4th Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
RECRUITING OF GIRLS FOR INDIA.
Senator McCOLL.-Iwishtoaskthe Vice-President of the Executive Council whether the attention of the Government has been called to a statement of a somewhat serious character in the Argus to-day as to the recruiting of girls of the age of sixteen years and less for employment in concert companies in India, and, if so, whether they will by administration, or if necessary by legislation, see, if it is wrong, that it is stopped, or, if it is right, that it is conducted on proper lines and the interests of young Australians properly safeguarded ?
Senator McGREGOR. - No member of the Government who can read could fail to notice such an important item in the press. The Minister of External Affairs has the matter under consideration.
SUGAR BOUNTY BILL (No. 2).
Debate resumed from 14th October (vide page 4625), on motion by Senator Pearce -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
Senator ST. LEDGER (Queensland) [3.5]. - In his speech on this very important question Senator Givens stated that 1 was a paid agent of a black labour party. Such statement is only a terminological inexactitude which ought to be accompanied with a more or less unpermissible adjective. I hope that it was made more in ignorance of the fact than with malice aforethought.
Senator Givens. - The statement was absolutely correct.
Senator ST. LEDGER.- I know that in the honorable senator’s opinion itis so. We should try. to approach the consideration of this important question without regard to fashion or the prejudices of political parties or individuals. The organization with which I had something to do at the time published a manifesto, and in connexion with its issue I had a very prominent part. It was a frank recognition of the policy of a White Australia as laid down by the Federal Parliament, with regard to the sugar question in particular and with regard to its application to Australia generally.
Senator Givens. - Is that why the ladies of your party afterwards had a conference in which they advocated black labour?
Senator ST. LEDGER.- With regard to political organizations, ladies can answer for themselves. But may I suggest that in political warfare it is in very bad taste, and is possibly an expression of political cowardice, for a man to try to hide himself behind anybody’s petticoats in order to have a shot at another man?
Senator Givens. - Thatiswhatyouhave been doing all the time . You have been pushing ladies forward to express opinions which you yourself have been too cowardly to express.
Senator Chataway. - Who is making this speech?
The PRESIDENT. - Order !
Senator ST. LEDGER. - I congratulate myself that I had some connexion with the issue of the manifesto in which the cardinal principle of a White Australia was laid down. I may add, however, that there was a tittle of truth in the honorable senator’s statement, and that tittle of truth reminded me of Falstaff’s pot-house bill, because it contained a halfpenny worth of bread to an intolerable deal of sack. The honorable senator was quite right, probably, in something which he suggested, be-‘ cause on that occasion I was neither feed nor fed by the ravens, and in my defence, if such be needed, I may quote the hackneyed expression around which oceans of cant have surged, that “ the labourer is worthy of his hire.” I come now to matters of policy. I am extremely gratified with the position which the Government take up on this question. During his speech, Senator Givens boldly proclaimed that he was in favour of a protective policy, and with it that necessary consequence, the abolition of the Excise duty and bounty which we are asked by these measures to impose in practically the same form as at present.
Senator Givens. - When did I advocate that they should be abolished?
Senator ST. LEDGER. - By inference the honorable senator did in his speech on this question. Every one who was present on Friday will remember that Senator Chataway quoted from a speech made by Senator Givens in a former Parliament, and pointed out that if there was any meaning to be attached to it, the honorable senator was relying largely on a Protective policy, even if the Protective policy which he sought to establish round the sugar industry also involved the principle of new Protection. So far as I am personally concerned, I am in entire sympathy with that Protective policy.
Senator Givens. - The honorable senator was in favour of abolishing the protective duty and the Excise.
Senator ST. LEDGER.- If the honorable senator can find anything to that effect in my utterances, either in this Parliament or outside of it, I shall be very glad if he will point to it.
Senator Givens. - I am not speaking of the honorable senator personally - I am referring to his party.
Senator ST. LEDGER.- The moment 1 attempt to reply to the honorable senator he shifts his ground. I challenge him to point to any statement of mine, either inside or outside of this Parliament, in which I declared myself in favour of abolishing the protective or the Excise duties upon sugar. Upon every occasion on which I was questioned upon this subject, I distinctly stated that until a Royal Commission was appointed to investigate the vexed question of the bounty and the Excise, it was impossible to say that we were legislating wisely for the industry. It is obvious to everybody that four separate branches of industry are involved in this question - that of the refiners, the manufacturers of raw sugar, the growers, and the labourers in the field. Nobody knows better than does Senator Givens that it is impossible to legislate effectively upon this question until the particular interests involved each by itself and each in relation to the other, is considered. Until that is done it is impossible to put before the country a harmonious scheme which will do justice to all. I wish now to deal with one important aspect of this question, namely, the position occupied by the field workers in the industry. It has been represented that I have deliberately indorsed the opinion that they should be condemned to a wage of 3s. 9d. per day. I absolutely deny that I ever expressed such an opinion. I hope that no labouring man will ever be obliged to work for that wage.
Senator Givens. - Was the honorable senator .a member of the deputation which waited upon the Minister of Trade and Customs in regard to the sugar industry?
Senator ST. LEDGER.- That deputation has been dragged over the whole of Queensland.
Senator McGregor. - Its members ought to be nearly dead, then.
Senator ST. LEDGER.- Exactly. The object of the deputation was to make representations to the Minister of Trade and Customs in regard to one set of workers in the industry.
Senator Givens. - Were both sides represented on that deputation?
Senator ST. LEDGER.- As a matter of fact, I was not specially representing any side. I desired that both sides should have a fair hearing. In commenting upon some representations that were made as to the amount of wages which should be paid, the Minister said -
If you contend that there should be no departure from the 22s. 6d. rate, then the contention must be that 3s. gd. per day is sufficient?
Senator ST. LEDGER. - That is hardly the position. The Act says that the rate of wages shall be determined on what is the standard rate of wages in the district. It is not for us to contend what is sufficient.
At once the Minister replied -
Do I understand you to say that 22s. 6d. is not enough?
The reply of Mr. Pritchard was -
I am not here for that purpose.
Another member of the deputation, Mr. Archer, who formerly represented the constituency of Capricornia, then said -
You might put it this way. We believe the industry should pay the highest rate it can bear.
Senator Sayers. - I should like to see 7s. per day paid if the industry could afford it.
Senator Henderson. - Would the honorable senator ask a man to work for that wage ?
Senator ST. LEDGER.- The Melbourne Herald, in its account of the deputation, reported another expression of mine. The report was accurate, though it did not give all that I said. The Herald stated that-
Senator St. Ledger said that the Act provided for the ruling rate of wages in the district. Personally, he thought that 30s. would not be too much if the industry could afford it.
Senator Givens. - A qualifying phrase; a saving clause. The deputation contended that the industry could not afford it.
Senator ST. LEDGER. - I had nothing to do with what any member of the deputation contended. Another aspect of the question is, that if the new Protection policy is inaugurated, it becomes a matter of how much the industry can afford to pay, striking a balance as between the legitimate claims of capital on the one hand, and of skilled or unskilled labour on the other. The interests of both sides must be related to the question of whether the industry can be carried on at all under the conditions imposed.
Senator Rae. - Dividends must be the big consideration.
Senator ST. LEDGER. - I say nothing as to that. All we had to do was to see that the Minister gave due weight to the representations made to him and decided the question in the light of the evidence laid before him.
Senator Givens. - What was the object of the deputation?
Senator ST. LEDGER.- The object of the deputation was to bring under review the order made by the then Minister of Trade and Customs.
Senator Givens. - The object was to protest against a 30s. a week rate of wage for. casual labour.
Senator ST. LEDGER.- The honorable senator may say so. The official report is there for him to read. The” view of the matter was put to the Minister that, through ignorance or lack of consideration, his order was calculated to inflict an injustice where he intended to confer a benefit.
Senator Rae. - An injustice on whom?
Senator ST. LEDGER.- Some of the sugar producers in Queensland.
Senator Rae. - By giving to the workers too low a wage?
Senator ST. LEDGER.- The honorable senator had better read the report of the deputation for himself. My object is to clear away, once and for all, the imputation that I individually, or the deputation as a whole, intended to interfere in fixing or determining any man’s wage. That was the Minister’s duty under the Act. Our object was to induce him to make an inquiry, and to see that fair play was done to one of the most important industries in our State, and, indeed, in Australia.
Senator Givens. - The honorable senator and the deputation thought that 3s.9d. a day was a fair payment to the workers.
Senator Rae. - Can the honorable senator tell us what really was the object of the deputation?
Senator ST. LEDGER. - Some of the members of it came down to Melbourne to point out to the Minister the effect of the wages fixed by him for men working at a daily or weekly wage. They desired him to make further inquiries, and to assume an impartial attitude. In face of the quotations from the report of the deputation - in face of the remark made by me, which I have quoted from the Melbourne Herald - it is impossible for any one to say truthfully that I, or any member of the deputation, endeavoured to set up an arbiter, apart from the Minister, as to what should be done.I say deliberately that the various bearings of this question have been so clouded with misrepresentation that it is almost impossible for anybody to make his attitude clear, unless his views are on all-fours with those of his political opponents. Furthermore, it is hardly possible for a person who assumes a fair attitude on the question to escape political calumny. I will give another instance. Because it was urged by some that, until a Royal Commission had thoroughly investigated and reported upon the sugar industry, further action should be stayed, I personally was accused - as were also other supporters of the late Government - of taking a particular course with the deliberate purpose of handing back the sugar industry to be worked by coloured labour.
Senator Rae. - Obviously, that would have been the effect if the honorable senator had been successful.
Senator ST. LEDGER. - That would not “obviously” have been the effect, because there is not a single man in the party to which I belong who wished to see alien labour employed in the sugar industry, or in any other primary industry in Australia.
Senator Rae. - The honorable senator is a new convert, then.
Senator ST. LEDGER. - I have never employed cheap labour. I have never paid less than the ruling rate of wage to white labour. I have, when paying over my cheque, sometimes asked a man why so-and-so was the rate, “ but I have never objected to paying the ruling rate. But, on the contrary, I could point to examples in the ranks of my opponents upon which very severe comments might be made. What we are desirous of doing now is to secure that in any legislation that is passed every interest connected with the industry shall get a “ fair show “ as far as we can so provide. But. before we go. any further, let us clear away these misrepresentations.
Senator Rae. - The honorable senator means that first place must be given to dividends !
Senator ST. LEDGER. - My statement may mean to the honorable senator whatever he chooses to make it mean. But when a man in honest and decent company makes a statement on his personal responsibility - and in this case I am making a statement on my personal and political responsibility - it is usual for honest and decent men to accept his word. I repeat again, in answer to the dangerous insinuations conveyed from the other side, that I hope that in every industry in Australia, from north to south, we shall keep our labour white if we can do so. Time alone will decide. When we merely asked for inquiry, we were charged with being advocates of black labour. I find that the Brisbane Courier of 1 6th March, 1910, reports a speech made by Mr. Finlayson, who is now member for Brisbane in another place. He is reported to have used these words -
Mr. Deakin’s policy was to make Australia as black as he could. He bad even appointed a Sugar Commission to report on the possibility of introducing coloured labour into Australia, a point on which most persons thought Australia had fixed her policy.
That is what the Brisbane Courier of the date I have mentioned reported Mr. Finiayson as saying.
Senator McGregor. - Can the honorable senator vouch for the veracity of the Brisbane Courier ?
Senator Millen. - No; nor for that of Mr. Finlayson.
Senator ST. LEDGER. - Nor for that of Mr. Finlayson, in this case. There, however, is the report of what he said. At the same time, every man who chooses to inquire as to what was intended to be done with the industry at that time is aware that it was within the scope of the Commission to find out in what way the industry might be more firmly and permanently made a white-labour industry. No impartial inquirer will dispute that statement. Notwithstanding that fact, for party and political purposes, Mr. Finlayson made the . statement to which I have referred. It was at once contradicted ; and I am not aware that the gentleman who made it has since retracted it. I mention these things in order that I may entreat honorable senators to extend fair play to those interested in this industry, and to consider the question apart from party prejudice. With regard to the wages paid in the industry, I am able to quote from the Queensland Hansard, of 15th September, 1910, a table supplied by Mr. Barbour, the member for Bundaberg in the Queensland Legislative Assembly. For aught I know, he may be an official of, or be closely connected with, associations of white workers or producers in the industry in the Bundaberg district. In a speech on the subject, he quoted the wages . paid in 1901, before Federation; and I ask honorable senators to bear in mind that in that year there commenced a very disastrous period of drought in Queensland. This is the table of wages paid prior to Federation, 1901 -
Port Douglas, No. 1 District, 30s., and found.
Cairns, Dungeness, and Geraldton, 22s. 6d. to 25s., and found.
Boyne Mackay, No. 2 District, 20s. to 25s., and found.
Bundaberg, No. 3 District, 20s., and found.
Maryborough, 15s. to 20s., and found.
Brisbane, No. 4 District, 15s. to 18s., and found.
If we add from 10s. to 15s. a week for cost of board, it will be seen that the wages paid prior to Federation to . persons engaged in certain branches of the industry were substantially higher than those fixed by any Minister of a Commonwealth Government. They were higher than the wages fixed by either Sir William Lyne or Mr. Austin Chapman, who have been held up to us as being enlightened and liberal in the view they held as to the wages which should be paid in this industry. The figures I have quoted will show what slight claim they have to be so regarded. They show also that the charges made against either those engaged in the industry or we who are in no way dependent upon it must fall to the ground. In view of these facts, I am entitled to ask how long ignorance or prejudice is to prevail in the consideration of this important question? .
Senator Givens. - When did the honorable senator’s party give up the idea of getting the kanaka back, or when did they’ all become converted to white labour in the industry ?
Senator ST. LEDGER.- I do not know of any party in Australia that wants the kanaka back.
Senator Givens. - Yes. In October, 1907, Mrs. Molyneux Parkes gave the show away when she said, at a meeting of an association, that the party wanted the kanaka back. I have it in black and white, in a published report of the proceedings.
Senator ST. LEDGER.- Is it fair to identify me in any way with Mrs. Parkes? I have never seen the lady. I have never spoken to her in my life, and know nothing of her or her policy. Is it fair fighting to identify me with the opinions expressed by some person who is an absolute myth to me?
Senator Givens. - She told the people that the honorable senator’s party held the same view.
Senator ST. LEDGER.- If any of Senator Givens’- ancestors in Tipperary or elsewhere in Ireland shot a landlord, should I be justified in charging him with being a murderer ? There is only one term in the language which could be applied to me if I took advantage of such a circumstance as that to retort upon the honorable senator in the way I have suggested. But Senator Givens has not the slightest scruple in identifying me with the opinions expressed at a meeting of some association by a Mrs. Molyneux Parkes, who, I repeat, is a myth to me.
Senator Givens. - She is at the head of one of the leading organizations of the honorable senator’s party.
Senator ST. LEDGER.- Let me answer the interjection made by the honorable senator and say that, whether right or wrong, and whatever the political consequences to me, if I thought that any party or any organization sought to weaken in any way the White Australia policy, I should do again as I have done before, leave that party, denounce it, and proclaim again in this Chamber, as I have done in every word I have spoken or written on the subject, that, no matter what the difficulties may be, the White Australia policy is the soundest of all policies for Australia, and it should be brought into operation from one end of the Commonwealth to the other.
Senator Givens. - The honorable senator would never have secured a seat in the Senate if the black labour party had not voted solidly to send him here.
Senator ST. LEDGER. - So much the better for the black labour party, if not for their policy, if they did so. I think it is time that -these recriminations ceased. It is only playing down to the ignorant gallery. To use an English phrase with a slightly Irish accent, I know that Senator Givens is somewhat of a “ tinder subject,” and when pressed a little goes off in violent explosions. I hope the honorable senator will bear with me, because on this occasion I have an opportunity to pay some of these things back.
Senator Givens. - The honorable senator can try that game on as much as he likes.
Senator ST. LEDGER.- I have tried it before, and will continue to try it where I think it necessary. The honorable senator knows how much this kind of talk affects me, either here or on the public platform. Let me point out to honorable senators who desire, as I do, that this question should be discussed apart from the influence of party prejudice-
Senator Rae. - Can that be done?
Senator ST. LEDGER.- I am astonished at the interjection. The honorable senator implies that we are not fit to deal with a question which is more vital to the safety and development of this continent than to the existence of any party. When an honorable senator on this side frankly expresses his desire to lift it on to a higher plane, honorable senators on the other side should try to help us.
The difficulties which surround the solution of this question may be summarized in four or five different forms. First, there are those who contend that protection alone, and with it the abolition of the Excise and the bounty, will, if adequate, be sufficient. That was, I take it, the object of much, if not of all, of the speech delivered by Senator Givens. With the information that I possess, and in the light of his speech, I am inclined to think that if the opinion is not wholly sound, there is a great deal to justify it. The second difficulty which surrounds the question is, “ Shall we have protection plus Excise and bounty “ ? If I understand certain remarks which appear in Hansard, and expressions from the platform which have fallen from Mr. Bamford, who is a member for one of the most important sugar districts in Australia, I infer that, as a modification of that policy, he would require all three, that is protection, bounty, and Excise. Now, how can the public, or we, be said to have the fullest information on this point, when two powerful advocates sitting on one political side claim two things which, as between themselves, are more or less inconsistent?
