9th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Has the at: tention of the Leader of the Government in tho Senate been drawn to the fact that twelve master bakers met in Melbourne and decided to raise the price of bread ! If so, is it the intention of the Government to take action to prevent this combine from exploiting the people’s food?
– The question raised by the honorable senator is within the control of the State Parliament, and not of the Federal Government or the Federal Parliament.
– I desire to ask the Leader of the Senate whether what has been described by one of his supporters as “ this allegedly protectionist Government “ intends to build in Australia or in Great Britain the cruisers it is proposed to construct.
– The bill dealing with this matter will shortly be before the Senate, when the whole question can be discussed.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate if ho has yet received replies to the questions I submitted concerning holiday pay for employees at Cockatoo Island Dockyard?
– Replies have not yet been received.
– I desire to ask the Minister representing the Minister for Defence (Mr. Bowden), whether the new aerial mail service between Adelaide and Sydney is satisfactory, and whether it is the intention of the Government to see that the original contract, which included a service to the Northern Rivers District of New South Wales and Brisbane, is complied with at an early date?
– I shall bring the matter under the notice of the Minister controlling the department.
Bill returned from- the House of Representatives with amendments:
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
– The answers are -
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made, and replies will be furnished as soon as possible.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– Steps are being taken to obtain the desired information.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers are -
The following papers were presented : -
Public Service Act - Reputations amended - Statutory Rules 1924, Nos. 95 and 96.
Quarantine Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1924, No.85.
Bill read a third time.
,- I move -
That the amended regulations under City Leases Ordinance No. 6 of 1924 be disallowed.
On the 18th June last I took exception to and asked the Senate to disallow a certain ordinance in relation to the Federal Capital Territory, but althougha division was taken upon my motion the ordinance in question was not disallowed. I find that since then the Government have brought forward amending regulations to which I take the strongest possible exception, and I am therefore asking the Senate to disallow them, so that building operations at Canberra may be conducted under thebuilding regulations which were approved in 1921. Since the passing of the Seat of Government (Administration) Act regulations and ordinances almost innumerable have been approved, many of them relating to building sites at Canberra. The regulations adopted tinder the City Leases Ordinance 1921 laid down conditions which were more liberal and more effective than those which have now been suggested in the amended regulations dated the 12th June, 1924, which I am asking the Senate to disallow. Regulation 4 of the City Leases Regulations 1921 provides -
The grant of a lease of city land shall be subject to the following conditions, namely : -
Except where a building approved by the Minister is erected on the land, the erection of a building suitable for the purpose for which the lease is granted shall be commenced within one year after the granting of the lease.
The building shall be completed with in two years after the granting of the lease, or, if in the opinion of the Minister, there is good reason for an extension of time, withinsuch further time, not exceeeding two years, as the Minister thinks fit.
The land which is the subject of the lease shall not be subdivided during the currency of the lease.
It is now proposed to omit paragraphs a and b, and insert in their stead the following paragraphs: -
It is also proposed to amend paragraph f by adding the words” except with the approval of the Minister.” Regulation 5 of the City Leases Regulations 1921 provides -
If the lessee fails to keep any building in a state of repair satisfactory to the Minister -
It is proposed to delete the words “ one month,” and insert in lieu thereof the words “ three months.” Regulation 8 of the City Leases Regulations 1921 provides -
It is proposed to omitthe words “ with the consent of the Minister.” These alterations appear to me to be against the progress of Canberra. The ostensible reason for submitting these blocks to the public on the 1st October next is to make them available for building purposes. No other tangible! reason could be advanced. On a recent occasion I showed quite conclusively that the drastic character of the regulations so circumscribed the granting of building sites that it was quite possible that the sites in question would be used for anything but the primary purpose - the erection of houses - for which they are intended. 1 showed also that in the case of leases granted at Coolangatta by the Queensland Government, it is only in the last section made available, and in connexion with which building regulations were strictly enforced, that the blocks have been used for the purpose for which they were intended. “When the building regulations of 1921 were considered by this Parliament it was agreed that every lessee should be obliged to commence the erection of a building within twelve months, a period of grace which seems to me to be eminently fair. So far as I can see, there is no advantage to be gained by becoming the owner of a leasehold in Canberra unless the intention is to build upon it, because there will be considerable difficulty in making any other satisfactory use of a building site. The regulation provided that building operations must commence within one year, and that the building should be completed within two years after the granting of the lease, or within such further time not exceeding two years as the Minister thought fit. It is now proposed to permit the lessee to hold on to his lease for a period of two complete years without making any use of it. In my opinion, that is not the way to ensure progress at Canberra. The Government will not be justified in making building sites available unless they are to be promptly built on, and I can see no reason for the proposal to extend the period for two years. A lessee will be in a position to pay the rent for the first and second years and possibly prevent other people during that time from making use of the land. At the expiration of two years he may decide to proceed no further, and throw the lease back on the hands of the Government. The various Governments of the Commonwealth have so far held out of use every block at Canberra. Having decided to make a certain number avail able on the 1st October next, the Government now proposes to attach to each lease the condition that the lessee may allow the block to lie idle for the long period of two years. The general desire is that those which are made available shall have buildings erected upon them at the earliest possible moment. Not satisfied with this alteration, the Government also proposes- to extend the time within which the building must be completed. Evidently it is of the opinion that the two-year period laid down by the regulations of 1921 is not long enough, and in order to still further hamper the progress of Canberra it now proposes toallow the lessee to complete the building within three years, or within such further time as may be approved by the Minister. What object has the Minister in view? Does he want to see buildings erected at Canberra; or, after the sale of the leases, does he want to see the land remain out of use and be thrown back on his hands at the end of two years? I suppose I must give the Minister credit for trying to do the right thing. I do contend, however, that three years is unjustifiably long. A limit should be placed upon the time; and that time, in my opinion, should be much shorter than three years. These extensions of time will enable people to hold the land out of use to the detriment of those who desire to make their homes at Canberra. The Government also proposes to set aside sub-section 5 of section 4 of the regulations of 1921. That sub-section provides that land which is the subject of a lease shall not be subdivided during the currency of the lease. Permission is now to be given to a leasee to subdivide his leasehold, with the consent of the Minister. If this alteration receives the approval of the Senate, I have not the slightest doubt that a large number of applications will be made to the Minister for permission to subdivide. One of the disadvantages met with in every suburb of towns of any importance throughout the Commonwealth is the fact that the owners of land, often with the concurrence of municipalities which they are in a position to dominate, are able to subdivide building sites that already are too small. The Surveyor-General, I understand, has laid out a considerable number of blocks at Canberra in an up-to-date manner. To permit their subdivision would, inmy opinion, result in the land feeing subdivided into areas that are not sufficiently large for building sites. I think that, during the currency of the lease, the land should not be subdivided. The proposal to extend the time within which repairs to buildings may be carried out, from one to three months, also is a step in the wrong direction. The regulation giving the lessee the right to mortgage, with ministerial consent, was a necessary one; yet it is proposed to delete from it the words “ with the consent of the Minister.” The progress of Canberra will not be assisted if any one is permitted to acquire land for purposes other than for building thereon at the earliest possible moment. It is quite true that rent will be received for each block, and that may be better than allowing the land to remain in an unproductive state. Until the blocks have been put up to auction no one can say what the rent will be, but I have no doubt that it will be fairly substantial. The mere collection of rent is not, however, the object to be aimed at. These sites are, presumably, to be made available for the purpose of having buildings erected upon them, and any regulation which will allow them to be acquired without that stipulation will act detrimentally to the progress of Canberra. I think I have said sufficient to prove that the amended regulations are unnecessary and unjustifiable, and that they will lead to the land being acquired and held out of use for the full period allowed.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (SenatorNewland). - The motion not being seconded, therefore lapses.
In committee (Consideration of House of Representatives’ amendments) :
Clause 7 -
The Minister shall appoint one of the members of the Board tobe the Chairman of the Board….
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Add at the end of sub-clause 5 the words “ and one other member to be the Deputy Chairman.”
. -I move-
That the amendment be agreed to.
The amendments which have been made by another place contain no departures in principle from the bill. They are all drafting amendments, their scope being really to tighten up the provisions of the bill as it left this chamber.
– Were all the amendments made by the Government?
– Not all of them. One was made on motion by Mr. Gabb. I shall explain each amendment as it comes before the committee. This amendment is a purely formal one, and I ask the committee to agree to it.
Motion agreed to.
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Omit sub-clause 6, and insert - “ 6. The Chairman of the Board shall, when present, preside at meetings of the Board, and in his absence, the Deputy Chairman shall preside.”
.- I move-
That the amendment be agreed to.
The amendment is obvious. It is consequential on the amendment which has just been agreed to.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 7 -
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Omit the words, “ and where the voting is equal the member of the Board presiding at the meeting shall have a second, or casting vote,” and insert, “Provided that at any meeting of the Board at which only two members are present any question upon which those members disagree shall be reserved for determination by a full meeting of the Board.”
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
This amendment was moved by the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Gabb) in another place. When the bill left the Senate, it provided that the Land Board should consist of three members, two of whom should form a quorum. Where two members formed a quorum, all questions were to be decided by a majority of votes, the member presiding having a second or casting vote. In that case one man would have two votes, although the voting would really be equal. Theamendment provides that where a quorum of two is formed, and there is a division on some question, it shall stand over until the full board of three is present to consider it.
Motion agreed to.
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Omit”1913,” and insert “ 1913-1923 “.
– I draw attention to the want of a quorum. [Quorum formed.]
– I move-
That the amendment be agreed to.
This is a purely formal amendment, and arises from the fact that, since the bill was introduced some considerable time ago, both the Public Service Ordinance and the Public Service Act have been amended. Therefore, this consequential amendment is necessary.
Motion agreed to.
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Omit “ 1902-1918 “ and insert “ 1922 “.
.- I move-
That the amendment be agreed to.
This is merely a consequential amendment.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 18 - (1.) The Board shall from time to time give notice by advertisement in the Northern Territory Gazetteand in the Commonwealth Gazette…..
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Omit “ Northern, Territory Gazette and in the Commonweal th “.
.- I move-
That the amendment be agreed to.
This is a consequential amendment, since in clause5 the definition of “ Gazette “ means both the Commonwealth of Aus tralia Gazette and the Gazette of the Northern Territory. There is, therefore, no reason to repeat them in this clause.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 26 -
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Omit “ and “.
.- I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
The word “ and “ is not required, because each of the sub-clauses stands by itself. This is simply a drafting amendment.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 26 (Reservation in leases).
House of Representatives’ Amendment . - At end of clause add the following : - “ ; and
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Honorable senators will agree that this is a very wise provision. Certain of the leases under the South Australian acts contained reservations in favour of the aboriginal inhabitants of the Northern Territory in the terms of this amendment, and certain of the leases under our own ordinances contain no such reservations. In consequence of this omission lessees occasionally have arbitrarily ordered natives away from recognized watering places, and from areas in which theysay their progenitors have been hunting for centuries.
– I endorse the motives underlying the amendment submitted by the Minister, but I think there is room for improvement. As it stands it is somewhat broad in its terms, for in addition to giving the aboriginal inhabitants of the Northern Territory the right of access to water, and to areas to which it may be necessary for them to go to maintain themselves, it gives to them and their descendants the right of ingress, egress, and regress into, upon, and over the leased land and every part thereof, as well as the right to erect thereon such wurlies and other dwellings as those aboriginal inhabitants, before the lease, had been accustomed to make and erect. It is conceivable that this right may not always be in the best interests of white settlers in the Northern Territory. A man may take up a certain area of land, erect a homo there, and live in it with his wife and family. The aboriginal inhabitants will have this right of ingress to and egress from that portion on which the homestead is established; they may erect their wurlies right around the homestead, and become a nuisance to the holder of the lease. I submit, therefore, that the amendment is a little too wide. It would be no good to the aboriginal inhabitants to live in such close proximity to a homestead. The native inhabitants should, of course, be able to enjoy reasonable privileges, but at the same time we should seek to protect the holders of leases, if they live upon the land, as it is confidently expected many of them will if the Northern Territory is to be developed in the way anticipated.
– I am afraid the honorable senator who has just resumed his seat has not grasped the true meaning of the proposed new provision. In South Australia, Western Australia, and I believe also in Queensland, certain areas have been set aside as reservations for the aborigines. This amendment will enable similar provision to be made in the Northern Territory.
– No; the honorable senator does not understand the amendment.
– It will apply to all “leases.
– If that is so, then there is something in what Senator
Duncan has said. I understood it was intended to set* aside certain areas as reservations for the natives.
– That is dealt with in a later clause.
– Then the amendment provides that the aboriginal inhabitants may, if they choose, erect wurlies on leases held by white people.
– In the manner in which they have been accustomed to do. It is designed to prevent lessees from denying to aboriginals the right of ingress to certain watering and camping places which they may have been accustomed to use.
– It goes further than that.
– If, as has been suggested by Senator Duncan, it will give the aboriginals the right to erect wurleys around a homestead it might cause unpleasantness between the blacks and the white people. Therefore, the amendment requires careful consideration.
– The provision now sought to be inserted has always been included in the South Australian leases in exactly the same terms as now proposed. There is now in the Northern Territory 186,000 square miles held under leases giving this right to the aboriginals. There has never been any trouble. I have been on some of the leaseholds, and have seen the blacks located around the homesteads. Sometimes they erect their wurleys contiguous to the head station, but always where directed by the manager of the station.
– Under this clause they could erect them where they pleased.
– Subject to direction. In the Northern Territory we have a protector of aboriginals, and every police officer is a sub-protector with certain definite powers of control over the natives. The aboriginals understand that they have to conform to certain customs, that they must behave properly, and not make themselves a nuisance. The fact that they have never yet abused this right to erect wurlies where they please is, I think, a sufficient guarantee that they will not do so in future. We want to make the provision a little wider, so as to give them the right of access particularly to the watering and camping places.
– Although the proposed new paragraph is so framed as to give these rights to the aboriginal inhabitants of the Northern Territory and their descendants, to my mind it may be regarded as a temporary provision. I hope it will be because, as everybody knows, although the aboriginals have received special treatment in Queensland and New South Wales, they are rapidly decreasing in numbers as a result of contact with the whites, and now are located in reservations set apart for their exclusive use. I take it, therefore, that in spite of this provision for the aboriginal inhabitants of the Northern Territory and their descendants, the time will come when it will be advisable to remove them from the leaseholds and segregate them in special reservations.
Motion agreed to.
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - After the word “ transfer,” line 3, insert “mortgage.”
– The following clause provides that applications for permission to assign, transfer, mortgage, or sub-let any agricultural or pastoral lease,&c., shall be made in writing to the Minister. It is therefore implied that the word “ mortgage “ should have been included in this clause. I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 31 -
Where any land leased under pastoral or agricultural lease in pursuance of this ordinance has been mortgaged . . .
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Before “ Where,” line 1, insert “ Subject to the next two succeeding sub-sections “.
– This is also a drafting amendment, and is consequential upon the insertion of two new sub-clauses1a and 16, that follow, dealing with the question of mortgages and relating principally to the question of “ dummying.” Although this is not the clause in which the impor tant alteration is made, it is necessary to amend this clause in this way. I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Motion agreed to.
House of Representatives’ Amendment. -
After sub-clause 1 insert the following subclauses : - “(la) Where any land included in any lease issued in pursuance ofsection fiftyeight of this ordinance has been mortgaged to the original lessee as security for the payment of the balance of the amount due in respect of the transfer of the subdivision, and the mortgagee enters into possession of the land, he may, subject to the terms and conditions of the lease, remain in possession for a period of three years after the date of entering into possession and for such further period (if any) as the Minister thinks fit. “ (1b) If the mortgagee referred to in the last preceding sub-section fails to assign or transfer the lease within the period during which he is, in pursuance of the last preceding subsection, allowed to remain in possession, the Minister may, by notice in the Gazette, forfeit the lease.”
These are two important additions which have been made for the purpose of tightening up the provision in regard to the transfer of leases where a lessee is subdividing his holding. In the early discussions in the Senate and in another place, it was asserted that there would be a loophole for “ dummying “ unless this clause was carefully worded, because a lessee who subdivided his lease might arrange that the person who purchased a portion of the subdivision should become the mortgagor, and after having nominally subdivided and the mortgage having fallen due, the mortgagee would come into possession of the lease whichhadbeen subdivided. In order to tighten up the ordinance and prevent, as far aspossible, any dummying under clause 58, the insertion of these two new sub-clauses has been considered necessary. These subclauses have been carefully drawn up by the Crown Law officers under the direction of the Government in order to prevent the possibility of “dummying” by any person under the guise ofa mortgagee. It is believed that the new subclauses will achieve the object in view, and as they strengthen the bill I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
– Were these amendments made in another place onthe motion of private members, or were they submitted by the Government?
