9th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) tookthe chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– In view of the fact that the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) . in another place has promised to suspend the operation of the Northern Territory Land Ordinance, which, I understand, has been laid on the table of the Senate,will the Government withdraw it until they have come to some decision on the matter ?
– I am not sure that the Ordinance referred to has been laid on the table of theSenate, but even if it has, since the undertaking given by the Prime Minister an order has been passed through the Executive Council suspending its operation. For the information of the Senate, I may say that the Government propose to introduce in this Chamber a Bill embodying the Ordinance referred to, and, therefore, therewill be full opportunity for debate before effect is given toit..
– In view of the large surplus for the financial year just closed, is it the intention of the Government to increase the invalid and old-age pensions ?
– I refer the honorable senator to a paragraph in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech dealing with this question.
The followingpapers were presented : -
Tariff Board Act - Annual report of too Tariff Board together with schedule showing Board’s recommendations and Ministerial action in connoxion therewith.
Territory for the Seat of Government - Ordinance No. 6 pf 1923 - Delegation of Authority.
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice-
Will the Government consent to the appointment of a Select Committee, consisting of members of bothHouses, to visit Rabaul and the mandated Territories, with a view to making a full and searching inquiry into their administration by the Federal Government?
– As previously announced, the Government have already appointed a firm of auditors, Messrs. Yarwood and Company, of Sydney, to report on the position in the mandated Territory and the operations of the Expropriation Board.
asked the Leader ofthe Government in the Senate, upon notice - .
– The replies are as follow : - l..Yes.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– Steps are being taken to obtain the information asked for.
asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
Whether it is the intention of Ministers to alter the present system of electing senators, in the direction of providing for the more equitable principle of proportional representation?
– It is not intended to review the present system of electing senators in the present session.
SenatorFOLL asked the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice - .
– The replies are as follow: -
Positionof Mr. J. Barnes
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– No official information is available on this matter.
asked . the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
SenatorWILSON. - The information is being obtained.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That in accordance with the provisions of the Commonwealth Public Works Committee Act 1913, the folowing senators be appointed to fill the vacancies in the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, viz., Senator Lynch, SenatorReid, and Senator Barnes.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Committee of Public Accounts Act 1913, the following senators be appointed to fill the vacancies in the Joint Committee of Public Accounts, viz., Senator Benny, Senator Elliott, and Senator Needham.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Pearce) read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That Senator Newland be appointed Chairman of Committees of the Senate.
Debate resumed from 4thJuly (vide page 626), on motion by Senator Guthrie-
That thefollowing Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the Governor-General’s Opening Speech be agreed to: -
To His Excellency theGovernor-General.
May it Please Your Excellency -
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia, . in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
– As a new senator, I rise with a certain amount of trepidation to address you, Mr. . President^ and honorable .senators. First of all, let me congratulate you, sir, on the fact that you .— now presiding over a Chamber much better balanced than it has been during the last three years. The Senate has been somewhat lopsided, but on the 16th December 1922, the electors displayed a little more discretion than they showed at the previous election, with the result that you now have on your left an increased number of members of the Australian .Labour party. The weight of numbers in this Chamber -is still in favour of those who sit to your right, but after the lapse of another three years, the discretion of the electors will probably cause the ranks of honorable senators on the other side of the Chamber to be somewhat attenuates. The weight of numbers will then be no longer with them.
Many matters are missing from the Governor-General’s Speech which are far more important than are many of the items included in it. The proposed arrangement for the future handling of the finances of Australia is a very attractive subject to discuss, but at this stage it would not be right for us to enter upon a full discussion of the effect it is likely to have upon the various States. Western Australia may, or may not, benefit. It may secure from the Commonwealth a little more than it now obtains under the provisions of the Surplus Revenue Act. That would ‘be very welcome, but as the scheme has npt yet been finalized, we had better wait to see how it is likely to work out before we proceed to pass judgment upon it.
I do not think that the proposed arrangement in regard to levying taxation will benefit the taxpayers. It seems to me that it will act somewhat harshly upon the’ workers, and that the burden of meeting the Commonwealth’s interest bill on its war debt, and of paying invalid and’ old-age pensions, and the maternity allowance, will have to ‘be met by indirect taxation. Hitherto, the wealth of the nation has borne its share of this burden, but in future the greater proportion of this expenditure will fall upon the consumers and workers, who bear the biggest share of indirect taxation. When we were in the throes of a world-wide war, it was claimed that wealth would ‘bear its full share of that taxation which would be necessary to meet the heavy additional expenditure incurred by every country, but neither here - nor elsewhere has it done so. On the contrary, the men who fought and were spared to return to Australia are to be called upon to bear the heavier burden of taxation.
The attention of the people . of this young nation has been directed to the question of immigration, and undoubtedly this is one of the most important matters we could discuss. During the last few days it has been discussed in this Chamber and” in another place, but it will bear a little further investigation. The States to-day are engaged in different schemes * of immigration. From what I can gather, those schemes have not a sound or a sane basis. We cannot separate immigration from the question of the taxation of unimproved land values and unemployment. They are a trinity of subjects; they are inseparable ; we cannot consider one without paying due regard to the other. The object of immigration schemes is to add to the population of this vast territory which has been committed to our charge. We have the responsibility of governing and developing it. Every one will ‘admit that it is essential that we should add to our population in order properly to govern and develop our natural resources. . I favour an immigration scheme which takes into full consideration the necessity of making our lands available, not only to those whom. we intend welcoming from overseas, but also those who are resident here ‘ at the present time. .Before those tracts of fertile country can be made available, it is essential that a very effective tax on the unimproved values of land should be imposed. It is true that such a system is in operation under the laws of the Commonwealth and of some of the States. It is equally true that that system is not as effective as it should be. I do not think any honorable senator will dispute the fact that there are in Australia vast tracts of fertile country, closely adjacent to our main lines of railway, that are not being put to’ their full use, that are not being made productive. We cannot escape the conviction that there is in Australia a great land monopoly, nor can we deny that there is a land hunger. In whatever State one cares to inquire, he will find that the demand for land is not being satisfied, and that, when blocks of land are thrown open for selection, there is not nearly a sufficient number to provide for all the applicants. In some of the States the municipal councils tax on the annual value system. Then there are road boards which tax on the unimproved land values system. I believe that the latter is the most equitable way in which taxation can he imposed. Before we can have a thorough, healthy, and proper immigration scheme, we must have in each State an effective system of unimproved land values taxation.
We might, in analyzing this immigration question, go a bit further, and try to ascertain if, in the first place, we are getting from overseas the very best class of immigrants. I do not desire to reflect in any way on the people who have come here from the Old Land; but many of them have not struck me as being the proper class of prospective settlers to tackle Australian conditions and to develop Australian resources. I do not believe that all of these people are going on to our land. Many of them shortly after they arrive find their way to the cities, and compete for work with artisans who are out of employment. We ought not to encourage any immigration scheme that will intensify the unemployment problem with which we are faced in Australia to-day. That problem exists in every one of our capital cities. A picture in the Sun News-Pictorial yesterday showed the pitiable spectacle of hundreds of able-bodied men receiving their dole in the shape of a loaf. I remember at this time last year taking an active part in a big unemployed agitation in Perth. It was, indeed, a pitiable sight to see those unemployed able-bodied men, who were eager and willing to work, but who could not obtain it. Amongst that body of unemployed, with whom I was brought directly into contact, there was a vast number of men - aye, and women, too - who had not been in Australia very long, having come overseas under our immigration system. Therefore, I say that those who are responsible for inaugurating any immigration scheme should be careful that in the selection of immigrants the right type is chosen, and before they are invited to come here everything should be put in readiness to receive those people. We cannot have that preparedness if we do not pay attention to the breaking up of the large estates, the destruction of land monopolies,, and the satisfying of land hunger. Having done that, we can really and truly say we are on the pathway to a sane, sound, and progressive immigration policy.
We are not leaving on the shoulders of State Governments the sole responsibility of dealing with this question; the Commonwealth Government are part and parcel of the whole scheme. An arrangement has been arrived at between the Commonwealth Government, the Imperial Government, and the Government of Western Australia under which a certain amount of money is being made available to enable Western Australia to bring out 25,000 people per year. I shall have no quarrel with that arrangement if those people do not enter into competition with our unemployed artisans’ when they arrive in our State. To a great extent that has occurred in the past.
I mentioned that I was doubtful about the class of immigrant which was being brought to our shores under governmental supervision. I noticed in the Age of 2nd instant the statement that immigration agents in England were receiving £1 for each immigrant they sent to Australia. It is stated that in one instance an agent made £500.
SenatorFoll. - Who is payingthat ?
– I understand it is being paid by either the Imperial or Commonwealth Governments, of both; because the immigrant is not paying£1 to the agent. I believe payment is made from Australia House.
– Is the honorable senator sure that the amount is not paid by the shipping companies?
– If it is, the Commonwealth Government should, prevent such a practice, because no one should be paid for sending immigrants to Australia.
– The cabled report was to the effect that the shipping companies were paying the amount, and if such is the case, how can the Government prevent it?
– The Imperial Government, in conjunction with the Commonwealth Government, should take steps to prevent further payments being made. If the Commonwealth Government are controlling immigration, surely they can pay officers conversant with Australian conditions and the class of men and women wanted in this country.
– It might be a commis sion paid by the shipping companies in order to secure passenger traffic.
– I do not know whether it is being paid by the Imperial Government, the Commonwealth Government, or the shipping companies.
– The cable message said it was being paid by the shipping companies.
– It does npt matter by whom it is paid; it is a practice to be deprecated.
– What bearing has the payment on the class of immigrant- 1
– A great deal, because it is quite evident from what I have ‘ seen of immigrants coming to Australia that the supervision is totally inadequate.
– Are they not supervised at Australia House?
– There is supervision of a. kind.
– It is very strict.
– I do not suggest that men and women are allowed to come to Australia without some supervision. I am not the only one who has voiced the opinion that the supervision is inadequate. There are supporters of the Government who hold a similar view, and , those who have been in close contact with some of the people coming to ‘ Australia’ will realize that sufficient care is not taken. ‘ Mr. J. Thomson; M.L.A., of Western Australia,, who recently arrived from Great Britain, has strongly expressed his opinion concerning the class of immigrant selected and the - method of supervision in London.
– I cannot see what connexion there is between the payment of £1 per head to agents and the class of immigrant . arriving here. i
– There is a connexion; the honorable’ senator must admit that the payment of a subsidy cannot be justified. It would also be interesting to know if the people brought here remain in the State in which they first land.
– It is all right so long as they remain in Australia.
– Does their arrival in any State mean that residents in that State are compelled to seek employment elsewhere? I agree with Senator Guthrie that so long as they remain’ in
Australia we will eventually benefit; but it is -very unfair if, by the influx of .a. certain number into,’ say, Victoria, residents in this State are forced to go to some other part of the Commonwealth to find work.
– Does such a condition actually exist?
– I have before me an extract from ‘ the Western Australian Worker, based on figures compiled by the Statistical Department, which shows -
That from 1920 to the end of March, 1923, the number of assisted and nominated immigrants entering Western Australia was 10,489. fet the excess of arrivals over departures for the same period was only 2,633. Over 8,000 of the immigrants either replaced Western Australians who went elsewhere, or else moved on themselves. . . . The New Settlers’ League asserts that very few of the immigrantshave left the State. We believe that to becorrect, but a careful scrutiny of the official data suggests that the. departures consist in the main of men and women who have hitherto, made this State their home. Such is the tragedy which mis-government has brought upon us.
– Perhaps some whohave done well have gone abroad for a. trip.
– Men earning- £4 10s. and £5 per week cannot afford to» travel for pleasure. An abstract from the Statistician’s figures shows the following excess of births over deaths: - 1913,. 6284; 1914, 6161; 1915, 6025; 1916, 5478; 1919, 3347; 1920, 4761; 1921 y 4327; 1922, 4964.
– Were those 10,000 arrivals from overseas?
– Yes, according; to the statistics.
– Western Australia> has a good immigration policy.
– If the 10,000* ‘ had settled- on the -land and had not entered intó competition with artisans in the cities, I would be prepared tq say it was a good immigration policy; but I cannot be convinced that such is the? case when 10,000 arrive in a State, and during the same period, 8,000 leave.
– The honorable senatoris not suggesting that the new arrivals, were superior to those who left?
– I am not speaking of superiority, but showing the movement of the .”population. The object of immigration is to add to our populations; in order to develop our resources.-
– But according to the honorable senator’s figures there has been a net increase of 2,000.
– If that is the net increase, 1 am doubtful whether it will be successful for a long time in opening up vast tracts of unoccupied country in. Australia.
– Have not a majority of the new arrivals settled on the land?
– A good number; but I think that a number of our own people have been displaced.
– Prom rural occupations ?
– Some of them may have left the land. To make good the deficiency of 6,549 in the natural increase of population, the immigration policy has been invoked, and the altered position may be judged by the following figures. The population in December, 1919, was 330,819, and the excess of births over deaths for 1920-22 was 14,052. Adding the number of immigrants for the same period, namely, ‘ 9,113, to the excess births over deaths, we have a total of 23,165. The population that should have been in Western Australia on 31st December, 1922, was 353,984. The actual population at that time, however, was 343,032, so that the number of people lost to the State was 10,952.
– Where did they go?
– 1 do not know. I am simply pointing out the result of the present immigration policy, and am. showing that its continuation will not assist us to develop our resources.
Senator Pearce, in reply to Senator Gardiner yesterday, mentioned the White Australia policy. I have here an interesting return in connexion with the Immigration Act. It shows for the year 1921 the number of persons refused admission to the Commonwealth, the number who. passed the dictation .test, the number admitted without being asked to pass the dictation test, and the departures of coloured persons from the Commonwealth. In that year there were 84,944 arrivals of various nationalities, including Austrians, Belgians, Bulgarians, Danes, Dutch, Finns, French, Germans, Greeks, Italians, Jugo-Slavs, Maltese, Poles, Portuguese, Roumanians, Russians, Scandinavians, Spaniards, Swiss, and other
Europeans, North Americans, South Americans, American negroes, West Indians, Arabs, Chinese, Cingalese, Filipinos, Hindoos, Japanese, Javanese, Malays, Syrians, Pacific Islanders, &c. I do not think that the admission .of coloured people will help our White Australia policy.
– The honorable senator did not give the respective numbers.
– I did” not do so because it is not my desire to detain the Senate at any great length; but if the honorable senator wishes further information, I will supply it. The number of Italians is 1,278; North Americans, 1,577 ; and Chinese, 1,833. Is there anything wrong with those figures?
– How could the Chinese obtain admission without paying the tax?
– They may have passed the dictation test.
– The honorable senator is dealing with Chinese who were in the Commonwealth before the White Australia policy was formulated. They periodically visit China, and. are entitled under the law to return to the Commonwealth.
– I am dealing with persons who were admitted without passing the dictation test. At any rate, there were 84,000 people admitted, the majority of whom were riot of British origin. ‘
– You did not quote the respective figures, excepting those relating to the Chinese and the Americans.
– I will read the whole of the figures. They are as follows: - Australians, 5; Belgians, , 73; Bulgarians, 1; Danes,- 201; Dutch, 321; Finns, 128; French, 529; Germans, 76; Greeks, 258 ; .Italians, 1,278; Jugo-Slavs, 105; Maltese, 132; Poles, 51; Russians, 100; Scandinavians, 487; Spaniards, 83; Swiss, 149; other Europeans, 110; North Americans, 1,577; South Americans, 35; American Negroes, 6 ; West Indians, 7 ; Arabs, 4; Chinese, 1,833; Cingalese, 19; Filipinos, 13; Hindoos, 163 ; Japanese, 282; Javanese, 6; Malays, 44; Syrians, 39.
– Those figures comprise only two . or three thousand. Where are the 84,000? What is the number of British persons ?
– Two hundred and one, according to this report.
– Why, I met more than that number yesterday.
– I am quoting from the returns placed on the table of the Senate.
– You said 82,000, arid you have detailed- only some 3,000.
– The honorable senator is making a mistake. There are certain sections of the Immigration Act to which those figures relate. The number of British people who came into Australia during- the year and who, of course, would not have to pass the dictation test, would be- some 82,000, less those figures you have quoted.
– All these persons were admitted without passing the dictation test.
– They come under sections of the Act under which there must be some justification for their admission.
– - Those figures are very misleading.
– I am quoting from an official return.
– Each . of those sets pf figures refers to some section of the Immigration’ Act, and the honorable senator can ascertain from the Act under which category each set comes. Some would be students, or men like Mr. Sastri, who came here on a mission. They are allowed to enter the Commonwealth under a permit, and, after a time, take their, departure.
– I will peruse the Act and ascertain the exact position. I. do not wish to mislead honorable senators.
Senator Guthrie, ‘when moving the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply, referred to the sale of the Commonwealth Woollen Mills, and this matter was also mentioned, yesterday, by Senator Gardiner. The sum of £155, J00, obtained for the mill, certainly does not represent its real value.
– Has the honorable senator a. list ‘ of the shareholders in the company who purchased the mill.
– It was really a gift to the purchasers. I remember when Senator Pearce, as Deputy Leader of the Labour party, then sitting in opposition, looked forward to the day when Government woollen mills would be established. When he became the first Labour Minister for Defence, effect was given to that ideal, and I well remember how- he boasted, and rightly so, throughout the Commonwealth of the fact that we now had not only Government woollen mills, but clothing, harness and saddlery factories, and a small arms factory.
-‘- For the war.
– All this was clone in peace time, and Senator Pearce lost no opportunity of boasting of the achievement. He holds a different view to-day. He acquiesces in the disposal of the mill for a miserable sum of money.
– Would you like to buy some of the shares in the mill? They are on the market, and are available at par.
– So far, I have not dabbled in shares.
– Apparently you are not “ game “ to buy some of these shares.
– We shall get the mill again at the price which the syndicate paid for it.
