8th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon T. Givens) took the chair at 11 . a.m.; and read prayers. public Service.
Entrance Examination for returned soldiers.
Senator elliott.- i ask the Minister for Home and Territories whetherhis attention hasbeen drawn to a report issued by the Public Service Commissioner that no further modified examinations for entrance to the Public Service by returned soldiers will be held? If that is correct, what is the Minister’s explanation for the assurance given to myself, and other honorable senators, that these examinations would he continued?
Senator PEARCE. - I wish to give an answer’ to the question to-day, and as it is rather longer than usual, I ask leave to make a statement. (Leave granted.) The paragraph that appeared in the Melbourne Herald on Wednesday evening was based on the report of the Public Service Commissioner, at pages 10 and 11, but it relates to examinations for the Clerical Division only, and not for the General Division. There was no modified examination for the General Division. ‘ The case I quoted in the Senate during the debate, on the Public Service Bill had reference to examinations for the General Division, and not the Clerical Division, The reasons for the abolitionof the modified examination for the Clerical Division are given in the Commissioner’s report, and I would invite honorable senators toread these reasons and consider them. It is a matter that is placed entirely in the hands of the Commissioner by the Public ServiceAct. It is not an act of administrationby the Government. When Senator Elliott spoke to me on . the question the other day, Iassumed that he was referring tothe statement that I had made when the Public Service Bill was beforethe Senate ; and when I quoted the cases of a number of returned soldierswho had sat for an examination in New South Wales, I gave the number who had qualified, and pointed out that there were still a number of soldiers to be placed. We were then discussing an amendment to provide the order in which the soldiers who passed the (prescribed examination were to be appointed. That led me to. lookintothe question, as I assumed that Senator Elliott thought that ‘the report in theHeraldapplied tothose returned soldiers who hadnotyethad an opportunity tositforthe prescribed examination.The paragraph in question might easily be construed to refer to them. There never was a modified examination, with respect to the General Division. ‘The examination to-day is the same, as it always has been. I ought to say, at this juncture,that, when the debate was proceeding, I pointed out ‘that preparationshadbeen made for examinations tobeheld in the otherStates.
An examination had been held in New South Wales, and the amendment that we framed and passedin the Senate was to provide that those who had passed such anexamination, and were in temporary employment in the Commonwealth Service, should have priority of appointment. Some honorable senator asked me whether that examination would be proceeded with in the other States, and I said that I understood that that was to be done. The Public Service Commissioner was proceeding with the preparations for that examination, but he pointed out that the passing of the new sub-clause opened up difficulties as to whether the examination was to proceed, limited as it was before in all cases to returned soldiers only, and whether the fact of persons having been in temporary employment in these positions had to be taken into consideration in making appointments. The Commissioner proposed to present a memorandum to the Government asking for an indication of the Government’s interpretation of the effect of the amendment that had been passed on the previous Cabinet decision, that those special examinations to which I have referred were to be held. That memorandum has not yet reached the Cabinet, but it will have to receive the consideration of the Cabinet, in the light of the previous promise made to those soldiers, and in the light of the indication of the will of Parliament by the passing of the new sub-clause in the Public Service Bill.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
SenatorEARLE. - The answers are as follow : - .
Tariff arrangements on certain goods hare been received.
Manufacture of Pictures in Australia.
SenatorFOLL asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Have the Government, through the Film Censorship Board, ever given consideration to the advisability of insisting that a certain percentage of the films shown at picture shows should be of Australian manufacture?
Have the Government any power to deal with the matter?
If so, will the Government give consideration to the matter?
– The reply is -
The Government have no power to require this to be done. The object of the film censorship is simply to prevent the importation of undesirable pictures and undesirable’ advertising matter in connexion with pictures.
Business of the Senate.
– As honorable senators are possibly aware, we have largely disposed of the business at present before the Senate, and we are waiting for the transmission of further messages from the House of Representatives. In view of that, and the fact that we are not immediately ready to proceed with business, I suggest that the President leave the chair until after the luncheon adjournment.
– In view of the announcement of the Minister as to the state of the business between this and the other Chamber, it is only right that I should accede to the Minister’s request. I suspend the sitting until 2.30 p.m.
Sitting suspended from 11.10 a.m. to 2.80 p.m.
– Seeing that the business expected from the other House has not reached the Senate, I suggest that the President leave the chair until 3.55 p.m.
– I shall resume the chair at 3.55 p.m.
Sitting suspended from 2.82 to 8.55 p.m.
– I can only describe the position of the Senate as one of watching and waiting. As anticipated measures are not yet to hand from another place, I suggest that the president might further suspend the sitting until 5 o’clock.
-The Standing and Sessional Orders have not been suspended, and under the Sessional Orders it is necessary that at 4 o’clock I shall put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the negative.
– In response to the request of the Minister for Repatriation, and in view of the state of business, I suspend the sitting until 5 o’clock, at which hour I shall resume the chair.
Sitting suspended from4 to 5 p.m.
Debate resumed from 11th October (vide page 3516), on motion by Senator E. D. Millen -
That the Estimates of Receipts and Expenditure for the Year ending 30th June, 1923, and the Budget-papers, 1922-23,laid on the table of the Senate on the 18th Augusts 1922, be printed.
– I promise honorable senators that if my remarks are not of Spartan-like brevity they will not be copious or at all lengthy. At this juncture, reference to the Budget must necessarily be brief and perfunctory.
There is one matter I wish, to deal with which has not been mentioned very frequently in this Parliament during the last year on two. We all know that per capita payments axe made to the States of Australia by the Commonwealth, and honorable senators will acknowledge that as we have had some experience of the working of the States’ cum
Federal system, it has appeared more and more desirable . that the functions of the State Governments should be maintained almost in their entirety. There may be differences of opinion in regard to this matter, but I find that with the work the Federal Parliament has to do, it is impossible, for it to exercise many of the functions of government which are vested iu it in accordance with the provisions of the Federal Constitution. Therefore, I shall argue briefly, and I trust, succinctly, that the States of Australia must maintain their governmental institutions, because I firmly believe that that form of government is best suited to the British people. Let it not be said that because I am. to some extent a State Righter, that, T’am a bad Australian. It might be urged that an Australian is a bad Britisher, because he refuses to have legislation dictated to him from Westminster. He believes that Australia should legislate for Australians, and he is none the less a good British subject on that account. I believe in the Imperial connexion and in the maintenance of the Australian Commonwealth. I also believe in the maintenance of the Legislatures of the Australian States because their members have a more intimate knowledge of the interests of the Australian people than we can have, except along certain major lines. Certain indications appear on the political horizon in regard to a re-arrangement of the financial relations between the States and the Commonwealth, but I shall not vote for any system which will curtail, in any degree, the contributions made to the Australian States in accordance with the arrangements which are at- present in existence. These arrangements may be altered in form, but I hope that the powers of the State Parliaments will not be at’ all impaired by any substantially reduced contributions. Of course, many things will -have to be done by a National Parliament if we become involved iu war, but I hope and predict, very confidently, that for some time at least such a calamity will not befall us. While the Commonwealth must be, and is, endowed with full powers in connexion with the- waging of any war- necessary for the protection and safety of the Empire, in times of peace - indeed at all times - financial provision - must be made for the maintenance of the State
Parliaments in their entirety. That matter is one of the most important which concerns the legislative life of the Australian people, and it is a matter of vital interest that the State Parliaments should be maintained. It was only the other day that I saw in the Queen’s Hall, a copy of the proclamation issued when the separation of this State from New South Wales was consummated. This very building in which we are at present legislating is monumental evidence of the fact that the people of the District of Port Phillip - the tree under which the proclamation was read can still be seen in the Botanic Gardens just across the river-were dissatisfied with the administration of the whole of their affairs from a not very distant centre, namely, Sydney. Let us remember when we hear suggestions tor the creation of new States that that movement is altogether in consonance with the genius of the Australian people. I do not think, however, that this Parliament should lightly intervene to sever any territory from existing States, as that matter .more particularly concerns the Legislatures of the States, and while we are indulging in discussion on the creation of new States, it would be more desirable to approach the Legislatures in the respective States within the boundaries at present constituted. I feel sure that when once the people in any State have agreed amongst themselves to such a suggestion, the ratification necessary will readily be made by a National Parliament. I do not advise any speedy or hasty interference on the part of a National Government.
