9th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Has the Minister for Home and Territories any information to give to the Senate in connexion with a reported discovery of oil in the Eitape district, New Guinea?
– A telegram in relation to a reported discovery of oil has been received from the Administrator, but it is of such a character that I cannot make it public at this stage. I may say, however, that it suggests that the report should be received with caution.
– A few days ago, when I asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, if the Government had considered what was likely to be the aggregate cost imposed upon the people of Australia by the new regulation requiring the provision of household letter-boxes, the Minister said a Melbourne firm was supplying these boxes at1s.6d. each. I want to know whether the Postmaster-General has obtained a supply of boxes from that firm at1s.6d. each, and is retailing them to the public at 4s.6d. each?
– The PostmasterGeneral is not engaged in the business of supplying letter-boxes.
– As several urgent and important public measures must be passed by to-morrow night, I ask Senator Duncan whether he will postpone until next week his notice of motion dealing with Imperial preference?
– I should like my notice of motion to be called on and disposed of as soon as possible, but in view of the fact that very important business has to be put through in the interests of the Commonwealth, I am agreeable to its postponement.
The following papers were presented: -
Audit Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1924, No. 90.
Naval Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1924, No. 89.
Norfolk Island - Ordinance No. 1 of 1924 - Crown Lands.
Public Service Act - Appointments - W. T. Nelson, Department of Health.
E. L. Sayce, Department of Defence.
Royal Australian Naval College - Annual Report, 1923.
Treaties of Peace (Austria and Bulgaria) Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1924, No. 89.
Treaties of Peace (Austria and Bulgaria) Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1924. No 79- No. 80.
Treaty of Peace (Germany) Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1924, No. 78.
Treaty of Peace (Hungary) Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1924, No. 81.
- (By leave.)- On the 19th June, Senator Ogden asked me to bring under the notice of the Minister for Defence (Mr.Bowden) the cases of some trainees who were recently prosecuted at the police court at Hobart, for absconding from the camp. The reason given for their action was that there was insufficient food in the camp. I promised that Senator Ogden’s remarks would be brought under the notice of the Minister, and Mr. Bowden has now furnished me with the following report, which he has received on the subject: - On the 31st May, the camp commandant had occasion to prosecute, at the city police court, a number of trainees undergoing detention for breaking out of camp, and, during the course of the trials, the magistrate remarked that apparently the trainees were not being fed sufficiently, and, therefore, went home to get a square meal. The prosecuting officer stated that this was not so, that the rations were good and sufficient, that he personally inspected the meals, and that he had had only one complaint since being in camp. That complaint was made at the evening meal by a trainee prior to the day of his prosecution and was, in the camp commandant’s opinion, not justified. The camp commandant in denying the statement that the food was not sufficient offered to call further evidence from two of his staff who were in court but as the police magistrate did not appear to desire it, the cases were adjourned. On the 6th June, the cases were again brought before the court, and the magistrate ordered all the culprits who broke camp to make up their lost time. The base commandant has also reported that there were never any grounds for reasonable complaints, as the camp had been under the constant supervision of himself or staff. The Minister for Defence also notes, from a local press account of the court proceedings, that the magistrate is reported to have said -
I am perfectly satisfied that the quantity according to the ration was supplied. I do not see how individual appetites can be catered for. It may be that some of the boys are putting it on, to make themselves disagreeable.
It must be remembered, also, that the scale of rations for detention camps is identical with the scale in use in ordinary camps of training, and, further, that the trainees who are ordered into detention camps are those who have neglected to fulfil their obligations under the act, and that such camps contain a greater percentage of youths who are likely to make unwarranted complaints. The magistrate is, for instance, reported to have found it necessary to reprimand one of the trainees in court, and referred to him as a ringleader df dissatisfaction, who took a ‘delight in defying authority. In view of these reports, and from inquiries made, the Minister advises that he does not consider it necessary to authorize any further investigation into the matter. He is perfectly satisfied that the complaints regarding the insufficiency of food supplied are groundless.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
– I moves -
That so much of the standing and sessional orders be suspended as would prevent the bill being passed through all its stages without delay.
The necessity for the motion arises from the fact that the adjournment of both Houses yesterday upset somewhat the Government time-table for business this week. It was anticipated that this Supply Bill would be dealt with yesterday afternoon in the House of Representatives, and that we could take the first reading in the Senate last night. The bill is of such a character that it must be passed before the Senate rises on Friday in order that effective action may be taken under it. The financial year will have ended before our next sitting day, and great inconvenience will be caused if the passage of the bill is delayed. Since we have only two sitting days this week it will be necessary to suspend the standing and sessional orders either to-day or tomorrow, to ensure its passage. We consider it better to take the necessary action at this stage. This course will not curtail discussion on the measure because it can be discussed on both the first and the second reading. In the circumstances, I ask the Senate to agree to the motion.
– I regret very much that the Minister (Senator Pearce) at this stage of the session should have adopted this method of dealing with such an important bill. Here is a measure that has come before us quite unexpectedly. It was not until I got my newspaper this morning that I knew that the Senate would have a finance bill to deal with this week. This haste is not fair to the Senate. In order to do justice to any bill of this nature honorable senators should have ample opportunity for its consideration. We have to-day and tomorrow. We should take the first reading to-day. On the motion for the first, reading, as honorable senators ale aware, it is competent for us to discuss what is in the bill, and also what is not in it, on the principle that before Supply is granted grievances must be redressed. Thus on the motion for the first reading of a finance bill we have the right to discuss any subject. This is a right which I generally claim, not so much for the pleasure of hearing myself speak, as for the purpose of maintaining a very desirable tradition associated with our system of constitutional government.
– But the honorable senator has no grievance this time.
– There is a special reason why we should debate the first reading of this bill. Most honorable senators have just gone through a state election campaign, and have ample material which they might with advantage have recorded in *Hansard. **
– But it is too late now.
– Well, it might be useful for the next election. In all seriousness, however, I ask the Minister and members of his party to get back to a decent method of transacting business in this chamber. The submission of this motion, at this stage, for the suspension of the standing and sessional orders in order to get this Supply Bill through shows indecent haste. The motion could, if necessary, be submitted to-morrow. We have had no time to prepare a well thought out utterance on this measure. The speeches must necessarily be impromptu, because/ we knew nothing of the bill before to-day. Personally, I can see no reason why the motion should be agreed to. The attitude of the Opposition in this chamber has not, up to the present, been one of obstruction, but I can assure the Minister that if there is any attempt to force legislation of this kind through the Senate, all such measures will be fully discussed. On the other hand, so long as the Minister follows the correct procedure for the transaction of business here, and, except to meet extraordinary emergencies, does not attempt to force measures through, he will find me and my party always ready to meet him, and to meet him more than halfway.
– This is an extraordinary emergency.
– It is not. Possibly the Minister knows something that makes this course advisable, but so far as I am aware there is nothing in the present situation between the two Houses to justify the suspension of the standing and sessional orders at this stage. There is no reason why the first reading of this Supply Bill should not be taken to-day, and the bill passed through all stages to-morrow.
– But it is a fact that on Friday last we did not know that both Houses would be adjourned early on Wednesday.
– I agree with the honorable senator on that point, and I can assure him that if the Government wishes to get through the business in a businesslike way honorable members on this side of the chamber will not be obstructive. But I protest against this sudden change of procedure in respect of a very important financial measure. There are honorable senators who take their legislative duties seriously. They cannot be expected to acquiesce readily in a proposal to suspend the standing orders immediately a Supply Bill comes before them, in order that it may be passed forthwith. I concede that, owing to the lamentable death of one of our members, we have lost one day this week, but I put it to the Government that they will not gain a day by attempting to deal with the business of the Senate in this extraordinary manner. I again appeal to the Minister not to put honorable senators iri the position of having to discuss this bill at such short notice. We should be permitted on the first reading to discuss grievances, as is our right. Then on the motion for the second reading, we could direct our remarks to the bill itself, and in the committee stages discuss the items contained in it. It is altogether too much to expect the Senate to pass the bill through all stages this afternoon.
– We have to-morrow a3 well.
– Then why not wait until to-morrow before moving for the suspension of the standing and sessional orders?
– It must be done now.
– Why not discuss the bill on Saturday?
– Senator Findley ha9 made an excellent suggestion. Why should we not be permitted to discuss this bill on Saturday, and, if necessary, on Monday? Inconvenient as it would be for me to remain in Melbourne; I should be prepared to do that in order that we might discuss this measure in a careful and leisurely manner instead of rushing it through at one sitting. Other bills also require to be put through before the end of the month, and we are prepared to assist the Minister by suggesting that the Senate sit on Saturday and Monday next. That would be a business-like way of dealing with measures. It certainly would be better than to place the Senate in the position of merely having to register the acts of another place, in the same way that numbers are registered on certain machines when a button is pressed.
– As a matter of fact, this bill was passed through all its stages in the other place in one evening.
– This is a- bill which, we may not amend. In this case, therefore, there is greater reason for allowing an interval of time to elapse between the different stages of the measure. Each stage should be taken in its regular order. Last session, I voiced a complaint similar to this. I then endured conditions that I candidly confess I will not endure again. I am not threatening an exhibition of physical violence. I want that to be clearly understood, because honorable senators opposite are in the habit of interpreting in their own false, slanderous way, whatever I say. I simply inform the Minister that if he does not conduct the business of the Senate in a proper manner, if he does not give us a reasonable opportunity to consider the various measures that are placed before us, means will be found to compel the Government to pass measures through this chamber in a manner different from that in which meat is put through a sausage machine.
– The honorable senator does not propose to cut this bill to pieces, does he?
– No. But the Minister proposes to cut off, in one lump, the rights conferred upon honorable senators by the Standing Orders. I have no desire to be personal, but I venture to assert that “ Yes, Senator Pearce” will be the reply of Senator Kingsmill to anything that the Minister asks him to do. Senator Pearce, no doubt will be glad to learn that he exercises such a controlling influence over the honorable senator, who came to the Senate with a certain reputation, and will probably leave it with the reputation of having acquiesced in every proposal to take from honorable senators rights that they have enjoyed since the inception of federation.
– The honorable senator will not be able to get anything by adopting that attitude.
– I am not aware that I have sought anything from Senator Kingsmill. I have merely stated a self-evident truth. When a new senator is elected to the Senate, he comes here with a reputation; he could not secure election unless he possessed an excellent reputation. He either retains that reputation, or he loses it. It is far better to have the reputation of conducting business in a proper way than to be known as one who, without complaint, agrees to any proposal to curtail legitimate discussion. I am quite serious in making this complaint. I am angry with the Leader of the Government in the Senate for having confronted us with such a proposal in relation to the first financial measure that we have been asked this session to consider. Instead of rushing the bill through, the Government should seek to conserve the rights of honorable senators, and should listen to any criticism that may be offered. I shall show my willingness to meet the Minister by refraining from availing myself of the full time allowed me for the discussion of a motion for the suspension of the Standing and Sessional Orders. Honorable senators are fully aware that I could, if I wished, occupy the whole of the time allowed me. ‘ If our Standing Orders do not enable the business to be conducted with the necessary expedition, let us draft others. Whenever the Opposition evinces a desire to voice a grievance the Government, being afraid that the public may learn what it is doing, stifles debate by closing the mouths of honorable senators. Not satisfied with having closed the Parliament for six months it is now proposing to rush the business through with the aid of the suspension of the Standing Orders. I say to the Government, “ Go your way. Whom God. wishes to destroy, He first drives mad.” I shall await to-night’s returns in the state election campaign before saying any more. When those figures are available, honorable senators opposite will learn what is in store for them if they dare to trample upon the rights and privileges of an enfranchised democracy.
Question put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 10
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon.
T. Givens). - There being an absolute majority of the whole number of senators voting with the “ Ayes “ the question is resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) pro posed -
That the bill be now read a first time.
– I think this is a very favorable opportunity for me to bring under notice a number of matters that should engage the attention of the Government. I propose to give an instance that is typical of many cases that come before members of the Federal Parliament, and fail to receive the consideration to which they are entitled. There are now approximately 250,000 persons more or less dependent on pensions granted under the War Pensions Act. While I realize that there may be some cases that do not properly come within the provisions of that measure, and the applicants may be pressing their claims with some degree of misapprehension, I am of the opinion, with all due respect to the army of officials attached to the department, that the War Pensions Act is not administered with that degree of sympathy that should be shown. Many of the men are suffering from wounds, the effects of which did not become apparent until a considerable time after they were inflicted. A case that came under my particular notice a few days ago was that of 1st Lieutenant W. W. Paine, 1st Battalion, 1st Brigade, Australian Imperial Force. This citizen enlisted in August, 1914, and he was present at the landing on Gallipoli Peninsula, where he was wounded, and was placed in No. 4 Indian General Hospital. He returned to Australia in July, 1915, and became an inmate of the Randwick Hospital, in which he remained until the end of 1917. During that period septic poisoning reresulted, and this was followed by a disease known as ischia-rectal. He was operated on for that complaint in the Randwick Hospital. ‘ I understand that, subsequent to his return to the Commonwealth, he was employed in the Home Service, during which time he was also an inmate of the Randwick Hospital, where he was operated on under the direction, and with the consent, of the Home Service authorities of the Defence Department. Returned soldiers and citizens generally are not prepared to observe the fine distinctions that are to-day drawn by the Advisory Committee between disabilities due to home service, and those resulting from service abroad. I am informed that this officer was operated upon not once, but many times. I have before me a letter from the matron of the Netherleigh Private Hospital, Randwick, addressed to the returned soldier in question. It states: -
Dear Mr. Paine,
Your letter to hand regarding your being in Randwick Military Hospital during the years 1915, 1916, and 1917. I remember perfectly well your being treated for abscesses on your body after your septic arm had healed. Sister Powell, who was theatre sister at No. 4 A.G.H., is here with me, and she says that you will find the records of your operations in the theatre register; she recorded them herself. Hoping you are well,
Themedical gentlemen, or at least some of them, have expressed the opinion that the abscesses were not consequent upon Lieutenant Paine’s service at the war. I spoke to Mr., Paine myself. He showed me his arm, and, although I am not a medical man, I should say that the limb is anything but in a normal condition. Mr. Paine is of the opinion that the septic poisoning that followed upon gunshot wounds on his arm and on other parts of his body were responsible for the abscesses that appeared elsewhere. Unfortunately two of the medical men who operated upon him repeatedly - I do not think he remembers the number of operations he had; there were probably between 20 and 30 - are now dead, but Dr. Brown, of Summer Hill, by whom, with the consent of Sir Herbert Maitland, he was treated, states that in his opinion the septic trouble was consequent upon the wounds. Here we have the statement of one doctor contradicted and denied by the gentlemen who at present act as medical advisers to the Repatriation Commission. I am not prepared to express a definite opinion upon this matter, because I am not conversant with the whole of the facts. I know, however, that men who went to the front and returned to the Commonwealth unable to follow their usual occupations should not be treated in this niggardly manner. Even if it is said that the abscesses are not directly consequent upon wounds, it is quite possible that they are due to that cause. Having regard to the fact that while on home service duty this man was treated for this complaint at the Randwick hospital, it is drawing a very fine distinction to now refuse him the attention which he requires. All that he desires is a further operation, and a recognition of the fact that his complaint is the result of war service. The contention is a very reasonable one. It was never intended that such fine distinctions should be made in connexion with incapacitated men whoso disabilities arc undoubtedly due to war service. In view of the. prolonged delay that has occurred and the complete failure up to the present of. this exsoldier to receive that consideration and attention to which he believes he is entitled, it appears that the only thing to do is to bring the case prominently before the Minister for Defence (Mr. Bowden), in the hope that he will look into it at the earliest possible moment. If there is any possible doubt the man. should be given the benefit of that doubt. Many who returned from abroad were able to follow their usual employment, but it is an entirely different matter when a man returns injured, and is unable to do so in consequence of disabilities due to war service. The proper method to adopt is to bring in an amending bill if the existing act does not provide for such cases, or for the Minister to extend the scope of the regulations in order to meet cases of this description. I do not know this man very well; but I have been under the impression for some time that he is suffering a very grave injustice, and that the whole trouble could be rectified if he were allowed to receive the additional treatment which he now seeks. His pension, which in the first place was. a very small one, was increased when he went into hospital, and it ought to be again increased, as he is a married man with a wife and family to support. I trust the Minister will bring this matter under the notice of the Minister for Defence at the earliest possible moment.
There are two distinct, organizations controlling the Territory of New Guinea, one of which is known as the Administration and the other as the Expropriation Board. It has been asserted that the Administration has been able to make ends meet, but as it has almost unlimited powers of taxation in all directions, the financial position should bc satisfactory. I read a report the other day in the Sydney Daily Telegraph to the effect that as a result of investigations, it has been proved beyond doubt that the Expropriation Board, which is in fact the main authority in
New Guinea, has an overdraft of more than £1,000,000. It was also stated that it is anticipated that the deficit will increase for a number of years. An overdraft of £1,000,000 is not a serious matter to the Commonwealth, but it is just as well that the public should know that the operations of the Expropriation Board have shown, a deficit to the extent mentioned, and that for a number of years the amount will be increased.
– Was it not stated in the report that it was anticipated that the amount would be reduced within the next three years?
– No. The report I read stated that it was expected that the deficit would increase for the next three or four years, but after that period, if the price of copra increased, the position would improve.
– Did not the report say why?
– If the price of copra increased.
– Of course it was anticipated that the young coco-nut trees would be producing in three or four years, and that the Expropriation Board would at the end of that period com,mence to reduce its overdraft. It is understood that the reduction of the overdraft will depend very largely upon the price of copra. It is not a serious matter to have an overdraft of £1,000,000; but it is unwise to allow the impression to go abroad that in effect the Expropriation Board is meeting all its financial obligations. As the Expropriation Board, which is in charge of the main assets of the Territory, has a deficit of the amount stated, I thought it wise to bring the matter before the Senate in order to dispel the erroneous impression which has undoubtedly been created.
