9th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator tie Hon.T. Givens) took the chair at 11 asm. and read prayers.
SenatorFOLL. - I desire to ask Senator Grant a question.
– An honorable senator may only ask another honorable senator who is not a Minister a question arising out of anybusiness which that honorable senator may haveon the noticepaper. I am not aware that Senator Granthas any business on the noticepaper.
– I was about to ask Senator Grant, whose photo appears in the. Sun alongwith several returned soldiers, whether hecould give the Senate any information as to the service he rendered at the Front?
– Order! That is not a proper question to put.
– I should like to know if it is a fact that the Government have derided to appoint a Board of three tocontrol the Commonwealth Bank; and, if so, seeing that this Bank was established at the instigation of the Labour party, whether it is intended to appoint as a member of that Board persons whose Views are recognised as being favorable to the objective of the Australia Labour party, and the principles upon which the Bank was established?
– Seeing that the Labour party which established the Bank is well represented ontheGovernment side of the Senate, the honorable senator can rest assured that full regard will be paid to those principles for which the Bank was established.
Bill presented by Senator Pearce, and read a firsttime.
– Senator Newland, who was a Temporary Chairman of Committees, having been appointed Chairman of Committees, I now lay on thetable, pursuant to standing order 28a, my warrant appointing Senator Kingsmill to act in his stead as Temporary Chairman of Committees when requestedso to doby the Chairman of Committees, or when the Chairman of Committees is absent.
– When honorable senators give notice on a Thursday that they will ask questions on the following day, it does not afford sufficient time to Ministers to furnish answers. I suggest that honorable senators who give notice of questions on a Thursday should ask them on the following Wednesday. When an honorable senator is told, in reply to a question, that the information he seeks is being obtained, it is unnecessary for him to place his question on the notice-paper again, because when the information is obtained it will be supplied to the honorable senator.
Danger to Homing Pigeons.
asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
Motion (by Senator Guthrie) agreed to-
That two months’ leave of absence be granted to Senator Russell on account of ill-health.
The following Sessional Committees were appointed (on motion by Senator
Standing Orders Committee.
The President, the Chairman of Committees,
Senators Bakhap, Duncan, Findley, Foll, Gardiner, E. D. Millen, and O’Loghlin, with power to act during the recess, and to confer with a similar Committee of the House of Representatives.
The President, Senators Gardiner, Sir T. W.
Glasgow, Graham, Kingsmill, J. D. Millen, and Ogden, with power to act during the re cess, and to confer or sit as a Joint Committee with a similar Committee of the House of Representatives.
The President,the Chairman of Committees,
Senators Cox, Drake-Brockman, Guthrie, Hoare, and McDougall, with power to act during the recess, and to confer or sit as a Joint Committee with a similar Committee of the House of Representatives.
SenatorsFindley, Poster, Grant, McHugh,
Payne, Russell, and Thompson, with power to. confer orsit as a Joint Committee with a similar Committee of the House of Representatives.
Debate resumed from 5th July (vide page 723), on motion by Senator Guthrie -
That the following Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the Governor-General’s Opening Speech be agreed to: -
May it Please Yourexcellency -
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.
.- I am not, perhaps, so fortunate as those who have spoken previously from this side of the Senate, since mine will be a maiden soeech in every sense of the word. I wish, in the first place, to reply to a statement that was made by Senator Guthrie, when . moving the adoption . of the Address-in-Reply. He said -
Among them are also men who were ornaments to the truly, progressive and democratic old Labour party, whoseslogan was, “ The lost man and the last shilling,” and who are very different from the “Cut the painter” advocates of to-day.
Might I remind Senator Guthrie that right from the inception of the Labour movement the cry has gone forth that the Labour party favoured cutting adrift from the Motherland. What is the tie that binds Australia to the Motherland? Is it a tie of commercialism, camouflaged patriotism, or blood relationship? It is, of course, the last-named tie. Our forefather’s, the pioneers of Australia, owed their parentage to England. They helped to make Australia what it is to-day, and we respect the Motherland because it was their home. I noticed in the press yesterday that England congratulated America on the anniversary of the declaration of its independence. I suppose the same cry went forth when the war was being fought to secure America’s independence - that America was out to “ cut the painter “ from the Motherland. On every 4th July since, the British Government has congratulated America on having secured its independence. Is America in any worse position because it does not owe allegiance to Britain ? When America came to our assistance during the war we were grateful, and congratulated the people because they ranged themselves on the side of England. No slur was cast upon the name of the people of America because they had severed their connexion with the Old Country.
Senator Pearce stated that boys bad come into the Labour movement and had been able to win their way because others had gone out of it. I do not know whether or not the honorable senator was referring to me. I am one of theold-fashioned boys; I am the father of boys and girls - five of them. If Senator Pearce has put forth as great an effort to populate this country as I have he has done his duty to the nation. I was a boy sixteen years of age when I entered the Labour movement. I worked night and day to get into Parliament men of the same calibre as Senator Pearce; and I have since worked night and day to get those men out of Parliament. We met with a measure of success at the recent Federal election. Those boys to whom Senator Pearce has referred are still in the Labour movement because they have believed in and have accepted the principle of majority rule. Unless a party is prepared to embrace that doctrine there is no hope for it. Apparently Senator Pearce considers that the Labour party was somewhat harsh in its treatment of him and others who are outside the movement to-day. We had in the movement men who were faltering in their allegiance. I can name two men in South Australia who were conscriptionists. We respected their opinions and asked them to submit their names to a plebiscite. They did so; and although they held views that were contrary to ours we selected them at the plebiscite and they were returned to Parliament. They are in the State Parliament to-day. One was the first Labour man who was ever elected to an Australian Parliament.
– They were not expelled in the first place?
– No, because they were prepared to submit their names to a plebiscite and abide by the principle of majority rule. The gentleman to whom I have referred is the Honorable A. A. Kirkpatrick, a member of the Legislative Council of South Australia. Senator Pearce stated, in reply to Senator Gardiner, that we had admitted the red rag element - the communists, as they are called - into the Labour movement. I remind the honorable senator that the revolutionary element is in a hopeless minority in the movement, and must submit to the ruling of the majority or go out of the party. We are, perhaps, less revolutionary in our ideas and less militant than when Senator Pearce was in the Labour movement. We have cast aside the weapon of direct action, and in its place have substituted arbitration, believing that any temporary economic advantage gained by unconstitutional methods would not have the backing of the people, and therefore would not have a permanent foundation. No party can proceed beyond the stage to which the people have been educated. It does not matter how militant, how revolutionary a certain section of the Labour movement may be, immediately they act in advance of the knowledge of. the people they will be forced to retrace their steps. In the Labour movement I am classed as one of the moderates, and we moderates believe that the pen is still mightier than the sword; that that which is won by force must be held by force; but that which is won by the pen is won with the knowledge of the people and has behind it the will of the people.
Studying the policy of the Government, one is- more or less impressed1 by two items’ - the Imperial Economic Conference on the one hand and the- immigration scheme on the other. The object of the Economic Conference, seemingly, is to study ways’ and means for the fuller development of the natural resources’ of the Dominions.- One striking fact is the surprising interest that is being displayed in the unemployed of England. Looking at the1 matter superficially, one, perhaps, might imagine that the employing class of England and of Australia had suddenly become imbued with a philanthropic desire ; but, when we dig beneath the surface, we discover that the application- of these economic ideas means economy for the- many and the enlargement of the banking accounts of the few. Why not be honest about this- conference, give it its right name, and’ admit that it represents vested interests drawn from all parts of the Dominions’? Why not say that it is out to create a cheaper labour market;, for, seemingly; the British capitalist is desirous of speculating his money in Australia.? Here is- where the immigration policy obtrudes itself. That policy will’ lead to the crystallization of the desire to secure cheap labour. If a plentiful supply of docile and cheap labour is made available it will do a great deal to-‘ wards, lowering the standard of living in Australia until it approximates to- that of Europe. Why should the, Government endeavour to give practical effect to the words of Bobbie Burns, who said -
Man’s inhumanity to’ man
Makes countless- thousands! mourn..