– Another question that’ is agitating the minds of the people is the continued existence in Austrafia of pernicious rings and combines, as the result of which the cost of living was 50 per cent, higher in June of this year than in 1914. The Government have not done’ anything to meet the situation.
– How can they ? They are the servants of the combines.
– It is quite true that the Government have not done anything, because they are the product of these pernicious combinations. They would’ not be in office to-day but for the support accorded to them by the “ beef barons “ of Queensland and the merchants of Flinderslane. This is the Bruce Big Business Government - three “ B’s “ - so nothing is being done to combat the big business combines that exist in Australia. . The prices of butter, meat, and other essential commodities are all soaring. When there was a drought in the land, the price of butter was high. When the drought broke it went still higher.
– This is winter time, you know.
– Of course. There is always some excuse for the high price of butter and other foodstuffs. In times of drought, producers had to sell’ stock at almost any price; but the consumers did not benefit. They are not benefiting to-day; and we have the spectacle which was referred to in another place, of Australia exporting meat, and, at the same time, importing beef from New Zealand.
– That is not the worst phase of the question. The Government are actually paying an export bonus to the “ beef barons.”
– As my honorable friend has reminded me, the “beef barons “ of Australia are getting a bonus on all beef they export.
– Who are these “ beef barons “ I should like to see one.
– Dalgety’s, for one.
– The honorable senator need not look very far from his own seat to find one. Every necessary commodity to-day is dearer than it was in pre-war days. Australian butter is selling at ls. 6d. per lb. in London, and in Perth, the other day, it was 2s. 4d. Some years ago, when butter was at famine prices, the late lamented Frank Tudor, who was then Minister for Customs, took very good care to prevent the export of that commodity. He was the only Minister for Customs we ever had who was courageous enough to take action to keep down the price of butter to the Australian consumer ; and, quite apart from other considerations, I often wish he had been, spared, in the hope that some day he might have had an opportunity to do so again.
– I think cows were sold freely in New South Wales when the Government fixed the price of butter.
– My honorable friend’s interjection does not dispose of the fact that the price of butter in Australia is excessively high in comparison with London values for the same article.
– But the honorable senator must know that drought conditions developed after that butter had been exported.
– I have no doubt that if the honorable senator will keep going he will discover what may be to him a satisfactory explanation for this extraordinary state of affairs. It is strange that while the cost of living is steadily increasing, the captains of industry throughout the Commonwealth are clamoring for a reduction in wages and a lengthening of the hours, of work, and industrial tribunals . are yielding to the clamour.
– Do you call the dairymen captains of, industry?
– I am dealing in general terms with the high cost of living, and throwing blame upon the present Government for failing to apply the remedy. The honorable senator knows very well that it takes more than the dairyman to feed him. Fortunately for him, he has no occasion to trouble about the high cost of living.
– Wages are much higher now than prior to the war. ,
– They have npt risen in proportion to the increase in the cost of living. If the Honorable senator had to clothe and feed a family of four ‘ on a wage of £4 10s. a week now, as compared with £3 10s. in pre-war days, he would soon realize the difficulties .of the present situation.
– I do not want to see low wages in this country.
– I do riot think the honorable senator does; I was merely replying to his interjection. It is well known that wages are higher than they were prior to the war, but the increased cost of living has risen more sharply.
– It naturally follows that if you increase the cost of production the advance in the - cost of living must be greater in proportion.
– It is not production that is the cause of the increase in the cost of living so much as the greed for increased ‘ profits. .That is the trouble.
-: - I am sure the honorable senator would not like ‘to be a dairy farmer at the present time. He would not talk like that if he were.
- Senator Guturie knows quite well that the dairy farmer is not the only factor in the present high cost of living. Let us now direct our attention to the position of the “ poor “ landlord, who is ‘charging extortionate rents for his .houses.
– I agree with you there.
– I admit that the Constitution prevents this Parliament from legislating with regard to house rents, but I think it would be wise if fair rents courts were established in the different States to check the greed of landlords. We have arbitration for the settlement of industrial disputes, and surely there is good reason why the question of rents should be determined by a competent tribunal. Evidence in connexion with industrial disputes is placed before the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court, but in the case of rents, whichconstitute a very important factor in the present high cost of living, the landlord is the sole arbiter. How can a man on a miserable pittance of £4 or £5 per week pay25s. or 30s: a week rent for his house and keep his family in decency and comfort? Despite the fact that the war was won by the Allies, there is as much misery now as before the war. Profiteers who battened on the wives and children of men who were fighting for this country, rare to-day battening to the same extent on the men who survived that terrible ordeal. We were told that the war would make the world a paradise for the working man;but so far from thatbeing so, thegeneralconditions of the working man to-day are more like a hell than a paradise.
Attention was directed by Senator Gardiner yesterday to the recent conference of Ministers in Melbourne. Those gentlemen went too far. Their, resolutions with regard to constitutional issues trespassed on the preserves of this Parliament. They affected to determine matters which can be settled only by this Parliament. When the Leader of the . Senate (Senator Pearce) was in the cool shades of Opposition, he protested very loudly against State Ministers daring to meet in conference,and deal with questions affecting the Commonwealth. But the times have changed.
– Some men get wiser as theygrow older.
– Your wisdom was never in doubt. You were always wise.
– I remind the honorable senator that he must address the Chair.
– I am endeavouring to do that, Mr. President, and I suggest that you keep an eye on the Minister, as well as on me.
– The honorable senator must not quibble.
– I am just replying to you, Mr. President. I say you have two eyes, and , you should use both of them.
Returning to the conference of Ministers, I notice that an endeavour is tobe made to preventemployees of the State Government Departments from having access to the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration for a settlement of their industrialdisputes. The High Court determined that they had this right, and if this Government want to, insure industrial peace, they should not interfere with thatdecision by taking any action that will prevent State employees from placing their case before the Court. What was the cry when the movement for Federation was abroad? Was it not oneflag, one people, one destiny? Why should we say to a man who is working as a carpenter or as an engineer for a private employer, “Brown, you can : go to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court for a settlement to your industrial disputes,” and then say to Smith or Robinson, a carpenter or engineer in the employ of a State Government, “ You shall not go to the Court created by the National Parliament with the consent of the people of Australia “ ? Does that represent one flag, one people, one destiny ? I say advisedly that nothing is more likely to endanger industrial peace in Australia than this attempt to prevent those citizens off the ‘Commonwealth from having access to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court.
– Then for what do you want the State Court?
– I am a believer in the principle of arbitration for the settlement of industrial disputes, and I would prefer to have one Court only, with Deputies presiding over the tribunal in each State.
– Is it not a fact that after mature consideration, the proposal that the Federal, authority should have power to deal with State activities was excluded from one referendum ?
– That I cannot say, hut I know that my honorable friend and I, in 1911, and I think in 1913 also, when we were advocating increased powers for the Commonwealth Parliament, urgedthat State instrumentalities should be part and parcel of the Commonwealth industrial power.
– That was on the first occasion.
– On the second, too, I think. But whether it was omitted on the second referendum or not, the High. Court has since determined that we have these powers under our Constitution.
I believe in the principle of settling disputes by means of arbitration, but our present system of, arbitration has proved to be too cumbersome. It costs the organizations too much to submit their cases to the Commonwealth Arbitration Court.
– The honorable senator does not approve’ of the duplication ?
– 1 am referring now to cases sent direct from the organizations to the Commonwealth tribunal. The timber workers have ‘been fighting a case for eight or nine months. Mr. J. B. Holman, general president of the Timber Workers Union, and secretary to the Western Australian branch of that union has been in Melbourne since last October engaged in presenting their case to the Commonwealth Arbitration Court.
– And the award, when given, -will expire on the 31st December next. It is an absolute absurdity.
– Why -did the workers come to the Commonwealth Arbitration Court? Why did they not utilize their State tribunal?
– Because “ they expect to get a better deal from the Commonwealth tribunal. I use the word “ deal “ in its larger sense. It is a greater advantage to have one -common rule for the whole of Australia rather than to have different rules for various ‘States.
– Ignoring the varying conditions in the different States?
– We could have a Commonwealth Court with Deputies sitting in the different States, who would have a knowledge of local conditions. TheGovernment could make the arbitration machinery much easier to work and much less costly to the parties. If we are to preserve industrial peace in Australia, our arbitration _ system must be improved. Arbitration tribunals must be more easily approached. I admit the annoyance occasioned to employers through long drawn out hearings. Naturally the cost of these protracted proceedings is injurious to them, although they are better able to stand it than are the workers.
– A post-dated award sometimes proves ruinous to an employer.
– I have not yet heard of any employer being ruined through an Arbitration Court award.
I am opposed to the Government’s proposal to place the control of the Commonwealth Bank in the hands of a Board of Directors. The Labour party was responsible for the establishment of this Bank, in the teeth of the opposition of the party to which honorable senators opposite belong. They predicted that the Bank would be a failure from the start, but under the efficient management of Sir Denison Miller, whose death we all regret, it proved to be a blessing to Australia. It would be a mistake to place the control of the Bank in the hands of a Board. I prefer that the control should be exercised by one individual.
I hope that the increase the Government propose to give to invalid and old-age pensioners will be substantial. An increase that would not make the pension £1 a week would be useless.
– Not altogether useless.
– It would not be of very much assistance to the pensioners. It would be a great help, of course, to them, but a pension of £1 a week would not provide them with many luxuries.
– I believe that the increase will cost the Commonwealth over £1,000,000 per ‘year.
-! would rather see the money spent in this way than in many other directions I could mention. It is better to spend money in making a little more comfortable than they are to-day, the declining days of those who have made Australia what it is, rather than to spend it on weapons of destruction. I. hope that the Government will make the increase retrospective for a certain period. The aged people have had a very had time during the last few years, when prices have soared so high, and it would be only an act of justice on the .part of the Government to make the increase retrospective.
The electoral machinery under which senators were elected at the last election is not equitable; it is cumbersome, unwieldly, and also confuting to the average elector. The sooner it is scrapped the better it will be for every one. I can speak with experience of how it works.
– The honorable senator has no reason to complain of it.
– It -is “fiftyfifty” in my case. Previously it put me out of the Senate, and at the last election it put me in again. Therefore^ I am not’ complaining in a personal sense. I do not think that honorable senators who were responsible, for its enactment would defend it .to-day with the earnestness that they displayed prior to the general election of 1919.
– It is “ unco “ precarious.
– .In one State they dare not risk it. There was no suggestion for an alteration of the law when I, along with other Labour men, was not successful in being elected in 1919, but as soon as a few Labour members got back to the Senate as the result of the 1922 election, there was an immediate clamour for an alteration. As a matter of fact, the electoral system, like a boomerang, had come back and hit its authors. There are a few honorable senators, including my friend, the Leader of the Senate - Senator Pearce - who” are probably anxious as to how it will work at the next appeal to the electors.
– I am losing no sleep about it.
– I do not suppose that the honorable senator is doing so ; he probably will take the fence when he comes to it. ; but, if hf had been a candidate at the last election, he would have had ample opportunity for sleep, because he would no longer have ‘been a. member of this Senate.
– That prophecy has been uttered every time I have stood for election.
– However, the system needs alteration. I cannot suggest one that would be perfect; but” I ‘ think that proportional voting would be a decided’ improvement on the present system of electing senators.
I hope that during this session the composite Ministry which has come into power in so curious a way, and certainly has not the confidence of the people of the country, though it may have the confidence of the majority of honorable members in another place, will refrain from using the “ gag “ and the guillotine. A few days ago we had the spectacle of the “ gag “ being used in another place when there was no necessity for ib. I hope that when measures come to this Chamber it will be conspicuous by its absence, particularly when we are considering measures dealing with finance and questions of importance to the nation. I do not know why the Government have taken such a course. I know that they desire ‘to close the doors of Parliament in order that the Prime Minister may attend an Imperial Conference in London, and while I agree that it is imperative that the Commonwealth should be represented at that Conference, I do not think that the National Parliament of Australia should close its doors because the Prime Minister is away. When the composite Ministry was established, we were informed that the Leaders of the two wings -were to have equal rights. That being so, why should not Dr. Earle Page, act as Prime Minister while Mr. Bruce is away in London ? Canno’t Mr. Bruce trust the .other wing of the Ministry ? Or does he think that no one in the Ministry but himself is capable of controlling the House?. How-, ever, whatever may be the reason actuating the Government, it is not right that the business of this country should stand over for five or six months until ‘-Mr. Bruce returns from Great Britain. If, unfortunately, he ‘should be called upon, to pay the debt of Nature - and 1 hope that date will be far distant - the business of this Parliament and of the country would have to be carried on, and it ought to be carried on while he is away in London. I hope that the Government will reconsider their decision to close Parliament during his absence, because in the little time at our disposal it will be impossible to discuss as they should be discussed the measures indicated in the Governor-General’s Speech.
.- I trust that honorable senators will tolerate the shortcomings of a new senator.. I realize that no one pays much regard to what is said on an. occasion of this kind, but there are certain matters to which I wish to refer. I do not propose to criticise the present occupants of .the Treasury bench very severely, or to say anything disagreeable- concerning them; because whatever we on this side of the Chamber may think, they have been placed in the position they occupy By the votes of the people, and we must wait until there is a change of public opinion.
I extend my sympathy to the Government because they are shouldered with the responsibility for the sins of omission and commission resulting from the actions of the Nationalist Administration during the war period. Any one who followed the events must have been struck with the awful waste and extravagance that went on during that period. The administration of the War Service Homes and of the shipping business - to mention only a couple of items - landed the country in extreme trouble, from which this Government will have to endeavour to extricate it.
Prior to entering this Senate I had had considerable experience as a member of the Tasmanian State Parliament.I was informed by an honorable senator the other day that that did not count for much, because it was about on a par with service in a municipal council. In Tasmania we are a small community. We are an extremely proud but not an arrogant people. We have sent to this Parliament men who have been able to do good work for the Commonwealth. I say to that honorable senator, who has had a long term in this Parliament - with doubtful success - that the representation from our little State has compared very favorably with that from the larger States. I intend to defend Tasmania when such statements as that to which I have referred are made. I followed the Federal movement in its early stages, and I believe that the real function of this Senate has been entirely lost sight of by reason of the very strict party discipline that has been introduced into it. I witnessed a demonstration of that in this Senate yesterday. I saw the highest office in the gift of the Chamber made the plaything of party when you, sir, were elected by eleven members of the Senate out of a voting strength of thirty-six senators. I think that there is room for material alteration.
– The honorable senator is not in order in making statements of that character. That did not occur in this Chamber.
-That is how it appeared to me. I believe that such officers should be appointed in open Chamber.
– I remind the honorable senator Chat that is exactly what did occur. While he is at liberty to refer to these matters, he must not reflect on a decision of this Senate. The ballot was taken in the Senate, and the result was publicly announced in this Chamber. The honorable senatorhas no right to misrepresent the position.
– I do not want to do anything which would be contrary to the practice of the Senate. The fact remains that there were twenty-two senators who evidently desired to have a different senator occupying that position.
– The Leader of your party announced that he had your vote in his pocket for disposal.
– He did not announce any such thing. The Minister (Senator Pearce) has done more than any other man to perpetuate these tricks and this vicious party discipline in a Chamber which they never should have entered.
Let us get away from the subject if it as a disagreeable one. I believe that this Senate was intended originally to be the guardian of State rights and tobe a House of review. There never was any intention to have imported into it that strict party discipline which exists in another place.
– The trouble is not in this Senate, but that the electors are divided into parties, and so long as they remain divided this Senate will be divided.
– I want the Senate clearly to understand that I have beenreturned as a member of the Labour party. I have belonged to the Labour party during the last twenty-five years. I have represented it in the ‘State Parliament of Tasmania as a Labour Minister and as the Leader of the Opposition. I belong to Che same Labour movement which carried those grand measures of reform when Labour was in power in the Federal Parliament. We are told that the Labour party has changed. To me the Labour movement has the same objective that it had twenty years ago, and it is aiming at the same goal. I have no time for the. “ red-r agger:” The Labour movement must be controlled by the rank and file throughout Australia . No few men will compel me to depart from what I believe to be the ideals, the objectives, and the goal of .the Labour movement. During my term in this Senate, I propose to fight for the interests and the rights of my State. No party and no power will deter mei from that objective. Some Federal members display a tendency to belittle the sovereign rights of the States. We have to recognise that the Commonwealth is dependent upon the maintenance of the sovereignty of the. States. It should not be the object of this Government to weaken the power of the States; being dependent upon the productive capacity of the people, their object ought to be to see that the rights of the States are not only preserved, but strengthened in various directions.
I believe that the time has arrived when we should have an alteration in our present system of responsible government. What happens under existing conditions? One set of men occupies the Treasury bench and endeavours to bring into operation’ a certain policy, while those who sit opposite do everything they possibly can to prevent that being done. I believe in the organization of parties, both inside and outside, but I want to see Parliament made supreme instead of allowing full power to remain in the hands of the members of the Executive. Under existing conditions, the Government bring down their proposals and say to their supporters, “ This is our policy; we stand or fall by that policy. If you refuse to support us in carrying these measures, which we consider to be vital, we will no longer carry on the government of the country.”
– That does not often happen.
– The honorable senator knows that, under our present system, there are many occasions when some honorable senators would like to take a different course from that which they are compelled to take in order to save the country the expense, and themselves the personal discomfort, of an appeal to the electors. We might as well be frank about it; the followers of the Government are bound to support -the Government’s vital measures or face the people.
– There are so few vital measures.
– Evidently a vital measure was discussed in the Ministerial Caucus yesterday, and it was made a party measure.
– All your measures are discussed in Caucus, and you have no discretion in regard to- them subsequently.
– We read in the papers this morning that there was a majority of only one in favour of a certain course which was agreed to in the Ministerial Caucus yesterday. There is nothing to be gained by shutting our eyes to the facts. We on this side hold our Caucus meetings, and on platform matters support that action which is decided upon by the majority. Very often we vote against the dictates of our consciences in order to keep our Government in power. The honorable senator (Senator Reid) has done the same thing many times, and he will do it again. . I am a believer in elective Ministries. I believe that, after the country has spoken, ‘ and members come to this Parliament, they ought to select from ‘both sides an .executive to carry on the administration of the country, with a security of tenure for the full term of the Parliament.
