9th Parliament · 2nd Session
TheDeputy President (SenatorNewland) took the chair at3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I askthe Leader of the Senate if he is aware that Australia is likely to be visited towards the end of this week by a distinguished visitor; and, if so, has the Government made any arrangements for his reception and entertainment, whether his visit he long or short? I refer to the Eight Honorable W. M. Hughes.
Question not answered.
– I ask the Minister for Health, in view of the fact that certain claims for compensation in connexion with the rinderpest outbreak in Western Australia havebeen paid by the Commonwealth Government, whether he has had brought under his notice reports concerning the appearance of the boll worm in Central Queensland cotton plantations, as the result of which cotton growers over large areas were compelled, by the State Labour Government, to root out their crops, and that their claims for compensation have been refused by the State Government.
SenatorWILSON.- I have had the matter referred to by the honorable senator brought under my notice. The Commonwealth Government has enough troubles of its own. The question is one for the State Government.
Senator NEEDHAM brought up the report of the joint Committee of Public Accounts upon the expenditure on the Royal Australian Naval College, Jervis Bay, and the Royal Military College, Duntroon.
Duty on Toiletpaper.
– On the 24th day of July, Senator Grant asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, the following question, upon notice -
If the answersto the above questions are in the affirmative, will the Minister consider theadvisableness of abolishing the Tariff Board?
I am now able to furnish the honorable senator with the following information.: - 1.No. The Tariff Boardhas no power togive instructions as. to classification of goods. The Board can. only report for the. information and guidance ofthe Minister. On the approval of the Acting Minister for Trade and Customs, paper in rolls, for the manufacture of toilet paper, was classified under item. 404, for the dates mentioned.
The circumstances are: -
From September,1908, this paper was admitted under Item 40.4 to assist the local manufacturers of toilet paper, the reason being that this quality of. paper was not then commercially manufactured inthe Commonwealth.
In December, 1922, evidence having been produced that supplies of Australianmade paper were available, the Minister approved of the removal of this paper from the bylaw, but in consonance with a usual practice of the department, any paper which was on firm order at the date of the cancellation was permitted to, enter at the by-law rate. It subsequently transpired that one importer had a standing order for regular periodical deliveries and the provision for allowing paper on firm order to be entered under theby-law was thereupon terminated. The importer concerned then made representations to the effect that his order had been placed during the term of operation of the by-law admitting the paper free (of British origin) and that termination of the concession, before his order was completed, would prejudicially affect his business. This was particularly so as regards a certain quantity of paper which was in bond at the time the order concession was cancelled, and which clearly could have been entered under the by-law if the importer had known that same was to be terminated. Under the special circumstances the by-law amend ment was made to apply to the paper which was in. bond at the time the concession was withdrawn. This accounts for the fixed dates referred to in question I and, as stated, the by-law was subsequently framed tofit these dates.
It is not intended to restore theby-law classification permanently, as such action, would be against the regular tariff policy.
– On the 31st July, Senate Needbam asked me -
I am now able to supply the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions : -
Sale of Australian Fruit
– I ask the Minister for Health, who. was the representative of the Commonwealth Government at the opening of Wembley Exhibition, if it is a. fact, as reported in last night’s Melbourne Herald, that the firm selling. Australian fruit at Wembley had been given a virtual monopoly, and that, as a result, high prices are. charged to the. public, without any corresponding benefit, to. the growers?
– (By leave).- When I. was in London there was considerable controversy concerning the disposal of Australian fruit at Wembley. A committee, consisting of Sir John McWhae, the retiring Agent-General fox Victoria.; Mr. Colebatch, representing Western Australia. and Mr. Ashbolt,. the retiring Agent-General for Tasmania, was appointed to inquire into the position, and. advise the Exhibition Commission. This was done, and arrangements were then made with Mr. Burnside to take change of the selling, organization at the exhibition. He made the necessary arrangements for Australian fruit to be on show on one day, and sold the next. Ifthe commission had undertaken this work, there would probably have been enormous losses, because it would have been obliged to. take what was offered for the fruit after it had been on exhibition. It will be admitted,, I think, that the three gentlemen named were thoroughly competent to advise as to the best course in the interests of Australia. The first shipment of apples was so unsatisfactory that sometimes about five cases had to be,overhauled in order to. make up three cases of good apples. On many occasions I inspected the arrangements made for the selection and display of the apples.
– What about oranges?
– Up to the time of my leaving, oranges had not arrived. When cablegrams were received from Australia complaining of the- unsatisfactory position with regard to Australian fruit. 1. persuaded the High Commissioner (Sir Joseph Cook) to accompany me one morning on a buying expedition. We bought several shillings’ worth of apples, not from the most popular fruit shops in London, but from street barrows or shops that won iri supply the community generally. Tn the afternoon we laid out our purchases in a row alongside a similar row or apples on show and for sale at Wembley. The comparison was decidedly in favour of the Wembley exhibit, the exhibition apples being superior, and, in the main. cheaper than those which we had purchased from street barrows or London shops. I can assure honorable senators that every care is being taken in connexion with the sale of Australian fruit pt Wembley, and that the criticisms heard from time to time are not altogether well founded. One has only to look at the records of recent sales to realize that the exhibition has had an important influence on the sale of Australian fruit, in England.
– Arising out of the Minister’s statement, may I ask, is it a fact that the arrangement made for what is alleged to be a virtual monopoly in tha’ sale of Australian fruit at Wembley Exhibition, was entirely opposed to the wishes of the orangegrowers of Victor’*1 ?
– T do not think it was. T have had a good deal to do with the matter, and, in my opinion, the quantity of oranges going forward for sale at Wembley is not nearly sufficient. The Government has tried in a practical way ‘ to guarantee growers against loss. The sales recorded last week were satisfactory, returning 30s. a case, hut nothing like the quantity required is being shipped from Australia for exhibition purposes.
– I ask the Leader of the Senate whether he is yet in a position to make a statement in reply to the questions recently asked by Senator Greene and myself concerning the treaty said to have been entered into between the Governments of Great Britain and Russia, which treaty, it was stated, would seriously affect dominion, trade.
– (By leave)- On this matter the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) has supplied the following statement : - “ I have been asked several questions with regard to the agreements recently arrived at between the British Government and the Government of the Soviet Union of Russia. For the information of honorable members, I now propose to amplify the replies which I have previously given. Action has recently been taken by the two Governments concerned in three directions -
The entering into a commercial treaty. “ With regard to the recognition of the Government of the Soviet Union by Great Britain, action was taken in this direction by the present British Government immediately after they assumed office, and without any consultation with the other self-governing parts of the Empire. Technically, this action was not a. compliance with the newly established principle of consultation with the dominions in regard: to questions of imperial foreign policy. As, however, the Government did not consider that the interests of Australia were affected by this action, or that any complications involving Australia were likely to arise, the fact of our not being consulted was not made the ground of any protest, particularly in view of subsequent assurances received from the British Government, which indicate their desire for the closest consultation, and show that the course adopted on the present occasion will not form a precedent for action in the future. “ The general treaty deals withquestions outstanding between Great Britain and Russia. A full summary of the text of it was cabled to the Commonwealth Government, and later a full summary of the alterations made in the final text as signed was cabled, with an intimation that copies of the treaty were being forwarded by mail. “ The procedure for the negotiation of treaties laid down by the Imperial Conference last year was followed in respect of this treaty. With regard to the negotiation of treaties the resolutions passed were as follows : -
As the summaries are of a lengthy nature, I shall not read them, but will lay them on the table of the Senate.
– Are we to understand from the Minister’s statement that, in the event of Great Britain proposing to enter into a commercial treaty with any other country, this Government considers it unnecessary that the British Government should acquaint the dominions with its terms, and if the terms of the treaty should be detrimental to the interests of the dominions, that they should not have the right to protest?
– No. I point out to honorable senators that the second resolution carried at the conference, and dealing with that class of treaty, states - <
Before negotiations are opened with the intention of concluding a treaty, steps should be taken to ensure that any of the other governments of the Empire likely to be interested are informed, so that, if any such government considers that its interests would be affected, it may have an opportunity of expressing its views, or, when its interests are intimately involved, of participating in the negotiations.
– Does that apply to commercial treaties ?
– Yes. It is a matter for each of the dominions or selfgoverning parts of the Empire to deal with, since it is fully recognized that each self-governing portion of the Empire hae the right to enter into a commercial treaty that does not affect another selfgoverning portion of the Empire..
– On the 13th August, Senator Grant was informed, in. reply to certain questions asked by him regarding the first sale of leases in the Federal Capital Territory, that the question of providing travelling facilities, food, and accommodation for prospective purchasers was receiving consideration. I am now in a position to inform the honorable senator that it has been decided that prospective buyers shall be required to provide’ their own transport, accommodation, and refreshments. A guide will, however, be on hand to Show prospective purchasers over the blocks, the leases of which are to be offered for sale.
– On the 14th inst., Senator Lynch asked me the following questions : -
Iamnowable to furnish the honorable senator with the following replies tohis questions : -
Automatic Telephone; Exchanges, at Elsternwick and. Northcote.
Senator LYNCH brought upthereports of the Joint Standing Committee on Public Works, together with minutes of. evidence, relating to the proposed establishment of automatic telephone exchanges at Elsternwick and. Northcote, Victoria.
– Has the Leader of the Senate the information for which I. asked some time ago in respect of the numberand cost of Commonwealth boards?
SenatorPEARCE. - I am under the impression that the information- was supplied in a return which was recently laid on the table of the Senate. However, I shall have inquiries made.
The following. papers were presented: -
Navigation Act. Royal Commission - Reports by-
The Chairman (Mr.. J. H. Prowse, M.P.) and one other Commissioner. (Mr. A. C. Seabrook, M.P.),
Three Commissioners (Mr. P. Anstey, M.P., Senator C. S. McHugh, and Mr. G. E.Yates;; MP.) ; and
. Two. Commissioners (Senator W. L. Duncan and Senator H. E. Elliott).
Mandated Territory and Papua - Particulars re net outlay by Commonwealth and Trade returns.
Papua Act - Infirm and Destitute Natives. Account - Statement of. Transactions of the Trustees: for. year ended. 30th June, 1924.
Russia, - Summaries of General and Commercial Treaties between Great Britain, Northern Ireland, and the Soviet Union.
Tariff Item : - Paperin roll’s for manufacture into toilet paper - classification by Tariff Board.
Taxation. Acts - Report, of Commissioner covering financial years ending 30th January, 1921, 1922, and 1923.
SenatorJ. B. HAYES asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
How many reapers and binders were imported into Australia during 1922-23and 1923-24?
– It is regretted that the desired information cannot be furnished, as the number of reapers and binders imported is not recorded. The importationsare recorded in sterling value only.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) agreed to-
That Senator Benny be discharged from attendance on the Joint Committee of Public Accounts, and that SenatorFoll beappointed a member of the committee in his stead.
Bill received from the House of Repre sentatives, and (on motion by Senator Pearce) read a first time.
.- I move-
That the hillbe now read a second time.
As the StateGovernments are anxious that the loan authorized by this bill to be raised on their behalf should be floated as early as possible, because they require the money to enable them to proceed with necessary public works, and as the prospectus of that loan cannot be issued until the bill is passed, I ask honorable senators to deal with the measure as expeditiously as possible. The issues contained in it are fairly straightforward and simple, and there is no reason why it should not pass through all stages without undue delay. It is really the first legislative action in Australia to appoint a central authority as between the Commonwealth and States to raise loan money. If there was ever a bill that could be termed “non-party,” this may be so described. Four of thegovernments concerned in its passage are Labour and two are National administrations.
– Who are the two National Governments ?
– The Commonwealth Government and the New South Wales State Government.
– I thought that the Commonwealth Government was a composite Government.
– I should have referred to it as a non-Labour Government. For some years there has been competition among the various States on the money market, not only of London, but also of Australia, and the Commonwealth has been forced to join in that competition. One has only to have a very elementary knowledge of finance to see that such competition is detrimental to the borrower and advantageous to the lender. Various attempts have been made to overcome it. Numerous conferences have been held and agreements sought upon the subject, but nothing of practical value was done until May, 1923, when, ata conference -with the States, the presentCommonwealth Government submitted proposals for the creation of an Australian Loan Council. This body was constituted and it consists of the Treasurer of the Commonwealth, and the Treasurer of each state. It has no executive powers, but acts in an advisory capacity only. At the conference with the states in May, 1923, the Commonwealth proposals for the establishment of this council were adopted, and it was decided that the Loan Council should be asked to determine the order in which the Commonwealth, the states, and the various public bodies created by the state legislatures, should go on the loan market in Australia. The council was also to advise each Treasurer regarding the rate of interest and the other terms upon which local loans should be floated. The establishment of this council marked a mostimportant advance in the method of conducting loan operations, as will be seen from the following review of its work. The council first met on the 1st February, 1924, just before it was necessary for the Commonwealth to make arrangementsfor the conversion or redemption of its war gratuity bonds. Though the council had been established in May, 19.23, it was not possible for it to meet for some time, . and,theref ore, the competition amongst the states continued up to February last. This competition was undoubtedly a serious factor in the rise which took place in interest rates in the last half of 1923. There has never been a more horrible example of the damage done to the credit of the states, and the consequent ill-effect on the money market as a whole than the mad scramble that ensued in the last three months of that year, when all the states were on the money market at one time. This had a most disturbing effect, and the unfortunate states who happened to be last in the scramble had to pay high interest rates for the money they obtained. At the meeting of the council in February last, all the Treasurers showed a very strong desire to come to an agreement which would do away with the competition and clashing which had been experienced up to that time. The matter was approached in a spirit of goodwill, and each Treasurer frankly disclosed his financial position. The council then agreed on uniform terms to be offered by the several governments for loan moneys in Australia up to the 30th June, 1924, and the members of the council agreed not to offer other terms without consultation with the Loan Council. The Governments of New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia found it necessary to continue selling bonds, hut as it was necessary for the Commonwealth at once to issue its war gratuity loan, the Governments of the three states mentioned agreed not to conduct any special propaganda for their own state loans until the Commonwealth gratuity operation was completed. It was felt that Queensland and Western Australia, both of which states needed loan money at the time, would be at a disadvantage whilst the Commonwealth war gratuity loan was on offer, and therefore the Commonwealth Government agreed to lend £750,000 to Western Australia and £1,250,000 to Queensland between February and June, 1924. These loans from the Commonwealth made it unnecessary for Western Australia and Queensland to go on the loan market in the latter part of last financial year. At the February meeting of the Loan Council, the Treasurers were not willing to bind themselves beyond the 30th June, 1924, nor could they come to an agreement that there should be one borrowing authority for the whole of Australia, The arrangements they made, however, proved satisfactory in practice, so far as last year was concerned. At the end of June last, the Loan Council again met to consider what action should be taken in regard to loan operations for the present financial year. The loan programmes of the various Governments were then brought together, and discussions took place as to the amount of loan money that might be raised in Australia and overseas during 1924-25 without disturbing the national financial position. All the members of the Loan Council recognized the need for reducing the proposed loan programmes, and after careful consideration of the position, the following resolution was passed : -
The Australian Loan Council, having had under review the loan requirements of the various states and the Commonwealth for the forthcoming financial year, agrees as to the advisability of concerted action being taken by the states and the Commonwealth to raise the amounts required in Australia for the year. After careful consideration, and recognizing the need for some central body functioning on behalf of both states and Commonwealth, the council agrees that the Commonwealth should arrange a loan for the agreed amount; and the states will give inscribed stock bearing concurrent obligations to the Commonwealth for the amounts allocated, on a basis to be determined.
This resolution was subsequently adopted by all the Governments concerned, and at a later meeting detailed plans were made to cover the loan proposals of the present year. The decisions made by the respective Governments on the recommendation of the Loan Council provide that -
So far as operations in Australia are concerned, there will, during this year, be no competition between states and states or between the states and the Commonwealth, nor will there be any clashing of loan issues. As regards London, the general effect of the arrangements made is that the Governments concerned will not have- to approach the banks for exchange, because, except to a limited extent in the case of Victoria and South Australia, they will not transfer to Australia any of the proceeds of loans raised in London. The Commonwealth is faced with a heavy loan conversion operation in 1925, when nearly £69,000,000 of 4£ per cent, stock and bonds mature in Australia.
– For war loans ?
– Yes. The Loan Council’s arrangements for borrowing in Australia this year, provide that all the new money is to be found by means of a loan to be issued shortly. The last instalment of this loan will be received early in February next. After that date, uo new money will be raised in Australia. Thus the market can be given a period of rest before the Commonwealth will need to begin its huge loan conversion operation. These loan arrangements mark a very important advance in the conduct of our borrowing operations, and represent a great improvement on past methods. This year, all the financial institutions will know that, except for the loan to be issued by the Commonwealth for the states, no other appeal will be made to the Australian market for new money up till June next. Under the old method of raising loans, the banks and financial institutions were not able to look ahead to see what calls might be made on the money market by the Governments for loans. In the bill now under consideration, the Government seeks authority to raise a loan of £10,300,000, and to lend that money to the states. Provision is also made for the Commonwealth raising moneys for the redemption of state loans maturing in Australia this year, and for the Commonwealth making arrangements for the conversion of state loans falling’ due in Australia this year. It is proposed, also, that the Treasurer shall be given per- mission to enter into agreements with the states in regard to the terms and conditions of new loans, and the terms and conditions of conversion and redemption operations. In order that the sinking fund contributions received from the states may be dealt with as desired, the bill contains authority for payment of the sinking fund contributions into the national debt sinking fund. During the last week, the Commonwealth Treasurer and the Treasurers of several of the states have met the representatives of the Australian banks in conference, to discuss the raising’ of the new loan of £10,300,000. Whilst the terms of the loan cannot, of course, be fixed until the prospectus is about to he issued, tentative arrangements have been made which will enable the Treasurer to go on with the loan shortly. ‘ The proceeds of the loan are to be handed to theseveral states as follows: -
The nominal amount of the loan will slightly exceed that total, because allowance must be. made for the expenses of flotation. The arrangements for one authority to borrow on behalf of all the Governments’ will, it is expected, be of even more advantage to the states with smaller populations than to New South Wales and. Victoria.. The smaller states usually find it. necessary to go outside their own boundaries when raising loan moneys in Australia; that is to say, they usually have to raise portion of. their Australian loans in Sydney or in Melbourne. In doing this they are naturally at a disadvantage as compared with the Governments of New South Wales and Victoria. Under the new arrangements, however, they will secure their money on the same terms as the other states, because the money required for all the states will be raised by the Commonwealth, which will in vite subscriptions throughout Australia. Thus, not only will competition be prevented, but the less populous states will gain by pooling their resources with those of the other states. The methods of raising money in Australia in 1924-25, will be-
I think that honorable senators will agree that this is a step in. the right direction. In view of the fact that it is necessary to issue the prospectus for this loan at the earliest passible date, I ask them to facilitate the passage of the bill.
– I recognize the importance of this bill, and in order to meet the Minister’s desire to have it passed without delay, I shall not seek to have the debate adjourned. I regret exceedingly that a determined effort is not being made by the Governments of the Commonwealth and the states to handle the present financial situation without further borrowing. It appears to me that the practice of borrowing is being followed in order to remove the financial difficulties that confront Governments in Australia when other means should be adopted for dealing with the situation. For manyyears the Commonwealth Government set a very good example to the states by refraining from borrowing, but. now practically all the work undertaken by the Postal Department is paid for from Loan Account. When the placing of a. lock upon the door of a post office is classified, as new work and charged to Loan Account, it is a simple: matter to show a. surplus of revenue over expenditure.
SenatorCrawford. - That, is not done.
