9th Parliament · 3rd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Will the Leader of the Government in the Senate say why Sir Robert Garran, the SolicitorGeneral, is visiting Sydney; whether it is true, as stated in the press, that he is carrying with him summonses to deliver to certain individuals; or whether it is true, as not stated in the press, that the Government finds it difficult to secure the appointment of a board that will be certain to convict those for whom summonses are intended?
– I do not propose to answer the honorable senator’s questions, supposititious or hypothetical, except to say that the Government will make a statement to both Houses at the proper time.
– Does not the right honorable gentleman think that the public should know what is happening?
– The public will know.
– - Surely the time is now ripe to let the public- know. There is no room for secrecy in such matters
– Is that why the door is locked when the honorable senator’s party is holding a meeting ?
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Works and Railways,upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow: -
Bill read a third time.
Motion (by Senator Findley) agreed to -
That the report from the Printing Committee presented to the Senate on 26th August, 1025, be adopted. commonwealth: bank (rural credits) bill.
Bill received from Blouse of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Pearce) read a first time.
SenatorWILSON (South AustraliaMinister for Markets and Migration)
That the bill be now read a second time.
This is a small amending bill, which it has been found necessary to pass because the administration of the Distillation Act 1901 has shown that certain amendments are required. Section 40 of the act provides -
No entry authorizing the removal of spirits shall be passed in respect of spirits of a lower strength than 25 per centum under proof, nor in respect of a smaller quantity than 10 gallons.
Section 76 of the Act provides that -
No person shall sell spirits of a lower strength than 25 degrees under proof.
That section was repealed by an amending act passed in 1918, and section 40, which I have already quoted, should have been amended at the same time to conform to the action Parliament then took. The State Governments, under their own food and drugs acts, provide various strengths at which spirit can be sold, and the Commonwealth Government cannot interfere with that legislation. In New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania, brandy and whisky is fixed at 25 per cent, under proof, and in South Australia 35 per cent, under proof. The amendment is a small but necessary one, and I trust the bill will have the support of the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Needham) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 26th August (vide page 1675), on motion by Senator
That the bill be now read a second time.
. -I understand the proposal embodied in the bill is to give the Government authority to increase the salary of the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner from £2,000 to £3,000 per annum, and that the increased salary need not . necessarily be paid to the present occupier of the position. Although I have known the present commissioner for some time, and have always found him capable, considerate and courteous, I am not able to state whether he is entitled to receive the higher remuneration, providedfor in the bill. The activities of the Commonwealth Railway Department must necessarily extend as Australian development proceeds. The Commonwealth Government is at present controlling the transAustralian railway between Port Augusta and Kalgoorlie and is now engaged in the construction of the north-south line from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek. It was stated by the Minister (Senator Wilson) that the present commissioner is also performing the duties of engineer-in-chief. That is a policy with which I do not agree.
– Most of the commissioners are engineers.
– They are ex officio heads of their engineering departments.
– That may be so. A railways commissioner should possess extensive commercial knowledge, as well as organizing ability . I do not think it is altogether an economic policy to combine the positions of commissioner and engineer-in-chief, and 1 would not be opposed to- the appointment of an engineer-in-chief independent altogether of the commissioner. Whilst I recognize that we shall have to pay higher salaries to some of our executive officers in the Railway Department, .we must not forget the splendid services rendered by others in the department, particularly those in the lower grades, who sometimes have to perform their duties under very trying conditions.
– Is the honorable senator in favour of their rates being increased on the same basis ?
– When the agreement arrived ‘at between the depart-, ment and the representatives of the men expires, more generous consideration should be afforded those who are isolated from their fellow men, and who are working under severe climatic conditions. The loneliness of the lives of some of these men warrants their receiving a higher remuneration, and an improvement in their conditions .of living. Whilst I am offering no personal objection to an increase in the salary to be paid to the commissioner, I wish to utter a word on behalf of those who are really responsible for maintaining the services.’ I refer to the engine-drivers, firemen, cleaners, and all the other employees on the east-west line.
– I remind the honorable senator that it has been ruled over and over again in the Senate that” the debate on an amending bill must be confined to the particular sections of the act which the bill proposes to amend. The measure now before the Senate seeks to make one short amendment in the Commonwealth Railways Act, and the honorable senator must confine his remarks to the subject of the proposed amendment. I have already allowed him to make extended references, by way of illustration, to other railway matters.
– I realize, Mr. President, that I was transgressing previous rulings in this Chamber, and I shall desist. I have no objection to the bill. In view of the magnitude of our railway undertakings it is desirable that we should get the very best man available for the position of railways commissioner, and to do this we must be prepared to pay a substantial salary.
– I listened very carefully to the speech of the Minister (Senator Wilson), in moving, the second reading of this measure. To some of his statements there can be no objection. We all know the length of the east-west railway line, the Queanbeyan line, the value of the various railway properties, also the annual loss incurred in their working, and we are not unfamiliar with the magnitude of the Commonwealth railway undertakings. I have no objection to the proposal to increase the salary of the Railways Commissioner (Mr. Bell) by £1,000. but I should like to take advantage of this opportunity to direct attention to what I consider a very grave dereliction of duty on the part of that official. It will be remembered that some time ago the Commonwealth joined with the states of New South Wales and Queensland in an agreement to construct what was then regarded as the northern section of a uniform gauge railway to connect the various capital cities of the Commonwealth. I refer, of course, to the Grafton-South Brisbane railway. I understand that Mr. Bell is chairman of the Railway Council, and that it is now proposed to increase his salary because railway works in contemplation will throw a greater responsibility upon his shoulders. One would think that a man of Mr. Bell’s experience would not countenance the construction of a single line of rails connecting South Brisbane and Grafton, because eventually when a double track is laid there will have to be considerable and costly alterations to tunnels and other sections of the permanent way.
– Order! The honorable senator is now ‘discussing a matter that has already been, dealt with by the Senate, and he must know .that a question cau.ia.ot be revised in the session in which it has been dealt with. I ask him to respect my ruling.
– I have no wish to transgress your ruling, Mr. President. At the same time, I should like to say that when the Senate dealt with that proposal
– Order ! The honorable senator must confine his remarks to the bill
– The salary paid to the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner at that time was £2,000 a year. Since then it has been decided to increase it by £1,000.
– That is not so. The matter is now before the Senate for discussion., .and again I ‘ask the honorable senator to confine his remarks strictly to the bill.
– At all events, Cabinet has decided that the salary of the Railways Commissioner shall be increased by £1,000 a year, and you, Mr.. President, know very well that when Cabinet decides a matter it is about 100 to 1 that its decision will be accepted by Parliament.
– New South “Wales and Queensland, not the Commonwealth, had the biggest say in the settlement of the uniform gauge problem.
– -That matter is no concern of .the Senate at the present time. It has always “been ruled that a subject once .decided by the Senate may not be revived in the .same -session. Therefore, the question referred to may not be discussed on .this bill.
– -1 can see, Mr. President, that the enforcement of your ruling will substantially curtail my remarks. So far as I am able to gather, although I have not seen a statement to that effect, Mr. Bell favours the 3-f t. ‘6-in. gauge, which has been decided upon for certain proposed railways in the Northern Territory. Therefore, I take advantage of this opportunity to express amy en tire disapproval of that decision. I hope that no farther construction will be “undertaken there except on the uniform gauge of 4 ft. in.
– Mr. Bdi is a Queenslander, I believe.
– I have no idea which ‘State Mr. Bell comes from. We all know that the Queensland and “Western Australian railway lines are on the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge, whereas in New South “Wales the gauge is 4 ft. 8^ in., and in South Australia and Victoria 5 ft. 3 in. * The decision in favour of a 4-ft. S½-in. gauge for the Commonwealth was arrived at after innumerable discussions and careful investigation. Therefore^ I consider this an opportune time to emphasize the desirability of completely abandoning proposals for the construction of railway lines in the Northern Territory on the 3- ft. 6-in. gauge. The lime from Queanbeyan to Canberra was constructed on the 4- ft. 8½-in. gauge.
– It could not be constructed on any other gauge.
– There was nothing to prevent the adoption of a narrower gauge. If, at that time, the same erratic policy had been pursued that has been adopted since, we should probably have had a 3-ft. 6-in. or even a 2-ft. 6-in. gauge. We now have the opportunity to tell the commissioner what are our views. We do not object to the salary that he is receiving. I think that, for a man who has charge of the many millions ‘that have already been invested in the Com.monwealth Railways, and who will be responsible for a very considerable expenditure in putting down new lines in the future, £3,000 a year is a very paltry salary-. ‘Taking a long distance view of the situation, and a broad outlook of the position, it is my belief that it would be a short-sighted policy bo construct any railway om less than a 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge.
– The honorable senator has made an extended reference to ‘that matter. I ask ‘him now to come back to the bill.
– I have no objection to the salary that it is proposed to pay to the Commissioner, but I hope that the same broad spirit will be evidenced Later when we come to deal with the British .seamen, who are expected to be ;satisfied with a wage of £8 a month.
– Order ! The honorable senator . must know that that matter is not in any_ way connected with the biE.
– Can I not refer to it by way of illustration ?
– The honorable senator cannot.
– I thought that I should be perfectly in order in doing so. I have no objection to this office carrying a salary of ?3,000 per annum, nor to the present occupant being paid that amount immediately.
– The whole-hearted support that the bill lias received must be gratifying to the Minister in charge of it. The two speakers who preceded me must have left upon the minds of honorable senators the impression that they intend to support it in a spirited fashion. My only objection to the proposed ‘salary is that in certain circumstances it may be altogether inadequate. As the Minister rightly stated, the bill is ibo be considered quite apart horn the merits ?ir demerits of the present occupant of the office. It must be remembered, however, that that gentleman accepted the position under very ‘definite conditions. It lay with .kim to say whether the remuneration proposed was adequate or inadequate. But it must also be remembered that he has since had put upon him a large number of additional important duties and responsibilities. It is only right that the Government and the Parliament should recognize the changed circumstances, and be prepared to provide an adequate remuneration The Commonwealth Commissioner may be called upon to meet in conference, gentlemen who hold corresponding positions under the Governments of the states, to discuss matters of great importance relating not only to the Commonwealth railway system, but also to the queston of transport facilities throughout Australia. It is quite clear that an anomalous position may be created, as, on account of Ms occupying the senior position, he may have to preside over gatherings of men some of whom receive a salary two and a half times as great as his, and by reason of that fact he may7 not find himself able to advance his opinions as forcefully as he would desire. On that ground alone there is every warrant for raising his salary to a figure approximating the value of the work he is called upon to undertake. There is another aspect of the matter which has been touched upon by honorable senators who have already spoken. It is the responsibility of giving advice upon the many railway projects that will have to be undertaken in the Commonwealth in the immediate future. Until recently, at all events, the railway systems of Australia have been disjointed and unconnected. It is quite true that there is one linking up of .the different systems, but that does not confer the maximum benefit upon the people of the Commonwealth. Those systems will have bo be connected at other points before that maximum advantage can be derived, and whatever their nature it will be necessary for the Commonwealth to have the best professional advice that is .procurable. To obtain that advice the payment must be commensurate with its value. If the remuneration is on a comparatively low scale the value of the services obtained will be correspondingly slight. We have frequently seen instances of men leaving government services to accept higher remuneration outside from persons who appraise them at a higher value. Those who have been prepared to give a greater amount to obtain the benefit of those services have been none other than the capitalists, who are so frequently declaimed against, and who are said to sweat and grind the faces of the poor. They are always anxious to obtain the services of talented men, and to do so they are prepared to pay a much higher sum than the people, through their ;governments, are willing to give. Unless we pay for brains we shall never get them; and rightly so, too, because brains are a very rare commodity in the market. In the abstract I regard a salary of ?3,000 a year as outrageous, especially having regard to the doctrine that is so often enunciated by gentlemen like Senator Hannan. But why do we pay it? For the simple reason that we cannot get the best advice available unless we do so. I should like the principle that honorable senators opposite are now supporting to be applied generally. If it is a good thing to pay according to ability for professional services, it ought also to te a good thing to do it for other services. When a man in the lower ranks of life proves by his service that he is worth more than others who are doing similar work, he ought to be paid accordingly. I suggest to Senator Hannan and to other honorable gentlemen opposite who advocate his views that they should approve of the general application of this principle. Instead of doing that, they are attempting to reduce all the workers to the level of the most inefficient man among them. Men are encouraged to be- satisfied with mediocrity instead of with nothing less than excellence. Every man should be paid in accordance with his ability.. Why should all be reduced to a dull, dead monotonous level?
– Does the. honorable senator believe in an irreducible minimum?
– If a man has the capacity to earn £2 or £3 a day, he should be permitted to do so. Honorable senators opposite agree with that principle in certain cases, but disagree with it in others. I urge them to help all the workers to go forward instead of permitting some to go forward and obliging others to go backward. We propose to pay £3,000 per annum to the Comrnissioner of the Commonwealth Railways, because we believe that that is the market value of his services. We should pay all workers according to the market value of their service. We would not think of paying £3,000 a year to Senator McHugh ro manage our railways, for, although he may be the finest possible embodiment of political wisdom and sagacity, he is not a railway expert. Honorable senators opposite seek to fix the rate of payment in some” walks of life without having any regard whatever to the efficiency of the service rendered.
– Does the honorable senator believe in an irreducible minimum?
– I believe in applying the principle of this bill to all workers, and in paying for brains. The present Commissioner of the Commonwealth Railways should receive more adequate payment for the arduous duties which . he is called upon to perform. I should like to take the opportunity to express my appreciation of the manner in which he is doing his work. It is because he is doing so well that we propose to pay him a higher salary. He came to. us with very high credentials from a state service. He has been tried and tested over a long period, and he has come out of the crucible with credit. I hope that this bill will be the forerunner of others which will provide for the. application of the same principle generally. If that is done, the people of Australia will be gratified.
– I also support the bill. I congratulate Senator Lynch on his lively imagination, but I have yet to learn that honorable senators on this side of the chamber have ever used their power to try to pull down the workers and lower their standards of living. The Labour party hasalways been prepared to pay its administrators according to their ability and according to the responsibility of their work. I do not think it is a fair thing, however, to compare the responsibilities of the Commissioner of the Commonwealth Railways with those of the commissioners of the various state railways. One has only to consider for a moment how different are the circumstances of the state commissioners and the Commonwealth Commissioner to realize that such a comparisonis unfair. The Commonwealth Commissioner has nothing like the revenue, nor the number of men in his employ, that the state commissioners have. He has nothing like the same network of railways to control. At the same time I take no exception to the payment of £3,000 a year to him, although £2,000 a year cannot be said to be on the breadandbutter line. Senator Lynch argued that because honorable senators on this side of the chamber are supporting this bill they ought to support the general application of the piece-work principle. I am totally opposed to piece-work, and I am consistent in my opinion. I can well remember that, not very many years ago, Senator Lynch was just as bitterly opposed to piece-work as I am. He knows perfectly well that we do not oppose it simply to prevent men from earning more money. We all know that it is done in the interests of the men themselves. It has the effect of regulating to a certain extent certain men employed in certain industries. It is only those who have worked in industries where this obnoxious system prevails that realize how, ultimately, it is not for the benefit of the men engaged in those callings. Any . government, state or federal, ought to be prepared to pay the highest possible salaries to those who devote their brains to the management of the great state-owned enterprises of which, in proportion to its population, Australia has probably more than has any other country.
