9th Parliament · 2nd Session
The Deputy President (Senator Newland) took the chair at 8 p.m., and read prayers.
– Has the Minister for Home and Territories had his attention drawn to an article that appeared in a newspaper on Tuesday relating to the discovery in the Northern Territory of a very extensive area of water, having a circumference of 30 miles and a depth of from 30 to 40 feet? Has he received any official confirmation of the discovery?
– The discoveryof that lake was reported more than twelve months ago by Constable Noblett, and was announced to the press at the time by the department.
SenatorFindley. - Covering the area and depth mentioned in the newspaper paragraph ?
– Yes; the report referred to. the area and depth of the lake.
– Can the Minister for Home and Territories inform the Senate whether the Government is taking steps to inquire into the circumstances and the conditions of the half-caste children at Alice Springs, in the Northern Territory?
– Yes. The housing arrangements and the conditions generally are at present most unsatisfactory. I am having exploredthe possibility of removing these children from their present surroundings, and placing them either in a State Government institution in South Australia, or in the charge of a mission. We have not yetbeen able to complete the matter. .
The following papers were presented . -
Arbitration(Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. -
No. 48 of 1924- Postal Sorters’ Union of Australia.
No. 49 of 1924 - Commonwealth Telephone Officers’ Association.
No. 60 of 1924 - Commonwealth Telegraph Traffic and Supervisory Officers’ Association.
No. 61 of 1924 - CommonwealthLegal Professional Officers’ Association.
No. 52 of 1924- Professional Officers’ Association, Commonwealth Public Service.
Public Service Act- Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1924, No. 139.
Northern Territory - Ordinances of 1924-
No. 18 - Darwin Pound.
No. 19- Fisheries.
-On the 11th September, SenatorKingsmill asked me the following questions: -
I promised to make inquiries, and advise him as early as possible. I now desire to inform the honorable member that -
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answers : -
asked the Honorary Minister (Senator Wilson), upon notice -
Whether, the Wembley Exhibition in London having proved such a valuable medium for the advertising of Australian goods, the Government proposes to either extend the present period for keeping open the Australian section or re-open the same next year?
– The matter is now under review, and directly the Government are in possession of definite proposals for continuance it will not delay in arriving at a decision on the subject.
Land Tax Assessments and Collections
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The . replies are very lengthy, and, to comply with the Standing Orders, I ask leave to make a statement.
– The Treasurer has supplied the following particulars: -
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Senator Gardiner) agreed to -
That the time for bringing up the report of the select committee be extended to Thursday next.
– I move-
That the Clerk of the Senate have leave to return to the Home and Territories Department the original report by SurgeonLieutenant W. E. J. Paradiee, M.B., Ch.M., on the Sir Edward Pel lew Group of Islands, laid on the table on the 21st August, 1924.
I am unable to understand why Senator Grant objected to this matter being treated as formal, because it is a perfectly innocent motion. Surgeon-Lieutenant Paradiee was an officer on the warship Geranium when it made a marine survey in the Sir Edward Pellew group to determine depths and currents, and so forth, and he prepared a separate report on the geological features of the islands. The
Navy Office sent the report to the Homeand Territories Department for general information, and, thinking that it might be of interest to honorable senators, and in order to give the Printing Committee an opportunity to have the report printed,. I laid it on the table of the Senate. It happens to be the only copy of the report available,and, as the Printing Committeedecided not to have it printed, the Navy . Department has asked that it be returned. It is the property of that department, which desires to get possession of it. There is nothing sinister behind themotion.
– I had the pleasure at the last meeting of the Printing Committee toglance hurriedly through the report, which it is now proposed to return tothe author. I formed the opinion that the report was a very valuable document, and ought not to be lost to members of the Federal Parliament.
– It will still remain in the possession of the department.
– I understand that it is proposed to return the report toSurgeonLieutenant Paradiee, and that, toall intents and purposes, it will not be available to members of this Parliament.
– Why did not the Printing Committee recommend that it be printed?
– Unfortunately, in my opinion, a nominal majoritywas against the printing of the document, but there was not a full meeting of the committee. I am satisfied that, had there been a full attendance, the decision would have been in favour of having the document printed, and I am objecting to the return of the report, because I wish thePrinting Committee to further consider the matter.
– If that is the honorable senator’s wish, let him ask leave to continue his remarks, and the debate may be adjourned until next week.
– I wish the Senate to retain possession of the document for the time being, and until members of the Printing Committee have had a further opportunity of considering a motion to have the report printed. On the understanding that this course will be followed, I ask leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Assent to the following bills reported : -
Sea Carriage of Goods Bill.
Wine Export Bounty Bill.
Wireless Agreement Bill.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
As this cannot be regarded in any sense as a party measure, I trust that its passago will be expedited. The Government has been requested from time to time to pass the necessary legislation to protect the interests of the Boy Scouts’ Association, and particularly to prevent the improper use of its uniforms, emblems, and badges. As a father, I realize the good work performed by this association, the objects of which are to encourage initiative and self-reliance, and generally to instruct the boys in useful pursuits. Only recently an instance was brought under my notice, in which a boy who had been a member of a city troop of scouts went into the country to start out in life. During a period of drought, sheep were being removed, and as a cook was not available, this little fellow immediately offered his services, and carried on the cooking during a month’s trip. I am sure every honorable senator is willing to assist in preventing the misuse of any of the badges or emblems now used by the association. The morale of the boys is generally admired, and the objects of the association are of such a. worthy character that it is the duty of Parliament to protect it to the fullest extent. We should prevent unauthorized persons from wearing similar uniforms to those worn by its members, or adopting the name of this association, the work of which is being carried on by self-sacrificing persons who are giving their time and expending their own money in its interests.
– Why not include the girl guides?
– That is also a worthy organization, and if asimilar application were made on its behalf it would, doubtless, be supported by Parliament. I trust honorable senatorswill enable the bill to have a speedy passage.
.- I should like to assist the honorable member (Senator Wilson) in passing this measure without unnecessary delay, but I wish to enter my protest against the principle which it embodies. In my opinion the measure is unnecessary, and probably contains more than is apparent at the first glance. The Minister has stated that the bill has been introduced with the object of protecting the Boy Scouts’ Association by giving it the exclusive right to use its present name. If that is the case, I should like to know why this association should have a monopoly of the name.
– Why should it not ?
– Why should it have a monopoly? If we are by act of Parliament to protect the name, uniforms, and badges of this association, where are we to stop?
– Trade organizations are similarly protected.
– There is an act under which they can register, and no one can prevent registration.
– But not in the same name.
– The organization would include all those engaged in the industry registered. In this instance the Boy Scouts’ Association is to be given a monopoly of a name. The bill refers only to one section of the community.
– This organization is open to all boys who wish to join it.
– Yes ; but if this measure becomes law the association will have a monopoly of the name.
– Any boy in the Commonwealth can become a member if he so desires.
– I understand this is an empire organization, and if the formation of an Australian Boy Scouts’ Association were contemplated this measure would prevent its establishment. If I were to insert an advertisement in the newspapers soliciting members for an Australian Boy Scouts’ Association, my attention would immediately be directed to the existence of this measure.
– It could be called by some other name. This name should be retained by those who originally adopted it.
– No sectionof the community is entitled to the exclusive use of the present name. If one desires to register a patent, and it is shown that the invention sought to be patented is notnovel - that it has been in use for a considerable time - registration is refused. If a football club adopted a colourable imitation of a boy scout’s emblems or uniform, it would be acting contrary to the law, and, in my opinion, footballers have done more for this country than the boy scouts are ever likely to do.
– What have they done?
– In the field of sport they have learned to “play the game,” . and, if they do that in the football field, they are likely to adopt the same principle right through life. I believe the boy scouts’ organization is being built up for the same purpose, but we should not put the blighting hand of legislation upon it by providing that all boys who desire to become scouts must join this association.
– One big union.
– I am not dealing with unionism. I am looking upon this organization as one that has been developed outside this country, and am considering the possibility of other associations being formed. I see in this bill, as in much of the legislation the Government has introduced, a desire to take from every one the liberty they should enjoy. This is being done a little at a time, but everything this Government has done has been in the direction of interfering with the liberty of the subject.
– All laws do that.
– Yes, and that is a reason why we should have less law, and more liberty The measure is vague and general in its terms. Clause 5 reads -
No prosecution shall be instituted under this act except with the consent of the Attorney-General.
Why are not prosecutions under this measure to be instituted as under other laws? Possibly the draftsman saw the danger. Clause 4 provides -
Any person, who except with the authority of the Association or the Local Branch for the area in which the use takes place (proof whereof shall lie upon him), makes use of any uniform, emblem, badge, decoration, descriptive or designating marks or title of the Association or a Local Branch registered in pursuance of the last preceding section in such manner as to suggest that the user is authorized by the Association or such Local Branch or is connected with the operations thereof, shall be guilty of an offence.
Penalty: Five pounds.
Why should not the onus of proof be thrown on the prosecution as is usually done? The clause is another interference with the liberty of the people. Clause 3 reads -
The Association or any Branch of the Association formed within the Commonwealth may, with the approval of the Attorney-General, apply to the Registrar of’ Designs for the registration under the Designs Act 1906-1912 of any uniform, emblem, badge, decoration, descriptive or designating mark or title used either before or after the commencement of this Act by the Association or any Branch of the Association for carrying out the purposes of the Association:
Provided that this section shall not authorize the use or registration of any uniform, emblem, badge, decoration, descriptive or designating mark or title which is similar to, or a colourable imitation of, any uniform, emblem, badge, decoration, descriptive or designating mark or title used by the Department of Defence.
Stripped of everything, this bill is for the purpose of giving to the present association a monopoly of the Boy Scout movement.
– It is the Boy Scout movement.
– The Boy Scout movement, which is serving a very useful purpose, has grown to considerable dimensions, and now some designing persons associated with it are desirous of getting a monopoly. They want, by law, to prevent any one else from wearing a uniform similar to that of the Boy Scouts.
– Not similar.
– The clause says “ colourable imitation.” What would the honorable senator say if South Melbourne was playing Carlton football, and the members of the Carlton team appeared on the ground attired in a uniform which was a colourable imitation of that worn by the South Melbourne team? Would he prosecute?
– Footballers would not wear the uniform of the Boy Scouts.
– Of course, the honorable senator cannot imagine any similarity between the Boy Scout movement and an association of footballers. If an attempt were made to extend in other directions the powers which are sought by this bill the honorable senator would be among the first to protest.
– The Boy Scout movement is one of the finest in Australia.
– Up to the present it has been. Its intentions are good.
-The Boy Scouts’ Association is asking for this measure.
– Only a section which wants to get possession of the movement is asking for it. It wants to have a legal backing for its intended action. At the last moment, another place amended the bill to provide that “ Nothing in this act shall be deemed to apply to the Life-Saving Scouts of the Salvation Army as at present constituted.” Evidently, honorable members in another place thought that the bill, as originally drafted, would affect the Life-. Saving Scouts of the. Salvation Army. Other interests may also be effected if a saving clause is not inserted. I do not speak for the Salvation Army, or for any other section of the community; I speak for all. We have no right to pass any legislation which is calculated to adversely affect any organization at present in existence. If it was necessary to insert a proviso to exclude from the bill the LifeSaving Scouts of the Salvation Army, we should be as careful to safeguard the interests of other organizations which may have no advocate in this Parliament.
– It is for the honorable senator to suggest the organizations which may be affected.
– I should like the Senate to agree to the postponement of this measure. I have as yet had no time to look properly into the matter.
– Has the Salvation Army itself any protection for its uniform ?
– Not only members of the Salvation Army, but also honorable members in another place who inserted clause 6 in the bill, were afraid that that organization would be affected by this legislation. What about the other organizations who have not been so alert as the Salvation Army ? Should they be adversely affected by this legislation? I want this measure to affect no one adversely. In any case, this measure, if passed, will not tend to assist the boy scout movement. That movement has taken a great hold on the people of Australia, and has now attained considerable dimensions. If it is based on truth, it will live and continue to grow ; but if not, it will cease to exist. Legislation of this nature usually injures those in whose interests it is supposed to be enacted. The granting of power and authority to an organization sometimes sounds its death knell. In the interests of the boy scout movement, it would be better not to pass this legislation. Rather than grant a monopoly to a few who desire it, we should allow the organization to continue as at present. I am opposed to the granting of privileges to any section of the community.
– The granting of this privilege to the boy scout movement does not affect the honorable senator.
– I cannot say whom it will affect, but can only draw on my imagination.
– The honorable senator has a fertile imagination.
-If there is in this country any organization of scouts acting independently of the Boy Scouts’ Association, the moment this bill is passed it will be compelled to cease its operations, and give up its name. Why should that be necessary ? There may be in different parts of the country independent bodies of boy scouts, which have been formed by local enthusiasts. If this bill is passed, they must either join the Boy Scouts’ Association or go out of existence.
– They will not be compelled to join.
– They will be penalized for using the name.
– And quite rightly, too.
– We have no right to create a monopoly of this kind. We would not do it in connexion with any other organization in Australia. With a view to obtaining information, I should like the bill to be referred to a select committee. That would give the people whom it is likely to affect adversely an opportunity ofknowing its provisions. I gather from the expression on the Minister’s face that he is not prepared to agree to that. He is evidently carrying out the motto of the boy scouts. He has, possibly, done one good deed to-day, and is, therefore, refusing to do a second. I again protest against another encroachment being made on human liberty, against further restrictions being placed on a section of the people, and against the authority of Parliament being used to give to a puny and privileged section of the community certain privileges, while taking from others rights to which they are entitled. In a free country like this boys have a right to go out scouting or camping in any dress they choose to wear. Yet if this bill is passed they will not be permitted to wear a dress similar to, or a colourable imitation of, the uniform worn by members of the Boy Scouts’ Association unless they are members of that organization.
– Has the honorable senator received any protests from country associations against this bill?
– I doubt if any of them have heard of the bill. Although I am in this Parliament, I have just heard of it for the first time.
– The bill was contemplated last session.
– I have not the slightest doubt that the honorable senator has heard all about it in caucus, but I am talking of what Parliament itself has learned. One of the weaknesses of our parliamentary system is that the members of the National party meet in caucus in one room, and members of the Country party meet in caucus in another room. The leader of the National party tells his men what is or is not to be done, or perhaps refuses to tell them anything; but in the Country party room things are free and easy, and the members of the party get all the information they want. It is a fact that when members come out of the National party room they approach members of the Country party and say, “ What are the Government going to do next week? Our leader did not tell us.” The tyranny to be exercised by this bill is only in keeping with the Government’s policy of restricting the rights of some people, and extending privileges to others who are not deserving of them. When people are brought before the courts and punished under this bill for doing what I consider they have a right to do, they will learn for the first time of theexistence of this legislation, and that it was one of the great purposes for which the Composite Government was formed. I class it as the biggest piece of legislation the Government as yet produced ! It shows that Ministers are getting a wider vision. At the next election they will probably point to it as something they have done to help the boys of to-day to be the men of tomorrow.
– I am disappointed at the carping and very unjust criticism of Senator Gardiner. Although it does not matter very much whether the bill is agreed to or not, I hope it will be accepted, because I regard the Boy Scouts’ Association as one of the most deserving and admirable institutions of the Commonwealth. It teaches boys devotion to their God, their King, and their country. It trains them to become acquainted with all the details of bush and home life. It inculcates in them the spirit of adventure and the love of missions that qualify them in after life to take high rank in the destinies of their country. All that the bill asks is that the Boy Scouts’ Association shall be protected in the use of the badges it wears to-day, and the name under which it is known. A patriotic and useful organization like the Boy Scouts’ Association should be protected in the use of the name it selects for itself. Senator Gardiner has no right to say that any body of persons is entitled to make use of the same title. When the Boy Scouts ask for legislation to safeguard them in the use of their badges, accoutrements and dress, we are entitled to grant their request. Therefore I hope the Government will not consent to any amendment to the bill.
