3rd Parliament · 4th Session
The President took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I beg to ask the Vice-President of the Executive’ Council whether his attention has been directed to or he has seen, a paragraph in the press to the effect that Senators Chataway, Sayers, and St. Ledger have informed the Brisbane Chamber of Commerce that in their opinion the Australian Industries Preservation Bill is inimical to the best interests oi the people of Queensland ; and, if so, whether, in view of that strong expression of opinion from their supporters, the Government will withdraw it?
– I have seen the paragraph, and’ as the gentlemen named were supporters of the Bill I assume that it is incorrect.
– They say one thing here and another thing to the Brisbane Chamber of Commerce.
– No, some persons allege that we say that. The honorable senator does not see the difference.
– When I was discussing the second reading of the Inter-State Commission Bill on Wednesday last, I mentioned that we had received information through the press that the Tasmanian Government had been challenged with a noconfidence motion. Senator Mulcahy contradicted my statement, saying that no such information had appeared, but in today’s issue of the Age I find this telegram from Hobart -
In the House of Assembly to-day Mr. Ewing moved bis vote of want of confidence against the Government, on the ground that the House did not agree with its taxation proposals.
Shortly after midnight a vote was taken which resulted in the defeat of the Ministry by. 18 to 11.
– May I explain that I got my information from the gentleman who afterwards - moved the no-confidence motion ?
HIGH. COMMISSIONER BILL.
Bill read a third time.
REFERENDUM (CONSTITUTION ALTERATION) BILL.
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Senator Henderson) pro posed -
That the report from the Printing Committee, presented to the Senate on the 14th October, bc adopted.
Senator WALKER (New South Wales; [10.39].- I had intended to propose an amendment, but as Senator Henderson has assured me that the information I want can be obtained elsewhere I shall not do so.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
BUREAU OF AGRICULTURE BILL.
Debate resumed from 14th October (vide page 4530) on motion by Senator Millen -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– I am pleased to have an opportunity of discussing the provisions of this Bill. It is pretty well known that I have been connected with farming for over fifty years, and I have not risen with any degree of pleasure to oppose the Bill.
– The Labour party !
-My honorable friend interjects, “ The Labour party.” This is not a party question.
– Senator Neild andI were not referring to the honorable senator, but were engaged in a private conversation.
– I hope that the conversation of my honorable friends will not be carried on quite so loudly when I am trying to address the Senate on this very important measure.
– Mr. President, I think it is hardly fair to the Hansard reporter that two honorable senators should be seated at the table engaging in conversation, as it does not give him a proper chance to hear the speaker.
– I would point out to the honorable senator that I have no right to dictate to honorable senators where they shall sit. Seats are provided at the table, and I presume that they are provided in order to enable honorable senators to write; but I would ask honorable senators not to so converse as to interfere with the speaker.
– I beg to apologize for the interruption of the honorable senator. It is a thing which -I should not have done ; but I give my assurance to him that in no way was the remark I made pertinent to himself or the subject which he was discussing. It was made in a . private conversation.
– In referenceto this Bill, which has made its appearance in a rather mysterious manner, I notice from the business-paper of another place and from the Parliamentary Debates that it has been discussed there. The Leader of the Senate is so capable of giving information, and generally so ready to do so, that I did think it was fair to ask him, when he was moving the second reading, how it was that the Bill had been- before another place for some time, and without any explanation had reached the Senate. I desired to obtain the information from the chief source. Why did not my’ honorable friend tell me?
– I misunderstood the honorable senator’s interjection yesterday.
As its business-paper was a little congested the Bill was withdrawn from the other House in order to furnish more work for the Senate.
– I am very glad to get that information, because it has sometimes been suggested that the party which sits behind, me on this occasion has blocked business by adopting “stone-walling” tactics. My honorable’ friend has frequently indulged in that statement, if not here, in Sydney, and I wanted to get this information in order to put myself right. I should now like him to tell me who asked for the Bill. The Bill may have been conceived in a good spirit. I recognise that the Postmaster-General has had something to do with its initiation - he delivered a notable speech upon it either at Ballarat or Bendigo, in which he committed the Government to its introduction.
– Mr. . Fisher also mentioned it at Gympie.
– That circumstance does not bind me in any way. I am prepared to discuss the Bill upon its merits, regardless of anything which Senator Gray may interject, or which Mr. Fisher may have told the people at Gympie.
– I was merely going to ask the honorable senator who authorized Mr. Fisher to bring the matter forward.
– Certainly I did not, nor did the party to which I belong. I wish now to show that the States do not require the establishment of a Federal Department, of Agriculture, according to the opinions which they have expressed. On the other hand, I desire to point out what has already been done by agriculturists throughout Australia, and to emphasize the progress that has been, and is being, made without any effort on the part of the Commonwealth. But, perhaps, it would be well if I first showed by quotations from various sources what the Bill proposes. The first quotation which I shall make is from the report of a Conference of Ministers of Agriculture, and reads -
The Federal . Government have introduced into the House of Representatives a measure which is entitled The Bureau of Agriculture Bill, the second reading of which was moved by the Minister for External Affairs, Mr. Groom, on 3rd August. The substance of the proposed law is contained in clauses 3 and 4, which read as follows : -
The Bureau of Agriculture may, subject to the regulations and to the directions of the Minister, be charged with any of the following functions : -
The acquisition and diffusion among the people of the Commonwealth of information connected with agriculture, dairying, horticulture, viticulture, live stock, and forestry :
The collection, propagation, and distribution of new and valuable seeds and plants :
The carrying out of experiments and investigations :
The investigation of pests or diseases ‘affecting plants or live stock, and the means for preventing their spread or effecting their eradication :
The publication of reports of the experiments of experimental farms :
The publication of reports and bulletins dealing with any matter of importance in regard to production in Australia : and
Such other functions as are prescribed.
An arrangement may be made with the Government of any State in respect of all or any of the following matters : -
The carrying out of experiments and investigations :
The supply and distribution’ of information :
The exchange and distribution of seeds and plants : and
Any matters conducing to the development in Australia of the agricultural, pastoral, dairying, horticu’tural, and viticultural industries, and forestry.
If I believed for a moment that there was any matter in this connexion to which the States are not attending, I should support the Bill with all the force of which I am capable. But I take up the same position as did the Conference of Ministers of Agriculture, which was held in Melbourne in August last, and which resolved -
That in the opinion of this Conference the establishment of a Federal Bureau of Agriculture is at the present time unnecessary, and that such establishment would inevitably result in duplicating the work of the State Departments.
As I have already mentioned, the PostmasterGeneral dealt with the proposal to establish a Federal Bureau of Agriculture, either at Ballarat or at Bendigo, and I should like to believe that he did so without any idea of making this Bill a placard for the next general election. I extract the following telegram from one of our newspapers -
Melbourne, 26th September.
The Ballarat Agricultural and Pastoral Society passed a resolution on Saturday expressing disapproval of Sir John Quick’s suggestion that a Federal Department of Agriculture be created. The opinion was expressed that the Federal
Parliament did not appear to be a very progressive body, judging by its record of work during the past few weeks.
– Thanks to the Labour party.
– The honorable senator’s interjection prompts me to -say that political bitterness is being exhibited by him on every hand. The Vice-President of the Executive Council admitted, only a. few minutes ago, that this Bill was withdrawn from the other Chamber, and introduced here in order to provide the Senate with work.
– Because of obstruction in another place.
– How can it be reasonably urged that the Labour members are obstructionists in any shape or form? The next quotation which I propose to make reads -
Yesterday the Chamber of Agriculture sought to draw from the Royal Agricultural Society an expression of opinion as to whether the creation of such a Department was to be desired or not.
The opinions expressed by the half-dozen speakers who addressed themselves to the question were varied and inconclusive. Mr. S. T. Staughton characterized the proposal as “ another of these Socialistic schemes “ -
If it be a Socialistic scheme Senator McColl can scarcely support it. “ simply designed to create more Government billets at the expense of the farmer.”
It is cruel for any man to talk in that fashion, seeing that whatever has been done has been prompted by consideration for the farmer. If the necessary provision had not already been made by the States, undoubtedly the passing of this Bill would be in the interests of the farmer. But I cannot help recalling the circumstance that within a few months we shall have to face a general election, and nt that time the “poor cocky,” a class to which I belong, is much sought after. He is patted on the back, and told, “ Poor cocky, you are badly treated.” But it is most unfair on the part of Mr. Staughton to suggest that the Bill is “another of these Socialistic schemes,” seeing that the . Government has decisively declared in favour of anti- Socialism. Such a statement comes with ill grace from an avowed friend of honorable senators opposite. The Bill has been introduced into this Chamber because honorable senators have practically little else to engage their attention and to provide them with sometning to play with.
– Is the honorable senator playing with it?
– I am not. But unless the measure is intended to provide . us with something to toy with, I I think that Senator Millen must realize that it has very little chance of being passed into law this session in view of its condemnation by such a high authority. I intended briefly to sketch the progress which has been made by the farming industry during my own lifetime. When I was a boy in Scotland I read a book which was written by the late Rev. C. H. Spurgeon, and one passage of which particularly arrested my attention. It read -
He that by the plow would thrive,
Must either hold the plow or drive.
– But men do not hold plows nowadays.
– That is what I am about to tell my honorable friend. At the time of which I speak,- I used to drive, and a man used to hold the single furrow plough.
– Now the honorable senator rides on. a comfortable seat which is attached to the plough.
– I am coming to that. At that time the farmers would not have wheels upon their ploughs. They were conservative, and the reason underlying their refusal to countenance the use of wheels was that their greatgrandfathers did not use them. But since coming to South Australia, I have been surprised to see men working two- furrow ploughs. Then the three-furrow ploughs were introduced, and to-day as many as eleven furrows are worked, and, instead of a boy acting as driver, the person in charge of the plough sits on a comfortable seat and drives eight horses, or possibly more.
– That seat is not very comfortable when the plough happens to strike a stump.
– Provision has been made to minimise even that inconvenience. I repeat that to-day ploughs ‘ ranging from three to eleven furrows are in use. In South Australia stumps were troublesome. To get over that difficulty man’s ingenuity devised stump-jumping ploughs. Instead of the mallee roots having to be grubbed out of the ground they were cut off level, and the stump-jumping plough was set to work. Once more, it was discovered that instead of it being necessary to cut down the mallee, great rollers dragged by engines could be used which would sweep down any bushes of moderate size. Scarifiers have been improved in a similar manner. When I was a young man we had to walk over the clods and scatter seed by hand.
– Could the honorable senator sow with both hands?
– I could not, but I have seen men who could. I have sown on horseback so as to save my legs, because I always regarded sowing as about the hardest work done on a farm. But human ingenuity invented a seed-sower. I have sown 50’ acres in a day with the machine. To-day we have machines that not only sow the seed, but deposit with it phosphates or other manures which the soil may require. All these improvements have been made since I became a farmer in South Australia. In Scotland we used to reap the crop with the sickle. I remember when the sickle was used in South Australia. Indeed, I read in a book published in Adelaide a little while ago that at one time, when there was a regiment of soldiers quartered in South Australia, their services were requisitioned to help to gather in the crops. Hay was cut with a scythe and gathered with drag rakes - clods and all. Later horse-rakes were introduced. Now we have every conceivable convenience for the handling of hay. By means of binders the crop is bound up into sheaves clean and convenient for handling; and the time and money saved in regard to stacking alone is very great. The advances made in reference to the reaping of grain have been enormous. The Ridley reaper was invented years ago. It marked a great improvement. The late Mr. James Martin, of Gawler, and others as worthy to be named as he, did much to . effect improvements, with the result that crops can now be gathered in at less than half the expense formerly incurred. Winnowing the wheat in the fields used to be a very big contract. The turning of the winnowing machine was a very trying job. A man with the strengthof Senator Givens was needed for the work. Sometimes, when my men were not very willing, I have had to buckle to and do the work myself. But now we have handy little motors for driving the machine, with the result that there is a great saving of labour and a wonderful increase of convenience. The introduction of damp weather threshers also led to the saving of a great deal of time. But to-day we have the stripper harvester, with which one man with plenty of horses can, not only reap, but bag a great deal of wheat in a single day. My reason for mentioning these improvements is that I desire to give all credit to individualism. The suggestions made by farmers themselves have brought about many of the inventions. I recollect another of C. H. Spurgeon’s sayings. In his John Ploughman’s talk he said -
God bless our wives,
They fill our hives
With little bees and honey;
They soothe life’s shocks,
They mend our socks,
But don’t they spend the money?