– The existing States do not wish to part with any of their territory; they display a somewhat selfish attitude.
– When population increases, I think I may say that that problem will solve itself.
In regard to trade reciprocity with other countries, I am sorry to say that those suggested and enacted reciprocity treaties with other countries destroy the symmetry of the Tariff which we so recently enacted. One of the greatest problems that representatives “of Tasmania have to face is that of assuring the people that their respective industries will not be disturbed by. these treaties, which are fashioned and enacted while the people are oblivious of the passing of any measure until what they term’ the damage has been done. Judging by the questions which have appeared on the notice-paper, other reciprocity treaties are contemplated. 1 very respectfully ask, Mr. President, and honorable senators : What can there be in the way of a stable fiscal policy when almost every few months reciprocal treaties are being negotiated with other countries which completely disturb the incidence of the prosecution of some particular industry ? The Tasmanian people are now complaining that their production of oats is going to be interfered with by the suggested arrangement with the Dominion of New Zealand, and already it has been claimed that the pine industry has been completely destroyed in consequence of the fact that similar timber coming from New Zealand will be a strong competitor. We very properly gave preference to the Old Country when framing a Tariff of duties to be levied on the productions of all countries other than the United Kingdom. I suppose British preference does not refer to the Dominions, but to the United Kingdom. We then inserted an intermediate column - as I was in the Chair when the Tariff was under discussion, I had little opportunity of expressing my opinions-and I was under the impression that that was to be tho basis on which any treaty of reciprocity was to bo negotiated between other Dominions or other countries. But in regard to these treaties, a very substantial divergence occurs from the inter- mediate column, and I believe that Ls notably so in connexion with the New Zealand treaty. Whilst my vote will always be recorded in the direction of assisting our industries, I am not in. favour of reciprocity at rates other than those set out in the intermediate column, which I understood were inserted as a basis of arrangement with other nations and other Dominions. If we are going to have Protection, * let us have it, but do not let us have reciprocal treaties which really mean Free Trade in a disguised form.
– It is not disguised; it is Protection without a doubt.
– I believe in Protection, not only iu the interests of -trade, but in the interests of the nation.
I am no Protection faddist, but I look upon it only as an expedient, and if I can be assured that we are likely to have a fairly lengthy world peace, I might be a Free Trader to-morrow. I look upon Protection as a corollary of the Defence policy, because what chance would other than a manufacturing nation have in the event of war? What opportunites would a. nation of primary producers have in a world war? A manufacturing nation would soon destroy them.
In understand that the Treasurer (Mr. Bruce) has been indulging in a fairly lengthy and intricate dissertation on the purely financial side of the Budget. It is not my intention to follow his lead even if I Were ready to do so, but I have been so busy that I have not had sufficient time to analyze it in a purely financial sense. I believe the Budget compares favorably with those of any other nation or Dominion. Ours is certainly not one on which the administration of this country could be condemned. The Aus-“ tralian people are in a more flourishing condition than any other in the world, considering that we did our part very well, and at great national expense, in the Great War. We should congratulate ourselves on the condition we ara in materially, economically, and financially. I hopethis, too, is an addendum to our Defence policy - if the Administration survives, as I believe it will and deserves to, that when the new Parliament assembles legislation will be passed to provide for the appointment of a High Commissioner in die United States of America.
I want very soberly, and very undramatically, to unfold to honorable senators my reason for being an “out and out” Imperialist. I believe in the British Empire. I believe it is only within a strong British Empire that the continent of Australia can be preserved as the exclusive possession of the Australian /people. It is true that the people of the United Kingdom may be involved in controversies, and possibly in struggles, with which we have no very direct connexion, and with which wo have very little intimate interest. We cannot, however, he in the Empire and out of it at the same time. It is true that ‘we have had to render assistance to the Empire in the various crises that have, occurred since Australia commenced to develop the characteristics of a nation, tut the time of trial will come when some question, of interest only to the Australian people, presents itself, for decision. It might be a question involving our very national existence, and one which would have to be decided by the attitude which, the people of the United Kingdom would adopt towards us in our time of special national trial. Some people say that we should reserve to ourselves - and through the generosity of the Mother Country we have been endowed with that power of reservation - the right to say whether we will assist the Mother Country in war if she should unhappily become involved in such a struggle. That policy is of very little avail, because if we claim the right of standing outside the Empire, and pf withholding our assistance because we have some doubt as to the moral right of the Mother Country to engage in any particular conflict, then we cannot withhold from the people of the United Kingdom the same right to judge whether we are right or wrong when our time of national trial comes. Six million people may or may not be able to hold the vast continent of Australia. The resources of the white races in ,regard to scientific development are almost inexhaustible. Brain is the main factor in the long run, and brain and manufacturing facilities, in addition to the racial attributes of pluck and tenacity, will count for much, and will, decide future wars. I think that if we got into conflict over some question very dear and very vital to us with a. foreign Power, and the people of the United Kingdom decided to withhold their assistance from us, our position would be perilous to a degree. Brain, courage, tenacity, and scientific knowledge will almost invariably determine the result of future struggles. I do not wish to give the people of the United Kingdom at any time any excuse for withholding assistance to us if we became involved in some conflict vital to our national existence, because, much as I believe in the British Empire, that Empire would come to an end on the very day that the people of the United Kingdom refused, as I hope they never will, to assist us if we found ourselves up against any difficulty of great magnitude.
Let Australia be confronted with some trouble that » imperils her national existence, and let the people of the United Kingdom refuse to come to our aid, and where would the British Empire be then ? It would end on that very day. Therefore, let every one of the 6,000,000 men, women, and children in this continent remember that we must remain within the British Empire until we attain full national stature, and we must give no excuse to any section of the British people to refrain from coming to our assistance.