Senator Givens. - We both take up exactly the same attitude ; we say that until the Commonwealth gets control of industrial conditions we must have the bounty and the Excise.
Senator ST. LEDGER.- Probably at the conclusion of my speech I shall say something about that matter. Then there is a third party comprising mostly the canegrowers, the manufacturers of raw sugar, and to a certain extent the labourers engaged in the industry. They are contending for different applications of two principles, Excise and bounty. For instance, one party contends strongly that the Excise should equal the import duty. Those who contend that the Excise should be equal to the import duty also contend that when the conditions on which the bounty is paid are complied with the Excise should be remitted to a certain extent for the benefit of the manufacturers of raw sugar, and through them, since so many mills in Queensland are co-operative, of the cane-growers, and further, through them, of the workers in the cane-fields. That is the third aspect of the question. There are four sets of contestants equally interested in the industry, with presumably equal knowledge of its requirements, who contend that the Excise should equal the bounty, and not the import duty, and that after the conditions of the bounty are complied with the Excise should go back to the grower. There you have four or five different solutions - and by combinations they might make more solutions - for the settlement of this great question, each in itself clear, and for its purpose equally emphatic. Each is urging us to bring about that policy, but the reasoning on which their contentions are based are contradictory. Yet, in face of that, we are invited to legislate on a subject on which there are powerful and, in some respects, irreconcilable differences of opinion. I intend to give the strongest proof of the evidence brought forward in . favour of each and every one of the different forms of dealing with the sugar industry. From the Brisbane Courier, of the 28th May, 1907, I take the report of a deputation which waited upon Sir John Forrest -
Sir John Forrest. - He would like to know whether the sugar industry in their opinion would be aided or injured if the bounty of £3 and the Excise duty of £4 were abolished. Would the industry be better off?
Mr. Young. - We would be better off.
Mr. Young, of course, represented the manufacturers of sugar, being himself a large grower. He was the only person present at the deputation whom I knew personally. He represents a certain class of political thought to which my honorable friends on the opposite fide are deadly opposed. The report continues -
Sir John Forrest. - Supposing there were no Excise and no bounty, would the price of cane increase ?
Voices. - Certainly.
Sir John Forrest. - If the sugar industry were treated the same as the wheat industry and let go on its own without bounty or Excise, would it do?
Voices. - Yes.
So far, the deputation is more or less in complete harmony with the position taken up by Senator Givens.
Senator Givens. - I have never advocated that we should drop the bounty and Excise until we get control over industrial conditions.
Senator ST. LEDGER.- Not then?
Senator Givens. - Not. at any time.
Senator ST. LEDGER.- In the meantime those engaged in the sugar industry are waiting to know what is to be done for them.
Senator Givens. - It will be in exactlv the same position as every other industry which is protected.
Senator ST. LEDGER. - I maintain that it has not been similarly treated. The report continues -
Sir John Forrest. - You want, the import duty to remain?
Voices. - Yes.
In other words, the deputation wanted the Excise and the bounty abolished, and such protection as is given to every other industry, apart from the new Protection. But it has always been maintained by one set of men in this Parliament that protection is not sufficient ; that you ought to have an
Excise and a bounty in addition to protection. There is a conflict of opinion. I am giving the testimony of each side in order to educate the Senate and the public as to the difficulties of the question. In further support of the view that an import duty would be sufficient for the development of the industry - and I take it that decent comfort is involved to those who are engaged in the cane-fields - there is this confirmatory opinion -
A meeting of delegates from the Mackay Sugar Manufacturers’ Association, the Pioneer River Farmers and Graziers’ Association, the Mackay Chamber of Commerce, and the Mackay branch of the Cane-Growers’ Union, which was held at Mackay in April last, recommended the running off of the Excise and the bounty in the terms of the existing Acts, with an import duty of £6 per ton on cane sugar and £io on beet sugar. Growers would thus benefit to the extent of £i per ton now retained by the Government.
Senator Givens. - The manufacturers would be more likely to benefit.
Senator ST. LEDGER. - There is a strong opinion on both sides. I bring further evidence in support of the view that one solution of the difficulty would be advantageous to the cane-growers. I propose to quote some extracts from a letter by a gentleman who was engaged for years in growing cane, and who, to judge from his writings and speeches, seems to understand the question from end to end. In asking this gentleman for information, I inquired whether I should or should not use his name, and he left the matter to my discretion. As the result of reflection, T intend to give his name, because his statements may have an important bearing on the solution of this problem. I refer to Mr. W. A. Cribb, a sugar-grower, who resides at present at Milton, Brisbane, and who has been engaged for years as a canegrower in the Nambour district. In his letter he disputes the accuracy of some returns on which Parliament is asked to determine a certain line of action. He says -
The total bounty paid to the end of the current year will be £2.330,000, which the sugar-growers will have paid as a net tax to the Federal revenue.
What he is contending is that the statistical return showing the contribution from the excess of revenue is under-stated rather than over-stated, and he gives reasons which, to my mind, are sufficient. At any rate, whether it is £2, 000,000 or £2,300,000, the fact is indisputable that the Excise is contributing largely to the revenue, and that some portion, if not every portion, of the sugar industry is making a contribution to the revenue which no other industry is doing. Illustrating his argument, he says -
This is a preposterous tax on less than 6,000 agriculturalists. The old legislation with the expiring clauses would have remedied this, and the grower would have got more for his cane. But now, by deleting the expiring clauses, Mr. Fisher, the professed champion of sugar, is fastening permanently this iniquitous tax upon these few primary producers. Why should the grower of sugar-cane be heavily taxed for revenue purposes while the grower of wheat is free? I do not wish Free Trade. We must have at least £6 import duty if bounty is made equal to Excise, but, if not, we should have at least £7 or £& per ton import duty if bounty be £1 per ton less, as we do not get £6 value of duty now. My contention is that sugar should have a £6 per ton protective duty against outside sugar, and the “ new Protection “ principle left to Wages Boards on the spot.
Senator Givens. - Is that why the honorable senator became a member of a deputation to “ barrack “ for 3s. od. per day?
Senator ST. LEDGER.- The time will come when the truth will prevail. The writer continues-
I recognise that the Labour caucus has decreed that Excise and bogus bounty must remain, as in their eyes the only safe way to preserve the white labour in the sugar industry. That being so, we must accept the position so far, but that is no reason why they should penalize the grower by making him pay a heavy tax for the privilege of growing cane.
Senator Lynch. - From whom is the honorable senator quoting?
Senator ST. LEDGER.- From Mr. W. A. Cribb.
Senator Lynch. - Is he a cane-grower?
Senator ST. LEDGER. - Yes. He is located about 120 miles from Brisbane. He says -
No sane man can, and no honest man will, pretend, that the sugar industry which, as a matter of fact, has been proved to be the grower is not heavily penalized by the excess of Excise over bounty. In proof of this, all the large private manufacturers have already signed undertakings to give the growers the extra £1 per lon of sugar when the Excise and bounty expired - as intended by increasing the price of cane accordingly.
That’–is the strong point upon which he relies. His contention is that the grower pays the bounty, and in proof of his assertion he says that if the bounty and the Excise are abolished, the manufacturer will give the grower the benefit of the Excise. He further says -
Mr. Fisher himself admitted to me in conversation in the train that the grower paid the Excise, and he stated his disappointment at the way the system had thus worked. You can make what use you like of this statement in public or private. I am willing at any time, and in the most public place and manner, even at the Bar of Parliament, to face Mr. Fisher and confirm it.
I do not agree that those who view this question from a different stand-point are the only persons who desire to see the sugar industry conducted exclusively by white labour. It is interesting to note that on j 3th December, 1905, Mr. Fisher in discussing this question - as will be seen by reference to Hansard, page 6847 - said -
There is no justification either for the Excise or bounty except the fact that white men are struggling in an industry which’ is not carried on by white men in any other part of the world. Every increase in the Excise duty upon sugar diminishes the price paid to the labour engaged in the production Every additional £1 that we impose by way of Excise means that £1 per >ton less is paid to the producer of the raw material.
The .Bills which are now under consideration do not express that principle. What Mr. Fisher contended for in 1905 was that there should be an equalization of the Excise and the bounty, but in such a form that there should not be a contribution to the revenue.
Senator Stewart. - I quite agree with lhat view.
Senator ST. LEDGER.- On 6th February of the same year, Mr. Fisher is further reported in Hansard as follows -
Since the 31st January last they are entitled to a rebate of 4s. 3d. per ton on 10 per cent, sugar-cane, approximately, ^2 per ton on their sugar. But the Excise duty is £3 per ton, and what I desire to know is whether the Government cannot see their way clear to give the whole of that Excise as a rebate upon sugar grown by white labour.
On the nth February, 1902, Mr. Fisher -said- 1 stated that, in my opinion, the whole of the Excise should go to the white grower, and I believe if the electors of Australia were polled that would be their view.
In the face of such strong expressions of opinion by the head of the Government, it is somewhat extraordinary that these Bills should be submitted for our consideration. 1 confess that the subject is an intricate
One, and that the ordinary student cannot be expected to -grasp it in all its details. Apparently, the Prime Minister entertains the opinion which I hold, namely, that before we can safely decide what shall be the future policy of the Commonwealth in regard to the sugar industry, we ought to be placed in possession of further information. I will now deal with the proposition -that the Excise should be equal to the im;port duty. A conference which was re cently held in Bundaberg, drew up a certain number of resolutions, which make their view abundantly clear ; and it will be equally clear to the Senate that that view is contrary to the views expressed so often by Mr. Fisher, and which were so ably stated in the passages that I have read. The first resolution was as follows : -
Thar this Conference is of the opinion that the protection given by the Excise and bounty system to white growers is not sufficiently effective to keep coloured producers off the land, and that the Federal Government be asked to further protect the white growers.
Another resolution was -
That, in the opinion of this Conference, the sugar Excise should be increased to equal the import duty, and that a proportion of such Excise be paid to the refiner on proof that he has paid an equitable price for raw sugars, and that the manufacturers of the latter have, in turn, paid an equitable price for cane to be wholly white grown, based upon its commercial value.
The cane-growers of Queensland are largely interested in the success of the cooperative mills, which manufacture raw sugar ; and it is to be noted that these canegrowers - many of them, presumably, having interests in the success of the cooperative mills - while, in one breath, they asked that the Excise should be equal to the duty, nevertheless asked that that Excise should be retained in trust, so that such a proportion of it as might be fair should go back to them ultimately. I fail to notice, in connexion with that resolution, that any particular regard was shown for the interests of those who work in the cane-fields. There is nothing to indicate that those who passed it cared whether the labour was white or black, so long as they got their “ whack “ out of it. The following resolution will probably interest the whole Senate : -
That this Conference again urges upon the Federal Government the necessity for an inquiry into the affairs of the sugar industry, and requests that when reappointing or reconstructing the proposed Royal Commission, the Government should include two representatives of the growers, one from New South Wales, and one from Queensland, and suggests that all sections of the industry should also be represented.
I quote that because, although many of the members of the Conference probably differed from the policy which is advocated, even on the Ministerial side of the Chamber, they nevertheless asked for an inquiry. And rightly so, in face of the fact that the public of Australia contribute in some form an immense amount of money, and have n rght to know from reliable evidence whether the continuance of the bounty is justified. In the light of the controversy that has waged for eight or nine years, the demand of the Conference for an inquiry friendly to themselves is as justified as was the attitude of the late Government that, before Parliament decided, the whole question should be carefully looked into.
There is another aspect of the question around which the most furious controversy has raged, and as to which conflicting aspects have been presented to the Senate. I refer to the relation of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company to the industry. I take this opportunity of saying that I hold no brief for the company. As far as I am aware, I do not know a single shareholder in it. I certainly do not know a single official connected with it. I have received no communication from the company, directly or indirectly; and the facts that I shall give are the result of more or less original research of my own. The company is frequently represented as being an octopus preying upon the sugar industry, and which spreads its tentacles, not only over the producers and the workers, but over every consumer of sugar in Australia. Senator Givens concluded his speech on Friday with an attack upon the company. Most of what he said is ancient history. We who live in Queensland have heard these, statements on many occasions. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company is a recognised target for budding politicians. But it is only fair to say that my information is that the company itself courts inquiry. I also take the opportunity of saying, in the interests of fair play - because “ fair play is bonnie play,” and there is an old proverb that we should deal fairly even with his Satanic majesty - that we should be prepared to give to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, at least, that protection which is meted out to the very worst of criminals. We should consider the whole of the evidence and sift it carefully before we condemn or take one sixpence from the criminal. As evidence that the doings of the company are not wholly bad, I quote this extract from a speech by a member of the Bundaberg conference to which I have just alluded - a man who is one of the vicepresidents of the Cane-growers Union. The charge has been made that this was an octopus upon the industry. He said, however -
The Colonial Sugar Refining Co.’s mill at Homebush treated the growers very well - better than any other mill in the district.
That is a fair compliment. I hope it is a deserved one. This gentleman went on -
The growers all liked to get as much for their cane as they could. He received 15s. gd. for his cane, and he still felt that he had not got what he was entitled to on the price of raw sugar.
I suppose that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company is not a whit better, nor a whit worse, than any other company or man who goes into a business. He goes into it with the object of taking out of it as much as he economically or safely can. It is perpetually put before the people of Australia that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company exacts a heavy burden upon the consumer of sugar by increasing the price far in excess of the price ruling in other parts of the world, and thereby inflicts a gross injustice. But, as a matter of fact, the high price of sugar in Australia to-day is exactly paralleled by the high price of sugar throughout the whole world.
Senator Chataway. - The price fell the other day all over the world £2 per ton ; and it promptly fell in Australia also.
Senator ST. LEDGER.- Probably I shall be fairly safe in carrying my proposition a little further, and saying that, notwithstanding the working of this alleged octopus, and its infamous operations, the fact is unchallengeable that the high price of sugar to-day is absolutely dependent upon, and connected with, the high price throughout the world. In proof of the first portion of my assertion, that the high price of sugar is only on a par with the price in other parts of the world, I quote the following figures. On 3rd August of this year first mark granulated sugar stood at £x6 18s. 46. per ton f.o.b. Hamburg. It we allow for the duty of £6 per ton, and also allow £1 18s. 4d. per ton for freight, commission, exchange, harbor dues, and landing charges, the price of sugar imported from Hamburg and landed in Australia would be £24 16s. 8d. per ton. But the following were the prices of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company’s sugars on the day mentioned : - No. 1 B brewers’ crystals, ^23 15s. per ton; No. 1 X, £22 15s. ; No. 1 XD, dried for manufacturing purposes, £22 15s.; No. 1 A, £22 15s.; No. 2 soft white, -£21 15s. ; No. 3 soft yellow, £20 5s. ; Millaquin No. 1 and 1 A, ^22 15s. ; Bingera A 1, £21 15s. ; Fairy Mead No. 1, £22 5s. In every case the Colonial Sugar Refining Company’s price was lower than the price of refined sugar f.o.b. Hamburg. 1 am afraid that the public do not always remember or appreciate sufficiently the fact that sugar has been jumping in price during the last few years. Naturally, when the consumer sees an increase in the price of his sugar, he concludes that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company is to blame. That company is made a scapegoat. We have a right, however, to consider the evidence on both sides. So much has been said on the other side that it is only fair that attention should be directed to this remarkable feature in connexion with the sugar markets of the world. On the 1st May, 1907, the price for Tait’s granulated sugar, f.o.b. Hamburg, was £11 18s. On the same date, in 1908, the price was £13 10s. In 1909 it was £12 1s. 8d., and on 1st May, 1910, it had risen to £16 16s. 8d. These figures show a remarkable jump up during the period mentioned.
Senator Chataway. - If the honorable senator had gone further back, he would have found that in one year the price was only£6 10s. per ton.
Senator ST. LEDGER. - Very possibly ; but the figures I have quoted show that the prices rose considerably. If the figures with respect to the prices of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company’s sugars be correct, they show that the company did not take full advantage of the rise in prices. Now, with regard to the relations between the Colonial Sugar Refining Company and the raw sugar mills, I take the following extracts from the Australian Sugar Journal of 6th May, 1910: -
The bonus payable by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company under their agreement with raw sugar mills amounted to 43s. at the close of April, 1910. It is now running at the rate of 6s. per month, and should nofurther change in prices take place the bonus on the year’s crop will be £2 15s. per ton, making the total price to the mills £12 2s. 6d. per ton, as against £11 3s. 5d. per ton last year.
Senator Chataway. - Later figures show that it worked out just in that way.
Senator ST. LEDGER.- Honorable senators will see that the mills do get some benefit from the rise in the price of sugar, and the Colonial Sugar Refining Company do not reap the whole of it.
Senator Givens. - The most the mills get is 18s. out of every£1 per ton.
Senator ST. LEDGER.- I am aware of that.