– Hence these tears !
– The Government ought to be prepared to pay the highest possible fees for the services rendered by those who are employed to control these enterprises. For that reason, I want to see the Commonwealth Shipping Line become a great success; I want to see the shipping of Australia controlled by the Commonwealth, and I want to see other great industries nationalized and controlled by the people for the people. But to ensure success we must pay well for the best brains to control them.
– Would the honorable senator take away the shipping from the control of Mr. Walsh?
– Shipping in, Australia is controlled by private enterprise.
– Shipping has nothing whatever to do with this bill, and I ask Senator Lynch not to introduce the subject.
– It is the business of those honorable senators who declare that affairs in Australia are in the control of any individual to> see that the Government controls the country.
– What about the honorable senator’s support?
– My support will be given so long as justice is meted out to every one, but not if the Government uses its power to crush any body of working men. I support the proposal to pay the Commissioner of Railways £3,000 a year. If his responsibilities were greater I would, vote for a salary of £5,000. I shall always give my support to any proposal which will place the Government in the position of being able to get the best brains in the community for the control of great national enterprises.
– I also desire to support the bill, because I am satisfied that we must pay high salaries to get the best brains procurable for the control of a big business such as a railway system. In comparison with the £5,000 paid to the Commissioner of Railways in South Australia, the proposed salary of £3,000 for the Commonwealth Commissioner of Railways looks small. Taking into consideration the extent of railway construction likely to be undertaken by the Commonwealth, there may soon be a great deal more work for the Commissioner and his staff to do. When Senator Hannan was speaking of Governmentcontrolled concerns, Senator Kingsmill remarked, “ Hence these tears.” In the State of Victoria the Government controls the railways, water supply, tramways, electric lighting, and coal mines. No other state in the Commonwealth has so many Government-owned enterprises. It is pleasing to note that these stateowned enterprises have evidently come to stay in Australia, and I take the view that we should secure the very best brains ro control them, which, of course, means that we must pay well for them.
– I should like to explain to Senator Lynch what I meant by my reference to the irreducible minimum. Labour declares that no man in Australia shall be employed under what it says is the irreducible minimum, as laid down by the Arbitration Court. I am sorry to’ say that the present Federal Government is employing labourers in the Post and Telegraph Department, in South Australia, at 7d. a day under the declared living wage of the state.
– Is the living wage higher in South Australia than in other states ?
– In South Australia what is known as the Board of Industry, presided over by Professor Jethro Brown, declares the wage upon which a man who has a wife and three children can live in South Australia. This board has declared that 14s. 3d. a day is the irreducible minimum. Men can earn more. As honorable senators are well aware, in almost every industry in Australia many men, who are considered to be worth more, are paid more than the minimum laid down by the court. For instance, I reckon that I am worth £1,500 a year, and that Senator Lynch is not worth more than £200 a year.
– (Senator the Hon. T. Gaven). - The honorable senator has been speaking for three minutes, and has not said a word on the subject-matt eT of the bill.
– One cannot say much in three minutes. Mr. Gladstone used to take 26 minutes to get a proper 8 tart.
– I ask the honorable senator, now, to make bis remarks’ relevant to the bill.
– My remarks will be relevant to the raising of some one’s salary. I agree with Senator Hannan that Australia has been deprived of the services of many men, whose brains would have been- of great value to it, because we did not pay them sufficient salaries. A gentleman who- was’ formerly employed by the South Australian Government as Trade Commissioner, at a salary of ?700 a year, waa offered ?5,000 by people in the Argentine, and, naturally, he accepted the offer. Me is a meat expert. We want experts in Australia. I hope that Mr. Bel will de* the right thing. I have nothings against him, except that I do not like his policy of building 3-ft.. 64a. railways. I think we ought to have a national gauge. The Commonwealth Parliament is bigger than a state Parliament, and should have a national policy.
– How many gauges; are there in South Australia ?
– We have a 5-ffc. 3 - in. gauge and a 3-ft. 6-in. gauge tinder the control of the South Australian Commissioner of Railways. There is also a 4- ffc. 8?.in. line between Port Augustaand the Western Australian border under the control of the Commonwealth. It is in the interests of the Commonwealth to have a standard gauge, and I hope the Queensland senators- will see the wisdom of adopting a national policy in that respect. I hope that, notwithstanding; the fact that the Queensland lines are all 3-ft. 6-in., when the. north-south railway ia being built,, they will realize that it is better to convert their lines to the 4-ft. 8ia. gauge than for the Commonwealth to adopt the 3-ft.. 6-in. gauge, simply to suit Queensland’s; requirements.
Senate* Thompson. - The cost of such, a conversion would be enormous.
– It is noi the cost which counts, with honorable senators from that state. If hey are not prepared! t? consider a proposal to convert the Queensland railways to the 4-ft. 8^-in.. gauge, why are they supporting a proposal to build a. line of that gauge from Port Augustato Adelaide-, with the further prospect of connecting Port Augusta with the New South Wales system ? Why did they support, the building of the Grafton to South Brisbane railway on the 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge *I My argument is unanswerable. The 4-ft. 8.-in. gauge is the standard to be accepted for Australia, and the people of Queensland will, eventually wake up. to the folly of building lines on the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge, because every additional thousand miles of 3r-ft. 6-in. gauge means a further tax on posterity. In any case, the cost of conversion would not hurt a. wealthy state like Queensland.
– The honorable senator should bear in- mind the fact that Queensland1 has 7,000 miles of railways.
– WHat is the Western Australian gauge!
– It is 3 ft. 6 in., but the people of Western Australia are prepared to make it 4 ft. 8$ in.
– Are not the principal lines in South Australia constructed on the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge?
– There is an extensive mileage of that gauge, but the main lines, such as those from Adelaide to the Victorian border, and from Adelaide to Terowie, are on the- 5-ft. 3-in. gauge. At present some of the 3-ft. 6-in gauge lines are being converted to the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge, because it is recognized that a better service can be given on the broader gauge. It is hoped, however, that eventually the 3-ft. 6-in. and 5-f.t. 3-in. gauges will be converted to the standard gauge adopted by the Commonwealth. When constructing railways the Commonwealth Government should not respond to state pressure in the matter of gauges.
– There is no reference in this bill to railway gauges, to which the honorable senator has already made extended reference. I ask him to discuss the bill.
– Certain other honorable senators were permitted to refer at some length to railway gauges.
– I have also allowed the honorable senator to make extended reference to them.
– I have no objection to the officers’ salaries being increased, provided they are capable of carrying out the duties which they perform.
– - Under this bill, which the honorable senator is supporting, the commissioner will become a capitalist in a. few years.
– Senator Lynch Baa from time to time spoken of bis journeys on foot through Queensland, when he was without money; but the honorable senator is now a capitalist. I do not like men who change their opinions. Senator Lynch, with his sunny disposition-
– There is no reference in this bill to the disposition of Senator Lynch.
– In the remarks of the honorable senator which I have attempted to follow, he endeavoured to denounce the party to which I have the honour to belong, and of which he was once a. member. The’ honorable senator spoke, in favour of those occupying the higher positions of service-, and I am protecting the interests of those who are in the position Senator Lynch occupied when he was walking through Queensland . Senator Reid was- also once a Labour supporter, but is now a capitalist, and is opposed to the ordinary worker. The Government which these honorable senators support was paying South Australian workers 13’s. 8d. when they were entitled to 14s. 8d. per day.
– I ask the honorable senator to discuss the bill.
– Senator Lynch has. had little to- do with improving the conditions of the worker. I remember a speech the honorable senator made in Adelaide some years ago-
– I again ask the honorable senator to- come back to the bill. He is too discursive. The measure involves only one principle, and I ask him to confine bis remarks to it.
– I trust that when the Railways Commissioner receives the higher remuneration which it is proposed to pay him, he will view the question of railway gauges from a broader standpoint, ‘and favour the construction of’ lines on the 4-ft, 81/2-in. gauge rather than on the 3 ft. 6 in. Some honorable senators have suggested that the 3-ft. 6-in gauge should be the standard for Australia.
– No one has said anything of the kind.
– The standard gauge of 4 ft. 81/2 in. which has been recommended should be adopted for every railway tobe constructed by the Commonwealth. When a line is built from South Australia through the Northern Territory, I trust that the Government in power will favour its construction’ on the 4-ft.81/2in gauge.
Question resolved in- the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate.
In committee: Consideration resumed from 26th August (vide page 1680).
Clauses I and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3’ -
The agreement made between the Commonwealth, and the state and set out in the schedule to- this act is hereby ratified and confirmed.
– I regret that in drafting this bill the draftsman omitted to include a slight amendment which was made in the original agreement. Perhaps I may be permitted to explain the first amendment, which is somewhat technical. I move -
That after the word “ agreement,.” line 1, the words “ (in this act referred to as ‘the principal agreement ‘)”. be inserted.
This is one amendment which I have to ask the committee to make. The other is to insert new annexures in the form of two maps- in the schedule. Unfortunately, when the bill was being prepared, tha draftsmen inserted maps bearing the signatures of witnesses that did not appear on the original agreement. The agreement, in the first place, was signed by Mr. Fisher, as Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, and’ by Mr. W. A. Holman, as Premier of New South Wales, and was witnessed respectively by Messrs. M.L, Shepherd and E. B. Harkness. A copy of it was signed by Mr. Fisher and Mr. Holman, and witnessed respectively by Mr. E. A. Box and Mr. F. F. Clausen.
The alterations in the schedule are of a minor character. It is necessary that we should have the second agreement inserted as the second schedule to the bill. The purpose of my amendment is to indicate that the agreement referred to in the bill is the “ principal agreement.”
– It seems to me that, in view of the numerous amendments proposed, it would have been better if the Minister; had withdrawn the bill, and had it re-drafted. However, if he can assure the committee that the amendments will in no way alter the principle of the measure there will be no objection.
– The second amendment only alters, in a minor degree, the principal agreement.
– Can the Minister say if a similar measure is being put through the New South Wales Parliament ?
– Will amendments similar to those now before the committee be inserted in the New South Wales measure?
– I do not . think the amendments have been drafted yet. The New South Wales Government is waiting for us, and will get a copy of this measure.
– Then, I presume that the New South Wales bill will be a facsimile of the one as passed by the committee.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Senator Pearce) agreed to -
That before the word “ schedule,” line 3, the word “first” be inserted, and that the following new sub-clause be added : - “ (2) The agreement made between the Commonwealth and the state and set out in the second schedule to this act is hereby ratified and confirmed.”
Honorable senators may experience some difficulty in ascertaining the difference between the agreements, but if they will look at the first clause of the second schedule they will see the words “ plus 41/4 acres.” This refers to the area of reclaimed land. It is to be construed as “ including 41/4 acres.” In the second clause, “ 153/4 acres “ is to be construed as “ 161/4 acres.” In other words, under the agreement we had the right to reclaim 161/4 acres, whereas the principal agreement indicated that we had the right to reclaim only 153/4 acres. In the third clause, which deals with the fee-simple of bed of harbour, we have the right to reclaim 63/4 acres instead of61/4 acres.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 4 consequentially amended and agreed to.
Amendment (by Senator Pearce) agreed to -
That the word “First” be inserted -before the word “Schedule”.
.- I move-
That the words in Annexure “ A “, “ This is the Plan marked ‘ A ‘ referred to in the annexed agreement dated the 26th day of October 1915, made between the Hon. William Arthur Holman, and the Right Hon. Andrew Fisher. (Sgd.) E. A. Box (Sgd.) Andrew Fisher. (Sgd.)F. F. Clausen (Sgd.) W. A. Holman Commonwealth Crown Solicitor’s Office “, he left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words - “ This is the plan marked ‘ A ‘ referred to in the annexed agreement dated the 26th day of October 3915, made between the Honorable William Arthur Holman and the Eight Honorable Andrew Fisher.
Witness : (Signed) M. L. Shepherd (Initialled) A. F. (Signed) E. B. Harkness (Signed) W. A. Holman.”
This will bring the annexure into conformity with the original agreement.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Senator Pearce) agreed to -
That the words in Annexure “ B “, “ This is the plan marked ‘ B ‘ referred to in the annexed agreement dated the 26th day of October 1915, made between the Honorable William Arthur Holman and the Bight Honorable Andrew Fisher.
Witness : (signed) E. A. Box (signed) Andrew Fisher (signed) F. F. Clausen (signed) W. A. Holman (Commonwealth Crown Solicitor’s Office)”, be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words : - “ This is the plan marked ‘ B ‘ referred to in the annexed agreement dated the 26th day of October 1915 made between the Honorable William Arthur Holman and the Bight Honorable Andrew Fisher.
Witness : (Initialled) M. L. S. (Initialled) A. F. (Signed) E. B. Harkness (Signed) W. A. Holman “
The Schedule, as amended, agreed to.
– I move-
That the following new schedule be added : - “ The Second Schedule.
This agreement made the twelfth day of September One thousand nine hundred and twenty-four between the Honorable Sir George WarburtonFuller the Premier of the State of New South Wales for and on behalf of the Government of the said State of the one part and the Honorable Stanley Melbourne Bruce, P.C., M.C., the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Australia for and on behalf of the Government of the said Commonwealth of the other part Whereas this Agreement is supplemental to an Agreement under seal (hereinafter called ‘ the Principal Agreement ‘) made the twenty-sixth day of October One thousand nine hundred and fifteen between the Honorable William Arthur Holman for and on behalf of the Government of the State of New South Wales of the one part and the Bight Honorable Andrew Fisher for and on behalf of the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia of the other part and is intended to be annexed thereto
And whereas as certain errors have been discovered in certain of the annexures to the Principal Agreement and for the purpose of correcting the same the parties hereto desire to vary, the Principal Agreement* in manner hereinafter appearing
Now This Agreement Witnesseth -
In witness whereof the parties hereto have hereunto set their hands and seals the day and year first above written.
Signed sealed and delivered by the said The Honorable Sir George Warburton Fuller in the presence of - (l.s.) (Signed) George W. Fuller. (Signed) F. C. G. Tremlett.
Signed sealed and delivered by the said The Honorable Stanley Melbourne Bruce, P.C., M.C.,’in the presence of - (l.s.) (Signed) S. M. Bruce. (Signed) F. Strahan.”
– What is the reason for the addition of the second schedule?
– In annexure “ C “ to the first schedule the words “ plus four and a quarter acres “ are used instead of “ including four and a quarter acres”; the words “fifteen and threequarter acres “ instead of “ sixteen and a half acres” are used; and the words “ six and a quarter acres “ instead of “ six and three-quarter acres “ appear. That is practically the only difference. The other alterations are of a minor nature, and were found to be necessary as the result of subsequent negotiations.
Amendment agreed to.
Title agreed to.”
Bill reported with amendments.
Debate resumed from 26th August (vide page 1687), on motion by Senator Pearce -
That the Estimates and budget-papers be printed.
