8th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m.,and read prayers.
The following papers were presented : -
Defence Act. - Regulations amended. - Statutory Rules 1921, No. 213.
New Guinea. - Ordinances 1921 -
No. 21. - Native Administration.
No. 22. - Stamp Duties.
Public Service Act -
List of Permanent Officers of the Commonwealth Public Service as on 30th June, 1921.
Promotions. - Department of the Treasury -
D. Patterson, E. E. Williams, D. C. Collins, R. A. Love,R. H. Francis, L. P. Dunn, W. C. Connors, H. J. Watt, R. E. Carew, C. G. Swan. A. Fletcher.
Report regarding the employment of returned soldiers inthe Taxation Department.
Position of Returned Soldiers
– Some time ago I asked the Minister for Repatriation a question regarding some complaints by returned soldiers in the Taxation Department. I should like to know if the honorable senator is in a position yet to give me a reply?
– I have received a lengthy reply from the Commissioner of Taxation. He, first of all, points out that, owing to the omission of the word “ not” from the portion of the report quoted by the honorable senator, what he said was entirely misunderstood. The omission of the word made it appear that the remarks quoted applied to those permanently in the Service, whilst, of course, ifthe word were included a different complexion would be put on the matter. The following is the reply furnished : -
SenatorFoster has quoted incorrectly from my Seventh Annual Report. The remarks quoted referred to returned soldiers who were not former employees of the Department. The Report does not contain any reference to returned soldiers who were formerly officers of ‘ the Department. It was not necessary to do so because -
They had been former officers of the Department who had been selected on account of their capacity to perform successfully the work of the. Department; (2)Their services were satisfactory. Reference was madeto returned soldiers who were not former employees of the Department because -
1 ) The services of a very large number of them who had been employed as temporary officers had been unsatistory;
The Department had been obliged by the policy of the Government to employ returned soldiers wherever possible;
) The Department was, in some quarters, regarded as being costly to the community ;
It was necessary’ that the Parliament and public generally should be aware of one of the principal causes for the heavy cost of the Department, in order that the administration of the Department should not be improperly judged on the question of costs.
Upon thepublication of my Report, I was interviewed by two representatives of. the Returned Soldiers’ Association, and I informed them that I could not, unfortunately, alter the view expressed in myReport, unless it were in the direction of a more drastic statement.
These representatives then informed me that the permanent officers of the Department, who are returned soldiers, whether former officers of the Department or not, had drawn the conclusion from my comments in question that I considered them as being unsatisfactory to the Department. I assured them that such a thought had not entered my mind. I added that many of the permanent officers who are returned soldiers are doing excellent work, and need . have no fear regarding their future prospects, provided they developed satisfactorily along the line of administrative ability, as the Parliament and people required that the administrative officers of the Department should be the best obtainable, irrespective of war service.
In regard to the complaint voiced by Senator Foster, on behalf of some returned soldiers, that I was personally unsympathetic to their request that they should be specially trained so as to bring them up to the level of officers senior to them who had not gone to the war,
I fear that the officers in question are lacking in perspicacity, otherwise they could not have failed to realize that not one officer of the Department could be spared from the urgent work of assessment of taxes for the training purposes, They seem to have forgotten that the Department existed to collect necessary revenue within a limited time.
It is useless to ask that Taxation Department officials shall undertake the intensive training of members of the staff during office hours. The possibility of doing this is past, for the reason that the officers who alone are capable of conducting the intensive training are required to work all too strenuously in order to endeavour to perform their ordinary duties. The strain of taxation work on these officers is increasing to such an extent that some of them have broken down in health.
I would add that, on every possible occasion, I have allowed my strong personal sympathy for returned soldiers to weigh in my judgments regarding the merits of officers for positions of responsibility; but there have been, and will continue to be, occasions when the best interests of the Department would demand preference being given to a non-soldier.
So far as the remarks of Senator Foster are directed to the matter of the training of returned soldiers after office hours, the facts have apparently not been properly represented to him.
Classes were instituted to instruct all officers in features of the work with which they were not familiar. In order to test the progress made in the subject-matter of the lectures, it was proposed to hold tests with the object of dividing the class up into elementary and more advanced sections, and intensifying forthwith the training in the elementary grade. As the returned soldiers declined to submit to the tests, the classes were abandoned. This test was not competitive, and, as stated above, was designed in the interests of the soldiers themselves.
With regard to the statement that returned soldiers were penalized by being refused exemption from overtime to continue their technical studies, unless granted a certificate by a medical officer, the position is that, in order to cope with the extraordinary pressure of work, all officers were required to work overtime for a definite number of nights per week, and all officers alike, returned soldiers or otherwise, were required so to work unless they were able to establish by medical certificate that their health was likely to suffer as a result.
If the result, of any officer having been required to perform extra duties resulted in a temporary postponement of his completion of studies of a” technical nature, such deficiency in that regard was more than compensated for by the increased practical knowledge likely to be gained as a result of additional work performed; and in actual fact, such circumstances are always taken into account when dealing with the question of promotions. This is illustrated in recent promotions when, out of twenty-eight officers nominated for promotion,* seventeen were returned* soldiers, seven of whom? joined the Commonwealth Public Service after, discharge from the Australian Imperial Force, the remaining ten being officers of the Commonwealth Public Service at the date of enlistment.
Commissioner of Taxation
Acquisition op British Rights in; Prospecting for Oil.
Senator KEATING.Ref erring to aquestion put by me last week and his reference to a statement made by the Prime Minister on the previous day concerning the acquisition by the Commonwealth Government of the interests of the British Government, in the joint oil prospecting venture in Papua, I ask the Leader of the Senate whether we are to understand that that acquisition is subject to the ratification of this Parliament, and, if so, is the ratification of Parliament intended to be sought bv the passing of a Bill, a special resolution, or some item on the Estimates.
– I am not yet in a position to state the course that will be taken. But it will be one which will enable the Parliament to freely express its will in the matter.
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Returns of Income from. More than one. State - Cancellation of Assessments.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Senator FOSTER (for Senator Gardiner) asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers are -
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator E. D. Millen) read a first time.
Suspension of Standing Orders.
Senator E. D. MILLEN (New South
Wales - Minister for Repatriation’) [3.9]. - I move -
That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed through all its remaining stages without delay.
I do not propose to take full advantage of the motion if it should be agreed to, but, should the opportunity present itself to-night, Ishould like to be in a position to make my second-reading speech explanatory of the measure, thus leaving honorable senators, between this and the resumption of business to-morrow, in a better position to proceed with it.
– According to the statement of the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen), there is some ground for hoping that matters other than those of governmental’ origin will have an opportunity of being discussed in this Chamber. In view of the fact that I have a very important motion on the notice-paper, I should like to know if the Government will give me an opportunity, consistent with the declaration just made by the Minister, during the course of the. day to move the motion of which I have given notice.
– I cannot give a definite answer to the honorable senator’s question, because I do not know at this juncture if we are likely to reach the stage where advantage can be taken of the suspension of the Standing Orders. We have to dispose of the House of Representatives’ message in connexion with the Tariff, and if it should happen that the Senate should be in an agreeable frame of mind, and disposes of the remaining items rapidly, it is possible that I may be able to move the second reading of the Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill later in the day. If that is done we shall then be able to revert to private members’ business. I am as anxious as is Senator Lynch, and I believe other honorable senators, to provide an opportunity for clearing up the private business on the notice-paper; but there is, of course, a general wish that the Appropriation. (Works and Buildings) Bill should be disposed of so that public works may be proceeded with. If it had not been for that necessity the second reading of the Bill could have stood over.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee (Consideration of House of Representatives message resumed from 18th November, vide page 12981) :
And on and after8th July, 1921 -
Manures. - Free.
Senate’s Bequest. - Amend item to make it read -
House of Representatives Message. - Made with the following modifications: -
Sub-item (b)- After “(b)” the word “ Superphosphates,” inserted.
After sub-item (b) the following sub-item added: -
– The only alteration made by another place to the request submitted by the Senate is one which I think clearly represents the desire of the Committee. In the original Tariff superphosphates manufactured in the British Empire were to be admitted free from all countries, and manures, n.e.i., were to be dutiable at 10 per cent., 15 per cent., and 25 per cent. respectively. Theletters “n.e.i.” were inserted by the Committee in the wrong place, as it was intended to make superphosphates other than those manufactured within the British Empire liable to these duties, leaving on the free list blood manures, which are not covered by the term ‘“superphosphates.” The object of the Committee was clearly to levy a duty upon superphosphates imported from other countries. The modifications made by another place, if agreed to, will mean that superphosphates and all other manures manufactured within the Empire will come in free of duty, and superphosphates from outside the Empire will be liable to 10 per cent., 15 per cent., and 20 per cent. respectively, as suggested by the Committee. I move -
That the modifications be agreed to.
– The members of the Committee must be in a penitent mood if they are going to allow this proposal to pass without saying a word on what is a most serious question, and one of vital importance to primary production in this country. The history of this proposition isvery clear, and, fortunately, well known. It does not reflect any credit upon the Government. When the Tariff reached this Chamber from another place, there was no suggestion of imposing any duties at all upon fertilizers, but, apparently, the Committee has been ‘used , to insert everything nasty, distasteful, and refrogressive. A move was made, influences were exercised, and strings were pulled, with the result that a staple article used in the manufacture of fertilizers has been made dutiable. Then, having taken one false step, it had tobe followed by another, and a duty has been imposed on the completed product. I do not wish to injure any industry in this country, primary or secondary, but I desire first consideration to be given to primary industries.
– The honorable senator objects to secondary industries destroying primary industries.
– Absolutely. At the same time, I desire to see primary and secondary industries working harmoniously together, but when the time comes for an important industry such as this to be threatened with extinction, and a large number of people engaged in it thrown out of employment, it is time for this Committee to assert its authority and not to be made a medium for imposing duties.
– My proposal is to remove the duties.
– That is too thin altogether. The Minister is not speaking on the “ stump.”
– I am speaking to one !
– Yes, a steadfast one, whose position is always known. The Minister does not require a scale to know where I stand. I am as solid as a stump at any time, and in that respect I am unlike the Minister. It does not require a compass or a divining rod to determine my position on this or any other question before the Committee. We have been informed that this modification should be accepted because it is for the purpose of removing the duties. It is nothing of the kind. The Minister cannot throw dust in my eyes by making statements which would probably be accepted if delivered from a public platform, but which should not be swallowed here. Superphosphates are required for the dry soil in the interior, and the Minister knows little or nothing about the requirements of the primary producers. There is not a member of the Cabinet who knows anything at all concerning the subject under discussion. Not one member of the Government has everattempted to grow as much wheat as would be required to feed a broody hen, and yet the Government attempt to enlighten people who have made wheatgrowing a lifelong study, and have staked their all in the industry. I am not going to treat the proposal of the Minister in any jocular manner, nor do I intend to invoke the art of wordy artifice to sustain the position I take up. I approach the matter with a genuine desire to see that manufacturers of fertilizers in Australia get a square deal; and, on the other hand, I am also going to try to obtain fair treatment for the people who must buy their products. The presumption is that this industry is languishing; but we have heard nothing from the Treasury bench to support that view.
– Who said it was ?
– Then why ask for this duty? Is the honorable senator supporting it?
– I am.
– Then he is supporting a duty for an industry which, on his own admission, is not languishing.
– I want it protected.
– I previously gave the Committee some information from the report of a Royal Commission, which sat in New South Wales, on the wheatgrowing industry in that State. They were not my own figures that I quoted, but were the result of careful research by the Commission, and the result of a study of operations over a period of ten years snowed that, while the industry was far from profitable, in individual cases there was, generally speaking, the barest margin of profit. The profits did not exceed more than a few shillings per acre. We have had similar commissions of inquiry in other States, and in Western Australia in particular. To the latter State, where I am sorry to say the average quality of the land is not as good as in other parts of Australia, though the area is vastly greater in extent, numbers of men are being attracted, because of the wheatgrowing possibilities, and it is on their behalf that I am raising my voice to-day. I hope that honorable senators will be convinced that the manufacturers of fertilizers are not in need of protection. Tasmanian senators are bound to vote for the duty on sulphur, and then they must follow up their action by supporting a duty on superphosphates. This is the vicious circle always set up through a bad beginning, and the Government have fathered the bad beginning. This is the first attempt made to put a duty on fertilizers, which are needed so much in Australia,and I protest against such barefaced iniquity. If there is one thing that we should do with our light and dry soils, it is that we should make them productive ; yet a policy is brought down to impoverish them.
What standard are we to adopt in judging whether this duty is needed or not? The Government should have examined the balance-sheets of the particular companies concerned ; but they have not done it. Although I have supported the Government in other matters, they are not my leaders in this, and I say most emphatically that they arein my debt; I am not in theirs. We have heard a great deal about what the Government intend to do to encourage primary production. The producers need practical assistance, not promises which are never fulfilled. The Government are helping the manufacturers rather than the men on the land. I have gone to some trouble to ascertain whether the manufacturers need a duty or not. Information on this point should have been furnished by the Government. This insane policy of the Government was begun by giving a duty on Tasmanian sulphur; but I understand that the people producing sulphur in Tasmania are doing very well. According to the latest balancesheet of the Mount Lyell Company, it is, I am glad to say, making satisfactory progress. While the copper mines of Queensland, and those at Wallaroo, in South Australia, are in deep waters by comparison, the Mount Lyell Company has kept in operation, and has even increased its output. But the Tasmanian company’s operations are not confined to mining. It has big chemical works in Melbourne and Adelaide, and also a plant in Western Australia. On last year’s operations the company lost no ground, so far as profit to its shareholders was concerned.