– This one was submitted by the Government.
Motion agreed to.
In addition to the matters provided for in Division 1 of this Part, pastoral leases shall contain reservations, covenants, conditions, and provisions as follows: -
a reservation of all timber and timber trees and of all trees producing bark, resin, or valuable substances;
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Insert the following new paragraph: -(aa) a reservation in favour of the aboriginal inhabitants of the Northern Territory.
– This is to give effect to an amendment recently dealt with by the Commonwealth in regard to aborigines. It is to provide that there shall be in serted in the lease a reservation in favour of aborigines in the Northern Territory, and is consequential upon the one already adopted. I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 50 - (1.) The holder of anylands in the Northern Territory, under a pastoral lease from the Crown in existence at the commencement of this Ordinance may, at any time within three years after the commencement of this Ordinance, surrender his lease in exchange for a pastoral lease of the lands or part thereof under this Ordinance. ( 2. ) A lease granted under this section may include adjacent lands in two or more surrendered leases, whether in actual contact or not.
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - In sert the following sub-clauses: - (2a) Where two or more leases of contiguous lands granted under the laws of South Australia are surrendered under this section by the same lessee, one lease only shall be granted in exchange therefor in respect of the whole of the land included in the surrendered leases. (2b) Where two or more leases of contiguous lands granted under the Crown Lands Ordinance 1912-1018 are surrendered under this section by the same lessee, one lease only shall be granted in exchange therefor in respect of the whole of the land included in the surrendered leases.
– This amendment has been submitted by the. Government to meet objections raised by the Opposition. It is provided in another clause that a prin cipal watering place can be reserved which might mean the principal watering place on each of the leases of which a lessee might have a number, and, therefore, the resumption of any of the watering places could not be assured. These two sub-clauses deal with the leases under the South Australian acts and those under the present Commonwealth ordinances, and definitely fix one head station and one particular watering place in respect of a number of contiguous leases. The main objection raised by the Opposition has been met, and it is now made clear that there can only be one principal watering place. I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 55 - (1.) When it is intended to make any resumption under section fifty-three of this Ordinance the Minister shall refer the matter to the Board and the Board shall determine the resumption in accordance with the following rules : -
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - After the word “ in “ line 15, insert “ or under “.
– As this paragraph now reads, it refers only to resumptions under paragraph a of clause 53, but it is also desired to apply the rules governing resumption contained in this clause to all future leases which may be granted under this ordinance, and containing resumption provisions referred to in paragraph 6 of clause 53. The amendment is consistent with the clause referred to and the general purpose of the bill. I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 58 -
The Minister shall, on the request of a lessee, made at least two years before any date of resumption, in lieu of resuming any lands held under a lease, permit the lessees to subdivide for closer settlement purposes.
An area included in the lease approved by the Board us being equivalent to that which the Minister would be entitled to resume; and
The lessee may transfer the subdivisions to persons approved by the Minister for the remainder of the term, and subject to the terms and conditions (other than resumption) of the original lease.
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - After the word “ lessee line 2, insert “ of a lease granted under this Division in exchange for a lease existing at the commencement of this Ordinance.”
– This amendment definitely applies the right to subdivide in lieu of resumption to the leases referred to in paragraph a of clause 53 only - that is, existing pastoral leases exchanged for leases under this ordinance. It docs not continue then indefinitely to future leases. I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Motion agreed to.
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - After the word “ resume”, paragraph (a), insert “ on that date of resumption.”
– Honorable senators will recall that provision was made for resumption by the Minister, and for subdivision by the lessee with the consent of the Minister. This amendment specifies the area which the Minister may allow to be subdivided on a particular resumption date which otherwise he would be entitled to resume. It makes the bill more definite in that respect. I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Motion agreed to.
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Leave out sub-clause (2), and insert the following sub-clauses : - “ (2) The lessee shall, within two years after the date on which the Minister granted him permission to subdivide, or within such further time (not exceeding twelve months) after that date, as the Minister thinks fit -
transfer to persons approved by the Minister, for the remainder of the term, and subject to the terms and conditions (other than resumption), of the original lease -
– It will be satisfactory to some who criticized the bill to see that this amendment, which is really a redrafting of the clause, has been submitted as the result of an examination of the suggestions made during the discussion of the bill on previous occasions, and when the power of the lessee to subdivide as against the ministerial powers of resumption was challenged. The object is to ensure that the concession to subdivide lands given under this clause is exercised, and that the aim of effecting closer pastoral settlement, which would, but for the concession, have been attained by resumption, will be carried out. Sub-clause 2 provides that all subdivisions must be made to the satisfaction of the Minister, and definitely requires the lessee to transfer the subdivisions to persons approved by the Minister for the remainder of the term, and subject to the terms and conditions - other than resumption - of the original lease. Sub-clause 3 provides that if the lessee fails to transfer within two years, or such further time not exceeding twelve months, subdivisions of an area equivalent to that which the Minister would be entitled to resume under paragraph a of clause53, the Minister may then take a sufficient area to satisfy the resumption conditions under clause 53. The lessee cannot obtain any advantage as against those who desire to obtain land by exercising this right of subdivision, because he will not be in a better position than if the Minister exercised the power of resumption. The amendment certainly tightens up the bill in that respect, and I trust the committee will accept it. I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Motion agreed to.
Verbal amendments also agreed to.
Upon the resumption of any land under section 53 of this ordinance, the Minister shall pay to the lessee out of moneys appropriated by the Parliament for the purpose, compensation in respect of the improvements on the land resumed at the date on which he ceases to occupy the land, and any improvements on the remainder of the land included in the lease the value of which is lessened by reason of the resumption.
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - Omit the words “any improvements on the remainder of the land included in the lease, the value of which is lessened by reason of the resumption “, insert in lieu thereof, “ where the value of any improvements on the remainder of the land included in the lease is depreciated by reason of the resumption compensation, to the extent of the depreciation, in respect of those improvements.”
. -I move -
That the amendment bo agreed to.
Under this clause, as originally drafted, it appeared that the Crown could be held liable to pay compensation to their full value for any improvements on the remainder of the lease which might become less in value by reason of any resumption. The intention, however, was to provide for the payment of compensation in respect of such improvements to the extent of the depreciation only. The amendment clears the position
Motion agreed to.
Subject to this ordinance the GovernorGeneral may atany time by proclamation -
The Minister shall lay before both Houses of Parliament …. a statement setting forth the reasons for any resumption under this section.
House ofRepresentatives’ Amendment. - After the word “ under “, sub-clause 2, omit the words “ this section “ and insert the words “ paragraph (d) of the preceding sub-section”.
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Sub-clause 1 of this clause enumerates the various public and other purposes for which resumptions may be made, and it is therefore unnecessary to place before Parliament further reasons for resumptions covered by those purposes. But when it is considered desirable to resume lands which have been reserved and set aside for the public use, it becomes essential that the reasons actuating any such resumption shall be placed before Parliament. As this is the last of these amendments I remind the committee that when this measure was originally before the Senate, the Government indicated, as it also did in another place, that it was not intended to pass the bill through its final stages, but that the schedule to the bill was to be promulgated as an ordinance. In order that Parliament would have full opportunity to express its opinion upon the Northern Territory Grown Lands Ordinance the ordinance itself was introduced into Parliament as a schedule to a bill which members of both places could discuss as being part of that bill. It was not intended that the bill itself should ever become an act. This therefore is the final stage of this measure so far as the Senate is concerned. The Government do not propose to have the report from the committee adopted. The bill will be discharged from the notice - paper and an ordinance promulgated on the lines of the bill as amended by the two Houses.
Motion agreed to.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
Th at the consideration of the report be made an order of the day for the next day of sitting.
– I listened with interest to the statement made by the Minister who introduced this bill, that the Northern Territory Crown Lands Ordinance had been brought before Parliament in the form of a bill to enable members of both Houses to fully discuss its provisions, but that afterwards it would be promulgated as an ordinance. It is a very excellent idea to give members of both Houses the opportunity to discuss each clause of an ordinance separately and to devote to each ordinance that attention which its importance demands. The practice should be extended to embrace all ordinances and regulations laid on the table. It is quite possible that ordinances and regulations relating to New Guinea, Papua, Norfolk [gland, the Federal Territory, and the Northern Territory, are carefully read by members of Parliament, but some of them may slip through without members having the least idea of their contents. Therefore, in fairness to the residents of New Guinea, Papua, and the other Territories affected by ordinances and regulations, the course followed by the Government on this occasion should be adopted on all future occasions when fresh ordinances are to be put into operation.
– Parliament would have to sit all the year round to deal with them.
– It is unfair to have regulations laid on the table to which objection cannot be taken, except by way of a formal motion. In view of the great volume of printed matter which comes under the notice of honorable senators, it is almost impossible for the contents of every document to be carefully noted. Therefore I hope that in future the Government will put into operation the practice followed on this occasion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 13th Juno (vide page 1246), on motion by Senator PEARCE -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– I shall not occupy very much time in discussing the principles of this bill, because, as the Minister (Senator Pearce) said when introducing it, it is a measure more for committee deliberation than for second-reading speeches. The act which this bill amends has not been in operation for more than twelve months, and yet the Minister candidly admits that it has been found unworkable and defective - a fact which is not at all complimen tary to the Government. Prior to the passing of the act, the. task of classifying and controlling the Public Service was entrusted to one commissioner. It is now done by a Public Service Board of three. This board was brought into existence ou the cry for economy. Let me examine that claim. Mr. McLachlan, who was Public Service Commissioner for years, was paid £1,200 a year. The present board draws £4,500, and as it is said that since its appointment additional Public Service inspectors have been appointed, and as there is also a Public Service Arbitrator, I think it can be safely claimed that the present control of the Public Service costs the taxpayers at least ten times more than was paid to the Public Service Commissioner. The Minister claims that a great deal of detail work should be removed from the board, despite the fact that three gentlemen are now doing what was formerly done by one commissioner.
– The board has far more widely extended duties than the previous commissioner had.
– Before the main task of the board, that of classifying the Public Service, has been completed, we have been asked to give it more extensive powers, and to enable it to do what the Public Service Commissioner was not in a position to do. This point I shall elaborate in the committee stage. The Minister also wants us to allow the board to discriminate between various members of the Public Service. Is it fair that a vast army of public servants should have a sword held over their heads before the board has completed its task of classification? That classification should have been completed before the Government thought of bringing down amendments to the act, because Ministers would then have been in a better position to realize what portions of the act were unworkable. No provision having been made for a quorum, it can be safely claimed that when members of the board were away on holidays, or absent from their duties through illness or some other cause, the work of the board must have been held up through the absence of a” quorum, and must have got into arrears. One would think that the Government, having experts at their back, would so draft their measures as to make it unnecessary for amending bills to be brought before Parliament very soon after the passing of the original acts. A great deal of discussion doubtless took place when the principal act was before Parliament in 1922. Considering the time and expense involved, the Government ought to conduct its business on businesslike lines. Since this Government took office much of the time of Parliament has been taken up with amendments of acts. This bill proposes to amend an act that has been in operation for less than twelve months.
– The fact that the act’s weaknesses have been disclosed is a sure sign that the Government ha3 been doing its duty in applying its provisions.
– In his secondreading speech the Minister (Senator Pearce) said - (
We endeavoured last year to deal with the question of excess officers, but we brought about a further difficulty-
That was an admission to make! I go further, and say that if the Government applies some of the provisions that are contained in this bill it will be beset by greater difficulties than those which confront it at present. The amendment proposed by clause 20, in my opinion, conflicts with the provisions of sections 27 and 28 of the principal act. The Minister went on to state - because, as the act at present stands, an officer may not be “ excess “ in relation to the whole of his department, although he is “ excess “ so far as his own particular class or grade is concerned.
Before having classified the service the board wishes to be vested with power to say that, in its opinion, an officer in a particular class is an excess officer, to place him on a lower grade, or to dismiss him from the service. That is altogether at variance with sections 27 and 28 of the principal act, and is a very dangerous provision. No board should be clothed with such power. Public servants are entitled to receive consideration and justice at the hands of Parliament. They will not, however, if the bill is passed in its present form. It is essentially a bill for committee. Therefore, I and others have drafted amendments which, I hope, will receive the support of at least some honorable senators opposite. Whatever our party views may bo, I do not think that any honorable senator would intentionally vote for a proposal which would deal unfairly with any servant of the Commonwealth. The
Public Service Board ought to be told to go on with the work that Parliament expects it to do.
– It cannot get on with its work because it is submerged by all these details.
– It is submerged, probably, because provision was not formerly made for a quorum. Is it submerged in the work that it is expected to do, or in work that it should not do? Section 27 of the principal act reads -
As soon as may be after the commencement of this act the board shall classify all officers other than officers of the first division.
That is sufficiently plain. The board is not doing its duty. There is nothing to prevent it from classifying the service. Having done that, it could make any recommendations it deemed necessary. It should not, anterior to that classification, seek to be clothed with greater powers than have been possessed by any body entrusted with the classification of the Public Service or any responsible work connected with that huge department. The board, I expect, must show, the Minister that it is. busily engaged, and the members must prove their fitness for the positions they hold. It is desired that power be given to the board to allow it to deal with servants who are placed in a particular classification. What will that mean? Under the principal act a man cannot be reclassified or reduced in salary without the strongest reasons being shown for such action. If a man is reduced in status his salary -is not lowered for twelve months, and he possesses the right to appeal against the decision of the board. If the act is altered in the way now suggested, certain powet’9 will be delegated to Public Service inspectors. A Public Service inspector will be able to say to a particular officer, “ I am going to recommend to the Public Service Board that you be designated an ‘ excess officer ‘.” The officer could quite rightly retort, “Why am I singled out? In the other states there are officers in the same classification who are doing similar work.” The public service inspector would probably reply, “ Oh, well, in my opinion, you are an ‘ excess officer,’ and I shall state my opinion and give my reasons to the Public Service Board.” If the board agrees with the view expressed by the Public Service inspector that excess officer may 1)0 reclassified and reduced in pay, or dismissed the service: and against that decision he will not have any appeal. A public servant cannot be dealt with in that way under sections 27 and 28 of the act. The bill is not so innocent as the Minister has said it is. It is a very important measure, and some of the amendments proposed by the Minister will, if passed, have a drastic and far-reaching effect, and do in my opinion a great injustice to a large section of the community. A person enters the Public Service by passing an examination and qualifying for a vacancy in the. service. With the passing of years, by merit, ability, and application, he rises to a. higher position and by displaying exceptional ability he may attain very high office. If the bill is passed in its present form, such an officer may be considered by a Public Service inspector to be an excess officer, and the opinion of the inspector may be endorsed by the Public Service Board. He would then be designated an excess officer, and be reduced in salary or dismissed from the service with no right of appeal. To-day, he has the right of appeal under section 27 of the act and if reduced in grade the salary of his former position continues for a period of twelve months. If a vacancy occurs in the higher grade within that period he has an opportunity to apply for it. But under clause 20 of the bill he will have no such opportunity, and, because of that, I ask the Senate to support some amendments that I shall submit when in committee. I am satisfied that when honorable senators are fully seized with the position, these amendments will receive not only their sympathy but also their practical support.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 5 agreed to.
Clause 6 (Excess officers).
– I move -
That at the end of the clause the following words be added : - “ Provided that no such officer shall be reduced in salary or be retired from the Public Service until after the expiration of twelve months from the date on which the Board certifies in writing that it finds that lie is an excess officer.”
I do not know that I can add to what I have previously said in giving reasons why the committee should support this amendment. The Government should not hesitate to accept it. It has for its objective the just treatment of all servants of the Commonwealth. That is not the objective that the board has in view. It rather desires to be vested with the power to reduce an excess officer in grade, or to dismiss him from the service’. It has riot that power to-day under the principal act, which was framed to prevent officers from being unfairly treated. Any officer reduced in salary and. classification has under that act the right of appeal, and even if that appeal fails, his former salary continues for a period of twelve months.
– Is the honorable senator referring to permanent officers ?
– =The honorable senator does not mean to say that the board seeks to dismiss an officer because it considers that he is in a higher position than that for which it thinks he is fit?
– The board wants the power to place an excess officer in a lower classification, or to dismiss him from the service with no right of appeal. I do not think that the committee will stand for that. Section 27 of the principal act reads -
That is a fair provision, as it gives an opportunity to a dissatisfied officer to state his case in person. This bill proposes under clause 20 (excess officers) not to give that right.
– The honorable senator’s amendment also proposes to take away that right.
– It does not. The amendment will make uniform the provisions of the act relating to public servants. There is nothing in clause 20 in the bill to show that an officer reduced in salary and classification shall have the right of appeal. That will be taken from him.
– It is not proposed to take away from a public servant any privilege that he enjoys at present under the act.