.- I rise with a good deal of pleasure to speak to this motion. I have perused the budget speech fairly carefully, and have had a cursory glance through the budgetpapers and Estimates. One cannot fail to be impressed by the great care that has (evidently been exercised in the preparation of these valuable papers, which contain the whole of the information that honorable .senators should have. In my opinion, the preparation of the speech reflects very great credit upon the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page). As a rule a budget speech is a very uninteresting document. The present Treasurer, however, evidently laid himself out to prepare his speech in such a way that one would be able to grasp the details that appear in the papers, and gain a fair indication of the work of the Government during the past year. It is gratifying to read of the successful results of the Government’s operations. It is always satisfactory to learn that a surplus is disclosed in the accounts at the end of a financial year. Some persons who profess to take a very keen interest in the transactions of the ‘Commonwealth object to the accounts showing a surplus. I am very well aware, from experience, of the difficulty of estimating accurately the years’ revenue and expenditure. I was not at all surprised to find that, as a result of the operations of the Tariff Act, the revenue received through the Customs reached very great dimensions. The fact that there was an excess of revenue over the estimate of something like £4,000,000, enabling a surplus of £3,018,000 to be shown, .convinces me that the people of Australia have been unprecedently prosperous during the past year, and that their spending power was not in any way diminished.
– In spite of all their handicaps.
– That is so. One cannot help wondering what would have been the result of the year’s operations had trade and commerce been allowed to proceed smoothly instead of being frequently disturbed by industrial troubles. T believe that we should then have had a surplus of over £5,000,000.
– We do not want big surpluses.
– Why should we have a surplus?
– It has been an excellent result in this case, because we shall be able to relieve cases of distress and utilize considerable sums of money in directions that will be of advantage to. the Commonwealth. That would not have been possible had a surplus not been obtained. I do not believe that any Treasurer should budget for a big surplus. In the past year, however, the causes that lead to a surplus being obtained were beyond the control of the Treasurer.
A pleasing feature of the speech is the reference to the proposal of the Government to increase to £1 a week the old-age and invalid pensions. Notwithstanding their criticism of the Government and ite supporters, honorable senators opposite must be convinced that it is doing all that it can to make better and happier the lot of those people who, for various reasons, are nob able to look after themselves.
– What has it done for the big man ? It intends to reduce his income tax to the extent of 12.£ per cent.
– The Government is calling upon the big man to contribute a very large proportion of the direct taxation of the ‘Commonwealth. I have no desire to bolster up the big man, but later on I shall quote figures that will probably enlighten the honorable ‘senator and induce him to refrain from asking similar questions in future. I feel sure that the addition to the old-age and invalid pension will be welcomed by those who participate, in it. The total sum thus involved will be about £787,000.
Another feature of the speech is the expectation that this year there will be an increase of £2,141,000 in the expenditure of the Commonwealth. We hear on all sides the assertion that the time has arrived for a diminution in the cost of government. There is a great deal ‘to be said in support of such a. desire. Many persons are appalled when they- learn the extent to which the expenditure of the Commonwealth .and the states has grown during the last ten years. If honorable senators will turn to page 5 of the Treasurer’s speech, however, they will find that the proposed additional expenditure is practically unavoidable. The bulk of it will go in interest on loans to the states, additional old-age and invalid pensions, interest and sinking fund on war loans, extra expenditure on defence, an increase in the per capita payments to the states brought about by larger populations, and war and repatriation services. - The net increase in the expenditure, alter making deductions on account of the discontinuance of the special Tasmanian grant and new works and buildings* will be £2,141,000. Unless honorable senators can point to any department in which a saving could be effected., it will be foolish for them to cavil at the proposed increase- in the. expenditure.
I read with interest the reference on page 8 to the royal commission that is investigating the financial position of Western Australia. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) has definitely promised that if the report of the commission proves that its appointment was justified, a similar inquiry will be made into the financial position of Tasmania. Personally, I can hardly agree with that attitude. Irrespective of whether the arrangements made for inquiring into the financial position of Western Australia prove to be satisfactory or not, Tasmania’s position should be investigated. Published statistics have made it patent to public men, for a long while, that the time is ripe for the Commonwealth to inquire fully into the position of any state, the finances of which are unsatisfactory.
– The Commonwealth cannot afford to have bankrupt states.
– That is so. I have said on other occasions that every state is an integral part of the Commonwealth.
– Of course, Tasmania is not bankrupt.
– If we are to assume responsibility for Tasmania’s financial position, we should have more control over it.
– It is only fair and reasonable that her financial position should be investigated.
– She should increase her taxation.
– Our people are paying more taxation than those of several of the other states.
– Not land taxation.
– Tremendous increases in taxation have been made within the last two years. The position now has become most burdensome.
– Queeusland is paying very heavy land taxes.
– It has been under the control of Labour Governments for a number of years. I believe that the Government will accede to our request to inquire into Tasmania’s position.
The reference in the budget speech to the work done by the Commonwealth Health Department during the last year leads, me to say, quite definitely, that no matter how much has been done in the past, there is a tremendous need for greatly increased activity in the future. I had the opportunity, lately, of attending two lectures in Melbourne,, which have indicated to me that certain diseases are playing havoc with our people. It is essential that something should be done to prevent the spread of venereal disease, which is undoubtedly Australia’s greatest menace. We can no longer look upon this as a state responsibility, for it is national in every sense of the word. I advise honorable senators to attend the series of. lectures to which I have referred. Urgent matters touching public health are dealt with in an interesting and informative way by competent lecturers, who are not cranks, but scientists.. We ought to. launch a big campaign against this terrible scourge. In the nature of things, the state governments cannot properly cover the ground. Different states may do very good work, but they cannot prevent sufferers going from one state to another. Effective action will entail heavy expenditure, but I have, no doubt that if the Government introduced a well-considered plan for combating the disease, it would be supported by honorable senators of all parties.
I come now to that part. of the budget speech which deals with business undertakings. The Treasurer pointed out that the expenditure from revenue last year in the Postmaster-General’s Department alone totalled £10,288,437, and he estimated that the expenditure for the ensuing year would be £10,616,435, an increase of £327,998. Although that seems a large increase, one has to bear in mind that with our growing population we must expand our departments. Last year’s expenditure from revenue in this department would have been very much greater had it not been for the new policy that the Government has adopted. The Treasurer said in this connexion-
Tlie increase would have been much greater but for the fact that the Government has now approved of charging to loan, a portion of the salaries and wages of .permanent employees who ure engaged upon capital construction.
In my opinion it is reasonable that a. proportion of . the wages of permanent employees who are engaged upon capital constructions should be debited to such work. Until a few years ago that was not done at all. Even in 1919-20 and 1920-1 it was done to only a limited extent. A continuation of the old policy would have been unfair to the taxpayers. I believe that so long as the raising of money for expenditure on capital work is reasonably safeguarded, and an adequate sinking fund provided, the present policy will meet with the unqualified approval of members of both Houses of Parliament.
I wish to direct attention to the magnificent work that is being done by the Postmaster-General’s Department in providing new trunk and other telephone lines, and in extending the existing services. The country owes a great deal, not only to the present PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Gibson), but also to his two predecessors, for the adoption of this policy. The Hon. A. Poynton was the first Postmaster-General to introduce a programme of any magnitude in this regard. His scheme was looked upon as being most progressive. Last year 47,000 miles of trunk and telephone wire were erected, and it is expected that 48,000 miles will be erected this year. We are a small community after all, and the Government and the department may well be proud if in two years they are able to erect 95,000 miles of trunk and telephone wires. The problem is being tackled effectively.
Part 3 of the budget speech refers to the territories under Commonwealth control. Recently we had a long debate on the Northern Territory, and I shall not have anything to say about it. I propose to make a few remarks upon the Mandated Territory of New Guinea, for which a grant of £10,000 is proposed. Some honorable senators may not realize the necessity for this. It is for the purpose of assisting the medical department there. It is the only amount that has ever been granted to the Territory.
– An amount of £12,000 was granted about two years ago for expenditure on health purposes.
– I took the trouble to examine the last report presented to the League of Nations on the administration of this Territory, and the only reference I can find there is to a grant of £10,000 for the Health Department. I have had the privilege of twice visiting this Territory, and I realize the need for this department.
– Some of the previous grant was used for the health of the natives.
– I am glad of that, but I can find no record of it. The total revenue of this Territory last year was £248,743.
– It should not be understood that only £10,000 was spent in the interests of the natives. A considerable proportion of the £248,743 was also spent in their interests.
– So far as I have been able to gather, that revenue was received from internal sources, apart from the Government grant of £10,000. The total expenditure of the administration during last year was £263,000. The year’s operations, therefore, ended in a deficit of £5,000, which must be considered to be very satisfactory. My two visits to the Territory convinced me that a very large sum of money will have to be spent by the health authorities there. The value of medical supplies issued from the dispensary last year was £6,718, which is considerably more than twothirds of the total amount voted for the Territory, and I gathered that there is great need for increasing the amount of the vote. The ravages of tuberculosis, frambosia, tropical ulcers, and other diseases common to tropical countries are such that the capacity of the native hospitals must be increased. The equipment in the hospitals needs standardizing, in order to deal effectively with these diseases. A start has been made by scientific investigations to ascertain their origin, but honorable senators will realize the difficulty, confronting the authorities in the Territory when I tell them that there are approximately 500,000 natives there, of whom a very large proportion pass through the hands of the medical authorities. The future of the Territory depends entirely on maintaining, if not increasing, the numbers of the natives there. Consequently, the healthier or the freer from disease we can make them the better it will be for the Commonwealth. Honorable senators can easily understand why I am so enthusiastic in advocating that the Commonwealth Government should not be behindhand in doing all it can to help the good work done by the Health Department in the Territory. Instances have been brought under my notice of cases which have been treated up to a certain point, and then dropped because of lack of funds. The consequence is that a proportion of the expenditure is more or less’ wasted. Success can be achieved only by continuity of effort until the diseases are practically “scotched.” Therefore, I trust that the vote will be considerably increased.
It is pleasing to learn from the budget speech that this year the income tax is to be reduced by 12A per cent. Many people posing as financial experts have been advocating, through the columns of the press, that the Federal Government should go out pf the sphere of direct taxation, and particularly that it should leave the field of income taxation to the states; but I have some figures to place before honorable senators which show the futility of such a suggestion at this juncture. Those who complain about the burden of the income tax upon the taxpayers of the Commonwealth overlook the fact that a few years ago we were embroiled in a world’s war, which necessitated the expenditure of enormous sums of borrowed money, that we have to find £20,574,000 this year to pay our interest and sinking fund contributions in respect of our war debt, and that the income tax does not yield one-half of this amount. When I hear any person growling about paying Federal income tax, I remind him that he has forgotten the promise which was made to the men who were asked to enlist, that the people of Australia would stand behind them to the last shilling. The contributions of the Commonwealth taxpayers in the shape of income tax cover only portion of the annual burden incurred by the war.
– Then why has the Government proposed a reduction of 12 per cent.’?
– Because the fin an.ces of the Commonwealth permit it.
– Quite so; but does not the honorable senator think that the tax should fall on the backs of those who are best able to bear it, and not on the backs of those who are least able to bear it?
– The budget papers indicate that income tax is paid by very few individuals. .
– They can afford to pay, and should be made to pay.
– If the honorable senator had his way they would be the only persons paying taxation either direct or indirect.
– In making that statement the honorable senator is absolutely wrong. I shall take, the opportunity of replying to it.
– The honorable senator should realize, as every one ought to, that our soldiers fought not for a section, but for the whole of the people of Australia. Every person in the Commonwealth is indebted to them. Consequently every individual in proportion to his ability should bear his share of the indebtedness caused by the war.
– What connexion has that with the proposed reduction of 12^ per cent, in the income tax?
– Last year Senator Hoare did not object to the raising of the exemption which relieved many thousands of people from the payment of income tax.
– What about those people who took their money out of the banks and invested it in war loans free of income tax?
– The honorable senator should know what every, public man ought to know - that the people who invested their money in Commonwealth loans free of income tax lent it at lj per cent, less interest than they could have obtained outside. They thus made a direct personal contribution to the war expenditure by accepting 4$ per cent, interest, when 5^ to 6 per cent, was the ruling rate outside.
– What about the freedom from payment of income tax?
– I have never previously heard so much ingratitude expressed by an honorable senator. We should be grateful to those people who brought their money willingly and freely to the aid of the Commonwealth in its time of need. The exemption from income tax did not represent to them more than i per cent. It is interesting to learn that the amount paid this year in interest on the war debt and towards the sinking fund is £20,574,000,” while the revenue from income tax-, which was imposed to enable the Commonwealth to meet its war obligations, is estimated to be £9,650,000. Honorable senators ought to be reminded of the fact that portion of our war expenditure was met out of revenue to the extent of £170,000,000- a wonderful feat for a community of five and a half millions of people; and the fact that in the last financial year the Commonwealth Government was able to meet its huge interest bill and wind up with a surplus is a record of which it ought to be proud, and with which Parliament ought to be pleased.
– Does the honorable senator think so ?
– I shall quote some figures to enlighten the honorable senator and, perhaps, prevent him from making statements in public which are incorrect.
– -They will not have that effect.
– I think they will. Senator Hoare is a very reasonable man. He is always open to -conviction. If he has said anything in the past not in accord with the facts, I am sure he will express his regret to his constituents for having unwittingly misled them. The latest figures available show that at the end of 1923 the number of taxpayers in Australia with an income of under £500 was 405,784, whereas those with incomes of over £500 numbered 58,514. The total number of income taxpayers during that year was 464,298. Out of that total 405,784 individuals paid £1,196,450 in income tax, while 58,514 persons paid the enormous sum of £7*588,000. These figures corroborate what I .have often said, that the few who have been able to bear the burden have borne it, while .the great bulk of the people have been assisted to escape the impost placed on them by the war.
I now wish to .give two or three instances which prove conclusively who are the real friends of the farmers in this Parliament. The budget figures, which have been carefully compiled, give the exact position. At page 13 of the Treasurer’s speech, reference is made to the assistance already afforded, and that which will be forthcoming iii the interests of a large number of men who have been battling away on the land for years. The operations of many settlers have been severely hampered owing to the lack of funds with which to purchase the material necessary to keep pests in check. A paragraph in the “budget speech reads -
In view of the heavy loss to national production caused by the rabbit and dingo pests, the Government has decided to intro duce legislation to enable land-holders to obtain money on easy conditions for the purpose of erecting vermin-proof fencing more rapidly than would otherwise be possible. Assistance will be given .by means of longterm loans to the states, who will deal direct with the land-holders in such matters as making advances and collecting interest, .lt is proposed to lend £3,000,000 in all, spread over six years, the first instalment of £500,000 being made -available this financial year. By making substantial interest concessions to .the states, it is expected that -% permanent fund will bc built up in order that The states, without further assistance from the Commonwealth, will be able to make adequate advances in future to land-holders to combat these pests.
– Has no other Government ever done that?
– The honorable senator is not aware of what has been done in South Australia.