– Does the honorable senator believe that they would select from both sides?
– Certainly they would, under the proportional system of voting.
– (What nonsense.
– The honorable senator does not quite understand the position. If the proportional system of voting were adopted, each section in this Senate would be represented.
– Talk sense.
– The honorable senator is hopeless in ‘this respect.
– I admit that I am hopeless^ . on- that point.,
– I do not desire to go into details. There is no necessity to have a Cabinet decision on very many questions. With an elective Ministry the Leader of the Opposition could bring down a Workmen’s Compensation Bill, which he would not have to submit to Cabinet, but simply to his masters, the Parliament. If that were done, we would be taking away the power from party, and placing it in « the hands of Parliament, which should be supreme.
– Under such a system, would not the Treasurer be an absolute autocrat?
– The Minister knows, as well as I do, that this system has been successfully in operation in Switzerland for many years. There they have elective Ministries.
– Not elected under a system df proportional representation.
– Yes; and every party is represented in the Swiss Parliament.
– Under the proportional system, such as you have in Tasmania, people who visit that State are charged 2s. per head.
– The honorable senator is conflicting the poll tax with proportional representation. I do not wish to go into details of the question at this juncture, but honorable senators are, of course, aware that the British Government recently drafted a Constitution for the Irish Free State, which is the most modern Constitution in existence. In it provision is made for elective Ministries. It is distinctly provided in that Constitution that Ministers shall be responsible to Parliament, and to Parliament alone. Ministers may be defeated, but the defeat of Ministers, or of a Ministerial measure, in such circumstances would not mean the defeat of the Government and an appeal to the electors.
– The Government elected under that system does not seem to be tremendously popular.
– We are all hoping that matters in Ireland will settle down, and that when the Irish Free State is properly equipped with the necessary machinery the position will improve. Personally,. I wish the Irish Free State the best of luck. Elective Ministries are not popular, either with the present Ministerial party or the party to which I belong. On many occasions I have supported in the Tasmanian Parliament the introduction of the principle, and it is a movement with which I have been associated for many years.
– The method adopted in electing the President of this Chamber in one room was far from satisfactory.
– That is a somewhat disagreeable topic,, and one on which the discussion need not be renewed’. Although we had recently an elective Ministry in Tasmania,, the real principle of an elective Government was not observed, be:- cause Ministers were selected from only one side of the House. The result was that many members were dissatisfied and the scheme was unsuccessful. Senator’ Bakhap, one of my colleagues - whose absence on account of ill-health I am sure we all regret - has indorsed the principle I am now advocating. Although it is a reform that I do not expect to Bee brought into operation in my time, I believe that the people of Australia will eventually realize that the present system is wasteful and extravagant, and that elective Ministries would be the means of purifying the political atmosphere.
– Does the honorable senator suggest a Government elected from the whole House?
– Yes. Why should a member of a party which is in a minority be denied the right of rendering full service to his country when he has the requisite administrative ability 1 Any member, whether a supporter of the Nationalist or Labour party, should have the right to give full service to his country in any capacity.
– Does the honorable senator think that what he is advocating would cure the evil of party politics ?
– Party organizations inside and outside of Parliament could be continued as at present; but the fear of a dissolution would be removed, and members would be able to follow the dictates of their conscience, instead of being, practically forced, as they are under the present system, to support a Government whether its actions are right or wrong.
It is) not my intention to deal at great length with the financial position of the Commonwealth, because, when the Budget is presented- - and I hope it will be shortly - we shall be able to go very fully into the question. In regard to the conferences’ which are now being, held between the Commonwealth and States Ministers and officials, it is> very doubtful whether the decisions which have been submitted, and presumably accepted, will be an improvement upon the old system. Whilst I a-m a1 member ofthis Parliament I do not wish to do anything, to impair national efficiency,, and I am anxious to give Parliament full scope within its own sphere to carry out its national obligations. I. am1 also anxious that the States shall have- the right to develop their- resources in order to- assist the Commonwealth. Government in meeting its commitments. At the inception of Federation there were very few who believed that the Commonwealth Government would make an incursion into the field of direct taxation in the matter of income tax.
– Why not?
– If we want to cripple the States, of course we can.
– Not at all. That is nonsense.
– Income taxation should be resorted to by the Federal Parliament only in times of national emergency.
– How could we meet our obligations?
– Our obligations so far have been met, and we have an overflowing Treasury.
– And £13,000,000 from direct taxation.
– But we should be able to renounce our claims to direct taxation and still finance the Commonwealth. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) adopted a rather autocratic attitude when he said, in effect, to the State representatives, “ These are our proposals, and, whether you like them or not, we shall ask the Federal Parliament to agree to ‘them. You must accept them willy-nilly.” I have very serious objections to the proposed alteration, but if Tasmania is satisfied that under the new arrangement that State will be able to meet its obligations, I shall support the proposals. I should, however, like to stress this point: After all deliberations and calculations had been made by the various Commonwealth and State Ministers and officials, according to the press reports, we find that the Federal authorities have made an enormous blunder, which now renders it possible for the States to refuse to agree to the proposed alterations. Surely the Federal officials should have been able to give the position as it really is to the States. Many of the States’ Governments were on the eve of submitting their proposals to their respective Parliaments, when they received an intimation from the Prime Minister that a mistake had been made, and that further investigations were necessary. It is very serious to find Federal officials making such blunders, necessitating as they do the reconsideration of these important problems.
Senator Needham referred to the question of industrial arbitration, but failed to say whether he approved, or not, of the present duplication of industrial machinery. I understand, however, from what he said, that he is not in favour of duplication. I am strongly opposed to our present system of Commonwealth and State Courts, and, like Senator Needham, am a believer in the Federal Arbitration Court. The present difficulties could, however, be overcome by sub- stituting for State Industrial Courts and Wages Boards a Commonwealth Court, with State Judges as Deputies. If that were done, the whole of our State industrial machinery could be scrapped. In those circumstances the industrial organizations and the employers would achieve better results than are obtained under our existing system. After all, the employer, as well as the employee, is entitled to some consideration in the settlement of industrial turmoil, -and I hope to see the day when we shall be able to evolve a - scheme under which we can dispense with duplication of industrial Acts. That can be done only, as Senator Needham suggested, by the extension of the authority and power of the Federal Court.
– The States would not agree.
– The States will not agree unless some system is substituted under which they can be given their rights; but if the Federal Court was so constituted that State Judges, with a knowledge of local affairs, could be ap- pointed as Deputies, no objection would e raised.
– Deputies making a Federal award for their own States?
– I see no difficulty in that.
– There is a constitutional difficulty in the way.
– It is quite permissible under the Federal Constitution.
– If the States agree to it.
– Of course, the States have to agree.
– But they will not.
– If it is the only way to overcome the difficulty, surely, rather than have a continuance of the existing unsatisfactory arrangements, the States would agree.
– In Queensland, the workers prefer the State Arbitration Court.
– In Tasmania the workers prefer Wages Boards to the Arbitration Court. More reductions of wages have taken place under the Federal Arbitration Court awards than under the State Wages Boards of Tasmania.
– Many sections of the workers in Tasmania could not get Wages Boards.
– They are mostly provided for now.
– Quite a number of our unions could not get Wages Boards, and have consequently approached the Federal Arbitration Court.
– I know that the miners are working under the Federal Arbitration Court, hut most of tho employees in Tasmania are now provided for under Wages Boards. The workers have had fewer reductions under the Wages Board system in Tasmania than under the Federal Arbitration Court.
– And the expense is less.
– That is so. There is considerable expense attached to setting the machinery of arbitration in motion.
– It requires to be cheapened.
– I do not know whether any proposal of the nature I have suggested has been considered by the State and the Federal Governments. The proposals concerning industrial arbitration which were discussed at the Premiers’ Conference are not likely to be agreed, to by either Federal or State authorities. I have urged in the Tasmanian Parliament the desirableness of extending the functions of the Federal Arbitration Court, but before anything could be accomplished in that direction the consent of the different States would have to be obtained. I am quite prepared to accept any reasonable proposition which would alleviate the present position and give more satisfactory results than are being obtained.
I view the question of Defence through spectacles different from those used by : some of my colleagues. Notwithstanding the high ideals and sentimental aspirations of those who believe that war will eventually be abolished, I am very doubtful, while human nature remains as it is, whether peace will ever reign supreme in our national affairs. Until the end of time war will be waged throughout the world.
– Why not have an International Court of Arbitration ?
– It is all very well to preach that gospel.
– We wish it would have some effect.
– ‘One of the greatest pacifists of the war period, who held meetings every night to try to raise enthusiasm for the abolition of war, was seen one evening walking along the street with a beautiful black eye, and when asked what had caused the discolouration, he replied that the other chap had received one, too. That mode of retaliation is invariably adopted. If’ we are to preserve the standing of the British Empire in the community of nations we must prepare to defend ourselves against possible aggression. I have been something of a student during my lifetime, and I prophesy that the next seat of war will be the Pacific.
– What an optimist is the honorable senator!
– I detest war; but it is our duty to face the position. The Imperial Government, in a wild gamble, is scrapping warships to the number of 600 or 700, when France has definitely refused to agree to the Washington Conference terms.
– France has not refused to agree. They have not yet ratified the agreement, but the Premier has promised to submit the ratification to Parliament.
– I do not think Italy has agreed. It is a dangerous gamble on the part of the Imperial Government.
– Japan and the United States of America are carrying out the agreement.
– America is not doing so. That country is building more ships to-day than she has built for years.
– The United States of America Government has stopped the construction of all capital ships, and is carrying out the terms of the treaty in respect of other construction.
-The United States of America claims to have the largest Navy to-day. That was not the case before the war.
– She has a stronger navy than Britain. The disquieting feature of the Washington Conference is the attitude adopted by France, which will not scrap submarines, and insists on the right to construct an air fleet. The British Empire is vulnerable only by water, and if it falls it will be by suffering defeat on the sea. It is a dangerous policy for Great Britain to adopt, to so weaken her Fleet that she will be unable to defend not only the British Isles, but the Dominions. . What is Australia doing? The Labour party established our Navy and the Citizen Defence Forces, which made it possible for this country to wage war 16,000 miles away from its shores. We have scrapped our ships, and are making no effort to take a share in the defence of the Empire. The seat of the next war will be close to the shores of Australia. What is this country doing to prepare for such a calamity?
– We are not even training our men.
SenatorGrant. - The Nationalist party is in office.
– The honorable senator is on the wrong side of the Senate.
– I inform the honorable member that I am on the right side of the Senate, and that I dislike war just as much as he does. I havea boy, and, although I would advise him not to be combative, and look for trouble, yet I expect him to be ready to defend himself whennecessary. Australia should notbe in such a position that she would be at the mercy of a trained army of invaders. Men should be trained and prepared to defendthemselves in case of war. We have nonavy at a time when we should be building capital ships. Throughout this vast country there are about two and a half people to the square mile.
– The proportion is not even that.
– I am including the dependencies. Another country, not far from here, has over 300 persons to the square mile. This is a seriousmenace, not only to thenational safety, but to the industrial supremacyofAus tralia. I have been a worker all my life and an advocate of the working class, but there are different ways of interpreting: Labour sentiment and platforms. Sometimes I differ from other members of my party, but I believe my interpretation to be correct. I shall stand always behind the real ideals of Labour. It is better not to mention the names of countries which are likely to be a menace to Australia. Subsistence is difficult in Japan, and she has to find a market for manufactured products, otherwise her teeming millions will starve. An outlet for the country’s surplus population will have to be found. Japan is fast becoming a large manufacturing nation, and, consequently, will have to search for markets all over the world. This will be a greater cause for war as time passes. A few years ago Great Britain was the world’s manuf acturer,but to-day she is being supplanted by America and Germany.. The safety of Australia depends upon a solution of the problem of the struggle for markets. Japan will have to find markets or starve.. When a large continent like Australia, sparsely populated, is adjacent to a small country like Japan, with her hungry millions, it behoves us, as members -of this Parliament, no matter to what partywebelong, to makeevery effort to preserve this country for Australians and the while races. A man who hasno pride in his race and country might as well be dead. “Every man should’ take some pride in his country, and beable to takeup arms intelligently and effectively against an army of invasion. It is not the policy of the present Government to providean adequate naval defence.
– That is not correct.
-I donot want to see the Governmentlaunching outupon anywild and useless naval expenditure, but Irealize that we have an enormous responsibility to thepeopleof Australia, and we shall have to face it.
– Itmust be as part of some Imperial scheme.
– Yes. It shouldbe our object tobring the outlying portion of the Empire closer together. Under present conditions we do not want isolation or separation. We want todo somethingthat will preserve the unity of the British nation.
– That means united action and conferences.
– That is so. It is possible that in this matter I am voicing opinions not usually heard from this side of the Chamber.
– Come over here.
– I have no intention of doing that. I have long held strong convictions upon this subject, and nothing will prevent me from travelling along the path I have marked out for myself. Bat we will leave this question of defence for the time being. I realize that very much may be said upon this subject, but time will not permit of my dealing further with it at this stage.
I turn now to the question of immigration. I was glad to hear Senator Needham’s remarks this afternoon. I indorse what he. said, fox ‘I am a believer in immigration. We cannot hold this country if we are to depend solely upon the natural increase of population. With our vast possibilities and undeveloped resources, the natural increase in population is too slow to be safe. We must introduce people who are prepared to go back into the country and develop the magnificent resources of this portion of the Empire. I am strongly opposed to any policy that will lead to the introduction of undesirable immigrants who will come into competition with the big army of unskilled labour in our cities. As to competition with skilled workers, that is another matter with which I may have an opportunity of dealing later.
– But what do you think about the skilled workers?
– To put it briefly, I think we are not training nearly enough apprentices. How can we maintain our position as a young nation and develop our manufacturing industries without an adequate supply of skilled labour?
– An increase in their number would make more work for the unskilled labourer.
– I agree with the Honorary Minister.
– There are plenty of engineers - skilled workers - in Australia, and not enough work for them.
– Whatever other honorable senators may think, I have held the opinion for a number of years that we are not training a sufficient num ber of artisans, and the outlook is far from satisfactory. Under present conditions, an artisan’s son, when he reaches the age at which he ought to go to a trade, cannot get in anywhere, so he is forced into the ranks of unskilled labourers. In my own State many workers have been struggling to .get their boys apprenticed to a trade, and in many cases, I am sorry to say, they have not been successful, although there an employer may take one apprentice for one journeyman. In New South Walesa I think, the conditions have been made more liberal quite recently, for I understand that, in an award in connexion with the brick trade, to quote an example, Judge Beeby decided that there should be practically no limitation on the employment of apprentices. I believe, however, that an inspector has the right to interfere if, in his opinion, an excessive number of apprentices is being employed. Be that as it may, T think that we ought to train a greater number of apprentices in all of our more important trades, and by this means insure the development of our manufacturing industries, which have been treated liberally enough in the matter of Tariff protection. For many years I have been an ardent Protectionist - almost a Prohibitionist - but I have modified my views considerably since the conditions changed as the result of the great world war. Australia, as yet, is not a manufacturing country. We depend largely upon primary production, 75 per cent, of our total income being derived from our primary industries, and only 25 per cent, from our manufacturing industries. Since’ this is so, I want to
Bee a policy that will make for the fuller development of primary production throughout Australia. The Tariff does not give that encouragement. In many cases the primary producer is heavily penalized. I quote the mining industry as a case in point. Unfortunately, for many years I have been associated with mining, and I say, with regret, that in the framing of the last Tariff that industry was almost entirely forgotten. Substantial duties must be paid upon all machinery and plant required for mining operations, while the product has to be sold in the open markets of the world.
– Mining, as an industry, is fading away.
– Unfortunately, it ie a diminishing asset. Our primary producers are similarly handicapped. Every article that the farmer buys - I believe some Tariff concession has been made lately - carries a high rate of duty, which falls directly upon those engaged in the industry. If I ever get an opportunity while I am in this Chamber, I shall stand by the policy at one time advocated by the Minister (Senator Pearce), who then was more advanced than I am. He was almost a Free Trader in those days. I ‘believe in the protection of infant industries, and in the earlier stages of their development I would not object to an embargo upon importations that compete with their output.
– So long as the industry is there.
– That, of course, is understood.
– ‘But sometimes protection is given to an industry that is not in existence.
– I support the policy of Protection as applied to the establishment of new industries, but I think that, under the altered conditions of world competition, well-established concerns, which have enjoyed protection for many years, should be able to do without it.
– The trouble is, they never get beyond the “ staggering “ stage.
– It is true that some of the protected industries of the Commonwealth never seem to reach the stage of robust manhood. Take the woollen industry. We have the_ raw material right at our doors, and yet it is sent to the Old Country, manufactured into the finished article, and brought back So Australia to be sold in competition with the local article. Wages in the Old Country are not very much lower than in Australia. In this Parliament there are quite a number of hide-bound Protectionists. I wonder, sometimes, if they are sufficiently loyal to their ideals as to wear always clothes of Australian manufacture. I might even go so far as to say that not two members of this Chamber, at the present moment, could be judged by this standard.
– Quite a number of honorable senators wear Australianmade clothes.
– Well, that is the real test of a Protectionist. I suppose that if I were to go down Collins-street to the establishment of that great disciple of Protection, the Age newspaper, I should find all members qf its staff clothed in the best Scotch and Irish tweeds.
– And perhaps find a German editor there.
– I know nothing about that. I always endeavour to encourage a local industry, but I want to make it quite clear that I object to Tariff duties being passed on to the people of this country in the form of increased prices.
I want to deal now for a few moments with a Tasmanian manufacturing concern, in which I have been interested, not financially but publicly, for some time. I refer to the carbide industry in my State. I have taken some interest in it. It was established during the time that I had’ the honour to be associated with the State Government, and I therefore have had some share in helping it. At -the present time this industry is closed down as the result of the dumping of surplus carbide from other countries.
