dobson’s new clause is as different from what Senator Chataway has suggested as one thing can possibly be from another.
– I have said that I am willing to withdraw the clause.
– I object entirely to the honorable senator springing upon the Committee what I characterize as a most absurd clause, and asking honorable senators to join with him in putting it into the Bill, and I further object to the honorable senator’s statement that the clause he has submitted is practically what Senator Chataway has suggested.
– I have no wish to rob Senator Chataway of any credit. The Minister is doing me a gross injustice, and is insulting’ me.
– The honorable senator imputed to me that I had opposed the clause which he moved, although it was on all fours with what Senator Chataway has suggested.
– I referred to what Senator Chataway said over and over again,’ but the’ Minister said one thing in one speech and contradicted -himself in the next.
– I did nothing of the kind. After the honorable senator moved the insertion of what I still characterize as an absurd clause, Senator Chataway made the suggestion that the administration of this Bill should be in conformity with the administration of the Sugar Bounties Act, and I assured the honorable senator that that would be attended to, and could be provided for under the first portion of clause 9, which is identical with the provision in the Sugar Bounties Act, under which regulations are now made providing for the registration of land in respect of which the sugar bounty is claimed. Clause 9 of this Bill goes further in particularizing other matters which might be made the subject of regulations, but that’ does not in any decree lessen its general amplitude. “Senator Dobson, however, proposes in his clause that before a man proceeds to put his money, his time, his brains, or his labour into the production of goods in respect of which he intends to claim a bounty, he shall notify his intention to the Minister, and in his notification shall state what his means are, the situation of his land, its extent, the quality and quantity of the labour he is going to employ, his bank balance, his reasons, and several other things, and that, unless the Minister certifies that he can go on with his work, with the approval of the Department, he cannot afterwards obtain the bounty, even though he should be successful in producing the article.
– Of what use is it for the honorable senator to argue the matter further, when I have offered to withdraw the clause? Why should the honorable senator be talking to the gallery in this way ?
– I am talking to the honorable senator, if he will listen. I arn saying that he proposes to empower the Minister to disqualify a man from obtaining a bounty under the Bill before he starts operations at all.
– That is not correct, and the honorable senator knows it.
– Quoting from the honorable senator’s new clause, I find that he proposes that the applicant shall state in his notification - the amount of capital, quality and quantity of labour he proposes to expend in the production of the goods, and all such particulars as may be prescribed. and further -
No person shall be paid any bounty unless the Minister, in writing, under his hand, approves of the conditions under which he intends to produce the goods.
– That is not condemning him beforehand.
– So that unless the Minister, before the applicant has started operations, approves of the conditions under which he intends to start, he cannot qualify for the bounty, and the Minister is in a position to disqualify him before he has started at all. Senator Chataway, in the course of the discussion on the proposed new clause, said that although he could not agree with Senator Dobson, he had done some good, since he had reminded him that it was necessary that, the Government should provide for some mode of registration as under the Sugar Bounties Act. I agree that in carrying out the Bill, it is necessary that we shall know .what persons are going to claim any bounty.
– Why did not the honorable senator say that in his first speech? He never said a word about it, and he has wasted a great deal of time.
– I listened to Senator Dobson without interruption, and with the greatest patience and suffering. I can assure Senator Chataway that, under the first part of clause 9, it is possible to make provision by regulation which will secure the Government against any imposition or fraud in exactly the same way as thev- are secured under the Sugar Bounties Act. I ask honorable senators not to support’ any amendment expressly designed for that purpose, because its on])’ effect would be to narrow rather than to extend the general power to make regulations already provided for. Under cla”use 9 it is provided that -
The Governor-General may make regulations not inconsistent with this Act, prescribing all matters which by this Act are required or permitted to be prescribed or are necessary or convenient to be prescribed for giving effect to this Act.
The word “convenient” as there used is very wide. In order to give effect to the measure, and that the Minister might know that an applicant is qualified in all respects to obtain a bounty, it would be convenient for him to have a list of persons engaged in industries proposed to be assisted under the Bill, while the goods on which they might desire to claim bounty were in the course of production. In order that he might not be absolutely dependent upon their statements, it is necessary that he should have some opportunities to oversee their operations, and to learn that they have fulfilled in all respects the conditions laid down to qualify for a bounty. In the circumstances,’ I ask Senator Chataway to rest assured that what has been done under section 13 of the Sugar Bounties Act will form a precedent .which can be followed under clause 9 of this Bill.