Senator McDOUGALL (New South
Wales) [3.47]. - I cannot understand the necessity for bothering a national parliament with such a small matter as is involved in this bill when there are very many more important questions that call for discussion. The Boy Scouts’ Association has been in existence for 20 years or more, and has never previously asked for this legislation. I do not know why it has now found the need for it. I shall not oppose the bill, because I promised the captain of the Kogarah Boy Scouts, the honorable member for Barton (Mr. F. McDonald), that I would assist in its passage. He impressed on me the great need for it, but personally I do not think it matters a rap whether it is agreed to or not. One objection I have to the Boy Scouts’ Association is that boys are allowed to join it at too early an age. The Minister has said that the boys are taught to cook. They are being taught to fry chip potatoes and not toburn sausages. I know that this is true, because the association has a camp alongside my home. From my observance of their operations I am led to agree with the Minister’s explanation that the boys spend most of their time cooking. Prom a morality standpoint I think that the membership of the association should be confined to boys much over the age of ten years, at which age they are now accepted as members. Little lads who ought to be in bed attend camp meetings at night, and when they are dismissed they roam the streets. I am sure they would get a better education at home than they can get at street corners at night. To let these children spend their nights in this -way is as bad as taking them to see some of the American trashy films recently screened. The Government should take some control over the Boy Scouts’ movement and do something to improve it by keeping children out of it. The service the boys renders counts for little or nothing. However, the disadvantages are outweighed by the advantages the association gives in training to the elder boys, and for that reason I shall not oppose the bill, although I think the Government could occupy the time of the National Parliament with something more vital than a small matter like this. I took a part in the old volunteer movement, and have been dissatisfied ever since it was decided to dispense with the distinctive dress of the different units, of which I was very proud. Senator Pearce will remember that, at the time that the decision was made, I fought for the retention of the dress. We find that the men who belonged to those organizations were the cleverest marksmen of that time ; and some of these “ old timers “ are still to be found on the rifle ranges, but, unfortunately, the young men are not filling the vacant places. The scout movement does not assist in this regard. I should not have spoken to the bill had the Minister not proclaimed that good work is being done in teaching these boys to cook. They can be taught the art of cooking much better at home than in the streets of the different suburbs. I do not offer any objection to the bill. If the association desires this recognition, let it be given to it. Legislation will not prevent the use of these uniforms and medals by persons other than members of the Boy Scouts’ Association. I promised last session that I would assist the passage of this measure, and I shall not, therefore, do anything to impede it.
.- There is a good deal in what Senator Gardiner said with regard to interference with human liberty, but it must be remembered that we live in a time when human liberty has to be subordinated to the will of the majority. I understand that the reason underlying the request for this measure of protection is that impostors, under the guise of members of the Boy Scouts’ Association, have brought the movement into disrepute by collecting money on its behalf without authority. Several prosecutions have been laid, and a good deal of trouble has been caused to the officers in re-establishing the good name of the movement.
– I now understand that the crowd in Sydney want to be given a monopoly to collect money for their own purposes.
– I do not believe that the association collects money from any one. It is quite independent. It has done such good work throughout the Empire that it deserves to be protected from impostors. The movement has appealed to the youth of all countries. Recently a jamboree, in which the boys of almost every nation took part, was held on the continent of Europe. I regard as an excellent thing the encouragement of an association that is doing so much for human liberty by creating good fellowship amongst all nations, and stifling the narrow patriotism that causes certain people to shut their eyes to the rights of other nations. There have not been evidences of a desire on the part of any one to establish a rival body to the Boy Scouts’ Association. I am quite sure that Senator Gardiner did not mean half the things that he said about interference with human liberty. If any movement is started in opposition to the Boy Scouts’ Association it can secure protection under this bill, just as the Salvation Army is doing. I have not seen, in Queensland, anything to support Senator McDougall’s contention that boys of tender years are kept from their beds at night. I do not think that infants are entitled to membership in the association. Even if Senator McDougall’s objection is well-founded, I still believe that the boys are better occupied in this way than they would be if they roamed the streets with no particular object in view. The aim of the association is to make the boys useful. It provides the best training that is possible for boys in a young country like Australia. I congratulate the Government on having brought forward this measure.
– Probably one of the best troops of boy scouts in the whole of Australia is that in Mount Morgan, a mining township in Queensland, where the amusements are not so varied as they are in the big cities. Under an efficient scoutmaster the movement has in the smaller townships greater possibilities than are present in the big centres of population. The branch of the association at Mount Morgan has reached a high state of perfection, due to the keen interest and the personal sacrifice of one of the officers of the Mount Morgan Gold Mining Company. I consider that the benefit that is derived from the movement has been well established. It is really a religion to the boys, and it guides their steps in the paths that they should tread. I was surprised at the opposition offered to the bill by Senator Gardiner, and was pleased to hear Senator McDougall state that he was prepared to support the measure.
– In moving the motion for the second reading of the bill, I stated that it was purely for the protection of the rights and privileges of the Boy Scouts’ Association. Is it not worth while to protect a name that has been firmly and well established? I believe that in Australia this association is held in high regard by the people. The time has arrived when those who are in authority fmd it necessary to protect from abuse their badges and their uniforms. Surely that is not asking for too much? If a man has a certain brand of tea, he possesses the right to register that brand, and to prevent others from using it.
– Not if it has been in general use for a number of years.
– The term “ boy scouts” belongs to only one association. Senator Gardiner has gone further, and has said, “ Would you give this privilege to a football team ? “ If the colours or the privileges of a football team were likely to be abused, Senator Gardiner would be one of the first to prevent that abuse. It is admitted that this associa tion is doing very excellent work. I stated earlier the case of a boy who learned something of a practical nature in the art of cooking. Senator McDougall practically inferred that that was a very small matter which he could learn at home. I admit that there are many things that we can learn at home. But consider the case of a boy at home on a Saturday morning. He is always prepared to work for other people, and he derives great pleasure from doing so, but if he is asked to wield the axe in his own back yard he makes hard work of it. Our experience has shown that this association is playing a very active part in the improvement of the boys. It is doing more than any other movement with which I am acquainted to fit them for country life. A boy scout can tell the time by the position of the sun, ‘and he can accurately fix the points of the compass. The work which the association is doing should be encouraged. Is it not reasonable to suppose that if the badges and uniforms are protected they will have a greater value in the eyes of the boys, and will inspire in them an ambition to rise higher in ‘the association? Senator Gardiner said that the Government would be better employed if it brought forward more important legislation. To me there can be no more important legislation than that which is designed to assist the boy of to-day to be the man of to-morrow.
– I agree that this is the biggest thing the Ministry has attempted.
– I note the tone in which the honorable senator makes the interjection, but I repeat that we should do all we can to encourage the men who are giving their time to the work of this association, and who are trying to do so much for the boys who will be the men of to-morrow. They have requested this legislation in order that the good name of the Boy Scouts’ Association may be protected. Surely that is not too much to ask.
Question resolved in- the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 5 agreed to.
Clause 6 -
Nothing in this act shall be deemed to apply to the life-saving scouts of the Salvation Army as at present constituted.
– I should like to know why the life-saving scouts of the Salvation Army are excluded ?
– Because they are under the direct control of the Salvation Army, and have a different uniform, though their principles are very much the same, and I understand girls are admitted.
– The Minister’s interjection reminds me that the Girl Guides, an organization exactly similar to that of the Boy Scouts, are not linked up in this measure. I should like to know why?
– Because we were not asked to do so.
– But why should not this legislation apply also to the Girl Guides, who undergo much of the same kind of training ? The fact that the Government was not asked may be a good reason, but I have my doubts.
– If the Governmentbrought down legislation that was not asked for it would be said to be interfering with the liberty of the subject.
– No doubt Ministers hold the same view, but I should like to know who asked the Government to introduce this legislation?
– The Boy Scouts’ Association has been asking for it for two or three years.
– My views have not been changed in the slightest by what the Minister has said. I believe that the development of the boy scout movement will be hindered rather than be helped by this legislation, and I am wondering if the bill will protect the association in the uniforms and badges already registered or in some distinctive uniform or badge that may be adopted in the future.
– It has already a distinctive uniform.
– I am aware of that, and if the Minister can give me an assurance on the point. I have raised, my objection to the measure may be removed.
– The association would have to apply to the registrar of designs for any variation of the uniform.
– Then the association could register any uniform it liked ?
– The registrar would have something to say about that.
– The present style of uniform, which appears to be an imitation of that adopted by the backwoodsmen of America, does not appeal to me, and as for the patriotism that may be instilled into boys by means of lectures, I am inclined to think that, however much their attention may be drawn from their own country, all their patriotism will Ite for Australia. I also differ from Senator McDougall about the attitude of the average ten-year-old boy of Australia. In my opinion he is where I was at 22 years of age - very well able to look after himself. As for the suburb to which’ the honorable senator referred, all I can say is that the hoys there are not likely to come to harm at the street corners of such a well-conducted locality. If the Minister can assure me that for any variation of design in uniform the association will have to apply to the registrar, I shall not further oppose the passage of the bill.
– That is so.
Clause agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Debate resumed from 17th September (vide page 4400), on motion by Senator Pearce -
That the bill he now read a second time.
– There is a general desire that on the motion for the second reading of this bill advantage should be taken of the opportunity to place before the Senate, amongst other questions, the true basis upon which the taxation of this country should be levied. I may be permitted to point out that during the current financial year it is expected that the Commonwealth revenue will reach £64,395,000. I am not at all satisfied with the manner in which it is obtained. Generally speaking, with the exception of land taxation, which realizes about £2,000,000 a year, the balance of our taxation is collected on a basis which, to my mind, is entirely wrong. Therefore, I propose to show where, the revenue should be secured and how taxation should be imposed. It was my intention to quote from memory views enunciated on this all-important question 40 years ago by the late Henry George in his book Progress and Poverty and in his previous publication, Our Land and Land, Policy, published about the time of the Franco-Prussian war. That book has had a much wider circulation, and has been published in more languages than, perhaps, any other publication, with the exception of the Bible. It has had a marked effect upon the people of the Commonwealth, as well as upon the people of all civilized communities; but since the principles, laid down by Henry George cut across the grain of vested interests, progress has been somewhat slow. But it has not been so slow that those who Believe in the principles enunciated by Henry George are in the least degree disheartened. We know, from our reading of history, that those who have dared to stand up for the rights of the poorer sections of a community have had to withstand bitter attacks from their political enemies; indeed, it is on record that many of them met with violent ends. Fortunately, we have not to face that dreadful possibility in these days ; nevertheless there are ways and means by which men who espouse Henry George’s views suffer very serious inconvenience. But, no matter what the COSt. I am prepared, at all times and in all places, sometimes in order, sometimes out of order, to place my views on this question as forcibly as I can. before the people of Australia. For a considerable number of years we have collected a large amount of our revenue from Customs and Excise duties. Many of the heavy Customs and Excise duties have been imposed ostensibly for the purpose of finding more employment for the working population of the Commonwealth; but behind these ostensible reasons’ there is another which those who support the imposition of these duties never mention. They suppress the true reason why revenue from Customs and Excise is still collected. In all civilized communities revenue from these two sources is of a most prolific character. Even in Great Britain, which is ostensibly a freetrade country, over £100,000,000 sterling is annually collected at the Customs House, and in the Com- monwealth, which has a population of approximately 6,000,000, it is proposed to collect approximately £34,000,000 during the present financial year. This ought to be a clear and definite indication to those who advocate a protectionist policy as a means of creating employment, that the goods made in foreign countries are still entering the Commonwealth. The main object of all practical protectionists is to secure revenue from these two sources. It amuses me to hear enthusiastic working men strongly expressing protectionist views, while, at the same time, their political opponents are equally enthusiastic in supporting the same policy. One or the other must be mistaken, and, in my opinion, those at fault are represented by honorable senators opposite. This question has engaged the attention of all civilized communities.
– I rise to a point of order. I desire your ruling, Mr. Deputy President, as to whether, on the motion for the second reading of an Appropriation Bill, it is competent for an honorable senator to discuss any subject he desires. Should he not confine his remarks to the provisions of the bill which relate to the appropriation of money for carrying on the work of specified departments ?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Newland). - This measure deals with the appropriation of money, and not with the imposition of taxation. The subject which Senator Grant is discussing could have been debated on the motion for the first reading, but at this stage the honorable senator must confine his remarks to the appropriation of money as provided for in the bill.
– I do not intend to dissent from your ruling, Mr. Deputy President, but I thought I should be entitled to express an opinion concerning the manner in which the Government are imposing and collecting taxation in order to provide national revenue.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - The honorable senator is not entitled to pursue that line of argument.
– Will I he in order in showing that it would be better to im- pose taxation on the principle advocated by Henry George rather than under the present system?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- The honorable senator will not be in order in referring to that subject at any length at this stage.
– I intended to quote only about one-fourth of a page of one of the publications I have mentioned merely to show how taxation should be imposed.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - The honorable senator will not be in order in doing so.
– That being so, I shall confine my remarks to the appropriation of £20,000,000 mentioned in the bill. Practically every bill that conies before the Senate involves a question of taxation. If a measure is introduced to grant financial aid to Tasmania, to authorize the payment of £6,000,000 to Queensland, or in relation to the construction of a railway from a point in New South Wales to Queensland, the essential principle is taxation. We are asked to appropriate money for the purpose of carrying on the work of the Taxation Department, and it was partly on that account that I intended to deal at length with the necessity of altering our present system. I have made a most careful perusal of the eighth report of the Commissioner of Taxation, which deals with the years 1920-21-22-23, and I specially invite the attention of honorable senators to certain paragraphs in that document.When anincome tax assessment bill was first placed before the Senate, the then Government Statistician submitted a formula for the collection of taxation, which, in the absence of accurate information, was adopted. A few days later, owing to representations which had been made by another expert, a further report was submitted, and this, in the absence of details, was also adopted. Apart from the experts, there is hardly one person in Australia who is able, with the aid of the formula supplied, to correctly assess the amount of taxation to be paid by a person, particularly one with income from different sources. I direct theattention of honorable senators to certain paragraphs on page 10 of the report. Probably as an excuse for the delay, which is a legitimate one, in submitting the report, the Commissioner states -
The following additional work fell upon the department as a result of the embodiment in the law of recommendations by the Royal Commission on Taxation : -
The necessity for averaging incomes to ascertain a rate oftax to apply to an actual income, and the necessity to keep special records of incomes for averaging purposes. This will retard the ordinary work of assessing, so that additional assessors in each office will be necessary to secure the same output of assessments as hitherto. The change entails additional work, but produces less revenue than under the previously existing system.
What is the use of retaining such a measure when additional men have to be employed to collect a smaller amount of revenue? The Commissioner further states -
These twoitems alone indicate to those who may be disposed to adversely criticise the Commissioner of Taxation that we are asking him to perform an almost impossible task. The paragraphs I have quoted clearly indicate the necessity of immediate steps being taken to amend the law. It may not be within the knowledge of some honorable senators that a considerable number of officers of the Taxation Department have relinquished their positions, because they can obtainmuch larger incomes by setting up in business as taxation experts. A paragraph from the Commissioner’s report, dealing with this matter, I think, should be placed on record -
From time to time there has been discussion in the public press regarding the activities aspublic taxation experts of a number of former officers of the department. Strong exception has been expressed to some of these ex-officers, principally by practising accountants, who ‘have not been officers of the Taxation Department. It has been contended that the ex-officers have had an unfair advantage over other agents for taxpayers, inasmuch as they had left the department after acquiring an intimate knowledge of taxpayers’ affairs, and of the means by which assessments containing possible errors might bc adjusted in accordance with the law, and to the advantage of the taxpayer.
Under any reasonable system of taxation a taxpayer should be able to make out his own income tax return, but in the case of the Federal income tax that, in many instances, i3 an utter impossibility. Because of their knowledge of the way in which refunds of taxes paid can be obtained, many of these taxation experts make large incomes. If our income tax were on the same basis as that of New South Wales, it would be an easy matter for taxpayers to make out their own returns. On page 20 of the Commissioner’s report reference is made to a portion of the act which has been the cause of long discussions in the press and elsewhere. I refer to the portion which deals with the inclusion of the value of livestock in the returns of taxpayers. It is possible that, of late, some arrangement has been arrived at to lessen some of the difficulties previously experienced, but the mere fact that these values had to be spread over a number of years, and an effort made to average the income, led to the employment of a great many additional officers. These things all tend to make it more difficult for the man on the land to make ends meet. I can imagine no more stupid legislation. It is proposed to appropriate a sum of money to keep this department going. I desire to see the amount reduced, and the present act amended so that it will be easier for the officers to do their work. That such an act should remain on the statute-book is an outrage.
– An amending bill is being prepared to deal with the question referred to by the honorable senator.