– Section 28 of the act reads -
With the case of any officer who is in receipt of a greater salary than the maximum salary determined under the classification to be appropriate to the office occupied by him, the Board shall deal in the following manner : -
If an office of classification correspond ing to the salary received by the officer is available, or becomes available within a period of twelve months after the date of approval of the classification by the GovernorGeneral, and in the opinion of the Board, the officer is. competent to fill that office, the Board may transfer him thereto ;
If no such office which in the opinion of the Board the officer is competent to fill is or becomes so available, the Board shall, at the expiration of the period of twelve months above mentioned, reduce the salary of the officer to the maximum salary appropriate under the classification to the office occupied by him;
If any such reduction <if salary is certi fied by the Board to have been made on the ground only that no such office was available, the officer shall, notwithstanding the reduction, remain eligible for promotion as from the class or position to which his salary before reduction was incident, and shall be entitled to employment on the class of work to which his previous salary was appropriate, as soon as a vacancy occurs therein which, in the opinion of the Board, he is competent to - fill, in preference to any other officer of the same or a lower class or position whose salary has not been so reduced.
When those provisions were passed by the Senate, the Labour party was represented by, at the most, two senators. We desire them to operate in relation to clause 6. My amendment will give to the public servants found to be excess officers under clause 20, the same right that they now enjoy under the Public Service Act of 1922 - nothing more and nothing less. It will be incomprehensible to me if honorable senators go back on their previous actions. The right to his former salary for twelve months and also the right of appeal should remain with a public ser vant who has been reduced in grade under clause 20. In order that the provisions of this bill will not be in conflict with sections 27 and 28 of the principal act, I ask the committee to agree to the amendment that I have submitted.
– I suggest to Senator Findley that he either has not read or does not understand his own amendment. There is nothing in his amendment about an appeal. The Public Service Board in the course of its inquiries may find an excess officer. It will have two courses open to it - to retire him or to find him some other position, with a commensurate salary, which may be lower than what he previously received. Senator Findley’s amendment provides that when the Public Service Board finds an officer doing nothing-
– Put it fairly; there are no such officers.
– It is a fact that the honorable senator proposes that if the Public Service Board finds such an officer, he is to receive his salary, and not to be retired for twelve months.
– That provision is in the principal act to-day, and the Government do not propose to amend it.
– It is proposed to amend the provision in section 20.
– What does the Government intend to do respecting sections 27 and 28 1
– Under sections 27 and 28, as they stand to-day, an excess officer may be retired or reduced in grade, and his former salary continued for twelve months. If honorable senators will look at the memorandum that I have had distributed, they will notice that it contains not only the amendments proposed by the Government, but also the sections of the principal act that are to be amended. Section 20 of the act reads -
If at any time the Board finds that a greater number of officers is employed in any Department or Branch of a Department than is necessary for the efficient working of that Department or Branch, any officer whom the Board finds is in excess may be transferred to such other position of equal classification and salary in the service as the officer is competent to fill, and if no such position is available the officer may be transferred to a position of lower classification and salary. If no position is available for the officer the Board may retire him from the Public Service.
– Under what terms would an old public servant be retired !
– Under the terms of the Superannuation Act. All we ask the committee to do is to insert after the word “ officers “ the words “of a particular classification.” It is obvious that whilst a public servant might not be “ excess “ in a department, some of which employ a large number of officers, he might be so in a particular classification, and in seeking a position for him the board could survey the whole of the Public Service. The board i3 not at all likely to use its power arbitrarily or cruelly. Its members would see if a man could be employed in some other position. If employment for him could not be found in his own classification, he might be employed in a lower position. If not,” then he would be called upon to retire. I remind honorable senators that we have a dual duty - a duty to the Public Service in that the Commonwealth should be a model employer, and a duty also to the taxpayers of the Commonwealth. We have no right to retain in the Public Service officers for whom there is no employment. Senator Findlev’s amendment does not touch the question of appeal, and this clause does not deal with it. If it is to be raised it must be on some other clause in the bill. For this reason I ask the committee to reject Senator Findley’s amendment.
– I hope the committee will not reject my amendment. The Minister’s argument in defence of the Government proposal is exceedingly weak. He can state a case as clearly as any member of the Senate. I do not think he does himself justice or the Public Service justice when he says that if the Public Service Inspector finds an officer in receipt of a high salary and doing nothing, the board should have power to declare him an excess officer, and either reduce him in classification or retire him from the service. I contend that there are no officers in the Public Service drawing high salaries and doing nothing.
– If there are not, why the objection to the clause 1
– The Minister knows very well that the Commonwealth departments are growing. The volume of business is getting bigger and bigger with the passing of each year. Instead of th9 work decreasing it is increasing, so that instead of the present number of public servants we shall soon want a larger number. I repeat that the principal act - sections 27 and 28 - gives every officer who may be reduced in status the right of appeal, and further that he cannot he reduced for twelve months. This provision was inserted because vacancies occur from time to time in various branches of the Public Service, and it was probably thought that although au officer might be in too high a classification to-day, there might be, to-morrow, a vacancy which he could well fill. The breathing space of twelve months was for the better working of the Service. Why should there be any differentiation in section 20? Perhaps the Public Service Board has, behind this amendment, something which the Minister has not made quite clear to me. If there be any superfluous officers in the service, what are the departmental heads doing ?
– But the honorable senator’s amendment will not help these officers.
– It will to the extent that they will be in the same position as officers under sections 27 and 28, that is to say, there will be no power to reduce them in salary for twelve months. It is safe to say that during that period suitable vacancies elsewhere in the Public Service will be found for them.
– Then the honorable senator’s amendment will give them twelve months’ breathing time during which they will do nothing but draw salaries?
– It will give them the same privileges as are enjoyed by officers under sections 27 and 28, and I remind Senator Lynch that he agreed to those provisions. The same course is followed in the commercial world. Frequently after a man rises to a very high position, business goes along so smoothly that his. principals think it advisable to transfer him to some other field of operations, but rather than dismiss him, they retain his services until a suitable vacancy occurs.
– Suppose a vacancy does not occur in the Public Service.
– The provisions of sections 27 and 28 presupposes that vacancies will occur.
– We are not interfering with sections 27 and 28 - we are seeking to amend section 20 of the act of 1922.
– I know that, but we are dealing with the Public Service, and I contend that there should be no differentiation between public servants as a body and public servants as individuals. If it is good to extend a measure of protection to officers under sections 27 and 28, the same measure of protection should be given in respect of this proposed amendment.
Question - That the words proposed to be added be so added (Senator Findley’s amendment) - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Section proposed to be amended - (3.) The Board shall, as prescribed, consider the appeal in conference with a representative of the Permanent Head of the Department concerned, and with the appellant, or, ifhe so desires, with a nominee who is an officer) of the Public Service organizationto which the appellant belongs, orwith an agent [who is an officer) of the appellant, and followingupon such conference the Board shall determine the appeal.
, - I move -
That the words “ or, if he so desires, with a nominee (who is an officer) of the Public Service organization to which the appellant belongs, or with an agent (who is an officer) of the appellant “ be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ and if he so desires, and a nominee (who is an officer) of the Public Service organization to whichthe appellant belongs, or if he so desires with a nominee or agent (who is an officer) of the appellant : Provided that the general secretary of any Commonwealth Public Service organization (who is not an officer) may act as the nominee or agent of the appellant.”
I do not anticipate that the Government will oppose this amendment. The law at present deprives an appellant of the right to have a nominee or agent present in person. Under the clause as it stands only one person other than the representative of the board can attend a conference. This amendment, if adopted, would give the appellant the right to have a nominee or agent in attendance. In other words, it would give him the right to have at his disposal the services of the secretary of the organization. I trust that no objection will be offered, because there are cases which come before the board in which an official of anorganization can be of service to the appellant and also to the board. I do not suppose that the necessity will arise in many instances, but I would like provision to be made for such a representative to attend on behalf of an appellant.
– The Government are not hostile to the general idea conveyed in the. amendment submitted by Senator Findley, but we have not had time to see whether it involves more than we think it does. In these circumstances, I am prepared to agree to the postponement of the clause.
Clauses 8 to 10 agreed to.
Clause 11 -
Section forty-eight of the Principal Act is amended by adding, at the end of sub-section (1.) thereof, the following proviso: - “ Provided that a person appointed to the Commonwealth Service, either before or after the commencement of this Act, who owes his appointment to the passing of a competitive examination, shall not bo entitled to have any period of employment which is permanent service or service in a permanent capacity within the meaning of paragraph(a), (b), (c), or
of this sub-section reckoned for the purposes of this Act as service in the Commonwealth Service.”
Section proposed to be amended -
– (1.) Where a person becomes an officer of the Commonwealth Service and his service in the Commonwealth Service is continuous with -
permanent service in the Public, Railway or other Service of a State;
permanent service in a Territorial Service or the Commonwealth Railways Service;
permanent service in a civil capacity in the Department of Defence; or
service in a permanent capacity in the Naval or Military forces of the Commonwealth, the continuous service of that person in any service specified in paragraph(a), (b), (c) or (d) of this sub-section shall be reckoned for the purposes of this Act as service in the Commonwealth Service:
– I propose to ask the committee to negative this clause. The proposed proviso limits the rights conferred under section 48 of the principal act, which gives advantages to officers with prior service in a state railway service or in the military service. The basic principle is to recognize continuous service, but when we turn to the memorandum we find a reason why this section is to be amended. Section 48 of the principal act reads -
Section 48 of the Principal Act, as proposed to be amended by clause 11 of the Bill, will be read as follows : - (1.) Where a person becomes an officer of the Commonwealth Service and his service in the Commonwealth Service is continuous with -
permanent service in the Public, Railway or other Service of a State;
permanent service in a Territorial Service or the Commonwealth Railways Service;
permanent service in a civil capacity in the Department of Defence; or
service in a permanent capacity in the Naval or Military Forces of the Commonwealth, the continuous service of that person in any service specified in paragraph (a), (b), (c) or (d) of this sub-section shall be reckoned for the purposes of this Act as service in the Commonwealth Service. (2.) Where a person to whom this section applies has been engaged in two or more of the services specified in paragraphs (a), (b), (c) and (d) of the last preceding sub-section, and the periods he was so engaged are continuous with one another, those periods of service shall be deemed to be continuous service for the purposes of this section.
The amendment is to insert the following:
Provided that a person appointed to the Commonwealth Service, either before or after the commencement of this Act, who owes his appointment to the passing of a competitive examination, shall not be entitled to have any period of employment which is permanent service or service in a permanent capacity within the meaning of paragraph (a), (b), (c) or (d) of this sub-section reckoned for the purposes of this Act as service in the Commonwealth Service.
If this amendment is adopted an injustice Will be done to many people, as all officers who pass an entrance examination will not have the advantage of their prior service being considered in the matter of furlough.
– It means that they will all start on the same level.
– That is not suggested in the amendment.
– That is what it means.
– There may be a difference of opinion as to what it really does mean. Is it intended that such officers, appointed by the board without examination, will benefit? I do not wish to debate the matter further if the Minister will assure me that there will be no break in the continuity of service.
– There is to be a break in these circumstances, and there ought to be.
– A naval rating transferred to the Department of Trade and Customs as a boatman, searcher or watchman, without examination, will have his service counted, but if he is sufficiently industrious and ambitious to pass an examination for appointment to the Public Service, his prior service will not be counted. That is the danger. The interpretation of section 48 of the principal act has already been argued before the Public Service Board, which has taken up the attitude that prior service cannot be considered in the case of persons appointed by virtue of the passing of a competitive examination. If the principal act is amended in the direction suggested many men and women will suffer. The interpretation evidently placed upon section 48 of the principal act, as suggested by clause 11 of this bill, would make it appear that the interpretation of the hoard is unsound, and the present amendment is intended to give legal support to the board’s attitude. Whilst the Government may have no intention to deprive any public servant of his legal rights, I am afraid that, in consequence of the manner in which the clause is worded, certain rights will be denied them. I ask the committee to negative the clause.
– What we are proposing to do in this instance is to fix as law the practice for twenty years. A man is in the service of a state and suddenly comes to the conclusion that he will enter the Commonwealth Service. Vacancies in the Commonwealth Service are advertised, and an examination is held. The state servant enters the examination in common with other fellow citizens who have not been in the service of a state, and they pass the examination. The one who had, say, ten years’ service in a state, should not enter the Commonwealth Service with an advantage of ten years over the other who had passed the same examination, but had no state service to his credit. Why should they not both start on the same level? Why should one man have ten years’ seniority because he comes into the Commonwealth Service from the State Service ? It is not a question of transferred officers. The clause applies to an officer of the State Service who has become a candidate in competition with his fellow-citizens for a position in the Commonwealth Service, and we say that if as the result of passing an examination he enters the Commonwealth Service he must do so at the same level as any one else who has passed the same examination. In sporting words, he should start off scratch, and should not have an advantage of so many years’ service over another person who has passed the same examination, taken the same risk, and gone to the same trouble, as he has. There is no reason why one man should have an advantage over another who has passed the same examination at the same time.
– The Minister (Senator Pearce), in his reply to the remarks of Senator Needham, has confined himself almost entirely to sub-paragraph a of section 48, which refers to permanent officers in the permanent service of a state.
– The same arguments apply to the other classes of officers referred to in section 48.
– Those other classes of officers are persons who, having become officers of the Commonwealth Service, have had permanent service in a territorial service or the Commonwealth Railways Service, or in a civil capacity in the Department of Defence, or in a permanent capacity in the naval or military forces of the Commonwealth. I am entirely in accord with the views of the Minister so far as officers in the permanent service of a state are concerned. It is not fair to regard the service put in by an officer in a state prior to his entering the Commonwealth Service by virtue of passing an examination as continuous service with the Commonwealth Service, and thus permit him to take seniority over others who have entered the Service directly from outside; but the cases of the other classes of officers referred to in the section are different. I know that we cannot open the door too widely, and say that a young man who enters the Commonwealth Railways Service should by virtue of that fact alone be permitted to go on and win promotion and advancement in the Public Service without passing an examination to enter it, and should take precedence over other officers because of his past service in the Commonwealth Railways.
– Why should he be given five or six years’ seniority over another officer of the Public Service who has passed the same examination at the same time as he has ?
– If the Minister’s argument is correct, why should any public servant who has been employed in any Government department outside the Commonwealth Public Service get precedence over an outsider who comes up for examination? Yet it is laid down quite clearly that in the making of appointments precedence is _given to the officers of the Commonwealth Service, provided they can pass the requisite examinations. However, I am speaking of the case of a’ young man in the Commonwealth Railways Service, an ambitious young man, who is anxious to get on. If he studies hard, and passes an examination permitting him to be appointed to a permanent position in the Commonwealth Public Service, he may be obliged to make a considerable sacrifice in salary in order to do so as compared with the salary he has been drawing in his more or less casual position in the Commonwealth railways. As a matter of fact the so-called casual position in the Commonwealth railways would probably be just as secure as that which he would hold in any other sphere. But why should this young man who most likely sees in the Public Service greater opportunities for promotion and more scope for his abilities, and perhaps his originality, be penalized as the bill proposes? It is the duty of this Parliament, in its legislation, to give every, encouragement to a young man entering the Public Service, no matter how lowly the avenue may be through which he enters.
– But this would mean giving an advantage to one officer over another .
– We have already declared in our legislation that an officer who is in the Public Service shall have an advantage over the citizen outside who is entering the service for the first time.
– A man who is already in the service has gone through the door of competitive examination, so that an analogy cannot be drawn between him and one who is in the service but has not passed the entrance examination.
– I know that all officers have not passed into the service through the same door, but they are all doing equally servicable work for the community, whether they be doing duty in the Commonwealth railway service, or in a civil capacity in the Defence Department. I do not know that there are many who are doing permanent work in a civil capacity in the Defence Department, but probably they have been appointed to do clerical work because of their special capacity. Surely it is only right to say that if they can pass an examination they shall have the opportunity to go into some other branch of the Commonwealth Service without having to take inferior rank to men already in that service but with possibly half their capacity and half their term of service in a Commonwealth department. There is a great deal in the argument put up by Senator Needham that there is a possibility of a certain amount of injustice being done to men who are quite competent Commonwealth servants. It is a. possibility which I think the Senate should take steps to avoid.
– The more we look at this clause the more we must realize that an injustice will be done by it. It will tend to destroy ambition. It provides that a person appointed to the Commonwealth Service either before or after the commencement of the act who owes his appointment to the passing of a competitive examination shall not be entitled to have reckoned as service in the Commonwealth Service any period of his employment which is permanent service or service in a permanent capacity in the public, railway or other service of a state, in a territorial service or in the Commonwealth railway service, or in a civil capacity in the Department of Defence, or in a permanent capacity in the Naval or Military Forces of the Commonwealth. Having passed a competitive examination why should the door be shut against him in this way?