I think I have sufficiently shown the great advances which have been made in agriculture. Every advance has made the farmer’s life easier. . I give all credit to individualism.
– Is this an individualistic Bill, or is it Socialistic?
– I call it Socialistic, but I am telling the Senate what the farmers have done for themselves.
– The farmers have derived more assistance from the State than any other members of the community.
– After the honorable member’s speech, the Government will expect his vote for the Bill.
– If I speak against the Bill the honorable senator will not find me voting in favour of it. I should really like to know whether the diplomatic leader of the Senate really cares about the measure. I fear that it has been brought in merely as a plaything. I have shown what the farmers and manufacturers have done. It is going but a step further to show what the State of South Australia, is doing by means of its Bureau of Agriculture. I hope that the Senate will excuse me if I read a few extracts dealing with this question. I have here the report of the South Australian. Department of Agriculture and Intelligence for the year 1907-8, the latest available. One of the means adopted by the South Australian Government to encourage agriculture is that of subsidizing agricultural shows. On this subject the report says -
As in previous years, the Department staged exhibits at the September and March shows. That got together for the March show was - so far as the cereals and phosphate rock were concerned - a duplicate of what was forwarded to the Franco-British Exhibition. A very fine collection of apples and pears grown in the Mylor Typical Orchard was also staged at this show by Dr. Holtze, of the Botanic Gardens.
Opportunity was taken this year to show these exhibits in country districts, and the cereal portion of the March exhibits was shown at Mount
Barker and Mount Pleasant. These provincial exhibits were very successful, as shown by the number of people who visited the collection and made inquiries in reference to the various exhibits, lt would be a distinct gain if this work were further extended, so that the educational value of such exhibits should be taken more advantage 61.
My reason for reading that is to show that what is being done is educational.
A feature of the work at the last March show with which the Department was associated was the judging of wheats on more scientific lines.
Senator Millen referred yesterday to scientific investigation, and said that it would be necessary for us to import men to conduct such investigations.
– I did not say anything about importing men.
– The honorable senator seemed to be of the opinion that there is a dearth of scientific men in the Commonwealth.
– No, I think there is a dearth of opportunities for them to work.
– Then I have misunderstood the honorable senator -
Samples of the various wheat exhibits were forwarded to the Department some time previous to the above, and passed through a milling test.
Honorable senators will understand by that that different varieties of wheat were examined and tested in order to discover which would produce the best quality of flour. I have before me in this report a list of about fifty agricultural societies in South Australia that are subsidized by the State.
– What is the total subsidy paid in that way?
– I have not added up the amounts, but the total runs to thousands of pounds annually.
– What is the cost of upkeep for the whole Department?
– The total cost is ,£85,000 a year.
– The information I have is that the annual cost of the Department itself is under ,£20,000 a year; but it is probable that the sum the honorable senator has mentioned is made up by the subsidies to which he has referred.
– I am speaking in a general way, and I have the information that South Australia spends in connexion with the work of the Agricultural Department ,£85,000 a year. The agricultural, horticultural and ‘ viticultural interests are all considered, and, as I have said, some fifty societies are subsidized. I find the statement is made that ,£256 were spent in prizes for exhibits of dairy produce, flowers, fruit, pigs, poultry, vegetables, jams and preserves, and wine. I come now to deal with experimental work, and I quote the following : -
In the early days of the State, much of the experimental work was carried on in connexion with the Agricultural Bureau; but, generally speaking, the experiments were confined mainly to the growing of seeds introduced at various times into the State through the agency of the Central Agricultural Bureau.
In the past the State has had to look to the Agricultural College at Roseworthy for guidance in matters pertaining to agricultural affairs ; but obviously practices of that institution, evolved after years of experiment, could not be taken as a safe guide for districts with utterly different conditions of climate and soil. In 1904 the Agricultural Department was re-organized, and special prominence was given to experimental work. An effort was made to establish in each important agricultural centre a series of experiments. These plots have in . the past been carried on more for demonstration purpo’ses than on purely scientific lines, but considerably more attention will have to be paid in the immediate future to the scientific aspect of experimental work.
No doubt honorable senators are aware that there is an agricultural college established at Roseworthy, in South Australia. There is there also an experimental farm of 1,500 acres. The college and. farming operations are in the hands of competent and able men. The students are taught not only theoretical but practical agriculture. I may tell honorable’ senators that on one occasion I had the honour to be invited by Dr. Cockburn, who is well known in South Australia, and was Minister of Agriculture at the time, to act as an examiner and judge of the practical work carried on on the farm. We watched the boys catch their horses, and noticed how they handled them, harnessed them, yoked up their ploughs, and put up their poles to do the work on the farm. The students are employed throughout the year on similar work. I do not know how many attend, but the .number must be large. As the farm is an experimental one, established for educational purposes, farmers are once or twice each year invited ro go there. They may have to pay a few shillings for a ride in the train, but that is all. At the Roseworthy station they are met and taken in ‘buses to the farm. They are invited to see how the farm is worked a little before harvest time, in order that they may judge the results of the labours of those attending the College, and see what the Government are en- deavouring to do for the agricultural education of the people.
– The establishment of a Federal Agricultural Bureau would not prevent the Government of South Australia continuing this work.
– I shall deal with that argument later. I quote again from the report of the Department in South Australia -
The work now under the control of the Department may be briefly summarized as follows : -
Manurial tests to determine which manures can be most profitably used.
Variety tests in cereals to discover which variety is best suited to local conditions.
The growing of fodder crops and grasses, and the determination of the most economical utilization of the same.
Rotation of crops.
Growing of large quantities of seed true to name.
Hybridization of wheats and the production of new improved varieties.
Testing the value of new lands about to be allotted in various districts.
Reclamation of swamp land.
Utilization of fern land.
Is there not a great deal of useful work included in that list? Although I have referred to Roseworthy College and the work done there, I may say that experimental farms are now being established in many other parts of the State, for instance, at Carricton, Hammond, and parts of the State where the rainfall does not exceed 10 or 1 2 inches per annum. It is clear that different methods must be adopted in such districts from those which are successful at Belalie and Jamestown, where there is a rainfall. of from 18 to 19 inches per annum. I ask honorable senators whether it would not be reasonable to look for better results from the operations of those who have personal knowledge of local conditions and variations of climate and rainfall than we could expect from operations conducted from one centre. I presume that the proposed Bureau would involve a great deal of expense.
– It is not proposed to disturb any of that work.
– The Federal Department would be useless unless it were thoroughly staffed with a branch in each State, which, of course, would involve the Commonwealth in the expenditure of many thousands of pounds annually, and would not reduce the State expenditure at all. That is the position. I am glad to see that Senator McColl is present, because he is entitled to a great deal of considera tion for having devoted so much time and trouble to the question of dry farming in America, and bringing seeds therefrom to the Commonwealth. His action shows that he has some energy, and is deeply interested in agriculture. I do not propose to discuss the question of dry farming to any extent, because I am sure that he has given far more consideration to it than I have ever done.
– He has never tried drv, or other kind of farming.
– In the precincts of this chamber the honorable senator showed me various kinds of seeds which he procured in America, and I can imagine the great trouble to which he must have put himself in order to obtain them. I would not for a moment try to take any credit from the honorable senator for the good work which he did in that respect in the interest of the Commonwealth. For three years, these kinds of wheat have been tried in South Australia : - Marshall’s No. 3, Yandilla King, Federation, Carmichael’s Eclipse, Comeback, Gluyas, Petatz Surprise, and Gallant. A table is supplied showing the average yield of each kind of wheat during that period. It has just flashed across my mind that in South Australia in 1867 - the year in which the Duke of Edinburgh arrived in Australia - we had some magnificent crops, being as high as the fence, and equal to 20 bushels, or over, per acre. But the red rust came, and they were not worth reaping. I refer to Alma Plains.
– Were they not worth reaping for straw?
– No; the crops were only fit to be burned. The State was also troubled with smut in the crops, that is, little balls of soot instead of wheat. It entailed a loss in every respect, being a filthy thing to have in the wheat. South Australia had to grapple with these difficulties, and I suppose with others. I do not wish to claim any particular credit for the State, because, although it is doing much, other States are doing equally as much, and, in some cases, even more, to ‘assist the agricultural industry. These questions were discussed at conferences by practical men, and with the selection of the right kinds of wheat - that is, wheat less likely to be affected by rust - and the application of a solution to kill the fungus of smut, those troubles have practically disappeared. It will be seen that the education of the farming community has never been overlooked. That question has been brought before the country by leading agriculturists, it has been dealt with by scientific men, and the people are deriving benefit from their efforts. From a book which has recently been published in Adelaide, let me give a little information on the question of how the State helps the producers -
The Government seeks to be philosopher, guide, and friend to the man on the land. Even after the homeseeker has secured his block and the equipment for working it, he is not left entirely to his own resources. The Government comes to his aid and assists him in securing the best results from his holding and in finding markets. No phase of soil cultivation escapes attention. There .are experts on agriculture, viticulture, horticulture, dairying, poultry, wool, veterinary science, fertilizers, and so on.
With regard to poultry, the Government experts give practical lessons. They go to various parts of the State, and put certain kinds of poultry through an operation. The farmers are taught how to conduct the operation, and in that way to produce better birds for exportation. That work is done all over the State. The quotation continues -
These officers are attached to the Department of Agriculture, and may be consulted without fee. Lectures are delivered by them at country centres all the year round, and in addition they conduct courses at the School of Mines and at the Roseworthy Agricultural College. The Department of Agriculture is available to present and prospective settlers who may desire advice and instruction in agricultural matters - such as soil manipulation, the growing of various crops, the preparation of produce for market, the marketing of produce, the feeding and treatment of stock, &c. There is no excuse for ignorance. A monthly Journal of Agriculture is published at a small cost, and bulletins on special subjects are issued at frequent intervals. Several S’tate farms have been established in addition to numerous experimental plots for the guidance of . settlers.’ Attached to the Agricultural College is a farm of about 1,500 acres. Here cereal-growing, stock-rearing, dairying, wine-making, and other pursuits are practised. At Parafield, comparatively close to the city, 80 acres are devoted to the testing of wheat varieties, and to the improvement of wheats by cross-breeding and selection. In the dry areas, with an average rainfall of about 10 inches annually, two experimental blocks have been established. A small area of reclaimed swamp land is cultivated at Murray Bridge by the Agricultural Department in order to demonstrate to occupiers of similar land the best crops to grow and methods of cultivation, and at Kangaroo Island test farms have been started.
I think it will be evident to every honorable senator that the Agricultural Department of South Australia has left undone practically very little. Referring to’ Roseworthy College, the writer says -
The Director .of Agriculture is responsible for research work, scientific investigation, wheat hy- bridization, and dry farming, and other experiments at various stations throughout the State.
The Agricultural Department, North Terrace, Adelaide, furnishes information on all matters connected with agriculture.
The Conservator of Forests has charge of tree conservation and the rearing and distribution to the public of forest trees.
Trees are grown by the thousand, and any one desiring young trees to plant may get them free on making an application.
The Dairy Expert gives instruction in dairying, and delivers lectures on the subject at the Agricultural College and throughout the country. He will control the Government Dairy Farm about to be established at Turretfield, near Gawler, where students will be taken. The Government Butter Factory is also under his charge.
The Manager of the Produce Department takes charge of all descriptions of produce at the Produce Dep6t, Port Adelaide, stores same, and, if desired, forwards to London for sale. He has charge also of the lamb-buying and freezing operations.
The Horticultural Instructor and Chief Inspector of Fruit gives instructions on all horticultural questions, including planting, pruning, budding, and grafting. He also has under his care the inspecting of plants and fruits imported, for the prevention of introduction of fruit and plant diseases.
The Poultry Expert advises with respect to rearing, housing, and feeding poultry, and marketing of eggs.