– I am very much obliged to the Minister of Home Affairs for his ungenerous and misleading criticism.
– Is the honorable senator going to waste some more time ?
– I am going to say what I have to say. The Minister has wasted a great deal of time, because, seeing that the Committee was unmistakably against me, I offered to withdraw the proposed new clause at least twenty minutes ago. The Minister would not agree to its withdrawal, but has tried to castigate me. I object to several of the honorable senator’s remarks as being grossly misleading. I told the honorable senator that he was misrepresenting me, and when he ‘ found by a reference to my clause that he had done so, he had not the candour to admit it. Senator Gould, who knows something about these matters, has said that it is a very open question whether under clause 9 the Governor-General in Council will be able to make regulations to give effect to what is generally desired, which will not be ultra vires. The matters provided for in clause 9 as subjects for re gulation refer to such conditions ashow the bounty is to be paid, and how the product is to be valued. It has nothing todo with the commencement of operationsto earn a bounty. Here is a Bill which says that any person, by growing a certain product, which is1 mentioned in the schedule, can get a bounty. It contains a clause which will, enable the GovernorGeneral to make regulations in regard to certain matters, but it by no means followsthat that general clause will enable the Government to take away the benefit of the provision which die Parliament made, to enable persons to grow any one of the seventeen articles mentioned ‘in the schedule, without giving any notice of their intention or being registered. It is a very grave question which I have raised. Threequarters of an hour ago, Senator Keatingsaid he would consider the point, but hehas not done so. He shows considerationto a supporter here, and a supporter there, but when I rise, he will not treat me in that manner. I think that I have been treated” most shamefully. We all desire to make the Bill as perfect as we can, but when the Minister, because he has a majority behind him, shows most clearly that he will not allow any one sitting in opposition to alter a line or word of the Bill, it is enough to make one angry. I feel angry, because I consider that I have, been most grossly insulted. I propose to ask leave to withdraw my amendment, if the .Minister will consent to the insertion of the following paragraph in the next clause -
For registering applicants who desire to claim the bounty and prescribing the particulars which every application to register shall contain.
– :The only particulars we want before a person proceeds to qualify for a bounty are particulars analogous to those which are supplied by the sugar-growers. I do not see that we require to do anything further than that. It is not necessary to add anything to clause 9 to enable us to get those particulars, and, consequently, I do not see why I should agree to an amendment of that kind.
– I ask leave to withdraw my amendment.
Proposed new clause, by leave, with drawn.
Clause 9 (Regulations).
– This clause deals with one 01 two matters on which I think the Government should define more clearly their attitude. Take, for instance, paragraph a -
For prescribing the minimum quantity of goods to be produced to entitle the grower or producer to claim the bounty.
On that point, the Government should indicate what is in their mind. Do they propose to squeeze out the little man who is making only a small quantity and pay the bounty to those persons who are producing a large quantity?
– It is to distinguish between a plot for commercial purposes, and a plot for experimental purposes.
– A man may start on a small scale and gradually increase his area. Is it intended to provide by regulation that a man shall put in a certain acreage for a given crop, or produce a certain quantity of a given crop before he shall get a bounty? The least which the Government can do is to give the Committee an idea of the view they hold. It has “to be remembered that the schedule contains several items embracing different sorts.
– It will be based on production, rather than cultivation.
– Again, take paragraph c -
For prescribing the manner in which the market value is to be determined.
I should like to know how it is proposed to arrive at the value. The Government must have an idea, seeing that the schedule covers certain bounties which are to be paid on the market value. Take, for instance, cotton. Is it proposed to pay the bounty on what two or three manufacturers of cotton propose to give the growers, or on the price of cotton in Paris “or Liverpool ? It will make all the difference to the grower, according to the place where the 10 per cent is to be calculated. If he is to get 6d. per lb. in Australia and 10 per cent. on that amount, that is one thing which he has to look forward to. If, on the other hand, he is to be allowed to send the cotton to Paris and get1s. 3d. per lb. and 10 per cent. on that sum, it will make all the difference in the matter of the bounty. These are two matters which ought to be discussed at great length. Seeing that the clause contains so much debatable matter, I ask the Minister to consent to report progress, so that it can be discussed when we are a bit fresher than we are.