– Can a man go on growing wheat, with all these extra charges, if he is only to receive 4s. a bushel ?
– No ; he will have to go out of the business. He will run a few sheep, and when the countryside is deserted, and is unable to absorb labour, the people in the cities will feel the pinch. The cost of living then will go up, and matters will have to be a good deal worse before they can be better.
– I could understand all that Senator Lynch has been saying if we were now discussing a proposal to place duties on manures. His remarks would be quite appropriate to the discussion which took place when this item was last before the Committee, and when there was a proposal to impose duties. But that is not the position to-day. This item was sent to another place with the proposed duties inserted in such a way as to cover, not only superphosphates, but a multiplicity of other manures produced outside the British Empire. The Government agreed to the request, but thought that the Senate had in. view the placing of duties, not on all manures, but only on superphosphates from outside the British Empire. Senator Lynch has just been speaking against those duties, which, as I have already pointed out, have been agreed to, both by this Chamber and another place. What I am proposing now is not to put on duties, but to accept a modification, the effect of which will be to take out from the dragnet class a number of manures which, it is believed, the Senate had no intention of making dutiable at all.
– But leaving the duty on superphosphates.
– That has been agreed to, rightly or wrongly, by both Houses.
– It was wrong, all. right.
– I am not saying whether the decision of this Committee was right or wrong.
– It was quite as wrong as the decision in regard to the timber duties.
– I do not want to compare the duties on this item with any other duties in the Tariff. It is now open to this Committee to stand by its original request, which means, in effect, that manures other than superphosphates gathered within the British Empire will be dutiable, or to accept the suggested modification put forward by another place to remove the duties from such manures as Thomas’ superphosphate, nitrate of soda, bone dust, guano, Wood manure, and other fertilizers. The third course open to the Committee is to offer some modification to that which has been sent to us from another place. It should be clearly understood that my proposal, if adopted, will not disturb the present duties on a non-British superphosphate. All it does is to take out of that category the manures I have indicated. If the Committee thinks that these manures should be dutiable, then my motion should be defeated. I submit. however, that our purpose should be to make the tax as light as possible on the users of these fertilizers, and that is the effect of my proposal.
– I agree that, in the interests of the farmers, for whom Senator Lynch speaks so eloquently, the motion submitted by the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen) should be accepted. But I should also like to remind Senator Lynch, and honorable senators generally, that it is open to this Committee to change its mind with regard to the duties that were fixed when last this matter was before this Chamber. The whole question is now open for discussion again, and the Committee may, if it think fit, make the whole of the superphosphates free.
– I think I am right. I speak, of course, subject to correction from the Chair.
– But the High Priest of Protection has spoken.
-BROCKM AN . - No doubthe does not approve of what I am saying.
– I speak on behalf of the farmer. I hope the honorable senator will not be successful in doingwhat he suggests.
– I submit that it is open to this Committee to alter its decision with regard to the absurd duties on superphosphates. It is possible that some honorable senators, upon reconsideration of the position, have come to the conclusion that the duties will work a serious injury to the farming community of Australia. If they have, they should be given an opportunity to express an opinion on the subject. If in order, I intend to move as an amendment -
That in the general Tariff “25 per cent.” he left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ free.”
If this amendment is carried I shall move subsequently to make the intermediate and British Tariffs free also.
– I rise to a point of order, I should like to know if it is competent for any honorable senator to attempt to reverse a decision previously arrived at by this Committee and indorsed by another place. Both Houses have agreed to the duties on superphosphates. The only suggestion made by another place is that manures other than superphosphates manufactured within the British Empire should be moved from the dutiable list.
– Although Senator Earle’s contention would distinctly favour my present purpose, I feel that its indorsement would be far too serious a matter for the Senate. I admit that in Committee we cannot re-open a question in respect of which both Houses have agreed; but the question under review is associated with item 403, which deals with’ manures. I remind honorable senators that we made a suggestion with regard to this item which was accepted by another place with the qualification that is set out in the modification now before us.
– Not as regards superphosphates.
– I submit that all the different classes of manures are so interwoven that they cannot be separated-, and that the message received from another place with a condition attached, places the whole subject entirely at the disposal of this Committee again. If honorable senators will throw their minds back they will remember similar circumstances in respect of other items, and realize that when the other House suggests something with a modification, it is competent for this Committee to accept it, or, on the other hand, rather than accept it, to withdraw its original request. I submit, therefore, that anything associated with the proposed duties or the absence of duties upon manures, as in this item, is open to review.
– Almost the same point now raised by Senator Earle came under notice when the Committee was considering a message a few days ago. I have a very distinct and carefully-worded standing order, 256, to guide me. It deals with matters in connexion with which the Senate can only make requests. If a requested amendment is not made, or is made with modifications, any of the following motions may be moved: -
That the request be pressed.
That the request ‘be not pressed.
That the modification be agreed to.
That the modification be not agreed to.
That some other modification of the original request be made.
That is precisely what the motion submitted by Senator Drake-Brockman does. I think that the Minister in charge of the message nowbefore the Committee has put the question very correctly. Another consideration must be kept in view by me, namely, that the work of the Committee and its privileges shall not be restricted in any degree.
The other House has thought fit to make a modification; it has not completely agreed with our request, but has enjoined conditions or modifications which we must accept, agree to, or reject. Our own Standing Orders provide that we can condition our acceptance of the modifications of the House of Represen- tatives by making some other modifications of our original request. The amendment which Senator DrakeBrockman has asked the Committee to consider amounts to a proposal “ That some other modification of the original request be made.” These words cover both generally and particularly the amendment moved by Senator DrakeBrockman, and therefore I rule that it is entirely in order. The position is much the same as if we were dealing with a clause in a Bill in which we had suggested an amendment. If it came back to us, it would be open to us to make another amendment. Any other ruling, I respectfully submit, would be found to amount to a restriction of the Committee’sdeliberations and actions which, I think, I would ‘be wrong to countenance, seeing that the Standing Orders are so clearly worded in the matter. May I submit to the honorable senator that it may meet his views, and assist in securing his objective, if he movesthat the modification be agreed to, provided that, under sub-item b, the general Tariff be made free of duty.
– I desire subsequently to move that the intermediate and British Tariff shall also be free, instead of 15 per cent. and 25 per cent.
– If the honorable senator does that there is no necessity for an amendment.
– It will restore the item to its original form.
TheCHAIRMAN. - The honorable senator is entitled to move in that direction.
– May I suggest to the honorable senator that he will achieve his object by moving “ That the request be not pressed.” That wouldput the item back into its original form, and all manures would be admitted free.
TheCHAIRMAN.- I think the best course will be for the honorable senator to move for the insertion of the word “ not “ before the words “ agreed to.” That can be taken as a test question; and if the word is inserted the words can then be added “ That the original request be not pressed.”
Amendment (by Senator DrakeBrockman) proposed -
That the word “not” be inserted after the word “be.”
– I want to remind the Committee of what is, to me, a very important factor. If my motion iscarried, it will leave all manures free except those superphosphates whichsome to us from outside the British Empire.
– Superphosphate is virtually the only manure that matters. The motion will retain a duty on the only article that is of any moment.
– Where do superphosphates come from ?
– I will tell the Minister in a moment.
– The Minister knows quite well where they come from.
-Of course I know, and everybody else knows. I want to find out whether Senator Wilson knows. I remind the Committee that this country recently put in a very large sum of money, amounting to millions of pounds, to purchase Ocean Island and Nauru Island. What for? To add to its territorialdominions? Not a bit. It purchased them in order to assure a supply of phosphatic rock for the farmers of this country.
– At a cheap price?
– We believe so. In any case, the Senate approved of that purchase. Having invested a very large sum of money for the sole purpose of benefiting the farmers and giving them an assured supply of this essential commodity, it appears entirely reasonable that we should say, “ You shall take that commodity and not leave it idle upon out hands.”
– No Japanese superphosphate will be imported for many years.
– Then where will it come from? If none is imported the dirty is inoperative.
– Why does the Government want the duty if no superphosphate will be imported ?
– The duty is wanted to insure that there shall be a preference in the use of the commodity that we have purchased for our own farmers. We have been imposing duties to protect industries with a capital of £200,000 or £300,000, and sometimes very much less, perhaps £20,000 or £30,000. Here is an industry in which the Government has placed some millions of public money, and it is suggested that the Committee should say, “ It can take its chance, and if it proves a loss the taxpayers must carry it.” There can be little profit to the taxpayers in any circumstances. As soon as a profit is made the farmer will ask, and will succeed in getting, superphosphate at a cheaper price. The Government will not be allowed to make a profit. The benefit is to the farmer; the risk is to the taxpayer. Is it too much to ask that we do for our own national industry what we are doing for the industries of private individuals? These islands are capable of supplying Australia’s needs at a reasonable figure. The Senate must have thought so, or it would not have agreed to their purchase. Having done that, we have a right to say that a market shall be kept for the products of those two islands, and that the farmers for whom they were purchased shall be asked to take their supplies of superphosphate from them. In the circumstances, I ask the Committee to reject the amendment.
– I always deeply sympathize with the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen) when he is advocating these high duties, because I know that he is doing extreme violence to his own matured opinions.
– As did the honorable senator when he advocated high duties on timber.
– I have not yet done violence to my convictions. The Minister finds himself in a very awkward predicament.
– It is an awkward predicament when those to whom one looks for support suddenly become hostile.
– If it were not that the honorable senator is extremely able, it would not be possible for him to conceal his real thoughts as he has done in connexion with this particular item. He tells us that Nauru and Ocean Islands can supply Australia with this commodity at a reasonable figure. If so, why should a Protective duty be necessary ?
– Why have we proposed Protective duties on other items ?
– Ido not know. Heaven only knows why honorable senators have imposed Protective duties on some of the items of the Tariff
– Senator DrakeBrockman is the only member of the Committee who has exercised independent thought and action.
– BROCKMAN. - What I have been concerned about in connexion with every . item we have discussed is the interests of the people of Australia, and especially the settlement of people on the land. To put a duty on one of the commodities absolutely essential to the settlement of people on the land is folly of the very first order, and, in my opinion, is very little short of criminal. I despair of the short-sighted view of this particular question taken by many leading public men in Australia. I hope that the original proposal put up at the instigation of the Government, and. in violence to the opinions of members of the Ministry, will be rejected by the Committee on this occasion.
– One naturally looks, in the discussion of such an item as this, for a repetition of the speeches we heard a week or so ago. But one may express his surprise that, no matter how extensive their consideration of these questions, some honorable senators will never learn. One would have thought that by this time they would have been able to see this situation in its true light. If honorable senators who have, during their brief political career, espoused Free Trade principles are to be regarded as friends of the farmer, then the farmer may say, in all sincerity, “ Save me from my friends.” The course followed by certain honorable senators during the consideration of the Tariff must inevitably tend to place the farmers in a most unenviable position.
– Is the honorable senator aware of any farmers’ organization that agrees with his ideas ?
– I know that amongst the farmers’ organizations there are men of foresight and intelligence. It is possible to find amongst them many who can see a little further than the end of their noses, and who can realize where their true interests lie. The creation of industries in Australia which can supply the requirements of our primary industries is a matter of the very first importance. I want to see Australia absolutely self-reliant. If we are not able to produce locally those things which are essential for the carrying on of our primary industries, we may at any time find those industries absolutely paralyzed. It is recognised that the use of superphosphate is “indispensable to the production of a wheat from the lighter soils of Australia, and if we are to place the wheat industry on a stable basis we must have reliable sources of supply of superphosphate. I find from figures supplied by the Industries Protection League, the accuracy of which I have no reason to doubt, that in this particular industry there are now eleven factories engaged. The capital invested is between £3,000,000 and £4,000,000. The number of hands employed is 2,000, and the output per annum is 400,000 tons.
– Those factories were in* existence before the ,duty was asked for.
– That is possible; but the honorable senator should understand that the local industry will be undermined if the products of a similar industry in other countries, where the cost of labour is about one-fifth of what it is in Australia, are allowed to come in free of duty. If we do not protect the local industry, Australia will be dependent upon the importer of this commodity. One need have no hesitation in referring plainly to the country from which we may expect the most serious competition in this industry, and that is J apan. I find that the output of superphosphate in Japan, in 1914, amounted .to 514,000 tons, while at the present time the output amounts to 1,100,000 tons. Japan has made a point of the development of this particular industry, and we should recognise that a country like Japan can compete against Australia on most profitable terms. Assuming that freights are normal, Japan can ship superphosphate to Australia at 50. per cent, of the. cost of the Australian production. If the free importation of superphosphate were permitted, although our farmers might be able to obtain it at £3 per ton for a year or two, as soon as the industry in Australia was crippled they would not be able to obtain it for £6 per ton, as they do now, but at a cost of from £12 to £15 per ton, the price which New Zealand farmers had to pay for it during the war period.