– I shall be glad to see it. The high cost of the present department is mainly due to the intricate nature of the act it has to administer. In fairness to the commissioner, and to the Commonwealth, that act should be amended so as to make the work of administration much easier. It is surprising to see in this report the names of a large number of taxpayers who have been fined various sums for non-payment of taxes. Apparently some of them were wealthy men, as I see in the list, fines of £5,000, and some of £9,000,” for various offences. I should like the Minister to explain why, on the 30th June last, the sum of £2,114,914 was outstanding in respect of land tax? Probably only a small proportion of that amount was due by small taxpayers. It has been stated at various times that the Federal land tax was imposed with the object of breaking up large estates. If so, the result has been negligible. It is true that a large area of land has been removed from the sphere of taxation, because it has ostensibly been subdivided, but I believe that in many cases those subdivisions were subdivisions only in name. If the present act were followed by a more effective system of land values taxation, the effect would be beneficial. The Government should take this report of the Commissioner of Taxes into consideration, especially in connexion with the amending bill which is to be introduced, in order to see if it is not possible to carry on the work of the department with a reduced expenditure.
I have here a report which was furnished to the British Parliament on the subject of migration to the Commonwealth. Although I have not yet studied the whole report, there is one paragraph to which I desire to direct the attention of the Senate. On page 42 of the report the following appears: -
The whole, problem of land settlement under present-day conditions is so much a problem in economics that its study involves the consideration of questions with which we are not qualified to deal, either by our constitution or by the nature and extent of our inquiries.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.Order! I have already ruled that the honorable senator is out of order in referring to taxation measures, I ask bini npt to attempt to evade that ruling, but to confine himself to the Appropriation Bill, and the items contained therein.
– A large sum of money is to be voted for immigration. -
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - The honorable senator will be in order in discussing that expenditure, but not in discussing taxation theories.
– The sum of £S4,950 is proposed to be voted for immigration purposes. I am opposed to any money whatever being voted for that purpose, as
I believe that, with the resources at the disposal of the Commonwealth, it should bo possible to offer such conditions as will attract to this country a steady how of people from other countries. While it would be absurd to say that, with a population of about two persons to the square mile, Australia is over-crowded, I am not in favour of voting money to assist people to come here. If honorable senators will recall the days when payable gold was discovered in Australia, they will remember that, without Government subsidies, people came here in thousands, of their own volition. They came because they believed that the conditions here were better than elsewhere. The Government should do something to make the conditions in Australia so attractive that people would come here of their own free will, without the aid of all these organizations.
– They are not brought here now against their will.
– They come at the expense of the Commonwealth. So far as I know, the United States of America does not vote any money to attract immigrants to that country. On the contrary, steps are now being taken to prevent people from entering the United States.
– When we get a population of 110,000,000 people we may do the same.
– I am entirely opposed to that policy, as it is a wrong one. A certainquota only of Australians is allowed to enter the United States of America, and those who are admitted are subjected to a poll tax. The same policy is applied to migrants from European countries. Americans have succeeded in making the conditions of their country sufficiently attractive to induce many of the people of Europe to change their place of residence. It may be that the short distance across the Atlantic gives America an advantage over Australia in this respect, but distance really does not matter. People will always find their way to any portion of the world where the conditions are better than those prevailing in their own land. The conditions in Australia are not sufficiently attractive to induce that stream of migration that, many would gladly welcome.
– The honorable senator desires to stop migrants from coming here.
– The honorable senator is quite wrong. I do not desire to stop migrants from coming here. I have no objection to people coming to Australia.
– Will the honorable senator support any movement to bring people here ?
– I do not wish to be misunderstood. I am opposed to the expenditure of public money for the purpose of bringing people to the Commonwealth. That is quite a different matter from objecting to people coming here. As a matter of fact, any one who can find his way from Great Britain is entitled to come here. Australia has not yet arrived at that stage when it can impose a poll tax, or even a per capita tax. such as one Australian state I need not mention imposes on visitors from the mainland. I am merely opposed to the proposal to vote money for the purpose of bringing immigrants to Australia and I feel sure that if the matter were submitted to a referendum of the people of the Commonwealth, not one penny would be voted in that direction. The sooner this expenditure is discontinued, and an effort made by the Government so to improve conditions in Australia that people will come here of their own free will the sooner we shall have a large stream of migrants to Australia. In its report, the British parliamentary delegation which visited Australia for thepurpose of investigating the conditions here dealt with the extreme difficulty of securing land in the Commonwealth. The point cannot be too strongly or too frequently emphasized that when people comehere intending to make their homes in Australia, or even when people who are already in this country desire to settle on the land, every possible facility should be afforded to enable them to do so. Unfortunately, nothing has been done in that direction.
– The honorable senator is wrong. Let him take a look around the country. Let him go to Mildura. and see what the Victorian Government has done in the northern Mallee districts.
– I have been to Mildura and Merbein. I havebeen fairly well around the Commonwealth. I know that it is a difficult matter in.
New South Wales, notwithstanding the many acres available, for people to secure farming propositions worth having. A document published on the 18th July, 1924, by the Lands Department of New South Wales, contains many figures which illustrate the difficulty confronting immigrants. In the land district of Bathurst a block has been made available. Its area is 50 acres 8 perches. Its capital value is £840. The annual instalment is £54 12s., and the stamp duty payable is £6 15s.
– The honorable senator is talking about one of the oldest and closest settled districts of New South Wales.
– Then I shall try another district. ‘
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Sena tor Newland). - The honorable senator must confine his attention to the Appropriation Bill.
– I was merely replying to Senator Cox. The documents published by the Department of Lands, New South Wales, every month, show most clearly that there is no justification for voting money from the Federal Treasury for the purposes of immigration while the states refuse to make land available on reasonable terms. If the states made land available on reasonable terms it would not be necessary for the Commonwealth Parliament to vote money to bring immigrants to Australia.
– There are hundreds of thousands of acres of good land available in South Australia at the lowest possible rates.
– There are tens of thousands of people in the Commonwealth vainly looking for good land. When the Government of New South Wales makes any land available there are sometimes hundreds of applicants for one block. Yet in deference to the vested interests of Australia we raise our revenue from Customs and excise duties, and by other means, while we leave people in possession of land which they are not putting to use. I should like to quote extensively from the document published by the New South Wales Lands Department, but I can see that if I do so I shall very likely come into conflict with the Chair, which I have not the slightest desire to do. I merely add that it is wrong to vote money for the purpose of bringing people to the Commonwealth while we steadfastly refuse to make land available to those who are already here. I challenge any one to deny the accuracy of my statement.
– I deny the accuracy of it. There are millions of acres of the best land in Australia available in the Murray Valley.
– Whenever any land is made available in New South Wales there are hundreds of applicants for one block. That has been the experience for many years past, and it is happening today.
– The honorable senator is aware that some of the applicants for (hose blocks are profiteering dummies.
– I know what I am talking about. I make it my business to keep in touch with the New South Wales Lands Department. I get this publication every month in order to see what is doing. If Senator- Cox did the same he would know better than to make interjections which axe beside the mark.
We are also asked to vote large sums of money to help to carry on our Customs taxation. In this connexion I invite the attention of the Senate to a communication I have received from a very worthy citizen .strongly protesting against the imposition of a duty on bells, which are not manufactured in Australia to-day. He informs me that one organization-
– Is it in order for the honorable senator to discuss the duty on bells, or any other duty, on the second reading of the Appropriation Bill ?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - I was just about to draw the attention of Senator Grant to the fact that he was discussing the imposition of taxation, and not the Appropriation Bill before the Senate. I ask the honorable senator not to offend again in that regard.
– I should like to express my approval of the action of the Government in coming to a decision, very tardily, to make available some of the building sites at Canberra. I understand that it .has been finally decided to hold the first sale of the leases on Friday, the 12th December, and, if necessary, to continue the sale on the following day. This is a step in the right direction, and is some justification for voting money for the Department of Home and- Territories. Many people are of opinion that Ministers have done right in postponing the sale of the leases, but to my mind the policy that is being followed is entirely wrong.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - The honorable senator, in dealing with the sale of leases at Canberra, is again getting outside the scope of the Appropriation Bill.
– I thought that on a bill of this kind I could discuss such matters as those to which I have made reference - that the debate need not be relevant to the subject-matter of the bill.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- The honorable senator has lost his opportunity. He should have discussed them on the motion for the first reading of the bill.
– I can see that it is somewhat difficult to say what I wish to say on the second reading. At the same time I think I have said quite enough to satisfy, if not myself, at least those who have listened to me. During the committee stage I shall have an opportunity to deal, for a limited time, with almost every item in the schedule to the bill. Of course, I have no intention of doing so, but I shall take the opportunity to ask for information from the Minister in regard to Canberra and the Mandated Territories. I should like to see the particulars of the sale of the blocks at Canberra made available to the public at the earliest possible moment. The future progress of Canberra will be such that, instead of the £40,000 now received in rents, we shall derive a large revenue from leased land that will enable us, not only to pay off the money now being advanced, but also to afford considerable assistance to the finances of the Commonwealth.
– I am forced to adopt the procedure of speaking to the motion for the second reading of this bill, which I understand is some- what unusual in the Senate. The reason is that I may not have an opportunity to discuss some of these matters in committee because of the necessity for discharging those duties that the Senate has been kind enough to place upon my shoulders. It is somewhat puzzling to a new senator to understand why it is not possible to say at this stage of a bill all that one would like to say. Of course, one must obey the Standing Orders and observe parliamentary procedure and custom. I understand that this custom has grown up gradually, and I think that it is- confined to this chamber. I do not aspire to touch upon many subjects. Before I entered the chamber an honorable senator asked me if I were going to speak. I said, “ Possibly.” He ventured the prophecy, “ I suppose it will be about Cockatoo Island and scientific research?” The honorable senator was practically right. I take no shame from the fact- that those two subjects should engage my attention. My inquiring friend was wrong regarding the first, because I do’ not propose to say anything about Cockatoo Island. If I did, I might be accused of tedious repetition. I do, however, wish to say something about the shipping activities, provision for which in one form or another is met with in the voluminous document entitled the schedule to the bill. I regret to learn, from an answer that was given to me this afternoon, that apparently the Government has parted with its rights, body and soul, to the Commonwealth Shipping Board, which directs the destinies of the shipping activities of the Commonwealth, and, if I may say so, is directing them not altogether to the advantage of the Commonwealth. When one contrasts the present state of that line with the report that appeared in the daily press a few days ago regarding an offer that was made to the Commonwealth by some British people, I think one can see what we miss in Australia through building and owning ships. I hold no brief for those who made the offer. Indeed, I know only one of the gentlemen, and he has not spoken to me on the mattei. According to the statements that have appeared in the press it is possible, by the outlay of a very small sum annually, to secure for this country a steamship service of really fast vessels, with admirable passenger accommodation and requisite accommodation for the carriage of perishable goods, capable of reducing the steaming time between Australia and England by from ten to twelve days. Contrasting that with these travesties of vessels that the Commonwealth builds and owns, the construction value of which has been reduced by 75 per cent., I think that the conclusion vs inevitable that Australia is extremely foolish in not making some judicious, irreproachable use of private enterprise in the way that England has been doing for very many years. In England, there is an admirable system relating to the introduction of private bills, which was practically parliamentary in ite inception, and which has the same characteristic in the manner in which it is carried out. The Standing Orders and parliamentary procedure in relation to those bills prevent anything in the nature of an exploitation of the authorities. No country in history has made so great and so clean a use of private enterprise as England has. Yet we in Australia, in this mad rush for national socialism, throw our money into the sea, and waste it in other directions, without a thought of how much better off we should be if that money were retained by .the Government for the development of our industries, and for doing those things that private enterprise cannot touch. I hope that when the opportunity arises this, or any Government that happens to be in power, will see the error of following that course, and will withdraw from state enterprises, which, however necessary they may have been during the stress of war, are far from necessary now, and lead only to a wicked waste of public money.
I desire now to refer to the Institute of Science and Industry. On many previous occasions I have discussed at considerable length that particular body. ‘ I do not want to be what our American cousins, in their very expressive language, call “ a kicker.” A kicker is a man who objects to everything, and never makes an alternative proposal; he is a man who confines himself to destructive criticism without in any way tempering his remarks wilh constructive criticism. Two methods have so far been adopted for dealing with scientific research. The first was the establishment of a body consisting largely of academic gentlemen, who talked about many things and did nothing. I say that they were academic gentlemen, because I had some friends on the body who were not quite so academic as their colleagues. One of those gentlemen told me that the greater part of one afternoon was devoted to an argument as to whether the secretary, in writing a certain letter, should use the word “thrice,” or ‘the words “three times.” On the other hand, there were on that body striking examples of practical men ; but they were overwhelmed in this rush of academic argument that was going on around them the whole of the time. Having found that that method of control was unsatisfactory the Government next appointee! a dictator. Unfor- tunately, in my opinion, and in the opinion of very many people outside Parliament, who attach due weight to the importance of the matters requiring deliberation, the dictator has been quite as unsatisfactory as .the academic body which he displaced. I entreat the Government to consider a proposition of mine for the management of this Institute of Science and Industry. I do not believe that it would involve any alteration of the legislation under which the institute works, but even if it did it would be worth the trouble. Time is very precious in these matters. The sooner we begin, the sooner we shall get into line with those nations which are devoting a great deal of time and money to providing avenues of employment for the ever-increasing population of manufacturing and primary producing countries. I ask the Government to consider the advisability of placing the control of this institute and of scientific research in the hands of three men who have had scientific training, and who, above all else, have a knowledge of men and affairs and the practical things of life. Such a knowledge is necessary, in order that any project requiring investigation shall be considered on its merits, [t should not be hard to find men with those qualifications. Some years ago I came across here in connexion with the affairs of the forest products’ laboratory, late of Western Australia, now practically of nowhere. I had several interviews with the body controlling science and industry, which was then in the academic stage. One member . I wish to use as the type of man who would be suitable for appointment to the body that I have suggested. I found that he stood out from the other members, not because he possessed a greater amount of scientific knowledge, but because be knew better how to apply his knowldge. Honorable senators may know the gentleman to whom I refer. I am sure that he will pardon my mentioning his name. It is Mr. Gepp. He is essentially scientific, and he has that knowledge of men and affairs which is eminently necessary for the proper conduct of this institute. I feel sure that if the Government will adopt the procedure I have indicated, it will find in the various states a sufficient, number of men who will rule the destinies of this very necessary Institute of
Science and Industry very much better in the future than they have been ruled in the past. I do not think that the name “ science and industry “ is sufficiently explicit. I should like to see the body controlling scientific research named “ The Institute of Applied Science.” That, after all, is what it is. Pure science can well be left to the universities. They are doing, or they can do, all that is necessary in scientific research on the side of pure science. But for applied science we must have men who know the world of commerce as well as the world of science. Unless we obtain the services of such men, the deliberations of this board will not have as great an effect as they should have. There is plenty of work for it to do. Australia is very largely a land of industries that are obvious, industries that are old, industries that have come from other parts of the world, and that have flourished because Australia has for many years been an extremely easy country in which to make money. It has never had that stimulus of poverty which is necessary to bring out of any country the best that is in it. There has been abundant employment in the various industries, and consequently no trouble has been taken to find new industries. If we turn to other countries, such as America, which leads the world in the encouragement of applied science, we find that they are all doing much more than Australia. As we all know, in many portions of the United States of America the soil is very poor in quality, something like our lands in the centre of “Australia, and yet it is being put to profitable use. I feel sure that, in the so-called waste spaces of Australia we are neglecting many valuable opportunities. Has any effort ever been made to ascertain what people in other parts of the world are doing with similar country? I venture to say not. If this Government could obtain from other countries information with regard to the adoption of better methods, as applied to poorer lands, we should probably be able to utilize profitably vast areas of what are at present looked upon as barren wastes. All this, I submit, could be done for comparatively little expenditure.
Let us consider also the possibilities in connexion with our maritime and marine industries. Again, America may be quoted as an example. On the east coast of America a huge maritime industry has been built up in the capture of nonedible fish and subsequent manufacture into various forms of useful products, Many years ago that’ industry employed nearly 3,000 vessels and upwards of 25,000 men. These are the opportunities that are being neglected in Australia. Arid the opportunities, 1 repeat, are just as great around the Australian coastline as they are in America. “We have an unemployed problem. It is always with us. I do not know that those who are so often unemployed would take a very keen interest in this subject, but even if they did not, others employed in industries in which unemployment is more or less recurrent, would probably move out and make room for less enterprising fellow citizens. Unhappily, we are neglecting these opportunities in a most disgraceful manner.