– I am pleased to see that the. Minister representing the Postmaster-General is sufficiently wide awake to challenge my statement. I say that that is practically the principle upon which the Postal Department is being run. Works that years ago were paid for out of Revenue Account are now being charged to Loan Account. When theEstimates are being considered I shall have an opportunity to point out the purposes for which certain loans have been raised andthe directions in which the. money has been spent by the Postal Department. I realize that five of the six states are keenly interested in the passage of this measure:.. The Minister (Senator Pearce) was himself so interested in it that for a time heforgot that he was a. member ofa composite Government. I appreciate the reasons that led him to refer to the Commonwealth Government as a National Government. There are many persons in Australia who hold that belief. Probably the Minister intended to announce that, as? the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Stewart) had retired from the Cabinet, it could no. longer be, considered to be representative of the Country party. The National Governments that have held office in the different states for lengthy periods, so effectively and consistently followed the practice: of borrowing for all their requirements that they reached the end of their tether, and another party had to be entrusted with the task of straightening out the finances. The Labour party in Tasmania was given the reins of office simply because the National party could not finance the operations of that state. The people of South Australia came to. their own rescue by changing the government, with a view to having the finances put in order. Western Australia had’ a similar experience. In Queensland we are all aware that Mr. Theodore had about £60,000,000 flung at him when he sought to raise £10,000,000 or £12,000,000.
– -He has been the champion borrower of -the Commonwealth.
– I do not want to .argue the relative merits of the different administrations. I think it will be admitted^ however, that Queensland’s resources and potential wealth are so great that that state requires much more money than a small state like Victoria, which has not to undertake a great deal of railway construction. The possibilities of development in Queensland are greater than they are in the other five states combined. We must realize that in regard to development, Queensland has reached the point at which New South Wales stood 30 years ago. It has a greater mileage of railways ‘than any of the other states, and its lines run through sparsely populated districts, the consequence being that running costs are considerably greater than they are in -the more- compact and closely settled states. No one can travel through Queensland without being impressed by its enormous possibilities for development. Any money invested in. that state will eventually give an enormous return to the whole of Australia.
– The honorable sena- . tor’s remarks apply with equal force to Western Australia.
– I am a representative of a state that in wealth and development is superior to any other state, and I can, therefore, consider impartially the needs of the other states. Tasmania has not progressed as far as Queensland in railway development and settlement, but its future, no doubt,- is very promising. Although we have staring us in the face, the fact that money which is spent upon development is well spent, we must realize that statesmanship has not so far been brought to the considera- tion of means for carrying on developmental work without resorting to borrowing. There is great scope for the Governments of the day, as well as for thoughtful men generally, to consider how best to finance the future development of Australia. The present load of debt is exceedingly heavy. I realize, of course, that we cannot -expect a composite Government to grapple with the grave problems that are confronting the people of Australia at the present moment. Being a ‘composite Government, its supporters comprise two distinct parties, with two distinct policies. Lacking confidence in each other, they meet in separate party rooms. I am sorry the Minister submitted .this bill in such a happy-go-lucky style, almost suggesting that as it was merely a proposal to borrow another £10,000,000, we -should get the business over as quickly as possible. The states have done well in coming to an arrangement under which there will be only one borrowing authority in Australia. It would be much better if a mutual agreement were made that all borrowing, except for imperative .needs, should cease. I realize, of ‘course, that every Treasurer experiences a .great deal of satisfaction if he has at his disposal an .unlimited sum of money for public works, especially on the -eve of a general election. There is always the temptation to follow the lead set by the Western Australian National Government, under -Sir James Mitchell, just prior to the last election, when it borrowed £250,000 from New South Wales to provide a certain amount of employment ia the western state. In my opinion, the various State Governments are not giving sufficient attention to the present grave financial’ situation. The time has arrived when they should decide whether there, shall be, for the present at all events, any further ‘borrowing. I am aware of the difficulties with which many of the State Labour Governments are confronted as the result of legacies left them by National Governments which they have replaced. Naturally enough, in their .serious difficulties, they are ready to give consideration to any proposal that will tide them over their troubles until, by their own careful management, they have restored order in state, finances. I rose merely to -direct the attention of those responsible for the control of state and Commonwealth affairs to the need for curtailing borrowing until the finances of the Commonwealth are in, a better position.
Senator MCDOUGALL (New South Wales) [3.55 J. - In a few words, I desire to congratulate the Government for having taken one step towards the Labour party’s policy of unification,. We shall have to take many other steps before we evolve a .satisfactory system for the government of the people of Australia. The difficulties -of the -exchange position, rather than the question of borrowing, is one that -concerns me most at the moment.
Nobody can understand why £1 in England is worth only 17s. 6d. when transferred for the purchase in London of Australian produce. The £1 should be of the same value in all the British Dominions. As one who has some knowledge of economics, I am satisfied that there is something wrong when the associated banks can make such large sums of money out of the industrial life of this country. Last season, an unfavorable exchange position cost the Australian wool growers Id. per lb. in the marketing of the entire clip, or a total of approximately £1,000,000. This money went into the coffers of the associated banks. This is a burden which the industry cannot bear, and from which it must be relieved. Unification in borrowing may lessen our difficulties somewhat; but so long as state governments and municipal authorities continue indiscriminate borrowing, so long will our financial position be unsatisfactory. The interest burden will become so heavy eventually that the various local governing authorities must turn to the Com.monwealth for relief. I again congratulate the Government upon seeing ,things as the Labour party sees them, and in attempting in the interests of the people, to bring about unification in ^borrowing.
– Before the second reading of the bill passes, I should like to say a word or two along the lines followed by the previous speakers. The bill represents the fruits of long and tedious efforts over a number of years. One of the principal’ arguments in favour of federation was that it would enable the various Governments to conduct their loan operations with greater economy. Twentyfour long years have passed since then, and nothing has been done until now. A considerable amount of preparatory work had to be done in the meantime, so that although credit may be due to the Government for having introduced this bill, it represents, as’ I have said, the culmination of efforts spread over- many years. There have been many conferences and discussions concerning the wisdom of one borrowing authority for Australia. The Minister (Senator Pearce) in introducing the measure mentioned the heavy losses occasioned last year through the indiscriminate raising of loans on the London market and in Australia.. I have also a few figures bearing on that. phase of the subject. I find that during the last financial year New South Wales approached the London market twice. In March it raised £16,000,000, and in May over £10,000,000. On both occasions the rate of interest was 5 per cent., but the interest actually returnable to the lender is in one case £5 2s. per cent., and in the other £5 5s. 3d. per cent. In May last the Commonwealth Government raised £10,000,000 at 5 per cent. From this it will be seen that the New South Wales operations cost the people of that state something like 4s. per cent., or one-fifth per cent, more than was paid by the Commonwealth Government within a few weeks of the second occasion when the New South Wales Government approached the London money market. This higher rate of- interest represents an additional burden of £52,000 per annum upon the people of New South Wales. Queensland had even a worse experience. That state raised £12,700,000 in London on 4th April, and had to pay £5 10s. 7d. per cent., or 10s. 7d. per cent, more than the Commonwealth Government had to pay for its loan raised just a little over three weeks later. In other words, the people of Queensland are mulcted to the extent of £63,000 a year. In view of many similar experiences I am wondering how it was that the several state governments continued to raise loans on the loan market in such a ruinous fashion. We know, of course, that the perverse influences of human nature have been at work. We are told that things must be very bad before they oan improve. The States have been so heavily penalized as a result of indiscriminate borrowing that at length they have adopted the common-sense course, and have come to a mutual arrangement. Unregulated competition in the London market during the last 40 years has benefited mainly the British money lender. It is about time that we effected a change. Therefore, I welcome this measure, which I feel confident will give the people great relief. Co-ordination of effort means economy and advantage for the people. In this connexion it is worth while seeing what New Zealand has done. ‘ The dominion on 8th May borrowed £5,000,000 in London. Although New Zealand is a small country compared with Australia, it obtained its money at the rate of £4 14s. 9d. per cent., or 5s. 3d. per cent, less than the Commonwealth has recently paid, despite its greater resources, its larger population, and its ability to spread the interest burden over a larger number. That happy result has been brought about in New Zealand not by chance, but by reason of the business-like manner in which its financial negotiations are conducted. The sister dominion, I notice, has’ no less than £12,000,000 to the credit of its sinking fund, although the total sinking funds of the whole of the states of Australia amount to only £16,000,000. If the states of the Commonwealth had a sinking fund in proportion to their population then, compared with New Zealand, it. would amount to £50,000,000. I may also, point out that the Public Service of New Zealand is conducted on approved lines. The railways of that country, for which most of the loan money has been raised, in addition to paying working expenses, provide no less than £3 16s. 6d. per cent, on the capital cost. It is evident that the people with money to lend prefer to invest it in those countries that conduct their public affairs in the most approved manner. If they utilize their loan money for reproductive works that provide a reasonable return, the money-lenders can be depended upon to regard them more favorably than they would if their finances were carelessly conducted. Comparing the interest rates paid on recent loans by the six states, the Commonwealth and New Zealand, I notice that the latter obtained its loan money at the most favorable rate, while the highest rate was paid by Queensland, viz., £5 10s. 7d. per cent. I welcome this bill as the first instalment of a long-delayed reform. I well remember when the suggestion was mooted that the Commonwealth should take over the loan raising and conversion operations of the states. I realize that Senator Gardiner, in the might of his provincial pride, still regards his own state a9 the superior one of the group, but as far as
I remember, New South Wales was the only state that declined to place the conversion of its debts in the charge of the Commonwealth. Every other state, working in the true Federal spirit, was willing to allow the Commonwealth to act on its behalf. But I am very glad that even New South Wales has at last seen the folly of its ways. I suggest to the Government that, instead of the loan council being clothed with only permissive powers, it be given statutory authority, for there would then be no possibility of its operations being hampered by a single- state either breaking away from the arrangement or proving an obstructive element. In the case of the Murray Waters Commission the states have their allotted duties; the money is subscribed conjointly by the states and the Commonwealth and the affairs of the commission are conducted in an orderly and systematic manner. I should like to see the loan council clothed with similar powers, so that any loan required in future- would be handled by that body and no other. It would certainly be to the advantage of the states as a whole. As a result of the necessities of the hour the states have been forced into the present arrangement, because they see plainly that under the old system they have been losing money. I welcome the bill as the first effort in the direction of enabling the people of the whole Commonwealth to save money by appointing a single authority to handle their loan finances. In the past we have been too much in the hands of the money lenders and those who raise our loans. We should be animated solely by the desire to safeguard the interests of the taxpayers of this country.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In committee :
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Authority to borrow £10,300,000).
– I understand that under this bill no money will be borrowed on Commonwealth account. .
– It is all for the states.
– Suppose the Commonwealth raises this loan and the states do not require the whole of it immediately, is it quite clear that the states will have to pay all the interest and the
Commonwealth will not be “mulcted in any pf it 1 When ‘the Common’wealth has the money in hand, ‘are the State Treasurers obliged to accept their full -quota at ,once, and immediately ‘become responsible for the interest?
.- - Yes,; it is clear that this is an agreement which las ‘been entered into between the Commonwealth and the states under which the Commonwealth has bound itself ,to .raise the money, and - the states have bound .themselves to take it as .it is raised.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses -3 to 7 agreed to.
Title agreed -to.
Bill reported without .amendment; report adopted.
Debate resumed .’from 15th’ August (vide <page 3220), on -motion by Senator Wilson,
That the bill be now read a .second time.
Upon which Senator McDougall had moved by way of amendment -
That after the word “ That “ the following words be inserted : - *’ any ‘sum spent in naval construction should .be -expended in Australia, thus .relieving the distress caused by unemployment, and helping to develop Australian industries.”
– When my remarks on His measure were interrupted on Friday last by the adjournment o’f the Senate, I was endeavouring to snow that some of the assertions made by my friends opposite regarding the defence of Australia were without foundation, and were in many respects absurd. I was then dealing with a statement by Senator Mc’Hugh, that had been repeated by several other honorable senators in different forms, to the effect that honorable senators ‘on this :side were -a blood-thirsty lot of militarists. One honorable -senator even asserted that the Opposition stood for peace, that we on this side stood for war, and that he had not heard from this side any assertion that the Nationalists stood for peace. Well, Mr. Deputy President, I .wish to make “that assertion at once. I stand f or .peace, and I am sure that I .am voicing the .sentiment of every honorable senator on this side when I declare that we all stand for it. The fact that -we are -endeavouring to provide some -simple measure of defence for this continent ‘cannot ^possibly >be taken - to mean that we wish .Australia to prepare for a war of aggression. It means at most that we desire Australia to prepare for -defence in case the necessity to fight arises. I have been .particularly impressed by the fact that honorable senators opposite .seem to approach this subject as if we desired to make provision for the defence of a country that is entirely independent of the rest of the Empire. It ..must be perfectly obvious to every <one that Australia, with its limited resources and .small population, could not -hope, , DY itself, to provide .the .necessary defence against an enemy that might come into ‘existence in the near future
– Will the honorable senator admit that the sinking .of H.M.A.S.’ Australia was a direct demonstration of the fact that we have no voice in defence matters?
-BROOKMAN - -I will admit that the sinking of the Australia was the carrying out by us of ‘a treaty obligation entered into, not merely by the Commonwealth, but also by the Empire as a whole, at -a conference at which Australia was represented. It lias been said that because Japan has carried out to the letter its obligations under that treaty honorable senators .are not justified in criticizing .that country, or in alluding to it as a potential enemy. .It is perfectly true that Japan has carried out its obligations, not only under the Washington Treaty, but also under the several Anglo-Japanese treaties that existed prior to tie Washington Conference. Those Anglo-Japanese treaties -have a very definite bearing on the present .situation. If .they were still in existence there would probably .be no immediate necessity for the -same measure of defence of Australia, «:regarding it purely as a question of Austraiian defence, .as there now is. 3t was in. 1902 that Great Britain, because ;of the menace -of Russia -towards out eastern possessions, entered into -a treaty -witu Japan which provided, shortly, -that in the event of either country becoming embroiled in a - war concerning its .several possessions in the “East, either “would go to the rescue of the other- if a third nation intervened.. That treaty continued until’ 1905, when a . fresh. alliance^ which was an absolutely offensive and defensive alliance, was entered into. It. is interesting to recall how it came about. It will be remembered that the first treaty was entered into because of: Britain’s fear of aggression from Russia in the East.. In 19Q4-Q5 Russia, and Japan- were at. war;, with the .result that Russia was most seriously and’ completely defeated.. Great Britain immediately realized there was no longer1 need to fear’ aggression- from Russia in the East, but that it had something to fear- from Germany in Europe; Russia, which, had always been looked upon as a serious check to the military potentialities of Germany, could no longer be so regarded, and British statesmen realized the necessity for a concentration of the British navy in European waters.. It was this that led. to the- revision of. the AngloJapanese treaty. From, that time on it became an absolutely offensive and defensive alliance, providing, that in- the event, of either nation- becoming involved’ la war the other nation would come to its assistance; It was; that obligation which, as. soon as Great Britain declared war. upon Germany in 1914, brought Japan into the conflict. The obligation rested upon either Great Britain or- Japan- until the- hoMing of the Washington Conference in 1921. We know that in every . respect Japan carried out its treaty obligations to Great Britain. S’o long as that treaty continued to exist there could’ be no menace to Australia from a country which was always prepared to carry out, its treaty obligations. But with the wiping out of that treaty as a result of the Washington Conference,. Japan, in common with every other nation with which Great Britain has- no treaty, has become a. potential enemy. We must never lose sight of the fact that it is. the only naval power in. the East,, and. that whatever concerns the Pacific concerns Australia. This rough- sketch indicates how the going out of existence of the Anglo-Japanese treaty, as a result of the Washington Conference, has very materially affected the? present position, of Australia., It is interesting to. see how extraordinarily valuable the Anglo-Japanese! treaty has been to Japan.. Under its terms-, if Japan, ber came involved with America, Germany, or any nation in the East, Great Britain1 automatically went to. war with whatever nation was at war with Japan. When- the first Anglo-Japanese alliance was drawn up, the Japanese- Empire- was- confined to a collection of islands- to the north-east of China, but, as’ a result of the protection* afforded by the. treaty with Great Britain and of the consequential fear om the part of. any other nation that any conflict with Japan would at once involve a conflict with Great Britain^ also: Japan started out on its militaristic enterprises in- regard to. the East. Having defeated1 Russia, it obtained! possession of Korea and annexed that country. It has- succeeded in establishing itself in Manchuria and has- obtained control of all the German islands to the north of the equator. It has built up- a huge commerce and’ a huge navy. During the great war it presented to China those famous 21 demands- to which Senator Millen has- referred, and if that war- had gone on- for another year it would have pressed those *21 demands, and practically the whole of China would have become a Japanese dependency.
– Hear, hear!
Senator- DRAKE- BROCKMAN. - There is- no doubt about it. It is only because the war came to an end when it did that we have not the possibility of aggression, not only from Japan itself, but also from the whole of the coloured races of the East, directed By Japan. -Japan was-, able to. do all-, these things because of the existence of the AngloJapanese alliance. Nevertheless,, it most honorably adhered to every obligation it had to the British Empire under the alliance, and, of course, Great Britain did the same. Since, then, Japan has entered into a further agreement at Washington, and has undertaken to scrap a certain number of- ships; It has carried out the terms of that agreement to- the letter. But the- point, from- which we cannot escape: is that it is no- longer under an obligation to the British Empire.. -Our friend’s opposite declare that: we are- saying: things, detrimental to an ally, but we are- doing nothing of: the sort,. We give all honour to a nation that has carried out all its treaty obligations to the letter ; but, as that country is no longer an ally of ours, it is consequently a potential enemy of ours.
– Japan is a friendly nation.
– Only just as any other nation is friendly towards us, and it is just as much a potential enemy of ours as is any other nation thatis now friendly to us. Our friends opposite say that they believe in peace. So do I. I believe in it strongly. Every effort made for the purpose of reducing armaments will have my support, and, I am perfectly certain, that of every other member of the National party. How, then, can our friends opposite assert that we are bloodthirsty ruffians desiring further wars?
– Who made that assertion ?
– I am paraphrasing assertions made by Senators McHugh, Needham, Findley, Hoare, Hannan, and several others. I have not their exact words, but I have given the exact meaning of their utterances.
– The honorable senator’s remarks are the product of a distorted mind.
– The honorable senator would be right in describing as the product of a distorted mind his own utterance in which he described honorable senators on this side of the chamber, who had the privilege of wearing His Majesty’s uniform during the late war, as militarists, jingoes, and “brass hats,” and other things equally insulting.
– The term “ brass hat” is not insulting.
– Of course it is not, neither is it insulting to be called an imperialist. . I am an imperialist.
– Why does the honorable senator use the word “ bloodthirsty” ?
– Because Senator McHugh described us as “ bloodthirsty militarists.” There is something decidedly wrong with the mentality of a man who has had any knowledge of war and is still a militarist desirous of war. On one or two occasions pictures have been drawn in this Parliament of some of the horrors of war. Even if I had the eloquence of a Burke, or the perspicuity and diction of a Gladstone, I could not make honorable senators like Senator McHugh, who know nothing of war, realize anything of its meaning. Unless a man has had some personal experience of what war really means he cannot have any understanding of the meaning of its horrors. Therefore, when Senator McHugh accuses Senator Glasgow, myself, and others on this side of the Senate, who know something about war, of desiring more war, I think I am correct in saying on my own behalf and on behalf of other honorable senators, that we pray to God that Australia will never have the experience of war in its territories. If we can help to avoid it, that horror will never come about. That is why we propose that, as far as possible, an adequate force shall be provided for the purpose of defending Australia. My friends opposite talk about the defence of Australia as if we were to defend it by ourselves. We cannot hope to do so. Our only chance of defending this great continent of ours is in conjunction with the rest of the British Empire. It is certainly our obligation to assist to provide a unit of Empire defence and to do our share in the protection of the whole Empire. We could not possibly protect ourselves against a third-rate nation at the present time, and only so long as we continue to be a portion of the British Empire can we have some hope of preserving the ideal that this country shall be a white man’s country instead of the hybrid sort of thing it would become if our friends opposite carried to a logical conclusion their notions of the brotherhood of man throughout all nations on the face of the earth.