Why should they endeavour to bring people into Australia- when Australia has thousands of unemployed and thousand’s of bona fide- agriculturists who have- been born- and1 bred’ on the land and are waiting for an opportunity to’ secure blocks ? Why should men be brought here’ who have no* knowledge of the land’ and be given preference over the Australian born? Let us first find land for our own- people and give them- the opportunity they have so long been looking for. A large number of them are the sons of farmers. When they have been provided for we can consider the question1 of bringing’ in others. Our duty is1 to’ find employment for every mau and woman iff Australia. If we were’ t,o double, the. population of Australia tomorrow would it lessen the? burden of the toiling’ masses!;: would it solve the unemployment problem;’ would it add one economic advantage to the masses) generally? Of course- it would’ not. The world’ to-day stands divided into two extreme factions- On the one hand we- have a Conservative plutocracy representing the few who neither toil nor spin but yet are rich. They control the: world’s mightiest danger - the press. The press, in turn, makes and unmakes1 Parliaments-. Parliaments, in their turn, govern- or misgovern - the people of the world’ and use their power as engines of torture to impoverish the poor for the- benefit of the rich. On the other hand stand the- Labour masses, the men who toil, the men who are the sole producers of all wealth. They produce coal from the earth, and’, perish because they lack a fire; they manufacture boots and clothing, but they are ragged and bare-footed; they build houses and . mansions,, but they live in hovels, into which God’s pure air and. sunshine rarely penetrates; they use all their energy, brain power, and skill to construct vessels of war for use in defence of their country, but they fail miserably to defend, their, own homes, against the bailiff. So the whole business, goes. on. On. what basis are we to judge a nation’s greatness.?. Are we to- judge it by the poverty of. the many and the wealth of a few, or are we to j,udge it by the> prosperous surroundings- of the people generally! If we build up our Australian- industries on honest and humane principles we shall give the people- of this- continent something, .to live- for, and then- they will have something, to defend.. The people do not want charity. Charity should be replaced, by justice;, and not used as a cloak, as has been the practice to- disguise the greed for gold.. Grave moral wrongs create* unemployment, and should be swept away.. It is a grave wrong as. well as an economic waste to> send people to work who are ill-fed, ill’-clothed, and1 ill-housed, because no man can1 do his: best unless well equipped for the battle of life. The1 strongest supporters’ of immigration are the greatest Conservatives’. I have never’ known a Conservative Government to place a compulsory repurchase measure on- its’ programme1.
SenatorDrake-Brockman.- Is there a Conservative Government in office in any part of Australia?
– The honorable senator may imagine that there is not, but the majority of the people of Australia hold a different opinion.
– I am speaking of facts, and not of imagination.
– I am also stating facts. Let us consider the methods adopted by the Conservatives in the South Australian Parliament who endeavoured to dissociate themselves from Conservatism. They changed the name of their party to gull the people, and were returned to Parliament, under a different banner. The Conservative Government in South Australia were supposed to be in favour of assisting land settlement, and they introduced a measure into the Parliament relating to the compulsory repurchase of land- - the object of which was to assist in settling ex-soldiers. No others could apply. When the Bill had been advanced a certain stage the Government, accepted an amendment to the- effect- that estates carrying studsheep or stud1 cattle should not be compulsorily repurchased., thus placing, the interests of stud rams and stud ‘bulls before, the men who> had. fought in the defence of the country..
– What utter rot!
– That was long before the war.
– I am stating the facts, and it is ridiculous to say that one acre in South Australia has been compulsorily repurchased for soldier settlement. Most of the land-seekers were those: who fought in the last Great War, and those’ who are coming to Australia will, according to Senator Ogden, be neededin the next war:
– Probably .
– Is that, all that men are for?
– Apparently ; men are required only to assist in defending a country for the benefit of others. Those who enlisted’ in Australia were told that on their return fhey would’ be given the opportunity they were seeking; but although they fought in1 the interests of those- who awn the large estates they have been unable to secure land under so-called closer settlement schemes. It may be said that the men who are coming from Great Britain also fought in the war, and if such is the case it is a disgrace to the British Government, because the British Government should recognise that men fought in defence of the poor as well as in the interests of the rich. The British Government should have imposed an unimproved land values tax. The great deer parks of England should have been subdivided, and the owners compelled either to submit their land to the Government for closer settlement or to use it to the fullest possible extent-. Australia is suffering from the curse of centralization more than any other country. Any one with a* knowledge of the rural districts of Australia will admit that thousands of. small towns, scattered throughout the Commonwealth, have not increased in size and population during the last thirty or forty years.
– That is not the position in Queensland.
– Then Queensland must be an exception.
– Honorable senators from New South Wales will admit that there has been considerable development, and that the country towns in that State axe much larger than they were a few years ago.
– The town of Maitland, on Yorke Peninsula, in South Australia, where I was born, has increased its population to a remarkable extent.
– There are many country towns in Western Australia which have doubled their population in ten. years.
– There may be exceptions. When contesting a seat in the South Australian Parliament, I visited Callington, which is in a deplorable state of stagnation. There are also towns in South Australia, such as Mount Pleasant, which are in a similar state, because they are surrounded by sheep runs, which are throttling their progress. It would be a more creditable act on the part of the Government to expend money on closer settlement rather than on immigration, as it would be a means of finding employment for the workless and also an aid to decentralization. A few years ago the Moorak Estate, near Mount Gambier, was subdivided on the death of the owner. Prior to the estate being cut up for closer settlement there were only two or three men earning a livelihood on a very large area.
– Under the late Dr. Browne, thirty or more men were employed on the Moorak Estate.
– There may have been that number during shearing time. Since the estate has been cut up, ninety prosperous dairy farmers, maintaining probably 500 people, are finding remunerative employment. In the adjacent town of Mount Gambier there has been an increased demand for agricultural and other implements, and the general prosperity of the town has improved to a remarkable extent. That is only one illustration of the successful results which follow closer settlement. . Senator Guthrie, when’ speaking the other day, said that the land should be made available for the people.
– I believe in that.
– If that is the honorable senator’s belief, he should be agreeable to the Government imposing an allround unimproved land values tax to compel the owners of large estates to put them to the fullest use, or on the other hand to allow them to be acquired by the Government for closer settlement purposes.
– Many are being put to the best use now.
– The Moorak Estate is.
– Moorak is a splendid example of closer settlement.
– Yes, and other estates should be similarly dealt with.
– No one prevented the sale of the Moorak Estate.
– It is the duty of the State Governments to acquire land.
– The States have the power, but they will not exercise it.
– When the late Dr. Browne took over the Moorak Estate eighty years ago, it was a very rough and undeveloped tract of country.
– It may have been. The Booboorowie and Hill River Estates have also been divided, and to-day are carrying more sheep than previously.
– The honorable senator is quite right. An estate when subdivided will carry more sheep.
– At the forthcoming Economic Conference an endeavour will be made to frame a policy for developing the natural resources of the Dominions. We have a good idea what has been done to develop the natural resources of Great Britain. On the eve of . the war the London banks closed their doors. They did hot wait until war was actually declared.
– That is not true.
– It is.
– A bank holiday and a Saturday intervened.
– The banks closed their doors on the eve of war, and virtually said that they were bankrupt and unable to carry on. If such was not the case, why did the British Government issue Government Treasury notes as legal tender ? If they did not close their doors, why was it necessary for the British Government to go to their assistance] When the British Government went to the rescue of the private banks their doors were opened, and . they paid on demand in British Government Treasury notes. These banks had simply declared that they were bankrupt. They had no credit apart from the guarantee given by the British Government, and how could they subscribe to the war loans? They did it simply by lending the British Government the notes that they had previously obtained from the Government, and they charged the people compound interest for borrowing their own money. It was an everlasting procession of cash, until the ten billion mark - the cost of the war to Great Britain - was reached . A few months after the Government came to the assistance of the banks, by giving them millions of notes to go on with, the banks lent the British Government- £200,000,000. Lent it! The banks, to use the right word, robbed the Government of it. Thus mighty England is oppressed by the private banking institutions, because of the overwhelming burden of interest on money that was the people’s very own. Two hundred million pounds ! And the men at the Front, supposed to be engaged in a war for Democracy, a war to end war, were, sinking to rise no more. The shipping rings in Great Britain made a profit in 1913 of £20,000,000, but in 1916 their profits amounted to £250,000,000, while the best manhood of the nation was shedding its life-blood on the battlefields.
– The war time profits tax reduced that profit by 80 per cent.