Senator Givens. - If the company, under ordinary conditions, are getting a fairly good profit, they get a further profit whenever there is a rise in prices.
Senator ST. LEDGER.- That proposition is not denied.
Senator Chataway. - The company get it out of their own sugars.
Senator Givens. - Out of sugars produced by every one in Australia.
Senator Chataway. - How much?
Senator Givens. - Two shillings per ton.
Senator Chataway. - Five per cent, discount has to be taken off that.
Senator ST. LEDGER.- The manufacturers of raw sugar are contending that, notwithstanding the bonus paid to them by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company on every advance in price, they are not getting as much advantage from the high prices ruling as they would obtain if their raw sugar went into the open market. That is one of the charges brought against the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, and I admit that the evidence in support of it is very strong. To some extent, it seems to me that the charge is a justifiable one ; but the answer of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company is this: “ We guarantee to you at the beginning of the season the price which we will pay for your raw sugar during the year. If the price of sugar rises we shall give you, in addition, 18s. out of every£1 of the rise in price. We are entitled to get some advantage from an improvement in the market, because if the price falls you will still receive the guaranteed price for your sugar, and you do not insure us against loss.”
Senator Givens. - In fixing the guaranteed price, the company take care to make allowances for a fall in price.
Senator ST. LEDGER. - I say that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company have a complete refutation of the charge that they are taking everything from the grower and the miller by reason of their monopoly. It is not contended now that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company do this. The only contention urged against them now is that while the market for sugar is high the producers of raw sugar might get a little more for their sugar if they could get to the open market. There are two replies to that contention, if it be correct. The first is that a bargain is a bargain; and when one insures himself against loss, he must take some risks if there is a rise in the price of the article in which he deals. I do not know that I have accurately represented the position.
Senator Givens. - The honorable senator is doing very well now as an advocate for the Colonial Sugar Refining Company.
Senator ST. LEDGER.- I refuse to admit that I am an advocate for the company.
Senator Long. - They reduced the price of sugar quite recently by £i per ton.
Senator ST. LEDGER.- By £2 per ton. Will the honorable senator bear in mind that all the time the price paid by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company to the raw sugar mills is guaranteed?
Senator Long. - I remember; also, that a little while ago the company put up the price £2 a ton.
Senator ST. LEDGER.- If so, it was because the price went up to the same extent throughout the world. Would the honorable senator have adopted any other course in connexion with his own business?
Senator Chataway. - Would he allow himself to be undersold by importations from abroad?
Senator ST. LEDGER. - Exactly. Will not the honorable senator discard that halo of Pharisaism, which does not become him? He is usually very frank in the statements he makes. With respect to the suggestion that I am an advocate for the company, I may be allowed to say that I do not know a single soul, shareholder or official, connected with the company, and have not had a single communication from them. But when we are dealing with a company whose influence in this industry is sure to be very strong, we are entitled to treat them to at least the same justice as we would extend to a criminal. If we were dealing with a criminal we should hear the evidence on both sides, and sift it before preparing the guillotine for him.
I shall deal now with another aspect of the misrepresentations hurled against this company. I quote from a newspaper, which has a better opinion of most of the members of the Senate than it has of me. I refer to the Melbourne Age, which in an article appearing on the 7th July, 1910, stated that the stoppage of work at the Australian Jam Factory was the direct outcome of the company’s price for sugar, and that Java sugar could be landed here at £g 15s. per ton, or £1 7s. 9d. per ton below the Colonial Sugar Refining Company’s price.
Senator Chataway. - Why was not that done ?
Senator ST. LEDGER. - Exactly. The comment was replied to at once by Mr. Symonds, the Melbourne manager of the company, in a letter which appeared on the nth July. I ask honorable senators to bear in mind that the charge was that the Australian Jam Factory had to close up because of ihe operations of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. That would be a very serious thing if it were true. I ask honorable senators to listen as impartially to the reply to the charge, which may be regarded as a sample of a number of the misrepresentations and false assertions made concerning the operations of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. Mr. Symonds wrote -
All the sugar that comes from Java is raw sugar, and cannot be compared with our refined article. . . . Further, we undertake to protect our contractors (luring the present abnormal position of affairs by giving them the full advantage of any reduction that may be made in our tariff rates between 1st July and 31st October.
Let me pause to point out what that means. The company have to pome extent guaranteed the producers of raw sugar, as I have explained, though it may be they have not considered them as much as they should. On the other hand, they guarantee to preserve their contracts with jam manufacturers so long as they take sugar from them. They say practically, “ We make a contract, and we shall stand by it, win or lose.” That is a fair thing in business, is it not?
Senator Rae. - There is nothing exceptional in that.
Senator ST. LEDGER. - No, but to do anything else might be unjust or unfair. Mr. Symonds further wrote -
We again assert that sugar similar to what we deliver cannot at present be produced anywhere in the world at the price quoted by us allowing for the duty.
That assertion is so strong and clear that I presume it was not made without knowledge that it could not be challenged. He further says -
As to the statement that the factory has been closed down and some 350 employes have been thrown out of work by our refusal to supplysugar on the terms demanded by the jam company, i would say that we have supplied their requirements for a number of years.
During that time the company evidently did not ruin this particular jam factory. It is rather a singular thing that it should lie only when we are about to discuss the Excise and bounty, and propose to continue them, that such a state of things should arise. I call that unfair fighting, whether by an individual or a newspaper. I do not care whether the fighting is directed against the most powerful in the land or the humblest individual in it. It is an unpleasant coincidence that an attack upon the company in this form - a charge of the closing up of a jam factory in Melbourne as a result of its operations - should be made al a time when Parliament is being asked to continue the assistance previously granted to the sugar industry. Mr. Symonds goes on to say -
I notice that in July last year they obtained no sugar from us, and comparatively little in the corresponding month in previous years. So it would appear that it is not uncommon for that company, along with some others, to close or ease down at this season of the year, although it is, no doubt, convenient to throw the onus for doing so upon us at this particular juncture.
In view of the criticism I have offered, I must do the Age the justice of saying that they gave the same publicity to the refutation of the statement to which I have referred that they gave to the statement itself. But that is not a sufficient reply to my criticism, that statements of the kind should be proved to be well-founded before they are made.
I shall conclude by expressing an opinion which I hope will be the opinion expressed by this Parliament. Australia must pay the cost of the application of the White Australia policy to the sugar industry. It is a question above all fiscal issues. What amount of protection is necessary, and whether there should be Excise and bounty, and, if so, what the rates should be, are matters upon which no member of either House of this Parliament is at present in a position to decide. And yet in the light of this ignorance we are asked to pass these two Bills.
Senator SAYERS (Queensland) [4.40]. - 1 was in hopes that before this legislation was brought down a Royal Commission would have been appointed for the purpose of giving both the Government and the Parliament some idea of the best lines on which to legislate. Last year we were promised that a Royal Commission would be appointed to make an inquiry, but the proposal seems to have hung in the air. We know no more now than we did then. Each member of Parliament is allowed to grope in the dark and to get whatever information he can. Like many honorable senators, I have never had any practical experience of sugar-growing. I have obtained my information on the subject from men who are< interested in the industry, and from other sources. If the Government thought it was necessary to bring down a measure this year they ought to have appointed a Royal Commission at the earliest possible moment, and in the light of their report we could have discussed the subject and legislated. After opposing the use of coloured labour for thirty or forty years, I am very pleased to find to-day that there are no persons in Australia advocating a return to its employment. It met with my opposition as soon as it was introduced into this country. I expressed my opinion both from the platform and from my place in the State Assembly. A great many persons who were then strongly in favour of employing coloured labour are now convinced, I am very happy to say, that the sugar industry can get along without its use. Instead of having coloured labour on large plantations we have now some thousands of white farmers, a large number of whom, I understand, are making a comparatively ;rood living. But I am sorry to say we still have a proportion of coloured persons on small areas which are sublet to them by white men. I should like to see that done away with altogether, and, perhaps, before I sit down I may suggest to the Government how it might be done. It is an idea of mine which may be worth something or nothing. 1 have” considered the matter from all sides and tried to find a solution to satisfy myself.
Senator Givens. - Does the honorable senator think that the report of a Royal Commission would remove all the differences of opinion?
Senator SAYERS.- I do not think for a moment that it would, but it would obtain information which no member of the Senate is able to get. I may speak to a man and hear from him a certain view of the matter, but a Royal Commission would take all evidence on oath, and as a witness would be liable to punishment if he gave wrong evidence, the presumption is that the Senate could rely upon evidence so obtained when it was legislating. Clause 2 of thisBill reads -
Section three of the Sugar Bounty Act 1905 is amended by omitting therefrom the following words “ and before. the first day of January On:thousand nine hundred and thirteen.”
The object of the clause is, I take it, to extend the bounty to 1913, but we should do more than that. We should put the thing on a firm and lasting foundation. I do not believe in this patchwork legislation extending the aid for a year or two, and giving no idea of stability to the persons engaged in the industry. Hitherto the legislation has been liable to alteration in the course of a few years. Every honorable senator knows that a man who embarks in the industry and clears a piece of land - very often scrub land - has to wait more than three years before he can get a return. It takes him more than that time to get in his first crop. Nearly every Act conferring protection contains no specified period for its operation. It takes a long time to alter a measure of that kind. Long ago we found anomalies in the Tariff, and they still remain, but the sugar legislation will, if not continued, expire by effluxion of time. If the Parliament were to sit tight the Acts would expire. It is obvious to every one that it is much harder to get Parliament to repeal an Act conferring protection than it is for an Act to expire by effluxion of time. That is why I hold that we have not given proper encouragement to persons to enter the sugar industry. I believe that it will not be confined to Queensland and New South Wales, but will be established in some portions of Western Australia, and also on the Roper River and various portions of the Northern Territory, and very likely sugar will be grown before long in Papua. We should legislate on this subject as if we meant real business and desired persons to embark in the occupation. Clause 3 of the Bill reads -
Section six of the Sugar Bounty Act 1905 is amended by omitting therefrom the following proviso : - “ Provided that the rates payable on all such cane or beet delivered during the years 191 1 and 1912 shall be respectively two-thirds and one-third of the aforesaid rates.”
The Government of Victoria are taking steps to induce the establishment of the beet-sugar industry. That would get the full benefit of the protection of £6 a ton just as the cane-sugar industry would do, so that this legislation is not confined to Queensland, as a good many persons seem to think. Sugar may be grown in any one of the States, and I believe that if we give a thoroughly sound protection, not for a few years only, we shall have persons embarking in the industry. Clause 4 of the Bill reads -
Section nine of the Sugar Bounty Act 1905 is repealed, and the following section substituted in lieu thereof : - “9. - (1.) Every grower of white-grown sugar cane or beet who claims the bounty payable under this Act shall, in making his claim, certify to the Minister the conditions of employment and the rates of wages paid to any labour employed by him, other than the labour of members of his family.”
Does not that give the Commonwealth full power to deal with the labour question? Does it not give this Parliament the fullest power to act? There can be no excuse for delaying this legislation for some time when Parliament is going to be given larger powers by the people.
Senator Pearce. - We only have the power when it is linked up with the bounty.
Senator SAYERS. - I admit that. There are two or three ways of dealing with the matter. I do not think the Minister is so foolish that he cannot find a way out of the difficulty if he wishes to do so. I think I can. In Queensland we have farmers who have established co-operative mills. The State Government has advanced large sums to these farmers, and the industry is extending by leaps and bounds. But the Commonwealth, through not passing legislation which the people have wanted, has handicapped the industry in more ways than one in districts where a certain amount of cane is produced and there is a co-operative mill. Our object ought to be to settle a white population on the land. We hear complaint’ about the continued employment of black labour, but in actual practice a great many persons who make them do not give to white labour the assistance which, I maintain, they should. They certainly do not give help by legislation, or in any form which would benefit the people employed. I do not believe that there is a white farmer in Queensland or New South Wales who wants to employ coloured labour. Of course, T know the excuse which was put forward by the advocates of coloured labour thirty years ago. To a certain extent, there was a fair and reasonable ground for their contention. At that time the gold-fields were occupying public attention. One or two rushes were taking place nearly every year, and it was felt that if white men were employed on the cane-fields when the cane had to be harvested, and a rush broke out, the growers would be ruined. Therefore, they decided to employ coloured labour, although it was not cheaper than white labour, to collect the crop. That might have been a reasonable excuse to put forward thirty or forty years ago, when we had few persons in the State, but that is not the position to-day. I am glad to say that I have not heard this matter mentioned for a considerable number of years. Since no white farmers desire to employ coloured labour, we should try to make their conditions as good as possible, and encourage them to pay even higher wages “than they do. I am a thorough advocate of paying good wages to good men. I believe that every employer who does not pay good wages stands in his own light, because he gets unsatisfactory work.
Senator Rae. - But why should the State go out of its way to subsidize one industry more than another?
Senator SAYERS.- The State does not subsidize the sugar industry by one penny. “On the contrary, both the State and the Commonwealth make a benefit out of it, as I shall show later. In Queensland we have three refinery companies, one of which is, I believe, owned by the Queensland National Bank, and we have a branch of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, whose head-quarters are in New South Wales. I am not here to advocate the interests of that company, or of the refinery companies which are backed up by the Queensland National Bank or any other capitalists. From information I have received, I believe that these companies lost a lot of money when they started their operations. Any man who enters into an industry which will eventually absorb millions of capital is bound to lose for some time, but he always looks forward to being recouped. When the shipping companies -started in Queensland, they had to expend large sums. The Australasian United Steam Navigation Company bought some of them out. For years their balance-sheet showed a loss, but as traffic grew they eventually made a profit. The same thing is true of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, and, indeed, of every other company. But for that company the sugar industry in Australia would not occupy the position that it occupies to-day. I have conversed with scores of persons in the employ of the company in Queensland and New South Wales, and they all give it the very best of names. Only last year I met a man in Brisbane who had worked for it at Cairns. He had been in the country only about twelve years, and he started with a wage of£1 or 25s. per week. He was a thrifty man, and as a result of his thrift had saved£400 or . £500. When the company was cutting up some of its land he requested it to sell him a portion of it upon time payment. His request was ac ceded to. The company treated him magnanimously. In effect, it said, “ Here is a farm. We will not take a single penny from you at present. Husband your resources to tide you over your first year.” That man eventually paid for his farm, and with his wife was able to take a spell down south. Such a company ought not to be condemned for acting unfairly.
Senator E. J. Russell. - Does not the honorable senator think it is unfair to quote an isolated instance of that sort?
Senator SAYERS.- Probably the honorable senator was absent from the chamber when I said that scores of persons with whom I had conversed have given the Colonial Sugar Refining Company the very best of names.
Senator E. J. Russell. - We have never had bigger sweaters in Victoria.
Senator SAYERS.- If the honorable senator can prove his assertion, he is welcome to do so.
Senator E. J. Russell. - I do not wish to accept the honorable senator’s statement without protest.
Senator SAYERS.- I may tell the honorable senator that in the district of Cairns the Colonial Sugar Refining Company has started hundreds of farmers. I am not prepared to accept his bald assertion that the company are not fair employers.
Senator Rae. - I have a letter from a man in Cairns who states that the company is sucking the life blood out of the country.
Senator SAYERS. - No white sugar - grower wishes to employ coloured labour under the existing conditions. According to Knibbs, there are 4,630 farmers in Queensland who are producing sugar exclusively by white labour, in addition to 320 farmers who are producing it with the aid of coloured labour. Between 1902 and 1910 there has been a rapid increase in the number of white men engaged in the industry. In the former year only 1,521 white farmers were employed in growing cane in Queensland, whereas in 1910 the total was 4,630. These figures evidence that the industry is one which is worth encouragement. In 1902 the sugar produced by white labour totalled 12,254 tons, whereas the estimated yield for 19 10 is 170,684 tons. Why do the Government desire to make a profit out of this industry? The statement that it receives a bounty is absolutely absurd.
Senator E. J. Russell. - Is not the bounty passed on to the consumers?
Senator SAYERS.- Nothing of the sort. The other day I read a letter in the Age which stated that a jam factory had had to close down because of the increased price of sugar. Could any statement be more absurd? As a matter of fact, we know that the jam industry enjoys a protection of about £18 per ton. We hear a lot about the duty of½d. a lb. on sugar, but we hear nothing about the duty of 2d. per tin upon jam. Who paysthat duty? Obviously the consumer.
Senator E. J. Russell. - Upon which side is the honorable senator?
Senator SAYERS. - My argument is that the consumer is always called upon to pay the protective duty.
Senator E. J. Russell. - No.
Senator SAYERS. - Does the consumer get his jam cheaper than he otherwise would because of the duty of 2d. per tin?
Senator E. J. Russell. - I can point the honorable senator to a case in which an article is sold for less than the amount of the duty upon it.
Senator SAYERS.- In that case, the article itself must be of rubbishy quality, if the duty upon hops, salt, olive oil, and harvesters does not make those articles dearer, then I do not know what would make them dearer.
Senator W. Russell. - What about bananas ?
Senator SAYERS.- There is a small protective duty upon them. I suppose that Senator E. J. Russell would say that sugar and bananas grown in Fiji and Mauritius by the poorest kind of coloured labour should be imported into Australia in order to make the article cheap for the benefit of the jam makers, in whom he is interested.
