10th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– On the 21st January, Senator Needham asked the following questions -
I now desire to advise the honorable senator that the replies to his questions are as follow: -
– Has the Leader of the Senate noted a speech recently delivered by Lord Apsley before the Ladies’ Imperial Club, in London, and does the Minister share the opinion expressed by his lordship, that the Scotsmen have all the land in Australia; that the Jews have all the money, and that the Irish have all the government jobs, there being nothing left for Australians or the English?
– I do not share that view. I understood that his lordship was trying to be facetious.
The following papers were presented : -
Iron and Steel Products Bounty Act- Statement bv the Minister for Trade rind Customs” of reasons for allowing the use of certain imported articles in the manufacture of a tractor on which bounty is payable.
Taxation Acts- Ninth Report of the Commissioner, covering financial years ended 30th June, 1924 and 1925.
War Service Homes Act- Land acquired in New South Wales at Randwick.
Bill rend a third time.
Motion (by Senator PEARCE) proposed -
That the hill be now rend a third time.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL (South Australia) [3.6].-*- I intended to speak on the second reading of this bill, but, as honorable senators will remember, the acting Leader of the Opposition (Senator Needham) moved on Friday for the adjournment of the debate, and his request was refused, because one or two honorable, senators were then prepared to continue the debate. Senator Payne, I think, rose to speak at a moment when I was called out of the chamber, and I imagined that I should be quite safe in leaving my place for half-an-hour, but when I returned, I found that the next business had been called on. I understood that the debate had been adjourned, but, to my surprise, on looking at the notice-paper this morning, I learnt that the bill had been read a second time and passed through the committee stage. I, therefore, take this opportunity of making some remarks which I intended to offer on the second reading. For reasons which I think will appeal to honorable senators when I state them, I am unable to follow the Government, so far as this measure is concerned. The enactment of a bill having provisions of this character, except so far as they deal with advances. for the encouragement of prospecting in- the Northern Territory, is, in my opinion, entirely outside the powers of this Par liament. Those powers, as honorable senators know, are strictly limited, and cover only such matters as are declared by the Federal Constitution to be. within the executive power of the Federal Parliament. Full powers over all other matters are reserved to the States. I contend that the Government in asking Parliament to pass this measure is asking it to exceed its constitutional power. To my mind, it is -an unwarranted intrusion by the Commonwealth into the sphere of State activities.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.It is tending strongly that way; and thu interjection reminds me that it is not the first occasion on which the Commonwealth Government has intruded in this manner upon the sphere of State activities. Among the matters that occur to my mind at the moment is the provision of an amount in 1923 for advances by the Commonwealth to the States for wire netting for settlers. In 1924, and again, I think, in .1925, provision was made for advances by the Commonwealth to vh© States for the construction and maintenance of roads. Both those matters are entirely outside the Commonwealth’s proper sphere of activity as laid down by the Constitution. ‘ They are matters with which the Commonwealthought not to concern itself, as they are essentially State matters. The intention of the Commonwealth to make advances to the States to assist in the building of homes has been forecasted. - In that also the Commonwealth will be departing from the constitutionally laid down sphere of its own activities. The position is exactly the same in regard to mining and prospecting for precious metals. The interference of the Commonwealth .in all these matters constitutes a distinct infringement of the rights of the States. I do not think that any honorable senator will disagree with me when I say that the maintenance, inviolate, of the exclusive right of each State to order and control its domestic affairs according to its own judgment is ‘ essential to the due balance of power upon which the smooth working of the federal system depends. It is quite time that this -Parliament called a halt to these .infringements of State power, which are in reality a peaceful penetration by the Commonwealth into the sphere of State activities. We should refuse to be led along paths that we have no right to tread. I am not going to assist either this or any other Government to act in defiance or in breach of the constitution under which it is supposed to function. The stand that I am now taking is not a new one. I have previously had occasion to deal with similar cases.
My Government protests strongly against the passing of the Advances to Settlers Bill, providing as it does for Commonwealth encroachment upon the States’ activities. All necessary provision for supply of wire netting to farmers is contained in State legislation. This State does not ask for or require such assistance as the bill provides for, and objects to contribute towards concessions that might be made to settlers in other States.
