8th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator Plain brought up a report from the Printing Committee.
Mr. Golding’s Report
– I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General whether it is a fact that Mr. Golding, Chief Electrical Engineer of the Post and Telegraph Department, who recently visited England and America to inquire into questions concerning telephony and telegraphy, has returned, whetherhe has submitted a report to the Department, and, if so, whether his report has been presented to Parliament?
– The answer to the first part of the honorable senator’s question is in the affirmative. As to the second part of the question, I understand that a report has been received from Mr. Golding. I shall make further inquiries and give the honorable senator more definite information later.
– I just now asked a question of the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, to which I did not receive the answer I expected. I may say that I had previously spoken to the Leader of the Government in the Senate about the question, and in the circumstances, having given notice of it, it seems strange to me that Icould not get an answer to my question, as to whether the report referred to has been laid on the table. Perhaps I made a mistake in addressing my question to the wrong Minister, and, if so, I now ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate whether Mr. Golding’s report has been presented to the Department, and, if so, whether it has also been laid on the table?
– I may offer an explanation of what is quite a simple misunderstanding. Senator Thomas did speak to me about this matter. In the course of the morning, I made some inquiries in connexion with it, and when he asked his question, all I could do was to communicate personally to my honorable colleague (Senator Earle) the information I had gathered. Senator Earle conveyed that information, so far as it was possible for me to give it to him at the time. The only thing I can add is that I understand, from inquiry, that the. report has not yet been tabled. Senator Earle assured Senator Thomas that inquiry would be made as to when the report could be placed in the possession of honorable senators.
The following papers were presented : -
High Court Procedure Act - Rule of Court - Dated 29th August, 1922.
Inter-State Shipping - Report on the operations of the Inter-State Central Committee
Papua - Annual Report for the year 1920-21.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) (by leave) proposed -
That the Clerk of the Senate return to the Home and Territories Department the maps laid on the table of the Senate on 29th June, and 6th September, 1922, in connexion with the reports of the Commissioners appointed for the purpose of redistributing the several States into electoral divisions.
– I am giving a cordial support to this resounding motion for the return of a few maps to the Home and Territories Department. I direct attention to the extraordinary zeal and solicitude of the Government in consulting this Chamber on a matter of so much importance.
– After the maps were tabled here, they became the property of the Senate, and were out of the hands of the Home and Territories Department. They are obviously originals of which the Department has no copy.
– Theyare originals signed by the Electoral Commissioners.
– I have said that I am supporting the motion, which will only be carrying out the wishesof the Senate in connexion with a matter on which it has exercised its authority. I hope that the Government will follow the same wise example in matters of considerable concern, and especially when hundredsof thousands of poundsare voted bythis Chamber, and are subsequently disposed of without consulting it at all. When it is the case of the return of a few maps that is, of course, important, but when it is a question of dealing with a matter in regard to which the Senate has exercised its constitutional right, it is not consulted by the Government. This would lead one to think that the desire of the Government to consult the Senate is spasmodic. I only hope that the wise course which the Government have followed in this particular matter will be followed in future, and especially where the constitutional rights and privileges of the Senate are involved.
-Before putting the motion, I may say by way of explanation to Senator Lynch, that it does not concern any right of the Government at all. It deals with a matter which is within the province of the Senate only. These maps were laid on the table, and are the property of the Senate, and they cannot be disposed of except with the con sent of the Senate.
– At the invitation of the Government.
– It is merely a formal matter that the motion should be submitted by the Minister in charge of the Home and Territories Department, which is the Department concerned in the possession of the maps. The question is one for the decision of the Senate, and not of the Government.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Millen) read a first time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on. motion by Senator Millen) read a first time.
.- I move-
That this Bill be now read a second time.
The amount asked for in this measure is £2,097,210, made up as follows : - Ordinary services of the Departments, £1,947,210, and refunds to Revenue, £150,000. The Bill applies to a period of, roughly, six weeks, covering requirements up to the middle of October, and makes provision for three pay-days. No money is being asked for under Treasurer’s Advance, as the amount granted in previous Supply Bills is sufficient to finance works until such time as the works programme receives full legislative authority. The provision for refunds of revenue in the present Bill is £150,000. This, amount, as honorable senators are aware, is merely tocover refunds from revenue of moneys which do not properly belong to revenue, but which cannot be paid out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund without the authority of a vote. The total of the two Supply Bills for ordinary departmental expenditure already passed, and that now submitted, is £4,872,085, made up as follow: -
This provision is based upon the estimated expenditure for the last financial year. The estimated expenditure under ordinary votes for 1921-22 included the annual payment under the funding arrangements of £5,548,815, whereas during the present financial year this amount will be paid from a special appropriation. After deducting this provision the total estimate of ordinary departmental expenditure for the last financial year was £19,166,467. The proportionate amount to cover expenditure to the middle of October would be £5,590,219, so that the Supply the Senate is now being asked to grant to the date given is £718,134 less than the proportion of the total estimated expenditure for last year.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
– Perhaps I may be permitted to take this opportunity of referring to the arrangements in the Parliamentary Library, which are not altogether what one could desire. I have nothing whatever to say concerning the officers who attend to our needs in that Department, because they are always most courteous and obliging, but books are not available in our Library as soon as they are in others. I can get books from the New South Wales Parliamentary Library much earlier than from our own Library. On one occasion, when I asked for a book here, I was informed that it had not yet arrived in Melbourne, but that, as soon as it was to hand, it would be sent to me. Some time afterwards I obtained it from the New South W.ales Library, and telegraphed to our Library officials here that there would be no need to send it across to me. I understand it is not yet in our Library, although it was in the New South Wales Library two months ago,and an ex-member of the Victorian Parliament, Mr. Swinburne, with whom I was travelling in the train last Thursday, had the book with him. He told me he had obtained it from the Victorian Library. Senator J. D. Millen, of Tasmania, informs me that he has it in his private library also. If it is possible to obtain this book from both the New South Wales and the Victorian Parliamentary Libraries, surely it should be made available to members of this Parliament from our Library. When I went down the street the other day I made inquiries at one of the libraries as to whether the book had yet arrived in Melbourne, and was informed that it had, but that it was sold out. It seems to me that our Library Committee ought to be more on the alert, and get the books that are asked for more promptly.
– What book does the honorable senator refer to?
– It is a biographical and historical work by one of the
German attaches to the Court of St. James, and it is entitled Ten Years at the Court of St. James. I do not know whether’ the fault lies with the Library Committee or not, but I know that when my late lamented friend, Mr. James Page, wanted a book very urgently, he always got it from the Queensland Parliamentary Library. Apparently, works of importance are available in Queensland earlier than in Melbourne. I am not finding fault with the staff of our Parliamentary Library, as Ihave always been treated by them with courtesy, and have received the best of attention, but, apparently, something is wrong. There is another phase of this question. I should like to know who is entitled to the books in our Library. Is this privilege limited to members of Parliament? I think a number of persons outside parliamentarians are entitled to the use of our books, but we ought to have some understanding on the subject.
– I am not surprised that Senator Thomas has raised this question, because, undoubtedly, there is room for a great- deal of improvement, especially in regard to the selection of books. I do not wish to cast any reflection upon earlier selectors, but I think there were too many lawyers on the Committee, because the law section has always been pretty well stocked. Tastes in literature differ very widely, and a long-standing grievance of mine has been that the kind of books I enjoy most are seldom to be seen on the shelves.
– My complaint is not that the books are not to be found on our shelves ultimately, but that they appear so late.
– There is a tremendous output of books in the world. If we obtained every work published, no building would be large enough to contain them. At the last meeting of the Library Committee, we decided to enlarge the area of the selectors, and to reduce, somewhat, the number of persons who may use the books, as well as the number of books that may be taken out. We have also instructed the Librarian to communicate with the High Commissioner’s office in London, to see if it is possible to get some person there with a good knowledge of standard works to secure earlier copies of books that are published in London, which is one of the principal publishing centres in the world. The present custom of waiting until the Melbourne bookselling agents’ get copies of London works is not altogether satisfactory, though it is not intended to do away altogether with the selection of books in Melbourne. We hope that, if wo can secure the services of an official at Australia House to make a selection, of new standard works, they may be made available earlier to members in future.
– I listened with interest to what Senator Thomas had to say, and was not surprised at his remarks, because, as a general rule, the arrival of books in our Library is somewhat late in comparison with other libraries. I have been on the Library Committee for some time, and have been one of its selectors. The matter! mentioned by Senator Thomas has been a continual cause of complaint so far as I am concerned. As one of the selectors, it falls to me to carefully peruse reviews of books that are published in England, and I may say that I read through every issue of the Times Literary Supplement, every issue of the Bookman, and every issue of the Athenoeum, which is now associated with the Nation, for the purpose of getting some idea of ‘the different books being published in the United Kingdom and on the Continent. In the past every bookseller in Melbourne has been free to forward new books to the Library, and the Committee takes from those volumes such as it wishes to retain. It sometimes happens that two or three, or even four, Melbourne booksellers each forward us a copy of an important volume, but one only is accepted. The patronage is, to a certain extent, distributed amongst them. Unfortunately, Melbourne seems to be behind every other capital city in Australia in regard to the books coming to hand. I have frequently noted certain books, and have looked forward anxiously to their arrival, but I have waited foa- weeks and months before they have been announced by Melbourne booksellers, or before copies have been forwarded to this Library. I have known these books to be as much as six or seven months behind the supplies in Hobart. I carefully watch the advertisements of Messrs. Walsh and Sons, of Hobart, who more frequently than not are weeks ahead, in respect of English books, of any Melbourne booksellers. Other members of the Selection Committee. including the Chairman of the Library Committee, the Librarian, and the Cataloguer, have critical publications supplied to them, and keep themselves om courant with the reviews, so there is scarcely a book of any importance published that one or more of us has not some idea of as soon as it arrives. Practically the whole of my week-ends, holidays included, no matter in what part of the Commonwealth I am., are taken up by the perusal of reviews, in order that I may have some knowledge of .at least a number of the books when they reach Australia.
As far as selection itself is concerned, there has been no disposition shown to shut out any books. On the other hand, the tendency is to make the Library as universal as possible. An effort is made to have all interests and all views adequately represented on the shelves by the best authors, whether they be religious, political, or any other writers.
– Legal works also?
– Yes. Law books are to be found, and necessarily so, in a Parliamentary Library. Works on sociological subjects and on- art, literature, and science are also represented. It is very rarely that a book is turned down if it has any appeal to any one of such interests. Often a book lies oh the shelves untouched for a considerable period, but a demand suddenly springs up for it because of something’ that has arisen in the Parliament itself.
Primarily, the books are reserved for members of the Parliament, but certain ex-members are entitled to the privileges of the Library. Members of the first Federal Parliament, and other members who have held a seat for a. certain number of years, are entitled to books. Ministers, of course, have the use of the Library, but very often they are unable to attend themselves for the purpose of obtaining volumes, and they send their secretaries or some other officials to take out such books as they need. It may appear, sometimes, that these officials are procuring books for themselves, when they are really representing Ministers of State. Works of fiction are in a different class. We do not stock fiction of the day. There is no room on the shelves for these books, and there is no money for the purpose of buying them. Such fiction in the Library is obtained on the hire system; it is loaned to the Committee for a certain number of months at a certain rate, and afterwards the books are returned to the different people from whom they are obtained, and there is an adjustment made. If a book is missing, the cost of it has to be paid. The result of this arrangement is that shelf room is not taken up by ephemeral literature. There is a considerable rush by certain members and their relatives or friends for books of fiction, and as members sometimes get their friends to take out books on their behalf, it may appear that these strangers are obtaining books for themselves, whereas they are only getting them as representatives of some sitting member, or an ex-member who is entitled to the privileges of the Library. As Senator de Largie has said, the list of the persons entitled to receive books has recently been revised, and, to a certain extent, limited. The necessity for this arises periodically, and the Library Committee has to guard against the list becoming too extensive. In most instances where applications are made for the privileges of the Library, it is to enable the applicants to avail themselves of the opportunity to obtain books of fiction. As far as other works are concerned, individual members have introduced to the Library outside people who are keenly interested in certain subjects wherein there are authoritative works in the Library, and such people have occasionally been accommodated with the means of pursuing their studies and researches in the Library. That is a very desirable thing. The ultimate object of the Committee is that the Library shall be the natural library of the Commonwealth, and it is being filled with that object in view. In all the circumstances, I am rather glad that the question has been raised, as it has afforded an opportunity to Senator de Largie and me to give to honorable - senators and others information which they otherwise might not possess regarding the way the Library Committee is carrying out its functions.
– I am glad of this opportunity to say a few words on the subject of the class of literature in the Library. I understand from the two previous speakers that the subject of jurisprudence has not been lost sight of. Senator de Largie said the lawyer was very well catered for. I want to tell him that the works of eminent authors on jurisprudence in the Library are as old as the hills. If he went there for an up-to-date book on libel he would not find it. Odger’s work on Libel, if in the Library at all, is a very ancient edition. When the Land Acquisition Bill was before the Senate, it was most important that certain principles that arose should be studied by honorable senators in relation to the most up-to-date law on the subject. I inquired for Williams’ Vendor and Purchaser, but it was not on the shelves, and had not been heard of.
– I would suggest that this is a matter that might be put before the Library Committee, instead of being debated in this Committee.
– I will not occupy the Committee for more than a moment. The subject of Equity Practice and Trustees was considered of sufficient importance to require a copy in our Library of the book produced by Messrs. Harvey, Newham, and Rich, but I find it has only the 1902 edition. If it is desirable to have these works on jurisprudence, it is also desirable to bring them up to date.
– I have no fault to find with the choice of books in the Library. My objection is the same as that of Senator Garling - the books arrive too late. If they are not available for selection, the selectors, of course, cannot pick them. I was told this morning that a certain hook I asked for had not arrived. At midday I went into the shop of Messrs. Robertson and Mullens, where I saw the book I was wanting. I informed the Library officials that it was in Melbourne, and the Speaker, I think, is taking steps to obtain it for the selectors to look at. Many books that I have asked for have ultimately been provided, but what I contend is that they ought to have been provided a little earlier.