– Senator Grant’s remarks with reference to the financial position of the’ Mandated Territory would mislead the people of Australia as to the actual position. The honorable senator suggests that it is not reasonable to claim that the Administration in New Guinea, which has been able to balance its expenditure and revenue, is carrying on with success from a financial stand-point, because the operations o( the Expropriation Board, which is carrying on with an overdraft, ought also to bo taken into consideration. It is only fair to point out that the Administration of New Guinea and the Expropriation Board are entirely separate bodies. The Administration has the task of carrying on practically everything in the Territory, including the supervision and control of various Government departments, which are fairly numerous because of the many problems to be solved, but ‘ it exercises no control whatever over the management of the plantations formerly belonging to the German planters. These are managed by the Expropriation Board. I differ from Senator Grant. I think that the Administration has done wonderfully well to make its finances balance. It was a. matter of interest to me to learn that last year’s operations resulted in a small surplus. In view of the remarks made by Senator Grant, I feel it my duty to put before the people of Australia, through this Senate, a few facts concerning the operations of the Expropriation Board. It is true, as Senator Grant says, that the board is working under an overdraft, but very few people in Australia know what has occasioned this overdraft. In 1916, when the German planters in the Mandated Territory, who were cultivating about 7S,000 acres of coco-nut plantations, first began to realize that there was a possibility of Germany losing the war, they thereupon began to extend their operations to such an extent that when the Expropriation Board came into existence, the area under coco-nut trees was 120,000 acres instead of 78,000 acres. Apparently, the German planters were keen to make a large profit, because their demand for compensation was based upon so much per tree irrespective of its age. Now, a coco-nut tree does not come into profitable bearing until it is eight years old, and the Expropriation Board, therefore, has been compelled to maintain and nurture 40,000 acres of trees that could not come into profitable bearing for at least three or four years after its creation. The cost of maintaining in good order a plantation in full’ bearing is much less than that of one with trees that are not bearing, and the expense of managing plantations not in bearing was so heavy that the board was compelled to ask for an overdraft.
– That is quite right.
– I am pleased that the honorable senator endorses roy statement, but it was not fair for him to put the position as he did. He should have told the whole truth, and not half the truth.
– It is the honorable senator himself who is commencing by telling half the truth.
- Mr. President, I appeal to you. Did Senator Grant, in his speech, say that almost half of the plantations were not revenue producing, and could not be for the next three years ?
– Every one knows that.
– Every one does not know it, and that is why I felt it my duty to tell the people the truth about the position. Senator Grant can say what’ he likes as regards his half of the truth. I shall tell the people what he has left unsaid. Senator Grant has read the report, and has been supplied with the figures. He knows that less than 75 per cent, of the trees are bearing.
– Quite so.
– Then why was not the honorable senator honorable enough to give the Expropriation Board credit for that fact.
– I object to that expression. The honorable senator should withdraw it.
– It is for the honorable senator to state his point of order, and for me to say whether Senator Payne should withdraw the remark.
– At any rate, I take exception to the statement that Senator Payne has made.
– Does the honorable senator say that the statement made by Senator Payne is personally offensive to him ?
– Then I ask Senator Payne to withdraw it.
– I withdraw the term “ honorable,” and say that I regret that Senator Grant was not candid enough to tell the people the whole of the facts when he knew them. He says now that every one knew that not 75 per cent, of the trees controlled by the Expropriation Board were in bearing when it took over control.
– I rise again to object to the statement made by Senator Payne.
– The honorable senator cannot, object. Senator Payne is entitled to make any statement he pleases, whether it is correct or incorrect, and the only objection that another senator can raise is when something has been said which is personally offensive to him. I have listened attentively to Senator Payne. He has said nothing which could in any way be taken as offensive since the last objection was raised.
– In view of that fact-
– Why does not the honorable senator make his first statement full and complete instead of trying to mislead the people?
– I listened, attentively to Senator Grant and did not interrupt him. I hope that he will listen to me, because I have something to say which may be informative to him, and which may prevent him from repeating such absurd statements as he made in the earlier portion of his remarks to-day. I have read the report referred to by Senator Grant. It places the position very fairly before the people, if they will only take an opportunity to read it. It must be remembered in fairness to the Expropriation Board, that it is dealing with a problem no other body of Australians has ever had to tackle. I am not an apologist for the board. It has made many mistakes, as it was only reasonable to expect, but I hope that as a result of its experience it will avoid a recurrence of them. The board has to provide all the stores required for the management of the plantations, and I am afraid that m connexion with its stores department, when a total valuation is made, heavy losses will be found to have been made; but even these may be retrieved if some alteration is made ill regard to the management of the commercial side of the board’s undertakings. I may have another opportunity to deal more fully with that aspect of the question, but I do not want credence to be given to the impression that is sought to be conveyed by certain publications in New South Wales, in which day after day an attempt is being made to belittle the efforts of the Australian Government in its administration of the Mandated Territory. It is quite unfair to place before the public articles under bold scare headlines, which are so crude in their construction that very often they convey an entirely erroneous impression of the condition of affairs in the Territory. I shall take every opportunity afforded to me to check anything of the character of unfairness, while at the same time I shall make no attempt whatever to minimize the mistakes already made. I believe that the Administration of New Guinea is actuated by a desire to do the very best it can. for the Territory, so that Australia, as the Mandatory of that wonderful country, shall have to its record in the future the fact that although it tackled a very big problem quite new to it, it was carried out with every success. Rome was not built in a day. This Territory will not be developed in a few years. Although Germany had control over it for many years, only the fringe of the larger islands and the mainland has been penetrated. There is no immediate control over the natives a few miles back from the sea coast; no such control can be exercised for a considerable time to come, because the process of penetration must be very gradual. I have made these remarks so that the speech delivered by Senator Grant this afternoon shall not go unchallenged.
– I presume that the £4,076,175 we are asked to vote in this bill will be taken from the vast surplus which will confront the Commonwealth Treasurer on the 30th June next. From what I have read, I understand that the surplus will be anything from £10,000,000 to £12,000,000, and while I shall not, on the first reading of this bill, discuss many of the things that have brought about this unprecedented surplus, there is just one phase of it to which I shall direct attention. The major portion of this money has been taken from the taxpayers by indirect means, namely, through the Customs receipts, from which source it is anticipated that there will be a surplus of £6,000,000. It is indirect taxation with a vengeance, proving, if such proof is necessary, that while it is alleged to be the policy of the Commonwealth Government to impose, a protective tariff in order to foster and develop Australian industries, the tariff itself is really a revenue producer. I am a protectionist. On every occasion on which I exercise a vote in this Senate on fiscal matters I vote for a high protective tariff, but in view of the effect pf the tariff now in operation I think the time is ripe for a revision of it, so that the taxpayers may be relieved of the very high indirect taxation they are now called upon to pay.
I was wondering whether it would not be possible, out of the vast surplus which the Treasurer will have, to pay more consideration to the aged poor of Australia, who are not receiving an old-age pension commensurate with the conditions of living to-day. Last year, when the Government brought down an Invalid and Old-age Pensions Bill to increase the amount of the pension by 2s. 6d. per week, honorable senators of the Labour party contended that the increase was paltry, and that the amount of the pension should be at least £1 a week, in view of the fact that pensioners, in common with others in the community, were suffering from the heavy pressure of the high cost of living. When asked if the Government would increase the amount of the pensions to £1 per week, the Minister said that the Commonwealth revenue would not stand the strain of an extra half-crown per week. The Treasurer is now wallowing in millions, and I again ask the Leader of the Senate whether or not this question of an increase in the invalid and old-age pensions can be considered. . The Minister may reply that it is not usual to outline Government policy in reply to questions, but I submit that my remarks on the first reading of this bill are not in the nature of a question at all, and, therefore, the Minister might very well reply.
I wish now to direct attention to the position of widows of Commonweath public servants who died just about the time that the Superannuation Act came into force. On this subject I have asked many questions in this Senate, and have had a good deal of correspondence with the department concerned. I gather from the Minister’s replies that the Government is sympathetic in regard to the claims of these widows, of whom there are about five in Western Australia, and, I think, about 52 or more in the Commonwealth. I understand that a bill to amend the Superannuation Act is in preparation, and I should like to know when we may expect it, because the people referred to are anxious to know the result of their representations.
Another subject upon which I have had considerable correspondence with the exMinister for Customs, Sir Austin Chapman, is the case of Mr. Thomas Houghton, searcher and watcher in the Customs
Department at Fremantle. From what I can learn, Mr. Houghton was charged on the 12th June, 1923, with neglect of duty, in that whilst on a shit) as searcher and watchman, he partook of a cup of tea, at about half-past 2 in the morning whilst he was on duty, and a water constable was temporarily relieving him. He applied for a board to hear his case. His application being granted, the board sat on the 11th and 13th July, 1923, and returned the finding - “Charge not proved.” Houghton, who had been suspended for five weeks, was thereupon reinstated. I understand that he was ready with his defence on the day following his suspension, but the department was not prepared to go on then. In consequence of certain remarks made by the Collector of Customs at Fremantle, Houghton considered that, unless he had legal assistance, his case would be prejudiced before a. board. Accordingly he retained Mr. Lavan, K.C., to defend him. Mr. Lavan’s fees and witnesses’ expenses amounted to £37. In view of the fact that the charge ‘ against him was not proved, Mr. Houghton naturally thought that, as in a court of law, costs would follow the judgment, but his application to the Public Service Board for a refund was refused on the ground that the appeal board, which heard his case, had made no recommendation on the question of costs. I may state that Houghton has been in the employ of the Customs Department for a considerable time, and has a splendid record. The charge referred to is the only one that has been made against him and, as I have shown, it was not proved. In support of what I have said concerning Mr. Houghton’s record let me quote, for the information of the Senate, a copy of a minute by Mr. Oakley, then Comptroller-General of Customs.
Quarter ending 30th September, 1916.
The Collector. - You expressed a wish to see this file after the quarterly returns had been posted as you noted Mr. Houghton,searcher and watchman had apparently exercised great care in carrying out his duties by the number of articles discovered by him during the period covered by the return.
Owen W. Hough, B.I. 16th October, 1916.
The Boarding Inspector. - I desire to commend Mr. Houghton for his vigilance and success during the past quarter. It is noted that his name appears in connexion with thirteen seizures - a record to be proud of.
This shows that Mr. Houghton enjoyed the confidence of the Comptroller-General, and had been commended for his vigilance. Up to this day his record, with the exception of that trivial offence, which was not proved, is absolutely clean, and still the department refuses to refund his legal costs. There is another aspect of the case to which I desire to direct attention. Far be it from me to say anything, not founded on fact, against any officer in the Public Service, especially when the officer concerned cannot bc here to defend himself. I have a very voluminous file on this subject, but I have taken from it only the salient points to put this case properly before the Senate. The Minister may, if he desires, peruse my file. On the 29th November, 1923, I wrote as follows to the exMinister for Customs: -
Dear Sir, - Further to my recent communications to you in connexion with the case of Thomas Houghton, watchman and searcher, Fremantle Customs Department, I desire to point out the following :-«
The hoard that tried Mr. Houghton’s case never refused him costs. At the last moment, when his case was finally disposed of, his solicitor made application verbally for costs. The chairman of the board said that he would bear that in mind, and that ho (the chairman) thought the matter of costs was one to be decided at Melbourne, or by the Commonwealth Crown Law Department, or words to that effect. Consequently, you will see that there never has been any refusal by that board. - He applied for his costs to the CO. through this collector, and I hold his solicitor’s account and two original memorandums referred to by the Minister in his communication to me of 17th October, also the names of five witnesses who were in attendance for the two days of the sitting of the board.
I would also point out that his board was constructed under the old public Service Regulations. The Public Service Board that- refused his application for costs was not then in existence, and even supposing this latter board had judicatory powers to so refuse, you will sec that a grave injustice would bc done to him. Probably Mr. Oakley, to whom his application for costs waa directed, never received it, and I feel sure that had the matter been placed before that gentleman, the Hon. Minister need not have been approached. Mr. Oakley was on the eve of his departure for London with the Prime Minister about this time.
From the contents of 26 instructions issued by the Collector of Customs it will be noticed that they have apparently emanated from the evidence at Mr. Houghton’s board. No. 11 specially points out that an officer is not to hand over to a police constable tem- porarily his post; yet by No. 22, in a case of smuggling, if the officer cannot get in communication with one of his superiors, he may hand the case over to a police constable. No. 20 - if this was carried out, and it is emphatic, it would soon bring the department into disrepute. For instance, Dr. Sastri, the Indian judge who landed here some time ago, is a coloured man, and if he were searched the consequence would be serious.
The appeal board, it is true, made no recommendation with regard to costs, and the chairman said it was a matter for the Attorney-General, or the Minister for Trade and Customs. Prior to the hearing of the case by the appeal board, the Collector for Customs made the remark that he would “ deal “ with Houghton when the latter resumed duty. In my letters to the Minister I drew attention to this, and said it was wrong for any officer in any department to employ words that might be construed as a threat towards any other officer, after his case had been considered by a board. On the 3rd December, 1923, I wrote to the exMinister for Trade and Customs, as follows : -
Dear Sir, - I am in receipt of yours of the 3()th inst. relative to the case of Mr. T. Houghton, searcher and watchman. Customs Department, Western Australia, advising that a report has been called for, for which communication I thank you.
I have been credibly informed that quite recently members of the boarding staff at Fremantle were called upon to sign a document setting out their duties, &c. The documents were afterwards commented on by the collector testifying as to the capabilities, qualifications, conduct, &e., for signature. l am also told all were commented on favorably except the one signed by Houghton, and that some reference was made on his paper to- the effect that he had been recently charged with a certain offence. Although the board found the charge not proved; he (the collector) was still of the opinion that Houghton was guilty.
Now, if the information supplied to mo is correct, it would appear to convey, or rather to confirm, the suggestions made in my first letter to you, that there was a danger of Houghton being persecuted. I. think, in order to prevent any miscarriage of justice, that a strict inquiry should be held into this matter with a view to seeing whether or not Houghton is_ getting a fair deal. It is bad enough for him to have to pay the costs of his case, which would not have occurred in any court of law, particularly when the charge was not proved against him, and in addition having to hear the added anxiety of hostility from his superior officer.
Bear in mind I am not making the assertion, but sufficient has been stated to me to indicate that an inquiry is essential. It might, a3 T have already said, prevent a miscarriage of justice. ‘
Trusting you will give this phase of Houghton’s case your early and earnest consideration . . .
The then Minister for Trade and Customs (Sir Austin Chapman) replied to that letter, but unfortunately I have not kept a copy of his reply. The Minister stated that it was wrong for the collector at Fremantle to use the language he did, or to hold a threat over Houghton, and that he had instructed the collector to excise those words from the departmental files. That action by the Minister justified Houghton’s contention that his superior officer was hostile to him. Despite the fact that the superior officer has been reprimanded, his junior has had to bear the whole cost of the inquiry, in which he justified himself, and proved to the department that he was not guilty of the offence with which he was charged. I think that this matter is worthy of the consideration of the Minister. Furthermore, the regulations which I have just read were not in existence prior to the time that Houghton was charged with the offence; they were drafted subsequently. I do not care to occupy the time of the Senate with matters affecting individuals, but as this Parliament is the highest court of appeal that can be approached by any citizen, and as he can bring his case before the Parliament only through his member, I considered it advisable to bring the matter up in the Senate. I hope that the Minister will promise to have the case further considered, with a view to requiting Houghton for the cost to which he has been put in order to defend his character and his honour.
Senator GARDINER (New South
Wales) [4.25]. - Like my colleagues I consider that this is a favorable opportunity to consider matters of personal moment. I desire to bring to the notice of the Minister the case of a warrant officer who was retired from the Defence Department subsequent to the passing of the Defence Retirement Act. This officer had had 23 years’ service, and he was retired at the age of 60 years. Just prior to bis retirement, he was contributing to the superannuation fund at the rate prescribed for a pension of five units. Had ho remained in the service until he reached the age of 65 years, the sum that h» was contributing would have entitled him to a pension of £130 a year. His name is Warrant-Officer Gale. He received notice from the department that unless he paid something like £30 forthwith, he would not be entitled to a pension. It is a rather heavy call upon a man who is out of employment to find £30 in a lump sum, but believing that when he had paid it he would become entitled to the pension, he forwarded the amount. Time went on, as it generally does when departments are dealing with the claims of poor men, and eventually he was granted a pension of lis. 5d. per fortnight ! Whenever an apparent injustice is brought to my notice, I endeavour to have it remedied. I therefore represented the bare facts of this case to the Minister for Defence (Mr. Bowden). He and his Under-Secretary went into the matter, and stated that there was quite a number of similar cases, to deal with which legislation would be introduced during the present session. The session is proceeding, but I cannot see any indication of the introduction of that legislation. I trust that I shall not bc regarded as uttering a threat when I say ‘ that if definite information is not supplied me that that legislation will be introduced to remedy what the Minister for Defence admitted is a hardship, I shall move for the appointment of a select committee of this Senate to inquire into the matter. I do not like asking for the appointment of a select committee because of the worry and trouble it entails, and the expense in which it involves the country, but, if I am compelled to take that action, I feel sure that the fair-mindedness of honorable senators will induce them to grant my request. The expense which will thereby be incurred will be at least as great as the payment that has been withheld. I have no doubt what the verdict of a select committee would be, because there is not an honorable senator who would deny the justice of this man’s claim. This officer belongs to New South Wales. Had federation not been consummated he would, according to the New South Wales custom, have received one month’s salary for every year of service. I have not read to the Senate tho correspondence that has taken place, as I wish to reserve it for the consideration of a select committee, if such be found necessary. It looks as though the department obtained from this man the sum of £30 by deceit. I do- not contend that the letter he received was such as to lead him V> anticipate that he would get all that he expected, but I feel quite satisfied that, had he known he was to receive a pension of only lis. 5d. per fortnight, he would not have made that payment of £30. I do not think any honorable senator would do so. During the war he frequently volunteered for active service at the front, but he was not permitted to leave Australia, because he was one of those sterling, reliable, efficient officers whose services were required for the training of recruits here. He did his duty well. When the Superannuation Act was passed he accepted the conditions it imposed, and commenced to make the payments required. His services were dispensed with when he reached the military retiring age of 60 years. There are men who were put off two years prior to him and were paid handsome pensions, although they made no contributions to the fund. The explanation of the Minister for Defence is - “ We could pay those pensions then because we were not working under this act, but Ave cannot do so now, because the act clearly defines the manner in which pensions shall be paid.” It is hard to induce people to believe that justice is being meted oat when only £14 per annum can be paid under the act, although £130 per annum is being received by men who were discharged prior to the passing of the act. It will be about two and a half years before this mau will get back what he has paid into the fund. If his death occurs before that time, the department will have made a profit out of him. I have brought the matter up because I am so impressed with the justice of the claim.
– Is he a married . man ?
– Does his wife receive a pension 1
– No; no claim was possible under the Defence Act.