T need net say anything about forestry, because I am glad to say that the Government has secured the services of a man for work in connexion with our federal territories, and I feel quite sure that he will give a good account of his stewardship. But with regard to the other matters which I have mentioned, it is high time we bestirred ourselves.
I have noticed for- the last two years the appearance of a small item on the Estimates with regard to fisheries. Last year it was £125; this year it is -£40. If, when the bill is in committee, I have the opportunity to do so, I shall ask the Minister under whose purview this matter comes to furnish honorable senators with an explanation of the reduction in the amount. The Government might very well spend much more money in this direction to enable the Institute of Science and Industry, if that body is reconstituted as I suggest, to investigate the fishing possibilities of the Australian coastal waters. At one time the Commonwealth had a trawler, but, unfortunately, some years ago that vessel met with disaster. Unhappily, the expert in charge of its operations also lost his life. The trawler made a number of discoveries which should be of immense value to the Commonwealth. I do not wish honorable senators to misunderstand me. When I speak of the need for investigation on the part of the Commonwealth, I mean investigation in order that people who wish to employ others in a suggested new industry may know what are its possibilities. I do not suggest that the Commonwealth itself should engage in such enterprises. The Government, in any opinion, should confine itself to work of an exploratory nature, and should .lea,e the development of potential industries to private individuals. The work of the Commonwealth trawler disclosed the presence in our southern coastal waters, from a point about 50 miles outside of Albany, in Western Australia, to a point opposite Eucla, of one of the biggest fishing grounds in the world. It is, however, necessary to employ scientific methods to exploit the area. Unfortunately, so far a3 our fishing industry is concerned, our methods are really mediaeval. It seems to be nobody’s business to pay any attention to what other countries are doing to ensure a plentiful supply of fish as a food for the people.
In connexion with the building of ships, we are able to write off huge sums that would be sufficient to keep the Institute of Science and Industry going for 20 or 80 years. We are able to throw money into the sea in that direction, and yet, so it appears, we cannot spare a few pounds for the purpose of ascertaining what our natural resources are. This reproach is the greater when we consider what other countries are doing. The English, we are told, are an insular people. Their insularity is as nothing compared with the insularity of the Australian people. The average Australian thinks of nothing but the production of those commodities that have been produced hitherto. He forgets that Australia should be, and is naturally, the goal of a large number of migratory people from other parts of the world, and that it should be our concern to prepare avenues of profitable employment for those people when they come here. I believe that with the encouragement of these new industries there will come about a better state in our industrial affairs. I wish to turn the thoughts of young Australians away from the idea that their deetiny is to work for some one else. I wish young Australians to be fortified with the thought that some day they will be working for themselves. In my opinion the salvation of this country is to be found in the creation of new domestic industries. The small holder is the saviour of any country. Australia is, and must be for many years to come, a country of primary industries. I believe that the highest prosperity of the Commonwealth will be reached when the present rush to the cities is stemmed and when more of the men of Australia are to be found working for themselves in some branch of industry instead of working for wages. Wages men have never made a country great, and alone they never will. I reiterate the need for the encouragement of scientific research and for the discovery of new industries, because I wish to see this country inhabited by happy and prosperous small holders working for themselves, and not by men who otherwise must inevitably lean upon some employer. In my opinion the principal cause of the industrial unrest from which for a long time Australia has been suffering is that the working men in our various industries have had as their objective a wage that will destroy their ambition to work for themselves. Let us consider, for a moment, a supposititious case - the position of, say, a tram conductor. A tram conductor, we may assume, looks for a wage that will keep him employed as a tram conductor all his lifetime. He does not regard his present occupation as a stepping-stone to higher things. If, however, he and other wage-earners looked upon their present employment merely as a stepping-stone to employment on their own behalf, then one-half of our industrial troubles would disappear. There is, undoubtedly, room in Australia for people with a desire to rise. I support the second reading of the bill, and I hope that the Government will pay some attention to the propositions which I have put forward, and which I am prepared, if necessary, to elaborate in committee.
– With other honorable senators, I appreciate the action of the Treasurer in presenting the budget proposals so early in the financial year, and the fact that he was able to do so not only says a good deal for his insistence, but also reflects much credit on the Commonwealth Service. I am particularly gratified at the proposed reduction in income taxation, which will affect a large number of people. I understand that about 200,000 people, who were taxed last year, will escape taxation altogether, and that a similar number will benefitby very material reductions in the amount of their assessments. It has been pointed out, however, by verygood authority, that thereis an error of principle in the Treasurer’s method of finance. The Alexander Hamilton Institute of Australia makes the following comment on this subject: -
The Treasurer stated that if it were not for past accumulations, such reductions would not be possible, inferring thereby that any deficiency in future budgets due to this feature would be made good from the accumulated surplus, so long as it lasted, after which the taxes will be regretfully, but most gently and firmly applied again. Any remission of taxation, made out of savings insteadof out of reduced current expenditure, is wrong in principle, and cannot be too strongly condemned. With the huge public debt at present in existence, and which is steadily mounting - despite assertions to the contrary - any surplus due to previous good administration, or to fortuitous circumstances, such as the payment of a foreign indemnity, &c, should be applied to the reduction of such debt, and so relieve the interest burden of the debt. This, in itself, should automatically bring about a reduction in taxation, providing the debt per head of the population remains constant.
That is all I wish to say on the question of income taxation.
I turn now to a subject of very great importance to Queensland. I refer to the position of the sugar industry. As a result of a very bounteous season, we are faced with a surplus estimated at from 50,000 tons to 70,000 tons. Indeed, from some articles which I saw in North Queensland newspapers, I gather that it is believed that even the higher estimate may be exceeded. We are confronted with the necessity of’ having to obtain value for this very large surplus production. It is just possible that, as the overseas market is firming, we may be able to sell it abroad without incurring any great loss. Of course, if we could profitably dispose of it in the Commonwealth, the problem would be solved.
– What of reducing the price to Australian consumers ?
– If we had the population in Australia to consume a much larger quantity, it would be unnecessary to reduce the price, but an allround reduction on account of this surplus quantity cannot be made while the existing agreement is operative. The suggestion has been made by a prominent man in Sydney that the surplus sugar could be disposed of to the jam manufacturers and fruit-canners at reduced rates, and thus enable the utilization of a large quantity of the surplus fruit available. If that were done, a quantity of the surplus sugar - but not so much as 70,000 tons - could be utilized, and cheaper jam and preserved fruits could be made available to the Australian people at a lower rate.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Newland). - The honorable senator will not be in order in discussing the sugar question unless he can connect the subject with some item in the bill.
– I was under the impression that on this motion I would be allowed the fullest latitude - that, in the words of the President,I could deal with anything from Dan to
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- The honorable senator would have been able to discuss any subject on the motion for the first reading, but at this stage he must connect his remarks with some particular item in the bill.
– If I would be in order, I should like to refer to a continuance of the embargo placed upon imported sugar.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - I cannot find any item in the bill relating to that subject. If the honorable senator can connect it with an item in the bill, he will be in order.
– I am afraid I shall have to deal with the sugar question on some future occasion.
I understand that I may refer to cotton production, as the Government are assisting that industry. I trust that the assistance already granted will not only be continued, but that additional help will be rendered. The results of a conference recently held should, I think, have a far-reaching effect upon the industry, particularly as the Queensland Government have receded from the attitude taken up in connexion with ratoon cotton. The cotton outlook for the coming season in Queensland is particularly bright. In order to show the extent to which this industry may be developed, I shall quote the remarks of a prominent Australian, Mr. Mark Foy, whose opinions should be listened to with interest by honorable senators opposite, particularly as he indicates how, in his opinion, our unemployment problem may be solved. He states -
No place in the world can come anywhere near Queensland for cotton growing, and we are indeed most lucky to have it, in the depressed state of our finance, and the awful demands on our small population to account for a £1,000,000 per week in payment for interest. Taking five to a family, this means £1 per week for every householder, without, reduction of the debt, so that cotton is our only hope, and Queensland can produce for very little labour, and God’s sunshine, and moderate rain, all the cotton the world requiries, and from her virgin soil. It is a dumbfounding but Messud prospect. But tu realize this cotton must be a “free for all’” - even one to have a go at it - and it will sap up twenty times the unemployed we have for work that is no harder than picking wild flowers on a holiday. Where children car, earn 8s. per day picking cotton, as I saw them, in the Imperial Valley, California, and also in Casa Grande Valley, Arizona, what a picnic for family caravans and camping outfits from nil the cold southern states to put in the season in Queensland. Men, women, and children offered free return fares from the south to come and pick the Australian cotton harvest just as we have the shearers’ camps for tho wool, only the cotton is a more cleanly prospect, more open, and healthy. This i3 part of a vision I can sec ahead in,- say, five years’ time.
There is one great mistake people make when they say we must have black labour. Why, every black man in the highly paid United States is a free-born American citizen, and you have little hope of getting them at low wages. Why, we could scoop the whole world, and beat everybody with our heritage of cotton in Queensland, and pay twice the price for picking cotton. The cotton seed is worth more than the cost of ginning in the United States, how much more must this seed be worth in Australia to make oil cake for our dairy herds in and out of drought times? Why, the prospects are immense, and I only hope I will be alive to see the enormous boom.
That is the most optimistic utterance I have heard, and, coming from such a source, it is, I contend, entitled to our respect.
– The honorable senator has not heard the Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce) on the prospects of cotton-growing in the Northern Territory.
– If we can do sd well in Queensland, the prospects in the Northern Territory should be equally favorable.
I understand that a fairly large sum has been expended on the purchase of Welsh coal for use in vessels of the Australian Navy. As I stated on a pre vious occasion, I believe that Welsh coal is highly desirable for certain naval purposes, but in consequence of developments in Queensland, I trust that the necessity for purchasing it will in the near future be obviated. We have tremendous deposits of coal,. of varying quality, particularly in the northern district. Recently a seam, discovered about 107 miles from Rockhampton, gave the following analysis: - Moisture, 1.09 per cent.; ash, 5.5S per cent.; volatile hydro-carbon, 10.20 per cent.; fixed carbon, 82.31 per cent. ; and sulphur, .82 per cent. This analysis compares most favorably with that of the best Welsh coal. Favorable tests of this coal have been conducted. The seam has not yet been properly opened up, but it is representative of many other extensive deposits in Queensland, although I believe it is a little better than any other that has yet been found in the state. The report by the coal inspector showed the water evaporation per lb. of coal to be 9.2 per cent, and 8.9 per cent, of water. The coal is almost smokeless, giving off only a little black smoke after firing. The refuse from ash in the smoke-box is almost nil, and the ash from the fire-box and ashpan is of a whitish-grey colour, and is easily cleaned out by rocking the fire-bars. No hard clinkers result and the ‘percentage of ash is small. The inspector described the results as “ astounding,” ‘ and the part played by this coal as “ marvellous.” He further- stated that he had never obtained such results from’ any coal previously tested, that it would suit the Admiralty as it threw off very little smoke, and that the naval authorities should test it.
– I rise to a point of order. I wish to ask, Mr. Deputy President, if the honorable senator is in order in quoting these details, which, although interesting, are in mv 0111110n irrelevant.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Newland). - The honorable senator will not be in order in quoting extensively from such reports.
– I was endeavouring to show that expenditure on the purchase of Welsh coal for the Navy is not justified when we have such a valuable product in the Commonwealth. I trust I have quoted sufficient to show that the naval authorities should conduct tests before further importations of Welsh coal arc made. In the past shipping difficulties have been experienced, but these have now been overcome by the erection of cranes at Port Alma and Broadmount.
In dealing with this subject I wish to support Senator Kingsmill, who desires a larger sum to be placed at the disposal of the Institute of Science and Industry. There is a great demand in Australia for petrol, and it should be possible by chemical experiments to produce petrol at a commercial rate from these immense coal deposits. In Germany I believe petrol has been produced from coal, but it has yet to be demonstrated that supplies can be made available on a commercial basis. The Institute of Science and Industry should endeavour to produce petrol at a commercial rate from the large coal deposits in Queensland.
I understand there has been a substan tial reduction in the amount voted last year to rifle clubs, which has caused considerable consternation in the minds of members of rifle clubs and associations in Queensland as well as in other states. I have received a letter from the secretary of the North Queensland Rifle Association, which reads -
Your keenest assistance is asked in this most important matter, to have the vote raised to at least £45,000, if not to the original £50,000. your attention is drawn to the fact that should a reduction take place it will be practically impossible to keep the interest in rifle shooting alive, and a large number of rifle clubs will be unable to carry on, while those which do not close down will be crippled. Rifle clubs and associations are the cheapest form of defence as well as being the first line of such, and it was hoped that the vote would have been increased on the Estimates for this year to enable young clubs to spring up throughout the Commonwealth, and allow of more interclub travelling which would increase the interest and more especially the ability of riflemen generally. In Queensland, particularly owing to its vast area to be defended, and slow means of moving forces should need arise, it is most essential that the present rifle clubs should be kept very much alive, and new clubs encouraged.
I recommend the encouragement of rifle clubs. While I do not advocate that their members should be sent abroad, I think that for home defence they are admirable. They are to Australia what the Boer population was in the Boer war, and in the event of our shores being invaded, would prove a very useful defence factor. The measure before us will have my support.
– I confess to some surprise at the remark of Senator Kingsmill, that in connexion with this bill honorable senators’ opportunities seemed somewhat limited. I take it that that statement is due to the honorable senator’s association with another Parliament, where the procedure is different.
– Quite different. The fault is my own.
– I know of no Parliament where the procedure provides such an opportunity for discussion on bills of this kind as is granted here.
– At unexpected stages.
– The Deputy President pointed out that, any subject whatsoever could be discussed on the first reading. In fact, I think that the bill itself is the only subject that cannot be discussed at that stage.
– The debate need not be relevant to the bill.
– Honorable senators will remember that I expressed surprise when the first reading went through without debate. Such wide latitude having been permitted in connexion with the first reading, the stage has now been reached when we must discuss the bill itself. I, therefore, propose to refer only to those matters touched on by honorable senators which are dealt with in the bill.
With regard to the shipping service, referred to by Senator Kingsmill, I should be entirely out of order were I to enter into a discussion of that matter, as this bill does not provide a penny for that purpose.
– Not even the statutory expenditure ?
– I can find no vote for the purpose. The expenditure in connexion with the shipping services is provided for by a special act. The board has its own funds, and its expenditure does not come before Parliament in the ordinary way.
– That is rather a Pity.
– The Government agrees with Senator Kingsmill that the Institute of Science and Industry should serve a high and useful purpose. I think, too, that it shares his view that the time has arrived when we should review the basis upon which we are proceeding in this connexion. That there is not a larger vote is probably due to the recognition of that fact.
– There is probably more on the Estimates than the institute deserves.
– As a member of the Government I do not admit that, but if we are proceeding on wrong lines we would not improve things by doubling the amount.
– That would only make it worse.
– As soon as this session is over, the responsible Minister intends to give this matter his consideration, and he will, no doubt, come forward later with a proposition to place the institute on a proper basis, so that it can function properly, and do the work which it was intended to do. Parliament will then be asked to vote whatever money is required for -the institute to carry out that necessary work. While I am in agreement, generally, with the honorable senator’s remarks, the institute today, with its present vote, is doing some useful work. If honorable senators will look at the items dealt with, they will see that the inquiries which are being pursued are of great economic value to the Commonwealth.
Senator Thompson invited me to enter into a discussion on cotton production. I intimate to the honorable senator that in a few days a report of the recent conference, which sat in Melbourne to discuss this matter, will be presented to Parliament. That report expresses the views of the various states and the Commonwealth regarding this matter, as well as the resolutions adopted with the object of obtaining the co-operation of all the states and the Commonwealth in building up this industry. I do not know that I should be justified at this stage in saying more than that the Commonwealth Government shares the view of the optimist respecting the cotton industry - but our optimism is subject to the reservation that because Australia is a land of high wages, short hours, and decent labour conditions, we must bring to the production of cotton the highest scientific methods and the greatest economy. Only by using the most modern machinery and the latest scientific methods, waging constant war on the pests which affect cotton, endeavouring to prevent the introduction of diseases from which the cotton plant suffers, and seeing that only the best cotton adapted to our climate is planted, can this industry be established on a satisfactory footing, and Australia enabled to produce cotton of the finest quality which will realize the highest price in the world’s market. That is the ideal which the Governments, both Commonwealth and States, have before them, and all their energies are being directed towards that end.