, - In connexion with the Department of Trade and Customs, certain sums are set apart for the Commonwealth Institute of Science and Industry. This leads me to ask whether the amount, having regard to the activities of the Institute, is no.t either too much or too little. The Institute, was established with a view to aiding, in a large measure, the growth of our primary industries. The war taught us, among its sharpest lessons, that we were isolated from the Old World. During the war we had to depend, largely upon ourselves, and since the war we have had to depend, and in the future we shall still have to depend very largely upon ourselves if we intend to make any headway with this great problem. What do we need? We want to increase production. How can we best make two grains of wheat grow where one grew before? How can we best produce 2 lbs. of butter where one was produced before? These are amongst the problems confronting us. We realize that we can only meet the situation by bringing science more strongly to bear upon these industries. Having regard to the magnitude of the problem which has been set us by war conditions, and having regard to the functions which the Institute should perform, I would ask honorable senators to consider how far these small votes will assist in carrying out the work. In New South Wales, owing in great measure to our failure to sufficiently apply scientific conditions to primary industries, the production of wheat has fallen to an average of 10 bushels per acre in the last twenty years, while for the previous twenty years the average was 15 bushels per acre. Do we ever think what that means to the wealth of this Commonwealth? In the same period the United States of America and Canada have increased their average yields. The output per .cow in New South Wales is 126 lbs. of butter per annum, and just as, by bringing science to bear, we can grow two grains of wheat where one grew before, so we can bring the dairying industry nearer to the position which has been reached in Denmark, where the Danish cow, which has to be housed, rugged, and hand-fed in the winter time, yields over 300 lbs. of butter per annum. In southern Canada the yield per cow is 256 lbs. of butter per annum, under conditions which are very much more severe than those which we have to face in Australia. The Institute of Science and Industry was started because of the necessity for increasing productiveness in Australia and harnessing in science for the solution of our various problems. The question is whether we are allowing the Institute to proceed upon the lines laid -down for it. I submit that we are not, and, that being so, the amount of money which we are spending upon it is, to a great extent, being thrown away. Very valuable reports are certainly prepared from time to time by the Institute.
– There is a vote in the schedule of £1,500 for investigation, and that is to cover only six weeks.
– I am aware of that, but it does not follow that the work of the Institute will proceed on the lines I have suggested, nor that that basis of expenditure is to continue. I shall be very pleased to learn that, at last, it is determined to make this Institute function) ais was originally intended. I should like- to see it function in the direction suggested by a Committee of the Legislative Council of New South Wales, the members of which prepared a report an agricultural conditions there. It is sometimes said that one of the reasons why the Institute of Science and Industry has not progressed as desired is because of a. fear that the States would resent over-lapping in connexion with what have hitherto been regarded as State functions. Notwithstanding that, the Committee to which I refer carefully considered the whole situation, and made a report from which, were I not limited as to time, I should like to quote at length to the Committee. They reported that in their opinion there should be a Federal Department of Agriculture to supplement the States’ activities and co-ordinate their work. The Committee expressed the further opinion that, in connexion with diseases in animals and pests in plants, the Commonwealth should give close attention to those questions, because the ravages of those diseases and pests were not confined to any one State. They used very strong words in connexion, with the tick ‘pest which has caused so much trouble and loss in Queensland and in the northern part of New South Wales:. They reported that a Mr. Ray gaveevidence before them on the subject, and he laid it down as certain that it would not be possible, under the divided control at present existing, to prevent the spread of the tick throughout the Commonwealth.
– The Institute of Science and Industry is engaged in an inquiry into the matter at the present time.
– I am aware that (he Institute is engaged in an investigation with regard to the tick pest, but I should like to see something done in connexion with the power of the Commonwealth to legislate; on the subject. The Institute, in my opinion, does not extend its functions sufficiently in these matters. It is on this account that I consider that we are not setting aside a sufficient sunn of money to enable the Institute to do the work for which it was established. I should like to say that the Committee of the Legislative Council of New South Wales reported further that greater interest should be taken in the International Institute of Agriculture, and I quote the following from their report on this subject: -
Your Committee recommends that the State should either directly become a contributor to the International ‘institute of Agriculture, or arrange through the Commonwealth Government to be a participant in a joint Australasian contribution. Either of these courses will entitle the State to the full privilege of membership.
This Institute was founded on June 7th, 1905, at the instance of the Italian Government, after full discussion of the project by the Governments of forty-eight principal agricultural countries of the world.
The King of Italy has provided a fine building to house the Institute at Borne, and has also largely endowed it. Annual contributions are made by most of the Governments of the world to carry on the work of the Institute.
I direct the special attention of honorable senators to this part of the report -
That work consists of the collection of all available information on all matters concerning the world’s agriculture, such as harvests, crops, exportable surplus, home consumption; also as to pests, diseases, research and educational work, &c. The latest information is gathered together, and is immediately made available to every subscribing country.
Most valuable publications are issued, monthly and annual reports and special bulletins, and these are printed and published in at least two languages, including English.
The Committee report that it is very material indeed for an agricultural country to have command of the latest and most authoritative information on all the subjects referred to, but that at present the information is gathered in a roundabout way and after unnecessary delay. If the Commonwealth took the matter up, the annual contribution -would probably not exceed £100. For that expenditure we would be brought into touch, scientifically and otherwise, with international agriculture throughout the world. Another function which the Institute of Science and Industry might operate is the preparation and publication of weather forecasts for. the benefit of the whole of the Commonwealth. I urge upon honorable senators that we should take into consideration how things are done in Canada, and on that point the remarks of the Committee to which I have referred are brief but illuminating. They reported -
There is an identity of interests, not only in regard to the eradication or suppression of diseases and pests, but in the purity of seeds, in the standardization of products, in a full effort in research and scientific work relating to primary industries, in the marketing of produce abroad, and in innumerable other ways that arc suggested by a mere acquaintance with the splendid work of the Departments of Agriculture of the United States of America and of the Dominion of Canada.
Your Committee has no hesitation in expressing its opinion that it will materially assist this and every other State if the Commonwealth will establish a Department of Agriculture to act on lines somewhat similar to those of the United States of America and of Canada.
I have no desire to oppose the vote for the Institute of Science and Industry, and have referred to the matter merely because I consider that the amounts we are voting for the purpose are not sufficient to enable the Institute to function as I believe it was intended to function when it was established. I suggest to Ministers that they might take into consideration the fact that far greater benefits might be derived from the operations of the Institute, and that any expenditure which might be incurred to secure those benefits would be infinitesimal when compared to the advantage which would accrue from that expenditure to the whole Commonwealth.
Looking at the Estimates for this year, I find that the total vote proposed for the Institute of Science and Industry amounts to £20,907, as against £16,000 voted last year, or an increase of something like £5,000. I indorse all that was said by Senator Garling as to the importance of the Institute. I can well remember that when the Government brought the matter of its establishment before Parliament, great hopes were expressed as to the results which would follow.
– And some opposition.
– It is true that there was some opposition to the proposal. Those who favoured the establishment of the Institute expressed the hope and belief that if it were given a fair opportunity to do the work to be intrusted to it, very much good must result to Australia. I concurred in that view. I agree with Senator Garling as to the necessity of applying science to almost every industry in which we are engaged. The honorable senator referred especially to the terrible curse of the cattle tick in Queensland.
– We have been experimenting in connexion with the tick pest and with the blowfly pest since they were first discovered in Queensland.
– We need to continue our experiments, because the eradi-cation of the cattle tick would make a wonderful difference to the northern portions of Australia. Senator Garling also referred to the necessity of investigations with regard to the quality of seeds used by our rural producers. There are a number of avenues in which good work might be done by the Institute of Science and Industry, and I agree with Senator Garling that the Government would be wise in future to provide all that is necessary to enable the Institute to carry out the work for which it was established. There is another institution allied to it, to which some consideration might also be given. I refer to the Bureau of Commerce and Industry. Only to-day, in common with other honorable senators, I received a pamphlet issued by the Bureau, entitled, “Australian Opportunities of Trade with Neighbours.” The compiler of this pamphlet points out the wonderful opportunities which are open to Australia for trade with our neighbours. A special reference is made on page 9 of the pamphlet to Hong Kong. It is pointed out that Hong Kong is only about a fortnight’s steam from the northern portions of Australia, and may be looked upon as a near neighbour. It provides a market second to none in the world for our products, and yet we are told that last year Hong Kong imported hardwoods to the value of £414,000, and none of that timber came from Australia.
– That is not very creditable to our timber producers.
– Our timber producers may not have the capital necessary for investigation or to send out agents to markets in the East.
– Some of the biggest companies in Australia are in the timber trade.
– I am pointing out that the Bureau of Commerce and Industry is doing good work in bringing before the people of Australia the possibilities of an extension of our trade which lie right at our very doors. We are told in this pamphlet that wheat, flour, and bran to the value of £1,683,000 were imported into Hong Kong last year, and that of that amount Australia supplied these articles to the value of only £41,000. That is a trade in which Australia should be in the forefront. Senator Garling said that the object of the Institute of Science and Industry should be to provide means by scientific investigation for the production of two grains of wheat where only one was produced before, and the Bureau of Commerce and Industry has pointed out that our trade in wheat might be enormously increased with practically our next-door neighbour in Hong Kong. I find, further, that Hong Kong imported dried and bottled fruits to the value of £137,000, and only 1£ per cent, of the import was supplied from Australia. These two institutions might do work of a very effective character, which would much more than repay any expenditure we might have to incur to provide them with the equipment necessary to enable them to carry on their work.
Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) (4.5]. - In the Department of Works and Railways I notice a periodical item inconnexion with the Port Augusta to Oodnadatta railway, and also one on account of the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway. Some time ago, I believe I pointed out to the Government the necessity, if at all practicable, of amalgamating the workshops at Port Augusta and Quorn. I understand that the line connecting these two centres is Commonwealth property, and it seems to me to be anything but economical to have two workshops, one entirely under Commonwealth control and the other in existence for administering to the Commonwealth interests under another control. In passing over the lino several times, I have thought it would be very much better if the line from Quorn to Port Augusta were altered to 4 ft. 8£ in. in gauge, so that all the work common to the trans-Australian railway could be done there, while still maintaining the third rail as a means of getting down the rolling-stock to Port Augusta. In that way a big saving could be effected; and I should like to know whether consideration has ever been given to such a proposal.
.- Under the Postmaster-General’s Department I notice that there is an item which is repeated under the headings of the different States for the conveyance of mails. Last year -I believe it was said that, in all probability, a much larger amount would have to be paid than in previous years; and I understood from certain answers given by the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen), that nothing definite had been done in connexion with the scale of payments to obtain in the future.
– That was in consequence of increased demands made by the Railways Commissioners in the several States.
– Yes, they demanded that the rates should be practically doubled, and I believe the Minister said that the whole matter was being investigated, with a view to coming to some amicable arrangement which would relieve the Commonwealth, to some extent, of the additional burden which had been suggested.
– In discussing the vote for the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, I desire to direct the attention of the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen) to the manner iri . which the Victorian Telephone Directory is printed. I am quite aware that the directories for the various States are printed in different type - or they were, at least, until the issue of last month - but complaints have been made concerning the manner in which’ the Victorian Telephone Directory is printed, particularly as regards the numbers and lettering. I pointed out that, as far as the directories of other States were concerned, the same occasion for complaint does not exist. In Tasmania a type similar to that now used in Victoria was employed until I directed the attention of the Deputy Postmaster-‘General in
Hobart to ‘the matter. a few years ago, when in all subsequent lists the numbers were printed in a legible type, which could be read in an ordinary or artificial light without risk of confusion. It has been pointed out that in the Victorian directory it is difficult to distinguish threes from fives and eights; and before the supplementary lists are issued or before the full directory is published in March next, I should like the Minister’s officers to confer with the Government Printer to see if a type similar to that used in New South Wales and Tasmania cannot be utilized. Some telephones are placed in recesses where the light is totally inadequate, and great difficulty is experienced in correctly reading the names and numbers, for example, where such numbers as 3713 or 5718 are concerned. I trust the Minister will see if improvements can be made.
– Two or three matters have been raised to which I wish to refer, and although I am not in a position to give very definite replies, they will be placed before the proper authorities.
I believe Senator Payne is anxious to know whether any increased expenditure is to be incurred for the conveyance of mails for the whole Commonwealth.
– I am anxious to ascertain what arrangements, if any, have been made with the various State Railway Departments.
– I have sent out an inquiry to ascertain the position, but, in the meantime, I may draw the honorable senator’s attention to the Budgetpapers, which show that there has been a sharp increase in the amount required for this year as compared with last year.
I have noted Senator Keating’s remarks concerning the indistinctness of the names and figures in the Victorian Telephone Directory. I have frequently expressed my feelings somewhat forcibly when confronted with the difficulties to which the honorable senator referred. I shall bring the matter under the notice of the Postmaster-General (Mr. Poynton), to see if something cannot be done to prevent the use of unsatisfactory type in the future.
– I understood from the reply given to a question earlier in the sitting by the Leader of the Government, in the Senate (Senator Millen) that Mr. Golding has been. abroad on behalf of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, and has presented a report concerning the working of the -British and American telegraphic and telephonic systems, and that the report is now before the Department. I presume it will be presented to Parliament.
– I do not say that that will be done.
– I am anxious to know if honorable senators will have an opportunity of perusing it before the proposed expenditure for the present financial year has been finally discussed. If the Minister is not in a position to give me a definite answer now, perhaps he will be able to do so on Wednesday next.> If the Postmaster-General (Mr. Poynton), however, considers that the report is for the information of his Department, and is not to be made available to Parliament, we should be so informed.