– Does he come under the Superannuation Act?
-He comes under the act that was passed in 1922.
– The Defence Retirement Act?
– Yes . The point is that those who retired just at the passing of that act received a pension.
– I thought they all received a lump sum.
– This man did not. I see that the Minister’s mind is working in the same way as mine did, and I shall therefore endeavour to make the matter clearer. I thought there was a method for dealing fairly with all these officers. When the act was passed, Warrant-Officer Gale commenced contributing for a pension of five units. Itwas not competent for any officer to contribute for less than two units.
– Those are the provisions of the Superannuation Act, not of the Defence Retirement Act. No payments were necessary under the Defence Retirement Act.
– I accept the Minister’s statement. ‘This man was a warrant-officer, lie had previously been a staff officer and a sergeant-major. He was retired with the honorary rank of lieutenant, and was therefore a reputable man, of good type and standing. The Minister says, offhand, that this case comes under the Superannuation Act, not the Defence Retirement Act. Under the latter act, will the Defence Department grant this man a lump sum, as has been done with other officers, or act in accordance with the services rendered? When the new act came into force he was asked to pay £30 because a certain number of payments had to be made before a pension could be granted. He paid in a lump sum over £30, and in the ordinary course of events the department granted him a pension that works out at about 5s. 8d. per week. When I discussed the matter with the Minister for Defence (Mr. Bowden), he informed me that when Parliament met legislation would be introduced to deal with such cases, because there were other instances of a similar nature. At present, however, I see no likelihood of steps being taken to remedy the injustice. I am reluctant to bring such matters before the Senate, and I am still more disinclined to move for the appointment of a select committee, but, on the other hand, I do not believe that there is one honorable senator who would will- ingly permit injustice to be done to a man who had faithfully served his country. If the Government will give me an assurance to-morrow, before the bill passes its final stages, that action will be taken to enable Parliament to remedy the Unfair conditions, I shall be satisfied. Otherwise, 1 shall put a notice of motion on the business-paper, and I feel sure that, with all the papers before me, I shall be able to make out a good case for the appointment of a select committee. I have already asked a certain number of honorable senators if they will agree to sit upon such a committee, and I may say that I have not endeavoured to secure the services of honorable senators who, in my opinion, would be likely to bring in a report in accordance with my wishes. I believe that a committee consisting solely of honorable senators opposite would be unable to arrive at a finding ‘either .than, that the law was working harshly against a man who had served his country well. It would find, also, that many other invidious distinctions that should not be tolerated are now being made. The Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) should at least bring this matter under the notice of the Minister for Defence and let me know what action is to be taken.
I now desire to refer to another case, which is somewhat more complicated than the last, but, nevertheless, one in which a grave injustice has been done. An elderly man who signed on for war service in the industrial section met with an accident, and he was entitled to certain compensation - I think to a weekly payment. He compromised with the department and accepted a lump sum in order to settle the claim. As honorable senators are aware, the law provides that such an arrangement has to be approved by a judge. This case was brought before the court, and the judge most scathingly commented upon the agreement, refusing to ratify it. Honorable senators may -say that the man got what he asked for, and ought to be satisfied. But he is not satisfied, and he has put in his claim for a weekly allowance. He is over 70 years of age, and is a fine intellectual type of man. He enlisted as being 59 years of age, although he was possibly 64 years old. He met with a dreadful accident, and was never afterwards able to work. Finally, the Minister for Defence decided to grant him an allowance that would, with his old-age pension, place him in the receipt of 30s. per week. The Minister, however, omitted to reckon with the Treasurer, who, naturally, and, perhaps quite properly, rejected the proposal. I received a letter from the Treasury informing me that the entire payment had been stopped. I decline to accept such an answer, for I desire to see justice done. Although it is repugnant to me to bring such matters before the Senate, it is useless to take them to the Repatriation Department since that department takes one view and the Treasury another. The case has been out of my hands for some time. I think the man is ending his days fairly broken-hearted at the treatment he has received. My personal view is that if he ! sought redress in a court of law a large lump sum would be awarded against the Government, because the man, whose name is Dunk, has been waiting for years for satisfaction. No fair-minded person would deal with the two cases I have mentioned as the Government has handled them. I ask the Minister to get into touch with the department, and obtain a full statement on each case. One could easily drift from the subject I have been dealing with into a general statement on the matter of military pensions. I suppose I shall go on voicing grievances of this nature until after the next election, when, perhaps, I shall be in a position to remedy them.
– Then the honorable senator’s sins will find him out.
– The Government’s sins will surely find them out if real grievances, such as those I have mentioned, are not redressed.
I now direct attention to the case of a man who enlisted, and who, on his return, was kept in hospital. The department seems to have adopted a rule that if a soldier does not die within a given time after his return from the war, his widow is not entitled to. the full pension. This unfortunate man remained continuously under hospital treatment. Whether or not he was permanently in a hospital or became an out-patient for some time I am unable to say, but after lingering for a long time he died, and this generous, patriotic, flag-wagging Government is now paying his widow 4s. 6d. per week. Does the Government consider that a sufficient payment to the widow of a man who died as the result of injuries sustained in the service of his country? Heavy as the bill may be, the public of Australia wants the claims of the dependants of deceased soldiers settled in favour of the applicants. I wish, in the first place, to give the Government an opportunity to redress these grievances in response to complaints voiced on the floor of the Senate; but I have no doubt that the supporters of the Government in this chamber will continue to give meek allegiance to the Ministry, no matter what its reply may be.
– The honorable senator knows different from that.
– I am sorry that Senator Guthrie is not present at the moment, for I have a personal grievance against him. I have been slanderously misrepresented by him in respect to remarks made by me in this chamber. I now challenge him to go with me to the city where he made his slanderous statements, and either to withdraw them or apologize. I shall not say any more as to that at this juncture, because the honorable senator is not here. He made the charge, in the first place, some time ago; but added insult to injury by repeating it at Geelong this week. I was announced to speak at Geelong last night, and the effect of the vicious attack which the honorable senator had made upon me was such that if £50 had been expended upon advertisements I could not have secured a better audience than I had. I have a reputation to protect, and when, before a public meeting, any one deliberately twists what I have said in this Senate, the vindication of my character is to challenge proof of the statements. I asked Senator Guthrie in what speech I had made the statement attributed to me, and when he looked up Ilansard, he found that I did not say what he thought I did. He then asked for the unrevised proof of my speech. I did not know that one could obtain an unrevised proof of a speech so long after publication; but I asked for and obtained the unrevised Hansard proof of the speech in question. I handed it to Senator Guthrie and he found that my speech had been revised only Dy the officers of Hansard, whose duty it is to revise the reports. Very rarely do I alter a word in the reports of my utterances in the Senate, and, on this occasion, I had not made even one correction. This is not the place for the airing of personal grievances, but I am entitled to protest when partisan statements are made about me, and words attributed to me that I did not use. An honorable senator is adding insult to injury when he goes to some other place, misrepresents a fellow member, and, in order to buttress up his case, quotes something which another honorable senator thought that fellow member had said. Senator Guthrie quoted something which Senator Payne imagined I had said. One can readily understand that what I did say was totally different from what Senator Payne understood me to say. But when a statement is made at a public meeting that Senator Payne “ understood “ me to say such and such a thing, the general impression would be that Senator Payne would not have attributed the remark to me if I had not made it. Senator Guthrie stated also that interjections made in Parliament were not recorded ; but in the official report of the speech to- which he was referring, and in delivering which I occupied 45 minutes, there are 52 interjections. When so many were recorded, I wonder how many were omitted 1 It is quite easy for an honorable senator to credit me with saying something which I did not have in my mind. But if I have an idea that an honorable senator has made a certain statement, and I find on turning to Hansard that I have made a mistake, as I might easily do, and if on obtaining the unrevised proof of the speech in question I find no record of it even there, it is not playing the game to say that the statement was made, but not recorded. Honorable senators cannot find much fault with the reporting that is done at the table of this chamber, and 1 do not think there is room for any one tosay that statements made in the Senate are not recorded in Hansard. I have not found it so, and in the. proofs of my speeches that are sent to me I have never endeavoured to alter the meaning of a sentence. I might, occasionally, alter a word, such, for instance, as to substitute “ British “ for “ English “ but nothing more. Senator Guthrie’s statement was that, although he asked me a certain question in the course of the speech under notice, and I answered it, neither the question nor the answer I gave was recorded in Hansard. That is going too far. I ask Senator Guthrie to accompany me to Geelong, and to prove his case or publicly withdraw his statement. I have to thank the honorable senator personally for the excellent meeting he quite unwittingly organized for me. The sitting member for Geelong in the State Legislative Assembly belongs to the Labour party, and, after to-day’s election, I feel sure he will still retain his position. I should not have referred to this matter but that Senator Guthrie seemed to think that I was planning to defeat him on the eve of the state election. I did not offer my assistance in connexion with the state campaign, but when the party asked me to assist, I agreed, and said that I would go wherever they sent me. I object to slanderous misrepresentation, and to words that I did not use being put into my mouth by honorable senators opposite. I am not going to adopt the views which they say I hold. I decline to do that. I do not think they have much fault to find with me for the opinions I express. I believe Senator Guthrie informed his Geelong audience that on one occasion I spoke for fourteen hours. I believe I did; but under the revised sessional orders, that will never again happen. We have now a composite Government, the number of whose supporters is altogether out of proportion to the people whom they represent in this Parliament. The Government by the manipulation of the tariff through the Tariff Board, prevents the farmers and primary producers generally from obtaining wire netting with which to fence their holdings. I know that the answer to any suggestion I may make in this regard will be that I am a Free Trader. As far as supplying wire netting for the protection of orchardists, farmers, and primary producers generally is concerned, I would give the firm now manufacturing wire netting a straight-out order to manufacture all that it could, and I would allow the community to have it without interest charges, and on such terms as they could afford to pay. That would be one of the most profitable investments that the Government could enter into. It would still pay to allow British wire netting to be imported free of duty because, work as they will, the local mills cannot turn out netting in sufficient quantities to meet requirements. If that were done, it would give us the opportunity of making the land profitable instead of making it more and more difficult for land-owners and primary producers generally to continue their operations. I know that, in the opinion of some honorable senators, it is an awful crime to want to trade freely with other parts of the British Empire. I do not want, however, to shelter behind an argument of that kind. I am satisfied that we could establish with all the nations of the world a trade of £200,000,000 a year, which we have not now, and which would be the means pf finding employment for every unemployed man in Australia. On a previous occasion, in this chamber, when £ was discussing unemployment, Senator Duncan inferred that the figures I was quoting were a little exaggerated, not perhaps by me, but by interested parties. I have, however, since looked at the census figures, and I would point out that, since the figures as to each man, woman, and child are recorded by different individuals, they are not likely to be manipulated. We have had ‘70 years of protection in Victoria, and 23 years of protection throughout the Commonwealth, yet on the 5th April, 1921 - nearly twelve months after the introduction of the highest tariff Australia has ever had - the census figures, gave the number of unemployed registered in Australia as 159,000. That is something which needs attention, and convinces hie that at the present moment wo are not facing the facts as we should do. Some will reply that this is merely the statement of a Free Trader. Where are the coal, copper, tin, and silver miners? Where are the wool-growers, the beef producers, and the wheatgrowers? We have to remember the primary producer sends out of this country in ‘wool alone £100,000.000 of produce per year. What is the value of our exports of the products of secondary industries? This is not a question of a. struggle between primary and secondary industries, but rather one relating to the conditions operating under a system which is absolutely strangling primary production. In perusing the figures for Victoria, I find that, over a period of n few years, the Government have expended £30,000,000 in settling men upon the land. We know what Queensland, New South
Wales, Western Australia, and Tasmania have done. We also know what has happened during the last 21 years of federation in regard to primary production. Despite the expenditure of untold millions in settling men upon the land, and in assisting primary producers, comparatively little progress has been made. Cool storage, by means of which produce is rescued from decay, is now provided, and produce is despatched to the markets of the world in a form which was not dreamt of 50 years ago. Notwithstanding this, and the other improved means of handling and transporting produce, and despite the millions of pounds spent in assisting primary production, the Statistician’s figures disclose that in 21 years the number of primary producers in Australia has been increased by only 20,000 or 30,000. Our gold, silver, and copper mines are practically deserted merely because Australia has adopted a policy under which the secondary industries are given preference. This is not a freetrade argument; it is just common sense. What happens to our primary produce? We send hundreds of millions of pounds worth overseas, and payment is made by way of imports from other countries. The wool, wheat, and other primary products sold overseas are paid for, not in cash, but in goods, and we take as a penalty in the form of duties against the producers, £30,000,000 for every £100,000,000 worth of goods so introduced. This penalty is not taken directly out of the pockets of the primary producers, but out of the pockets of the users, because the price they pay for the goods they get in exchange is taxed to the extent to which honorable members persist in taxing it. The only large exporting section of the community are those who are producing from the soil and sending away wool, wheat, butter, cheese, fruit, &c, but there is only one method of being paid for these goods, and that is by accepting in return the products of other countries. If a Tasmanian applegrower sends away £100 worth of apples, and in return buys £100 worth of British woollen goods, although he can send away his apples free of all charges, when his return comes back in the shape of woollen material made in Great Britain, he is compelled to> pay a penalty of £40 for daring to trade with his own people.
If he wants an up-to-date British locomotive, the Government are a little more considerate towards him, because they charge him only £35 in the £100 on the exchange of a British-made locomotive for Tasmanian apples. Yet the people who impose this heavy penalty would have us believe that they are loyal to the Empire. When I raised my voice against sacrificing the lives of the manhood of Australia, I was branded as a disloyalist. 1 am wondering how one should brand those who refuse to benefit those of our community who are interchanging commodities with other parts of the Empire. There are some people who say that these penalties must be imposed, otherwise our own people would be unemployed. They would not be unemployed. I would employ them as men were formerly employed by the Government - at the Commonwealth Woollen Mills.
– When they belonged to the Government?
– Yes, and it will not be long before they are again Commonwealth mills. Honorable senators opposite will not get away with all the roguery and thieving involved in their method of helping their friends to public goods. Every man and woman in this country would, under my scheme, be able to get employment. We have reached such a stage of intellectual development that ft is only those whose mentality has been arrested who do not realize that it is an economic waste and a waste of effort and opportunity in its worst form, to allow people to be unemployed - to degenerate through becoming heartbroken when they are willing to work and act as good citizens, but are prevented from doing so by the presentday. social conditions. The fact that on the 5th April, 1921, there were 159,000 persons who registered themselves as unemployed should make any person favorable to a high tariff pause to think. At the same time, they should realize that there is a deliberate attempt on the part of one section of the community to secure a monopoly, and deny to others the right to be loyal to the rest of the Empire by preventing trade between Australia and Great Britain. For my own part I would trade just as freely with America and any other foreign country, because I can see that if the money we are dragging from the pockets of the workers to indirectly employ them were used to find employment for them, we should not only employ every Australian out of work to-day, but also provide work for 10,000,000 or 12,000,000 more people. The job only needs tackling. But how do these intelligent persons say they would tackle it? They say to a woollen manufacturer, “ If you will only start making woollen goods, we shall shut out foreign woollens by imposing a tax of £40 per -£100 on any person who attempts to bring them into Australia.” They say to the boot manufacturer - “ “We shall put a penalty of £35 per £100 on those who import boots.” By that means they seek to encourage the bootmakers of Australia to establish a boot manufacturing industry, and when they have developed that industry they keep up a barrier which makes a difference of at least 8s. in the price of a pair of boots bought by any individual in Australia. I would not mind this if each boot were branded, “ Price of manufacture, so much. Penalty paid to keep outside boots from competing, so much.” If that were done public opinion would be very speedily aroused.
– And our national policy would be destroyed.
– I believe that if it were done our Parliament would be destroyed, because anything may happen if the people realize that their representatives in Parliament are making them pay 8s. more for each pair of boots they wear in order to help some of the master class to engage in industry and build up industries so that they may use their money to still further impoverish the workers. One cannot be too persistent in pointing out that the fruit-growing industry of southern Australia cannot be improved by imposing a duty on sugar, so that although the natural price may be 2£d. per lb., the jam manufacturers are compelled to pay 4d. for their sugar to enable the fruit to be turned into jam. Of course, I know that the canning people are paid a lump sum to hold their tongues, and that the beef people are likewise paid a lump sum to hold their tongues. And now the people of Western Australia, realizing that costs are floating so high when the rich veins which yielded gold in enormous quantities in the higher levels have been worked out and the poorer ore is. being worked in tho lower levels, have suddenly wiped their eyes and seen some hope for themselves. They have decided to ask the Commonwealth Government to give them a bounty to enable them to work their mines.
– After robbing us of our gold.
– After robbing the people of Western Australia of the natural increase in the price of gold . When I was in the State I was taken to visit some of the mines, and I saw where a new rope had been fitted to a cage at a cost of £600. When one talks about how inflated prices interfere with mining operations the average man does not realize how huge is the cost of equipping a mine. It struck me when I saw this new rope that had an industry in New South Wales got the idea of making wire ropes, a duty of 40 per cent, would have been imposed, and the cost of that rope would have been £1,000. Thus by helping one industry we crush another. It is time for serious minds to think our, this problem. When Senator Cox was returning thanks upon his election to this Senate, a gentleman asked him, “ Are you a Free Trader or a Protectionist? “ Senator Cox replied, “ I am a Free Trader,” yet we know how loyally he supported’ the high tariff when it was before this chamber for consideration. I would like Senator Cox to acknowledge that my statement of his declaration is correct.
– It is absolutely correct. I cannot get away from the fact.
– It may be used in evidence against the honorable senator later on. There are . many thoughtful men in the Commonwealth who are struggling with the problem of the interchange of duties. In the Sydney Morning Herald column after column of letters appeared from people making all sorts of ingenious suggestions as to how Australia’s surplus credit in London could be made use of in Australia. When I was a boy, along with others, I used to get a good deal of fun by putting a bank of clay across a streamlet until the water formed a huge body and eventually flowed over the bank. I would like Senator Cox to know that he is striving just as unsuccessfully to dam the natural stream of trade between England and Australia. All sorts of methods of getting at the enormous surplus of Australian money held in Great Britain may be suggested, but the simplest of ill is to remove all obstructions and permit irade to flow naturally. There would then be no unusual surplus of Australian cash lying idle’ in London. Business men tell us in their letters to the newspapers that they are fearfully harassed by the tightness of money in Australia, although their credits in London are enormous.