I cannot see that there is anything which has been overlooked by the State. If we establish a Federal Bureau of Agriculture I know that we shall do so in opposition to the wishes of the States. The Ministers of Agriculture of the various States in conference have condemned the proposal. Resolutions have been passed at public meetings in opposition to it upon the ground that such a step would tend to the overlapping of State and Federal functions. I wish now to invite the attention of honorable senators to the following extract from the Budget speech of the Premier of South Australia in reference to trade and commerce -
The prosperity ‘of our primary industries during the last few years is reflected in the expansion of our trade. During the last three years the totals of our imports and exports have been : -1906, £21,635,435- £56 18s. nd. per head mean population; 1907, £26,018,637 - £67 9s. 3d. per head ; 1908, £25,010,004 - £62 16s. 6d. per head. The value of our own products and manufactures exported for the last three years exceeded imports consumed by £2,230,907 in 1906, £i.778,533 in ‘9°7> and £2,547,064 in 1908. The total value of the exports of our own products and manufactures for the last three years were : - 1906, £7,439,841 - £19 ns. 8d. per head mean population; 1907, £8,802,038 - £22 16s. $d. per head; 1908, £8,551,351- £21 gs. 7d. per head. The principal products exported were : - Bread- stuffs, wools, wine, copper, frozen meat, skins and hides, salt, fruits (dried and fresh), butter, eggs, and wattle bark.
Honorable senators must recognise in the light of these facts that in South Australia the agricultural industry is booming. In speaking ot the produce department, the Premier of that State said -
The past year was again a record one, the quantity of produce treated and the profit made on the working of the Department both being in excess of the previous year. The removal of the slaughter yards from Dry Creek to Port Adelaide was completed, thus bringing all the various branches together, and the increased accommodation enabling from 4,000 to 8,000 carcases per day to be treated was proved to be a necessity during the rush of the season. The Department is now completely equipped to cope with the large quantities of lambs, mutton, fruit, butter, cheese, eggs, poultry, honey, &c, that may be forwarded for shipment, and excellent facilities are offered for storing produce to be placed on the local market.
Here is another quotation from, the same authority, to which I hope the VicePresident of the Executive Council will pay some attention -
A plant for canning purposes has now been completed, and will meet a long-felt want in the disposal of sheep which were not suitable for export purposes. The works are now the most modern, up-to-date, and largest of the kind in Australia, and although the cost of these additions has been large, the benefit that they will be to the whole State is inestimable, and especially to the producer, as it enables him to not only cold-store whilst prices are low, and to be able to place his produce on the market in splendid condition when an improvement in prices takes place, but to have his produce of any kind treated, and, if necessary, sold on any of the world’s markets.
At one time it was suspected that private enterprise in South Australia was not treating the poor farmer fairly.
– That does not square with the statement made by the honorable senator a little while ago when he was extolling individualism.
– The honorable senator misunderstands me. But if I were to fly into a temper as he did yesterday, when he refused to proceed with his speech, and indulged in a threat against me, if I dared to interject again, I should probably be considered rude. I recognise that I am trying the patience of honorable senators, but my own patience is also being put to a severe test. It has been very difficult for me, during the brief period that has been available to me, to prepare a speech upon this Bill.
– The honorable senator is certainly showing us what a wonderful country is South Australia.
– It is not my object to extol “South Australia at the expense of any other State. I admit that in some respects Queensland is in advance of South Australia. I repeat that,- some years ago, when the farmers of my own State were sending their cream to the merchants, they had a suspicion that they were not receiving a fair deal. The matter was brought under the notice of Parliament during the time that the Price Government held office. As a result of the complaints which were made, the Government decided to establish a butter factory, to which the farmers might send their cream for treatment. It was not the policy of the Government to make a profit out of the undertaking. They merely desired to assist the producers. Whether there was any substantial reason underlying the complaints of the producers that they were being “ got at “ by the middleman I do not know. But I have met a great many farmers who have said, “ Since the Government butter factory has been established at Port Adelaide, our cows have been giving richer cream.” What has been the result of the establishment of that institution ? Last year it not only paid its way, but the suppliers of cream had the satisfaction of receiving a bonus of£500 for distribution amongst them upon apro rata basis. That is what the Price Government did for South Australia.
– It is what the markets of the world did for South Australia.
– The Government merely acted as the middleman.
– I was afraid that I would tread on the corns of private enterprise in this connexion. The South Australian Government naturally desired to act cautiously. But when a small surplus was forthcoming, it was considered a fair thing to hand back that surplus to those to whom it belonged. I am showing that the South Australian Government has done everything possible to assist the farmers, and that it has been the means of placing them in a much more satisfactory position. When I was a member of the Legislative Council of South. Australia some years ago, and phosphates were beginning to be used, there was a suspicion that the manures were mixed with inferior ingredients. Accordingly an Act was passed to compel dealers in phosphates to have them tested and to guarantee their quality. That is one other direction in which the State has come to the aid of the farmer. Yesterday I asked a. question of the Vice-President of the Executive Council as to whether any money had been placed on the Estimates for the purposes of the Bureau of Agriculture. He said that that had not been done. I find, however, that there is a sum of ^250 for the purpose on the Estimates. The amount is wholly insufficient. The Bureau, if established, will cost thousands of pounds. I have shown that in the opinion of the Ministers of Agriculture of the States this Bill is not necessary, and that it will cause overlapping with what the States are already doing. As a friend of the farming community and in their interests, I shall, therefore, vote against the second reading of the measure.
.- We have listened with much pleasure to the speech of the honorable senator who has just resumed his seat, in which he has been so reminiscent of his experiences as a farmer, and has detailed in so pleasant a fashion the progress made in agricultural pursuits in South Australia. But though I listened to him intently, I listened in vain for any cogent arguments against the establishment of a Bureau of Agriculture. As an account of the progress made in South Australia the honorable senator’s address was worthy of attention, but as a damaging criticism of this Bill I fail to see that it contained any strong points. I thank the honorable senator for his kindly references to me, which quite disarm anything which I might have to say in criticism of his speech. Those who know anything about the progress of agriculture in South Australia will probably place that State first amongst the States of Australia in reference to development in the face of adverse conditions. I believe that we have there the best dry farmers of Australia. They have done more to show what can be done bv the intelligent conservation of water than has been done in any other part of this continent Tt would be well if farmers in the other States would take lessons from what the South Australian farmers have accomplished.
– We have there the highest type of up-to-date farming in Australia.
– I quite agree with the honorable senator. We owe to South Australia the stump-jumping plough, and she has taught us the proper method of working that great territory in the northwest of Victoria, which is close to the South Australian border. Consequently, I thoroughly indorse everything that has been said with regard to South Australian agriculture. Now, this matter of establishing an Agricultural Bureau has been before the Federal Parliament almost since it was first constituted. In 1901 a motion was submitted in another place by Sir John Quick in the following terms : -
That in the opinion of this House a National Department of Agriculture and Productive Industries, on the same lines as that of the United States of America ought to be organized and maintained in connexion with the Government of the Commonwealth.
The motion was discussed- at considerable length by a number of able men, including the present Mr. Justice Isaacs, Mr. Allan McLean, and Mr. Sydney Smith. There was not one dissenting speech. The close . of the session, however, prevented any definite action being taken. The subject remained upon the business-paper until 1904. On the 7th July of that year the subject was again discussed upon a motion in the following terms : -
That, in the opinion of this House, in order to promote the primary industries of Australia, a Federal Department of Agriculture ought to be ‘ established at an early date.
That motion, which was spoken to by honorable members on both sides of the House-, was carried unanimously.
– Was not the subject introduced as a hobby by Mr. Justice Isaacs?
– Mr. Justice Isaacs gave considerable attention to the subject, but he was not the member of another place who submitted the motion, though he spoke strongly in its favour. Since then the subject has been on the programme of each Government that has held office in the Commonwealth. The Fisher Government intended to bring in a measure to establish a bureau. At length we have made a definite advance. We are now face to face with the Bill for the purpose, so that we now have to say definitely, yea or nay, whether a Department of Agriculture shall be established. We are no longer discussing an academic motion, although it would be quite easy to make an academic speech on the subject. One could occupy hours in discussing it. But that is not what we are concerned with now. The task of those who support this Bill is to give reasons in justification of the introduction of the measure, and those who are opposed to it will, of course, be justified in giving reasons as to why it should not be passed. I support the Bill very heartily. I am not, as has been sneeringly sug- gested, a farmer. I have not cultivated land to any great extent beyond my own halfacre. But I claim to have probably as keen an interest in farmers and their work, in land settlement, and in the prosperity of the people engaged in its cultivation, as has any other member of the Commonwealth Legislature. I have represented farmers in Parliament for the past twenty-five years. Unless they thought that I was in touch with them and their interests, I do not think that they would have sent me back so many times without a single defeat. Therefore, I consider that i. can claim some little authority for venturing to speak on their behalf. It would be a truism to say that the importance of agriculture cannot be over-estimated. At the present time, in view of the complex conditions of modern life, and the uncertain future that faces every country in the world, it seems to me that the one outlet, the one hope, the one salvation, for the nations is in the land which their people cultivate. The late French Premier, M. Meline, in a very interesting book, called Back to the Land, has pointed out that the only way out of the impasse in which industrialism has landed us, is to get our people more and more on to the land. In the old Roman days agriculture was looked upon as the highest of pursuits, and for many long years after the time of the Romans agriculture held a. similarly high position. As a matter of fact, the first book on English husbandry was written by Sir Anthony Fitzherbert, a Judge of the Com-mon Pleas. But the increase of trade and commerce during the last century, the spread of manufactures, the augmentation of foreign trade since 18,30 or 1840, and the flooding of British markets with foreign grain due to the opening up of the United States, Canada, and Australia, caused considerable areas of land to go out of cultivation in Great Britain, and tended very greatly to the aggregation of estates which has been in process there. By these means people have been driven off the land, and so it has come about that the tillers of the soil did not hold the same position in the estimation of the public that they at one time did. They came to be c looked down upon, and their occupation carr.e to be considered as not one worthy to be placed on a level with those of professional and business men. Numerous instances could be given in proof of that assertion, but there is no occasion to do so now. It can scarcely be denied that farming came to be regarded as no longer gentleman’s work. It was all right as a hobby, or a pastime, but not as a means of earning a livelihood. But a great change has come over agriculture and over public opinion concerning it in recent years. The farmer to-day is not the mere hewer of wood and drawer of water for others, that he was looked upon as being a generation ago. Science has become wedded to agriculture, and the union has elevated the industry. This union has increased production from the soil enormously, and the utilization of scientific methods has improved the status of the people who are so engaged. Science has ameliorated the conditions under which they are working ; it has cheapened production ; it has eased the burdens of the agricultural community; it has eliminated the element of chance, which at one time ruled to a greater or lesser degree, in regard to agricultural operations; it has led to increased yields, and profits have become greater than they ever were before. For my own part, I should have liked many years ago to go on to. the land, but the opportunities were not available to me. But both my father and I represented farming electorates for many years, and we were both in close touch with farmers. I have watched the development of our great northern plains. I have seen men battling there against courses of bad seasons, and forced ultimately to abandon their holdings. My. father did much to alleviate their lot by means of irrigation, and I have taken a keen interest in the same subject. Senator Stewart yesterday referred to the fact of agricultural areas becoming depopulated. There was a great rush to the north of Victoria in the seventies^ when there were one or two good seasons. It is true that there is not, perhaps, one farmer there now to ten who were there some years ago. The soil has gone out of cropping into grazing, and settlers have melted away. Efforts were made at that time, and have been continued, to settle people on the land, but there has been no sustained and energetic effort to keep them there. If, twenty-five or thirty years ago, we had had the knowledge we have to-day, and had understood the up-to-date farming methods now adopted in South Australia and other places, very different results would1 have followed from our efforts to settle people on the land. We have made some attempts at irrigation, but through lack of knowledge they have been, to some extent, failures. Useful as the work of our Agricultural Departments has been, they have done very little to keep people on the land. From the lack of experimental farms, on which settlers might be shown the best methods of agriculture, the real settlement of this country has been delayed for a generation. I must confess that of late years the State Agricultural Departments have been putting more vigour into their work. I do not blame the expert officers of the Departments, but the Ministerial heads, who have kept men with brains and talents for agricultural work at routine clerical and administrative work. They should have been permitted to follow the bent of their minds in endeavouring to discover how to” cheapen and increase production. The work of those who have been engaged in testing has been more in the direction of demonstration than of experiment. Speaking of the work done in Victoria, I say that good as the work of our agricultural colleges has been, I know of no man who has come from those colleges who has stamped his individuality upon the agricultural methods of this country as men have done in other lands. Governments in new countries have greater obligations to those engaged in agriculture than have the Governments of old lands. It is not right that the pioneers should bear the whole of the risks. When people come to a new country, of the conditions of which they have very little knowledge, and perhaps are required to adopt a system of farming to which they have been unaccustomed in the past, it is the duty of a Department of Agriculture to help them in every way to a knowledge of the best means of performing their work. We are told that we do not require a Federal Agricultural Bureau, because we have a number of State Agricultural Departments. I ask honorable senators to say whether they think that the State Departments do all that is necessary at the present time. Do we not know that each State Department is working only for its own State, and that its work is limited to the boundaries of that State? National considerations are not taken into account and, to a great extent, each State Department is ignorant of what is being done by the others. Owing to the adoption of new and improved methods, farmers in South Australia are raising satisfactory crops in districts with an average annual rainfall of only from 10 to 12 inches. Yet we find that in New South Wales, at Narro- mine and Wellington, with a 16-incb rainfall, the crops last year were a failure. It is not a question of quality of the soil. The failure was due to improper tillage. If we had a body with some co-ordinating power the farmers of Narromine, Wellington, and other places might be shown what farmers are doing in districts with a lighter rainfall, and so would be able to avoid failure in the future.
