9th Parliament · 2nd Session
The Deputy President (Senator Newland) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
Senator Thompson brought up the third report of the Printing Committee.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Will he lay on the table of the Library the reports by Customs officers attached to Australia House, now in possession of the Customs Department, on theRayson process and the Alcock-Wagstaff process for defrosting meat, on which reports the portion of the High Commissioner’s report dealing with this subject is based ?
– I will place this matter before the Minister for Trade and Customs for his consideration, and furnish his reply to the honorable senator.
asked the Minister for
Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The replies to the honorable senator’s questions are: -
asked the Minister representing’ the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained.
Motion (by Senator Pearce). agreed to-
That Standing Order No. 68 be suspended up to and including the 30th September; 1924, for the purpose of enabling new business to-be commenced after half-past ten o’clock at night.
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Senator Grant) proposed: -
That the reportof the selectcommittee on the case of First Lieutenant W. W. Paine, presented to the Senate onthe11th September, 1924, be adopted.
SenatorCRAWFORD (QueenslandHonorary Minister) [11.7). - It is not the intention of the Government to oppose the motion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Crawford) proposed -
That the bill be now read a third time.
Senator.Gardiner (New South Wales) [11.9].- Seeing that the bill is now beyond the possibility of amendment, I think we should reject it. Certain features of it did not receive adequate attention onaccount of the suggestion that was made during the debate that further consideration of the measure should be postponed until after it had been submitted to a committee’ of inquiry. I listened attentively to the speech made by Senator Pearce, in which he said that a committee could not obtain any further information than we now have. I have grave doubts about that. This is a matter in which we should make haste slowly. Senator Pearce said that to adjournfurther considerationof the measure would mean delay, and that delay was not desirable. I consider that we shall do well to hold our hand for a time, otherwise we shall repeat the mistake we made when we entered into the original agreement with Amalgamated. Wireless Limited two and a half years ago. Not one honorable senator who’ voted in favour, of that agreement would do so if he could havehis timeover again. I may be met with the statement that if we appointed a committee to discuss this bill it would do the same as the committee which discussed the last bill. I do not care how careful we are or what precautions we may take, we are all wiser after the event. Amalgamated Wireless Limited has, so far as I can see, expended very little of its own capital in the last two and a half years, and has drawn largely upon the capital provided by the Government, but we have nothing to show for it. In thelast analysis, the adoption of this bill means that we accept the bean system of wireless in preferenceto the high-power system. i am not a wireless expert, but I know sufficientto say that hewould be a hardysenator who would suggest that the beam system is practical atpresent for general wireless purposes. Even those who boost the beam system most are inspired by hopes of what it will accomplish rather than by what it has already done. Instead of entering into another agreement with Amalgamated Wireless Limited, which will continue the present half-private half-government control of wireless in Australia, we should follow the example of the British Government and retain full government control. It is not too late for us to do so, and, to my mind, it is the only safe thing to do. It may be said that if we do not pass this bill we shalllose all that we have spent in wireless development; but I venture to submit that if the bill is not passed,. Amalgamated Wireless Limited will proceed with the erection of a high-power station in Australia under the terms of the original agreement. That a high-power station is absolutely essential was pointed out effectively by Senator Millen. The lack of enterprise and development in wireless in Australia during the last two and ahalf years must be attributed to our agreement with AmalgamatedWireless Limited. Iam not permitted at this stage to make any referenceto the division on the second readingof the bill. I was pairedwith Senator Wilson;but I expressed mydisapproval ofthe measure in the second-reading debate, and I feel obligednow toreiterate it. In ordinary business affairs, ifone party to anagreement had treated the other party to it in the way that Amalgamated Wireless Limitedhas treated the Commonwealth Government, there would be no talk of anotheragreementbetween the parties.
– We can, of course, shelter ourselves behind our directors. According to the agreement, we have the greater voting strength.
– We may appoint new directors if the present ones do not do as we desire.
– I have no hope of better results from this or any other board of directors. The Government owns500,001 shares in the company, and although that gives it the greater voting power, does SenatorFoll forget the trouble that we had when we were looking for an independent chairman?
– It is another instance of electing interested parties instead of independent representatives, and the Government is responsible for the present position. We should adhere to the original agreement , and show the company that we are determined that it shall comply with its obligations.
– I am not placing all the blame on our representatives, but we were supposed to have a controlling voice in the policy of the company.
– That was understood to be theposition, and I am opposing this measure, because our representatives on the board have not done what we expected of them. As the Commonwealth holds a majority of theshares, one wouldexpect the decisions of the boardto supportthe interests of the Commonwealth. I believe SenatorFoll will agree with; me thatduring the last two years the Commonwealth has obtained very little if any advantage. It was thought that if we appointed capable representatives they would exercise their influence on behalf of the people. We have to look at thefacts. On the one hand a majority of the directors is supposed to besupporting the interests of the Commonwealth, and on the other there is an almost equal number acquainted with the technical details of wireless telegraphy, and the objects for which the company was really formed. Experience has shown that the company is operating on its own behalf inrespective of the interests of the Common wealth. I cannot agree with the view expressed by SenatorDuncan that the Marconi Company is a British Company. Marconi is responsible for many of the important inventions at present in use, and no one is more anxious than I am to concede that his inventions have been of great service to the community. But what have they to do with the bill? The speech delivered by Senator Duncan last night, was prepared by the company and handed to the honorable senator.
SenatorDuncan.-That is not correct.
– I accept the honorable senator’s word, but that was the impression I gained.
– I can assure the honorable senator that his statement is incorrect.
– I arrived at the conclusion that the notes had been prepared by the company, because he adhered so closely to them.
– The honorable senator will agree that as the subject was a highly technical one it was necessary for me to follow my notes very closely.
– Yes, and that helped me to conclude that the speech had been prepared for him. I realized of course, that the honorable senator himself had not the technical knowledge to deal with the subject as he did. I was wondering whether the information had been broadcast by the Marconi Company, or the Telefunken Company, and whether the honorable senator was the only one who had received it. The honorable senator eulogized Mr. Fisk, and spoke of his great capacity, but the qualifications of that gentleman have nothing to do with the bill.
– He is a good Australian.
– The mere fact that he is a good Australian should be sufficient to prove that he is a good man, but when it is a question of good Australians being interested in a company in which Mr. Fisk is a shareholder, the honorable senator must notmind if I, as a good Australian, object to good Australian money being thrown away. Why is there any need to rush this bill through? The Minister (Senator Pearce) said that, as Parliament would be in recess, nothing could be done for perhaps six months if the bill were referred to a committee to inquire and report. Why should not something be done ? The Commonwealth has contributed a certain sum, and if the company expended its capital to the extent that it should do, much good work could be performed in six months.
– The same amount has been called up on all shares.
– As the Minister has taken the responsibility of saying that the same amount has been called up on all shares, it is the Government’s responsibility to see that the company contributes its share, and carries out the work it undertook to perform. That has not been done, as at present there is £88,000 on the wrong side of the ledger. Will the Minister say what amount the company has expended?
– I said that the same amount has been called up and paid on all shares.
– Yes ; but the Minister will find that the Commonwealth is on the wrong side to the extent of £88,000.
– There are sufficient assets to cover that expenditure.
– Those assets belonged to the company before it was taken over by the Amalgamated Wireless.
– There are some additional assets.
– If the Government controlled the wireless system in Australia, and conducted the service with all ships trading in Australian waters, they would find that it was a profitable business. The revenue the company receives from ships is considerable. I do not believe that even the Minister will say that the company has done its share.
– It was prevented from doing so owing to the attitude of the British Post Office.
– The British Government was quite prepared to work in accord with this company, although it stipulated that it would have to own and control all the high-power stations in Great Britain.
– That decision was reached only two months ago.
– The interjection of the Minister shows that the longer we debate the subject the more information we receive. If the position is as stated by the Minister, further delay is justified, to give the company an opportunity of doing what it contracted to do, particularly as the British Government is prepared to take over the stations and work them under agreement with the company.
– Not to confine it solely to the transmission and receiving of Australian messages, which might be only for half-an-hour a day.
– I desire to again register my strong protest against the action of the Government in relieving the company of its obligations under the original contract. The measure really provides that the company is to be reeved of the responsibilities which it undertook three years ago. The Government are acting with their eyes open. In a sense I do not blame them, as it is their policy to assist their wealthy friends. This measure is only another instance of that.
– The honorable senator knows that that is not a fact.
– The statement is unworthy of the honorable senator.
– I know it is correct.
– It is playing to the gallery.
– If that is not the object, what is the reason for introducing legislation of this character ? The bill has reached the third-reading stage practically without amendment. The proposal to refer it to a committee of the Senate was defeated, and I am now taking the opportunity, which our Standing Orders wisely provide, to review the whole circumstances and to give reasons why the measure should not become law. I do not desire this amending measure to be passed. I register my protest against it in the hope that even at this late hour the Senate will do the best day’s work it has ever done by rejecting the bill.