– I am speaking, of the Commonwealth Government, and not of- the activities of state governments. No Federal Government has ever done more for the people of the Commonwealth than the Nationalist Government. .The Nationalist Government and its supporters axe denounced from time to time by honorable senators opposite.
– That is what we are here foa.
– I am glad the honorable senator is so candid.
– The party of which Senator Hoare is a member has no policy, and, therefore, its supporters come here to -condemn us.
– Does not the honorable senator condemn us ?
– I condemn your policy.
– I have never condemned the honorable senator or his party, although I do not agree with its policy. It will be futile for the members of the Labour party to tell the people that the Nationalist party is not the friend of the farmers. Notwithstanding all that may be said by honorable members of the Labour party in both chambers, the people will be told exactly what has been done in the interests of our rural producers
I wish now to refer to the question of land settlement, and particularly to the position of soldier settlers. I do not wish to deal with the causes which have brought about the hard times experienced by many soldier settlers, some of which might have been avoided, but others doubtless resulted from circumstances over which they ‘had no control. Many settlers have been hampered in their operations by taking up land which is over-capitalized, and others by occupying holdings which are totally unsuitable for the purpose for which they were obtained. The Government I am supporting, and the party to which I belong, fully realize that the time for acrimonious discussion on this question has passed. It is our endeavour to render financial assistance to those brave men who are making an effort to earn a living for themselves and rheir families. What isbeing done? Fortunately, owing to the satisfactory financial position during the last year or two, the Government is able to render needed ‘assistance. The total cost to the Commonwealth of one concession to be made willbe £4,740,000, and a paragraph in the ‘Treasurer’s budget speech, which is self-explanatory, reads -
As substantial interest concessions were to be granted to -the soldier settlers, . and as ‘the states had to lace other losses under the scheme, the Commonwealth agreed to share the burden by reducing the rate of interest on each loan by21/2 percent. per annum during the first five years of its . currency. Thisconcession was also allowed in respect of certain moneys raised ‘by the states themselves with the consent -of the Commonwealth.
The total cost to theCommonwealth of this concession will be £4,740,699. In addition, the Commonwealth paid sustenance allowances, pending productivity of farms, totalling £501,561, and payments of this character still continue. The Commonwealth has -thus contributed to date more than £5,000,000 towards soldier land settlement.
As it is evident the losses of the states wall be greater than at first anticipated, the Government has considered what further assistance should ‘be given to the States so as to provide for . the equitable distribution between Commonwealth and states of the total losses. After a careful review of the position, the Government decided that it is proper now to writeoff £5,000,000 of the loans made by the Commonwealth to the states for this purpose.
That is another way in which the Government is helping to lighten the burden of the man on the land, and assisting him to combat the difficulties with which he has te contend.
I read with interest that although £500,000 has been granted for road construction in past years, the Government now propose to introduce legislation to increase the amount to£750,000 for the present financial year.Up to the present we have not, perhaps, received the best value for the money expended, but I have never known a new Commonwealth or state ‘departure to be altogether successful from the outset. It is only fey experience that we areable to detect the mistakes made in the past.I am hopeful that the Government and the Minister controlling this department will fully inquire into this question to see that our national highways are placed -in such a condition that they will be able to carry the traffic for which they were constructed, and that attention will he devoted to the opening up’ of roads, the construction of which will lead to further development.
It is also satisfactory to note the manner in which our national debt has been (reduced during the last few years. Last year the amount used for that purpose was £5,529,467. On page 23 of the Treasurer’s speech reference is made to the future borrowing policy of the Government, and’ it is gratifying to note . that the Government recognize that the internal borrowing which to a great extent was unavoidable during the war period, and the years immediately following the war, should., as far as possible, be discontinued. Under a system of internal borrowing iflie difficulties of many settlers, and others engaged in commercial pursuits were accentuated, as the financial assistance they required to enable them to carry on their undertakings was not readily forthcoming. It is pleasing therefore to learn that the Government has wisely decided to restrict internal borrowing, which should result in industries already established increasing their production, and others being established.
I hope that every care will be ‘exercised in the OldCountry to ensure the migration, to Australia, of the right class of people, who are most likely to adapt themselves readily to our conditions. Unfortunately, many migrants, after spending a mouth or two in country districts, surrender to the. superior attractions of ourcities, take up city industrial occupations, and in some cases swell the ranks of the unemployed. If care is taken in the selection of the people, a great deal of good will result, because we want our country districts more densely populated, so that our production may increase. At the risk of wearying honorable senators, I quote the following from the Treasurer’s budget speech to indicate clearly what has been done by the National Government during the last few years: - ;
The record of financial adjustment made in and since 1922-3 is both important and striking. In 1922-3, when the present Prime Minister was in office >as Treasurer, certain reductions in taxation’ were made. The policy and administration of the Government in the ensuing three years have been such as not merely to continue these reductions, but, in each subsequent year, to make further reductions in taxation, all of which are cumulative.
[Extension of time granted.] If these facts are brought home to the people, I have not the slightest hesitation in saying that, their appreciation will be such as to ensure for the National Government and the National party a continuance of power to carry on the good work in the future.
I wish now to utter a note of warning. In Australia we have the finest country, and we ought to be the happiest people in the world. It appears, however, that the more favorable our conditions the more enraged a certain section of our people become, and the greater efforts they make to unsettle the minds of our industrial population. Fancy any person endorsing the statement that any individuals ,in Australia are slaves ! Undoubtedly, we have the best country in the world, and if we could get all sections of our people to realize its possibilities Australia would very quickly be the envy of the civilized world. But this happy state of affairs cannot be brought about by strife, and the manufacture of industrial grievances. On one occasion when a prominent Labour politician, who is now a state Minister, was addressing electors,
I interjected that he was always trying to make men discontented, and he replied - “ Of course, that is our policy. When we see men contented, we look upon them as slaves.” Recent events have confirmed us in this view of that class of politician, and I say that Australia is no place for them. It” only our people would all pull together arid keep the wheels of industry going, Australia could easily maintain a population, not of 6,000,000, but of 20,000,000 people. The other day something happened that completely astounded me. We have lately gone through a deplorable shipping strike, in which the steamship service to my state was completely dislocated. As a result of negotiations, a settlement was arrived at a few weeks ago, and we were informed that the Seamen’s Union had definitely abandoned the principle of. job control. Naturally, the people expected that everything would work smoothly for the future. Unhappily, that expectation is not being realized. Very shortly after the signing of the agreement, there was an instance of job control in Melbourne, and I think the people ought to be informed of the insincerity of certain members of an organization that was a party to the agreement. A week or two ago the steamer Lutana arrived at Hobart from Melbourne with a union crew on board. Quite contrary to the instructions of the union officials in Melbourne, who had ordered the union crew to bring the steamer back to Melbourne, the men left the ship at Hobart. The cook remained on the vessel. He is a member of the cook’s organization. I have seen his ticket, and I know that it does not expire until next October, so no exception could be taken to him on that account. He received no instructions from his union to go on strike, and, as I said, he remained on the vessel to look after the needs of the officers. A volunteer crew having been obtained, the Lutana was brought back to Melbourne. On the return trip the union crew, which had then been signed on, refused to take the vessel to sea unless the cook was put ashore and a new cook obtained. They objected, so they said, to sail with a man who cooked for “ scabs.” Was that not job control? The captain was obliged to put the cook ashore and pay his fare back to Hobart. All this has happened since the agreement was arrived at between .the Ship-owners’ Federation and the Seamen’s Union.
– It was a case of victimization.
– Undoubtedly it was. I mention this incident to show that even now there is every need to keep awake to prevent this pernicious principle of job control from being exercised.
In conclusion, I should like to say that the position of Australia, as disclosed by the budget papers, is apparently very satisfactory, and I am sure that if we can keep our industrial machinery well oiled by the exercise of common sense, we shall ensure for Australia as great prosperity in the future as was experienced in the year just closed.
– I intend to confine my remarks principally to the Treasurer’s intimation concerning the proposed increase in invalid and old-age pensions. In his budget statement for 1923 the Government provided for an increase from 15s. to 17s. 6d. per week. That was very acceptable to our pensioners, and I commended the Treasurer at the time. We are now informed that it is proposed to increase the pensions from 17s. 6d. to £1 per week. The following statement appears in the Treasurer’s budget speech: -
Honorable members will remember that, following the proposals made in my budget speech in 1923, the rate of invalid and old-age pensions was raised from 30s. to 35s. a fortnight, to bring the pension to a basis corresponding to the increase in the cost of living since the original payments were begun. The Government at .that time stated that the existing system did not fully satisfy the needs of the community, did not remove that sense of insecurity which haunts great numbers of people throughout their life, because of the fear of accident, sickness, unemployment, and a destiti,de old age after a life of toil. The Government, therefore, proposed a royal commission to examine the whole matter. A royal commission was appointed accordingly to report on national insurance, and has now been sitting for two years. It has .presented an interim report, which indicates that, during the present session, its researches will have been sufficiently advanced to enable the Government to bring down a national insurance scheme, at any rate in connexion with old ago and sickness, even if -the research into the question of unemployment is not completed. Information at present in the hands of the Government shows that a payment of 20s. per week will be found to be that most closely approximating the requirements and conditions of a national insurance scheme. The Government considers that it would be an anomaly for existing invalid and old-age .pensions to bc kept on a different scale. Provision, therefore, is being made in the Estimates for the increase of invalid and. old-age pensions to fi per week, simultaneously with the passage of such portions of the national insurance proposals as may be approved by Parliament.
The Government desires .to dispel the fear of members of friendly societies that some action may be taken to hinder the good work they are doing in the portion of the field that they cover. It will be remembered that the Government specially asked .the commission to consider the possibility of associating the present machinery of friendly societies with national insurance administration, so that administrative costs might be kept down. In view of the imminence of this legislation, and in view of .the removal, in 1923, of the anomalies then existing in the pensions laws, no further action in this connexion beyond the increase mentioned will be taken until after the consideration of the proposals for national insurance. The Government considers that it would be an anomaly for existing invalid and old-age pensions to be kept on a different scale. Provision, therefore, is being made in the Estimates for the increase of invalid and old-age pensions to £1 per week, simultaneously with the passage of such portions of the national insurance proposals as nm-y be. passed by Parliament.
Will the bill, embodying portion of the recommendations of the National Insurance Commission, have to be passed by Parliament before the increased pension is granted, or is it the intention of the Government to bring down immediately an amending bill to grant the increase ? If appears to me that the pensioners will not receive it before the end of the year. Having a surplus of £3,000,000,, the Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page) should, in fairness, make the increase applicable immediately. The purchasing power of the sovereign is not any greater to-day than it was at this time last year. Although the proposed increase of 2s. 6d. a week will prove acceptable to those who rely upon the pension, I do not consider that the extra sum will be sufficient to meet their needs.
Senator Payne referred to health matters, and to the anxiety of the Government to do all in its’ power to assist in the cure of certain specified diseases. I entirely agree with his remarks. I favour the nationalization of health, and also the nationalization of the medical profession. The Government, if it is willing to meet the necessary expenditure, should be able to secure the services of the best men in the medical profession. It should have the use of the best skill that is available for the treatment of occupational and other diseases.. Occupational diseases are very extensive iu the auriferous mines of Western Australia. The experience there is that nien do not work underground for very lengthy periods before they contract diseases that are peculiar to their occupations.
– A great deal has been, done to improve the conditions in the mines.
– I agree that that is SOl but much more remains to be done. There are stages of the miners’ complaint known as: fibrosis,, pneumokoniosis, and tuberculosis. There are on record cases of tuberculosis in the Old. Country that have been cured by . the Spahlinger treatment. In that connexion, I refer honorable* senators to the Melbourne Argus of the 1 5th August, in which they will find a report relating to persons, who have been under Mr. Spahlinger’^ treatment, and have been perfectly cured and made fit to follow their occupations. One manhas shown no trace of tlie disease for twelve months, although, prior to undergoing Mr. Spahlinger’s treatment, he was given up by the doctors. If Mr. Spahlinger has a serum that is capable of combating consumption the Government should obtain supplies to enable the medical profession in Australia to treat that disease. Last session t when this matter was referred to, we were informed that the Prime Minister was conducting negotiations regarding the methods that were being adopted, the quantity of serum that could be supplied, and its cost.. It was. said that Mr. Spahlinger would not put hia card’s on the table, or publish the results, of his scientific research.. In the Argus report to which I have, referred, there are descriptions by doctors who have watched the effects upon the patients and have subjected them, to teats which prove that they have been cured. Consumption causes terrible ravages amongst thousands of people. Those who work in woollen mills and flour mills., for example, get dust on the lungs* and ultimately suffer from lung complaints. I agree with Senator Payne that sufficient information or instruction is not given to young people to enable them to’ protect themselves from certain diseases-. The subject being a delicate one, it is too often allowed to slide. The Government could’ not do better than nationalize public health in< order to- combat the dreadful diseases to which the burman race is prone.
I hove perused wish interest the figures, relating to the proposed expenditure ora defence.. Since the Armistice was signed the Government lias spent on defence no less than £30,000, 000, or even, a greater amount. According- to the advices that we have received, the benefits which have- been derived from that expenditure are very slight. I have no desire to. sound a discordant note. I realize that we must take defensive measures-; but at the same time one wonders what is done with this large expenditure that is; incurred from time to time with very little- result. Quite recently Parliament decided that two cruisers should, be constructed’ in Scotland. Those vessels are to be attached to the British- Navy. Although I do not.’ altogether object to that, I want to know where we stand. Why are we not to’ have those cruisers in our own waters ? It appears as though we are spending millions of pounds on vessels that will not be able to protect us..
– Does, the honorable senator contend that the British Fleet has never protected Australia?
– I am not so foolish as to say that. I am quite satisfied that it has protected Australia, and that it will continue to do so.. But what I want to know is, whether our expenditure is being incurred in directions that will benefit most the Motherland or Australia.
– If our cruisers work in- co-operation with the British Fleet it will be a benefit to Australia.
– We. are bearing only a. portion of the responsiblity that is OUTS.
– The best reply that can be made to. the honorable senator ls that every vessel for which we pay belongs to us.
– A little training with the British Fleet will not come amiss.
– We have in Australia a naval college which gives instruction in naval science to young men, to fit them to take charge of these vessels. When these cruisers are attached to the
British Navy they arc manned by British naval officers, if the consent of the Governor-General-iii-Council is given to that coror.se. I want to know why the Naval College cannot educate our men sufficiently to enable them to fill some of the higher, ranks.
– Our Naval College has been starved for years.
– In any case it cannot turn out men ready at once for the higher ranks. It turns out midshipmen.
– Would the honorable senator support, an increase in the vote for the Naval College?
– If it were necessary, I should.
– The Americans undergo four years’ training at a naval college before, they go to sea.
– Some of our men put in a longer period than that. If the college cannot educate them to become officers, something is wrong. I should not do opposed to this expenditure if the vessels were manned by Australians, and they were kept in Australian waters to protect our shores. Of course, if they assist the navies of other nations to police the oceans, they are indirectly helping to defend Australia.
– Does the honorable senator refer to the transfer of British officers to the Australian Navy ?
– Those officers can be turned out by our Naval College.
– The exchange of officers has proved very valuable.