– Why should he have an advantage of so many years’ service over a man from outside who at the same time has passed the same examination ?
– Many men in the railway or military branches of the Commonwealth Service will be deprived of the benefits of the Commonwealth Public Service Act. A few days ago the Minister in reply to suggestions of mine respecting an officer in the Commonwealth Service declared that Parliament was not a court of appeal for such cases, and that the case should be sent on to the Public Service Board. Yet here we ha.ve an amendment which will rob the officer to whom the Minister referred of all the rights which he claimed. If honorable senators compare clause 11 with section 48 of the principal act, they will certainly strike out the clause.
– I cannot see what solid objections can be advanced against the deletion of this clause. The man who has passed a competitive examination should not be put in a worse position than the man who has not.
– He is not.
– If a naval rating is transferred to the Customs Department as a boatman, or searcher or watcher, without examination, he will have his service in the Navy counted, but if he hag the industry to pass an examination for appointment to the third division of the Public Service his prior service will not be counted.
– He cannot enter the Public Service without passing an examination.
– I know that that is the case, but he will have his prior service in another branch of Commonwealth activities counted.
– The honorable senator is mentioning the case of a man who was in the naval service. That is not the Public Service.
– The Minister is splitting straws. The man is in a department of Commonwealth activity, and there should be no differentiation between employees in one branch and those in another.
– I am referring to the case put up to the honorable senator by the Public Service Association. It does not apply, because it has not referred to an instance in which two men come up to enter the Public Service.
– The association is stating the case of a man who has not passed an examination, but has been industrious and has secured advancement. His service is not counted, while that of others who have not been industrious is counted. While these differences exist in the Public Service there will be dissatisfaction.
– How can a man’s service be recognized when he is not in the Public Service]
– A man may not be actually in the Public Service so far as the Public Service Act is concerned, but he may be in the service of the Commonwealth. Is not the Customs Department a Commonwealth department?
– Yes, and a man can only get into that department by passing an examination.
– There are officers in the Customs Department who have not passed examinations; in fact there are men in every department who have not passed examinations.
– No such appointments have been made since the existing act has been in force.
– At any rate, they were in the service prior to the passing of the act, and they have not been dismissed. All we ask is that the same treatment shall be meted out to those who pass examinations as, apparently, is to be meted out to those who have not passed examinations. I support Senator Needham’s suggestion that the clause be struck out.
– I am afraid that honorable senators do not realize the meaning of this clause. It does not bear upon the case quoted by Senator Findley. He has spoken of an officer in the naval service who seeks to enter the Department of Trade and Customs.
– Consider the case of one who has been transferred from the Navy to the Department of Trade and Customs.
– I understand that there are temporary employees in the Department of Trade and Customs who are not in the Public Service; but the great body of officers in that department are in the Public Service. The officer mentioned by Senator Findley could enter the Department of Trade and Customs only after passing a competitive examination. The act is quite clear and definite on that point; there is no other door by which he may enter. Under the principal act, if the naval officer mentioned by Senator Findley presents himself for a competitive examination at the same time as Brown, Smith and Robinson, when there are two vacancies, and he and Brown pass the examination, the naval officer having had ten years’ service in the Navy, upon entering the Department of Trade and Customs “would, if Senator Needham’s proposal were carried, be senior to Brown by ten years. Why should he be senior to Brown in the Department of Trade and Customs, or in the Commonwealth Public Service? They should start off at the same point in their new sphere. Because a man elects to leave the Navy in order to enter a department of the Public Service, that is not a reason why he should be given an advantage of ten, six or five years over any other citizen who passes a similar examination at the same time. Why should we give a man employed in the state railways an advantage over every other citizen in the Commonwealth ? If any honorable senator chooses to move to leave out the reference to paragraphs r and d, I sba.ll not divide the committee -on- it, although I could not take the responsibility of accepting such an amendment at this .stage, because I should like to know what the Government thinks of it. I could not, however, agree to leave out the reference to paragraph a.
– The most glaring example of non-recognition’ of members of the Public Service was the appointment of the present secretary of the Postal Department. No competitive examination was held to decide who should be chosen to nil that vacancy.
– A competitive examination was not necessary in that case. This clause does not relate to the filling of such vacancies.
– In view of the action then taken we should be very careful before we agree to this clause. I suggest that the Minister postpone the further consideration of the clause until he is able to decide whether the suggestion made has the approval of the Government.
– I am agreeable to the postponement of the clause.
Clause 12 agreed to.
Section fifty of the Principal Act is repealed and the following section inserted in its stead : - “ 50. - (1). Whenever a vacancy occurs in an office in any Division other than the First Division, and in the opinion of the Board it is necessary to fill that vacancy by the transfer f>r promotion of an officer, the Permanent Head of the Department in which the vacancy occurs may, subject to the provisions of this Act, transfer or promote an officer to fill the vacancy. “ (6). An appeal under this section shall be made in such manner and within such time as is prescribed, and may be made by any officer who considers that, ho is more entitled” to promotion to the vacant office than the officer provisionally promoted, on the ground or -
superior efficiency; or
equal efficiency, and seniority.
Any appeal under this section shall be forwarded to the Board by the Permanent Head of the Department in which the appellant officer is employed.
Upon receipt of the appeal, the Board shall make full inquiry into the claims of the appellant, and those of the officer provisionally promoted, and shall determine the appeal.
– I move -
That the word “ Board sub-clause 8. be left out with a view to insert in lien thereof the word “ Conference.”
I desire that any appeal under this section shall be determined by a conference consisting of a representative of the permanent head of the department in which the vacancy has occurred, a representative of the organization to which the appellant officer belongs or may belong, and a representative of the board, and that such appeal shall be forwarded to the conference by the permanent head of the department in which the appellant officer is employed. There would then be greater likelihood of an impartial judgment being given. The provision in the bill really constitutes an appeal from Caesar unto Caesar, and I do not think that that is the desire of Parliament. The amendment merely attempts to improve the machinery relating to appeals so that an appellant may be able to place his case, before a tribunal without any fear of partiality being displayed when it is being considered. I do not say that the members of the board at present are biased, but at times an unconscious bias manifests itself and that danger would be removed if the amendment were accepted.
– Senator Needham seems to have misunderstood the meaning of the clause. At this stage the board would have had nothing whatever to do with the promotion of the officer; that would have been made by the permanent head of the department. If an officer affected does not take action, that is an end of the matter ; but if any officer is aggrieved or feels that he has been slighted or overlooked, he can appeal. That appeal will be heard by the board . If the honorable senator’s amendment is accepted, one of the parties to hear the appeal will be the appellant or his representative, and another party will be the officer by whom the promotion has been made. Surely it would be better to bring in the board which had had nothing whatever to do with the matter, but which could be trusted to investigate it impartially, and to sift it thoroughly, to see that justice was done all round. Obviously the permanent head would fight strenuously to uphold the promotion he had made, while the appellant would put forth aa great an effort to prove that the promotion had been wrongly made. I suggest to Senator Needham that he should not press his amendment.
– I think the amendment is a very Food one. Under it, the appellant would be better circumstanced, and the board would have a better knowledge of what the departmental head had done. If an officer is dissatisfied with the way in which he has been treated by a departmental head he should have the right to appear in person before the board.
– He can appear before the board. Senator Needham wants to make him or his representative a member of the board.
– I think the Minister would find that if this amendment were accepted a consequential amendment would clear away any doubt.
– According to those who are better versed in the provisions of the act than I am, and whose business it is to peruse every part of it, if the provision is passed in its present form an officer who is dissatisfied with the treatment meted out to him by a departmental head will have the opportunity of putting his case in writing, but not of appearing in person before the board. We want him to be placed in no worse position than he has been under any previous Public Service Act. Apparently, under this provision, his position would be much worse if he felt dissatisfied with the treatment that had been meted out to him.
– I ask leave to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– I propose to move -
That at the end of sub-clause 8 the following words be added : - “ Any appeal under this section shall be determined by a conference consisting of a representative of the board, a representative of the permanent head of the department in which the vacancy occurs, and a representative of the organization to which the appellant belongs, or may belong.”
– In order to move that amendment the honorable senator would need to move for the deletion of sub-clause 8, so as to insert his amendment in its place. I would point out to him that the amendment circulated in the name of Senator Gardiner proposes to leave out sub-clause 7 and to insert another sub-clause in lieu thereof.
– I move -
That the following new .sub-clause be added : -
Notwithstanding anything contained in this section where an appeal has been upheld or disallowed or where no appeal has been made, the Board may determine that promotion to any vacancy shall take effect with increased salary from a date to be determined by the Board.
I understand that, under the bill, any determination of the board will date from the time that it is made. Owing to the innumerable delays that take place in dealing with appeals, it is very necessary and desirable that determinations respecting the promotions of officers, and increases of salaries, shall be ante-dated. I understand that the board, at present, has the power to ante-date its determinations, but that under the bill that is not so. The board now frequently . antedates promotions, and it is considered that this discretionary power should remain with it. A public servant should not suffer through any delay that is caused through no fault of his own. It may happen that the board, owing to pressure of work, is unable to deal with a particular case for some months. This frequently happens in cases before the Arbitration Courts. The board should have the power to date a determination from the time the appeal was first made.
– I- brought this amendment under the notice of the Public Service Board. It was not hostile to it, but said that this question and other like questions had yet to be determined, and could only be effectively determined by regulation. For example, it will be necessary to draft a series of regulations for the guidance of a permanent head when recommending promotion. The question of the date of the commencement of salary in the case of an appeal being granted and other questions have to be dealt with. It would be rather clumsy to include the honorable senator’s proposal in the bill and to have others dealt with by regulation. Any regulations will come before honorable senators, and the Public Service Association may be trusted to keep its eyes upon them. They can be disallowed, and I suggest to the honorable senator that he withdraw his amendment. The board’s advice is sound. It will not be wise to deal in the bill with a number of questions that can be dealt with by regulation.
– I should like to have a more definite assurance from the Minister than simply the statement that the board is not hostile to my amendment. From the Minister’s remarks, I gather that the board has approved of it, and if he will assure me that it will be embodied in a regulation, I shall accept his suggestion and withdraw the amendment.
– I did not say that the board would embody the honorable senator’s amendment in a regulation, but that it was not hostile to the proposal, and that it would be dealt with when other matters, to be provided for by regulation, were being considered. I would point out that the amendment is permissive, not imperative. It says that the board may determine, &c. I think that this question can safely be left to the board.
.- I decline to trust the board. In order to justify its existence it is prepared to go to an extreme that no Public Service Commissioner in days gone by would have dared to suggest. The Minister says that the board is not hostile to the amendment. It certainly should not show any hostility to the proposals of this committee at such an early stage of its career. We may or may not have regulations dealing with the matter so plainly put by Senator O’Loghlin.
– The board says that there will be regulations.
– There is no guarantee that the regulations will deal with this amendment.
– I was told definitely that regulations would be drafted.
– The Minister stated that other matters besides Senator O’loghlin;s proposal would be considered by the board, and in all probability embodied in regulations.
– I did not say “in all probability.” The board says that it will make regulations. Honorable senators opposite can depend upon the Public Service Association keeping its eyes on the regulations and letting them know if anything is wrong with them.
– In the interests of the community generally it is our business to keep our eyes on the Public Service Board. It is exceedingly difficult to follow bills of this character. We have before us the bill, the memorandum, the principal act and the amendments, and it is quite a task to understand what is being done. So that we may know the exact position, we should have a definite statement from the Minister that a regulation dealing with Senator O’Loghlin’s proposal will be drafted. If regulations were submitted when Parliament was not in session, they would be inoperative probably for six or eight months.
– The regulations must be laid on the table of the Senate as soon as Parliament meets.
– The Minister should say definitely that the amendment will be provided for by regulation.
– I formed the opinion from what I was told by the board, that it proposed to make a regulation in the spirit of the amendment.
– If the Minister will accept the amendment, we shall know the exact position.
– There are half a dozen matters to be provided for by regulations.
– We- should take one thing at a time. It is not the business of the Leader of the Senate to show hostility to amendments from this side of the Senate. I do not say that he is doing so, but he should not sit behind the board. He should adopt an independent attitude and free himself from the atmosphere that surrounds the board. The board intends to economize, and to use the pruning knife in the Public Service. We should not allow the public servants to be subjected to unfair treatment. We stand for a fair deal for those who are in the Service as well as those outside. The Minister has given us an assurance that the Government is sympathetic and that the board is not hostile.
– I should have said, perhaps, that the board’s attitude will not be unfriendly.
– If in view of the attitude of the committee the board shows hostility, possibly one day it will be stripped of some of its powers.
– I should have been glad if the Minister had given us a more definite assurance, bub he has indicated that the Government is favorable to the amendment and that the board will also favorably consider it. I feel that if we go to a division on this amendment we shall get nothing from the Government with its servile following. In the circumstances I accept the Minister’s assurance and ask leave to withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– I call attention to the state of the committee. [Quo-rum formed.]
– I move -
That sub-section 7 be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following : - “ (?) (“) Any appeal under this section shall be determined by a conference consisting of a representative of the Board, a representative of the Permanent Head of the Department in which the vacancy occurs and a representative of the organization to which the appellant belongs or may belong, and any such appeal shall be forwarded to the representative of the Board on such conference by the Permanent Head of the Department in which the appellant is employed. ” (b) The appellant may attend such conference in person or be represented by a member of the Commonwealth Public Service organization to which he belongs or by an agent who is an officer.”
– I am sure the committee will excuse me if I- do not repeat the argument which I used against this proposal when it was made previously.
– I hope the Minister’s statement will not satisfy honorable senators, and that they will not vote blindly in favor of the clause as it stands. What objection can the Minister have to the amendment ? In the day3 that have gone by there was no stronger advocate than the Minister for just and proper treatment of the public servants.
-Brookman. - And he has never budged from that attitude.
– His attitude today is altogether different from the stand he took when I was associated with him. This comprehensive amendment will give a dissatisfied officer of the Public Service au opportunity to have his appeal properly dealt with. It provides that any appeal “ shall be determined by a conference.” It goes on further to state that the conference shall consist of a representative of the permanent head of the department in which the vacancy occurs - ensuring that the interests of the board will not be overlooked - and a representative of the organization to which the appellant belongs or may belong. It also provides that any such appeal shall be forwarded to the representative of the board on such conference by the permanent head of the department concerned. Can there be any objection to that ? There is the further provision that the appellant may attend the conference in person or be represented by a member of his organization, or by an agent, who is an officer. Every Commonwealth organization has itspaid officer who is entitled to appear on its behalf before the Public Service Board . Why should we make an exception now in this clause? As a matter of fact it would be in the interests of the board and of a department, because it would mean that the employees would be satisfied. Thus the provision would make for the better working of the service as a whole. I know, of course, that usually a Minister feels obliged to stand to a government measure. I trust, however, that the Minister will not, because the amendment has been moved from this side, persist in his objection to it. In effect, he has said in regard to one or. two- amendments, “Let me think over the matter.” He said, in effect, that if consideration of a certain clause were postponed, he would get into touch with the powers that be in another place. I pre-‘ sume a messenger was deputed to proceed, at express speed, to the other chamber to get the ear of the legal adviser of the Government in order to see what effect the proposed amendment would have upon the bill. Apparently, it will not have the result which the Minister fears, and will be accepted by the Government. If the Minister will not agree to accent this amendment at this juncture, will he postpone the consideration of the clause as was done in another instance? There is no party feeling in this matter. In the Commonwealth Public Service there are strong Labour and anti-Labour advocates. If the service were composed solely of Labour men or Labour voters the Government would not hesitate to say, “ Very good, this amendment will be accepted, and we shall see that it is inserted later on in its proper place.” I should like the Minister to meet me in this matter.
– I am prepared to meet the honorable senator to the extent that if he resumes his seat I shall move? that progress be reported.
– I shall do so to enable the Government to give further consideration to the amendment.
Sitting suspended from 6.24. to8 p.m.
Debate resumed from8th May (vide page 486), on motion by Senator Kingsmill -
Th at all papers relating to the initiation, conduct, and subsequent closing down of the federal Forest Products Laboratory, at Perth, Western Australia, he laid upon the table of the Senate.
.- I move-
That the word “ Senate “ be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ Library “.
The reason for this amendment is probably well known to most honorable senators. When papers are laid on the table of the Senate, they become the property of the Senate, and can only be returned to the department concerned by resolution of the Senate. On the other hand, papers which are laid on the table of the Library are as accessible to the public, the press, and honorable senators as they are when laid on the table of the Senate. It has been the practice since the establishment of the Commonwealth, when departmental files are called for, to lay them on the table of the library, so long as they are required by members of Parliament, and when the parliamentary Librarian reports that there is no further use being made of them, the departments to which the papers belong simply take them back again, returning them to the table of the library if they are again required. In the file for which Senator Kingsmill is asking, there are certain formulas in regard to discoveries which have been made.