– Why does the honorable senator blame Senator Cox for holding the views held by 98 per cent of the Labour party upon tariff matters ?
– I am not blaming him for it. I am only inviting him to give the matter serious consideration, for I now have his public statement that he is a Free Trader. It is over 23 years since the election of the first Federal Parliament. During that period our primary producers have increased by only 30,000 or 40,000, although Federal and State Governments, to say nothing of private individuals, have during that time spent millions of pounds in trying to induce more people to settle on the land.
– Give us a chance, and we will soon put more men on the land.
– During the period mentioned by the honorable senator, primary production has increased out of all proportion to the increase in the numbers of persons engaged in the industry.
– I dare say that what the Minister has just’ said is quite true, but I take it that any increase in primary production is due largely to the introduction of more up-to-date methods, and a more intelligent application of fertilizers to the cane-fields of Queensland or the wheat-fields of the other States.
– Also the employment of more up-to-date machinery.
– And locally-made machinery.
– The number of persons engaged in primary production, including mining and quarrying, in 1911, was 586,148; and in 1921, the number was 598,604, an increase of only about 12,000, notwithstanding that, during those ten years, millions of pounds was spent in trying to put more people on the land. The position with regard to our primary producers cannot be overlooked. Their present difficulties cannot be met by giving a bonus of £120,000 to the Queensland meat companies at the expense of the struggling “ cockies” in the other states.
– The honorable senator, in quoting those figures, should not forget that mining has decreased tremendously, so that the increase in the numbers of . persons engaged in agricultural and pastoral pursuits must have been very considerable.
– I was particularly careful to remark that my figures included, mining and quarrying.
– Mining has decreased because in many cases the value of the lodes being worked has decreased, and it has become unprofitable to work them.
– I realize, of course, that there is a good deal in what Senator Glasgow has said. No doubt he recognizes that, by means of the tariff, we have succeeded in strangling the mining industry, because the only mines now working successfully are those that are enormously rich. The tariff has done what it was intended it should do.
– Protect local industry.
– Surely the Minister will not claim that the present tariff is protective in its incidence since, in the year now closing, the Commonwealth Government has collected about £36,000,000 from Customs duties. If that amount of duty has been paid on foreign goods in competition with locally-manufactured commodities, no one can, by any stretch of the imagination, claim that the tariff is protective. It has strangled the mining industry.
– Nevertheless, mining divisions usually return protectionist candidates.
– That is the remarkable feature about our working classes. They will spend their last shilling in a patriotic endeavour to develop this country, even to the extent of putting the power of Parliament- into the hands of their natural enemies - the employing and power-holding classes. They do not object even to a duty of 40 per cent, on boots, although they know quite well that. they cannot get the locally-manufactured article at a reasonable price. The same may be said with regard to the clothing manufacturers.
– My experience in 1919 was that boots in Australia were about one-half the price charged in Great Britain.
– And yet a few years ago the right honorable senator sat beside a colleague - I think it was Senator Russell - who was in charge of a Tariff Bill which said in effect - “ The duty on boots from Great Britain shall be 40 per cent, until the 21st September, 1921, and thereafter 35 per cent.” If, in 1919, boots could be bought in Australia for half the price of boots of a similar quality in Great Britain, why was that embargo imposed on importations from Great Britain? Was it because all those in favour of that duty were disloyalists? Did they want to destroy that part of the Empire? Had they no sympathy for the Mothar Country? As a matter of fact, their attitude suggests that they thought they were dealing with Bolsheviks or Sinn Feiners - that they wanted to “ put the boot into them.” The Minister says that in 1919 he could get a pair of boots in Australia for about one-half of the price he would have had to pay in Great Britain, and yet on the 20th March of the following year he approved of the imposition of a duty of £40 on every £100 worth of boots introduced to Australia from the Mother Country, with the proviso that a few months later the tariff wall should be lowered slightly to make it a little easier for the Motherland to get her manufactured articles into this country. The Minister will not now say he could buy the same quality of boots in Australia for one-half of the British price? As a matter of fact, one cannot get a decent pair of boots in Australia under 30s. a pair, although the actual labour in manufacture does not cost more than 3s. 6d.
– I never give more than 25s. for mine.
– Senator Pearce’s admission is a fine illustration of how a tariff operates to increase prices. A few years ago, so he says, we could buy in Australia a pair of boots for one-half the price charged in Great Britain. Now, as a result of the present tariff, we can get a pair at about the same price as in Great Britain, or rather at a price governed by the amount which a British manufacturer has to pay for our hides, plus the cost of shipping them to Britain, converting them into leather, manufacturing the boots, returning them to Australia, transportation charges, and harbour dues, plus £35 for every £100 worth of boots sent here. We can now buy our Australian boots just a little below the price charged for the imported article. The manufacturers who are provided for so handsomely by our tariff arrangements, make immense fortunes, and then put their money into a pool to beat back labour, which through all the years has so generously helped to make them rich. The working classes, I know, realize that the employing section of our community is not capable of conducting secondary industries without legislative assistance. Of course, I realize that I am out of step with my party when I speak in this way. The workers of Australia are so extraordinarily generous to their employers that they are prepared to put up with this high tariff wall to enable private enterprise to live in Australia.
– What would the honorable senator have done if he had been in yie Ministry when the tariff was going through ?
– Probably I should have allowed it to go through or have got out of the Ministry. The chances are I would have allowed the tariff to go through. But Senator Pearce was a much stronger freetrader ‘than ever I was.
– Impossible !
– It is a fact. If I could place my hands on a memorable speech which he made on freetrade in the early days of federation I would occupy the rest of my time this afternoon in reading extracts from it for the information of honorable senators. It was, I think, the most remarkable speech on freetrade ever made in the Senate. Afterwards he was congratulated by all the freetrade senators on his fine effort. Of course, that was many years ago. But there has been no change on the part of the right honorable senator. He has merely adapted a change of policy to suit his present circumstances.
– Which the honorable senator would have done, had he been in the same position.
-That does mot make Senator Pearce’ s position any the better. The Minister, on the occasion to which I refer, so pleased the New South Wales freetraders that they voted for his appointment as chairman of committees as a tribute, I suppose, to a worthy colleague. As I listened to the tariff debate I thought that I might hear some explanation of the Minister’s position, but none was forthcoming, because, as I have stated, there had really been no change of opinion in his case. He was merely conscientiously discharging a public duty, and he had to decide whether he would remain with the Government, notwithstanding the introduction of such an obnoxious tariff, or leave the destinies of this country to his colleagues in the Ministry of the day. And I venture to think that when Senator Pearce looked around upon his supporters, and realized whom the Government would have to depend upon to carry on in this chamber, lie said to himself, “ After I leave, the deluge.” If I could marshall my facts, as the Minister marshalled his in that remarkable speech to which I have referred, I should feel tempted to spend considerable time in the preparation of my speeches so that I might ensure the attention of honorable senators. I invite them to turnup that speech in Hansard. I am satisfied that if they read it there will be quite afreetrade revival in this chamber.
– Why not read it to some of the honorable senator’s own supporters? Try it on Senator Needham, for instance.
SenatorCrawford. - Or on the boot- makers’ union.
– Now, that is an, excellent suggestion. Let met remind the Minister that quite a number of men engaged in the bootmaking trade axe satisfied that the day for direct action is coming; that instead of relying upon private enterprise they will look to the Government for employment in their calling. That is the problem which has to be solved. For 60 years the authorities in. Victoria have been endeavouring to settle it in the round about way of trusting to the master class to provide employment. If there is one matter upon which members of the Government stand solidly it is that public enterprise must not interfere with private enterprise.
– The honorable senator’s own party established a private enterprise in Sydney - the manufacture of faked ballot-boxes.
– Our party was sufficiently open and honest to clean the whole matter up in the eyes of the public Has Senator Duncan the courage to stand up in this Senate and tell us what happened in regard to the £2,000 that was given to the secretary of the Nationalist party in New South Wales to induce him to make way for Mr. Hughes ?
– Yes. The payment was not made for that purpose.
– He should be prepared to do that before he throws stones at the Labour party because of the wrongful act of a mere handful of men. The party to which he belongs has degraded the public life of this country by selling offices before they have been won. When that matter has been cleaned up he can commence to criticize our party. Then let him look to Queensland, where a man was caught red-handed with £2,500, with which he was attempting to buy a vote to turn the Queensland Labour Government out of office. Of course, the court punished the men who. were caught, but have the wealthy wire-pullers who provided the money been cleared out of the National party? No party which has attained to the greatness of the Labour party can be wholly free from, people who in their own interests, will do a “ crook “ thing, just as there is no religion every adherent of which lives up to its teachings. Certainly the members of the Nationalist party or the Country party, whilethey live in such a thin glass house, cannot afford to throw stones at the Labour party. In the presence of the press it was decided to cleanse our movement, and our hands have thus been washed free from those stains. I remember Smith’s Weekly, throwing out a challenge regarding the £2,000 that was given to Mr. Archdale Parkhill. I cannot recall having read in the press that Senator Duncan or other members of the National party endeavoured to learn from Mr. Parkhill or from Mr. Hughes the way in which this disgracefulepisode occurred. Then there is the £25,000 that Mr. Hughes is supposed to have re- ceived for services), rendered. Although the National party was mean and contemptible enough to throw Mr. Hughes out of office in the most underhand way that has ever disgraced a party in the public life of Australia, I have not heard that its members have at any time evinced a desire to clear up that matter. If there was anything underhand in the receipt of. that sum, they became accessories .after the fact. They held their peace, rubbed their hands, and said, “ Good enough for him !” Their code of morality can be judged by the fact that when they are questioned concerning it, they say, “ Would not you like to have the opportunity to get it?” That is theia- conception of .a complete answer. Yet, when some poor misguided unscrupulous nien endeavour to secure prc-selection by the use of “ crook “ ballot-boxes, they parade -the fact before the public.
– These men are Senator Duncan’s, old pals.
– Senator McDougall has expressed a happy thought. Senator Duncan was the reddest of the red-raggers in the movement; he was the most extreme of the extremists.
– The honorable senator knows that that is not true. He is good at fixing things up. Let him find some utterance of -mine that will prove the ‘truth of his statement; and, if he cannot do so, let him withdraw it.
– I can produce a resolution that the honorable senator moved when he occupied a position on the New South Wales Labour Council.
– Order !
– I am sorry that I have been dragged into these personalities, and regret that Senator Duncan’s persistent interjections compelled me to remind him that, in his day, he was the most extreme of the red-raggers.
– I deny it.
– I have had to apologize for him on numerous occasions. I have said that he really was a decent fellow, .and that he would get over his extreme views when he ‘became older. He rid himself of those views much more quickly than I thought would be the case. The problem of the development of our primary industries is the most serious of those that Australia has to face. I once made a statement, upon which I was attacked in the press. The gentleman who criticized me said that the secondary industries had provided the primary producers with double the number of consumers. I turned up the figures, and to my astonishment I found that we are not now using as great a quantity of potatoes as we were 25 years- ago, although we have double the population that we then had. I’t may be said, “ .Some other food is being consumed instead of potatoes.” The other day I consulted the handbook of Australian statistics for 1923. I found that in potatoes, rice,’ beef, and almost every Other foodstuff the consumption per head is now considerably less than it was some time ago. 1 can imagine some one regarding me with horror and saying, “ If you had continued at t3ie rate at which you were consuming 25 years ago, where would you. be now?” But I am not an average .man. The average household is consuming less per head because, unfortunately, the price of commodities is so high that they cannot afford to purchase so extensively. Inflation of prices has had so great .an -effect on house rents that they now represent the work, not of one day, but of two; a man is forced to pay his earnings for twu days in return for the right to house his family. While the Government is subsidizing the beef barons of Queensland to enable them to send beef out of Australia,, our own people are paying exorbitant .prices for it. The principal aim of those who claim to legislate for Australia should be to develop a policy of primary production side by side with that o,f secondary production. It is not good enough to crush .primary producers in the interest of city industries.
I am sorry that the Minister is determined to force the bill through* I think that at least a week’s notice should be given ‘before financial measures are introduced. Had that course been followed in this instance my remarks might have been more interesting and more connected. The Minister can, if he wishes, force the bill through in one sitting, because he is supported by a majority which will do anything he asks it to do.
– In his initial remarks this afternoon, Senator Gardiner stated that .he intended to repeat to honorable senators some of the speeches that he had delivered during the progress of the state election campaign in order that they might be embalmed in Hansard. He has done so, at great length. If the speech that he has just delivered is typical of those with which he regaled the electors of Victoria, let us hope that the political digestion of the electors will render them capable of thoroughly assimilating such indigestible food, and that the results will be worthy of the effort which the honorable senator put forth. One thing which can be said is that he has been universal in his catering. The protectionist) the free trader, the communist, the believer in direct action - all have been catered for. The references to the master class will find favour with the direct actionist. The most thorough-going conservative has only to read the references to the desirability of extending the primary industries of this country to recognize that he also has been provided for. In fact, the speech contains something for every section in the community. I have often heard the claim put forward, particularly in regard to the National party, that that party represents all sections. After listening to Senator Gardiner I can imagine him touring the state and addressing audiences holding widely divergent views. His speech to a conservative audience somewhere in the Western District would not contain any references to direct action ; they would be reserved for the electorate of Collingwood. At the meeting which he held at Geelong they would prove very useful. He would not, in Collingwood, refer to the desirability of assisting the primary producers; that would be reserved for Stawell or some other country town. Although it has taken up a good deal of time, the honorable senator’s speech has been most educational; it has epitomized the adaptability and the versatility of the Leader of the Opposition, and it constitutes a serious challenge to those persons who claim to represent all sections of the community. I could, if I had the time, prove how mistaken are many of the statements that the honorable senator has made. They have been reported in Hansard so frequently that we can only hope that those who read them in this speech will remember that Senator Gardiner has trotted them out before, and that they have been, rebutted .For instance, he has appealed for mercy to be shown to the poor producer in regard to wire netting. He has evolved a scheme for making wire netting available to the producers on easy terms. The primary producer who reads that will probably say : “ Senator Gardiner’s idea is a marvellous one, and would prove a solution of the whole problem.” But if he happens to be a student of Hansard he will know very well that the Government took this very action some months ago, because it made available £250,000 to enable settlers who wish to protect their stock from the ravages of wild dogs and their herbage from the depredations of rabbits, to obtain their supplies of wire netting free of interest and on extended terms of payment. Anybody who is in the habit of reading Hansard will not be misled by this sudden discovery by Senator Gardiner of a method by which they may be assisted. Then there was the charge that the Government had acted unjustly in imposing dumping duties and thus preventing the settlers from obtaining supplies of British wire netting. What do those dumping duties amount to? I saw an answer that was given to a question in another place, in which it was stated that the total quantity of wire netting upon which a dumping duty had been imposed is only 40 miles - not sufficient to fence one side of an average cattle or sheep station in the interior of Australia. All the other British wire netting has come in free of duty.
Referring to the more detailed cases that Senator Gardiner dealt with, I can only tell him, and Senator Needham also, that, as we have previously stated, the Superannuation Board is considering the problem involved. The Government intends to bring in legislation to meet some of the cases where hardship occurs. After all, Parliament was practically blazing a new track when it passed the Superannuation Act, and it is quite natural that some instances of hardship should be found. The board is making certain proposals with respect to them to the Treasury, and these will subsequently come before the Government. In some cases - I do not say all of them - certain relief will be afforded in the shape of amending legislation, but we cannot undertake to bring down a bill every time a case of hardship is discovered. Senators Gardiner and
Needham have mentioned two classes of cases; but’ there are others. All will be considered in connexion with the proposed amending bill.
– When will that bill be introduced ?
– I cannot say. It is at present under the consideration” of the Treasurer. Senator Gardiner also mentioned a case concerning the Defence Department, and a war pensions case. His remarks in that connexion will be brought under the notice of the responsible Minister, and therefore the warning he has issued will reach the proper quarters. Senator Needham invited me to announce the intention of the Government on the suggested increase of old-age and invalid pensions. Let me point out that very shortly the Treasurer will introduce the budget, and that it is the usual practice for any financial proposals to be announced, not during the introduction of a Supply Bill, but in the budget speech. I am sure, therefore, that the honorable senator, on reflection, will not expect me to give an answer to his question at this stage.
– What about the Customs case?
– I would remind the honorable senator that a little while ago, Parliament passed a Public Service Act. The Senate, I believe, had the measure under consideration for some months, and provision .was made for dealing with various grievances by the appointment of boards of appeal, &c. We thought that a very good measure had been enacted ; at any rate, it was recognized as such by the press and others who dealt with it. I ask whether it is advisable, having provided that machinery, to make Parliament a board of inquiry for such cases. If the Minister is to take over the work of the Public Service Board, he will be assuming responsibility which Parliament deliberately, under the Public Service Act, delegated to a board.
– I did not ask for that.
– I shall bring the honorable senator’s remarks under the notice of the Minister for Trade and Customs. From what the honorable senator has said it seems to me that the matter is entirely one for the Public Service Board. Senator Grant. - What about the case of Lieutenant Paine, which I mentioned ?
– I have already said that that and similar cases will be brought under the notice of the Minister concerned.
Question resolved in the affirmative. ‘
Bill read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
As is customary, 1 propose to give information in regard to the matters for which the Supply is to be voted. I pointed out, in moving the suspension of the Standing Orders, .that, as all parliamentary appropriations for the annual services of government will lapse on the 30th June, this measure is in a different category from an ordinary Supply Bill, because unless it is passed before the end of the financial year the Government cannot make any payments whatever from the beginning of July. As honorable senators know, payments are due apart from the salaries of the Public Service, and it will not be possible for the Treasurer or any department to pay any money until Supply is granted. The Bill provides for two months’ expenditure, so that it will be necessary to again approach Parliament for further Supply towards the end of August. In the meantime the Government will have brought down its budget for 1924-25, and honorable senators will have had an opportunity of studying the financial proposals for the new year before they are asked to grant further Supply.
The items in the schedule to the bill are based on the Estimates for 1923-24 as approved by Parliament, and no new services are provided for. The following is a summary of the provision: -
The total amount appropriated by Parliament for the year 1923-24 for ordinary departmental expenditure, repatriation of soldiers, and other war services was £16,090,645; one-sixth of this amount to cover ‘ two months expenditure, is £2j684,774. When it is remembered that five pay days fall within the period covered by this Supply Bill, it will be seen that the amount of £2,826,175, included in the schedule for these services, is well within the proportionate amount of last year’s appropriation.