– You are most unfair, because you do not speak truthfully.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Newland). - I ask the honorable senator to withdraw that remark. It is distinctly unparliamentary to accuse an honorable senator ofuttering an untruth.
– I withdraw my remark. At the same time I say that the honorable senator should be more accurate.
– I turn now to the actual amendment before the chamber. Senator McDougall has moved that both the cruisers should be constructed in. Australia. We have had submitted to us a number of figures showing the difference between the definite cost of construction in England and the . estimated cost of construction in Australia. The Government proposes that one of these vessels should be ordered in Britain as soon as the bill is passed and the authority given for the necessary expenditure.
– Has not one cruiser already been ordered?
– That assertion .has come from the other side on half a. dozen occasions, and has been denied by the- Minister in charge of the bill.
– It originated from the other side of the chamber.
– If the honorable senator constantly repeats that assertion, he will soon believe it to be true.
– The Government proposes to order one cruiser from Britain as soon as the necessary moneys are available. It is proposed later to build a second 10,000-ton cruiser iu Australia if the price for which it can bo. constructed justifies such a course. For defence purposes it is desirable that we should build up in Australia an organization capable of constructing and repairing battleships, but in this respect our expenditure is limited. If the second cruiser can be built in Australia at a reasonable price, the older for it should’ be placed here. Senator Grant, in his vigorous defence of the Australian worker, seemed to charge those who sit behind the Government with the crime of belittling the capacity of our workers.
– Senator Lynch said that Australian workmen ‘go slow.
– I do not remember any statement coming from this side of the chamber, even from Senator Lynch, charging the Australian workman with incapacity.
– He said that they were loafers.
- Senator Lynch said, in effect, that many Australian workmen were not allowed under present conditions to work, to their full capacity.
– He said nothing of the sort.
– It is most regrettable that his statement is true. I know as much about Australian workmen as most men. I have seen the men under my command work in compe tition with other men drawn from all classes in other parts of the world, and I say without hesitation that, when the necessity arises, no man can do more than the Australian workman.
– The honorable senator did not find his men going slow.
– BROCKMAN. - When there was occasion to work fast, nobody could work faster. It was miraculous how, out of “almost nothing, there grew up in the night field works in France. I have the utmost admiration for the capacity of the Australian workman, but I regret that in Australia very often he is not allowed to work to his full capacity.
– And th.e Opposition knows that that is true.
– Honorable senators know it. There is no doubt that, very often, the Australian workmen do not work as well as those in other parts of the world.
– I ask the honorable senator to give some proof of his statement.
– It is my desire that one of these cruisers should be built in Australia, but when I see what is constantly going on here, I have very grave fears as to what may be the consequence if we do decide to build in Australia one of these vessels, both of them, or any ships at all. The only place at which a cruiser can be built is Cockatoo Island. There we have equipment probably equal to any other of its sort in the world. It is certainly the best in the southern hemisphere. I remember seeing in a newspaper a few weeks ago that a vessel called the Port Lyttleton had been damaged and sent to Cockatoo Island Dockyard for repairs. For reasons which we need not discuss for the moment, that vessel was declared “black,” and the workmen at Cockatoo Island Dock, including the engineers, platelayers, &c, refused to touch it. In consequence, the Port Lyttleton was sent to Batavia for repairs, and £30,000 worth of work which should have been spent at Cockatoo Island is now to go to Batavia. The vessel was declared “black” because some members of the crew who had been brought before a judicial tribunal were under the laws of the land sentenced to a term of imprisonment. These arrogant workmen, who reside at Cockatoo Island, and other trade unionists, demanded that the prisoners should- fee* released, otherwise the vessel would- be declared “ black.” The demand was refused, and the vessel was declared “black.”’ These mem, who defied the laws of’ this1 country, are the very men on whom we shall be dependent if it is decided to construct a cruiser at Cockatoo Island” Dockyard. Any thinking man would hesitate before deciding that the second cruiser’ should be built, in Australia. If the keel, of this vessel were laid at Cockatoo Island, and the work, to cost over- £2,000-,000, were proceeded with, it- might happen that, after expending £1,000,000, some absurd demand1 would be made by the workmen employed at Cockatoo Island1, who have got any government more or less- under their- control1. No other workmen in> Australia can do the work, and no other dockyard1 can- carry it out. They have an absolute monopoly of this work, and, .fudging bv their past actions, I must’ confess that ‘I feel afraid of what might happen if it were- decided by the Government- to- build a cruiser in Australia. Much as I realize that, in the interests of- tha defence of Australia, it is; necessary that we should have at. Cockatoo Island naval construction equipment:, and a trained staff,, I fear, and every thinking man in. Australia must: fear; what would seem, to be the inevitable result of’ attempting to build this vessel in Australia.
– Is Great Britain free from industrial: disputes?
– Why ask such- an absurd question?!
– Why ask such a pertinent question ?
– The honorable, senator does nothing but stigmatise Austra: lien workmen-
– 1 have definitely said that I admire Australian workers: immensely. and that I believe that there are no workmen in the world who are capable of giving such thoroughly satisfactory and efficient service ; bur. I. have endeavoured to- point out that these Cockatoo Island men have a monopoly in Australia,, and, judging by their past actions!, they are not to be trusted. I hope that I. ‘am wrong. .
– In other words, the honorable senator refuses to give them the opportunity of demonstrating the great ability that he says’ they possess ?
– I ams frankly afraid of all monopolies. This is. not the only form- of monopoly that I fear: I certainly fear most a. monopoly h* the hands of ignorant men guided by enthusiastic ‘’ red raggers.” Honorable senators opposite point, out that throughout the world there are coming into existence- Labour governments controlling ‘the destinies of nations, and that all1 the nations und’er the Washington- Conference and’ other agreements are ceasing to build up armaments. I have not been abl’e to discover- that, except in the terms of the Washington Treaty itself, in which it was agreed that certain capital1 ships only should be scrapped, any nation is abandoning the building of navies or is scrapping its armaments-. Senator Hannan, for instance, drew a rather delightful’ picture of the conditions in Russia, and he said that soon the- rest of the world would be under the control of Labour, and thus end all armaments. There are.more men under arms in Russia to-day than ever before in the history of that country. There has been more blood shed and more misery in Russia during the. period that the Workmen’s Government,, professing, the brotherhood, of man, has. been in control- than, ever before.. Moreover, that country, last week held up as a, shining example to us by Senator Hannan, is building no less than eight 10, 000-ton cruisers.
– Honorable senators opposite are only half-baked bolsheviks.,
– We know that other nations are not allowed under the- Washington Treaty- to construct capital ships, but there is no- restriction regarding the construction of 1’0,000-ton cruisers. What is’ happening? At present, Britain has under construction 5 of these vessels, America, 10’; and Japan, 8, with 6 more among its future programme. France has 3, and Italy 2. Even. Germany has 1, and Russia has 8.
– I call the honorable senator’s attention to the fact that, according to Archibald Hurd, Japan has eleven..
Senator DRAKEBROCKMAN.Brassey’ s Naval and Shipping Annual for 1924, states that Japan has eight under construction! and six projected. Of the six that were projected at the time of publication, three- have since been commenced, ‘so ‘actually Japan is mow ‘building ‘eleven, and there are three others on their programme, making a total of fourteen. Japan is not (building .those cruisers for a joke. lt does not without a purpose expend 42 per cent, of its total annual -revenue upon its naval rand military forces. It is utterly -absurd for .honorable senators opposite ‘£> :say that we must rely upon the goodwillof -this nation not to .attack Australia, when she is faced with -the tremendous problem of finding -an outlet .for her population. The population .of Japan has ‘been variously estimated at from 60,000,000 to 80,000,000, equal to 360 persons per square mile, over her total area. As only 1-6 per cent, of that total area is capable of .reproduction, the population of ‘that portion works out at 2,100 persons per’ square mile.; -and it is increasing .at the r.ate of .approximately 800,000 persons per annum. Obviously an outlet must be found .somewhere for - this expanding population. Korea has very -limited possibilities, .and is already thickly populated with Koreans. Manchuria’s capacity to absorb a greater population also is .limited. The islands held by Japan in the north Pacific cannot take a very much larger population. The Japanese “began to immigrate to America by the hundreds of thousands, .but that outlet -has now been closed. In the ‘southern Pacific there is this great continent of Australia, carrying a population of less than 6/000,000, .an average ‘of 1..-8 persons per .square mile. Yet I am told that it is no concern of ours that Japan is building .a stronger and ever stronger navy, and that we have no need to consider the problem presented by its overcrowded population. I have not referred to the mainland of Asia. The conditions there increase the problem of the Japanese :and exaggerate our own. If we do not take action in the direction of protecting Australia .from -possible extraneous aggression, I .foresee the time -when Australia will contain a race of hybrids. If we do not take effective steps to keep .the Asiatic and the coloured races generally out of Australia, we can look forward .to succeeding generations of halfcaste Japanese and Australians. .Honorable senators opposite speak with a multitude of voices and of counsel. If we accept their advice we shall take no action to defend Australia. If they said that money spent -on the defence of Australia would be wasted ; if they argued that we should direct our energies and our revenue towards filling Australia with a -white population, I -could understand them. There would be some sense in that line -off reasoning. ‘But they -do -not. When aa, proposal is brought down to assist immigration for the purpose of increasing the white population of Australia, it is invariably .opposed by -honorable senators opposite.
– No !
-BROCKMAN - I <do not remember one occasion when honorable senators opposite nave not opposed the granting -of money to ‘enable immigrants to be brought to Australia. I have .not known >one occasion when they “have not bitterly and “vigorously apposed the granting of money for the -effective defence of .Australia.
– Produce the division lists.
– I invite those who follow me in the de’bate to refute my statements if they can. It “iR very easy to ask me to produce the division lists when I am on my feet and it is not possible for me to do so. These :two matters are closely associated, and J am. confident that my assertions regarding honorable .senators opposite .are absolutely ‘Correct.
– -“Not by any means.
– - It is most significant that these two matters should always be opposed by honorable senators opposite. I have previously asserted that the present unsatisfactory state of the defences of Australia is due to the action taken two years ago by the Labour Opposition in another place, when it caused the reduction of the Defence -Estimates by £2,000,000 per annum.
– It is due to the legislative and ‘administrative “incompetency of the National party, lt has had the power; why has it not used it?
– That .assertion was made by Senator Hannan when he .spoke last week. I have ‘ since pointed out ito him that a ‘government cannot spend -money if Parliament will not vote it.
– The” Gov.ernm.ent nas a majority .in .both Houses.
– The Labour party joined the Country party in a refusal to provide the necessary money for the defence of Australia. Consequently, we are faced with the unsatisfactory position that our Navy is obsolete, or, at the very best, obsolescent; our fixed defences right round the coast are death-traps, and are not worth a snap of Ihe fingers; the men under training have been reduced from 118.000 to 31,000; and no money has been provided for the training of officers. I could give a long list of deficiencies, but I have done so previously in this chamber, and honorable senators are acquainted with the position. The present Government, comprising members of the National party and the Country party, has realized the seriousness of the position. Fortunately, it is not now dependent upon the goodwill of the Labour Opposition, and it is able to bring down measures to put right what was almost a calamity. I hope that the Senate will reject the amendment moved by Senator McDougall, and that it will pass the bill without any unnecessary delay.
.- The matter before the Senate, as far as I understand it, is that the Government proposes to provide £2,000,000 to be expended in the defence of Australia. The bill does not indicate the manner in which it is intended to expend thatamount. I take it the Minister has announced that the proposal is to spend the greater part in the construction of a couple of cruisers. The argument now centres round whether those cruisers shall be built in Australia or in some other part of the world. The Labour party, as far as I understand its platform, has always stood, and it stands now, for the defence of Australia. Its platform provides for certain amendments of the Defence Act.
-Brockman. - One of those is the abolition of compulsory military training.
– That is one of the most important amendments that it advocates. I admit that the Labour party was previously in favour of compulsory military training, and that I was num”bered amongst the advocates of that system.
– That was before the honorable senator and his party were controlled by the “ red raggers.”
– The “ red raggers” have never controlled the Labour party. That party supported the compulsory training of the youths of Australia, thereby putting them and their parents to a great deal of inconvenience. The experience we have since gained, however, has convinced us that there is no need to continue the system. That is one of the many lessons taught us by the war. Australia was unprepared for war except to the extent to which her youth had been trained, and so were many other countries. When war broke out Great Britain had only a couple of hundred thousand trained men who were fit to go into the field immediately. Victory was gained for her not by those who were fully trained when war broke out, but by the men who were then in her factories and workshops. They were skilled in the various industries that were necessary to carry on the war, and were able to convert the factories from peaceful to war-time occupations. They did not require military training. Because of the training they had gained in their trades they were able to produce guns and shells. When they went to the war their womenfolk took their places in the factories. Yet I am told that it is necessary to train all our youths in order to make them Qt to fight. The war taught us that it is a waste of time and of money to carry on an extensive military training system.
-Bbockman. - That is absolute rot.
– The Labour party stands for the defence of Australia. No institution in this country is better suited to that purpose than the Labour organizations.
– Trained men held up the enemy until others could be trained.
– There is a certain number of trained men in Australia. We do not want to dispense with them. We are, however, opposed to foolish expenditure. We believe in filling Australia with skilled workmen and building up our industries. Great Britain, being a great manufacturing country, had an enormous number of skilled men to draw upon. She was able to turn out enormous quantities of munitions from all her factories and workshops, and in that way was able to hold up her end so well during the war. Honorable senators opposite, and the party for which they stand, would do nothing to build up the industries in this country, as has been done in Great Britain. As a matter of fact, it would seem that they want nobody to come to Australia because they offer no one a decent chance of earning a living here. “We have been told that the immigration policy of the Government is part of its proposals for defence. What has been done in that direction? It is true that many thousands of young men and women have been brought to Australia, to them a strange country, without money, and in some cases they have been offered work at about 10s. a week.
– During, the last harvest season in Victoria. If the honorable senator and his friends really want to get at the real position, I advise them to go down to any of our labour bureaux and make a few inquiries. Better still, they might offer themselves for such jobs as may be available. They will then find out what some of our immigrants are getting. We of the Labour party say that we are prepared to defend Australia, but in a different way.
– Withoutexpending any money?
Senator BARNES. No. Money must be spent, but we say, “ Spend it here.” Other speakers in this debate have mentioned certain important activities that, formerly, were carried on by the Commonwealth Government. A few years ago the Commonwealth had at Geelong a splendid woollen mill, that turned out a tremendous amount of material for the clothing of our soldiers during the war. As soon as the National Government got the chance it absolutely gave that fine establishment away. To-day the people own it not. Yet the Government and its supporters accuse the Labour party of squandering the people’s money !
– That was the last election cry. The honorable senator is two years late.
– It will be heard again, and it will follow the honorable senator to his defeat at the next election. As we have a great country, we ought to make up our minds to defend it in a sensible manner. We can do this by making the industrial conditions so good that we shall attract the most desirable class of immigrants. During the Labour regime of 1910-13 there was a greater flow of immigration than at any other similar period in the history of the Commonwealth. We must spend money for the improvement of our roads and the development of our industries. We should not forget that the British immigrants now coming to Australia have left relatives behind them. They are intelligent people, and they are entitled to decerntreatment. If, as has happened so often, they find that the promises made by our immigration agents in England are not being kept, they write to their friends and relations, telling them that they might as well have remained in England to starve there instead of in Australia. A great war necessarily alters the outlook of the people. This has been the experience in all the countries that were involved in’ the last great struggle. All that the war-mongers, the people who were responsible for all that happened, had to offer the hundreds of thousands of gallant men who, after the war, came streaming back to their own country, was unemployment. Hundreds of thousands of Englishmen who had been in the battle-line in France, Egypt, Gallipoli, and elsewhere, returned to the Mother Land to face unemployment and starvation for themselves and their families. This state of affairs awakened the people of England, and led to a change of government.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that he would have allowed the Germans to walk over him?
– By .no means. No man will ever walk over me whilst I live. Germany was accused of having been the cause of the war because, so it was said, she was everlastingly spending huge sums of money for military and naval purposes. All this was probably true, but, in view of her situation amongst the nations of Europe, I fail to see how Germany could have done otherwise. She had hostile nations on every border, every one of them armed to a greater or less extent. Germany never knew the moment when France, on the one border, might launch an attack in an effort to steal some of her territory. She never -knew when Russia might attack on her eastern border. She never knew when the other states in Europe might become aggressive. Because of her position, -.Germany was absolutely compelled to arm herself to the teeth. Having done so, it is possible “that the war lords of Germany conceived the idea that possibly they could rule the earth. I do not know whether it is true ; .but it has been said of ike ex-Kaiser that he reckoned that -he was -greater than :.God, and that he probably considered he could govern the people of the whole world better than they were then being governed. That would not have been a very difficult task for any man, since so many countries, including our own, had been badly governed for so many years. At the close of the war, and when millions of fighting men were returning to their homes, the governments of the various countries found it impossible to provide employment for them. “We may take it that men who were “game” enough to fight would certainly not allow themselves to starve without a protest. Consequently, there has been a change of government in .Great .Britain. ‘ To-day the British Labour Government is rapidly absorbing -the unemployed Englishmen, who practically .since the war have been tramping from Lands’ End to John o’ Groats looking for work. The people put in power Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, a man who, during the war, was hunted like a hairy dog from one end of England to another, because he dared to give expression to pacifist views. Today Mr. Ramsay MacDonald stands in he eyes of -the world as one of the (greatest -personalities that has ever held the Prime Ministership of Great Britain. He has been ;able to do more for the peace of the world than any other man since Our Saviour preached on earth peace; goodwill toward men. He and his government stand for the people. In France there has been the -same movement. Poincaire, the great French -war lord, .the . man who was responsible for the maintenance of 300,000 African niggers in ‘Occupied Germany, where they were permitted the . overlordship of German white women, has been displaced. -Because of -what .she did in ‘German territory which she occupied, France will -probably go down to history as a nation unworthy at that time to be spat upon. To the credit of the French people it must be said, however, that when -the general election gave them the opportunity they swept away the war mongers, and to-day France is governed by a pacifist party. M. Herriot now governs France. Within the last few days there has been evolved an .agreement with regard to Germany’s economic stability which former Prime Ministers had been endeavouring for years to bring about. If was only when a Labour Government took office in England that it was possible for the nations concerned to come to an agreement that will mean so much for the peace of the world. Turning now to the bill and the amendment, we hold that Australia need spend very little money for military or naval purposes, at all events for some years to come. Personally, I do not think there will be war for twenty years. These cruisers which it *is proposed to build W1 be scrapped probably within five years of their completion, so that the money to be spent on their construction will be -wasted. Any nation with designs upon Australia .must transport its troops thousands of miles across the ocean. Instead .of spending money on cruisers, we should pin our faith to the most modern .system of defence. With up-to-date aircraft we could easily keep .enemy cruisers away from the coast of Australia. Airships and aeroplanes suitable for defence, could be utilized in time of peace for commercial purposes, .just as steel works could be converted into munition factories in time of mar. The proposal to build -cruisers -is .so stupid that I venture to say that it will be quoted very effectively against the Government and its supporters. I support the amendment by Senator McDougall, for he proposes to ensure the expenditure within the Commonwealth of any money voted for the provision of cruisers. It is admitted that Australia has an up-to-date dockyard, and if it is necessary to build these ships, I see no reason why .they should not be constructed in our own country. If we ‘have not the necessary machinery, why not obtain it rather than send the work abroad? In reply to a -question asked to-day by Senator Duncan, it was stated that the Peninsular and Oriental Steamship Company intended to have its ‘ships docked -and repaired in Australia. This .great company would not have -come to such a decision if labour here were as costly as has been suggested by some honorable senators opposite. If the- statement isi true, that it. would cost twice a» much- to. build ai cruiser in- Australia as it would cost in Great Britain, I make bold to say that the difference in price is not the fault of the Australian workman. There must be some defect in the equipment available here. I have every confidence) im the* Australian, and I am not praising; him too much when I say that, his work is at. least equal to that of any artisan on- the other side of the world. The people of Australia axe prepared todefend themselves, and if it. is. necessary to spend money on warships,, I think, the country will be. behind any action taken, but, in any case, I advise that the money devoted to this purpose be spent in «.heCommonwealth. I stated in. my opening remarks’ that much’ had been, learnt as a result of the late war. The Labour party has been sneered at, because its present attitude on the subject of defence is different from the view it held! 20 years ago-. I point out that if the Labour party still held the same ideas that it propounded 20 years ago, it would’ not to-day b© finding such favour with the majority of the electors. Ours, is- the. only rising political party in the Commonwealth. Our opponents are dying out, politically, as rapidly as. the blacks, and they will probably be wiped, out completely at the next election:.. It is easy to. see the’ trend of public- opinion, and Labour,, like any up-to-date party, must vary its platform as it gains increased knowledge and wider experienceEven, in. the National: party the young people are not content to follow exactly in the footsteps of their fathers. The. Labour party may have many faults,, but it is little use for me or any other Labourman to. jibe honorable senators opposite over the political crimes which they havecommitted’, for their shortcomings are as obvious to the electors as they are to me. I regard the- amendment as a commonsense one, since it provides forthe employment, in1 the- Commonwealth, of many- skilled men, whose services may be needed in years to come, whether they are> Australian born or whether theyare from the. Old. Country. When Labour’ ia returned’ to power, we- shall not mind if: tens of thousands of Britishers come to Australia provided good jobs can be provided for them. It seems to me that the Labour party alone- can hold out that inducement to our kinsmen across- the seas. We say that the work of- providing means of defence should be carried out by Australians, in Australian’ factories, and with Australian money. The vessels should be manned by Australians^ and then,, no doubt,, they will, like the ship, of which’ Senator McDougall spoke recently, be a revelation’ at every port at which they call.