Senator E. J. Russell. - I am an enthusiastic supporter of the bounty.
Senator St. Ledger. - What about the Excise ?
Senator E. J. Russell. - We will maintain the Excise until we obtain further powers next year.
Senator W. Russell. - Can the honorable senator tell us what the Queensland people want?
Senator SAYERS. - I have tried to tell the honorable senator thai the Queensland people want a Royal Commission to be appointed in order that the industry may be placed upon a firm, sound footing. They do not want to have passed an Act that will expire by effluxion of time. If any one proposed to pass an Act of Parliament for the protection of other industries with the understanding that it should1 expire in 191 3, how the representatives of the States affected would howl ! Why, then, should legislation of this character affecting the sugar industry be passed ? I want to show now what the Commonwealth has made out of the sugar industry since it assumed control. The figures with regard to the Excise and bounty are shown on page 4 of the statistics relating to the sugar industry. They clearly show that the Government has made a profit of over £2,000,000 out of the industry. What other industry in Australia is there from which the Government has made a profit?
Senator Lynch. - The Commonwealth Government did not get that money.
Senator SAYERS.- Then the Treasury ought not to have issued those statistics.
Senator Lynch. - The money was divided amongst the States.
Senator SAYERS.- Then the honorable senator’s State got its share. In 1902 the Commonwealth Government benefited to> the extent of , £200,000; in 1903-4 it received£175,000; in1904-5. £375,000; in 1905 6, , £381,000. It is estimated this year that the Commonwealth will receive £97,000. The bounties paid have, of course, to be taken on to the other side ; but while the bounty paid in the first year, j 902-3, was , £60,000, the net Excise collected was , £261,517.
Senator Findley. - The honorable senator must remember that the Queensland growers also secured the benefit of the Australian market.
Senator SAYERS.- We all know that ; but the Victorian protected industries also received the advantage of the open markets of the other five States as soon asInterState Free Trade was established. What other industry is there out of which the Government makes an enormous profit?
Senator Findley. - I quite agree with this policy; but it is only right to remember that the States lost revenue through the Commonwealth sugar policy, whilst on the other hand the growers received the benefit of extended markets.
Senator SAYERS.- The advantage of extended markets applied not only to the sugar industry. The honorable senator forgets the great advantages conferred upon the industries in his own State. The Excise collected from the sugar-growers in 1909-10 was .£548,718, and the Government gave back in bounty £4°7»779- Consequently the Commonwealth netted a profit of .£140,939. If, in the same way, the Commonwealth Government levied an Excise duty on wheat, I am quite sure that the South Australians would complain. What would Senator W. Russell say if it were proposed to levy a heavy Excise on wine, and then pay to the South Australian growers three-fourths of the amount, and call it a bounty? Why should the sugar industry be picked out as the only industry to be treated in this manner? If the money taken from the Queensland growers were left in their pockets, they would be able to pay better wages than they are paying to-day. Let it be remembered that the small farmer, who is able to grow about 20 tons of sugar, has to pay to the Commonwealth ,£80 in cash before his sugar leaves the mill. The laughable aspect of the case is’ that the Commonwealth thereupon pays him a bounty of £60. What a nice, kind Government it is ! Yet I am sure that there are thousands of people in Australia who entertain the idea that the Queensland sugargrowers are advantaged by the bounty. They do not know that the growers of cane, before they receive a penny of bounty, have to get advances from the banks on the security of their sugar, in order to pay the Excise to the Government. An entirely false impression is conveyed as to this bounty. As a matter of fact, the canegrower is net even protected to the full extent of the £6 per ton . which is imposed on imported sugar. The actual protection is only £5 per ton. The cost of sugar in the world’s markets regulates the price in our markets.
Senator Lynch. - Why should it be so?
Senator SAYERS.- Why should it be so in the case of sugar, butter, and wheat? Is the honorable senator so dense as not to know that? It is an acknowledged fact that the markets of the world control the price of our sugar.
Senator W. Russell. - -It is controlled 6y monopoly.
Senator SAYERS. - I am quite certain that the Federal Parliament cannot interfere with the alleged “monopoly.” All the legislation that we could pass could not rule the markets of the world. It is absurd to use the word monopoly in this connexion. Are the markets of New York, London, and Hamburg controlled by a monopoly in Australia? Some years ago, sugar was much cheaper than it is to-day because of the quantity of beet sugar produced in Germany. Millions of tons were produced under the influence of a subsidy granted by the German Government. An enormous quantity was exported, for which an increased bounty was paid. The market was a fictitious one. The consequence was that the price was very low. It was bounty-fed German beet sugar that brought down the price. To-day, prices are much higher, but that fact has nothing whatever to do with any company operating in Australia.
Senator Findley. - Senator W. Russell does not object to a monopoly that keeps prices down, but to a monopoly that makes them high.
Senator SAYERS.- That monopoly for a time kept prices down. It is not keeping them down now. It could not be done without the Government subsidy ; and we have now a difference of only £2 per ton in the price in protected Australia as compared with the price in Great Britain with free imports. Though I have particulars here to a halfpenny, I speak in round figures; and it is quite enough to say that the difference is practically ,£2 per ton between the cost in Great Britain of sugar grown by cheap and coloured labour and the cost in Australia of sugar grown by white labour, and by - I say this without fear of contradiction - the best paid labour in the world in the same industry. I should like to see labour in this industry paid even better than it is ; and that might be done if the Government would only act fairly by the industry.
Senator St. Ledger. - The report of the deputation that waited on the Minister shows that that is what was asked for.
Senator SAYERS.- Senator St. Ledger read the report of the deputation ; and it is unnecessary that 1 should read it again. At present, the Government derive a revenue ot j£i on every ton of sugar produced in Australia ; and since 1902-3 that revenue has amounted to over .£2,000,000. Honorable senators say that they do not believe in taxing the primary industries of the country ; but the Government are .proposing that we should continue this tax upon the sugar industry at least until 19 13. We give the people interested in the industry no assurance that the existing arrangements will not be extended beyond that date. What we ought to do, and what I thought would be proposed in this Bill, is to increase the Excise of ^4 per ton to £6 per ton, making it equal to the amount of the import duty. That Excise duty might be charged upon every ton of sugar grown by coloured labour, and, even if the whole amount of the Excise of £6 per ton were refunded to the grower of sugar with white labour, the Government might make money out of the business. Is not that a fair proposition? Will honorable senators opposite contend that it is right to put the sugar-farmer in a position different to that of any other farmer in the country? If what I suggest were carried out, there would not be a ton of cane grown in Australia by coloured labour. We should, by that means, completely oust the little farmers employing coloured labour. If it were found necessary, the Excise duty might be made even higher than I have suggested, so long as the whole of the duty were refunded in the case of sugar grown by white labour. Honorable senators opposite profess that they do not believe in coloured labour, but the legislation they are proposing is not in accord with that profession. The Government have the whole matter in their hands, and I do not find any fault with them for taking every precaution to see that no bounty is paid on sugar grown by coloured labour. In section 4 of the Act, it is provided that -
Every grower of white-grown sugar-cane or beet who claims the bounty payable under this Act shall, in making his claim, certify to the Minister the conditions of employment and the rate of wages paid to any labourer employed by him other than the labour of his own family.
From this, it will be seen that there is no chance that bounty will be paid on any sugar grown by coloured labour. It is proposed, under this Bill, to provide that - “ If the Minister finds that the rates of wages and conditions of employment, or any of them -
(a) are below the standard rates and conditions of employment prescribed by any Commonwealth or State Industrial authority ; or
(b) in the absence of any such standard applicable, to the case, are below the standard rates payable and conditions of employment obtainable in the locality in which the sugar is grown ; or *
(c) in the absence of any such standard rates and conditions of employment respectively, are, on application by the Minister to the President of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, declared not to be fair and reasonable by him or by a Judge of the Supreme Court of a State or any person or persons who compose a State Industrial authority to whom he may refer the matter, the Minister may withhold the whole or any part of the bounty payable.”
What I want the Minister to do is to increase the Excise duty to £6 per ton upon all sugar, and to refund the whole of the duty on sugar grown by white labour. Some reference has been made to the expense of administration ; but, even including the expense, the revenue derived from the industry under existing conditions has amounted to over , £2,000,000. The expense has been comparatively small.
Senator St. Ledger. - It is only about £7,000 a year.
Senator SAYERS.- It has varied a little, but it reached , £7,000 in only one year. What I suggest would be a more statesmanlike proposal than that which is contained in the legislation now proposed, and it is what we have a right to expect would have been proposed by a Labour Government. We had a right to believe that a Labour Government would not propose that the matter should be hung up for at least the next three years, giving no security of conditions to the men engaged in this industry. No man will go into an industry without having some security as to the permanence of the conditions attaching to it. A man thinking of going into the sugar industry to-day will not know when the conditions surrounding it will be altered, and if it were only to encourage people to take up land for the cultivation of sugar, it would be well to adopt the suggestion I have made. I have spoken to people who desire to go into the industry, but they are held back by the doubt that exists as to what the conditions will be. The State Government have been asked to advance money for the construction of cooperative mills, or to increase the capacity of mills already in existence, but are unable now to crush all the cane available. But the State Government have said, “ We have nothing to do now with either duty or Excise, and we decline to advance any more money for this purpose until the Commonwealth Parliament does something to put the industry upon a sound and permanent footing.” Why will they not do so? Perhaps some honorable senators opposite know the reason, but I do not. I think that no fairer proposal could be made than that which I have suggested. If there is any difficulty in the way of giving it effect, I should like to be told what it is. If this Parliament can pass a law imposing an Excise duty of £4 with a return of £3 per ton on sugar grown by white labour, it can pass a law fixing the Excise at £6 per ton and returning £6 per ton on sugar grown by white labour. We should thus do away with the employment of black, labour in this industry altogether. If the professions’ of honorable senators opposite are genuine, and they really do not believe in black labour, an opportunity is now afforded them to show that they want a White Australia. At present, 15,000 tons of cane are grown by black labour in Queensland, and some in New South Wales; but if the proposal I make were carried out it would be impossible for those who employed black labour in the cultivation of sugar to make a living at the business. But instead of adopting such a proposal, the Government propose to hang the matter up for at least’ three years.
Senator W. Russell. - If a Royal Commission were appointed they could make inquiries during the recess.
Senator SAYERS. - We were promised a Royal Commission last year. We understood that the present Government intended to appoint a Royal Commission to inquire into the industry, and we did not demand that any particular persons should be represented on the Commission. The proposal apparently has fallen through, and we have Bills submitted to extend the present system to 19 1.3.
Senator Pearce. - Honorable senators asked for a stone and they have been given bread.
Senator SAYERS. - We asked for bread and have been given a stone. We asked for the appointment of a Royal Commission and the extension of the present arrangements until the report of the Commission was presented. The stone is in the proposal involved in the legislation now proposed, which will have the effect of encouraging the continued employment of black labour in the industry. Similar legislation in operation in the past has not had the effect of doing away entirely with black labour. The legislation now proposed will continue on the same lines.
Senator Pearce. - And the honorable senator is. going to support it.
Senator W. Russell. - Throw the Bill out.
Senator SAYERS.- The rejection of the Bill might not mean much to some honorable senators, but it would bring ruin to very nearly 5,000 families who are settled on the land. I am surprised that during the consideration of this measure there has been hardly a senator from any State except Queensland in the chamber.
Senator W. Russell. - That is not fair.
Senator SAYERS. - I make the solemn statement that there has not been a quorum in the chamber for the last two hours. It is indeed hard fighting for honorable senators who are only asking for justice to find that honorable senators from other States will not listen to the facts, even when quoted from Government documents. I regard that as a disgrace to the Senate, and a disgrace to the Parliament.
The PRESIDENT. - Order ! If there is not a quorum, it is the duty of an honorable senator to call attention to the fact. The honorable senator is not in order in saying that the absence of a quorum is a disgrace to the Senate and to the Parliament.
Senator SAYERS. - I beg your pardon, sir j I did not say that it was a disgrace to the Parliament.
The PRESIDENT. - The honorable senator said it was a disgrace to the Senate, and a disgrace to the Parliament, that there was no quorum. It is his duty to call attention to the state of the Senate if he wants a quorum.
Senator SAYERS. - I beg to differ from you, sir. It is not my duty to call attention to the want of a quorum. I do not run the Senate. I am simply stating facts.
Senator St. Ledger. - I could have called for a quorum if I had wanted to do so.
Senator SAYERS.- On Friday, sir, I called your attention to the want of a quorum when Senator Givens was speaking on this measure, and what happened? Honorable senators walked in, and immediately afterwards walked out again. I did not want to annoy the speaker by continually calling for a quorum. I have only stated facts, and if I . cannot stand here and state facts I should like to know what authority you have-
The PRESIDENT. -The honorable senator has not been interfered with instating facts. He made the statement that there was no quorum, and that that was. a disgrace to the Senate, and that waswhy I called him to order.
Senator SAYERS.- Then, sir, to put: myself in order, I shall say that it is anhonour to the Senate.
Senator St. Ledger. - In order that we may get on, I call attention to the state of: the Senate. [Quorum formed.]
Senator SAYERS . - When Senator St. Ledger called for a quorum, I was stating that honorable senators, if they are true to their convictions, and do not believe in the employment of coloured labour, will force the hands of the Government by altering this measure, so that the Excise on sugar shall equal the Customs duty. I have already proved that the Government have ample power to prevent any sugar grown by coloured labour coming into the market without paying the full amount of j£6 per ton. But I do not want the Government to penalize white growers to the extent of as. per ton, and in some instances a little more. With one voice the Government say, “ We are going to help the sugar industry”; but what help will be given when they take 2s. off every ton of sugarcane which a white grower produces? I am quite willing that he should be hound down strictly as regards labour conditions. 3 feel satisfied that if he is given an extra sum of 2S. a ton he will be able to pay better wages. But what is proposed ? It is proposed to go on for the next three years exactly as in the past. There has been nothing more scandalous than for honorable senators to come here and make out that the Government were paying a bounty when it was no bounty at all. I notice, sir, that you are looking at me. I suppose you think that the word I used is strong. I would use stronger language when men who profess to abhor coloured labour are indifferent when it is shown to them how it can be done away with in the sugar industry. When it is pointed out to them that they can make the business so expensive that it would not pay even blacks to grow sugar, they are not prepared to protect the white growers, but are content to allow things to go on for three years as in the past. If they do not encourage coloured labour by -their words, they do so by their act. We want to do away with the 300 or 400 sugar- ;growers who are employing coloured labour in Queensland, and to insure that not a ton of sugar shall be grown by such labour in Australia. I am prepared to support any Government which will make the Excise duty high enough to attain that object. But I would return the Excise money to every white man growing sugar under conditions laid down by the Government. In that way you would soon have no black- ; grown sugar.
Senator St. Ledger. - The honorable senator has forgotten the Tasmanian jam manufacturers.
Senator SAYERS.- We have heard this afternoon how those persons have cried out about the duty on sugar, and the price of it. When they complain of a duty of about £d. per lb., they forget that Parliament has presented them with a protection of 2d. per lb. on imported jam. Senator E. J. Russell has stated that the consumer has to pay tire extra Jd. per lb. on. the sugar. But who has to pay the extra 2d. per lb. on jam which is imported into Victoria and other States? It is peculiar that an honorable senator can look at a thing with one eye to-day, and shut the other eye when he is looking at the sugar industry. I believe that every representative of Queensland would unanimously support the Government if they brought down a policy such as I have advocated ; but we only number six in a Chamber of thirty-six members. Of course, if we get no support from the other side, or if the Government simply say, “ We will not accept your suggestion, but will go on as we have been doing,” they will carry the day. But I venture to hope that better counsels will prevail, and that they will yet see their way not to hang up the sugar industry in the air, as it were, for the next three years. It is not possible to induce men to embark their capital or labour in an industry unless they feel that they have some security. Until this Parliament has put the sugar industry on a sound basis, the Queensland Government have refused to advance more money to cooperative sugar mills. It has advanced thousands of pounds to such mills, and most of them have been successful. A committee of farmers is appointed to manage each mill, and as soon as they repay the loan it becomes their own property. Surely we ought to help these self-supporting, selfreliant persons. Surely they are the men whom we want to occupy our sugar lands and to defend Australia in time of peril. We are spending millions on defence, but where are the people to defend the States, if we do not induce settlement? The more people we bring into the country, the more sugar will be consumed. We need a large influx of population. I expect to see sugar grown in the north-western portion of Western Australia, and also on the Roper River, in the Northern Territory. I hope that the industry will flourish, but, at the same time, I trust that this Parliament will take steps to protect the people who are on the land, will do away with coloured labour, and will certainly pass no measure to practically encourage its employment. I expected a different measure from a Labour Government and from the party behind them, but, to my sorrow, I see that this patchwork legislation is to continue for three years.
Senator Givens. - What made the honorable senator expect so many good things from a Labour Government?
Senator SAYERS. - We were told that once the Labour party got into power, nothing would be done which would assist coloured labour.