The amount of £250,000 for refunds of revenue is required to pay cable receipts, which have been credited to revenue, to the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company, to repurchase stamps by the Post Office Department, to refund direct taxation found to haves been collected in excess, and to refund other moneys which have been paid to revenue in error.
The Government’s programme in regard to capital expenditure for 1924-25 has not yet been finally determined. It is necessary, however, to continue the un completed works which have already been approved by Parliament, and which will be in progress at the 30th June. The provision of . £1,000,000 will be mainly applied in this direction. In addition, advanceswill be necessary to provide a working credit for certain trust accounts, the balances of which are paid to revenue at the close of the year, and for other purposes.
In order that honorable senators may know at the earliest moment the result of the financial operations of the year now closing, the Treasurer is arranging for a statement of the receipts and expendi- ture of the Commonwealth to be prepared immediately after theclose ofthe finanial year. The task as no lightone, and involves the obtaining of information in considerable detail from the remotest parts of Australia., as well asfromLon- don. It is anticipated, however, that a complete statement willbe available in the first week in July, and theresult disclosed will approximate veryclosely to the exact position which will be ascertained on the final balancing of the ac- counts of the year.
As I have already mentioned., appropriations out of revenue lapseon the 30th Tune, and no money will be available for the payment of accounts in the new financial year until Supply has ‘been granted by Parliament. A pay day for employees engaged on day labour by the Works and Railways Department falls on Wednesday, the 2nd July, and the ordinary pay day for the Public Service falls on Friday, the 4th July. In addition, there are always accounts falling due fromday today, thepayment of which it is desirable should not he postponed.
After the Supply Bill has been passed by Parliament, the Governor-General’s assent to the measure has to be obtained. When this has been done, the GovernorGeneral’s warrant for the issue of the moneys included in the Supply Act has to be submitted to the Auditor-General for his certificate that the sums included in the warrant are legally available, and, finally, the Governor-General’s signature has to be obtained to the warrant.
It will be seen, therefore, that considerable delay occurs before moneys can be obtained under the authority of a Supply Bill, evenafter that bill has been passedby Parliament. It is desirable, therefore, that the bill should be passed as early as possible. I ask honorable senators to remember these facts, and also to bear in mind that the bill contains no newitems apart from what appeared on last year’s Estimates.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 4agreed to.
Divisions 1 to 8 (The Parliament), £10,610, agreed to.
Prime Minister’s Department.
Divisions 9 to 18, proposed vote,
– I notice that under “ Immigration there is an item of £5,500for “ Australian Organization,” and £6,200 for “ London Organization,” a total of £11,700. In my opinion, if the people bad an opportunity of approving or disapprovingof the expenditure of such a large sum, not a penny of it would foe voted for the purpose mentioned. The United States of America is not so attractive to immigrants to-day as Australia is, and yet we find that ‘the Government and the Parliament of that country have decided to take steps to limit the number of people enteringthe United States of America from other parts of the world . No attempt is made by the United States Government to advertise widely in Great Britain for newcomers, and no organizers are appointed. No attempt is made to attract people to the United States of America. On the contrary, theauthorities theredeclare that only a certain quota willbe admitted.
– The United States of America has a population of 120,000,000 in an area smaller than Australia. We have a population of only 5,500,000. There is a vast difference.
– There is a vast difference; but the honorable senator would not suggest that the population of the United States of America is so dense that there is not ample room for millions more. He knows that in that country there is room for more than double the present population, but for reasons: best known to the authorities only a limited number will be admitted. That policy is being carried into effect.
– The honorable senator also wishes to give effect to a policy under which no one will be admitted to this country.
– That is absolutely incorrect, and the honorable senator knows it.
– If such is the case, I have misunderstood the honorable senator.
– I have always made my position perfectly clear. The authorities in the United States of America go so far as to impose a poll tax upon Australians arriving in that country. It is quite true that if they pass through the country the tax is refunded, but those permanently residing in the country, according to reports, are not received in the open-handed manner in which Americans are received in the Commonwealth.
– In theory they refund the poll tax, but in fact they do not.
– I do not think it is refunded unless a person is travelling through the country to Europe or elsewhere. It is frequently asserted, quite erroneously, that the members of the party to which I belong are opposed to people coming to Australia from Great Britain and certain European countries, But there is no truth in such an assertion. Honorable senators on this side of the chamber are, however, opposed to public money being expended on bringing immigrants to Australia. If we were to assist the importation of a large number of solicitors or barristers, there would be very strong opposition from a certain section of the community. Our principal objection to the present policy isthat immigrants are brought to Australia for whom employment is not available. If we could induce the Government to make the conditions here more attractive than they are, there would be no occasion to maintain highly-paid staffs in London and in various centres in Australia, and to . expend large sums of money in attracting new settlers. Theconditions prevailing here ought to be sufficiently attractive to induce settlers to migrate. When gold was first discovered in Australia in payable quantities, tens of thousands of people came to Australia of their own free will, and they were the real pioneers. If the Government wish to increase settlement, the money which is now being expended on costly organizations should be used in making land available, and the conditions generally more favorable. I saw the other day a most damaging statement, which was published not only in one. newspaper, but throughout the whole Commonwealth, to the effect that for five blocks of land which were available at Henty, in New South Wales, there were more than 1,100 applicants. These persons did not. require assistance from the Commonwealth Bank - if they did they would not get it - from the state savings bank, or the Credit Foncier. Various persons were disqualified for different reasons, but approximately 1,000 were allowed to ballot, which meant that in that instance the requirements of 995 out of the 1,000 could not be met. If the Governments of the various states would make laud available on easy terms to prospective settlers on the spot they would immediately remove from the unemployed market many thousands who are to-day standing in the market place. According to Census Bulletin No. 18, 4th April, 1921, which was quoted to-day, there were then 159,188 people unemployed throughout the Commonwealth.
-(Senator Newland). - Will the honorable senator connect his remarks with the item before the committee ?
– I am referring to the item of ?11,700 for immigration. When the people of Great Britain read in the British press that there were over 1,000 applicants for five blocks of land at Henty they will naturally conclude that the prospects of a rural settler are anything but attractive.
– When did the incident to which the honorable senator refers occur?
– About eighteen months ago at Henty, in New South Wales. As a matter of fact, there are similar occurrences in New South Wales every week.
– That is the usual experience at every land ballot.
– Yes, when land is made available it is rushed by thousands. It may be that some of the applicants were employed, but if larger areas were available there would not be one thousand, but tens of thousands of applicants. Some men have grown old in the endeavour to secure land in this way. To my mind, the expenditure of money for bringing people to Australia is misusing funds placed at our disposal, and I feel sure that if the people of Australia were given the opportunity by referendum or any other method to express their opinion, they would show that they were not in favour of expending £1 for this purpose.
For some time I have been endeavouring to ascertain what useful function Australia House is performing. There are too many such institutions, and I should like to know if it is the intention of the Government to curtail the expenditure on the High Commissioner’s office, or to dispense with it, seeing that the Government disposed of the Geelong Woollen Mills, which were regarded as a paying concern. There may be some justification for maintaining a comparatively small office in London, but the heavy outlay now incurred in this connexion is unjustifiable. If the people of Australia were given an opportunity to vote on this question it would be shown that they were strongly opposed to such unnecessary expenditure. I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to leave out the item “ Division 17, Immigration : £11,700.”
– When I interjected during Senator Grant’s speech I indicated that I understood the honorable senator was opposed to immigration.
With a considerable amount of indignation he denied that such was the case. His concluding remarks on the question of immigration included this significant sentence, “ To my mind, the expenditure of money for bringing people to Australia is misusing funds placed at our disposal.”
– I stand by that.
– Yes, and the honorable senator stands by his original contradiction of me when I said that I understood he was opposed to bringing people to Australia. How he can reconcile his two assertions is beyond - me, but it may be within the extensive capacity of the honorable senator himself to do so.
– I understood the honorable senator to say “ coming to Australia.”
-I said the “bringing of people into Australia.” It is extraordinary that members of the Labour party all over Australia have not the pluck to say definitely that they are opposed to immigration.
– They are not.
– It is also very curious and significant that whenever there is an item in any Supply Bill for the purpose of bringing people into Australia it is immediately attacked and opposed by the Opposition. Many items have gone through the committee without comment from honorable senators opposite, and it is not until we come to this item for immigration that a protest is raised by them. Despite their assertions and their efforts to try to gull the people outside that they are not opposed to immigration, it is significant that on every occasion when it is proposed to bring people into Australia opposition is raised by them. The most important and the most necessary thing in the interests of Australia is the bringing of more people into the country. My honorable friend has drawn a comparison between Australia and America, but there is really no comparison between the two countries, because America, with its population of 120,000,000 people, has reached that stage of safety at which it can afford to pick and choose. It is doing so. It is a pity it did not start sooner, so that America might have got a little more of the Nordic element and a little less of the Mediterannean. We are now picking and choosing in an endeavour to introduce a little more of that Nordic element 30 that the strain now existing here may be perpetuated, and so that people of a pure British race may occupy and control Australia. It is most imperative, in the interest of our defence and development, that we should get more people into this empty continent of ours, which with its immense possibilities and latent wealth is entirely dependent on the protection afforded by the British navy and Great Britain generally. Left to our own resources we could not last for 24 hours, and yet we have an Opposition which on every conceivable occasion discourages the expenditure of money for the purpose of increasing our population.
– We do not want Maltese at all events.
– My regret always is that we do not expend more money, more time, more energy in introducing people into Australia for the purpose, if for no other reason, of its defence.
– I think we can discuss this item without engendering any heat. Senator - Grant put a very pertinent question to the Minister (Senator Pearce), but so far has not been furnished with the information which I think ought to be supplied to the committee in regard to the proposed expenditure of £5,500 upon Australian organization, and £6,200 upon London organization. I do not remember when I was previously in this chamber seeing such a line in a Supply Bill as “ Immigration - Australian organization.” While I am on the topic of immigration, let me tell Senator Drake-Brockman that the Labour party is not and has never been opposed to immigration. As a matter of fact, when a Labour Government was in power it set apart a considerable sum of money for the purpose of advertising Australia properly, making known its resources and its vast possibilities, and the fact that it provided avenues of employment for suitable people. We did our best to make those avenues more extensive by passing a land tax which had the effect of breaking UP-to use an Australian term - immense areas in different parts of Australia that were undeveloped anterior to the advent of the Labour Government.
– Brockman. - That was the hope behind the tax.
– It went beyond the hope. There are in the State of Victoria, to-day, many thousands of bipeds on land that before the imposition of that tax was utilized for quadrupeds. So far as immigration is concerned, what kind of immigrant do we want? Do we want pastoralists?
– Yes, if we can get them.
– If we want more pastoralists, why are the pastoralists of Australia coming to the Government, cap in hand, saying “ We are in such a pitiable plight financially that unless you give us assistance to tide us over our difficulties - difficulties that we may have to encounter for a long period of years - unless you can give us a subsidy of £150,000 we cannot continue as pastoralists “ ? Yet the honorable senator would say that the Government of the day should keep on spending money, overseas, in telling people who are anxious to come to Australia that there is ample room for those who want to engage in pastoral pursuits.
– So there is.
– Then why, if there is ample room, should we have this appeal for financial aid ?
– The honorable senator is talking about beef producers only. “ Pastoralist ‘.’ is a nomen generalissimum. It includes many people.
– There is a big number of men engaged in cattle-raising.
– Their number is unimportant compared with the whole of the people engaged in pastoral pursuits.
– If they were an unimportant part, would the Government call upon the people to pay them £150,000 this year, and £120,000 last year? Will the honorable senator say that there is ample room for those that might engage in fruit-growing ? He knows that the orchardists of Australia are in an extremely bad plight. The Government have told us that unless the fruitgrowers arid the canners are assisted financially numbers of orchardists will probably have to leave the land.
Silting suspended from 6.S0 to 8 p.m.
– What has been said confirms the views I have expressed earlier in the day that, -as far as fruitgrowing .and the cattle industry are concerned, there is no opening for immigrants. We. know, also, that soldier settlement in this state, and T believe also in the other states, has not proved quite the success which -some people expected it would be. The soldiers on the land in this state are passing through a very difficult time. Many of them -are in arrears with their repayments, and unless -something can be done, there is little hope for them. Wc all .know, too., that there is a .great deal of unemployment in the -various states. Unemployment is not new to Australia.. Not -very long ago the Government had om .the. Estimates a’ .considerable sum of money for immigration, and at the same time au item to provide work .for out own unemployed. At present, there is much distress amongst workless people in most i>f the states. This question was the subject of discussion in another place to-day, find according to a report in an evening paper the -Government has undertaken to push on with certain works in order to help those who- are cut of work. Having had the matter brought prominently under notice to-day, I have heard that the Government propose to set aside £500.000 for this purpose.
– That statement m the Evening Sim is absolutely incorrect. The provision of £500,000 is part of the Govern ment policy to assist the states in the development of main roads, and is not connected in any way with the unemployed problem.
– I am coming to that, lt is the result of representations made by a member of my party in another place.
– It is not.
– According to a statement in au evening newspaper., the Government, in view of the large number of people out of work, has decided to advance the State Governments £500,000, on the £1 for £1 basis, in order that certain works may be proceeded with.
– It was agreed to in the House of Representatives “before Mr. McDonald moved the adjournment of the House.
– And it is a continuation of last year’s programme-.
– That policy was adopted because members of my party in another place had made representations . in regard to unemployment in the various states.
– It was not.
-Then for what purpose -was the sum voted last year-!
– To assist the states in -the development of their main roads.
– It was, of course, a vote for the purpose of developing main roads and the construction of new roads; but there were then large numbers of men out of work, and the Government, no doubt, thought it the proper time to- proceed with that work.
– To whom does the honorable senator think credit is due - tq Mr. McDonald!
– I think credit is. due to- the Labour party for having drawn attention to the position of the unemployed, and for having forced the hand -of the Government to do> something for workless people throughout the Commonwealth.
– I thought the .honorable member was trying to .make that point.
– ;Quite apart from representations made recently, the Government would have .continued with its policy in regard to main .roads.
– The Government has to be pushed to do .anything in the interests of the masses of the people. The honorable -senator -who preceded me (.Senator Drake-Brockman) -seemed to be very much -concerned, about immigration, which, in his opinion, should be encouraged for one purpose, and one purpose only, namely, to open wide the gates of Australia for all to come in. He said - if I followed him correctly - that unless we can induce a big flow of immigrants to Australia the Commonwealth will be in the danger zone from a defence point of view.
– Of course it will.
– I am not concerned with immigration from that aspect. We were told that the last war was one to end wars, and that the world was to be made safe for democracy. Now, according to the honorable senator, it was not a war to end wars, and the world ‘is not safe for democracy. The world is not safe because he and other members who think with him are haunted by the fear that unless we launch some gigantic defence scheme Australia must be lost. The people of Australia are in danger every day because of some imaginary foe..
– Brockman:. - I never said that the last war was a war to end wars. It was the politicians who said that. I was then in the Army.
– The honorable senator seems to be very nervy about the defence of Australia.
– Because he knows what war is.
– He seems to see some imaginary foe at the gates. It must be a nightmare so- far as he is concernedSenator Drake-brockman. - And so it is.
– Well, I thought that after the- last war we were nearer the path of peace than we had been for a great number of years. There will be hope for democracy and the peace of the world when Labour comes into power in the heart of the Empire and in all the Dominions.
– I fear that will precipitate trouble.
– Personally, I hate war, and I deeply regret that the war note has been sounded in this debate. Hardly has the dust of the last battle been laid’ than we hear honorable senators sitting on that side of the1 chamber talking of preparing for the next war.
– Brockman. - On the contrary.
– Are- we in danger of invasion by some foe ? If so, we have not the faintest idea from, what point danger may be apprehended, because every country in the world expresses- a desire for peace. The- honorable senator apparently is a very warlike man.
– I merely say it is wise to take out an insurance policy.
– He appears to live in the atmosphere of war, and is always, anxious to fight. I am on the side of peace. I think that if war comes again mere numbers will not play a very important part. I believe that, by comparison, the late war will appear more in the light of a sham fight. The next war, if it comes, will not be decided as the last war was, by armies in the field, but by aircraft, submarines, and deadly poison gases. I believe that it will not last for four or more years. It will probably be over within a week.
– There were many fools; who said the last war could not last for’ three months, and many more fools who believed them.
– I believe .that entirely new factors will play an important part in the next war. The scientists are at work. We have been given to understand that in the next war cities and armies may be decimated possibly in a few hours.
– I thought this was a- discussion on immigration.
– Well, the honorable senator started all this talk about war by his reference to Australian defence, and I am endeavouring to answer him.
-(Senator Newland). - The honorable senator has exhausted hi3 time.
– If anything were needed to confirm Senator Drake-Brockman’s statements as to the attitude of the Labour party towards immigration, the speech to which we have just listened would supply it.
– But I did not finish my speech.
– Happily for honorable senators, the Standing Orders intervened. According to the honorable senator there is no room for any immigrants in Australia. This country, he would have us believe.,, cannot support more1, than its present population.
– I did not say anything of the kind.
– If that is the attitude, of the Labour party, then it must be composed of pronounced pessimists. Anybody who goes about Australia with open, eyes must see on every, hand room for- further, development. The Government and its supporters stand for a policy that will open up and develop this country;, .a policy that will encourage - a flow of immigrants to fill up our waste spaces. The vote now under consideration, so far as the Australian organization is concerned, is to pay salaries, administration and other expenses, including office requisites, travelling ex:penses, publicity material, and’ freights’ to London on exhibits. The” total expenditure for last year was £32,219.
– What is the money used fort
– To arrange for the reception of immigrants, for the payment of officers here and also for freight to London on exhibits sent for advertising purposes.
– A new department?
– It has been in existence for three or four years. It is obvious that if there is to be an immigration policy there must be certain expenditure. We believe it is the desire of the people that immigration shall be placed on a proper basis. This means that we must have an organization in Australia to receive immigrants, and another organization in England to select and send out the right type of people. The arrangements at this end are in the hands of the state Governments, but the Commonwealth Government must have an immigration staff to keep in touch with the states in order to see that the activities of the two arc combined. That is the reason for this expenditure. I submit that there is not in Australia to-day an avenue in which expenditure is more necessary. I wish to explode the fallacy that has been voiced by Senator Findley to-night, that because there are some persons in Australia who are unemployed, we should not encourage others to como here. I first went to Western Australia when its population totalled only 40,000 persons. I was in that state before gold was discovered at Coolgardie, and I can state positively that the most prosperous period in Western Australia’s history was the time when thousands of people were entering it from the eastern states.