.- The honorable senator who has just resumed his seat referred’ to the lessons, taught us by the- late war- and learnt since, and lie stated’ that nobody could have lived through that; period without profiting, by those lessons: I quite agree with him, but, judging by his remarks on the defence proposals of the Government, the honorable senator has. apparently failed to learn the real lesson that the war taught. He said that we could defend Australia with untrained men.. He and his party may be quite sincere in their contention, but I remind them that it is utterly impossible, according- to all naval and’ military authorities, to use largebodies of men for defence purposes- unlessthey have been adequately trained. Does any honorable senator imagine that this country could be protected by men taken from farming districts and from factories without previous training? The Labour party now agrees to Australia having warships built, in Australia. Will it not be necessary to train the men who are to man those vessels? Surely, then, it will’ also be necessary to train the men rer quired for our defence on shore.
– We say that the training should be of a voluntary character.
– I. am not talking . about conscription, but about the- broadsubject of defence-. From a number of indefinite- statements we- gather that tha Labour party is prepared to defend Australia by means of submarines or- aero.planes. It is admitted that, experts: fail to agree upon the best means of defence to- adopt. A British admiral recently stated that submarines- would1 soon- be obsolete, for their crews would be in such peril that they would never leave port. The Labour panty has gone Back on. the attitude- it adopted when its former leader, Mr. Andrew Fisher, established- the Australian- Navy. The Labour party, and especially Mr. Fisher, deserve all credit for the introduction of that principle. Mr. Fisher told me that most of his colleagues in the Cabinet were strongly opposed to the building of an Australian Navy, and that a two-thirds majority was in favour of presenting a dreadnought to Great Britain. Mr. Fisher consulted a number of his outside friends who were in a position of influence, and I advised him to stand firmly for an Australian Navy. The action that Mr. Fisher then took resulted in the building of the Australia, which saved the Commonwealth from being dominated by the Germans. Had it not been for the presence of that vessel in the Pacific, the German cruisers ‘could easily have taken or ruined Melbourne and Sydney, as well as New Zealand. The Prime Minister of New Zealand (Mr. Massey) admitted that it was the Australia that saved that country from being taken by the Germans.
– Would not that vessel be equally serviceable to-day, if she were still afloat?
– She had become more or less obsolete, but she was of the capital class; and had to be sunk. If the sinking of the Australia was a step towards disarmament - not complete disarmament, but a slackening off in the competition to build vessels of war - it was a good thing for Australia. The point I. wish to emphasize is that it was the fact that the Australia was within call, as part of the Australian Navy brought into existence by a Labour Government, that, early in the war, saved the people of Australia from suffering the destruction of property, and possibly a great deal of ruin and distress. Any one who studies the subject of defence must realize that, in addition to munitions, we must have the best-equipped forces and men capable of doing the work required of them, particularly in the direction of building and repairing vessels of war. Therefore, while we have a defence policy, and while we maintain a navy, Cockatoo Island, which has been described as the best-equipped dockyard in the Pacific, is absolutely necessary. And if we require more up-to-date machinery in order to enhance the value of what we already have, we must procure it.
– If that is the case, why are not both cruisers to be built in Australia ?
– That would be quite impossible.
– It is useless to ask that both cruisers should be built in Australia. It would take three years to build one, and by the time the second cruiser was completed it would be obsolete. We could not build two cruisers at Cockatoo Island without having the necessary plant to enable two to be built simultaneously. Of course, if the idea is merely to keep men employed without regard to the fact that the vessels when completed may be obsolete, the two cruisers can be built in Australia, but in the meantime their services may be required. I sincerely hope they will not. The construction of cruisers ought to be regarded as a form of insurance for Australia. Just as every man insures his home or his life, we should insure Australia at the cost of building one cruiser locally, while the other is obtained as quickly as possible from the Old Country. I should not object to building the two vessels in Australia if they could be turned ‘out in a reasonable time. I am not particular whether what I am now about to say may be regarded as decrying Australian workmen. In my public career I have always made it a practice to tell the Australian workman candidly what I think of him. Until recently Cockatoo Island was a disgrace to the people employed there. I was a member of the royal commission which investigated the Commonwealth’s activities at the dockyard, and quite a number of men have told me quite honestly of the loafing and go-slow tactics formerly practised on the island. Several honorable senators know of this just as well as I do. The best proof that the men were not giving their best services is the fact that half the staff is now turning out as good and more work than used to be turned out, by double their number.
– It was not the fault of the men; it was almost entirely the fault of the management.
– There was bad management to a degree, but there were some members of the unions, whom I can only describe as more or less ignorant individuals, who. gathered so much power into their hands that they were in a position to force weak managers at Cockatoo Island to do what they should never have agreed to do. As a result, the men forgot themselves. They began to reckon that they were there for life, and they did not care what happened. Although I honestly say I am in favour of having a cruiser built at Cockatoo Island, and would have the two cruisers built there if they could be completed within reasonable time, I would hesitate to support such a proposal if there was any possibility of a recurrence of the conditions which formerly prevailed. Every person examined by the royal commission, including men with a world-wide knowledge of naval matters, highly commended the work turned out by Australian workmen. Of course, there was no necessity on the part of the commission to elicit praise for Australian workmen, but every effort was made to draw out of the witnesses the reason for forming such an opinion. Some even went so far as to declare that t<he work of the Australians was the best they had ever seen.
– That is the reason why the Peninsular and Oriental Company are having their docking done in Sydney.
– There is a report in the press that the Peninsular and Oriental Company propose to have their docking done in Sydney, but I shall believe it when I see the ships actually in dock. The Australian workman has proved beyond all dispute his ability to do the finest work required on a vessel, and I am looking forward to the successful establishment of the shipbuilding industry in Australia. I served my apprenticeship in Glasgow, which has now become one of the hugest shipbuilding places in the world. Glasgow has achieved that distinction because its workmen have always turned out good work. Australia, owing to its isolation, will never become a great nation, unless the shipbuilding trade is established here. For that reason I am extremely anxious that everything should be done to encourage not only shipbuilding, but also the iron and steel trade, to carry on. As we cannot hope to succeed without them, whatever the cost may be it is absolutely necessary to encourage them. But we cannot establish them successfully without the assistance of the workers. Therefore I appeal to the men. who are working on Cockatoo Island to do a fair day’s work, and show their efficiency, if they are given one of these cruisers to build. I do not ask them to sweat or rush things, but simply to carry on under their awards, giving a fair day’s work and showing how efficiently they can carry out their task. If they will do this they will benefit directly, and at’ the same time they will be doing something for the country, for which the country will always be grateful. It is useless to have a defence policy unless we have the necessary defence equipment, and the necessary skilled labour to maintain it in good repair. In regard to the report that the Peninsular and Oriental Company will have their boats docked in Sydney, it will be necessary, for the future welfare of Australia, to have a larger dock than we have at the present time. We must have a huge floating dock, because the size of vessels coming to Australia is increasing. Many vessels trading to Australia are of 20,000 tons register.
– A vessel of 20,000 tons has already been docked at Cockatoo Island.
– But we cannot handle larger vessels. The big battleships of the British Navy that happen to be iri Australian waters at the time they need overhauling or have occasion to be repaired, should not have to go to Singapore to be docked. It ought to be possible to have them docked and repaired in Australia. For that reason I am very anxious that the shipbuilding trade should be encouraged in every possible way, and if we can encourage it by having a cruiser built here, by all means let us make a start. The first cost may be heavy, but in the long run it will prove to be a good business investment for the future. Our friends opposite have had a great deal to say about getting on without defence of any description. Their ideas, however, are very vague. I have always been a peaceful man. I have always advocated peace.
– At one time the honorable senator had the reputation of being a fighting man.
– Our experience of life, particularly the experience we have gained during the great war, compels us to apply a little common sense to the talk we hear about brotherly love and internationalism. I have always been a sincere believer in the aim of our friends opposite in regard to that internationalism and good fellowship between the nations without which civilization, to my mind, is impossible, and I regret that at times honorable senators on the Government side of the chamber have seen fit to talk in rather contemptuous and sneering terms about brotherly love and internationalism. However, human nature is what it is. Although I agree that those who stand out for internationalism and peace among the nations are the best preservers of peace we have at the present time, and that they are our best hope for the future bringing together of the nations, I realize that we have before us the necessity for protecting ourselves during the transition stage. Just as any man will protect himself against fire and burglary, so, whether we believe in defending ourselves or not, we must have a. defence system of some sort. Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, Prime Minister of Great Britain, the pacifist of pacifists - a prince of peace - whom I know, and hisCabinet, many of whom are also personally known to me, have just had occasion to demontrate the truth of what I am saying.. When the Egyptian Government commenced to irritate the people of the Soudan, did Mr. Ramsay MacDonald send along a peaceful mission of good fellowship? No. He and his Cabinet had to deal with the facts confronting them in a practical way, and they sent a cruiser to Alexandria. It is the same with the defence of Australia. We must deal with it in a practical way. Although I am , an advocate of peace, and believe in internationalism, I know that Australia must protect itself against possible intruders, just as any man would protect himself against burglars. We must take human nature as it is. If honorablesenators want to know why it is thata nation is ready to fight let them examinethe characteristics of those amongst them. Let them take, for example, Senator Needham and Senator Gardiner. Both those honorable senators are aggressive men, and strenuous fighters. They are typical of many who are scattered not only throughout Australia, but every country - men with strong views, who, when the nation has some grievance against another, .are always ready to rush their country into was. At this stage of the evolutionary process towards universal disarmament, it is useless to shut our eyes to the facts that confront us. For instance, honorable senators opposite have been accused of being dominated by” red raggers.” A large section of the industrial unions believe in direct action.
– When did the honorable senator change his opinion about direct action ?
– I do not know that I have ever changed my opinion. Before the ArbitrationCourt wasestablished direct action was very often necessary, because it was the only instrument that the workers had to protect themselves. To-day workmen’s grievances can be redressed by the Arbitration Court, and there is no need for direct action. But a large section of the industrial unions still believe in direct action, and will break agreements in the most dishonorable way. They prevent the mailing of vessels, and inconvenience the public because off some paltry grievance. There still exists that same selfish, personal view. These men do not care about the community. We had instances of that in the tram and police strikes here. When the police went on strike the mob ran loose in Melbourne, smashed shops, and robbed and thieved everywhere. What did the police who went on strike care about the interests of the rest of the community? They had their own personal grievance, and they took direct action. The same thing applies to nations. A section of the people - the fighting military crowd - believe in direct action. Although we talk about bringing people together and using our efforts in the interests of peace, . there is still in existence amongnations this class consciousness, which is such a damnable doctrine.
-is that a parliamentary expression ?
– I ask you, Mr. Deputy President, whether itis parliamentary to say “damnable.”
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Newland). - Does the honorable senator take exception to that expression?
– I certainly object to it:.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - The honorable senator must, withdraw the word, since exception has been taken to it.
SenatorREID. - It is an ordinary English expression, but if it has hurt the sensitive feelings of my honorable friend, opposite I most humbly withdraw itand apologize to him. Class consciousness’ is the most abominable doctrine advocated by any section of the community, and can end only in direct action, war to the knife, and even civil war, which is theworst of all wars. Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, the Prime Minister of GreatBritain, has done more in the short timethat he has been in power to bring about confidence, goodwill, good fellowship-, and peace among the people of Europe than any Prime Minister did before him.
– Does not the. honorable member think that the way was prepared for him?
– I freely admit that, but according to the law of evolution he came into power at the psychological moment to bring about peace. He was the man for the job and the job was ready for him.He commenced from the beginning; with the idea of peace at the back of his mind. He did not. rattle the. sabre,, but worked rather in the interests of internationalism,. of which he has always been an advocate. In that spirit he approached the European powers. Although Mr. Ramsay MacDonald is an idealist, yet he is practical in. his actions. France has suffered much at the hands of Germany. Since 1870 Germany has been hated by France, and when at the termination of the late war that nation, with the help of the allies, brought Germany to her knees, Germany’s hatred of France must have been greatly intensified. Yet Mr. Ramsay MacDonald has brought France and Germany together.. It was a dramatic moment when he persuaded Dr. Marx and M. Herriot to shake hands after the agreement had. been signed. I am in favour of. that form or internationalism. Many predict that within the next three or four years there will be a war even worse than the late war.
– Armageddon isto take place, according to Mr. Marks, in 1934.
– I am not dealing with that prophecy. Although. I am an. advocate of peace,. I seriously believe that there is grave danger that within the next few years we shall be involved inthe greatest of all wars - the greatestnot in the number involved, but in the terrors and distress that, will follow Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, and those who believe in internationalism, are on the right track, but, that doctrine will have a set-back,, the same as it had when the late war commenced. All my life I have been connected with the movement of internationalism. Before the war the democratic forces in Britain and Australia - the tradesmen and the socialists - had pledged themselves to prevent war. It was also understood that the moment war was declared the supporters of the movement in France, Germany, Belgium, and Italy would down tools. The intention of the Kaiser was known, and the German socialists did their best to, oppose him. But when war broke out they lost their heads, and forgot their pledges, just as people in other countries did.
– The same as, the honorable senator did.
– That is. not so..
– Germany was a conscript country.
– I. am not making excuses;, but stating facts, so that my friends opposite who advocate internationalism, will not fall, into the pit.into which the supporters of the movement fell at the outbreak of war. In Germany only, five or six advocates of this doctrine stood out, and amongst them was Leibniecht, who adopted the same attitude: as his father did in 1870. He. was killed for his loyalty to the. cause. I am in favour of the defence of Australia on sane lines. Since the war a. movement has commenced in. Germany among, theyouth of that country. The boys and girls are banding together, recognizing; quite fairly that their nation was principally to blame for the war. Thousandsare joining, the movement, including boys of the school, age. It must be remembered that the minds of the German boys and girls were poisoned in the German schools and universities. They were worse militarists than the military forces themselves. The students at senior schools and universities have now banded themselves together to carry the burden of taxation and suffering, that their country may be cleared of the name which its action put upon it. I know from private information that I have received from that country that the teachers, the professors, the scientists, and the cultured people have been the greatest sufferers. Owing to the efforts of the youth of Germany, I am convinced that in a few years that country will make a great recovery, and that the mind of the people will be free from the taint with which it was affected prior to the war. Japan has been mentioned as the potential enemy of Australia, and, in this respect, I wish to place before honorable members the following paragraph, which quotes the opinion of Mr. Robert Nichols : -
Just prior to his departure from Japan, Mr. Robert Nichols was interviewed by a representative of the Japan Advertiser on present- day education in Japan. His opinion, arrived at after having occupied for the past three years the chair of English literature at the Tokyo Imperial University, is : - “ You ask me for my opinion on education in Japan. Before I answer, I want this understood : I reply, first, as an admirer of Japan’s two supreme virtues - stoicism and capacity for hard work; second, as a confessed humanist, who came to Japan expressly to try to aid the understand-, ing between East and West; third, that I speak as one who wishes not wantonly to serve Japan, but as one who believes that what Japan is in sore need of is healthy, informed criticism. There is too much wanton mud-slinging, both by the Japanese press and by the press abroad, on all subjects dealing with Japan, both with Japanese internal and Japanese external affairs. Japanese conceit and foreign prejudice are both apparently limitless. But the conceit of the Japanese has a better basis, as far as foreigners are concerned, than the prejudice of the foreigner. For foreign praise, no less than foreign abuse, has been absurdly irresponsible.”
There is a good deal of wisdom in thai statement. The Japanese are exactly what he says, conceited, but they have been made so principally by the foolish praise given to them by the people of other countries. They have gained their present position by imitating the great powers of the world, and they can now claim to be the one power in Asia that is likely to menace Australia. Japan has a crowded population, but for years to come there is plenty of room in Korea and Man churia for her surplus people. I am norat present afraid of Japan wanting to take possession of Australia. The Koreans detest the Japanese, but they cannot get them out of Korea.
– The Japanese may want to occupy Australia next.
– They may, or . they may not. It would be quite a different proposition to undertake the occupation of Australia, because they would come up against the might of the British Empire. A great deal has been said in this chamber about the British Empire. I should like those who so frequently refer to it to tell me what they mean by the British Empire. Do they mean the white section ? Do they mean Great Britain and Ireland? Do .they include India and Africa? What is the proportion of whites to blacks in Africa? With all due deference to those persons, I do not think they realize what the Empire means. The Empire to-day comprises a two- thirds greater . number of blacks than whites. Some of these coloured people are just as cultured and intelligent as we are, and can fight as well. Do honorable senators believe that they will accept without protest all this talk about the Empire from a few arrogant, aggressive white people who are using the Empire for their own purposes ? Let us look at the facts. I believe in the Empire. Even in my worst Labour days I believed in it, because no nation confers upon its subjects as much liberty as we enjoy under the Union Jack.
– What liberty do the Indians enjoy under the Union Jack ?