The objection which I then raised applies to the measure that we are now considering. Let us look at theway in which the scheme may work out. One State may get little or none of the money that is to be appropriated for the purposes of this bill; it may get less than it is entitled to, or less than it thinks it is entitled to. Yet each State, through its taxpayers, will have to contribute towards the payments that are made to other States. That is not right. The Minister in charge of the bill (Senator Pearce), replying to an interjection that I made on Friday morning, said that the allocation of this money, as between the States, would not necessarily be made upon the basis of the present expenditure of those States, nor upon the basis of the population of the various States, nor, indeed, upon any defined basis. It is clear from what the Minister said, that the allocation is to be made merely at the will, or may be the whim, of the Minister who happens to be in con trol of the department at the time. It is quite time that this Parliament took steps to prevent the unwarranted intrusion by the Commonwealth into the sphere of the States. Let the Commonwealth mind its own business, and the States will mind their own business. The Governments and the Parliaments of the States know far better than does the Commonwealth Government what expenditure is necessary or desirable within their several spheres upon matters that come constitutionally within their control. What is more, the Governments and the Parliaments of the States will expend whatever money is desirable, provided that they are not financially crippled by the Commonwealth. That is the position in which we find ourselves at the present time. I speak strongly upon this matter, because I have been right up against it for a good many years. For nearly seven years, as a member of the State Ministry of South Australia - principally as Premier, and later as Leader of the Opposition - I was brought into close touch with the position of the States in regard to these matters. The States will carry out the functions that lie within their constitutional spheres, provided they are not financially crippled by the Commonwealth. When I addressed myself to the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to the Speech that was delivered by His Excellency the Governor-General, I said that the Commonwealth should get out of the field of income taxation and practice strict economy. I say now that above all things it should function constitutionally, limiting its expenditure to matters that are properly and legitimately within its power and control.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.There is a slight difference in that case. The Commonwealth owed an obligation to soldier settlers on the River Murray. The proper action in that case, however, was for the Commonwealth to find the money, and leave the expenditure and the administration of the settlements in the hands of the States. I am in entire accord with the co-operation that at present exists between the Commonwealth and the States in regard to the raising of loans ; that is quite a good thing. The creation of a Loan Council had my approval. What I object to is the fact that the Commonwealth, merely because it has large surpluses, makes advances to States for State activities, and lavs down the terms and conditions upon which the money shall be expended.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.Of course it should. By so doing it would enlarge the taxation field of the States, and enable them to raise revenue sufficient to carry out efficiently their own activities. Honorable senators may have noticed in this morning’s Argus a statement by the Premier of South Australia that the Commonwealth is proposing to make certain advances to the States for road construction, but upon terms and conditions which do not suit South Australia.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.The terms and conditions may suit Victoria, they may suit two or three of the States, but not all the States. But the point I wish to make is that it is not the function of the Commonwealth to lay down any terms and conditions in this regard.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.No. They are not compelled to do so. but if they do not-
– Order! This discussion is covering too much- ground. The honorable senator will be quite in order in referring by way of illustration to the grant for roads, or to other proposed grants, but he is not entitled to discuss generally any grant other than that referred to in the bill.
– I am anxious to keep strictly within the Standing Orders, and I think I am doing so in replying to an interjection as to whether the States are bound to accept the terms and conditions laid down by the Commonwealth.