– Because of the discovery of gold there.
– That was not wholly the cause. Associated with that discovery was a very energetic public works policy, and, as a later development, land settlement. Western Australia suffered most when immigration to that state fell off. It is also a fact, and this may prove illuminating to Senator Findley and others, that when immigration to Western Australia was at its height, there were so many persons unemployed in Perth that a soup kitchen had to be started to provide them with food. Whenever a large number of persons is attracted to a country, there is always a certain proportion of those people who are not able to adjust themselves to the new conditions. At that time, when both money and work in certain directions were plentiful, people were attracted to Western Australia for whose avocations there was no opening in that state. They were attracted there by the lure of gold. Must Australia wait until there are no unemployed ? Are we not to bring carpenters or bricklayers here because some bootmakers are unemployed, notwithstanding the acuteness of the house shortage in every capital city, due to insufficiency of labour in the building trades ?
– It is not correct to say that there is not sufficient labour to erect the buildings that are required.
– It is correct. I speak from personal experience. Every building erected during the last four or five years was delayed very largely because of the lack of labour in the building trades.
– Outside Australia there are better opportunities for the employment of that labour.
– Proof of my statement is contained in the fact that scarcely a skilled artisan in the building trades to-day cannot command a greater wage than is fixed by the Arbitration Court, and much greater than is enjoyed by equally skilled artisans who are following other trades. The reason is that the contractors are so short of men that they compete against each other for those who are available.
– The reason for the shortage is that the master builders will not train apprentices.
– The lack of an apprenticeship system has something to do with the shortage. There can be no denying the fact that such a scarcity of labour exists. We should be adopting a fatuous policy which ignored the facts if we neglected to secure bricklayers, plumbers, and carpenters, of which there is a scarcity, and for whom employment is available as soon as they land, because some bootmakers or hatmakers were unemployed. The interests of those who are unemployed will be best served by bringing to Australia carpenters, plumbers, and other skilled workmen, and they ought to welcome an active and well-directed immigration policy. If, customarily, the man who is unemployed works in a factory that supplies articles which- are worn, the reason for his unemployment is the insufficient demand for those goods. Senator Findley frequently uses the protectionist argument that the best market is the home market. Let us, then, improve the local market by increasing the population. The idea that we can place a Chinese wall round Australia, and keep it safe with the 6,000,000 inhabitants that it has at present, is fallacious, and if persisted in will lead to national suicide. I agree with the contention of Senator DrakeBrockman that the best guarantee for defence is a larger population. That would enable us to carry more easily the expenditure incurred on defence, and would provide us with the number of persons necessary to garrison this huge continent. When we see how sparsely settled Australia is, and realize that there are teeming millions within a few days’ steaming, we must be seized of the imminent danger in which Australia stands. We are transgressing one of the fundamental principles governing international relationships - that the inhabitants of an overpopulated country have the right to demand entry to another Country which has been blessed by Providence with material resources that are not being fully exploited, but which have been provided for all the sons of men. I hope that Senator Findley has not departed from the White Australia policy, even though that stand has been taken by leaders of ‘ trade unionism, such as Mr. Tom Walsh. We should welcome every white man who will come here.
– Is not that what we- do?
– Senator Findley’s remarks were directed against this vote, the object of which is to facilitate immigration. I am quite sure that the committee will support the vote. I advise honorable senators opposite to study these matters a little more closely before they express opinions such as those uttered by Senator Findley.
– Just before the dinner adjournment, Senator Drake-Brockman said that no man in the Labour movement had the courage or the pluck to say that he is opposed to immigration. There is no necessity for any one in the Labour movement to make that declaration, because it is not a fact. Senator Drake-Brockman has opened up a very nice question that we can discuss at our leisure this evening. He has been misguided as the result of having read leading articles in newspapers such as the Melbourne Argus and the West Australian. If he would read Labour newspapers, and would listen to the speeches of Labour leaders-
– I had that painful experience on two occasions this afternoon.
– I refer to those outside Parliament as well as those inside it. Had he done as I suggest, he would not have made the rash statement that he uttered this afternoon. It may be painful to the honorable senator to listen to the speeches delivered in this Senate, but the truth is that the Labour party in Australia is not opposed to immigration. That has been stated time and again, both inside and outside Parliament. We differ from the party to which Senator DrakeBrockman belongs in that we, first of all, want to have the lands ready for settlement; we want to see that those lands that are not being used as they should be are thrown open for settlement. The people who own those lands and will not use them to their full capacity should be compelled to disgorge the vast wealth that they are locking up.
– Why do that when millions of acres of Crown lands* are available in Western Australia and Queensland ?
– The friends of honorable senators opposite hold vast tracts of fertile territory that they are not using.
– There are 400,000,000 acres of Crown lands in Queensland.
– Vast tracts lie alongside our railway lines in every state of the Commonwealth.
– Will the honorable senator inform us where there is good land alongside ti railway that is not being used?
– The honorable senator knows that I am stating the truth. Until, throughout Australia, an effective tax is imposed on the unimproved value of land, thus compelling the wealthy land-owners to make ‘the land available to those who desire to put it to its full use, we cannot invite immigrants Co- Australia. Senator Reid should study the applications that are made for blocks of land in the different states. When the land is fertile and well watered, there are 400 or 500 applicants for each block. Let me put in the witness box a gentleman who is well known to Senator Pearce and Senator Drake-Brockman - Sir James Connolly. For seven years he was Agent-General in London for Western Australia. He has stated that, in London, there was a wrong selection, of migrants for Australia. Surely he is a nian of repute and knowledge? The Labour party claims that not only is the local land hunger unsatisfied, but that there have been wrong and bad selections of intending immigrants in England. Sir James Connolly’s statement has not been contradicted. I should not have risen to debate this matter had it not been for the state-ment made by Senator Drake-Brockman that we had not the courage or the pluck to say that we are opposed to immigration. Members of the Labour party realize, as well as honorable senators opposite do, that it is necessary to have increased population in Australia in order to develop the country’s resources; but our complaint is that too little encouragement is given in Australia to increase the natural population, which is the* best. In. many cases, applicants for rented houses are asked if they have any children, and, if they say they have, the property-owners promptly inform them that the houses are not available to them.. That is one reason why there are so many flats and boarding-houses. A great difficulty that parents have to-day is to decide to what occupation they will put their boys, and yet we find numerous boys being brought to Australia from overseas* I venture to say that the majority of them will not remain long on the land, but will soon drift into the labour markets in the different cities. The Labour party is in favour of immigration; it is in regard to the method of putting that policy into operation that it differs from the party in power. The Labour party contends that land should first be made available for settlement, and that there should be proper selection overseas of intending migrants.
– I listened carefully to the statement by the Minister (Senator Pearce), who,’ I consider, completely misrepresented the view of the vast majority of the people. I also paid special attention to the remarks of Senator DrakeBrockman, who seems to desire to convey the- impression that honorable senators on the Opposition side are not only opposed, to public money being expended in bringing people to. Australia, but also object to immigrants coming here at all. I think I am correct in saying that the Labour party does oppose the- expenditure of public moneys at the present time, for the purpose of bringing people to these shores*
– That is all I alleged,, and the honorable senator has borne out ray statement.
– Not quite. The honorable senator said that we were opposed to people from overseas coming here. But that is- not a fact. What we object to- is- the* expenditure of public money ‘for the purpose of bringing them here. Individual members of the Labour party may occasionally raise objection to immigrants, but, so far as I am aware, there has never been a motion carried in the Commonwealth, at any meeting of Labour supporters, opposing people from Great Britain entering- Australia.
– The honorable senator’s party objects to the comrade who cannot pay his fare, for it insists- on a money qualification.
– We do nothing of the kind. So far as I am concerned, I do not offer the slightest objection if people from overseas wish to make their home in Australia. The Minister (Senator Pearce) made a very unfortunate reference to Western Australia -when he said that when gold was discovered at Coolgardie and elsewhere in that state, the advent of large numbers of people from the eastern states had a very beneficial effect on Western- Australia, and that the times were never more prosperous there than then. I would point out, however, that no money was expended by the Government of Western Australia to attract those people from the eastern states.
– Morney was spent on public works;
– So far as 1 know, mot a penny was -expended for the purpose of inducing people to settle in the western state. I know many who went there .because they thought chey could get a better return for their labour in that part of Australia than in the eastern states. As soon as we make the conditions here more attractive than they are to-day, a stream of migrants will come here of its own accord.
– We have the best conditions for the working classes to be found in .any part of the world. . .
– I do not suggest that the conditions in Australia are not good, but I do say that they might be better than they are. We are told by the press that something like ?500,000 lias been voted by the Government ostensibly for the purpose of constructing Toads throughout the Commonwealth, but the money is partly being expended in order to find work for the unemployed.
– Very large numbers of unemployed are to be found in Australia to-day, and it- must be realized that the conditions of the working classes could be vastly improved. While it is true that employment will be more plentiful if a greater population is obtained, it is not a correct inference to say that the unemployment would be relatively less than it is at present. We may assume that df the population were doubled, the number of unemployed would probably be doubled also. We learn by cable that in Great Britain, where there is a population of about 45,000,000, the unemployed number 5,000,000.
– What is the Labour Government doing’!
– It has not done very much yet, for it has not had sufficient time. It would be very interesting, however, to read extracts from the manifesto published by the Labour party in Great Britain as to its intentions. The Honorary Minister (Senator Crawford) may be quite sure that, on the next appeal to the electors, the Labour party will be returned with a majority, and it will not hesitate to put into operation the various items of its policy.
– One thing the Labour Government in Great Britain has said is that it hopes Australia will take some of England’s emigrants.
– I doubt that.
– It has offered even better terms than the late Government did.
– Even if the British Government spent a lot of money on sending immigrants to Australia, it would do comparatively little to reduce unemployment either in Great Britain or Australia.
– Has not employment increased in the .United States of America as the population has grown ?
– Yes. I have already said that an increase .in population necessarily makes a greater volume of work available, but there is just as much unemployment in America as in Great Britain and Australia, and sometimes there is more. Reference was made to the reason why the federal land tax was imposed, namely, to burst up large- estates. In a bulletin . issued by the Commonwealth Statistician, summarizing the effect of the federal land tax., we find that in 1916-17 the number of federal land taxpayers was 18,279, and the value, of their taxable estates was ?211,587,999. In 1920-21, although, the federal land tax was in operation, the number of taxable estates w.as 17,246, showing a reduction of 933. That is not of great importance. The total taxable value of the estates in that year was ?190,319,754, showing that in the short space of four years ?21,268,245 worth of land had disappeared from the taxable arena.
– Does not that show that land values may have decreased ‘?wing to the state of the cattle market, and perhaps if or other reasons?
– I do not think the honorable senator understands the question.
– (Senator Newland). - The honorable senator must connect his remarks with the item before the committee. I have already allowed him considerable latitude.
– There is not the slightest difficulty in connecting my statements with the item before the committee. The desire of honorable senators opposite is to show that the time i.s opportune to continue to pay large sums of money to bring more people to Australia at the cost of the whole of the taxpayers of ‘thb
Commonwealth. In reply to statements -made by Senator Drake-Brockman and others, I am showing that the policy of the Labour party, which was to burst up some of the large estates, and thus make more land available for people, by means of a federal land tax, has not gone far enough. In the case of every estate there is an exemption of £5,000 in value which cannot be touched by the operations of the act, which prevents land being made available to the same extent that it otherwise would.
– The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
– Senator Drake-Brockman has said that the Labour party is opposed to immigration, and that its supporters are not honest enough openly to admit it. We are not opposed to immigration, but the best method of inducing suitable people to settle in the Commonwealth “is to make the conditions here so attractive that people in Great Britain will be willing to come here without the Government incurring expense in costly organization work and in paying agents so much per head to secure immigrants. In such circumstances, it is most unlikely that the best type of people would be selected. I hope the Minister (Senator Pearce) will listen to what I have to say, because he has on other occasions accused me of making statements which I did not make. The Minister said that if our population was increased unemployment would diminish, or practically disappear. If there is anything in that argument there would be less unemployment in Great Britain than in Australia, because the population in that country is, of course, much larger. To carry the argument further, America, with a population of 120,000,000, should be one of the finest countries in which to live, and China, with a population of 400,000.000, should be a workman’s paradise. We find, however, that there is more unemployment in Great Britain than in Australia, and that those in Great Britain who are at work are in many instances labouring under the worst possible conditions. America, with its huge population, has a standing army of 12,000,000 unemployed, notwithstanding the fact that, as Senator Thompson states, an influx of population reduces the number of unemployed.
– From what source did the honorable senator derive the information that there are 12,000,000 unemployed in America?
– The figures were obtained from some American statistics. The Minister and Senator DrakeBrockman have stated that more population ie essential in the interests of defence, but to be logical they should admit that Great Britain requires all her population to defend her shores. Frequent reference has been made to the necessity of encouraging new settlers to come to Australia, but when they arrive no provision is made for their employment. Centralization is one of our greatest curses, but the tendency of those who come to Australia at the expense of the whole of the taxpayers is to settle in the more populous centres. Under our present land system we cannot expect decentralization. The only means by which an improvement can be effected is a vigorous policy of closer settlement, such as has been adopted with very good results in various parts of Australia. The Moorak estate, close to Mount Gambier, in South Australia, which when conducted as a sheep run employed only three men for the whole year, is to-day providing employment for 500 people. In South Australia the Yongala, Booborowie, and Glencoe estates have also been subdivided, and to-day hundreds of families are living in prosperity and contentment there instead of in overcrowded cities. If a policy of closer settlement were adopted, new towns, with workshops and factories would be established, and the stagnation which now exists in many fertile centres would disappear. Before the Minister (Senator Pearce) left the path of political virtue he, too, was one of the strongest advocates of closer settlement, but during recent years his views have changed. Prior to the Seddon regime in New Zealand, unemployed were being fed at soup kitchens, but after Mr. Seddon came into power the whole outlook of the people was changed. After his death a new Government with a different policy assumed control, and the unemployed again ap.peared in every part of the dominion. If the people in any particular country find that they can obtain .only bread while in another they can get both bread and butter, it is only natural that they will migrate of their own free will. The Government should be in a position to assure prospective settlers that land will be available, and if they operate openly and honestly - not as was done under the Barwell scheme - they will find that the members of the Labour party will not offer any opposition.
.- The item under discussion has led to a debate on a very wide range of topics, but I wish to confine my remarks to the Australian organization and deal with some of the points raised by honorable senators opposite. I wish to emphasize the necessity of every care being taken to see that only a certain class of immigrants shall bc assisted to Australia. Mistakes have been made in the past, as is only likely in connexion with any new venture, but the experience gained in the last year or two will be very valuable to the immigration authorities. [ agree with Senator Drake-Brockman that it is very essential that Australia should considerably increase her population as speedily as possible by making provision for the right type of people to come to the Commonwealth. Honorable senators opposite have clearly shown their attitude on this question by saying that immigrants should be prepared to come to Australia of their own volition. If that is their idea of immigration, and they ever get into power and give legislative effect to their policy, it is reasonable to assume that we shall not receive our fair quota of emigrants from the Old Land. For many years Canada, in consequence of her proximity to Great Britain, has been able to absorb large numbers, whilst the number coming here has been infinitesimal. It is only a rational policy that no effort should be spared to let the people of Great Britain know the climatic and other advantages that Australia can offer as compared with Canada. In the forefront of our policy should be an endeavour on our part to let the people of Great Britain know what opportunities are provided for the ambition of any one who chooses to come here and follow some occupation useful to the community. Senator Needham strongly objected to the fact that among the immigrants coming to Australia are quite a number of boys. He mentioned that a large number of Australian youths were unemployed, and that it was difficult to get a boy into suitable employment, and in the circumstances he said it was suicidal to induce other boys to come here from England. I remind him that the unemployed problem of Australia is to a large extent due to the unwise attitude of the Labour party in insisting some years ago that there should be a diminution of boy labour in every occupation. The party carried out its propaganda to such an extent that not only have boys been prevented from following the callings for which Providence has fitted them, but in many instances, after securing in the technical schools a primary insight into the occupations most suitable for them, they have found the doors of those callings closed to them.
– That is not true. You do not know what you are talking about.
– .1 am not accustomed to telling lies.
– You are telling lies now.
– I ask that the honorable senator be called upon to withdraw that statement.
– (Senator Newland). - I ask Senator McDougall to withdraw that statement.
– I withdraw it.
– I do not wish it to be on record-
– I ask the honorable senator not to follow that line of argument. It has really nothing to do with the item under discussion.
– My remarks have a great deal to do with the immigration policy of Australia. I want boys to come here– young men, not old men - lads whom we can train to Australian thought and practice. My statement is in refutation of that made by Senator Needham that it is unwise to encourage boy immigration. The reason the honorable senator advanced was that there was unemployment in Australia. We cannot discuss immigration without discussing unemployment. I have no desire to see the immigrants who come to Australia on the unemployed list, but my friends opposite are mainly responsible for the position in which we find ourselves to-day. Eventually, we hope to have in Australia a sufficient number .of skilled operatives, the scarcity of whom has been brought about by our refusal to .allow our own youths to apprentice themselves to skilled trades. I read a .determination of a wages board a few years :ago in which it was laid down that only one boy should be allowed- to every three men in a produce store. Not only is that .unskilled .avenue closed.; to-day four-fifths of the lads who leave school are excluded from skilled occupations, and are compelled .to join the large .army of unskilled labourers. It is this which is mainly responsible for our unemployed problem of to-day.
I am pleased to learn that the Commonwealth intends to continue its policy of malting money available for the construction of main roads. This policy was brought into operation not so much to find employment as to assist the states in the development of t’heir natural resources; but of course the construction of public works of any magnitude must absorb a certain proportion of unemployed .
– And must also increase the value of the land alongside the roads.
– We have heard a great deal about the values of land through which railways run.. ‘One honorable senator said that in every state one can find along railways large areas of good land not being utilized. I can take the honorable senator to .one state in which he will .not find .such a condition of affairs, and I doubt’ that in Western. Australia there is land suitable for cultivation that .is not being cultivated where there is a .railway in close proximity.
– That condition of affairs exists in most states.