– The Empire comprises coloured people as well as white people. The defence of Australia will be best served by Empire statesmen recognizing their obligations to every part of the Empire.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Newland). - I ask the honorable senator to confine his remarks to the bill.
– I consider that I am confining my remarks to the bill. It makes provision for the defence of Australia. ‘It is contended that Australia may be menaced by Japan. I am endeavouring to show, that that danger will be aggravated if insults are continually hurled at Japan. We cannot defend Australia without the assistance of the Empire, and I am trying- to show what the Empire really is. It is composed of both black and white races. I have nothing to say against my own race. I realize that we are the most arrogant, aggressive type on the face of the earth at the present time. That is a part of our inheritance. It has enabled the Empire to be raised to its present strength, and to dominate the world. But can we continue to do that ? I contend that we cannot. We have reached the point when the millions in Asia are demanding to have their claims recognized. The great danger that we have to apprehend is a conflict between the white and the coloured races because of the drawing of the colour line. Unless we. face the facts we shall fmd ourselves in trouble. If India were granted self-government, as she should be, it would be the greatest measure of safety that Australia could have. The Empire would then be able to speak as a commonwealth of nations. The Empire to-day is faced with the necessity of giving- equal liberty to all its subjects, allowing each part to work out its own destiny. Japan has a population of only 70,000,000, and no nation in Asia is detested so greatly by Asiatics. A Chinaman would almost starve before he would purchase Japanese goods. The same feeling towards the Japanese is evinced in India. In Asia no one will trust a Japanese out of his sight.
– The honorable senator -rebuked others for insulting Japan. What is he now doing ?
Senator- REID. - I am not insulting Japan. I am explaining the feeling that Asiatics have towards Japan. They speak from experience. Japan does not exercise in the East the influence that some persons imagine she does. She possesses no influence outside her own country. If we enjoy close friendship with those peoples of Asia that belong to the Empire, and lift them to the position they should occupy, they will not allow us to be threatened with invasion. All the military and naval authorities, as well as the leading statesmen in the world, say that the next test of strength will be in the Pacific. Why? Because of Japan’s ambitions. China, with her millions of people, is the most pacific nation ‘in the world.
– That is largely due to the fact that China has no daily newspapers.
– The Chinaman is different altogether from the Japanese. There is only the one power that is likely to cause any trouble in the Pacific. We must treat the Japanese as we would wish them to treat us. Japan, during the war, fulfilled every obligation into which she entered. There is no doubt that Australia owes her a debt of gratitude for the way in which she protected and helped us during the great war. I should treat Japan as I would expect to be treated by her.
– Would the honorable senator admit Japanese nationals into Australia ?
– No. I expect Japan to treat us as we treat her. If it is good for us to impose certain restrictions upon India, it is equally good for India to impose restrictions upon us.
– The” Japanese say that our treatment of them must not be different from our treatment of the white races.
– The Japanese are quite right to resent an insult. One cannot help admiring them for standing up in defence of all they cherish. It is .because we do not appreciate their ideas that we speak contemptuously of coloured people.-
– Supposing that the Japanese insisted upon his point of view, would the honorable senator fight him?
– Of course- I should; did the honorable senator think that I would not? I would not go out of my way to make trouble, but I would say, “ There is the line ; you keep to your side, and I shall keep to mine.” Where I differ from many of my friends, both inside and outside this chamber, is that they think they are superior to a coloured man.
– I pointed out to the Senate that I was holding Japan up as an object lesson to others.
– A white man lays claim to superiority because of his colour. The fact is that the coloured races belong to a civilization which is much older than ours, and had made a considerable advance whilst we were yet in a savage state. We have done a good deal for civilization in the way of improving the means of production and of transport, but we are apt to overlook the achievements, of other nations in past centuries., When we begin to appreciate whatthey have done we shall adopt a different attitude towards them.
– The Japanese Government will, not allow a foreigner to. hold a freehold in Japan.
– Ido not blame them on that account, as they have but a small area, and have. to make provision for. such a. large population. I was not referring to the internal laws of that country. There are many opportunities for the expansion of Australian trade in Asia.. If. we adopted a more friendly attitude, and entered into trade agreements, we could dispose of a large quantity of our produce which at present, is, shut out from Europe. Whilst making provision for the defence of Australia and the fulfilment of our ideals, we must regard in a generous spirit the ideals of other nations. If we do that Australia will not be placed in the position of jeopardy that many persons’ prophesy.
– Like Senator Barnes, I do not. often speak in this chamber. I. trust, however that I. shall not make such remarkable statements as those to which he gave utterance this afternoon. I desire at. once to. join issue with my honorable friends opposite, who claim that theyare alone in the desire for peace.-., Honorable, senators on this side are as genuinely desirous as any one of. maintaining peace. If, the. efforts of the Labour Government in England ensure a continuance of peaceful relations with other nations it will be a worthy achievement.
– Some credit must be. given to General Dawes for his. scheme.
-I quite agree with the honorable senator, and I expressed this view, by way of interjection, when an honorable senator opposite was, giving so much credit to Mr. Ramsay MacDonald for having succeededin bringing about an agreement between the nations concerned. I said then that much of the British Prime Minister’s success was due to the adoption of the Dawes scheme, and the action of the international bankers. I remind our friends opposite) that the people we: represent have’, up to the present,been largely responsible: for the; furtherance of the cause of peace-. I take- it. that the proposalfor the. establishment of the League of Nations, was- not put forward by Labour: Although the League has not done quite so much as was expected of it, nor will itwhilst certain of the great nations of the world stand out, its creation, was a step in the right direction. The resolutions of the Washington Conference,. which certainly did. not emanate from theLabour movement; were anotherimportant peace: gesture.For what he has been able to do in the direction of bringing peace to Europe, the present. Prime Minister of Great Britain is. entitled to every credit, but. I suggest that the. Dawes, report and the action of the international bankers were largely instrumental in bringing about the recent agreement. Looking further afield to the head-quarters of the international Labour movement, we. find that. Russia has the largest standing army in the world. Therefore, it does not seem that there is much sincerity about the peace proposals of Labour in Europe. However, if our Labour friends; are earnest in. the matter they will find us prepared to assist them in every way possible.. Whilst human nature remains unchanged I am afraid that we shall always have to face the probability of war. Accordingly, we should evolve some system of defence. We do not want to be aggressive. The British nation has never been aggressive, and as anoff-spring of the Motherland, I do not think Australia can be accused of hostility to other nations. Those of us who have seen war in other countries, those of us who have seen the homes of the people burning, know what War means; and are agreed that the best defence scheme for Australia is that which will permit us to take the offensive at the outbreak of war and carry the war if possible into the enemy’s country. I assume that, if we admit that these premises are sound, the next thing to consider is what is the best system to adopt. Our first line of defence has properly been said, to be naval. Without posing as an expert, it seems to me that the system of Australian naval defence must be based on Singapore. With due respect to the attitude of the British Labour Government concerning the Singapore proposal, I feel confident that, at, the proper time, it will go on with that scheme. Pending the construction of that base it should be the duty of Australia, by the construction of fast cruisers, backed up by submarines and seaplanes, to provide some assistance for the naval power of Britain, upon which we shall have to depend for the safety of Australia. For land defence I agree with our friends of the Labour party that we should pay every attention to the manufacture of munitions and war equipment. In this respect, Australia is in a better position to-day than ever before. I do not say that we are better equipped as regards the clothing of our troops, because there is not now the need that there was during the war, but we have the type of civilian factories in full operation, and if necessary they could, at short notice, be turned to the production of war supplies. As for the army, we should certainly seek to improve the present defence force, because, no matter what naval defence we may have, if, unhappily, we were attacked and did not possess an efficient striking land force, we should never be able effectively to defend this country. It is an accepted axiom that no navy has ever yet won a war unless -supported by an effective land force. I expect, therefore, -that the Government will give attention to this aspect of its defence proposals. The bill itself is an instalment of the defence programme which I have briefly .sketched. 1 believe it is the intention of the Government to build two cruisers, and also to provide a certain amount of equipment and munitions. We are given to understand that one of the cruisers will be built in the Old Country, and the other in Australia.
– That statement- has -not been made definitely by the Government.
– Well, that is my own view. It goe3 without ‘saying that one of the cruisers will be built in Great Britain., because we shall get it very much cheaper and in a much shorter time than would be possible if both were constructed in Australia. If it is possible to build the second cruiser in Australia, I shall certainly favour that course. There is much to be said for the policy of developing naval shipbuilding in the Commonwealth, and -making this country self-contained in that respect. Therefore, if the proposal to build the second cruiser in Australia is reasonable, both as to the time occupied in the construction and the cost, we ought to have it constructed here. ;On the question of pacifism, I should like to say that even if we reach the millennium of the pacifists in Australia, we shall always have to face the possibility that other nations may not be pacifically inclined.
Sitting suspended from 6. SO to 8 p.m.
– If the woite races ever realize the ideal of perennial pacifism, they will always be liable to have their peace disturbed by a more virile race which can never attain that ideal. The history of both white and coloured races teaches us that that -danger is always present. Even in New Guinea we know that peaceful coastal tribes that till the land are sooner or later set upon by warlike -tribes from the mountainous country. Although we’ have -Japan with us to-day .as a -member of the League of Nations, we may not always have the goodwill of that country. I think it should be the object of the white races to co-operate with a view to what .may one day be necessary: a common defence against the coloured races of the world. All engaged in connexion with the government of this country should read closely and take to heart the lesson (contained in that important work by T, L. Stoddard, The Rising Tide of Colour. The subject of suitable coal for the navy, which has been raised in the other branch of the legislature, is very pertinent to this debate. The Government have been taken to task for paying £25,000 for the importation of Welsh coal. In my experience it is most desirable that this class of coal should .be available for special purposes in time -of war. The job entrusted to nae during the late war was the command of troops passing to and from England, and I can assure honorable senators that whenever the ship on which I was .stationed had Welsh coal the vessel was able to travel from 2§ to 3 knots an hour faster than when any other coal had to be used. From Wales to Australia is a great distance to import fuel, but I believe that in -Central Queensland we have coal that will be found, on test, to be ivery little inferior to, if not as good as, the Welsh ^article. I am glad to say that some 107 miles fromRockhampton a seam 18 feet in thickness has been discovered, and gives assays approaching those of Welsh coal. In the tests so far made, theCentral Queensland coal has been shown to possess steaming qualities beyond that of any coal so far found in that highly-favoured region. I therefore look forward with great hope to Australia being able to supply the coal requirements of the navy in these waters, should we ever again be in the unhappy position of having to go to war. The defence programme, spread over a period of years, as outlined by the present Government, provides for cruisers, and I understand also that the provision of aircraft and modern submarines is contemplated, while attention will also be given to the manufacture of munitions. The improvement of our country’s defences is certainly a matter on which we should concentrate our attention. The first instalment of two cruisers is most desirable, and I shall havemuch pleasure in supporting the bill.
. I have listened with great interest to the debate. I intend to support the bill, and I should not have spoken but for certain statements from honorable senators opposite, which should not go unchallenged. It has been repeatedly asserted by them that they see no necessity for any measure of military training.
– The honorable senator has left out the word “ compulsory.”
– As I have understood the attitude of my friends opposite, they have deliberately stated that it is not necessary for the Australian to be trained, since he is a soldier by instinct.
– We favour the voluntary system.
– I had experience of that method long before the compulsory system was introduced, and those who have had that experience, including the Leader of the Opposition in this chamber, Senator Gardiner, will not contend that it gave Australia a force of any considerable size. It certainly provided us with a nucleus which was invaluable for training the expanded force that was brought into being under the compulsory system. But can we expect the young men, whose interests naturally lie in the football arena rather than the military field, to devote their time and attention to military training, particularly when that training is regarded with ridicule and contempt by the party opposite? To my mind it is criminal to adopt that attitude. Before the South African war some people in Great Britain imagined that their troops could accomplish what only trained men could do. Kipling’s words to that section were -
Ye pushed them raw to the battle as ye picked them raw from the street.
And what did ye look they should compass? Warcraft learned in a breath?
Knowledge unto occasion at the first far view of death?
What would we think of a man who pitted himself against a trained boxer, although he had never previously worn boxing gloves ? How would a member of this Senate shape against a navvy if he had not had a pick and shovel in his hands for years ? In this most vital matter of defence, where men’s lives and their country’s freedom are at stake, can we take the risk of saying that there is no need for training ? The people of the United States of America had somewhat the same idea when they sent their troops across the Atlantic in vast numbers. Those men had been trained for eighteen months or two years, and they were then put in front of the Australians, opposite the Hindenburg line, towards the close of the war. We all know what happened. The Americans begged us for the loan of a few juniorofficers and non-commissioned officers to teach their generals and colonels what to do. Weknow how they were ambushed at every turn and shot down from the rear by the Germans: It was all for the want of a little preliminary training. Those men did not know the rudiments of a soldier’s training.
– That must have been due to bad leadership.
– Undoubtedly, but we cannot blame the leaders, who were never given an opportunity to become efficient.
– Why were they given positions which they were not fit to occupy ?
– It is impossible to tell by looking at a man whether or not he is capable of discharging a particular task. Inthe Australian Imperial Force our leaders were men who voluntarily devoted years to the study of war. Fortunately Australia had time to prepare during the late war. Picked men were selected to command bodies such as a division of infantry or a division of Light Horse. When they were tested at the Front many failed to stand the strain. I am speaking more particularly from the infantry point of view, where the very knowledge of whether an attack is practicable is only attained by years of study. Still more is this the case in regard to artillery and other technical arms.
– How many years training is required ?
– -In peace times an officer would require 20 years’ training to fit himself to command a brigade. The necessary knowledge cannot be acquired, merely from books. I have heard Senator Gardiner say that we should have schools for officers and should have kept our Australian Imperial Force officers up to date. That is all very well, but those officers returned to Australia under a great handicap. They have had to- devote their energies to earning a livelihood, and little encouragement has been given them by the party opposite to keep themselves fit for military service. Officers have’ always been sneered at and referred to as “ brass hats,” &c. I am not now connected with the defence force, but for ten’ years before the war I never had a holiday that was not spent in some military encampment or school of instruction. I think it is regrettable that contemptuous references are made to those- officers and men who are willing to sacrifice their . time to fit themselves for war service should their country need them. They are at least entitled to decent treatment. In regard to the building of two cruisers, a great deal has been made of the fact that immediately after sinking the Australia we propose to spend money on building cruisers. I grant that it seems a ridiculous idea, without further explanation, but the Australia was sunk in order to carry out a definite undertaking by the people of the Commonwealth with the other nations who took part in the Washington Conference. Japan undertook to reduce her battle fleet to ten ships, and has done so. America undertook to reduce her battleships to eighteen, and has done so. Great Britain undertook to reduce her battleships to twenty-two, and ‘ has done so. Australia has done her part by sacrificing our only battle cruiser. Honorable senators talk about Mr. Ramsay MacDonald’s peace gesture by refusing to build a naval base at Singapore, but the people of Australia made a far more emphatic, gesture for peace when they sunk the Australia. The Singapore base would not be an offensive weapon that one could pick up and take across the seas to attack Japan, whereas the Australia was an offensive weapon that could be taken all over the world to fight an enemy. Honorable senators may ask what advantage is to be gained by building cruisers. I understand that it was intended by the nations to limit their light cruisers and submarines, just as they agreed to limit their capital ships, but, unfortunately, a hitch arose. Owing to the attitude of Germany, France realized that it was impossible for her to sacrifice her submarines, and it was only natural, in such circumstances, that Great Britain would not be prepared to sacrifice her cruisers and destroyers, the only weapons with which, as it had been shown, she could cope with submarine attacks. Far from limiting her efforts in the direction of building cruisers, Japan had in May last 84 ships of the ‘ cruiser and other auxiliary types under construction, a number far exceeding what Great Britain or the United States of America has on the stocks. We can say nothing against Japan on this account, because she is committing no breach of the Washington Treaty, which unfortunately did not touch or include vessels of this type. The Washington Treaty permitted Australia to retain the cruisers Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Adelaide, but the Sydney and Melbourne, which rendered such fine service during the war, are rapidly approaching the time when they will become obsolete. Surely there is no harm in replacing them, and I cannot understand how it is that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner) declares that any steps taken towards the replacement of a worn-out cruiser is a militaristic gesture or threat to the world. I have always expressed the view that the navy is undoubtedly our first line of defence, and when Senator Pearce agreed that the Australia should be scrapped I have no doubt he contemplated that she would no longer be required for the defence of Australia, because some of the 22 vessels allowed to be retained by Great Britain would be definitely stationed at Singapore.
– Does the honorable senator think that the new guns should have been sunk with the Australia1!
– There was no use for those guns once the Australia was sunk.
– Could they not have been placed on another vessel ?
– I understand that it would have cost an enormous sum of money to have had them mounted in a serviceable way for coastal defence purposes. But the war has’ shown that fixed defences are obsolete. Once enemy aeroplanes have located fixed guns it is only a matter of time for those guns to be blown out of existence.
– Before the keels of these two cruisers are laid the vessels themselves will be out of date.
– I know that progress in naval matters is fairly rapid; but I do not think it will be as rapid as the honorable senator suggests. It would have been a difficult matter to mount these guns on the cruisers proposed to be built. They are of enormous weight, and it is doubtful whether they would have been of any service except on the vessel specially built to carry them. No doubt that is why the Government came to the conclusion that apart from the Australia, for which they were specially designed and built, they were of no use whatever, and might as well be- sunk with the vessel to which they belonged. In framing a policy for the defence of Australia, it was undoubtedly the intention that we should rely upon the construction of a base at Singapore, where a British fleet, of which our cruisers would form a component part, would be stationed. No enemy fleet could have passed that base to the attack of Australia. Its existence would have rendered possible, by cutting off supplies - even without the firing of a shot - the capture of any hostile fleet attempting to pass it.
– How far would the Singapore base be from Australia?
– I think it would be about 1,500 miles from Darwin.
– But how far would it be from the nearest hostile base, or from what might possibly be a hostile base?
– It would be much further than 1,500 miles, proving that its construction was not an offensive measure. Not until an enemy had made a definite move in the direction of Australia would it have been in any danger from the Singapore base. The importance of that base to Australia would have been its strategic position. Practically from every side, except South America, an enemy fleet that attempted to make an attack upon Australia would have been threatened by if. It is a military axiom that you cannot move by a strong enemy position without first reducing it. Therefore, before any offensive movement could have been mad: against Australia, it would have been necessary to undertake the reduction of the Singapore base. It is a very important factor that Australia should be given breathing time in which to get its defence forces into line, and that breathing time would ha,ve been afforded had the Singapore base been built. By the abandonment of its construction we have lost an inestimable advantage, but T am still hopeful that the present British Government will see Australia’s point of view.
– I think its construction has been postponed for a long time.
– So much the worse for Australia. Japan having; limited herself to ten battleships, it would have been an easy matter for Great Britain to spare not an equal number, but a sufficient number of vessels to guard that strategic point, which the Japanese dare not disregard. I am hopeful that the British Government will realize how easily danger to Australia could be warded off even without the necessity of firing a single hostile shot. In the last war it was not necessary for the British Fleet to seek out the enemy. For the greater part of the time it was sheltered in Scapa Flow, but, nevertheless, it was a definite menace by which the enemy dare not attempt to rush. It is quite true that, situated as we are now, it is possible for a strong navy to come to Australia and defeat our cruisers, but itis not always necessary to meet an enemy face to face. The proposed cruisers, by judicious handling, might be a sufficient menace to an enemy force to make it hesitate about attempting a descent upon Australia. There are many places where our vessels could conceal themselves, and yet raid transports of enemy troops. I know the great anxiety that was felt when the Australian troops were crossing the Indian Ocean under the convoy of British, Australian, and Japanese cruisers, and when it was realized that the Emden might, in the half darkness of sunset or early dawn,* rush in and sink a dozen transports, even at the risk of being sunk herself. If we have only two cruisers we may prevent at least an unarmed fleet of transports from making a descent on our shores, which would otherwise be possible.