In travelling through the country I have noticed that some post-offices are not electrically lighted, although the current is available. . Some time ago, when visiting Wentworth Falls, I found that the post-office and telephone exchange buildings were illuminated with kerosene’ lamps, although the electric mains of a private company passed the door, and, on making inquiries a3 to why the electric light had not been installed, I was informed that it was owing to the scarcity of money. I am glad to say, however, that after representations had been made to the ex-Postmaster-General (Mr. Wise), the work was put in hand, and not only the employees, but the customers of the post-office, have benefited. Similar conditions to those which prevailed at Wentworth Falls before the electric light was installed exist at Canowindra, as the post-office and telephone exchange buildings are inadequately lighted with obsolete kerosene lamps, and when I directed the attention of the Department to the fact I was informed that money was not available.
– In the opinion of some people, that would be regarded as economy.
Senator -THOMAS. - If this Government considers it economy, it is about time they were shifted, because it is unreasonable to ask the postal officials to. work under such conditions, or to expect the public to transact business satisfactorily’ when the lighting is inadequate. The post-office is, I believe, the only place in ,the town without electric light. I understand that a report was obtained upon this matter some time ago, and that it was favorable to the improvements being made, hut the excusewas that there was no money available, I suggest now that Senator Earle should bring the matter under the notice of the PostmasterGeneral, and see if something can be done at an early date.
– I shall certainly bring the matter mentioned by Senator Thomas under the notice of the Postmaster-General (Mr. Poynton). The Government recognise the necessity for an extension of postal’, and telegraphic facilities throughout thecountry, and I have no doubt that a. great number of people would be veryglad indeed to have a post-office established in their district even if it werelit only by a tallow dip.
– But it would be cheaper to have the electric light.
– But electric light installation is very expensive at present, and it is possible that the Department thinks it advisable to spend what money may be available in extending its services in the more isolated districts. If the work mentioned by Senator Thomas can be done economically, I have no doubt that the Postmaster-General will have it done without delay.
Referring now to the question asked by Senator Thomas to-day as to Mr. Gelding’s report, I can inform him that the answer given was quite correct. The first part of his question was answered in the affirmative. The gentleman had been sent to London and had made a report, but this document, being of a departmental nature, I cannot say off-hand if it is competent for the Postmaster-General to: lay it on the table of the Senate. If the honorable senator will give notice of his question, the Minister will furnish an answer at the earliest possible opportunity.
– I should like to make a suggestion to the- Minister (Senator Earle) in connexion with the point which has been raised by Senator Keating, namely, the printing of the figures in the Telephone directories. A couple of years ago the Department, owing to the high cost of paper, decided to print these lists on news print, the cheapest paper available, and that is not conducive to clearness. £ suggest, now that paper has come back nearly to normal prices, that the Department should revert to its former practice of printing the lists on ordinary printing paper instead of news print.
.- I agree with Senator Vardon that it is desirable that the printing of the figures” in the Telephone directories should be as dear as possible, but what I wish to emphasize particularly is the need for extending the telephonic services to the outside districts in Queensland. The De>partment ‘has decided to borrow a. considerable sum of money for this purpose, and I trust that the Minister (Senator Earle) will impress upon the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Poynton) the advisability of getting a report on the condition of the outside districts where the people are subjected to much inconvenience through lack of communication. In the case of illness it is essential that immediate assistance’ should be made available, and this may be secured them to some extent by improving their telephonic facilities. The system should also be extended into the Northern Territory.
– The PostmasterGeneral has that matter under consideration.
– I am pleased to have that assurance from the Minister. I know that country very well. Residents of our cities have no idea at all of what it means to be so isolated as are the people outback, especially in seasons of drought.
.-I should be glad if the Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce) could give some explanation of the increased expenditure in salaries in the Department of Health. Last year the salaries paid totalled £39,482, and the amount on the Estimates for this year is £49,210, an increase of £9,728. This seems a rather large sum.
.- Oan the Minister give any information as to what has been accomplished in connexion with the study of diseases in tropical Australia?
– Referring to the question raised by Senator Vardon, I find, according to the Estimates, that the increased expenditure is largely due to arbitration awards, which have covered the professional and the higher administrative officers.
– There has been an increase of 25 per cent.
– There has also been an increase in the number of officers by three, and several laboratories have been established ; but practically the whole of the increase is due to Arbitration Court awards. Replying to Senator Reid, I may say that leaflets are’ issued periodically by the Department of Health to all members of Parliament showing the progress being made in tropical research. I do not know whether the honorable senator has noticed them, but, at all events, they are sent to him in common with other honorable senators. It is upon the information contained in these leaflets that an opinion must be formed as to whether the Department is doing satisfactory work or otherwise. Personally, I think that it is doing good work in the investigation of tropical diseases in so far as they affect the northern portion of our continent.
– Some time ago I received a pamphlet from the Department of Health, stating that it was . proposed to give; instruction in first aid to workers, and I wrote to Dr. Cumpston, suggesting that it might be possible to do something for workers in the back country, where people are far from public hospitals, doctors, or nurses. If prompt attention is not given, minor accidents frequently, have very serious results. I could give instances that have come under my own observation of men who have been injured and have been carried long distances over rough roads to the nearest hospital before they could get skilled treatment. Instead of extending departmental activities in the more thickly populated centres, where workmen in factories may, if required, receive prompt medical attention, it is advisable that we should do something in this direction for men and women who are living in the out-back country, more particularly in view of the fact that we are engaging in an immigration policy, and to some extent must be responsible for the welfare of people who may be brought to Australia. Knowledge of first aid and first aid facilities would be extremely valuable.
– The Health Department does not propose to give first-aid instruction in factory districts.
– I can assure tho Minister that in the pamphlet which I received it was stated that instruction was to be given. What I asked Dr. Cumpston’ was whether something of a similar nature could be done for workers in the bush who are far removed from assistance. I hope the Department will give consideration to this matter, because the responsibility rests upon them. It cannot be said that this is a State matter now that action has been taken in regard to factory employees.
– The inauguration of the Department of Health by the Commonwealth was not intended in any way to do work that properly came within the sphere of the State Departments of Health. The intention was to co-ordinate research work and activities in coping with disease, rather1 than to do purely hospital or curative work that more properly falls within the province of the State Departments. I am surprised to hear that the Department has issued a leaflet to factory workers. If that is so, I see no reason why similar assistance should not be extended to people in the back country, and I shall bring the honorable senator’s remarks under the notice of the Minister.
, - On the last page of the schedule is an item of £125,000 under the heading, “ Repatriation of soldiers and expenses in connexion therewith (to be paid to the credit of Trust Fund, Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Account).” Other, and smaller items are for “ Assistance under special circumstances to Australian and ex-Imperial soldiers who have been on active service,” and “ Allowances under special circumstances to dependants of Australian soldiers who are not provided for under the Repatriation Act.” The first item, on account of its magnitude, might indicate generosity on the part of the Government. All the cases that I have brought under the notice of the Department of Repatriation have been dealt with in a most considerate way, and the regulations have even been strained where it was thought that any suspicion of injustice was in evidence. But, unfortunately, in one case that I brought under the notice of the Prime Minister’s Department, no matter what arguments were brought forward, the Department always proved very hardhearted. On the last occasion on which I raised the question there was a blank refusal, and I was told that it was no use to pursue the matter further. The case to which I refer is that of a returned soldier who took up land outside of Pingelly, Western Australia. Writing to me on the 25th August last, he states, inter alia -
The Prime Minister knows as well as you or I that men discharged in London were brought back to Australia. In case you still think you can be of assistance to me, I shall repeat the main features of my case. My mother got me discharged in London to take the place of my brother, killed in Prance. At Home I found I was not really required. I returned to Australia. I applied at Horse- ferry-road and at Australia House for a passage back to Australia. This fruitless trip to London cost .me £12. I booked a passage and paid my own fare, sailing from London on the 30th October, 1919. In November, 1919, instructions were issued to the High Commissioner to grant third-class fares to members of the Australian Imperial Force discharged in London. Why should I not benefit under these instructions because I happened to sail a few days before they were issued? The Prime Minister may be legally right in refusing to make me a refund of passage money. Is there no sentiment or sense of fair play in a Government? There was plenty of sentiment about when we enlisted. That is my case. They will tell you I took my dis”charge with my eyes open, but so did the others who were eventually brought back. I shall say nothing about the absentees. These are the plain facts. I could enlarge on them, but I know that you are a busy man. I have been battling for two years. My case has been referred twice to Military Head-Quarters, Melbourne. The Returned Soldiers League, the Repatriation Department, Perth, and the Pingelly branch have all given me sympathy. (Signed) James M. Les.
This is the case of a man who has been discharged at the request of his mother on account of very pressing family considerations. When he found that he was not required to take his brother’s place in the old home in England, he decided to return to Australia. He did not dally about London, as some of the others did, thereby qualifying for a passage. Because he left before the instructions were issued he was deprived of his passage money, and he had to pay it. Can this man’s case not be given some consideration? The items I have referred to in the schedule show that even ex-service men are to be taken into consideration in some form or other. The Government, and rightly so, are paying the passages of young men to come to this country at present, whether they are soldiers or not. I have given the solitary example in my experience of where generosity has not been extended to a man who tried to do his duty when the country called upon him.
– He would be warned in London, before he got his discharge, that his passage money would not be paid. Those are the regulations.
– I know nothing personally about the character of this man, but the very fact that he is working with a group of returned soldiers in the Western State suggests that he is a decent citizen.
– He must have brought pressure to bear in order to get his discharge in London. The Government would not have wanted him, to be discharged in England.
– It has not been stated that any irregularity was responsible for the refusal of his application. The case, as I understand it, is simply that he left London some days before other persons who became entitled to the passage money. So far as I know, he is as good as the average citizen, and perhaps a lot better. I hope the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Mill en) will bring the matter under the notice of the Department.
– The last two items in the schedule to which Senator Lynch has referred are due to the fact that, in spite of the very comprehensive provisions of the Repatriation Act, there occasionally crops up some case that does not fall within the four corners of the Act itself. The Government, therefore, provided a small sum of money, and placed it at the disposal of the Repatriation Commissioners, so that if there was a deserving case, not quite covered by the Act, they could extend a little relief. But in any case this was not intended to confer benefits where the Act clearly made it plain that benefits were not to be granted. The circumstances of the case mentioned by Senator Lynch are that the soldier took his dis charge in London. Presumably, he presented satisfactory reasons why he should be given that discharge, but he signed a quittance relieving the Commonwealth of all responsibility in regard to the future. The policy adopted by the Government in that respect was absolutely sound, because Australia did not want to demobilize a lot of men in GreatBritain. It needed them in Australia as citizens. The Government felt justified, in the circumstances, in thinking that if a lot of the men were paid off in England they mightenjoy themselves for a while, but it was inevitable that a number of them would sooner or later “ go on the rocks.” For that reason the men who obtained discharges in London were required to give a quittance with regard to all further Government responsibility. The gentleman to whom Senator Lynch has referred, after having been some time in England, decided that, after all was said and done, Australia was not a bad place, and that he would come back to it. He paid his passage back. Up to that point, Senator Lynch makes no demur; but later, because other Australians who had similarly taken their discharge were given passages out to Australia, he thinks that his friend or constituent should obtain a refund. Why were those men given passages out? Largely, I venture to say, because they were stranded in England. It is not the first occasion upon which this and other Governments, seeing their nationals stranded in another country, have gone to their relief. It was done to a limited extent in the case of South Africa. There were a number of Australians stranded in England. The Government said, “ These men have obviously made a mistake. We will not leave them there. We will bring ‘ them back to Australia.” When a Government seeks to stretch out a helping hand to men who are stranded, it does not mean that every one who is not stranded should get an equal measure of benefit. The soldier to whom Senator Lynch has referred was not stranded. He was able to look after himself and to pay his passage back. As a matter of benevolence, he had no claim on the Government to help him. The fact that the Government did help the men who became stranded does not constitute any justification for extending a proportionate amount of benefit to somebody who did not need it.
– He relieved the Government by paying his own passage money.
– He relieved the Government by taking his discharge in England. He became a citizen of England, free to do as he liked. He found, however, that he had made a miscalculation, but he was able to fend for himself. He was unlike those whom the Government subsequently helped. The Australian Government could not have stood by and said it would allow those stranded men to remain in England, whatever might happen to them. I do not think any one can find fault with the Government for acting as it did. Senator Lynch has suggested that I should bring his complaint under the notice of the Government. He has already shown that he has carried the matter from Department to Department; and even if I forwarded a copy of his remarks to the Government, it is not likely that I would achieve any more than he has already accomplished. If it will please him, however, I will see that a copy of his remarks is passed on to the Prime Minister.
Schedule agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without request.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended, and report adopted.
Motion (by Senator E. D. Millen) proposed -
That this Bill be now read a third time.