– We have in Australia a greater production per acre to begin with. That should mean something.
– That should bo continued and improved upon. It is surprising to read in the journals which deal with this matter that not only is the average production per acre in the United States of America lower than that in Queensland, but the cost of production there is higher. That is very different from the generally accepted view. I feel sure that Senator Thompson and other honorable senators, when they read the report to which I have referred, will be satisfied that the Governments are doing all in their power to assist the cotton industry. As a final word in this connexion, I desire to add that the Commonwealth Government cannot see its way to extend the guarantee to ratoon cotton. That guarantee will apply only to annual cotton. It is felt that at this stage there are good reasons for imposing that limitation.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
First schedule agreed to.
Second schedule -
Proposed vote (The Parliament), £59,470 agreed to.
The Prime Minister’s Department.
Proposed vote, £300,311.
– I should like some detailed information respecting the proposed vote of £84,950 for immigration. It is almost impossible for an honorable senator on this side of the chamber to make any remarks on this subject without his statements being distorted and misrepresented. There seems to be, on the other side, a very erroneous impression that honorable senators of our party are opposed to. people coming to Australia. Nothing could be further from the truth. “We, on this side, have repeated frequently that we object, not to people coming here, but to the expenditure of public money to bring them here, in view of the existing conditions. If, instead of spending this money, as the Government proposes to do, an effort were made to improve the conditions existing in the Commonwealth, people would come here in thousands, as in the past, of their own free will and at their own .expense. The Government is not adopting the proper methods to induce people to come here. Likely migrants should be informed that in Australia the hours of labour are shorter, and the wages higher, than in other countries to which migrants are proceeding. If that were done, they would soon find the means of getting here. To spend public money in rents for palatial buildings in Melbourne, and for the equipment of staffs ‘ here and elsewhere, and to continue, in Great Britain, an elaborate organization, which frequently places before prospective migrants wrong information respecting conditions in Australia, is not right. The other day I met two young men from one of the midland cities of Great Britain, one a competent trained engineer, and the other an acetylene gas welder. Both had been given to understand that the conditions here were much better than they were in Great Britain, but though they tried every establishment in Melbourne where they thought their services would be required, they were met with a blank refusal at every point. Finally they had to accept employment on a farm near Mildura, at £1 a week. Their experience is but typical” of that of a considerable number of skilled mechanics who come to Australia in response to advertisements paid for by Commonwealth money.
– Did those two men come here of their own volition, or were they brought here?
– I am not sure, but I have no doubt they came here in response to advertisements paid for by the Commonwealth.
– If they were brought here by the Commonwealth they would have been selected by a state, or nomi nated by some person already in Australia.
– At any rate, they came here expecting to find the conditions very much better than they were in the midland cities of England, from which they came.
– The conditions in Australia are absolutely better than they are in those midland cities of England.
– These men did not find better conditions here. A wage of £1 a week on a farm is not to be compared with what skilled mechanics receive in Great Britain. I am afraid the position in which these two men find themselves to-day confronts a considerable number of men who come to Australia.
– Tradesmen ?
– Yes. Just at present it will confront every member of the iron trade who comes to Australia. It is wrong for us to spend money on immigration without placing before these people the true position in Australia. I have no objection to people coming here or going where they like, but the policy of spending money on bringing them to Australia should be discontinued. If the Government will only make the conditions of Australia attractive, instead of spending money on advertisements which are very often decidedly misleading, immigrants will come here .at their own expense.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of the Treasury.
Proposed vote, £594,356.
.- The estimated expenditure in this department is considerably increased. The .cause cun be traced to the taxation office. Although the Commonwealth is supposed to be evacuating to a considerable extent the field of direct taxation, there is an increase of £66,356 in the proposed expenditure on the taxation office this year, as compared with last year’s estimated expenditure.
– Last year , the actual expenditure on the taxation office was £516,812. This year it is estimated to expend only £381,098.
– It is true that the vote was greatly exceeded last year, but this year, with less income tax to be collected, it should be possible to reduce the expenditure below the £314,742 voted last year.
– Senator Drake-Brockman, by interjection, has practically supplied an answer to Senator Elliott. Although £314,742 was voted last year the actual expenditure was £516,812. It was thought, when the Estimates were being prepared last year, that the negotiations for the taking over of the Commonwealth Taxation Office by the states would be completed, and the actual transfer take place within the year. Consequently, the proposed vote for the taxation office for the year was considerably reduced. However, as the actual transfer was not brought about until towards the end of the year the Commonwealth’s expenditure on the taxation office greatly exceeded the reduced amount provided on the Estimates. Now that the transfer has taken place the amount required this year is smaller than the expenditure of last year.
– It is £66,356 more than was voted last year.
– The estimate was framed last year on the assumption that the transfer would take place immediately. Meanwhile the officers who have remained in the Commonwealth Service have received increases under an arbitration award. It will be seen that the vote for salaries on these Estimates is very much larger this year than last year, although the number of officers is about the same. I think that the increase awarded by the arbitrator for the whole Service amounts to £300,000.
– An amount of £450 is provided for contingencies for the Income Tax Board of Appeal. Can the Minister for Home and Territories tell me the total cost of this new addition to the efforts made to unravel the intricacies of the Income Tax Assessment Act?
– I cannot say what remuneration is actually paid to the three members of the appeal board, but I understand it is shown somewhere among the salaries for the taxation office.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote(Attorney -General’s Department), £115,331, agreed to.
Department of Home and Territories.
Proposed vote, £614,078.
– The amount provided on these Estimates for general services for the Northern Territory is £96,610, as against £97,973 spent last year, showing an actual decreased estimated expenditure of £1,653. Early this session the Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce) outlined a scheme for the development of the Northern Territory, and I have been expecting the Treasurer to make provision in these Estimates to carry out some of the proposals of the Minister. I am disappointed to find that the Estimates do not provide any very considerable sum of money for the development of the huge territory for which the Commonwealth has accepted a tremendous responsibility. It seems to me that the Government and Parliament are not facing their responsibility in this regard. We are not doing our duty to the Northern Territory. I do not, of course, believe that huge sums should be spent in a haphazard and stupid manner, as they have been spent in the past. Senator Pearce prepared a very conservative and sane programme of development. I, like many others, am still waiting to learn when steps are to be taken to give effect to that policy, which, I understand, received the approval of Parliament. It certainly had my approval. I do not know where the difficulty lies. I feel quite sure that Senator Pearce is to-day as enthusiastic in his desire to do something for the Territory as he was when he brought down his programme of development some months ago. It will be interesting to me to hear from him what is proposed, and why the project is apparently hanging fire. Will he give us an indication of the intentions of himself and of the Government?
– I too, should like to have some information regarding the proposals of the. Government in relation to the Northern Territory. I notice that, under “ Miscellaneous expenditure,” subsidies are provided for two or three steam-ship lines. That is quite proper, and I am confident that no one will take exception to it. So far, we have not been getting a very satisfactory service for the money that we have expended. The unfortunate happenings of the last few months must satisfy every person that the shipping facilities provided for the inhabitants of the outlying portions of the Territory are nothing short of a calamity. That has been the experience ever since the Commonwealth took over the administration of the Territory. I have on many occasions raised my voice in this chamber in protest against the inefficient service carried on between Port Darwin and Borroloola and the other outports. Those outlying places were better served many years ago than they are at the present time. The Government had the J ohn Alce for a number of years. No one could tell when it would go, or if it would go, and it was not possible to state with certainty whether it would go along the surface of, or under, the water. Since Senator Pearce has had control of the affairs of the Territory we have been more than hopeful that something practical would be done. Negotiations were entered into with a company to furnish a shipping service that would meet the very moderate requirements of the people in the Territory. I do not blame the Government for the failure that has attended its efforts to improve the shipping facilities. I have heard lately many suggestions as to what should be done by the Government with the Huddersfield. So far as I have been able to gather, the Government made an honest attempt to secure at a reasonable price the best ship available. The vessel that was placed in the service was not in any way an improvement upon the John Alce. In view of the failure of the Huddersfield, the Government should see that a more suitable vessel is immediately placed in commission. It is cruel to leave any section of the people in the Northern Territory practically at the mercy of providence for their food supplies. That is what has happened at Borroloola.
This week, I read in the press an article from the pen of a. gentleman who with others has travelled through the Northern Territory in a motor car. He drew a very doleful picture of the conditions at Borroloola. In one portion of the article he stated that the food supplies of the residents of Borroloola were so low that, when they were leaving the town, the motorists handed out from their meagre stock a few pannikins of flour, at which action the people went almost mad with delight. I take full responsibility for saying that I do not believe a single word of that statement. I happen to know something of one of the gentlemen that comprised the motoring party, and I am satisfied that the people in the Northern Territory will not believe a, word that he says.
– The police at Borroloola deny the truth of the statement.
– Those articles have appeared in an evening newspaper in Melbourne. They are written in a very interesting way,and are read by the people of Australia. I say again that I would not believe a word that was said or written by one gentleman in that party. There is no doubt, however, that the people who live at Borroloola have a very in-and-out existence. For portion of the time their larder is pretty well stocked, but for the remainder of the time their supplies are very short. I hope that the Government will take such steps as will ensure that a reasonably fast vessel is placed in the service, and that no complaints will be heard in the future.
I should like the Minister to inform the committee of the intention of the Government in regard to the works of Vestey Brothers. Upon those works the Territory entirely depends. It is quite true that a few head of live stock have been sent to the east from. Darwin, but the export of even 1,000 head of cattle annually is but a drop in the ocean when the cattle on the various runs are multiplying so rapidly. The old cattle have to be shot because they eat the feed that is required for the young beasts. We have discussed this matter for years. The Governmentgives subsidies and bounties to different industries, yet it has always quibbled when it has been a matter of coming to terms with Vestey’s. The Government cannot do too much for those who are pioneering the Northern Territory. I urge the Minister to ‘ take steps immediately to see that terms are come to.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
-Vestey Brothers would just as soon keep their works closed as start them again. They have sunk about £1.000,000 in that great undertaking, and I believe that, unless the Government offers some reasonable inducement to them, the works will not be re-opened. Mr. Rogers, a settler in the Roper River district, who met the Minister on the occasion of his trip through the Territory a year or two ago-, and who was then almost jubilant about the prospects of development created under Senator Pearce’s administration, has written to me as follows : -
We have had a bad year. There has been practically no market. So far as we cattlemen are concerned that is the only trouble. Our seasons have been regular; no droughts, and stock have fattened every year. The increase has been regular and good. We only want a regular market to make the country progress. There are any amount of improvements to be made. The Territory would go ahead if regular receipts were assured.
Mr. Rogers, I may add, is one of the small men in the Roper River district. In the northern portion of the Territory practically all of the settlers are what may be regarded as small men. Mr. Rogers also informed me that he had started a mob of 500 cattle from the Roper River southwards with the intention of taking them to Adelaide, but receiving information that there was poison weed ahead, ho turned his stock back, and they are now on his run again. The older beasts are being destroyed, but Mr. Rogers hopes that something may be done to ensure the re-opening of the meat works, so that the younger beasts can be sent to Darwin. These smaller men cannot afford to carry more than a certain number of stock. Unless they can get rid of their present herds before long, they will be in a very bad position indeed. I hope that the Minister will be able to give us an indication of the Government’s policy in this matter. When this Parliament was opened by the Governor-General, a paragraph in his speech stated that the Government had formulated certain proposals for the development of the Northern Territory, but since then we have heard nothing of its intentions. I know that the Minister is sincerely desirous of carrying out the policy as outlined in the Speech, and I hope that we shall get from him a statement of what is intended to be done.
Another matter to which I desire to refer is the proposal of the Government to establish and maintain nursing homes in the Northern Territory. One has to go through that country to understand the hardships which the people there have to endure. When we went through as members of the Public Works sectional committee, we were informed that no less than eight men had died that year on the track between Munbaloo and Wave Hill. We passed a team going to Wave Hill, and noticed an old man in a very bad way trudging along the track. The driver in charge informed us that the old man was suffering very badly from fever, and that all the food they could give him was a bit of damper and beef. We left with the team a few of our provisions, including some tinned fruit, and passed on. Coming back, in about ten days’ time, we met the team again, but the old man was missing. The driver told us that a little further back along the track we would see a new mound where he had been buried. We passed the grave a little later. There is now a hostel established at Victoria Downs, and I understand that since nurses have been in charge there has not been a single death on that track.
– Although I appear in a dual capacity - as Minister for Home and Territories and as the Minister in this chamber representing the Treasurer - I am glad that this discussion has taken place. The more that the attention of Parliament and the country is directed to the Northern Territory and its needs, the easier will be the task for the Minister for Home and Territories, but the position of the Treasurer may be a little more difficult because he has to find the money. Although it is not possible within the provision on the Estimates to do all that I would like to see done in the Territory, still a certain amount of useful developmental work has been undertaken, and if next year there is a still more generous provision on the Estimates the position should be more satisfactory.
Senator Newland has referred to the fact that when I returned from the Northern Territory I outlined a policy of development which the Government generally endorsed. If honorable senators will cast their minds back they will remember that I emphasized the need for cheaper transport and better means of communication. The policy of the Government has been directed along those lines. At the present time, with a view to providing cheaper and more effective transport, a railway survey is proceeding between Emungalan, the present railway head, and Daly Waters. It is anticipated that the bridge across the Katherine River will soon be finished, and after the next wet season, it may be possible to proceed with the earthworks and the construction of the railway which has been authorized from Emungalan to Daly Waters. This will bring the railway, not into, but up to the border of the good pastoral country lying to the south, and will enable pastoral development in that part of the Territory to proceed at a greater rate than has been possible hitherto. I referred also to the magnificent ‘Barkly Tablelands, and the possibility of pastoral development there. During the last few months a survey of the Gulf of Carpentaria has been carried out by the Geranium. It has been ascertained that ocean-going ships may come right down to the river mouth. There is. provision for a good harbour in the Pellew group of islands, and possibly at the mouth of the Macarthur River itself. In order to investigate the best means of communication from the Barkly Tablelands, a survey party has been at work on surveys from the Macarthur River to Anthony’s Lagoon, which is the central point of the Barkly Tablelands. If a road or railway is constructed there, the Barkly Tablelands will be brought within 150 miles of the deep-water overseas port. This should ensure the development of that portion of the Northern Territory.
Honorable senators will also remember that I emphasized that, before anything effective could be done in the way of closer settlement, the revision of our land laws was necessary. During the present session a land ordinance has been put through both Houses, and a land board has been appointed. At the present time that body is investigating country in the vicinity of the Macdonnell ranges, and afterwards its members will proceed, to the Northern Territory, and during the next wet season will’ make arrangements for administration in the northern portion of the Territory. At the commencement of the next dry season they will investigate the country in the Victoria River and Barkly Tablelands, with a view, we hope, to the subdivision of those big estates there, so that when railway communication is available it is reasonable to hope that graziers will go into occupation of the smaller areas. We hope that sheep raising will be commenced there, and will lead to an increased population. Honorable senators will realize that much exploratory and survey work has to be done before we can expect results. The chief obstacle to the development of the Territory in the immediate future is the difficulty of sea. transport. At present, all supplies for the Northern Territory are drawn from the southern states. The Commonwealth Government is subsidizing a steamship service, run by Burns, Philp, and Company, from Melbourne to Darwin, and is also subsidizing a steamer service organized by the Western Australian Government from Perth to Darwin. The Melbourne-Darwin contract will expire next year, and, in order to induce competition, and, if possible, secure a reduction in freight, we are calling for tenders long before the contract expires, believing that this is the only effective means of cheapening freights. These Estimates include an item of £1,800, subsidy payable to the Western Australian Government, as the result of which there has been a reduction of 25 per cent. in freights from Fremantle to Darwin. This should have a substantial effect in reducing the cost of supplies and freights from the eastern states to Port Darwin. The freight at present from the eastern states to Port Darwin is 70s. per ton, and honorable senators can therefore see that there is a heavy handicap on everything coming from the south. This necessitates high prices being charged in Darwin. When wages are high and the cost of living excessive, the cost of production is necessarily affected.
– What is the freight from Sydney?
– It was 70s. in each case, and the reduction of 25 per cent, comes off that amount in the case of the service from Fremantle. When we invite tenders we shall be able to see what offers are submitted. The local shipping service, which has been discussed from time to time, is most unsatisfactory. There was nothing to indicate that it would be unsatisfactory, but, as recent developments have indicated that it is, we have taken steps to see that an improvement is made. The recent run of the Huddersfield to Elcho Island has demonstrated that the service is very unsatisfactory, and under the terms of the contract it can be terminated unless an improvement is made.