– Let us see what the manufacturing classes in England did to help develop the natural resources or Australia. Textile machinery was naturally required for our woollen mills, and the British Government were applied to. In the first place, probably, the appeal was made to British manufacturers, but this met with no success. I believe that the mill-owners of Australia asked the Commonwealth Government to intercede on their behalf, and the result was that £70,000 worth of plant was procured, although the total value of the textile machinery exported was £500,000. Japan received eight or nine times as much of this machinery as Australia was able to get. It looks as though the charge that Australia wishes to “ cut the painter “ could be more appropriately levelled against the British manufacturers than against the people of this dominion. I maintain that if Australia required this machinery it’ should have had preference over J apan or any other nation outside the British Empire. I wish to see the woollen mills of Australia progress, because there are great possibilities before the woollen industry, if it is properly managed. We should not be manufacturing merely 15 per cent, of our requirements.
– We are meeting 25 per cent, of our needs, and we ought to be turning out the lot.
– I am glad to health at the percentage is on the increase. The Storey Administration in New South Wales appointed an inspector’ to investigate conditions in the industry. On visiting one factory he discovered that cloth, which cost 13s. 3d. a yard at the mill, was sold by the warehouse at 18s. 6d., and offered to the public as the best imported article at 13 guineas a suit. Then the inspector went further into the matter, and found that the Australian Woollen Mills had sold Robert Reid and Co. serge at 13s. 3d. per yard, which Reid and Co. had passed on to Davidson and Norton at 28s. 6d. The latter firm was asked if it stocked Australian-mads goods, and the answer given was that it did not because it only kept the best imported material. The inspector was somewhat suspicious, and he asked to be shown a roll of the tweed. He was assured that it was the best imported article and was of a kind that could not be pro duced in Australia, but when . he rolled back the serge he found it branded as having been made in the Australian Woollen Mills. Then the inspector visited the premises of Birkes Limited and saw a roll of material, 40 yards in length, which he was told was thebest English serge, of a quality that could not be produced in Australia. Ha examined the cloth and again found it stamped “ Made in the Australian Woollen Mills.” If there are no laws on our statute-books to punish such unscrupulous liars as these, the sooner such an Act exists the better for the people in general.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that the retail people did not know whether it was Australian or imported tweed?
– I should say they . would.
– Does the honorable senator implicate Robert Reid and Company?
– Reid and Company did not say that the cloth waa an imported article. I stated that Davidson and Norton was the firm which said it did not stock Australian goods, and that the article shown to the inspector could not be manufactured in Australia. In 1920, when the Commonwealth Government mills first began to supply material to soldiers and their dependants, the Returned Soldiers’ League purchased large quantities, which were distributed first of all at ls. and then at ls. 6d. a yard in advance of the cost at the mill. A returned soldier was thus able to obtain a first class tailor-made suit at a total cost of from £4 to £6, while the price charged for suits made from material supplied’ by private warehouses ran from £10 to £12. Where is this immense profit going ?
– I am quite with the honorable senator. If he looks up my own speeches he will read a good deal of .his own arguments.
– On the 15th September, 1922, Senator Guthrie said -
Whilst charging comparatively low prices for splendid material, the Government mills have been able to show a substantial net profit, year after year, and employment has been under the best possible conditions. . . . The mills have tended to prevent - and I think this is a very important fact - Government Depart-, ments and returned soldiers from being exploited. . . . They turned out highly satis factory material at 5s. 6d., 6s. 6d., and 7s. Cd. per yard, when other manufacturers were charging double that price. . . . Private manufacturers were charging from 10s. 6d. to 12s. 6d. per yard for similar material to that being supplied toy the Government mills at Gs. Cd.
That supports my argument that .the warehouses are useless. If they are considered necessary they should be compelled to accept a much lower profit. Australia is to send to the Imperial Conference, in the person of its Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce)., one of the biggest warehousemen in Australia. How can he be expected to promote the development of our natural resources when he is interested in bolstering up the system which I have condemned. If Senator Guthrie had been selected, the interests of the woollen industry would have been better safeguarded. I feel that there must ‘be some honesty of purpose in Senator Guthrie, judging by the way he has advocated the promotion of this important Australian industry.
If our natural resources are to ‘be developed, we must try to wipe the middleman out of existence. I am reminded of a story which, even if it has been heard before, will stand ‘being re-told: Two friends met in the street, and one said to the other, “A very cold morning.” “ Yes,” said the second. The first remarked, “How would a whisky and egg do 1” “Splendid,” said his companion. “ Very well,” said the first man, “You go and purchase the eggs, and then we shall go to Jones, the publican, and obtain the whisky.” His friend purchased three eggs, and the two of them went across to interview Jones, the publican. They recounted their plans to him, and put it to him that he should enter into their scheme, and that as they had supplied the eggs, he should provide the whisky, which he did. And so they drank the whisky, and had a little bit of a yarn, after which, the man who had bought the eggs said to the other, “ What are you in this scheme? You did not purchase the eggs, and you did not buy the whisky.” “Hush!” said the other, “ I am the middleman.’” That is exactly the position the middlemen of Australia occupy to-day. They do nothing in the direction of making the country progress, but all the time they reap the benefit of what is done by those who are actively engaged in the work of development.
In South Australia I have had the opportunity of inspecting woollen mills at Tweedvale, or as it was known before the war, Lobethal. I was very pleased to see what was being done, but the people of Tweedvale and the surrounding district cannot purchase a yard of flannel from their own mills. The blankets, flannels, rugs, and so forth, manufactured by the Tweedvale mills must be placed on motor lorries and conveyed to Adelaide 30 miles away. It is only after they have filtered through the warehouses of Adelaide, and have been carted back to Tweedvale, that the people of that town have an opportunity to purchase the output of the mills established in their midst. The people of Ballarat cannot buy a scrap of the material manufactured in their mills until it is first placed on rails and conveyed to Melbourne, 75 miles away.’ and then railed back again. All of this adds to the cost of production, and affects Australia in the markets of the world. If we are to become a manufacturing nation, if we are to progress and have our resources developed to the fullest extent, we must get rid of such overhead costs. Until we do so, I fail to see how we can keep up our end in the cheap markets of the world. Any one who is sincere must admit the logic of my statements; but those who are associated with’ the warehouses of Australia apparently have no Australian sentiment. What lies did they tell to the people of Australia when they sold to them cloth manufactured in Australia, but described it as the best English serge ? ‘There is no honesty or integrity of purpose in their dealings. Their sole object is to swindle people to the detriment of Australia.
If we are to build up a nation here we must have population.. We hear it .said by honorable senators opposite that population means defence. Honorable mem-, bers of the Labour party recognise equally with honorable senators opposite that we need population to develop the vast areas of Australia, but at the same time, we claim that the way should be paved for the people we invite to our shores. The only way in which I see it can be done is by having a system of closer settlement, which should go .a long way towards bringing about the prosperity of Australia, as well as affording means for its defence. Therefore, let -us pave -the way for people we asK to come here, so that they will have the means of living . Do not let us simply bring, them here regardless of the fact that they may compete with returned soldiers and other civilians who need work, or are seeking to get on’ the land,. The Governments of the Commonwealth and the ‘States must provide markets for our surplus products. It would be absolutely useless to dump thousands of people on the land, to grow fruit, raisins, and so forth, without firstinsuring an outlet for their products.
-brockman . - Is not that the abject of the Economic Conference which the honorable senator has so vigorously condemned ?
– If the Conference can achieve that object it will accomplish something. But we are sending the wrong man to the Conference.
– Senator “Wilson is also going to the Conference.
– I suppose that he will simply follow the dictates of Mr. Bruce.
– Has Senator “Wilson followed any one yet?
– Not for any length of time, so far as we know him in South Australia. However, the Government have not elected themselves. The people of Australia have elected them. The people knew perfectly well what they must expect from the Government they chose.
-brockman. - And they will not be disappointed.
– I think they will be, especially after the result of the recent State elections in Queensland, at which the Labour party has secured a majority for the fifth time.
– So much the worse for Queensland.
– That is your opinion.
– I must ask the honorable senator not to address an honorable senator directly.
– This is my maiden speech, and I do not understand the procedure of the Senate as it is understood by honorable senators who have been here for some time. In the circumstances, I may be excused any breach of the Standing Orders.
– I am making every allowance for the honorable senator. If he addresses his remarks to the Chair he will be quite in order.
– The people of Australia must stand the consequences of putting the present Government into power. While I hope that some good will result from the Imperial Economic Conference I have not an atom of faith in it, because I think that Australia will bc represented by the wrong man.