That is one item of the national policy of defence. The other item is to stretch out the hand of friendship at every opportunity towards that great people, the citizens of this American Republic In racial characteristics, ideals, culture, and legislative capacity, the people of America are quite akin to ourselves. Honorable senators will know that there is a great deal of criticism from ‘time to time about this item of expenditure. We are told that it is. unnecessary, and that there should be only one diplomacy for the Empire. To a large extent, and as a general proposition, I admit that statement is correct, but there is a possibility of the Australian people understanding the Americans, and being understood by them, to a very much greater degree than the people of the Old Country understand them and are understood by them. Between the people pf the Old Country and the people of the United State? of America there exist certain, points of divergence, certain historical bitter memories, which preclude the complete recognition of that mutuality of interest which! ought otherwise to be eternally in, evidence.
– That feeling is less now than it has been at any time.
– That is happily so, but it is still existent to some degree. Between the Australian people and the American people there exist no bitter memories1. It is true that they have their policy of national trade, and exclusion, and we also have ours ; but in ideals and. in that cardial feeling which should exist between kindred peoples, there h very little to be desired. I hope that an every occasion, we will treat the Americans with cordiality and with national hospitality, and will make them acquainted with what sort of people we are, what our ideals are, and what we hope to achieve with regard to the occupation of this continent. I hope also that Australia will be represented in America by a man Whose duty it will be, not to controvert the diplomacy of the Empire, but to act as a high-class publicity agent in regard to the ideals of the Australian people, so as to make the American -people more and more acquainted with what we really are, what we have done, and what we desire to achieve. Therefore, I trust that the Government if it survives the elections, will without any delay, call upon Parliament to make provision for the appointment of a High Commissioner to the United States of America.
I have already remarked upon the unsatisfactory conditions of the mining industry in Australia. I have been told that in regard to oil mining the Government have very wisely offered a reward of £50,000 for the successful discovery of oilin commercial quantities. I have some recollection of having suggested the amount of the present reward, and when I madethe suggestion the figure was only £5,000. It is true that although the amount has been raised from£5,000 to £50,000, oil insatisfactory quantities has not been discovered to such an extent as to enable the bonus to beclaimed. That is not the fault of the bonus. The size of the bonus is evidence of the national anxiety to have oil discovered in. Australia, and it is an incentive to adventurers -I use the word in the best sense - to go out into thebackblocks of Australia to endeavour to discover those oil-fields which would mean much more to this country, in regard to attracting population, than the gold-fields of a few decades ago. If we can only discover valuable oil-fields in any part of the continent, they would attract such a flow of population as would dwarf our efforts under anyimmigration scheme into insignificance, and would dwarf the immenselyrichresults that accrued to Australia fromthe discovery of gold. Metalliferous mining, in particular, in this country, is in a very poor state. The spirit ofadventurein regardto prospecting for metalshas almost completely disappeared from the Australianpeople. Iam very sorry to haveto say that. Ihope the Administration will recognise that there is nothing incongruous, nothing lacking in symmetry, and nothing lacking in equity in a policy of exempting incomes derived from the miningindustry, of which there are very few today, from direct taxation. Indirect taxation the mining industry must bear. The mining industry is peculiar; it is the most primary of industries. We have always been told that there is a Country party which deals with the interests of the primary producers, and makes the conservation of them its particular political cry; but I say to the wheat farmer, the potato-grower, the agriculturist, and the pastoralist, that civilization as we understand it exists on, and is derivedfrom, metalliferous mining. Before the agriculturist can have a plough there must be the miner, the iron worker., and the forge master. Before the farmer can have a spade, before he can leave his burnt stick and improvised wooden hoe and plough, and before he can become a civilized man in the raising of grain, mining must have flourished. Nature’s secrets must havebeen unlocked by the miner, for on man’s knowledge of metals depends his civilization. What else has made the nations of the West the great peoples they are but their superior knowledge of metallurgy, and thefact that they have introduced what we call the “ iron and steel age.”The mark of superiority, thegrowth ofprosperity, and the growth , of (civilization in the great nations of Western. [Europe practically synchronize “with thedevelopment of their knowledge of metallurgy, andof the scientificprosecution of mining. Let the farmer remember that he has in the miner a brother primary producer - in fact, an older brother. In the ironminer and the tin miner, the man who furnished the metal for the manufacture of bronze implements, we find the first primary producer in the civilized sense. Theref ore, letthis Administration assist this industry, whichis now in a languishing condition, but has done somuchfor Australiandevelopment,and. I hope, will do still more. Letthe Administration see that this industry is given somethingbywayof a bonus equivalent at leastto what we are offering as a small token of our desireto see soil discovered. Letus offer a bonusto metalliferous miningby exempting incomeseairned fromitfrom taxation. I intendto advocate such a policy attheforthcoming elections. I do notthink thatthe mining industry, considering that it deals with a wasting asset, has been treated as liberally by the different .State Legislatures and the National Legislature as it deserves.
A few nights ago, Senator Keating delivered a speech in which he detailed the history of the Navigation Act.’ I do not accept any responsibility for that Act, because it waa passed before I became a member of this Legislature. I am not going to make .a great outcry against all the provisions of that Act, but I say that tho incidence of its operation illustrates what a big territory Australia is, and what a diversity of interests exists between people of the same race, speaking the same language, and occupying this far-flung “ territory. We. have had during the last few daysan illustration of wha’t a diversity of interest exists under an appearance, which i3 not a specious appearance of community of interest. The Australian people ate one people. They speak one language. They are one in blood. From 97 to 98 per cent, of them are members of the race that inhabits the British Isles. There are unity of. interests and. race, sufficient to please every one. Because they have the genius of self-government, because Australia is such a big country .and of such diversity of interest- that it can hardly be satisfactorily legislated for from a common centre, we find the people of- ..Townsville and Cairns excited about questions which hardly cause -a ripple of interest in other parts of the” Commonwealth. We find the people of Tasmania regarding ‘ as vital’ a question :about which, perhaps,’ ‘ the people of Wyndham, of Darwin, or of Broome, care not one jot. Wie, as an Australian Legislature, have to reconcile as best we may this great diversity of interest. I say that the incidence and operation of the Navigation Act illustrates to the full that diversity of interest. There is, in the State of Tasmania at the present time, a most bitter feeling against the incidence of certain provisions of that Act. I believe that certain portions of Western Australia are also affected. We have to remember that Tasmania, as Senator Keating pointed out, is an insular State. We can well understand how the people of that State, because of its insularity, will resent anything in the way. of a curtailment of the shipping facilities they have hitherto enjoyed.