– I desire to enter my final protest against the third reading of the bill. I have taken more than a passing interest in wireless telegraphy, and the members of the party to which I belong give place to no one in the desire that Australia shall be right up to date in the matter of wireless communication. As honorable senators are aware, a Labour Government was responsible for the erection of the first wireless station in Australia, which was the property and under the direct control of the Government. Since the advent of the present administration a distinct departure has been made. The Government have stated that they are going out of the business, which means that they are declining to allow wireless telegraphy to be conducted as a Government enterprise. If there is one enterprise more than another that ought to be under Government control it is that of wireless. The Baldwin Government in Great Britain was not a Labour admini stration, but it absolutely refused to enter into business negotiations with a private wireless company. It did what any honorable Government would do, and said that wireless should be a Government monopoly, as it was too important a service to be controlled by private enterprise. The present partnership is not a good one. Government enterprise and private enterprise will not work harmoniously. The Government, if it truly represented the people of Australia, would be anxious to do everything possible for their welfare, whereas a private companybeing concerned only with profits without due regard for efficiency cares little about the interests of the people. What has the company done up to the present time? Nothing. I said last evening that when its representatives gave an undertaking to the Government that they would erect a high-power station in Great Britain, they knew that they could not give effect to their promise, and I asked whether the Government had inquired if negotiations had taken place between the company and the British Government. I ventured to say that no correspondence had passed, but that if there had been any communications, the British Government had given the wireless company its answer. The company has not erected a high power station in Great Britain for the simple reason that the British Government will not allow that to be done. Three years have passed since the agreement was signed, and nothing has been accomplished. What guarantee have we that the beam system will prove successful? Evidently British Ministers are not satisfied, for whilst permission has been given to the Marconi Company to erect a beam station in England, the Government will please itself whether it takes that station over.
SenatorH Hays. - That will be the position in Australia.
SenatorFINDLEY. - But we had to force that admission from the Government. Last night, an amendment submitted in committee to make it absolutely certain that the Commonwealth would not be held responsible for the cost of the proposed beam station was lost. We were advised to be satisfied with an assurance from the Government that the Commonwealth would not be responsible. If the amendment- had been accepted there would have been no doubt about the. position, at all. The: whole of: the. expenditure incidental to the erection of the: station-would have had to ‘be. borne by Amalgamated Wireless Limited;.
– By the Marconi Company.
– The Amalgamated Wireless Company is linked up with the Marconi Company, which has business interests in practically every country. I presume that the third reading of the bill will be carried, but I consider the agreement bad, and I am not unmindful of certain statements made in this chamber yesterday. One has only to turn up the pages of Hansard to gather from the remarks made by Senator Millen on a former occasion that the whole of the circumstances of the original agreement were not so wholesome as they should, have been. Senator Wilson, an honorary Minister in the present Government, also declared a year or two ago that the business had an unsavoury smell. What Senator Millen and Senator Wilson said then many people are thinking today. There is a belief that the atmosphere’ surrounding this business is not in the best interests of the Government, or of the -people of the Commonwealth. I know, and Senator . Pearce must also know, what influence was sought to be exercised when the Marconi Company endeavoured to get its wireless system installed in Australia. “Shortly after the Commonwealth Government had installed a system which proved eminently satisfactory, the Marconi Company brought an action, for an alleged infringement of patent rights. That action came before the High Court, and judgment was given against the company. Since then the Marconi people have been very actively engaged in advancing their interests* Reference to Hansard will show what Mr. Wise, an ex-Postmaster-General had to say with regard to their activities. Members of Parliament were bombarded with leaflets and literature of every description setting out the advantages of the Marconi system. Inspired paragraphs appeared in. the newspapers. Members1 were continually being buttonholed by representatives of the company, who -practically lived within the* precincts of ‘this building.’ For these< reasons and because -the people are doubtful: about this agreement the Government would be well advised to- divorce itself -from the agreement,’ to dissociate itself from the. Amalgamated Wireless Company, and initiate a policy -for the development of wireless in Australia as a governmental activity. I feel keenly about this ‘matter which I regard as’ of vital importance to the people. The admission that nothing has been done during the last- three years is a damaging one for the Government to make. There has been no progress, because the Amalgamated Wireless Company has been unable to get permission from the Imperial authorities to erect a. high power station in England.
– Is that not a. valid reason ?
– The company being unable to persuade the British Government to grant permission for the erection of a high power station there, induced this Government as a partner in the business’ to get in touch with the Imperial authorities, and now, we are told; permission has- been given for the erection of a beam station. Everything that this “ business’-“ Government has handled -has been muddled.
– That ought to *be some consolation to. the honorable senator, if he wishes to put the- Government, out of office.
– That, must -he a question for. the. people to decide. For the moment Labour’ is in the minority, but, as representatives of that party, we are anxious, to see that, the’ interests of the people are conserved.. I- believe- with the Age that the best thing, this chamber could have done, when the. bill, came before us last night, was to toss it out. I hope that the motion for the third reading will be rejected,
– It -is not my intention to. speak at length, .because those honorable senators who have spoken against the motion for the third reading have not broken new ground. They have confined themselves, chiefly to an attack upon the Government, because it did not insist upon the specific performance of tha contract entered into by the Amalgamated Wireless Company for’, the erection of a high- power station’ in Australia for. com.munication with1 a reciprocal station in
Great Britain. We could not insiston the specific performance of a contract which, as has been shown, could not be legally carried out. Therefusal of the British Government to grant permission to erect a reciprocal station in the mother country really voided that part of the agreement. I believe that in every country wireless stations can be erected only under licence from the Government, and since the Amalgamated Wireless Company was unable to obtain a licence from the British Government, the contract could not be operated. Although opponents of the bill complain about the delaythat has already occurred, they wish to postpone this measure indefinitely. If the motion for the third reading of thebill is defeated there will be an indefinite postponement of wireless communication with theoutside world. Itrustthat the undertaking given by the. Government that the interests of theCommonwealth will be safeguarded in every possible way, and that any contract will be carefullyconsidered, will satisfy honorable senators,and that the bill will be passed without further delay.
Question-That thebillbe now read a. third time-put. The Senate divided.
Majority . . . . 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
That the bill be now read a second time.
I askthe Senate to be good enough not to adjournsthe debate, as the hill contains no new principle. . The Government’s policy in regard tofinancial assistance to the State of Tasmania was enunciated in the budget speech. Included in the proposals is ; a special grant to the state to continue over a period of five years. Honorable senators will remember that the Commonwealth firstbegan to render assistanceto Tasmania, in accordance with- section 96 ofthe Constitution, in the year 1912-13. In the ten years ended 1921-2, a total sum of £900,000 had been paid to the state. The payment in the first year of this period was £95,000, and in the last year £85,000. In the intervening years £90,000 per . annum was paid. Parliament approved of . £85,000 being paid to the state in 1922-23 and again in 1923-24. The Tasmanian Government hasrecently made representations to the Commonwealth for further assistance to the state, and that any assistance which theCommonwealth might be prepared to render should not be determined year by year, but should take the form of a definite schemespread over a series of years. By thismeans the State Treasurer would bein aposition to look forward with safety to a definite sum from the Commonwealth over a series of years, during which timethe state hoped to be able to adjust its finances and to remain self-supporting thereafter.
– We heard thatlast year.
– I do not think it was said last year. It was pointed out them that we were simply continuing the grant for another year pending the completion of a definite scheme.
– Whenever these arrangements have been entered into from time to time,that statement has always been made.