Senator KEATING (Tasmania- Minister of Home Affairs [10.21]. - I consider that the Committee has done very good work in getting so far with the Bill tonight, and as it is evident that one or two honorable senators wish to speak at large on the clause, I am willing that progress should now be reported.
– I beg to lay upon the table of the Senate -
Report of the Royal Con mission on the Navigation Bill, and to move -
That the report be printed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Best) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– Seeing that the report of the Navigation Commission has just been tabled, I desire to ask the leader of the Senate whether he can mention the date on which he proposes to move the second reading of the Navigation Bill?
– I desire to direct the attention of the leader of the Senate to a matter which, in my opinion, is of very grave concern’ to many thousand citizens of the Commonwealth. I refer to the commodity known as kerosene. Immediately the Tariff proposals were submitted to the other House the price of tinned kerosene was increased by 3d. per gallon. We know that from a protectionist point of view a duty of 3d. per gallon was imposed with a view to giving encouragement to the British Oil Company, which tins and cases its oil at Williamstown, and which is trying to put it’s wares on the market in opposition to one of the greatest trusts that exist in any part of the world. Up to the present time there has been no justification for the Standard Oil Trust to charge the new duty of 3d. per gallon. In another place recently a question was asked in regard to the clearances of kerosene at the Customs House since the imposition of the new duty. The Minister of Trade and Customs replied that there was a sufficient stock of kerosene to last at least eighteen months, that the consumption of kerosene throughout the Commonwealth was estimated at about 11,000,000 gallons a year, that there was in stock 15,000,000 gallons, and that no clearances had been made at the Customs House between the submission of the Tariff on the 8th August and the 29th August. We know that the Colonial Oil Company which, according to common rumour, is part and parcel of the Standard Oil Company, has no justification for increasing the price of its oil. It is true that traders and shopkeepers cannot obtain large quantities of kerosene from that company. Therefore they have been forced to pay the new duty of 3d. per gallon to the company and to pass it on- to the consumer. That is bad enough. But the way in which this trust is carrying on in other directions in Australia calls for prompt and drastic action. The speeches which were delivered in support of the Australian Industries Preservation Bill were mainly directed against the Standard Oil Trust, the International Harvester Trust, and the American Tobacco Trust. The enthusiastic supporters of the Bill held that if those trusts attempted to do in any part of Australia what they had done in America they would come within, its provisions. According to a cablegram which appeared in the Melbourne press on the 6th August, a case against the Standard Oil Trust had been heard at Chicago, and fines totalling £5,848,000 had been inflicted upon it for evasions of the AntiTrust law of the United States. In the cablegram we were told that, in dealing with the position of the trust, the head of which is Mr. John D. Rockefeller, Judge Landis said he regretted that he was unable to send the violators of the law to prison, “since their actions,” he declared, “wound society more deeply than those of “Counterfeiters of coin or mail-bag thieves.” It would appear that the Colonial Oil- Company are carrying on in almost a similar way in regard to rebates throughout Australia. There appeared in the Argus of 31st August last a letter signed by James Woods, of Russell-street, Melbourne. The writer” refers to the way in which the company are carrying on their business in Victoria. His complaint is the complaint of almost every trader who has had dealings with the company. He writes as follows : - to the editor of the argus.
Sir, - In the industrial appeal case before Mr. Justice Hood this week, it was stated in evidence that kerosene had increased in price since the imposition of the new Tariff to 4s. 71!. per tin, which was a rise of about is. per tin, and meant an increased cost of about 4d. per week to employes’ households using kerosene as an illuminant.
As a grocer who has been dealing in kerosene for rr. ani years, I am desirous of placing before the public a few facts regarding the present price of kerosene. There are two leading brands of kerosene on the market, viz., “While Rose” and “Silverlight,” both 150 deg. test, both water-white, and, in fact, almost identical i-.i every respect. “ White Rose “ kerosene is an American product, controlled here by the Colonial Oil Company, presumably one of the off-shoots of the great Standard Oil Trust, and, being tinned and cased in America, is now subject to a duly of 3d. per gallon under the new Tariff, which accounts for the rise of is. per tin since the Tariff. “Silverlight” kerosene is imported in bulk into Victoria by the British Imperial Oil Company, and is tinned and cased locally; therefore, the new Tariff does not affect the price of the British brand of kerosene, which is now sold by myself and others who stock it at 3s. 3d. per tin, or 3d. per quart, which was the price before the Tariff ; and I may here state that “ Silverlight” kerosene is the brand used by the Commonwealth and Victorian Government Departments where it is necessary to use kerosene.