These shipping facilities have materially assisted the development of the fruit industry of .Tasmania, and the people of that State are very much agitated at the present time because of the fact that the Navigation Act, in its incidence, has caused the withdrawal pf certain shipping facilities which they greatly prize. I do not think it is beyond the capacity, and it is certainly not beyond the competency, of this Parliament and the Commonwealth Administration, to take this question seriously into consideration and do something to ameliorate the condition of the small insular State which I have the honour to assist in representing. We have all recognised that there are certain shortcomings associated with the insularity of Tasmania, its. size, and its ruggedness, and we should do what we can by using the existing provisions of the Navigation Act, the discretion of the Administration, or the legislative powers of Parliament, to enable us to give the people of Tasmania that amelioration of the incidence of the Act which they consider vital to the economic life of their State. ‘
I promised to be brief, because I know that honorable senators, like myself, are tired from the experience’ we have gone through. Will they forgive me if I indulge once more in an allusion to the fact that our parliamentary machinery : is to some extent outworn. The parliamentary’ system under which- we are govern.- ing ourselves permits of exhibition’s which I can only characterize as childish amongst civilized men and legislators, who should do everything decently and in order, and should carry’ on legislation by the consideration of Bills soberly, seriously, and in proper sequence. Is there, not something childish in carrying on legislation under conditions which involve Parliament sitting all night .and honorable senators falling asleep, sitting jaded in chairs or lying about, on the benches. Is that right? Would: it be necessary if half our time were not - occupied in. struggles for office, in motions of censure, more or less camouflage and in some cases insincere. -If the Administration had vested in it for the life of a Parliament, or even- for eighteen months’ at a time, full powers of framing legislation which we could confirm, vary, or reject, do honorable senators not think that we would have a better condition of affairs than is evident at the present time?
– The battle of the “ ins” and the “outs.”
– The battle of the “ ins “ and the “ outs” has resulted in the members of this Chamber, after an all-night sitting, waiting about, all day, for legislation to be hurried through and sentup to us, which should have been properly and soberly considered by the representatives of the nation in another place during months past. I know that at the present time public opinion is not ready for the reform which I project, and which will restore to the people’s representatives their pristine powers of initiation, rejection, or confirmation of measures in the true spirit in which men sent into Parliament should legislate.
I am going to conclude my remarks with the expression of a hope that in due course - I do not expect it to be done at once because serious and satisfactory reforms are sometimes ofslow growth - and before the Australian Parliament is many years older, we shall see such a reform in the way of legislative effort that there will be no necessity for all-night sittings, and no necessity for nearly absolute suppression of speech, which will appear under the present system at the end of every session. I hope that we shall get away from that condition of things and legislate in la saner, more intelligent, and more manly spirit befitting the representatives, not of a nation of children, but of a nation of grown-up individuals.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– In view of the request of the Leader of the Senate, and the position of business, I suspend the sitting until 8 o’clock, at which hour I shall resume the chair.
Sitting suspended from 5.40 to 8 p.m.
The following papers were presented: -
Australian Soldiers Repatriation Act - Report of the Repatriation Commission for the year ended 30th June, 1922.
War Service Homes Act - Report by the Acting Commissioner on operation of Act from 6th March, 1919, to 30th June, 1921, together with Statements andBalancesheets.
New Guinea - Ordinance No. 30 of 1922 - Mining (No. 2).
War -Service Homes Act - Land acquired at Mayfield, New South Wales.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended, and Bill (on motion by Senator E. D. Millen) read a first time.
SenatorE. D. MILLEN (New South .
Wales - Minister for Repatriation) [8.1].- I move-
That this Bill be now read a second time.
I desire to briefly point out to honorable senators that the Budget-papers were presented to the Senate as long ago as the 18th August last, when I made a short, summarized statement as to the financial position disclosed by the Budget. That being so, I do not think it at allnecessary for me now to go over the ground then traversed. I would point out, however, as I have done on previous occasions, that it was inevitable, owing to the natural and understandable reluctance of the other branch of the Legislature to part with the Appropriation Bill until the last moment, that the Senate should be called upon to deal with it somewhat expeditiously. I trust that no honorable senator will raise a complaint on the score of the limited time available for consideration of the measure. This Chamber, on seven different occasions, has had the opportunity to discuss the matters contained in the present Bill. On no less than three occasions, the moment the matter was called upon, there was a motion to adjourn the debate, so it cannot be said that honorable senators have not. had every opportunity to discuss the public finances. In addition, there have been numerous Supply Bills, which afforded similar opportunities, and I trust that honorable senators will co-operate with the Government to secure the early passage of the measure.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from Committee without requests; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator E. D. Millen) proposed -
That this Bill be now read a third time.
– Instead of the hurriedpassage of the Bill being a compliment tothe Government, it is rather a censure upon the proceedings of Parliament.
– The honorable senator must not reflect upon Parliament.
– It is acensure upon the way in which the work of Parliament has been conducted.
– I cannot permit the honorable senator to animadvert upon the way the proceedings of Parliament are conducted. I have been present during the passage of the Bill, and the honorable senator has raised no objection to its provisions. It is too late now for him to object to it, and it does not become any honorable senator to cast a slur on the way in which the proceedings have been conducted. Senator LYNCH. -Have I to express satisfaction ?
– Thehonorable senator had his remedy, and he may now only speak to the question of whether the Bill should or should not be read a third time.
– I cannot help the feelings in my breast. Honorable senators have not the power of divination necessary to enable them to deal with a measure such as this in a f ew minutes.
– The honorable senator has had opportunities of speaking on the very subjects dealt with in the Bill, and never once has he referred to the finances of the country.
– I am addressing myself now to a subject infinitely more important than any Budget can be. I am not blaming the Government, but on the previous occasions when the financial question was before the Senate we were only dealing with it in a general sense, and we had no opportunity to go through the details of this Bill. My complaint is against the combination of circumstances that is responsible for our having to pass the Bill to-night in a very limited time.
– Your opportunity was when the Bill was going through Committee.
– The Chairman distinctly put it to the Committee that he proposed to take the second schedule in Departments, unless some objection was raised to that course being f ollowed. No objection was taken, and consequently the Chairman submitted the schedule in Departments. Every Department was passed without a word of comment. I remained in the chamber the whole time in order to reply to any points that might - be raised regarding the Department lover which I preside. It is too late to discuss the items of the schedule now. Full opportunity was afforded, and no honorable senator took advantage of it.
– I am not attempting to discuss the Estimates at all ; I am merely drawingattention to the causes that have operated to produce the situation we have to face to-night. After experiencing an all-night sitting, it is humanly impossible for honorable senators to go through a Bill of this magnitude in the time allowed. It is true that in other years.similar measures have been treated ‘very summarily, but whether that should be regarded asa precedent for us tolive down to is quite another matter. I can only deplore the combination of circumstances that is responsible for this ‘Chamber being expected to do its duty at this impossible hour, and on this impossible occasion.
– I was one of those who spoke when the motion respecting the Budgetpapers was before the Senate, and Iconfined myself entirely to the Budget itself. I referred particularly to the large increase in wages shown in various Departments, and I mentioned one or two other matters that suggested themselves . to me. I thought the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen) would have had something to say by way of reply, but, perhaps, he did not think my remarks worthy of notice. I am, therefore, a little bit disappointed that he did not think fit to make some reference to them.
– I desire to draw attention to an item appearing in the Bill under the Trade and Customs Department, namely, the position of the Tariff Board in relation to the marble industry in the central districts of Queensland. The industry is developing on extensive lines, and recently the Tariff Board.
– Idesireto ask, Mr. President, whether, on the third reading of the Bill, the honorable senator’s remarks are relevant to the motion before the Chair.