– What is the duty?
– It is £7 or £7 10s. per ton.
-brockman. - The industry had absolute prohibition for two years.
– I admit that, but in order to explain the position I must give a brief history of the operations of the local company. They commenced, like many others did, in war time, with insufficient capital, but would probably have succeeded if the high costs produced by the war conditions had not affected them. The price of carbide had soared to £100 a ton, and they were doing very well”, but they could not obtain supplies of suitable electrodes. The electrodes they required weigh about half-a-ton each; when they are lowered into the furnace and the current is switched on, they provide an intense heat. The electrodes which they could obtain from a neutral country were so inferior that they would not stand the intense heat to which they had to be subjected in the furnaces, and would crumble in a few hours, instead of lasting for seven or eight days, as they were supposed - to do. When the com- pany found that they could not get suitable electrodes they ceased operations, and proceeded to put up an electrode factory. For this purpose they brought out an expert from Sweden, and, as a result of their efforts, they are now producing exceedingly high grade electrodes of all sizes, which they are in a position to supply all over Australia. But the point is, that they had to close down just when they could have been taking advantage of the high price for carbide. Immediately they got their factory going again, after all these difficulties, in came the foreign article, which was sold at a lower price than that at which the local company could afford to sell. It was, to my mind, a case of dumping. At any rate I believe that it was a surplus product from overseas. That point may be contested, but the price of this imported article was always anything up to 10s. a ton less than the price at which the locally produced carbide could be sold. Having no reserves of capital, the local company could not stand the strain of this competition, and when it had accumulated a stock of carbide that it could not dispose of, the factory had once more to be closed down. On this occasion the Federal Government came to the company’s rescue by imposing an embargo on the importation of carbide. That embargo lasted for two years, and enabled the company to do very well.
– The company failed to supply the demands of Australia at that particular time.
– The company was doing very well until the Commonwealth Government said, “ If you cannot supply the full requirements of Australia, it is not good enough for us to impose an embargo, and prevent importation.” The company, realizing the position, utilized the profits it had made for the purpose of increasing its plant to an extent that would enable it to meet the whole of the carbide requirements of Australia. The work of duplicating the plant had almost been completed, but with the lifting of the embargo, carbide was still being imported, and when the company had accumulated stocks worth about £15,000 it had once more to close down. It is now asking the Federal Government to come to its assistance, and impose the embargo for another twelve months. When the Prime Minister was in Tasmania a few months ago he lifted his hands in horror when this request was submitted to him, but very soon after his return to Melbourne, he gave the Queensland sugar-growers another two years’ embargo against the importation of sugar.
– There is no comparison between the two questions.
– Tasmania pays from £150,000 to £200,000 per year in order to help the sugar industry of Queensland; but of that we do not complain.
– Sugar is not to be obtained anywhere else as cheaply as it can be bought in Australia.
– That is a question I shall deal with later on. I do not blame the people of Queensland. They can speak with a louder voice than Tasmania.
– Not here.
– Yes, here; and the Minister knows it. We, in Tasmania, pay from £150,000 to £200,000 a year towards the support of the sugar industry in Queensland, and we only ask the Federal Government to give ussomething that will not penalize the people of Australia to the extent of1d., or cost the Commonwealth Government a cent.
– It will save the people of Australia a great deal in the future.
– Yes; once the foreign companies destroy the local factory, they can put up the price of carbide, and very quickly get back all they are losing now. The only thing we ask the Federal Government to do is to give us another twelve months’ embargo.
– What makes the honorable senator believe that if that were done the industry would thereafter be able to stand by itself ?
– The company is not very sound financially, but if it could negotiate on its present stocks of carbide, which it would be able to do if foreign carbide were shut out, it would raise sufficient capital to enable it to make another start. It is impossible for it to raise an advance on their stocks in hand so long as the foreign carbide is coming in. This is a serious matter to Tasmania. The State Government has advanced £93,000 to the company - of course it has ample security - and has spent £15,000 in transmitting power to the works. The present annual revenue from the consumers of that power is £15,000, but that revenue would increase to £25,000 with the full carbide plant in operation. It would thus be a very serious loss to Tasmania if the industry had to close down absolutely. I know that the Commonwealth Government has had the matter under consideration for some time, but I hope it will give it a push along in order to save the car- bide company and the State of Tasmania. We are not asking for much.
– Are these people producing carbide of good quality?
– They are producing the best carbide in the world. It stands all the British tests, and is considerably better than the Swedish or Japanese article.
– The honorable senator claims that the unfair competition is due to dumping. Would not a dumping duty be sufficient ?
– But why should not the Government go the whole way and give us another twelve months’ embargo? No penalty wouldbe inflicted on the people by doing so.
-What guarantee is there that, at the end of twelve months, the company would be able to stand up against foreign competition?
– I have been assured by the representatives of the company that if they can get another twelve months’ embargo they will be able to carry on after it expires.
– I think that they have said the same on previous occasions.
– I know that they are not free from blame in that respect, but if they had not spent on extending their plant the considerable sum of money which they had earned during their prosperous period, they would pro- bably have been in a position to carry on. It is shortage of cash which has caused them to close down.
I do not want to weary honorable senators with requests from Tasmania, or with a recital of that State’s grievances, but I must point out that only 4 per cent. of the people of Tasmania are engaged in manufacturing industries, as against 12 per cent. in Victoria, and that we are obliged to pay £6 per head in the shape of Tariff duties for the purpose of assisting manufacturing industries on the mainland. However, we do not worry. Although five-sixths of the finished articles we require are imported from the mainland, we remain loyal to the Federation.
– Tasmania gets a very fair grant which relieves it of a great deal of taxation.
– I have a motion on the business paper which will enable me to deal with that aspect of the question, and point out where Tasmania suffers many disadvantages; but I would take this opportunity of referring to the attitude taken up by the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) when he visited Tasmania a few months ago. He said, in effect, “You ought to be thankful that you are in the Federation. Look what you would have to pay if you were outside, and your products were shut out by a great Tariff wall around the mainland.” Twenty-three years ago I went on the platforms of the country, and urged the people of Tasmania to accept the Federal Constitution. There was a sentimental reason behind our desire to be in the Federation. The people of Tasmania did not care to be out of the Australian Federation, but at the same time they would havebeen better off financially if they had remained out.
– Why not declare Tasmania to be Federal Territory?
– Do not talk to me about Federal Territory after the experience we have had with the Northern Territory. However, I am pleased to hear the honorable senator’s interjection, because it brings me back to the functions of the Federation. The Commonwealth Parliament cannot deal satisfactorily with domestic affairs: it ought to deal only with big national questions. The Federal Government have been “fooling around “ with the Northern Territory for the last ten or twelve years, and, probably, the affairs of the Territory are in a greater mess now than they were when they were handed over to the Commonwealth. South Australia did better when it controlled the Territory. That result has been due, not to incompetency, but to the natural inability of the Federal Parliament to deal with the small, im- tricate, and puzzling- questions connected with domestic policy. Those questions must be dealt with by the States. I inform Senator Hoare. that Tasmania has no intention of becoming Federal terriiory; it is going to remain an independent sovereign State, and work out, its own destiny.
I hope that the Minister (Senator Pearce) will urge in Cabinet a speedy settlement of the carbide question. Do not let us in Tasmania think we are being neglected because we are a small State and have not a very loud voice in the counsels of the nation.
I indorse the remarks of the honorable senator who preceded me with regard to the necessity for altering the electoral law. I believe in proportional representation.. Preferential voting is all right where there are single constituencies, but proportional representation should be adopted in the. election of senators, where there, is a gpoup vote. I know that the Minister (Senator Pearce) is opposed to this system. I have read his objections to the principle, hut could not follow orunderstand them they were not logical. they, had their basis in a consideration of party. My leader (Senator Gardiner) spoke last night about the abolition of the Senate. I almost trembled when Iheard him. He said it is a plank in the platformof the Labour party. I hope that it willbe like the Federal Capital - a long way off.
– The honorable senator was returned on that plank.
– I was not aware of it. It is one of those “kite-flying” proposals that I do not thinkis likely to find expression in the Statutes for a good many years to come. Let us hope that it will not be given effect to for at least another six years. If the Government do not intend to alter the electoral law during the present Parliament, I shall give the Senate the opportunity of considering the question of proportional representation, by introducing a Bill providing for the inauguration of that system.
– The honorable senator will be “ knocked sideways.”
– The honorable senator may have that feeling. I have been knocked endways before to-day, but I have not cared.
– The honor able senator will be knocked clean out.
– I shall have a try, at any rate. It is not fair that one party should get all the representation when probably it has received only a slightly larger percentage of votes.
– It is very unfair that one party working under two names should get double representation; that is what the honorable senator is after.
– No such thing. The honorable senator needs to be educated on this subject..
– The honorable, senator ought himself to be educated before he attempts to teach anybody else.
SenateOGDEN. - If any State understands the principle of proportional representation,, it is Tasmania.We has had. experience of it for, a good many years.
– And all; you do. is to tax Australians for your benefit; you come over here asking Australians to “spar up” their money to you. Why do you not stand on your own resources? We give; you £90,000 a year. How much more do you want?
– Interjections are disorderly and! must cease. Senator Ogden- is entitled to be heard in silence.
– I repeat that I intend introducing a Bill’ embodying the principle of proportional representation. I believe it is quite unfair that merely because of a slight fluctuation of public opinion from time to time one party should get all the representation when its candidates poll asmall percentage of votes in excess of those polled by candidates representing another party.
– What the honorable senator wants is the overrepresentation of minorities..
– No; I base my argument on that which I believe to be right. I do not regard the question from the aspect of party advantages or anything of that kind. It. would be equally as bad if there were only Labour men. in this Senate as to have it. composed entirely of Nationalists. You cannot have a satisfactory Parliament with one party greatly predominant.
– How does it work in Tasmania?
– Very well indeed. I thank honorable senators for having been so patient in listening to this somewhat disjointed speech. I apologize for not having been properly prepared; and naturally I have been somewhat nervous in view of the fact that this is my first effort in the Federal Parliament. I promise honorable senators that I shall be a frequent advocate of the rights of Tasmania. I trust that I shall not make myself disagreeable in my advocacy of what I believe to be right principles. I hope that we shall agree to differ in a very friendly way. I have always thought that life is too short to endanger personal friendships, and to make enemies, because of differences in our political beliefs. I like the feeling which was expressed by my Leader the other day when he said that he would criticise the Government fairly, and fight them when he thought they were wrong, at the same time holding out the hand of personal friendship towards them. We can fight only on big principles. I shall be found fighting the Government. On some occasions, perhaps, I shall be found differing from some of my colleagues. Let us display tolerance towards each other. Let us realize and recognise that we are all partners in this great big Continent, and this great big Empire. The object of our presence here to-day, whether we belong to the Labour, Nationalist, or Country party, is not to advance the interests of our party or our personal interests, but to do the best we can towards the development of the country which we represent. We ought to be able to carry on our deliberations without those bitternesses which make political life somewhat distasteful to some men. Parliamentary life has taken its toll of the public men of Australia, and it is sufficiently trying without unnecessarily straining the relationship between one party and another. I thank you, Mr. President, and honorable senators, for so patiently listening to my speech.
.- Before referring to the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, I desire to compliment the mover and the seconder of the AddressinReply on the matter contained in their contribution to this debate. Might I be permitted, also, to express the pleasure I have experienced in listening to the utterance of my col league, Senator Ogden, from Tasmania. It is always a pleasure to hear a speech delivered in a broad-minded way. In his initial effort in this Senate the honorable senator has made to the debate a contribution which, I am sure, has been very much appreciated by every honorable senator.
One honorable senator - I believe it was Senator Needham - said that the Governor-General’s Speech was notable, not for what it” contained, but for what had been omitted from it. I heard that Speech read at the opening of the Parliament, and on reading it through carefully myself I was surprised to find the number of important matters which it embodied. There is sufficient to insure the very close attention of every honorable senator during the whole of this session. Two or three of the subjects dealt with would be sufficient to merit the attention of honorable senators for months. We have a limited time, however, to deal with the legislation that is to be brought forward, and my remarks now will necessarily be somewhat brief.
An important item in the Speech is that dealing with the Economic Conference. In common with other honorable senators, I hope that our representation at that Conference will be all that Australia merits. Many subjects will have to be discussed there; but that which is nearer to our hearts than anything else is the subject of preferential trade. We discussed the Tariff Bill a year or two ago. The schedule, honorable senators will remember, contained many instances of marked preference being given by the Australian Parliament to goods manufactured in, and imported from, Great Britain. While we may reasonably expect something in return for the preference we have shown, we cannot overlook the fact that Free Trade is the fiscal policy of Great Britain. Although we buoy ourselves up with the hope that we may obtain considerable preference for the products of Australia, we must remember that the one great barrier is Great Britain’s fiscal policy, which is not likely to be altered in the near future, but which may eventually be amended. It is possible, however, that preference may be given by the Imperial Government contributing towards the subsidizing of ships carrying Australian produce to the British markets, or in some other way making a return for the exceptionally good preference we are giving on British manufactured articles.
Reference has been made to the departure of the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) for England as Australia’s representative at the forthcoming Imperial Conference, and I was very pleased’ to hear Senator Ogden express the necessity of Australia being fully alive to the needs of an adequate defence scheme for the Commonwealth. The Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce), by interjection, indicated that the question of .defence would be one of the most important to be discussed at that important gathering. I have every confidence, not only in the ability, but in the desire, of the Prime Minister to see that Australia shall not be behind in doing whatever is necessaryfor the defence of this important outpost of the Empire.
In the Governor-General’s Speech, reference is made to the administration of the Mandated Territories, which is referred to in these words : “ The administration of the Mandated Territories is being conducted with the utmost consideration for the interests of the native population. . . .” In reply to a question the Minister stated that the Government intend to appoint a Commission to visit the Mandated Territories, the duty’ of which will be to report on the development and control of the plantations. No reference, however, has been made to the interests of the native population. I am not influenced to any great extent by newspaper reports, but one cannot help noticing the repeated statements published in a Melbourne newspaper concerning the alleged ill-treatment “of natives.
– Those statements will be denied.
– The treatment of the natives is of paramount importance, and I am glad that that phase will be fully inquired into and reported upon, because at the forthcoming Assembly of the League of Nations- the manner in which the Mandated Territories are being administered will have great prominence.
I agree with a good deal of what has been said concerning the necessity for exercising the greatest care in selecting the best class of immigrants, but from what I have heard I do not think that is being done. The mistakes of the past should be obviated in the future, as every State Government realizes that im migrants are not likely to be of any use to the community unless they are of a desirable type. I have no fear that the number of unemployed will be increased if our immigration policy is wisely administered. In one State at least special attention is being directed to the immigration of boys. In Tasmania, which is only a small portion of the Commonwealth, but one which has often given the Commonwealth a lead, a scheme is being evolved, which will eventually be submitted to the Imperial authorities with a view to securing their co-operation, under which boys will be trained in afforestation.
– Are there not any Tasmanian boys available ?
– The proportion in Tasmania is as great as elsewhere, but that State requires a greater number than is provided by the natural increase.
– Are the Tasmanian boys being paid the rate which you propose paying those from overseas?
– The boys in Tasmania have very little difficulty in finding employment. I do not know if it is due to their peculiar characteristics,- but a large number find employment in important industries on the mainland. Under the proposed Tasmanian scheme, if adopted, English boys who would not have any chance of success in the Old Country would be able to earn a good living hera It is proposed to establish colonies in connexion with the Department of Afforestation, where the boys will have every advantage of education, and at the same time be able to assist in the important work of afforestation. Having served the necessary apprenticeship, and reached a stipulated age, they will be able to go out and fend for themselves.
Drastic changes will have to be made iu connexion with the employment of juveniles in skilled trades. Senator Ogden- briefly referred to the difficulties arising in connexion with the employment of boys in Tasmania, and similar conditions exist only to a greater degree in the larger States. In the programme to be submitted to the Victorian State Parliament next week, reference will be made to the introduction of a Bill to insure that every boy will be able to get a fair chance of becoming a skilled artisan. We are now reaping the results of the actions of the organizations with which honorable senators opposite are associated, which, desired to form such a close corporation that a skilled worker in any industry could demand almost whatever - wage he wished. In whatever portion of Australia I have visited I have met men associated with trade organizations who have strongly objected to the existing conditions because they have found that their own boys are now ‘excluded from the occupations for which they are -best fitted. Under Wages Boards and Arbitration Courts awards boy labour has been restricted. In the Tasmanian Parliament I urged the Government to amend legislation in such a way that youths would have a chance of becoming skilled workmen. Tasmania, in common with other States, has spent large sums on technical education, but when the time arrives for a trained youth to seek employment suitable to his training he finds the doors closed against him. Although employers were able and willing to give them work, they were allowed by the law at one time to employ only one to every three skilled workers.
– That was designed to prevent the employers exploiting the workers.
– The result has been that the demand for skilled labour cannot be met locally, skilled men are being brought from overseas, and our own boys are compelled to become unskilled labourers. The Tasmanian law was later amended, and it” was provided that in the building and carpentering trade one boy could be em- ployed to every adult; but within a few months an award of the Federal Arbitration Court was given, which was applicable to Tasmania, providing that the proportion of boys in these particular trades should be one to four, which was even worse than the original provision. Thousands of bright, intelligent lads, on whom a large sum has been spent in technical training, are not permitted to engage in occupations for which they are best ‘fitted, and thus assist in overcoming the scarcity of skilled workmen. If an honorable senator opposite secured a contract for erecting a large building, on which it was necessary to employ forty skilled carpenters, the probability is that he could secure only half-a-dozen. He could obtain the services of forty who would pro bably have been carpenters if they had been allowed to learn the trade.
– Is the honorable senator not aware that the trainee question has already been considered.
– I am pleased to find that the Victorian Government are bringing in a Bill to deal with the question.
– The labour organizations are assisting trainees.