– I thank the Leader of the House, Senator Pearce, for his kind words of welcome to new senators. I, like Senator Ogden, who spoke yesterday, am one, and I think that that honorable senator, who made his well-thought-out speech from the other side of the Chamber, gave us the impression that the sentiments he was uttering were those of a moderate man, whose anxiety it was to do the best he could for the Commonwealth. It is an old-time custom for’ Australian Parliaments to debate motions for the adoption of Addresses-in-Reply, and, although I do not suggest that such debates are actually a waste of time, seeing that they give new members an opportunity to deal with, a wide range of subjects, and to establish a footing for themselves in the Chambers to which they have been elected, I nevertheless think there is a great deal of time lost over them, since all the subjects contained in the Speech delivered by Has Majesty’s representative subsequently come up for discussion. It is my intention to-day to make but a brief reference to a few of the matters mentioned in the Governor-General’s Speech.
I should like, first of all, to say a few words concerning the State which I have the honour to represent, and more particularly in reply to certain interjections I have heard concerning Tasmania. I hope that honorable senators who represent larger States will bear in mind that, although Tasmania is a small State and has a small population, it has always stood up for the principles laid down in the Federal Constitution, and has never attempted to shirk its responsibilities as a part of the Federation. Honorable senators may speak in a jocular way of my State, but I remind them that when the test came during the war Tasmania stood its ground with ether
States, and was not found wanting in sending its quota of men or in supplying its quota of money. Possibly, owing to the isolation of the State, many honorable senators may not have had an opportunity to visit the island. That is their loss; but I can assure them that if they pay a visit to Tasmania they will find a people loyal to the Commonwealth and the Motherland, and a hospitable, enterprising, and big-hearted community.
The subjects discussed by the Conferences between Commonwealth Ministers and State Ministers will most likely come up for consideration here later on, but I should like to say a few words at this stage concerning the financial position of Tasmania. In an interjection, Senator Duncan asked yesterday why it was that a State which had so many great resources should be so poverty-stricken. It was upon the recommendation of a Federal Royal Commission that the National Parliament voted a special grant to Tasmania. No other State in the Commonwealth made greater sacrifices than did Tasmania in entering the Federation. ‘ If the State Government were now collecting the Customs revenue payable on to-day’s Tariff, the State’s position would compare favorably with that of any other State in the Commonwealth. It has been the policy of the Commonwealth Government to assist many big undertakings for the development of the resources of the mainland, and although Tasmania, as an island State, could not at any time, directly or indirectly, hope to participate in any of the advantages conferred by those undertakings, it has, as part of the Commonwealth, been required to make substantial contributions towards their cost. Such works as the Murray water scheme and the trans-Australian railway, which are essential to the interests of the Commonwealth, cannot by any stretch of imagination be ,of any direct or indirect benefit to Tasmania, yet Tasmanians are compelled to contribute towards their cost. Tasmania is a State of wonderful resources. I was a member - of the Government which ‘did more to develop the great resources of Tasmania, particularly with regard to water power, than had ever been done in the history of the State. The hydro-electric scheme has already cost the Tasmanian Government about £3,000,000. .This hydro- electric scheme was developed to assist the big war industry established by the Electrolytic Zinc Company. I think that all honorable senators will admit that both the Commonwealth Government and the Imperial Government were interested in seeing that industry established. At the time of its establishment, we were experiencing tremendous difficulties in raising the necessary loan, money to carry on our ordinary developmental works. We came to the rescue of the Commonwealth, because Tasmania was the only State in Australia which had the power necessary for the development of this big industry. Only those who were directly connected with the Government had any conception of the great difficulties with which the Administration had to contend in doing its part in providing the necessary electric power to establish this enterprise, which in the near future, I believe, will be one of the greatest zinc-producing industries in the world.
I have brought up this subject because there seems to be a feeling amongst honorable senators that, whilst Tasmania has approached the Commonwealth Government from time to. time for assistance, it has not done its part towards developing its natural resources. We have imposed taxation, to the maximum amount possible, to enable us to meet our obligations. One honorable senator has asked why Tasmania is so poverty-striken when it possesses such natural resources. That is a passing phase with Tasmania. The time undoubtedly will come when Tasmania will be regarded as one of the principal contributors towards the defence of this country, by reason of the fact that it established, this big industry. Although it has one of the most essential industries, Tasmania in its development is only in its infancy.
– It may become the Lancashire of Australia.
– With proper assistance in the initial stages, and that consideration which we have a right to expect from the National Parliament,. I think that we shall be able to hold our own with’ the other States.
I notice that the first paragraph in the Speech refers to the financial position of the Commonwealth. Honorable senators will be able to deal with financial matters when the Budget is pre- sented, so I content myself with saying it is gratifying to know that the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) has been able to disclose a substantial surplus. A big proportion of that has been made possible because of the revenue received from the Postal ‘Department. I hope that some attempt will be made to give .relief to the people in regard to postal and telegraphic charges. The Postal Department should not take from the people any more than is necessary to enable it to carry on. It is a public utility of which every individual has to avail himself, and its facilities should be made available at a minimum cost. No matter what other Department he has to look to for revenue, the Treasurer should not try to make substantial profits out of that particular Department. A paragraph in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, referring to the recent Conference, reads -
Agreement was reached as to the necessity for the abolition of dual income taxation, and proposals will lie submitted to this end which will obviate the necessity for duplicated returns, simplifying procedure, and effect economy in administration. .
Every one is pleased to learn that an effort is being made in that direction, and I express the hope that, in the near future, these changes will be made. Reference has been made to the right of the National Parliament to impose income taxation. I have never questioned the right of the National Parliament to impose income, land, or entertainment taxes, but such forms of taxation should only be imposed as a last resource. The duplication of income tax returns, which is a source of great annoyance to a very large number, has been the subject of discussion for many years at Conferences between Commonwealth and State Ministers; but, up to the present, no definite agreement has been reached. The right of State Ministers meeting in conference with Commonwealth Ministers to deal with these problems has been questioned. One honorable senator spoke in very strong terms of denunciation concerning the action of the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) in meeting State Ministers at a “ secret “ Conference. When I interjected that these were questions in which the States were deeply interested, I was informed that such matters should be settled in Parliament. Honorable senators are here as the representatives of individual States; but what is more natural or proper than that the Premiers of the different States should meet the Prime Minister, and endeavour to come to some basis of agreement before proposals are submitted to Parliament? In conference, Commonwealth and State Ministers have the advantages of the advice of their officials, and are able to go into details to a greater extent than would otherwise be possible.
– They blundered to the extent of £2,000,000 in their income tax figures.
– It is true that the results, so far, have not been as satisfac-tory as one would desire. Whatever decision is reached, it will have to be ratified by Parliament, and there is, therefore, no cause for complaint.
– We do not get that opportunity.
– Legislation will be submitted for our approval.
– It must be submitted to Parliament.
– Yes; and what further, opportunity does the honorable senator require? The Premier of a State is the selected representative of the majority of the people, and, in these circumstances, the procedure followed should be acceptable to every one.
Another paragraph in the Speech reads -
The need for definite spheres of action for Federal and State industrial authorities was considered. It is regretted that the proposals of the Commonwealth were not accepted by the States. Negotiations are being continued, which, it is hoped, may lead to a satisfactory solution.
Considerable inconvenience and expense, as well as a great deal of annoyance, is caused owing to the overlapping of industrial legislation. An honorable senator opposite said that there should be only one tribunal to deal with industrial disputes. I am convinced, however, that if the workers in Tasmania had to choose between the two tribunals, they would favour the State Court, as it has given awards which are quite as favorable to the workers as are those of the Commonwealth > Court. In confirmation of that, I may point to the fact that there has been less industrial unrest in Tasmania than in any other State of the Commonwealth.
– The workers all leave the State.
– That is not so. Tasmania has sufficient operatives to carry on its many important industries, and the workers in that Stats are as skilled as are those in any other part of the -Commonwealth. Their financial position will also compare favorably with that of the workers elsewhere.
– I suggest that the honorable senator should peruse the comments of a Judge on a case recently tried there.