– The honorable senator must not dispute my ruling in this way. The fact that an interjection has been made is no proper excuse for an evasion of the Standing Orders.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.With all due deference, sir, I am explaining the position, not merely in order to reply to an interjection, but because it is strictly pertinent to the bill. Under this measure the Commonwealth is making an offer of a grant to the States for a purpose that does not come within the Commonwealth sphere, and the question arises whether or not the States need accept the money. They need not. As a matter of fact the Commonwealth Government’s advance for wire netting was not accepted by South Australia, not only because it was a matter outside the powers of the Commonwealth, but also because the State was already making advances to setters upon certain terms and conditions to provide them with wire netting. If the State makes advances for a particular purpose upon certain terms and conditions, and then the Commonwealth enters the fieldand also makes advances for the same purposes upon different terms and conditions, trouble is immediately bound to arise, and it is likely to arise in connexion with the Commonwealth’s advance for prospecting. It may be argued that there is a provision in the Commonwealth Constitution enabling the Federal Parliament to give financial assistance to any State upon such terms and conditions as it thinks fit. But that provision of the Constitution does not cover the cases to which I have already referred, or a grant to enable prospecting to be carried on in any State. It will, however, cover the proposed grant of £450,000 toWestern Australia. When a State comes to the Commonwealth and asks for financial assistance, the Commonwealth has the right under the Constitution to give that assistance upon such terms and conditions as the Parliament thinks fit. But those terms and conditions relate to matters of repayment, the provision of a sinking fund, the rate of interest to be paid, and so forth. They do not cover the matter of how the money is to be spent, that being a matter outside the scope of the Federal Government. In regard to the bill now before the Senate, the States are not asking for assistance to enable prospecting to be carried on. This grant is a case of unsolicited andunwarranted interference by the Commonwealth in State activities, and is, as I have already said, a distinct infringement of the rights of the States. Most of the States are so hard up that they greedily grab any money that the Commonwealth cares to advance to them. That is partly because of the difficulty they have in raising money by taxation for their own requirements, while the federal taxation, direct -and indirect, remains as high as it is; and it is partly because the States are afraid that these large accumulated surpluses which are being built up in the Commonwealth will be wasted if they turn down these offers of assistance. However, that reason does not touch the vital point of this legislation. . My first objection to the bill is that it is unconstitutional, so far as it provides for making advances for prospecting within the States. Of course, it is quite consitutional, in so far as itdeals with advances for prospecting in the Northern Territory.’ The Commonwealth Parliament is certainly entitled to legislate in that direction, but it has no right whatever to legislate in regard to prospecting within the States.
– Could a State restrain the Commonwealth by injunction, or otherwise, from advancing money for prospecting within its boundaries ?
– That could be done in regard to any action taken by the Commonwealth which was against the Constitution.
– I do not think that the action proposed in this instance is against the Constitution.
– In my opinion it is. The present AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Latham) put the position very clearly in a speech he made last year, when he said that the Commonwealth Government had no right to use Commonwealth revenue for the purpose of constructing and maintaining roads within the States, because it was not a matter placed under the control and power of the Commonwealth by the Constitution. Exactly the same argument applies in regard to advances to the States for prospecting, for the purchase of wire netting, or for the building of houses. I did not think that there would be any doubt on the point in the mind of any member of the legal fraternity. I have not the slightest doubt that, constitutionally, the Federal Government has no right to intrude upon State functions in this way. I have already pointed out that the Minister may not administer these funds in any particularly defined way, but may allocate them according to his own whim, while a State, through its taxpayers, is contributing to the expenditure not only in its own territory, but also in other States. That is my first objection to the bill, and, of course, it is vital to that portion of it which deals with advances to the States. But it seems to me that there is another very strong objection to the bill, and that is that it is merely a skeleton. It is merely an enabling bill authorizing the Commonwealth to advance money up to a certain amount. It provides no basis for the allocation of the money. It contains no provision as to the terms and conditions upon which advances are to be made. All that is to be dealt with by regulation. Honorable senators will have noticed, as I certainly have for two or three years past, that there is a growing tendency on the part of the Federal Parliament to legislate in this particular way. It passes an enabling bill, but the real crux of the legislation is dealt with by regulation or by proclamation. To me that seems to be a highly objectionable form of legislation. Surely Parliament can, and should, decide how this money is to be allocated, as between the States. Surely some basis can be laid down in the bill.
– Might not that make it unconstitutional ?
– No. There is power to provide in that way.
– The judgment in the Cameron taxation case was based upon the fact that there was a differentiation as between States.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.That is a totally different matter.
– I do not think so.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.The same principle is not involved in this case.