– Has the honorable senator any fear of the Javanese, of whom there are 45,000,000, making a descent on Australia ?
– I do not think there is any practical danger from that direction for the moment. I do not think the Javanese are armed, and in any case they are a subject nation, but their present masters may disappear and a distinct danger may develop in that direction. There are, however, other directions, in which danger may develop. It has been urged that submarines are a complete defence against any attack that may be made upon Australia, but I should like to hear of one instance in which, during the recent war, submarines were able to dp anything effective against armed forces. It is quite true that they were deadly enemies of merchant transports, and even of merchantmen fitted out with odd gun3, but without trained gun crews. The submarine has no chance against the destroyer, .which is its, natural enemy.
– How many battleships did the submarines sink at the Dardanelles ?
– Two or three.
– I suppose that the honorable senator considers that a mere nothing.
– It is true that the submarines did effective work there, but only under special circumstances.
– The method of dealing with submarines was then in its infancy.
– The attack was unexpected, as it was not thought that submarines were about. The precautions which were subsequently taken in the North Sea and other places where the presence of submarines was known had not then been adopted. Once it is known that submarines are in the vicinity they have no chance against a war vessel, particularly a destroyer. They have more chance of a surprise attack on a battleship than on a destroyer or light cruiser. More and more towards the end of the war the submarine menace was lessened. The installation of the listening apparatus warned surface vessels of the approach of submarines, and depth charges made it extremely dangerous for them to operate in our waters. There are other great disadvantages with the submarines. They are very uncomfortable craft, and I do not think would be very popular with our sailors. This is borne out by the following report by Admiral Coontz, commanding the United States fleet: -
Of the combatant ships taking part in the problems, the submarines are the worst. Their design is obsolete and faulty. Their ventilation is poor, and at times almost non-existent. The temperatures in the engine-room .rose as high as 135 degrees. They are unreliable. Some of their oil tanks leak, either spoiling their fresh water, or enhancing the fire menace, or leaving an oil “slick” whereby they can be tracked. The radius of the Holland boats is much less than rated, and they drag excessively when loaded. All the submarines are so deficient in speed as to be of small use for fleet work except by accident of position.
Of course, any battleship inadvertently approaching a submarine might be sunk. The following is a comment upon the report of Admiral Coontz: -
It is improbable that any other Government would permit the publication of such candid criticism of its naval material. Consequently, we do not know whether the American submarines are unique in their defectiveness, or whether their shortcomings are more or less common to the submarines of other navies.
Owing to the number of accidents that occur to submarines at manoeuvres, they are far from perfect as a weapon of warfare, and are extremely unlikely to attract a large number of recruits. That is my answer to the charge made by the Leader of the Opposition that I ^ am prepared to waste money on cruisers while the land forces are short of equipment. It would be not a waste, but a great gain indeed to make provision, however small, to prevent our Navy from going out of existence.
– How much is the honorable senator prepared t® vote for the defence of Australia?
– In view of our economic position, the proposals of the Government are at present ample for our requirements. If we allow our fleet to disappear, we must disperse their crews. A nucleus of officers and men trained iri peace, time can be expanded very rapidly in war time, as was proved in the case of the Australian Imperial Force. With no nucleus from which to extend, our position would be deplorable indeed. Recently Mr. Baldwin reminded the House of Commons that during, perhaps, the most famous democracy that ever existed - some 2,000 years ago - a great poet put into the mouth of one of his political stage characters words to the effect that if two orators were speaking, one of whom advocated an increase of salary and the other a proposal to increase the number of battleships, the state of public opinion was such that the salary advocate would win in a canter. The warning- from that is this - that within a generation of those words being written by the poet to drive home to his fellow-citizens their sense of duty, that great democracy vanished. Mr. Baldwin recently quoted that story in the House of Commons as an illustration of and a warning against the present-day tendency in Great Britain. The answer to the submarine is the destroyer. Then the. destroyer has to be dealt with, and so on by a process of evolution until wo come to the cruiser, which has to be offset by the battleship. There is a tendency all the time to increase the size of armaments. Fortunately we have been spared the final stage by the arrangement made at the Washington conference to limit the number of battleships. That agreement did not deal with cruisers, but in view of the greater leaning towards peace now being manifested in Europe, we hope that other agreements will be made to make it unnecessary to join once more in the race for naval supremacy. Senator Gardiner, in his speech, took great pains to unearth criticism on the military policy of the Government. He mentioned General Chauvel’s report, in which that officer had quite properly drawn the attention of the Government to shortcomings in the equipment of our forces. But I want honorable senators to understand that, poor as our state, of . preparation is to-day, it is 100 per cent, better than it was when the Labour party was in power.
– Has the honorable senator any proof of that?
– When war broke’ out we had no water-carts or military wagons for the equipment of our forces at Broadmeadows. I personally asked Mr. H. V. McKay for his assistance, and while we were in camp at Broadmeadows his factories supplied the whole of our military wagons and water-carts. To-day numbers of these vehicles are in store at Seymour and elsewhere.
– The order for those vehicles was given by the Labour party.
– Quite so; but at that time, owing to the existence of the British Navy, we were given a breathing space of a few months in which to build them. The same position exists to-day. Any criticism levelled against our lack of preparation could have been made to a much worse degree at the time of the outbreak of war. At that time no one on this side of the Senate criticized the Government of the day for its shortcomings in that respect. It was realized that Rome was not built in a day, and that a force could not be equipped complete to every shoe-buckle at a moment’s notice. We must proceed by stages until something approaching perfection is attained. I protest against the misuse of a document like General Chauvel’ s report to point the finger of scorn at a Government that is dealing as best it can with the defence situation, and just as well, if not better, than the Labour party would have done if it had been in power. Factories are in course of erection at Maribyrnong and elsewhere for the manufacture of munitions.’ It is not anticipated that war will break out immediately, and, therefore, no more men than are necessary are being diverted from their ordinary avocations to establish a nucleus staff for the manufacture of munition supplies. We shall do all that can be expected by continuing the work that has been carried on for the last three years. Although General Chauvel has criticized the defence policy of the Government, I would remind honorable senators opposite that if he had criticized the policy of the Labour party, his remarks might have been considerably more scathing. As far as I can judge, the policy of the Leader of the. Opposition (Senator Gardiner) is to provide machine-guns, with plenty of rifles and ammunition. He asserted that that equipment would render Australia quite safe without worrying about the training of troops. I want honorable senators to realize that the next war will be fought on a more mechanical basis than has been the case in the past. There will be instruments of war, such as super-tanks. Imagine the havoc that could be wrought by one tank in a defence force armed as advocated by Senator Gardiner. The tank was developed as a means for dealing with machine-guns. During the campaign in France we learned by ‘ bitter experience that, no matter how we pulverized the ground by shell fire, there was always the risk of a machinegun being missed. Operating on a flank, that was capable of mowing down a whole army. I have seen our men falling like sheaves from a reaper as the result of the Are of one gun that had been missed by our barrage. To meet such a contingency, the tank was developed. It was cased in armoury so1 that a machinegun could not do it any harm. I have seen a machine-gun and its crew crushed into the ground like sardines by on of our tanks. That was when, in the last phase of the war, the Allies broke through the enemy’s lines. The bravery of those gunners, who stood by their guns and allowed the tank to pass over them, could not have been surpassed, but it was utterly useless. So it would be with an untrained force of machine gunners in Australia, if we had to deal with a scientifically, armed and trained modern army. I therefore appeal to honorable senators opposite not to treat the defence of Australia with the levity which they seem inclined to display, but to realize that, whatever may have been the conditions in the time of our forefathers, when bows and arrows and battleaxes were used, today war is a science as deep and as difficult as most of the other sciences. It cannot be successfully carried on except under trained leaders, and with a considerable degree of training imparted to the rank and file. Modern guns are themselves scientific instruments of considerable intricacy, which cannot be mastered in a moment. Then there is the sound ranger, an instrument hardly heard of in Australia, although it was invented by an Australian. So exact was it that a German gun had only to fire once and its exact position could be located.
– It is a wonder that the Government does not obtain some of them.
– I cannot say whether it has or not, although I imagine that it has. It would not be likely to advertise the fact. At any rate, those instruments were used in the war, and they contributed very markedly to the defeat of the German artillery on the 8th August, 1918. An instrument of that kind cannot be worked by an untrained man taken from a factory. I trust, therefore, that, whilst realizing the necessity for exercising economy, a more liberal spirit will be displayed, by both the Country party and the Labour party, than was shown two years ago, when such a big cut was made in the Defence Estimates. That reduction is directly responsible for the present backward nature of our preparations.
– - In the few remarks that I have to make I intend to confine myself strictly to the amendment. I shall not, therefore, take very long to state the reasons which dictate the action that I propose to take in regard to it. The amendment is as follows: -
That all the words after the word “That” be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words, “ any sum spent in naval construction should be expended in Australia,”
Then . follows the most eloquent part of the amendment - thus relieving the distress caused by unemployment, and helping to develop Australian industries.
It would appear that one of the objects of the mover is to provide relief works. From the position that it occupies in the amendment, I judge that the principal object is to provide relief works for the unemployed, and quite secondarily to develop Australian industry. I have tried to remove the glamour that previous speakers have sought to cast around this matter, by no one more than by Senator Findley, to whose speech I listened with rapt interest. One would think from his remarks that it is quite a new proposition that we should allow Australia to embark upon shipbuilding; that it had never previously been tried in Australia; that this was a great opportunity for developing a new industry. I want to dispel that illusion, if anybody has been deceived by it. Honorable senators who take the trouble to inquire will find that we commenced naval shipbuilding nearly twelve years ago. The keels of the first ships were laid down in Australia in January, 1913, and the science, or industry - call it what you like - has been going on at intervals ever since. When I spoke previously on this measure, I pointed out that the results had not been satisfactory ; that on an average these ships cost about twice as much, and took more than twice as long to construct, as would have been the case had they been built in England. We have not at our disposal an unlimited amount of money. This proposal necessarily is but a beginning of what must be a naval policy for the Commonwealth. It- behoves us, therefore, to make the money at our disposal go as far as possible. Putting aside, for the moment, the question of creating relief works for the unemployed, and dealing only with the development of Australian industries, I think that every one must decide what the difference in cost can be before the experiment becomes too- costly. I have done that. This is not a matter upon which honorable senators can be dogmatic. It is a matter of opinion, upon which each honorable senator has his own judgment to guide him. Let me condense, as much as I possibly can, the result of the inquiries that- 1 made with regard to the probable cost of these cruisers, .founded not upon wild imaginings, but upon experience. We have, so far, built in Australia three destroyers and two cruisers. Our experience with those vessels entitles us to look a little way into the future.- The three destroyers cost Australia a total of £467,925 to build, and, adding the time3 together, their construction occupied a period of 122 months. They could have been constructed in England for £240;000 in 42 months.
– Does the honorable, senator know that a British cruiser has been on the slips for seven years?
– I do not.
– I can tell the honorable senator that that is so.
– I shall please myself what influence that will have upon my future actions. Now let us take the cruisers. The two cruisers cost Australia £2,017,405, and the time occupied in their construction was 103 months. In England, the offer was made to build them for £900,000 in 42 months.
– To relieve the unemployment in Great Britain.
– The’ honorable senator appears to be desperately intent upon relieving unemployment somewhere.
– That is what the honorable senator want3 to do - to relieve unemployment in Great Britain.
– Not in the least; the unemployment question does not weigh with me in the consideration of this subject. I want to look at this matter from a business point of view and make the money go as far as it can, always paying due regard to the amount above the English price that we are prepared to give in order to develop an Australian industry. If the honorable senator expects me to pay 95 per cent, more for destroyers and 105 per cent, more for cruisers, I am unable to follow him. In my judgment, we. should be going a great deal too far if we agreed to such a proposal. -When I hear the .honorable senator’s fortissimo and staccato interjections I am always reminded of Byron’s beautiful lines, for slight alterations to which I ask forgiveness -
Tis sweet to hear the honest watch dog’s bark
Bay deep-mouth’d protest as we get one home ;
Tis sweet to know there is an eye will mark Our coming, and grow brighter when we go.
Alas ! miserable man that I am, it is my misfortune that always the brightening eye of the honorable senator is a token of war and not of welcome. That is not altogether my fault; it is, unhappily, my misfortune. There is no doubt, also, that the honorable senator is the most stalwart and faithful watch-dog of the slogan, “ Less work for more wages,” that I have seen in this or in any other House. Hence, I suppose, this amendment that - he has moved. There are various other matters that are worthy of our consideration. I have heard it said that the material necessary for the construction of these cruisers cannot be treated in Australia; that the armour-plate cannot be rolled; that the so-called construction of the cruisers means, not their construction, but their assembling, in the Australian yards. .
– Does the honorable senator not think that it would pay the Australian Government to put down mills to do that class of work?
– If the honorable senator asks for my candid opinion, I have to inform him that the answer is in the negative. I would have been prepared to strain a point if in the history of the last twelve years of shipbuilding in Australia it were found that there were signs of a change for the better. Alas ! such is not the case. We find that the later ships constructed in Australia cost more, and took the longest time to build. If there is a tendency noticeable one way or the other, it is certainly not for the better. I have already said that every honorable senator is at liberty to please himself, having due regard, I hope, to the reasons which may be advanced, to justify him in any action which he may take or vote which hemay cast. Personally, I have satisfied myself. Other honorable senators I do not expect to satisfy. For instance, the honorable senator who leads the Opposition in this chamber (Senator Gardiner) stated, during the debate, that he was prepared to support an increase in cost of something like 250 per cent. in order to have the ships built in Australia. I certainly cannot follow him to that extent. I understand that, at a later stage, some limit may be set as to the increased price which we should be prepared to pay for vessels of Australian construction. I have already made ‘ up my mind on what I regard as a fairly liberal scale. I am not prepared to go as far as we have gone in the past, or as far as the Leader of the Opposition in this chamber is prepared to go in the future. If I may be allowed to make one little excursus, so to speak, into another branch of this debate, I should like to echo the regrets which the honorable and gallant senator who preceded me (Senator Elliott) voiced concerning the abandonment by the British Government of the Singapore naval base proposal. The present, it appears to me, is an age of gestures. The action of the British Government was a friendly gesture towards a certain foreign power. Australia has made one or two gestures of supplication, shall I say, towards that trusty and well-beloved right honorable gentleman who, at the present moment, . is guiding the destinies of Great Britain. Australia made a gesture to the
British Government on the question of preferential trade. It is possible we shall make another gesture for the restoration of the Singapore naval base; but, alas and alack ! the only gesture I can imagine that right honorable gentleman making from that Little England upon which alone his thoughts, and the thoughts of his party, seem to dwell, is the gesture referred to in the famous lngoldsby Legends -
The sacristan, he says no word that indicates a doubt.
But he puts his thumb unto his nose, and he spreads his fingers out.
That appears to me as likely to be the gesture which the right honorable gentleman to whom I have alluded will make in response to any appeal on behalf of Australia, or, indeed, of any of the other dominions, that they should get some consideration from the powers that be in the Motherland. I intend to oppose the amendment for the reasons I have given as briefly as -I possibly could.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be so inserted (Senator McDougall’s amendment) - put. The committee divided.
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
SenatorWILSON (South AustraliaHonorary Minister) [9.8]. - I think it may be truthfully said that the bill has been fully debated from every point of view. Attention appears to have been concentrated on the proposal of the Government to build two cruisers. On this subject, Senator Drake-Brockman gave the Senate a complete list of the 10,000- ton cruisers in course of construction by the nations that wereparties to the Washington Conference resolutions. The Government realizes, however, thatwith the present population of Australia it is not possible to do more than give effect to the resolutions of the Imperial Conference, and construct vessels which may be regarded as definite units in the Imperial naval defence scheme. More than that is not expected of Australia. Senator Gardiner stressed the importance of building these vessels in Australia.I can assure honorable senators that the Government has given very careful consideration to that proposal, but there are difficulties in the way. The manager of the Cockatoo Island dockyard informed me last week that it would take from three and a half to four years to build one of the cruisers at that dockyard. Those whose business it is to advise the Government on naval defence state definitely that the two cruisers will be required in from three to four years to replace the Sydney and the Melbourne. It is obvious, therefore, that both the vessels could not be built in Australia in the time. It is the desire of the Government to build naval units that Australia may be proud of. I appreciate the interest that has been taken in the bill by those honorable senators who have contributed to the debate. I cannot help mentioning the informative speech delivered by Senator Millen. His remarks were so impressive that they must have led honorable senators to give serious thought to the future. Senator Greene’s contribution to the debate was also most helpful. I regret that, owing to the drift of party politics, it is impossible to deal with any legislation, however important it may be to Australia, without the introduction of party issues. I shall do everything that lies in my power to have the work done in Australia, but there are certain aspects that cannot be disregarded. Senator Gardiner remarked that Sir John Monash was a gentleman whose views he believed this country took seriously.
– I quite agree with the honorable senator. It must be recognised that with his wide experience and commercial integrity, Sir John Monash, after consulting with the shipping and naval experts who, with him, are to consider this matter., should be able to furnish to the Government an opinion worthy of the most careful consideration. I appeal to the Senate to pass the bill as soon as possible, so that the defence programme of the Government may be put in hand.
Question - That the bill be now read a second time - put. The Senate divided.
Majority . .7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In committee :
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 -
There shall be payable out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, which is hereby appropriated accordingly, to the credit of the Naval Construction Trust Accountan amount not exceeding Two million pounds and to the Defence Reserve Trust Account an amount not exceeding Five hundred thousand pounds.
.- I move-
That the following words he added to the clause : - “ Provided that the moneys so appropriated shall be taken from moneys received by the Commonwealth as the proceeds of direct taxation.”
I take a keen interest in the subject of national taxation, and I desire that at least a portion of the cost of defence shall be defrayed from the proceeds of direct taxation. It would suit my. individual views if the amendment conveyed the idea that the land-owners in the Commonwealth should pay for the defence of Australia, in proportion to the value of land held by them, by means’ of a straightout land value tax, but such an amendment would be out of order in dealing with the present bill. I find from the Estimates that it is expected to collect for the year 1924-25, in round figures, £2,120,000 in land tax, £10,500,000 in income tax, and £1,250,000 in estate duties; making a total of £13,870,000. From time immemorial every effort has been made to arrange the incidence of taxation so that the great bulk of it falls on the shoulders of the poorer sections of the community. That of course is the basis of our Customs taxation. No body of people in the Commonwealth are more entitled to b,ar the cost of the proposed cruisers by means of a direct tax than those who own Australia. Although all who reside in the Commonwealth are interested in the matter of defence, those most vitally concerned are the land-owners.. I take it that this bill is only a preliminary measure, for to my mind the construction of two cruisers is an insignificant item ‘of naval defence compared with our actual requirements. I doubt whether even one of the vessels will be built in Australia. I do not propose to add to the discussion that has already taken place in regard to the advantage of having the cruisers built in Australia, but whether they are built here or overseas, the proper people to pay for them’ are those who own the land. At one ‘time it was recognized that the owners of Great Britain should pay for the whole cost of the administration and defence of their country, but, as years went by, those cunning gentlemen in manifold ways managed, to pass the taxation on to the shoulders of the poorer sections of the community. We have followed their example in Australia. I believe that my amendment will be in the best interests of the Commonwealth and of the people of Australia. I d55 not know how other nations collect their revenues for defence purposes,” but I know that in Great Britain, at the’ dictate of the landlords, the burden is placed on the poorer people through the Customs House, and in other undesirable ways.