– I have not had time to look through the Appropriation Bill to see whether or not there is in it an item dealing with the matter which the honorable senator desires to discuss, but I point out to him that it is unusual, on the third reading, to attempt a discussion on the details of the measure. The first reading and also the second reading afforded the honorable senator that opportunity, and the Committee stage provided yet another convenient occasion for discussion in detail As I intimated to Senator Lynch, the only arguments that are permissible at this stage must have relation to the question whether the Bill shall be read a third time. It is too late now for Senator Poll to debate any item in the Bill, unless, of course, he wishes to move for its recommittal.
SenatorFOLL. - I have no desire to move for a recommittal of the Bill, but if I am permitted to continue - I did not have an opportunity to do so before to-day - I will not occupy the time of the Senate for long.
– The honorable senator must not say that. There was ample opportunity for full discussion.
– I merely want to say, Mr. President, that as a result of action taken by the Tariff Board in connexion with the marble industry in central Queensland, it may be advisable for honorable senators to consider whether or not they should vote for the third reading of the Bill. The marble industry is an important one in central Queensland.
– I see nothing in the Bill referring to the marble industry in Queensland, and I must ask the honorable senator to desist.
– I am dealing with the attitude of the Tariff Board in connexion with that industry, and I think I shall be in order, seeing that the Tariff Board is under the Department of Trade and Customs.
– I cannot at the moment rule Senator Poll out of order, because this Bill is too voluminous for me to say whether there is any reference in it to the marble industry of Queens land. But, I again remind the honorable senator that there was ample opportunity to discuss this matter during the earlier stages of the Bill.
– The honorable senator can discuss this matter on the adjournment.
– Very well, then; I shall take advantage of that opportunity and deal with it on the motion for the adjournment. Senator MacDONALD (Queensland) [8.18]. - Perhaps I shall be permittedin this debate on the motion for the third reading of the Bill to refer to the Northern Territory. I shall endeavour to make my remarks as brief as possible. At this late hour, and after we have been sitting practically since 3 o’clock yesterday afternoon, it is impossible to deal with the subject-matter of this Bill adequately. I feel a little disappointed, and must express my dissatisfaction, at the absence of some statement from the Government in regard to the development of the Northern Territory, and particularly with respect to thelack of railway communication.
– Order! The honorable senator should have raised this question in Committee when the second schedule, which includes the Department of Home and Territories, was called on. He could then have gone over the whole gamut, but he omitted to do so, and now wants a Committee-stage debate on the motion for the third reading of the Bill. If this were permitted every other honorable senator would be quite within his rights in initiating Committee-stage debates in respect of any item in the measure. That is not in accordance with the practice of Parliament. There was full opportunity on the first reading, another chance on the second reading, and at the Committee stage a third opportunity for an extended debate on any subject referred to in the Bill. I do not wish to unduly curtail the privileges or rights of any honorable senator, but since there were no less than three full opportunities within the past twenty minutes for a debate upon the subject of Northern Territory development, and as advantage was not taken of any of them, there is no reason now why the passage of the Bill should be delayed.
– I should like to say just a word or two before the question is submitted. Senator Vardori just now suggested that possibly I had been guilty of discourtesy for not having replied to some remarks of his in the debate earlier in the session. I hope the honorable senator will exonerate me from any intentional discourtesy. The reason I did not reply was that it seemed to me that the honorable senator discussed the finances in broad general outlines, and presented his views for consideration rather than as a criticism requiring an answer from me. I anticipated that if ho or any other honorable senator had felt strongly in connexion with any particular item, it would have been referred to when the measure was passing through the Committee stage; but as no honorable senator did so, I did not feel called upon to deal with the general questions to which Senator Vardon had referred earlier in the session. I trust, therefore, that he will not think that I have been intentionally discourteous.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Senator BUZACOTT brought up a report from the Joint Committee of Public Accounts upon Sugar.
– Mr. President, there is still a small measure to come from another place. If you suspend the sitting until half-past 9 I think it will be available for this Chamber.
– In view of the state of the business, and at the request of the Leader of the Senate, I suspend the sitting until half-past 9 o’clock, at which hour I shall resume the chair.
Sitting suspended from 8.23 to 9.30 p.m.
Message reported intimating that the .
House of Representatives had agreed to the amendments made by the Senate in thisBill.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended, and Bill (on motion by Senator E. D. Millen) read a first time.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
I will briefly indicate the main feature of the proposition which honorable senators are invited to consider in this Bill. This is a measure to ratify and approve an agreement made between Farmers Bulk Grain Co-operative Company Limited, the Commonwealth Government, and the Minister for Agriculture of South Australia. The agreement which it is proposed to ratify is attached as a schedule to the Bill, and in the preamble honorable senators will find set out the conditions of the agreement and the facts which led toits adoption by the Commonwealth Government. It is set out in the schedule that the capital of the company shall be £500,000, divided into 500,000 shares of £1 each, which shall not be sold to any but bona fide grain farmers. The object is to provide for the erection and operation of silos and terminal elevators for the handling of grain in bulk in South Australia. The South Australian Government is to approve of the agreement before the 1st day of January, 1923. The estimated cost of the silos and elevators is to be £1,500,000, the company is to provide and expend one- third of the total cost of the silos and elevators, and the Commonwealth will make advances to the company of two- thirds of the total cost of silos and elevators by way of loan under conditions set out in clause 5 of the agreement. In clause 17 of the agreement it is provided that the South Australian Government shall guarantee the advances made by the Commonwealth. As the Bill is merely for the approval of the agreement, I suggest that it can be better considered in Committee than at this stage. Speaking generally, honorable senators will know that a somewhat similar agreement came before this Parliament some time ago and secured its approval. This is another effort on the part of the Government to assist the co-operative movement of the farmers of South Australia, and I am satisfied that honorable senators will give it their indorsement just as they indorsed the very similar proposal to which I have referred.
– In a few words I desire to express my satisfaction that this Bill is a vast improvement upon a measure of a somewhat similar character which was passed by this Parliament some time ago. It was pointed out, not only by myself, but by other honorable senators in discussing that measure, that it did not seem right that the Commonwealth should lend money to a private organization of any kind unless through the Government of the State in which the organization was operating. I am very please.d to see that the Government of South Australia becomes a party to this agreement, and becomes actually responsible for the repayment of the loan
Advanced by the Commonwealth, and interest thereon. I have not had an opportunity of perusing the whole of the agreement, but it appears to me that the representations which’ were made in connexion with the Bill with which we dealt about two years ago, have had some effect. I hope that the Senate will always insist that where money is lent by the Commonwealth to give effect to an agreement of this kind, the Government of the State in which the company operating under the agreement is located, will guarantee that its terms will be carried out.
SenatorDE LARGIE (Western Australia) [9.37]. - On previous occasions we have had under consideration propositions similar to that contained in the schedule to this Bill. I think that, except in the case of the agreement made with New South Wales, they have not afforded very much satisfaction, and even in that State the Federal Government got precious little credit for helping New . South Wales. I remember that in considering the New South Wales agreement, representatives of that State in the. Senate complained that the silos erected in New South Wales were defective in construction, and made out that they would be a complete failure.