Senator Givens. - Then why did not the honorable senator support the Labour party if he had those expectations?
Senator SAYERS.- I expected those things to happen when the Labour party got into power, but I have been disillusioned. I find myself in exactly the same position now as I was when the previous Ministry were in office. We tried in every possible way to induce them to do what we. are asking the present Government to do. They promised to do so, but they went out of power before it could be done. I believe that this country will be disappointed with the work of the Labour Government. I feel certain that the persons who grow sugar will be disappointed with this measure. I hope that before very long this or some other Government will do what is right and just to the people engaged in the sugar industry, without fear or favour, and dispose permanently of the colouredlabour question.
Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) [5.35]- - I am gladtohavethis opportunity to take a share, although my act may be open to suspicion, in extending to the sugar industry that encouragement to which it is entitled. I have assumed that it was necessary for me to begin with that assurance, especially in view of remarks which have been made by some representatives of Queensland. It has been stated repeatedly by Senators St. Ledger and Sayers that it is very necessary that a different course should be adopted in order to drive coloured labour out of the sugar areas.
Senator St. Ledger. - I have not said so.
Senator Sayers. - I have.
Senator LYNCH.- Senator St. Ledger cheered the statement made by Senator Sayers to that effect.
Senator St. Ledger. - I have not said so.
Senator LYNCH. - I shall forgive the honorable senator if he will not own up to having cheered the statement made by Senator Sayers.
Senator St. Ledger. - That is as to the employment of white labour. I do not know which policy is the best.
Senator LYNCH. - Senator Sayers has found fault with the effort made by the Labour Government to confine sugar production entirely to white labour. If we turn to the history of sugar production, we find that Queensland alone endeavoured for a iong time to rid itself of the employment of coloured labour in her sugar areas. I hear a number of “ Hear, hears “ from honorable senators on the other side. I am pleased to have that announcement of their conversion, in view of the attitude which they have taken up in the past.
Senator Chataway. - We have been trying to do it for years.
Senator LYNCH. - As regards the impatience of Senator Sayers with the conduct and policy of the Labour Government, if he is not satisfied with the rate of speed attained in getting rid of coloured labour, he must, indeed, be greedy. Does he desire to get rid of it by some sort of supernatural means? The records show that when the industry was brought under the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Parliament, no less than 84 per cent, of the sugar produced in Queensland was produced by black labour. But as the result of the policy which was inaugurated by this Parliament - largely owing to the influence of the Labour party-
Senator Sayers. - Oh, of course.
Senator LYNCH.- I repeat that as the result of the policy which was laid down by this Parliament - largely owing to the influence of the Labour party - within the brief space of nine years the quantity of sugar produced in Queensland by black, labour has been reduced to 8 per cent. If Senator Sayers desires more rapid progress than that he must indeed be a whale for. progress. It is obvious that within a very few years, under the benign influence of the policy which Queensland found it impossible to introduce, there “will not be a single black man left in the industry.. Personally, I am perfectly satisfied with the speed which has marked the decrease of coloured labour in the sugar industry. Numerous complaints have been made in regard to the necessity for giving security to the giower in this industry. I agree with the contention of Senators St. Ledger, Sayers and Chataway that the sugar bounty does not come out of the pocket of the taxpayer. The position really is that the persons employed in sugar production give with one hand what they pay back to themselves with the other.
Senator Givens. - A portion of the protected duty is pooled and shared out as a bonus.
Senator LYNCH. - The Excise duty of 4s. per cwt. upon raw sugar finds its way back into the pockets of the grower in the form of bounty; so that the persons engaged in the production of sugar actually pay their own bounty.. It is not suggested that these Bills will in any way interfere with the protective incidence of the Tariff. As far as the Tariff is concerned, the sugar-growers have no more reason to complain than have other manufacturers. The boot manufacturers, for example, have as much right to complain as have the canegrowers, because their only protection is to be found in the amount of duty imposed.
Senator O’Keefe. - The only way in which to place the sugar industry on the same basis as other industries is, to abolish both the Excise and the bounty.
Senator LYNCH. - I cannot understand the anxiety which has been expressed during the course of this debate to give the sugar-growers more security than they al: present enjoy. They have no more right to demand increased security than have other manufacturers. The Tariff is not. now under consideration, and consequently the complaint which has been urged by Senator St. Ledger is unfounded. That honorable senator has made a very flambuoyant utterance, in which he expressed the desire to see the industry conducted exclusively by white labour. I do not know whether he is a recent convert to that policy. His assertion that he desires to see the best conditions possible obtaining in the industry is difficult to reconcile with his former attitude upon this question. Both he and Senator Chataway have professed themselves anxious to see the best possible conditions obtaining in the industry, and only white labour employed in it. Yet they were members of a deputation which waited upon a former Minister of Trade and Customs, the object of which was the very reverse. At that time, the wages of labourers in the field during the slack season had been fixed at 22s. 6d. per week. When it was found that that wage was utterly inadequate, the Government of the day thought it wise to increase it so as to enable the workers to participate in the profits of the industry. Consequently, it was proposed to establish if at from 22s. 6d. per week upwards.
Senator Chataway. - No; from 20s. per week to 22s. 6d. per week upwards.
Senator LYNCH. - Twenty-two shillings and sixpence per week in the off season was the rate to which objection was taken. Senators St. Ledger and Chataway were members of the deputation in question ; and by their presence, they encouraged the belief that 3s.9d. per day was a fair wage. Some of the members of that deputation even went so far as to declare that it was too much.
Senatorst. Ledger. - Who said that it was too much?
Senator Givens. - The members of the deputation.
Senator St. Ledger. - Name them.
Senator LYNCH. - The deputation waited upon the Minister of Trade and Customs for the purpose of protesting against the wage of field labourers being established at from 22s. 6d. per week upwards. Senator Chataway introduced it. He read a memorandum in support of his claim, which stated that any higher rate was more than the industry could bear. Senators St. Ledger and Sayers were present, and tacitly acquiesced in that statement; and yet they now assure us that they desire to see better conditions established in the industry.
Senator St. Ledger. - I speak for myself.
Senator LYNCH.- The most candid member of the deputation was Mr. Archer, who formerly represented the constituency of Capricornia, and who was apparently used as a catspaw by the more cunning members of it. He was sufficiently honest to reveal the true inwardness of its object. He said -
As a matter of fact, when the first order was issued - it set out 25s. for harvesting and 22s. 6d. for the “off” season - I pointed out that it was anomalous, for in the sugar season the growers were prepared to make the rate 30s., but for the “off” season they claimed that 22s. 6d. was’ extreme, which it was.
Senator Chataway. - That is what the Cane-growers Union says.
Senator LYNCH. - That is the statement of a former member of this Parliament, which was supported by three honorable senators, who now assure us that they desire to see the best possible conditions obtaining in the industry. In his endeavour to bind the deputation down to something definite, the Minister said -
You say the new rate is nearly double what is paid for similar labour in other agricultural industries, and that it is more than the sugar industry can afford to pay?
In reply, Senator Chataway said -
In a recent issue of the Australasian there was a statement showing that the wage of the ordinary farm labourer is 15s. a week.
That was Senator Chataway’s contribution to the proceedings. He cited 15s. a week, apparently, with the object of inducing the Minister to believe that 22s. 6d. a week was too high a rate.
Senator Chataway. - What is the honorable senator quoting from?
Senator LYNCH. - I am quoting from the official report of the deputation; and Senator Chataway should be man enough to accept responsibility for what took place.
Senator Chataway. - I accept full responsibility for my own statements.
Senator LYNCH.- So much for the hollow pretences of the two Queensland representatives who have spoken on this subject that they want to see fair conditions obtaining, and white labour employed in the sugar industry. I do not know whether I should exempt Senator Sayers ; but, certainly, Senator Chataway and Senator St. Ledger belong to a party that has been consistently supported by a new auxiliary force in politics called the Women’s National League.
Senator St. Ledger. - Fire from behind their petticoats !
Senator McGregor. - That is where the honorable senator shelters himself.
Senator LYNCH.- This League calls itself national.” What crimes are committed in the name of nationality ! As far as hiding behind a hedge is concerned, I repudiate doing anything of the kind. I consider that when these ladies leave their domestic surroundings, come forward into the light of day, and take an active part in political affairs, they abandon their entrenchments, and ought to be just as much exposed to .public criticism as if they were men. They choose to take an active part in shaping the political destinies of the country, and there is no reason why one should be particularly delicate in criticising them. In fact, they rather court criticism. A conference of this League was held in Melbourne in 1907. Queensland was represented there, and the important subject of coloured labour came up for discussion.
The following resolution was moved by Mrs. Molyneux Parkes, of New South Wales: -
That while the Conference approves of the principle of a White Australia from the racial point of view, it considers that the importation of coloured labour is necessary for the development of the tropical territory.
Senator St. Ledger. - I do not mind saying that any association who would support that, was more or less of an “Ass.”
Senator LYNCH. - The proceedings of this conference enable one to get at the true inwardness of the movement in favour of black labour, although the male supporters of the League are not men enough to declare themselves so plainly. In the course of the discussion opinions were expressed on the subject in the following style. Mrs. Hawker, of Adelaide - agreed that the King’s Indian subjects should be admitted to the Northern Territory. The subject was one of importance to all Australia. The colour-line should take in the greater portion of the Northern Territory, a great part of North Queensland, and part of the north of Western Australia.
Senator Chataway. - The lady who moved the resolution did not belong to our party, but to a separate body in New South. Wales.
Senator LYNCH. - Senator St. Ledger himself went down and addressed afternoon meetings of the party.
Senator Chataway. - The honorable senator is libelling, not only a dead woman, but our party also.
Senator LYNCH. - My object is to ascertain whether the sentiments expressed in this Chamber were really genuine, and whether these are not the true expressions of opinion of the party to which the honorable senator belongs. Mrs. Chataway, of Mackay, said -
When quite a girl she lived in Java, and there she saw all black people. There were Kanakas, Solomon Islands “boys,” and others with loin cloths, and their bows and arrows, and they looked like savages. When they came up to the house she was told that they knew she was coming, and this was their way of giving her welcome. The Kanakas in Queensland, however, had been civilized and Christianized, and yet they were deported, because they had no gunboats. Australia would not dare to insult China or Japan in that way. The white men now employed were of bad character and unreliable.
That was the opinion placed on record by Mrs. Chataway - that the white men employed in the sugar industry were ‘ ‘ of bad character and unreliable.” I venture to say that that was an unscrupulous libel on the men employed in the industry.
Senator Chataway. - In 1907, there were official reports from the Queensland Government showing the same thing.
Senator LYNCH. -
Mrs. J. H. Hope, of Geelong, said that there was hardship and injustice in some cases in connexion with the importation of the Kanakas, but there’ was greater in their deportation.
Mrs. B. J. Daniel, of Mount Gambier, said that there were subjects of the King who had not while skins, but who could do labour that white men could not.
Senator Givens. - Did not Mrs. Molyneux Parkes say that all that was necessary was to put in a Liberal Government, and they would bring the kanaka back again?
Senator LYNCH. - Mrs. Parkes said -
They should put in a Liberal Ministry favorable to the Kanaka, and then the thing would be done.
It is quite plain that the aim of the important section of the party to which Senator St. Ledger and Senator Chataway belong, and of which they are such leading lights, was to bring the coloured man back into the sugar districts. I should say that the women on this occasion were speaking candidly and genuinely, and were expressing an opinion that their men folk were not game and not manly enough to express. There is one element in connexion with the sugar industry that we are bound to consider. Some very friendly references have been made to it by three honorable senators opposite. I refer to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. Senator St. Ledger cannot endure to hear a harsh word about the company. I have had a little experience of it, and know that it did not treat its employes as well as did other companies.
Senator Chataway. - Where was the honorable senator’s experience acquired?
Senator LYNCH.- In Fiji. But the company has shown its disposition in Melbourne, where it has been forced by the operation of a Wages Board to grant more humane and reasonable conditions to its employes.
Senator Chataway. - When was that?
Senator LYNCH.- Quite recently. If the Wages Boards records are looked up, it will be found that the company was paying rates as low as 6s. a day to able-bodied men. Yet we have had honorable senators saying that the company is a model employer, and that no complaint can be made against it. It has been shown by evidence produced before this Parliament that the bounties granted for the benefit of the growers have not reached their pockets as intended, but have gone into the coffers of the company. What previously happened in South Australia has been repeated in Queensland. The South Australian Government, under the leadership of the late Mr. Price, wished to encourage the farming industry by making a remission of railway rates. Upwards of , £30,000 was remitted with the object of benefitting the wheat industry. Yet a Parliamentary Committee found that the benefits had been intercepted by the middle men instead of reaching the farmers. The same sort of thing is being experienced in Queensland, where the bounty of , £3 per ton on sugar has been intercepted by those engaged in the manufacture of sugar.
Senator St. Ledger. - Who are they?
Senator LYNCH. - I am referring to those who have come in for so much praise from Senator St. Ledger. Those concerned in the sugar industry give a very different aspect to the position as it affects them. Lately, at a meeting of growers held at Bundaberg, it was shown that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company very effectually intercepts the benefit intended to be conferred upon the growers by the import duty of £6 per ton.
Senator Chataway. - Really, it is only £5 per ton.
Senator LYNCH.- Yes, £5 per ton to growers of sugar by white labour. To show that the benefit intended to be conferred upon the growers by the duty of £6 per ton does not reach them, I quote the following opinions expressed at a meeting of growers in Bundaberg on 19th February, 1909-
Mr. Bromily said that the speeches that had been delivered at the table showed the desirability for a Commonwealth refinery. It seemed impossible at present to get at the values of their cane ; he would like to see the industry nationalized, but the next best thing to that was to have a refinery of their own. They were at present giving their best to the refiner, who was making enormous profits.
He was in favour of the nationalization of the industry.
Senator St. Ledger. - What is there to prevent growers having a refinery of their own ?
Senator LYNCH. - I find that a Mr. Kirwan - urged the necessity of a Commonwealth refinery. He quoted the following figures in support of the motion. Taking the average cost of manufacture at 7s. 6d., and the cane value al £2 per ton, and £1 12s. 6d. was left them; take from that 12s. 6d., being the average price paid for cane, then the refiner had a profit of £1 each ton of cane.
Mr. Marks also said -
There was no reason why the Government should not have a State refinery to deal with the raw sugar manufactured in the State sugarmills. They had to consider whether the Government would run the refinery as profitably as a private concern would. He was heartily in accord with the motion, and with men like Dr. Maxwell in the Commonwealth there need be no fear for the future of a Commonwealth refiner)’.
A Mr. Gillies said that -
The sugar industry controlled from the Customs House was not a monopoly. He had been told that they would need to be very careful in advocating the Commonwealth Refinery or they would be looked on as Socialists, but there were several people who knew the meaning of Socialism. He was strongly, in favour of the establishment of a Commonwealth Refinery.
Mr. Mann said -
Some time ago the Cairns farmers asked the Colonial Sugar Refining Company to let them know on what terms they would be prepared to allow them to take over their mill, but the Colonial Sugar Refining Company refused to entertain the idea; that, to his mind, showed that the concern was a thing worth having.
The company would not enter into negotiations for the sale of their plant in the Cairns district, because they knew what a profitable undertaking it was, and that if they sold it some slight benefit from our legislation might find its way to the producers. These quotations show the course which the discussion took at this meeting, and it wound up by Mr. Mann moving the following motion : -
That the Commonwealth authorities be asked to communicate with the Colonial Sugar Refining Company wilh a view to purchasing their refineries as a going-concern, failing which, that the Commonwealth be asked to erect a refineryof their own.
That motion was subsequently altered to cover refineries and mills, and, as so amended, was carried unanimously. It must be clear, from the quotations I have made, that the cane-growers assembled at Bundaberg believed they were suffering from a gross injustice, in view of the fact that benefits intended by our legislation to reach them were intercepted by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
Senator LYNCH. - I have little more to say about the opinion of the growers of cane in Queensland as to the way in which they have been treated by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company in the past. At a meeting of growers in Bundaberg a pamphlet was issued in which the position is tersely summed up in the following paragraph :-
According to statistics the average analysis of cane throughout the sugar areas of the Commonwealth rarely falls below 7 per cent, p.o.c.s., which means possible obtainable sugar contents, and that the density for the Colonial Sugar Refining Company appears to be based on sugar maintaining an average value of £20 ros. per ton. The average value of cane would, therefore, be not less than £2 per ton. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company claim to extract more than 90 per cent, of the possible obtainable sugar contents. The average of other mills must be well above 80 per cent. When the grower therefore is only getting an average of £1 per ton, or less, for his cane, including Government rebate, it is very evident that the profits of the industry are nearly all going into the millers’ section of the business, and that under existing conditions the benefits of the protection afforded by the import duty of £6 per ton are merely building up and strengthening a huge monopoly.
The sugar-growers in Queensland contend that the protection of £6 per ton given by the Parliament of the Commonwealth goes entirely into the pockets of the shareholders of a private monopoly.
Senator Stewart. - Not entirely, surely?