The position of Vestey Brothers, raised by Senator Newland, is really the problem of the Northern Territory. As the cost of production is high, and the coal and everything used by that firm so costly, th& meatworks cannot be profitably conducted. A director of Vestey ‘s who was in Australia this year informed me that ic was the intention of the firm, provided everything proceeded satisfactorily during tho coming season, to open the works for boiling-down purposes, and thus enable the old cattle to be disposed of. If that is done, the cattle market will be improved, and additional employment will be available. He could not say, however, that there was any likelihood of the works being conducted on the old basis until something had been done to reduce tho cost of production. The price of coal is prohibitive.
Honorable senators will remember that a proposal was brought forward for the establishment of a fuel-oil depot. If that were given effect to, it would assist Vestey Brothers, because fuel oil would enable them to make a great cut in production costs. This project was reported upon by the Public Works Committee. Officers of the Works and Railways Department and the” Home and Territories Department have also gone into the question, and have brought up proposals as to the number of tanks which should be installed and under what conditions. It must also be remembered that this session Parliament passed a measure authorizing the payment of a bounty of 10s. per head on live cattle exported. This was specially designed to assist, and will have the effect of assisting, the development of the Northern Territory and the north-western portions of Western Australia. These are the only portions of the Commonwealth where an export trade in live cattle is being conducted.
– Is any advantage being taken of the bounty ?
– Yes. Shipments are proceeding monthly, and new markets are being opened up in Java and elsewhere. It is anticipated that a larger number of live cattle will be exported from the Commonwealth this year than in any previous year owing largely to the payment of the bounty.
Honorable senators will remember the remarks, I made some time ago with regard to the unsuitability of the jetty at Darwin. This subject was referred to the Public Works Committee, which condemned Admiral Clarkson’s proposal, and recommended that the advice of a harbour engineer should be obtained. We have such an engineer in the Department of Trade and Customs - I refer to the Director of lighthouse services, Mr. Ramsbotham - and Cabinet approved of this officer visiting Darwin for the purpose of making a recommendation as to what should be done in that regard. Owing to the action of the Waterside Workers Union in Western Australia, the Kyogle, on which vessel Mr. Ramsbotham was to proceed to Port Darwin, was declared “ black.” He was, therefore, compelled to return to Melbourne. Another engineer, Mr. Mehaffey, was sent from the eastern states, as the Public Works Committee was not satisfied on Admiral Clarkson’s report that the strata had been thoroughly investigated, to see if what he said could be done had been done. It has now been decided to sink a shaft to determine this point. When that is done Mr. Ramsbotham will have data on which to make a recommendation to tho Government which may result in the jetty being placed in a more satisfactory position than at present.
I can endorse what Senator Newland has said in regard to the splendid work done by the nursing homes. It has been, the policy of the Government to help in every possible way, and to assist those pioneers who have to undergo such hardships.
We have recently .arranged for the Commonwealth Land Board to travel from a point on the East-West railway, between Kingoonyah and . Tarcoola, on the trans- Australian line, to Alice Springs. The party consists of Mr. Easton and. Mr. Williams, two members of the Land Board, Mr. Day, the SurveyorGeneral in South Australia, Mr. McBride a leading pastoralist, who has an intimate knowledge of the interior, and a representative of the Commonwealth Railways Department. The Government have to-day received a most glowing report concerning the pastoral possibilities of the country between Kingoonyah and
Alice Springs. By making a detour to the west, it was found that the country improved towards the Western Australian border. That is cheering news,’ and opens up vast possibilities. They say the country is capable of carrying sheep, and they have ascertained that water can be obtained by sinking from 30 to 200 feet. If the conditions are as satisfactory as we are led to believe, there is a possibility of a new province, capable of wool production, being opened up to Australia. In proceeding from Alice Springs to Darwin, the members of the board will inspect the country east and west, so that when they reach their destination they will have an actual knowledge of the country they have to administer.
– I am sure the committee will be glad to have the information supplied by the Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce) as to what is being done in the Northern Territory. There are one of two other matters I wish to bring under the notice, of the Minister, one of which is the grant in aid of the various mission stations. There is a wide diversity of opinion as to the value’ of the work they are performing. I can only speak authoritatively concerning the Hermannsburg Mission Station. At the time the members of the Public Works Committee visited the station we were not in any way impressed by the manner in which the natives were being handled by the missionaries. In our report to the Government, we went so far as to recommend that the Government subsidy to the station should be withdrawn. I notice, however, that on page 117 of the Estimates, an amount of £200 is provided for the Hermannsburg Mission Station.
– By whom is the station conducted ¥
– By the Moravians.
– It is under the control of some German religious organization which is holding a considerable area of first class land. On making inquiries in the locality we found that pastoralists and others had a deep-rooted objection to employing any natives who had been at the station for any time. They were taught to sing hymns or chant psalms, but whether it was in the Arunta or German language we were unable to determine. I understand that the mis- sioner who was in charge at the time of our visit has since gone the way of all flesh, and that the station is now more satisfactorily controlled, inasmuch as the natives who were before merely loafers are now compelled Ho work. Prior to the change in control they had tucker and accommodation, and that is all the natives want. I understand the ex-Minister for Works and Railways (Mr. Stewart) has visited the Hermannsburg Mission Station. If an improvement has been effected I have no objection to the Government subsidizing the station, but as the authorities there are in possession of a large area of good country, on which a number of cattle are running, the station should be selfsupporting. I trust this matter will be carefully investigated.
A question was asked to-day concerning the natives at- the bungalow at Alice Springs. The committee, of which I was a member, also recommended that the bungalow should be removed from its present site. Although it is termed a “ bungalow,” it is a bare iron shed divided by a partition on one side of which the half-caste boys are accommodated,, and on the other the hal f -caste girls . Every per - son in Alice Springs, irrespective of colour or creed, has condemned the location of this so-called “ bungalow.” It is just outside the backyard of the hotel, which is the last situation in the world for such a structure. The committee recommended that a better site should be selected, and in reply to a question to-day, the Minister stated that the matter was under consideration. It should have been dealt with long ago. I do not know whether it would be advisable to send the half-caste children to the Hermannsburg Station, but the problem should be dealt with. When we were at Alice Springs there was nothing to prevent a half-drunken white or a coloured man wandering past the back fence and into the bungalow. In the interests of every one concerned, I hope no time will be lost in removing these half-caste children from the unfortunate surroundings in which they are placed.
– What are the ages of the occupants of the bungalow 1
– It was accommodating boys and girls eighteen or nineteen 3’ears of age. Some of the girls are employed in domestic service at Alice Springs, and judging by the capacity and neatness of the two who were employed at the hotel when we were at Alice Springs, they are capable of rendering efficient service.
– The Minister said it was proposed to send them back to the mission station.
– That would be a good thing, if the mission station had improved considerably since I was there; otherwise it would not have my support.
– I do not mean the Hermannsburg Mission, but some mission farther south, in South Australia.
– The difficulty of removing them from their parents, of course, presents itself, and that is a matter which requires consideration. I hope, however, that something will be done quickly to remove these unfortunate children from the vicious surroundings in which they are at present placed. While Senator Thompson was discussing cotton, I was seeking in the schedule an item on which he could base his remarks on the cotton industry, I have since found it. I see in the schedule the line “ Investigation regarding cotton industry and assistance to growers.” Last year, under this heading, the sum of £1,200 was placed onthe Estimates, of which £749 was spent. I agree with those who say that the northern portion of the Northern Territory is excellent cotton-growing country, but that amount would not go far to encourage the growing of cotton there.
– We also had a vote for assistance to primary producers. The cotton-growers were helped from that as well.
– It does not seem a large sum to develop an industry which is said to be an excellent one for that territory. I hope that the Minister will give this matter further consideration. A cotton expert was in the district recently, and I believe that his report was favorable to the growing of cotton on considerable areas of the Territory.
– What about the wages problem?
– That problem is not more acute in the Northern Territory than in northern Queensland. The difficulty in connexion with the growing of cotton will be met by providing facilities for the settlement of families there. If communal settlements are established in the northern portions of the Territory, and proper facilities provided for them to carry on their work, much of the difficultiesnow encountered will be overcome.
Some two years ago we were promised that wireless and telephonic communication would be extended to the settlements in the Territory, but I believe that nothing whatever has since been done. When in the Territory, we met numbers of persons who would almost give their right hands to get into closer touch with the outside world. Unless we get our newspaper each morning, we think that life is not worth living, but these people have to wait for three or four months, not only for their mails, but for their food supplies. Honorable senators who sit here in comfort, ease, and luxury, are not - doing their duty in allowing these conditions to continue. We speak of a White Australia, and urge that that policy should be maintained, but that will be impossible if something is not done to encourage white men to live in these outposts. Unless the Government is prepared to spend more money in this, its own territory, these people have no one else to whom to turn. They axe not the residents of any state, and cannot make any representations to any State Government. The money spent is wretchedly inadequate for the development of the country.
– The sum of £750 is set down as a “ contribution towards the cost of establishment and maintenance of wireless stations.”
– That would be sufficient for about two telephones only in that country.
– That amount is only the contribution of the Home and Territories Department, whichis sharing the cost with the Postmaster-General’s Department. A contract has been let.
– I am glad to hear that from the Minister. Many of the people there would prefer telephones to a railway. At present, because of the inadequate means of communication, they are unable to get any idea of the markets. Honorable senators probably have little idea of the labour and time involved in preparing cattle for market. Before a mob of cattle starts for the market, they are trained on the run for about two months.
The cattle during that period become acquainted with the horses and the horsemen, and are made to travel varying distances until they are ready to undertake the journey to the markets. Even after all this preparation, until the mob reaches the market, the owner does not know the prices ruling. If he had wireless or telephonic communication, he would not have to handle his stock blindly as at present. I appeal to .the Minister to allow Parliament the opportunity to vote money for these facilities. If he brings down a much larger vote, and asks for our approval, a few may grumble at the cost, but others will not. The worst that could happen would be for the amount to be reduced. T ask the Minister to take his courage in his hands, and do something for the people living out-back, so that settlement may be encouraged, and something besides talking <lone for the maintenance of a White Australia.
Senator BENNY (South Australia) fS. 38]. - Senator Newland has referred to a’ question I asked this afternoon regarding the half-caste children at Alice Springs. With the answer of the Minister, I was satisfied, but I desire to stress the importance of this matter. The present state of affairs existing at Alice Springs is a tragedy. These people are in Federal Territory, and to them we owe a duty. The present position is causing much anxiety to a number of South Australian residents. I have received telegrams complaining of the awful state of affairs which exists.. From the satisfactory answer given me by the Minister, I feel sure that the Government k as alert to the exigencies of the situation as we are in this Senate. These half-castes have in them the vices of both races, and few of their virtues. The fullWooded blacks look upon them as inferiors, and the whites treat them as being absolutely beneath contempt. These unfortunates are our responsibility, and we should live up to it. One shudders to think of the possibilities when half-caste girls are placed in a camp at the back of a public-house, where they are within easy reach of the worst section of the community in Alice Springs. T impress upon the Government the necessity for something being done at once.
These people must be removed to a position of safety, so that their moral, spiritual, and material welfare may be secured. The Minister assured me that the Government would either remove them to a mission station, which I think would be best, or at least take them away from the unsavoury and unwholesome surroundings which at present are their hard fate.
– A great deal of the criticism regarding the Northern Territory is from people who know little of the out-back portions of Australia. I do not intend to deal in detail with all the matters connected with the Northern Territory, because I know that the present Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Pearce) is wholehearted in his desire to do the best possible to develop that part of the continent. I shall refer to the export of live cattle from the Northern Territory, a matter which requires both sympathy and assistance on the part of the Government. Cattle in tens of thousands exist in the Territory, but no one who understands the cattle industry, and knows of the losses, or, at least, the small margin of profit connected with it, will say that the cattle industry to-day is in a flourishing condition. Owing to the inconvenient situation of their works, and the difficult labour situation, Vestey’ s are not likely to re-open their full plant for a considerable time, although they hold an immense area of country, and are anxious to export live cattle. The Darwin wharf is as good a wharf as exists in Australia for the shipment of live cattle. The Government should place cattle trucks on the railway, even if they conveyed the cattle for nothing, in order to develop the cattle trade in this Territory. The production of cattle is all that the country is fit for in its present stage of development. In that statement I am guided by what has taken place in Queensland. The back country of Queensland has gone through the experiences which have been referred to as now applying to the Northern Territory, but by extensions of the railway system the difficulties were overcome, and to-day most of the state has fairly good communication with the various ports.
In the Northern Territory railways are not developed to any extent. The country within 200 or 300 miles of Darwin is not fit, except in patches, to carry stock, and when the cattle are brought to the port from further back, where the country is good, they fall off in condition. I am not speaking in the interests of Vestey Brothers. I do not care who benefits by the assistance afforded, but something should be done to put life into the Territory by encouraging the export of cattle. Trucks should be provided in which the cattle cannot bc damaged, and the bullocks should be taken in those trucks to the wharf and loaded direct into the ship. When I visited the Northern Territory as a member of the Public Works Committee, I met some of the men who had been pioneers of Queensland. Some of them had taken cattle from the Gulf country of Queensland to the goldfields of Western Australia. These men informed me that there was plenty of country in the Northern Territory that would carty sheep. The trouble is, however, that there are no facilities to take sheep out” to the suitable country or convey the wool to a port. All these difficulties had to be overcome in Queensland, and I am sure they will be similarly overcome in the Northern Territory.
Cotton-growing in the Northern Territory will not be developed for some time to come unless a big land scheme is undertaken, and people are brought out from certain parts of Europe. Those who are now coming to Australia for the purpose of growing cotton will settle down in Queensland and other states where the facilities offered by the State Governments are more attractive. Furthermore, better means of communication will have to be provided for the Territory. The present shipping service is very erratic. Those who have visited Darwin know how difficult it is from that point to reach other parts of the world. Burns, Philp and Company and the Western Australian Government supply the only vessels that call at Darwin. I am pleased that the Government are calling for tenders for a better service, and I should like to know whether the Navigation Act will prevent the Dutch company and other companies, whoso boats pass close to Darwin, from tendering. If the Navigation Act is applied to Darwin I am sure it will cause con- siderable trouble in this regard. The manager of the Dutch line of steamers told the Public Works Committee that he was quite willing to go out of his way to grant facilities to the people of Darwin. It would be a decided advantage to the people of the Territory if some other company could compete with Burns,’ Philp and Company. The provision of better means of communication will settle the problem of the Territory more speedily than will anything else. Now that the Government propose to spend money on extending the railway to the south, other vessels should be encouraged to call at Darwin. The subsidy paid to Burns, Philp and Company might very well bo divided between that company and others.
According to newspaper reports the Queensland Government are considering the advisability of setting up a wireless station at Brisbane to supply information to stations and farms within the limits of the state. Senator Newland has explained that one can go for a week or a month in the Northern Territory, and be cut off from all means of communication. In Queensland in the past drovers were frequently weeks away from means of communication with the world in general. Surely if the Queensland Government can give the service they are proposing to establish, the Commonwealth Government ought to consider the advisability of setting up a wireless station to serve not only the Northern Territory, but also the north-west portion of Australia. Any one who has been along the north-west coast must admire the generosity and enterprise of the Western Australian Government in supplying facilities for the people of that portion of Australia. Therefore, I trust that if the Government do establish a wireless station in the Territory it will also supply news to the people of the north-west coast of Western Australia, where experienced pastoralists say a good deal of the country will carry sheep. In conclusion, I urge the Minister to grant Vestey’s every consideration in the matter of exporting live cattle, so that a market will be provided for a production which alone will properly develop the Territory at the present time.
– Senators Newland and Benny have referred to the conditions of mission stations in the Northern Territory. In ray opinion, these stations are doing very good work. They are really saving the Commonwealth a great deal of expenditure which would otherwise have to be undertaken in looking after the aborigines. There is no doubt that the Hermannsburg mission was not being conducted on very satisfactory lines. As a result of the report of the Public Works Committee to that effect, the Government seriously considered the withdrawal of the subsidy from the station. However, upon the Government threatening to withdraw the subsidy, the mission people represented that the conduct of the station would be reformed; and Sir Baldwin Spencer, who was paying a visit to the north, was asked to make a report on the mission. His report was almost as severe a condemnation of the past methods of the station as was that of’ the Public Works Committee. But, as the Reverend Strahlow, who had’ been in charge, had died, and as there had been a change in the management of the mission, we thought it only fair that a chance should be given to the station to prove that it was proceeding on different lines. Later on, Mr. Stewart, who was then Minister for Works and Railways, paid a visit to Alice Springs^ and at my request went across to see what was being done at the mission. He brought back a much more encouraging report. The station is now working on much better lines. The natives are being taught to work as well as to sing songs. In these circumstances, we thought we were fully justified in continuing the subsidy as long as the improvement was maintained. It will be noticed that the Hermannsburg mission is receiving £50 less than other missions.