– For years past the boys, owing to arbitration, awards, have not been allowed to follow the trades for which they are best fitted, and this to a large extent is indirectly responsible for the high cost of living., I do not care what industry you take. Take the manufacturing of machinery and the building of houses ; in the latter case, it has meant that the rent demanded is much higher than it would have been if the houses had been built entirely by skilled labour. The same remark applies to the turning out of any article required by the consuming or using community, I think the honorable senator agrees with me.
– I do not, by any stretch of the imagination.
– The unemployed problem in Australia to-day has been brought about, to a great extent, by the policy we have adopted in connexion with apprenticeship. A statement was made by an honorable senator that men wanted work and could not find it in this country. . There are many unskilled men who require work, and who have sought it, but have not been permitted to work by certain organizations which control them.
– Where did that happen ?
– In every State of Australia.
– Mention one case.
– The honorable senator knows that when men have been called out on strike, a very large proportion of them have had no wish to go ‘out.
– The majority rule.
– The men take a vote.
– They do not, because not 50 per cent, of them attend the meetings. I am glad to know that the wise counsels which have been offering for some time are now beginning to prevail, that the question of apprenticeship will be adequately dealt with, and that the boys of future generations will not be handicapped to the same extent as were the boys in the past.
– That is a reflection on the Judges of the Arbitration Court.
– It is not.
– In Tasmania, a few years ago, all the boys were working, and the fathers could not get work.
– The honorable senator does not come from .Tasmania. I do; and do not hesitate to say his statement is incorrect.
– I have had a lot to do with Tasmania for a good many years, and know my statement is true.
– I have never known any large body of men in Tasmania to be unemployed.
– There are fewer industrial disputes in Tasmania than in any other part of the Commonwealth.
– Yes; and less unemployment.
– Because the men do not stay there long enough. They come over here to get better conditions.
– The Commonwealth Navigation Act presses harshly upon Tasmania, which is looked upon as the garden State of Australia. A very fine tourist traffic developed between .the mainland and Tasmania, but owing to the recent operation of the Navigation Act, wellappointed steamers, such as Peninsular and Oriental liners, ‘are not permitted to carry tourists to and from the mainland. The Act provides that unless certain conditions are complied with no vessel can obtain a permit for carrying passengers from port to port in Australia. The Government should realize that Tasmania is in a very different position from that of the other States, as it is isolated from the rest of the Commonwealth by Bass Strait. Last year, just prior to the Melbourne Cup, the Minister exercised his power under the Navigation Act, and granted a permit to oversea vessels to carry passengers from Sydney to Melbourne, so that they might participate in that important fixture.
– .-It was a wrong action, especially when there were State ships available and sailors out of work.
– The Minister was satisfied that the ordinary means of transit were not sufficient to accommodate those who desired to visit Victoria at that time, and he rightly used his authority under the Navigation Act. I can prove conclusively that the means of communica tion, or the services offering, between the mainland and Tasmania are not sufficient to meet the demands of the ordinary and tourist traffic. When interviewed previously, Ministers have declared that, under the requirements of the Act, they must be satisfied that adequate accommodation has not already been provided, but I contend that it is impossible to prove the adequacy or inadequacy of such a service until after the close of the tourist season. At my request, the exMinister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Rodgers) last year very kindly sent the Director of Navigation to Tasmania to inquire into and report upon this question. Documentary evidence was made available to this officer, and on his return he reported to the Minister, but I have never heard what the nature of his report was. I believe the Director did realize that some amendment of the Act would be necessary to overcome the difficulty, and I ask the Minister in charge of the Senate to confer with the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Austin Chapman) to see whether Tasmania cannot be given a fair deal in respect of tourist traffic by an amendment of the Navigation Act.
Senator Ogden referred to the carbide industry, which has been established in Tasmania, and which has had such a bad run lately. Assistance or protection should be given to this industry to enable it to operate successfully. It had its birth during the war period. It is practically one of the war babies of the Commonwealth.
– It is the only industry of its kind in Australia.
– That is so. I remember distinctly, before I entered this Parliament, reading in Hansard the utterances of honorable senators who promised that the Government would do everything possible to build up and maintain industries. When the Tariff was being dealt with they particularly stressed the fact that they not only desired the maintenance Of1 the established industries, but insisted that new industries -started during the war should be placed on a sound footing. When this industry was first established the price demanded for carbide in Australia was £80 per ton, but prior to the actual manufacture of that product in Tasmania the price dropped to £40 a ton. Since then the local industry has been supplying carbide of good quality to Australian consumers at the lowest price possible, £24 per ton f.o.b. Hobart. To-day it is impossible for the company to compete with carbide brought from overseas, which is being offered at such a price as to prove conclusively that dumping of this commodity is taking place in the Commonwealth. I saw the other day a telegram addressed to the carbide company, which stated that unless they could sell carbide at £20 10s. per ton there were no orders offering. I have in my possession a copy of a letter, dated the 24th May, from Samuel Turner Limited, Wellington, New Zealand, to the carbide company in Tasmania. After hearing its contents, honorable senators will be satisfied that the dumping of carbide - and I use that term advisedly - has been successfully carried on in Australia. The letter reads -
In reference to calcium carbide, we will be pleased to know if you are yet in a position for marketing this in New Zealand, as we are in a position to push sale of same. The latest price we have heard is £32 per ton for Swedish in 200 drums.
The price in New Zealand is £32, and in Australia for the same quality of carbide the price is £21 10s. What does that prove?
– What is the duty under the New Zealand Tariff?
– I fancy it is on the free list in New Zealand.
– At all events, the fluty there is not so high as in Australia. What I have said proves conclusively that if the Tasmanian carbide industry goes to the wall, the price of the imported article will at once be increased against the Australian consumer, because,as this Wellington firm has indicated, the price of the Swedish article in New Zealand is £32 per ton.
– And the Australian agents for foreign carbide were quoting 10 per cent, below the price level of the Tasmanian product.
– It is quite true that, until recently, the Government carried out their promise to assist the industry by an embargo on importations. It is not the company’s fault that they have not been able to complete the dupli cation of their plant, but I am advised that as soon as it is duplicated they will be able to put their product on the market at £18 10s. per ton if they have the Australian market.
– They could then reduce it considerably below the present price.
– It has been suggested that, with the duplication of their plant, they will be able to produce more carbide than Australia can consume, but the letter which I have quoted proves that there is a market for any surplus in New Zealand. There is every probability, also, that there will be a demand for it in the Near East. It is in the interests of Australia that this industry should be preserved. The Government would be justified in doing anything to insure the completion of the work in Tasmania.
– At what price do you think the company could market the product if the embargo were re-imposed ?
– There is some arrangement with the Federal authorities as to the price.
– The price the company had been charging until they had to close down was equal to £24 f.o.b. Hobart.
– When the embargo was imposed the authorities fixed the maximum price.
– Yes. At present they have stocks to dispose of, and men are out of employment. No doubt honorable senators are well aware of the difficulties that confronted the company with regard to obtaining machinery. In the initial stages they appeared to be insurmountable. Much of the trouble was due to imported electrodes, but eventually, and as the result of an expenditure of about £40,000, the company were able to manufacture their own electrodes, and to produce high-grade carbide. I sincerely hope that the Government will do all they can, either by the re-imposition of the embargo, or by putting into operation the Industries Preservation Act, to safeguard this industry. I understand that not long ago, two Government officers were instructed to make a careful investigation into the management of the company, and I presume they have submitted their report to the Cabinet. Quite recently the Australian match manufacturing industry was threatened by the dumping of Swedish matches, at 6d. per gross below the price charged by the local manufacturers, and a request for the protection of the Industries Preservation Act was complied with. That industry is very small in comparison with the carbide industry of Tasmania, and, therefore, there is every reason why the latter should receive the same consideration. It is not too much to ask the Government to do what may be necessary to bring this matter to a satisfactory conclusion without delay.
In the course of his speech, Senator J. D. Millen, who seconded the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, made reference to the work of the League of Nations, and urged that Australia should have adequate representation at the next meeting of the Assembly of the League. The honorable senator’s speech will be long remembered. Evidently he is au fait with certain phases of the League’s work. He expressed the hope, which I am sure will be indorsed by all honorable senators, that the League will become an all-important factor in the preservation of the peace of the world. I am afraid, however, that the honorable senator did not do the League full justice, because his speech left the impression that very little had been done by this wonderful organization. I do not profess to have a very complete knowledge of its work, but I have always made it my business to read anything that I have seen published with regard to its meetings. I have therefore a fair knowledge of what has been done, perhaps in a quiet way, but, nevertheless effectively, by the League. It is very gratifying to know that Australia’s representation at the next meeting has been decided upon, and from what I know of the calibre of the gentlemen appointed, I should say that this country will be well represented. I hope that the outcome of the meeting will be beneficial, not only to the British Empire, but to the whole world. Honorable senators, I am sure, will pardon me if I refer to one or two things that have been accomplished by the League. From time to time we hear the statement made that the last war was a war to end wars.
– I am sure that we all indorse the hope expressed by the honorable senator who seconded the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply that before long we shall find America, Germany, and Russia in the League of Nations. In a cablegram recently published we learn that Lord Robert Cecil has expressed the optimistic hope that before long America will come into the League. I have not the slightest doubt that he had every justification for expressing that hope, because he had had the opportunity of conferring with the leaders of that great nation. I am sure he would be the last man to awaken false hopes among those who are anxious that the League shall eventually attain in the world’s affairs that position it was hoped it would hold. The work done by the League of Nations is not fully appreciated by the masses, even by the rank and file in the British Empire. Because of the terrible unrest in Europe at the present time, there is a general feeling that it has failed to accomplish the work it was designed to perform. It must be recognised, however, that the League would absolutely fail in accomplishing that which it set out to do if it proclaimed from the housetops everything it was doing. Any one with a knowledge of the diplomatic relations of various countries must realize that negotiations that have proved satisfactory have always been carried out in secret.
– There can be too much of that kind of thing.
– If the object sought to be attained is the general welfare of the world, there cannot be too much secrecy about the negotiations. Does the honorable senator suggest that the League of Nations is not actuated by a desire to do all it can to assure the future peace of the world?
Sentor PAYNE. - If in its endeavours to achieve itsobject the League finds it essential to conduct negotiations in secret, would the honorable senator suggest that there is not ample justification for that secrecy?
– Yes. I would have those negotiations carried out in the light of day.
– Perhaps if I tell the honorable senator one or two things that have been accomplished by the League of
Nations he will alter his opinion. During the last few years there has been evidence of the possibility of great trouble in Europe. The first possibility arose through a dispute which became very acute between Poland and Lithuania over the possession of the city of Vilna. It was in September, 1920, that the dispute first came under the notice of the Council of the League of Nations, and in October of that year a military commission of control was appointed by the Council to proceed to Lithuania to prevent an outbreak of hostilities. That it succeeded in doing. In April, 1921, direct negotiations between the two countries opened at Brussels, and continued during the whole of the year, but no final agreement was reached. Then in January, 1922, just fifteen months after the dispute commenced, consideration was given by the Council of the League of Nations to the refusal of the two Governments to accept its final recommendation. Thus for fifteen months hostilities had been prevented, but what did the general public know of this? They had no idea of the work that was being done in this respect by the League. Eventually the representatives of the two countries gave formal pledges to refrain from any act of hostility and declared the determination of their Governments to continue their efforts to find a peaceful solution. That peaceful solution was subsequently obtained, but if the League of Nations had proclaimed from- the housetops what it was doing, possibly that result would not have been achieved. It is absolutely essential that secret negotiation should be. carried out so that, the minds of people may not become inflamed, and in this particular case that policy, as adopted by the League, was certainly justified.
– Negotiations that will not bear the light of day are of no good to any one.
– If the honorable senator were a delegate to the League of Nations, he would be entitled to see how these negotiations were carried on, but at the time it was not opportune to disclose what was being done, for the reasons I have already advanced.
The next dispute dealt with by the League of Nations was more serious, and at one time it looked as if nothing could prevent two countries from going to war. Sweden sought to obtain the sovereignty of the Aland Islands, which were under the jurisdiction of Finland. The League of Nations, acting in the wise way which has characterized all its actions since its formation, was successful in settling that trouble, and the final result was that an agreement was concluded in the form of a diplomatic Convention guaranteed by the Council of the League of Nations which was intrusted with the duty of taking the necessary measures to insure the observance and maintenance of the provisions of the Convention. Surely that was a victory for the League of Nations.
– It has done good work.
– It has, and it should be encouraged in the good work by creating among the Australian people a sentiment in favour of the League, so that every man and woman in Australia will be prepared to give it support. While I do not wish to depreciate the value of what has already been done by the League, I think J am justified in expressing the hope that it will become even stronger.
Another trouble that came under the purview of the League was that which is known as the Upper Silesian problem. Here, again, war was averted. The Albanian question was another difficulty. Honorable senators know how difficult it is to handle the people of the. Balkans, but the League of Nations also overcame that problem. The greatest work the. League has performed is the rehabilitation of Austria, a member of the League. In the account of the proceedings of the Geneva Conferenceof 1922, there is.an article headed “ The Rescue of Austria,” which contains an authentic record of what, the League of Nations has been able to do to bring Austria out. of that deplorable condition in which it found itself after the war. A fortnight ago the following cablegram appeared in the Australian press:-
On Friday last the Austrian bonds issued by the League were oversubscribed in London in two hours and in New York in fifteen minutes.
Who will dare to say that the League of Nations is not doing good work? Who would belittle the work it has already done?
-Who has done so?
– There is a. tendency in Australia to do, so. I have heard it said on many platforms that the great war through which we have passed waa a. war to end war, yet there was still disturbance in Europe, and the League of Nations was doing nothing to prevent it.
– No one here says that the League of Nations has not done good work.
-But there is an impression abroad, probably caused through ignorance, that it is doing nothing, and that feeling is likely to be intensified when we hear men. who believe in the work done by the League urging that steps should be taken to make it function. It is functioning, though perhaps not as far as one would like, or as far as the League itself would like; but Rome was not built in a day. At any rate, the League of Nations is the first and only movement of the kind in the history of the world, and we should wish it every success and recognise the fine work it has already done. The article to which I have referred, describing the rescue of Austria, is so interesting that I would like to have it included in Hansard. It will take me half-an-hour to read it.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Newland). - The honorable senator has not half-an-hour to go before he must conclude his speech, under the Standing Orders.
– I shall take another opportunity of reading it. I have every confidence in Mr. Herbert Brookes, Sir Neville Howse, and Sir Joseph Cook, who. will represent Australia at the next meeting of the League of Nations. They will form a representation that ought, to commend itself to the people of Australia as being adequate to perform the work intrusted to it. In the GovernorGeneral’s Speech occurred the following paragraph: -
My, Advisers, are confident that the production pf cotton in Australia will become one of our most important, industries, and play a vital part in the policy of rand settlement. To encourage growers, a joint agreement between the Commonwealth and the States, based upon a guarantee and otherwise safeguarding the industry, was arrived at.
I do not know whether I am too optimistic in my views regarding the cotton industry in Australia ; I hope that I am not. Provided that it is properly safeguarded, the industry will be one of the greatestassets that Australia has ever had. I know from personal observation in Queensland the strides which have been made during the last two years in this industry. Its progress certainly justifies optimism on the part of any one. Last year representatives of the British Cotton Growers Association and the Cotton Manufacturers Association visited Australia, and expressed themselves in the highest terms regarding the quality of the cotton which was being produced in Queensland. In that year, only about 6,000 acres were under cotton cultivation. This year, I am assured, between 60,000 and 70,000 acres of cotton will be harvested. From my observations of the operations in Queensland, I am convinced that the industry will be one of the biggest assets we could have, conditionally on individual operations being confined to small areas. . If it is kept a small farmer’s job, there is no reason why the industry should not absorb a very great number of the right class of immigrants. We ought to be able to have an addition of thousands Of small -farmers on the land producing’ a crop for which there is a world-wide demand. The quality is undoubted, and the quantity that can be grown per acre has been well established. It only remains for us to use every means in our power to prevent the occurrence of industrial troubles in future cotton-growing operations.
I believe that this is but the forerunner of another big industry. Recently I have seen in the windows of the large emporiums in Sydney, Adelaide, and Melbourne, exhibits of plain cotton goods, such as calicoes and sheeting, with huge placards bearing the announcement, “ Manufactured from cotton grown in Australia.” I was very pleased to see that. I shall be more pleased when I read on those placards in the future, “ Manufactured in Australia from Australiangrown cotton.” There is no reason why we should not have a cotton textile manufactory operating in Australia within the next two or three years. I believe that that would be a very great aid to our immigration policy. For all these new industries we require expert workmen and workwomen. The cotton textile industry has reached its present standard in England after many years of close and constant supervision, to insure the turning out of a first-rate article. We cannot expect to. establish industries . of this character with the industrial material that we have at the present time. Our policy will have to be that which has been adopted by firms such, as Cadbury, Fry & Pascal, Kelso &” Green, and Paton & Baldwin. They have brought to Australia a fairly large number of skilled operatives, who will be the tutors of the future Australian operative. Those who are chiefly interested in the immigration question will not only have to obtain the proper class of immigrant for settlement on the land, but will have to induce the manufacturers of England to transfer a portion of their operations to the country in which the raw material is produced. The other day I was looking through the statistics relating to the imports by Australia of cotton materials. I found that we were importing several, million pounds’ worth of the plainest cotton goods such as grey and white calicoes, sheetings, and goods of that description. If the policy I have outlined is adopted, we shall be able -to hold our own with any country, in the world in the production of raw material; and there is no reason why we should not eventually be able to supply our own needs in plain cotton textiles. If we at any time produce a surplus, we shall have a market for it in Java, Singapore, and the Near East. Australia should be as self-contained as we can make it. I trust that honorable senators opposite will use their influence as public men to avert the calamity of industrial warfare in this industry, if cotton-growing is carried on on large areas. I do not mind how many small farmers we have engaged in growing cotton. If we can keep_ it a family concern among the farmers, we shall be adding to Australia a very valuable asset which will help us materially in years to come.