Senator LYNCH. - I have no wish to improve upon the statement put forward by those who are most intimately concerned in the business, and I repeat that they say that under existing conditions the benefits of the protection afforded by the import duty of £6 per ton are merely building up and strengthening a huge monopoly. It would take very little inquiry by any person anxious to satisfy himself to ascertain how this is done. In the same pamphlet a statement is made of the prices offered by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company to the sugar farmers of Queensland. The prices offered for sugar-cane of varying density, from 6.5 to 16 per cent. of sugar contents, are given. It is not necessary to refer to them all, but I may say that 9s. 6d. per- ton is paid for cane of an average density of n per cent. It takes 9 tons of this cane to make a ton of sugar, so that the raw material required to produce a ton of sugar of average quality costs £4. 5s. 6d. In this pamphlet it is also laid down that the cost of producing raw sugar in Queensland, according to the Queensland Auditor-General’s report, was in 1905-6 £2 18s. 7d. per ton. In 1906-7 it was £2 14s. 7d. In 1907-8 it was £2 17s. 4d. The average cost of the manufacture of raw sugar during the three years mentioned was only £2 16s. rod. per ton. This includes maintenance and renewals of mill machinery, tramways, &c, cost of wages, salaries, rations, fuels, mill supplies, horse feed, sugar carriage, and all other expenses as well. In the case of the Nerang Central Mill, which works only a single shift throughout the season, and handles about 10,000 tons of cane annually, the cost of making white sugar averages £4 15s. per ton.
Senator Stewart. - That mill is obsolete.
Senator LYNCH. - That only strengthens my argument. I have shown that the cost of the raw material required for the manufacture of a ton of sugar is £4 5s. 6d., or 9s. -6d. per ton of cane, and the cost of manufacture is £4 15s. per ton on the basis of the cost in the Nerang obsolete mill. This gives a total of £9 os. 6d. as the cost of a ton of sugar, including the price of cane and the cost of manufacture. It is clear from this that the consumers of sugar throughout the Commonwealth, where it is a necessary of life in almost every household, are being charged an extraordinarily high price for sugar. They are paying at the present time about £21 per ton, although it is shown by this pamphlet that it costs only £9 os. 6d. per ton to produce it.
Senator Stewart. - The honorable senator should add £2 5s. per ton to that.
Senator LYNCH.- What for?
Senator Stewart. - For the bounty.
Senator St. Ledger. - The honorable senator must also add import duty and charges.
Senator LYNCH. - I am not concerned at present about import duty, bounty, or charges. I am showing what might be done if the Colonial Sugar Refining Company did not stand in the road, and by reason of the influence it exercises upon sugar production in Australia keep up the price of sugar in the way it does. Sugar is not delivered to-day to any storekeeperin Australia for less than £21 per ton. I have quoted figures supplied by cane-growers, which are certified by the Under-Secretary of the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Stock, to show that the total cost of a ton of white sugar, if the Colonial Sugar Refining Company did not stand in the way, would be only £9 os. 6d.
Senator St. Ledger. - The honorable senator has suddenly become a Free Trader.
Senator LYNCH. - I am not a Free Trader, nor am I an apologist for the
Colonial Sugar Refining Company, as Senator St. Ledger is.
Senator St. Ledger. - I did not apologize for’ the company.
Senator LYNCH. - In a two hours’ harangue this afternoon the honorable senator had not a harsh word to say about the company. I have given figures supplied by the Cane-growers Association of Queensland founded upon figures of the company, and I have taken the cost of manufacture at the cost of manufacturing white sugar in the Nerang Central Mill.
Senator Sayers. - How does the honorable senator make that out when they get 1 8s. and £1 a ton for the cane?
Senator LYNCH. - That is for cane of a different quality. I presume that the honorable senator is referring to cane of 16 per cent, quality, whereas I am taking the average quality of 11 per cent.
Senator Sayers. - Ten tons of cane will make a ton of sugar.
Senator LYNCH. - Nine tons will make it. Figuring that out at the company’s own price, it produces the sum I mentioned, namely, £4 5s. 6d. per ton.
Senator Sayers. - Surely you do not get 9 tons of cane for that price?
Senator LYNCH.- That is all that the company is paying at present.
Senator Stewart. - What about the bounty ?
Senator LYNCH. - I am not concerned at present with the bounty.
Senator Stewart. - Oh, but you must take what the cane costs.
Senator LYNCH. - I am looking at the matter from the point of view of the grower in the first instance, and showing what he is getting.
Senator Stewart. - He is getting the bounty in addition to that.
Senator LYNCH. - I am perfectly well aware that he is.
Senator Stewart. - What is the good of the honorable senator talking about a matter that he does not understand?
Senator LYNCH. - The responsibility for the accuracy of these figures rests with the cane-growers of Queensland, who, I presume, know what they are talking about. This pamphlet shows that we could obtain in the Commonwealth for £9 os. 6d. sugar for which we at present pay £20.
Senator St. Ledger. - I could get boots for 5s. apair. I am now paying 12s. a pair for boots.
Senator LYNCH. - I am taking the average quality to show what could be done if we had not the Colonial Sugar Refining Company to contend with, and to rake in profits on a colossal scale. It is easily explained how it is doing this thing. One expedient which the company resorts to in order to hide its enormous profits is mentioned in the Sydney Bulletin of June, 1908 -
At the date of the last balance of the Colonial Sugar Refining Co. (March 31), there was a sudden jump in the amount of disclosed profit available for reserves; and, as seemed likely at the time, that was a hint of a further pending issue of shares. The proposed issue is, however, larger than was expected ; it is intended to send out no less than 17,500, paying for them by transferring , £350,000 of reserves to capital. The present paid capital is , £2,500,000 (disregarding a few pounds still unpaid in respect to the last issue of shares), so the new issue will bring the total up to , £2,850,000.
The authorised capital is , £3,000,000, so there will still be£150,000 to deal with in the future - and no doubt it will be dealt with in the same good old way. The present new issue will not, of course, add a penny to the co.’s available capital. It will, however, have this effect : a 10 per cent, dividend, instead of absorbing £125,000 per half-year, will for the future absorb£142,500. There are not many co.’s that are worried about how to dispose of their profits ; but the C.S.R. Co. is one of the few there are. Or, really, its trouble is to dispose of its increasing profits without putting its dividend higher, and thus drawing attention to its affluence.
The new issue of shares - seven for every existing 50 - will wipe out nearly all the reserves. But, as frequently pointed out here, the C.S.R. Co.’s reserves arc not to be taken very seriously. For years past hardly anything has been added to them ; only just enough profit has been disclosed to pay the dividend. The unknown surplus - assuming that there has been a surplus - has been applied to the writing down of assets. In other words, the reserves have been internal, which is the polite way of saying hidden.
It is clear that by the favourite dodge of watering its stock, and applying the annual profits towards the writing down of capital, the company has been able to solidify its financial position enormously, and to pay 10 per cent, on its inflated capital year after year. That is the secret of the illustration I have given - paying such a small price for the raw material on the one hand and charging such a high price to the consumer of sugar on the other. Talk about grist being ground by the nether and the upper stones. In this case, the grinding process is done by that institution, which is in the middle, grinding on the one hand the producer of the raw material, and on the other hand the consumer of sugar, whilst the employe’s effort to get an increase in his wage of 22s. 6d. meets with resistance from Senator Sayers. In company with others, he attended a deputation, and helped by his presence
Senator Sayers. - You are speaking falsely.
The PRESIDENT.- The honorable senator must withdraw that remark.
Senator Sayers. - I will withdraw the remark if it is unparliamentary.
The PRESIDENT.- The honorable senator must withdraw a remark of that kind without any comment.
Senator Sayers. - If Senator Lynch makes a statement about me which is not true, will you tell me what I am to do?
The PRESIDENT.- The honorable senator might have interjected that the statement was not correct, but he said that it was false.
Senator Sayers. - I withdraw the other remark, and say that the statement is incorrect.
Senator LYNCH. - I did not expect that the honorable senator would get over-heated over my simple allusion to his presence on a deputation which waited on the Minister.
Senator Sayers. - I am not a bit overheated. Make true statements, and I shall not say anything.
Senator St. Ledger. - Does Senator Lynch call that a simple allusion?
Senator Sayers. - He imputed collusion, but he cannot prove it.
Senator LYNCH.- The object of the deputation was to protest against any increase being given to cane-workers who receive a wage of 22s. 6d. per week.
Senator Sayers. - The honorable senator is making a statement which is not true.
Senator LYNCH. - The honorable senator was present at the deputation. Why should he hedge in this way?
Senator Sayers. - The honorable senator is making a statement which is not true.
The PRESIDENT.- Senator Sayers must withdraw that remark.
Senator Sayers. - I denied the statement before in language which I withdrew, and then the honorable senator repeated it.
The PRESIDENT. - The honorable senator must withdraw his remark that the statement made by Senator Lynch is untrue.
Senator Sayers. - Has he a right to reiterate a statement after I have denied it?
The PRESIDENT.- Order !
Senator Sayers. - I shall say that his statement is incorrect.
The PRESIDENT.- Does the honorable senator withdraw the remark?
Senator Sayers. - Yes, sir, and I hope that you will prevent Senator Lynch from repeating a statement which I have denied.
The PRESIDENT.- The denial of a statement by an honorable senator must always be accepted, and Senator Lynch was not in order in repeating the statement which Senator Sayers denied.
Senator LYNCH. - If my memory serves me aright, all that I did repeat was that Senator Sayers was present on this deputation which protested against any increase being given to the workers.
Senator Sayers. - That is incorrect again.
Senator LY’NCH. - The honorable senator was present with the deputation?
Senator - Sayers. - I was present; but there was no protest on my part against an increase.
Senator St. Ledger. - An individual protested, but not the deputation, as the honorable senator knows.
Senator LYNCH.- The Colonial Sugar Refining Company is pursuing a course which will insure the killing of the goose which has laid golden eggs for it so long, while it continues to depress the price of raw material on the one hand, and keeps up the price of sugar on the other hand. The cane-growers who voted for Senator Sayers, and whom he thinks he represents more directly than does any other honorable senator in the Chamber, have pointed out that the company has been built up by whatever benefits have been conferred by this Parliament-
Senator St. Ledger. - There is no man in the sugar industry in Queensland who is getting 22s. 6d. a week.
Senator LYNCH.- I did not say that.
Senator St. Ledger. - Every man is getting 22s. 6d. and found. That is a very important difference.
Senator LYNCH. - I do not intend to argue the question of a wage of 3s. od. a day. It is quite sufficient for me to show that the three elements which are concerned in sugar production are dissatisfied. A wage of 22s. 6d. a week in Australia is nothing short of scandalous. It is a wage which the workers in the sugar industry should not be called upon to accept, but which is forced upon them by the cruel exactions of a company which is at present fostered by, and has apologists in, honorable senators who have come from Queensland. I desire to refer to a remark made by Senators Sayers and St. Ledger about the way in which the producers of wheat, wine, and other products are favoured by the Tariff, whilst the producers of sugar in Queensland have nothing to thank this Parliament for.
Senator St. Ledger. - Will the honorable senator strive to be correct? I spoke about putting an Excise duty on wheat and wine.
Senator LYNCH. - When we recall the action of these three honorable senators who made themselves notorious in fighting for the highest duty on every product grown in Queensland, and stopping short of extending like protection to the products of other States, they are certainly the last who ought to complain about any remarks which may be made concerning Queensland products. They consistently refused to grant similar treatment to the products and industries of every other State.
Senator St. Ledger. - Name one.
Senator Sayers. - He cannot.
Senator Guthrie. - Glass instruments.
Senator LYNCH. - It is well known that as regards sugar, bananas, timber ; in fact, everything which was essentially a Queensland product, these three honorable senators were rabid Protectionists ; in fact, they out-protected Sir Robert Best and some Protectionists who proclaimed that they were Himalayan Protectionists. But when it came to a question of protecting boot manufacturers in Melbourne who supplied boots to the workers in the sugar industry, these three honorable senators did not want any protection for them.
Senator Sayers. - We wanted cheap boots, did we not?
Senator LYNCH.- Quite so. If the honorable senators from other States had acted in that grossly selfish spirit, what sort of a national Tariff should we- have had ? It stands to the credit of the Senate that other honorable senators did not look at items from the stand-point of their respective States, but considered every item from a wider outlook. In that way we arrived at a Tariff which, in addition to giving Queensland its due, gave sufficient protection to every struggling industry in every State in the Commonwealth. I have no cause to complain about the action of the representatives of other States, because they have behaved reasonably towards Queensland, having overlooked the selfish action of three of its representatives, and given to its chief industry the protection to which it is entitled. I voted for the protection which has been accorded to Queensland products, and would do so again, but if I were actuated by the paltry motives of the honorable senators to whom I have referred-
The PRESIDENT. - Order. The honorable senator is not in order iri making that statement. He must withdraw it.
Senator LYNCH. - I withdraw the word “ paltry.” I would not have referred to the matter but that the charge has been reiterated that the representatives of other States, and particularly of South Australia, are averse to extending consideration to Queensland industries. My own observations have led me to believe that the representatives of South Australia are quite capable of looking beyond the geographical boundaries of their own State. In that respect, they are unlike the three honorable senators whom I have mentioned. My desire is to secure to the white race the production of sugar in Australia. But I recognise that there are difficulties ahead. The only way of solving those difficulties, and of doing justice alike to the growers, the consumers, and the workers, is by giving effect to the policy of the cane-growers themselves. They have come to the conclusion - and tightly so - that the only way in which the burden can be lifted from their shoulders is by the Commonwealth establishing a refinery of its own so that it will be in a position to take the raw product from them, and to give them a higher price for their cane - whilst treating its employes better - than does the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. After all, that is only the natural course of development. Experience teaches us that wherever the State has interfered in industrial matters, and by its activity has supplied services which private individuals have been supplying, the gain has always been on the side of the community. In my own State, the establishment nf Government crushing mills on the gold-fields has had the effect of reducing the price of treating ore from 25s. to ros. per ton. In South Australia, too, numerous examples can be found in which Government intervention has proved beneficial. I support the motion for the second reading of the Bill in the hope that when an attempt is subsequently made to regulate the conditions of employment in the sugar industry, it will have the support not only of the cane-growers of Queensland, but of the people of the Commonwealth.
Senator STEWART (Queensland) [8.30]. - T do not intend to say very much in connexion with this measure, nor do I propose to discuss the very vexed question of the division of profits between the refiners, the millers, the growers, and the workers. No doubt the present state of- affairs is very unsatisfactory. The refiners, I think, get very much more than they ought to get. There is no doubt that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company is making huge profits, only a comparatively small portion of which is disclosed. It is building up very large reserves, and every two or three years is watering its stock. In short, as I have frequently pointed out in Queensland - it is taking to itself the very cream of the industry. But we have not power to deal with it at the present time. We propose to ask the people to grant us that power by means of a referendum. The present Bill is open to three very strong objections, though perhaps I ought not to seek perfect legislation upon a vexed question of this kind immediately. But I think that the measure might approach a little nearer to perfection than it does. My first objection to it is that it does not propose to give the sugar grower the full protection of £6 per ton, which is ostensibly granted by the Tariff. We all know that the measure of effective protection granted to the industry is only £5 per ton. I think that it is entitled to the full £6 per ton. Seeing that a duty of £6 per ton upon sugar is the law of the land, I cannot understand why the present position should be continued. The time has arrived when the industry ought to receive the full amount of the protection granted to it under the Tariff.
Senator Story. - Would the honorable senator treat the tobacco industry in the same way?
Senator STEWART. - We are dealing now with the sugar industry. When we come to discuss the question of tobacco I shall be as ready to express my opinion upon it as I am to express my views upon the sugar industry. I repeat that this Bill does not extend to the industry the full measure of the protection ostensibly granted to it under the Tariff. Another objection to the Bill is that it proposes to continue the protection of £2 per ton to sugar grown by coloured labour. If the people of the Commonwealth realized the situation, I do not think that they would agree to that. Nobody is anxious to protect, an industry which employs coloured labour largely, and which pays extremely low wages. Last year between 13,000 and 14,000 tons of sugar - which probably is equivalent to 140,000 tons of cane - was grown by black labour. When honorable senators reflect that a protection of £2 per ton upon sugar represents 4s. per ton, upon cane, they will realize how unfair it is that this protection should be continued. I cannot see any reason in the world for continuing it. Those persons who employ black labour have had years of warning to cease the practice. But evidently a number of them find it profitable to continue it.
Senator Story. - If they ceased to do so, what would become of our unfortunate coloured brother?
Senator STEWART. - I am not dealing with that question just now. This Parliament set out with the idea of making the sugar industry a white industry. Yet it is now continuing it as a piebald industry. I venture to say that if the protection of £2 per ton which is at present accorded to sugar produced by black labour were abolished, the kanaka’s would lie driven out of the industry within the next twelve months, because nobody would find it profitable to employ them.
Senator Sayers. - Hear, hear !
Senator Givens. - Senator Sayers did not support that view when I advocated it seven years ago.
Senator Chataway. - He was not here to support it.