– That might have been an isolated case. I could point to others, perhaps in Victoria, in which the Judge directed attention to particular points. There is no fairer method of settling differences between employer and employees than that of a roundtable conference, and whatever may be said to the contrary we must come back to the great principle laid down in the good old Book, “ Come, let us reason together.” At the first sign of dissatisfaction a prudent employer calls his men together and1 says, “What is the trouble ?” As an employer of labour I have always found that the best method to adopt.
– The honorable senator does not know anything about it.
– The honorable senator has his opinions, and he must allow me to have mine.
– Does the honorable senator mean Wages Boards or conferences between employer and employee?
– I am in favour of the Wages Board system. We have overlapping awards which cause a good deal of dissatisfaction, and which harass employers. Industrial employees are often led to believe that they can secure better conditions from the Arbitration Court than from Wages Boards. It has yet to be proved that the Arbitration Court has been the means of settling disputes. It is difficult to point to an instance in which a big maritime or coal strike has been settled by the intervention of the Federal tribunal as at present constituted. In a recent shipping dispute, when the stewards had been on strike for about eight weeks, an application was made to the Federal Court, but that tribunal had first to decide whether a dispute actually existed within the meaning of the Act. Cn point of fact, everybody knew that the whole of the trade and commerce of Aus– tralia was held up. A special tribunal was appointed, and the whole matter was settled in a few days. It is a proper function of the Federal Arbitration Court to prevent disputes. It should not wait for weeks until, by means of strikes, the commerce of the country has been held up. The Court should step in promptly and endeavour to end industrial troubles that are likely to prove disastrous to the trade of the Commonwealth. I favour each State controlling its own industrial legislation, in accordance with the will of the people of that State, leaving, possibly, coal-mining and shipping disputes to the Commonwealth authorities. If we are guided by experience we must realize that drastic alterations in our industrial legislation ane -needed. The most ardent supporters of the F.ederal Court must recognise that the results so far have been disappointing from the point of view of both employers and .operatives.
– In this State, and in Tasmania, there are certain classes of workers who cannot obtain Wages Boards.
– I : cannot call to mind any such instance.
The subject of immigration; is mentioned in the Governor-General’s Speech, and I have been somewhat surprised that while honorable .senators opposite have expressed a desire to see more people coming to Australia from overseas, they have made remarks which do not tend to encourage immigration.
– They are running down, their own country.
– Undoubtedly. I cannot believe that any honorable senators desire to suggest that the conditions in this sunny land, with its liberal electoral laws, and its wonderful opportunities for all, can be compared with .the conditions which exist in Great Britain or on the Continent. Honorable .senators on the Opposition benches seem to have done well here, and they .should be proud of Australia. It may be truly said that this is “ God’s own country.” They tell us, first of all, that they would welcome people from overseas, and I have tried to discover, the class of men they would gladly receive as immigrants. A number of Dr.. Barnardo’s boys are proceeding to Tasmania, and according to the remarks of one honorable senator;, it is wrong to taring them out. Then we are told by them that artisans and ordinary workmen should not be brought here, because they would compete with Australian workmen. Whom are we to bring out? It is not to be wondered at that the greatest difficulty is experienced in persuading British emigrants to voyage to Australia, although the conditions are not to be equalledin any other part of the world. I admit that there are a certain number of unemployed here, particularly in the capital cities. Although I am an optimist, I am afraid that, while human nature remains as it is, there always will be a certain section of the community without employment.
-Could we not provide for that section ?
– We should do everything we can to make all classes as happy and contented as possible ; but it is absurd to say that the conditions in Australia are’ comparable with those in countries like Great Britain. As an Australian, I believe in my country. I have been “ through the mill,” and have had to battle my own way through life.There are some unscrupulous employers in every country, but I maintain that Australia has room for more people. Hundreds of thousands of people of our own flesh and blood would be delighted to come here, and we should hold out to them the hand of friendship. Having done well for ourselves in Australia, we should have regard to the welfare of the rest of the Empire. We should not let it be thought from our utterances in this Chamber that the unemployed problem is so acute that Australia has no room for immigrants.
The States have done all they’ possibly could to relieve the necessities of the poor in the cities.The Commonwealth Government’s system of invalid and oldage pensions is one of the finest pieces of legislation that could possibly have been devised, and one would naturally have expected it to relieve the States of the necessity to make any provision for charitable purposes. Tasmania, however, has found that, despite the invalid and oldage pensions, the vote for charitable institutions has increased 100 per cent.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.80 p.m.
– Returning to the question of conciliation and arbitration, in my opinion, ‘State tribunals (should deal with all industrial disputes except those relating to shipping. Even so far as shipping is concerned, honorable senators will agree with me that in very few instances have disputes in the shipping industry been satisfactorily settled by the Federal Arbitration Court. . In fact, I have yet to learn that the Court has succeeded in achieving those ideals which the framers of the Commonwealth industrial legislation had in their minds.
– Does not the honorable senator think that the shearers’ award gave ten years peace to the pastoral industry?
– I do not say that there are no cases in which the Federal Arbitration Court has achieved a result such as that to which the honorable senator has just made reference; but, on the other hand, there are many instances in which it has not succeeded in settling disputes, and in which its awards have had the effect of causing industries to close down. It is absolutely impossible for a Court sitting in Melbourne so to adjust the wages and conditions to be paid and observed in the timber industry of Australia as to encourage it and foster it and at the same time cause no injustice to be done to the workers engaged in it. The timber workers’ claim was not heard until fully twelve months after the workers had lodged it, and the cruel part of it was that the award was made retrospective for twelve months. It caused many of the big mills to close down. If the Court was achieving the end which the framers of the Commonwealth industrial legislation had in view, the timber workers’ case would have been heard immediately. The present procedure is altogether too cumbersome and too expensive to both employers and employees. Arbitration has not brought about the settlement of disputes, nor has it encouraged the establishment of industries in Australia.
Under the Wages Board system as it exists in Tasmania, provision is made for the holding of conferences between employers and employees where there are fifty or more employees engaged in any industry, or in any group of industries of a similar nature. At these conferences the wages to be paid, and the conditions under which the industry is to be carried on, can be settled by agreement, and any decisionsarrived at in this way are registered and have the full force of a Wages
Board determination, or of . an Arbitration Court award. This system has worked most satisfactorily in many instances, and we find it a very effective way of dealing with the difficulties and grievances of employees.
– Does the Tasmanian law protect the employee from victimization ?
– Undoubtedly it does. Many employers complain of the vigilance of the inspectors whose duty it is to go from place to place to see that awards are observed, and whose privilege it is to enter any premises and interview the operatives at work.
If Australia is to become a big manufacturing country, there must be less harassing of the employers, and we must give those who invest their capital in industries some greater guarantee than they already have that they will get a return for the money they lay out. I do not suggest that the operatives in the various industries are not entitled to our full protection; but past experience has shown us that the Commonwealth industrial legislation has not achieved that success for which its framers hoped. The Act is called the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act. There is very little conciliation in industrial matters, and the arbitration we have had has been useless to the employers as well as prejudicial to the employees.
It has been said by an honorable senator sitting opposite that honorable senators on this side are representatives of the “ beef barons “ and the capitalists of the Commonwealth. I know very well some of the honorable senators who sit on this side. By no stretch of imagination can they be termed “ beef barons “ or representatives of big financial institutions. I have to work, as every man should. This Senate is elected on a popular vote, and if the honorable senator’s statement were true, it would be merely a reflex of public opinion. No more democratic principle could be formulated to obtain a true reflex of public opinion than that which is adopted in connexion with the election of honorable senators.
I recognise the need for fostering .and encouraging in every way the establishment of industries in Australia. In the past we have been taught lessons from which we should derive profit. It should be our duty to make Australia as selfcontained as possible.
– Surely the honorable senator does not say that Protection does that.