– I desire to bring under the notice of the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) some facts regarding the position of New Guinea as a dependency of the Commonwealth. Honorable senators are well aware that the Territory now known as Papua was annexed to Australia long before the Commonwealth was established. Since then, being under the guardianship of the Commonwealth, it has been a source of anxiety and a constant drain upon the Treasury. It came under Commonwealth control about fifteen years ago, and the annual subsidy has been in the neighbourhood of £30,000. In the Budget-papers this year the subsidy has been increased to £50,000. The total amount for the period of fifteen years is in the neighbourhood of £500,000. The records of what is happening in New Guinea, and the last report of the Administrator, seem to indicate that little or no progress has been made in settlement: at least, nothing has been done to justify the expenditure to which the Commonwealth has been put. A sum of £500,000 spent in the interior of Australia in building a railway line would do a lot of good. The records show that the population of New Guinea is not increasing; the white population numbers about 1,000, and has remained stationary for many years. The industries are not increasing to any extent worth mentioning. In view of the fact that the Possession has been a failure from a fiscal and business point of view, the question arises as to whether we should continue to be responsible for it. That brings me to the point of remarking that I made a suggestion to the Government some time ago. I am not in a position to give the full particulars of that suggestion, to which, by the way, I did not get a reply. It is quite clear that in a fiscal sense the Territory is not satisfactory to the Commonwealth, and we have no guarantee that in the immediate future there will be any expansion of trade or commerce there. The number of men who have responded to the recruiting system for labour has been stationary for the last eight or nine years. The Administrator says that in 1912-13 the number of natives recruited for labour was 6,900; in 1919-20. which was the last year with which the report deals, the number was 6,300, which represents a very substantial reduction on the previous figures. The Administrator gives various reasons for this decrease, such as the unwillingness of the natives to respond to the call of duty, if I may use the word in that connexion. He says that the value of the money paid them has so discouraged the natives that they do not think it worth their while to resort to labour as a means of finding the wherewithal of subsistence. He also refers, incidentally, to the effect of taxation, and makes special mention of the fact that the tax-gatherer in certain parts of New Guinea is the only man who is received with eclat and cheers. That sets a good example to some of the taxpayers in the Commonwealth. Apart from these trifling incidents, it is quite plain that there are three facts sticking out at the present time - the white population is not increasing, the native population is unwilling to respond to the appeal to work, and a constant drain is being made upon the Treasury. Whether the position can be altered by imposing more exacting conditions upon the New Guinea indigenous natives in regard, to labour I do not know. Under existing conditions the Territory has been stationary for many a long day. I am asking the Government to do something effective with that island Possession. 1 have proposed a means of turning New Guinea to practical account, and it would be a means of insuring the safety of this country. Being close ito our continental Possession, and being a place which could readily be used as a “ jumping off “ ground for attack upon us, we need to be very careful regarding who is placed there. In the absence of anybody else, we ourselves should be the owners. As against that, if a friendly Power could take possession it would be wise for the Commonwealth Government to get rid of the island. I content myself entirely by simply drawing attention to the fact and pointing out that in this continent we have sufficient area to occupy the minds and energies not only of people of the present generation, but of a number of generations to follow. Various computations have been made as to the population that Australia can carry. Figures as high as 100,000,000 and 200,000,000 have been mentioned. While we often concern ourselves, and rightly so, about our future safety and liberty, it is of first rate, capital importance that we should cast about and see whether our independence and security cannot best be guaranteed by doing something with these Possessions in our neighbourhood. Up to the present time nothing has been done. Papua has proved an endless sink for money. In the last fifteen years £500,000 has been spent there, and the result is no credit to the expectations that were indulged in when that Territory came under the control of the Commonwealth. New Guinea could be extensively developed by a Power friendly to this country ; ‘ we might be relieved of taxation, and we should enjoy the advantage of having a powerful ally at our door, if only we came to the conclusion that we have enough land in Australia for our purpose, and for the purposes of generations to follow. I had intended to deal with this matter on the motion for the first reading of the Bill. I am not disappointed at the result of my appeal to the Government to take into consideration the proposition which I made, and to which I am more firmly wedded today than ever before.
– Would the Monroe Doctrine be against the acquisition of the Territory by the friendly Power suggested ? ‘
– I should be as staunch as Senator de Largie in contending that any Power that took possession of New Guinea should be as friendly disposed to Australia as possible. I say that, for preference, it should be a nation of people of our own kith and kin, our own blood and speech. That’ is the Power that I should like to see take possession of the country. We are in an isolated position here, and if we are to hold our own against all comers, and especially if the protecting ann that has been for so long around this Commonwealth is withdrawn - and we have no guarantee that it will not be - nothing could serve Australia better than to have some powerful and friendly ally in possession of New Guinea. That Power would develop the Territory, and could be applied to whenever the hour of peril struck for this country. At present there is no development taking place in Papua, and there will not be for years to come. The only purpose which it appears to serve for Australia is to provide a place in which we can spend money. I have said that we have spent about £500,000 An the .administration of Papua, and that sum would have been a big help in carrying out internal development works in Australia that are sorely needed.
Almost every proposed reform must look for opposition at the beginning, but proposals which, at first blush, are very unpalatable, become, if the light of reason is persistently thrown upon them, acceptable and politic. That is proved by the history of a long line of achievements in the past which, when first proposed, were not popular. Many proposals which have been received with popular favour have ended in failure. The conventions of the time are not always to be trusted. Some time ago we looked with considerable favour on the Germans. The people of this country and of Great Britain had very friendly feelings toward the German Power, yet the time came when we justly became very unfriendly towards Germany, and very suspicious of Germans. France was not, at one time, the object of such friendly feelings on our part. SoI say that the conventions of the time need to be very carefully scrutinized. The proposal I make is to hand New Guinea over to a Power friendly to Australia that will be able to protect and develop it. The idea which I have promulgated is entirely my own, and if it were given effect to, I believe that, instead of spending money as we have done in the past on the administration of Papua without advancing its development, we could spend it in the Commonwealth, and aid the progress of our own people.
SenatorE. D. MILLEN (New South Wales - Minister for Repatriation) [5.10]. - I should like to say a word or two with regard bo the suggestion which Senator Lynch has repeated here to-day. Before doing so, may I direct the honorable senator’s attention to a fact which he could scarcely have overlooked, but which he does not appear to have taken into his calculation ? In giving figures to indicate that we have not made the progress in New Guinea that we all would desire, the honorable senator took the year before, and the year after, the war. Surely he will allow that the war made somedifference. It might have been expected to exercise a retarding influence there as well as elsewhere. To compare the figures of to-day with the figures of two or three years before the war, unless allowance is made for that fact, is bound to lead to entirely wrong conclusions.
As to the proposal which Senator Lynch makes, and which in plain words - and I see no reason why it should not be plainly stated - is that we should invite America to take possession of New Guinea-
– Hear, hear !
– If Australia is so soontired of the responsibility she took up, the first country that should be invited to take over New Guinea is Great Britain. We should not put it on record that we are so impotent ourselves, and think so little of the Mother Country that we must invite America to take charge of New Guinea. I speak with all respect of America, but I say that if Australia is tired of the job almost before she has commenced it, the first thing we should do is to consult with the British Government.
– That matter is not involved in my proposition.
– I think it is. New Guinea was not thrust upon us by Great Britain. We went and took possession of the Territory ourselves, much to the perturbation of the Imperial authorities at the time. When it was taken over no one supposed for a. moment that we could look after it without incurring some expenditure in the first few years of our over-lordship. That was inevitable, and although our Budget indicates some expenditure every year in connexion with New Guinea it must not be assumed that the money expended on the Territory has been wholly lost. Those who might be disposed to think so should derive some encouragement from the history of the Empire. England would long since have been bankrupt if the moneys she has spent in the development and government of territories that have passed under her flag had been wholly lost. Every £1 she has spent in that way has come back to her in trade. We should not regard amounts which have appeared for New Guinea in our Budgets as though we had nothing whatever to show for their expenditure. I venture to say that they represent but a very small sum indeed when we remember that by taking possession ofthe Territory our purpose was to prevent its occupation, as a possible base of operations, by a Power which might not be too friendly to Australia. When the question of the New Guinea, Territories came up during the war, this Chamber pronounced the view very definitely that those Territories were not to pass backinto possibly hostile hands. The Senate said, clearly, that whilst we did not want additional acres, what we did want was additional security, and the best security we could have was to have New Guinea a Mandated Territory under our own control.
– What tenure have we under the Mandate ?
– Our tenure is in perpetuity so far as it is expressed in the Mandate. A discussion which has recently taken place abroad might cause us some little anxiety, but in the Mandate there is no limit as to the time for which it is to run, and so far as its terms are concerned our tenure of the Mandated Territory is interminable. That does not affect the matter to which
Senator Lynch has directed attention, and just as we agreed that possessing the Mandated Territory meant the safety of Australia, so we should reject the idea that it should pass out of our hands into those of some other Power.
– I have suggested only that it should pass into the hands of a friendly Power, and not into the hands of any Power that might have designs on Australia.
– No one would entertain for a moment the thought of New Guinea and the other Mandated Territories passing into the hands of a nation likely to have designs on this country.We do not want another Power which might become hostile to be in possession of territory so close to Australia as New Guinea is. I am satisfied that honorable senators are agreed that if New Guinea is not to continue under our control, it must be under the control of the Imperial authorities.
Question resolvedin the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from8th September (vide page 2075), on motion by Senator Earle -
That this Billbe now read a second time.
– I understand that the amount proposed to be voted for the purpose of assisting the export of meat under this Bill is something like £140,000. It would be foolish to think that by the expenditure of such a sum we would be able to establish a permanent meat trade for Australia. It would require not only a great deal more than that amount, but also a very great deal of organization. We may look upon this proposal as one merely to provide assistance to tide over a temporary disarrangement of the market. Holding that view, I am supporting the measure. It would be foolish indeed for us to allow one of our greatest primary industries to get into difficulties whenwe might prevent it by the expenditure of a comparatively small sum of money.
I would, however, prefer to go very much further than is proposed under this Bill. I think we may reasonably claim a firstlien in the British market, and I should like to see something of a more permanent character attempted to establish a market for our products than the expenditure of money in the shape of bounties on exports. We know that in Great Britain lately a new view has been taken of Empire trade. The people there, so long wedded to Free Trade, have shown a tendency to change their views. Since the war, the Imperial Parliament has passed an anti-dumping measure, and by so doing adopted to some extent the principle of Protection for British industries. I think we might do something to promote what I maycall an Empire trade policy. We might communicate with the Imperial Government, and with the Governments of the other oversea Dominions, and see whether the holding of a real business conference might not lead to a better understanding in trade matters between ourselves and the Old Country than has existed in the past. I can speak with some little experience on this matter. When I visited my native city five or six years ago, I had an opportunity to address an audience in the Glasgow Corporation’s building. There was. a big audience of business men present; and speeches highly appreciative of what Australia was doing to assist the Motherland in the war were made. I referred to this question and pointed out that notwithstanding the praises which had been showered upon the Australians for the manner in which they had assisted the Old Land in time of trouble something more was needed to bind the different parts of the Empire together. I directed attention to the fact that in the matter of trade everything was not well, that we were far from having a satisfactory trade policy, and that in consequence of the British fetish of Free Trade which had been adhered to for so long the importations from Australia - produced by men who had been called to the assistance of the Empire in time of war - were placed on the basis in the British markets as those produced by the Germans, with whom we were then in deadly combat. When I presented the case in that way,and proved conclusively that the Germanproducers possessed equal advantages in the
British markets with the overseas Dominions of the Empire, emphatic disapproval of the existing policy was expressed. The same applies to neutrals, such as Argentine. I believe that if an earnest and continuous appeal were made to the British Government this aspect of Empire trade would be favorably considered, and we would be given sufficient consideration to enable us to be placed on better terms than our competitors in other parts of the world who did not come to the assistance of Britain in her hour of peril. Those who attended only to their own business were able to make enormous fortunes out of wheat, meat, and everything else exported to Great Britain. There are many ways in which our case could be presented to the British authorities, but it is only necessary for us to be persistent and ask for a trade conference to’ be convened, and the result would be very satisfactory to Australian producers. Irrespective of what alterations we may attempt to bring about by paying meat or other bounties, or by controlling a Commonwealth Line of Steamers, there is nothing to prevent other countries acting similarly, and the disadvantage would still remain. The distance from the Atlantic ports in the United States of America to the London market is a mere bagatelle when compared with the distance from Australia to London, and Canada is in a similarly advantageous position. Last year, when we were paying enormous freights on wheat to Great Britain, the rate ruling from New York, Philadelphia, and Canadian ports was approximately 8s. per ton. The Argentine is also a serious competitor, because the seasons there synchronize with ours, and their products in many respects resemble our own. The land in the Argentine is also richer than that in Australia.
– That is not so.
– According to Knibbs, the production of wheat in the Argentine in 1919 - the latest year for which the figures are available - was 214,400,000 bushels, whereas in Australia the production was only 45,976,000 bushels.
– Yes, and their wages are less than one-half of those ruling in the Commonwealth.
– I am not referring to the wages, although we are at a disadvantage in that respect also. I am dealing particularly with the productivity of the land.
-How much wheat did the honorable senator say was produced in that year in Australia?
– Forty-five million bushels.
– That quantity was produced in Victoria alone.
– I am quite sure that the production of wheat in the Argentine is greater than it is in Australia.
– The quantity may be greater because the wages are lower. Low wages naturally assist production.
SenatorDE LARGIE. - On page 255 of the OfficialYear-Book, under the heading of” Wheat Yield in various Countries, 1919,” the average yield for Australia is shown as 7.2 bushels.
– That was a drought year, and the honorable senator should take the average over a number of years.
– I have quoted the average yield in bushels per acre for 1919, and, although the production in Australia averaged only 7.2 bushels, the figures for the Argentine Republic were 14.3 bushels. I admit it was a low average for Australia, but if we take an average over a larger number of years, I am sorry to say Argentine has a higher average than we have.
– I direct Senator de Largie’s attention to the fact that there is nothing in this measure relating to wheat. I have allowed the honorable senator considerable liberty; but he must now confine his remarks to the Bill, which provides for the payment of bounties on meat exported from the Commonwealth.
– I have been somewhat drawn away by interjections; but I would like to repeat that, according to the official figures, the annual production of wheat in Australia in 1919 was 45,976,000 bushels, and that of the Argentine for the same year was 214,400,000 bushels.
– But that was in a drought year.
– The honorable senator can take any year, and he will find that in many instances the production in the Argentine is higher than in Australia.
-brockman. , - Their freights are much lower than those from Australia, even after allowing for the extra distance -from Australia.