– It will arise if there is to be in the bill any differentiation as between States.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.The question is upon what basis is a differentiation to be made. My objection is that the bill does not provide any basis whatever. The Minister (Senator Pearce) admitted that full discretion would be with the Minister. The allocation may be made according to his wish, or, as I’ said before, his own whim. That is highly objectionable. Surely it is also equally important that Parliament should decide the terms and conditions upon which advances are to be made; but there is not a word in the bill on that point. . The principles involved are of great importance. . The first is, I contend, vital to the constitutionality of the bill. The other matter is one of procedure. It is of the utmost importance that Parliament should not delegate to the Government its powers of legislation, and have effect given to them by regulations or by proclamation. Such a course may be necessary in regard to details, but in this instance the crux of the bill is to be dealt with under regulations. The principal functions of other legislation passed by this Parliament have been left to the Government to deal with either by regulation or by proclamation. This is a matter upon which the Senate should take a strong and determined stand. It is our duty to insist that all legislation passed by this chamber shall be within the powers of this Parliament. I have expressed my opinion that as regards the payment of advances to States, this legislation is ultra vires, and I, therefore, intend to oppose the third reading of the bill.
– Like Senator Barwell, I missed my chance to speak on the second reading of the bill, and I, therefore, desire to take this opportunity to say a few words with regard to it. I do not intend to discuss its constitutional aspect, as that is a matter I do not feel competent . to debate. I think, however, that it is unwise of the Federal Parliament to encroach upon State domestic affairs, and to attempt to deal with matters of which it knows very little, and for which it has not the necessary machinery. The Commonwealth Government seems to be adopting the policy of a benevolent godfather who has too much money to spend. The objection which applies in this instance also holds in regard to the main roads vote.I shall take an opportunity later of objecting to the Commonwealth Government levying so much in the form of direct taxation, and then making grants to the States. It would be better if the Federal Government vacated the field of direct taxation and left the management of the States’ domestic affairs entirely to the States. The bill, as Senator Barwell has stated, is a mere skeleton, and one under which power is given to the Government to make advances to prospectors and companies. I trust the Government will do no such thing, except in the case of the Northern Territory. Any advances made under this bill should be confined entirely to grants to the States.
– That is what the bill provides.
– Under clause 5, grants may be made direct to prospectors.
– I made it clear that that is not proposed.
– Grants should not be made to prospectors, except in the Northern Territory.
– In the Northern Territory grants will have to be made direct to the prospectors, but it is not intended to follow .a similar course in regard to the States. The grants will be paid to the States, and not to individuals.
– I am glad to have that assurance. I am conversant with, the peculiar conditions obtaining in Tasmania. This Parliament is not competent to judge the best method of spending the money.
– I have said- that we do not’ intend’ to do as the honorable senator suggests.
– If the expenditure of this money is authorized, it may be necessary and desirable to spend some on old fields, or to assist prospectors going out into the bush. Apparently, a good deal will be spent in an endeavour to locate precious metals, but the possibility of fresh discoveries in this regard are remote. It would be better to devote the money to the discovery of base metals, as the base metal industry leads to greater development, and is consequently of more value to the States. It appears, however, that the bill is almost entirely to encourage prospecting for gold. The value of o’smiridium, for instance, is. seven or eight times that of gold. As the Minister (Senator Pearce) has stated that it is not the intention of the Government to make advances to individuals or companies, but simply to make a grant to the States, my principal objection to the bill has been removed. I shall not vote against the third reading, but shall content myself by entering my protest against the action of the Federal Government in attempting to deal with domestic questions with which it is not competent to deal, and which should be left to the States.
.- If I thought that this bill possessed the demerits pointed out by Senator Barwell, I should not have supported the second reading, or any other stage. But, in my opinion, those demerits do not exist. This bill, in common with the measures enabling grants to be made to the States for wire netting and for road construction, does not take from the States the control of the distribution of such grants within their respective boundaries. It, however, does come to the aid of communities in need of assistance, and in respect of those matters which demand attention more than others within the purview of the State Parliaments the States may be aided in a friendly and constitutional manner by the Commonwealth.
– There is no power under the Constitution to do what this bill proposes.
– As a layman, I must bow to the legal knowledge of the honorable senator; but I have the solatium and the encouragement that, sitting next to him is another legal gentleman (Senator Drake-Brockman) who takes an opposite view in this matter. I am reminded of the old proverb. “ Who shall decide when doctors disagree?”-
– Ask a policeman !