– That may be so. At the close of the year 1913-4 the state had a surplus of £35,000, and eight years later, at the end of 1921-2, that surplus had been converted into an accumulated deficit of £350,000.Believing that the succession of bad years had ended, the Government funded the deficit, but the expectation of better conditions was not realized, and the financial year 1922-3. closed with, a deficit of £298,000. The Tas.manian Government showed in a practical manner its desire to help itself. Special steps were taken to reduce the expenditure where possible, and during the last financial year the direct taxation was so increased that it yielded an additional £131,000 per annum, equivalent to approximately 12s. per head of the population. But notwithstanding these efforts to balance the national ledger, the year 1923-4 ended with a further deficit of about £210,000. The Commonwealth Government, realizing that there is some justification for the claim for further assistance by the Government of Tasmania, has decided to grant to the state a further £85,000 this year. This amount will be reduced by £17,000 in each succeeding year, and the payment will ultimately disappear after the year 1928-9. The payments during these five years will aggregate £255,000. The Bill which is now being submitted to the House authorizes the payment of £255,000 to Tasmania, and appropriates the Consolidated Revenue Fund for the purpose. In addition to the special grant, the Commonwealth is evacuating the field of taxation of prizes in lotteries, leaving that source of revenue available to the state. The amount derived by the Commonwealth from this tax in Tasmania is about £111,000 per annum. If the State Government re-imposes the tax surrendered by the Commonwealth at the existing rate of 12^ per cent, of the prizemoney, it will have a permanent increase in its income of at least £111,000. This amount will not only serve to augment the special grant during the next five years, but at the termination of that period will remain as a permanent income of the state. By these means it is hoped that the State Government will recover its financial position, and be able to continue without. incurring the muchdreaded deficits which have been its experience for some years past. In order that prizes in lotteries shall not escape taxation, the Commonwealth will continue to collect the tax until the state has passed the necessary legislation for its imposition and collection. In the Income Tax Rates Bill which will shortly be submitted to Parliament, provision will be made fo.r continuing this tax until a date to be proclaimed, and its collection by the
Commonwealth will be terminated by proclamation on the day on which the , state will begin its collection. Thus, prizes in lotteries will be subject to taxation without interruption. It is the intention of the Government that Tasmania shall receive the benefit of the lottery tax for the full year. It becomes necessary, therefore, to pay to the state that portion of the tax which is collected by the Commonwealth. Provision is accordingly made in the bill for the payment to Tasmania of a sum which is equal to the amount of income tax received by the Commonwealth in respect of prizes in lotteries held in that state on and after the 1st July, 1924, and an appropriation of the Consolidated Revenue Fund is made for the purpose. A definite proposal has been made that the Commonwealth should make a grant to Tasmania commencing at_ £200,000, and reducing by £10,000 annually, the grant to cease at the end of 20 years. Under this suggestion the state would receive in 20 years the sum of £2,100,000, and no payments would be made thereafter. Under the proposal now submitted by the Government, the state would receive in 20 years £2,475,000, and at the end of that period still have a source of revenue available to it yielding £111,000 per annum. Another suggestion has been made that the Commonwealth should make payments to the state commencing at £200,000 in the first year, and diminishing at £20,000 in each subsequent year. In the ten years during which this payment would be made the state would receive £1,100,000, and no payments thereafter would be made by the Commonwealth. Under the Government’s proposal the state will receive in ten years the sum of £1,365,000, and will still have available to it the income of £111,000 per annum from the taxation of lottery prizes. It will thus be seen that the present proposal is more liberal than either of the two alternatives mentioned, and I feel confident that it will commend itself to the favorable consideration of honorable senators. I understand that Tasmania senators, in their desire to facilitate the passage of the bill, propose not to discuss it, or not to do so at any length. I think their attitude is to be commended. I ask the Senate to put the measure through as speedily as possible.
– I am inclined to meet the Government more than half-way in expediting useful legislation. I seem to be getting quite an old man when I recall having heard a similar bill introduced very many years ago for the purpose of ending for all time the contributions of the Commonwealth to the finances of the State of Tasmania. That bill very closely resembles the one now before us. It spread the period of payments over ten years on a declining scale, and the final payment was to terminate the Commonwealth’s contribution to Tasmania. When the Labour Government which introduced that measure went out of office, it was succeeded by another Government that doubled the amount of the payment, and now I sometimes wonder whether this passing of grant bills is not becoming a habit. I realize that by the legislation already passed all Tasmania’s claims under the Constitution have been settled, but it occurs to me that many things have cropped up which those who framed the Constitution did not anticipate. One of these is the fact that by depriving the t states of their customs revenue we impose on them a financial load too heavy for them to bear. I am inclined to think that the smaller populated states, at any rate, “have too heavy a load to bear. When we were passing the Tasmania Grant Bill in .1911, I was assured that the completion of the payments under that bill would *put an end to the matter. I was given a similar assurance in 1914, and now I am again assured that the payment under this bill will be the final one. I say that this grant will dispose of the matter for only five years. Ex.perience is making me wise. The representatives of Tasmania in 1911 and 1914 could not foresee what the position would be in 1924. One could easily say, “ Let them sink or swim by the agreement that was previously entered into. It was made for better or -worse, and if it has turned out to be worse than was anticipated, “they must put up with it.” I am faced by the fact that about 48 per cent, of the revenue necessary to carry on the Government of the Commonwealth is provided by New South Wales. We have the privilege of paying for concessions similar to this. Perhaps we should be proud of that privilege. But the question arises, how far is the Commonwealth going to drive us?
– What is the good of having a mother state if she will not look after her children 1
– I realize that a mother will always look after her children more carefully than anyone else will, and her savings will provide luxuries for the youngsters. But I am beginning to- think that as the smaller states, because of their pressing needs, are compelled to act together to relieve the tension, the larger states will have to be very alert to the claims of their taxpayers. If I allow this bill to go through without calling for a division, it will be purely because I now. take a view of the needs of the smaller states different from what I took 10 years ago. The Commonwealth will pass through a very trying time in the ensuing 10 years, and the larger centres of population will have to make sacrifices until the difficulties are overcome. Believing that, I shall not take up the relentless attitude that, as New South Wales will be responsible for half of this sum, I will not agree to its payment. On the contrary, I shall take up the’ attitude that this will impose an additional load of taxation upon the people of New South Wales that was not anticipated when they joined the federation. One of the ablest men in New South Wales, at the inception of federation, argued that the cost would be a mere bagatelle; that it would cost no more individually than it cost to register a dog - 2s. 6d. per head of the population. There were, however, men who had sufficient vision to realize that when a sovereign Parliament was called into existence to legislate for the whole of Australia, that system of government would cost a considerable amount of money. But, because the people were being influenced by considerations as to the hugeness of the cost - and there ‘is no doubt that that played a big part in every state - the Braddon clause, so called because it was proposed by the Tasmanian, Sir Edward Braddon, was inserted in the Constitution Bill providing that the smaller states should be safeguarded by the return of a certain ‘ amount as compensation for the loss of customs revenue. As the cost played such a big part in the campaign in New South Wales,those who wanted federation at any price, and were anxious to see it accomplished in their time, laid themselves out to show how cheap it would he and what great benefits would be conferred upon all.
In the matter of cost, they were lamentably out in their calculations. From halfacrown a head the cost has risen to £20 a- head. It can easily be . seen,, therefore, that the ‘great intellects of ; a little more, than 20 years ..ago were not blessed with prevision in regard to the . future’ cost of federation. All I need say is that the cost has been justified. The benefits are not tangible ; they cannot be depicted on the’ film. The principal, benefit’ is that all ‘the states have been brought together. Even the old rivalry, between Melbourne and -Sydney has practically died out. We are still a little jealous of . many of the things that this rival to Sydney possesses. ^Jhose of us who visit Melbourne once a week are inclined to think that, in public-spiritedness and in the beautification of. the city, Melbourne is an- object-lesson to the whole of. Australia. Sydney is satisfied with its natural- beauties, . and the people. have no desire to undertake artificial- improvement. If -by federation- we. have lost financially, we . have igained in the spirit that goes to the building of a . nation. Instead of being Victorians, New South Welshmen, Queenslanders, - South Australians, Western Australians, or . Tasmanians, the.’ people . are ibegiruning to reaOize ‘that -they are Australians. . Because of : that, I am . not? going to ‘offer bitter opposition to - this feill. The Cornlaonwea’tthParliament/ however, will ‘have to watch- the -calls that it makes -on New South1 Wales to provide for beefbounties, fruit bounties, and similar : concessions, when private enterprise’mismanages its business. We. have ‘been asked to subsidize the wine industry. On that we shall not, perhaps, ‘ lose a great deal, because ‘the Shyloek interest of 6 per cent, is being charged upon the advance. The’ Minister (Senator Pearce) has been in a very reasonable frame of. mind for some, weeks. . Perhaps he will accept a suggestion to insert in “the bill a clause stating definitely and . finally that this payment, when made, -shall end the matter for all time.
– This. Parliament cannotbind future Parliaments.
– If the honorable senator will, test me -often -enough, . he will find that I can suggest a remedy for . almost anything. I sometimes think that) I should have been a . quack doctor in stead of a . senator. I was thinking of suggesting . an ‘amendment’ to double theamount’ proposed,! and to provide that if any honorable senator or member of the House of Representatives in future should introduce to Parliament a measure of this kind, ‘his seat’ should, -forthwith be declared vacant.
– How could’ that be done ‘without altering -the Constitution ?
– It could be done by amending the- Electoral Act. Of course, another Parliament could repeal such a provision in the Electoral Act. 1 should -accept the honorable senator’s suggestion to have ‘it provided ‘for in the Constitution. Will the -Minister accept an amendment providing that double the amount proposed shall be paid -for the next two ‘years? : The ‘reason I suggest that is that the Labour Government in Tasmania will be in office for at- least the next two years, and I know that. the money would’ -assist’ them, greatly.
– Does the -honorable senator mean ‘that Labour - governments spend-double the amount that is, spent by other governments?