– - The honorable senator has been well primed.
– I am accepting as correct the figures which have been supplied to me, and if Senator Wilson is not in a position to contradict them he but demonstrates his stupidity by the stand he takes now. During the war period, when no shipping was available, the Australian producers of superphosphate supplied very considerable quantities of that material. In 1915 they supplied 360,000 tons; in 1916, 380,000 tons; in 1917, 375,600 tons; in 1918, 317,000 tons; in 1919, 314,000 tons; and in 1920, 360,000 tons, or a total of 2,088,600 tons. This superphosphate was sold to Australian farmers at from £5 to £6 per ton. These statements are deliberately made, and to prove them incorrect Senator Wilson must show that a higher price has been paid for Australian-made superphosphate.
– I have paid more.
– But the honorable senator buys superphosphate by the bushel from his grocer, when he wishes to put in a few cabbages. Let the wheatgrower, who buys from 5 to 10 tons of superphosphate to carry on his industry, say that he has paid more than £6 per ton for superphosphate. ‘
– The price is over £6 per ton in the western State.
– Quite so. That is. because freight to the western State must be added, and an amount would have to be added for .freight if superphosphate, were selling at £3 per ton. If the statement -supplied to me that during the war period farmers in New Zealand were charged £12 to £15 per ton is correct-, it means that the local manufacturers of superphosphate have made a present to the Australian farmers of approximately £12,000,000. That is a feather in their, cap, and proves that they have been conducting a fair and legitimate business. Honorable senators may smile, but these are the facts. Those staunch Free Traders in our midst may disbelieve the statement, but the figures I have quoted oan be verified. They have, actually made a present of £12,000,000 to the Australian: farmers. If the purpose of Senator DrakeBrockman is achieved it is reasonable to assume that, in a very few years, the Australian primary producers will be depending upon the foreign manufacturers of superphosphates for . their supplies. Apart from such an undesirable situation, and the fact that there may be a time when they cannot secure supplies at all, experience has shown us the world over that if consumers in any country are dependent on importers for their goods they always have to pay enormously inflated prices. That has been demonstrated in dozens of different instances, and it must inevitably occur in connexion with superphosphates if protective duties are not imposed.
– Why does not the honorable senator extend the same consideration to the wheat-growers as he has shown the fruit-growers in Tasmania in connexion with the duties on arsenate of lead?
-The honorable senator is rather inconsistent. The modification which I supported in relation to arsenate of lead was justified because the Australian manufacturers were producing a commodity of equal worth and selling it at a lower price than the imported article. Therefore, the duty on arsenate of lead was of little consequence. If the Committee succeed in removing the protection which is essential to keep the industry going, importations of Japanese superphosphates will flood the market, and the primary producers will have to pay considerably more for their requirements.
– Double the price.
– Yes; in the case of sewing machines a profit of more than. 400 per cent. is being made. Even if the imposition of duties means a temporary extra cost the industry will have an opportunity of extending; but it will be under our control,and should an attempt be made to exploit the people the Tariff Board will be able to investigate the position. If unnecessarily high prices are being charged it is within the power of the Government, on the recommendation of the Board, to recommend to Parliament the reduction of duties, in order to prevent exploitation. If this industry is destroyed; who will re-establish it? We would have to depend on Japanese and other foreign manufacturers for our sup plies, and surely that is not desired. Australian manufacturers will, of course, have to enter into competition with other manufacturers within the British Empire ; but it is unreasonable and suicidal to allow the users of this material to be placed in the position of having to purchase superphosphates of foreign manufacture at a higher price, and at the same time destroy the local industry upon which the farmers should be able to rely for “their supplies.
– It was not my intention to speak again, but I am compelled to reply to the utterances of Senator Earle, who made some astounding statements, and who is, apparently, basing his argument upon the figures contained in a pamphlet which has been handed to honorable senators. By interjection, I reminded the honorable senator that all of these factories were in operation in 1914.
– Since then we have imposed a duty on sulphur.
– That is the foundation of the whole trouble, and I shall deal with it later. These manufacturing establishments were in existence in 1914, practically the same amount of capital had been subscribed, the output was about the same, and the number of employees was practically what it is today, when duties were not imposed. At that time the primary producers were producing superphosphates at £4 . 2s. 6d. per ton, but to-day it is £6 2s. 6d. Let us consider the matter from another aspect. The price of wheat is in the vicinity of 4s. per bushel, and notwithstanding the decreased price and the additional burdens which the primary producer will have to carry, we have throughout the Tariff” been imposing conditions upon the primary producers which make it almost impossible for themto carry on at a profit. We are told that if protective duties are not imposed importations from the other side of the world will be dumped here.
– Is that not true?
– It is not, and I shall tell the honorable senator why. In 1914, when importations were admitted free of duty, the Australian producers more than held their own with their foreign competitors, and a comparatively small quantity of superphosphates came in. Why was this duty imposed? Simply because those engaged in an industry in Tasmania were clever enough to pull the strings to such an extent that a duty of £2 -was agreed upon. The superphosphates manufacturers then considered their position, and as a result of their influences- this proposal is submitted. Why should we be concerned with what has happened in Tasmania when, all the wheat produced in that State could be carried in a bucket by one man without banding his back. The primary producers of Australia are up against a difficult proposition, and Senator Newland and other honorable senators representing wheat-growing States know the position in which settlers on newly developed lands are placed. It will be impossible for many of them to carry on with the additional burdens that are being thrown upon them. Senator. Earle has said that the superphosphates industry cannot carry on without a protective duty, but I desire to inform him that the fortunate shareholders in the industry have had a very good time during recent years, and I do not think those who are managing the commercial side of the enterprise in Australia desire the sympathy or support of the honorable senator.
– Did they .make all their profits from the manufacture of superphosphate ?
– In what, other direction could they make a profit when they are solely engaged in the manufacture of this commodity? Do honorable senators realize that the rock from Nauru Island is being supplied to the superphosphates companies at a cheaper rate than it has previously been supplied, from other sources? If my information is correct, the companies are obtaining rock of the highest quality for 15s. per ton. less than they previously paid. Are we going to place a further burden on the producers ?’ Commonwealth money has been spent to obtain certain rights in the island of Nauru, with the idea of securing cheaper rock, and notwithstanding; this, the Minister in justification of his attitude produces a letter in which the manufacturers have undertaken not to increase the price. Conditions during recent years have been abnormal, but any one possessing common sense must realize that prices must recede. I am astonished at the Minister thinking it wise to read such a communication to the Committee.
– Has not the cost of production increased since 1914?
– It has; but we must remember that the cost of the raw material to the manufacturers has been reduced by 15s. per ton. Does the honorable senator suggest that wages have increased by 50 per cent, since 1914 ? A very fine mathematical computation is necessary to arrive at the exact extent to which wages have increased in proportion to the cost of production; but I am safe in asserting that the increase has not been anything approaching 50 per cent. The industry has done so well that its success has been an incentive to others to form companies. During the last election campaign the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), and many others, said that if Australia is to prosper we must increase our production. Is this a way of doing it?
– If there is any force in the honorable senator’s argument the competition which has arisen in consequence of the success of the enterprise will tend to reduce the price.
-v-It may, but we do not need an artificial Tariff to protect an industry when it can be clearly shown that importations from overseas in 1914 did not affect the position to any extent. I was under the impression that the object of a Protective Tariff was to develop industries and encourage thosealready established. What are we doing in that direction by imposing “these duties ?
– Saving the. industry.
– It does not require salvation. The manufacturers of superphosphates are in a very happy position: Surely it is not our duty to build up a secondary industry at the expense of the primary producers !
– Is the phosphate rock from Nauru Island 15s. per ton less than in 1914?
– I do not think it was being obtained from there in that year. Prom the information I have been able to- gather, there is no chance of Japanese superphosphates being brought here.
– The Customs returns prove that they are imported.
– I wish the honorable senator would ascertain the imports from Japan, and let his vote on this question be guided by the result. If wel produce all the superphosphate that can be. manufactured in Australia, there will be no need for the proposed duty. “With superphosphate at £6 2s. 6d., money at 7 per cent., and wheat at 4s., Australian wheat-growers will, indeed, be in a grave position.
– It has been stated by Senator Wilson, and I am surehonorable senators will recognise the fact, that the importance of the wheat-growing industry in Australia is sometimes overlooked. If we pick up the balance-sheet of any big financial concern in the Commonwealth, we see special reference to the wheat yield. The position of the wheat industry may not be a burning question in Tasmania, but that does not make Senator Earle a better judge of the situation. The Minister (Senator E. D. Millen) has made reference to the action of the Commonwealth Government in assuming control of the Nauru and Ocean Islands deposits, and has led the Senate to believe that the Government have secured very substantial benefits for the farmers. I recognise that; but while the credit of Australia is pledged for the payment of a very large sum in that connexion, the country does not stand to lose a brass farthing over the transaction, because both principal and interest are to be repaid. The farming interests, therefore, are not indebted to the Government in a financial sense. The Government will be repaid by the proceeds of the sale of rock from those islands. It has been correctly stated by Senator Wilson that phosphatic rock is cheaper to-day to the manufacturers than it has been for years, as a result of the action of the Government, in conjunction with the British and New Zealand authorities; yet we have a proposal to give the manufacturers of superphosphates a still greater benefit in the shape of a duty never previously imposed in the history of Federation. The Prime Minister of New Zealand (Mr. Massey), in his last Budget speech, stated -
The price at which the Government is able to offer the rock is much below the price previously ruling. It is anticipated that, from now onwards, the volume of business will steadily increase. In terms of the Nauru agreement the phosphate business purchased is required to pay interest and sinking fund on the amount advanced for the purchase, and a first payment on account of interest and sinking fund has been received by the Government from the undertaking.
That supports my statement that raw material is being procured by the manufacturers at a lower price than they previously paid for it. The sound financial position of the principal companies concerned in this industry is well known. The firm of Cuming, Smith, and Co., which has big works both in Victoria and in Western Australia, is a private concern, and not even Senator Earle can tell just what its profits are. During the last twenty years thiscompany, without Protection, has extended its business east, west, north, and south. I was in this Chamber in 1908 when there was a proposal to put a duty on superphosphates, and the Parliament overwhelmingly rejected the suggestion.. I am glad to admit that, notwithstanding imports from Japan, the Australian manufacturers have not only held their own, but have been able to extend their business. They have made that progress despite the fact that there was no Protection at all. The Mr Lyell Company, I am glad to say, is in a very solid position. It is difficult to ascertain the amount of profit the company has made on fertilizers apart from the rest of its business, because the balance-sheet does not vouchsafe that information. According to the last financial statement, the working account shows a profit of £133,531. After deducting £4,459 for prospecting and development, and £48,590 for depreciation of mine, plant, &c. , the net profit from all sources amounts to £51,830. Now take the Wallaroo Mr Lyell Fertilizer Company, which is engaged exclusively in the manufacture of superphosphates. In 1914 and 1915 the profits of that company amounted to 7 per cent., and from 1916 to 1921 it consistentlypaid 8 per cent. on its capital. In addition, the company carried forward very substantial sums to reserve. Although it has been only eight years in existence, its reserve fund amounts to £25,000, while it has also written off substantial sums for depreciation on buildings, machinery, plant, &c. We know that the valuation of the plant and machinery of the Wallaroo Mr Lyell Company runs into hundreds of thousands of pounds. Herein lies a very ingenious way of hiding profits, so as to deceive even the most astute mathematical observer. I shall vote for Senator Drake-Brockman’s amendment.
If this duty is imposed it will certainly make the lot of the people on the land much harder than it is to-day.
If these companies were in a dependent position, I would vote for the duty, but in the absence of such information I intend to vote, not for the benefit of concerns -that were able to extend their operations throughout the Commonwealth without protection, but in the interest of those far afield who are engaged in production on our lighter and poorer soils, and whose future depends so largely upon an adequate supply of cheap fertilizers.
– I would not have risen to take part in this debate but for the statement made by Senator Lynch that the Mount Lyell Company is in such a big way, and is making such tremendous profits out of superphosphates, sulphur, and sulphuric acid, that the representatives of Tasmania in this Chamber must vote for these duties. As I understand the position, the Mount Lyell Company has been in such a bad way that they have been content to carry on, so long as they could meet working expenses, in order to keep their men employed. Senator Lynch said the company made a profit of £50,000 last year; but, when one remembers that the total capital of the company is about £1,500,000, a profit of £50,000 is not so very great. Also, we have to take into consideration the fact that some portion of .this profit was earned in respect of work done prior to last year. I admit that Tasmania is very directly interested in the production of sulphuric acid from South Australian pyritic rock, but I remind the Committee that the Electrolytic Company at Hobart have already spent between £200,000 and £250,000 without so far having made one penny piece of profit, and that their future profits are limited in the terms of the letter read by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) in another place, in which they agreed to supply sulphuric acid to the manufacturers of superphosphates at a stated price. Apart from the interest which. Tasmania has in the .business, . it is an, Australian, and not a Tasmanian, industry. I believe these duties are necessary for the protection not only of our manufacturers against importations from
Japan and other places, but for the protection of the immense Government enterprise at Nauru and Ocean Islands. Senator Lynch mentioned some time ago that the Government expected to be able to meet interest charges and establish a sinking fund to wipe out the capital cost of Nauru and Ocean Islands from the sales of phosphatic rock obtained from those sources. I believe the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) made a wonderfully good bargain for Australia when he acquired Nauru Island, !but I also believe that if Senator Lynch and some of his friends had their way with respect to this Tariff item, it would be a very bad bargain for the Commonwealth. Senator Lynch has said that these Australian companies have done so well in recent years that they have been able to extend their businesses in a most marvellous manner; and yet, from figures that have been supplied to us, we find that the total quantity of superphosphate used in Australia has decreased from 360,000 tons in 1915 to 314,000 tons in 1919, a drop of 46,000 tons. This does not suggest that the companies have been doing so very well.