– I was about to suggest that we should look to another minion of the law. I look on this bill as being on all-fours with similar legislation which has already passed this chamber, and has given much-needed assistance to the States. The reason for the granting of that assistance is a different story. If the original provision in the Constitution with regard to the annual distribution of any surplus revenue had been continued, the present position would not have arisen. The surplus at the end of every year would have been divided amongst the States. But as that is not the present position, I look upon this grant as a somewhat tardy restitution to the States by the Commonwealth. It stands to the credit of this Government that it should have attempted to make restitution, on such a satisfactory basis as that embodied in this measure. The grants for wire netting and for roadmaking were made on the same basis, namely, that, of population and area com- bined. If the grant is to be made on this basis, I, perhaps, should feel even more inclined to support it.
– The allocation of the grant on the basis of area would, no doubt, suit the honorable senator.
– Senator Ogden has not opposed grants being made to the States in other cases.
– I do not think that this grant will do the States much good.
-So long as the Commonwealth does not interfere with the control of the expenditure by the States-
– But it does.
SenatorKINGSMILL. -No. This money is to be granted for expenditure by the States. It will be paid to those individuals to whom the States think it should be paid. Although I have strong convictions on the rights of the States, I have no compunction in supporting the third reading of. this bill.
.- This is the first occasion within my memory on which an effort to help individuals, communities, or States, in need of help, has been referred to in this chamber as an unwarranted intrusion and interference. I listened attentively to Senator Barwell, and was surprised to hear him characterize in those terms this attempt by the Commonwealth to assist the States in a direction in which he admitted assistance was needed.
– I did not admit that the assistance was needed by the States.
– Surely the honorable senator realizes that prospecting has died out because of the lack of funds on the part of the States; that it can only be revived by the Commonwealth granting assistance, and that if it is revived the whole of the Commonwealth will benefit. Each year our output of “minerals decreases; yet the Treasurer is able to announce a considerable surplus each year.
– Would it not be better if the Commonwealth were to vacate the field of direct taxation?
– I shall not allow myself to be side-tracked by the honorable senator. The policy adopted by the Commonwealth Government during recent years has helped every State, and not Tasmania only. What better form of assistance could be given to the States than the equitable distribution among them of the huge surplus now standing to the Commonwealth’s credit?
– The States should be allowed to raise the money themselves.
– That is another question which, I admit, merits a full discussion in this Senate. The Commonwealth is receiving too much revenue. It could do with less. But if it is in the position to help the States, we should not prevent that assistance from being given. We must remember that we are dealing with present-day conditions. The Commonwealth has a large surplus, whereas most of the States show a deficit each year; and, in consequence, they are unable to carry out the public works which are essential for their development. Yet Senator Barwell refers to this attempt by the Commonwealth to assist the States as an unwarranted interference with the States. If I were in financial difficulties, and a wealthy neighbour offered to assist me, I should not describe his offer as an unwarranted intrusion into my affairs.
– The honorable senator might object if he were offered money belonging to some one else.
– We must not lose sight of the fact that the States comprise one big family. I hope that the day has passed when we shall find one State refusing to assist another in time of need. We ought to have arrived at the stage when each State recognizes that if any part of the Commonwealth suffers, the whole suffers.
– The Commonwealth should act ‘ in a constitutional manner.
– I believe that the Constitution anticipated a situation such as has now arisen, because it provides that nothing in the Constitution shall prohibit a State from granting aid to, or a bounty for, mining operations. As the Constitution provides that the powers of the States and the Commonwealth shall not conflict,the inference is that the Commonwealth shall be permitted to assist in the development of mining. I hope that Senator Barwell will not press his opposition to this measure, because, although the amount of the grant is small, the disbursement of the money may have good results.