– The want of rain at the proper time is what accounted for the failure in the districts to which the honorable senator has referred.
– No, it was due to the fact that the farmers did not till their land properly, and did not conserve the rain when it did fall. The farmers of South Australia have learned how to conserve the water in the soil, and so they are able to raise good crops in districts that have a comparatively light rainfall. Farmers in that State get crops giving 40- bushels to the acre, whilst the crops in other States are comparative failures even’ though they are blessed with a better rainfall. I know that we have some valuable institutions such as the Hawkesbury College in New South Wales, the Dookie and Longerenong Colleges in Victoria, the Gatton College in Queensland, and the Roseworthy College in South Australia. No doubt these institutions are all doing excellent work, but they do not reach the actual farmers, chiefly because co-operation and coordinating power is lacking. We must judge by general results what we are doing in Australia. Our yields, for example, are almost the lowest in any part of the world. This is . a new country, with virgin soil, and perhaps the finest climate in any part of the world, and with a fair average rainfall - The average production of wheat per acre in the United Kingdom is 33 bushels; in> Germany, 28 bushels; in France, 19/ bushels; in Canada, 21 bushels; in theUnited States, 1.4 bushels, and graduallyrising; whilst the average for Australia, leaving out the small production in Queensland and Tasmania, is only 9 bushels per acre. The production of barley is, for the United Kingdom, 35 bushels ; Germany, -37 bushels ; Canada, 30 bushels -r United States, 25 bushels; and Australia, only 19 bushels. Oats - United Kingdom. 46 bushels; Germany, 38 bushels; France, 27 bushels; Canada, 40 bushels; United States, 30 bushels ; and Australia, 10 bushels. Potatoes - United Kingdom, tons per acre, and here a yield of between 2 tons and 3 tons per acre is considered a good yield. The average yields I have quoted are based upon the returns for a period of seven years. There is no question so important to Australia as is its agricultural development, because it is on that we have to depend for the money coming into this country. What we use ourselves brings in nothing, but our exports give us a return. Taking the last figures available, I find that the value of our exports of the products of the soil is £48,691,850 ; specie and metals, £21,521,116; and the balance from other sources, £2,611,281, making the total of our exports £72,824,247.
– The honorable senator says that our exports bring in money. Does he mean money or goods?
– It comes to the same thing whether the returns to us are in money or goods.
– Surely we do not import gold.
– No; we export gold ; but the interjection is not relevant to my argument. We get a return for the value of our exports in goods, but if it were more convenient, our return would be in cash. .
– Gold might go out and money come in at the same time.
– It is from the soil that we derive our wealth, and we should do what we can to increase productions. Speaking now of our total production, the figures are :- From land, £101,570,000; from mining, £28,301,000 ; from manufacturing, £37>575. 000 J °r a total of £367.446,000. Honorable senators will see from the figures that agriculture is our mainstay, and should be given more attention than any other industry that we have. If the State Agricultural Departments have not been so successful as they might have been, the responsibility . is not upon the expert officers of those Departments. There are many .fine men. amongst them, but, instead of being able to devote themselves diligently and closely to their work, and to concentrate their attention upon their investigations, they have been obliged by the various’ Governments to undertake so much of the ordinary routine and administrative work, of their Departments that we could not hope that their professional work would be successful. Very few of the State Governments in Australia have realized the possibilities of this country in regard to agriculture. We are asked, and will be asked, how by means of this Federal Bureau, we are to realize them. 1 would say that Federation is quite as much required to deal with agricultural matters as to deal with any other matters with which the Commonwealth authority has been intrusted. A Federal Agricultural Bureau is necessary to do work which the State Departments have not done, are not doing, and cannot possibly do, for the country as a whole. lt is said that officers of the State Departments might, by meeting in conference, coordinate their work, and so carry out the duties of the Federal Bureau. The adoption of such a course would lead to results similar to those which followed the creation of the Federal Council. Representatives of different States met in that Council, passed resolutions, laid down platforms, and initiated policies, but nothing ever came of them, because the Council had not the power to compel the States to give effect to their legislation. Conferences of representatives of the various State Agricultural Departments might do some little work in the direction of coordinating agricultural information, but they would be ineffective to forward the general interests of agriculture in Australia. The representatives would he concerned about State interests rather than about those of Australia as a whole, and we require the establishment of a Department which would take a wider view of various questions than could be expected from the representatives of the 1 separate States. There are questions concerning agriculturists in all of the States that require the attention of a far-reaching and all-embracing central organization. I wish now to touch upon the question of bounties. Some two years ago we made provision for the payment of £430,000 by way of bounties upon agriculture and other products. At that time I made a strenuous effort to delay the payment of bounties, and to secure, instead of what was proposed, the establishment of a Department for agricultural experiment. The Senate did not agree with my proposal, and on a division only nine supported it, as “ against fourteen opposed to it. My contention then was that it would bebetter to educate the farmer than to give him a bounty. I considered that w<» would obtain much greater results bv imparting the education first, and, if neces- sary, giving the bounties later. But we have granted the bounties, and the administration of them needs supervision by a Federal authority, who can examine what is being done in the States, point out the mistakes which are being made, and put on. the right track those who are endeavouring to cultivate particular products in order to gain the bounties and increase the production of the Commonwealth. That is one reason why, in my opinion, we require a Bureau of Agriculture. It is a very large sum which has been appropriated for the payment of bounties. We do not want to see that money frittered away, and the few thousand pounds which the Federal Department will cost for some years will be nothing in comparison with the amount which will be paid in bounties if we provide for proper supervision. The Commonwealth has sole power, not only in regard to bounties, but also in regard to Customs and Excise, and trade and commerce with foreign countries, and among the States. All these matters touch agriculture very closely indeed, and, to a great extent, its success depends very considerably upon the exercise of those powers. We need a bureau for the collection and the dissemination of agricultural intelligence. We want to learn from those older and more advanced countries in which experimentation and demonstration are carried on every day, and whose farmers are far ahead of ours. We are not learning at present, simply because each State is only trying its own system, and there is no central authority to go afield and bring into use improved methods. We require to know the latest methods of cultivation and production. We need an accurate knowledge of the markets in oilier countries, with regard to not only prices, but also the kind and quality of the products required there. Our farmers have to face the competition nf other lands. To-day the finest agricultural implements and machinery in the world are in the hands of the, lowest-paid labourer in many countries. Our agriculturists have to face this competition. Only a moiety of their products can be sold in Australia, and markets for the balance must be found outside the Commonwealth, so that we need an intelligence department to ascertain the latest methods of agriculture in regard to machinery, cultivation, seeds, and other branches of the industry. A bureau is also ‘ required for educational work. Yesterday the Vice-President of the Executive Council laid considerable stress upon the scientific investigations and discoveries which are being developed every day in other lands, to an extent which, perhaps, honorable senators have little idea of. We require a central authority with power not only to collect this information from other countries, but also to distribute it amongst the States. Then, inasmuch as we are controlling trade and commerce, surely it is necessary that our bed-rock industry - the great source from which our commerce comes - shall be brought under Federal control. Again, there is the carriage of produce. That is a most important matter to the producers, but at present each State is simply making its own arrangements. Our producers require cheap safe carriage in sound, fast boats, and with the best kind of cool storage, in order that their products may be put on foreign markets in the best condition and in the quickest time. In America all these matters have had to be brought under Federal control. We shall not secure a satisfactory trade with other countries, or get our goods valued as they ought to be, unless they are sent away bearing upon them the stamp of Australia. Outside countries do not know of Victoria or Queensland or New South Wales; they scarcely know the names of those States, but they do know of Australia. In the markets of the world the stamp of the Agricultural Department of the United States on any goods is ac- 1cepted at once as a warrant that they are sound, and they find a ready sale. We all know that one bad shipment will spoil i market for a product. If a bad shipment were to go from Victoria, it would spoil the market for the product to both New South Wales and Queensland. We need Federal control, in order to insure that only products of the best quality shall be exported. Then there is the great question of coping with animal and vegetable diseases. It is necessary that the Commonwealth should establish a bureau, in order to prevent the introduction of diseases in animals or plants or seeds. It will have to take in hand the. eradication of such diseases if introduced. A disease may exist in one State, and it will use its utmost endeavours to eradicate it; but it will not trouble about the eradication of a disease in another State. The Commonwealth needs authority, in order to see that diseases are properly and quickly eradicated. The necessity for Federal control was learned in America when Texas fever and pleuro-pneumonia broke out and decimated the herds and flocks. It was found that the States were absolutely incompetent to cope with those diseases. It was not until the Federal authority intervened and took strong measures that they were stamped out.
– They are not quite stamped out yet.
– No, because the Federal authority has not been able to exercise full control. Each State is merely concerned with clearing its own territory, and not with what is happening to its neighbour’s. For that reason alone we require a bureau, not to override the State authority, but to co-operate with it, as the Federal authorities did in the United States, where their efforts in this direction have been so successful. We need a bureau to search in other lands for improved seeds and plants suitable to Australia. Much of the success of agriculture in the western States of America has been due to the adoption of that policy in the United States. In the nineties the eastern lands were filled up, and largely owing to careless cultivation the settlers there had become disheartened. People were entering the country by the million and more a year, and had to be provided with land. The only land available was that west of the 93rd meridian, which marks the humid portions of the Republic from the arid and semi-arid portions. For the first time the United States sent men to all the arid countries - to the plains of the Don and the Volga, to Asia, to Africa, and to other countries, in order to search out seeds and plants which would be suitable to the land west of that meridian. Bv their introduction, agriculture in the Western States has been revolutionized. In Australia, however, no one is engaged upon work of that kind. A year or so ago, Secretary Wilson, of the Department of Agriculture, said, “ We will not admit that we have in the United States an acre of bad land. Wherever a herb or a shrub or a tree can grow we know that there is some plant of economic value which can. grow there as well as a plant which is of no value. We will never rest until we discover that plant.” So to-day the Department has men in all countries with similar conditions, searching out, and forwarding, year after year, seeds, plants, and roots of all kinds. By this means, a population has been settled in places which only a few years ago were looked upon as deserts.
– Is it not a fact that in spite of all this work, there is a greater drift from the country to the towns of America ?
– That is the general contention. I’ -read a statement to that effect only the other day.