– They should not be on the file.
– It might be said that the file was not complete without them. At any rate, it is not proposed to make these formulas available to the public by including them in the file laid on the table. It would not be wise on the part of the Commonwealth to make a gift of these formulae to any one who might seek to take advantage of the information so gained. I am sure that Senator Kingsmill would not wish that to be done, and I trust that he will accept my amendment, which will accomplish all thathe desires
– Since the Forest Products Laboratory was established in Western Australia in 1917, I have followed the various movements in connexion with it with a great deal of interest, and have at different times interviewed Prime Ministers and other Commonwealth Ministers with a view to assisting its work, and having it permanently established in Australia. Unfortunately what has been done in connexion with it has been most unsatisfactory, not only to me, but also to the people of Western Australia. Its removal to Melbourne has caused a good deal of bitter feeling; which, to my mind, is quite justifiable. As Senator Kingsmill, in his speech, read a document setting out the history of the laboratory from its initiation until its final decease, as the honorable senator described it, it is not necessary for me to remind the Senate of all the facts connected with it, but I shall deal with some phases of it. The appointment of Sir George Knibbs as Director of the Institute of Science and Industry seems to have been the death-knell of the laboratory, because, after his appointment, the work carried on in Western Australia was steadily whittled away until it finally ceased. I do not wish to say anything ungenerous to Sir George Knibbs. Australia owes him a deep debt of gratitude for his remarkable system of collecting and compiling statistics. But as time went on, he got older and older, until, presumably, it was thought he was no longer fit and competent to remain at the head of the Statistical Department, and the Government of the day were faced with the necessity of providing for his future. Apparently their method of doing so was not to give him the liberal pension which he certainly deserved, but to give him what was equivalent to a pension, an appointment at £2,000 a year as head of the Institute of Science and Industry. I am not sure that he would have been over-pensioned if he had been allowed to retire altogether on a pension of £2.000 a year, because be had done wonderful work for Australia, but in 111Y opinion it was a mistake to put him, in his extreme old age, in charge of an institute just when it needed the services of one in the utmost vigour of his manhood to invigorate it with life. I fear that it is on account of the fact that this old gentleman was not able to get round Australia and see the necessity for the activities of the institute in various parts of the Commonwealth, that we have another example of that centralization of everything in the capital cities, and particularly in Melbourne, about which honorable senators are always complaining. On several occasions those who know most about our forests, the representatives of the various forestry departments of Australia, have met in conference and considered the establishment of a Forest Products Laboratory. They have always been unanimous in their declaration that such a laboratory should be established, and that the proper place in which to establish it is Western Australia. In the face of their declaration it is unnecessary for me to advance reasons why Western Australia is the most desirable place in which to have such a laboratory. In accordance with the advice of these experts, it was started at Perth in 1917. At one time there were no less than ten scientists, as well as a few other persons, working in it, but that staff was gradually whittled down, until in 1923 the remnant of it and the laboratory itself were removed to Melbourne. It is most regrettable that this step should have been taken, contrary to the advice of those who were most competent to give advice, and for no other reason that I can see than that this old gentleman, Sir George Knibbs, could not undertake the necessary journeys to Western Australia to superintend operations at the laboratory. I can see no other reason for flying in the face of all the best advice obtainable and concentrating the whole of the activities of the Institute of Science and Industry in Melbourne. When there are problems facing different parts of Australia which ought to be investigated on the spot, it is absurd to have everything concentrated in Melbourne. There is, I must admit, a contributing factor to the curtailment of the activities of the institute. When the bill asking for the necessary authority to establish an Institute of Science and Industry was first brought down to Parliament, the Minister who moved the second reading urged that Parliament should be most generous in voting money to carry on the work that was to be entrusted to the institute. He mentioned an expenditure of £100,000 as a beginning, and the then Prime Minister (Mr. W. M. Hughes), speaking in regard to the institute, said that the Government would be most generous in providing funds for it, and would not halt at the provision of £500,000 a year. His statement was applauded by the press, by members of Parliament, and by all thinking people. Senator Duncan, in this chamber, urged the Government to stick to their guns and not to be niggardly in the matter of funds.
– The trouble is thai they did not stick to their guns.
– -We all more or less echoed what Senator Duncan said. But what has happened ? Instead of the £1.00,000 that was proposed as a beginning, and instead of the £500,000 which the Prime Minister of the day spoke of as the limit to which the Government were prepared to go. what do we find? In 1922-23 the paltry sum of £20,907 was provided for the Institute of Science and Industry to carry on, not only the particular section of its activities with which we are now dealing, but also the whole of its functions in every part of Australia. The amount was certainly increased in 1923-24, but only to £21,356. An examination of the allotment of that sum discloses the fact that £4,000 was .definitely ear-marked for action against the prickly pear pest in Queensland. It was utterly absurd to set aside such an insignificant amount to deal with that awful menace. In addition, £2,000 was ear-marked for the Pan-Pacific Conference, £1,500 for measures against bunchy top in bananas, and £6,000 for general administrative expenses, including £2,000 for the salary of the Director of the Institute of Science and Industry. Actually, therefore, only £6,850 was provided “for the whole of the activities of the institute. That is less than a tenth of what would be necessary for the forest products laboratory alone.
– Sir George Knibbs is not to blame after all. The Government is responsible because of the insufficient amount which it has made available.
– Sir George Knibbs always complains about the inadequacy of the provision.
-BRO CKMAN . - I grant honorable senators that he is not wholly to blame. My complaint was that he should not have been placed in charge of this institute. One does not employ a watchmaker to extract teeth, and a statistician in his old age ought not to have been placed in charge of the Institute of Science and Industry.
– The honorable senator does not give Sir George Knibbs credit for his magnificent scientific attainments. As an organizer he was unequalled ; he organized the Institute of Science and Statistics, and he was appointed to organize the new Institute of Science and Industry.
– I admire the work that he has done “for the Commonwealth, and I would stand behind any proposal to make him a payment of £2,000 a year, but not as the head of the Institute of Science and Industry. I want a younger and a more vigorous man to occupy that position. I am not making an attack upon . Sir George Knibbs. I admire almost without stint the wonderful services he has rendered to Australia, but I do contend that it was absurd to place an elderly man, no matter how deserving he may have been, in charge of a new department that required invigorating by a young man. This institute, which was promised a minimum of £100,000 per annum, and concerning which the Government at its inception said it was prepared to spend up to £500,000 annually, has been struggling along, barely existing. It certainly was not worth continuing in the circumstances, limited as it has been to a paltry £6,850 to carry on work that is crying out for attention throughout Australia. The prickly pear menace ought to be tackled immediately. In Queensland the pest now covers 25,000,000 acres of country, and it adds to its grasp 1,000,000 new acres every year. Yet no serious attempt has been made to deal with it. It is a menace, not only to
Queensland, but to the whole of Australia.
– It is becoming very bad in parts of New South Wales.
– Of course it is. I referred particularly to Queensland because in that State it has demonstrated the rate at which it is capable of spreading.
– A tremendous effort has been made of late years to check its spread.
– The Queensland Government has done quite a lot in that direction. I believe that last year it spent £146,000 in an endeavour to grapple with the pest. The Commonwealth, however, has done practically nothing. When one remembers that the total area of land under cultivation in Australia at the present time is only 18,500,000 acres, and that the area of country covered by prickly pear is 25,000,000 acres, one realizes the hold that the pear already has upon Queensland. Then, of course, there is the tick menace, which in Queensland up to date has caused losses aggregating something like £7,000,000. Nothing is being done by the Institute of Science and Industry to deal with that particular pest.
– I remind the honorable senator that the Senate is not dealing with the whole of the activities of the Institute of Science and Industry.
– 1 shall endeavour not to transgress. I was trying to demonstrate that a tremendous problem faces the Institute of Science and Industry, and that an immense amount of work requires to be done in all parts of Australia. That work includes the establishment of a forest products laboratory. There are other matters such as the tick menace, blue mold, fungus pests in fruit, fruit fly, and a hundred and one other things, all crying out for attention. We are only playing with the matter by placing at the disposal of the Institute of Science and Industry a paltry £6,850 to carry out its year’s work. In America last year the forests products laboratory, which is only one section of the general work that we entrust to our Institute of Science and Industry, had expended on it no less a sum than £200,000.
– That was only one laboratory, at Madison City.
– Quite so. There are a number of other laboratories in America, and the total sum expended annually, directly and indirectly, on work corresponding with that which is entrusted to the Institute of Science and Industry in Australia, runs into millions of pounds. America gets a large return from that expenditure, and Australia could benefit equally. I hope that Parliament will, at a very early date, place at the disposal of the Institute of Science and Industry the sum which was promised; and I trust that Sir George Knibbs, the Government, and anybody else concerned, will pay regard to the recommendations made by several conferences of experts in forestry, that the laboratory should be established in Western Australia. I desire +o refer to one or two incidents in connexion with this particular laboratory. It will be remembered that Dr. Gellatly went across to Western Australia in 181?, and entered into a tentative arrangement with the Western Australian Government for the establishment of a laboratory in Perth. The Western Australian Government agreed to make available 20 acres of the university site at Crawley for the erection of the laboratory, and undertook to contribute £5,000 towards the cost of that work. The Commonwealth undertook to establish, maintain, and equip in n proper manner, the laboratory that was to be carried on there. For a long time, whenever the Western Australian Government pressed for some definite action to be taken to fulfil the undertaking, it was met with the reply that nothing could be done until the necessary legislation had been passed by the Commonwealth Parliament. That legislation was passed in 1920.
– If it had been passed as the Government drafted it, the whole scheme would have been ruined.
– That is so. Fortunately, Senator Kingsmill came across, and, in consequence of his representations the bill which it was proposed to bring down was considerably amended, and finally was placed on the statute-book in a form that was acceptable, both to Senator Kingsmill and to the Parliament. In anticipation of the setting up of the permanent laboratory, a Mr. Boas, who was then employed in the temporary laboratory which was functioning in Western Australia, was sent to Europe and the United States of America to make inquiries with regard to machinery, equipment, and the methods adopted in forests products laboratories in those countries. He was absent from Australia for from six to eight months, and collected a lot of very valuable information. On his return to Australia he could not be employed permanently, because the Commonwealth Government was unable to make up its mind whether it would establish the laboratory or not. Consequently, his specialized knowledge, which had been acquired at the expense of the Commonwealth and Western Australia, was lost to Australia. Incidentally I may mention that the expenses of his trip were shared equally by the Commonwealth and Western Australia. I believe the half share of each Government was £560. The money .spent on his education has been wasted from the point of view of the Commonwealth Government, because the Institute of Science and Industry has allowed his services ‘ to be obtained by others. That is typical of the way in which the whole matter has been handled. From 1920 to 1923, I constantly made representations to the then Prime Minister. It began to be feared in Western Australia that the laboratory was to be shifted from Perth to Melbourne. I saw Mr. Hughes and received from him the most definite assurances that no action of that description was contemplated, and that he would not allow the removal to be made. In spite of him, however, that action was taken. Whether it was done with or without his knowledge I am not prepared to say; I do not know. All I know is that, in spite of his very definite assurance that the laboratory would not be shifted to Melbourne, it was, in fact, removed. The university people in Western Australia saw Mr. Hughes when he was there in April, 1922, and placed the whole position before him. He told them, in reply, that he realized that very good work had been done by the laboratory, and that he would not have it side-tracked by any fanatical attempt to centralize things in Melbourne. In spite of that definite statement, the fanatical attempt to centralize, as far as the laboratory is concerned, has been completely successful. It is in Melbourne, and is not functioning in Perth at all.
– It is not functioning in Melbourne.
– It is carrying on a very precarious existence in Melbourne. It is unreasonable to suppose that it can function successfully in Melbourne or anywhere else unless Parliament provides the necessary money to enable it to do so. This should be done at a very early date. I sincerely hope that the agreement that was entered into between the Western Australian and the Federal Governments will be carried out, so as to enable the Institute of Science and Industry to function properly.
.- There are times in an honorable senator’s political life when he can be pardoned for standing up and saying, “ I told you so years ago.” With ex-Senators Fairbairn and Pratten, I was one of those who foretold accurately what has now taken place as far as the Institute of Science and Industry is concerned. Senator Drake-Brockman dealt with the position in Queensland. I remember quite well that when the Institute of Science and Industry was established, the Queensland Government, although not altogether in favour of it, undertook to place the experimental station at Dulacca and the whole of their resources at the disposal of that institute. It can be safely , said that, when it was first established, the state departments gave the Commonwealth department every possible assistance. It is a pity that, now that the institute has been brought into existence, it is necessary for Senator DrakeBrockman or any one else to rise in this chamber and relate the dismal failure of a department which would have been an undoubted success if under proper management. It had great opportunities for doing good, especially in view of the flourishing financial position of the Commonwealth. It is pitiful that an amount of only approximately £6,000 is available to carry out valuable experiments at that institute. The various State Government departments have, for many years, acted in conjunction with one another. There was no necessity in the first place for the. Commonwealth department to be established.
– It is a very fine institution.
– The motion before the Senate has nothing to do with the Institute of Science and Industry, or with the prickly-pear pest in Queensland.. I reluctantly drew the attention of Senator Drake-Brockman to the fact that an honorable senator is permitted only to bring in such matters by way of illustration, in order to assist him in his speech. I ask the honorable senator to discuss the motion directly concerned - the Forest Products Laboratory at Perth.
– I believe it is owing to this department turning out such a dismal failure that Senator Kingsmill is now asking for the papers to be laid on the table of the Library in order to ascertain the state of affairs existing in Western Australia. The present arrangements are unsatisfactory, and this applies to the whole of the departments throughout the Commonwealth. In view of the remarks of Senator Drake-Brockman, I hope that the Government will place the institute on a satisfactory basis. .Personally I should like to see the department wiped out altogether, and the state departments allowed to continue their valuable work. Instead of the Institute of Science and Industry being established in Melbourne, the money involved should have been spent in other directions to the benefit of the country. In 1917, the Governor-General, when delivering his speech at the opening of Parliament dealt largely with the establishment of the Institute of Science and Industry. He explained what was to be done and that great strides would be taken in eradicating prickly pear, the blow-fly, tick, and other pests existing in Australia. After seven years we find that nothing has been done. The Government will be well advised to wipe the department out of existence altogether.
– This discussion, even if it only emphasizes two points will do a great deal of good. The first is the unwillingness of this Government and its predecessors to adequately and substantially back up the efforts of the states to promote the application of science to industrial development, and the second is the inclination, rightly or wrongly, to centralize activities. Respecting the unwillingness of this Government to set aside a sufficient sum to provide for adequate research in relation to our industries, including the timber industry, it is quite clear that unless something is done to encourage that industry, we shall have to depend increasingly upon foreign countries for our supplies. We are completely in the dark as to what can be manufactured from the hardwoods of Australia. As the import records show we are still dependent upon foreign countries for supplies of paper pulp and other things that can be manufactured from our waste products of timber. We have a very stiff tariff, and what is the ‘ result ? Timber and timber products are flowing into this country at an extraordinary rate. When advice was given by experts that at least a start should be made to encourage this industry in the western state, we naturally looked forward to that promise being carried into effect within a few months. The result was that not only those who looked forward with confidence to what science would do for industry particularly the timber industry, but also those who were anxious to see the decentralization of the administration of the Commonwealth, were disappointed. The meagre vote that is devoted to the institute is a joke in itself. There will be no serious attempt on the part of the Government to make a move, unless this and the other chamber rise in all seriousness and demand that either there, shall be an adequate vote, or scientific aid and research in their application to industry shall be dropped altogether. We see inspired paragraphs in the press urging a reduction of taxation. While the Institute of Science and Industry is the joke that it is to-day, we should not agree to any reduction of taxation until it is adequately supported. With some delicacy I shall say a few words for my state, but I would prefer that this grievance should come from some other state than my own. Still the naked facts, as stated by Senator Drake-Brockman. are there, and speak for themselves. The experts stated that the Forests Products Laboratory should be in Western Australia, but it was established in a makeshift way in Melbourne.
– It was well established originally in Perth.
– The laboratory was first established in Perth by the Western
Australian Government, but it followed the road that almost every industry has taken. If left that state for the east. Rightly or wrongly, federation has certainly had that effect upon Western Australia. There has been a serious effort on the part of some one - the Government gets the blame - to centralize industries in the east. We have had the experience of one industry after another - young and promising industries - leaving Western Australia for the eastern states. The people look at the empty factories and the gaunt chimney stacks, with no smoke issuing from them, and they ask why these things come about. There is only one answer - they are due to federal action. The case of the Forest Products Laboratory is on all-fours with others. It has come to this, that the federal spirit has positively weakened in the western state, and whether there is a coalition or Labour Government in power the feeling is just the same. I appeal to my colleagues among the Opposition to confirm what I am saying. The feeling in Western Australia is that there is a constant endeavour to rob that state of all her young and promising industries, and to take not only their management and profits, but also their administration to the eastern states. Some remedy should be evolved, and I should like to see the mover of the motion take some drastic action.