– I am surprised to hear Senator Barwell say that the bill is unconstitutional. As a layman I would hesitate, of course, to challenge his opinion; but let us, as laymen, consider what the Constitution provides. The only reference to the distribution of Commonwealth revenue, so far as I know, is to be found in section 87, which states - During a period of ten years after the es tablishment of the Common wealth, and thereafter until the Parliament otherwise provides, of the net revenue of the Commonwealth from duties of Customs and of Excise, not more than one-fourth shall be applied annually by the Commonwealth towards its expenditure. The balance shall, in accordance with this Constitution, be paid to the several States, or applied towards the payment of interest on debts of the severalStates taken over by the Commonwealth.
In 1910, that period of ten years having expired, Parliament passed an act regarding the financial relations between the Commonwealth and the several States. Section 3 of the act provides -
Prom and after the 3 1st day of December, 1910, section 87 of the Constitution shall cease to have effect so far as it affects the power of the Commonwealth to apply any portion of the net revenue of Customs and Excise towards its expenditure; and so far as it affects the payment of any balance by the Commonwealth to the several States, or the application of such balance towards the payment of interest on the debts of the several States taken over by the Commonwealth.
Then the act proceeds to set out the manner in which the Commonwealth may distribute, not merely its Customsrevenue, but also its general revenue. Section 4 states -
The Commonwealth shall, during the period of ten years, beginning on the first day of July, 1010, and thereafter until the Parliament otherwise provides, pay to each State bymonthly instalments, or apply to the payment of interest on debts of the State taken over by the Commonwealth, an annual sum amounting to 25s. per head of the number of the people of the State.
Does the honorable senator contend that that is unconstitutional?
– No; but this is conditional.
– If the honorable senator admits that that is not unconstitaitional, how can he argue that Parliament cannot attach conditions to the payment of that 25s. or any other sum? As a matter of fact, under section 5 of the Surplus Revenue Act Parliament proceeded to do the very thing that Senator Barwell said would be unconstitutional; that is, it proceeded to differentiate between the States. It provided under section 5 for a special payment from Commonwealth revenue to Western Australia.
– Parliament has a perfect right to do that.
– What right, other than the right to distributeour own revenue as we think fit?
– If that were so, the Commonwealth could go into any sphere of State activity.
-There is nothing in the Constitution to prevent the Commonwealth from distributing its revenue as it thinks fit, and I challengeSenator Barwell to point to any such provision.
– The Government’s own Attorney-General said that there was.
– He was not AttorneyGeneral when he said it.
– I am speaking subject to correction, and I invite Senator Barwell, Senator Drake-Brockman, or any other legal gentleman, to point out in what respect I am wrong in my contention. I understand that the constitutionality of the Surplus Revenue Act was challenged, and the High Court declared it to be constitutional. Does Senator Barwell now say that Parliament cannot amend that act by stipulating that of that 25s. the State shall apply 5s. towards expenditure on public works or expenditure on public roads? Can we not attach a condition to the payment?
– The main question is whether or not it is desirable to do so.
– Section 96 of the Constitution provides -
During a period of ten years after the establishment of the Commonwealth, and thereafter until the Parliament otherwise provides, the Parliament may grant financial assistance to any State on such terms and conditions as the Parliament thinks fit.
– That covers the Western Australia grant, but the present proposal does not come within section 51 of the Constitution.
– It would be interesting to know how far Senator Barwell would push his conclusion. Would he say that the Commonwealth did an unconstitutional thing in devoting portion of its revenue towards the cost of the conservation and utilization of the waters of the river Murray, in which matter the Commonwealth came to the assistance of only three of the States? For some years Commonwealth revenue has been expended in that direction. Would the honorable senator say, for instance, that the United States of America was acting unconstitutionally - and it3 Constitution is in this regard similar to that of Australia - in directing its Federal expenditure towards the construction and upkeep of roads, in conjunction with the States? The best and greatest highways in the world are those constructed in that country, by. such grants as this, as a result of Federal and State action.
– All our powers are clearly denned.
– Neither under the Constitution of the United States of America, nor under the Commonwealth Constitution, is it clearly defined that the Federal authority cannot assist in the construction of roads in a State. Take another matter. The Commonwealth Government is now in consultation with two of the States in regard to the eradication of the tick pest. Is that action within the proper sphere of the Commonwealth? I understand that it is the duty of the States to deal with such matters; but is there anything in the Constitution to prevent the Commonwealth from co-operating with the States ?