– Austraiian officers are delighted to be given an opportunity to join the British Fleet, because they realize the advantage of the experience that is thus gained.
– I wish now to refer to the main roads grant. I agree with the view that Senator J. B. Hayes expressed in this chamber recently, that tho local governing bodies ought to- be permitted to spend the roads grant where they think fit. Their officers are better qualified than those of an outside body to advise on the matter. I have had a good deal of experience in municipal matters, and I feel confident that the Government could safely give the local governing bodies more authority in the expenditure of this grant.
– Would the honorable, senator approve of any of this money being spent in, ‘say, Collins.- street?
– I am referring to the conditions in my o°wn state of Western Australia. Senator J. B. Hayes spoke the other night of Tasmanian conditions. I have never been to Tasmania, but I know the conditions in Western Australia.
– The money ought to be- spent well outside of the cities and suburbs..
– That is so. Senator J. B. Hayes told us- of a stretch of good road, 30 miles out of Launceston, that, was made with the help of Commonwealth money. He said that the approach to it was extremely bad, and so was the road on the other side of it. That kind of thing should not be allowed.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that the Commonwealth authorities decided that that piece of road was to be constructed?
– I suppose that the Commonwealth Government had a supervisor there.
In regard to immigration, I agree with Senator Payne that there is room in Australia for hundreds of thousands of the right type of people, but, unfortunately, we seem almost invariably to get the wrong type. Much more care should be exercised in selecting our migrants. Even if some Immigrants do go into the country districts on their arrival, they very soon drift back to the cities. I would welcome the right class of immigrants -if provision was made to receive them.
– Is the honorable senator aware of the proportion’ of failures in the immigrants to this country?
– I am not, but I coral d get tha information..
– I should like the pleasure of supplying the- information. I assure him that the percentage is very much lower than the percentage of failures among politicians.
– I asked for some figures a few days ago, and wa3 given a return that showed the number of Russians and other nationals that came here,, but it was not what I wanted.
– My department has nothing to do with foreign immigrants.
– I find that in the three months from January to March of this year the following arrivals in Australia were reported: -
– Does the honorable senator understand that all the foreigners who come here pay their own fares? They are not assisted immigrants. I thought I had made that clear long ago.
– At any rate, we find crowds of them in the streets without food and homeless.
– The only assisted migrants who come here are from Great Britain.
– I propose now to devote a few minutes to a consideration of the gold-mining industry of Western Australia. I strongly advocate the’ payment of a bounty of £1 per oz. on all the gold produced. It is well known that, in consequence of the Commonwealth Government commandeering the gold produced during the war years, the mineowners lost something like £3,000,000. Almost every commodity in use increased in price during the war, and all the producers, except those concerned in gold production, reaped the reward of the increase. The gold-mining industry, however, was penalized to such an extent that many centres which were formerly nourishing towns, are now nothing but deserted camps. In many cases, machinery has been pulled down, and houses either demolished or removed. The present high cost of mining requisites prevents the companies from working their low-grade ores. A bounty would stimulate the industry, and lead to the employment of thousands who are today out of work.
– It must be remembered that the bounty would be paid on a wasting asset. -
– I quite- realize that ore can only be taken out of a mine once.
– Does the honorable senator think that the payment of a bounty would lead to new discoveries?
– That might happen; but a bounty of, say, ‘ £1 per oz. would certainly enable a large tonnage of 6 dwt. to 8 dwt. ore to be worked. It would also ensure that the mine-owners would get at least 10s. or 12s. a ton on all the ore raised to the surface, and make activity possible where it is impossible to-day.
– It would cost the Commonwealth about £800,000 a year.
– But it would revive a languishing industry. Senator Lynch will bear me out when I say that many mining centres from Kalgoorlie northwards, which were once progressive and flourishing, are now practically deserted.
– Unfortunately that is so.
– A bounty would enable ore carrying 6 dwt. of gold to the ton to be worked.
– But it would have to be paid on the production of mines that are really paying handsomely, as well as the output of those that are now being operated at a- loss.
– No gold mines that I know of are paying handsomely.
– Mines at Boulder, for instance, the Perseverance - which is being worked on tribute - as well as the Ivanhoe and Lake View, have in their best days turned out as much as a ton of gold a month. There are still some rich patches, but there is also low-grade ore in them that could be worked if a little help were provided. I urge the Government to give careful consideration to this proposal.
Debate (on motion by Senator Thompson) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 6.20 to S p.m.
Effect on Tasmania.
Debate resumed from 13th August (vida page 1360) on motion by Senator Ogden -
That in the opinion of the Senate, the Navigation Act should be amended so as to exclude Tasmania from the operations of the sections of the act relating to coastal passengers, thus providing for freedom of intercourse by any ships between Tasmania and mainland ports.
That this resolution be transmitted to the House of Representatives with a request for its concurrence therein.
– As I have spoken many times in this chamber on the effect of the Navigation Act on Tasmania, 1” do not intend to say much during this debate. I wholeheartedly support Senator Ogden in his motion for the abolition of the coasting provisions of (he act. Whenever any trouble arises which makes it more necessary than usual for Tasmania to have the benefit of communicating with the mainland by means of vessels which are now prohibited from taking part in the coasting trade of Tasmania, we are told that the owners of these vessels, if they choose to apply for it, can get an exemption to carry passengers between the mainland and the island. But we always find that the provision of the act which enables them to do this is not of the slightest use, because the owners of the vessels are either afraid of possible consequences, or have some other reason for not applying for exemption. In these circumstances the people of Tasmania feel that the only relief they can obtain is to have the coastal provisions of the act repealed. As honorable senators are well aware, a royal commission travelled all over Australia at considerable expense, and took evidence in most parts of the Commonwealth upon the effect of the operations of the Navigation Act. I have no doubt the seven members of that co]nmission were carefully chosen. Four of them came to the conclusion that Tasmania should have some form of relief. They were not unanimous as to what that form of relief should be, two of them favouring the abolition of the coastal provisions, and the other two saying that overseas vessels should be allowed to- trade between the mainland and Tasmania on the payment of Customs duty. At any rate, four members of the commission were so impressed with the conditions of Tasmania that they said the state should have some form of relief.
– Four of them agreed that Tasmania was suffering from the operation of the act.
– Were they, four anti -Labour men?
– I believe they were, but I do not know that it is a Labour or a non-Labour question-. I believe that when” members of Parliament are appointed to a royal commission they sink their political feelings, and endeavour to do justice to the case presented to them, and I would rather deal with the matter from the aspect that they were all out to do justice to the whole of Australia. Of the seven there were four who came to one conclusion, and three who came to another. Their motives did not effect the position at all. I take it that they gave their decision conscientiously in accordance with the evidence placed before them. At any rate, four of them said that Tasmania should have some form of relief, and when a majority of a commission says that some relief should be afforded, I think the Senate ought to be generous enough to abide by the decision of that majority, and give the state some form of relief.
– How many reports were there?
– There were three in all. There was no unanimous report, nor was there actually a majority report, because of the four who thought that some relief should be given to Tasmania, two were of opinion that it should take a certain form, and the other two were of a different opinion. However, the four of them said that the state was suffering, as undoubtedly it is, from the operation of the act. From an Australian point of view the Navigation Act is probably a good one, but it has certainly some very bad features, which very seriously affect Tasmania. To the people of that state it is an irksome and irritating statute, because it deprives them of means of communication, which formerly brought to Tasmania the very best class of tourists. The tourist traffic is a big asset to the state, which, om account of its beautiful climate and scenery, has been called the Riviera of Australia. After being sun-baked on the mainland large numbers of people go to the island to recuperate. This traffic is a material source of revenue to the island. Whereas other states treat their tourist trade as a side line, it- is one of the most important businesses in which the people of Tasmania embark. As I was saying, the British boats brought to Tasmania the very best class of tourists we could get. They brought from the mainland the people who could afford to travel in luxury, people who, probably, took their motor cars with them, and spent a great deal of money on the island. It is quite possible that they enjoyed the privilege and pleasure of a trip on an ocean liner, which theycould not get in any other way. It is possible thatmany of them could not afford the time, or the expenses involved in a trip to Colombo, and, therefore, took the alternative of a round trip from Sydney, via Melbourne, to Hobart. If this facility had not been afforded them they would not have visited Tasmania and spent large sums of money there. The coming into force of the Navigation Act deprived them of this facility, and the money which was badly wantedin Tasmania, and for which the state gives a good return, was no longer spent (there. The people of the island feel the position very much. They are awaiting the fate of Senator Ogden’s motion with considerable anxiety. This afternoon I received the following telegram from the Hobart Marine Board: -
This afternoon a special meeting resolved thatthe wardens of the Marine Board of Hobartarefullyinsympathywiththemotion of SenatorOgden, which is now on the notice paper of the Senate, and they wish to impress on the Federal Parliament that Tasmania is entitled to somerelief from these irksome and irritating restrictions set on thetradeof Australia.
The wardensof the Hobart Marine Board have discussed the Navigation Act over and over again, and they have made repeatedrepresentations for relief. They do notgo to the extentof asking that Senator Ogden’s motion be . agreed to in its present form, but they wantsome form of relief. If the Senate does not see fit to agree to the motion in its entirety I ask it, at . any rate, to adopt the second recommendation of the royal commission and impose a duty - not a prohibitive tariff - on overseas vessels choosing to trade between the mainland and Tasmania. If this were done people . could take advantage of the splendid opportunities these vessels afford to pass backwards and forwards between the mainland states ‘and Tasmania. Those who live in Hobart, as I have done, and wishto travel to the mainland, must regret the fact that beautifulocean liners, in which they could travel in comfort, must leave with halftheir berths empty. If one seeks to book a passage to Melbourne on. a British vessel, one is told that the Navigation Act prevents it. I did not realize the severity of the provisions of the Navigation Act until I sought to book a berth on one of these vessels.
– Some of those boats employ coloured labour.
– Yes, and I havetravelledon them, and will do so again, if I ever get the chance, because the very best means of travelling are not too good for the people of an island state. In any case, if it is goodenough for a Britisher to travel on these boats from England to Australia, surely it is good enough for a person of British descent to travel on them between Tasmania and the mainland.
– Even if they are mannedby coloured labour ?
– I would rather travel on boats mannedby white labour, but I do not think that question arises.
– There are plentyof these boats manned by white labour.
SenatorJ.B. HAYES. - That is so. The object of the Navigation Act was to encourage the Australian mercantile marine, but it has been proved over and over again that the tonnage of the Australian mercantile marine is today less by thousands and thousands of tons than it was before theact was proclaimed. ‘The other dayi heard a gentleman in Hobart, who has looked up the statistics, declare that not one additional new passenger . ship has been put on the Australian coastaltrade since the act has been in force. I cannot remember any new vessel having been put on the trade since the act was put intoforce. There is certainly no ‘ship trading to Tasmania which has been put on . since then. If the people engaged on the Australian coastal service do not increasetheir fleets, it is only a matter of time when we shall have no means ofcommunication. Those which exist between the mainland and Tasmania to-day are worse than those we had 30 years ago. The Commonwealth is going ahead. Thereare new railways, older lines have been and are being improved, and methods of transport . are better, so that one would expect the means of transit between the mainland and Tasmania also to go ahead. They have, however, gone back. I do not think that the ‘passenger accommodation afforded by the ‘Commonwealth Government Line of Steamerscompares with that on the British boats, but I remember distinctly that there were 128 passengers booked for Melbourne by the Largs Bay about two years ago. This fact shows that the passengers are available ifthe facilities are offered. In the season, Tasmania ships about1,000,000 cases of apples to Europe by overseas vessels.Whetherthey are manned by coloured labour or by white crews, the vessels have to go to Tasmania to pick upthese apples, and it seems absurdthat people cannot travel by them. Besides the passenger traffic, the goods traffic is affected by the operation of the Navigation Act. In an endeavour to get some meed of justice, Senator Ogden has restricted hismotion to the passenger traffic, but Tasmania depends upon its exports more than does any other . state. Ihope, therefore, that the Senate will try to do the islandsome justice by seeing that its services are improved. I feel confident that if it had been known 25 years ago thatas a result of joining the federation, the means of transport which Tasmania had previously enjoyed would be so seriously interfered with, the vote in favour of federation would have been different. I am a. Federalist and believe that federation is in the interests of the whole of the states, but it should not mean that the weakest state . must go to the wall. That is what is happening in the caseof Tasmania.. The Federal Parliament has the power to grant Tasmania justice in this matter, and I earnestlytrust that that state will be given the assistance towhich it is justly entitled..
– I have waited many months for the ‘opportunity to say a few words on this motion. In the first place I should like to explain may own attitude towards the state of Tasmania. I have been amember of the Senate for many years, and speaking for myself, and I think, I can say for every honorable senator, no just claim from Tasmania has ever fallen upon deaf ears in this chamber. “Whenever a fair claim has been submitted to the Senate, the representatives of the larger states have always willingly and generously gone to the assistance of the smaller states, and I have no doubt that the representatives of the several states will act similarly on this occasion. Senator J. B. Hayes said that four of the seven members of the Royal Commission on Navigation reported in favour of certain relief beingafforded Tasmania, but I have been crediblyinformed that only two of the seven members who comprise . the commission favoured the relief suggested by Senator Ogden.
– I explained that.
– It needs explanation, because if only two out of seven members who inquired into the whole matter, and who had all the evidence before them were prepared to give relief in this way, the mover of the motion is asking the Senate to do something which it should not do. I believe the position to be as I have stated, because the source from which Iobtained my information is most reliable.
– It is on record.
– I am quoting from an official record.
– Four of the seven: members of the commission came to the conclusion that relief in some form should be given to Tasmania.
– We are not now debating a motion in which it is asked that, relief shall be given to Tasmania in”some form.” If that were the request, it would receive, I think, the unanimous support of the Senate. But we are asked to give relief to Tasmania ina way that will injure the whole system and principle of Australian legislation; we are asked to afford relief to Tasmania in a way which will affectthe industrial conditions prevailing throughout the Commonwealth. In fact we are asked to go back on our White Australia policy, and to say that we will sacrifice that principle., which after years of consideration was adopted. This principle is embodied in the Navigation Act in order to make conditions of employment on Australian ships, better than they are on vessels operating in other parts of the world, I and the party with which I am associated will always remain true friends to Tasmania, but we will not be the friends of the monopolistic interests in Tasmania, which, when Tasmania had its own vessels running, refused to ship its goods by them. There is a great deal in being the generous friends of the smaller states, but, we do’ not wish to extend the open hand to the Inchcape combine, and thus enable the vessels manned by black labour under its control to compete with those on the Australian coast.
– Why allow them in Sydney Harbour ?
-They come into Sydney Harbour under the same conditions that apply to their going to Hobart. If the honorable senator is not aware of it he should be.
– I am aware of it.
– The honorable senator will live to see the day when the conditions on . all vessels using the port of Sydney will be as good,, and the pay as high, as they are on Australian ships. The day when vessels manned by black labour and controlled by combines will be allowed to compete with Australian vessels manned by white labour has gone.
Seuator Ogden. - Is the honorable senator a new champion of the local shipping companies ?