Senator GARDINER. Ido. But I have found that the expenditure incurred by Labour governments has always -been justified because of the extra revenue that has thereby been . obtained. ; Those governments that . curtail -their -lexpendiiture bring . atbaut the state ofaffairs that obtains, in Tasmania rat (the present time. Senator Duncan.-. - Niat, always. That was mot ‘the . case with the fish industry in New Souths Wales.
– Even ‘though the . Labour government in New “South Wales ‘lost ‘£100,000 in an -industry that was not imme’diately successful, I.- think that the -people of NewSouth Wales were in a better position bylosing . that amount collectively, than by paying £300,000 to private enterprise to enable it to make a success of the industry. That is what is happening now. Even though the balance has not . always . been on . the right . side, of the ledger when Labour governments have put money into industries a . greatersum has,nevertheless, been left. in. the . poekete of the taxpayers. Under this bill, ‘New South Wales will be . asked to provide £l25,000,- for the . benefitof Tasmania, to tide it over the difficulties with which it is confronted’. We’ arc not throwing themoney into the -sea, but we are throwing it into the Tasmanian Treasury without any hope of its return. The only benefit that the Commonwealth derives from such concessions is that the states are- placed in a sound financial position, and are able to cope with their difficulties. The- Federal Parliament will be- compelled in the near future to consider seriously whether it can continue to whittle away its revenue by granting a few thousand . pounds here and a few . thousand pounds there, or, as has been the case on some occasions, a few hundred thousand pounds here and a few hundred thousand pounds there. The position, is becoming so serious that the willingness . of the wealthy states to continue to tax themselves for this purpose will become a factor in the situation. I intend to support the bill for the reason that. I take a different view of the position of the small states to-day from the one I held, say, ten or twelve years ago. I realize that in consequence of the policy of the various Federal Governments, the big secondary industries of Australia are being- concentrated in Melbourne and Sydney, and thesmaller states are- being left to carry on the primary industries under a very heavy handicap. Their position is becoming unbearable and unsupportable. I ask, definitely, whether the Government will accept an amendment to double the amount that will be payable to Tasmania- in the first two years under the provisions of ‘ the- bill?
– The Government will stand by the bill.
– That, is what was said at. the. time of- federation., It was “ the- bill, the. wiiole bill, and nothing but the bill.” I suppose,- if the measure is passed, . Tasmania-, will be satisfied . until the moneys payable under it are exhausted or until another government comes- into office. Tasmania is in grave difficulties compared with the more densely settled- states of the Commonwealth, and we- cannot- say to her, ‘ ‘ We shall stand hard and fast by- the. agrees ment which, was- made- at the time -of federation and -by the. agreements -made- in- 1911 an’d 1914.” Variations of the term of all those agreements have been necessary. I am showing my desire to expedite the passage of the. bill by not. asking for. the customary adjournment of the debate.
I do not desire to delay the passage of the bill for it is hard to turn a deaf ear to the call of charity. Circumstances have been pretty hard on our poor starving sister, Tasmania, as I think Senator. Ogden described- that state twelve- months ago. Tasmania has been coming -to the Commoiia.wealtb. Parliament with great regularity for assistance of this kind-, and every time she has promised , that if we will do something to help her she will put her house in order and re-organize her state finances to avoid making further appeal’s. But, as Senator Gardiner aptly pointed out, no sooner has one grant been exhausted than we have been requested to make another, and time after time we have witnessed the spectacle of honorable members of this Parliament who represent Tasmanian constituencies, and honorable members of the Tasmanian Parliament, coming cap in hand to the Commonwealth. Government for help.
-. - The honorable memberis surely facetious.
– Does not Senator Foll realize that the- CommonwealthGovernment has pa-id in one way and another- five times as much to Queensland to assist the sugar industry there as it has paid to Tasmania?
– That is not- the case.. The. sugar industry has been most beneficial to Australia,, for -it has provided sugar for this country for years at. a price far below London parity. I suppose that the industry has lost, in the difference between the price paid for sugar in Australia andthe’ London- parity price, not less than £22,000,000- since 1914, and it may hap-pen later on- that the Queensland people will ask the Commonwealth- to return seme, of ..this money. Senator Gardiner. - The Queensland’ people; get. £3,000,000 a year from the rest of Australia under the terms of the sugar agreement..
SenatorFOLL. - The people of Australia are getting far more out of the sugar industry than, the sugar industry is getting out of them. The sugar-growers are the only primary producers who do not. get. London parity for their produce. Tasmania, has been coining -to the Commonwealth Government, year- after year, with: the request for- grants of money- ‘in order that the. taxes: in . that state might be -kept at a- ridiculously low figure.1
– That is not so.
SenatorFOLL. - I shall quote figures to show that taxation in Tasmania is much lower than in any other state in Australia.
– The honorable senator should be patient, for a Labour Government has just assumed office in Tasmania.
– If the amount of taxation paid per head of the population of the various states is given, figures should also be quoted to show the ability of the people to pay.
SenatorFOLL. - I shall be doing the fair thing if I give the amount of taxation per head of the population. The revenue per head of the population in New SouthWales in 1916-7 was £10 17s. l1d. In the other states it was as follows: - Victoria, £8 16s. 2d. ; Queensland, £11 12s. 6d.; South Australia, £11 0s. 7d. ; Western Australia, nearly £15; and Tasmania, only £7. The average for Australia in that year was £10 7s. 7d. In that year Tasmania was receiving a subsidy from the Commonwealth Government. The figures for 1917-8 were: - New South Wales, £11 4s. 10d.; Queensland, £12 7s.; South Australia, £12 7s. 4d.; Western Australia, £151s. 8d. ; Victoria, which has always had the reputation of being the lowest taxed state in Australia, £8 18s.10d. ; and Tasmania, £7 l1s. 9d.
– I think the honorable senator is giving the revenue figures and not the taxation figures.
– He is giving the amount received by the various states from services and taxation, and the great bulk of it is derived from services.
– I submit that the revenue received by the various states is taxation, but if honorable senators from Tasmania object to these figures I am quite willing to quote the actual taxation figures. I wish to support this bill, but they are compelling me to quote figures which will damage their own case, for the taxation figures are more against Tasmania than the revenue figures.
– I suppose the honorable senator will also tell us the ability of the people to pay.
– In 1918-9 the revenue figures had increased as follows: - New South Wales, £11 19s.1d.; Victoria and South Australia, small increases; Western Australia, nearly £16; Queensland, £13 6s. l1d.; and Tasmania, still under £8, or, to be exact, £7 15s. l1d. Therefore the Tasmanian people were paying less direct and indirect taxation than the people of any other state, and, so that they may remain in that favoured position, they come to the Commonwealth Government for help.
– Taking the figures that the honorable senator has quoted, it must be seen that Tasmania receives less from her people for services rendered than any other state.
– If the honorable senator desires to state the case for Tasmania he is at liberty to do so. I am simply showing that the people in the other states are being required to put their hands in their pocket to pay for the government of Tasmania. I shall now give the actual taxation figures, seeing that the revenue figures do not appear to have satisfied honorable senators who represent Tasmania. I did not want to quote the taxation figures, but they have forced me to do so. In 1920-21 the people of Queensland were paying £4 17s. l1d. per head in state taxation; in New South Wales the amount was £3 10s. 8d., and it has increased considerably since; but in Tasmania it was only £3 6s. 7d. In the next year the figures were: - Queensland, £4 10s.1d.; Tasmania only £2 18s. l1d.
– Will the honorable senator give us the index number of the taxpayers’ capacity to pay?
– That can be ascertained from the Year-Book. I understand that Tasmania was offered assistance if an effort were made to curtail expenditure. According to the CommonwealthYearBook the expenditure in 1920-21 - when conditions were practically normal - was £2,189,157. The Tasmanian Premier, in his financial statement delivered on the 22nd January of this year, stated that Tasmania was doing its utmost to keep expenditure at the lowest possible level in order to place the finances of the state on a sound basis. We find, however, that the estimated expenditure for the current year is £2,695,057, which is over £500,000 more than was expended in 1920-21. Tasmanian Governments never made any serious attempt to increase their revenue until forced to do so by the present Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page), who suggested that economy should be exercised, and state taxation increased.
– Does the honorable senator approve of the rates imposed by the Queensland Government?
– I do not ; but although the Queensland people are taxed out of all proportion, we have never asked for a subsidy to make up the deficit. Millions of pounds are still owing on our Queensland railways, and it would be as reasonable for me, as a representative of that state, to ask New South Wales, Tasmania, Victoria, and other states to contribute towards our huge deficit as it is for the Tasmanian Government to plead for assistance from the Commonwealth authorities. Although the direct taxation imposed in Queensland is unreasonable, the taxpayers in that state are facing the position firmly, are tightening up their belts, and working still harder in an honest attempt to meet their obligations until a government is in power which will impose more reasonable rates. The total revenue per head of population in Queensland in 1916-17 was £11 15s. 4d., but, according to the financial statement just delivered, it has increased to £1611s.1d. The expenditure per head of population in 1916-17 was £12 3s., but that amount has increased to £16 10s. 9d. During the last few years income taxation, estate, probate, and stamp duties, and mortgage fees in Queensland have increased by over 100 per cent. Additional land taxation has been imposed, and, generally, our expenditure has increased out of all proportion to the state’s capacity to pay.