Senator STEWART.- I think that Senator Givens ought to be flattered by the attitude which Senator Sayers and other honorable senators are taking up to-night. They are converts to the cause. I think that the time has arrived when the protection accorded to sugar produced bv coloured labour ought to be abolished. I cannot see a single reason for continuing it. My third objection to the Bill is that under it the Treasury will obtain £140,000 per annum from the sugar industry. I do not believe in taxing sugar for revenue purposes. I believe in imposing a duty upon that article for the purpose of encouraging its production in Australia. But I look in other directions to obtain money with which to carry on the government of the country! I recognise that every farthing obtained from this industry makes it less necessary to resort to direct taxation. The remedy for the present position of affairs is to equalize the Excise and the protective duties. If that were done, and the whole amount thus collected were returned to those who produce cane exclusively by white labour, the em ployment of coloured persons in the industry would be immediately stamped out. That would represent the first gain, and those engaged in it would benefit by getting the full measure of the protection which is accorded to it under the Tariff. I do not know whether the Government is prepared to take a step of this kind, at the present moment, but I think it is extremely desirable that what I have suggested should be done. In that way the grower would get the full benefit of the protection, and .the employment of coloured labour in the industry would be completely stamped out. At the same time, the Treasurer would have to look for £140,000 in some other direction, which also, I think, would be a very good thing. I have listened with much interest to the excellent speech delivered by Senator Lynch, but I cannot allow his statement about the cost of cane to pass unchallenged. He has not counted the rebate in his estimate; for it is not a bounty, but a rebate.
Senator McGregor. - The Colonial Sugar Refining Company has not to pay that.
Senator STEWART.- The company has to pay in the first instance 9s. 6d. per ton of cane, and then gets the money back from the public. But, in addition, about 5s. per ton is obtained from the Government. Where do the Government get that money from? The Government get it from the miller, who has to pay an Excise of £3 per ton.
Senator Pearce. - Where does the miller get it from?
Senator STEWART.- The miller gets it from the public. The total amount goes into the cost of production. The cost of cane is not 9s. 6d. per ton, but 1.4s. 6d. I think I heard Senator Givens say the other day that some of the growers in the Cairns district of Queensland were getting from £1 to 25s. per ton.
Senator Givens. - From £1 to 21s. fid.
Senator STEWART.- It takes on an average, in that part of Queensland, about 8 tons of cane to make a ton of sugar.
Senator Guthrie. - Senator Lynch gave the percentage of sugar as 11.
Senator STEWART.- That is very low. On an average, throughout Queensland, it would take about 10 tons of cane to make a ton of sugar, but in the north it takes about 8 tons. The cost of milling, according to Senator Givens, amounts to £2 15s. per ton.
Senator Lynch. - For the purpose of my calculation, I did not trouble about the bounty at all.
Senator STEWART. - But that must be taken into consideration, because it is just as much a portion of the cost as the money which the Colonial Sugar Refining Company pays directly to the grower.
Senator Rae. - If there were no Excise duty, would the growers get more for their cane?
Senator STEWART.- They ought to get 2s. per ton more ; that is to say, they would be entitled to that. There is no doubt that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company is in a position of great strength. It has practically a monopoly. To all intents and purposes, it controls the production and distribution of sugar in Australia. There is not the slightest doubt that it extracts the last possible farthing out of the millei . The miller in turn passes it on to the growers, and they pass it on to the workers.
Senator Rae. - A vicious circle.
Senator STEWART. - Every man who has come in contact with the industry knows that there is a continual struggle between the workers and the growers, between the growers and the millers, between the millers and the refiners, and between the refiners and the public. Next year, I hope the people of Australia will have wisdom enough to give the Commonwealth Parliament power to deal with the refiners, and with the whole industry on a satisfactory basis. My own belief is - and I have expressed it on many a platform - that under proper conditions we ought to be able to produce sugar and sell it to the public pounds per ton cheaper than is the case at the present moment, and at the same time pay all those engaged in the industry, whether workers, growers, millers, or refiners, better than any of them are paid at present, except the shareholders of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. But to begin with, I think we ought to purge the industry of coloured labour.
Senator Rae. - Has the honorable senator any idea of what the profit per ton on the present prices of sugar amounts to?
Senator STEWART.- The profit to whom ?
Senator Rae. - To the Colonial Sugar Refining Company.
Senator Chataway. - It amounts to £1 17s. 6d. on every ton handled.
Senator Givens. - How does the honorable senator know that?
Senator Chataway. - I have worked it out from the company’s balance-sheets over a series of twentyyears.
Senator STEWART.- The balancesheets of the company do not disclose very much. The one fact that stands out beyond everything else is that the company is making exceedingly large profits.
Senator Chataway. - That is the fault that the honorable senator finds with the company.
Senator STEWART. - I am merely pointing out the fact. I am not blaming the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. It is not in business for the good of its health, but to get as much money out of the people of Australia as it possibly can. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company knows that its existence is precarious, and that a few years may see an end put to its present operations. I have not the slightest doubt that it is taking full advantage of the present opportunities. 1 do not blame it. But I shall blame the people of Australia if, when the opportunity is offered them, they allow a monopoly of this kind to extort money from them any longer. That is my position in regard to the m’atter. I think that the Government might very well make the Excise equal to the duty, and return the whole of it to such growers as employ white labour. They would stamp out coloured labour immediately by so doing. Of course, I do not suppose that the Government will accept any suggestion of the kind, but it is worthy of consideration.
Senator Rae. - Why not absolutely prohibit the employment of coloured labour?
Senator STEWART.- We have no power. We cannot interfere. But the method that I suggest would’ be an indirect way of preventing the employment of coloured people.
Senator E. J. Russell. - Is there not a danger that by passing a provision of that kind we might lose the Bill ? The growers might take the matter to the High Court, and we might have a- decision similar to that given in the McKay case.
Senator STEWART.- I do not think so. In any case, I throw out the suggestion, and shall be very glad if the Government accept it.
Senator PEARCE (Western AustraliaMinister of Defence) [8.53]. - Generally speaking. I think that the Senate indorses the position that the Government has taken up in regard to this question. Therefore, I shall not occupy much time in reply ; but I wish to offer ai few remarks in protest against the attempt that has been made by Senator Sayers and others to score off the political parties that practically brought about the salvation of the sugar industry, and that turned it from being a black-labour industry into a white man’s industry. Honorable senators opposite are the lineal descendants of those who brought black labour to Queensland. They stand cheek by jowl at election times with the party that was always associated with black labour in that State. They are the political associates of men who, if they had their way, would never have allowed this legislation to be placed upon the statutebook. I resent, therefore, the statements we have had from them, which would make it appear that they are better friends of the industry, and of the white growers , in it, of all people, than are those who are directly associated with the political parties who were the first to enunciate the White Australia policy, and to apply it in the teeth of strenuous opposition.
Senator Chataway. - Apply the same argument to the pearling industry of Western Australia.
Senator PEARCE.- If I had my way I would apply the same principle to the pearling industry, and the time will probably come when it will be so applied. As to the pretended concern for the white growers shown by Senator Sayers and his associates, I can assure him that those of us who have been fighting for this legislation - who fought for it against the late Senator Ferguson and others in the first Parliament: - are not to be deceived by this kind of. talk. We can see through it. It is merely indulged in with the object of making the people of Queensland believe that honorable senators opposite are prepared to out-herod Herod, now that they see that this policy has come to stay - that they are prepared to go even further than anything that we have proposed.
Senator Givens. - They are fleeing from the wrath to come.
Senator PEARCE . - Whether they succeed in escaping it or not, I wish them to understand that they cannot deceive me. I can see what the proposal is, and it must be clear to most members of the Senate. We have been asked why we did not propose to raise the Excise duty to the full amount of the import duty and refund the whole of it to the growers of sugar by white labour. In the first place, we could have no guarantee that the grower would ever get the money. We have a pretty good indication that he would not get it, and that the extra £2, instead of going into the pockets of the grower, would go to swell the already too big dividends of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. They are the masters of the situation. The money must filter through their hands before it can reach the grower, and it rests with them to decide how much of the money of the public, as Senator Stewart has properly described it, shall go into the growers’ pockets and how much shall go into their own. Senator Sayers tried to make us believe that by some kind of financial legerdemain those engaged in the industry find the money to pay the bounty. 1 could not quite understand whether he meant to suggest that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company are finding the money, or that the industry as a whole is finding it.: But he thought he scored a tremendous point on Senator E. J. Russell when later he admitted with the greatest frankness that the consumer is paying the whole of the duty. If that be so, it is only a question of how the money which, according to Senator Sayers, is taken from the general public is divided.
Senator Sayers. - It is taken from the grower, and the honorable senator knows it well.
Senator PEARCE.- It is true that under the existing arrangement a certain amount of revenue is derived by the Commonwealth, but we cannot shut our eyes to what has happened in the past, and we cannot consider this question without recollecting the history attached to it. What is that history? First of all, a series of measures were proposed with a double object ; one to provide that Australia should produce her own sugar, and the other that it should be produced by white labour. There was a third important object which I have overlooked, and that was to rid Australia of a stain upon her national escutcheon due to the operation of a system of semi-slavery. These were measures providing for an import duty on sugar, an Excise duty on sugar, and a rebate of the Excise in certain conditions, and, further, the Pacific Island Labourers Act intended to secure the deportation of kanakas from Queensland. These four measures were treated as parts of one policy. The idea was to continue the Excise and rebate or bounty during the period in which we were taking from those engaged in the industry the cheap labour of the semi-slave. The Commonwealth agreed to provide some oil for the wound, as it were, in the shape of a rebate’ of the Excise where sugar was grown by white labour. This was to encourage growers to employ white labour . in the place of the kanaka. We decided to give- a rebate on sugar grown by white labour, and to impose the full Excise duty as a penalty upon those who continued to employ any form of coloured labour. That policy was continued, and I say now with the greatest pleasure and pride, as one who took part in that legislation, that those measures have been an unqualified success. When ‘ we remember that in the year in which that policy was introduced 80 per cent, of the sugar grown in Queensland was grown by black labour, and that now, nine years later, only 8 per cent, of the sugar grown in Queensland is grown by black labour, that only about 1,000 Polynesians now remain in the Commonwealth, whilst thousands have been returned to their islands, and that the stain has been wiped off our national escutcheon, those who have the audacity to stand up here and say that the Federal Parliament has not dealt with this question all’ round in a thoroughly successful manner must be blind or must shut their eyes to the facts. Now that we have reduced the quantity of sugar grown by black labour in the Commonwealth to 8 per cent, of the total, and propose, without any limit as to time, to re-enact legislation which is surely but slowly crushing black labour out of the industry, and must, within two or three years at most, completely abolish it, the proposition is put forward that we should go further, and should impose an Excise duty amounting to the full import duty, and hand back the whole of the Excise in the shape of a bounty.
Senator St. Ledger. - Who made that proposition ?
Senator Sayers. - I did.
Senator PEARCE. - Senator Sayers made it first, and Senator Stewart has made it since, but I must say that Senator Stewart admits that it is possible that the £140,000 might find its way, not into the Commonwealth Treasury, but into the vaults of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. Senator Sayers thinks that this is not a matter worthy of consideration; but the Government do not view it in that light. We have irrefutable proof that this policy will accomplish what Senator Stewart says he desires. It will entirely crush out the black labour still employed in the industry.
Senator Sayers. - It has made no difference in the last two years.
Senator PEARCE.- On the other hand, it will not tend to further fatten the already over-bloated monopolistic company now controlling the industry. I say, therefore, that the safe course to adopt is that proposed by the Government. We ought not to run the risk of making a present of more money to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, and the legislation now proposed will certainly abolish the employment of black labour in the industry.
Senator Rae. - If any proposals were hereafter submitted in the direction of nationalization of the industry, how would this legislation affect them?
Senator PEARCE.- We intend to submit to the electors next year proposals to secure the power to nationalize monopolies. If this sugar-refining industry were nationalized, I venture to say that the Government could give the people of Australia sugar at a far lower price than they are paying for it now, could give the grower a better price than he is getting now for his cane, and the workers in the industry better wages.
Senator Chataway. - Then why does not the State Government of Queensland pay better prices for cane?
Senator PEARCE.- If Senator Chataway requires any proof of the truth of the statement I made, he has only to consider the fear displayed by his political associates whenever any proposal is made to put the States into competition with the private enterprise about which he boasts.
Senator Givens. - The State Government in Queensland refuses to compete with private mills.
Senator Chataway. - What about the Nambour Mill, which is selling in the open market and pays the lowest price for cane?
Senator PEARCE.- I had not intended to reply to the debate, but, in view of the somewhat exaggerated statements made by Senator Sayers, I thought it was necessary to place on record my opinion of their value. I should like to get these Bills through Committee as soon as possible, and have this legislation established.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause. 1 -
This Act may be cited as the Sugar Bounty Act 19 10.
The Sugar Bounty Act 1905 as amended by this Act may be cited as the Sugar Bounty Act 1905-1910.
Senator CHATAWAY (Queensland) [9.5]. - I move -
That the word “Bounty,” line 1, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ Rebate.”
Nothing could make more clear the necessity for proper nomenclature in describing this legislation than the remarks which Senator Pearce has just made. Honorable senators will remember that, in the first instance, a proposal was made to levy an Excise duty on sugar, and to allow a rebate of that Excise in certain circumstances. Measures were passed with that object in view, and later, when, though the matter was not decided by the High Court, it was thought that these measures were unconstitutional in view of the fact that the Constitution provided for a return to the States of three-fourths of the revenue from Customs and Excise, a measure was passed in the following session substituting a Sugar Bounty Act for the Sugar Rebate Act. I think we are all agreed that the Excise is levied upon the industry. That is to say, the renner, who charges the public £22 per ton for sugar, has to hand over £4 of that price to the Treasury. The result is that the refiner pays less to the miller, and the miller less to the farmer. The farmer gets a rebate of £3 per ton from the £4 per ton Excise duty in the form of a bounty paid on cane grown by white labour. The matter should be put in a way which would be clearly understood. This legislation does not resemble the legislation we passed here, in 1907, for the payment of bounties upon certain products. In that case, a direct levy was made upon the Treasury to defray certain bounties upon the production of cotton, coffee, rubber, and other articles. Honorable senators will remember, also, that in the case of the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act, a rebate of Excise was provided for the purpose of regulating labour conditions in that industry. The Excise duty levied under that Act was declared to be unconstitutional, but did Parliament alter the duties on harvesters? We know that it did not. Parliament passed an Act to levy an Excise duty of so much per harvester, and those who carried out the necessary labour conditions were not to be called upon to pay any Excise at all. In the case of the sugar industry, however, they take up quite a different attitude. The object in that industry is exactly the same as in other industries, namely, to regulate labour conditions. They say, “ We will levy, an Excise duty of £4 a ton on the sugar, but if you carry out proper labour conditions we will give you a rebate of £3.” Speaking not very long ago, the Minister of Trade and Customs, who is really the Minister in charge of this Bill in Parliament said -
The term “ bounty “ is a misnomer. It is not a bounty in the sense in which we ordinarily understand the word. The position is that before any sugar-grower in Australia can receive a bounty he must have paid £4 per ton Excise. As I said in 1905, if any of us had to give £4 away and receive only £3 back, he would not consider that he was receiving a bounty of ^’3. but would rather think that he was losing £1 over the transaction. Sir John Quick here interjected : “ It is a rebate under the name of a bounty,” to which Mr. Tudor replied, “ That is so. The growers are getting back £3 out of the £4 which they pay in, provided that they comply with certain stipulations as to the employment of white labour and as to labour conditions.”
I do not propose at the present stage, unless I am drawn into it later, to argue as to whether the Excise should be equal to the bounty, or anything of that sort. What I am arguing is that the word “ bounty “ is a misnomer, and that there is no reason why we should not use the word “ rebate,” and so properly interpret the intention which was expressed by Senator Pearce just now, when he referred to the rebate. Besides the reference by the Minister of Trade and Customs, the Prime Minister, as far back as February, 1902, expressed the opinion that if we levied an Excise of £4 a ton and gave a rebate of only £3 a ton, the growers should get the greater portion of the “rebate.” I do not intend to quote the passage in which he used that word, because I wish to do so later, if necessary. My amendment, if adopted, will not interfere in any way with the wording of the measure. It will not make any difference in that regard, but it will give a large amount of satisfaction to those who are engaged in the industry, and who feel that so long as the Government deliberately levy a tax on the industry in order to pay a certain amount back, to call what they give back a bounty, is not a true description of the financial operation.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister of Defence) [9. 15]. - Perhaps Senator Chataway could not have mentioned a worse case to assist his argument than the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act of 1906. If ever a warning was given to us not to associate labour conditions with Excise it was given when the High Court ruled that Act unconstitutional, so far as it related to labour conditions. The effect of this amendment would be that whilst the Excise would be leviable, all the labour conditions would be rendered null and void.. I do not know whether Senator Chataway wants to effect that, but I warn those who may be thinking of supporting the amendment that that would be the effect of it. It is not merely a question of terms, but a question of changing a measure which, in the eyes of the law, relates to the payment of bounty. Honorable senators may argue if they like, as the Minister of Trade and Customs argued, that, in effect, the bounty is the same as a rebate. In law, it is a measure relating to the payment of money, and not to the withholding of the payment of Excise duty. That seems to me to be an overpowering reason why the amendment should be rejected by all those who want to see fair labour conditions associated with this payment, or, if Senator Chataway likes to so call it, with this rebate. Furthermore, he was most unhappy in his facts regarding the Act which he did mention, because, as a matter of fact, the import duty on agricultural harvesters is £12, and not £6, whilst the Excise was £6.