The proposed financial agreement between the Commonwealth and the States is a subject of very great importance. Ample opportunity will be afforded every honorable senator to discuss this matter when the proposal comes before us, but I might be pardoned if I define my attitude at this stage. I represent a State which, though small in area, is very large in possibilities. Tasmania will, I believe, eventually be looked upon as the most vigorous manufacturing centre in the whole of the Commonwealth, not because of any special claim that its people may have in that regard, but because Nature has been so lavish in its gifts to that little island. .We have established ‘ a hydro-electric scheme which is produc- ing the cheapest power that is obtainable in the Commonwealth. That has been made possible only- by the expenditure of a huge sum of money. .That fact ought to commend Tasmania to honorable senators when the necessity arises for the rendering of any assistance to that State. Australia should feel proud of the fact that it has a State, containing only 200,000 people, which is prepared to undertake an enterprise of such magnitude. Although they are only a handful of people, they have undertaken an enormous liability, because they believed it to be their duty, not only to the State, but to the Commonwealth. A State which will not. develop, resources that can be developed does not deserve to prosper. Tasmania has always endeavoured to exploit its resources to the fullest extent. The scheme to which I have referred is only the forerunner of many other developments. If my investigation of the financial proposals convinces me that they will be in the interests of Tasmania, I shall feel bound to support them.
– It is” rather sad to . see so wealthy a State so poverty-stricken.
– Tasmania is not a wealthy State; it has fewer wealthy people than there are in any other portion of Australia carrying the same population. It has people who possess big hearts; they have confidence in their State, and are prepared to give to it the last man and the last shilling. They have always done anything which has been necessary for the welfare of Australia.
I thank honorable senators for having listened to me so attentively. I support the motion, and hope that, during this session, we shall work hand in hand with one another, our only object being to do all we can for the advancement of the Commonwealth, of which we are all so proud.
– I differ entirely from the views expressed by Senator Ogden as to the reason why the Senate was established, and I am not under any misapprehension whatever upon that particular point. Provision- was made for the creation of the Senate by the statesmen of that time with one definite and distinct object in view. They believed that the electorates were so large and that the cost of an election would be so prohibitive that it would be beyond the possibility of any Labour representative ever being returned to this Chamber, and some of the most outspoken of them distinctly stated that Labour men would never see the inside of this Chamber. It was with that possibility in view that, the Senate was established. The opinions expressed in this Chamber are a replica of those of the electors of the Commonwealth, and much more so than those expressed in another place. The Senate was not established with the idea of maintaining State rights. No one knows what State rights are. We are not here to represent various States of the Commonwealth, but Australia as a whole. Although I happen to live in New South Wales, State boundaries are of no consequence to me whatever, as I feel just as much at home in one part of Australia as in another. The action of the Tasmanian people, however, in charging every one who arrives at and leaves Launceston 2s. is one to be deplored, and those who are responsible for this imposition are most unstatesman-like. Quite recently an important conference was to be held in Launceston, but owing to the manner in which visitors to that port are treated - owing to the fact that this tax is levied- it was abandoned.
– That matter is controlled by the local authorities.
– It may be; but if the local authorities in Sydney or Melbourne imposed a tax of 5s. a head on every one entering those cities there would be an outcry all over the Commonwealth.
I express my strong disapproval of the attitude adopted by Senator Ogden in supporting the principle of proportional representation. Proportional representation has been in operation in Tasmania for a considerable time, but two Tasmanian representatives who have spoken to-day have made numerous demands ou the mainland, which clearly shows that the method under which their Parliament is elected is not as perfect as one would suppose. Although proportional representation has been in operation in New South Wales for some time, the system does not meet with the approval of the majority of the electors in that State, and li believe if a vote were taken to-morrow the supporters of the Labour and anti-Labour parties would bo quite in favour of dispensing with it.
– The more the people’ see of it the more they admire it.
– The more I see of it the less I like it. At the last election the Labour party in New South Wales was confronted with opposition from two alleged parties, the Country party and the Nationalist party, and although throughout the campaign they preserved their separate entity to deceive the electors so far as they could, when their representatives were returned to this Chamber and to another place the two factions sank their differences and came together and assisted in forming a composite Ministry. Although these two parties masqueraded under different names under a system of proportional representation, some people, who are sane enough on other questions, would have given the Nationalist party, the Country party, and the Labour party representation.
– Have not the Labour party three sets of candidates?
– There is only one Labour party in New South Wales.
– Mr. Rae was not a Labour candidate?
– We have only one Labour party in New South Wales, and there is only one anti-Labour party. We saw through this little game, and will manage, whatever name the parties may masquerade under, to prevent double representation in this Chamber or in another place. Under the proportional system Labour representation in this Chamber would possibly diminish, but I do not think Senator Ogden had that in view when he advocated it. The system is, of course, in operation in Switzerland and other parte pf the Continent, but we should not look to these countries, or even to Great Britain, for enlightenment, as we can develop our own ideals. I have given considerable attention to the matter, and believe that if we should have an alteration in the method of electing senators we ought to return to the old system of “ first past the post.” Senator Crawford. - From purely unselfish motives?
– Personally, I do not very much care which system is adopted, but the one I have just mentioned is familiar to the people. The use of a multiplicity of systems leads to a number of informal votes being cast, and a true reflex of the opinion of the electors is not shown. We should have either the old system of “ first past the post “ or present method in electing senators. The present method was established for the express purpose of returning Nationalist candidates, as it was felt that on account of the inability of the Nationalist party to control their candidates votes would be lost. The present system was, to some extent, responsible for members of the Labour party being defeated on a previous occasion; but Labour electors now understand the operation of the system, and at the last general election Labour candidates polled well. With a little care we would have done a greatdeal better. With the assistance of Senator Ogden the Government may endeavour to pass a measure embodying proportional representation, but I am afraid their efforts would be fruitless. I can quite understand people who do not belong to any party submitting candidates to see how they will poll; but the old system of “ first past the post” or the present method is acceptable to both the Nationalist party and the Labour party.
There are in the Governor-General’s Speech a number of items which can be discussed with advantage. Some years ago - I do not know at whose instigation - a book, entitled Secret Remedies, was furnished to this Parliament, in which was disclosed the primary cost of the ingredients in many costly patent proprietary medicines, the cost of manufacturing, and the enormous profits made by the proprietors. A perusal of the advertising columns of any daily paper will show that proprietary productions are advertised in the most costly fashion, which is in itself an indication that they are not worth their advertised value. It is the duty of the Government to introduce a Bill to regulate the importation, manufacture, and distribution of such medicines. The public is being charged much more than ‘the worth of these articles. On them, I should like to see a. printed label showing the value of the ingredients of which the medicine is composed, the cost of manufacture, and the profit accruing to the vendor. If that were done, the sale -of patent medicines would be considerably restricted, and the public in consequence -would- be very much better off. Notwithstanding the Government’s multifarious duties, I hope they will, at an early date, consider the desirability of bringing in a Bill to deal adequately with the sale of patent medicines.
It will he within the knowledge of honorable senators that a very large quantity of jewellery is worn by the people of the Commonwealth, and if examined closely it will be found that much of it does not bear any indication of its intrinsic worth. It may be 9, 14, 16, or 20 carat. I once saw a person wearing no less than thirty pieces of jewellery, some of silver and some apparently of gold. There was a ring on every finger of both hands, so that this person was well “ rigged out.” I do not say that that is typical, but I have seen people wearing enormous quantities of jewellery which, I doubt, were of any ‘more than nominal value. In Great Britain, as far back as 1180, jewellery formed the subject of legislation. Even in that far-off time, we read in the historical records, the goldsmiths’ company in London was fined for disposing of adulterated goods to the public. In Great Britain, this subject is dealt with in thirty-four statutes, and charters have been issued at different times to various companies. Senator Payne will be ‘surprised to hear that in Paris the French company of goldsmiths have a regulation which prohibits any goldsmith from employing more than one apprentice at a time, and that apprentice must serve not less than eight years. The master, as he is called, cannot even reduce his time by one day. The members of the Goldsmiths’ Society in London at that time were no more honest than are many to-day, and on many occasions they were fined for disposing of articles at .prices above their intrinsic worth. The punishment meted out to these offenders varied. Sometimes they were pilloried for several days, and their fraudulent articles hung about their necks as a warning to evil-doers. I doubt very much whether the Commonwealth Government have power to legislate on this subject. Steps are being taken in the various States to control this business by those directly concerned. Only recently the gold and silver workers of Sydney formed the Sydney Hallmarking Company, and its hallmark, as it becomes better known, will give a standing to the locally manufactured jewellery, and have a beneficial effect on the trade. A purchaser of jewellery should have some assurance, either from, a recognised chartered company or a company under Governmental regulation, that the article is worth the money. Very few people have that guarantee in the case of either gold or silver articles, and it is only to secure purchasers a fair deal that I mention the matter. If the Government have the power, they should bring down at an early date a Bill to regulate the importation, manufacture, and sale of gold and silver goods within the Commonwealth.
We were informed to-night, and it is not the first time that we have ‘been leetured in this respect, that it is not within the province of the Commonwealth Government to impose direct taxation. My colleague from Tasmania, Senator Ogden, for some reason best known to himself, again informed the Senate that this method of taxation should be left to the States . By reading the thirty-nine articles of our political faith, as set out in the Constitution of the Commonwealth, any -one can clearly see that it is distinctly and definitely laid down that the Commonwealth Government have complete and plenary powers in respect of every form of taxation. -
– I do not think any one questions the power of the Government.
– There is no reason why honorable senators should countenance the proposal to abandon the field of income tax; not that I believe in it, because I think it is one of the most rotten systems of taxation ever -devised. It has been stated that honorable senators do not pay income tax. While the Government are good enough to pay £1,000 a year to each senator, they have set up elaborate machinery, and employ a whole. army of men in the Federal Income Tax Department, to take great care that, whoever else may escape, honorable senators, at all events, must pay £2 or £3 a week, or whatever the amount is.
– It cannot be passed on by us, as is done in other cases.
– There is only one way of passing it on - and I would not be at all averse to taking that step - and that is, to increase the salaries of honorable senators at the earliest possible moment. The risks that members of Parliament run in this troubled age should be considered. Quite recently the Premier of Greece - and I suppose he was as worthy a gentleman as any one here, and did his duty to his country - and other members of the Parliament of Greece were taken out and summarily shot for misbehaviour. The ex-Premier of Bulgaria only a few days ago was pursued and shot without remorse. It is high time that honorable senators considered the advisability of making due provision in the salaries to meet such extraordinary contingencies.
– Is the honorable senator suggesting that there is a possibility of the tax gatherer chasing us with a gun ?
– On very little provocation plenty of people in Australia would do that. We know very well that the States of the Commonwealth are most reluctant to impose direct taxation, and only the Commonwealth Government would be bold and strong enough to do so.
– I am sure that the Queensland State Government would not be reluctant to impose taxation.
– That Government is very .moderate. The matter of invalid and old-age pensions was mentioned in the Governor-General’s Speech. A case came under my notice the other day . which is typical of many. While it is impossible to legislate to embrace everything, cases of the kind to which I am about to refer should be covered by the proposed amending legislation, and if the Government do not move in that direction I shall do so in Committee. A man met with an accident which involved the loss of one of his legs and a serious injury to his foot. His occupation necessitated the use of all his limbs, and in consequence of his injury he had to seek other work. For a time he received the full invalid pension, but, believing that he could earn more money at an occupation where he could sit down, he secured a position where he earned £3 per week. Shortly afterwards he was out of work. and could not obtain a similar position. He cannot possibly follow his usual occupation, and yet, because he chose another ‘ occupation for a limited time, the provisions of the Act debar him from the .restoration of the invalid pension. To-day that man is in a very precarious financial position. The measure to amend the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act should not only increase the pensions to at least £1 per week, which is a ridiculously small sum considering the wealth of this country, but should apply to a case such as I have described’. The Act has been amended from time to time, and on every occasion it has been liberalized. When the Bill reaches this Chamber, honorable senators should see that the Act as finally amended is worthy of a wealthy country such as is Australia.
Arbitration for many years has been the settled and definite policy of the Australian Labour party. We were the first to advocate compulsory arbitration. The principle was accepted very unkindly for a number of years, particularly by wellorganized unions, which were able to enforce their very meagre demands upon the employers. As honorable senators know, the modesty of the average trade unionist is proverbial. He works so hard and so long, and his demands are so modest, that sometimes they astonish even his most ardent supporters. Wages Boards, conciliation and arbitration, and all kindred devices were tried, and finally swept aside in favour of compulsory arbitration. We know that when State awards come into conflict with the decisions of the Federal Arbitration Court, there is much uncertainty as to the actual position, and considerable expense is involved in overcoming the difficulty. Although I do not wish to unduly aggrandize the Commonwealth, I say emphatically that, it would be far better, and I think it would meet with the approval of nine-tenths of the employers, if the Commonwealth Arbitration Court were to be supreme throughout Australia. Employers want security. They want to know that within a reasonable time there will be no fluctuation of wages. I submit, therefore, that it would be in the interests of Australia- to have one award applying to an industry, and that made by the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, than to have five or six conflicting awards in the same’ industry in the various States.
I listened very carefully to Senator 1 Payne’s remarks in connexion with immigration. It was a most extraordinary speech, and when he sees it in cold type, I am sure he will wish he had never delivered it. He referred to the Tasmanian scheme for the introduction of a considerable number of British-born boys to be trained in the work of reafforestation. Why on earth does he not suggest that Tasmanian boys should be trained for this work? So far as I can see, they do not learn any skilled trade in Tasmania. They come to the mainland in their hundreds every year for this purpose. What prospect is there for those boys after two or three years’ work in reafforestation in Tasmania ? They will be unable to get satisfactory employment in any of the other States, because they will have no knowledge of any skilled occupation. I am afraid they will eventually drift into our cities, and augment the already large number of unemployed there. This is one reason why the idea of bringing out British boys to Tasmania should not be countenanced. Tasmanian boys should be trained in the work referred to.
– Why not train both?
– Because there are too many young Tasmanians there already, and there will not be sufficient employment for outsiders.
– The whole State has not the population of a good sized city. Do you mean to say that Tasmania cannot support a larger population than she has at present?
– On this question of immigration we expressed our view definitely at the recent Labour Conference. We have no objection to people coining here from Great Britain provided satisfactory arrangements are made for their employment. We recognise that all members of the British Empire have a right to move from one part to the other, and I hope this right will never be interfered with. -But it is not fair that we should be taxed to bring out more people from Great Britain when we have so many of our own unemployed. I am pleased that Mr. Wignall, a representative of the British Parliamentary Labour party and a member of the Oversea Migration Committee, is now making inquiries in Australia upon this important’ subject, because when he gets back to England he will be able to place before the people of Great Britain the exact situation as he sees it in the Commonwealth.
– He does not. agree with your views about the boys. He thinks it is the best part cf our immigration scheme that he has seen.
– The present state of affairs is a standing disgrace to the Go- vernment. Only the other day the Sydney newspapers reported that hundreds of returned men were unable to secure employment in Sydney, and I believe the same conditions prevail in Melbourne and the other capital cities of the Commonwealth.
– Much of the difficulty in Sydney is due to the coal strike.
– These men have nothing whatever to do with coal.
– But the coal strike has interfered with the manufacturing industries of Sydney.
– Not in the slightest. There is plenty of coal still available in Sydney. These men, I say, are unable to get employment, and can scarcely keep body and soul together. They have to be fed from week to week. We have heard the statement made that in order to meet their urgent wants, a line of meat pies, stretching a distance of 20 miles, had to be supplied gratis.
– Was that one day’s supply ?
– I understand it was for more than one day’s supply. We know only too well that these reports about the hardships being endured by our own unemployed are absolutely in accordance with facts, and that hundreds, if not thousands, of returned men cannot get’ work in Australia. In these circumstances any attempt to bring more people to Australia ought not to meet with the approval of this Chamber. It is well known that although the people who are brought here from Great Britain are supposed to go on the land, they promptly find their way back to Sydney, Melbourne, or one of the other capital cities of the Commonwealth. The majority of the people in New South Wales are living in Sydney. That city will continue to increase in population at the expense of the rural districts, because this is the age of concentration, of big businesses, for the out-turn of large quantities of products; and just as London to-day contains 7,000,000 to 8,000,000 of people, so within the course of a few years will Sydney number its people by millions. No matter what we may do, people will feed the attraction -of the city. Every one who lives in the country in New South Wales desires eventually to get to Sydney. There is the same movement in all the other States. It is true that there is a demand for a limited number of mechanics in one or two branches of the building trade, but if I am correctly informed, several hundred skilled men are unable to find employment in the engineering trade, so that it would be distinctly unfair to bring out people of that class. We hear nothing of any proposal by the Government to bring out more solicitors or other professional men. They direct the whole of their attention to. the immigration of people belonging to the artisan class, under the guise of farm workers. I saw a couple of these men some time ago. One was a good carpenter, and the other was fairly good. They went up country for a few weeks and then came back to Sydney, as most of them do. For these reasons, I say that the time is inopportune for the expenditure of any mere public money to bring people to this country from Great Britain. If conditions were otherwise - if employment was plentiful, and suitable land was available, the position would be different. We take very good care that no matter what land we have we will never make it available. Great Britain has given a handful of people in this country perhaps the most magnificent gift in history - a -territory of 3,000,000 square miles. Yet, as fast as we possibly can, we are reproducing here the conditions that prevail in Great Britain, with the result that, notwithstanding the magnificent resources of this country, we have the same old poor houses and soup kitchens, and the same old deplorable conditions that to-day disgrace our civilization in Great Britain. We are merely tinkering with the problem by spending a few thousand pounds in bringing more people here whose condition in many cases is, no doubt, much worse than that of our own unemployed.