– The man who says that is wrong, does not know anything about it.
– We can. all remember that that was the statement made in this Chamber by some honorable senators from New South Wales. I am merely repeating what they said. I have never seen the silos.
– They cost too much money. That was their chief defect.
– Was the construction satisfactory ?
– The construction of the silos is satisfactory, but they have not been put to the use for which they were intended.
– I can remember that when we were discussing a somewhat similar proposal for Western Australia we were invited to consider the terrible example of Government waste and bungling presented by the silos erected in Sydney.
– Any opposition to the Western Australian Bill was because of the absence of a State guarantee.
– What I have said inregard to the Sydney silos must stand. I do not know exactly what became of the Western Australian proposal. I know that the Bill covered a very generous offer from the Commonwealth Government to the Farmers Association of Western Australia. It would appear that our good intentions in the matter came to nothing.
– I think that was because the State Act for the ratification of the agreement failed, to pass the Western Australian Legislative Council. Senator DE LARGIE.- A well-known secessionist in Western Australia took such action as prevented the passing of the measure in the Western Australian Legislative Council. I hope that better success will attend this our third effort in the same direction.
– The Sydney proposition is all right.
– If Senator Cox is quite sure of that, I am glad to hear it. I rose merely to remind the Senate of the rather unhappy experience we have had so far in connexion with proposals of this kind.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Glauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
– I should like to learn from the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen) if this agreement is in the same shape as the agreement included in the Western Australian Farmers Association Bill?
– There .is a. substantial difference in this agreement, The State Government of South Australia is to guarantee the loan, or this Bill does not become operative.
– I was going to ask the question which has been asked by Senator DrakeBrockman. I think this Bill varies considerably from the similar agreement with the Western Australian Farmers Association. I remember that when the schedule to that Bill was under consideration I criticised the penal provisions in connexion with interest in arrears. I have been looking to see what part of the schedule to this Bill makes provision for the payment of interest in due time, and whether security is given to the Commonwealth for arrears of interest.
– There is a guarantee in this case by the State Government. The honorable gentleman will find .that in clause 17 of the agreement.
– I understood the Minister (Senator E. D. Millen) to state that the purpose of this Bill is to encourage the co-operative movement. I find that under the agreement a person or firm may take up 10,000 shares in the company, the capital of which is to be £500,000. If fifty persons each take up 10,000 shares they may establish the company, but a company having so small a number of shareholders can. hardly be described as a co-operative company. There would be good reason for supporting a proposition of this - kind intended to benefit the whole of the wheat-growers of South Australia, numbering not fifty, but about 13,000.
– If you look at the sub-paragraph immediately following the preamble you ‘will see that steps havebeen taken to avoid the danger of which you speak.
– The third paragraph states that no person, company or firm shall be entitled to. hold more than 10,000 shares. It might be possible for fifty people to form this so-called cooperative company. Would such a company be sufficient to watch the whole, of the producing interests of an important wheat-growing State like South Australia?
– They have, tq be bond’ fide grain-growers.
– This is purely a cooperative concern. Over 200,000 shares have been allotted’ and divided between 2,400 farmers in South Australia.
– I wish the Committee to have a clear conception of what the schedule provides. Clause 1 of the agreement states -
This Agreement shall have no force or effect and shall not ‘he binding on any of the parties hereto unless or until it is approved by the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, nor unless or until the said agreement about to be made between the Company and the Minister has been ratified by an Act of the Parliament of the said State nor unless such Act is passed before the first day of January, 1923.
This clause provides for the guarantee of the South Australian . Government. Im- mediately following the preamble are the conditions .under which the company is to be formed. It is to be composed’ of bond fide grain-growers, and that isi a reasonable protection against a few men monopolizing the whole of the shares. ‘ South Australia is a wealthy State, I know, but I doubt whether it has a few men who are not bond fide wheat-growers and who would be able to .provide the necessary capital. I think that the company will consist of a big body of shareholders, most of whom will be bond fide and will benefit.
– Two thousand four hundred farmers have applied for the shares.
– Substantially that amount of capital is in sight. As a further guarantee to the Common; wealth, it is .provided that not less than 200,000 shares must be allotted and paid up to 10s. per share before the, agreement becomes operative and the Common- wealth’ Government are involved in the slightest degree. The company has. to spend £100,000 before the Commonwealth Government are to advance any money. The company having found that £100,000, the first portion of the Commonwealth loan becomes available, and the Commonwealth undertakes to advance £200,000, upon the receipt of the requisite certificates’ that the money has been properly expended,, and then the Commonwealth only advances £2 fort every £1 that is found by the company. The Commonwealth has as good a guarantee as might be asked by any financial institution.
– Every contingency seems to have been provided for except one, and that is that the silos shall be built within a certain time. What Senator de Largie referred to in- regard to the New South Wales silo contract largely hinged on the tremendous delay in construction. The silos were supposed to be built in time for a certain season, but we went on for two seasons, I think, before the silos, were ready for operation, and the farmers were disgusted with the delay. The agreement seems to completely secure to the Commonwealth the repayment of the advances. “We have the State guarantee, the company’s liability, and provision for security by way of mortgage. But it seems to me essential to make some provision for the silos to be built within a certain time.
– It is provided in the preamble that the western section has to be completed within two years, and. the scheme for the whole State within ten. years. In addition to the guarantee of the repayment of interest and the State Government’s general guarantee, it is provided that the South Australian Government shall be responsible for,- and shall make good, any default on the part of the company in the payment of any instalment or instalments or for interest.
– The* Minister has referred to the recital, which states that certain things are to be done within a certain time, but that is not the effective part of the agreement.
.- The silos in New South Wales were not undertaken- as permanent works on their initiation. They provided for temporary storage of wheat, owing to the ravages’ of :the mice plague and weevil. I congratu-late the New South Wales Government on the splendid1 result now being obtained. Complete working plants are in operation, and what is practically a world’s record has been established for the rapid loading of vessels. This system will be helpful to the farmer, because he not only avoids the cost of sacks, but he receives 6d. a- bushel more for his wheat: I hope South Australia’ will be similarly successful. It is a very sound principle for the Commonwealth to advance money for the purpose of establishing wheat silos for the benefit of the wheat-producing community.
– I suggest that the guarantee consists in the fact that the State Government guarantees repayment of the money with interest.
– Senator Garling pointed .out that the paragraph in the recital to which I referred was not the operative portion of the agreement, but if he reads the first portion of the agreement he will notice that it recites what is ‘ to be the- agreement between the company and the South Australian Government.
.- I recently met Mr. Ben. Cox, the general manager foi* Metcalfe and Company. Under the firm’s contract with the South Australian Government, it was proposed to build silos on receiving. 10 per cent, of the actual cost. It has a thorough check over the cost of cement, screenings, and sand.