Senator Chataway. - I did not mention any amount.
Senator PEARCE. - In that particular case, even if we imposed the Excise, there was still a protection of £6.
Senator Chataway. - I said that when the Excise was found ultra vires, we did not alter the protection.
Senator PEARCE. - No, we did not.
Senator Chataway. - I never mentioned any amount.
Senator PEARCE.- No; but the honorable senator was arguing that we ought to have treated the sugar industry in precisely the same way as we treated the agricultural harvester industry, and trying to make out that we were far more generous to the latter than to the former, though, as a matter of fact, we were not, because we gave the manufacturers of harvester machinery no bounty, and the Excise amounted to one half of the import duty. In this case, however, we . propose to give back the bulk of the Excise in bounty. If we accepted the amendment, we should be going back upon an alteration which was made practically with the consent of every friend to this particular legislation. In the. first place, it was a rebate of Excise; but, on advice, Sir George Turner came to the conclusion that that was unconstitutional. Until the expiration of the Braddon section on the 31st December next, the constitutional position will remain. Since that decision was arrived at, we have had an additional reason supplied to us as to why we should not associate labour conditions with Excise and that is the judgment of the High Court. For the reasons I have given, I trust that the Committee will not accept the amendment.
Senator ST. LEDGER (Queensland) [9.21]. - I only rise to point out the effect of the Minister’s argument. What he says is that, so long as the word “ bounty “ stands in the clause it is constitutional ; but if the word “ rebate “ is substituted, it will be unconstitutional. He is advised that that is the effect of the judgment of the High Court in the Harvester case. But what it decided was that the Parliament cannot do indirectly that which it has no power to do directly. I would not insult the intelligence of any Court by contending that if I altered an Act by the mere preservation of a form of words, I should make it constitutional or unconstitutional.
Senator SAYERS (Queensland) [9.22]. - The Minister of Defence has stated that if “ bounty “ is altered to “ rebate,” the Bill will be unconstitutional. That is, 1 think, a flimsy argument to put forward. The honorable senator dealt with my suggestion that the whole of the Excise should be returned. I shall not quarrel with him about the words which are used, if he will agree to return the money paid in Excise. I do not care what the payment is called, so long as the money is . returned.
Senator Rae. - The Minister’s point was that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company would get hold of the money.
Senator SAYERS. - Any one outside would laugh at that statement, because the price of cane rises with the price of sugar. I do not suppose that the cane-grower would get every penny of the 2s. per ton, but he would receive the greatest portion of it, and would be able to pay better wages and give better accommodation. Will the Minister say whether he is willing to return the money paid in Excise to the white growers, and retain the full £4 a ton on black-grown sugar? The Vice-President of the Executive Council must recognise that his statement is not logical, and cannot be borne out by facts. I do not object to a tax of £6 per ton being levied upon sugar produced by black labour, but I desire that the white grower should get the full benefit of his labour. I do not desire the Government to benefit to the extent of 2s. per ton upon cane thus produced. Seeing that the Commonwealth has extracted £2,000,000 out of the industry, it is time that the Vice-President of the Executive Council came down here with a proposal
Senator McGregor. - It is dangerous to accept suggestions from the penitent thief.
Senator SAYERS. - It would be equally dangerous to accept many suggestions which emanate from the Vice-President of the Executive Council. The honorable gentleman occupies a responsible position in this Chamber, and yet he endeavours to convert every statement which is made by a member of the Opposition into ridicule. He never takes anything seriously. He ought to be a little more courteous to honorable senators. He has a failing, but I hope that in the near future he will amend his ways. There is room for improvement.
Clause agreed to.
Senator GIVENS (Queensland) [9.27]. - I desire to move a new clause, the object of which is to substitute the words “ twenty-four “ for “ twelve “ in subsection b of section 2 of the principal Act. It is proposed to pay a bounty for the purpose of differentiating between cane grown by white labour and that grown by coloured labour.
Senator Chataway. - I rise to a point of order. I wish to know whether the honorable senator is in order in submitting a proposal to amend a section of the principal Act, which has not been referred to the Committee by instruction or otherwise?
Senator Givens. - Upon the point of order, I wish to direct your attention, sir, to the fact that this is a Bill for an Act to amend the Sugar Bounty Act 1905. My amendment seeks to amend that Act, and is, therefore, entirely in accord with the principle which the Senate affirmed upon the motion for the second reading of the Bill.
Senator Millen. - I would remind you, sir, that upon more than one occasion decisions have been given that upon a Bill of this character, which seeks to amend an Act, it is only competent to submit amendments to the sections which the measure proposes^ to touch. One of those decisions was given by Sir Richard Baker in connexion with a proposal to amend the Electoral Act in regard to the matter of preferential voting. An attempt was made to amend a section in that Act which was not covered by the Bill, and the then President held that it was not competent to do so unless the section had been referred to the Committee by way of instruction.: That being so, it seems to me that the point of order which has been raised by Senator Chataway is absolutely sound.
The CHAIRMAN.- Standing order 327 says -
An instruction can be given to a Committee of the whole on a Bill to amend an existing Act, to consider amendments which are not relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill, but are relevant to the subject-matter of the Act it is proposed to amend, provided that such motion shall be carried by at least fifteen affirmative votes.
It seems to me that the amendment outlined by Senator Givens is not relevant to the Bill, inasmuch as it does not seek to amend a section in the principal Act which is referred to in this Bill. In the circumstances, T rule that the proposal is out of order.
Senator Rae. - Do 1 understand that the proposal would be in order if a certain number of honorable senators supported it?
The CHAIRMAN.- No. An instruction would first have to be given to the Committee.
Clause 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 -
Section six of the Sugar Bounty Act 1905 is amended by omitting therefrom the following proviso : - “ Provided that the rates payable on all suchcane or beet delivered during the years 191 1 and 1912 shall be respectively two-thirds and onethird of the aforesaid rates.”
Senator CHATAWAY (Queensland> [9-37]- - I hnd myself in a similar dilemma to that occupied by Senator Givens, inasmuch as I had hoped to submit a proposal to request another place to fix the bounty on cane at 8s. per ton, and on the sugargiving contents of beet at 80s. per ton of sugar. But in view of your ruling it is impossible for me to submit that amendment. However, I move, in order to obtain a vote on the subject -
That the word “ proviso “ be left out.
I do so formally to enable the Committee to discuss the unreasonableness of the Government in seeking to obtain revenue from the sugar industry.
Senator Pearce. - I rise to a point of order. I submit that the honorable senator is not in order in endeavouring to discuss the rates prescribed by section 6 of the principal Act, inasmuch as the Bill under consideration provides only for omitting the period during which the rates of bounty payable in respect of cane and beet sugar shall be operative. Section 6 of the principal Act is not before the Committee, but only that portion of it which this Bill proposes to omit. I submit that the honorable senator is out of order in discussing the rate of bounty. Obviously the debate must be limited to the proposals of the Bill.
Senator Chataway. - I would direct your attention, sir, to the fact that the proposal which I have outlined is to omit the word “proviso.” At present I wish to discuss the cost of administering the principal Act. The Minister of Defence may succeed in tripping me later, but he has not done so up to the present. I contend that so far as I have gone I was speaking strictly to the amendment.
Senator Millen. - I should like - without affirming the point with any particular emphasis - to submit that Senator Pearce’s point of order is untenable. Pushed to its full extent, his argument would land us in an absurd position. He has argued that, because this Bill reads, “ Section 6 of the Sugar Bounty Act is amended by omitting “ certain words, we have not .power to go beyond the amendments in the Act proposed by the Bill. But I contend that we ha%’e a right to amend the section in any way we think fit. Surely we ought not to be tied to a particular amendment that the Government choose to bring forward. There is an obvious difference between Senator Chataway’s amendment and that submitted by Senator Givens, which has been ruled out of order.
Senator Givens. - The one amendment comes from one side of the Chamber, and the other from the opposite side; that is the difference.
Senator Millen. - I am surprised that my honorable friend should take such a view. Inasmuch as we have before us a proposition to amend section 6 of the Sugar Bounty Act, I submit that we are at liberty to discuss any amendment of it. Senator Pearce, however, has put the view that the only amendment which we can accept or reject is one affecting the particular words included in the Bill.
Senator Pearce. - I say that the only thing before the Committee now is a proposal to make a specific alteration in the existing Act.
Senator Millen. - The whole section is under review.
Senator Pearce. - I have admitted that the portion of the Act mentioned in the Bill is under review.
Senator Millen. - In that case, I rather incline to agree with my honorable friend.
Senator Chataway. - Two distinct questions have been raised. Senator Givens’ amendment was ruled out of order because it dealt with a section of the Act that is not touched by this Bill. But section 6 of the Act, with which my amendment deals, is dealt with by the Bill. Therefore, I hold that my amendment is not out of order.
Senator Millen. - I understand that the amendment is to leave out the word “ proviso.” That has nothing to do with the main Act. It is a word contained in the Bill. Just as we can reject the whole of clause 3 of the Bill, so we can reject any word in it.
Senator Pearce. - I did not raise a point of order on the amendment, but submitted that Senator Chataway could not, on such an amendment, discuss the rates provided for in the Act.
Senator Millen. - If Senator Pearce simply means that the amendment is in order, but that Senator Chataway’s remarks were out of order, I have nothing more to say.
Senator Rae. - I contend that the mere fact’ that Senator Chataway’s amendment proposes to omit the word “ proviso “ cannot be held to admit of a general discussion of the whole purport of the principal Act. The object of going into Committee on a Bill is to enable its details to be discussed. If Senator Chataway can discuss the whole administration of the Act by proposing to omit one word - an amendment which, by the way, would make the clause meaningless - that would defeat the whole object of going into Committee. We cannot deal with the subject-matter of the Act when a single amendment is before us.
Senator Pearce. - When an honorable senator of the keenness and perception of Senator Millen mistakes my’ point of order, I have some doubt as to whether I clearly stated it. I did not contend that Senator Chataway was not in order in moving his amendment. But after moving it he said that he had given notice of another amendment which he recognised that it would not be in order for him to submit, and he then proceeded to state. that he was going to accomplish his object by proposing that the word “ proviso “ be left out. He had commenced to refer to his proposal to substitute 8s. for 6s., and 80s. for 60s. My point of order is that there is no amendment before the Chair dealing with the rates of Excise, and that Senator Chataway was not in order in debating them.
The CHAIRMAN.- It seems to me that Senator Chataway was quite in order up to the point that he had reached. He had proposed to omit a word from the clause. I was waiting to hear his reasons for the amendment. As the point of order has been raised,. I may intimate that Senator Chataway would not be in order in discussing in Committee what he had intimated that he wished to discuss. He had given notice of an amendment which, as he stated, would not be in order. If he desired to give reasons why that amendment should be made, he would be doing in an indirect way what it would not be in order for him to do directly.
Senator CHATAWAY (Queensland) [9.51]. - I desire to point out that the cost of administration of the Sugar Bounty Act, averaging a number of years, comes to £6,300 a. year. During quite a number of years - probably as a result of the Braddon section of the Constitution - a sum of, roughly speaking, £2,000,000 has gone into the Commonwealth or State Treasuries. That is to say, that sum has been taken out of the pockets of those concerned in the sugar industry, and has not been repaid to them. In. other words, a much larger sum has been taken out of their pockets than they have received.
Senator Rae. - Whose pockets did the money come from in the first Instance?
Senator CHATAWAY.- No matter whether we are concerned with a box of matches or a Dreadnought, the cost ultimately comes out of the pockets of the consumer. But if you levy an Excise inside of a protective duty, both the Excise and the Customs duty do not come out of the pockets of the consumer. The main point, however, is this. Is it the intention of the Government to perpetuate the old system under this proposal, which provides that certain rates shall be repealed? In connexion with those rates, under the Act of 1905, it was provided that certain sums of money should be paid back to the producers of white-grown sugar-cane. An estimate prepared by the Government, and tabled during this session, showed that during the current season the Commonwealth will collect £802,756 in Excise on sugar; and if every ton of cane grown in Australia is produced by white labour, the total amount of Excise to be paid back by the Commonwealth will be £602,067. Consequently the Commonwealth Government will make a profit of £200,000. We know, as a matter of fact, that 7 or 8 per cent, of the sugar produced in Australia is grown with the aid of coloured labour, and the Government will pocket the whole of the £4 per ton Excise paid on that sugar. In urging that the Government should take into consideration the advisability of amending the provision with respect to the rates, I point out that on the 6th February, 1902, when the original Sugar’ Rebates Bill was before this Parliament, Mr. Fisher, the present Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, said, speaking of the cane- growers -
Since 31st January last they are entitled to a rebate of 4s. per ton on 10 per cent, sugar-cane - approximately £2 per ton on their sugar. But the Excise duty is £3 per ton, and what I desire to know is whether the Government cannot see their way clear to give the whole of that Excise as rebate upon sugar grown by white labour.
A little further on he said -
I suggest that instead of 1st July the date should be 1st June, and that 6s. should be substituted for 4s.
The CHAIRMAN.- The honorable senator is now referring to the matter of rates, and I ask him to confine his remarks to the question.
Senator CHATAWAY.- I shall not try your patience any further, sir. I say that the facts I have put forward suggest excellent reasons why the Government should take into consideration the advisability of reviewing this provision and altering it in such a way as would increase the rebate or bounty paid to the growers, allowing for a sufficient revenue to cover the cost of administration. The Minister, in the course of some rather heated remarks, explained that the danger was thai if we increased the amount to be “paid by way of bounty the money would get into the coffers of some gigantic corporation. The honorable senator forgets that if that is a good objection to the proposal it applies with equal force to the Bill as it stands.
Senator Rae. - So it does very largely.
Senator CHATAWAY.- Then why renew this legislation, if the effect is only to put money into the coffers of a huge corporation ?
Senator Pearce. - The honorable senator is referring to an argument I used on the second reading of the Bill and not to the clause before the Committee.
Senator CHATAWAY.- Then I shall put it forward as a supposititious argument of my own. If I were to contend that to increase the bounty would be to put money into the coffers of a big corporation, I should be guilty of declaring that the bounty payable under this Bill would also go into the pockets of that corporation.
Senator Pearce. - I again rise to a point of order.
Senator Sayers. - I direct your attention, sir, to the fact that there is not a quorum present.
The CHAIRMAN. - The Minister has risen to a point of order.
Senator Sayers. - But I ask you, sir, to note that there is not a quorum present.
Senator Pearce. - The honorable senator is not at. liberty to interrupt me now by calling for a quorum.
Senator Sayers. - Yes, there should be a quorum present to listen to a point of order.
Senator Pearce. - The honorable senator can call attention to the want of a “quorum when I have stated my point of order.
Senator Sayers. - Then I can walk out of the chamber now?
Senator Pearce. - Senator Chataway is debating a proposed increase in the bounty of 2s. per ton, and a proposed increase of 20s. per ton. Clearly, according to the
Tuling just now ‘given, the honorable senator is not in order in doing that.
Senator Sayers. - I ask your ruling, sir, on a matter of procedure. I do not think you will find from the records of any Parliament that an honorable member is at liberty to continue speaking when attention has been called to the want of a quorum. I ask whether you can refer me to any record of the kind.
The CHAIRMAN.- The honorable senator was quite in order in calling attention to the want of a quorum, and I was going to direct that the bells be rung when he walked out of the chamber.
Senator Sayers. - No; the Minister declared that I could not call attention to the want of a quorum while he was raising a point of order.
The CHAIRMAN. - The Minister is not in the Chair. I understand that the honorable senator still desires to direct attention to the fact that there is n’nt a -quorum present. The bells will be rung. [Quorum formed.’]
Senator Pearce. - I presume that as you, sir, have ruled that I ought to. have resumed my seat when attention was called to the want of a quorum, it is necessary that I should again state my point of order. I ask whether Senator Chataway is in order, under cover of the amendment, in making a second-reading speech on every principle contained in the principal Act as he is doing in traversing the arguments I used in speaking on the second reading of this Bill ?
The CHAIRMAN. - The honorable senator in referring to rates and general principles was going beyond the scope allowed in Committee.
Senator CHATAWAY. - I do not intend to question that ruling. I submit’ my amendment with a view- to direct the attention of the Government to the necessity of so altering the rates payable that they will not make a revenue in excess of the costs of the - administration of this law out of Excise taxation on the sugar industry.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment ; report’ ‘ adopted.
Bill considered in Committee, and re ported without request; report adopted. Senate adjourned at 10.10 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 18 October 1910, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1910/19101018_SENATE_4_58/>.