– And there will be a further decrease, too - make no mistake about that.
– I admit that the wheat-growing industry is in a bad way this year, but at the same time I think that the statements made by some of those who, in this Senate, speak for the wheat-growing industry, must be discounted to some extent. For instance, last year we were told that the price of wheat should be fixed at 9s. per bushel, because the farmer could not afford to grow it for less.
– Who told you that?
– The statement was made repeatedly in the Senate that at 9s. per bushel for wheat the farmers would make a bare living. We are told the same thing now when wheat is down to about 4s. per bushel. If, when wheat was 9s. last year, our farmers were only making a bare living, God knows what they are doing now, with wheat at its present price !
– The year 1915 was a bad year. Although we imported a certain amount of superphosphate, we could not get the required quantity, owing to the shortage of ships.
– SenatorWilson has told us that very little Japanese superphosphate has been imported during recent years, and, on that ground, he challenged Senator Senior to record his vote against the Government proposal. If there have not been heavy importations of Japanese superphosphates, and if the farmer had no reason to cavil at the price, why is he prepared to-day to allow Japanese, or any other superphosphate, to come in free of duty? Senator Wilson also said that Japan and South Africa were the only countries that ware likely to come into competition with the Commonwealth industry, the insinuation, of course, being that in agreeing to these duties we were merely protecting some little industry in Tasmania, when, as a matter of fact, we are really aiming to protect the Commonwealth industry at Nauru and Ocean Islands, upon which millions of Commonwealth money have been spent, and upon which we hope to get a return. His statement, therefore, is altogether unwarranted and unfair.
– I am safe in saying that if we had not placed duties on sulphur we should not have agreed to the duties on superphosphate. Having agreed to the former duties, obviously, we should not allow sulphur, contained in Japanese superphosphates, to come in duty free and compete with the Australian product.
– And now you want to unload that mistake on to the farmers of the Commonwealth.
– I do not want to penalize the manufacturers of superphosphates. Senator Wilson said that we were now getting phosphatic rock from Nauru Island at 15s. per ton cheaper than formerly, but I point out that the ruling rate of wage in the phosphate industry has increased by considerably -over 50 per cent., namely, from 9s. per day, in 1914, to 14s. per day at the present time.
– I admit there has been an increase in wages.
– It is a very considerable increase. Senator Wilson and Senator Lynch do not seem inclined to give our manufacturers of superphos phates credit for what they have donein the past. It is beyond dispute that during the war the local price was only about £6 per ton.
– The honorable senator is now. giving us stuff that Senator Earle supplied us with a while ago.
– I think weought to give our manufacturers credit for having done the fair thing in the past. I want now to do a fair thing by them. Having agreed to duties on their raw material, we should be prepared to give them some measure of protection on the, manufactured article.
.- I listened with great interest to Senator Wilson, and during thecourse of his speech I asked him if he could give the Committee any idea of the increased cost of production in the superphosphate industry. He was unable to supply me with the information; but since then I have obtained it from a most reliable authority. I find that the cost of production has gone up over 50 per cent. Wages in 1914 were 9s. per day, “and now they are 14s. 3d.
-So these superphosphate manufacturers are losing money?
– I do not say that. The honorable senator, in his characteristic and dogmatic manner, also told honorable senators that we were now getting phosphatic rock at 15s. per ton less than in 1914. I am informed by the company that the price is £1 per ton more, owing to the” cost of carriage.
– That is a serious condemnation of this Government.
– It is not. Wages, freights, and everything else connected with the industry have increased so considerably that if the price of phosphatic rock is only £1 per ton higher than in 1914, there should be no reason to complain of freight charges.
– Who is your authority for that statement?
– The representatives of the company in Melbourne. I am also informed that the price of sulphur has doubled, and that the industry has to pay Arbitration Court awards, and observe Australian conditions, over which this Government have no control whatever. It appears that the Arbitration Court, not the Government, determines the amount of taxation which an industry shall pay. I intend to support the motion, because the Government, in my opinion, are supporting an industry which requires protection.
– You cannot say that. (There is nothing upon which you can base that statement.
– I am basing it on the present cost of production of this commodity in Australia, and because Australian conditions do not apply to outside manufacturers. I do not think anybody can say that the farmer will not pay the increased cost, but this industry, if encouraged, will support a certain number of breadwinners, whowill use the farmers’ wheat and his other products. All these things, whether under Protection or Free Trade, are interacting. Even ifthe cost of superphosphates to the farmer is increased, he will benefit indirectly because the number of consumers of his products will be increased. I am sorry that the price of wheat is coming down, but that is a matter quite beyond the control of thisCommittee. I am just as anxious as anybody else to protect the primary producer. I support these duties on the principle that what is good for the community generally is good for a section of it.
– I desire ‘to say a few words regarding the statement that has been made about the reduction in the price of superphosphates by 15s. a ton. Senator Reid has evidently been out into the corridors, and has been supplied with the latest information. To-day, at 12 o’clock, some gentlemen interested in phosphatic rock came to see me at Parliament House. They told me that they wanted a duty on Nauru rock, because it was underselling the phosphatic rocks of Australia by 15s. a ton.
– What the honorable senator said previously was that Nauru rock was being sold at 15s. a ton less than it was sold for previously.
– What I say is that Nauru rock to-day is being supplied to manufacturers at 15s. a ton less than rock produced in Australia.
– That is an entirely different statement from that which the honorable senator made previously.
– The impression the honorable senator left on ‘the minds of members of the Committee was that Nauru rock was being sold at 15s. a ton less than previously.
– If I left that impression, I am sorry. It was not what I said. I distinctly said that, in 1914, the same facilities existed as exist now. Most of the companies in existence now, except two or three which were promoted ©wing to the- prosperity of the superphosphate business in Australia, were in existence then.
– Is the Nauru rock used for the same purpose as the Australian rock ?
– Some of it is, I presume. If Nauru rock is brought into Australia, and used by manufacturers, surely this Committee cannot say that, for growing apples, it shall be admitted free, and for someother purpose it shall be dutiable. If the crude article is brought into Australia, it must all be admitted free or must all be dutiable. The people who are now fighting for a duty on superphosphates assured me that they did not want a duty until a duty had been put on sulphur. What they want is free sulphur. I make that statementinreply to those honorable senators who have been talking about Japanese superphosphate. This is the nutshell of the whole business.. The mistake was made by placing a high duty on sulphur, and then the manufacturers asked for a duty on superphosphates. We have burdened the producers of this country in order to build up the secondary industries, and the secondary industries, on the other hand, have become a burden on the producers. It reminds one of cutting the blossom off a tree and then expecting fruit. I am astonished that the Government should treat this proposal seriously. I opposed it on the previous occasion. I have done what I considered to be my duty. I ask honorable senators to remember that this country can only prosper while those engaged in’ the production of wealth get’ fair and reasonable treatment -at the hands of the Government.
– I did not intend to enter into this discussion, but so many statements, that seem to be half truths, have been made that I must correct them. On
Friday last the Committee was discussing the question of sulphur, and it distinctly and emphatically placed a higher duty on it than that which is now being placed on superphosphates. How can it be reasonable and just to the men who are making superphosphates to leave the duty on sulphur if superphosphates are allowed to come in with a lower duty? The Senate will be stultifying itself if it removes the duty from sulphur.
-Is the honorable senator arguing that two wrongs make a right?
– I say that deliberately and emphatically the Committee considered the position at its last meeting, and arrived at that decision.
– Was the decision right or wrong?
– The honorable senator says that because the Senate did a certain thing last week it should do something entirely contrary to-day. Is that right or wrong ? There must be some consistency. I take my fair share of the responsibility for what has been done previously. I took into account the fact that there were a number of individuals in South Australiawho were manufacturers of sulphuric acid, and who considered that the introduction of sulphur free of duty would be inimical to their interests and to the interests of South Australia and the Commonwealth. That was not denied, and the Senate agreed to the duty. To-day we are being asked to wipe out the duty on superphosphates. We cannot do that unless we wipe out the duty on sulphur. We cannot be a party to an injustice’ to-day that we would not have been a party to last week. The arguments that have been advanced are based on the idea that the whole of the profits made by the companies were made out of superphosphates’. These companies are manufacturers of superphosphates, and, incidentally, many of them are manufacturers of sulphuric acid from the by-products of their mines. The period during which the immense profits are said to have been made was a period when the companies were mining large quantities of metals, and were not making large quantities of superphosphates. No member of this Committee has attempted to prove that the profits were made out of superphosphates or sulphuric acid.
– Did I not show it by the balance-sheets of the Mount Lyell and Wallaroo mines?
– The honorable senator did not show that. Wallaroo produced copper, and the other mine lead and silver. There are three companies that manufacture superphosphates in South Australia, two in New South Wales, and four in Melbourne. I am quoting the two companies of whose operations I know something. If the honorable senator will prove to me that the profits he takes exception to were made on the production of superphosphates, then he will have some ground upon which to base his argument for a reduction of duty.
– There is not a single reference to mining in the balance-sheet.
– The balance-sheet includes every activity of the company. During the war, and up to the time of the signing of the armistice, large numbers of people were employed in these mines mining ore, and presumably because of that activity profits were made. If the profits were made in some other way I am open to conviction. But so far that has not been demonstrated.
– What has the mining of ore got to do with the superphosphate question ?
– That shows how absolutely ‘ “one-eyed” my honorable friendis. The mining of copper at Wallaroo has a great deal to do with the manufacture of sulphuric acid.
– The balance-sheet does not show it.
– I do not say that it does. It is “up to” my honorable friend to show that it does not. His argument is not worth a 2d. bun unless he can show distinctly that the profits were made from the manufacture of super - prosphates. There is another point that I want to bring home to Senator Wilson’s attention. From what part of the world are we to expect competition?
– Manufacturers do not expect any competition, and the request for a duty was made to enable them to regulate prices. I could not have emphasized that point more than I did if I tried for a week, and I am sorry the honorable senator did not grasp it.
– That is a very nice argument. The honorable senator is so innocent that he expects the Committee to accept the statement as if it did not know anything else. He trespasses upon the common sense of the Committee by advancing such an argument. He does an injustice to himself.
– Did I not tell the honorable senator that the very people who are to-day pushing for this duty were against it until a duty was placed on sulphur. Now they are prepared to load the duties on to the farmer.
– I have not been within that “ push.” The honorable senator may seek to cloud the issue, but I ask him : Where are we to expect competition from ?
– Competition will be met locally, but not from outside Australia. If my honorable friend knew a little more about commerce he would realize that a duty is often imposed merely in order to get a higher price.
– The honorable senator is quite well aware that there are two places from which we may expect competition. Japan has free sulphur, and can get rock phosphate at a lower cost than we can get it in Australia.
– Did not Japan have free sulphur in 1914?
– I grant that she did; but Senator Wilson must have forgotten the figures supplied by Senator Earle, which showed that Japan’s exports of this article rose from less than 250,000 tons a year to 1,250,000 tons. The honorable senator has also forgotten that in Australia there has been an increase of 50 per cent. in the wages cost of manufacturing superphosphate. Australia would have to compete against the cheap labour of Japan in this industry, and if we consider the position in South Africa, the other country from which we might expect competition, it is that which confronted us when we were dealing with explosives, and the arguments then accepted by the Committee as sound are equally sound as applied to this article. The Committee, having deliberately come to the conclusion that it is necessary to press for the duty on sulphur, is morally bound to follow that upby pressing for a duty on this article. It has to be borne in mind that superphosphate imported from Britain and from British Possessions will be admitted free. Our friends who are opposed to the duty say that that is not sufficient. They desire that superphosphate shall be admitted free from countries that are not British, in order that it may compete with superphosphate manufactured in Australia.
Question - That the word proposed to be inserted be so inserted (Senator DrakeBrockman’s amendment) - put. The Committeedivided.
Ayes . . . . 5
Noes . . . . . . 17
Majority . . . . 12
Question so resolved in the negative.
Motion agreed to.
Vessels, including all fittings imported therewith, viz.: -
And on and after 1st January, 1923 -
Vessels, n.e.i., trading Intra-State or
Inter-State, or otherwise employed in Australian waters for any continuous period of three months, ad val., British, 25 percent.; intermediate, 30 per cent.; general, 35 per cent.
Senate’sRequest.-Make the date 1’ 1925.”
House of Representatives’ Message. - Made with the following modifications: -
Sub-item (b) (second occurring) - The date made - And on and after 1st July, 1923 ; ‘ and after the word “ months “ the following inserted: - “, excepting vessels exceeding 500 tons gross register ordered before the 11th October, 1921.” (As a consequential amendment, the date in sub-item (f), paragraph (2) will now read 30th June, 1923, instead of 31st December, 1922.)