– A vessel can make the passage from the Argentine to Great Britain in three weeks less than it could make a trip from Australia to Great Britain. Consequently, ships can be marshalled in a more satisfactory manner, and the result is that, apart from the distance, cheaper freights than we can ever hope to get are available to Argentine exporters. The Australian meat trade can never successfully compete with the Argentine for many reasons. The Argentine breeders have paid enormous sums for stud stock, and to-day have the best cattle to be found in any -part of ‘ the world. What has the Argentine done for Great Britain that it should be placed on the same basis as Australia ? If the people in Great Britain thoroughly understood the position and gave further consideration to the fact that we assisted them during the great conflict, while our competitors attended to their business and made enormous profits, we would be placed on a more advantageous footing. During the war we had to take whatever prices were available for our products, while our competitors secured the fabulous rates which were common to exporters from other countries. In consequence of the enormous wealth derived, producers iu other countries are in a better position to face the ill-effects of the falling market which exists to-day, and as I have already said, we should appeal to Great Britain to do more to assist us.Immigration has now set in from the Old Country, and every effort is being made to encourage the settlement of suitable British people on the land. Fortunately, unemployment in Australia has been less marked than in almost any other country, as in Great Britain, for instance, at one time approximately £2,000,000 per week was being expended in assisting the unemployed. We are now absorbing some of Great Britain’s idle men, and if the British authorities realized that their unemployed were merely being moved from one British country to another, and that they were still being kept within the Empire, they would admit that we were entitled to more . consideration in thematter of trade. I contend that those people who are still citizens of the Empire are as- much entitled ‘ to the benefit of British trade markets as they would be if they were living in Britain. The meat industry in Australia has not been well organized. I well remember, as a boy, that the belief generally held in England was. that Australian beef come from some inferior breed of cattle. Until I came to Australia I was under that impression myself. This opinion prevails to some extent to-day in England, and it should be our duty to tell the people of Great Britain that our beef breeds are just as good as any in the world.
– They are taken from breeds in the Mother Country.
– That is quite true. We are indebted to the Mother Country for our Herefords, shorthorns, and many other important breeds, and surely we can produce from them beef just as good as is produced in the Argentine. There is no getting away from the fact that unless we organize the industry thoroughly, we shall not be able to develop the meat trade to any great extent.. I hope, therefore, that we shall not confine our efforts merely to the payment of this bounty of £140,000. The policy of preferential trade with the Mother Land has long outlived its usefulness. We have only to look at the table of imports from other countries to realize this. Preferential trade has been of very little benefit to Australia - in fact, it has given us nothing. We should substitute for it the policy of reciprocity, which is more likely to be of mutual advantage. If there is no friendship in business, then we should know it from the British people themselves. If they consider that it is advisable to do business with us on the same terms as with every other country, well and good; but there is no use denying the fact that unless something’ is done to encourage the development of trade between Australia and great Britain, the so-called important question of Empire connexion will prove a delusion. If the people of the Mother Country believe in Free Trade all the time, let them have it. Why should we force Protection upon them? If, on the other hand, they are willing to reciprocate in trade matters, they would only be doing what we have been doing for a considerable number of years. Business is business in Australia, just as in any other country. A manufacturer in Great Britain cannot expect trade advantages in our market if we do not enjoy a similar privilege in the Mother Country for our primary products. If the people of Great Britain are only brought to recognise the importance of this matter, and the unfairness of the present position in regard to preferential trade, they would soon see that a change was brought about. It may be said that in the Mother Country the food question is above all, and that no Government would dare to impose duties on foodstuffs. I do not know that the whole of the resources of trade would be exhausted by confining our attention to duties on foodstuffs. Advantageous terms might be offered in the matter of shipping dues, which are a great hindrance to trade. Ships trading to British ports have to pay lighting, pilotage, and harbor dues, all of which represent a very heavy burden on trade. If the British Government do not care to impose duties on, say, foodstuffs, and so discriminate between our trade and trade with other countries, such as the Argentine and the United States of America, they could offer us material relief from our present burdens by removing some portion of those dues, and thus give us a real advantage in their market. As we are approaching the general elections, I know that nothing is likely to be done during the life of this Parliament; but, whatever may be the result of the elections - whether the Government in power will be Nationalist or representative of some other party - I hope that this matter of reciprocal trade . relations with the Mother Country will have the earnest attention of the new Parliament, and that, as a result, we shall enjoy some real advantage for our primary products in the British market.
– I had not intended to speak on this important matter, and would not have done so except for the question which Senator de Largie has raised, namely, preference for our meat in the markets of the Old Country. I think we ought to give more prominence to what Australia did for the Empire during the war. We are always being told, as in the case of wool, that the British Government were extremely generous towards Australia because they bought our wool during the war period. No mention is ever made of the fact that prior to the bargain that was made, the Australian wool-growers were getting infinitely more. An average of 15½d. was, of course, a fine price, but the Argentine growers were getting a great deal more for their wool all through the war.
– Considering the quality.
– Did the Argentine get more for their wool over the whole period ?
– Considering the quality, yes.
– I can only mention my own experience. I had some low-grade wool for sale in London when the bargain was made. The British Government took possession of it at the agreed price, and sold it a few days afterwards for10d. per lb. more than we received. The Australian woolgrowers lost heavily by making that bargain with the Imperial Government, but they were not out to make a bargain so much as to help old John Bull to fight his battles. That was really their object in coming to that agreement.
– It was considered a good bargain at the time.
– I do not agree with the honorable senator. I think it was a very poor bargain. If we had been in the position of the Argentine, and had insisted on full market price for our wool, we would have got hundreds of millions of pounds more during the war period; and, as I have said, I do not think we are , saying nearly enough about the part we played during the war. We were not out to make the last penny in those days. I am perfectly certain that the earnest desire of every Australian was to help the Empire in her great struggle. I do not like to boast, but I do not think we should hide our light under a bushel any longer.
-Did the British Government have to store the Argentine wool, as was necessary in the case of Australian wool?
– To some extent, yes, but not to anything like the same extent as here.
– That is the whole point. We got paid for the wool years before it was delivered.
– But it was a very good bargain for the British Government.
– We were very well treated.
– I do not agree with the honorable senator at all. If we had been out for a strict business bargain, we could have made an immense sum of money out of our wool, but we did not put the transaction on strict business lines at all.
– We could not have shipped a pound of the wool at the time.
– Apparently the honorable senator knows nothing at all about the position, and so it is all the more necessary that it should be clearly stated.
– It may be necessary, but this discussion is not relevant to the Bill.
– I am sorry, Mr. President, and I shall conclude very briefly. Apparently, Senator Garling is absolutely in. the dark as to what was the real position, and it is necessary that the case for Australia, from a commercial point of view, should be properly put. It was well known at the time that a lot of wool was filtering through other sources to the enemy, and to prevent that our wool-growers accepted a comparatively low price from the British Government. We could have made millions of pounds more, if we had insisted upon -a strict business bargain. It is quite incorrect to say that we could not have got our wool away. It had to go overseas, otherwise the Italians and French, who were our Allies, would have been absolutely starved for wool.
– Can you tell us anything about the price of Argentine meat during the war ?
– I know that the Argentine growers got double the price received by Australia, and they shipped every pound possible. The meat taken from the Argentine, Canada, and the United States was, some of it, the most hideous rubbish that the Old Country ever saw. Practically every dead dog went from those countries to meet the British demand.
– That was because Britain had £100,000,000 invested in the Argentine industries.
– There was £400,000,000 of British capital invested there. But I am not blaming the British Government for not giving us preferential treatment in their markets.
They have to feed their people as cheaply as possible.
– And that should also be the duty of this Government.
– I think we have not made enough of our case, and that the position should be put before the people in the Old Country. Something has been done already, because the British Government have agreed to buy our meat for their Army and Navy requirements. That is one concession, at all events. If we do not insist upon the British people knowing just what we did in the war commercially, our case must go by default. A great many people, as was instanced just now in the case of Senator Garling, are not fully seized of the position.
– I said that Great Britain did a great deal for us.
– And I say that Australia did magnificently for the Mother Country. We are about the only country that did not make any money out of the war. Canada, for instance, made a great deal of money, whereas we only piled up a debt of over £400,000,000. Our case, from a commercial point of view, has never been properly put before the British people, and we should see that that is done. They valued our assistance during the war, and they know what splendid work our boys did for them. They appreciated all this, but they have not been fully informed as to our commercial sacrifices. Preference to Australian meat might mean raising the price to consumers in the Old Country. Great Britain depends on feeding its people as cheaply as possible, so that it can compete in its manufactures with cheap labour. All that is required is that the question should be properly put before the people of the Mother Country. I do not think the fact that they have so large an amount of money invested in the Argentine would weigh with them for a moment.
– The proposed meat bounty is not a very large one, and I cannot see that it can do a great deal of good. I shall, nevertheless, vote for the Bill, recognising that the Government are doing something at all events, in the direction of stabilizing the meat industry of Australia. I congratulate Senator de Largie on having given publicity to the fact that Great Britain owes a debt of gratitude to Australia, just as much as Australia owes a similar debt to the Mother Country.
– It is mutual.
– BROCKMAN. - Yes; and it should be acknowledged by both parties. It has always seemed to me that there is a tendency in Australia to decry our own goods. Those who ought to boost the articles that Australia produces are the Australians themselves; yet the tendency has always existed in this country to depreciate our own possessions, our own productions, and the quality of our own lands. Even Senator de Largie himself, who has great faith in the future of Australia, to some extent introduced this element in his remarks to-day.He was drawn into an admission that we ought on all occasions to hesitate about making, and especially on public occasions. It is an extraordinary thing that for many years large quantities of Australian beef have been sold in Great Britain as prime British beef. I remember attending a lecture at the Military Staff College at Quetta in 1908, given by a very able professor of that institution on the Food Supplies of the Empire, and among other things he dealt with the supply of meat within the Empire. That naturally brought him to the discussion of Australia, and Australian meat. It is a curious thing that I should have had to go to India to hear something about Australian meat that I certainly did not know before. The professor told his class that about twelve times as much British beef was sold in Great Britain as was produced there, and that the other eleven -twelfths mostly came from Australia. The lecturer gave the names of the very shopkeepers who sold Australian beef as prime British beef. In London there were British butchering firms with two shops. In one they sold only prime British beef, but there was another establishment around the corner selling only Australian beef. All of the meat sold, however, consisted of Australian carcasses. The difference was that the Australian beef was sold at a small price, while the meat around the corner brought, in many cases, twice as much. That was happening in 1908, and I have no doubt that the same practice is in vogue to-day.
– I suppose they keep the second-class beef for sale as Australian beef.
– We should take a pride in our own country, and in its produce, and we should announce on every possible occasion that we are proud of Australia. One seldom hears of Australian mutton or lamb in Great Britain. A great deal is heard there about New Zealand lamb, although most of the lamb sold as the New Zealand article comes from Australia, because New Zealanders have made their lamb popular by constant propaganda. The sooner we reverse our habit of mind and action in this connexion the better it will be for us and our country. We should realize the value of our own produce, and the worth of what we have done for the Empire. The present unfortunate habit was evidenced even in this chamber, by an interjection from Senator Garling, giving credit to other parts of the Empire, and depreciating what Australia has done. Such an attitude is injurious to us. I want a proper appreciation shown of what Australia has done, of what it is doing, and what it is prepared to continue to do for the Empire.
While on the question of meat, I come to a more local aspect. It is generally conceded that the growers are having a pretty thin time. The markets have all gone, and the growers are not at present making any profit. On the contrary, a great many of them are suffering heavy losses. It has been threatened that, unless ‘something is done, the meat industry in Australia will be ruined. From time to time I have compared the prices the growers get with those charged by the retailers in the various States, and the difference between the two is positively amazing. There is a very big opening for improvement of the position as far as the grower is concerned. If the grower were able to obtain some of the profits at present going to the retailers, there would be less talk of the industry being ruined. If the profits were more equally apportioned, probably there would be fewer motor cars sold to the retailers and more to the growers. So far as I can understand, the only people who can afford this great luxury at present are the retail dealers. I am. very doubtful whether the proposed bounty will have any material effect upon the industry, but the root of the trouble does not lie wholly in Australia. It is a curious fact that Australians eat much less meat now than a few years ago. This is due, I think, to the fact that the retail price of meat is a great deal higher than the value of the meat on the hoof justifies. There is a great contest going on, apart altogether from the serious slump in markets generally, for the control of the meat, trade. This fight, that concerns Australia very materially, has had the effect of knocking the bottom out of the market. Until the question has been settled by the two great contending Powers, as to which is to control the meat of the world, I do not think the industry in Australia will be properly stabilized. The matter is beyond our control, and a small dole such as £146,000 will not very materially affect the position. Because I am not sure, and presume that the Government has some certainty on the subject, I am not prepared to vote against the Bill, but will support it.
.- I am a little diffident about supporting any bounties or acts that aim at more or less spoon-feeding certain States and certain industries, but I think that in the extraordinary circumstances of the meat industry this bounty is justified. We all know that in the great northern State of Queensland cattle-raising is one of the most important industries, and it has lately been in a most deplorable state. It was quite impossible for the men on the land there to make even enough to pay their working expenses, let alone their taxation. If one wants an illustration of the deplorable state of the meat industry in Queensland, which is primarily a beefproducing State, one has only to look at the operations of the Queensland State Government in the cattle-raising business. In the past year their balance-sheets disclosed a. loss of approximately £200,000, although they were free from, certain taxation and rates that are levied upon private individuals. The excuse, I understand, for the Queensland Government embarking upon that socialistic enterprise was that they, intended to provide the masses with cheaper meat. We wish to see cheap living, for the people, but the Queensland. Government did not at any time provide the masses with cheaper meat, but rather the contrary. They interfered with a business about which’, of course, they, knew absolutely nothing, and the result was a huge loss to the taxpayers. I give that as an illustration of the position into which the great cattle industry has drifted. The c.i.f. price of beef in London in March of this year was 3d. per lb., and freight and charges amounted to 2d., leaving for the poor unfortunate producer only £d. per lb. The Commonwealth Government is proposing to take action to alleviate the position. The Government will provide £d. per lb., but has wisely said to the Shipping Combines that it would not subsidize the industry unless others would do their share in assisting it. The Government induced the shipping companies to reduce the freight on beef by Jd., whilst wages and other economies effected in the meat industry will amount to a further reduction of £d., making a total reduction of fd. Although this Bill is costing the country £146,000, that is a mere trifle when we are endeavouring to stabilize and put on its feet such a great national enterprise as the beef industry in Queensland. The bounty will enable the meat works to recommence operations, and will provide employment for 3,000 men. Therefore, whilst I do not believe in spoon-feeding industries as a practice, I regard the meat industry as a special case. The bounty will not only enable men to exist, but will permit the beef industry to continue, although it will provide only a lean and unprofitable living for those who lease the land and take the trouble to produce the beef.