I quite agree with all that has been said in criticism of the method of dealing with half-castes at Alice Springs. The department contemplated the erection of a better building in some other locality, but the estimate of the officers of the Works and Railways Department was that the building we required would cost £12,000. One wonders what on earth the money would be spent on.
– The freights are very high.
– I know that freight is costly. We considered that the building would cost too much, and as some one would have to be paid to take charge of it, we thought it would be better to remove the girls to some of the established missions in South Australia, and pay the South Australian Government for training them. We are now negotiating in this direction with that government. We have also approached some of the churches to ascertain if they have missions at which these girls can be placed. I do not agree, however, that these half-castes are the hopeless proposition some honorable senators seem to think they are. Even under the disadvantageous circumstances under which they have been trained at the existing bungalow, some of the girls have been placed in service in Adelaide. The person who looks after them at Alice Springs keeps in touch with them by correspondence. Many of them have from £100 to £150 in the savings bank, and the reports from those who employ them are most commendatory. They speak in the highest, terms of the way they are behaving. This shows that something can be done with the girls. If an agreement cannot be arrived at with some of the South Australian missions, the only thing to do is to put up a better building than the present one, and carry on the work ourselves. However, my impression is that some of these missions could do it very much better than we could. ‘
In regard to cotton-growing in the Northern. Territory, £4,200 is provided on these Estimates for the encouragement’ of primary production in the Northern Territory. The same amount was provided last year, but of that total £1,000 was to be devoted to the encouragement of mining. This year there is a separate vote of £1,000 for the encouragement of mining, so that there will be an additional £1,000 for the encouragement of primary production. Portion of the £4,200 will be devoted to the encouragement of cotton-growing. Last year the season was the worst experienced for 25 years. Nevertheless, the people in the Territory engaged in cotton -growing are continuing the struggle, and we hope that they will make good.
The provision of a wireless station has not been lost sight of. The PostmasterGeneral has accepted a tender for the erection in the Victoria River district of a wireless station capable of communicating with Darwin. Many pastoralists are now ordering sets, so that they will be able to communicate with this station, and thus be in telegraphic communication with the rest of the world. The PostmasterGeneral has also agreed to the construction of a wireless station at Camooweal, which is on a telegraph line. This will enable the pastoralists on the Barklay Tablelands to communicate with the rest of the world.
I agree with Senator Reid that the wharf at Darwin is quite suitable for the shipment of live cattle. The Navigation Act applies to Darwin; therefore, the Dutch line of steamers will not be able to tender, under present conditions, for the Northern Territory service.
– Where will the Government get competitors?
– Competition will be invited; it cannot be compelled. The application of the Navigation Act to Australian shipping does not come under the Department of Home and Territories. We simply have to accept the law as it stands. The Government will have before it the report of the Royal Commission on Navigation.
– It will be competent for the Government to exempt any service.
– Not that particular service. The Government will have to give consideration to the representations of the Navigation Commission, and the question will arise whether any change should be made in the conditions governing the trade with the Northern Territory. I have already pointed out that the Government is erecting a wireless station at Camooweal. Whether that will be able to receive messages from Brisbane, I cannot say. I believe that messages can be passed on through relay stations. It is a significant fact that since the Commonwealth took over the administration of the Northern Territory it has not established a single mile of telephone or telegraph line in the Territory. That is a striking condemnation of the attitude of the Commonwealth towards the Northern Territory. As Senator Newland pointed out, telephonic and telegraphic facilities are required. So far, I have not been able to induce the Government to undertake that work. I could spend quite a lot of money through the PostmasterGeneral’s Department if it wereprovided.
Proposed vote agreed to.
The Department of Defence.
Proposed vote, £3,425,829.
– I should like to have some explanation regarding the manner in which the Estimates for this department are placed before honorable senators. They appear in skeleton form, whereas in the case of every other department detailed particulars relating to salaries are given. I do not remember that form having been adopted in previous years. It appears to me to be an inexact and loose method of placing information before honorable senators if they are to deal with the various items in a reasonable way.
– I do notagree with the honorable senator that it is customary to supply details of the wages paid to officers in any of the departments. If that practice were adopted, the schedule would be of an enormous size. The rate of pay for all these officersis fixed by regulation. If the honorable senator desires to be supplied with a list setting out the wages paid to these men, I shall offer no objection. It would be impracticable to supply the details in this schedule.
SenatorFINDLEY (Victoria) [9.6].- Can the Minister give us some information regarding the item “Recruiting expenses, £2,852,” in Subdivision No. 2 of Division No. 51, “ Permanent Naval Forces ( Sea-going ) “ ?
– That provision has been made to meet anticipated expenditure in connexion with the recruiting that will be necessary to keep the Royal Australian Navy up to the approved complement, and to recruit ratings for vacancies that arise in the fleet. The principal items of expenditure are advertising, railway fares of recruits, medical examination, and capitation fees.
.- Why has the vote for rifle clubs been reduced? They proved very useful during the war. Unless a greater sum is voted annually, the cost to each rifleman will be so great that in course of time the clubs will become extinct. Their worth to the country from a defence point of view is greater than is indicated by the proposed vote.
– This matter was raised in another place, and I understand that the Minister for Defence (Mr. Bowden) stated that he expected to be able to make arrangements under which the amount would be equal to, if not greater than, that voted last year. I think that Senator Gardiner, two or three months ago, brought to my notice complaints from rifle clubs. The Minister for Defence realizes, as I and honorable senators do, that the rifle club3 are performing very valuable work in the defence scheme, and that greater consideration should be shown to them. The Minister has gone into the matter very carefully, and has given the undertaking that he will do everything possible to meet their wishes.
.- A couple of sessions ago an amending defence bill was introduced, and was lengthily and patiently discussed in this chamber. It disappeared from the noticepaper. Some of its provisions I regard as of considerable importance. One proposal was to give the right of appeal to officers who were suffering from an injury. I should like to know if there ia any chance of a bill being brought down making provision for such an appeal?
Senator WILSON (South AustraliaHonorary Minister) [9.111. - I am sorry that I cannot inform the honorable senator what has become of the bill. I understand that it is still under consideration in another place. Representing, as I do, the Minister in charge of a department that I am not administering, it is awkward for me at a moment’s notice to reply to a question such as the honorable senator has asked.
– The Minister cannot have forgotten the battles that took place when the bill was before us !
– I have not. The honorable senator asked me to what extent the provisions of the bill had been put into operation, and what had transpired since those battles were fought here. I shall make inquiries and see that the honorable senator is advised of the position by the department.
– Will the Minister supply some details regarding item No. 30 in division No. 74 - “ Incidental and petty cash expenditure, £3,400 “?
– I notice that the expenditure upon the Royal Australian Air Force, which in 1923-4 was £94,113, is estimated to be only £92,964 during 1924-5. That is a reduction of £1,149. Aviation is making great strides in other countries. The Royal Australian Air Force has never been in a satisfactory position since its formation. To make it worth while as a fighting unit, and to ensure that it will be of substantial value for defence purposes, the Government should increase rather than decrease the expenditure upon it. Is it the intention of the Government to allow it to wither away, or is it proposed merely to mark time in the hope that something will turn up in the future? There should be some explanation of the fact that in this financial year the proposed expenditure is a reduction upon what was previously an inadequate vote.
– I agree with the honorable senator that if we are to have an air force we ought to have one that is worth while. I may point out, however, that the amount set down for the general expenditure - £92,000 - is virtually the same as was provided last year, and that it is believed by officials of the department that it will be sufficient. It must also be remembered that the Air Force will have allotted to it a certain proportion of the amount to be provided under the five years developmental scheme. In reply to Senator Grant’s inquiry, the department states that provision is for all incidental expenditure of a miscellaneous character, including petty cash expenditure arising from the activities of the military forces throughout the states.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote (Special Defence Provision), £1,000,000, agreed to.
Department of Trade and Customs.
Proposed vote, £804,739.
.- On page 204, division 88, appears the item, “Australian trade representative in the East.” I should like the Minister to give the committee some information regarding this proposed expenditure. I have heard it suggested that the Minister controlling the department proposes to send a small flock of commercial travellers on what may be regarded as an indeterminate mission to the East. I oan appreciate the difficulties which a Government as a Government would encounter if it sent private individuals to prosecute business in that way. If the Government wishes to help in the development of trade with the East it can best do so by keeping clear of private business altogether and bending its energies to ensuring the transport of goods at a reasonable rate. Let us take the case of Australian flour. I speak with some knowledge of this subject, because I have been associated with a body of men that has created quite a decent trade in this commodity with the East without any assistance from the Government. Our principal competitors are exporters from the United States of America and Canada. American and Australian f.o.b. prices are about the same, but our American competitors get a freight which I feel sure is subsidized, with the result that their flour can be landed in the East for about half the Australian freight. If we could get Australian flour to the East at something like the same freight as is charged from Canada or the United States of America, the quality of the Australian flour would sell it against the American product. Unfortunately, we are up against people who are using the weapon of subsidized freights, and we cannot hope to continue unless we can employ the same weapon. I am of opinion that the best way in which the Government can help the trade is by subsidizing freights on such commodities as flour, which show asmall margin of profit. Probably 10s. a ton on flour may be estimated as a decent profit in the future, because there is, possibly, a big trade to be done in this commodity. I hope that the information which I have received unofficially concerning the Government proposal to send commercial travellers to the East is not true, because I cannot see how Australian trade can be developed in that way. Indeed, Government action along those lines might involuntarily put certain firms in Australia in a far better position than their Australian - competitors and so cause a great deal of uneasiness, jealousy, and irritation. The expenditure of the same amount of money in the direction I have indicated would probably be much more effective.
– 1 can as- “ sure Senator -Kingsmill that the Govern ment is extremely anxious not to interfere with private business. We are, however, living in abnormal times, and we must all admit that whilst it is the duty of a Government to assist industry in times of difficulty, it is not the function of a Government to take charge of trade. Concerning the suggestion that the Government intends to send commercial travellers abroad, I can only say that the Minister in charge of the department has stated that he is giving that proposal careful consideration. We have to face big problems. The marketing of Australian products is probably one of the greatest difficulties that the Government has been called upon to face. If we can overcome that problem I firmly believe that two-thirds of our troubles will disappear. The Government believes that its duty is to assist in the marketing of Australian products, but certainly not to interfere or prejudice private enterprise.
– On page 205, under division 89, there is the item “ Commonwealth Institute of Science and Industry,” about which I made a few remarks on the second reading of the bill. With the figures before me I may now make my meaning clearer. Earlier in the debate I pointed out that in the history of this institute two systems of control had been attempted. The first was by a multitude of counsellors in which there was so much safety that nothing was ever done. The second system was control by a dictator, concerning which I also unreservedly expressed my opinion. Neither system, in my judgment, is right. The alternative which I proposed in ‘ my second-reading speech was control by a small committee ‘of men with sound scientific knowledge, with a certain amount of commercial training and a good knowledge of men and affairs; men who, by reason of their natural temperament and training would be likely to produce the best results. I feel certain that we could obtain the voluntary services of men well qualified to control the policy of the institute, which, as I have previously suggested, should be called, not the Institute of Science and Industry, but the Institute of Applied Science, as distinguished from pure science, which may very well be left to the universities of Australia. By enlisting the services of enthusiastic voluntary workers we could thus reduce the overhead expenditure of the institute very appreciably. The present director draws a salary of £2,000 a year. Even if these voluntary directors or the advisory committee were remunerated by fees and paid travelling expenses, I feel confident that the expenditure would not be more than £1,000 a year. Added to this, I “venture to say that we would get very much better control and that there would bo a keener interest and wider outlook on scientific problems. As I have already said, I regard the encouragement of applied science as most vital in the interests of Australian progress. By the adoption of this course, we may encourage men to embark upon careers for themselves instead of depending foiemployment upon other people, and eventually Australia may become a nation of happy and prosperous small holders working for themselves. The young men of to-day, instead of endeavouring to- strike out on a career for themselves, look to someone from whom to draw wages. The natural corollary, as in the case of any one who has something to sell, is that there is a growing tendency to get as much as possible for what they have to offer. No man is more attached to the country in which he lives - may I be pardoned for using a phrase at which honorable senators opposite very often laugh - than is the man who has a stake in the country.
– Has not a man with a family a stake in the country ?
– Not to such an extent as has the man who is working bis own property, however small it may be, and who is endeavouring to develop it. The control of the Institute of Science and Industry should be vested in a committee such as I have described. Naturally, it would be necessary, as at present, to have a secretary to the committee. We have such an officer in the Chief Science Abstractor. If we are to follow the example of other countries, such as the United States of America, we should be guided by the procedure adopted in the Madison City Forest Products Laboratory, which, on a pre-war footing, had 450 skilled scientists working at various undertakings in connexion with forest products. The Americans do not keep more cats than can catch mice. These men made hundreds of thousands, aye, millions of pounds for America by the work which they carried out before the outbreak of war. Coming closer home and dealing with a country that is operating more on our own lines, I may mention that in the Agricultural Department at Kuala Lumpur, in the Malay States, which really corresponds, to a large extent, with our Institute of Science and Industry, I found, some little time ago, 23 skilled men studying various problems in connexion with industries in that country, and particularly in relation to botanical products, such as rubber, rice, gums, palm oil, and quinine. They were studying the best methods of growing the best species, and also of dealing with plant diseases, and generally were doing extremely useful work in the interests of those engaged in various industries.
– Did the honorable senator see what was being done in Java?
– Yes. Under the guidance of Mr. Luden Brain, the scientists at Kuala Lumpur are doing work quite as good, although on a smaller scale. I do not wish Australia to lag behind the rest of the world. Unless we keep in the forefront of progress, and establish new industries and more avenues of employment, it is useless to proceed with our present immigration scheme. My project has as its ultimate object the absolute destruction of unemployment. It has also another object : that of drawing men away from the cities, to which they are rushing in too great a number. If these two objects alone arc not sufficient to justify a more active policy I do not know what we have lo aim at. My methods of arriving at the proper conclusion are perhaps faulty, but I thoroughly believe that the scheme I suggest in connexion with this proposal would bring about the satisfactory results I have indicated. If the Minister has anything further to communicate concerning the future policy, or can tell us whether it is the intention of the Government to take this matter into earnest and serious consideration, with a view to immediate action, I shall be satisfied, even if it means the expenditure of a little money in altering the form of control which at present exists.
Senator JOHN D. MILLEN (Tasmania) (“9.36]. - I have listened with considerable interest to the suggestions submitted by Senator Kingsmill, but I do not agree with his proposals. I do not think it at all practicable to conduct £n
Institute of Science and Industry on a voluntary basis. If the honorable senator follows up his investigations concerning the work done in the bureaux of the United States of America, he will find that in every such institution in that country a director is in control. If we are to deal with the problems associated with the application of science to industry, or applied science, as the honorable senator terms it, it will be found that we can do very little in the matter of investigation or research work for an expenditure of £24,000, as provided for in this proposed vote.
– That is quite sufficient for the present control.
– I shall deal presently with that aspect of the question. On referring to. the items in this vote, it will be noted that a sum of £4,000 is provided for investigations into the prickly -pear pest, £5,000 for a grant to the Commonwealth Engineering Standards Association, and others of a like character, as well as amounts to provide for cattle-tick dip investigations, and so forth, so that there is very little left for the Director to do.
– He has a mighty big job in respect to those matters alone.
– Yes, but the work is being done for us in other laboratories. The investigations are extremely valuable and necessary, but they are only a small portion of the many important undertakings which Australians should be carrying out in order that Australia may, as Senator Kingsmill suggests, keep in the forefront of progress. The Government have to face the position. I have spoken before, as Senator Kingsmill has done this evening, on the importance of the application of science to our very civilization. We have endeavoured to show how essential it is to our progress. If the Government appreciate, as the rest of the world appreciates, the value of the application of science to industry, they should come down with a comprehensive scheme. It is evident to every member of this Parliament that the Government are not appreciating the present position, otherwise they would not propose such a trifling vote for this highly important institute.