– This , item . covers the proposed deferred duty on ships of over 500 tons. The only point in dispute between the two Houses on this item is the date at which, the proposed duties shall become operative. The House of Representatives originally proposed that they should apply after the 1st January, 1933. This Committee requested that their operation should be further deferred until 1925. The House of Representatives now suggests that the date should be 30th June, 1923. I do not propose to> go over the arguments which were used in discussing the item, as the only matter about which there is a difference of opinion between the Houses is as to whether the condition of the shipbuilding industry in Australia requires that the duties should or should not be deferred so long as we previously requested. I move -
That the modifications .and the consequential amendment be agreed to.
– Like the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen), I do not propose to go over the arguments which were used when this item was previously discussed in this Chamber; but I think it well to briefly direct the attention of honorable senators to the history of the item. When originally introduced iu another place, the proposal was to impose duties of 25 per cent.. 30 per cent., and 35 per cent, on vessels n.e.i., not exceeding 500 tons. That is to say, the Government recognised that it was possible for vessels not exceeding 500 tons to be built in Australia at once, and the proposal was that the duties should be operative on vessels of under 500 tons at once. When the. original proposal was considered in another place, honorable members demanded that the duties proposed should also come into operation on and after 1st January, 1923, on all vessels” exceeding 500 tons Inter-State, or Intra-State, employed in Australian waters for any continuous period of three months. So that when the Tariff arrived here, it proposed that vessels n.e.i. under 500 tons should at once be subject to duties of 25 per cent., 30 per cent., and 35 per cent., and that on vessels over 500 tons the duties should be deferred, and should come into operation on the 1st January, 1923. We requested that the House of Representatives should still further defer the operation of the duties until the 1st January, 1925. Honorable senators will remember that Senator Pearce, who was then in charge of the Bill, moved to defer the operation of the duties from 1st January, 1923, to 1st January, 1924. I .had suggested a period even more remote than 1925, and had almost entreated the Minister, because I believed that was the sense of the Committee, to at least defer the operation of the duties to a later period than 1924. Senator Pearce then indicated that if I moved that the duties should be deferred until . 1st January, 1925, he had observed the opinion of the Committee, and would let the amendment go on the voices. I moved accordingly. The Minister, agreeably to his promise^ let the amendment .go on the voices, and it was decided that we should request the House of Representatives to defer the duties to 1st January. 1925. Honorable senators will realize that, iu common with those with whom I share the honour’ of representing Tasmania, I feel very strongly about any proposal that might interfere with the possibility of plenty of shipping being available for communication with Tasmania. Since then honorable senators have observed a -strong feeling among ‘the producers in New South Wales, especially in those localities adjacent to the coast where they are depending upon shipping facilities for the transport of their produce to market. A strong feeling of appreciation has also been manifested concerning the action of the Senate, and a feeling of resentment against the attitude of another place in dealing with our request. Little need be said concerning the desirableness of standing fast to our original request, and I believe honorable senators will realize that in extending the period from the 1st January, 1923. to the 1st July, 1923, there has not been anything in ‘the way of a concession on the part of another place. We requested that the imposition of duties be deferred from the ‘ 1st January, 1923, to the 1st January, 1925, and considering the unanimity which characterized our action, ‘the appreciation which followed it, and the resentment which appears to have marked the attitude of another place, especially on the part of producers on the mainland and those in the State of Tasmania, I sincerely trust the Committee will press its original request. If another place cannot support the original request to the extent I desire, perhaps it will be disposed to go further than the 30th June, 1923, which is ah extension of only six months of the period mentioned in the original proposal .
– As one who represents a State with a long coastline on which the settlers largely depend upon sea communication, I have every confidence that the Committee will recognise, the wisdom of adopting the proposal submitted by Senator Keating. It is well within the memory of honorable senators that when this matter was being , discussed in another place the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Greene) made it very plain that if he was satisfied that ships could not be built in this country by the date fixed in that Chamber he would see that the embargo was not imposed. I do not know what influenced that statement; but it is quite clear that the Minister’s emphatic and insistent words had something to do with the very severe limitation which was agreed to. If the Minister were satisfied that ships could not be built in this country before the date mentioned by Senator Keating, I do nob think the embargo would be imposed. I do not wish to injure or discourage shipbuilding :LL this country, but we are concerned in the maintenance of some reasonable degree of communication between the main centres and the outlying portions of the Commonwealth. I quite realize the position of Tasmania in this regard, and what I have said concerning the north-west coast of Western Australia applies’ equally to the Northern Territory, the northern parts of Queensland; and other portions of the Commonwealth not connected by rail. I trust honorable senators will support Senator Keating in the view he has expressed, which, I think, fairly defines the feeling of the Committee on the subject. We wish, to see reliable and reasonable sea communication between all parts of the Australian coast, and the people should be shown every consideration until’ such time as we can depend upon constructing ships in Australia to meet our requirements.
– Senator Keating said that another place had not made any concession; and if he measured that by time, I would perhaps be inclined to support his remark. The honorable, senator will have noticed that another proposal is involved in the suggested modification. The position seems to be that both Houses have agreed on the desirableness of imposing a duty to encourage shipbuilding in Australia; but a doubt seems to exist as to what date should be fixed in order, to protect the industry, and at the same time to refrain from penalizing those who have ordered, vessels. That was the chief argument adduced before, and in order to meet that position ,the Government have exempted ships over 500 tons’ ordered before 11th October, 1921. It is immaterial’ when the vessels are delivered provided the orders were placed before 11th October, 1921. For the rest, it is provided that, in respect of vessels ordered after that date, and which do not reach here within that time, a duty must be imposed. That is a fair compromise. That has a very important bearing on the question, and I believe the other House endeavoured to meet the situation.
– Cannot the date be extended to 1924?
– That is really what the other place has done, but they did not make the division this Committee did. Irrespective of the date of delivery, all vessels ordered before the date of the Senate’s request will be* admitted free, and if orders are not placed in Australia they can be placed abroad, but if they are not fulfilled within a. certain date a duty must be imposed. This is an important industry, employing only male- labour, and one which should be protected by the Tariff.
– It is our most important industry.
– It is difficult to institute a comparison, but it is one of great importance to Australia. We should, therefore, give it protection,’ particularly when there is so much unemployment.
– In regard to the provision inserted in another place relating to vessels already ordered, I desire to say that when we were discussing this mattor before, I pointed out that the programme of Australian steamship companies is one that cannot be abruptly terminated. Vessels ordered twelve months ago from shipyards abroad may not arrive in Australia for six or eight months. Their suitability for the trade in which they are to be engaged will then be tested, and it may be that a repeat order cannot be placed until such tests are made. Honorable senators know that the class of vessel engaged in tha trade between. Tasmania and the mainland has been specially constructed and designed for that service, and it will be quite possible for a shipping company to give a repeat order for a sister ship with practically nothing more than an intimation that such is required. Honorable senators who have visited the shipbuilding yards in the Old Country know that a model is kept of every vessel constructed, and a most complete record of the drawings and other details. Every one wishes the shipbuilding . industry in Australia to be a success, but it cannot be expected, within the short space of two or three years, to acquire all the experience and knowledge that has been gathered in the shipbuilding yards in Great Britain over a long period. Nearly all shipping companies do business with certain shipbuilders who know exactly what their requirements are. Orders have been placed with British shipbuilding yards for the vessels required for intra and inter State trade, and some of the vessels will have to be tested when they arrive, and if they are satisfactory it may be necessary to purchase a sister vessel, in which case a repeat order will have to be placed. In the meantime, our own shipbuilding yards will be able to proceed, but they will acquire a. certain amount of experience in constructing vessels of small tonnage. Having previously agreed to this request on the voices, and with the concurrence of the Minister who was in charge at the time (Senator Pearce), I trust the Committee will press for the extension of the period to the 1st January, 1925. If we vary our request, it is more than probable that the other House will adhere to the 30th June, 1923. Considering that the Senate adopted 1925 as a compromise on the voices, and with the concurrence of the representative of the Government, I trust the request will be pressed.
Question - That the modifications and the consequential amendment be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
Motion negatived; request pressed.
Straw envelopes - on and after 1st October, 1921, per 1,000, British, 5s.; intermediate, 10s.; . general, 10s.
Senate’s request - For “October” read “November.”
House of Representatives’ Message - Made with the following modification: - The date made - on and after 1st January, 1922.
– The item came to us with the date fixed at 1st October. In this Chamber it was altered to 1st November, and the other House now suggests that it should be 1st J anuary next. The reason is that the manufacturer of straw envelopes has not made quite the progress with his preparations that was anticipated. I move -
That the modification be agreed to.
Motion agreed to.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill provides the necessary funds for the public works of the Commonwealth for part of the ensuing year. Five months of the year have gone by without works being proceeded with. It is, therefore, possible to make many. reductions, because there is less time in which to carry out the works, and, in many cases, we could not spend the amount originally allotted for the twelve months’ operations.
– Does the Minister intend to suggest such reductions?
– They have already been suggested in the other Chamber, and agreed to. I have no additional proposals for reductions to place before the Senate, but, if this Chamber has any further decreases to suggest, the Government will be quite prepared to listen to them, and consider them on their merits. Nevertheless, I think the Government have done very well already. We have accepted a reduction of £250,000 in connexion with the Department of Defence; £80,000 in the Department of the Navy; and £100,000 on the Air Service ; making a total of £430,000.
– What are the items ?
– The other Chamber did not specify individual items to which the reductions should apply, because that might have meant disorganization of services. No honorable senaator would be capable of saying, off-hand, in what direction the Air Service expenditure could be reduced by £100,000. It is necessary to take expert advice, and that course is being pursued.
– Are these reductions already allowed for?
– Yes. The Bill embodies the net figures.
– Are certain specified items out out? I say this because the original Estimates contained provision for a research factory at Maribyrnong.
– The exact manner in which the reductions shall be made must be determined by expert and responsible departmental officers. If the Minister in the House attempted to do that, chaos would undoubtedly result. The House of Representatives declined to specify any individual items in respect of which reductions should be made, but the Government gave an undertaking that the amount specified should be taken out of the Bill. Therefore it will not be available. For instance, the original amount of the Estimates for Defence, Military, was £1,134,251. This will be reduced by £250,000, and the revised total will be £884,251.
– But I notice that the vote is less the further amount estimated to remain unexpended at the close of the year. If it is not voted it is not a saving.
– We have agreed to reduce the vote by the amount stated. Contain savings would be effected owing to the fact that some portion of the year has already gone, but the Government have agreed to effect a total saving under defence, military, of £250,000. The only Departments in respect of which the House of Representatives directed that reductions should be made are the Defence and the Navy. Other Departments have been left untouched.
– It is highly questionable whether it was wise to reduce any of the amounts in the Defence and Navy Departments by one penny.
– Roughly speaking the total reduction on these Estimates will be about £500,000. I am sorry that there is not a larger vote for the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, because it is sadly behind the times. If money could be spared all honorable senators, I am sure, would be glad to help the Post Office to get back to normal in the matter of services and supplies. It is possible that the Government may be able to effect other substantial reductions in the expenditure apart altogether from the direction given by the House of Representatives.
– Are you prepared to make any suggestion in the matter of economy ?
– The Government will consider carefully whether it will be possible to reduce any items without interfering with the efficiency of the various Departments, but if further reductions were made in the’ Defence Department it is possible that some of the factories would have to be closed. For instance, it was necessary to import certain machinery for the Colonial Ammunition Works at Maribyrnong, which provides employment for a large number of men. Obviously it would be unwise to allow all this machinery to lie idle and deteriorate while men were walking about the streets searching for employment. The Government are fully alive to the necessity for economy in every direction, and, if possible, further savings will be effected during the year.
– Is this a new found virtue ?
– Not at all. I trust the Senate will allow the Bill to pass. Honorable senators will have an opportunity to discuss the various items in Committee.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wilson) adjourned.
In Committee (Consideration resumed, vide page 13078):
Postponed item 171 -
Machinery, machines, and appliances: -
Metal parts n.e.i. of hay rakes (horse), reapers and binders, and mowers . . . And on and after 1st January, 1921, per lb. - British, l¾d.; intermediate, 2¼d., and on and after 16th June, 1921, 2d.; general, 2¼d., and on and after 16th June, 1921, 2d.; or ad val.- British, 30 per cent.; intermediate, 40 per cent.; general, 45 per cent.; whichever rate returns the higher duty.
Senate’s Request. - Amend sub-item (d) to make - On and. after 1st July, 1921, metal parts n.e.i. of hay rakes (horse) and mowers, per lb., British, l¾d.; intermediate, 2d.; general, 2d.; or ad val., British, 30 per cent.; intermediate, 40 per cent.; general, 45 per cent.; whichever rate returns the higher duty.
House of Representatives’ Message. - Requested amendment made, with the following modification: - “Sub-item (d) omitted and the following inserted : -
Metal parts n.e.i., of -
Reapers and binders - on and after 25th March, 1920, ad val., British, free; intermediate, 5 per cent.; general, 10 per cent.; and on and after 1st January, 1921, per lb.. British, 1¾d.; intermediate. 2¼d.,and on and after 16th June, 1921, 2d.; general, 2¼d. ; and on and after 16th June, 1921, 2d.; or ad val., British, 30. per cent.; intermediate, 40 per cent.; general, 45 per cent.; whichever rate returns the higher duty.