– I nave travelled through most states, and my experience is that where there are alongside railways thousands of -acres of land not utilized for cultivation, the land, for various reasons, is not suitable for that purpose. One good reason is scarcity of rainfall. Tinder -such conditions the land is naturally used for ‘pastoral purposes, and that is ‘the class of land ‘to which reference has -been ‘made. I have seen very few areas of what may be .called cultivable land not being utilized where :a railway runs through it. It has been suggested to-day that we should have a closer settlement policy to ensure the utilization of land, but as a matter of fact almost every state has had such a policy in operation for years past with most excellent results. I hope that the day is far distant when a majority will .be found in an Australian Parliament in opposition to immigration. I was disappointed to find Senator Findley, for whom I have the greatest respect, adopting ‘a pessimistic attitude towards Australian ‘conditions. His remarks, if read in another country from which we nope to .receive people, either of their own volition .or through the assistance of the Commonwealth, would greatly handicap our efforts to attract settlers. There i3 no need to speak of Australia in pessimistic tones. We have a country with boundless possibilities. I do not know from my reading of .any other country which can compare with it, and surely it is not wise for any honorable -senator to strike a pessimistic note. I do .not think that Senator Findley meant what he said, because he has had sufficient public experience to know that Australia, considering the handful of population it has, has made wonderful strides and ranks high in the nations of the world in regard to its general prosperity.
Senator ©’‘LOGHLIN (South Australia [9.10]. - The Labour party is not opposed to an influx of people if they can be accommodated !by putting them on the land or providing them with work. Our idea is to make the conditions here such that people will come to Australia of their own volition, find employment, or settle on the land if they are adapted for that life, and then let their friends in the Old Country know that they have come to a land where there is bread .and work for. all, and where they can get land when they have earned enough to enable them to settle on it. We know that this will induce others to come. However, instead of adopting that policy, we find that people who have been induced to come here have gone away disappointed with the existing conditions. Not long ago, many of them were crowding back to the Old Country. The United States of America, .where the people have been flocking for years, offers no inducement in the shape of .free passages. The conditions in the United States of America are such that new arrivals tell, their friends in Europe that what they have found in their new. country is very much better than what, they left in the country from which they emigrated. This induces’ their, friends, and those whom their friends have met, also to flock to America. I am not so conversant with the conditions in Canada, but I think that up to a. few years ago the inducement to immigrants, was not so much assisted passages as it was free grants of 160 acres of land..
– I. hope the honorable, senator appreciates the difference in distance as- compared with Australia.
Senator- O’LOGHLIN. - Australia has more land’ and better, laud available than has Canada, and its conditions are very much better than those of the Dominion. I heard Senator Wilson say in Adelaide the other day that our conditions were very much better than they are in Canada, and that if we could offer the same- facilities as are given by the Dominion, we should have an influx of population equal to that which is Sowing (so Canada. I do not profess to be in possession of any figures, but I can- assure Senator Payne,, on. the authority of those who are in a position to- know, that employers are not utilizing the facilities available to them to employ apprentices to anything like the extent permitted by the regulations.
– Not to the extent of one-fourth of the number allowed.
– Under the existing regulations, three or four times as many apprentices could be employed a3 are actually employed. The Labour party objects to any false representations which would make the people of Great Britain believe that the conditions in Australia are very much better than they actually are. Sir Henry Barwell and his Government initiated a scheme of bringing out young boys, and later on extended it to the bringing out of young, girls. Tha boys were assured that when they had served for three years as apprentices to farming, blocks of land would be made available to them on which they could start the business of farming on their own account. These representations were absolutely false. Land was not available for them. Consequently, when a Labour Government, that wanted to act honestly with these lads, came into office- they cut the scheme out altogether. They did not want any. one- to be tied down by conditions which meant- practically a supply of serfs for a- period to assist farmers bo- get cheap labour.
– Is the honorable senator aware- that the- British- Government regards- the Barwell system as the most successful migration scheme ever evolved?
– I do not know what members o£ the British Government, 12,000 or 14,000 miles away, may think. I am dealing with conditions in the state which I represent. That is the practical test. I have no- doubt that the- boys, when they left England, also thought it was a beautiful’ scheme.
– Most of them do today.
– But I am referring particularly to the promise that, at the end of their apprenticeship, they would be able to get land for themselves. I do not deny that the boys are in good homes, or that they will make good settlers. I am saying that the promise that they would be able to- get blocks of land for themselves was absolutely falsa The- Minister (Senator Wilson)- knows this as well as I do. I am anxious, as I think every patriotic Australian is, to see the population of this country increase;, but I want those who may be induced to come here, to be thoroughly satisfied, with their conditions when, they arrive.. If they are satisfied, they will also induce their friends to come.
– I should not have risen but for the remarks made by Senator Payne, who appeared! in a. new role to-night. If I followed the honorable senator correctly, his view is that if we had thousands of boys coming to Australia every year we should be able to abolish our factories and arbitration legislation, and. ensure for employers freedom of contract and freedom to employ as man)’ boys and girls as they liked. If that- was his line of reasoning -
– The honorable senator is putting into my mouth words which I did not use. He is entirely misrepresenting me.
– I have no desire to do that. The honorable senator, speaking in favour of immigration, said that to-day there was an extreme shortage of skilled labour,, due, in his opinion, to the limitation of apprentices by the Labour party. I want to set him right on that point. The limitation of apprentices in any trade is due to awards made by either the Arbitration Court or wages boards, brought into existence under our factories legislation. We may, I think, take it that Senator Payne is opposed to the Arbitration Act and our factories legislation.
– I am opposed to dual control of that legislation.
– There was a time when there was plenty ofwork for boys, but very little work for adults. Owing to the activity of the Labour party, there is now much more work for grown-ups and ample work for boys in Australia.
– Not for boys.
– I have heard Senator Payne many times declare that because of the limitation of apprentices there was an army of unemployed, consisting mostly of unskilled men. I remind him that in this and the other states there are in existence Factories Acts under which wages boards consisting of an equal number of employees and employers, with an independent chairman, have been brought into existence to deal with wages problems. In a period sometimes short, sometimes long, a decision is arrived at, and an award is made and gazetted. There is to-day an acute shortage of houses. Senator Payne says there is plenty of work for skilled artisans. He also says that but for the awards made by Arbitration Courts or wages hoards there would be more skilled labour, because there would be more apprentices. I tell him that in the various building trades - carpentering, bricklaying, plastering, and plumbingthere is a fixed ratio of apprentices to journeymen artisans.
– One apprentice to every four skilled artisans.
– The employers in those building trades are entitled to employ 27,000 apprentices, and to-day they are employing only 7,000.
– Because they find it more profitable not to train apprentices. That is the reason. The Labour party stands for the apprenticeship system, for Arbitration Courts, and for factories legislation. We know what the lot of the worker in Australia would be but for the safeguards provided by those institutions.
I come now to another point. Senator Pearce said that we were opposed to immigration. At one time the Minister and I, as members of a Cabinet, were saying then what we on this side of the chamber are saying to-day, namely, that instead of expending considerable sums of money in the employment of agents and the establishment of agencies to attract people to Australia, our policy when carried into effect, would make Australia so attractive that people would come here of their own volition. To-day people are being lured to Australia under false pretences. These paid agents have to justify their existence, and they do not always carry on their business in a businesslike way. Statements have appeared, not in the Labour press, but in newspapers opposed to the Labour party, that sometimes people of an altogether undesirable class have been selected by these agents and agencies. Senator Needham has referred to a statement made by the exAgentGeneral for Western Australia, Sir James Connolly, concerning the type of immigrant selected for that state settle- ‘ ment there. An inquiry was held recently in connexion with the Kendenup settlement, and evidence was taken on oath in Melbourne. I am reminded of some of the statements made at that inquiry. It was stated that one of the settlers who, presumably, had been selected because of his qualifications, was told to set out peas, and he put in split peas ! Another, it is said, who was told to fallow his land, went to the nearest hay and corn merchant and asked for a bushel of fallow !
– They were not immigrants brought out by the Government. Kendenup is a private enterprise settlement.
– At all events, those people came out as settlers. Another man, so it was stated in evidence, was told to climb a tree and saw off a limb. He climbed the tree, and, getting an outside position on the limb, he sawed it off, with the result that he and the branch fell to the ground together. This is the type of immigrant that is being chosen by some of the agents in the Mother Country to come to Australia.
– I repeat that Kendenup is a private enterprise settlement. The Government has nothing whatever to do with it.
– The Minister also said that I take a pessimistic view of the immigration question. I do nothing of the kind. I am an Australian born. I. have an intense faith in the possibilities of this young nation. No one loves it better than I do. I yield to no one in my loyalty to Australia, and my belief in its future. Therefore, I take exception to the Minister’s remarks. I am concerned very much about the welfare of those who are here. I know that there are thousands of AuStralian-born men anxious to get suitable land for themselves in this as well as in the other states. Included in that number are many who went overseas to fight in the recent terrible war. They played their part, and have come back to us. Many of those nien cannot get land in the country of their birth. Numbers of them are to-day walking the streets of our capital cities unable to get work. In this city a number of returned soldiers were dismissed recently from the railway service because there was no work for them to do. T repeat that I am deeply concerned about the Australian-born, and also about the Australian by adoption. If there are good things going I do not want them to be overlooked. We should make provision for our own people before putting forward a policy to attract other people to Australia. This policy of opening wide the gates and encouraging thousands to come here, irrespective of whether there is land available for them, is altogether wrong. There have been thousands of arrivals within the last few years. They are coming in day after day, and it has been publicly stated that when vacancies in employment occur, there appears to be little or no difficulty in securing work for new arrivals, whilst Australian-born men, well qualified to fill the vacancies, do mot get a chance. W e on this side of the chamber are opposed to that policy. It would be interesting to learn who are carrying on this work abroad. What are their qualifications for that work. Why were they appointed? One mau, I believe, took a prominent part in a campaign which, a short while ago, divided the people of Australia. He belonged to the Labour party. Was he appointed because he broke away from that party and voiced the opinions held by certain members of the Government ? There is no occasion to expend the taxpayers’ money in publicity work abroad. The (Labour party is not opposed to an immigration policy, and never has been. It has previously occupied the treasury benches, and after the next election it may occupy them again. Honorable senators can rest fissured that in that event there will be a general cleaning up of the immigration policy. We will not close the door against suitable immigrants; on the contrary, we will welcome them with open aims, because there is ample room in Australia for them. Wo will, however, provide for them when they arrive here,, by stimulating production and opening up new avenues of employment. We will, not adopt the go-slow methods of this weak anaemic Government, which has to bc pushed morning, noon, and night to compel it to do something for Australia and its people. The statement was made publicly to-day that the Government proposes to take certain action to relieve unemployment. Why does it propose to take that action? Because it has beer pushed into doing something for the benefit of the unemployed. The different industrial organizations and returned soldiers’ associations have repeatedly requested the Government to take action on. their behalf.
-(Senator Newland). - The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
.- As Senator Findley has not been permitted by the Standing Orders to fully state his case, I shall avail myself of the opportunity which I possess to deal with what I regard as a very grave misapprehension that has been created by Senator Payne, who endeavoured to make it appear that the Labour party is responsible for the insufficient number of apprentices. I quote the following from the Melbourne Age of 17th October, 1923 - a paper that is by no means a supporter of the Labour party.
– Can the honorable senator define the policy of that paper? ,
– During the last week or two its policy has been one of common sense. I feel sure that, when I have quoted the figures it gives, Sen? a tor Payne will be more pleased than any one to be made acquainted with the true facts relating to apprenticeship. The article in question states -
In view of the wide diversity of opinions expressedby employers and employed regarding the vital question of apprenticeship, the Minister of Labour -
The name of that Minister is not stated. It was Sir Alexander Peacock, who, until to-day, at all events, was Premier of Victoria. The article states -
The Minister of Labour has recently had inquiries made by officers of the Labour Department with the object of determining the exact position and. to endeavour to evolve a remedy. For some time the view hasbeen held that the chief cause of the lack of apprentices is the absence of provision made in wages boards for their employment and training. The investigation made shows conclusively that such is not the case. In effect, it lays the blame for the lack of apprentices upon the shoulders of. the employers, particularly those in the building trades, few of whom appear to have taken advantage of the wages board awards in the employment of them.
Dealing with the matter last evening, the Minister of Labour said: - “To test the oftrepeated assertion that labour has been able to influence the number of apprentices allowed by law, and that, as a result, the number of apprentices receiving training is so small that a scarcity of skilled labour is a direct consequence, the figures in the 54 most skilled trades have been taken out. It is a matter of common knowledge that the wages board fixes the number of apprenticesin proportion to the number of adults employed. Thus the carpenters’ board allows one apprentice to every two or fraction of two adults, which works out at about 75 apprentices to every 100 adult carpenters. The law allows boards to do this, but provides that the proportion fixed must not be less than one to three or fraction of three. The total number of adult employees in the 54 trades referred to is 59,253. The number of apprentices in these trades is only 7,309. The boards and the law allow nearly four times as many. If the employers in these 54 skilled trades took on all the apprentices they are entitled to there would be in round numbers 27,000 trainees instead of 7,000.”
– Does the honorable senator intend to link that article with the resolution?
– I certainly do.
I rose to discuss immigration. This is quite pertinent to that matter, and I trust that I shall be permitted to conclude the quotation. It states - “ If those trades in which the greatest scarcity is at present being felt, viz., the building trades, are taken separately, the figures are-
Carpenters. - Adults employed, 1,037 ; apprentices, 47, i.e., 453 per cent., instead of 75 per cent.
Bricklayers: - Adults employed, 1.64; apprentices, 9, i.e.,. 5.49 per cent., instead of 45 per cent.
Plumbers. - Adults employed, 781; apprentices, 121, i.e., 15.49 per cent., instead of 75 per cent.
Plasterers. - Adults employed, 24; apprentices,3, i.e. 12.25 per cent., instead of 45 per cent.
Painters. - Adults employed, 339: apprentices, 19, i.e., 5.61 per cent., instead of 45 per cent.
Slaters and Tilers. - Adults employed, 47; apprentices, 8, i.e., 17.02 per cent., instead: of 60- per cent.
Stone Cutters. - Adults employed,364; apprentices, 11, i.e., 3.02 per sent., instead of 45 per cent. “ These figures are from the animal report of the Department of Labour. They are compiled from records sent in by employers, and, although such records may be somewhat incomplete, they may be regarded as giving the proportions correctly. They go to show that, the responsibility for any existing shortage of skilled artisans lies on the shoulders of the employers rather than on the labour laws.”
I listened with astonishmentto Senator Drake-Brockman. This is the first item that we have debated on these Estimates. When the debate commenced, he immediately rose and attacked us for opposing immigration and for allowing other items to be passed without debate. I promise honorable senators that he will not have reason to complain in that way again. Senator Drake-Brockman asked why we had picked on immigration. He tried to make it appear that we are opposed to it. Provision is made for an expenditure of £6,000 in two months on an office in London. That will mean an expenditure of £36,000. in twelve months.
– The £6,000 includes provision for medical inspection throughout the counties in England..
– I know that a lot of medical inspection requires to be done. A great deal of money is being expended, but the results are very small. I think that Senator Grant was well advised to call attention to this expenditure. It is proposed to expend £6,000 on the London office and a further £5,000 on the office that deals with this matter in Australia. I am generally out of step with every one, and I make the statement that the quality of the immigrants does not concern me. I have seen men on arrival in this country and again in later years when they have made good. There are openings in Australia for all types. What Australia requires is, not a Government that will waste money in paying high salaries to its friends, but one which will so conduct the -affairs of the country that people will be attracted here from all parts of the -world, and it will be necessary merely to select the best men. A change -of Government would bring that about. We on this side- were not anxious to- debate any item in this schedule, flout we are compelled to defend ourselves when all our- actions are misinterpreted. « Senator Dra ice-Br o ck man . - If I ‘apologise for what I said will the honorable senator resume his seat ?
– That apology would now come too late, as other members of the honorable senator’s party have endeavoured to misrepresent our attitude in regard to apprentices and other matters. I take it that some honorable senators opposite will not agree to this wasteful expenditure being incurred. Senator Grant has moved a request to reduce the proposed vote oy £11.700. That would mean a saving of £66/000 annually. The intentions of the Government can be learned by watching its actions; its word can seldom be relied upon.- When its policy of high protection has failed so miserably it finds it necessary to expend £500,000 to tide the unemployed over their difficulties. I congratulate the Government on being in the position that was occupied by Sir Robert Peel from 1.840 to 1845. They are seeing the people starved into a change of policy, and they realize that they must therefore vote money to tide them over their difficulties. The Government proposes to spend money for the purpose of bringing people to Australia, although it has voted £500,000 for the special purpose of relieving unemployment.
– That is not so. The vote of £500,000 was not for the relief of the unemployed”. It was for the purpose of carrying out the policy- of the Governmnent tin regard to main roads development, and it was announced in the House of Representatives before the unemployed difficulty was mentioned.
– I am glad to have that assurance from the Minister. The press, at any rate, has interpreted the vote as an indication that the Government realized the extent of the poverty existing in the country, and decided to make .£500,000 available from the Federal Treasury for the purpose of repairing roads belonging to the states. This was done simply because no Government could remain in office unless it did something to relieve the widespread poverty, but what is the use of trying to relieve it in that way when the immigration policy of the Government will tend to aggravate the trouble?
– Then the honorable senator is opposed to immigration?
– No. I am opposed to the Government trying to do two impossible things.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
.- All the blame for the prolongation of the debate cannot be laid on the shoulders of Senator Drakebrockman. The Minister ‘.(Senator Pearce) made a remark to which I take exception. He said that when -vast numbers of people were arriving in Western Australia from the eastern states there was less unemployment than ‘ at some other period, but he did not remind tho committee that the Government of Western Australia at that time was not paying the passages of those people. The influx was not being subsidized in any way; people left the eastern states of their own volition. Even if the Western Australian Government had paid the fares of those people they would have been encouraging, not immigration, but migration from one part of Australia to another. Therefore there is no ground for the argument adduced by the Minister to buttress his contention that the Labour party is opposed to immigration. The Minister also claimed that the Labour party insisted on .an immigranthaving a certain amount of money before he would :be allowed to enter Australia. I interjected that that was not the stand we took, and I: intend to> submit proof of my statement. I -shall show that it is the policy of the present Government to insist that immigrants shall have money. An act was passed last year to .amend the
Immigration Act 1901-20. By section 2 of that act section 3 of the principal act was amended by inserting in paragraph a thereof, after the word “ officer,” first occurring, the words “ or person duly authorized in writing by an officer.” Paragraph a of the principal act reads as follows : -
Any parson who, in the opinion of an officer, is likely if he enters the Commonwealth to become a charge upon the public by reason of infirmity of mind or body, insufficiency of means to support himself, or any other cause.