I was glad that Senator DrakeBrockman referred to the fact that there was a tendency to depreciate the value of Australian goods. My slogan has always been, “ Australian goods for Australian, people.” We find the anomaly still prevailing that we import nearly half our requirements of woollen goods, because people follow the bad practice of depreciating our goods, just as the British and Australian people have decried’ the quality of our beef. Let me cite my own experience in regard to the meat trade, which I am keenly interested in. When in England twenty years ago I was staying with a very large banker in London, and on the Sunday he produced some beautiful lamb, which he told me was Australian. He gave me the name of his butcher, and told me the bank was running the account, and that the butcher had nothing but Australian lamb. I went to the butcher, and asked him if he would sell me a leg of Australian lamb.
He pretended to be most indignant. He said he had no frozen meat in his shop, that he -would not touch Australian lamb at all, and that all he had was prime Welsh mutton and English lamb, t remember that when a famine occurred in Dublin twenty or twenty-five years ago, the pastoralists of Australia were asked to send meat to that city. My father, amongst others, contributed 500 carcasses qf .mutton and lamb, and I think the total cargo amounted to 20,000 carcasses. When that frozen Australian meat arrived in Dublin the people, who were practically starving, threw it into the river. They would not eat it. When I was in Bradford, working in a woollen mills employing 3,500 men, I used to go with them on Friday nights to the market in Bradford to try to encourage them to live better. Their wages’ only amounted to about 25s. per week, and they worked twelve hours a day. They very seldom saw meat. On Friday nights they would buy very coarse Yorkshire mutton, mostly necks, although they could purchase legs of Australian mutton and lamb at a much lower price. I tried to persuade them to buy the Australian meat, because I wanted to encourage Australian industries. They would not touch it, however. They would not eat it if it had been given to them, because they were so prejudiced against it. By a strange coincidence the gentleman who employed me as an apprentice very kindly invited me to his mansion. He told me that the standing dish at his home every Sunday was a saddle of Australian lamb. Ho was a millionaire employing the men ; they would not eat Australian meat, even if he had given it to them, and yet he was eating it every Sunday. I agree with honorable senators who say that our meat only needs to be advertised to be appreciated.
I think that Senator de Largie was right in many of his arguments. I approve of giving preference to the Mother Country and of promoting trade within the Empire; bub I must say that I have been very disappointed at the lack of preference which the Mother Country has shown to us when purchasing goods during and since the war. We know that, during the war, the British Government gave an absolute preference to Argentine meat. We were in the war, fighting for all we were worth with men and money, and the Argentine was quite out of it. The British Government could, of course, get meat from the Argentine very much more quickly than from Australia, and there way some excuse for them obtaining it from that source; but since the war - and this is the sore point to me, as one who likes to fight for Australian industries - the British Government have given preference to Argentine meat as against Australian meat. I am told that that has been due, to some extent, to the fact that, during the war, the British Board of Trade bought three or four large freezing establishments in the Argentine. The Board of Trade has the letting of contracts for meat supplies for the British Army and Navy, and, naturally, they have endeavoured to keep their own concerns going. Owing to the good work done by certain gentlemen who have gone to Great Britain to put the facts forcibly before the British Cabinet, I am glad to say that the British Government, for the Army and Navy supplies, at all events, have asked the Australian meat export companies to tender. I do not think that the British Government have quite realized the preference that we have given them in many ways.
I give great praise to our Prime Minister for the way in which he handled our wool contract. I was one of those who were called in to- advise the Government in an honorary capacity. I was present at all the negotiations that took place. I was asked by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) to state the case, and I was the first person called upon to speak at the first Conference. I said that I thought a fair price to ask the British Government for the wool clip would be 17d. I was supported in that contention by the late Mr. Lascelles, but a certain gentleman, from Sydney thought that we should only ask 13d., and, in the end, we decided to compromise by asking 15d.
– And a halfpenny.
– No. That is where the Prime Minister did such a splendid thing for the producers of Australia, and I want the people of Australia to know of it. We decided on a price of 15d. a lb. Mr. Hughes said he would send a cablegram, and we said that, as they could not lift the wool, we could not expect them to pay cash for the whole of it, but we asked Mr. Hughes to get as much cash as possible. Mr. Hughes’ said he would do what he could. I was, at that time, the wool correspondent for six papers in different parts of the world, including one of the Melbourne dailies, and when some one rang me up at my office and told me that the Australian wool clip had been sold at 15%d. per lb., I said that statement was incorrect. I told them it was a mistake, because we had only asked for 15d. What had the Prime Minister done? He had added a id. per lb. to the price and had put a clause in the contract that we experts had never thought of. W.e were so pleased at the prospect of selling the Australian clip at 15d., at a time when we knew we could not deliver it, that we thought of nothing else. The British Government paid cash fourteen days after the date of appraisement, on the basis of 15½d. per lb. in the greasy state at the seaports. It was a very good deal, because Mr. Hughes put a clause into the contract to provide that all wool not required for naval and military purposes was to be sold, and Australia was to participate to the extent of one-half of the profits from the sale of that wool. I am only too glad to tell members of the Country party and of the Farmers Union what the Prime Minister did for our producers. By adding on the extra one halfpenny per lb. to the price of the wool, and by securing the insertion in the contract of the clause to which I have referred, the wool-growers of the Commonwealth received about £40,000,000 more than they expected. Senator Fairbairn was quite right in saying that, as we hold the keys of the world’s position and produce the best wool, 15Jd. per lb. was not too high a price.
– And the British Government had to have our wool.
– That is so; but the honorable senator should not forget that they bought it when they could not lift it, because ships were not available. It was a good bargain for the woolgrowers of Australia.
– They thought so at the time.
– I say that it was a jolly good bargain for them. At the same time, I ami quite willing to admit that, if we had been able to get our wool on to the open market, we might have done even, better. We produce onefifth of the whole world’s supply, and one-half of the merino wool supply, and, at the time, the wool market went up to fabulous prices.
All through this time the Argentine people were fattening up. They were under no restrictions. They could get their wool to market, and obtain a higher price for wool vastly inferior to ours. I think that strong representations should be made to the Imperial Government that, considering what Australia did in the war, they should give preference to Australian meat. I should like to say, as regards wheat-
– I ask the honorable senator not to discuss wheat. There is no reference to wheat in the Bill. Only a passing allusion to the subject would be in order.
– I consider that Senator de Largie was right in his contention concerning, meat, and he was quite right in saying that the Argentine can beat us in the production of beef. We have to admit that their cattle are better than ours. Their producers have spent larger sums of money on the introduction of high-priced shorthorns, Herefords, and other bulls from Great Britain. It must be remembered, also, that they have an enormous area df land under alfalfa. They concentrated on the production of beef of high quality to a much greater extent than has been done in Australia.
– And on more quickly maturing stock.
– The fact that their stock matures more quickly is due to the alfalfa. They have millions of acres of it, because they can obtain water at an average depth of 10 feet. I should mention, also, that the Argentine has adopted a wise railway policy. The Government there do not wait for townships to be developed, and for some politician with a, big enough pull to come along and ask for a railway to be built for them. They have run their railways out on their prairies for hundreds of miles. Cattle are raised on these prairies with alfalfa, and the natural development of the country follows. Whilst conceding, in all fairness, the superiority of Argentine beef, I will not allow that the Argentine call produce wheat or wool to the same extent as we can. As I should like an opportunity to complete my remarks on the Bill, I ask leave to continue my speech after the adjournment for dinner.
Leave granted^ debate adjourned.
Order of the Day for the resumption of the debate on motion by Senator Lynch (vide page 1985) called on.
Debate (on motion by Senator Garling) further adjourned.
– Before the dinner adjournment I was making a comparison between the cost of producing beef in Australia and in the Argentine, andI admitted that the Argentine beef, which received preference by the British Government during the war, was slightly superior to Australian beef. This is largely due to the fact that the Argentine producers have concentrated on the production of beef, while the Australian producer has excelled in the production of wool and mutton. The Argentine producers have also the benefit of having enormous areas under alfalfa, a fodder similar to our lucerne, and which can be very easily grown. They have also the advantage of cheaper freehold land, and the wages paid are about one-half of those ruling in Australia. Whilst I have admitted that the Argentine beef is slightly superior, I ask those who speak in such glowing terms of the Argentine, when instituting a comparison with the Commonwealth, to consider that in the production of mutton and wool the quality or quantity is not equal to the Australian products. I have also combated SenatorFairbairn’s statement concerning the deal which the Australian Government made with the Imperial authorities with the wool clip during the war and for a year or so afterwards, and have shown that, in my opinion, the deal was a very good one. I was very much surprised during the debate to hear Senator de Largie belittling the fertility of Australian soil. I do not know whether the honorable senator did so intentionally, but he endeavoured to convey the impression that the land in the Argentine is much richer than that in the Commonwealth. I cannot understand why Senator de Largie selected the year in which the yield was the lowest for the past twenty years.
– I took the figures for 1919, which were the latest available.
– The honorable senator took the 1919-20 season, which was a drought period, and when Australia produced only 45,000,000 bushels. In 1918, the production was 114,000,000; in 1917, 152,000,000;and in 1916, 179,000,000 bushels. It was very unfair to pick out the worst year when making such a comparison.
– I did not pick out the year, but merely took the latest figures available.
SenatorGUTHRIE.- Well, the honorable senator, inadvertently perhaps, quoted the worst year, because in a good season Victoriaproduces more wheat than the quantity mentioned by the honorable senator for the whole of Australia in 1919. The latest available figures show that the average yield in Australia has been 9.47 bushels, whereas in the Argentine it was 10.86. The rainfall in the latter country is more regular; but, in consequence of the scientific methods employed in the Commonwealth, and the extent to which the interests of Australian farmers have been safeguarded by the Government in insuring the supply of superphosphate from Nauru for 100 years or more, the Australian farmer is in a very fortunate position.
– Will the honorable senator connect the supply of superphosphates with the Bill before the Senate?
– I was answering some of the statements made by Senator de Largie.
– I have allowed the honorable senator considerable latitude, and I must now ask him to discuss the provisions of the Bill.
– My remarks have a bearing on the cost of producing beef, because very often those engaged in wheat farming use their stubble for feeding stock. In the best year Australia produced 162.000.000 bushels of wheat.
– According to the honorable senator’s own showing, the average production in the Argentine is greater than in Australia in one year.
– Perhaps it was in that year.
– Order ! I ask the honorable senator not to pursue that line of argument.
– I was merely replying to the honorable senator’s interjection. I am supporting the measure because of the special circumstances existing, and because all parties interested have decided to give assistance.For some years the Australian producers have been paying excessive freights, and those between Australia and England have been four or five times higher than those ruling between the Argentine and Great Britain. While the Australian producers have been receiving lamentably low prices for their meat the consumers have not been getting a corresponding benefit. The wholesale prices in Australia, apart from Queensland, during the past eighteen months, have been for beef about 4d., for mutton 3d., and for lamb 5d. to 5½d. per lb. When in a fashionable suburb of Sydney quite recently, I was surprised to see fine cuts of meat being offered to the public at very low prices, when compared with the prices charged in a majority of the shops in Victoria. The prices were: -
Rump steak, 10½d.
Blade steak, 3d.
Leg mutton, 4d.
Loin chops, 6d.
Shoulder chops, 3d.
Leg lamb,1s.9d. per leg.
Loin lamb,1s.6d. per loin.
Lamb, 3s. 3d. per side.
Sausages, 4lbs. for1s.
Corned pickled pork, 6d.
Corned brisket, l¾d.
Minced meat, 2½d.
All good quality meats.
– Will the honorable senator say in which fashionable suburb he saw such prices?
– In the shop of Mr. H. Bartlett, 114 Oxford-street, Darlinghurst.
– Is that a fashionable suburb?
– Perhaps I should have said that I saw them on the way to a fashionable suburb. Whilst some butchers are giving the public a fair deal, a great many are doing quite the contrary, and I want to emphasize the fact that, although the producers are getting a miserably small return for their beef, so low that the Government had to step in and assist, exorbitant prices are being charged by many retailers.
– That is a legacy of the policy of price-fixing.
– Price-fixing was a fiasco from beginning to end. I have little more to say on this question. I can only repeat that in ordinary circumstances I do not believe in singling out any industry or spoon-feeding it by offering bounties. But we have to consider that by the means that are being adopted freights, which have been exceptionally high, are being reduced, and employment is being found for 3,000 men in Queensland who would otherwise be out of work.
– I was very much surprised to find myself the butt of those who thought my interjection that Great Britain had treated Australia well during the war indicated something depreciatory of Australia. I give place to no man in pride of my country. I claim to be an Australian of the fourth generation, and honorable senators therefore cannot say that I am one of those who would not at all times uphold Australia. I have done more than perhaps many others during the last twelve months, in a practical and informative manner, to get the people of Australia to realize that Australia is a great and rich country ; and why should I say anything of a belittling nature? What I did say was that during the war Great Britain helped Australia, and I ant not going back on that statement. Great Britain helped Australia when we needed help, and our meat and other products were taken at advantageous prices, and in many instances long before the goods were delivered. That is the answer to those who say that I am one who would decry this great country. My pride of country has, however, not deadened my feelings to such an extent that I can overlook our obligations to Britain, nor yet shut my eyes to the fact that we have not put up our goods in the most attractive manner for British buyers. While I urge with others that we should seek preference from Britain, we have also to consider the manner in which our meat is put up for consumption, because those engaged in the meat trade have not been at all times careful in marketing the product.