– Does the Queensland Government compel the land-owners to pay land taxation ?
– The rates of taxation in Queensland are greater than the people can pay if the state is to be properly developed.
– The Queensland Government does not collect land taxation.
– The Government are very careful to see that no one escapes payment. A little while ago, when the Queensland Government were faced with difficulties in raising money, Mr. Theodore conferred with the so-called beef barons, who said that they were willing to advance the Government money to carry on their socialistic enterprises provided that land taxation was remitted, and without a second thought the Premier complied with their wishes. South Australia has loaded the Commonwealth with the responsibility of conducting the Oodnadatta railway, which is one of the most unprofitable railways in that state, and which up to the present has cost the Commonwealth nearly £2,000,000. If it were a railway running into the Northern Territory I would not mind, but as you, Mr. Deputy President, know, it is within the State of South Australia. I wish the Commonwealth Government would assume control of some of the non-paying railway lines in Queensland as they have done at least in one instance in South Australia. In consequence of actions such as this the taxpayers of New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria, who contribute most of the taxation, are overburdened with the cost of this non-paying project which you, Mr. Deputy President, know is solely for the benefit of South Australia. I ask you, sir, whether that is not so.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Newland). - Order! I ask the honorable senator not to direct his remarks or questions in a personal way to the Chair, as he knows that the Chair is not in a position to reply.
– With the exception of Tasmania, no state has. received more benefit from federation than Victoria, particularly when the expenditure incurred in developing the territory in the vicinity of the river Murray is considered. Apart from this, and other factors, the seat of the Federal Government has also been in Melbourne for 23 years. Although it was definitely understood that a transfer would be made to the Federal Capital as soon as practicable after the inception of federation, there are some who even now are opposing the wishes of the majority. Queensland has to contribute towards the huge expenditure incurred by the Commonwealth in New South Wales, and in Victoria, and the unfortunate taxpayers in the state which I represent can be regarded merely as hewers of wood and drawers of water. Tasmania has been generously treated by the Commonwealth Government, . and it is the duty of that state to place a government in power which will place its finances on a proper footing. Although Western Australia has a large deficit, the represenatives of that state do not come to the Commonwealth Government for assistance.
– Western Australia receives an annual grant .
– But it is comparatively small considering the area of the state. South Australia has also a large deficit. I trust that this is the last occasion on which an attempt will be made to fleece the taxpayers in other states to assist that state which Senator Ogden with, tears in his eyes, referred to as our. “little starving, sister.” This poor little starving sister state should get to work, as other states have done, and place in power a Government which will conduct its affairs in a business-like way. If that is done, Tasmania will be able to meet its financial responsibilities without coming to the Commonwealth for assistance.
– When proposals for Federation were under consideration, the representa tives of the various states were reluctant to relinquish the sovereign rights . exercised by the several governments, and, as a result, only a limited number of powers were vested in the national Government. The framers of the Constitution were also concerned about the problem of raising sufficient revenue to meet national ‘expenditure: We are indebted to one of the Tasmanian delegates, the late Sir Edward Braddon, for the proposal, which unfortunately was incorporated in the Constitution, to provide- for the payment from the Customs and excise revenue of 25s. perhead of the population to each State Government. Enthusiastic but misguided protectionists are never tired of declaring that protection will lead eventually to: the extinc- tion of revenue through theCustoms, because Australia willbecome a selfcontained nation. The- late.- Sir -. Edward Braddon and other contemporary- poli ticians suffered- from no, such, hallucina-: tion. They realized, as every sensible man must, that the imposition of Customs duties leads to an ever-increasing revenue from that source. We have had proposals for the payment of bounties on the manufacture of steel and production of sulphur, as well as on the products of many other primary industries. The people interested hang on tenaciously to all these concessions: It is unfair that the federal authorities- should have to col lect the Customs and exeisev revenue and hand back a large proportion of it to the State Governments. It would be far better if the Commonwealth Government retired from- the field of income taxation, and . -also: ceased to- collect the entertainment tax.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Newland). - This measure does not deal with taxation. The honorable senator must confine his remarks to the subjectmatter of the bill.
– The measure proposes a total payment to Tasmania of £250,000 spread over a period of five years. It is a make-believe to say that the sum mentioned will satisfy that state. I have not the slightest doubt that at the end of the period mentioned the representatives of Tasmania will come to the Commonwealth Parliament and ask for more. The bill provides, further, that the Tasmanian Government shall have the sole right to the money raised from. the. taxation of Tattersall’s. sweeps.. Tasmania is not. theonly state that is dependent upon the Commonwealth Government. Western Australia, with. more than 1,000,000 square miles of rich territory, some of it equal to. land. in. any other part of the world, is receiving a contribution . of £140,000 a year. I could, understand proposals to make grants to the Northern Territory, New. Guinea, Papua, or any other territories under the control of the Commonwealth. I could understand also, the wisdom of the Government spending, money at Canberra, but. I must confess that I fail utterly to see why the Commonwealth should be asked to support Tasmania, which is probably one of the richest and most, desirable states: of the Commonwealth. The trouble is that the. people of that state do. not know how to govern themselves. If anybody attempts to engage in business, the State Government promptly imposes a tax on the amount of capital invested, and the number of persons employed. Having enacted such stupid legislation-, that state has. the hardihood to come to the Commonwealth Government for financial assistance. Are. honorable, senators aware that,, despite that we are a federation,, and that people.: are supposed to be able to move about freely from state to state, if any’ one: proceeds- to Tasmania- through Launceston,, the local governing author rities impose a tax of 2s. a head on every person approaching thatcity by sea,and that if any attempt is made to escapeby sea, they levy another tax of 2s. a head. In this way, theyextract thousands of pounds from the people of the Commonwealth. Tasmania is the only state that enforces such an un-Australian tax. Tasmania also has two Houses of Parliament. Why on earth should that state require an Upper House ? It must cost a substantial sum of money. Why does : not Tasmania follow the example of Queensland, and abolish the Upper House, and make an. -attempt , to pay . its way? We- hear . of -no request for the payment of a cash subsidy or donationto Queensland, . although -that state, by a very circumlocutory method whichhas been referredto already in this chamber, succeeds in extracting’ a substantial amount’ of money from the Commonwealth Treasury. But Tasmania comes to this Parliament year after year, and asks for a straight-out -cash donation. Tasmania contributes an” infinitesimal proportion of the money required to meet the deficit on the east-west railway, and other- Commonwealth railways in the Northern . Territory, ‘but it receives -considerable sums eachyear in the way of cash payments. If ‘Tasmania is unable topay its way, that stakeshould, become a province of Victoria. The people should abandonthe ideaof . aState Government with aGovernor and all the paraphernalia of an independent state.The configuration -of thecountry suggests that Tasmania. shoulddo very much more than has been doneup to the present to develop hydroelectric undertakings.
– That hasbeen done already.
-But onlyto alimited extent. The Tasmanian. hydro-electric works, so I understand, will not develop more than . 80,000 . horse-power.From what I know. of the country, thatfigure could be multiplied - at , least five times, and there would still be a great amount of reserve power available.
SenatorH.Hays. - Tasmania has spent £3,000,000 on the undertaking.
– TheTasmanian Government does not ask people who own theCountrytopay taxation in proportion to the land owned by then. Only nominal landtax is imposed,and the system of- municipal taxation is a disgrace. I oppose the second reading of the bill.
Questionresolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2 p.m.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Payment of £250,000 for financial assistance to Tasmania).
– I had intended to oppose the second reading of this measure, but, unfortunately, during my brief absence from the chamber on urgent private business, the second reading was put, and I lost my opportunity to speak at that stage. However, this clause permits me to say what I want to say upon thebill. It is not apleasureto me to oppose the granting of asum of money to Tasmania, more particularly in view ofthe fact that many of my personal friends in this chamber represent that state, but I feel the time has arrived when . it is necessary forsome one to take a stand against this continual bleeding of the Common wealth and, throughtheCommonwealth,the people ofthe other states, by Tasmania.Although it hasbeen said that thetroubles of the state have arisen fromthe factthat it is part ofthe federation, they are reallydue to internal causes. I am supported in that statementbycetainremarksmade bythe Premier and Treasurerof Tasmania when he was delivering his budget speech on the 22nd January, 1.924. I was in Hobart at the time, and It heard that gentleman say -
The present financial position ofthis state is not solelydue to Tasmania’sentry into federation, andtherefore it is notthe duty of the Commonwealth to take up the whole of theburden.