Senator Pearce, in moving the second reading of the bill, stated -
This is a machinery measure framed with the object of closing up the gaps revealed in the immigration legislation now on our statutebook for the enforcement of the White Australia policy, and for safeguarding the Commonwealth in respect to the class of people who are to be admitted here in the future. Our immigration restriction law at present is to provide for the maintenance of the White Australia policy, and also to effectually keep from Australia persons who, by reasons of disease, criminal records, and so on, are likely to become a burden or be a menace to the community. The existing act has been in operation for a long time, and it is only natural that, from time to time, weaknesses should be disclosed in its machinery. We have heard of Bret Hart’s lines -
For ways that are dark,
And for tricks that are vain,
The heathen Chinee is peculiar.
We should certainly exclude from Australia people who have criminal records, but the words “ and so on,” used by the Minister, refer to section 2 of the act, under which a man or woman wishing to enter Australia would have to prove that he or she was in possession of a certain sum of money. In order to prove that the Minister was wrong in saying that honorable senators on this side insist on a monetary standard in this matter, here is my reply to the Minister on the occasion of the second reading of the bill last year : -
The solicitude of the honorable senator for the workers is amusing.
– It is sincere, at any rate.
– I do not question its sincerity. If, however the honorable senator is desirous of affording the workers improved conditions, he should take his stand with honorable senators on this side of the chamber. He has said that the Labour party is opposed to immigration, but that is too sweeping an assertion to make. Wo are certainly opposed to the present insane system. If the Minister (Senator Pearce) can assure me that the deletion of the words “ insufficiency of means to support himself “ will put an end to the present insane policy of immigration, I shall support him. Honorable senators opposite know perfectly well that this Parliament cannot legislate for the states.
– Yes, we can in this respect.
– I think not. If the words are retained, we can compel the states to see that every immigrant has means of support.
– We can stop anybody from landing here, whether brought out by a state of anybody else.
I need not go further than that. The quotation is a direct answer to the Minister when he says that the Labour party is opposed to immigration, and that it favours thesettingup of a monetary qualification. Never, at. any time, in any debate in this Senate, or in connexion with our work outside the Parliament, have honorable senators on the Opposition side placed a monetary value on any man or woman coming to Australia. The records of Hansard show that we opposed the Minister last year with respect to this matter, and yet he has the hardihood to make the assertion that we favoured a monetary qualification. The sooner all parties in the Commonwealth come down to bed-rock on the question of immigration the better. In Western Australia the new Government has helped to improve the position in which it found that state on assuming office, and the leading newspaper of Western Australia is commending the Government for its action. I referred previously in this debate to the necessity of a tax on unimproved land values in order to burstup large estates lying idle alongside the railway lines. The West Australian newspaper, throughout the period when Sir James Mitchell was Premier, insisted on the necessity for the imposition of such a tax, but the Government, led by Sir James Mitchell, omitted to bringin such legislation. The present Government, however, will, and I find that that newspaper supports the Ministry in the matter. After all, even leading newspapers who are opposed to the general political views of the Labour party, are in agreement with it on the important question of closer settlement. I trust the Minister (Senator Pearce) will in future be more careful in making statements concerning a measure which he introduced in this chamber.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Divisions 19 to 28 (The Treasury), £91,060; divisions 33 to 41 (AttorneyGeneral), £20,700, agreed to.
Home and Territories Department.
Divisions 42 to 53, proposed vote, £88,400.
– I notice that there is an amount of £15,800 under the heading “Kent of Buildings,” included in which is £5,000 for rent of buildings utilized by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. What buildings are rented by the PostmasterGeneral, and are they in one state or in different parts pf the Commonwealth?
– These buildings are scattered a 11 over the Commonwealth. Very often in country towns of comparative recent development buildings arc rented for postal purposes before permanent structures are erected, and in some cases they are used for the storage of material. Sites have to be obtained and new buildings erected when the expenditure is justified, but before that is done premises have to be leased. There are hundreds of such buildings scattered all over the Commonwealth .
– I can quite understand that where there is unexpected development it may be necessary for the department to rent buildings, but does the department lease big places in, say, Melbourne, for storage purposes, and, if so, would it not be more economical and more businesslike for it to have its own building?
– It is gradually doing that where there is an indication of permanency, but it takes time.
– It is an unbusinesslike way when there is a little progress in connexion with a certain department to rent buildings for a long period, [n some instances contracts may be entered into.
– Most of them are for yearly periods, but some are leased for only six months.
– During the period of the war there appeared to be some necessity to issue passports to people leaving or entering Australia, but now we are return ing to normal conditions the system should be discontinued. A case came under my notice only yesterday of a man who had been employed during the war in the British Navy, on British ships, and in various positions in Australia, and who to-day left for Great Britain. In his case, which is typical of many others, he had to spend time and incur a little expense in providing himself with the necessary passport to enable him to leave Australia.
– That is because these passports are required in other countries, and would be demanded on his arrival.
– I did not know that passports were demanded on arrival in other countries, particularly in Great Britain; but the system of issuing passports between different portions of the Empire should be abolished. Have representations been made to the British Government in regard to the abolition of passports so as to allow residents of one ‘ portion of the Empire to pass to another without the use of passports? ‘
– There appears to be some misapprehension in regard to passports. It is thought by some that we enforce these conditions <for our own purpose, whereas it is the requirement of other countries that compels us to issue them. We have to issue them so that an Australian visiting other countries will be admitted. If a traveller was not in possession of a passport it would be the responsibility of the shipping company to carry him back to his port of embarkation. I am glad to be able to say that these regulations are gradually being relaxed, as for instance, people travelling between Australia and New Zealand or vice versa have only to obtain a permit and not ‘a passport. The regulations as between Australia and the United Kingdom have been to some extent relaxed in the case of persons travelling from the United Kingdom to Australia, but not in the case of aliens coming through Great Britain to the Commonwealth. Even in the case of aliens, reciprocal arrangements have been entered into with Sweden, Norway and Denmark in the direction of relaxing the conditions. The work must be gradual, because it has to be mutual. In every case where, mutual relaxation has been suggested the Governments have agreed.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Divisions 54 to. 88 (Department of Defence); £634,090, agreed to.
Department of Trade and Customs.
Divisions, 89 to 105, proposed vote, £149,100.
– I should like to know what is being done by the Institute of Science and Industry in connexion with the destruction of the prickly pear pest in Queensland and New South Wales. I notice from recent statements in the press that in addition to 30,000,000 acres under prickly pear in Queensland there are about 5,.000,000 acres in New South Wales, and that approximately 1,000,000 acres are becoming infested every year in both states. Will the Minister (Senator Pearce) say what the Institute of Science and Industry is doing to prevent this; pest from spreading .
– I cannot say at the moment exactly what has been done, but within the last few days the honorable senator, in common with other honorable senators; has been supplied with a bulletin issued by the Institute of Science and Industry giving information as to the work being done. The grant to the Prickly Pear Board, in which the Commonwealth and states share, is at the rate of £4,000 a year. That amount was paid last year by the Commonwealth Government. I would’ suggest that the honorable senator peruse the bulletin mentioned, and when the question of the printing of the budget papers is under consideration he will be able, if he considers that the work has been unsatisfactory, to further discuss the matter.
– I received a copy of the bulletin mentioned by the Minister (Senator Pearce), which I read very carefully,’ because the destruction of prickly pear is a. matter in which I am deeply interested-. The bulletin consists of a report from the director of the Institute of Science and Industry, and contains a very serious complaint regarding the inadequacy of the funds available to carry out its work, which: is of the greatest importance to
Australia. Its activities are being conducted, so far as, the funds available permit, in a most efficient manner. The complaint regarding the insufficiency of funds seems to be most serious. When Parliament passed the act under which the institute was established, it was expected and hoped by those honorable senators who’ supported the proposal that the Government would at least give the institute ample money with which to carry on its work.
– That question is being considered in connexion with the Estimates, and can be discussed more fully later.
– As the Minister assures me that the whole matter is being considered, and that the question can be further discussed when the motion for the printing of the budget papers is under consideration, I shall defer any comments I have to make until that time.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Works and Railways.
Divisions 106 to 116, proposedvote, £149,860.
– I should like to know from the Minister the position in regard to the Oodnadatta railway. Is. the Commonwealth managing; that line, or is it still being worked by the South Australian Government ?
– The, working arrangement with the South’. Australian. Government is still in operation, but the Commonwealth has given the twelve months’ notice necessary to terminate it.
– Wh will the arrangement with the South Australian Government cease?
Sen at or Pearce-.- I cannot give the exact date, but it will be some time next year.
– I suppose it would be hardly wise on my part to ask the Government whether they will considera proposal to extend the railway to the Macdonnell ranges.
– That question is now under consideration, and, as a matter of fact, is before the conference of state Premiers now proceeding.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by ‘Senator Pearce) read a first time.
In Committee (Consideration resumed) :
The Postm aster-General ‘s Department.
Divisions 117 to 127 proposed vote, £1,399,770.
– I wish to call attention to the remuneration paid to allowance postmasters. ‘Some of these people, who usually conduct stores in small townships, do not receive from the ‘Postal Department more than from £40 to £50 a year. They are entitled to more forthe duties they perform. The volume of business they do may not be very large, but they are obliged to make up mails, attend telephone calls, and carry out a lot of sundry duties whichcompel them towork very long hours. It is said that the fact that postal business is done at a store attracts business to that store, but many allowance officers have no additional source of revenue. There has been a slight advance in the allowance made in recent years, but it is by no means commensurate with the general advance in salaries which has been so marked during the same period. I ask the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral to see if something cannot be done to make more adequate provision for allowance officers, particularly those who depend solely upon what they receive from the department for the postal work they do.
– I have taken a note of the honorable senator’s remarks, and will look into the matter.
– The post office at the progressive town of Lovett, in Tasmania, is obsolete and very inconvenient because of its lack of facilities to the general public. I understand that the department had under consideration the advisability of securing a block of land suitable for the erection of a new building, and I should like to know if anything definite has been done in that direction.
– I shall look into the matter and advise the honorable senator. Possibly provision has been made on next year’s Estimates for the purchase of the land referred to.
Proposed vote agreed to.
The Department of Health.
Divisions 128 to 134, proposed vote, £22,060.
– I want toknow if the Commonwealth Government have definitely turned down the matter of investigating the Spahlinger treatment for tuberculosis. When I submitted some questions on this subject a little while ago, I was told in reply that in view of the report made by Sir Neville? Howse upon this treatment, the Commonwealth Government would take no further action in regard to it. I understand that Sir Neville Howse is a very competent medical authority, but I am wondering if, as far as Australia is concerned, his word is to be regarded as the last on such a matter. I suggested in my questions that the British and New Zealand Governments were providing sums of money in order to test this new treatment, but, in the replies furnished to me, the Governmentstated that they had no knowledge of these offers. They can take it from me that both of the countries I have mentioned are spending money in this direction. We should not brush aside this matter because of a departmentalreply to a question submitted in the Senate.
– It was not because of that, but because of the report made by Sir Neville Howse.
– No one knows betterthan Senator Pearce does the extent to which men engaged in gold mining are suffering from tuberculosis. Sir Neville Howse is an eminent medical man, but I do not think that even he will say that his word is the last to be said upon the matter. I believe that despite the investigations he has made, it is the duty of the Commonwealth Government to see if another opinion can be obtained as to the correctness of the dictum of Sir Neville Howse. In serious surgical and medical cases surgeons and physicians conifer, and in a matter like this, where a disease is already ascourge to Australia, and is likely to become a greater menace to public health, it is the duty of the Department of Health to seek further advice and advise the
Senate as to what steps will be taken in that direction.
– In reply to the honorable senator, I may say that we have exhausted every method of inquiry. Sir Neville Howse saw me on this matter several times. I also had an interview at a later date with Spahlinger himself. This question was dealt with at the Imperial Conference on a motion introduced by Mr. Massey, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, with the result that a special committee was appointed to thoroughly inquire into the possibility of coming to some arrangement with Spahlinger. The committee telegraphed to Spahlinger, asking him to attend a meeting and “ produce the goods.” Another meeting of the committee, attended by the representatives of all the dominions, as well as of the Mother Country, was held three or four days later; and although every effort was made to induce Spahlinger to supply the necessary information, he refused to enter into any obligation. Instead, he made certain demands which the committee decided could not be entertained. That is how the matter stands to-day. The London committee is ready at any moment to enter into negotiations with Spahlinger, and to do everything possible to assist him to carry on his work.
– Ha3 the Minister received any information since he returned from London?
– I have not.
– Then will the Minister make further inquiries?
– I can assure the honorable senator that as Minister for Health I shall be advised immediately any information is available.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Divisions .135 to 144, proposed vote, £210,145. /Senator GRANT (New South Wales) [10.34]. - I find under this heading an item of £3,000 for the establishment of an Australian War Museum. I should like to know where it is proposed to establish the museum. There is another item, £660, representing the cost of the compilation of the history of Australia’s share in the war. Who is doing that work ? Then there is later on an item of £250,000 for refunds of revenue. What does that mean ? I should also like to know why it is necessary to provide* £1,000,000 for the Treasurer’s Advance Account 1
– The war museum is already established. I invite Senator Grant to visit the Exhibition building, Melbourne, where it is to be seen. It is well worth a visit.
– Is it proposed to continue the establishment there?
– We are trying to arrange for it to be transferred to Sydney, and eventually it will be established at Canberra. The history of the war is being compiled by Captain Bean at Tuggeranong, in the Federal Capital Territory. In my second-reading speech, I explained the position with regard to refunds of revenue, and the Treasurer’s Advance Account. I trust the honorable member will not press me to repeat my remarks.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Division 31 (Refunds of revenue), £250,000, agreed to.
Advance to the Treasurer.
Division 32, proposed vote, £1,000,000.
.- I move- “
That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the item “ Advance to Treasurer, £1,000,000,” by £900,000.
This Government is not to be trusted with money, particularly money to the credit of an advance account. The amount is enormous for a two-months’ Supply Bill. If it is reduced as I propose, there will be enough to keep the Government in pin money. They are certainly not to be trusted with £1,000,000. The history of this Government is such that it is audacious for Ministers to ask for such a large sum, as an advance to the Treasurer, for the first two months of the financial vear. Heretofore, when we had constitutional government, the system was to present the Estimates for the current financial year, and to base supplies upon those Estimates. On the basis of this Supply1
Bill, the Treasurer’s Advance Account for the financial year would be £6,000,000. I venture to say that, if it were presented in that form in the financial statement, even supporters of the Government would insist upon discussing it.
– It is an unusual amount because it is necessary to pay for works authorized during the current financial year. The works vote will lapse at the end of the financial year - a few days bence - and we shall have to pay for the works referred to out of the Treasurer’s Advance.
– That being so, it is all the more necessary that we should be particularly careful. If the works have been authorized, why cannot we have the estimates with, against them, the amounts which it is proposed to spend. We should then know how the money is to be disbursed. If we pass the vote in its present form, the money may be expended in such a way as to benefit one part of the Commonwealth as against another, and ..Ministers will have the excuse that Parliament voted the money without protest.
Senator NEEDHAM (Western Australia) [10.401. - I hope that the committee will agree to the request - When Senator Pearce was secretary of a trade union not so many years ago, he was insistent upon the necessity for being careful about petty cash. Treasurer’s Advance should be treated in the same way as petty cash. I have been secretary to several organizations. During two of the three years recently in which I was not a member of the Federal Parliament, I was secretary of an important organization,- namely, the Trades Hall in Perth, and I had to be careful about petty cash. We propose, however, to give the Treasurer carte blanche in respect of £1.000,000, and we shall have to wait for twelve months to see how ho has spent it. We shall not have either a quarterly or a monthly account.
– But we have an Audit Department, and the AuditorGeneral is on the job all the time.
– Was he on the job when an amount of £137,696 was paid out of Treasurer’s Advance to the Central Wool Committee in con nexion with the settlement of a certain claim, and does Senator Thompson endorse that action on the part of the Government ?
– That is not the question we are discussing.
– No; and the topic is unpalatable to the honorable senator, but the fact remains that that amount was paid out of .Treasurer’s Advance without the consent or knowledge of Parliament. Some honorable members in another place who did not believe in that kind of thing were compelled to vote in favour of it to save the Government. Senator Thompson is a financier and a big business man, and’ I know that he “would not allow one of his clerks to go for more than a month without submitting’ his petty cash account. Why should we, allow the Treasurer to use £1,000,000 without giving an account of what he does with it until twelve months later? The Leader of the Government has said that it is to pay for works that have already been authorized. If that is so why are not the details submitted to honorable senators in the some way that other details are presented 1 In the proposed vote the following line appears, “Establishment of Australian War Museum, £3,000.” We know where that money is going. If the amount for Treasurer’s Advance is to pay for works already authorized it should be possible to give us definite and detailed information. ‘ Senator Reid, with his experience on the Public Works Committee) will know that very often items are not indicated in official documents in such a way as to give honorable senators proper information about them. It would be a fair thing to allow the Treasurer petty cash just as the financial officers of private concerns are allowed it, but we shall not be justified in allowing him £1,000,000 in respect of this two months’ period, unless he specifies the manner in which it is to be spent. The recent exposure that was made in another place, of how Treasurer’s Advance is spent, should teach honorable senators a lesson. But Dr. Page is not the only Treasurer who has spent money out of the Treasurer’s Advance without the knowledge of Parliament, and it is time that we took steps to prevent that practice being continued. I hope the request will be carried.
Question - That the request be agreed to - put. The committeedivided.
Ayes . . . . . . 8
Majority . . ..9
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported withoutrequest.
Motion (by Senator Pearce)proposed -
That thereport be adopted.
.- If at this stage it is competent for me to discuss the whole of theprovisions of this bill I shall do so, for the special reason that I do not know why the adoption ofthe report and the third reading of the bill should not be left until to-morrow.
– If the honorable senator will give me an undertaking that he willnot obstruct the passage of the bill to-morrow, I shall not submit a motion for its third reading to-night.
– I certainly give that undertaking on my own behalf, and I will notinstigate other honorable senators to obstruct the passage of the measure. I am always prepared to meet the Minister.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.55 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 26 June 1924, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1924/19240626_senate_9_107/>.