– I am not saying that. There are industries which are essential to the life of Australia that we must do all in our power to encourage. I would agree to go a long way towards encouraging the establishment of new industries and giving them ample protection. There comes a time, however, when those industries must, in a large measure, stand on their own feet. The output of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited and similar big industries is sufficient to supply the needs of the Commonwealth. If we -had two or three industries of that character we should have to look outside Australia for a market for our surplus. If we have to add, from time to time, to the protective duties to enable industries to be carried on, we shall reach a stage at which the people will be paying for their ‘goods a greater sum than they should be asked to pay. Despite the protection which has been given to the agricultural implement industry in “Australia, 75 per cent, of the machinery and implements used in agriculture today are. imported, which proves conclusively that we are paying too high a price for our protection in that direction. I could cite cases in which the same class of implement is 200 per cent, dearer today than -it was twenty years ago. I do not believe in price-fixing as a general thing, but where protection has been afforded to. enable an industry to become firmly established it would be fair and proper to state the maximum price to be charged for the articles manufactured. Immediately the duties are inincreased the price of the locallymanufactured ‘article is raised. That is a wrong practice. When the embargo was imposed for the benefit of the carbide industry the -maximum price was fixed- - I believe it was £28 or £30 a ton. That practice encourages the establishment of an -industry, and at the same time’ affords a measure of protection to the user of the article. The same principle should be applied to agricultural machinery. The primary producers play a most important, part in the affairs of this country, and they are entitled to all the assistance that honorable senators can give them.
-brockman. - The only thing to do is. to reduce the duty.
– I think there is something in that contention. I support the arguments of those honorable senators who already have referred to the carbide industry. The Tasmanian Government has made a substantial advance to the company. I know that a certain ‘amount of criticism has been levelled against the management, but I believe that if the embargo had continued this company would very soon have been in a position to supply Australia with a first-class article, and, in addition, to produce a surplus. The Tasmanian Government has invested about . £90,000 as well as meeting the cost of the transmission line, and the company has spent a very large amount of money. When the matter is brought before Cabinet I feel quite sure that a case will be made out sufficiently strong to justify the Government in taking the steps we are asking it to take.
I think that the Government ought to proceed cautiously in regard to the disposal of the Commonwealth Line of Steamers. I know that the Government do not at present propose to sell the Line entirely. I read with great interest the Prime Minister’s speech on the subject. There is one phase that should not be lost sight of, and that is that these ships are being run under conditions which differ from those governing other lines. The Commonwealth Line is subject to the . provisions of the Navigation Act, which stipulates that certain conditions shall be observed and certain wages be paid. It would be almost an impossibility for our ships to compete successfully with other lines that are not bound by the same conditions, and which employ cheap labour. I urge honorable senators to consider Tasmania’s position. It is an island State, dependent entirely on shipping for the transport of its produce to other States and overseas. It has had to meet difficulties with which the other States have not had to contend. Tasmania had to provide its quota of the cost of building the trans-continental railway, and it will have to contribute substantially towards other Commonwealth railway propositions, from which it will derive no benefit. It thus has a greater claim for favorable consideration than have some of the other States. I feel quite sure that the representations which have been made from time to time have not fallen on deaf ears, because there is an indication in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech that an amendment of the Navigation Act is proposed. When that legislation is introduced we shall have to see that Tasmania’s interests are not overlooked.
In conclusion, I join with other honorable senators in expressing the hope that this session will be marked by work which will be in the interests of the Commonwealth. We have our party differences, but I feel sure that we are all prompted by a desire to do our best for the whole community.- We are the representatives of a people in a great continent awaiting further development. We need more people here to share the benefits which it provides, and at the same time to assist in carrying the burdens and responsibilities’ of citizenship, which, of course, includes its defence. We must not disregard the probability that we may at some time have to defend Australia from invasion. We have just passed through a great conflict, and we trust such a calamity will not recur; but great international upheavals generally occur when least expected. The League of Nations is doing good work, but having regard to our isolation and our meagre population, it behoves us as a people to make adequate provision for the defence of this great territory which we are fortunate enough to occupy. I trust my actions in this Chamber will be such that they will in some measure reflect credit upon those who assisted to return me as one of the representatives of Tasmania. We are all here with the object of doing what we consider to be best in the interests of the Commonwealth, and I trust that our efforts will be such that the legislation passed will be the means of promoting even greater development and progress than we have hitherto enjoyed.
– Mr. President, I trust you will allow me to express my pleasure at seeing your familiar form once more in the Presidential Chair. I fully realize that to occupy such a position in face of the opposition which a person contesting the position has rightly to encounter is no small compliment, but to attain that position after repeated expressions of confidence is a still greater compliment! I submit, and: you,, sir,, will agree’ thai you have- not all the- enumerated qualifications in indisputable perfection for the post,, but you have- all that is required to enable you! to’i discharge; the duties which are necessary. That I freely avow. You have not pleased every one’, but that was inevitable. It is impossible- to please every one- and1 at the same time to impartially discharge your responsible duties. That is’ natural and inevitable; but it is. right to say - -and I think this is the right time- to say ‘ it - that during your lengthy, occupancy of the Chair, which you have filled with credit to yourself and’ to the Chamber, you have not in the’ least degree performed your work with less- efficiency and . impartiality than- did. your most distinguished predecessors. In <the morning’s newspapers great prominence is given to your selection. These jOxirnals:, instead of devoting space’ to the more important work- of the Senate;, make rather lengthy references to your’ selection,, for what reason I know not, except that it is in keeping with their studied policy to ignore many of the important speeches on subjects of vital interest to this country, or to’ confine their comments to’ a few brief lines. The- proceedings in an ordinary Police Court are given greater prominence. I regret the references made by some honorable senators, particularly by Senator Duncan, to- the election of our President. I do not kriow which candidate Senator Duncan supported, but every one knows fvow I voted. That is the difference between us. Whomsoever he supported for the’ position would, if chosen, have been open to’ the’ same taunt which Senator Duncan had the poor taste to level at you.. It is regrettable that he should have made such remarks concerning you, seeing that he would not have said the same’ about his own nominee, nor do I think that anybody else would have thought of doing, so. I remind the representatives of the press,- Senator” Duncan, and the previous speaker that the method of selecting the occupant for the position which you now fill - iny (knowledge extends over a considerable period - has always been- the same. Wheli I first entered this Chamber; sixteen years ago, I was brought face to face with the necessity of exercising to the extent of my individual ‘ vote the opportunity of assist ing in selecting, an occupant for the’ Presidential Chair. I was then a member of the1 Labour party,, and we were called upon td make a selection. The twc nominees were not members of that party, and the determination was to the effect that, instead of deciding in; the Senate who’ should occupy the’ Chair, it should be settled; in- the party room- in this building. At that time, this’ Chambei was regarded by those critics who now ignore us as a place of almost conspicuous splendour: The Senate was young; and was surrounded with all its pristine glory and embellishments, which”, according to some critics, it has’ since lost. Your predecessors in the Chair were selected by the same procedure as that adopted when you, sir, were selected, the difference being that on those occasions the critics were silent, whereas in this instance they are extraordinarily loud. What is the reason? My knowledge of you,. Mr. President, extends over a long period,, and I am certain, that you have trod the path of duty, come weal or come woe, and any one doing that must inevitably tread on some friendly corns. If we ar-e to retain friendship only by a dereliction of duty, you, with many others, will ‘be prepared to sever such friendships. You would not be willing. I am sure, to continue friendships at such an ignoble priGe.
Honorable senators are now afforded this opportunity to discuss the AddressinEeply to the Governor-General’s Speech. The opinion has ibeen’ expressed that a discussion On the Address-in-Reply is a waste of time. I was inclined to surrender to that view in my early days, but I do not now, as it 13 an occasion on which honorable senators, drawn from the various parts of . an insular continent, can express their views On vital political, social, and industrial questions, and have them disseminated throughout the Commonwealth. The value of a private view can be tested only by tossing it into the bubbling cauldron of public opinion, and it- is- only after it has been through the withering blast there that the dross with which it is surrounded may be removed. In this way only can a wholesome public opinion be formed. This is a deliberating field-day, when different subjects can be discussed. I have not closely perused the printed’ document described as the Governor-General’s ‘Speech, which, has been placed in our hands. I have considered its rough outline in a casual way, and there is one paragraph which specially attracts my attention. Reference is made to the introduction of a Bankruptcy Bill; but, when one peruses the voluminous documents supplied to honorable senators from time to time concerning trade and commerce, the consuming and producing power of the community, and the activities of our banking institutions, one wonders why such a measure should be mentioned. There may be occasions when an individual may, perhaps, find himself in difficulties and seek the shelter of the law to put himself right in the eyes of his fellow citizens. The country at present, however, is in a comparatively flourishing state, so that there is no special warrant for placing thi3 measure in the forefront, if ite presence there prejudices the handling of more important subjects.