– Paragraph 5 is important. It provides that the ‘ Commonwealth will not make an advance to the company except upon the certificate of some trustworthy person that the erection of silos and elevators has been carried out to his satisfaction up to the date of the issue of the certificate. Would it not be as well to insert in this paragraph some standard to guide the person charged with issuing the certificate? I would suggest that the person nominated by the Government should certify that the erection of these silos and elevators has been carried out to his satisfaction, “having due and proper regard tothe amount of money expended.” There is another matter thatappears to have been overlooked. There is no suggestion that the work shall be carried out by contract, and as the Commonwealth in relation to the agreement will stand in the position of a mortgagee, it may be advisable to consider this matter. I do not anticipate of course, that there will be any trouble with the South Australian Government, but keeping in mind our own experience, it certainly would be a foolish undertaking to advance money to some Governments to be expended on an undertaking of this nature without having some safeguard as to the manner in which the money was disbursed, whether by contract or by day labour.
– I am satisfied that the agreement is sound, but I also want Senator Lynch to share my satisfaction. Thismoney, I repeat, is to be advanced on the guarantee of the State Government. In ordinary circumstances that would be an ample security, but, in addition, the shareholders will be required to put in their own money, and they will be the best watchdogs we could possibly have against unwise expenditure. With these guarantees, I submit that the position of the Commonwealth is amply secured.
. I direct Senator Lynch ‘s attention to paragraph 9, which provides that every application by the company to the Commonwealth for an advance shall be accompanied by a certificate issued by a person nominated by the Commonwealth and certifying to the value of the work done in the erection of the silos and elevators, and lands, works, machinery, &c, and whether or not the work has been done to his satisfaction and to the satisfaction of the Minister. This should cover the point raised by the honorable senator.
Schedule agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Billreceived from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended, and Bill (on motion by Senator Earle) read a first time.
Senator EARLE (Tasmania - Vice-
President of the Executive Council) [10.14].- I move-
That this Bill be now read a second time.
About two months ago the Senate passed a Bill providing for reciprocal trade with New Zealand, and, as is natural with many such innovations, an alteration is now found to be necessary. Negotiations have been carried on between the Commonwealth Government and the New Zealand Government with a view to an arrangement with regard to some of the duties on goods exchanged between the two countries. The schedule of the Bill is as follows: -
The present duty on these items is ad valorem, tinned meat, 20 per cent. in both countries; sheets and roofing slates, &c, 20 per cent. ; dairying machines and implements, 20 per cent.; and brooms, 25 per cent.
– I will supply the honorable senator with that information. It willbe seen that the Bill proposes to levy a duty of 2d. per lb. on tinned meats; 10 per cent. on sheets and roofing slates; dairying machines and implements are to be free, and there is to be a duty of 30 per cent. on corn millet brooms. Other items were discussed during the negotiations between the Ministers, including oats, which is of interest to Tasmanian producers. At present there is a duty on oats in both countries of 18d. per cental, a fraction over 7d. per bushel, and New Zealand, being a rather large producer, desires the reduction pf that duty to ls. per cental, and offered to give Australia a reciprocal advantage by imposing upon currants and raisins from other countries a duty of 2d., per lb. New Zealand being a non-‘ producer of these particular goods and a large producer of oats, the arrangement was a rather one-sided one, and although the Government, in- the interests of the producers, endeavoured to obtain preference in supplying New Zealand with currants and raisins, they could not sacrifice the interests of cerealgrowers in Australia by reducing the Tariff 33 per cent. In consequence of her tremendous production ‘ in certain lines, such as oats, New Zealand has become rather a serious competitor with the Australian grower. The Tariff Board or the Department has not- in any way been remiss in protecting the interests of those immediately concerned.
– .The cheap-labour argument does not apply in this case.
– No; the duty is equal, because it is ls. 6d. in both countries.
– We do not export oats to New .Zealand.
– Neither does New Zealand export currants and raisins to Australia. Occasionally we have the opportunity of exporting that particular product, but the cost of production in both countries is about equal.
– Could we have got dried fruits into New Zealand by slightly reducing the duty on oats?
– Of course, we could ; but what would be the position of the oats producer?
– Oats are not mentioned in the Bill.
– No. But I referred to the matter because it is a live question-.
– The Minister, in another place, said he could not secure adequate consideration.
– That is so. These negotiations will continue, and where it is found to the mutual advantage of the two Dominions, further alterations will be made by the respective Governments.
– The Tariff will be torn about every month.
– I do- not .think there is any danger of>;that, because, although it must have, a certain amount of stability, it is not unalterable.
– What notice do you give the traders when making’ an alteration in the rates ?
– Hardly any notice is given to Parliament.
– It is within the power of the Department to give notice, because this Bill comes into operation by proclamation, and, if it is found to be in the interests of the trading community,’ the proclamation can be delayed.
– We are increasing the duty on millet brooms from 25 per’ cent, to 30 per cent.
– Yes, at the request of New Zealand; and that is one of the conditions under which the Government have agreed to these amended rates.
– Personally, I do not care much for this system of dealing with the Tariff.
– It is a bad system.
– We are asked to consider most important proposals in the closing, hours of the session. A Tariff schedule, or amendments to a Tariff, require all consideration that can ‘be given to them, and the interjections addressed to the Minister (Senator Earle) indicate that a good deal more information should be supplied to honorable senators before we should be committed to this proposal. The Minister has given a good many particulars, but still it seems that this is a belated proceeding. Early in the year negotiations took place between the Customs Minister for New Zealand and the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Rodgers) in Melbourne, and, according to the answer received to a question I submitted to the Minister, those negotiations continued from 16th March to 10th April: These gentlemen were closeted together nearly every day, and eventually a schedule was agreed upon, the New Zealand Minister, I suppose, returning with a copy in his pocket while the Australian Minister tabled a motion in another place to give effect to their decisions in July last. ‘ It was not until August that the proposal received the sanction, of both Houses of this Parliament. After these lengthy negotiations and proceedings-, it . is. unreasonable to ask us to immediately ratify- another agreement. It is not sudden, but belated, and I am inclined to think that we are in a position to say to New Zealand, “ Thank you for nothing. What axe we to get in return for the concessions, we are now asked to make ?” It is . proposed to amend the Tariff on, tinned meats from the present rate of 20 per cent, ad valorem to 2d. per lb., and we do hot know whether that is higheror lower. What are we getting in. return except, as I understand, that New Zealand is equalizingher duty against tinned meats coming into New Zealand. In regard to roof slates the same observations may be made. We are altering the rate from 20 per cent. to 10 per cent. We know that is a reduction, as our general rate on these articles from other countries is 20 per. cent.
– Does the honorable senator expect dumping on these lines? Will there be much trade?
– I am unable to say. Let me tell the Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce) that we have in Tasmania large asbestos deposits on the Tamar, and on the East Tamar at Bangor slate quarries that have not been worked because, amongst other reasons, the product cannot compete with imported slates. I do not say that they are equal in all respects. We have slates in other parts of Tasmania, notably on the north-west coast, in country recently opened up by railways.
– Slate has nothing to do with this Bill.
– I accept the Minister’s correction with regard to slate. The fact that I made this error in regard to this item is a slight index of the lack of proper information before us; We have both cement, material and asbestos in Tasmania in plenty. There is a company, the interests in which are very largely held in Victoria and Sydney.