– Presently I shall quote some figures on that point. In some of the Eastern States there is a drift to the towns, but I can assure the honorable senator that in the Western States the drift to the land is’, and for the last three or four years has been, enormous. Of late the study of plant breeding has come to the front. When I visited the Old Country, four years ago, I had the pleasure of calling at the Garton Brothers’ place, at Newton le Willows, in Lancashire - a wonderful place - where plant breeding is carried on, and where I spent an afternoon with one of the firm. I found that on a few acres of land a wonderful work in plant breeding was going on. They were breeding plants and seeds suited to any country in the world. If a dry country wanted seeds they would search dry countries for them, and bring them, to their place, where they would pollenize and fertilize until they got something they required. If they got an order from a moist or swampy country, they sent to a like country for seeds. Still more wonderful, however, has been the work of Burbank, who has been called a wizard, and who, I suppose, if he had lived a few hundred years ago, would have teen burned. He takes the seeds and the pollen of dissimilar plants, brings them together, and enriches the world, year * after year, with absolutely new productions, not only gratifying the tastes of many people, but also enabling cultivators to make enormous profits. If honorable senators desire to know full particulars of the wonderful work which he has been doing, I would advise them to read Harwood’s “ Life of Burbank.” In America, there is a man who stamped his individuality upon its agriculture, and that is Willet H. Havs, of the Department of Agriculture. Living on a farm, and his father dying when he was twelve years of age, he and an older brother had to take the work of the farm in hand, and they managed to get along. With the assistance of, first, a country school at odd times; secondly, an experimental farm ; and, thirdly, a college, he gradually worked himself up from position to position, until he got into the Minnesota University. For the past four years he has been the head officer in the1 Federal- Department of Agriculture, under Secretary Wilson. In 1888 or 1889, Hays took in hand - and it requires genius to succeed1 - the improvement of the corn, oats, flax, and grasses of ‘ Minnesota. He has laboured with his plant-breeding experiments until he has completely revolutionized agriculture in that State, and indeed throughout America. He has gradually increased the yields of these crops by 10, 20, 30, and even 50 per cent., and to-day the Minnesota plant-breeding station, which he has established, is one of the finest places of the kind in the world. It is estimated that at an expenditure of $20,000 the 1 90S crop of the State had an additional value imparted to it of $2,000,000. He has done admirable work in the matter of seed improvement, but he has also turned his attention to stock, and is now the executive secretary of the American Breeders’ Association. That association not only takes cognizance of seeds, but also of stock. Its membership includes persons from all parts of America, and its shows are recognised as one of the great national features of that country. If similar work were performed here how much would this country be uplifted ? Our agricultural production is valued at more than £100,000,000 annually, and if we could increase it by only 10 or 20 per cent, what an immense additional return that would mean. It would impart an impetus to settlement by attracting persons from abroad who read of our wheat yield of only 9 bushels per acre, when we knew perfectly well that we can produce - and, indeed, are producing, in some parts of Australia - 20 30, and 40 bushels per acre. But whilst the States continue to work separately we shall not get the development in agriculture that we should have.
– Will this Bill insure that development?
– It will very largely help to do so. Whether it will do so completely will depend upon the encouragement which the proposed Department receives at the hands of Parliament.
– But the honorable senator does not wish to control the investigations which are now being carried out bv the States?
– I wish to help them. The work that is proceeding throughout the world in connexion with new plant breeding is reducing agriculture almost to an exact science. Experts are constantly experimenting with different pollens, which they cross. I know a man in this State who is endeavouring tq obtain a new cereal by crossing wheat and maize, just as Burbank crossed the potato and tomato, and produced a new plant which he called the pomato. Is all this great work to proceed elsewhere, and is Australia to take no hand in promoting the development of its foundation industries? Then there is the scientific research work, to which the Vice-President of the Executive Council referred at some length. The preservation and standardizing of our products are questions which are well worthy of our attention. The cheese which is sent from Canada to England is almost identical in quality and character, so that it commands almost a uniform value. We require to standardize our productions so that our customers may know exactly what they are getting. The questions of vegetable diseases and pests, and of labour-saving appliances should also be investigated. In almost every country labour-saving appliances are being invented, and I am happy to think that in this connexion Australia is doing its share. We have mechanics who are putting into the field some cf the finest agricultural implements to be found in the world. In Canada, the cost of taking off crops amounts to 8 cents per bushel, whilst in the Commonwealth it ranges from is. 6d. to 2s. per acre, so that it cannot be urged that we are behind the times in that respect. But it is desirable that we should let the world know exactly what we are doing. At Home the people generally know of Australia - they do not recognise the States. We want to maintain the reputation of Australian goods, and we cannot do that in the absence of Federal control by a Department of Agriculture. Of course, we do not desire to overreach the States in any way. There is a sufficiently large field available to permit of all working in it. We wish the Federal Department of Agriculture to preside over the work that is being done by the States, and to co-operate with State agencies in supplying our producers with the most up-to-date knowledge. Such a Department could advise the States of the information which it has obtained from other countries, and, in turn, could accept ad- vice from the States. Properly controlled, a Federal Bureau of Agriculture such as is sketched in this Bill will be a new agency and power in connexion with agriculture in Australia. Of course, a great deal will depend upon the individual who is placed in charge of it. Indeed, that consideration alone will determine whether or not it is to be successful. The Government ought to select for its head a man with the widest possible experience. There are plenty of Australians who would be able to fill it if they had had the necessary experience elsewhere. I know of one man who .could fill the office, but even he would be better equipped if he first visited other countries, and then brought back with him the knowledge which he had acquired there. I have seen too many cf these Departments with mere faddists - mere clerks - at their head.. We cannot expect a Federal Bureau of Agriculture to be successful unless we have as its principal a practical man who thoroughly understands his business. What are other countries doing in this connexion? In Canada the matter of the Federal control of agriculture was first brought prominently forward in 1887. “ About that time an Act was passed under which experimental stations were established under the Dominion Government. The Canadian States have colleges and other institutions of their own in. which they are doing good work; but the experimental stations are under Federal control. Experimental farms -were established in Canada in 1885, and to-day the expenditure upon them amounts to ^181,000 per annum. The result of the work that has been taken in hand by the Federal Government there has been that in eight years, by adopting improved methods of cultivation, by thorough tilling of the soil, and by seed selection and improvement, the yield of oats has been increased by 23J bushels per acre, that of barley by 12 bushels per acre, and that of wheat by 4f bushels per acre. These results have been brought about by the work of the Federal Government. In addition, Canada has a. standing Committee of Parliament - a Commission whose business it is to exercise supervision over agriculture throughout the Dominion, and .to make recommendations to the various State institutions and to the Government for the good of the industry. The work of this Committee has been wonderfully successful. Why should not a similar Committee be appointed here?
The Canadian States, I may mention also, have their own colleges. I suppose one of the finest of these is that at Guelph, in Ontario. A few months aso I had the pleasure of spending more than half a day there, and I must say that it is a wonderful place. President Creelman told me that when these colleges were first established they were of very little use. They imparted information to the students attending them, but they were unable to lay hold of the great body of farmers. The latter would not attend them. Thereupon the colleges resorted to the expedient of broadcasting bulletins free of cost, and sending men among the fanners, and thus they have caused the institution at Guelph to be recognised as one of the finest, if not the finest, institution of the kind in the world. The United States has accomplished far more for agriculture than has any other country. As far back as 1794 Washington spoke very strongly of the necessity which existed for the people of those States doing all that they possibly could to encourage agriculture. He said -
It will be some time, I fear, before an Agricultural Society, with Congressional aids, will be established in this country ; we must walk, as other countries have done, before we can run. Smaller societies must prepare the way for greater, but with the lights before us, I hope we shall not be so slow in maturation as other nations have been.
Then in December, 1796, in the very last message which he transmitted to Congress in order to show how strongly were his views in regard to agriculture,, and the necessity for its development, Washington said -
In proportion as nations advance in population, the cultivation of the soil becomes more and more an’ object of public patronage. Institutions grow up supported by the public purse. . . . Among the means which have been employed to this end none hav*e been attended with greater success than the establishment of boards, composed of public characters charged with collecting and diffusing information, and enabled by premiums and small pecuniary aid to encourage and assist a spirit of discovery and improvement. This species of establishment contribute doubly to the increase of improvements, by stimulating to enterprise and experiment, and by drawing to a common centre the results everywhere of individual skill and observation, and spreading them thence over the whole nation.
At that time it was intended to introduce a Bill for the purpose of assisting these Boards, but it was found that the opposition to it was too strong. and consequently the idea was abandoned.
– When the adjournment took place, I was referring to the fact that Washington, in his last message to Congress, alluded to the desirableness of establishing means for improving agricultural methods in the “United States. He himself would have opened a National Bureau of Agriculture, but felt that he could not carry the proposition. He therefore left that last message to Congress before resigning his duties. Five great steps have been taken ‘in this matter in the United States. The first step was taken in 1839, when Henry Ellsworth, of Connecticut, secured an appropriation with reference to plants and seeds, which were distributed throughout the country. That was a beginning. The second important step was taken in 1855, when an appropriation was made for the purposes of entomological work. Insect pests were very troublesome in the United States at that time, and Congress made a liberal appropriation for the purpose of investigating and eradicating them. The third step was the establishment of the present Bureau of Agriculture in 1862. I interjected yesterday, when Senator Dobson was speaking, that the Bureau had been established seventy years. I should have said that it was established seventy years after the commencement of Federation. Washington’s idea was promulgated in 1797, but was not carried out. When the Bureau was established there were in the United States 30,000,000 people. Congress passed an Act for the establishment of an Agricultural Department for the purpose of investigating and developing the soil resources of the United States, and analysing soils, grains, fruits, manures, &c. That was really the commencement of the great institution which America has to-day, and of which she is so proud. The fourth step was also taken in 1862, when, under the Morrill Act, grants of land were made in every State of the Union for the purpose of agricultural and industrial colleges. At these institutions, not merely was agriculture taught, but also various handicrafts, although agriculture was the primary subject dealt with. Under that wise Act every State now in the Union has a magnificent agricultural college, in addition to the experimental farms to which I shall refer later on. The fifth step was taken in 1887, when, under the Hatch Act, £r44.000 per year was voted in perpetuity for experimental stations for original research, agricultural education, the testing of soils, seeds, and methods in all branches of husbandry. The wonderful advantages that these three institutions - the central departments, the colleges, and the experimental stations - have conferred upon the United States cannot possibly be measured. Not only is instruction given in farming, but if any farmer has any difficulty with diseases, alkaline soils, or pests, he is able to go to the experimental station and secure advice from the best experts. Moreover, they will visit his farm and he will get all the necessary advice to enable him to get on to the right track. I had the pleasure of visiting the Agricultural Department at Washington twice. To go through that institution is almost an education in itself. One has to see to realize the important work that is being done. I should like to point out here that the United States Government gives no bonuses for agricultural production. Congress is willing to spend millions on education, but not a dollar will it give by way of bonus. That seems to me to be a very sound policy indeed. The growth of the Department in all its branches of knowledge and business has been very extensive. Its scope now embraces animal industry, biological work, plant ‘ industry, life processes, physiology, pathology, intelligence and statistics, foreign markets, a weather bureau, an experimental stations branch, and irrigation investigation-. The Department is thoroughly in touch with all State local bodies. The work of the weather bureau in itself is very wonderful. Senator Lynch tabled a motion last night with reference to this subject, and I was sorry that he did not accept the offer of the Government that they would look into the matter. He made a mistake in forcing the motion, to a division. I spent halfaday in the United States Weather Bureau, and am thoroughly of opinion that ever year this branch saves, in respect of both property and human life, ten or twenty times as much as it costs, to the people of the United States. I trust that our own authorities ‘ will be able to push on their work in this direction as soon as it is possible to do so. In regard to all these matters we require a central authority. In America the Department of Agriculture takes control. It conflicts with no State or local body whatever. It is in touch with all of them, and co-operates with them for the good of the people. The Department shows a readiness to help all round. The appropriation made by Congress in the
United States last year amounted to £2,692, 153. That is an enormous sum. Of course, the United States is a rich country, although last year there was a deficit of £2,000,000. - The Government can afford to do this work, and provision is made for it with a lavish hand. Of the 30,000,000 people employed in the United States in various occupations, no fewer than 10,381,765 are employed in agriculture. So that over one-third of the working section of the population are . so engaged. The number includes 9,404,429 males and 979,336 females. Those figures are taken from the latest census returns, dated 1900, but the numbers must have been very largely increased since then. The salaries paid to the officials of the Bureau of Agriculture are not large. The highest salary is that of Mr. Hays, who, however, is paid only $5,000 a year. The other salaries vary. The librarian receives $2,000. The work is not really expensive, having regard to the enormous services that are performed. America, of course, has enormous areas to occupy and cultivate, and she has had., for many years past, a huge accession of population year by year. The Department of Agriculture is enabling the people to push things ahead. Without the Department agricultural development could not have taken place as it has done. We have not such an enormous yearly accession of population, but, at the same time, we want to be ready for developments, and ought to make preparation for settling people when they come to us. Senator Turley this morning observed that in the United States there was a great rush of people from the land to the cities. But, as a matter of fact, the great rush in America to-day is to the western States - those States west of the 93rd meridian, which thirty years ago were marked in many places as “desert.” People went there once or. twice in great rushes, but were beaten back because no provision had been made for them. No experimental work had been done, to enable them to learn how to cope with the difficulties, and to manage the soil in the best way. But the United States Government was wise,, and set to work to establish experimental stations. In Wyoming and Colorado, for instance, there is an elaborate organization for taking people in hand, settling them on the soil, and showing them what to do, and how to do it.