– Is that in freetrade England?
– Yes, in so-called freetrade England. In so-called protectionist Australia we are collecting £36j000,000 annually through the Customs House.
– I rise to take a point of order. The £2,500,000 referred to in this clause is to be payable out of the Consolidated’ Revenue Fund into which all taxation is paid, yet the amendment seeks to ear-mark for a specific purpose a certain portion of the taxation payable into that fund. I submit that it is out of order to attempt to amend the statute which governs all payments into the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
– The amendment is not out of order because it does not propose to increase taxation or place any further impost on the people. ‘
– I am pleased that Senator Grant has moved this amendment. When the people who want defence find that they will have to pay for it, the defence we shall have will be of a sensible type. There will be no wasting of the millions provided by the toilers. There will be no spending of about £4,500^000 for which the Minister (Senator Wilson) in his reply practically admitted we shall get nothing. A great deal has been said by honorable senators who support the Government about the enormous rate at which other nations are building vessels of the type proposed to be provided for by this, expenditure. If we are to have a proper- defence, why do we not compete with those other countries? Otherwise, what is the use of building two cruisers, particularly when Japan is building 40? I realize that the men who man our boats will probably be good men’, who will handle them well; but the Japanese boats will doubtless be just as well handled. If we cannot, or are not to, build fleets commensurate with those of the people of whom we are afraid, why should we waste money in building two cruisers? It would- bring the Government to their senses if they realized that the people for whom they propose to incur this expense were to be called on to bear the cost of it.
– The honorable- senator is referring to the people of Aus-, tralia.
– I am” referring to the people who own the wealth of Australia. The toilers are paying, by indirect taxation, at least £16,000,000 a year towards the cost of governing the country, and if the wealthy sections of the community were taxed in proportion to their capacity to pay, there would be ample money for all governmental requirements. However, I anticipate that honorable senators opposite will be very reluctant to tax the people who send them here. Senator Grant’s proposal is not a new one, neither is it a party question. A National Government in New South Wales proposes to carry out a great state work in the shape of a bridge from Sydney to North Sydney. As that bridge is estimated to cost over £5,000,000 it is a work of similar magnitude to the building of these cruisers. In order to raise money to carry out this work the New South Wales Government has called upon the ratepayers in. certain municipalities on either side of the harbour who are likely to benefit by the construction of the bridge to pay special rates each year before the work is commenced. Until a certain sum of money is in hand it is not proposed to go on with the wort. I merely mention this to show that the principle contained in Senator Grant’s amendment, that the people who are likely to benefit by any particular work should pay for what they are getting, has even penetrated the minds of a National Government. Senator Grant’s proposal is that those who are financially strong should bear the burden of constructing these cruisers, whether they are built inside or outside Australia. I think that if the Government intended to build them inside Australia they would have said so. They would have endeavoured to exploit that Australian sentiment which is very much alive and alert to-day. They do not seem to realize that- their proposal is part of a scheme that was arranged between Mr. Bruce and Senator Wilson and the British Government, led by Mr. Baldwin - a Government that has now ceased to exist.
– Mr. Ramsay MacDonald is proceeding with the British programme.
– But not with the. Singapore Base, which was also part of the programme.
– I do not intend to open up a discussion on the Baldwin agreement, and I am merely mentioning it to indicate that Mr. Bruce and Senator Wilson did not follow the excellent example set by Mr. Baldwin, and submit their proposals to the people at a general election, which would have enabled them to carry them out or “ get out.” Senator Grant’s amendment is distinct and unmistakable.
– And provides for nothing.
– It provides that by direct taxation the cost of these cruisers shall be taken from the wealth held by people with large means. Let me show how lightly it will fall upon these people. I take it that two years and three months will be occupied in building one cruiser in Great Britain, or three years if it is built in Australia. For my own part, I think that both vessels could be built in Australia in three years. I venture to say that the estimate the Minister had from his naval advisers does not show how rapidly the vessels could be built if a sufficient number of men were employed full time.
– The honorable senator is straying away from the point.
– I was just about to show that if the amendment is carried, wealthy men in Sydney will be found volunteering to do some of the work. We should not have to wait to induce ordinary workmen to. leave other jobs to work at Cockatoo. Island. We should have a large body of earnest, active, patriotic citizens actually taking off their coats to go to work on the building of these cruisers if they found they had to pay for them. I have already shown that Senator Grant’s proposal is not new, and that it meets with the approval of a National’ Government, in connexion with the construction of a costly bridge. I want to show now how light the tax would fall upon all in Australia able to pay it if it were spread over all the years in which the vessels were being constructed.
– The tax for the construction of the North Shore bridge falls on all classes of the community on the north side of the harbour.
– It falls on the landlords only.
– But they pass it on to the tenants.
– I know that there is a difference between building cruisers and building a bridge. A bridge will serve a useful purpose, whereas these cruisers will simply serve an ornamental purpose.
– And so will this amendment, if it is carried.
– If it is carried, it will serve a very useful purpose, and I dare say if it is defeated it will adorn many an election manifesto. But what objection can be raised to it? The taxation to provide for the cost of these cruisers would be small if spread over the whole of Australia in proportion to the amount of land held and the incomes received by individuals. It would not amount to as much as the working class of this country pay by indirect taxation on the tobacco and beer they consume. We never hear honorable senators opposite protesting against the taxation of the workers, who pay through the Customs enormous sums of money. Some people class tobacco and beer as luxuries.
– Is not that the view of the honorable senator?
– Certainly not. The tea I drink is as much a luxury as the beer the honorable senator drinks. The Government refuses to tax tea drinkers as it does the beer drinkers, because their brains are too clear, and if such a tax were imposed the Government would be thrown out of office. The workers of this country are taxed on the necessaries of life - things that go to make life bearable - but when it is proposed to build cruisers the Government is not prepared to tax the people who can best afford to pay for them. Probably I should not condemn the supporters of the Government until the vote is taken, because in our courts a man is deemed to be innocent until he is found guilty; but I think I can anticipate that their vote will be against making the wealthy class pay its share for the defence of this country. When the wealthy class are compelled to pay their proportion of the cost, there will be a more effective system of defence, because they will use all their alertness and activity to prevent wasteful expenditure. That is the reason why I support Senator Grant’s proposal. The expenditure on defence of almost £20,000,000 since the war ended might just as well have been thrown into the sea. I heard a farmer, when discussing taxation, say that it was the greatest of fertilizers; it produced the greatest result from the soil, because the farmers then worked their land to enable them to pay their taxes. When the wealthy class is compelled to pay its share of taxation it will pay more attention to the defence of this country. By indirect taxation £16,000,000 a year is taken from the workers, and yet not a word of protest is raised by the other side, but a proposal to spread the taxation for defence purposes over a period of three or four years so that the wealthy section may pay its share - and a very moderate share, too* - is opposed by a solid array of Nationalists. I do not blame them, because they are here to protect the interests of the privileged classes, that supply the funds to send them here to do what they are told.
– The same old tale.
– The old tale of going slow has been repeated time after time by the honorable senator whenever the workers have been discussed. The honorable senator is going slow now. Ninety per cent, of the electors who voted for him are workers, not more than 10- per cent, representing the wealthy section. Yet he prefers to tax the workers and let the wealthy class go free, because he is a member of a party that represents wealth only.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I have listened with a certain amount of amusement to the speech of Senator Gardiner, who pretends to see a great virtue in the proposal of his colleague. He contends that if the amendment is carried by this committee the cost of building the cruisers will fall on the wealthy people of the community and not on the workers at all. He has, in the last quarter of an hour, in various ways repeated the same statement at least twenty times. He knows perfectly well, if he has read the clause and the amendment, that the proposal does nothing of the sort. It does not vary the area of taxation in the slightest degree, nor does it suggest that such a thing should be done. It does not propose that some new tax to pay for these cruisers should be laid on the shoulders of the wealthy section of this community, nor that a new tax should be imposed to raise £2,500,000. No doubt Senator Gardiner is well aware of that. What SenatorGrant suggests is that there shall be payable out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund “ an amount not exceeding £2,000,000, and also another amount not exceeding £500,000, provided that the money received from direct taxation which, has been paid into the Consolidated Revenue Fund shall be the money which is used for this particular purpose. All that Senator Grant is proposing is that out of the money which is paid into the Consolidated Revenue Fund - and I suppose about £13,000,000 is paid from direct taxation - £2,500,000 shall be expended for the construction of the cruisers. He does not suggest for one single moment that there should be an additional £2,500,000 raised from direct taxation over and above that already collected. He knows perfectly well that he could not propose such a thing under the bill. It is a little difficult to understand the indignation that Senator Gardiner worked up against honorable senators on this side. Why should we vote for this particular proposal? Is it not absurd on the face of it? Is it not apparent to honorable senators that if the amendment were carried it would mean that the rest of the annual obligations of the Commonwealth would fall to a greater extent on the people who provided the indirect taxation, and would leave the individual taxpayer in exactly the same position as before ? The same amount as before would be raised by direct taxation. The amendment would simply secure ‘ that . direct taxation would pay for the cruisers, and indirect taxation would, to a greater extent, pay for the other annual services of the Commonwealth. On the face of it is it not perfectly absurd to ask this committee to agree to a proposal which would accomplish nothing ?
– I am not satisfied that the amendment proposed by Senator Grant would place the cost of the two cruisers upon the land-owners of this country, but whether the motive is wrong in its expression or in its intention, there is no doubt as to the desire of the Leader of the Opposition. He wants the wealthy people to pay for the construction of those vessels. I should not object to that proposal in the’ least provided that the wealthy section in every other walk of life were equally taxed, but I certainly object to his intention to ask the landholders to find the money for the construction of the cruisers, allowing other wealthy people to escape scot-free. Under such a proposal, what would happen inthe case of Anthony Hordern of Sydney?
– He would pay more taxation under this proposal than would half of the Western Australian farmers.
– The taxation that he would contribute under this amendment would be nothing compared with what would be paid by the farmers of Western Australia. Hoskins, the iron-master in New South Wales, besides owning other property, is building a fourteen-story building in Sydney, and he, under this proposal, would escape taxation. The same would apply to all persons who make infinitely more profit out of their businesses than farmers out of their land. My main objection to the proposal is that it does not give justice even to the wealthy classes of the community, but is directed entirely against the farming community. In New South Wales today there is only a limited amount of land available for settlement. This is clearly shown by the competition obtaining for every block of land or estate thrown open for selection. There is a scarcity of land in almost every state, with the exception of Queensland and Western Australia, and I object strongly to placing further taxation upon the farmers and workers on the land, and so discouraging settlement. A few weeks ago, when discussing the Commonwealth Bank Bill, Senator Grant wanted power to be given to establish the Credit Foncier system in order to assist the man on the land. On that occasion, he was brimming’ over with sympathy and anxiety for the man on the land, but now he has swung to the opposite extreme, and wants to extract taxation from that section to pay for the construction of two cruisers. If these vessels “ are built the cost should rest evenly upon the community, and especially upon .those who are best able to bear it. The proposal by Senator Grant would place the whole cost of these cruisers upon the shoulders of the least paid section of the community - the people working on the land - and I am surprised that the Leader of theOpposition has lent his influential support to such a proposal. I ask Senator -Grant to withdraw his amendment.
– I am not at all surprised at the attitude that has been adopted by Senator Lynch. I thought I had made it clear that I merely wish to add to clause 4 the following words -
Provided the moneys so. appropriated shall be taken from the moneys received by the Commonwealth as the proceeds of direct taxation.
Senator Lynch is under a misapprehension if he has come to the conclusion that my proposal relates only to the lands of the Commonwealth. I have many times stated that the greatest land values are in the cities, not in the country. Senator Lynch has cited the ease of Mr. Hoskins and Anthony Hordern and Sons. My belief is that the land owned in Australia by Anthony Hordern and Sons has a greater value than ‘ the combined values of the land held by all the farmers in Western Australia. Does not Hoskins own land in Lithgow and Port Kembla, in addition to residential or office sites upon which he is now building in Sydney and elsewhere? Senator Lynch is always pleading for the protection of men who own land that possesses an enormous value. His sole desire is to impose taxation upon beer, spirits, tobacco and other things that make life agreeable to most people, and to allow the wealthy land-owners to escape. There is a certain amount of truth in what Senator Greene has said. It is quite true that no new tax would be imposed, but the statement that this is an absurd proposal is very far from the truth. - I remember that Gordon Alexander Huie was characterized as a crank by some persons who held large areas of vacant land in New South Wales when he was advocating land value taxation for local rating purposes. Much to their surprise- and annoyance, under Labour regime in the. council of the city of Sydney the method of taxation was altered to, one upon land values, and they had to pay very heavily. Instead of characterizing Huie as a crank, they then said that he was a most dangerous man, who should be put down. Those persons still have to pay taxation in proportion to the value of the land that they own. I pass by the other assertions made by Senators Lynch and Greene ; they have endeavoured to cloud the issue. I do not confine myself, as Senator Lynch would have honorable senators believe, to the taxation of land values for the purpose of defraying the naval and military expenditure of Australia. I do not believe in the income tax; I consider that there is nothing, more’ objectionable, because it is a direct tax upon industry. I hold the same opinion regarding the death duties. But .those taxes are levied, under our laws, and I suggest that out of the moneys so received the naval expenditure now proposed to be incurred shall be defrayed. I should like to say, also, that the naval expenditure is not a. small item. This year it will run into £3,425,000, apart from the special appropriation of £1,000,000 for defence purposes. If that were defrayed from the moneys received from direct taxation it would have a very beneficial effect upon our naval and mill:tary advisers. This is the fairest method of defraying the defence expenditure of the Commonwealth.
– I should not have risen but for the fact that Senators Greene and Lynch have made some rather interesting remarks. Senator Greene put’ forward the proposition that, even if this amendment is carried, the amount can only come out of the direct taxation already collected ; that no additional direct taxation will be imposed.. Senator Greene must know that the wealthy classes will not pay more while they are protected by this Government, and that the workers will have to do it. The time may come, however, when that protection will be removed. Then this provision would operate very effectively. I come now to Senator Lynch’s extraordinary statement - extraordinary because I think h© was quite honest in making it. I do not wish to reflect in any way upon such an excellent business man and such an all-round Australian as the head of Anthony Hordern and Sons. I have calculated that their palatial emporium has a frontage of 300 feet to George-street, 300 feet to Pittstreet, and 400 feet to Goulburn -street - three of the principal streets in Sydney. I want to show Senator Lynch that the city man would be called upon to pay land value taxation. In Sydney, last year, a block of land across from the Hotel Australia, in Castlereagh-street, with a frontage of 17 feet, was sold for nearly £30,000. How much, then, would Anthony Hordern’s property be worth?. On that valuation it would be worth over £1,000,000. I think that any one who knows Sydney will admit that its value is as great as that piece of land in Castlereaghstreet. Senator Lynch appears to think that any land tax must ‘fall upon the farmer. A tax upon unearned values would not. Lucky indeed is the wheatgrower who has agricultural wheatgrowing lands that are worth more than £4 an acre. Senator Lynch, who is a farming man, will bear me out in that. If it were heavily timbered country it would cost that amount to clear it, and he would not be called upon to pay any tax. If it were open land without heavy timber, in addition to his clearing he would have improvements to effect, such as the conservation of water, the erection of buildings and fences. If that cost is deducted from the value of his land there is very little value left to tax. Therefore, the farmer would escape taxation under this proposal, and the whole of it would be borne by the rich areas in the cities and their suburbs that have big unearned values. The £30,000 that was paid for the land in Castlereagh-street, Sydney, really represented the unimproved value of that land. There was a building upon it, but it would have been more valuable ha’d the building not been there. The new owners immediately pulled it down, with a view to- erecting a building that would approach sufficiently close to Heaven to enable them to get back in office rentals enough to compensate them for the price that they paid for the land. I represent more farmers than the majority of honorable senators, and I am never afraid to advocate a tax upon land values. Strange though it may appear, the farmers in New South Wales are the most intelligent section of the community. They realize that such a tax would not hurt them. At present every tax that is levied hurts them. They are paying, for agricultural machinery, twice as much as they paid twenty years ago. I know that certain manufacturers of agricultural implements are benefiting. No one else, however, is deriving any benefit; noi even their employees. Taxation for purposes of defence should rest upon the shoulders of those who are best able to bear it, and they are the people who own land from which they are reaping an unearned in- crement. Let me give a remarkable illustration. We have in New South Wales a valuer-general, who under the act must value the lands of the state every three years. His last . valuation of the lands in the city .of- Sydney was £4,500,000 greater than his previous valuation. That sum represented the increase in the unearned value of those lands. If a tax of £d. in the £1 were levied upon the increase thattakes place in the value of the land throughout Australia up to the time that these boats are ready to be’ delivered, the amount so received would be sufficient to pay for them. Surely this proposal will meet with the approval of the Ministry and their, supporters, especially when they have the splendid example of their own party in New South Wales building the North Shore bridge on the lay-by system, under which those who have to pay for it made a start before the first sod was turned. The sum already in hand will meet the wages bill for a considerable time to come. Surely in matters of defence we can follow such a good example. Those who have the money should be called upon to pay for the vessels, whilst those who have not the money will, whenever the occasion arises, do the fighting, as was the case in the last war. I shall assume, until honorable senators by their votes disclose their intentions, that Government supporters will listen to reason. Already we have gone too far in this borrowandbeg, bluff-and-bounce method of dealing with important legislative, proposals. The Government should definitely declare that in the matter of defence there shall be no increase in the taxpayers’ burden. Already, as I have shown on former occasions, the interest bill on war loans, repatriation, and pension schemes is in the vicinity of £30,000,000 per annum. Surely that is quite enough. This burden falls upon the Workers, who never have more than a bare existence wage. The amendment proposes to relieve them from additional taxation. Therefore it should be accepted by the committee.
Question - That the words proposed to be added be so added (Senator Grant’s amendment) - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 5 - (1.) That the moneys standing to the credit of the Naval Construction Trust Account may be applied for the purpose of naval construction. (2.) The moneys standing to the credit of the DefenceReserve Trust Account may be applied -
Senator GARDINER (New South
Wales) [10.22].- I move-
That after the word “construction,” line 3, the words “ in Australia “ be added.
The adoption of this amendment will not endanger the bill, as was suggested when Senator Duncan indicated a similar amendment at the second-reading stage. It will merely ensure the construction of the ships in Australia. I have waited patiently for my turn to move the amendment, which raises the question above party issues. If it is not carried, I shall support Senator Lynch’s proposed amendment. I believe that certain honorable senators supporting the Government represent quite a number of people who would get employment if the cruisers were built in Australia. That employment is needed is indicated by the large number of men who are unable to obtain work in all our great cities.’ I may add that if my amendment is carried, I shall submit another amendment to sub-clause 2, with the same object in view.
– In the discussion of this subject in its relation to unemployment, it has been stated by some honorable senators that the question of employment is a matter of no importance at all. As a matter of fact, it is of vital importance to a large number of citizens. I am informed, on good authority, that many thousands of unemployed are on the books of the labour bureau in Sydney, and that the number does not include members of the engineering, boilermakers, or allied iron trades. The situation in New South Wales is very serious. The construction of these vessels in Australia would mean profitable employment to a considerable number of men, who at present find it impossible to obtain work. For that reason alone, we should be justified in making a strenuous effort to ensure the construction of the cruisers in Australia. 1 do not know whether I would be in order, but if I had my way I would indicate to the Government and the contractors that if the vessels were built elsewhere than in Australia, then after the next general election, when the position of our party in this Senate will be very materially strengthened, we should decline to take delivery of the ships.