– I am in favour of better conditions being provided for the people who work on ships. I earnestly believe that the Government must yet intervene, and insist that the. conditions of those who work on board ship are at least tolerable. They are not so to-day. If Senator Ogden with his black labour motion - it cannot be regarded as anything else–
– Nearly all the vessels that call at Hobart are manned bywhite labour, and the honorable senator knows it.
– If Senator Ogden’s motion is carried it will have the effect of increasing the trade of vessels manned by coloured labour. That is what it means.
– -That is nonsense.
– It is not. The effect of its adoption would be to lower the wages and the conditions under which Australian seamen are employed. Is that; what the honorable senator is anxious to do? I have seen a great many claims for consideration for Tasmania, all of which have been treated in a most generous manner. Paragraph a of section 288 of the Navigation Act reads -
Does Senator Ogden wish that to be repealed?
– The motion submitted by the honorable senator’ would mean its repeal. It reads -
Does not that relate to coastal passengers ? As the honorable senator does not reply, I must infer that he is not fully aware of the action he is taking.
– I know what I am doing.
– The honorable senator is working in the interests of those whose interests are entirely opposed to Labour.
– Those who shout “Labour” are not always the best Labourites.
– I realize that.
– Order ! There are too many interjections, and I ask honorable senators to allow Senator Gardiner to proceed without further interruption.
– I realize that those who shout “Labour” are not always the best Labourites, but at the same time there are certain fixed principles to which’ the members of the Labour party should always adhere. Any man who supports Labour directly or indirectly should not assist in lowering the wages of workmen or interfering with the conditions under which they earn their living. Men who do that cannot claim to be Labour men. The provision in the act relating to the licensing of ships read -
Does Senator Ogden wish that provision to be repealed? I do not know whether Senator Ogden is fully aware of the effect of his motion, which I have already quoted. The licences to trade deal with the whole conditions under which goods and passengers are carried, and if the conditions are satisfactory, and the wages sufficiently high, licences will he granted. An exemption clause is also provided which Senator J. B. Hayes said was of no use.
– The companies will not apply for exemption.
– Why ?
– I do not know.
– If the’ shipowners will not apply for exemption when they are entitled to it, why should we go out of our way to remove the conditions, particularly those which are essential for the protection of those engaged on ships?
– Does the position in Tasmania warrant any remedy, or does it not?
– 1 say it does, but the remedy is a simple one. A Commonwealth Government Line of ships should trade between Tasmania and the mainland, and thus provide all the necessary facilities for the carriage of goods and passengers. That would provide real relief, and such relief will be available next year.
– Already £500.000 has been lost.
– What is a loss of £500,000 compared with the giving of substantial help to a great state like Tasmania? It would not matter if it were £1,000,000. If the Government wishes to give Tasmania an opportunity to develop its trade and improve its industrial and agricultural condition, as well as protect its tourist traffic, surely £1,000,000, or even £2,000,000, should not stand in the way of an honorable senator who has an outlook such as Senator Lynch?
– Why postpone all these good things until next year?
– Because we are not yet in power. Section 288 of the act deals with licences.
– What would the honorable senator say if licences were granted these overseas vessels to engage in the trade?
– The honorable senator has already addressed himself to this question.
– The shipowners will not apply for licences.
– I take the honorable senator’s word for that, and I suggest that they will not do so, for the simple reason that they think they can break down the white labour conditions ensured to seamen on the Australian coast bv the Navigation Act. When they, realize - as I hope they will by a “majority of the Senate voting against this motion - that they cannot do so, they may be inclined to apply for licences to trade. Every provision that foresight could imagine has been made for the protection of Tasmania, but it always appears to me that the representatives of that state often put it in a most unenviable light before the rest of the community. No one in Australia wishes to revert to the conditions that obtained in the Australian shipping trade before the Navigation Act was proclaimed. Now we have this movement, headed, I regret to think, by a Labour man. Senator Ogden.
– And he is a Labour man; he does not merely shout with the mob.
– This demand for black labour, this attempt to break down the provisions ‘ of the Navigation Act, has, I venture to say, done more to strengthen our seamen in their position than any legislative act of this Parliament. Measuring the law by what it has achieved, were I a Tasmanian, and suffering ten times the inconvenience which Tasmania has been suffering in recent years, I would endure it in silence rather than do anything to destroy the act, and see the combine in control again.
– It is evident then the honorable senator is not a Tasmanian.
– But I have a sentimental regard for Tasmania; my father was a native of that state. It is of no use to try to persuade the people of Australia that there is a general outcry from Tasmania that that state is being seriously injured by the operation of the act. This demand for the repeal of certain provisions of the law comes from traders who want to get a closer grip on the produce of Tasmanian growers.
– That is rather an old platitude.
– It may be, but I tell the honorable senator that I have seen this combine at work in the Senate.
Some of the most discreditable incidents in connexion with the proceedings of this chamber may be laid at the door of those who are most deeply interested in trade. ‘ We do not moves about here year in and year out with . our eyes closed to all that ia going’ on. I knew when I saw Senator Ogden’s name on the noticepaper that the same subtle influence was at work. Of course, this is an old story. It has been told before, and I have no doubt it will be re-told in the future, but I can assure Senator Ogden that the combines will not move, to defeat, him. Tie is too serviceable; too willing to do their work; too ready to fight against the interests of labour and in the.- interests of the trusts and combines.
– What is the difference between cheap labour services and importing cheap labour goods into Australia ?
– AH the differ- ence in the world. Cheap labour goods may be imported, but those who do not want them need not buy them. On the other hand, the introduction of cheap labour will unquestionably mean the unemployment of Australian workmen, who demand a higher living wage.
– That is a bit thin.
– It is a fact. Substantial advantages may follow the introduction of cheap labour goods, such as tea from China or silks from Japan, but certainly cheap labour can have nothing to recommend it. I have always held that it is distinctly advantageous for a country to throw open its doors to trade with other countries, but I can easily see that it would be a distinct, calamity to open the doors of Australia to cheap labour from other countries.
– What does the honorable senator say concerning the introduction of sugar from Java?
– I am not sure that it would be such a disaster, since the people- of Australia have to pay the sugar combine 2d. a lb. more foi’ sugar than it is worth, having regard to world parity.
– Labourers who belong to the honorable senator’s party in Queensland would be interested to hear his. views on this question.
– They know my views. We are paying twice as much money to the sugar combine than the combine pays in wages- to. the men engaged in the industry.
– The sugar agreement was made purely in the interest of labour in Queensland.
– And the people of the southern states are paying more for their sugar.
– I remind the honorable senator that he must not be led away by interjections, and allow” the debate to develop into a free trade-protection argument.
– Yes, Mr. President. I had reminded myself before you intervened that I was straying from the subject. The Navigation Act, which Senator Ogden wishes to interfere with, protects our seamen from competition by coloured labour. Senator Lynch and Senator Ogden evidently are quite prepared to allow; Australian seamen, to work in competition with black labour, and thus, bring white labour conditions down to the level of coloured labour conditions.
– The honorable senator’s argument does not worry us.
– The honorable senator’s intentions may be quite all right. We all know that the road to a certain place is paved with good intentions. If, however, we on this side of the Senate can see the danger ahead, We are entitled to tell him of it.
– The honorable senator’s imagination is running away with his reason.
– I am dealing with facts. I challenge any honorable senator from Tasmania to debate this question with me on the public platform of any town in Tasmania within the next three months. I shall be prepared to take the vote of the audience on the issue.
– If Senator Ogden will accept the challenge, it ought to draw a big house.
– I shall be delighted if the honorable senator will accept my challenge. Senator Ogden’s motion has been on the notice-paper for many months, but I can assure him that even if it were carried it would not, of itself, affect the Navigation Act.
– Then help us to carry the motion.
– If the honorable senator had been in earnest, why did he not introduce .a bill to amend the Navigation Act?
– I will do ,so at the first opportunity.
– He has had (his opportunity during the last two years. When au other honorable senator from the same state wished to amend the electoral law a few years ago, he did not seek to achieve his purpose by a pious resolution to be sent to another House, but moved for a straight-out amendment of the law. Why did not Senator Ogden take the same Une of action? I suppose, however, he is merely obeying orders.
– Has the honorable senator himself never taken soundings?
– Perhaps, occasionally, I have taken soundings. And this being a navigation matter, I suppose it was wise on Senator Ogden’s part to know the depth of the water. If, however, he wished to coalesce with the Government to bring about black labour conditions in shipping for . the benefit of Tasmania, surely he would have been wise not to delay, because even if such legislation were passed now, the next Parliament, with a new government in office, would repeal it.
– Oh !
– Yes. That is fixed and unalterable. The bide is running too strongly for this inefficient and inept Coalition Government to survive the next general election. Senator J. B. Hayes spoke of the disadvantages suffered by Tasmania. We are told that Tasmania is suffering from some .grievance. I remind the honorable senators from that state that the laws that apply to Hobart apply also to Sydney. Unfortunately Tasmania, like certain other of the smaller states’ with a grievance, discounts the blessings that come to it from federation. I could wish that the Constitution had been a little more elastic, so that states which were dissatisfied could withdraw from the federation. I should like to see Tasmania, if dissatisfied with the Federal compact, drop out. I am satisfied that if she did, within twelve months she would be begging to re-enter the union, because no state has benefited more from federation than has Tasmania. I do not refer to Tasmanian trading interests, but to the great bulk of the Tasmanian people who have to work for their living. Would that state now have had an Old-age Pensions ‘ Act as generous as the Commonwealth act? It would have been too costly for it. Whenever Tasmanian interests have cropped up, both this Government and its predecessor have gone out of their way to be generous to it. I realize that under the federation, but particularly under the policy with which the Tasmanian representatives have helped to shackle us, the big cities will drain the smaller states of the best of their manhood. That is one of the real grievances of Tasmania. The mainland is too attractive for the young men and women of the smaller states. They will not remain in the distant and difficult places when, as the result of labour organization, the conditions have been made so much better in the bigger cities.
– They could be made as good in Tasmania.
– Yes. The Tasmanians, however, prefer to nurse their grievances, and to allow tike best of their manhood to leave for the .mainland, rather than to apply remedies which they are ‘afraid may cost them something. High wages, short hours, good working conditions, have made Sydney and Melbourne cities that the Tasmanians are anxious to reach, and they are reaching them in their hundreds.
– Other influences besides those referred to by the honorable senator are at work.
– There are many influences, but at present I am referring merely to the good wages, short hours, and attractive labour conditions that the Labour unions have made possible in the big cities of the mainland. The Tasmanians, instead of realizing that that is the -magnet which is drawing the best of their population to Australia, and improving their conditions, are desirous of returning to black-labour conditions, which would drag Tasmania and the rest of Australia to a lower level than it lit present occupies. I do not think that chey will . be able to do it. Senator Ogden will not come altogether scatheless out of this matter when he is called upon, a.« he surely will be, to confront the democracy of Tasmania.
– Is this thebeginning of his crucifixion?
– I treat Senator Ogden in the same way that I would treat Senator Thompson.
– I amnot in the same category.
– As Senator Ogden has begun a crucifixion of Labour’s platform, I think that I am entitled to speak with feeling. Night after night I sought the opportunity to make a reply to the honorable senator’s attack, but, whenever I did so, the motion was cleverly adjourned in order to deprive me of that opportunity. I have the opportunity now, and I’ think that my anger is justifiable.- I can imagine the anger that would be displayed by Brigadier-General Thompson if, in warfare, he found one of hisoutposts firing on his main army. Talk about crucifixion! He would crucify those men in a way that soldiers know well; he would have them pegged put in the sun next day. I can imagine this stern disciplinarian saying, “I can stand a gooddeal, but I will not stand for my own men helping the enemy.” So it is with me. . Senator Ogden is helping the enemy when he attacks one of the most monumental pieces of legislation that Labour has ever passed, and seeks to make the conditions of the seamen what they were before there was a Labour Government in the Federal Parliament. Is it possible to speak without deep feeling? If an enemy had done this thing I could have understood it, but from one of my own household it is hard to bear. If Senator Thompson were responsible I should revel in the fight. I should know that he wa3 fighting under his true colours. But when it is one of our own party, I think every one will agree that nothing is more calculated to cause irritation. This is tantamount to saying of the Labour party, “ They are all out of step but Senator Ogden.”
– Why not allow him to have an opinion of his own?
– He has that right. But, if I held a similar opinion, I should follow it up with a manly resignation from the party- with which I was associated. This is a clear and straightcut issue. If a man will not accept the conditions and abide by the legislation for which Labour stands, he should get out of the party. “Honorablesenators would not hear me say one harsh word against Senator Ogden if he were man enough to say, “ I cannot any longer work with the party, and, therefore, I shall not belong to it.”
– Senator Ogden represents Labour in Tasmania, and Labour there is in agreement with him.
– I represent Labour ; some persons represent the rabble.
– I realize that it is that attitude which has induced Senator Ogden to place this motion on the notice-paper. The big business interests of Tasmania are not the rabble; they are the “ right-thinking “ people.
– This is the “big drum” argument.
– That is Senator Ogden’s argument. I take him to mean that we represent the rabble. The Saviour of the human race came from the rabble. ‘ Senator Ogden in his glorified position as an honorable senator representing Tasmania, may refer to Labour men in this chamber as representing “ the rabble.”
– Some do.
– Since when has the honorable senator become elevated to the position in which he can afford to talk of any section of this community as “the rabble”? I have not yet risen from the rabble. I am still with it, and when I go out, I will go out fighting for it, in order to make its conditions as good as those which are enjoyed by the big trading magnates whose dictates Senator Ogden obeys without question, even though in doing so he disrupts his own party. Not very long ago I took a fairly long trip on a ship. I and others waited as a deputation upon the captain to see if the stewards and the men who were doing the work for us could not be given better conditions than to have to sit in the passages whilst they ate their meals. Such a thing was unheard of, and could not be done. Those men had to wait upon the passengers, but when it came to having their own meals they had to sit in draughty passages. They were not even allowed to sit at the empty tables! Those conditions still exist ; they have not been altered.
– What nonsense ! They have been altered. I can take the honorable senator on many ships on which those conditions do not prevail. What kind of ship did the honorable senator go on?
– An Orient liner.
– I refer to ships that are subject to Australian laws.
– I am referring to the conditions on what is considered to be the best line running a service between here and Great Britain. Those are still the conditions. There is an old time-worn practice that enables officers to treat their men worse than they would treat a dog. Going through the Red Sea, I saw one of the saddest sights that ever I witnessed or am likely to witness.
– Why did the honorable senator travel on such a ship?
– The Orient Line was then considered, and I think it still is, one of the most up-to-date in existence.
– Why did the honorable senator not travel on a Commonwealth liner?
– There was not a Commonwealth Line when I travelled. On the next occasion I shall book by a Commonwealth liner. I should like to “tell honorable senators of a little incident which occurred whilst we were going through the Red Sea. The temperature was very high. A fireman, who had been stoking, came up to the fresh air. When he saw the clear, fresh water, his brain turned, and he went overboard. I do not think any human being could witness a sadder sight than, standing 30 feet above the water, to see a man drifting away and away, knowing that one has no means of helping him. Lifebelts were thrown overboard, the ship was swung round, and a boat was lowered. When they rescued the man he was quite mad, and had to be kept in irons until Colombo was reached. The conversation on the saloon deck subsequently was after this fashion : “Ha, you Labour men! There >s a- result of white men doing this :<ind of work ! Why do you not allow coloured labour to do the firing? Why would coloured labour make any difference? If one or two coloured men went over board, the ship need not stop.” That was the generous view of some of the passengers.