If this bounty proposed was a case standing alone,. and involved the declaration of a principle to be applied generally, I should not be disposed to support it, but we are up against a very acute position in which a section of our producers are hard pressed through no fault of their own. The conditions are absolutely deplorable, and this is simply a matter of expediency and urgency to enable the industry for a time, at all events, to overcome some of its difficulties. In such circumstances I feel it is eur duty to assist the trade until better times come, or until the industry by means of an improved organization is placed on a better basis. That is why I approach the Bill sympathetically.
The measure is also a practical objectlesson in co-operation, and the beef producers, those working in the factories, the factory-owners, and the shippers have shown how it is possible to make cooperation a workable scheme.
The Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Earle), in moving the second reading of the Bill, referred to canning, and it seems that while the bounty is to be paid on cattle shipped for slaughtering and frozen meat shipped abroad, in the case of canned meat it is only to be paid when the whole beast is canned. I take exception to that feature of the Bill, because it is a well-known fact that it is very rarely that whole carcasses are canned. So long as evidence is forthcoming that the forequarters and brisket or other parts less than the whole of a beast have been canned for export, the grower should receive the same consideration as the: grower of cattle killed and frozen for export, otherwise the grower and not the canner will suffer through having to accept a lower price owing to the absence of competition. I should like to bring under the notice of the Minister the views of the trade on this subject, and quote, first of all, the report of a recent petition prepared by the Meat Preservers Association of New South Wales. It is as follows: -
At a well-attended meeting of the council of the Chamber of AP culture, at which all phases of the meat industry were fully represented, it was resolved to indorse the request of the Meat Preservers Association for the payment of the bounty of id, on all canned beef exported. Reference was made to the announcement bv the Minister for Defence (Mr. Massy Greene), as published in the Herald, that the subsidy paid on exported frozen meat would be extended to canned meat ; but that the subsidy would only be paid in cases where the whole beast was canned, and where it could be definitely shown that the advantage went to the grower.
The petition of the Meat Preservers Association pointed out that for the better class of cattle the failure to extend the subsidy to the canners would deprive the graziers of their competition. Often it was better to can the forequarters of good export cattle, and freeze only the hinds. The canners were keen competitors for forequarters of this description. It mattered little whether the canners procured supplies direct or through the carcass butcher. The effect of this competition for forequarters of this class of cattle was a factor in the price that the pastoralist received.
The position of the grower is not improved by the refusal of the Minister to pay the “bounty except in cases where the whole of the beast is canned. I now desire to quote from a letter which I have received from a representative of one of the canning factories in Sydney.
If the Bill were passed in its present form, it would not be of any assistance to local canners who export beef,i as they pack mostly forequarter beef and briskets, thus allowing the hindquarters and crops, containing all the choicest meats, to be handled by the retail butchers and export ships’ stores, by so doing, increasing the cattle value to the grazier. We consider the canning business of more assistance to the grazier than the freezing, as it can handle any class of beef from the fattest to the poorest quality, whereas the freezer must have the very pick, or only the plums, of the herd, and for home benefit, it is of much greater value to, the State. Every 100 lbs. of beef, treated by canning for export in 6-lb. tins, pays in wages, &c., 9s., if tin 1-lb. tins 18s., against which frozen meat only pays in wages, &c., 5s. for the same weight. There would be no difficulty in arriving at the intake weight of beef, for beef already exported within the time limit, as every 100 lbs. of beef in quarters or with its natural bone, returns 40 lbs. of meat in cans, 12 to 12$ libs, melted fat, 8 lbs. fertilizer, 1$ lbs. extract. The balance (38 lbs.) is lost in moisture.
We have in the last two months received here from Brisbane 260 tons briskets and 058 quarters of beef, all of which has gone into export beef, mostly small canned goods. The bonus would certainly enable the canners in this State to increase their output.
The writer, of course, puts the position from the point of view of the canner, but in doing that he is also stating the case of the grower. That the Minister in charge of the Bill in another place had considered this matter and was not satisfied that it was absolutely impossible to pay the bounty under such circumstances as I have indicated will be gathered from his remarks on the second reading of the Bill-
We have had many representations in regard to the matter, but the Government does not intend to relax. Experience may prove, before the end of the period, that a more liberal interpretation should be put upon it. I ask members of the Committee to look at the definition of canned meat, which says, “ ‘ Canned beef as prescribed ‘ means canned beef which has .been prepared for export under the prescribed conditions.” There is nothing there that definitely shuts out canned meat of which the Government approves, and df. we find, as a result of administration, that it is desirable or in the interests of tha industry to apply a more liberal interpretation, then the machinery is there for the .purpose.
I desire to emphasize the concluding words of this quotation. Unfortunately, the machinery referred to is ‘ in the form of rules and regulations which this Chamber will have no opportunity of considering. It is one of those features of modern legislation that is becoming rather objectionable; that is to say, the kernel of many Bills is placed in regulations and not in the measure itself. I do not intend to oppose the Bill, because I cannot get for these men all that they desire, but I urge the Minister to give attention to their representations and see if something cannot be done, even at this eleventh hour, by so framing the regulations as to enable the grower to get the benefit of the bounty if his beasts are sold for canning purposes for export, even if only portion is canned. I leave the matter with the Minister now, in the hope that some good will come put of the representations I have made.
– I wish to say a few words of criticism, but not necessarily in condemnation of this measure, which is designed to help an important industry that at present is in rather a bad way. No Government, much less the present Government, could afford to sit down and, Micawherlike, wait for something to turn up, because in this case lasting injury might be done to an important section of our producers. I support the Bill on that ground; but in doing so should like to emphasize that it is the people of Queensland who will largely benefit from its provisions. The proposal, in the rough, is to vote £140,000 in the form of bounties to tide the industry over the hard times that have struck it.
– Kimberley will also be assisted, remember.
– I am aware of that; and I shall refer to that matter before I resume my seat. The industry is in a bad way; but it would not have been but for certain happenings. A combination of circumstances, in the northern State particularly, has placed the industry in its present avowedly helpless position. But there is another phase to the proposal. “We have to consider the position of those people who will be called upon to foot the bill.
They are the people for whom I always have special sympathy. The beef industry has been most prosperous during the last ten or fifteen years, but there was a time well within our recollection when it was in a very perilous position. Senator Sir Thomas Glasgow remembers well the time when cattle were boiled down merely for the tallow in the carcass, and “ without any reference to the meat contents of the beast. Though the industry was then in a very bad way there was no talk of a bounty, such as we are discussing this evening, in order to tide over its difficulties. The general taxpayers of the Commonwealth, who will have to pay for this bounty, are not confined to the rich State of Queensland, nor are they blessed by such bountiful seasons as are enjoyed m that State. I have nothing to say against Queensland, but I have special sympathy for the people in many of the other States, because I know they have to scratch mighty hard, some of them., to make ends meet, and yet they will be expected to contribute their mite towards this bounty to see the beef industry through its present perilous time. Senator Sir Thomas Glasgow mentioned Kimberley just now as being one of the districts that will benefit from the operation of this Bill. Yes, I have come across people from that district, or, rather, they have come across me. In fact, some of them have nearly run over me in their Rolls-Royce cars in recent years. And yet these are the men, or some of tha men, whom we are now going to help; because, unfortunately, they have struck bad times for one year. I remind honorable senators that there are other industries in the Commonwealth that have struck, not one bad year, but a series of bad seasons. Take the industry with which I, unfortunately, happen to be connected. Are honorable senators aware that during the twelve years that have elapsed since I started to try and make ends meet in a virgin area in my State, I have had six years of virtual seasonal failure? Nevertheless, with others, I shall be called upon to contribute what I can to help the beef industry. My experience is not singular. Many other producers in my State are in the same position. All I can say is that those engaged in the meat industry are exceedingly fortunate in having got the ear of the Government for the time being. The wheat-growers, unfortunately, have never been in that happy position. Nor have the gold or the metalliferous miners. I envy the beef producers their good luck.
What has happened to bring about this state of affairs in the beef industry? The Queensland Government set out, some time ago, to create a Garden of Eden without the Serpent, but I do not know that Queensland is happier or more prosperous than any other political division in the Commonwealth. Some of the Queenslanders have solved the problem of living without working, and some have gone one better than the Israelites of old, who had to rise early in the morning to gather the manna. These Queenslanders are living without going out to gather their food; it is provided for them. Now we are asked to put ¼d. per pound on all meat exported from Australia. We are told by the wiseacres of the day that every export duty necessarily helps to decrease the local consumption. That is quite correct, because products have a habit of going to the place where the highest price’ is offered. At one time, when the Trades Hall people in Melbourne wanted cheap bread, they thought it would be a good idea to impose an export duty on wheat, but it was soon discovered that the export duty decreased the quantity of that produce in the market, and up went the price. In the present case, an export bounty is asked for, and the effect will be that the people will have to pay for it. I stand for the proletariat, but for the proletariat outside of Queensland who will have to foot the bill. Senator MacDonald looks at the matter only from the point of view of the proletariat in Queensland, but I desire to see that the wharf labourer in Hobart is not penalized under this measure.
– I notice that a large batch of Italians are going to Queensland to further increase the proletariat in that State.
– I am taking up the cudgels on behalf of the class conscious beyond the borders of Queensland. The present position has been created in a great measure by those political neophytes in the northern State who have tried a system of politics that has had the effect of making the cattle-growers feel the pinch of adverse conditions for the first time.
Taxation in Queensland is four times what it is in Victoria, and double the taxation in my own State. As a result of the heavy taxation and the new-fangled notion of trying to enrich people by taxing them, it has been discovered that there is an end to the resources of the people. Now the hat has to be passed round in other parts of the Commonwealth to make good the deficiency. Is that a fair thing to. the people of Australia? The present position will teach the Queenslanders that it is no use taxing people in order to make them prosperous. The free-soup party in Queensland will have to pay for their meals, and it will be a good thing. I hope the lesson will not be lost on them. It would be all right if we could isolate Queensland and include it among the Mandated Territories. That is where I would like to put it. It could then puzzle its own way out; but it should not be linked in with the other States, where the people now have to put their hands into their pockets to make good the evil effect of a system of taxation that cannot be sustained.
If this Bill would only write a lesson in burning letters across the sky that would be a guide to the people of Queensland, it would be a cheap thing at any valuation. The measure is only a temporary one. We are informed that there is a trade war going on between the beef interests in North and South America, and, therefore, the rates are cut in the Old Country. I do not know whether that is so or not. We were also told a lot about wool. Sir Joseph Cook said there were mountains of wool, sufficient to last for two years.
– But the price was kept up.
– Whatever Queenslanders may do, we have to return to hard facts, and make up our minds that we cannot live without trading. We must send our surplus products overseas in exchange for the goods that furnish the superior needs of the refinements of life. Reference has been made to Wyndham and the meat treatment works along the northern coasts. When beef commanded a good price those works were half . idle. If they had been kept going then they would have disposed of the goods that are now a glut -on the market. There are men in the Kimberley district who are dictating their terms to-day, and it is certainly a case of the tail wagging the dog. There has been too 1 much of that sort of thing, due to the weakness of past Governments, including Governments that I have supported. If the men had obeyed the awards and kept those works going, there would have been no glut today, and no need for the Bill. Consequently the cattle men have now to face a world’s market that is certainly threatening their very existence. The very fact that they have had to resort to this Bill shows how desperate is their plight. The position in the Old Country is anything but secure. The frozen and chilled meat that entered the United Kingdom in 1919 amounted to 8,900,000 cwts., of which the Argentine supplied 3,800,000 cwts., the United States of America S50,000 cwts., and Australia 620,000 cwts. As the Argentine supplied 35 per cent, of the total quantity imported info Great Britain in that year, there is not much chance of our standing up against such a fruitful source of supply as that. The United States of America furnished 10 per cent, of the total, and Australia only 7 per cent. If we could dominate the market as the Argentine can practically do, there would be some chance on our part of, at least, holding ‘ our own ; but, as we supply only a fractional part of the meat consumed in the Old Country, we shall be at the mercy of circumstances for a long time. We can only do what is possible, and hope for the best. I am supporting the Bill. In the course of the debate something was said abeu the Empire and its prospects. I have to find serious fault with those statements. Senator Drake-Brockman, in a very questioning mood, pointed out that ‘the Empire had not done exactly what he thought it should have done during the war period and since. Senator Fairbairn said something similar, and he was followed by .Senator Guthrie. Unlike Senator Fairbairn, I will say that the price of 15-Jd. fixed during the war period for wool was considered an admirable price by those engaged in the woolgrowing industry ,at the time. It was only because the price went up afterwards that they expressed their feelings in the sentiment, “Heads I win, tails you lose,” just as some other citizens of this country felt that they were in a bad way because the price of wheat fell after it had been fixed at 9s. a bushel. When Senator Fairbairn, Senator Guthrie, and Senator Drake-Brockman question the actions of the British Empire, and a man like Lynch stands up for the Empire, people may feel that something is happening, and that the world is turning upside down. I have said many times that we ought to be in a particularly good mood because of the prices obtained for our products, including wheat. I am ready to acknowledge that we did remarkably well.