Hay rakes (horse) and mowers - on and after 25th March, 1920, ad val., British, free; intermediate, 5 per cent.; general, 10 per cent.; and on and after 1st July, 1921, per lb., British, 1¾d.; intermediate, 2d.; general, 2d.; or ad val., British, 30 per cent.; intermediate, 40 per cent.; general,45 per cent.; whichever rate returns the higher duty.”
– If honorable senators have spent as much time trying to understand the complications of this item as I, they have my sympathy. Having endeavoured to wrestle with ‘it, I have come to the conclusion that, after all, it is a very simple proposition. This Committee requested an amendment to make metal parts of hay rakes and mowers chargeable under certain duties. The other House has agreed to the Senate’s request regarding rates of duties, but they have made a modification for the purpose of more clearly setting out : the case. The chief purpose of the modification is apparently to remedy an omission for which anybody but the Senate is responsible. Honorable senators will notice that the duty is to operate on and after the 25th March, but there is no provision to legalize the duty collected in the interregnum between that date and later dates mentioned. The other House proposes to set out the history of the various dates determined upon since this Tariff was first introduced. The dates were on and after the 25th March, 1920, and on and after the 1st July, 1921. Ouramendment left out the first date, and therefore the duties collected have not been legalized. It is proposed now to legalize them by setting them out formally in the Tariff. That does not affect the reply of the other House to the Senate’s request; they have accepted it. I therefore propose -
That the modification be agreed to, provided sub-item (e) of the item be amended by omitting the words “Hay Rakes (Horse).”
That is consequent upon the form in which the other House send up their modification, having separated reapers and binders and hay rakes.
– Do I understand that the decision was not in legal form?
– The motion that I am putting forward is intended to bring the decision into what is understood to be the proper form, and to legalize the collection of the duties on dates not previously specified.
Motion agreed to.
Motion (by Senator E. D. Mlllen) proposed -
That the report be adopted.
Amendment (by Senator Russell) agreed to -
That the message be recommitted for the reconsideration of requests 26, 31, 32, 33, and 34.
In Committee (Recommittal) :
Iron and steel -
Andon and after 9th July, 1921 -
(1) Wire of No. 16 or finer gauge, ad val., British preferential, 25per cent.; intermediate, 30 per cent.; general, 35 per cent.
Senate’s Request. - Wire of No. 16 or finer gauge, ad val., British preferential, 20 per cent.; wire, other, per ton, British preferential, 44s.
House of Representatives’ Message.Requested amendment made with the following modification : -
Sub-item (e) (thrice occurring) omitted, and the following inserted: -
And on and after 9th June, 1921 -
(1) Wire of No. 16 or finer gauge, ad val., British preferential, 25 per cent.; intermediate,. 30 per cent.; general, 35 per cent.
And on and after 3rd November, 1921 -
(1) Wire of No. 16 or finer gauge, ad val., British preferential, 20 per cent.; intermediate, 30 per cent.; general, 35 per cent.
– I have asked the Committee to reconsider this item for several reasons. Jt seems to me that the decision which this Committee arrived at - I say it with all respect to honorable senators - constituted an anomaly. The majority by which it was carried was very small. On some of the items the majority could not have been smaller, and, therefore, I feel inclined to ask for a reconsideration of the decision arrived at.
– Have the Government got the numbers fixed up all right?
– That interjection, of course, is evidence of the way in which my honorable friend’s mind works.
– And his general knowledge guides it.
– I would remind honorable senators of the objection that I urged on the previous occasion against the Senate’s decision regarding wire duties. I urge that same objection again, namely, that the Committee was proposing to fix the same duty upon the manufactured article as it had agreedto on the raw material. That decision does constitute, to my mind, and in the minds of most honorable senators, an anomaly. The duty on the rods from which the wire is drawn was fixed at 44s. The Senate proposed to make the duty on the wire 44s. The purpose of this Tariff is protective, and to leave these two duties on the same level will destroy that principle. I ask the Committee to reconsider its previous decision with a view to not pressing its request. I therefore move -
That the modification be agreed to.
– ‘This proposal by the Government is in the nature of an afterthought. It thinks that its opinion should have another chance, although it was not substantially backed on the last occasion. This action by the Government is highly reprehensible. The Senate deliberately made up its mind, and whether the majority was substantial or slender, there is no earthly reason why the Government, having been in a minority, should now look for a chance to vindicate itself. We are told thatother items will be recommitted. I take it that the reason will be similar in those instances. Having been beaten by a small majority, the Government wants to have a second try. What about those of us of a contrary view who were also beaten by a small majority? Are we to be given no chance ofreversing slender majorities? I hope the Government is not taking advantage of the exceptional position of some members of this Committee to try to carry its point. I pointed out plainly when the item was last before the Committee that to reduce the duty from 52s. to 44s., while it might create an anomaly, would do some ‘ good if it would assist in arresting the insane tendency to put on duties in an indiscriminate and unwarrantable fashion. Now the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) tells the Senate that its mind was not properly made up. I say it was, but the trouble was that it did not make up its mind equally well on other items. The Government, on the whole, has, I think, done a remarkable and unworthy disservice to the Senate. It wants this Chamber to be the subservient tool of the other Chamber right through the piece. No wonder that the press, at the present time, and particularly the press in the city of Melbourne, is giving expression to opinions that are anything but complimentary to this Chamber.
– You cannot say the press is over fulsome in its compliments of the other House.
– Judging by the action of the Government in this Chamber, it has no time for the Senate. On every’ item of the Tariff the stereotyped proposal of the Minister has been, “ That the request be not pressed.” If the Senate is going to lie down tamely, and say it will not press its requests, the finger of Fate is writing the doom of the Senate, and t-he Government is helping it. We received from another place a Tariff schedule containing some 800 items, and we disagreed with another place on about ninety of them. The House of Representatives accepted some fifty trifling requests which we made, and refused to accept the balance of about forty. The Government now tell us that in respect of every one of those we should go back on our tracks and accept what has been proposed by another place. I say advisedly that, in the interests of the good government of the country,’ the maintenance of the constitutional position of the Senate, and the preservation of the selfrespect of individual senators, I hope the Committee will take a firm stand and will tell the Minister on this occasion that, they .will not accept his advice. For my part I shall be prepared to waltz out of public life quick and lively if the dignity of the Senate is not to be maintained. I am not wedded, thank God, to this particular occupation. As one who took some part in the Federal movement in this country, and who represents a State that has made some sacrifices for Federation; that has been deservedly described as a loyal State, and which includes within its boundaries, I suppose, the cream of the population of this country-
Honorable Senators. - Oh, oh!
– That is not said by the people of Western Australia, but is conceded to them by the people of other States. I say, as a representative of the western State, that we should not do anything to aid the insidious and interested onslaughts which have been made upon this Chamber. The representatives of the Government in the
Senate bow the knee every time, and will do nothing to vindicate the dignity of the Senate. It is up to honorable senators now to say whether or not this Chamber has outlived its usefulness, and whether or not they will assert its independence. I will not follow the Minister, and if other honorable senators do so, they will be justifying the cry that the Senate has outlived its usefulness. I have endeavoured to remodel the Tariff as we received it, on lines laid down in the pronouncement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) when he was asking for the votes of the people of this country. Honorable senators can read his speech for themselves, and they will find that it is studded with frequent and sympathetic references to the producers of Australia. Still the right honorable gentleman has submitted a Tariff which gives unwarranted and unasked for concessions time and again to the manufacturers of this country, at the expense of crushing burdens upon the producers.
We are now being asked in connexion, with matters of comparatively trifling importance to say that we are sorry for the requests we made, and that we are prepared to bow the knee to another place I hope that honorable senators will take stock of the position, and will not justify those who are claiming that the Senate is no longer worthy of the respect and esteem which it once enjoyed. If ft is to be but an echo of another place, let that be understood. If we are to say “ditto” to everything that is said in another place, let that be understood, too, and let the Senate go out of existence peacefully and painlessly. I am prepared for it and willing if that is the course decided upon. But if we desire to have a strong Senate, such as is established in other parts of the world, and particularly in. the United States of America, we should stand firmly by our constitutional position: We should plant our feet on solid ground and say here and now that we have a mind of our own. At the instance of the Government honorable senators have been continually asked to say, during the consideration of the Tariff, that we have no mind of our own, and that the Senate is merely an echo of the other Chamber. If that be so,- then we have indeed outlived our usefulness. If other honorable senators are prepared to say that, then I am not. It is their funeral and not mine. If honorable senators will join in the act of self-abnegation suggested to them, and the Senate is in consequence lowered in the estimation of the public, the responsibility will be theirs. We can here make some semblance of a stand to indicate that the Senate is the Senate still; that it has an opinion of its own, and is not but a pale reflex of the other Chamber. The Senate at one time was worthy of its name by virtue of the inherent qualities it possessed. In the United States of America the Senate has exhibited its independence to the world, and the Senate of the Commonwealth Parliament should do the same and should not aid its enemies, who are everywhere trying to bring it down in public esteem, and trying to abolish it.
– I ask Senator Lynch to keep more closely to the request under reconsideration. A comparison of the Senate with the United States’ Senate can scarcely be regarded as relevant to the question.
– I am showing the inevitable effect of the action proposed by the Government on the character and constitutional position of the Senate. I do not beat about the bush, but tell the members of the Government straight to their faces what I think of them. I am pointing out what must be the effect on the Senate if we forego every request we have made, out of a slavish respect for what has been done in another place. Let me say that the people concerned in this particular item are making the rod iron from which wire and wire-netting are manufactured, and if they lose on one product of their factories they gain on another. It should be brought home to these manufacturers that the Federal Parliament has not been instituted to give them special benefits, whilst poor wretches far afield are given no such benefits. Something will be accomplished if some of these manufacturers . have to suffer financial loss, if at the same time they are taught a lesson, by the. duties we decide to impose. Even at the eleventh hour and fifty-ninth minute I am trying to re-awaken honorable senators to some consciousness and recognition of the constitutional position of this Chamber, and I hope that by their vote on the motion they will maintain it.
– I do not know how I voted on this or on the other items which are to be reconsidered. I shall not be a party at this stage to any change of opinion by the Senate. Whatever may have been the decisions to which we came on these items, and however I may have voted upon them. I intend at this stage to associate myself with the. decision of the majority of the Committee.
SenatorE. D. Millen. - Right or wrong ?
– We are asked as a Chamber to stultify ourselves and to accept the position of tame pet poodle to another place. We are asked to give up all our rights and to turn ourselves into a . debating club that accomplishes nothing. Are we going to do that at the behest of the representatives of the Government in this Chamber, or of any one else, or are we going to stand up for our rights ?
– On barbed wire !
– I do not care a continental damn whether it is on barbed wire or on anything else! Whatever the decision was, it was. the decision of the Senate, and the dignityof this Chamber demands that we should not change our deliberately expressed opinion at the dictation of anybody We solemnly debated this particular item. We spent a lot of time in considering it, and came to a deliberate decision upon it. Several members of the Committee who supported its previous decision are not present to-day, and I say that if advantage is now taken of their absence, it will be treachery to them on the part of every member of the Committee concerned. I do not intend to speak at length on the item, as I might use language even stronger than that which I have already used. I say it will be a disgrace to this Chamber if, at this stage, we reverse the decision to which the Committee deliberately came When the item was previously under consideration. I have purposely avoided looking up the previous debates on the items proposed for reconsideration to see how my votes were recorded upon them, because I am averse, at this stage, to any alteration of the decision of the Committee, whereby we should stultify ourselves and, in the eyes of the public, turn ourselves into a ridiculous debating society. ‘
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
SenatorDRAKE-BROCKMAN. - I was protesting against the procedure adopted on this occasion, and urging honorable senators, in “view of the circumstances, to adhere to the considered determination of the Committee a few days ago. I do not propose to carry the matter much further ;. but if the Government honestly think that they have arguments which will convince honorable senators that they were wrong they should be submitted, when all honorable senators who took part in the last division have an opportunity of voting. This matter was considered and decided, and knowing that vital items returned from another place had been settled certain honorable senators are absent to-day. In view of these circumstances the Government should consider the adjournment of this discussion until such time as those honorable senators who: have an interest in these items are present, so that they will have an opportunity of taking part in the division. The Minister will probably say that it is the duty of all honorable senators to be present, but the same argument would apply to the last occasion when the matter was determined. Honorable senators knew that these items were to be considered, and those who thought it necessary to be present were here, when a decision was reached. It was only by accident that I returned to the Chamber when I did, because I thought the discussion on the Tariff had been completed. I had left the Chamber, and when I inquired as to what business was being transacted I was informed, to my amazement, that certain items had been recommitted. After giving full consideration to the whole question we have said that we are not prepared to accept the proposal of another Chamber. If there is to be a compromise it must be between their proposal and our request, and must not be in any way one-sided. The Minister must not expect us to be tame followers, either of the Government or of the other Chamber. We have certain constitutional rights and the dignity of this Chamber must be maintained. We would be failing in our duty if we did not uphold that dignity, and the Leader of the Government in this Chamber ought to provide every facility in that direction.