Fault has been found with the proposal to curtail the present session of Parliament, owing to the presence of the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) being required in London. I think there is exceptional warrant for giving the Prime Minister every chance to discharge his high and onerous duties to the best of his ability. The Government in power is controlled by a party consisting of two sections. It is not a unified party, but it undoubtedly represents the opinions of the major portion of the people. It is sometimes difficult to control the forces of. the country even with a unified party, and it is still more irksome and difficult when that control has to be undertaken by two distinct sections, though they have many things in common. In this case they had so much in common that they were entitled to join forces in directing the affairs of Australia. Mr. Bruce is to go on a mission, the equal of which no Prime Minister has ever undertaken before. The object is to discover what can be done to maintain the peaceful security of this country, so that the people may be0 able to work out their material salvation unhampered by any outside power. Great Britain, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa will be represented at the Conference, and if there is any part of the Empire urgently in need of help from its sister Dominions it is
Australia. The Old Country is . in no danger. Happily, England is in the same position as ever. The flag that has “ braved a thousand years, the battle and the breeze,” still waves triumphantly. We have every confidence that the Mother Country is perfectly secure in its present position. Canada is equally safe under the friendly shelter of the Monroe Doctrine. Canada might have done better than it did in the late war. In proportion to its population and resources, it. did not render as much assistance as Australia did, but an invader would be no more likely to land troops on the coast of Canada than on the shores of Florida or California. The Monroe doctrine warns him off both places. South Africa, owing to its racial problems and its want of elbow room, is not an inviting bait to an enemy. New Zealand is not only a small place, but it haS a very rigorous climate, and it is not in great danger of invasion. Australia, however, by reason of its attractive climate, its wonderful resources, its size, and. its very position on the globe, presents to an enemy the attraction which the sister Dominions do not. Those of us who are acquainted with old-world environment will surely thank Providence that we are living in a country that enjoys the marvellous dowries of Nature, in the shape of natural resources, that Australia possesses. While these riches are an outstanding, showing attraction, they are at the same time a source of danger. The wealth of this country undoubtedly places it in greater peril than any other part of the Empire. Its wealth is at once a pearl of unrivalled value and a peril of undoubted reality. When we ask ourselves how best we can secure the assistance of our sister Dominions, it is obvious that the one place to go to, in order to obtain that help, is the Imperial Conference. When our chief spokesman proceeds to London he will discuss a question so vital to us that all other matters fade into comparative insignificance. We talk about Australian problems and the need fur reforms, but, if we had not the security needed to enable_ us to achieve our national destiny, all the other things that follow in the train of safety would matter nothing. We must start from the bedrock of national security. Mr. Bruce should go upon his mission with a peaceful mind. Senator O’Loghlin laughs ! “ If he were in Mr. Brace’s shoes, and had to state the case for Australia at the’ Imperial Conference, he also -would need to have a peaceful mind. He would not desire to have political strife in Australia in his absence.
– I should not want the Australian Parliament to interfere with me in any way.
– The honorable (senator is incapable of placing himself in the position of the Prime Minister.
– I am satisfied, as an Australian, to look after Australia here.
– Purely Australian affairs for the moment are of little concern compared with the all-important matter of deliberating with the other branches of the Empire, to ascertain what measure of assistance is to be given to Australia if it should need help.
Judging by his ability, the Prime Minister will do all that is humanly possible, but at the same time there remains something to be done by the people of Australia as a whole. Although one man cannot make or mar a nation, the best leader needs the sustaining force of popular support. No Government or Parliament can alone do everything required for the prosperity of a country. While not adhering to the view of Thomas Jefferson that that Government does best that does least governing, nor going so far as the more modern view held by’ some that that Government is best that does most governing - even to catching fish and running fish-shops - I believe that the proper conception of a Government is one that will step out of the ordinary routine of past Administrations, step down from its perch of authority, and take a hand in the industrial arena when, and only when, the vital interests of the people are concerned. The Government should be very careful, however, how and when it does step down from its high pedestal. I do not agree with a Government going into enterprises where its interference is not only unwarranted but ruinous to the public interest. While we all acknowledge that Governments themselves can do something towards advancing the true welfare of a country, the main work lies with the people, in their individual as well as their collective capacity. We remember what is happening in Australia to-day. Although wealthy, we are as a result of the late war a much impoverished country. Australia has blown away some £350,000,000 on the battlefields of Europe. The- debt has not yet been paid, and there is a heavy interest bill to meet every year. Consequently our resources are reduced to a serious extent, and the development of Australia is correspondingly retarded. What have we obtained for such a huge expenditure of precious lives and treasure ? We have secured one thing which I think amply repays us, and that is the glorious liberty we enjoy to-day. That is the one compensating asset.
– Some people do not think that is worth preserving.
– It is well to remember how close we were to losing possession of that asset.
– The turning of a hair.
– Yes; we remember the British commander saying that his men were fighting with their backs’ to the wall, and must npt give way another inch. Those words, coming from the lips of the man on the spot who knew, clearly show what a thin margin separated us from the snatching away of our liberty. What we must do or attempt to do is to dig up new wealth to replace that which has been blown away. It can be done in several ways. We can take each individually or we can take them all in combination; but first and foremost, our chief need is to stop waste in every direction. Already an attempt has been made to do so by the men who are on the Treasury bench to-day. They were put there last December for that express purpose. As custodians of the public purse, they must see that the man who gets 20s. in salary shall deliver 20s. worth of work. But we must also stop the waste in private avenues of life, particularly that which is due to the luxurious living to which too many of the people of this country are still unfortunately given.. This we could stop by imposing a heavy and swinging tax on those who are living lives of luxury. They are not confined wholly to the wealthy classes. Talk about the need for sumptuary laws ! We need them in Australia to-day, when we find men in all walks of life living beyond their means, despite the fact that “each year the Commonwealth has to pay £20,000,000 in the shape of interest on the war debt. That money has to be provided for an indefinite period, when it could be better employed in developing our huge undeveloped country.
We could also prevent waste by keeping the industrial machine running smoothly. It is an anachronism of the most pronounced description to have strikes in a country where we provide every means for preventing them. The figures in the TearBook relating to the loss caused by’ strikes are almost appalling. The average loss from this cause during 1920-21 was about £1,000,000. That loss will never be recovered, and this huge waste took place during a period when industrial disturbance was mild as compared with tho pranks of preceding years, in which the loss of wealth occasioned by strikes ran into more than £1,000,000 a year. One method of preventing this huge waste would be for all parties to give their best advice to keep the. wheels of industry going, so long as the country provides the glorious opportunity to make use of the tribunals provided for the purpose of settling industrial disputes. And, further, if respect were paid to the decisions of those tribunals, not a single day’s work would be lost in this country, and not a single shilling would be wasted. 1 regret at this moment, as I have been in the habit of doing in the past, ‘that people of this country are so wanting in common sense as to allow this huge national wastage to continue.
In the .direction of production, there is, unfortunately, not that spirit of co- “ operation that should be in evidence between employer and employee, We are living in an age when it is the doctrine of some people that it is almost a bounden. and civic duty on the part of the individual to give as little return as possible for as great a reward as possible. Reference has been made to the work that bricklayers do now in comparison with what they did years ago. Those references are warranted. The facts ring out all too clearly. Every one tells the same story. There was a time in this country when the Australian workman had no equal in the civilized world in “ delivering the goods,” by virtue of the fact that when he received a fair day’s wage he did a fair day’s work.
– He does it now.
– I do not know that honorable senators are conscious of the great waste that occurs to-day because of this pernicious practice which has crept into the industrial life of the country. The Commonwealth YearBook shows how far short we have fallen in rendering the services that should be rendered in this country, where we have tribunals for fixing fair wages. What a glorious possession we have in those tribunals! I was one who nearly forty years ago played a humble part in establishing the Labour movement in Australia. At that time it was not only the urgent thought or the every-day wish, but also the nightly dream of the men who took part in that movement that the day would come when the power would be taken from any rapacious employer to fix what he considered to be a fair wage or fair conditions of labour for his workmen, and when we would have public recognition of the fact that “ the labourer is worthy of his hire,” and that his reward for the labour he gave was no longer to be measured by the stress of competition or anything else. Because of the constant efforts of the fathers of the Labour movement - those men who were later on cast aside, because of their indefatigable work - public opinion was so leavened that the ‘time came when no employer could treat his workmen as he had in those days to which I have referred, and men’s wages and conditions were fixed by independent industrial tribunals. We are told that it is difficult to get decisions from the Arbitration Court; but the sorry figures contained in the Year-Booh show that our country is the poorer by £1,000,000 through strikes in States where the Commonwealth or State Arbitration Courts are always available. Although the workman is no longer a victim of an unfeeling employer’s inhumanity, unfortunately we find that these men are running their wild career and taking awards - even the best of them, even those delivered by Mr. Justice Higgins himself - and tearing them into “ smithereens.” The time has come when all parties should speak plainly, as the Nationalist party has done, to these men and tell them that in violating an award they are doing a wrong, not only to themselves, but to their country. There are, however, parties in Australia who choose to put their tongues in their cheeks when .they, say these things, and sometimes they actually encourage their fellows to tear up awards.