Honorable senators talk of the Argentine supplying cheaper wool, meat, and other products; but they themselves would have done what Mr. Lloyd George did if they had been in his place. He must abide by the sober, wellreasoned opinions of the vast majority of the citizens who keep him in his position. Great Britain could not feed itself for more than seven weeks, and its people must rely on cheap supplies of foodstuffs from other countries. If it depended entirely on this country and Canada it would go short and hungry. I have heard similar criticisms of President Wilson, and what he ought to have done in the early stages of the war. He has been described as a closet philosopher. The great difference between these men and their critics is that their critics have not been in their places. The great trouble in this world is the inability of the average man to put himself in the .other fellow’s place. There is no policy on earth that would suit such a people as those who live in the Old Country, cramped as they are on a limited area, except the policy of getting their food at the cheapest possible price. If they did not do that we would have to pay more for their wares. That is an economic maxim that cannot be thrust aside. I think that, on the whole, we are substantially satisfied with the prices that were paid to this country by the British Government at a time when they could not possibly take delivery of the goods. I appreciate what has been done by the Commonwealth Government. In spite of what Mr. Hill said when he was before the electors, he had to admit, in Parliament, that the price obtained for wheat could not have been improved upon. It was one thing for him to go before the electors and tell them that he would USC a stick to beat the Government; but when he got to Parliament, and a Bible was placed in his ‘hands, later on he had to say the direct opposite. My references to Queensland are not to be taken in a slighting sense.. I hope it will make the politicians in that ‘State realize, in the eleventh hour of their political existence, what they are about. Queensland has a very warm corner in my composition, and it would not be in the position in which it finds itself to-day but for the unfortunate trend of political affairs there. The politicians of Queensland cannot continue to trifle with the common sense and generosity of the electors in other States, who have to scratch a living out of much poorer soil. They are trifling with us this time, but they will not do it another time, at least with my vote. I hope they will learn their lesson, for otherwise they will find themselves up against a stone wall of impossibility. I hope there will be no necessity for a similar Bill next year. If there is any necessity, it will be a hard lookout for Queensland. I want the people of Queensland to relax their hold of the shadowy, visionary, impossible, downward public policy which has resulted in the very sponsors of it not being enamoured of it to-day. Mr. Theodore said that the cattle stations were a bad bargain. Any man could have told him that. I have met men prospecting in the western State who had previously been in the cattle industry in Queensland, but had failed. We do not want this sort of thing to happen again. If the people in Queensland cannot get money out of the land, there will not be enough money to circulate in this country. We have no philosopher’s stone for making wood into gold. We can only get gold by industry, and wise and sensible co-operation, which have not been in evidence in Queensland in the past. We now have to come to the rescue of Queensland, and pass the hat round, so as to give them a further chance of playing their political pranks. I hope, however, that they will not do so.
– I think the most effective purpose I can serve in rising to reply is to make quite sure that the debate is now to be terminated. I am very pleased to note the way in which the Bill has been received by honorable senators, and I feel that there is very little in the criticisms for me to reply to. Even Senator Lynch assured the Senate, at ‘least six times to my knowledge, that he would support the Bill. I feel that the Bill is quite safe as far as the motion for the second reading is concerned. I have never known so small a Bill excite such varied comment. We have had quite an illuminating dissertation on loyalty to the Empire, preferential trade, wool, lambs, wheat, and the productivities of the soil. Most of the criticism has been levelled by honorable senators who, I am afraid, have a misconception of the purpose of the Bill. The Bill represents an effort on the part of the Government not to turn into a profitable enterprise something which is lagging, but rather to keep an industry of importance to Australia barely alive. It is a bread and butter proposition. As honorable senators will know from the figures I gave on the second reading, the cattle-raisers, particularly those of Queensland, have been destroying their herds to get rid of them. Cows have been sold for 7s. 6d. each, and prime bullocks for £2 10s. The proposed co-operative effort on the part of slaughterers and the Government will add something like 36s. or 37s. to the average value of the cattle. This will enable pastoralists to turn to some use those cattle which at the present time are practically a nuisance to them, and it will prevent a continuation of the policy of destroying herds.
I must refer to the criticism voiced by Senator Garling, who put up a very strong case for the canning industry. The bounty will be paid to the canning industry under regulations, but the intention of the regulations is that it will be paid only to those canners who purchase a beast on the hoof solely for canning purposes. This is not an effort to subsidize the canning of meat industry, but to enable the producers of cattle to continue in business. Consequently the Minister (Mr. Rodgers), after having received all the information which the honorable senator read to the Senate, and many arguments in favour of supporting the canning industry, has been forced to the conclusion that the only effort which the Government can make to assist those growers of cattle who will have their cattle treated principally at Byron Bay is to grant¼d. subsidy for meat from those cattle which are slaughtered solely for canning purposes. As I intimated in my second-reading speech, I shall, during the Committee stage, ask the Senate to agree to make a request to the House of Representatives to amend clauses 4 and 8, so that meat which is to be exported to certain prescribed ports in the East may be held in cool store in Australia for a further period up to the 31st March. It must be slaughtered between the 5th April and the 31st October in order to secure the bounty.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Definitions).
– May I ask the Minister (Senator Earle) whether the regulations which are to define canned beef have yet been prepared, and whether he can tell the Committee what conditions are being prescribed ? I ask the question because, under this clause, “ canned beef as prescribed “ is defined to mean canned beef which has beenprepared for export under “prescribed conditions.”
– I cannot tell the honorable senator at present what conditions are beingprescribed.
SenatorGARLING. - Having regard to the spirit of the reply given by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Rodgers) in another place, I wish to ask whether the Minister will take into sympathetic consideration the suggestion that, if circumstances permit, the conditions will not be limited to the whole beast in every case, but where it can be shown that a beast has been bought from the owner for the purpose of being canned as to the fore-quarters and brisket, or other parts less than the whole for export, the bounty provided for under the Bill will be paid. The Minister for Trade and Customs, in another place, expressed the hope that it might be possible to liberalize the conditions to be prescribed. I hope that Senator Earle will put my suggestion before the Minister for Trade and Customs, with a view to its sympathetic consideration.
– I will see that the honorable senator’s statement is brought under the notice of the Minister for Trade and Customs, and that due consideration is given to his suggestion.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 (Specification of bounties) .
– I wish to secure the insertion of a new paragraph after paragraph a of the clause. As this measure may possibly be regarded as a money Bill, I should like to ask the ruling of the Chairman as to whether I should submit the proposal I desire to make in. the form of a request to the House of Representatives. If it is ruled that that is not necessary, I shall submit the matter as a direct amendment.
– I am inclined to think that the Minister’s impression that what he proposes should be moved as a request is correct.
– Then I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the clause by inserting after paragraph (a) the following new paragraph : - “(aa) The export on or before the thirtyfirst day of March, One thousand nine hundred and twenty-three, from the Commonwealth to a prescribed’ port, of standard beef, other than canned beef as prescribed, slaughtered on or after the fifth day of April, One thousand nine hundred and twenty-two, which is placed in cool store on or before the thirty-first day of October, One thousand nine hundred and twenty-two.”
Request agreed to.
Clause agreed to, subject to a request.
Clauses 5 and 6 agreed to.
Clause 7 -
Before any claim for bounty is paid the Department may require the claimant to furnish such information in relation to the ownership, sale, or purchase of any cattle, or the export of any cuttle or beef, or otherwise, as it thinks fit, and may withhold the bounty until information satisfactory to the Department is furnished.
– I wish to direct attention to the wording of this clause. I do not intend to move a request upon it, but it is as well that we should know what it really means. It provides that before any claim for bounty is paid the Department may require the claimant to furnish such information in relation not merely to the ownership, sale, or purchase of any cattle or beef which is the subject of the claim for bounty, but in relation to the ownership, sale, or purchase “ of any cattle, or the export of any cattle or beef, or otherwise as it thinks fit,” and the Department may withhold the bounty until satisfactory information is furnished. This is a very wide and most inquisitorial clause, and if enforced in its entirety I doubt very much whether any one could secure the benefit of the bounty.
– It is very necessary in legislation of this sort that’ the officers of the Department administering the law should be given the fullest powers in order that they may safeguard the revenue. I agree that the clause is wide, but it will be administered with discretion and common sense. I hope, therefore, that the honorable senator will leave it as printed.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 8 (Bounties may be paid in advance of export).
.- I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the clause by adding the following words : - “ Provided that no refund shall be required under this section of bounty in respect of standard beef, other than canned beef as prescribed, exported to a prescribed port after the thirty-first day of December, One thousand nine hundred and twenty-two, and on or before the thirty-first day of March, One thousand nine hundred and twenty-three.”
The Government have arranged that where meat is put into a cool store they may, on sufficient security, advance the amount of the bounty payable on that meat before it is actually exported up to the 31st day of December, in order that the stock-owners may get their money immediately. If the meat is not exported by the 31st December the Government, under this clause, can demand a refund of the amount of bounty so paid on security. In the case of meat shipped to a prescribed port in the East, it is desired to provide that it may remain in the cool store until the 31st of March, and . this request is moved to allow that meat to remain in cool store up to that date without being subject to a refund of the bounty paid in respect of it in advance of export.
Request agreed to.
Clause agreed to, subject to a request.
Clause 9 agreed to.
No person shall -
obtain any bounty which is not payable;
obtain payment of any bounty by means of any false or misleading statement; or
present to any officer or other person doing duty in relation to this Act or the regulations any document, or make to any such officer or person any statement, which is false in any particular.
Penalty : One hundred pounds or imprisonment for twelve months.
.- Were it not for the fact that the operation of this Bill will be of short duration I would divide the Committee on the drafting of this clause. It provides that a man who has obtained the bounty even as the result of a misapprehension or a mistake shall be held equally liable to a penalty of £100 with a man who has obtained bounty as the result of statements which may have amounted to perjury. It is an extraordinary thing to create an offence in this fashion on the part of a man who might be absolutely innocent of any intention to offend. Honorable senators should remember that this Bill alone will not embody all the law on the subject. It will contain only part of the law, and the kernel of the provisions which will constitute an offence under this section will be wrapped up in conditions to be prescribed, which the applicant for the bounty may have no opportunity whatever of seeing. Such a man may, quite innocently, commit an offence which will render him as liable to a penalty as one who has acted wilfully in defiance of the law. We should not create an offence against a man for something which he has not done wilfully. This clause creates an offence for which a man may be liable to imprisonment.
– There is an alternative.
– That is so, but the clause provides for the imposition of a penalty upon a man who might be absolutely innocent of any unlawful intent. I shall not divide the Committee on the clause, because, as I have said, the operation of the Act will be of short duration, but I think I should be lacking in selfrespect if I did not direct attention to the way in which the clause has been drafted.
– I see the point raised by the honorable senator, but I remind him that the clause makes provision for the maximum penalty, and the same penalty might not be imposed upon one who obtains the bounty as the result of a mistake as would be imposed upon one who really intended to defraud and secured the bounty by perjury. Though the clause provides for a penalty of £100, an inno1cent offender might be fined no more than ls.
– But he would be committed for an offence.
– Yes, for having received bounty to which he was not entitled. But, if his action were proved to be innocent, he might not be fined more than ls., whereas an offender who was proved to have obtained the bounty by means of false statements might be subjected to a penalty of twelve months’ imprisonment. I can quite understand the point which the honorable senator is endeavouring to make, and if the Act were likely to remain in operation for some time, amplification would, perhaps, be necessary.
– Would the Minister agree to paragraph a being worded in this way, “No person shall obtain (a) a bounty which to his knowledge is not payable “ ?
– The point raised by Senator Garling is one which the Minister (Senator Earle) admits has some merit. Personally, I do not think paragraph a should remain in the Bill, because it ap pears to me to (be very unlikely that a person would obtain a bounty unless he made a false or misleading statement. In the first place, when he claims a bounty he must declare that the product is one on which a bounty is payable, and no person could obtain a bounty without making a declaration. Paragraph a appears to me to be extraneous, and I would suggest that the House of Representatives be requested to eliminate it. The fact that the Act may be of short duration does not affect the question to any extent, because even if it is in operation for only a short time it may be the means of a penalty being inflicted upon some person who is entirely innocent.
– It would be the means of making him a convicted criminal.
– Paragraph b should cover every case likely to arise of a person attempting to secure a bounty to which he was not entitled.
– I. am under the impression that a similar provision appears in all Acts under which bounties are paid, and paragraph a has been inserted for the purpose of throwing upon the person who receives the bounty the responsibility and onus of proof, which is only right. If anybody knows that a person is not entitled to a bounty it is surely the one who receives it. If Senator Garling’?, suggestion were adopted a person might plead that he was not aware that it was not payable.
– Then he would be justified.
– He might plead ignorant.
-brockman. - In .such a case he should not be prosecuted.
– He might pretend ignorance m order to receive the bounty, and as laws are made for dishonest and not honest men the paragraph should stand.
-brockman. - If the words “ to his knowledge “ are inserted it will meet the case of a dishonest man.
– Will it be possible for any person to receive a bounty without signing a declaration?
– Then why not delete it altogether?
– I find that I have misled the honorable senator by Baying that it would be impossible for a person to get a bounty without signing a declaration, because a declaration has not to be signed.
– Notwithstanding the .doubt which seems to exist in the minds of some honorable senators concerning the necessity of allowing ‘“these words to stand, I think it necessary that they should be retained, because in the Iron Bounties Act and in the ‘Sugar Bounties Act a similar provision exists. If the applicant is going to the Treasury for money we should throw upon him some responsibility when submitting his application.
– He could be sued for the money if it was not legally payable. ‘
– That should not be necessary. For the reasons I have advanced, and owing to the fact mentioned by Senator Garling that it is only a short-dated measure, I ask the Committee not to make a request in the direction indicated.
– ‘It is also necessary to have all our bounty legislation uniform.
– Yes. If those words are unnecessary they should be deleted from other similar measures.
– In view of the statement of the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen), I shall not press my suggested request.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 11 agreed to.
Clause 12, preamble and title, agreed to.
Bill reported with requests.
– I move -
That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed through its remaining stages without delay.
It ils not proposed to take the measure further than the adoption of the report stage; but in view of the fact that we are seeking to obtain amendments by means of requests, it is necessary that the measure should go back to another place in> order to avoid delay.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Pea-rob) read a first time.
Senate adjourned at 9.54 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 14 September 1922, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1922/19220914_senate_8_100/>.