– Senator Drake-Brockman protests against the procedure; but I should like to point out how the matter presents itself to me quite apart from the merits of the proposals themselves. I conceive it to be my duty at this stage to try to bridge the difference between this House and. another Chamber. It is quite clear that whatever may be said about our rights - and I subscribe to all that has been said in that regard - the other Chamber has its rights, and if we both stand for what we conceive to be our rights there can be no coming together, which is so essential if we are to complete this piece of legislation. In carefully considering the position I am unable to see that I have committed a, wrong.
– Is the Minister suggesting a compromise?
– No. I am asking the Committee to reconsider the motion I previously submitted, and I fail to see that I am reflecting upon the decision of this Chamber in asking for a reconsideration of a proposal which I submitted a few days ago.
– You Have supported all their suggestions.
– Naturally. If the honorable senator ever occupies a seat on the Ministerial bench he will realize the necessity of acting in a conciliatory spirit. We have to remember that the House of Representatives accepted 50 per cent. of our requests and certain other requests with modifications to which this Chamber had agreed.
– The Minister is advocating reconsideration against the decision of the Committee.
– Because in the first place I was out-voted. If the honorable senator suggests thatthis Chamber is not going to move in the slightest degree, and the other House adopts a similar attitude it can only result in a. deadlock.
– We have gone half way.
– The other House has done the same. I am asking the Committee to reconsider its decision on a matter on which the two Chambers have differed, and I am entitled to look at the prospects of success in other directions. The majority on this item when the division was taken here was only one as the numbers in the division were thirteen to twelve. The other House re-affirmed. its decision by twentyeight to sixteen, and’ whilst I recognise that the two Chambers are separate entities the numbers recorded in the divisions cannot be altogether disregarded. I have not done anything to reflect upon the Senate in asking for the reconsideration of this proposal, and I do not wish to annoy honorable senators;but if the request is pressed it will be said that honorable senators were fairly evenly divided, whilst there was a fairly substantial majority in another place. It would not be unreasonable for the House of Representatives to take these figures into consideration in reviewing the matter. Reference has been made to the absence of some honorable senators. I am not one of those who considers it possible for every member of Parliament to always be in his place. We are drawn from different parts of a great continent, and honorable senators I know have to perform duties arising out of their work as representatives of the people.
– They might have been here if they had known.
– I feel sure that at least four would have been present.
– I am not at all certain of that. Honorable senators knew that the Senate was meeting, and although I take no exception to their absence I do not think that the order of business can be altered because duty has called them elsewhere, nor can I subscribe to the doctrine that the dignity ofthe Senate has been impaired by recommitting certainitems. The dignity of the Senate must be very flimsy if it is in any way lessened by reversing a decision. It rather suggests the possession of dignity todo what is considered right if the circumstances justify it. If the fact that neither House will alter its decision is to; be regarded as a standard of dignity we shall have ample dignity and no legislation. In view of these circumstances I trust the Committee will support the proposal I have submitted.
Question - That the modification be agreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
Motion negatived; request pressed.
Wire netting, per ton, British, 68s.; intermediate,85s.;. general, 105s.
Senate’s Request. - British, 55s.; intermediate, 75s.; general, 95s.
House of Representatives’ Message. - Not made.
– In view of the decision which the Committee has just recorded, and which represents a very pronounced expression of opinion, I do not propose to proceed with the reconsideration of the remaining recommitted items.
– To overcome any difficulty with regard to procedure, I suggest to the Minister in charge (‘Senator E. D. Millen) that he move in each case that the request be not pressed; and if the Committee negatives the motion, the effect willbe to press the request.
– In order to get over the difficulty pointed out by the Chairman, I am prepared to follow that course; but I hope it will not be regarded as a definite attempt on mypart to obtain a reconsideration of this and the remaining items. I move -
That the request be not pressed.
Motion negatived; request pressed.
Item 159 -
Motion (by Senator E. D. Millen) negatived -
That the request be not pressed.
Agricultural, horticultural, and viticultural machinery and implements, n.e.i. . . .
Motion (by Senator E. D. Millen) negatived -
That the request be not pressed.
Chaffcutters and horse gears, &c.
Motion (by Senator E. D. Millen) negatived -
That the request be not pressed.
Request pressed. ‘
Resolutions reported; reports adopted.
Control by United States of America.
.- I move-
That, in view of the great area comprised in the Commonwealth and its Dependencies, and the need for constant, undivided, and economical attention to its administrative needs, the Senate is of opinion -
That further responsibility for the mandated control of those peoples in the Pacific constitutes an undue strain on our limited resources in properly ministering to communities so far afield.
That, in view of the expressed desire of the United States of America to act as a Mandatory Power in respect to certain of the Pacific Islands and its special fitness for that office, the Government of that country might be invited to accept responsibility for the whole or part of the Territories now under Commonwealth guardianship.
That the Government be asked to concur in this opinion, and, if concurring, to request Senator Pearce at Washington to give effect to its decision.
It may appear to some honorable senators that the motion is somewhat inappropriate, butI hope to be able to dispel any such impression. Australia is of such immense area, and requires such close attention, in a legislative sense, in order to insure the greatest prosperity for its citizens, that we cannot afford at present to widenour administrative activities to such an extent as the care of the Mandated Territories would involve. I have mentioned the United States of America as a possible mandatory power that would step into the place now occupied by Australia.
– In regard to all Territories ?
– Not necessarily all. The reason I did not mention the Mother Country is because I feel confident that the question of whether Great Britain rather than the Commonwealth could take charge of those Territories must have been threshed out at the Peace Confer ence at Versailles. The Mother Country, being already overloaded with responsibilities in every part of the globe, cannot, in the nature of things, accept any further burdens. Australia has a big enough contract in hand in husbanding its own resources, and concentrating its attentions on this island continent of 3,000,000 square miles without embarking upon a scheme of such dimensions as the control of the Mandated Territories in the Pacific would entail”. When the Northern Territory was taken over by the Commonwealth from South Australia, I think the general feeling was that while it was not a good bargain financially, it was in the interests of Australia for the
Northern Territory to be transferred. The records of Parliament will show that the financial aspect bulked very largely among the objections raised to the transfer, but the prevalent thought of the people on that occasion was that for the sake of national safety the Commonwealth should accept the responsibility of administering the Northern Territory. Although I, voted for the transfer, I recognise that it was a bad bargain financially, and I supported the proposal simply because it was in the interests of the whole of the Commonwealth.
It may seem unwise to some honorable senators for Australia to hand over the Mandated Territories to another Power. It should be realized, however, that the stretch of ocean covered by those innumerable islands measures 1,000 miles from east to west, and the distance from the Equator to the most southerly point is 500 miles. That immense area would have to be constantly patrolled, and action would have to be taken by the Commonwealth to see that the various and highly divergent interests in those islands were given all the attention which the Commonwealth could vouchsafe.
When we realize that we have added to our responsibilities an area equalling onesixth the territory of the Commonwealth, some idea of the magnitude of the task before us will be gained. It is plain that in accepting the Mandate for these islands we are dangerously extending our frontier line to our potential enemies. It is for us to say whether this course is a wise one or not, but it is clear that we are increasing our responsibilities in a measure almost beyond the power of words to express.
Turning now to the United States of America as the prospective Mandatory Power, my belief is that there might be some difficulty in getting that country to accept this charge. I suggest America, because, as I have already pointed out, the Mother Country cannot be expected to accept any further responsibilities.
– Do you think the British Government would agree to the course you suggest?
– I do not know that they would. We are very much in the dark at present. This proposed transfer to America is my own suggestion. I put it before honorable senators for what it is worth. They may look upon it with unfriendly eyes. On the other hand. they may regard it with favour. I mention the United States of America as the prospective Mandatory Power because blood is- thicker than water, and I look upon the United States as the nation which, when the strain comes, is most likely to be friendly towards Australia. The people of the United States of America are Anglo-Celtic in origin. There is no nation I know of, barring the Mother Country, that is likely to be a truer friend to the Commonwealth than the great Republic.
– Probably more than one-half of the people of the United States hate England more than any other country in the world. Read the Hearst press.
– I am prepared to admit that in the United States, as in other countries, yellow journalism is rampant. I am not sure that we have not some yellow journalism in this country. But we should remember that there is an indissoluble tie between that great Republic of -the West and, as Theodore Roosevelt said, this giant young Commonwealth of the South. That is why I say that, in the absence of the Mother Country, it would be wise, from Australia’s point of view, if the United States exercised the Mandate over the Pacific Islands. I assume it will be rather difficult to get the United States, to accept this responsibility, but I make the suggestion because of the willingness of that country to share in the administration of the .Yap and Guam.
– But the Americans want to get out of the Philippines now.
They want to shirk their responsibility just as you are asking us to shirk ours.
– I do not know that we shall be shirking any responsibility if my suggestion be adopted. My purpose is to concentrate attention upon our immediate responsibilities rather than to add to our difficulties.
– But can we ask any other country to relieve us of these responsibilities ?
– I do not know what can be done. I make this suggestion tentatively, and in the belief that, during the discussion on my motion, the proposition will be looked at from every angle. I made a similar proposal some time ago in a letter to the Government, a copy of which was addressed also to every member of our party in the Senate, but up to the present I have had no acknowledgment. I am not as free to speak on this matter as I would like to be.
– Would it not be necessary to approach the League of Nations as to the transfer of the Mandate as you suggest?
– I believe it would be necesary to do that.
– Then how can we approach Washington?
– If this Parliament expresses an opinion upon the proposal it would then be possible to approach the League of Nations. This problem was, of course, dealt with at Versailles, where the Commonwealth was represented by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) and Sir Joseph Cook, who interpreted the feeling of the people of this country to be in favour. of accepting the Mandate. So far as I know, we were not consulted. We knew nothing about the matter until the announcement was made that we were to be the Mandatory Power. I agree, of course, with the action- then taken. Today we are older and, I hope, wiser.. Our acceptance of the Mandate does not mean that we should carry this responsibility for all time without question. Senator Benny had something to say just now about the attitude of the people of the United States of America towards Great Britain. I remind him that the elections held recently in the Republic were a triumphant vindication of the policy upon which the Harding Administration was returned, and evidenced clearly enough that the yellow press has mighty little real influence when it comes to a silent vote of the people of the nation. The Harding Administration is, if anything, in favour of closer association with British power.
– Is it not a fact that the Harding Administration practically repudiated the League of Nations agreement ?
– That is true to a limited extent. There has been repudiation of ex-President Wilson’s fourteen points to the extent of America evading her obligations as a member of the League of Nations. As to the suitability of the United States of America for the responsibility of the Pacific Islands, all I can say is’ that it is a white Democracy like our own, governed by a Constitution almost identical with ours, because ours is modelled on the same lines, and lastly, the people of the United States of America, like the people of Australia, are raised largely from British stock. In the main the Republic is distinctly Anglo-Celtic in origin. So is this, country. If we want a powerful, friendly neighbour how can we better the position ? Our responsibility in regard to these islands, as I have already shown, is of no mean importance. We should ask ourselves whether or not we want to get specially interested in that part of the world. Assuming that America is prepared to accept the Mandate, will the safety of this country be jeopardized ? I do not think it will. On the contrary, I hold that the safety of the Commonwealth will be assured.
Turning now to the financial aspect of these islands I remind honorable senators that it is over 30 years ago since the Mcllwraith Government of Queensland hoisted the British flag in New Guinea, and, from a financial point of view, Papua has been a millstone round our necks ever since it came under our control. From 1900 to 1906 it was jointly administered by Great Britain and the Commonwealth. Thirteen years ago it passed under Commonwealth control, and up to date has cost something like £950,000. During that time the white population has increased from 690 to 1,090, an increase of 400’ at an average cost of £2,380 per head. The experience of the German Government was. similarly unfortunate. I find from the official records that from the time when Germany assumed control of portion of New Guinea in the middle eighties, up to 1908, the expenditure totalled £980,000, and in 1914 the subsidy voted by the Reichstag was, according to one authority, £85,000, and, according to another, £136,000 for that year. The German colonizing experience, also, was anything but encouraging. In the face of these facts, can we continue to throw money away in the development of this north-eastern area to the extent that we have been doing hitherto, without unduly limiting our available resources for the development of areas within our own borders ? The Commonwealth, vote for Papua is, I believe, in the neighbourhood of £30,000 a year, and, as I have already stated, the total expenditure to date is £950,000. This huge sum would go a long way towards the erection of telephone and telegraph lines in the interior of the Commonwealth for our own) people, thus benefiting large numbers of our own people. Altogether it could be spent to much greater advantage in Australia than in Papua. I give these figures on the best authority, and with the advice to senators that they can verify them for themselves..
As to the health of the region, it is anything but encouraging. The report of the Commission, consisting of Mr. Atlee Hunt, Judge Murray, and Mr. Lucas, is not encouraging. Side by side with that report there is what we have read of German experiences. The place is filled with all sorts of sub- tropical diseases. The Germans during their time imported something like 1,800 Chinese and Malay coolies, and inside a short time they were by death and disease reduced to 1,000. The mainland of New Guinea is mountainous, and the soil very hard to bring under subjection. It has been estimated that it would cost up to £60 an acre to clear the lands for cultivation.