– Our trade with New Zealand is greater than the New Zealand trade with us. Therefore, the alteration would be to our advantage.
– The Minister is now giving us information that should have been given to us before. Previously, when Tariff items have been before us, we have been inundated with information about them.
– The items in the schedule are so obvious.
– They may be obvious to the Minister; but, again I may refer to the negotiations that were carried out, and if the items are so obvious, why in the name of thunder did we not have them when the reciprocity treaty was before the Senate in August? Why did they escape the notice of the Minister for Trade and Customs in. Australia and the Minister for Trade and Customs in New Zealand? Why should these items, now said to be so obvious-, come here in this belated way during the last few hours’ of the session ? If they were so palpable and obvious, it is a great reflection on the Government, the Minister, and all concerned that the existing reciprocity treaty with New Zealand was submitted in August last without them.
With regard to the last item in the schedule, “ corn (millet) brooms,” there is a proposed alteration in the duty from 25to 30 per cent. New Zealand seems to be asking, I do not know why, that the duty should be increased against her. The matter is one that should never have been put before Parliament at this stage of the session.
Reference has been made to the question of oats. There is no mention of them in the Bill. I have drawn attention to this question in the Senate, and the moment I did so the persons concerned in the production of oats announced a very strong objection to any such proposal being brought before Parliament in these . last hours of the session. I am against a reduction of duty on oats. The reason is that when the State which I share the honour of representing entered into the Federation, it was a grower of cereals; and it entered the Federation because, -amongst other reasons, it saw that it would have the markets of the Commonwealth open to it. Previously it had only the market of New South Wales outside its own border. In order to secure InterState Free Trade, it took upon itself the burden . of Commonwealth, taxation. New Zealand does not take on this burden, so why should the markets of Australia be open to her?
– I have no objection to reciprocity treaties if they are made in conformity with the Tariff which we passed, and which contained an intermediate column understood to be for the purpose of permitting reciprocity treaties with other nations or other Dominions to be arranged. Quite apart from the merits of the measure we are now discussing, 1 want to say that there is a singular omission in the schedule. Why is there not included in it, as in the Tariff, the existing intermediate rates of duty? If that were done a member of the Committee could see at a glance what the position was in December last, and what was then in the minds of honorable senators in Committee, and what modifications are suggested in the Bill. I cannot, although I was in the Chair, and was conversant at the time with every phase of the Tariff discussion, remember a single item of duty in the intermediate column as affecting any particular article. The intermediate rate of duty should have been put in the schedule for the purpose of enabling members of this Committee to contrast the items in the intermediate column with the items proposed in the Bill. We heard no protests about the other reciprocity Bill until it had been passed, although some of us remarked that it was singular that some protest had not arisen from people engaged in industries affected by the measure; but on the very morning when the Bill was to be submitted to this Chamber, honorable members representing Tasmania were interviewed by people who said that their industries would be obliterated if the reciprocity treaty was adopted. I believe their representations were to a large extent, correct. I admit that when the Tariff was passed reciprocity with other nations, and other Dominions, was an idea that was entertained by members of this Committee, but at the same time I am clearly of opinion that every honorable senator believed that any reciprocal arrangement with any other nation or Dominion would be in accordance with the items of duty set forth in the intermediate column of the Tariff. I seriously object to the practice of interfering with the Tariff and providing, in effect, a fourth column of duty. - The State of Victoria is engaged in a very substantial enterprise, which has for its manager Sir John Monash. He is a director of a Tasmanian enterprise which has been started, and will involve the expenditure of a large amount of capital, for the manufacture of cement. Asbestos occurs in Tasmania, in Gundagai in New South Wales, and, I believe, wherever serpentine rock is found throughout the Commonwealth. If we are going to have an effective Tariff for the Commonwealth, would not men. who . manufacture “ sheets and roofing slates composed of cement and asbestos, or of similar materials” deserve some protection?
– They need it against New Zealand.
– I am not going to reply off-hand to that query. Although the particular items in the little Bill before us are, in themselves, innocuous, the principle is a bad one. I do not like it. It has a dislocating and unstabilizing effect on industry and commerce, and the sooner we abandon the principle of reciprocity agreements, except on the basis of the intermediate column of the Tariff, the better. I do not like the Bill, -I do not like the principle, and I am tempted to vote against it, innocent though it appears.
. I think Senator Bakhap is right in his contention if we consider our attitude on the Tariff last year. The Customs Tariff Act supports Senator Bakhap’s contention. Section 9 provides -
Subject to this section, the provisions of the British Preferential Tariff may be appliedwholly or in part to any part of the
British Dominions, and the provisions of the Intermediate Tariff may be applied wholly or in port to any part of the British Dominions, or to any foreign country.
Before that can be made applicable a proclamation has to be issued under subsection 3 of the same section, the wording of which is -
A proclamation shall not be issued under the lost preceding sub-section until -
the Minister has referred to the Tariff Board the question whether, having regard to the reciprocal benefits which have been or will be granted to Australia by that part of the British Dominions or that foreign country, as the case may be, itis desirable, in the interests of the Commonwealth, that the British Preferential Tariff or the intermediate Tariff should apply to the partor foreign country, as the case may be.
– Does the honorable senator think that has not been done?
-The Government is going beyond it.
-Is the Government applying the British preferential or the intermediate Tariff?
– Neither, strictly.
– But according to the Act, it must apply one of them.
– My reading of the Act indicated to me that Senator Bakhap was on right lines.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
– I ask the Minister (Senator Earle) with regard to the proposed rates of duty, if they are all in respect of the particular items against which they appear, the rates which appear in the intermediate column, or the British preferential column of the Tariff. In the Senate Senator Payne made reference to section 9 of the Customs Act, and I think the honorable senator’s interpretation of that section was perfectly correct. I made a statement to precisely the same effect on the 22nd March last, which was given publicity in Tasmania. Before a reciprocal Tariff agreement could be established between the Commonwealth and New Zealand, it would have to be based upon the items as they appear in the British preferential or intermediate column, to receive the certificate of the Tariff Board, and to be approved by both Houses of this Parliament. The Minister seems to think that there has been a compliance with section 9 of the Customs Tariff Act by the inclusion of varying duties in this schedule, because of the words “wholly or in part” appearing in that section. Those words justify the establishment of reciprocal trade with same other country by adopting every item or any number of items, in the British preferential or intermediate column, between Australia and that country, but they do not permit of the variation of duties.
– The Government may do what the honorable senator suggests by proclamation, but in this case we are proposing the passage of new legislation.
– Does Senator Keating contend that section 9 of the Customs Tariff Act takes away our power to amend the Tariff!
– We are amending the Tariff in this Bill.
– I see what the honorable senator means. What I have referred to bears upon negotiations between the Governments followed by proclamation.
– That is so.
Schedule agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without request; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended, and Bill (on motion by Senator Earle) read a first time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended, and Bill (on motion by Senator Pearce) read a first time.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives without amendment.
Motion (by Senator E. D. Millen) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until 11 o’clock a.m. to-morrow.
Senate adjourned at 10.57 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 13 October 1922, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1922/19221013_senate_8_101/>.