– I have heard just as inhuman sentiments expressed by members of the honorable senator’s party.
– Possibly that is so. I doubt if there is a more inhuman person than I. If I were dealing with the honorable senator, all the Christian teaching that was instilled into me over a period of 50 years might be forgotten, and possibly I would become, one of the most inhuman beings on the face of the earth, because the honorable senator at times exasperates me so. The Labour movement, however, believes in bettering the conditions of all classes, and it has done so. Trading and business men are well aware of the superiority of the Labour party, and of the conditions that prevail under Labour governments, and they are returning to that party. The Navigation Act is not the hasty work of a few idealists. It represents the laborious work of Labour out of and in office for many years.
– It was passed with the unanimous consent of the Parliament. .
– I should not say that it had the unanimous consent of the Parliament. If ever I saw a hard fight, it took place when that measure was being considered by the Senate. In division after division the old tories sought to make the conditions what Senator Ogden would make them to-day. I can forgive them, because that took place twelve or thirteen years ago.
– That was not so in another place.
– It may not have been so in another place; I take the honorable senator’s word for that. The Senate is such an interesting place, and we work such long and strenuous hours, that we have not much time to see what is going on in another place.
– It is only fair to say that the first Navigation Bill, which was in very much the same form as the present act, was introduced by a Liberal government. It was eventually carriedthrough by a Labour government.
– And it was proclaimed in sections.
– I was responsible for the last series of amendments, which in many respects liberalized the act.
– The liberality of the Liberal Government killed them, and their members had to give way to new-found Liberals - Tories who were never liberal in their ideas, but used liberal methods to obtain positions in Parliament, without any intentions of living up tothe high traditions of the old Liberal party., I have a great respect for the real Liberal,, and for any reformer, no matter in whoseranks he has a place. Senator Pearce has reminded me that the original Navigation Bill was introduced by a Liberal statesman. I shall allow to that gentleman the whole of the credit, for having introduced it. I think, however, that Senator Pearce will agree that the members of that party in the Senate fought the provisions of this act as keenly and as bitterly as they could. I happened to be here when the bill went through, and I have a very vivid recollection of the divisions that took place. They certainly were most one-sided, because the Labour party had a handsome majority. One can forgive those men,, because they were true to their principles and wanted the conditions to remain as they were. But when the conditions have been bettered, what are we to say of a Labour man who wants to undo work that even the Liberals were prepared to do ten or twelve years ago ?’ Is that progress? Is that advancement? Strangely enough,, it is only those clauses which deal with better conditions that we are asked to amend or repeal. Tasmania’s real trouble is that the marketing of her produce is in the hands of a few people, who use for their own profit the advantage that they possess.
– This amendment for which Senator Ogden is asking does not deal with the marketing of goods.
– It deals with the ships that go to Tasmania and carry the fruit.
– It does not. That is where the honorable senator is wrong. I do not think that the honorable senator has been fair to Senator Ogden; that is why I make this correction.
– I am very glad to hear Senator Greene contradict my statement that the sections which . Senator Ogden proposes to repeal relateto the carriage of Tasmania’s goods to market. If that isso, then Senator Ogden has so much less ground to stand on.
– It does not touch that matter at all, as the honorable senator will realize if he reads it.
– I have already read it. twice; I may not be permitted to do so again.
– The motion refers to passengers only, and not to freights.
– That certainly weakens Senator Ogden’s case. If his only concern is the convenience of passengers, and not the million cases of apples that are produced, and to which,, I believe, Senator J. B. Hayes made some reference, his conduct is all the more inexplicable, and it is all the more difficult to understand why he has allowed his new-made friends to urge him on to move the motion. What difference would the carrying of the motion make to the passenger traffic to and from Tasmania? Do any honorable senators think that the great ocean liners would worry about 20, 40, 50, or even 100 passengers?-
– We will tell the honorable senator about it quietly if he likes.
– Senator Ogden will have an opportunity to explain, his position when he replies, and it will take him some time to do so.
– Hundreds more tourists would ‘go to Tasmania if they could travel on the oversea liners.
– That may be so.
– Then why talk about 20 or 40 ?’
– Nobody could truthfully assert that there are hundreds, of passengers waiting every day to go to Tasmania on these black-labour shipss.
– Does the Orient line employ black labour?
– It does not.
– More tourists went to Tasmania, last year than ever before.
– In spite of the Navigation Act. It will be a bad job for Tasmania when the tourist traffic does not increase.
– I thank Senator McHugh for his interjection. It proves conclusively that the Tasmanians are anxious -to hug an imaginary grievance. The real trouble thatfaces them is that of strikes, and there is a simple way to settle them.
– Why does not thehonorable senator settle the present shipping strike?
– Only governments; can settle them.
– The Queensland Labour Government does not seem to be able to- settle the railway dispute there.
– I ask Senator Gardiner not to allow himself to be led away by interjections that are not only irrelevant, but also disorderly.
– That being so, sir, I will not be led away by them. If we interfere with or alter the Navigation Aci we shan most certainly cause strikes. The provisions of the act to which Senator Ogden objects ensure that the seamen shall enjoy decent conditions. If they are repealed, strikes’ are certain to occur. Strikes are caused, not by agitators, as some’ honorable senators opposite frequently say, but by real grievances.
– More strikes have occurred on the Commonwealth- Government: boats than on any others.
– The recent strike was; quickly settled on the Commonwealth boats. As soon as the seamen were given to understand that their conditions and wages would not be interfered with, they Manned the boats. Evidently Senator Ogden desires to see black-labour conditions revived and the seamen revert to the conditions of ten or twenty years ago. If that should happen, the last condition of Tasmania will be worse than the first.. An infinitely worse position, will prevail. But governments, will yet have to learn that this great democracy, 99 per cent, of the people of which depend for their living on the labour of their hands, will not accept tha old conditions. Senator Ogden may get sufficient support from our friends, the enemy, to carry this motion, but neither he nor they can put back the clock.
– I hope I will get sufficient, support.
– I shall be sorry to see even him in the company of honorable senators opposite voting for a motion like this, but he may rest assured that his. constituents and theirs will be watching how he votes. Senator Ogden, cannot stop the march of progress. The great majority of this community favour progressive legislation. The improve-‘ ment of working conditions has. ceased now to be solely a Labour question. Even such a new-found tory as Senator Newland would not shut his eyes to the necessity for continually improving the lot of the working man, particularly as. he, like myself,, will have to face the electors in six months’ time..
– The honorable senator always keeps his eye on the electors.
– Let us, be: honest with ourselves,:, we all do.
– I can hardly believe that in six. years Senator Duncan, has altogether lost those democratic opinions which were so pronounced in him as to lead to his election to this Senate, and to give him a footing in public life. His liberal views led men like the Right Hon. W. M Hughes to realize his worth. I cannot imagine him voting for Senator Ogden’s motion. The issue before us- is clear. Those who oppose, this motion will stand for decent working conditions for the seamen ; those who vote for it will indicate that they desire to revert, by piece-meal methods, to the conditions of years ago.
– Senator Gardiner knows that that statement is incorrect.
– I realize that my hasty methods sometimes lead me to say things that I ought not to say; but. I wish to inform Senator Ogden, in all mildness and fairness, that, .having pondered over this motion for six months, I am firmly convinced that it expresses his desires, and’ that the end to which it will lead is the end that he intends to reach. I assure him that that is the view of the members of the Parliamentary Labour party ,, and of many thousand’s of people throughout Australia who hold Labour sentiments.
– I am prepared to take the consequences. The honorable senator need not trouble about that. Let him look after his own seat, and I will look after mine.
– My seat has; so many people interested in it that it is altogether beyond my capacity to look after it. I am disposed to offer’ a challenge to the honorable senator. If he will resign his. seat. I am prepared, if the Tasmanian Labour party will select me, to resign my seat and go over there and, fight him on- this issue. Perhaps that is a hasty statement, but I will stand by it. If I should be defeated it would at least be a decent retirement from parliamentary life. I. trust that we shall reach a division on this motion to-night, for I am anxious to register my vote against, it, and also to give the Nationalist members of the Senate an opportunity to do- so. From the first day that Senator Ogden put this motion on the notice-paper until now he has shown himself to be an unreasoning and an uncompromising opponent of Labour. The Labour party in. this Parliament was unanimously of the opinion that the motion ought not to be moved by him, but evidently he wished to pose as a strong man, and, in defiance of the wishes of his colleagues, he moved it.
– And the real workers of this country - not the shirkers - will keep him here to do the same kind of thing again.
– It will keep him here.
– I am quite prepared, on a straightout fight, to accept the challenge issued by the honorable senator.
– The real workers of Tasmania will have the opportunity, I suppose, of seeing Senator Ogden sitting beside one of the biggest tories in Australia, Senator Guthrie, and voting for this -motion. That will certainly need some explanation.
– It will assure him of his position for years to come. It was the workers, not the shirkers, who put’ me here, and they will put me here again.
– They know their true friends.
– I suppose that Senator Guthrie includes in the term “shirkers” the same people that Senator Ogden described as “ rabble.” He will find before he is very much older that, after all, the shirkers in this country are not numerous. The people who do the work will let him know what they think of him.
– I am the friend of the workers, and always have been. That is why more than 316,000 electors voted for me.
– I admit that that is something to be proud of. It can never bc taken away from a man. I say, deliberately, that if I knew that voting against this motion would remove me from parliamentary life, I should still vote against it.
– I doubt that.
– No proof has been submitted to us by Senator Ogden, or the other Tasmanian senators who addressed themselves to the motion, that the Navigation Act has in any way interfered with the trade and commerce of Tasmania. We have been told that certain oversea liners with berths available have had to leave potential passengers behind. But I ask, who would not travel by a magnificent ocean-going liner in preference to an ordinary coastal boat? A trip to Tasmania on a big oversea boat in November, December, or January would make a tremendous appeal to sweltering crowds in Sydney. If the coasting provisions of the Navigation Act were repealed, some people would be thoughtless enough to use the ocean-going liners without heeding the conditions ofthe seamen employed on them. The mere fact that the Tasmanian tourist traffic has increased, and not decreased, since these provisions came into operation is sufficient evidence that they are not the cause of her troubles. Strikes are the real cause - strikes made necessary by the harsh manner in which the employing class is so prone to treat the workers. For instance, the British ship-owners determined that a reduction of fi a month must be made in the wages of the seamen, and so caused a strike which will probably affect, net only Tasmania, but every other state, and the effects of which may be accentuated by the anxiety of this Government to help the strike makers. The repeal of the sections of the Navigation Act to which Senator Ogden objects would not get Tasmania out of her difficulties. We must get down to the bedrock of the trouble. We must realize that we are living under conditions under which the people . are being steadily educated, and that as the education of the community increases its needs increase, and the means of satisfying those needs are improved. Obsolete methods of strikes and squabbles must continue until the Government are sufficiently well informed to realize that the only method of bringing about harmony in the community is by levelling up the conditions so that the working classes will no longer be dissatisfied or discontented. I am sorry that Senator Ogden has insisted on keeping his motion on the businesspaper. Even at this late hour I hope that he will see fit to withdraw it. At any rate, I hope that he will, realize that if he takes the matter to a division, he will be sitting with men who are enemies of labour, and that it is only from the enemies of labour he can expect support for his motion.
– There is one thing about this discussion for which we should be truly thankful, and that is that once more wo have heard the dulcet tones of Senator Gardiner, which we have missed for quite a long while. We have also missed the honorable senator’s prophecies. The honorable senator should have been a Presbyterian divine of the dourest school, one of those who for the least and most trivial cause threatens his congregation with hellfire of the most flaming description. Also it is a long while since any of us have been accused, even when we are holding moderate opinions, of being actuated by motives of the worst possible description. I have missed that intimidation «which the honorable senator hurls at any one who dares to disagree with him. I cannot congratulate him on ono phase of this matter, and that is, that although he tells us he has pondered . over this motion for six months, he has made statements showing that he does not know what it means. So far as I am concerned, I, in common, I think, with any representative of a smaller state, shall support the - motion. Without being accused of being in the service of the Inchcape combine, or any other body of nefarious persons such as Senator Gardiner is in the habib of referring to, I hope 1 may be permitted to express the opinion, as I have before in this chamber, that the Navigation Act,- part of which we are at the moment discussing, is now and has been from the outset a legislative misfit. I think it was brought into being principally through the lack of a sense of proportion on the part of Australia. Furthermore, it has signally failed in most of the objects it was put on the statute-book to achieve. Those who brought it into force professed to be actuated by a fear of monopolies. It has created many move monopolies than it has destroyed. In the present somewhat agitated state of public opinion I do not wish to refer to several of those monopolies, but let me say that it has made possible on the Australian coast monopolies which would be absolutely and entirely impossible without it. If it has raised the status of seamen, and I hope it has done so, how is it that among the class of seamen which man, say, the Commonwealth Line, and enjoy conditions and pay that were never thought of in any other part of the world before, nearly all the industrial trouble that has taken place is arising? That is a very peculiar thing. The application of the act to Western Australia and the more remote parts of Queensland has had nothing but a strangling influence. The Government is already recognizing this, and is making a concession in regard to Papua. But what applies to Papua applies to a very great extent also to the more remote parts of the Commonwealth. So far as locality is concerned the set has been beneficial only to the terminal ports of Sydney and Melbourne. It is natural perhaps that with the preponderating influence of the votes of New ‘ South Wales and Victorian representatives in another place the bill should have been carried by it almost unanimously. It is also natural that in this Senate where the interests of the states are .supposed to be represented, the representatives of the smaller states, realizing their duty and their responsibility, should fight such a measure as this to the bitter end. At all events I am sure that it is operating with very great disadvantage to Tasmania, I have, as I have said before, a very great sympathy for that state, aud I am pleased that on this occasion at all events all the Tasmanian senators will be looking at this matter in the same way that I do. I have little more to say except to qualify the remark I made just now, that no one could disagree with Senator Gardiner without being saddled with the imputation of very bad motives. The honorable senator has weakened somewhat on that point, because I heard him, in a weak moment perhaps, when his heart was perhaps momentarily touched by the tribulations of Tasmania, admit that Senator Ogden probably had good intentions. Later on . the honorable senator may make a personal explanation and withdraw that little concession. Because I have never believed in this Navigation Act for the smaller states, because I can never understand why the class of seamen who have benefited most by the passing of the act. are the most discontented, because I recognize that the Navigation Act has created more monopolies than it has ever frustrated, and most of all, because I am the representative of a smaller state - the motion does not affect my state, but still it is a good indication of the way things are going - for all these reasons I feel it my duty to support the motion by -Senator Ogden.