– Still, Senator Turley’s statement was quite correct, that there is a rush of people to the cities in the eastern part of the United States.
– That may be true with regard to the eastern States, but I paid more particular attention to the west, because the conditions there are analogous to our own. Before I. came away from the United States on my last visit, I wrote to the authorities in Wyoming, Colorado, and Kansas to obtain the latest information. I did not know that I should have to speak to-day on this question, and have not all the answers with me. But the Kansas letter came by the last mail, and I shall quote it to the Senate to show what has taken place. The letter is from the Department of the Interior, General Land Office. The homesteads referred to in it are not, of course, large tracts of land, but consist of areas of only 160 acres each. The letter is as follows-
At the request of Honorable W. R. Stubbs, Governor of the State of Kansas, I take pleasure in giving you herewith the area of public lands homesteaded in said State during the fiscal years ended 30th June, 1906, 1907, and 1908 : -
The area shown in the column headed “ Original “ is that entered by original application, after which, as you are probably aware, the entryman is required to reside thereon for a period of five years before final entry can be made. The area shown in the column headed “Final” is the area entered after the entryman has lived on the land for a period of five years. The area shown in the column headed “ Commuted “ is the area entered by the entryman paying cash for the land after residing thereon for a period of fourteen months.
The areas shown in the columns headed “ Final “ ‘ and “ Commuted “ are therefore necessarily part of the area originally entered in previous years.
Very respectfully, yours,
The figures for Colorado- and Wyoming are even more remarkable. These facts show how people have made homes for themselves in these western States, and how land that was formerly thought to be beyond hope of cultivation has been made habitable. The people are doing well upon it, because of the efforts of the Department of Agriculture backed up by the local experimental stations. It is known to honorable senators that I visited America on the last occasion especially for the purpose of taking part in a Congress relating to dry farming. It was wonderful to meet there so many men who had been engaged in overcoming difficulties that at first seemed insuperable. What I saw and heard was an education for an Australian. I do not intend to pursue the subject on this occasion. Honorable senators will find what I have had to say about it in the reports which. I have furnished to the Government, if they care to read them. Whether we form a Commonwealth Agricultural Bureau or not I should like to see an effort made to bring together farmers from all parts of Australia for the purposes of a dry farming congress. We have men in South Australia who can teach people in other States how to set to work in the matter of dry farming. A conference between men who have been farming successfully under difficulties, in conjunction with the various agricultural experts, would be likely to lead to useful results. Some of the farmers would be able to. give valuable information to others as to how they have been able “ to make a do “ of things in various States. We are told that this measure has been introduced too early - that it is premature - that the United States waited seventy years before establishing a Bureau of Agriculture. But I would point out that the United States did not wait seventy years with the good-will of many of the wisest leaders there. If this is not the right time to commence, when will the right time come? Times are changing. We are moving very much faster than we did a few years ago. Fresh discoveries are being made day bv day. We ought to keep in touch with them. We cannot afford to lag behind the foremost countries in the matter of agricultural production. National development will inevitably follow the fullest development of our natural resources. We have in this country 4,500,000 people - 1£ persons to the square mile. Of this number one-half are residing in the cities. We cannot keep up our cities unless we have a successful back country. It would be impossible to do so. We cannot export what our cities produce. We shall have to use it up ourselves. Therefore we want to develop our back country, and then we can send out the products that we do not require for our own consumption. Our manufacturers cannot compete with the manufacturers of other lands, who have the advantage of employing cheaper labour and working their employes under harder conditions. We do not wish to introduce those inferior conditions into- our country. Ergo, let us develop our agricultural resources as much as we can. Let the people who are here already attract others from outside, by showing how the soil of Australia can be successfully cultivated. I notice that the delegates to the Chamber of Commerce Congress were surprised at seeing such a magnificent country so sparsely populated. I do not wonder that they were surprised. But as I said a short while ago, when speaking . on the High Commissioner Bill, I believe that the tide will very shortly turn. America is getting filled up. Australia is becoming better known. I believe that within a measurable distance of time we shall have a great stream of immigration to this country. It is our duty to be ready to receive it. Senator Pearce has said that he regards this Bill as a mere placard. I do not. I look upon it as a useful measure. The question has been asked whether an appropriation has been made for the purpose of the Bill. But I should like to know what would have been said by honorable senators opposite if the Government had placed an appropriation on the Estimates for this purpose. Would it not have been said that they were guilty of impertinence in proposing to appropriate money for something of which Parliament had not yet approved? We need not, I think, pay much heed to that criticism. The subject is one about which a good deal could be said, but I do not desire to take up any more time. I can only say, in conclusion, that I regard the Bill as being in the interests of Australia as a whole, and that I shall give it my cordial support.
– I sincerely hope that, a useful purpose having been served by the introduction of this measure, the Government will now see the wisdom of allowing it to drop entirely from the notice-paper.
– My honorable friend, who is such an ardent State Rights advocate, should be the last one to put such a question to me?
– For the simple reason that the honorable senator must recognise that the Bill is altogetherunnecessary. If it has any serious pur- pose at all, it is simply meant to create a useless Department, which will have no particular functions to perform other than those which the States are now performing, and which they are not all inclined to hand over to the Commonwealth.
– Why, then, did Mr. Fisher propose to bring in a Bureau of Agriculture Bill ?
– I do not know. I was not inside Mr. Fisher’s mind. But I have a very good knowledge of the reason why the present Government have proposed such a measure, and I think I know why they have brought it forward at this time. Senator W. Russell in discussing the question,, gave some very good reasons why this Bill should not become law and why it should not occupy our attention just now. Senator McColl, who, after unloading himself, has departed, I suppose for “ fresh woods and pastures new,” has said that Senator W. Russell’s speech was a useful contribution to the debate, inasmuch as it detailed the experience of a practical farmer. He complained, however, that Senator W. Russell had not stated any good reasons why the Bill should be opposed. The honorable senator then took upon himself the responsibility of giving reasons for the passing of the Bill. He commenced and has finished his speech, but during the whole course of it he mentioned no substantial reason for the establishment of a Federal Agricultural Bureau. He did not show that such an institution is necessary. He gave the Senate a good deal of the history of agricultural development in the “United States. But every one must recognise that that development was inevitable and did not depend upon the establishment of an Agricultural Bureau.
– The Bureau of Agriculture has assisted agricultural development in the United States very much.
– It has done nothing of the kind. So far no Federal Bureau of Agriculture has been established in the Commonwealth ; but will Senator Vardon, as a representative of South Australia, tell me that the development of the agricultural industry in his State has on that account been retarded ?
– I am sure that the State Bureau has assisted it a great deal.
– Of course it has. The South Australian people knew that it was their duty to assist their own industries, and they established an agri cultural bureau and also experimental farms on which South Australian settlers have been shown what can be dene on the land in certain circumstances.
– They might do a lot more than has been done.
– Let me ask the honorable senator whether it is not a fact that up to the present moment they have given just as much instruction as the farmer is prepared to receive?
– If the experts of the Department were to make a clear statement of their views they would say that they find it a leng, weary, and tiresome task to induce the farmer even to move one progressive step at a time.
– They feed them artificially.
– Undoubtedly they do. The Agricultural Bureau must feed the farmer with information for years before they can induce him to progress.
– The honorable senator is libelling the South Australian farmers. The 120 local Committees of the Bureau of that State are comprised of practical farmers who read papers to each other and discuss all these subjects.
– I am aware of that. I admit that a good deal of agricultural progress is due to the organizations to which the honorable senator refers. The same kind of thing is taking place in Western Australia. The Government of that State have established an Agricultural Department, and they never abject to any reasonable expenditure in order to provide experts in every branch of agriculture. Capable men are employed whose knowledge is not confined to the Agricultural Department. If a farmer in Western Australia requires the knowledge and experience of an expert he can secure his services by application. The services of these agricultural experts are given free to the settlers in all of the States. Towards the close of his speech Senator McColl put the question : “If the time has not now arrive for the establishment of a Commonwealth Agricultural Bureau, when will it arrive?” If he really required an answer to his question his own line of thought should have led him directly to it. The time. for the establishment of such a bureau as is provided for in this Bill will arrive when the Commonwealth has cash to spare j when we have a surplus enabling the Government tocreate unnecessary billets.
– The honorable senator thinks a Federal- Bureau unnecessary ?
– Yes, because I take into consideration the fact that in each of the States, at the present time, an Agricultural Bureau is established and also experimental farms, and they are engaged in giving the farming population excellent instruction on scientific and up-to-date farming.
– If the Commonwealth takes over the Northern Territory we shall want a Federal Bureau.
– When we take over the Northern Territory it is “probable we shall require an Agricultural Bureau for the Territory, which will practically be a State in itself. Senator Sayers is supporting the establishment of a Federal Bureau of Agriculture, although he knows that the Commonwealth does not own as much land as would make a cabbage garden.
– We intend to acquire it.
– All the States are to-day spending a great deal of money on their Agricultural Departments. I do not know how much is being spent in Western Australia in this direction, but I do know that thousands of pounds are being expended every year, and that the State Departments meet all requirements.
– They do very good work, but they do hot meet half the requirements.
– I contend that they are keeping pace with the demand for their services, and the passing of this Bill will not hasten by a minute the agricultural development of any one of the States. If the honorable senator considers the question he will recognise that at the present time the States are doing all that it is possible for them to do, and that the State Agricultural Departments are a considerable distance ahead of the farmers. If Senator Trenwith will compare the work done on the State Experimental Farms with the work done by the farmers, he will s?c that those who control the experimental farms are, in the methods they adopt, five and even ten years ahead of the general farming population.
– That is not all or even the most important work of an Agricultural Bureau.
– There are several branches of the work, no doubt.
We are confronted with the ravages of fruit pests in Australia and the. Western Australian Government sent an expert all over the world to try to discover parasites that would destroy particular kinds of insect pests. But, Senator Trenwith will admit that while that concerns only one branch of the agricultural industry, the whole purpose of the establishment of these institutions is to discover the means by which we can secure the largest production at the cheapest rate. Surely that is the work of our Agricultural Bureaux.
– Part- of it.
– What is there in addition contained in the four corners of this measure? I venture to say that this Bill does not make provision for a solitary thing that is not .already provided for in every one of the States. I go further and say that there is no work indicated by this Bill that is not already being carried out in the States. I have listened to lectures by .agricultural experts, and have conversed with them, and I know the difficulties against which they have to contend. When they have demonstrated that a certain thing can be done they are very seldom able to induce a farmer to devote even one little plot of ground to an experiment. He wants to see the other fellow do it first, and after the other fellow has shown that it can be made a success he is prepared to follow. The States are now spending thousands of pounds on this work every year, and if the Commonwealth takes it over I suppose we shall have to go one better than the States. If the- State Governments are spending £50,000 on the work the Commonwealth Government must get a little ahead of them, and will probably spend £60,000.
– The honorable senator does not think that one can supplement the other?
– I do not think so. The thing is so ridiculous that it is not worth arguing about.
– The Federal Bureau could do work which the State Departments are not touching.
– I know that it is possible for us to establish an ornamental department, but we shall have to pay for it.
– The Agricultural Bureaux in Canada and the United States are not ornamental departments.
– The State Governments have already established De- partments that are not ornamental but practical, and are doing excellent sendee. 1 have nothing to say against what has been done in America, but I tell Senator Trenwith that the agricultural development of the United States was inevitable. Nothing could have prevented the development of agriculture in that country. The fact that there is there a population of about 90,000,000 proves that.