Unfortunately, however, there seems to be a general and growing feeling in the minds of the people ofTasmania, that, whatever financial difficulties, minor or serious, they may get into, they can rely upon the Commonwealth Parliament and the people of the other states to provide them at any time with any amount required by them to get themselves out of those difficulties. If we are to endorse thatfeeling by, continually consenting, without protest,to the granting of sums of money to Tasmania, we shall remove all incentive on the part of the Tasmanian’ Parliamenttotake the necessary steps to place the finances of the state on a proper and sound footing. On every occasion when a proposition has been brought forward in this Parliament to grant a sum of money to Tasmania, we have been assured that it would be the last time that Tasmania would find it necessary to come to us to help it over its financial difficulties. In 1912, 1913, 1922, and 1923, bills similar to this, granting financial assistance to Tasmania, have been passed by this Parliament; and in these measures, which have all been passed subsequent to the expiry of what was known as the “ Braddon blot “ clause in the Constitution Act, we have granted in all to Tasmania £1,070,000. If the granting of that very large sum of money by the people of the other states to Tasmania had achieved any result to which we could point as being worthy of the grant, it would not be necessary for me on this occasion to again protest against the voting of a further sum to that state. But, in spite of repeated promises and repeated assurances given to this Parliament, Tasmania’s financial position today is just as bad as it has ever been. As long as the Commonwealth continues to be the milch cow it will never improve, because there is no incentive to improvement. What would be the position of the other states if they carried on their affairs as Tasmania seems to have done?
– Some of them do, but they do not come to this Parliament for assistance.
– Some of the states are constantly in difficulties, but they weather the gales themselves. New South Wales has difficulties and serious financial problems ahead of it. What if that state took the stand that it could spend just whatever it liked, feeling sure that it could rely upon the Federal Parliament and federal revenues to help it out of all financial difficulties into which it might get? It seems to me that some representatives of Tasmania are rapidly approaching the view of a big section of the people of the state - that it has a right to ask the Commonwealth Parliament for whatever money it wants, and to expect to get it, for whatever purpose it likes to spend it on. If, claiming the same right, the other states lived in the riotously financial way in which Tasmania has been living, considering its circumstances and resources, it would not be long before they would all be coming to the Commonwealth Parliament for assistance just as Tasmania is doing, and the financial position of theCommonwealth would be very serious indeed.
SenatorFoll. - The people of Tasmania are living a champagne life on a beer income.
– They are living on a lemonade income. The Commonwealth Parliament has its own financial responsibilities and commitments to meet. They are serious enough. Within the next few years we shall certainly be faced with very serious financial troubles. Yet here we have Tasmania - helped so often and each time it has been helped giving the assurance that it would be the last time. - coming again for assistance, the only difference on this occasion being that we do not get the assurance given previously that it is the last time.
– Has not the Commonwealth Parliament imposed the Navigation Act on Tasmania in the meantime?
– I am prepared to admit that Tasmania suffers certain disadvantages, and I should be prepared to consider what might be called legitimate ways of assisting the state without this continual granting of large sums of money for expenditure over which the Commonwealth has no control. Senator Reid has interjected that we cannot afford to see any one state of the Commonwealth becoming bankrupt, but we have no assurance that even if we grant this money or a larger sum to Tasmania the state will remain financially solvent. We have no control over the expenditure of the state. If, through inability to conduct its own affairs as they should be conducted, it finds itself in a serious position, and we have to bear the brunt of the burden, I think we should certainly put forward a claim to the exercise of some degree of financial control over the state. It is constantly reiterated that Tasmania is suffering to a fearful extent because it has become part of the federation, and that but for joining the union it would to-day be in an entirely different position. I believe it would have been in a different position. It would have been finan- cially ruined, because it would not have been able to come to the Commonwealth for the repeated assistance it has secured. It is true, as Senator Thompson has remarked, that the state has suffered in one or two aspects from the effect of Commonwealth legislation. It has certainly suffered by the application of the Navigation Act, but even in that respectit has not suffered nearly as much as the people of the state have been carefully led by the press of the state to imagine. As a member of the Royal Commission on Navigation, I visited Hobart last year, and one of the witnesses examined was Mr. Giblin, the state statistician, who probably understands as well as any one else does what is the matter with the state, seeing that he handles for statistical purposes the whole of its financial and other records. He was under no missapprehension as to what was the matter with Tasmania. He did not agree with what the people are being constantly led to believe, namely, that their misfortunes are due to unfair treatment by the other states. He said that Tasmania’s trouble was internal, and not external. This high official, this man with the whole of the statistics of Tasmania at his fingers’ ends, made one of the most straightforward and condemnatory statements about the state it was possible for any one to make. His statement was not challenged. He said that it was just about time the people of the state got out of the habit of going constantly cap in hand to some one else, and set about putting their own house in order.
– Is that in Mr. Giblin’s evidence?
– It is in effect” what Mr. Giblin said. Every member of the commission clearly gathered the same impression as I did from his evidence. There is not a shadow of a difference of opinion between us as to what he meant.
– The honorable senator should recollect that Mr. Giblin is a Government official, and has no opportunity of replying. He should be careful to give Mr. Giblin’s actual statement.
– Mr. Giblin made that statement before the royal commission. If Senator Hays can show me that I am wrong in my version of what Mr. Giblin said, I am prepared to accept correction.
– In what respect has Tasmania suffered from the Navigation Act more than any other state has done?
– It would be quite easy for me to point to Tasmania’s tourist traffic and other matters which have been adversely affected by -the operation of the Navigation Act, but I have no wish to do so in discussing this bill. I merely wish to voice my strong protest against this habit that Tasmania has of constantly coming to the Commonwealth Parliament, and through this Parliament, leaning heavily on the other states for financial assistance. Its finances ought to be its own business and its own problem. In all the states to-day there is a growing and a constant demand for the reduction of taxation. A strong demand has been made upon this Parliament, and in the budget certain reductions were foreshadowed. Under this bill, however, we propose to continue a comparatively heavy expenditure without any prospects of its coming to an end. When other agreements have expired there has been a demand for further assistance. That will be the experience at the expiration of this agreement. The attitude of Tasmania towards federation is a constant menace to our national life. Party has constantly been played against party, and government against government. I am opposed to the clause, and shall vote against it.
– The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 3, 4, and 5 agreed to.
Schedule agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time. The amendment of the principal act for which this bill provides, makes the duty on fortifying spirit distilled from doradilla grapes 5s. per proof gallon instead of 6s., leaving fortifying spirit distilled from other materials at the present rate of 6s. This is an additional measure of assistance to the grape-growers. With the same object, Parliament some months ago increased the duty on imported brandy by 5s. a gallon, thus making the protection to the local industry equal to 10s. a gallon, and it-has -also ‘provided for a bounty ‘of 4s.- a gallon -on fortified wineexported. As honorable- -senators ‘are’ aware, the .position of the settlers growing, doradilla grapes has been the subject of. very serious concern to the Government, for some months past. These (settlers received -.a quite “unpayable price “for -last* season’s crop. In fact, > those of .them who. are shareholders in .co-operative dis.tilleries, and whose return comes from the -sale of the spirit, have -not- yet ‘got anything. . In addition, : some hundreds, of tons of grapes rotted on the vines for lack .’of a ^market. This serious position-, is due to no fault of the settlers. Misledby the high prices previously ruling for doradilla grapes, tike ‘State Governments obliged the settlers to1 plant doradillas. The .result has been >a’ production exceeding requirements. The Commonwealth Government, ‘while » entirely disclaiming-‘ any responsibility for the ^position, recognizes that some1- action is imperative to relieve the- situation. > The” Tariff ! Board convened a ‘conference -representing grape buyers and growers, land- went verythoroughly into the! whole question. The amendment of - the .excise tariff now proposed is part ‘ of -. the recommendation made :by the board with -x view to the relief of the growers. It is a very simply measure, ‘and I trust that honorable senators -are .prepared mow to .dispose “of, the second reading of the debate.
Senator GARDINER ‘(New South Wales) p.’an].- I, am -not sure that this is a bill that we should pass”’ in silence. Tasmania this” morning -received its grant. This * afternoon the proposal is ‘to give something to South Australia. . “When will come the turn of New South Wales?
– Doradilla -..grapes are also grown in Victoria,. -and I presume that some are, grown in New . South Wales.
– I think it will be agreed that in this bill ‘South Australian interests chiefly -‘are being considered . I -understand that the -bill -proposes j to reduce by -ls. a gallon the excise . duty on . for- ‘tifying spirit.1 distilled ‘from doradilla’ grapes. I suppose that we .ought to -be thankful -for small mercies ; but in com- mittee I shall most, likely move ‘to havethe duty wiped out altogether. I think that the ‘state should not profit from the liquor, traffic. I- should take away. those things ‘ that, make it desirable for the Go-; vernment to maintain .the .trade. ‘ What we lost financially we should gain. in a moral -sense. We :are receiving £16,,000;000 a year out of the liquor traffic. In the -minds of .timid folk that is a very good reason for maintaining the traffic, i It. is. said, “.If we wipe out this, traffic whence will -come our revenue ?”