– I oppose the motion moved by Senator Ogden. It may be, as my respected leader, Senator Gardiner, has said, simply a pious resolution, inasmuch as those who are responsible for bringing it forward know perfectly well that, even if it be carried, it will have no effect, unless a bill to amend the Navigation Act is passed through both Houses. But I regard it as dangerous. It is proposing something which is unconstitutional. When the Navigation Bill was originally introduced a proposal was made that Western Australia should be exempted from the coasting provisions, but a definite statement was made by one who had some constitutional knowledge that section 99 of the Constitution would prevent it from being done.
– That is quite right. Any exemption must apply to all the states.
– Quite so. Even if an amending bill were passed by both Houses it would be unconstitutional if the exemption applied to one state only.
– The Labour party of the day supported to the hilt the exemption of Western Australia.
– Yes, but later on it supported the proposal that the provisions of the act should be uniform, and wholly federal in their operation. But while I am aware that even if this motion be carried it will render no relief to Tasmania in the direction sought by Senator Ogden, I recognise the danger behind it, because it would be an encouragement to the Government to introduce a bill to give the relief for which the motion .asks. If some person with a natural opposition to legislation of this description had submitted this motion I could readily understand it; but for it to be moved by one who was elected to the Senate as a representative of Labour is past my comprehension. I remember the great in terest taken iu the Navigation Bill when it was under consideration. As secretary of a maritime union it was part of my duty to attend Parliament House and consult with certain members of the Labour party who had formed themselves into a committee and were taking more than a passing interest in the bill. I look upon the passing of the measure as one of the things that made possible the betterment of the conditions of the seamen employed on Australian vessels. Just prior to the passing of the bill it was my privilege to be representing the Marine Cooks, Butchers and Bakers in a case before Mr. Justice Higgins, and if I remember aright it was the first decision given by him in connexion with the maritime industry of Australia. In the minutes of hia judgment occurred a passage to this effect -
I have yet to learn that the steamship companies of Australia have a special charter to house their employees on board ship like pigs instead of human beings.
He was specially requested by the representative of the steamship-owners to delete that passage from the minutes, but he replied -
I shall do so, and I shall be pleased to forget it, when the day arrives that the steamshipowners of our country can prove to me that they are not housing their employees like pigs.
The men engaged in sea-faring were vitally interested in the provisions of the Navigation Bill, and the Labour movement throughout Australia also took a great interest in its passage through Parliament. When it was ultimately passed, and became part and parcel of our legislation, we considered that the Parliament had set up a beacon light of hope to the seafaring men of other countries. I would be profoundly disappointed if this Parliament now endeavoured in any way to interfere with the protection it has bestowed upon our seafaring men. Some’ time ago, Senator Lynch submitted a motion to the Senate, the effect of which, if carried, would have been to interfere with the operation of the Navigation Act in order to confer some particular benefit upon the state of Western Australia., which the honorable senator represents in this chamber. Recently, the Government submitted an amending Navigation Bill, under which it obtained power to suspend the coasting provisions of the Navigation Act, and it also passed an amending immigration bill, under which, authority was obtained to deport men from this country.
– Order! The honorable senator will not be in order in discussing the measures to which he has just referred.
– The present proposal, in conjunction with action taken in the past, can only lead one to believe that that monumental piece of legislation known as the Navigation Act is in danger of being seriously interfered with by a certain section of the people.
– The honorable senator must have misread my motion, to which he has referred.
– Wo have been informed that this motion refers only to vessels carrying passengers around the Australian coast, and that no exemption is sought in the case of cargo. What does the proposal mean? Those controling Australian shipping have to comply with Australian conditions. In other words, while we pay our able-bodied seamen or firemen from £17 to £18 per month, vessels manned by coolie labour, or sweated British labour, are paying considerably loss. Lf this alteration is allowed, our Australian seamen will again be working under the conditions which existed when they had neither a body to be kicked nor a soul to be damned. If effect is given to the motion, vessels manned by coloured labour will bo able to pick up passengers on the Australian coast, and carry them to any port in Tasmania, and thus seriously interfere with the trade of the ships controlled by companies complying with the conditions provided in the Navigation Act. Notwithstanding this, we are informed that there is nothing of vital importance in the proposal. I can support the statement made by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner) that the majority of the people of Tasmania are not in favour of a condition of affairs such as is sought by the mover of the motion. An effort was also made on one occasion to prevent the awards of the Arbitration Court being applicable to Tasmania, as the effect would be, it was said, to hamper industry in that state. If it is reasonable to exempt overseas ships trading with Tasmania from the provisions of the Navigation Act, it is equally reasonable to exempt the industries in that state from complying with the awards of the Federal Arbitration Court.
– Hear, hear! And Western. Australia, too.
– The majority of the people in Tasmania and Western Australia do not desire such exemptions.
– I say that they do.
– Each state has its own industrial legislation.
– Yes, but there are tens of thousands of men and women throughout Australia whose conditions and wages are controlled by a federal law. The Navigation Act is purely federal in its scope, and I am not in favour of granting exemption to any particular state.
– The honorable senator knows quite well that licences and permits have been granted.
– The Government has authority to grant licences.
– It has done so.
– This motion deals exclusively with Tasmania, and even if it were carried, and the Government desired to introduce an amending Navigation Bill to give effect in the direction the mover desires, such legislation would be unconstitutional as it would involve a differentiation as between states. I can only repeat that the motion submitted by Senator Lynch some time ago, the action of the Government in suspending the coasting provisions of the Navigation Act, and this motion now before the Senate indicate that a determined effort is being made by some person or persons to destroy the effect of the Navigation Act which was placed upon the statutebook in the interests of Australian seamen. I trust that in the interest of those who go down to the sea in ships this Parliament will not permit the act to be amended in the direction desired.
– I support the motion submitted by Senator Ogden. Honorable senators of the Opposition seem to forget the disadvantages under which Tasmania is labouring. According to those honorable senators, who are opposing the motion, Tasmania has a wonderful tourist traffic every year, numerous boats, working under Australian conditions, are bringing pasengers to Tasmania, and in .every way our interests are being conserved by the shipping ooni.pan.ifiB employing .Australian seamen. That is a statement to which I give a flat denial. During four of the last five tourist seasons the traffic has .been utterly ruined owing to seamen on Australian boats refusing to work. As the result of such strikes Tasmania has .been left in a state of isolation. If it could be shown that a sufficient number of Australian boats would regularly visit Tasmania, and that there was a reasonable prospect of the tourist traffic being carried on uninterruptedly, there would be no need for a motion such as we are now discussing. But since the tourist traffic, which is in a sense the lifeblood of Tasmania, is being severely interfered with, and at times has been practically ruined, are we not to seek redress? We are not asking that a single additional vessel shall be permitted to trade to Tasmania. Many at present going to that state from the mainland have ample unoccupied passenger accommodation. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner) said that oversea vessels would not visit Tasmania for the sake of carrying 20 or 30 passengers. That is quite correct. We would not expect them to do so. But boats come from Sydney two or three times a week during the apple season with practically the whole of their passenger accommodation unoccupied. Prior to 1914, 25 to 30 overseas vessels visited Tasmania each year to ship apples, and these ships carried in 1914’ no less than 855 passengers to Tasmania in addition to 4,240 in transit to other ports. The whole of that traffic has now been lost to Tasmania. When we consider that at a low estimate these passengers, would spend from £30 to £40 each during their stay in that state, we can see the immense loss which has resulted, not only to the trading community, but also to the Tasmanian worker, who also benefits in consequence of the increased amount of money circulated. As it has been stated that the representatives of Labour are unanimously opposed to any amendment of the Navigation Act in the direction indicated, I quote the Premier of Tasmania, who is a good Labour man, and who is reported in the Mercury of the 25 th August of this year -as having said -
In the special circumstances -which surround Tasmania’s .case I agree that overseas steamers calling at Hobart should be permitted to carry interstate passengers.
That is .a statement made by the Leader of the Labour party in Tasmania, who is respected by all sections, and yet we are told that the Labour supporters in Tasmania are opposed to any amendment of the Navigation Act. It is useless to say that the motion if carried would involve the employment of black labour on the Australian coast. Of all I he oversea steamship lines which send their vessels to Tasmania during the apple season, there is practically only one which employs black labo.ur *en its ships. All the others employ British seamen, and, consequently, there should be no objection to Tasmania’s produce being carried on vessels maimed by whitelabour. lit would appear that honorable senators who are .opposed to the motion would sooner see our produce carried either by foreign .or black labour crews. At the present time only one British shipping company whose vessels call at Tasmanian ports employs black labour. Others employ Norwegians, Germans and seamen of other nationalities. They are not being interfered with, but, unfortunately, British shipping, which could handle our trade, is being harassed.
– And the wages paid by foreign ship-owners are less than half the wages paid by British shipping companies.
– That is so. The present shipping trouble has been brought about in defiance of instructions from the organization controlling British seamen in England. It has been said that Tasmania is not suffering any serious disadvantage from the operation of the Navigation Act. That statement, of course, is not in accordance with facts. In the matter of light dues, to mention only one, Tasmania has been seriously inconvenienced. Prior to the proclamation of the Navigation Act two companies were trading regularly between New Zealand, Tasmania and England. The only port of call in Australia was Hobart, and the light dues then were only £25. The vessels came into Hobart by day and went out by daylight, so they were not obliged to use a single light on the Australian coast. Nevertheless, when the
Navigation Act waa proclaimed, they were charged as much as vessels that used every lighthouse on the Australian coast. Honorable senators may also remember that recently a Norwegian whaling expedition, under the control- of Captain Larsen, desired to make Hobart its head-quarters, but owing to the restrictive provisions of the Navigation Act, itwas forced to use a New Zealand base. Captain Larsen stated definitely that his intention had been to make Hobart his base, if he could have, avoided the heavy Commonwealth light dues. Be said he could have got better coal, cheaper and more quickly, in Hobart than elsewhere, also better water and better shelter, and the Marine Board charges would have been much less. He also wished to ship 20 or 30 Tasmanians each year for his crew.
– What, are the charges ?
– About £lo0 for half «7i hour.
– Do those charges apply all round the Australian coast?
– Yes. It has been said that this fs a purely Tasmanian agitation, and that Tasmanians are always airing some imaginary grievance. As a native of Tasmania I repudiate that statement. I consider that, in connexion with the Navigation Act, Tasmania has not had a fair deal from the Commonwealth. The following resolution was carried unanimously at the fourth Interstate Harbour Conference held in Melbourne in October last: -
That, in the opinion of this conference the conditions imposed by the Navigation Act in the case of Tasmania and other isolated portions of the Commonwealth which are wholly dependent on seaborne transit have meant the withdrawal of steamers which previously called nt these ports, and which withdrawal has brought about isolation and serious loss, of trade. This conference, therefore, desires a modification of many of the conditions, including particularly the coastal clauses of the act, which have brought about these limitations.
No one will accuse the delegates who attended the interstate conference referred to of being biased in favour of Tasmania. It was a gathering of principal officials of harbour authorities throughout Australia. I suggest, therefore, that the resolution just quoted should carry weight with honorable senators. Senator J. B. Hayes has already read the resolution of the Hobart Marine Board. It might be urged that the Marine Board is biased in favour of its own port. If to be biased means a desire to improve the conditions and facillitate trade, then the Hobart Marine Board is biased, and I, also, am biased. There is.no reason why the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Gardiner) ‘ should have displayed so much heat in the, debate to-night, and why he should have suggested that Tasmania was not entitled to consideration in regard to this act. I have already pointed out that only one British shipping company trading with Tasmania employs black labour. All the other vessels have British crews. If honorable senators who are opposing the motion prefer that the trade should go to foreign seamen or to ships employing black labour crews, then the responsibility must be theirs, not ours. I have’ already emphasized that the Premier of the Labour Government in Tasmania, speaking not only on behalf of Labour, but in the interests of the state generally, has urged that some relief should be given to Tasmania. Evidence given before members of the Navigation Commission indicated clearly that: this need is urgent. Unfortunately, the commission did not furnish a unanimous recommenda- tion but four of its seven members expressed the’ belief that some relief should be given.
– How does the honorable senator propose to get over the constitutional difficulty J
– I am not attempting to do so. That must be the responsibility of the Government.
– But what is the use of passing a resolution to which effect cannot be given?
– It could be given effect by introducing amending legislation to make these provisions apply to certain ports of Australia for certain periods of the year.
– That cannot be done.
– The difficulty I believe, could be overcome by granting an exemption in general terms for vessels to carry passengers between Sydney aDd Hobart and Hobart and Melbourne.
– There is power to do that now.
– But it is necessary to apply for a permit for each trip. We suggest that there should be a general permit during the fruit season. If there was a provision that permits would be granted only to ships employing white labour, Tasmania would be quite satisfied. Perhaps that would meet with the objections offered by honorable senators of the Opposition. The Navigation Act has also prejudicially affected trade between Tasmania and New Zealand. Many years ago we had a splendid and regular weekly passenger and cargo service between Melbourne, Hobart, and New Zealand. For some reason, just prior to the passing of the act, the vessels were taken off the run, and for many years now we have had no regular passenger or cargo service between Hobart and Melbourne, which is our nearest capital city on the mainland. Tasmania’sonly means , of communication is by sea. Should not this fact have some weight with honorable senators ? We consider this matter of vital importanceto Tasmania. It has been suggested that we should wait until trouble eventuates. We found last year that it wastoo late. Trouble occurred after our tourist season had started, and very much inconvenience was caused to a large number of people. Many, who were in employment on the mainland, were detained in Tasmania, fur so long that upon their return they found their positions filled by others. After a great deal of difficulty we succeeded in getting one of the Commonwealth vessels outside Tamar Heads, and were able to return many tourists to their homes. It has been said that the Commonwealth vessels are at our disposal. Are honorable senators aware that, except, during the fruit season, we never see a Commonwealth steamer in Tasmanian waters?We hear about them from time to time being tied up owing to- strikes, or else lying anchored off Williamstown or in Sydney harbour. When the fruit season is on one or two come down to Hobart to lift our fruit. Tasmania, I remind the Senate, is paying its share of the tremendous losses incurred annually by the running of these vessels, as well as its share of losses in connexion with other Commonwealth Government activities, so we should certainly have some consideration in this matter. The Government did its best, during the last strike, to keep thepassenger boats running to Tasmania. I hope that next season we will not have a recurrence of the disastrous happenings of the last five years.
Debate (on motion by Senator Duncan) adjourned.
The following paper was presented: -
European Security - Additional Documents relating to proposed Pact.
Private Members’ Business : Motion as to Industrial Disturbance.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed -
Thatthe Senate do now adjourn.
– In view of the slight progress that has been made with business since the dinner adjournment, and the manner in which the motion standing in my name on the notice-paper has been shut out. I should like to know, whether the Government will afford me an early opportunity to place the matter before the Senate ? The importance of the motion is equalled only by the urgency of the situation. Therefore I request the Government to take into consideration the fairness of allowing me to place the matterbefore the Senate at the earliest date consistent with the transaction of Government business.
– The Government is not altogether tie final arbiter in the matter, but so far as we are able we shall endeavour to give the honorable senator an early opportunity to move his motion, if the state of public business permits us to do so.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.5 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 27 August 1925, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1925/19250827_senate_9_111/>.