– Is the honorable senator speaking for his party?
– I am speaking for myself at the. present moment, but I think my party would do the right thing if it repudiated such a contract. Some time ago, an expiring Government in New South Wales appointed one of its members to a highly paid and responsible position.
– That question is not before the committee.
– I was merely about to refer to it as an illustration.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.The question before the committee is the construction in Australia of the ships referred to.
-I wished to make my point as strong as I possibly could, and to issue a threat to the Government-
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN The honorable senator is not entitled to threaten anybody.
– My desire is to bring before the Government as strongly as I can my views in connexion with this matter. It appears to me that the Government is determined to build the vessels in Great Britain.
– I have informedthe honorable senator five or six times that no decision, has yet been reached. The honorable senator is not justified in repeating his statement.
– I failed to gather from the Minister’s statement anything to suggest that the Government had any serious intention to construct even the second cruiser in Australia. In view of the cost of these vessels in Great Britain compared with the cost in Australia, there appears to he no justification for the proposal to send the wort out of the country. What, after all, is a matter of two or three millions? In war time such a sum would go by the board with out a word being said about it. Surely Australia is not to be deprived of its skilled workmen and the necessary equipment for the construction of these vessels. Apart from the unemployment that would be relieved by building the cruisers here, it is wrong for the Government to suggest that even one of the vessels should be’ constructed abroad. If the amendment by Senator Gardiner were one that would give considerable advantage to any big private engineering firm in Australia, we should probably find the Government less determined to send this money out of Australia.
. -It is proposed to borrow the mousy for this work in the Commonwealth, and it has been stated by a member of tha Cabinet that, although we shall consequently have to pay a substantially higher rate of interest, it will pay us, since the interest will remain in the country. If it is considered a good policy to pay a higher rate of interest for money raised here, why not pursue that policy further, and say that it is justifiable to pay a somewhat higher price for these’ cruisers in order to have them built in Australia, and to keep the money circulating in our own country? We have been assured many times that “ in all probability “ one of the ships will be built here, but nobody cau say definitely that even one of them will be constructed in Australia. We are to assume that exhaustive inquiries are being made as to whether it will be cheaper to have the ships constructed abroad. The policy of the Government seems to be confined to the question of cheapness. Then we have the statement by” the Minister that it would take about three and a half years to build a cruiser here. Even if that is so, are we not at some time to begin the work of building our own ships for defence purposes? To my mind this is a most opportune time to commence their construction in Australia. We should entrust the building of Australian vessels to Australian workmen. Every honorable senator who has spoken has admitted that the workmen of this country are as efficient as, and in some cases more capable than, those of other lands. The opinion is gaining ground that the present Government, is more freetrade than protectionist. I contend that it has no serious concern for Australian industries or Australian workmen. What are the fiscal beliefs of the members of the Ministry in this chamber? Senator Pearce is a freetrade-protectionist ; Senator Crawford is a sugar-banana-protectionist ; and Senator Wilson is a f freetraderevenuetariff protectionist. The majority of the people have declared themselves emphatically in favour of protection, and I, as a protectionist, am anxious to do all I can to foster Australian industries, and provide employment for Australian workmen. There is no industry that deserves greater encouragement than that of ship-building, but this Government has given it very little assistance. I hope that those honorable senators who support the Government, and have a free and open mind, will stand by the amendment. Notwithstanding the statement made concerning the possibilities of employment in Australia - and no doubt there is ample room here for millions more people - it should be remembered that in every’ state there are large armies of’ unemployed. I am informed that particularly in the shipbuilding industry there is much unemployment. In order to ascertain the intentions of the Government with respect to the ship-building industry, Senator Gardiner, on behalf of the Opposition, has submitted his amendment.
– I do not intend to delay the passage of the bill. I assume that the Minister’s silence may be taken to indicate his acceptance of the amendment.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be so inserted (Senator Gar diner’s amendment) - put. The committee divided.
Majority . . 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
– One of the objects for which this money is appropriated is the survey of the Great Barrier Reef. Some of the future industries of Australia lie along its shores as much as they do on the land, and I want the Government, if possible, to take this opportunity - such an opportunity as may not occur again, more especially if this survey is to be conducted partly by ships - of finding out some of the economic possibilities of the Great Barrier Reef. I understand that there is in existence an association engaged upon the examination of the reef, but its work, I am inclined to believe, is too academic to be of much value. There are great economic possibilities in connexion with this portion of our coast. It is almost unique, and is quite outside the- usual run of coastal occurrences. I suggest that since a survey vessel will be employed for some considerable time in making a survey of the Great Barrier Reef for the purpose of defence in time of war, the Government should take advantage of the opportunity to make the reef itself, and the seas around it, valuable to Australia in time o£ peace. I should think it ought to be possible to include in this survey expedition a marine biologist. A young man such as would be wanted for the position could be obtained from three or four of the Australian universities, and I think he ought to be accompanied by a small, well-equipped expedition of practical fishermen to find out exactly what the Great Barrier Reef is worth. This is not a fad on my part; it is a practical suggestion on a -matter that needs a great deal of attention in Australia. Any visitor to an Australian city knows what an extremely scarce- commodity fish is, although it should form an important part of our food supply. Those who take any interest in the subject know that Australia may be said to be 50 years behind any other part of the civilized world’ so far as fishing appliances and methods of transport are concerned. That the appliances and methods we employ are absolutely ridiculous’ when compared with those used in other parts of the world is a disgraceful state of affairs. If we are anxious to progress and to make the greatest use of our possible industries, now is an opportunity, at a very trifling expenditure indeed, to assist to exploit at least one industry which should be one of our largest. Looking at this matter from a purely defence point of view, I have already spoken on the wonderful services rendered to Great Britain by those engaged in various forms of fishing around her coast. Is it not well for us to try to breed a race of young Australians accustomed to the sea - it is most peculiar that so few Australians take an interest in the sea - in order that they may be of benefit to us in times of peace and a protection to us in time of war ? I want the Minister (Senator Wilson) to give serious attention to the matter, and not to rise with that Chesterfieldian manner of his and say that it will have due consideration, and then let it be crowded out of bis mind’ by some other subject, possibly more important in his opinion, but certainly not in mine. ‘ I hope he will not merely give this matter a passing thought, but that he will allow it to remain in his mind, and that he will obtain from his advisers in this connexion whatever advice they can give him, always letting them understand that he is at least in favour of making a recommendation such as would carry out with very little expense and no inconvenience a project I have very much, at heart.. On another occasion I shall bring the matter before the Senate, but the opportunity afforded by this clause was so obvious that I felt I should not neglect it.
– Senator Kingsmill has, on several occasions, drawn attention to the necessity for the survey of the Great Barrier Beef. His anxiety to have this work undertaken is shared by the Naval Board, and the fact that the last survey of this reef, which was undertaken from 1843 to 1860, covered only a very small portion of the area indicates how necessary it is that we should push on with the completion of the task. The Naval Board states that from reports received during the last few years it is apparent that owing to the large numbers of Japanese, some of whom are ex-non-commissioned officers and men of the Japanese navy, now serving in the pearling fleet, Japan has probably better information as to the Great Barrier Reef than we ourselves possess. It is further urged that from a commercial point of view the Department of Navigation, shipping generally, and marine insurance companies would welcome any information tending- to afford greater security to shipping using the Barrier Reef route, particularly in regard to places of refuge which might be available in the cyclone season. The proposal of the Naval Board, briefly summarized, is as follows: -
Those are the lines on which the Naval Board isworking. Negotiations which have been proceeding for a considerable time between the Admiralty at Home and the Naval Board have now reached that stage at which the latter can go ahead with the work.. I can assure Senator Kinsgmill that something should materialize, without any delay, in the direction I am now indicating.
– Senator Wilson does not realize that what I am asking for goes further - certainly only a very little further - than what he proposes. The information he has given us has assuredme that it is an opportune time to ask that a little should be added to the survey staff in order to ascertain something about the marine biology and possibilities of the area about to be surveyed as a source of food supply for, at any rate, the eastern coast of Australia, where it is badly needed. It would not be a very big undertaking to engage the services of a young marine biologist from one of the universities and a number of men who need not be specially detailed for survey work, but may be engaged, on the Fantome or whatever other sloop is engaged in the work, as expert fishermen along with appliances. Having had some little experience in the fitting out of trawling expeditions, I can assure the Minister that the necessary appliances can be obtained at a very reasonable cost. I suppose there are gentlemen in Melbourne who are qualified to give advice on the subject, but I think I can give whatever advice is required for the fitting out of such an expedition, because I have made a considerable study of the matter. It is a problem we must tackle in Australia. All other countries pay a great deal of attention to the development of their coasts as well as their land as a source of food supply.
– The Commonwealth Government have given it a trial.
– Yes, with the Endeavour, but that effort came to a most unfortunate termination before anything was done except to indicate that we were neglecting some of the largest fishing grounds in the world. There is no organization in the matter of transporting fish from one part of Australia to another, and it is the desire of those en- gaged in the business that there shall never be such organization. I am fighting for an increased and better supply of food for the people of Australia, and in this direction, at all events, -one portion of my ambition lies. It is a reasonable project, and I ask the Minister to go into it again, with the idea of making to the staff of the proposed survey the small addition I have indicated. If I can give him any information or assistance it will be very gladly afforded.
. - I shall bring SenatorKingsmill’s remarks under the notice of the Minister in charge of the matter. I can assure the honorable senator that the Minister will be delighted to make use of the offer he has made.
. -I move-
That after the word “ purchase “, subclause 2, paragraph (a), the words “ and manufacture in Australia “ be inserted.
My object is to assert the principle of local manufacture. To speak at length on this matter would merely be to reiterate what has already been said, but I want to secure a division on the point. No doubt quite a number of senators will accuse me of proposing something in the nature of protection, but I can assure them that is not in my. mind. My objection to a protectionist policy is that it merely enriches the investors. No investors will be concerned in the local manufacture of arms, armament, munitions, and aircraft equipment. The amendment will merely serve the purpose of employing, but not enriching, the workmen of Australia.
– Does the Minister accept the amendment?
– If the Minister does not accept the amendment, I hope that a division will be taken to’ ascertain whether the Government is determined to have the equipment, as well as the cruisers, manufactured abroad.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be so inserted (Senator Gardiner’s amendment) - put. The committee divided.
Majority … 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
– I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “ 5a. The expenditure of the moneys standing to the credit of the Naval Construction Trust Account shall be subject to the following conditions: -
If two cruisers are to be constructed, bona fide prices for the construction of one of them shall first be obtained by tender or otherwise both in Australia and in the United Kingdom, and if an Australian price is the lowest it shall be accepted.
In the event of an Australian price not being the lowest, if the difference between the lowest Australian and the lowest British bona fide price is not greater than 60 per centum of the lowest price, then the Australian price shall be accepted.
Within a period of six months from the completion of the first cruiser either in Australia or the United Kingdom, as the case may be, bona fide prices shall again be invited for the second cruiser by tender or otherwise, and, in the event of an Australian price not being the lowest, if the difference in the respective prices then obtained is not greater than 40 per centum of the lowest price, then the Australian price shall be accepted.”
This amendment aims at building the two cruisers in Australia under special conditions, that will benefit not only the firm constructing them, but also the taxpayers of this country, and the workmen employed on their construction. It is proposed that tenders be called, or quotations be obtained from the Old Country for the construction of the first vessel, and that if there is a difference of only 60 per cent. between the lowest prices in the Old Country and in Australia , preference shall be given to the Australian tenderer, or to the Australian firm making the quotation. Perhaps 60 per cent, is an outside figure, but I am prepared to go to that extreme, because the supplying of cruisers is quite different from the provision of any other material. The building of war vessels in Australia would have the effect of training our men in an industry ‘that is badly needed here. It would keep the money in this country, and thus considerably benefit and encourage our secondary industries. The Government proposes to obtain two cruisers, one to be built in Great Britain and the other here. Roughly, the respective prices will be £2,000,000 and £3,000,000, an increase of 50 per cent, in the case of the Austra- lianbuilt vessel. I should like to see both vessels built in this country, but I do not want to go to the extreme of paying prices that would place a dead weight upon our resources. To that extent it would be a very unfair proposition. I am not prepared to allow a difference of 100 per cent, or 150 per cent., but the outside limit should be 60 per cent, increase on the cost in the Old Country. It is quite true that Great Britain wants the job; but so does this country. The expenditure of £3,000,000 here is no small proposition. Any person coming here from abroad prepared to embark upon a new industry and to expend £3,000,000 on it would be warmly welcomed by the Commonwealth and by the state in whose territory it was proposed to commence operations. There is no reason why we should not try this experiment here. I am well aware that there are obstacles in the way, but they can be removed. The people concerned in the industry here should put their shoulders to the wheel, and realize that it is their national duty ‘to have the two vessels built in Australia inside of .six years. The Minister stated that it would take three and a half years to build a cruiser in Australia. The Prime Minister in another place said that a vessel ought to be constructed in two and a half years.
– According to the honorable senator’s amendment the second vessel cannot be commenced until the first is completed.
– That is quite true. That provision has been inserted because owing to the shortage of suitable docking accommodation here, the two vessels” could not be constructed simultaneously in Australia. The Government contends that the vital consideration is the element of time, and that the safety of this country is bound up with the delivery of these vessels inside a period of six years. I ask what has become of the safeguard that was supposed to be provided by the Washington Conference in 1922 ? Under the agreement made there the contracting parties agreed to a naval holiday for ten years. This meant that from .1923 to 1933 no further capital ships would be constructed. Even if it took six years to build two cruisers in this country they would be delivered before the Washington Treaty became inoperative. That treaty was interpreted to mean that there would be no war for at least ten years.
– The honorable senator is losing sight of the fact that we are proposing to have two cruisers in place of the five now in commission.
– If an order for one cruiser were given to the Old Country, it would be completed only eighteen months before the time within which one could be completed here. What is to prevent an arrangement being made between this Government and the British Admiralty for an exchange of cruisers ? I read in the Melbourne newspapers that the Adelaide was being sent to the Old Coun-try in accordance with the system of reciprocal staffing and exchange of vessels. What is to prevent a British vessel being sent out to remain in Australian waters until a cruiser is constructed here !
– The honorable senator is losing sight of the fact that the British Government in its naval proposals is not replacing its vessels as fast as they become inoperative.
– We are told that the Adelaide has been sent Home, and that a vessel is to be sent here from the Old Country.
– - Only a vessel of the same class..
– I cannot, imagine that vessels would be exchanged on a basis of equal calibre, armament, and speed. In any case the experiment is worth trying, and if it cannot be done we shall have to try to solve the difficulty in some other way. There is really no need for excessive haste if the Washington Treaty is anything more than a scrap of paper. The expenditure of £3,000,000 here would assure’ our. safety and benefit this country considerably; but the same sum spent in the Old Country would be of no more benefit to us than the sixpenny stamp attached to the dispatch sent to the British shipbuilders requesting them to proceed with the work. We were assured that, as the result of the Washington Conference, we were- as safe, for at least ten years, as though all the nations, had laid down their arms. I cannot, therefore, see the wisdom of expending this money outside Australia if it can bo spent with advantage in Australia. .1 have figured out the financial equity of the proposition. I have assumed that the cost in England would be £2,000,000, and I have allowed an extra 60 per cent, to cover the cost of construction in Australia. That is not a very much greater advantage than this Parliament has deliberately given to other Australian manufacturers. Honorable senators will recall that under the tariff Australian manufacturers benefit by the imposition of -a 55 per cent, duty on ordinary attire, 45 per cent, on felt bats, 50 per cent, on stockings, and 45 per cent, on agricultural machinery. The extra cost would bc a very small matter compared with the efficiency in shipbuilding that would result. That efficiency can be attained only by practice. The establishment of an industry for building and repairing ships should be our first consideration, seeing that our problem is a naval one. With the addition of 60 per cent, to the English estimate, the cost in Australia would be £3,330,000. It is very hard to say what is the value of the material in . a warship. When the iron ore is first extracted from the earth it is almost valueless. It passes through successive stages of refining until it finds its place in our warships. During the various processes nothing but labour benefits. I have allowed 20 per cent, of the cost for the material. That sum, on a two years’ basis, would provide employment for 5,700 men, and on a three years’ basis for 3,800 mcn, at £4 10s. per week each. The advantages that would accrue from an accession to the ranks of our skilled artisans would be such that the proposal should not be lightly turned down, especially when we are assured that Australia would run no risk because of the greater length of time occupied in the construction of the cruiser here. We should endeavour’ to come to ah’ arrangement with the British; Admiralty to’ lend us a ship to be the comrade of that turned out in Australia three years hence. If we do not embrace this opportunity the money will be sent out of Australia, and Great Britain will reap the benefit’ of its expenditure.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
, - Senator Lynch’s proposal would be almost unworkable. I do not see how we could proceed along the lines that he has proposed. The first suggestion is to call for bona fide prices. Whilst doing that we should be informing the world that we were giving a 60 per cent, preference to Australia. That is a higher preference than is prescribed by our tariff. Difficulties are encountered when we depart from the tariff. One instance occurred while I was in London, and it created anything but a favorable impression of Australia. I cannot have r knowledge of all the details connected with the construction of cruisers, and I have to approach those who are able to advise and guide me. Last week I sought from Mr. Farquhar an estimate of the cost of preparing plans of this description if we called, for tenders running into a big sum. He was not prepared to bind himself to £1,000 or £2,000, but he admitted that the cost would bo very great. Mr. Farquhar informs me that we could not possibly complete this vessel in less than from three and a half to four years. He states that a great deal longer time is sometimes taken in England. ‘ It would be impossible for us to talk about building one with the idea of proceeding with a second when it was completed, I want to assure Senator Lynch, and the committee that the Government is as anxious as any one to do as much work as possible in Australia. We have .submitted the matter to gentlemen who are in the best position to advise us. I shall be very disappointed if one cruiser is not built at Cockatoo. We have the machinery there, and I Bee no reason why Australia should not rise to the occasion and carry out the work.
– Will the Minister give us a guarantee that one cruiser will be built at Cockatoo?
– How can I give such a guarantee ? Half a dozen times during this debate I have made the statement that the Government has submitted this matter to gentlemen who are able to guide it. They are independent men. Mr. Farquhar is desperately anxious tosecurethis work for Cockatoo. Sir John Monash is as good an Australian as can be found.
– Will the Minister say that onecruiser will be built at Cockatoo?
– How can I say such a thing! The honorable senator knows that if I gave that assurance I should be exceeding my rights and privileges. It would be a waste of time to submit the matter to Sir John Monash and his fellow committeemen if I were to state now what action was to be taken’. I give my assurance that the Government is exceedingly anxious to build one cruiser in Australia, and it will give reasonable preference to Australia. It expects to have the report of these gentlemen in a week or two.
– Who is in control of Australia - the Government, or some of these boards?
– I again tell my honorable friend that Ministers cannot take the responsibility of deciding these matters without expert advice; they must be guided by those who are competent to advise them. The reason that so many mistakes have beenmade in the past is that competent advice has not been sought. We have not submitted this matter to a “ board.” I assure Senator Lynch that the Government is as anxious as he is to have at least one cruiser built in Australia. I ask him, therefore, to withdraw his amendment.
Question - That the proposed new clause be added (Senator Lynch’s amendment) - put. The committee divided.
Majority . . … 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed new clause negatived.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment.
Senate adjourned at 11.34 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 20 August 1924, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1924/19240820_senate_9_108/>.