– Is it a .fact that. the liquor traffic subsidizes the. Labour party ?
– It is 1101; Very -few honorable senators can .speak with as much knowledge as I can of the Labour party in New South Wales. I emphatically deny the statement contained in the interjection. I have made the closest inquiries. The Labour movement may have faults, but the receipt of money from the liquor trade is not one of them. -I believe that the liquor trade is prepared to subsidize the Labour -party, the National party, or -any! other party in .order to: maintain. its interests. .But our party : has, never yet reached the stage of . accepting, a -subsidy from the trade. If .my .-statement is -wrong, I hope that it will be brought- to the notice of the liquor trade, and that a -denial will fee accompanied -by .the names of those to whom money has been ‘paid.
– There-1 was no denial of the -statement when it’ was first made.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator -.Newland): - Order ! I -ask the honor.able senator not to continued this line* of argument.
-I think it is a fair line of argument, because I have said that I- am prepared to “wipe out- the whole of the. excise duty. By . .interjection I have been asked, “ Is it a. fact, that the Labour party is subsidized by the liquor trade?” “It may be said, ‘“.Senator Gardiner is, prepared to wipe out the whole of the excise duty because he is in favour of the. liquor trade”.” Although you, Mr. Deputy President, .may think that .this has no bearing on ‘the bill, I think that it is very pertinent to the .bill.
The DEPUTY. PRESIDENT. - The honorable senator replied to an interjection, .which, in itself, was disorderly. He knows that I -.have no objection to his .replying to <an . interrjection, but. I ask” him not to- carry the matter further at: this stage.
-rIn addressing oneself to a bill ©f this .character two things have :to fee borne in mind. One :of those is the scope that honorable senators are allowed. I submit that in the consideration of a bill dealing with wine, spirits, beer, or anything elseof that nature, the whole liquor- trade may be reviewed, and that a suggestionthat any political party has received from the liquor tirade money in return for its support, may be discussed. I cannot speak here except as the representative of a political party; and as a political party has been accused of having received money, I feel that I shall be in order in. addressing myself to that aspect of the matter. If, Mr. Deputy President, you rule that I cannot, I shall be compelled to test your ruling, not because of mere caprice, but because I shall never permit my privileges in debate to be taken from me.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- I am anxious that honorable senators shall have every latitude in the discussion of the bill. The honorable senator knows that he was led away from the subjectmatter of the bill by an interjection, which, in itself, was: disorderly. I have permitted him to reply briefly to that interjection, and I ask him now not to discuss it further.
– I shall meet you more than; half-way,. Mr. Deputy President. I was discussing the bill from the aspect that the state should be removed from the position - shall I say the immoral position - of having to depend on a trade of this kind for a. large amount of revenue. There are: many persons in the community who, with all due respect to the views of others, believe that; it is immoral for a state - a collective body of people - to depend for its revenue upon a trade that we believe does so much injury to the state. Providing, as it does, for the reduction of1s. in the. excise duty, the bill is a step in the right direction. If we continue to tread thatpath the. whole of the duty will ultimately be removed, and everything that links this -liquor trafficwith the Commonwealth and State Governments willbe wiped out.
– We shall than have free liquor.
– It would then be a question of whether the community should have free liquor or be entirely free from liquor. If we reach the stage when the whole of the community is absolutely sober; we will have only the moral question to decide. If the question of total prohibition went to a vote at present the issue would be greater than the rights or the wrongs of the matter. In the minds of thousands of electors there would be the thought, “ If we prohibit the use of intoxicating wines, beers, and spirits, where shall we get our revenue ? “ But if we remove a shilling duty to-day and a shilling duty to-morrow, and continue that practice, the whole of the excise duties will eventually be wiped out. Then the licensing fees can go, and the continuance of the liquor trade will depend upon the people. If I were a dictator and could bring in prohibition to-morrow, I would not do so, for permanent benefit-can result from the removal of this trade only when it. is removed by the free will of the people. This bill is a step in the direction I favour taking, and though it comes from this Ministry - I will not say the least moral of any Ministry we have ever had-, because that would not.be parliamentary - I shall support it. I believe in dissociating the liquor traffic from the government in so far as revenueis concerned. Possibly the Government has seen the wisdom of the suggestion made the other day when the Wine Export Bounty Bill was under discussion, that, instead of giving a bounty of 4s. a gallon on. exported wines, we should take 4s. a gallon off the excise duty, for it now proposes to reduce the excise duty by1s. If it is willing to assist the doradilla growers to that extent, why should it not go further ?
– Because the bounty to be paid on exported wine will be provided by the excise duties.
– That is, of course, a reason, but the Minister would not be as generous to the doradilla grapegrowers as I would be. In committee I may move that the excise duty be removed altogether. If that is not agreed to, I shall- probably move that it be reduced by 2s., or even 3s., a gallon. It seems that the Government feels obliged every day that Parliament is sitting to introduce a bill to give relief to some small section of the community. I have objected to legislation of this kind so frequently that I am becoming tired of the tedious repetition. Honorable senators know very well what happens.
We settle some soldiers on the land, and make them an advance to enable them to carry on. They are no sooner settled on their blocks than the Government finds it necessary to give them further assistance.
– The best thing we could do for the doradilla grape-growers would be to assist them to get out of the industry altogether.
– From what I have heard in the last fortnight, I thin]?; that is so. It is quite apparent that, although the industry looked so promising four or five years ago, there is no promise in it now, and we shall not do anything effective for the people engaged in it by helping them in this way. No nation can become great by spoon-feeding its industries. The hardiest growths are made in the atmosphere of free competition. Industries that are established under those conditions result in substantial progress. The sugar industry is most valuable, but the people of Australia are required to assist it to the extent of £6,000,000 a year.
– It was £3,000,000 this morning. Is the honorable senator making a dutch auction of it?
– It is a matter of simple arithmetic. About 300,000 tons of sugar are produced in Australia annually. At Id. per lb. that amounts to £2,800,000 a year. As the Australian people could obtain sugar grown elsewhere for at least 2d. a lb. less than they are compelled to pay for Queensland sugar, I submit that they are contributing approximately £6,000,000 a year to the Queensland sugar industry.
– That is a ridiculous statement.
– The honorable senator will find it difficult to prove my arithmetic inaccurate. Our people are obliged to pay £20 per ton more for Queensland sugar than they would have to pay for imported sugar. Seeing that they are paying so much to the Queensland sugar -growers, I suppose that no objection can be made to the payment of a little less excise duty on spirits made from doradilla grapes. The whole position is wrong.
– It is too artificial.
– That is so. We should not be called upon to assist small sections of the community in this way. It is the most costly way we could assist them. I realize that the Government has good intentions in introducing the bill, but I doubt whether any good purpose will be achieved by it. It seems to me to be quite unfair that ,a federal parliament which was established with the object of passing uniform legislation should really be spending its time dealing with measures which can be beneficial to only small sections of the people. I doubt whether it is constitutional for us to pass bills of this kind, but if they are to be dealt’ with, the Government, in preparing them, should be actuated by some fixed principle. I shall content myself with criticizing this class of legislation on the ground that it is wrong in principle, unsound in practice, leads to confusion, benefits no one, injures many, and induces people to remain in an industry even when there is no profit in it, in the hope that ultimately they will be able to obtain assistance from a paternal Government.