– In connexion with the agricultural industry, has America nothing that we have not in Australia?
– I think that we have everything that Americans can claim. I think that the agricultural experts that we have in Australia are equal to the best to be found in America.
– The honorable senator has evidently not read what has been done in America.
– I may not have read so much on the subject of agriculture as Senator Gray. The only agriculture I ever performed was with the spade and the pick. I take credit to myself that I have been fairly successful with those implements, and I think I could beat Senator Gray at gardening, with all his experience. Senator McColl, in referring to America, laid great emphasis on the number of immigrants attracted to that country. Will any man under the sun tell me that there is anything in this measure which is likely to bring immigrants to Australia?
– The honorable senator does not want persons to come here.
– The honorable senator has no right to make that remark. On this subject, he and I differ in only one respect. He wants immigrants without the prospect of their employment ; I want them to come; but I want them to have something to do when they come. -That is the only difference between my honorable friend’s position in respect to immigrants and mine. I want the country to suit the man. I want the country to be placed at the man’s disposal. I do not want the man to be brought here as a mere abject slave of the conditions of the country if they are bad. The Bill contains no provision which is likely to encourage immigration. Each State is doing its best in that direction, and I think it would be superfluous on the part of this Parliament, which to-day professes to be flooded with State Righters, to assume for a moment that it can profitably take control of agriculture. That is a function of the
States. It has never been regarded as a function which will at any time come under the control of this’ Parliament.
– Why was it included in the late Government’s programme?
– I have not the slightest knowledge why anything was included in that programme,, but I have a perfect knowledge of why this Bill is introduced. It has well served a purpose. It has relieved the Government from a tight position for another day. It has enabled them to set the Senate talking. It means nothing. It has no object in view. The Government have not available any money to spend on a Bureau of Agriculture. They have already declared that they have not enough money for carrying on public works and maintaining existing Departments.
– They have provided ^250 for the proposed Bureau.
– That has nothing to do with this measure.
– At the present moment, we have no surplus at our disposal. If, when there are a few thousand pounds to spare, there are a few tired men, who are desirous of having an easy billet, probably I shall be of a different opinion, if I have the opportunity to vote on a measure of this kind. I only want to say, in conclusion, that the Bill is utterly useless, is absolutely unnecessary, and proposes a waste of money, for sanctioning which we ought to hang our heads in shame.
– Had this measure been introduced by the Labour party, I can imagine the expressions of horror which would have fallen from the so-called State Righters about Federal interference with State functions - that foolish cry which is generally raised when a proposal is made by a party politician that the Commonwealth should take up a matter with which the States are already dealing.
– If Mr. Fisher had introduced the measure, what would have been the honorable senator’s attitude?
– I am not aware that he proposed to introduce a measure of this kind.
– At Gympie, he said that it would be one of the proposals of the Government.
– The GovernorGeneral’s speech does not contain a single reference to this subject.
– Does not the honorable senator know that it was mentioned byMr. Fisher in his Gympie speech?
– The GovernorGeneral’s speech, I repeat, does not contain a single syllable in reference to the subject.
– Was not the Gympie speech the policy-speech of the Fisher Government ?
– Here is the programme which that Government laid before Parliament.
– Was not the Gympie speech the policy-speech of the late Government ?
– I call attention to the unfairness of the Minister’s interjection. When he is taken up on one point, he raises another point. The policy of the late Government is that which was read to both Houses by the Governor-General, and it does not contain a single syllable relating to the establishment of a Bureau of Agriculture. The Minister has been merely making remarks which are not warranted by facts.
– Does the honorable senator deny that the subject was mentioned in the Gympie speech ?
– I have made a statement, and Hansard will show whether I am correct or not.
– The honorable senator will not deny it, though.
– I am relying upon an authoritative document which I have at hand. I am quite satisfied that this measure has been introduced for no other purpose than to supply the Senate with a stop-gap. That can easily be proved by the attitude which has been taken up by the Prime Minister on this subject. Notwithstanding statements which he has made, this Bill is before the Senate. That is, I think, rather playing with politics in a way which should not be tolerated. If there is no real business to be done, it would be far better for the Senate to adjourn, and await the submission of an urgent measure which the Government intend to push to completion. I protest against the time of the Senate being occupied with the discussion of a measure of this kind. I admit that it has led to the delivery of some informative addresses, especially by Senators W. Russell and McColl, but surely the time of the Senate should be devoted to the transaction of real work, not to the consideration of a Bill which is introduced for no other purpose than to provoke talk. We are now approaching the end of the session, as well as the end of the year. Surely there are some useful and needful measures which could be submitted in place of this Bill ! Even if the Government were in earnest, and the Bill were placed on the statute-book, of what real use would it be? In the first place, is the Commonwealth going tq perform anything which the States - who are the proper authorities to act - are not already doing or trying to do? Not a single thing. The State Agricultural or Lands Departments are ‘carrying out everything which the Commonwealth can possibly do, and in a much better way, because they have the means for conducting experiments, whereas we have not. I could understand that, after the Commonwealth had acquired the Northern Territory, or other property, it might be desirable to establish an institution in order to discover new methods of agriculture suitable to our northern latitudes. In such circumstances, I could understand a measure of this kind being brought in ; but its introduction at the present stage is neither more nor less than a mere waste of time. After all, what are we asked to do ? We are asked to supply ‘ assistance to a class who are very well catered for by the State Governments. In the absence of such assistance, I could understand the Commonwealth Government intervening and submitting a legitimate proposal for the consideration of this Parliament. There are manyways in which we can get rid of our surplus cash in the near future which are entitled to much more consideration than is this proposal. If it were proposed to strike out in a. new direction, the proposal would have some merit, because it is easy to see that there are directions in which a new departure might be taken, so far as the utilization of land is concerned. But we are asked to establish an Agricultural Bureau, to go over ground which has already been traversed by the States ; in fact, to do no more than supplement the work which is being done in each State. To my mind, that is an unnecessary task. If the States had agreed to the abandonment of their various efforts, and to the establishment of a large central institution, which could take this work in hand on a bigger scale and in a more scientific way - if the Government had come to an understanding of that kind with the States, there would he some justification for them rushing into the work, but there has been no such understanding. As a matter of fact, the report of the proceedings of the recent Inter-State
Conference shows that Mr. Deakin promised that the Government would not go on with their Bill, and consequently that it would be withdrawn. So far as one can judge from the indications in that report, the State Premiers were going to oppose the passing of this very measure, but, because of the promise given to them by Mr. Deakin, that he was not going to proceed with it, they allowed the subject to lapse. Surely no better proof than that is required that the Bill has been brought in to supply the Senate with something to talk about, and with no other object? I am far from thinking–
– Hear, hear !
– The honorable senator imagines that he has made a very smart interjection. In whichever way I think, I act independently. I try to think consistently with the principles that I hold. I do not think as certain influential men may want me to think, or barrack for them, either. I stand for the same principles all the time, and try to think consistently with them - a habit which the honorable senator would do well to try to imitate. There is one work which might be taken up by the Commonwealth, but which is not touched by this Bill, and that is the training of our unemployed men who would desire to go upon the land, if qualified in that way. My opinion is that Australia is not going to be a great manufacturing country. I do not think that we have the necessary advantages to become a great manufacturing people as a competitor with other countries. Our large towns are ever being shown to contain a much larger population than can be provided with employment. There is a tendency for persons to leave the country and concentrate in large towns. I do not take that as a sign that people would prefer to live in the towns if equal opportunities in the country were provided. I dare say that there are many persons in towns who would gladly live in the country only that they cannot gain a livelihood there. The fact that many men who had been engaged in manufacturing industries have failed on the land is a very good proof that a departure of some kind is called for. The number of farms which have been taken up from time to time, and which have ultimately passed out .of cultivation, or fallen into the hands of large land-owners for pastoral or other purposes, is a very good proof that a large proportion of those who went on to the land had not the necessary training to become successful farmers. If this measure proposed to give to that section of the community - and I believe that it is a much larger section than we imagine - an opportunity to acquire the necessary training, it would be aiming at a useful object, but no such proposal is made. All that it is proposed to do is to extend facilities to the well-to-do farmers and big land-owners - to supply such persons with information how to be more successful. Not the slightest effort, I repeat, is made in the direction of helping the men to whom I have alluded. I anticipate, and every indication seems to show, that there will be a much larger increase in agriculture in the future than there has been in the past. It is the small men whom we have to cater for and assist. Areas which previously were considered unsuitable for agriculture have been proved, in recent years to be good wheat-producing lands in Western Australia ; land which at one time was considered a desert .is now producing wheat of the best kind, bringing the highest price in the world’s market. In view of the fact that the drier areas, or the areas with a light rainfall, are now proved to be good farming lands, I hold that, if the present ratio of increase is maintained, agriculture must of necessity be our principal industry for many generations. For that reason I would have welcomed a departure in the direction of educating the working men who, from time to time, are thrown into that great army of unemployed, which, I am afraid, will continue to exist for a considerable time. There is no better way in which we can assist men who may be thrown out of the manufacturing or mining industries, especially gold-mining, than by putting them on the land. I, as a Labour man, know that it is thought that by increasing the number of persons on the land we are increasing the number of our opponents. But that is a secondary consideration. I believe that the farming classes will come to recognise that their best friends after all are the members of the party to which I belong. The Labour party has always done its best to assist them. It has done so whenever any question of special interest to the farming class has come up for consideration. I am of opinion that if our country is ever to be utilized to its fullest extent in the future, it must be by means of a small farming class. But, so far as I can see, no provision is made in this Bill to encourage such a class. Nor is any effort to be made to cope with the curse of unemployment. Unless, however, something is done to deal with that curse in a wholesale fashion, it will be with us in the future to a greater extent than it has been in the past. If we are anxious to increase our population I hold that we should do everything possible to enable the unemployed to earn a living in the way in which they would be likely to be most successful. We have plenty of empty spaces in Australia. Senator McColl has referred to the Chamber of Commerce delegates being surprised at the empty lands .they saw while travelling through the country. Those gentlemen did not know, however, that all the land which they saw was already privately owned. If we want our lands to be utilized we shall require labour for the purpose. We have plenty of people in our towns who, if they could be shown the way to become successful farmers, would be glad to take up land and to earn their liv- ing upon it. But this measure does not propose to do anything in that direction. I remind the Senate that the States have already done much to assist the agriculturist. Railways have been built into the agricultural districts - lines that in the opinion of many were quite unnecessary. In some States the produce of the farmer is collected, a market is found for it, it is sold by Government agents, and the money received for it is paid over to the producer. Colleges have been established for teaching farmers in a scientific manner how to make the best of their land. The State Government supply them with publications to keep them abreast of the latest knowledge. The States having been engaged in this useful work, it is scarcely necessary for the Commonwealth to do the same sort of thing. We ought to strike out on new- lines. If we could seriously tackle the unemployed problem we should do well. Senator Fraser yesterday made the remark that the unemployed are quite unsuited to go on the land. We ought to train them. The first step that ought to be taken by the Commonwealth Government is to acquire suitable land, and to establish a Government farmupon it. We should teach settlers the art of cultivation, and assist them to find land for themselves. What do we do for the unemployed at present? When they congregate in our big cities in sufficient numbers to become a menace, we set them to work to shift sand or paint the fences around our public parks. We adopt merely temporary means of getting over a permanent difficulty.
– If a man has the right “ grit “ in him he will learn to do things. Any intelligent man can learn to milk a cow in an hour. I have taught lots of men to milk.
– Surely Senator Fraser would not say that a man who has learnt to milk a cow is fit to cultivate a farm. Notwithstanding all the talk about Socialism no class of the community has had more done for it by the State than the farming class.
– They are ready enough to milk the State cow.
– They have always shown themselves willing to take all that the State could do for them, and ask for more. I can remember a time when a well-known Commonwealth politician made the proposal that if people would not settle on the land in Western Australia the Government should establish a farm and work it as a Government Department. He went so far as to say that the Crown lands of the State should be worked as Government farms. That idea was thrown out by the present Treasurer of the Commonwealth, Sir John Forrest, in a. speech at Bunbury, ten or twelve years ago.
– He was then an antiSocialist, was he not?’