I was speaking of the other form of national wastage - wastage occasioned by the people engaged’ in the industrial sphere not “ delivering the goods.” The proof is found in the Year-Book, an impartial source, which is liable to come under the control of a Labour as well as a Nationalist Government. It sets out in an unobtrusive way what has been happening in the industrial field from the year 1871 until the present time. It takes the year 1911 as a standard, and shows the relative value of production in Australia before that date and from that time onward. With 1,000 as the basis in 191.1, the relative productivity of this country reached its apex in 1910, when the figure stood at 1,020. What has happened since? As a result of the virus unfortunately disseminated in this country in the shape of the doctrine that it is no harm not to give a fair day’s service for a. fair day’s wage, production has dwindled almost to the present time until it has reached the figure of 689 as compared with 1,000 in 1911. The explanatory notes show that the fluctuation due to the variation in prices has ‘been entirely eliminated. There was .a .time when the worker in this country was overtaxed in many ways, and in some cases grievously overworked, but a fair day’s work ‘ will never do harm to any man. The sum total of figures contained in the Year-Book is that the declension in the quantity of goods produced in the last twelve years is about 20 per cent., and when we realize that the value of Australia’s production is oyer £400,000,000, we clearly see the -effect of losing one-fifth of that wealth, and realize how much’ poorer we are now that the operatives in the industrial field who are getting a fair day’s wage do not give a fair day’s service.
– During that period there has been a considerable improvement in the tools used in production.
– Yes, that is a most important element. Things have been growing in inverse ratio. . As improvements have been made in mechanical arts and appliances the tendency should have been for efficiency to increase; but, on the contrary, it has sensibly and steadily declined, in twelve years, from 1,000 to about 680. I shall continue my speech, not only here, but elsewhere, in the hope of awakening in some people a desire to mend their ways so that they may benefit, not only themselves, but also their country. I ask leave to continue my remarks at a future date.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
.- Yesterday, when speaking to the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, I quoted some schedules relating to immigration, and was asked .by Senator Guthrie to quote the number of arrivals from Great Britain. Unintentionally, I gave, them wrongly. I want to correct the error so that no suggestion can be made that I was endeavouring to mislead the Senate. The number of British in Schedule C for the years I quoted was 76,518. I thank honorable senators for having given me permission to make this explanation, and assure them that I had no. desire to mislead them.
Bill received from House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Pearce) read a first time. ,
The following papers were presented : -
Australian Imperial Force Canteens Funds Act - Third Annual Report by the Trustees, for year ending 30th June, 1923.
New Guinea - Ordinances of 1923 - No. 24,
Police Force; No. 25, Customs Tariff;
No. 26, Public Service (No. 2); No. 27, Licences (No. 2).
– I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
I desire -to outline the ‘business that will come before the Senate next week. We shall probably be able to conclude 43ie debate on the Address-in-Reply before the dinner adjournment on Wednesday. It is hoped that Ministers will be able to move the second reading of a number of Bills after dinner, the debate on each being adjourned to enable the Leader of the Opposition to make himself conversant with the measures before being called on to discuss them on the following day. We shall ask the Senate to continue the debate on the second reading of those which are considered to foe the moat urgent, and probably the AssistantMinister (Senator Wilson) will move the second reading of the Bankruptcy Bill. After the second reading of those urgent Bills has been disposed of, we propose that the Committee stage shall be taken.
– Before we meet again next week, our respected Hansard Chief (Mr. B. H. Friend), who has been with us since the inception of the Commonwealth Parliament, and who has done so much towards maintaining a very high standard in the reporting of the debates and the publication of Hansard, will have retired from that position. Mr. Friend desires that I should read the following letter to honorable senators: -
The Parliament of the Commonwealth.
Parliamentary Reporting Staff,
Melbourne, 3rd July, 1923.
Dear Mr. President,
I cannot retire from my office without thanking you and those members of the Senate with whom I have been officially associated -during so long a term of years for generouB support in the discharge of ray highly-esteemed trnst.
It is to me a source of much pleasure and pride that I am able to-day to hand over to Parliament a record of its debates which is acknowledged to occupy, at least, a prominent place among similar publications in. the British Dominions. I am satisfied that under the leadership of my successor the reputation the «taff has already achieved will be confirmed and strengthened.
I very much regret that illness should have precluded my saying good-bye to senators personally.
I am, Mr. President,
Principal Parliamentary Reporter.
The Honourable The President,
Mr. Friend was appointed to his pr.e aent position before the first Parliament of the Commonwealth met, and was in trusted with the duty of organizing the official reporting staff. . Honorable senators who have been here for many years, and younger members, who I assume are all fairly close students of Hansard, will - agree with me that he has been most successful in the performance of his duty, He organized the staff thoroughly, and the work they have performed speaks for itself. Both the staff and Hansard itself under his supervision have been entirely satisfactory and creditable to this Parliament.
Mr. Friend’s experience as a parliamentary reporter began in the press gallery of the House of Commons, some fifty years ago. Prior to joining the Commonwealth Service, he had been for some years a member of the New South Wales parliamentary reporting staff, had had Hansard experience in South Australia, and had assisted the Hansard staff of the Queensland Parliament in one of its earlier sessions. He- brought to his work a eeal and enthusiasm that carried him over the stress of long sittings, and the fine character of tfaa work performed by the reporting staff and the splendid record of Hansard are in great measure due to nis careful revision and constant oversight. He never spared himself in attempting to render good’ service to -the Parliament. I regret very much that, owing to the long and strenuous sittings, Mr. Friend’s health has suffered rather considerably, and that he is not as robust as we should like him to be. I think I speak for every honorable senator in hoping that his wellearned retirement will bring to him a full . restoration to health. I think I can assure him, on behalf of honorable senators and myself, that he leaves us with the best of good wishes, and with the fullest appreciation of the excellent services he has rendered. We hope that he will live long to enjoy his well-earned retirement.
Honorablesenators. - Hear, hear!
– I think I. speak on behalf of every honorable senator in indorsing the remarks of the President regarding the Chief of the Hansard staff. Mr. Friend has brought the reporting staff to such a high state of perfection that it is a credit, not only to him, but also to the Commonwealth Parliament and the people of Australia.I join most sincerely and earnestly with you, Mr. President, in wishing him every comfort in his retirement, a complete restoration to health, and the prosperity to which his excellent and efficient services entitle him. I feel sure that there will be no party division or difference of opinion on an occasion like this. On behalf of honorable senators on this side of the Senate, I join most heartily with the President in his expressions of goodwill regarding Mr. Friend.
– I join with you, Mr. President, and the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner) in every word that has been uttered. Mr. Friend had to organize the staff, and set a standard. He did his work well. Those who have long been members of the Federal Parliament will agree that the production ofHansard has been uniformly good from the inception of the Commonwealth Parliament. I thinkwe have all been surprised at the magnificent speeches which the Hansard staff from time to time have been able to make out of our poor, imperfect utterances. We owe them a debt of gratitude. Hansard plays a very important part in the public life of this country, and it is necessary that it should be accurate, and be presented in a proper way to the public. I invite the new members of the Senate to make inquiries regarding their privileges in relation to Hansard. They are fairly liberal, and they give an opportunity of circulating very widely in the constituencies a full report of the proceedings iu Parliament. Mr. Friendwill always have to his credit the memorial of an official record of the debates in this Parliament which has invariably been accurate, impartial, and well presented. I am sure honorable senators will find that he has brought the staff to such a state of proficiency that they are seldom called upon to make corrections in the reports of their speeches. I join with Mr. President in hoping that Mr. Friend will enjoy a well-earned rest under the most happy circumstances of health and prosperity.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 3.57 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 6 July 1923, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1923/19230706_senate_9_103/>.