– This is a taxing bill, like almost every other that comes before us in these days. It is a proposal to give a very small measure of assistance to a section of the primary producers, and in so far as it does that I agree with it. It proposes to remove, in some degree, a penalty on industry. At present, every one engaged in making fortifying spirit in Australia is taxed for doing so, and the more spirit they produce the more heavily they aire taxed. The Government appoints as excise officers the smartest men it can find, so that no one engaged in the industry of wine and spirit making shall escape the tax. The scheme is utterly objectionable. According to the budget speech, the Government desires to find a market abroad for Australian produce, and it is willing to assist in the formation of pools to market fruit, wheat, and. other products; but it imposes a tax on the wine and spirit industry instead of helping it. A few minutes ago we were informed bv interjection that the Commonwealth revenue from excise duties was £16.000,000 a year, but the records show that it is not anything like that fabulous figure. Our receipts from Customs and excise duties combined are just over £36,000,000 a year, and I find that the estimated receipts for 1924-25 are :- Beer, £5,592,000; spirits, £1,629,000; tobacco, cigars and cigarettes, £3,013,000; starch, £18,000; licences, £13,000; total, £10,325,000. It is absurd, therefore, to say that the excise duties yield £16,000,000 a year. Only a small portion of the amount I have mentioned is derived from the excise on spirits manufactured from doradilla grapes. What objection can the Government have to a complete abolition of the penalty thus imposed upon this section of our primary producers? I understand from the explanation of the Minister that the bounty is to be paid from the excise, but I deny the accuracy of that statement. All excise payments are swept into the Consolidated Revenue, and it is only after the revenue has been collected by the Treasury, after a considerable number of leakages have occurred at various points, that the bounty is paid. I can understand ill-informed people in out of the way portions of the Commonwealth imposing a penalty upon persons’ engaged in industry. For instance, in Tasmania, if a person constructs a home, he is immediately pounced upon by the local authorities and annually fined. That is a common practice, not only in other states, but in other parts of the world. In progressive and enlightened states such as New South Wales and Queensland, such a policy has long been abandoned. All work in connexion with primary production is heavy, and, as a rule, those engaged in it are inadequately remunerated. They are far removed from the large centres of population, and generally have to do the pioneering work, but why they should tolerate the imposition of fines in proportion to the work they perform is beyond my comprehension. Unfortunately, this method of collecting revenue is not peculiar to the Australian states. Consumers of spirits and users of tobacco are regarded by most governments as fit subjects for taxation, but it is an entirely wrong method of securing national revenue. Excise duties do not prevent the production or consumption of alcoholic liquors which are imposed to enable the Treasurer to obtain large sums of money without exploiting other avenues of taxation. - The present system has a most injurious effect upon those engaged in industry. The Australian people would develop a taste for wines, particularly those of the lighter variety, if supplies of superior quality were available at reasonable rates, but they are not likely to cultivate the taste while legislation such as this remains on our statute-book. Perhaps that was the idea which permeated the minds of the members of the Government when they decided to reduce the excise by ls. per gallon. This policy, which has been in operation for a considerable time, has, in this instance, just been touched upon by the Government. The proposal does not go far enough. I have no fear that a plentiful supply of intoxicating liquor would lead to increased intoxication, although that might be the result for a week or two. After a limited time preference would be given to good clean water.
– The honorable senator is an optimist.
– The honorable senator knows that many persons who have cellars stocked with the best wines, ales, and spirits, do not consume alcoholic liquors to excess. People who consume more spirits than they are capable of carrying with comfort are generally those who find it difficult to purchase supplies. The Government should abandon the collection of excise duties, and obtain revenue from other sources. I urge the Government to accept an amendment which I intend to move in committee, whereby this penalty which for a number of years has been unjustifiably and unnecessarily imposed upon the producers will be withdrawn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 (Excise on spirit).
– I intend to vote ‘against this clause unless the Government are prepared to eliminate all reference to the payment of any sum per proof gallon on spirit for fortifying Australian wine distilled wholly from the fresh juice of doradilla grapes or spirit for fortifying any Australian wines. The Government now propose to reduce the excise duty from 6s. to 5s. per gallon on spirit for fortifying Australian wine distilled wholly from the fresh juice of doradilla grapes, but they still intend to collect 6s. per gallon on spirit for fortifying Australian wine generally. As I remarked during the second-reading debate, there is no justification for the continuation of this imposition upon those engaged in an important Australian industry. I have never extended much consideration to thosewho direct their attention to the regulation of industry while they do not give any consideration to the creation of. new avenues of employment, or the maintenance of those already existing. The Government should give some tangible reasonswhy the proposedexcise duty of 5s. per gallon is to be retained.It is useless to say that similar duties are collected in other countries. It has been suggested that personsengaged in certain industries shouldpay incometax at a higher rate than persons whose income is earned in a more laborious manner. I have no sympathy with that idea. This bill presents an opportunity for the Government to do something of a tangible nature to benefit the whole of the people. I should like to see. excise duties. entirely removed. I am informed that many returned soldiers who have engaged in the industry’ find it difficult to meet their obligations. Theirdifficulties are being increased by the continuance of. these duties. The Governmentmight just as reasonably station a man outside our boot factories and fine the manufacturers1s. for every pair ofboots manufactured in their establishments. If the . Government, placed, excise officers ‘outside the doors of every wine shop or hotel,and if those excise officers soughtto collect 2d., or 3d. from every person who had adrink on the premises, the people would not tolerate that method, of collecting revenue for five minutes. This is a mischievous bill. I am in favour of giving all . Australian industries a fair chance of success. This Government is deliberately penalizing people engaged in the production of wine. The proposal is avery short: step in the right direction. The Government , might very well take five more steps and abolish the excise, altogether. I am opposed to. the clause, which I should like to see deleted.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 3 and 4 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without request; report adopted.
That the bill be now read a second time.
Thismeasure is intended to remove some obscurities in the definitions in the Quarantine Act, and also to extendthe quarantine powers of the Commonwealth in relation to plants, goods, and animals. It gives power to the Minister to prohibit the importation of articles likely to convey infectious diseases that may affect plants or animals, and also power to take quarantine measures within any part of the Commonwealth. There is a new definition of “ pest,” which now includes weeds. The bill also confirms the interpretation of the word “ pest “ in the principal act, andgives power to the Minister to prohibit the removal of animals, plants, or goods from one part of a state to another. During the.recent rinderpest outbreak in Western Australia, there was no authority to do this. That was one reason why the State Government, having expressed its power by statute, operated in the circumstances referred to. It is desirable that the Commonwealth should express, by statute, the. quarantine power given. to it under the Constitution to prevent the removal of animals, plants, or. goods from one part of a state to another. This bill, therefore, is an attempt to arm the Commonwealth with such, powers. If one may judge from remarks made by SenatorKingsmill on a former occasion, the Government may expect the cordial support of that honorable senator for this bill.
– I am glad to know that the Commonwealth is taking this responsibility. .
-Is the bill largely the result of the outbreak of rinderpest in -Western Australia?
-Itis based on . the experience of the department in outbreaks of disease, . including the rinderpest, and in dealing with questions that have arisen inregard to the quarantining of animalsand plants. As such it should commend itself to honorable senators. . If any honorable senator is of the opinion that the measure should receive further consideration, I shall have no objection to the adjournment of the debate, but, . as I have said, it is really an attempt to put in to law the statutory power of the Commonwealth under the Constitution.
-Isit contended that plants- were responsible for the introduction of the disease in Western Australia ?
– Wecannot tell, but fodder plants may convoy infection. . Some time ago the Manila authorities attributed the outbreak of anthrax in that country to the introduction of cattle from Darwin. Accordingly we sent our stock inspector and the Manila authorities Bent a veterinary officer in a steamer that was carrying live-stock from Darwin to Manila. Those officers followed the cattle until they were slaughtered in Manila, and their inquiries demonstrated beyond all doubt that the anthrax had been conveyed -in fodder from Manila to Darwin. The cattle became infected by eating the f odder on the vessel . That incident was oner of the reasons for the introduction of thin bill.
– There were’ other cases relating to broom millet.
– Yes; there were also cases in which the corn borer was introduced.
Debate (on motion by Senator Gardiner) adjourned.
The following paper- was- presented:- -
NewGuinea-Ordinance No. 30 of 1924 - Seamen’s Compensation.
Order of Business - Local Govern- ment in Mandated Territory.
.- I move-
That the Senate do now adjourn.
I understand that the Appropriation Bill has. passed another place, and will, therefore, be before theSenate on Wednesday next. I believe, that it is the desire of honorable senators to end thesession as early as possible,and I hope that.- it may be found possible to finish our proceedings next week, but if not,. I trust honorable senators will make arrangements in the following week to meet here on Tuesday.
SenatorGRANT (New South Wales) [3. 18]. - During the discussion of the PapuaBill the Minister for Home and Territories - (Senator Pearce) stated that theGovernment were considering, or were about to consider, the -advisability of providing;., in the Mandated Territories machinery for the creation of alocalcouncil, somewhat on the lines of the Legislative
Council in Papua, I was under the impression that the Minister said the Government had come to this, decision- because of a report by Colonel Ainsworth on the administration of New Guinea, and I should like to know whether it is true that some form of local government is to be granted to the, white residents of theMandated Territory.
– During the course of my remarks on the Papua Bill, I said that in his report Colonel Ainsworth had recommended that a local advisory council should be set up in the Mandated Territory of New Guinea, and that this recommendation, among other questions raised by Colonel Ainsworth’s report, would receive theserious consideration of the Government.. As a matter of. fact, Ministers have not yet had time to peruse the report; but thinking that Parliament would be pleased to have it as early as possible,’ they decided to lay it on the table immediately. I do not think that any Minister but myself’ has so far had time to peruse it, but as Boon as that opportunity - has been’ afforded to Ministers, they will come to a decision on the matter referred to by Senator Grant. (Question resolved in the affirmative-.
Senate adjourned at 3.20 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 12 September 1924, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1924/19240912_senate_9_109/>.