– Move a motion of censure against the Government.
– I would not suggest that. Faulty and wanting as is the present Government in the recognition of its duty, I would rather see it in office than a government manufactured from other material.
– What would the honorable senator suggest?
– It should be clearly explained to the Government that, unless it grants a substantial sum towards the encouragement and stimulation of scientific research in relation to industries in Australia, the support of its followers will be refused. It is no use talking about this matter. We have a definite grievance in that this young research laboratory was deliberately, and by a breach of good faith, taken from Western Australia and established in Melbourne, where there is no timber worth speaking about to make investigations upon. This course was against the teaching of all experience. If the New South Wales Government wishes to inquire into all the circumstances associated with miner’s phthisis and to seek a remedy, it does not carry out the investigations in Sydney, but directs the inquiry to be conducted at a place where research work should be of the greatest value. namely, Broken Hill. The Commonwealth Government also proposes to conduct a similar inquiry at Kalgoorlie, but up to the present no start has been made. Senator Graham will support what I am saying in this respect. Similarly when the Queensland Government wished to ascertain the origin of tropical diseases, it did not establish a research bureau in Brisbane, but in North Queensland. The action of the Commonwealth Government in removing the forest products laboratory from Western Australia has done that state grievous harm. Expert opinion decided that Western Australia was the best place for the investigations to be carried on, but some unseen power, over-riding expert opinion, succeeded in removing it to Melbourne. This Government should be brought to a realization of the wrong that has been done to Western Australia, and through Western Australia to the whole of the Commonwealth. If what I have said will bring home to Ministers the danger of centralizing everything in Melbourne, some good will have been done by this debate. We in Western Australia are a patient people. We are accustomed to this kind of treatment and although occasionally we make a mild protest, nothing comes of it. But the worm will, at length, turn. I warn the Government, which is the lineal descendant of the preceding Government that removed the laboratory from Western Australia, that it will have to be very careful if it hopes for continued and adequate political support from that state. I say this with a due sense of the responsibility attaching to my words. These pinpricks could easily be overcome. I hope that the Government will heed the remarks made to-night, and instead of listening to the views of those who know nothing about scientific subjects, will in future adhere to the advice of its experts. I do not know what we can do now except voice our strongest protests against the action of the Government in robbing Western Australia of its valuable forest products laboratory. 
– I wish briefly to support the remarks of the previous speakers and especially the views expressed by Senator DrakeBrock]nan. Personally, I do not care where the Institute of Science and Industry is located, so long as it is doing good work. It is a pity that the forest products laboratory was not allowed to remain in Western Australia. There is not the slightest doubt that the Institute of Science and Industry has been seriously starved financially by the Federal Government. I am sure that the majority of people in Australia have no idea of the extent to which the prickly pear, referred to by Senator Drake-Brock- 1’ia.ii, is spreading in Queensland. The honorable senator quoted figures that were astounding even to me, and I have been connected with land and land settlement all my life. I had no idea that the prickly pear had taken possession of more country in Queensland than the total area under cultivation in the whole of Australia. This is a calamitous state of affairs. Even’ if the Commonwealth Government spent millions of pounds in fighting prickly pear it would pay Australia handsomely if, as the result of such expenditure, the pest were eradicated or its spread prevented. In addition to the prickly pear, there is a serious spread of noxious weeds throughout South Australia. Victoria, and portions of New South Wales with which I am acquainted. These noxious weeds are impoverishing the soil and seriously reducing its productivity from a grazing and agricultural stand-point. Up to the present the Government has only “ fiddled “ with the work of arresting the spread of these pests and noxious weeds. If Australia is to be developed satisfactorily we must get to grips with all these difficulties that menace production. Unless we hitch up science to industry our position can never be fully satisfactory. Very few people, even those settled on the land, have any conception of the rapidity with which noxious weeds are spreading in Australia. The position is most serious, and travelling as I do about the country, inspecting farms and station properties, I know that it is getting worse from year to year. Another menace which the Institute of Science and Industry should grapple with is the blowfly pest. I have studied this question carefully, and I estimate that for the first six months of the present year we have lost, through the blow-fly pest, over 500,000 sheep, which, at present values, represents a monetary loss of about £1,000,000.
– The loss is a great deal more than that. According to Sir George Knibbs’s report, it is from £4,000,000 to £6,000,000 per year.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Newland). - The honorable senator must confine his remarks to the motion before the Chair.
– Apparently, I cannot speak of the ravages of the blowfly pest or of the Institute of Science and Industry, but I should like to say that my figures concerning the losses due to the blow-fly pest refer to the first six months of the present year, and nob to a frill year. I emphasize the point that in regard to our timber resources the department is not getting the attention from the Federal Government that it deserves, and must have, if it is to do its best work. We shall have to supply it with ample funds and the right type of men to carry on the work.
– I do not think the honorable senator has read the last annual report.
– I have, and I notice that it is produced in a lavish style on most expensive paper, the cost of which, I imagine, must have absorbed a considerable amount of the funds at the disposal of the institute for the year.
– I think most of the staff are journalists.
– We must not reflect on the staff; but I wish to impress on honorable senators the fact that, viewed from any aspect, the institute is being starved for money. Without funds it cannot conduct successful investigations into our timber resources, the spread of the prickly pear or noxious weeds, let alone the terribly serious blowfly pest. At present, owing to the lack of adequate funds, the whole business is almost a farce. It would be almost as well, as Senator Foil has said, to allow these activities to be carried on again by the State Governments, but I am not in favour of that. This is a Commonwealth responsibility, and should be dealt with in a comprehensive, practical manner by the Commonwealth.
– With other honorable senators I should like to speak, in the debate on this motion, of the increase in the prickly pear, the blow-fly pest, and other difficulties that beset our primary producers, but in compliance with your ruling, Mr. Deputy President, I shall confine my remarks to the closing of the Forest Products Laboratory in Western Australia. I was wondering, as T listened to honorable senators who addressed themselves to this motion, whether Sir George Knibbs, when he assumed charge of the institute, did not consider that the laboratory was in the wrong state, and, therefore, decided to shift it, but that for the reasons advanced by Senator Drake-Brockman, he found, probably, that the distance to the best timber state was too great, and so decided to locate it in Melbourne Tonight, as we looked in the Queen’s Hall at the pictures of the work being clone at Canberra, I came to the conclusion that the right thing to do would be to establish all such activities at Canberra, where state jealousies would not be so much in evidence. At the same time the states could do their share of this research work just as it is being done at the present time in Queensland.
– Let the states do their own work.
– But they must be backed up by the scientific efforts of the Commonwealth Institute of Science and Industry. In the circumstances, I think we need not shed any crocodile tears over the closing of the laboratory in Western Australia.
Amendment agreed to.
: - I should like to express satisfaction at the fact that those honorable senators who have spoken to the motion have shown, in no unmistakable manner, that they realize that the motion involves something more than the Forest Products Laboratory at Perth, because in many case3 it was the last thing they mentioned They strayed off into paths beset by the prickly pear, through an atmosphere permeated by the blow-fly pest, and referred only occasionally to the subject-matter of the motion. If the papers relating to this subject are open to public inspection, and if my motion brings under the notice of the Senate and the public the great and grievous wrong that has been done, not only to Western Australia, but to the whole of Australia by this curtailing of expenditure and limitation of scientific research, I shall be satisfied. At one stage it was suggested by the Acting Postmaster-General (Senator Crawford) that I should withdraw the motion. He seemed to think I was somewhat unreasonable in parading before the eyes of the public of Melbourne the wrongs to which the people of Western Australia are subjected, but I am glad to find that he has receded from that attitude, because it was the last thing in the world that I would have thought of doing.
– Is this motion fatal to the life of the Government?
– That is a matter for the Government to decide; it is altogether out of my hands. I have submitted the motion in order that the people of Australia may gather from this one instance of maladministration how the Institute of Science and Industry is being carried on. I wish just for a moment to ask the Government and honorable senators to consider the result of the action taken in this connexion. They will see on the debit side that a portion of the population of Australia - a small portion, no doubt - is anxious to do its best to develop the great undeveloped resources of the continent. They will see that portion discouraged and embittered, and a feeling developing in their minds that federation is to them an adverse influence. That idea will be strengthened in their minds by the fact that the Government, in this, perhaps, a minor instance, treat this laboratory with great injustice and great foolishness. They will see that the Western Australian idea, that all undertakings of any importance are being concentrated in Melbourne, is true. That is clearly shown by the action of the Government in this instance. That is on the debit side. What have we on the credit side? I well might, ask. We have, perhaps, the comfort of the director of the institute to consider, and that is all I can see that there is to be placed to the credit of the action taken in this connexion. It may be said that there is no reason for laying the papers on the table of the Senate; but the Government should seriously consider what is to be the future of this institute. Is it going to be conducted on lines similar to those of institutes in other parts of the world, or is it to be purely for the glorification of one or two officials? Is it to be contemplated that Australia shall lag a long way behind the other parts of the Empire and other countries of the world in matters of scientific research? Other countries, America especially, have realized that the country which weds science to industry is the one which can best stand the pressure of the economic war succeeding the most disastrous war that the world has ever seen. Other countries - notably America - have seen that without the aid of science the rule-of- thumb methods followed hitherto will not enable any country to compete with the countries which employ science to help them.
– The honorable senator ought to read the speeches delivered when the bill under which the institute was created was under consideration, and see what we were told would be clone.
– I did. As a matter of fact, I kept a very strict and jealous eye on the bill when it was introduced and during its passage through Parliament. As Senator Drake-Brockman has stated, I hurried over from Perth, at a few hours’ notice, in order to prevent a mistake being made in the measure before it was presented to Parliament. I wish again to tender my thanks to Senator Greene, then Minister for Trade and Customs, with whom I negotiated, for the promptitude with which he listened to me and for the readiness with which he picked up the points I submitted. I wish also to thank the two Houses of Parliament for seeing that those points were considered, and for the alacrity with which they admitted that the amendments I suggested were necessary if the progress of science was to go ahead as was desired. In regard to the future, it is necessary that we should consider this matter. It is important that we should study this little incident of mal-administration in order to avoid mistakes in future. We should consider, too, the importance to Australia of this subject of scientific research with which this motion partially deals. So far as I am personally concerned, I have given many years of untiring and absolutely honorary work in my own state in this connexion. I tried as much as I could to bring before the public of Western Australia the absolute necessity, if we were to keep pace with the rest of humanity, to introduce scientific methods. I honestly believe that, so far as I am personally concerned, I owe my presence here to my strenuous and long advocacy of this very subject, and it is not likely that I could forget it now that I am here. It is not likely, either, that I am going to allow any government of which I am either a supporter or opponent to forget it. From the papers which, I hope, will be laid upon the table of the Library, honorable senators will see at once the necessity for re-modelling the institute concerning which I am speaking. They will see that for the purpose of this institute we must have a director who is -a young man, full of energy, and a knowledge of the work he has to undertake. It is not an easy task to* find such a man. I do not know for the moment where such a person can be found. I have known men who would have filled the bill. For instance, while the laboratory was in existence in Perth, we received an application for the directorship of the Forest Products Laboratory from Mr. Gibson, an Indian forestry official, who had done a good deal of forest products laboratory work at Dehra Dun, which is practically the only forests products laboratory worthy of the name within the Empire. Mr. Gibson was undoubtedly most admirably suited for the position of director of the Institute of Science and Industry. He was young, energetic, and full of enthusiasm for the task before him. His application we were not allowed to accept owing to the opposition of the present director of the Institute of Science and Industry. He would have made an ideal head for our laboratory, and his salary would not have been outside the scone of the institution as first designed.
– Who was appointed ?
– A gentleman in Western Australia was appointed who is a perfectly worthy person, but who had not the necessary technical knowledge for the position. He was borrowed from the Education Department, where he was dealing with more or less technical subjects, and was loaned to the forests products laboratory to carry on inadequately - not through his fault, but because he had not the requisite knowledge - the very important work being done in this institution. Let me again reiterate that while .that institution was in existence it per formed as much practical work as all the rest of the activities of the Institute of Science and Industry throughout Australia, did together. This was possible simply because the Western Australian. Government, the Western Australian people, and public men there put their hands in their pockets to assist. It was not owing to the exercise of federal influence, but simply because those in Western Australia took some little interest in it. Consequently, the people had the opportunity of getting such an institute in their midst, and it was assisted by the enthusiasm of many to carry out those objects for which we strive. Honorable senators can realize, therefore, that the removal of the laboratory to Melbourne is a bitter blow indeed to the public of Western Australia, which, after all, is a small public, but which can be more easily interested in a local scheme than can a huge population such as there is in Melbourne. A public such as that in Western Australia feels very keenly the loss of such an institution in the circumstances which will be disclosed if the papers are laid on the table of the Library. It may be a matter of indifference to the people in the eastern states if they antagonize those in the west; but to me, as a citizen, not alone of Western Australia, but of Australia, disruptive forces which take action throughout Australia should be avoided.
– I think we all knew that good work was being done in the laboratory at Perth.
– Yes ; I remember the honorable senator visiting the laboratory and taking away with him a sample of paper produced from wood pulp while he waited. Although it is a minor matter, it is important that we should consider that in Australia we have a field which is practically untouched and awaiting scientific development. Whether we consider our resources by land or by sea, we see in them a virgin field awaiting competent men to apply the necessary scientific touches in order to bring it into productivity.
– And a sympathetic Government.
– Yes, and we shall have a sympathetic Government if we have a sympathetic Parliament. I am pleased, indeed, to find that my motion has been favorably received, and also with the enthusiasm which for the moment permeates this assembly. Tt is always easy to raise enthusiasm for a time; but what I desire is that in this instance it shall be sufficient to burn steadily and brightly and light the way for the Government to do their best in this great field of scientific research. I have pleasure in recommending the motion, as amended, to the Senate.
Question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.
.- I move-
In submitting this motion, I feel that it is just possible that there may be some who will perhaps be inclined to place a wrong interpretation upon my action. At the outset, I wish to make it quite clear that the motion is not submitted in any spirit of hostility to> the British Government, the British people, or British manufacturers. I am one of those who, when the tariff was before the Senate, voted most strenuously in favour of giving the manufacturers of Great Britain preference over the outside world, and particularly against the competition; of foreigners. That principle was supported by large majorities, both in the Senate and in another place, as it was considered fair and equitable. We regarded it as a recognition of the great service which Great Britain has rendered to us. As British people, we take pride in Britain’s achievements, and we felt that when we were in a position to do so, it was only fair to offer British manufacturers something more than we were prepared to give to their foreign competitors.
Therefore we incorporated in our Tariff Act the principle of preference to British goods. There were those of us who felt that we were not doing this in a spirit of mere gratitude to Great Britain for her gifts to us, and for the protection she had afforded Australia for so many years, but that we were affording her an opportunity to respond to the great concessions we had given to her in our Tariff Act. We realized then, as we do to-day, that the British Empire is interdependent, that there was a growing recognition of the fact that one part of it could not exist without the others, and that if it were to continue to make the great progress we felt it ought to make, sooner or later some understanding should be arrived at on certain points, one of which was the question of Empire trade. As proof of that statement, I quote the following resolution which was passed at the Imperial Conference of 1917: -
That the time has arrived when all possible encouragement should be given to the development of Imperial resources, and especially to making the Empire independent of other countries in respect to food supplies, raw materials, and essential industries. With these objects in view, this Conference expresses itself in favour of the principle that each part of the Empire, having due regard to the interests of our allies, shall give specially favorable treatment and facilities to the producers and manufacturers of other parts of the Empire.
Australia respected the decision of that Imperial Conference. It acted upon that resolution, Senator Gardiner joining with all of us in saying that it was right that we should recognize the great principle of giving preference to Great Britain.
– Before that time we were giving preference to Great Britain.