From an agricultural and settlement view-point, and having regard to our experience in Papua, we are taking on a most expensive and troublesome task in assuming control of German New Guinea. I repeat, again, that as far as economy is concerned, if we have any money to spend, and any special care and attention to devote as public men to the development of the country, the interior of the continent of Australia, calls first. To vote money, as we have in the past, for such little results as we have achieved is not warranted. If the huge expenditure in Papua can be justified, I would like to know bow it can be done. Surmounting all this is a reason upon which I am not as free to speak as are some honorable senators. They are as cognisant of it as I am; but, stating it as nearly as I can, there is a. need for getting within our neighbourhood a big friendly Power, one that will be a) true neighbour in every sense of the word ; one that will be responsible, as well as we can be, for the care and moral advancement of the natives ; one that can afford to stand the expense, which we cannot; and one that, in all respects, will see that the natives are treated humanely and well.
I leave this motion in the hands of the Senate. Honorable senators may at first glance recognise something of a retrograde movement in the proposal, but they will, as they think more seriously, be satisfied of the soundness of the proposal. If we can get the United States of America to assume control, it will be a step in the direction of giving us a great and friendly neighbour, as well as assuring prosperity and progress to the Territory.
– I feel it necessary to point out that there are to my mind very fatal objections to the course proposed by the honorable senator. First of all, it is a complete reversal of the attitude taken up by this Chamber on three distinct occasions. I venture to say, also, that if it were carried it would come somewhat as a shock to the people of Australia. When we found ourselves participants in the recentlyconcluded great war, the one idea that I think was in the minds of most people, so far as these islands were concerned, was that we should seek to obtain them, not as additions to our already broad area., but as additional measures of security. Particularly was the possession of them desired as a means of securing what we know as our national policy. Australia, surely, was under no illusion as to what the acceptance of this responsibility would mean. She must have known that she could not take these islands without considerable thought and trouble, and possibly great’ expense; but as against that she saw very clearly that they were essential to her safety. In no uncertain voice this Chamber and the other House, and, I venture to repeat, the people of this country, . affirmed that it was desirable, in the interests of Australia, that weshould, if possible, acquire control of these islands. Two resolutions were passed in this Chamber bearing upon the point. The first was passed in August, 1917. It was moved by Senator Bakhap, and it affirmed that in no circumstances should these islands be returned to Germany. A little later, on the 14th November, 191S, after the signing of the Armistice, this Chamber and the other House passed a resolution which went a little farther than the previous one. I will read it -
The Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia declares that it is essential for the future safety and welfare of Australia that the captured German possessions in the Pacific, which are now occupied by Australia and New Zealand troops, should not, in any circumstances bc restored to Germany.
That, in substance, was the same as the first resolution. The difference in the two resolutions was contained in the words I have yet to quote -
That in the consideration and determination of proposals affecting the destination of these islands, Australia should be consulted.
The resolution arose from a declaration made in the House of Commons as to the future of the islands. Australia, at that time, was rather perturbed at the suggestion contained in the declaration. It was regarded as a suggestion that, in some way or another, the islands might be disposed of otherwise than as they have been, that is to say, they might have passed from our control. The resolution was submitted to and approved by both Houses of Parliament. Later the Senate was asked to ‘assent to an Act fortaking the islands over under Mandate not then issued. The Act was assented to in September, 1920. Further, I would like to remind the Chamber that part of the mission intrusted to me at Geneva was to try to obtain possession of that Mandate. Australia new has the Mandate. All this has been clone deliberately. What has happened since to influence us, so suddenly, to reverse our policy, to- declare that these islands are of no value and importance to us, and to say that we would be well quit of them? There does not appear to be any absolutely effective way of protecting our national policy except to retain, control of these islands.
Senator Lynch has suggested that America should take them over. Honolulu has been taken over by America. If I look into the facts of Honolulu to-day I am not able to discover much assurance there regarding our national policy. Here are the population figures : - Hawaiians, or partly so, 38,000 ; Chinese, 22,000 ; Japanese, 113,000; Philippinos, 5,000; and Koreans, 5,200; making a total of I8 6,000 Asiatics.
– Those races were there long before America took control.
– That statement by the honorable senator is only partially correct. If he will look at the rapid rate at which the Asiatic population has increased he will have the answer to his own question. As against a total of 186,000 Asiatics, there is a total population of Americans, British, Germans, and Russians, of only 25,000. The population has increased by 37,908, or 24 per cent. since 1900. I venture to say that does not offer a very reassuring picture to the people of this country. I would remind Senator Lynch that America has put forward, not through an irresponsible journal, or out of the mouth of an individual statesman, but in a formal manner, the demand that all Mandated Territories should be open to any member of the League of Nations. She made that demand with regard to Mesopotamia, in the first instance, but she did not limit it to Mesopotamia. She put it forward as a principle to apply to all mandates. She still stands to that principle, and it seems to me that she is likely to continue to do so, because of her profound desire to get free access to the oil deposits of Mesopotamia. It means that if she takes over these islands and maintains the policy of the “ open door,” we shall have reproduced the position in Honolulu. Some mighty change would require to come over the sentiment of the people of this country before they would willingly agree to a proposition of that kind. I come to paragraph 2 of the honorable senator’s proposal -
That, in view of the expressed desire of the United States of America to act as a Mandatory Power in respect to certain of the Pacific Islands, and its special fitness for that office, the Government of that country might be in vited to accept responsibility for the whole or part of the Territories now under Commonwealth guardianship.
I rather wonder at Senator Lynch, who is generally so well informed in these matters, making that mistake. America has not only not asked for a Mandate; she has flatly refused one. She was pressed to accept one, and she declined to do so. She was taunted with her action in refusing to accept responsibility after having done so much to create the idea of the Mandate.
– Did she not accept the Mandate for the Cable Station, Island of Tap?
– I am not at all certain that she asked for a Mandate. She wants the open door. She wants somebody else to keep the house painted and in order, and to give the open door to her citizens. She flatly refused at Versailles to accept a Mandate. Even if America were willing to accept a Mandate, it is not a matter of traffic between Australia, America, and any other country as to what becomes ‘of these islands. They were surrendered to the Allied and Associated Powers, and from them, through the Council of the League, Australia received a Mandate. If we contemplate surrendering these islands, we can only surrender the Mandate to those from whom we received it. If the Mandate goes back to the League, the League will look for some other Mandatory Power. I want to remind the Chamber that Germany is still a claimant for the Mandate for these islands. She addressed a memorial to the League claiming that these Mandates ought not to be issued until she had become a member of the League, so that she might be an applicant for them. When the League, at Geneva, declined to assent or wait, she wrote saying that in no sense did she surrender her claim, andthat in due time - her own good time - she would renew the application, based upon what she regarded as a sound claim. Since then the feeling against Germany has not intensified. If we surrender these islands, and say that we will no longer accept responsibility for them, we must surrender them to the League. If Germany’s claim is then again pressed forward, there will be a strong danger that Germany will be given the Mandate. Senator de Largie reminds me that the
Mandate might possibly be given to the adjoining Mandatory Power, namely, Japan.
– I am not so foolish as to suggest that.
– I am aware of that, but my argument is perfectly logical. I submit that we cannot offer the Mandate to America. It came to us from the League of Nations, and if we surrender it we can surrender it only to the League.
– America’s acceptance of it should be a condition of our surrender of it.
– I submit that the Mandate is not a transferable document.
– If it is not, that ends the matter so far as I am concerned.
– I do not think for a moment that we can bargain with it. We hold it in a fiduciary capacity, and cannot surrender it except to the League of Nations. If we do surrender it to the League, Germany may be an applicant for it, and Germany has many friends in the League of Nations. Japan holds adjacent islands a few miles away, and it is quite conceivable that she might be a claimant for the Mandate, or some other country that does not understand or appreciate our White Australia policy. Apart from the impracticable nature of the second paragraph of the honorable senator’s motion, his proposal would constitute such a vital danger, and be so inimical to the interests of the Commonwealth, that I trust the Senate will find no difficulty in rejecting the motion.
– I ask the leave of the Senate to withdraw the motion. I may be allowed to. say in a sentence that for reasons unexpressed rather than those which have been expressed I still feel certain that my motion suggests the adoption of what would be the wisest course. I cannot say all that I would wish to say on the subject.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Debate resumed from 3rd November (vide page 12395), on motion by Senator Bakhap -
– The motion submitted by Senator Bakhap expresses warm appreciation of the Conference which is , being held at Washington and wishes it a successful issue. I do not know that I need say anything more than that every member of the Senate and every citizen beyond these walls firmly re-echoes the sentiments which Senator Bakhap has expressed in words. It is impossible to shut our eyes to the fact that, much as we might have hoped, and still hope for, from the League of Nations, it left something wanting. It appears to me that the action of President Harding has supplied thatsomething, and there does seem more than a reasonable probability that out of the Conference which he has convened some understanding between the Greater Powers may be achieved which will not only relieve us of the burden of present armaments, but will insure to the world a more peaceful existence in the future. For this reason I desire to express my hearty concurrence with the terms of the motion, and will give it my hearty support.
– I felt assured that the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) would express himself in language, if not eulogistic of the terms of my motion, at least of its intention. I feel sure that every member of the Senate indorses and supports my heartfelt desire that the outcome of die Washington Disarmament Conference may be fraught with very great benefit to mankind.
It is unnecessary for me to traverse the terms of the motion. I was favoured with the close attention of honorable senators when I submitted it a few weeks ago. It may be remembered .that I submitted the motion almost as soon as Senator Pearce commenced his journey to America as our representative with the members of the British delegation at the Washington Disarmament Conference. But let me say that since I submitted this motion the House of Commons, in its wisdom, has thought it desirable to adopt au almost entirely similar motion. To show the unanimity of feeling that existed in that great body, which is our prototype and exemplar, let me say that the motion, in terms which did not greatly differ from mine, was moved by a member of the Labour party, and secured the unanimous indorsement of all the members of the House of Commons present when it was submitted. If that very distinguished body, which is represented at the Washington Disarmament Conference by some of its most illustrious members, thought it desirable to formally express its opinion of the Conference, and, so. to speak, to wish it God-speed in its efforts to promote the welfare of mankind, it is not out of place that the Senate of the Commonwealth Parliament, the only Parliament which looks after the affairs of one of the world’? continents, should take it upon itself to declare its attitude towards a Conference which is likely to be famous for all time.
It may be that the Washington Disarmament Conference will not achieve a tithe of what even at the present moment is expected of it, but beyond doubt it will ‘be an historic mark, which will indicate to succeeding ages that even at this stage of its history mankind had awakened to the fact that we “ are brothers all,” and, if possible, -should bring to an end the terrible warfare’ in which human races have indulged for untold centuries past.
I am not forgetful of my own statement, very often repeated, that man is a fighting animal. But while war and conflict may at one time have been regarded as evolutionary forces, making for the betterment of the human race, and some of the very best of our philosophers have argued that war has been a great disseminator of civilization, has made the human race what it is, and enabled it to achieve what it has achieved’, let it not be forgotten that war at the present time is taking on a hideous form which may involve the total destruction of humanity if the peoples of the world dp not wisely call a halt. I must admit, and the proceedings of the Washington Dis-, armament Conference so far disclose the fact, that man only very jealously gives up any portion of his rights as a fighting animal. It is easy to see at this stage that a great .deal too much may be expected from the Washington Disarmament Conference, and a great deal more than is likely to be achieved at this period of the world’s history. But I am entirely of the opinion which has been expressed’ by General Smuts in- this connexion. The genesis of the idea was implanted in my mind by an old Cornwall mining captain, who, many years ago, said .that what would bring war to an end would be a discovery which would put a million men as much at the mercy of half-a-dozen as at that time half-a-dozen were at the mercy of a million. “ Then,” said he, “ men thoughtful of the race, and fearful that it may possibly be wholly annihilated, will take thought and relinquish warfare.” Since I submitted my motion to the Senate, General Smuts has said that warfare has become so horrible because of the advance in chemical science that this very advance will bring it to an end. Let us hope that the disclosure of the formidable and the terrible in man’s empire over the secret processes of Nature may serve to bring Avar to an end. I believe that the consummation of such a desirable result will follow rather from man’s knowledge of chemistry, and of the secret and tremendous operations of mother Nature, than perhaps from any Conference such as that which is at present sitting at Washington.
This need not prevent us from having the greatest good-will towards the delegates assembled at the Conference, and towards the great American people,whose rulers conceived the idea of calling together delegates of the peoples of the world. In this spirit, the same spirit which caused the House of Commons to adopt unanimously a similar motion submitted at the instance of a Labour member, I ask the members of the Senate of the Australian Commonwealth to pass this motion. It will be a blazon of that spirit of hope which we entertain in common with all decently civilized people, that men will soon achieve that standard of common sense which will cause them to see that it is desirable that man should not make war against man, that we had better hang the trumpet in the hall, war no more, live in peace and amity with each other, and endeavour to prepare the way for great ‘ conquests which must be before our posterity if their energies are not diverted from the conquest of nature by the terrible pursuit of self-destruction. I submit my motion for the decision of the Senate with pleasure and with hope.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 9.15 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 23 November 1921, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1921/19211123_senate_8_98/>.