– No, Sir John Forrest was the greatest Socialist we ever had in Western Australia. Everything worthy of mention that he has ever done in his political life has been of a Socialistic character. He has been a practical Socialist. As far as I know, he has never been in the employ of any private person. He has always been in the Government service, and is likely to end his days as a practical Socialist.
– An impracticable one.
– No, he is eminently practical. If he is removed from the State milch cow for ever so short a period he cries loudly until he gets back. The question of dealing with the unemployed which I have mentioned would, if seriously taken up by the Government, do more credit to them than anything that they have yet proposed. I know of nothing that would add so much to the prosperity of the country than the education of those who would, if they had the opportunity, go upon the land. If we have money to spare let us establish State farms, and let every man who desires to learn farming have an opportunity of so doing. By that means we shall undoubtedly add to the population and prosperity of Australia. But the present Bill holds out no hope in that direction. Unless the Government can show that they intend to take up some new line of activity that the States do not at present follow, the measure can be of no advantage to the country.
Debate (on motion by Senator Chataway) adjourned.
Senator MILLEN laid upon the table the following papers -
Lands Acquisition Act 1906 -
Ararat, Victoria : Defence Purposes. - Notification of the Acquisition of Land.
Raymond Terrace, New South Wales : Defence Purposes. - Notification of the Acquisition of Land.
Beeac, Victoria : Post Office. - Notification of the Acquisition of Land for Site.
Electoral Acts 1902-1505. - Copy of Report and Map, furnished by Mr. Fraser, Commissioner appointed for the purpose of distributing the State of Western Australia into Commonwealth Electoral Divisions.
Conciliation and Arbitration Court : Fees Claimed by Employes Representatives.
Motion (by Senator Millen) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– When Senator Henderson moved the adoption of the Printing Committee’s report this morning, I found that the report did not include a recommendation to print a paper regarding the proceedings before the Arbitration Court in reference to the agricultural implement makers. 1 shall therefore take advantage of this motion to read a document which I think honorable senators will desire to have the opportunity of perusing. It is in the form of a letter addressed to the ex-Prime Minister, Mr. Fisher, covering a claim for the fees and expenses of. the representatives of the employes of the Sawmill, Timber Yard, and General Woodworkers’ Association. The letter is as follows : -
Federated Saw Mill Timber Yard and General Woodworkers Employes Association of Australia.
Carlton, 24th September, 1909.
Fisher, M.H.R., Leader Labour Party,
Russell informs” me that he is sending you on the account of his Society, re the Excise Case; I will enclose mine. It will be a little more moderate than his. I had no legal advice, but conducted the case on behalf of the following myself : - Woodworkers, Carpenters, Engine-driver’s, Painters, Pattern Makers, Coachbuilders, and others, for 27 days, and done, I consider, for the men every bit as good as the legal gentlemen, only a greater strain on me, and I consider I should be paid for it whilst I had to arrange my own work when engaged on it. If you are successful in getting the Government to pay, which I consider they should, it was no fault of ours the Act was declared unconstitutional, therefore, the Government should pay. Thanking you in anticipation.
I am, yours fraternally,
– To whom was the letter addressed?
– It was addressed to the ex-Prime Minister. The following is the account -referred to -
Expenses of the following societies represented before the New Protection Court by Mr. J. Sutch, Saw Mill Employes, Carpenters, Enginedrivers, Painters; Pattern Makers, Wheelwrights and others : -
Statement of expenses incurred in the presentment of the Agricultural Implements Makers Union case against the manufacturers in the Excise Tariff Court : -
I think that it is very desirable that the public should have some idea of what is considered to be fair remuneration for a day’s work amongst our friends.
.- I understand that Senator Walker has been reading to the Senate a letter forwarded by Mr. Sutch to Mr. Fisher. I should like to know how the honorable senator obtained that letter?
– It was laid upon the table of the Senate, and I simply took a copy of it.
– It was, I presume, addressed to Mr. Fisher when he was Prime Minister.
– I merely wished to know how Senator Walker got possession of the document.
– I asked that this information be tabled some time ago.
– But how comes it that a private letter addressed by a citizen to a member of Parliament is read” .to the Senate ?
– It is an official letter.
– I do not see that there is anything to make a noise about in the letter which Senator Walker has quoted.
– It is creditable to Mr. Fisher that he did not see his way to pay £5 5s. per day to Mr. Sutch.
– Senator Walker has apparently discovered a mare’s nest.
– £5 5s. per day is not a mare’s nest.
– If £$ 5s. per day is the fee usually charged for this kind of work, Mr. Sutch would be a fool if he claimed anything less. If it be proper to pay such a fee to Senator Dobson, Senator St. Ledger, Senator Best, or any other lawyer, I do not see why Mr. Sutch should not be paid the same amount. If, however, the usual fee was not so high, the account should not be paid, but should be sent back for reconsideration. The point which Senator Walker apparently desired to make was that this fee was claimed by a man whose views are in accordance with those of honorable senators on this side of the chamber. I have hoard correspondence of that kind read here before now. I do not know that Mr. Sutch has done anything wrong.
– No one has said so. I have merely given information.
– I have ‘no doubt that Senator Walker thought he was making a great exposure when he read this correspondence. If honorable senators on this side cared to hunt up documents it would be very easy for them to do the same kind of thing; but we do not consider the course followed by the honorable senator is altogether the correct and dignified thing to do. Time and again questions have been put in this Parliament which have evidently been inspired by those in office. I might refer to the questions which were put in another place with respect to the amount paid to members of the Postal Commission as expenses. Those questions were quite evidently inspired by those who are in office at the present time. I might have retaliated upon the gentleman who inspired them in a way which would have made him smart. . I did not do so, because I do not approve of that kind of fighting. I like to fight openly and fairly.
– ‘Can the honorable senator tell us what Mr. Sutch’s wages are?
– He is the paid secretary of the Woodworkers’ Union, but what his salary is I am unable to say.
– Can the honorable senator say whether his salary as secretary to the Union was being paid all the time he was engaged in the Court?
– I could not tell the honorable senator. If he puts the question to Mr. Sutch himself I have no doubt he will get the information and perhaps Senator Walker will retail it on some future occasion. If the fees charged by Mr. Sutch are in accord with the usual rate paid for the work he did he is entitled to them, no matter what salary he may be paid for other work.
– Honorable senators opposite are opposed to lawyers being engaged for this work, and yet Mr. Sutch charges five guineas a day.
– My reason for objecting to lawyers being employed at this work is not merely in order to cut prices. I hold that Mr. Sutch as the secretary of the Woodworkers’ Union having a knowledge of the industry is more competent to represent the men engaged in the industry than any lawyer would be.
– The honorable senator does not approve of the employment of lawyers, but he desires that the men should get lawyers’ fees.
-I do not know what would be proper rates for the class cf work which Mr. Sutch performed, Senator Dobson is better informed on that subject, but if five guineas per day is not in excess of the usual rates for the work, Mr. Sutch did nothing wrong in making the usual charge.
Senator Colonel NEILD (New South Wales) [3.39]. - I rise, if possible, to correct a misapprehension which seems to exist in the minds of Senator Walker and ether members of the Senate, with reference to the item of solicitors’ costs. I have no hesitation in saying that that item includes fees paid to counsel who appeared in Court while the sittings lasted, and I think they lasted several weeks.
– It has not been made altogether clear why Senator Walker read this correspondence. The honorable senator might have explained the object he bad in taking the trouble to have this correspondence laid on the table, then to copy it and read it here.
– -What was Senator Walker’s object when he asked for an account of the stamps used by members of the Senate?
– That is another matter. If Senator Walker had made his object clear in this case it would have been much more satisfactory. I may be wrong, but what I gathered from his remarks was that he wished to bring into prominence the fees charged by Mr. Sutch, the secretary of the Woodworkers’ Union, for attending the Court and acting practically as counsel during the conduct of the case. I do not know in what capacity Mr. Sutch appeared, nor do I know whether Mr. Woolf engaged counsel. If I had known that Senator Walker intended to bring this matter up I should have fortified myself with the facts.
– Unfortunately for honorable senators opposite we have got the facts in the document which has been quoted from.
– I have been unable to. find the document. I think the only thing that Senator Walker mentioned particularly was that Mr. Sutch charged five guineas a day for his attendance. The honorable senator seemed to think that that was something dreadful.
– Whom was he charging ?
– The people of the Commonwealth. The communication was sent to Mr. Fisher.
– “ Comrade “ Fisher, if the honorable senator pleases.
– Very well.’ Comrade Fisher, as Prime Minister of the Commonwealth. the intention being that- the people of the Commonwealth should pay his fees. I think it is generally recognised that for work of an intellectual character in a Court the fee usually paid is much higher than that paid for manual labour or secretarial work. If a professional lawyer like Senator Dobson is entitled to charge a higher sum for appearing in Court than he would be entitled to charge if some one engaged him to dig his garden - and I do not suppose the honorable senator would get very much for digging, because he would not be worth very much at that work-
– That work would be infra dig for a lawyer.
– I should be very, glad, if we had a standing order for the suppression of punsters. These feeble attempts to display a very feeble wit do not do very much good to any one. I have been informed that Mr. Sutch did the work which he appeared in the Court to do’ better than a barrister could possibly have done it. He is as intelligent as the ordinary barrister - I say that without any disrespect to the legal profession - and, in addition, possessed a practical acquaintance with the subject before the Court. If that be true he was entitled to a very much higher rate of remuneration than he would have received fs an ordinary woodworker or as the secretary of a trade union. He was engaged in that particular case as a specialist.
– If he had doubled the wages he usually received that might have been fair.
- Senator Dobson talks about Mr. Sutch doubling his usual wages ; but if. a barrister of high standing had been engaged to do the work which was done by Mr. Sutch his fee would not have been five guineas, but fifty guineas per day, and the work would not have been done as well as it was done by Mr. Sutch.
– Who engaged him?
– He was present in Court to represent the Woodworkers’ Union. If this mart had been a member of the lawyers’ trades union we should have heard nothing about his charges, and the attorney’s bill of costs might have been sent in for ,£4,000 or .£5,000.
– The lawyers would have complained if a lawyer had charged so little.
– They would haw expelled him as a blackleg. Even the Judges would have frowned upon him from the Bench. No solicitor would again employ him, and he would be practically ostracised. I wish to impress- upon honorable senators that Mr. Sutch did the work better than a barrister could have done it. He had a better knowledge of the subject than any barrister could possibly have, and yet because he charged five guineas a day for wark which, if it had been done by a barrister, would have cost ten times as much, Senator Walker gets up in a state of holy indignation. I trust that members of the legal profession like Senator Dobson will not be animated by professional jealousy.
– I rise to- order. You, sir, called my attention last evening to the well-known rule of Parliament that it is not in order to animadvert upon an honorable senator’s profession. I suggest that if the rule is one which applies to both sides, Senator Stewart is not now in order.
– It is a well-known rule of Parliament that an honorable senator is not in order in referring to the profession of another member of the Senate. I ask Senator Stewart to observe that rule.
– I did not refer to the profession of any member of the Senate.
– The honprable senator referred to Senator Dobson as a lawyer.
– Why should I not refer to Senator Dobson ? Every one knows that the honorable senator is on the roll as a lawyer, but whether he is a lawyer or not I do not know. I know that he has sent in some remarkable bills of costs that have had to be considerably reduced.
– Order! The honorable senator must see that he is not entitled to allude to the profession of another honorable senator.
– The feeling of honorable senators on the other side appears to be that as this man Sutch is an ordinary woodworker, belonging to a trade union, it was presumption on his. part and extortionate to charge a fee of five guineas for attending this Court.
– Not if the union cared ‘to employ him.
– If he had been a member of the legal profession he wouldprobably have charged fifty guineas a day. Senator Sayers says there would be no objection if the union paid his fees. But the union claims that the Commonwealth should pay them. They go further, and claim that they have saved money to the Commonwealth by employing this man to represent it; instead of hiring some expensive and inefficient lawyer.
– The correspondence put before us to-day has been instructive, but it has been still more instructive to hear from the lips of Senators de Largie and Stewart that the charges referred to are justifiable. That is all I wish to say.
Question- resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 3.51 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 15 October 1909, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1909/19091015_senate_3_52/>.