– Yes, but not nearly to the extent we do now. Unfortunately we have not seen, on the part of Great Britain, the realization of the necessities of the position from an Imperial stand-point. Although Australia, as Senator Needham has pointed out, had already recognized the glories of that principle, and the need for its recognition from an Imperial stand-point, there was no similar recognition on the part of Great Britain. There were many reasons for this, one of them being that the people of the Mother Country, through their lack of knowledge of the component parts of the Empire, failed to appreciate the real necessities of the position from an Imperial standpoint. In the meantime, while Great Britain went on in her_own sweet way, wedded to a fiscal policy which did not seem to offer any hope of her granting substantial recognition of the policy of” Imperial preference, our difficulties in Australia were increasing. In the years following the war we developed a policy of settling soldiers on the land. As a great many of these were men with small resources, backed up by the limited amount of financial assistance the Commonwealth and the states were able to give them, they had necessarily to be placed on small areas capable of producing small products, such as dried fruits, for which there was not a ready market in Australia. Our production of these commodities increased to such an extent that we realized we must find a market overseas for them, and naturally we turned to Great Britain for that market. It was absolutely essential, in the interests of our settlers and of Australian development, that the augmented production which had been brought about by our policy of settling returned soldiers on the land should be sold at remunerative prices which would enable our settlers to continue at their work of production. And when we found that Great Britain was consuming enormous quantities of similar products from foreign countries we felt that she might be prepared to give us a little preference in return for what we had j:iven her. Therefore, at the last Imperial Conference the matter of preferential trade was brought forward, and the necessity for a mutual agreement was urged upon the British Government. After long consideration an agreement was reached, and the British Ministers who attended the conference undertook on behalf of their Government to sponsor its acceptance by the British people and Parliament. I wish to place before the Senate a few of the facts that induced them to consent to the proposals submitted by the Prime Minister of Australia (Mr. Bruce), supported by delegates from other overseas dominions. I pay a meed of praise to the magnificent way in which Australia’s case was put by Mr. Bruce. The chairman senator Duncan. of the conference, who was one of Britain’s delegates, said quite openly that Mr. Bruce had put up an unanswerable case. I shall proceed to give a few of the facts that were brought forward by him and other delegates from overseas dominions to induce the British representatives to agree to the proposal of the conference that Great Britain should grant a preference to dominion products. The value of the preference given by the whole of the dominions to Great Britain is estimated by statisticians to be equal to about £11,000,000. Australia’s share of this total is £8,000,000. “What are the British industries that have benefited by the preference given by Australia? The value of Australia’s imports of apparel from Great Britain is £3,977,751 per annum., and the value of the concession of duty on this apparel is £577,339 per annum. The value of Australia’s imports of textiles from Great Britain is £27,679,925 per annum, and the value of the concession of duty is £3,986,232 per annum. The value of Australia’s imports of machinery from Great Britain is £4,746,001 per annum, and the value of the concession of duty is £551,9S0. The value of Australia’s imports of other manufactures of metal from Great Britain is £17,960,292 per annum, and the value of the concession of duty is £1,487,906 per annum. The value of paper imported into Australia from Great Britain is £2,168,439 per annum, and the value of the concession of duty is £193,536 per annum. But the value of the preference given to Great Britain is even wider than is revealed by these astonishing figures. In 18S2 the value of Australia’s imports from Great Britain was £20,9S4,162. In 1906 it was £20,228,836, an actual decrease during a period of 24 years. In that same period Australia’s total imports increased from £24,622,000 to £44,745,000, an increase of, roughly, £20,000,000. Australia’s trade was growing by leaps and bounds, but there was an actual decrease of purchases of goods of British manufacture. It was bad for Great Britain, bad for the Empire, and also bad for Australia, because it was infinitely better that goods, if they had to be imported, should be obtained from Great Britain. In 1906, at the end of the period I have mentioned, the- first instalment of preference to Great
Britain was given by Australia. By 1913the position bad greatly changed. British imports had increased from £20,000,000 to £34,000,000, or 63 per cent. of the total import trade. During the war period the percentage of Australia’s requirements supplied by Great Britain dropped to 46 per cent. of Australia’s total imports, but in 1920, after this Parliament had passed the new tariff, which largely increased the preference to Great Britain, the value of our imports from that country had increased to 64 per cent. of the total trade.
– The tariff also increased the rates of duty.
– But it served to shut out to an enormous extent the competition from foreign countries to which Great Britain had to submit in its Australian trade. The trade of the dominions is of enormous value to Great Britain. In 1922 the exports of produce and manufactures from the UnitedKingdom to Europe were valued at £247,655,266, while to the dominions they were valued at £270,404,802, a balance in favour of the dominions of £22,749,536. Those figures show that the value of the trade which Great Britain docs with the dominions is infinitely greater than the value of that which it does with Europe. The potential value also is greater in the case of the dominions than in the case of any other country with which Great Britain trades. It is interesting to note the countries to which Great Britian’s exports go. I have taken out the figures for 1922, and I want to quote them to show in another way the value of the trade of the dominions and their purchasing power in relation to Great Britain’s manufactures, compared with the purchasing power of other countries. In 1922 the manufactured goods exported from Great Britain to Australia had a value of £60,457,294, and they comprised 95 per cent. of the total exports to this country. To the United States of America the figures were £55,022,435, or only 69 per cent. of the total exports. To France they totalled £48,310,485, or 58 per cent. ; to Germany, £32,075,692, or 52 per cent.; and to Canada, £25.271,213, or 80 per cent. Those figures show that Australia’s importations of British manufactured goods are considerably greater than those of any other country. In 1901, 62 per cent of Great Britain’s total exports went to foreign countries and 37 per cent. to the dominions, but in 1922 only 60 per cent. went to foreign countries, while 40 per cent, went to the dominions; showing that the percentage to the dominions advanced, while that to foreign countries fell. During that period, therefore, Britain’s trade has been tending towards the dominions and away from foreign markets. I contend that the preference given under the tariff by Australia, and other influences that operated in foreign countries, tended very largely towards that result. When we consider those figures and study the matter from the point of view of the well-being of the whole of the countries constituting the Empire, I feel sure that we must regret that, so far at any rate, no indication has been given by the Government of Great Britain that it intends to grant us a preference compared with the outside world. If Great Britain did so it wouldnot be doing that which other countries have refused to do for their dominions. The countries that have granted preference to their colonies or dependencies are -
United States of America, . 100 per cent.
Japan, 100 per cent.
France, 50 per cent. to 80 per cent.
Portugal, 50 per cent to 90 per cent.
Spain, 50 per cent.
Italy, 50 per cent. to 90 per cent.
I ask honorable senators to remember what a comparatively small measure of preference was asked for by the Imperial Conference. The promise made by the Government of that day in Great Britain has not been honoured by the present Government. I want to make it quite clear that no obligation rests upon the present Government to honour the obligations of the prevous Government, because it was distinctly stated by the British delegates to the conference that they had not the power to pledge Great Britain. They, however, agreed to remit the matter to the Parliament of Great Britain.
– The House of Commons was not pledged.
– I admit that. All that the delegates agreed to do was to remit the matters to the House of Commons and recommend their acceptance. Unfortunately, a general election intervened and the Government which pledged itself to support the decisions of the conference was removed from office. I have read everything it has been possible for me to obtain regarding the British elections, and I am not convinced that empire preference was made a very substantial issue.
– Yes, it was.
– A great many other matters were introduced. Although preference was, to an extent, an issue, it was not the major issue of the elections. It has been maintained since the elections, by representatives of the Government now in power, that they were not given a mandate by the people of Great Britain to oppose preference. It is a curious fact, which it is very difficult for any student of history to understand, that those governments in Great Britain which have shown the greatest amount of consideration to the dominions, all d have been prepared to render them the most assistance, have been conservative governments, whilst the so-called liberal governments have always been most apathetic, if not hostile, to the welfare of the dominions. Now. for the first time, there is a Labour Government in Great Britain. It was placed in office for a variety of reasons, but certainly not because the British people wanted to express opposition to preferential trade within the Empire. One of the first actions of the new Government showed, if not open hostility to the dominions, at least an almost complete indifference to the claims that had been made for preferential trade. That may seem to be a strong statement, but it is true. That attitude towards the dominions has been revealed, not only in relation to preferential trade, but also in other directions. We in the Australian Parliament have a perfect right, if we feel so disposed, to express dissatisfaction with the Government of Great Britain, just as we have the right to express dissatisfaction with our own Government if we believe that it is not acting in the best interests of Australia. When the new Government, had taken office in Great Britain, and was considering the matter of preference, one word from the party represented by honorable senators opposite would, I feel certain, have turned the tide in favour of the dominions. That word was not sent. On the contrary, a communication adverse to preference was despatched from the Parliamentary Labour party in Australia to the Labour
Government in Great Britain, and, as a result, preference went down. When Mr. Ramsay MacDonald spoke on the matter in the House of Commons, he quoted speeches that had been made by Labour senators in the Australian Parliament on the 31st July and 1st August, 1923, as a vindication of the action that he and his Government were taking against the interests of the dominions, and the great principle of preferential trade. One such statement was that preference might be regarded as a means of protecting Australian industries by handicapping competitors in the Australian market. That expression was used by an honorable senator opposite. That was not the object of those who were in favour of preference and who hoped to see it brought about as a combined policy in the interests of. the Empire as a whole. The official statistics that I have just given cannot be contradicted. Since I gave notice of this motion I have received from Australians in almost all the states letters endorsing my action. My correspondents have no desire to hurt Britain in any way or to interfere with British trade. We have arrived at this position: The British Government do not recognise matters of sentiment, and that within the British Empire we are all brothers, who should stand together in our common interests. It only recognizes a hard-driven bargain, and we should realize that fact. In the beginning we gave with both hands everything that it was possible for us to give, and did not ask for anything in return. I am not saying that the Labour party of Britain as a whole is responsible for the present situation, because many of its supporters are in favour of preference, and voted for it. I want to give credit where it is due. The British Labour party behind the Government, backed up by a lot of nondescript liberals with no regard for the dominions at all, declared by a narrow majority that Australian preference to Britain was of no value to them, and was not worth bothering about. How can we alter the posit:on ? I believe that there still exists in this Parliament a great majority who desire earnestly to give effect to the principle of preferential trade. At present Britain receives from Australia a preference to the extent, of £8,000,000 a. year, and from other dominions a preference to the extent of £3,000,000 a year. What shall we do to bring about preferential trade? If we refuse to bargain with the British Government we shall receive nothing. If we say to it, openly and frankly, that we intend to remove the £8,000,000 per annum preference unless given something in return so far as trade” is concerned, then we may get some result. Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, supported by his Ministers and others, has declared that this is a matter, not of sentiment, but of trade. If it is merely a matter of trade, we who have treated it as a matter of sentiment should follow Britain’s lead, and view it as a matter of business. The British Labour Government has declared that this is entirely a matter of business.
– The British electors decided that.
– If it is a matter of business, let us accept it as such, and treat it in a businesslike way. We should demand something in return for a preference of £8,000,000 a year. We cannot bargain with any one to whom we have given our all before atempting to ascertain what will be given in return. We should remove this preference, and at the next Imperial Conference offer to replace it if we derive benefits in return. In the interests of Australian development, and of our primary producers, and soldier settlers, it is absolutely essential that we should come to some agreement with Britain, seeing that we look to her for our markets. An arrangement with Britain ensuring that her markets shall be open to us will give us au advantage over foreign countries. Some honorable senators, including Senator Gardiner, disagree with the policy of protection, but surely it should apply within the Empire. If we cannot compete on the British market with the cheap products of foreign countries, surely it is only fair that Britain should give to us some preference in return for the substantial preference that we give to her. This motion has been endorsed by all kinds of people, quite irrespective of party considerations. Labour men, Nationalists, Liberals, manufacturers, workers, and others have written to me endorsing my attitude and declaring that Australia is not getting a fair deal from Britain. I do not lay the blame on the British Labour Government, any more than I do on anybody else. I do not know what motive was behind the action of a so- called Labour Government which has in its ranks more titled men than there have been in any British Government for many years. The wide endorsement of this motion has amazed me. In all seriousness, I commend it to the consideration of the Senate. There is no desire on my part to abolish preferential trade, but we should strike a blow for reciprocal preferential trade between Britain and the other parts of the Empire. We have now an opportunity of doing something in this direction, and I hope that the Senate will agree to the motion, so that at some future time the British Government - no matter what its political complexion may be - may enter into negotiations with the Commonwealth and obtain a complete and equitable agreement that will benefit both, at the expense only of foreign trade against which we have at all times to compete.
.- It is quite delightful to see Senator Duncan leading the opposition to Britain’s action in refusing to grant preference to Australian products. Speaking in this chamber some months ago, I referred to the time when the delegates at the Imperial Conference would discuss other things than war, and when Mr. Ramsay MacDonald would be Prime Minister of Great Britain, Mr. Creswell, Prime Minister of South Africa, and Mr. Matthew Charlton, Prime Minister of the . Commonwealth. From that side came the challenge that when that came about there would be no British Empire. Senator Duncan is evidently voicing the opinion of those who object to the action of the British Labour Government. Britain has refused to tax the food supplies of her people in order to help Australia, and because of that we are asked to place a heavier handicap upon the goods that she produces. If there is one thing that is more amusing than another, it is the frequently reiterated statement that Australia gives preference to Great Britain in matters of trade. If Australia received from Great Britain on the goods we sent to her the same kind of preference that wc mete out to Great Britain, we should have just cause for complaint. The following duties are placed on Britain’s productions that enter Australia. The preferential tariff on tobacco is 5s. 4d. per lb., cut tobacco, 5s. 7d.; cigarettes, 7s. 6d. ; and cigars, lis. Those duties are actually more than the real value of the article, including the cost of production and material. Of course, our people pay the duties when they buy those commodities. Britain has been engaged for centuries in the manufacture of woollen goods, and has developed a greater degree of skill than has any other nation. In this industry she employs thousands of her people. As a preference to Great Britain, Ave provide that en, every £100 worth of woollen goods sent out here she has to pay £30 duty! We call that preference. We must sell our goods to Great Britain, and take in return her manufactured goods, or else cease to trade with her altogether. Senator Duncan should realize that notwithstanding the existing methods of currency, bills of exchange, &c, everything whittles down to the one question of who shall trade with Australia, if we are not prepared to take Britain’s products we cannot expect to sell our own. If we say that we do not want to trade with the rest of the world, wc shall Sad! that Australia with 6,000,000 of people will be producing enough to supply 6.000’jGOO people, and we shall become probably the most poverty-stricken and miserable nation on the face of the earth. But let me continue with my illustrations, ©u the importation of woollen goods produced, by Great Britain we impose a duty of JO per cent. And yet Senator Duncan says that we give Great Britain a preference !. On wool felt hats in any stage of manufacture the duty is 35 per cent. In either words, we impose on the British manufacturer a penalty of £35 for every £100 worth of wool felt hats he sends to Australia in competition with the Australian article. We who pride ourselves that our workmen are not only equal, but superior, to the workmen of other countries, say to the British manufacturer of hats, that before he can send his products into this country he must pay a penalty of 35 per cent. On apparel for the human body, partly or wholly made up, the penalty is 40 per cent. Does Senator Duncan suggest that this is preference to Great Britain? Let us bo candid. I believe it is the policy of the majority of the people of Australia that this country does not want to trade with Great Britain iia regard to anything that we can make ourselves. I do not agree with that policy. I believe that it is absolutely wrong; that it leads to unemployment and the impoverishment of our people-. In the year to which. I refer we imposed a high tariff on all articles of foreign manufacture. Twelve months later the census revealed no less than 159,000 people unemployed in this country. For that state of affairs the tariff, in my judgment, was largely responsible. The tariff was imposed to shut out the British manufacturer and the foreign manufacturer in order that we should be able to produce our own goods. In other words it was imposed to provide employment. Let us now consider the position of the British boot manufacturer, and see how, in this branch of industry, we are giving preference to Great Britain. Under the present preferential tariff boots, shoes, slippers, and clogs pay a duty of 35 per cent. Does Senator Duncan suggest that that is preference ? Personally, I do not mind, but the policy is foolish in the extreme, and I protest against this miserable attempt, on the part of Senator Duncan, to show that Great Britain is wrong in refusing to tax the food supplies of her people to help Australia. For our part, we have not shown the slightest desire to help Great Britain’.-
– The proposals submitted by the Prime Minister at the Economic Conference did not involve increased taxation on British foodstuffs at all. On the contrary, they would have meant a reduction.