I have taken a fairly keen interest in the progress of events at Canberra. About £2,000,000 has been spent on the Federal Territory, and about £700,000 of that amount has been devoted to the purchase of land. No doubt, a lot of valuable permanent work has been done. There is a splendid dam containing water which cannot be ‘excelled in any other part of the world. That dam’s capacity could easily be doubled by increasing the height of the concrete embankment. Gaugings taken over a number of years show that the average flow is equal to 70,000,000 gallons per day, or more than sufficient for a population of 1,000,000. Hundreds of miles of good roads have been constructed. An up-to-date powerhouse has been built. There are excellent brick-works, and many other works of a substantial nature have been carried out. But, despite all this expenditure, Canberra is making no progress because of one tangible reason, which is as clear as noonday to one who gives the matter a moment’s consideration. The Government, or the Canberra authorities, whoever they may be, have steadfastly and determinedly refused to make available a single building block in the area. How in the name of common sense is it possible to effect any improvement at Canberra if home sites and business sites are held out of use? It is impossible to build a home there or to put up business premises, because the Government will not. make any land available for the purpose. Until they do so, it is futile to talk about making any progress at Canberra. It cannot he done. If the same method were applied to any city in Australia, it would be impossible for it to progress, because, no one could secure a site on which to operate. I may be told that no one would desire to secure a site . at Canberra, but Iknew that thousands of building sites, very much further away than Canberra, were disposed of years ago at very high prices. Many thousands of building sites have been sold at high prices at Jervis Bay, and in the neighbourhood of Canberra thousands of sites were also under offer at one time. Yet nothing has been done by the Government, and no pressure that has so far been brought to bear upon them will induce them to make a single building, site available.. I think they are secretly and determinedly opposed to the creation of the Federal Capital atCanberra. I shall not be prepared to say that they are really in earnest in building the Capital until I see them makingbuilding sites available. If the area were in the hands of private owners, these sites would have been disposed of without the slightest delay. Let us imagine what would happen if 40,000 or 50,000 or even 400,000 or 500,000 people were the owners of various building sites in Canberra. We would then have a volume of public opinion throughout the Commonwealth urging the immediate removal of the Seat of Government to that spot. The making available of these sites is the first step that must be taken. ‘Some of the houses in which the workmen, engaged at Canberra are living are made of all sorts of material, and are totally unsatisfactory to dwell in. The few decent houses which have been erected are very few in number. I know thatsome peoplewould like toseea Board appointed to build the Federal Capital. It is a great idea in this country to appoint Boards. The working people are so energetic and they produce so much wealth that the first thought that occurs to any one isthat it is necessary to appoint a Board, not to do any actual work, but to regulate the work done by others. I suggest that no Board is necessary at Canberra. The machinery for building the city already exists, but there should be a few simple regulations. I should like to see in force the following: -
– Three years? There would be an awful lot of bids.
– I do not. mind making it five years, but I would remind those who object to re-appraisement every three years, that municipalities in New South Wales: re-value properties every three years, and re-adjust their rates accordingly. The object I have in view-
– Is, apparently, to kill the city.
– No; my object is to see that people who use. the land are not taxed too highly. That is to say, I wants to cut out the land speculator.
– If the leases are submitted to auction, you will have the land speculator:
– No. If the rents were re-appraised every five years the man paying the rent would most certainly require to make use of his site.
– If the honorable senator thinks that any one would build on those conditions he is an optimist.
– I am an optimist. If Canberra is to be the capital of the Commonwealth, the whole of the rentals of each of these home or business sites should be taken, not by land speculators, but by the Commonwealth. Some people would like to see the sites at Canberra sold under the freehold system, thus bringing about a repetition of what has taken place in all other large cities, but I do not want to see that done. Large areas in London are leasehold.
– Yes, but the leases run for ninety-nine years, and, in some cases for a thousand years. They are not limited to the three years which the honorable senator wants in this case.
– I would go so far. as to make the period five years. I would grant the lease in perpetuity, but I would re-appraise the rents every three years. There’ seems to be an impression that the Commonwealth would be particularly hard upon its tenants. It would be nothing of the kind. The pastoral leases in the Federal Territory are, I understand, renewed annually.
– They are now held on a twenty-five years’ licence.
– That is a fairly long term. At any rate I am opposed to the idea of selling the freehold. I do not care whether the term of the lease is twenty-five years or ninety-nine years, but if the rent is fixed for the full period of the lease on the value to-day, we shall immediately set up and maintain for a long number of years something to which most of us are opposed, namely, the idea that one may may pay rent to another merely for the privilege of living at Canberra. Whatever rent is paid should be paid direct to the Canberra Committee, or whatever the local authority may he. I do not want to see a Board appointed.
– What is the difference between a Board and a Committee ?
– There is a committee in Canberra which collects the rents from the pastoral lessees at the present time.
– No; they are collected for the Department of Home and Territories through the Commonwealth Surveyor-General.
– Mr. Goodwin, the Surveyor-General, could easily collect the annual rents ‘from the lessees of the home and business sites. Not one of those home and business sites has been made available, so what possible hope can there be of any progress being made at Canberra? If the Government are in earnest, they should immediately make available these building sites. If they desire to bring in the land speculators, let them give a ninety-nine years’ lease ; that would allow one man to secure lease after lease, and sub-lease them.
– The number of leases could easily be limited.
-The right thing is to put into operation in Canberra the ideas of Henry George without any limitation, and to appropriate the full rental value. I refer to this matter because I think it is of public importance, and any man who has views on the subject ought to ventilate them. I am in favour of the leasehold principle for Canberra and of the full rental value of each of these leases being secured by the Commonwealth instead of by the land-jobber or speculator. If that can be secured by the granting of a twenty-five years’ lease, I shall support the giving of such a lease. It is imperative that the Government should make these blocks available immediately.
– Have those blocks any value now?
– They have. Put the leases up at auction, and see what value they will fetch; the Government would be “ smothered “ with revenue.
– What is the potential value of Canberra to-day?
– Some honorable senators will remember when it was proposed to remove the Tuggeranong Arsenal site. Where was the potential value of those magnificent lithographs that were displayed here? There was no one at the site of the proposed arsenal or near it, but the private owners were prepared to sell the blocks at £2 or £3 per foot to the highest bidder.
– Was any one prepared to buy them ?
– I have not the least doubt there were people who were prepared to buy them.
– None were sold.
– Because the arsenal was not built there. Thousands of vacant blocks of land at Jervis Bay have been sold because it was anticipated that, later on, the Federal Capital would be established at Canberra. I am informed that at Port Stephens, where there is little or no settlement, already nearly all the land has been sold and re-sold at fictitious prices. I want the Government to obtain all that prospective value at Canberra. Canberra has a large and continually increasing prospective value, which should belong to the Commonwealth. I bring the matter forward in the hope that the Vigilance Committee will see that the Government do not delay this matter any longer, but make these building blocks available, and so get tens of thousands of people directly interested in seeing that the meeting of Parliament at Canberra is hastened.
I invite the attention of some of my Protectionist friends to a fallacy under which they have been labouring. We have been told that Protection insures the manufacturing in this Commonwealth of the goods we require; that it is not meant to be a revenue producer. Yet we find in the statement of receipts and expenditure for last year, which has just been placed in our hands, evidence that, despite the fact that we have had a Protectionist Tariff for very many years, no less a sum than £32,000,000 was collected last year by the Customs Department. Does that not convince honorable senators that goods made in foreign Protectionist countries by low-wage, sweated labourers are coming into this country? It conveys that to my mind. A Protectionist policy has never kept out of any country foreign-made goods; it was never intended to keep them out. When Labour men become enthusiastic Protectionists and are strongly supportedby anti-Labour men, at what conclusion would any sensible person arrive? Does it not mean that somebody is being deceived ? I have no doubt in my mind . who is being deceived. Victoria almost from the beginning had a Protectionist policy, and obtained the bulk of its revenue from that source. The bulk of the revenue of the Commonwealth to-day comes from Protective duties. Any one who has given the least study to economics knows that the duties which are paid at the Customs House are to a large extent paid by the workers of the country.
– Fully half the sum you have mentioned was collected on tobacco and alcoholic beverages.
– The men who smoke and drink contribute very substantially towards the revenue of this country, and the great bulk of those men are the workers. On tens of thousands of other articles duties are being collected, and those articles are still coming into this country. If we look through this statement further we find there are other sources of taxation which produce very limited amounts. This is the greatest source of revenue.
I desire to refer to the housing difficulty. Notwithstanding the large number of efficient, willing, and capable workers in the building trade, the vast amount of work they have done, and the improvements we see around us, never in the history of this country have rents been so high as they are at the present time. They are still advancing, and, in my opinion, will go a little higher. Efforts have been made by the War Service Homes Commission, the Commonwealth Bank, and private enterprise to cope with the difficulty, but so far the demand has not been nearly overtaken. It is quite a common thing to-day for two families to occupy a house which was intended for only one.
– Bricklayers will lay only 250 bricks a day, for which they are paid 27s. 6d. per day; so what else can you expect?
– They lay very many more bricks than that.
– That is what they are doing in Canberra.
– I doubt that statement. Possibly, bricklayers do not care to go to Canberra, because the Government refuse to pay them the wages they can get in Melbourne and Sydney. How can men be expected to leave their homes in Sydney or elsewhere and go to Canberra to work for 5s. or 6s. a day less than they are receiving at present?
– There is nothing wrong with the wages; they are paid more in Canberra than they are in Melbourne.
– They get as high as 30s. a day in Sydney. I am prepared to admit that at present there is a slight shortage of bricklayers. That, however, is merely temporary. There is an ample supply of bricklayers to do the normal work of the country.
– You cannot name one city in which there is a sufficient number of bricklayers to do the work that is waiting to be done.
– The shortage of bricklayers is temporary, and will pass away in the course of a few weeks. These men in one day add more to the tangible wealth of this country than those who grumble about them will add during the whole of their lives. All the improvements that are to be seen in Melbourne have been the work of bricklayers and other men in the. building trade. Some anti-Labour people have the impertinence to depreciate the work which these men have done, yet they themselves have never done an honest day’s work in their lives, and they never will.
– All made possible by the primary producers.
– It is time some comment was made upon that oft-repeated remark. Where are the ploughs made which assist the primary producer to carry on his operations? Where are the harrows and motor cars produced? In the cities. All the clothing a farmer wears and. the furniture he requires in his house, as well as all his implements of trade, are made in the cities. Sometimes we even furnish the farmer with seed wheat from the cities.
– The city worker could not exist if it were not for the demands of the primary producers which have to be met.
– Do not talk nonsense; we have heard that too often. I realize that the farmer does his share, as also does the man in the cities. Who constructs the rails, locomotives, rollingstock, and railway material? Much of that important work is undertaken by the men engaged at the works of the Broken
Hill Proprietary Company, and fully 99 per cent. of the plant required by the farmer is manufactured within the metropolitan area. The farmer does his part of the work, but it is only one part.
– The farmer supplies the freight for the railways.
– And pays at a high rate.
– The assistance the farmer renders to the city workers is no greater than that rendered by the city workers to the farmers; they are both necessary and form essential parts of the producing machine. It is time that references to the farmer being the backbone, or any other bone, of the country ceased. Motor cars are manufactured in the city, and without their aid the men on the land out-back would have a very strenuous time. In the near future aeroplanes will be manufactured in Australia, not in the country, but in the cities, and when these are available they will be utilized by farmers, who could thus travel from Newcastle to Longreach in a few hours. These machines cannot be manufactured without the help of the skilled mechanics in the cities, who have the assistance of experts to prepare plans and specifications.
What is responsible for the scarcity of homes? What confronts men to-day who want to establish a home for themselves? A home site within a reasonable distance of the General Post Office costs anything from £3 to £5 per foot, which involves an expenditure of from £200 to £250 or more for the land. Where, in the name of common sense, is a workman likely to obtain such a sum ? I do not know. If a man does manage to raise the necessary capital, he is faced with almost endless expenditure in other directions. He has, in the first place, to pay a stamp duty. We have to thank a Labour Government for increasing the stamp duties - an increase which the Nationalist Government has not removed - under which a person in New South Wales who wishes to purchase land is first confronted with a stamp tax, and is compelled to pay 15s. per £100 to the Government of New South Wales.
– And 30s. per day for bricklayers, who lay 250 bricks daily.
– We have not come to the bricks yet. If a buyer requires security of tenure under the freehold system, he has to procure a new deed, for which 25s. is charged. That is not the end of the business, as. he also has to pay for the registration of the deed. When in the Stamp Office in New South Wales a short time ago, I was confronted with a string of regulations about 6 feet in length, all of which were framedwith the object of extracting fees from any one attempting to secure a home for himself. Some of the work may appear simple, hut it is usually necessary to employ a solicitor. When I reach this stage, there are no comments from the honorable senator opposite who has been persistently interjecting.
– We are the searchers after truth.
– Is that so? If a transfer is made from Jones to Smith a fee of £3 3s. is charged.
– We do that for ourselves in Queensland.
– It is usual to employ a solicitor, and the sum mentioned is usually extracted from unsuspecting victims, whether the amount involved is £5 or £500. The bricklayers do something tangible, but the solicitors for a few minutes’ work request £3 3s. After all these preliminaries have been overcome, the prospective house-owner is in possession of his home site. The servicesof an architect have then to be sought, but he does something tangible, as he prepares the plans and specifications.
– If a transfer is put through without the aid of a solicitor, you will get something tangible - ultimately.
– In addition to what I have stated, import duties are imposed on some of the material required in the erection of an ordinary home. Thanks to the glorious policy of Protection, the worker has to pay more for much of the material he requires in order to erect and furnish his dwelling. The cost of a bricklayer is a mere trifle, even if he lays only 250 bricks a day. I can recall a Labour Government dominated by men no longer associated with the Labour movement which passed a Federal Income Tax Act, in which it is provided that if a man builds a home for himself and he has a taxable income, he must also add the value of his house and the land whereon it stands, not for one year, but for every year. Not only is a person’s income tax increased, but also his other . taxes, merely because he owns a home. That measure is one of the most objectionable pieces of legislation which has ever disgraced the Commonwealth Statute-book. If for no other reason than the one I have mentioned, I shall be pleased to see the Federal income tax repealed. The New South Wales Taxation Commissioners, whatever else they do, do not inflict such an unjust imposition upon the residents of that State, but the Commisioner for State Taxation immediately increases the taxpayer’s obligations if he builds a house to let, because revenue is supposed to be derived from it. This measure alone is sufficient to preventany man from investing money in property for letting, and the result in New South Wales is that it is very rare indeed for a dwelling to be constructed for letting purposes.
– Is not the Fair Rents Court a contributing factor?
– In the metropolitan area another incubus has been foisted upon us; by a Nationalist Government, as under the Water and Sewerage Act, whether those services are used or not, a householder is taxed according to the value of the house, and every year one is reminded of the fact. These are the main factors responsible for the high rents and the scarcity of houses in New South Wales. The Fair Rents Court in New South Wales has not made the slightest difference, as rents are just as high there as in other parts of the Commonwealth where no such Court exists. [Extension of time granted.] The present difficulty can only be remedied in one way that is by adopting a system I have mentioned on previous occasions. During my temporary absence from this Chamber, although there was a promise of activity of a more or less nebulous character by Senator Newland, nothing has been done.
– I threw the honorable senator over entirely.
– If we are to encourage immigration, housing accommodation must be made available at reasonable rates. If land is to be made easily accessible, we should adopt the principle laid down by thepresent Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce) a good many years ago at a Labour Conference, when he advocated a straightout land-values tax on all land in the
Common wealth. Until that system is adopted, land will not be available at reasonable rates, since every other method has failed. Not only in Victoria, but throughout the Commonwealth, it is practically impossible for the average person to secure a home site, a far ml et, or any land whatever. All the good land of this country has been held, year after year, by the big financial corporations, and yet we refuse, year after year, to take the one effective step to bring that land within the reach of the people.
– Queensland ‘has 400,000,000 acres of Crown lands.
– Queensland has a Labour Government, and a moderately good Land Values Taxation Act. I do not agree with many of its provisions, but it is certainly the best measure of its kind in the Commonwealth to-day. In New South Wales the land-holders in the Eastern and Central Divisions escape taxation, and those in the Western Division pay only about £3,000. This is a tax which cannot be passed on. It does not make land dear, as Senator McDougall stated, but cheapens it. It is unlike the income tax or any other of the multifarious taxes with which the country is afflicted.
– In Queensland, to a certain degree, it is included in the rental.
– It must be paid, and that is the reason it is so strenuously opposed, not only in this Parliament, but in all the Parliaments of the Commonwealth. This tax reaches the wealthy people, and compels them to use the land which they hold, or otherwise lose money; Until such a tax is imposed, the Labour party will strenuously oppose the nefarious and dishonest scheme to bring immigrants to this country, which is not to better the condition of these people, but to increase the value of the land privately held. To the opponents of Labour, the troubles of the poor people in Great Britain count as nothing. They would bring them here to increase competition, so that their land will be doubled, trebled, and quadrupled in value. While vast areas of land are held, as they are to-day, by big interests, the Labour party will oppose the importation, at the expense of the Commonwealth, of additional men or women to Australia from Great Britain. It is a dishonest scheme, as those who proposed it are aware. We are not opposed to people coming here from Great Britain in the ordinary course. They have a perfect right to do so if they desire; but while vast areas are held by land-owners and the rentals fixed by them, we are perfectly justified in opposing immigration. The scarcity of houses,, high rents, overcrowding, and disgraceful conditions which affect tens of thousands of former returned soldiers in this country must inevitably continue while i-he Government refuse to bring about reform by the imposition of a straight-out tax upon land values, which will make available the whole of the empty spaces, and enable them to be used for productive purposes.