– They are merely fiddling with it.
– That is so. The matter is of such vast importance that the Government, if they are not satisfied with the present Director, should get another officer who will carry out, in something approaching us entirety, the purpose for which the institute was established. Under existing conditions the work is handed out to the different state institutions, and little, if anything, is done at head-quarters. Sufficient money is not made available for effective work to be done there. Most of the money included in this vote is allocated in various directions. Reference has been made to voluntary effort, but the work to be done by such an institute as this is far too great to depend on voluntary, labour. The Institute of Science and Industry needs a director - a trained head. I am well aware that we have in this country men who are capable of controlling the institute, and doing the work required of such an office, but a salary of £2,000 a year would not attract them. We have scientists equal to any in the world, but they want to be adequately remunerated. And rightly so. We cannot, and should not, expect to get brains for nothing. If we are going to deal effectively with this work a much higher salary than £2,000 per annum will have to be paid to the director of the institute. We should have as director the most highly qualified man that it is possible to obtain. As to the suggestion made by Senator Kingsmill that a committee of three should be appointed, while I do not wish to put a damper on enthusiasm - while I believe that such a committee would be of very great value1 - I hold that it is absolutely necessary to have in this institute some one capable of taking the lead. With the many other activities under their control, the Government are not in a position to determine the very many avenues in which science can be applied. That should be the director’s job. Senator Kingsmill referred to the work done in our universities. They can deal with pure science up to a certain point, but there are stages at which pure science and applied science should work hand in hand. In America, there are. quite a number of public men who fully appreciate the value of science, and they put up vast sums for scientific research.. In the universities in the United States of America, fellowships are given for industrial scientific research. There are fellowships for such subjects as the preservation of bread offered by the Kansas University, and several others of a like kind. But here in Australia, our laboratories are not doing any greatwork in applied or pure science. Our universities are conducting training work, but I want them to go much further. The Willard-Gibb Institute in the United States of America was established at enormous cost to determine the variation in the atomic weights of lead. In Australia, we are confronted with problems affecting our primary and secondary industries. Yet we are expending on their investigation only £24,000 a year.
– The prickly pear investigations alone should require that expenditure.
– And there are many others to be dealt with. Senator Kingsmill referred t& the work undertaken in the fisheries, arboreal, and other departments in the United States of America, and in these directions we are not doing anything at all. It is the duty of the Commonwealth Government to act. The importance of this subject cannot be too strongly emphasized. It is useless to have a mere figurehead for the Institute of Science and Industry, and, after all, when we pay the director £2,000 a year as salary, and do not provide him with anything to spend on research, he can be little more than a figurehead.
– It is merely an annuity.
– Yes; and of little use to scientific research in Australia. If. we are going to do anything ‘ effective, money must be made available. The institute cannot carry out investigations unless it has skilled assistants to do the work. Research must be conducted by efficient men, and it is the Government’s bounden duty to place this institute on a solid foundation. In speaking on the motion for the printing of the budget papers, I said that if the fault was due to the system of control, the control should be. altered. Something should be done which will uplift our civilization, increase our industries, and generally help the Australian people.
– Some time ago, Senator Kingsmill brought this mat ter under my notice. I then met the Minister for Trade ‘and Customs (Mr. Pratten) and discussed it fully with him. I assure Senator Millen that the Government fully realizes that the matter should be inquired into; but when Parliament is sitting it is practically impossible for Ministers- to give time to departmental affairs. I know that Mr. Pratten’s time has been fully occupied. When this subject is being dealt with in recess, I feel that the Government will not look in vain for the co-operation and assistance of the honorable senators who have spoken; and I hope that something practical will result. Knowing his great objection to boards, I was surprised that Senator Kingsmill should suggest that this matter should be handed over to a board.
– I hope that there would be a great difference between the board that I have suggested and some of the boards which have previously been appointed.
– In connexion with another matter, the enthusiasts who were appointed wanted 20 guineas a day for their services. Even with a board, there must be a head. . I believe that there is necessity for a change, and for greater activity to be displayed in connexion with this institute. I assure honorable .senators that the matter has already been discussed, and that during the recess something will be done.
– I desire to thank the Minister for Lis promise that something will be done during the recess, and I shall, later on, remind him of it. Although Senator Millen and I disagree regarding some minor matters affecting the work of the institute, his enthusiasm is greater even than my own. After all, the head does not conduct the investigations, but fixes the policy to be carried out by others. A small controlling body such as I suggest could determine the policy, which would then be carried out by those skilled persons who must be in the department, even if Ave had a director to whom Ave paid £20,000 a year. It is impossible for a director to conduct all the activities of an institute such as I hope this will become. Disregarding the minor points concerning which Ave disagree, Senator Millen and I both believe that this institute is an absolute necessity, and that the matters to which we have referred demand immediate attention. I am grateful to the Minister for his promise that something will be done during recess.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Works and Railways Department.
Proposed vote, £936,618.
– I call attention to the amount set down for the Northern Territory railway from Darwin to the Katherine River. I take it that that amount is largely for the bridge across the Katherine River, and the necessary approaches thereto. About three years have expired since the Standing Committee on Public Works furnished a report on the construction of a railway to Alice Springe, but up to the present nothing has been done to give effect to the recommendations. I am one of the members of the committee that went through that country, and was, to some extent, responsible for the recommendations contained in that report. I know of no committee that has ever been appointed by the Government to deal with a big problem whose report has been treated with such neglect - not to say contempt - as this committee’s report has received. If I could induce my colleagues to take the same stand that I am prepared to take in regard to this matter, it would make a considerable difference to the Government. In this bill we have nearly £300,000 set down for the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway,and a similar sum for the Port Augusta to Oodnadatta railway. The sum of £31,000 is proposed for the KatherineRiver railway in the Northern Territory. The expenses which are incurred by the Commonwealth every year in the maintenance of the Port Augusta to Oodnadatta and the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railways would soon be considerably curtailed if the railway which the committee recommended was extended. At the present time a. bill is under discussion in another place to provide for a railway to link up the northern portion of New South Wales with the southern portion of Queensland. To that I have no objection; nor have I objection to proposals being brought forward for the construction of railways at other places where considered desirable. But when we see these railways suggested, and understand that the Government is also considering the advisability of constructing a railway from Port Augusta to Hay, while at the same time nothing, so far as we know, is being done in connexion with this railway which was recommended by the Public Works Committee, . the Parliament of the Commonwealth, and not merely the members for South Australia, has a right to protest.
– The need for the construction of the other railways is much mare pressing.
-That is a matter of opinion. But, whatever the pressure in other cases,- we have in connexion with this railway a distinct agreement between the Commonwealth Government and the people who are living in the central portion of Australia that a railway shall be constructed. The Minister referred to “the committee which is at present travelling over the area between Kingoonya and Alice Springs. I presume that, ifthey report favorably, the matter will be referred to the Public Works Committee for consideration and report. That will mean that the construction of this railway will be hung up still further - probably for two or three years. Even if a railway be constructed in that locality, the railway from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta will, in my opinion, still have to be maintained, for the reason that it was taken over under an agreement which provides for working it. That railway ends in a sandy and stony plain, which is, possibly, one of the worst portions of the whole of Australia. No freight for the railway is brought there from any place nearer than 200 or 300 miles.
– South Australia made a great bargain when she got rid of the Territory.
– I do not know that that is so. We hear a lot of ridiculous statements about handing back the Northern Territory to South Australia, but this Parliament, with its eyes open, took over that Territory, and made a promise to construct a railway from north to south. It is high time that this Government showed some regard for the promise that was made by a previous Parliament to the people of South Australia and the settlers who invested their money on the distinct promise contained in the bill then passed that a railway would be constructed.
– The honorable senator will have to wait for a change of government to get the railway he desires.
– We have had other governments in power since this agreement was signed, but they showed no greater anxiety to construct the railway than does the present Government, so that I do not know that we should benefit by a change of government. Ministers, governors, distinguished explorers, and others have travelled over that country, but the Government has in the report of the Public Works Committee a much more valuable document than any with which it has been furnished by others regarding this matter. In fact, some of these other people are at present carefully reading that report in order to be able to express an opinion regarding that Territory. Men have carried their swags over that country; others have driven bullock-drays through it, and, during recent years, parties have travelled by motor cars between Port Augusta and Alice Springs. If every explorer who went there’ had taken a rail, and every team a load of rails, there would to-day be sufficient rails available to construct the line. So thoroughly has the country been explored, and so well are its possibilities known, that there is no excuse for any further delay or for further inquiries being made. A promise has been made to the people of South Australia, but I do not base my remarks on that. South Australia would not benefit to a great extent by the construction of this railway, but the people who have spent their money, and are living there in the hope that the railway will be constructed, would derive great benefit from it. I hope that the Minister will indicate what is in the mind of the Government regarding this railway. The people of South Australia are getting tired of the inaction of the Federal Government in regard to this matter. They are becoming very restless. Last week a meeting of the Northern Territory League was held in Adelaide in order to consider what steps should be taken to force the hands of the Government in the matter. That league has been working for many years in the interests of the construction of the north-south railway, and there is no doubt that very shortly the people of South Australia will have something to say to their repre sentatives in this Parliament if the railway is not constructed in accordance with the promise given to them. Nothing in the way of finance stands in the way of building the line. The Government is willing to find £3,500,000 for building a railway between Brisbane and Grafton, and another £4,000,000 or £5,000,000 for a line between Hay and Port Augusta. Yet, although there is an agreement in black and white on the records of this Parliament to build the north-south railway, that agreement is ignored from year to year. It is quite time the Government realized their responsibility and did something to buildthis line so that the charge of neglecting to carry out a promise may no longer be justifiably laid against them. The expenditure of large sums of money every year to meet the deficit on the; working of the Port AugustaOodnadatta railway would be avoided to a considerable extent if that line were extended to the Macdonnell ranges. The pastoral industry in the neighbourhood of those ranges would go ahead by leaps and bounds, and the tremendous area of mineral country which is known to exist would have a chance of developing. Development is now impossible with freight at £8 and £10 a ton. It is impossible for the people who live in that district to secure material for the building of homes when they are obliged to pay such heavy freights for the transport of that material on the backs of camels. Roads are all very well in their way, but, in comparison with railways, they are of very little use for the conveyance of heavy goods. I hope that the Government will inform the committee of its intention. As a representative of South Australia, and as one who has been interested in the Northern Territory ever since I have been in this Parliament, I should like to tell the people of the state who are asking what the Government propose to do in connexion with this line that the Government realizes its responsibility in this regard and intends to build this line at a very early date.
– I call attention to the fact that in 1923-4 we expended £134,065 on the Port Augusta-Oodnadatta railway, and this year it is proposed to expend £235, 900 on thatrailway, an increase of £101,835.
– The explanation is that in the past the line has been controlled by the South Australian Railway Commissioners, and the Commonwealth has simply placed an amount on the Estimates to cover the loss on the working of the line. Now that the Commonwealth is taking control of the line, the Estimates will show, not only the loss, but also the cost of running the line, which was previously paid by the South Australian Government and not met by the revenue earned. Against the increased expenditure, of course, the revenue earned must now be set off. The actual loss should not show any increase over previous years.
– I do not suppose that the earnings of the line amount to very much. It seems to me that the Commonwealth will find itself committed to a greater expenditure than in previous years if the line is to be extended as Senator Newland has suggested. The haulage will be greater and the maintenance charges will be greater. It is time the Government did something to prevent this constantly recurring item of expenditure.
– When the time is ripe and the facts are ascertained the Government intend to commence in earnest the construction of the north-south railway, but I do not agree with Senator Newland that there is no need for further inquiries. Before the Commonwealth is committed to the expenditure which will be necessitated by the construction of this railway we ought to be quite sure that we are proceeding on the best route. Because a section of railway exists, which Senator Newland says ends in the worst part of South Australia, we should not be tied up to that route if a better and more payable route can be secured. Not onlydoes the Port Augusta-Oodnadatta railway end in some of the worst country in. South Australia, it also runs through absolutely the worst piece of country in South Australia. If the whole state had been searched to find a particularly bad piece of country through which to take a railway, a worse piece than this could not have been found. There are two great salt lakes on either side of the line, and they cover, so I am informed, 3,000 square miles. For any Government to say, “ We shall extend that railway without considering whether we can find a better route through better country,” would be an act of madness, and certainly not in the interests of South Australia or the Commonwealth.
– The Hughes Government, of which the honorable senator was a member, promised to continue the railway to Alice Springs.
– The present Government is of opinion that before Australia is definitely committed to the dog-leg route followed by the existing line it should consider whether there is not a better proposition and a more direct route, with country on either side capable of supporting a railway. To that end the Government has been in communication with the Government of South Australia. Mr. Stewart, the ex-Minister for Works and Railways, conducted the negotiations on behalf of the Commonwealth, and when he resigned I was charged by the Government to carrythem on. I am pleased to say that Mr. Gunn, the Premier of South Australia, and I have drafted an agreement which is now before the Federal Cabinet for consideration. Before Parliament rises I hope that the Prime Minister will be able to announce the attitude of the Cabinet towards that agreement.
– That is satisfactory.
– When speaking previously I referred to the fact that a party of experts who know the country and its capabilities, and who are familiar with the interior of Australia, has just completed a tour from a point on the east-west railway between Kingoonya and Tarcoola to Alice Springs. That party’s report will be made public when the Prime Minister makes his statement. The agreement to which I have referred, not only covers the north-south railway, but also clears up definitely all outstanding railway matters in which the Commonwealth and South Australia Governments are concerned. When the Prime Minister makes his statement he will show that a much more economical and better proposition has been put up in the interests of the north-south line and the Port AugustaOodnadatta line than has hitherto been brought forward. The people of South Australia and the people of Australia will be satisfied that this question has been grappled with, and I believe that the proposition which the Government will put forward willmeet with general acceptance.
– I was amused this afternoon to near Senator Pearce give particulars of a tour taken by certain gentlemen of the country to the west of the Oodnadatta railway down to a point on the east-west line between Tarcoola and Kingoonya. It was a clear indication that it was not intended to continue the existing line north to Alice Springs. I have a clear recollection of the strenuous efforts made here not long ago to construct the northsouth railway on a circuitous route, completely ignoring the line now running to Oodnadatta. I quite agree with the action of the Government in postponing action while there is bo much uncertainty existing as to the nature of the country throughwhich this proposed line would run, if it connected with the present terminus at Oodnadatta. Senator Newland has told us to-night that the torminus at Oodnadatta is the centre of about 200 miles of what he called a desert.
– There is no desert in that part of Australia.
-If I misunderstood Senator Newland I am sorry. I have no desire to misrepresent him, but he gave me the impression that the present terminus of the line to Oodnadatta was in most inhospitable country.
– I said that it is theworst part of Australia.
– Apparently for a further distance of 200 miles the country is pretty bad. We were informed to-day by the delegation that recently travelled through the Territory that very excellent country was met with to the westward of that area. I gather from those remarks that the fate of the proposed extension from Oodnadatta is in the balance, even if that route is not completely doomed. I think the Commonwealth is acting rightly in finding out what is the best route.I doubt very much whether it has yet discovered the best route. The Commonwealth railways at present are not payable propositions. During the last quarter the East-West railway showed asmall credit balance above working expenses. The interest that has to be found annually was not, of course, taken into account. The line from Darwin south loses a substantial amount annually. I am not at all satisfied of the accuracy of the deduction made by Senator Newland, that if the line is extended from Oodnadatta to the present terminus of the line that extends south from Darwin, the loss on the latter will be minimized. On the contrary, I think that it will be substantially increased.
-That extension would pass through good country.
– The mere losing of a few thousand pounds a year upon an extension of that kind need not greatly concern the Commonwealth. The reports of the RailwayCommissioners of New South Wales show that many country lines are run at a substantial loss, which, as usual, has to be made good by those who live in and near the cities.
SenatorReid. - New South Wales is not singular in that respect. Every state has a similar experience.
– I should like to see a line constructed from Darwin round the coast towards Gerald ton. That is the best way I can conceive of bringing within the reach of civilization large areas of country. I congratulate the Government uponits determination to postpone the construction of the proposed north-south line until it is satisfied that it has found the best route available.
Senate adjourned at 10.20 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 18 September 1924, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1924/19240918_senate_9_109/>.