– I frankly admit that I may occasionally make a mistake in one or two minor details ; but I venture to say that the request made to Mr. Baldwin, and by him to the people of Great Britain, was for a tax on foreign foodstuffs, and dried fruits in particular. After all, a handful of dried fruits was about all that the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) and Senator Wilson got from the Economic Conference.] The request was that there should be a tax on all dried fruits produced in Greece, Italy, Spain, and other Mediterranean countries to enable the Australian producer to get a share of the British market. Why should we not go further and ask Britain to impose a tax on the importation of wheat, and give us a preference, so that our wheat-growers may obtain a better price for their product? Of course, these preference proposals were the first step. Thank God the. constituencies of Great Britain were not duped by this proposal to make prices higher in order to make work more plentiful. The action of the British constituencies, in my opinion, meant the saving of civilization. It prevented the Conservatives and Tories of the Mother Country from getting control of the foodstuffs, for there is no limit to their greed Or to the distance they are prepared to go to starve the people for the purposes of profit. Senator Duncan has said something about the British Labour Government. I venture to say that by its attitude towards these preference proposals the Labour Government in Britain has more correctly interpreted the feelings of the civilized world than has any other Government of the Mother Country in recent years. The honorable senator thought he was on safe ground when he made certain disparaging statements about “nondescript” Liberals. Would he describe Mr. Asquith and Mr. Lloyd George as nondescript Liberals ? The honorable senator is well qualified to describe men of that type as nondescript. We all know that they are “ dishing” the Tories, with whom Senator Duncan is now associated in this country. I do not mind admitting that Mr. Lloyd George and Mr. Asquith are using the Labour party to “ dish “ the Tories, and that Mr. Ramsay MacDonald would not be kept in office for an hour if they could get along without him. Senator Duncan also said that if Britain will not give Australia preference in her markets Australia should withdraw the preference which Britain enjoys over other countries in the Commonwealth. As a matter of fact, Britain came with an open hand to Australia. She offered Us a market absolutely free.
– Free, also, to everybody else.
– There is a duty on dried fruits in Great Britain.
– There may be a tariff on a limited number of imports. I am prepared to admit that possibly I have incorrectly stated the position with regard to dried fruits. It takes me all my time to keep in touch with Australian tariff changes, so possibly I did overlook certain slight duties imposed under the British tariff. In the main they are war duties. The British markets are open to Australia. In this respect Britain has given Australia a free gift. Australia, on the other hand, as soon as it became strong enough, and just as Britain was recovering from the effects of the war, with millions of unemployed to provide for, struck her most cruel blow by hampering her trade by means of high duties, thus rendering idle many more factory hands in the Mother Country. Although I am an Australian, I am big enough to welcome any proposal that will increase employment in Britain as well as in Australia. I always see the possibility of employing more Australians. This narrow policy of declaring that we shall work only amongst ourselves, and will take nothing from foreign countries, must necessarily fail. If we understand trade at all, we must realize that, if we are to sell, we must also purchase. We must get this principle firmly embedded in our minds. If we hope to sell abroad £100,000,000 worth of our primary products, we shall have to buy from somewhere, or the trade cannot continue. There must be this interchange of commodities. We imposed a high tariff, and we called it protection. We hoped that it would result in the employment of more Australian workmen, but the statistics show that every increase in tariff duties means an increase in the number of our unemployed. Senator Duncan has suggested that, if Britain will not give us preference, we should put her on the same footing as America. I venture to say that Britain would not mind in the least if that were done, because, for 70 years, Britain under freetrade, and without preference in any market, has been able to beat highly protected America, as well as all the cheap-labour countries of the world.
– But not with the same standard of living.
– That is an intelligent interjection. The standard of living in Great Britain has been higher than that in Germany, France, and Italy, to say nothing of Russia and the smaller European nations. Britain, under freetrade, and open to the competition of all cheap-labour countries for 70 years, was able to build up her industries, and, at the same time, to maintain a higher standard of living than elsewhere in Europe.
– That is open to question.
– No doubt, but the facts prove it. When I was in Great Britain in 1911 with other members of the Federal Parliament, I noticed considerable numbers of Germans employed as waiters in hotels and in barbers’ shops. The explanation offered was that many of them came over to learn the English language, or to do a little spying for their Government, and then went back. In order to ascertain the true position, we asked a young German waiter why he came over to Britain, and . his reply was that he was working in England because he could get better wages than in his own country. He added that he went back to Germany occasionally, but would not dream of staying there, because the conditions were not so good as in Britain. And this, notwithstanding that Germany was perhaps the most highly organized nation in the world at the -time.
– But there were not many Germans in British factories. They sought employment in hotels and barbers’ shops because of the tips they received.
-Nevertheless , the conditions in Great Britain were better than in Germany. In the following year a deputation of selected British workmen was sent to the United States to inquire into and report upon the conditions in that country. Their report was that British conditions were distinctly better than American conditions.
– And yet millions of Britishers have migrated to the United States.
– That is the remarkable feature about the British race. They are peopling the earth. Britishers migrate anywhere to better their conditions. As far as other countries are concerned, so down-trodden have many of them become that their people are not even able to migrate; they have to remain where they are to starve and perish. Starting in 1845, Britain pulled down the tariff barriers and submitted herself to the competition of all the cheap-labour countries of the world. In 1914, when war started, she was the wealthiest and most powerful nation in the world. Notwithstanding that she financed not only her own war operations, but those of her protectionist allies, she came out of that titanic struggle with her prestige and power unimpaired.
– And, having, according to the honorable senator, built, up her position under freetrade, Britain is now turning to protection !
– The development and growth of British industries has taken place since 1845, under freetrade. What is Great Britain? It comprises small islands “ off the coast of France,” or, as a Cornishman once said, “England: near Cornwall.” Notwithstanding its insignificance in area when compared with other countries, its 40,000,000 of people are still masters of the world’s trade. Great Britain is still the greatest financial nation in the world. It still is the most important country in development and production the world has ever seen. If we wish to be a partner in this great commonwealth of nations, which Senator Duncan terms the British Empire, advantage to Britain and to Australia can be obtained not by placing fanciful trade barriers between those two countries, but by breaking down those barriers. Why do we impose a duty of 40 per cent, on imported hats? That duty is more than the actual cost of making a hat as far as the labour concorned is involved.
– The honorable senator should obtain the opinion of the Felt Hatters Union on that point.
– The members of that union have at last discovered that protection is a failure, and have now commenced to settle the industrial problem by working in the direction of the socialization of industries. The members of that union believe not in the policy of inviting the master class to invest money in industries, but in establishing industries for their own benefit. The honorable senator will find that the members of the Hatters Union are tired of the system of paying the master class - the rich in our community - fabulous sums so that they may employ them. That is the policy which Senator Duncan advocates.
– They do not start these industries themselves. They wish the Government to establish them.
– We have shown what can be done by direct action. Some time ago we established a Commonwealthowned woollen mill, but the Government disposed of it to their friends so that they should be able to derive the profits for many years. It is useless for Senator Duncan to say that we wish to trade with Great Britain when we impose such heavy duties on the commodities which she manufactures. It is hypocrisy to make such an assertion. It has been stated by Senator Payne that the British Prime Minister (Mr. Earnsay MacDonald) mentioned my name with those of others who said that Australia did not wish to trade with Great Britain. I made that statement in the Senate, because as far as Australian governments are concerned, we have shown by the tariff we have passed that, wherever we can, we intend to shut out the products of British workmen. But have we shut them out? We impose duties of up to 40 per cent, on goods imported from Great Britain, but large quantities still continue to come in.
– Largely because of the preference we give them.
– That has nothing to do with it. The fact is that many financial institutions in Australia are merely branches of British houses. The masters of the world’s trade are in London. Australia should trade with Britain, as she should trade with America, France, and other civilized nations, in order to make Australia wealthy, and a place where every one can be employed. If we could conduct a trade of £200,000,000 with all the nations of the world, instead of allowing a certain section of the community to make enormous profits we should not have an army of 159,000 unemployed.
– How many British motor cars are in use in Australia as compared with American cars? About. 1 in 20.
– Possibly that is true. It is quite likely that in that particular industry America has develloved almost as much expert knowledge and competence to manufacture as Britain has done in respect of woollen goods. It is quite reasonable to say that Britain cannot lead in the manufacture of everything.
– I mentioned the point only ‘ to show that people are going to purchase where; they can get the best value
– That may# be so. Let us consider the preference given to Great Britain in the matter of motor cars. It costs about £20 to manufacture a motor car body in Great Britain. That is not my own opinion, but information I have received. In Australia we impose a duty of £55 on every body landed.
– What does it cost to manufacture a motor car body in Australia?
– I suppose it costs about the same, but we make a present to the master class of an additional £30, and on bodies from America we impose a duty of about £65, so that those handling this class of work in Australia receive a handsome present. What is the use of calling it preference when in the matter of a manufactured body for a motor car we say to Great Britain, “ We will not let your manufactured goods come in here unless you pay double the price of the actual cost of manufacture.” The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten) is in favour of higher duties, but I do not know whether he has come to that decision after consultation with the Cabinet. We knew that when he joined the Cabinet he would want to “boss the show.” Any one who goes from this chamber to another place naturally shows that he has superior capacity and attainments and capable of managing any business. I noticed in a Sunday paper that the Minister for Trade and Customs has made certain statements concerning protection which agree very largely with those made by Senator Duncan.
– He endorsed my remarks.
– I do not doubt that. If Britain continues to be governed by a Labour Government and sends Labour men to be Governors of Australian states a very strange feeling will soon be created in the breasts of some honorable senators in this chamber.
– The gentleman that the honorable senator has in mind is not a Labour Governor, but a representative of the King.
– The honorable senator is quite right. This is merely the beginning, and I suppose before long Senator Duncan and others will be turning the guns against Great Britain.
– What about a duty on imported Governors?
– Th at is a matter on which preference should also be shown to Great Britain. Our tariff has been devised with the object of finding employment for our own people, and for shutting out the trade of the world, Britain included. The only variation is the difference between 7^ and 10 per cent, in the duties on imports from America and from Great Britain. If Great Britain were to take our wheat, fruit, cheese, and butter and impose as high a duty on those products as we impose on goods coming here from the Old Country, would any one say it was preference? It would ruin Australia.
– But Britain would impose a heavier duty on similar goods coming from other countries.
– The question of Empire preferential trade was not settled by governments but by the electors in Great Britain. The question was submitted to the people by the Baldwin Government, and the electors answered most emphatically in the negative. An election was forced on the people of Britain about eighteen months after an election had been held. The Baldwin. Government wanted a verdict from the people, and made the issue preference or no preference. The people decided that there should be no preference.
– The issue was one of protection; preference was only incidental.
– The people definitely decided against .protection and preference, and returned a Labour government to power. The most bitter opponent of Labour cannot but admit the capacity that the British Labour Government has displayed in dealing with momentous questions. It is paving the way for peace in Europe, which is now within a measurable distance.
– It is gathering all the battleships in the one locality to protect the British Isles and allowing the rest of the Empire to “go hang.”
– The only difference between Great Britain and Japan, in the opinion of Senator Duncan, may be pub down as 10 per cent., as on goods imported from Japan there is a duty of 65 per cent, and on those from Great Britain it is 55 per cent. There is no “ go hang “ about that. Senator Duncan emphasized the fact that the British Prime Minister said it was a matter of business and not of sentiment. In these matters sentiment is allowed to run wild, and if we continue as at present we shall end the Empire or the Empire will end sentiment. Senator Duncan’s arguments showed clearly his anger because a Labour government was successfully managing the affairs of Great Britain - more successfully, I believe, than they have ever been managed by any previous government. It has grappled with, questions that Mr. Lloyd George and Mr. Baldwin failed to settle. Trade is now being established with Russia, and that country is now fully recognized by Great Britain.
– It is certainly tackling problems handled by Lloyd George and leaving its own alone.
– That is not so. The Government is almost at death grips with many important problems, involving the peace of the world, and a policy su.cn as that outlined could only be given effect to by such statesmen as the present Prime Minister (Mr. Ramsay MacDonald). Before we set up such pitiful whining for better treatment from Great Britain, let us treat Great Britain in a more businesslike way, and welcome the introduction of her manufactures into this country free of duty. We should allow the tariff to be proportionate to the difference in wages paid in Great Britain and in Australia, which is quite sufficient.
– The honorable senator is somewhat rough on Australian workmen.
– Not at all. I was in conversation recently with Mr. Baker, the manager of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company’s steel works, at Newcastle, who has had experience in all parts of the world, and who said that the Australian workman was superior to those in Great Britain or anywhere else. This huge handicap in the shape of a high tariff which was asked for on behalf of Australian workmen was not warranted, because Australian workmen are the superiors of workmen of other countries.
– That is why they build ships so cheaply!
– That is one of the reasons. I venture to say that we could build the two cruisers the Government are talking about building at a cost of £5,000,000, cheaper than they can be got from Great Britain. . Senator Kingsmill. - What about the cruisers they have already built in Australia?
– -Mauy things could be said about them. The last cruiser built cost a lot of money, because after she was on the stocks he* design wa3 altered on three different occasions. The naval authorities in Great Britain were al the time making many alterations in t lie designs of their cruisers, and the workmen at Cockatoo Island had frequently to wait for new plates to arrive to suit the demands of the Admiralty. Australian workmen can do the work as cheaply and as well ns those of other countries.
– What about the cruiser which was built before the Adelaide!
– The workmen at Cockatoo Island have never had a fair chance.
– No one who looks fairly at the conditions under which vessels have been built in Australia, can say that Australian work is more costly than that done in any other country, or that the Australian workman is not as efficient ns the workman of any other country.
– I am looking at results.
– The honorable senator had belter look at the result which followed the contract that was let in America to build wooden vessels. They were cheap, but they had to be sold for much less than they cost. Australian workmen would not turn out such work. I can understand the honorable senator saying, “ Look how cheaply they are built in America.”
– I did not say that.
– I know that the honorable senator did not say it, but I am twisting his argument so that people may understand it. The’ party which talks about giving Great Britain preference is not prepared to give: preference to Australians in the matter of building cruisers. The Government has anounced that it will give Great Britain the preference of having this work.
– The Western Australian Labour Government has called for tenders for locomotives in London, not allowing an Australian firm sufficient time to tender.
– That, is countered by the fact that the Government supported by the honorable senator is ordering cruisers from Great- Britain, and will not allow Australian yards: to compete for their construction. It is a great idea on the part of the honorable senator to hide what his Government is doing by referring to something which hae been done by a State Labour Government. We can give Australia preference in the matter of building vessels, but the trouble is that the Government has not sufficient confidence in Australia’s capacity to do the work in sufficient time. Nothing could be worse than to let the idea get abroad that Australians cannot, do this class of work as cheaply and as quickly as it can be done in any other country. The ore can bo mined at Iron Knob, in South Australia, and turned into steel at Newcastle, and the steel can be converted into vessels at Walsh Island, Cockatoo Island, or Williamstown. I have no interstate preferences in that regard. In fact, I would have, all the shipbuilding yards in Australia building, not vessels of war, but vessels of commerce. Any difference in cost would be made up by the fact that the money spent in construction would circulate in the country where the taxes are collected to provide it.
– That is what a protective tariff does.
– A protective tariff does not do that, although the honorable senator always seeks to make out that it does. The proper way is to have direct action on the part of the Government in the direction of seeing that every man who is willing to work’ has the opportunity to do so. Once we start that system in operation, once we realize that our tradesmen are equal, if not superi or, to any others, and our capitalists can be induced to establish factories with an equipment equal, if not superior, to that of factories overseas, there will be no need to talk of giving preference to this or that nation. We can allow Great Britain to manufacture those articles which, she can manufacture better than can any other . country, because centuries of development have made her supreme in the world in that respect. Thus we can purchase from Great Britain without lot or hindrance those things which she can manufacture best, and here in Australia we. can manufacture those things -which we can manufacture as well as, if not better than, other countries can, and so we shall have a commonweal th of nations held together by mutual interest, and not constantly sparring at on© another because there has been a change in the leadership of affairs. Senator Duncan’s anger is not so much because of the absence of preference to Australian products in Great Britain, but rather because the old Tories with which he has associated have lost control in the Mother Country, and that control has passed into the hands of the people best able to manage the affairs of the country.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wilson) adjourned.
– I move - That the Senate do now adjourn.
If all goes well to-morrow, it is not the intention of the Government to ask the Senate to meet next week.
– During Senator Gardiner’s remarks, I interjected that the Labour Government of Western Australia had recently called tenders for locomotives in London. I draw the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs to the fact that it is reported in the press that the Government to which I referred has called for tenders for locomotives, and that the conditions were that the tenders should close at the London office of the Western Australian Government in about seven days. Thompson and Company, of Castlemaine, who were desirous of tendering, found it absolutely impossible for them to submit a tender in that limited time, and it was only with great difficulty that they were able to get an extension to enable them to have their contract forwarded to London. Representations will possibly be made by the Western Australian Government for a remission of duties on these locomotives, notwithstanding the fact that Australian firms were practically prevented from tendering for their construction. At any rate, it is an ex ample of the way in which Labour Administrations have work done in Australia.
– I invite the attention of the Senate to some remarks made by Senator Gardiner this evening in connexion with the action of the present Government in deciding not to give a chance to the Australian shipbuilders, but to have a 10,000- ton cruiser built abroad.
Question resolved in tho affirmative. Senate adjourned at 10.43 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 3 July 1924, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1924/19240703_senate_9_107/>.