– The honorable senator who has just resumed his seat is known in this Chamber as the most ardent high priest of land values taxation that this country possesses. It is a rather extraordinary doctrine to preach, that the best way to insure .prosperity is to tax the people to such an extent that they must be happy and contented. There are in Australia to-day some people who believe- that industries can be aided and people relieved of excessive taxation by other means1 than those advocated by the honorable senator. Before addressing myself to the motion before the Senate, I wish to congratulate you, Mr. President, upon your .re-election to the high and honorable position which you at present hold, and have held with conspicuous ability in the past. But there comes a time when it is advisable, for many reasons, to appoint a new President. It is an office which should not be held continuously by any one honorable senator. Any honorable senator should be able to aspire, provided he has the ability, to the honour of occupying the position of President of the Senate. It must be a matter of perhaps small comfort to yourself to know that a minority of the members of this Senate was responsible for your selection. I also extend my hearty congratulations to the Deputy President and Chairman of Committees, Senator Newland. He will fill the position - with honour to himself and this House, and I wish him no higher success than to conduct the business of the Chamber as ably and efficiently as did his predecessor. Senator Bakhap is unfortunately absent through illness, and in many ways I regret that he waa not reelected; but he has a worthy successor who will uphold the honour of the Chamber.
After the considerable comment indulged in during recent months and during the last Federal elections about the sins of the Government at that time, and in view of the accession of strength to the ranks of the Labour party in this Senate, I expected at least something in the way of a slashing criticism of the Government’s proposals. But I have been amazed to find that evidently this Government presents no opening in their armour through which their opponents in this Chamber are able to inflict a wound. I could find more fault with the Government myself. From my knowledge of State Parliaments and of the Federal Parliament generally, I have never, heard speeches which contained less censure than those delivered by honorable senators opposite.
– Why complain of that?
– I am not complaining, but congratulating’ the Government because the Opposition can find no fault with their proposals. Senator McDougall tried to derive great comfort from the fact that the Labour party gained a signal success at the last Federal election. Senator Gardiner also congratulated himself and the Labour party upon the election of a number of his adherents. I congratulate the Labour party upon their victory, if it can be so termed. But when an analysis is made of the figures polled at the last Federal elections there is not very much room for congratulations by either party. To-day honorable senators received the publication giving the statistical records of the last Federal elections. The figures for New South Wales are typical of the other States. I wish to confine myself to New South Wales because Senators Gardiner and McDougall, both representatives of that State, dealt with the election figures. These statistics cannot be of very great, comfort to the Labour party, or of any great discomfort to their . opponents. In another Chamber thirteen Labour men were returned by New South Wales constituencies, and fifteen anti-Labour, three of whom were members of the Country party. In this Chamber, two Labour senators were returned by that
State, and one Nationalist senator. These figures show an entirely different position from that represented by the honorable senators I have already mentioned. The total Nationalist vote in New South Wales was 214,359, the total Country party vote 54,896, and the total Independent vote 36,509. I remind Senator Grant that he took great care to emphasize the fact that anti-Labour parties comprised really one party, and I shall take advantage of his contention on this occasion. The total anti-Labour vote polled was. 305,764. The total vote polled in New South Wales by Labour candidates in the whole of the constituencies, leaving out uncontested seats, such as Warringah and Martin, where the majority of the votes would have gone entirely to the Nationalist party, was 238,755. If we reduce it to a percentage basis, we find that the average vote required to elect an antiLabour member of another place was 20,384, and the average vote required to elect a Labour member was 18,596. There must be something wrong with the electoral law when such astonishing; results are possible, since the Labour candidates in New South Wales, with a minority of 67,009 votes in the House of Representatives constituencies, secured a majority of the representation in this Chamber.
– And at the previous Senate election it took nearly 1,000,000 votes to put in one Labour man.
– We cannot congratulate ourselves upon the result of that election either; but it should be remembered that at the previous election in New South Wales the majority of the electors did obtain the majority of the representatives in this Chamber, whereas at the last election a minority of the votes gave Labour a majority representation in the Senate. These are facts which may be verified toy reference to the statistical bulletin which was made available to honorable senators to-day. I commend it to the attention of those honorable senators who claim that the Nationalist and Country parties are one and the same party, and yet seek to separate us so far as election results are concerned, and claim that the Labour party secured a majority of votes at the last election. I do not believe it.
– Did the Return.ing Officers count all the votes recorded for the Senate in New South Wales!
– And Senator McDougall is shown to have secured 287,000 votes more than Senator E. D. Millen, the elected representative of the Nationalist party.
– That was ‘be-, cause of the later preferences. It is one of the anomalies of the preferential system. As I have shown, in a straightout contest in the electorates, the Labour party was in a minority of 67,000 votes.
– Then how did Senator McDougall beat Senator E. D. Millen?
– I admit it is difficult to understand the operation of an electoral law that brings about such a result. In the previous election, Senator Gardiner finally polled more votes than I did, but I was elected at an earlier stage in the count. I then had a majority over him, but I think the final count, gave Senator Gardiner a lead of a couple of thousand votes. I emphasize, however, that in the constituencies for the House of Representatives the Labour party polled a minority of the votes recorded; and I submit that, whilst honorable senators opposite may congratulate themselves upon their increased representation in this Chamber, more than a grain of comfort may be obtained by honorable senators on this side of the Senate from an analysis of the figures contained in the bulletin issued by the Electoral Department.
I want now to pass on and deal with the future proposals of the Government. Australian politics are in a somewhat nebulous state, but to me one thing is absolutely certain, and that is that Democracy must rule, both in legislation and administration. That . is the rock upon which I have built my whole political faith, -and upon that rock I am determined to stand steadfast. I am proud of the fact that I am a Democrat. To me, the rule of the Democracy is everything. To me, the thought that the majority of any community can be subjected in any way to the rule of the minority is abhorrent. It is something which I shall always strenuously oppose. It is impera tive, if we hope to develop this country along safe lines, to maintain the rule of Democracy.
Let us examine for a few minutes theoutlook of the Nationalist and Labour parties towards these great principles of Democracy as we know them to-day. Sofar as the Nationalist party and this Government are concerned, the legislation which it is proposed to pass is of such a. nature as to win the support of all trueDemocrats in the community. I say unhesitatingly that if at any time the Government propose legislation of an undemocratic character I shall be forced to oppose them, no: matter at what cost tomyself or to those with whom I may beassociated. At present there is no prospect of danger in this respect. Even our opponents can find very little to cavil at in. the programme of legislation outlined in the Governor-General’s Speech, and therefore it must be Democratic in sentiment.
Before passing to a closer examination of the programme itself, I wish to congratulate the honorable senators who moved and seconded the AddressinReply upon the excellent speeches which they made. I regret, however, that Senator Guthrie, who moved the adoption of the Address, should have felt it part of his duty to launch a bitter attack upon the Government proposal for the removal of the Federal Capital to Canberra. That project is dear to the hearts of many honorable senators on both sides. It was very bad taste on his part, in the circumstances, to make such a bitter attack upon the ideals which so many of us are determined to stand by at all costs, ‘and I am satisfied that his remarks in this connexion will, be resented very strongly by all New South Wales senators, and some members from other States. I am sorry he is not here to-night. Were he present I should probably have a great deal more to say than is possible in his absence. Therefore I shall content myself by saying that his remarks on the Capital City proposal were in execrable taste.
Passing now to the speech made by my friend, Senator Gardiner, I should like to say that I agree entirely with all he said in connexion with the constitutional position of this Senate. I felt, when the proposal for a- conference with
State Ministers was mooted, that in certain respects a mistake was being made. I feel, with Senator Gardiner, that the Senate is the place for constitutional issues to be discussed. It may be advisable to have a conference with State Ministers to consider certain aspects of administration by the States and the Commonwealth, but the proper place in which to deal with the vital question of constitutional reform is certainly this Chamber.
– What powers have we?
– This Senate has powers co-equal with those of the other branch of the Legislature. We are here as representatives of the States. That is the object for which the Senate was created. The principle of equal representation for the States in the Senatewas indorsed in order that no State should be prejudiced by reason of the fact that some other State might be more populous or wealthier.
– The proposed alteration in the Constitution could not be made without passing legislation through the State Parliaments.
– I do not agree with the honorable senator. On questions of finance, authority rests entirely with this Parliament. This is where such matters should be dealt with in the first instance, though perhaps it may be necessary, subsequently, to refer them to the State Governments. If there had been a proper realization of the position the correct procedure would have been for the State Governments to get in touch with their State representatives in the Senate. The subjects could then have been debated in this Chamber. My experience, and I think it is shared by almost every other honorable senator, is that since I have been here I have never been approached by the Government of New South Wales upon any matter, although during the last three years many negotiations have been conducted between the State Government and the Commonwealth on matters affecting my State.
– The Senate would not have agreed upon the proposals discussed at the recent Conference.
– We do not know. In any case, before the proposals can be adopted they must be ratified in this Chamber, otherwise they cannot come into operation.
– And if the State Parliaments do not ratify the agreement it cannot become law.
– I repeat that, so far as finance is concerned, the powers of the Commonwealth are unchallengeable. We can declare that there shall be a per capita payment to the States, or that there shall be no payment whatever, and the States have no say in the matter. My object is to emphasize the fact that the proper place for the States to make their representations is this Chamber, and that it is derogatory to our dignity, as honorable senators, that we should be kept in ignorance, just as if the Senate did not exist, when matters of considerable moment are made the subject of negotiation between the Commonwealth and the States. I agree with Senator Gardiner that it is time the Senate asserted itself, and declared its intention not to ratify any agreement arrived at in any way other than by the method laid down in the Constitution, which honorable senators are sworn to uphold. Otherwise, we are conniving at a means whereby the Constitution is being undermined by the holding of conferences, and by the setting up of a new semi-legislative body in the shape of a Premiers’ Conference, whose existence is not contemplated by the Constitution.
We shall be told in this Chamber, as the representatives of the people will be told in another place, and possibly as the State Parliaments will be told, that the decisions of these conferences must be ratified when they come before us, and that it will not be right for us to modify or amend those decisions, because if we do it will lead to a great deal of trouble, and necessitate the holding of further conferences. As I see no reason for holding these conferences, I shall pay no respect whatever to their decisions merely because they have been arrived at by State Premiers. If they appearto me to be right and proper decisions for this Chamber to adopt, I shall be prepared to indorse them, but otherwise I shall unhesitatingly oppose them with my voice and vote regardless of the consequences. It is just about time a little more consideration was given to the constitutional rights of this Parliament, and a little less weight was bestowed upon the opinions expressed by gentlemen no matter how estimable they may be, and no matter what high positions they may occupy in the various States whose Administrations they represent at conferences with Commonwealth Ministers.
I pass now to certain aspects of the Government’s policy as set out in the Governor-General’s Speech, and I do so with a certain amount of fear and trembling, because I am aware that there are some members of the Ministry who resent criticism .of the Government’s proposals by a Government supporter. In fact, J have already been told by a Minister - not one of ‘the Ministers in this Chamber - that if I continue in the course that I have been following for some little time and exercise my undoubted right to freely criticise all measures which I think should be criticised, I shall, at the next general election, have such a strong influence thrust against me that it will be impossible for me to face it. I am entirely careless of what the consequences may be to me. I am here to represent the people of New South Wales, and I propose to do what I believe to be right, quite regardless of the threats of Ministers or any one else. I am a supporter of the Government, and will, perhaps, give them as loyal support as is given by any other member of this Parliament, but’ I shall allow no Government or Minister to dictate what my course of action shall be upon measures that come before this Chamber.
The programme presented to us by the Government for this session contains vary many excellent proposals, but there are many other matters 1 should like to have seen included. The constitution of the present Government would lead one to imagine that in its initial policy speech better consideration would have been shown for the requirements of the primary producers. I do not agree With Senator Grant that it is not the duty of the Commonwealth Government or of any Government to give special consideration to the primary producers. I believe that they should have every consideration extended to them, and that the Government should give them every assistance possible in every direction in which it is found advisable to afford help. Therefore, remembering the way in which the present Government came into existence, I am surprised that there are not in the Governor-General’s Speech more proposals for assistance and greater consideration to the primary producers. Prior to the general election we were told that this section of the community was labouring under all sorts of injustices, and that it was not receiving proper treatment. I thought, therefore, some proposals would be put forward by the Government to remove those injustices and relieve the hardships under which a large section of the primary producers are now labouring. But there are very few proposals in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech that will be even of general interest to these people. There is a proposal to assist cotton-growing, a very proper thing no doubt, and there is also a proposal to spend money on main roads development, the Bill for which we have already passed. That is, perhaps, something that will indirectly, and to a certain extent directly, benefit primary producers. Then; is also a proposal for an export bounty on meat. But these are the only proposals that I can see in the Speech that are calculated to be of any great and direct benefit to the primary producers. Perhaps, later on in the session when the Government have, more time to consider the position of these, people, they will give them greater consideration, and afford them that relief which is necessary. It is necessary for the Government, more particularly at this time, to do their utmost to stabilize primary production by increasing the number of producers and guaranteeing that they shall have tha highest price possible for their produce, so that they may be able to live under conditions of greater comfort than are possible for many of them to-day.
The Leader of the Labour party (Senator Gardiner) and other honorable senators opposite have spoken at length on the . problem of unemployment. lt is most unfortunate that in this community there should be such a high degree of enforced > idleness, and I quite agree with what the Leader of the Opposition said as to the resultant waste and hardship to the unfortunate people involved. I could not follow him, however, when he declared . that this Government, and this Government only, is responsible for ‘the present position. There is, unfortunately, unemployment in every State, and I have no desire to minimize the evil. There is suffering from this cause even in
Queensland, where, if we are to believe some honorable senators, it is impossible for anything like hardship to overtake the working classes.
– The population of other States is nocking to that well governed State.
– I do not see that at all.
– If you go to Queensland you will realize the fact.
– I have been to Queensland, and I quite fail to realize the fact. How does the honorable senator suggest that these unemployed people get there? Queensland is a long way off, and unemployed people are not likely to have money to pay high rates on trains and steamers. If people were going to Queensland in thousands, they would be seen on the roads; but we know that, as a matter of fact, there is not that great flow north that the honorable senator would have us believe. The factis that a large percentage of the normal population of Queensland is unemployed.
– There has been no abnormal increase in the population of Queensland.
– There has not.
– If we compare Tasmania, with its Conservative Government, with Queensland, we find that Queensland is gaining population at the greater rate.
– No doubt Queensland is gaining population, but there has been no great and sudden increase ; indeed; there has been a much lower rate of increase than one might have expected under normal conditions.
– There is a slow and steady drift of population north.
– Then it is so slow that we scarcely notice it. There is a higher degree of unemployment in Queensland than in some of the other States which have not enjoyed the muchtalkedof blessings of Labour government. When honorable members seek to fasten on the present Government the responsibility for the prevailing unemployment, I ask them to look at the facts, and to remember that the Government have done something in the way of relief by making grants to the States with a view to providing work. This Parliament and Government have their functions under the Constitution, and the State Parliaments and Governments have carefully preserved to themselves certain rights under that same Constitution. The provision of employment for the people of the States is primarily a matter for the State Parliaments and Governments. Of course, if it should be shown that the State Governments have failed, by reason of wrong administration or failure to pass necessary legislation, to minimize unemployment, it might become necessary for the Commonwealth Government to act, and under such circumstances I, for one, would not hesitate to give it my support.
We have heard to-day a great deal from Labour senators about immigration, but it is notorious that most of the gentlemen who to-day run the Labour movement - the men who are the kings of that movement - are immigrants, and have not been here very long.
– Some were here before the honorable senator was born!
– No doubt; but others have been in Australia for very few years. Mr. Willis and some associated with him have not been here very long.
– The general secretary of the movement is an Australian native, and so is Senator Gardiner.
– I am speaking of the leader of the Labour movement in New South Wales, and also of” Jock” Garden, a Scotchman, who has been here for only a few years, and who has so much to say about the advantages of Bolshevik rule in Russia.
– He is one of your “ pals “ !
– No, he is not. I should not know him if I met him in the street. Honorable senators opposite declare that we cannot absorb immigrants, and I am merely pointing out that some of the present leaders of the Labour movement were immigrants themselves not long ago, and have managed to get themselves into good soft jobs.
– No one objects to immigrants.
– Perhaps honorable senators opposite do not object to immigrants, yet they say that they must not come until there is sufficient land to give every man a little block; in any case, the newcomers must not take town jobs, but go out-back, along with the rabbits and the goats. This country is big enough to absorb all the immigrants that mav be expected for many years to come. Every immigrant that arrives provides more work for others, and I have no fear of any increase of unemployment in that connexion.
Senator Grant, who is interjecting so freely, spoke for quite a long time about - the programme of the Government; but the only complaints he could make were that patent medicine bottles were not labelled with their contents, and there was no provision for an adequate hall-mark for jewellery. There are’ omitted from the Governor-General’s Speech matters which I believe it ought to ‘have contained. I thank it ought to have included a proposal for uniform divorce laws. The manner in which the divorce laws are being administered in the various States, as between the States, is leading in many cases to a very great deal of hardship. There ought to have been, also, a proposal relating to Commonwealth insurance laws. I give the Queensland Government credit for having established a State Insurance Department. The Parliament of the Commonwealth established the Commonwealth Bank, which has done magnificent work. A Commonwealth Insurance Department would do equally as fine work for the people of Australia. It is about time that the Government stepped in with an adequate Commonwealth insurance law to protect the people of Australia from the rapacity and unfair dealings of the. promoters of some private insurance companies which are floated in such a manner as to bring big profits to the promoters and no benefit to the policyholders,
I hope that the Government will be able to carry into effect, in the time at their disposal, the ‘legislation they have outlined. I have very grave doubt of their being able to do so. How can we be expected to give proper consideration to the many measures proposed, considering the short time that remains before the session will close? I feel confident that the Prime Minister (Mp. Bruce) will worthily represent the Commonwealth at the Imperial Conference. I am not enamoured of the proposal that Parliament should be shut up during his absence; when so much legislation is waiting to be passed, when so many injustices are waiting to bc remedied, and so much good work,, which is necessary in the interests of the development of Australia, awaits our attention. ‘I wish ‘the Prime Minister good luck, and I hope that when he comes back we shall be able to give legislative effect to the many proposals for which the people of Australia are waiting.
Debate (on motion by Senator Hoare) adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 10.55 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 5 July 1923, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1923/19230705_senate_9_103/>.