However, every grocer or dealer is not able U supply his customers with “Silverlight” kerosene, as, following a practice common with American trusts, the - Colonial Oil Company, some time ago sent out circulars, to me amongst others (copy of which I have in my possession), stating that it would give a rebate of £d. per gallon on every gallon of “White Rose “ American kerosene sold, provided that the vendor bought or sold no other kerosene and made and forwarded a declaration to that effect to the company, so that it will easily be seen that’ any retailer anxious to receive the bonus paid by the Colonial Oil Company is unable to stock any kerosene other than “ White Rose,” or he would lose the bonus, which would mean a loss of profit according to his sales. - Yours, &c,
Russell-‘street, Aug. 30.
The Colonial Oil Company are charging the trader and shopkeeper 3d. a gallon extra on kerosene without any justification whatever, and then they are offering a rebate of 1/2d. per gallon in order to induce the shopkeeper to sell or stock no other kerosene. The result is that some of the shopkeepers and traders, knowing that the rebate or bonus is offered and also, because, I am told, threats have been held out by the company, are afraid, and others are indisposed, to stock any other kerosene. If the Colonial Oil Company will charge 3d. extra per gallon on kerosene withouthaving paid one penny duty to the Customs, one can easily imagine that they will1 do all they can to wipe out all their com- petitors. Then they will have the market to themselves, and have the trade and the consuming public in their grip. When the Australian Industries Preservation Act was placed upon the statute-book, many of us were hopeful that it would be applied to the trusts I have indicated, and particularly to the Standard Oil Trust. Section 5 provides -
Any foreign corporation, or trading ot financial corporation formed within the Commonwealth, which, either as principal or agent, makes or enters into any contract, or engages or continues in any combination -
Penalty : Five hundred pounds.
I maintain that the Standard Oil Trust are endeavouring to-day to restrain trade, to cripple an industry that most people are desirous of seeing established in Australia, and, if successful, will seriously injure the workmen employed in the industry, and place at a serious disadvantage those who use kerosene, which is the poor man’s gas. Section 6 of the Act provides -
For the purposes of the last two preceding sections, unfair competition means competition which is unfair in the circumstances; and in the following cases the competition shall be deemed to be unfair unless the contrary is proved : -
If the defendant, with respect to any goods or services which are the subject of the competition, gives, offers, or promises to any person any rebate, refund, discount, or reward upon condition that that person deals, or in consideration of that person having dealt, with the defendant to the exclusion of other persons dealing in similar goods or services.
– What is the difference in price to the public?
– The Colonial Oil Company are charging 3d. per gallon on kerosene on which they have not paid a single farthing to the revenue. The British Oil Company are selling their oil to the public at the old rate which obtained prior to the introduction of the Tariff. I mention this matter because it is very important. I desire to know whether the provisions of the “Anti-Trust” Act are to be dead letters, or to be put in force immediately to deal with the ramifications of one of the greatest trusts in the world? The Standard
Oil Trust has been condemned in most vigorous language by judges in high positions in other parts of the world. It has no consideration for human beings in any part of the world. In the interests of the community the Government should make known their intentions with regard to the doings of this company, and give some measure of protection to those who are being exploited by this gigantic octopus.
– I am in sympathy with very much that has fallen from Senator Findley, and may tell him that the operations of this company have been the source of much complaint. Theyare at present under the very close cognizance of the Crown Law Department. Investigations have been made both in Melbourne and Sydney with a view to securing the necessary evidence, and to ascertain whether any breach of the law has taken place. The investigations are being continued, and certain additional evidence is required. The honorable senator may rely on the assurance that the Government will do all they can, in the event of a breach having taken place, to see that the company is made to suffer. In reply to the question put to me by Senator Clemons, we have just received the report of the Navigation Commission, and I have laid it on the table. I am hopeful that the report itself will be circulated on Wednesday next. The Navigation Bill is already in draft, and will require close final attention in the light of the report. If it is possible, I hope to move the second reading of the Bill on Friday week. Of course, I cannot bind myself definitely to do so, but that is my intention if we are able to get ready the final draft of the Bill in time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at10.40 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 4 September 1907, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1907/19070904_senate_3_38/>.