– And what’ about quarantine matters?
– One might multiply instances where such co-operation is desirable. I am surprised at Senator Barwell raising the question of the constitutionality of the bill. I could, however, understand his raising the point, which, I think, was made by the Attorney-General (Mr. Latham) before he joined the Cabinet, as to whether it is advisable that the Commonwealth should raise more taxation than it requires for its own purposes, and, having raised more than it needs, give back the surplus to the States. But to say that ir. is unconstitutional to do so is to go further than any other member of either House has urged.
– That is not the point .that the AttorneyGeneral raised.
– It seems to me that if that argument is. sound the Surplus Revenue Act is equally unconstitutional.
– If Parliament could do this there would be no limit to the power of the Commonwealth to enter any sphere of State activity.
– If Parliament desired to make a grant to a State I think that it could attach any conditions it desired. I am not urging that it is advisable that Parliament should do so, but I think that it is not prevented by the Constitution from doing so. In reply to Senator Ogden’s point I may say that the Government certainly does not intend to deal directly with prospectors or companies in the distribution of this grant to the States. We shall only do that in regard to the Northern Territory. In other respects the grant will be made to the State Governments, who will deal with the prospectors or companies through their mining departments.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 5th February (vide page 735), on motion by Senator
That the bill be now read a second time.
– I have one or two criticisms to offer. With the principle of the bill I have no quarrel, but I venture to say that the Government might have gone further than it does under the measure. Provision is made for the payment of £60,000 for assisting the State Governments, companies, and individuals, engaged in the search for oil in Australia, and for carrying out boring operations . and geological surveys. In that regard I. think that the object of the bill is sound. We realize the great value of oil, and the important part it plays in the history of nations. Its economic value for industrial purposes, and for land transport is almost incalculable. The increase in the consumption of petroleum oil in Australia has been very rapid. In 1922-23 Australia consumed 46,000,000 gallons for all purposes, the value of which was £3,500,000. In 1924-25 90,000,000 gallons were used, and the value was £5,375,000, showing that in two years the consumption increased by approximately 100 per cent. The bill deals in the ‘ first place with assistance in boring for oil, and secondly with assistance in research work and geological surveys. The first objection I have to it is the provision of the paltry sum of £60,000. I fail to realize how practical assistance in the search for oil, and in the making of surveys, can be given by means of such a trifling amount. It should be considerably increased, and the Government should act in conjunction with the State departments in making geological surveys. Another objection- I have is that the money to be allowed can be spent only in Australia. No portion of it can be allocated to any territory of the Commonwealth such as Papua, or the mandated territory of New Guinea, where, according to expert advice, there is a probability of discovering oil. It is true that the Commonwealth spent up to the end of 1925, £350,000 in the search for oil in that area.
– Whom has the Government assisted there ?
Senator NEEDHAM.It was operating in conjunction with the AngloPersian Oil Company and the Imperial Government, with whom the Government entered into a triangular agreement. I think that that was in 1915. Eventually the Imperial Government withdrew from the agreement, and the remaining two partners carried on under it. Since that time the Commonwealth Government has been spending money in exploring for oil in Australia, whilst the AngloPersian Oil Company has acted as its agent in its search for oil in Papua. Up to 1925, £350,000 had been spent in that particular area. To-day boring operations are being continued at Popo, where the bore has reached a depth of approximately 2,800 feet, According to expert advice the bore will have to reach a depth of 3,500 feet before it can be ascertained whether oil exists in commercial quantities. Obstacles to smooth working, many of which have been, overcome, have been caused . by, amongst other things, faults in the strata. Recently considerable delay was occasioned by an extraordinary fault in the strata. The drillers, however, are overcoming that, and I understand that drilling is to be continued to the depth at which it is expected the value of the area will be proved. Dr. Wade has. every confidence in the ultimate success of the bore, and he is one of the leading oil experts in the world. But should it, unfortunately, prove to be not successful, no assistance will be provided by this bill towards further prospecting for oil in that area. A! certain part of the mandated territory of New Guinea has been favorably reported on by Dr. Wade. If we are to spend money in prospecting for oil our mandated territories should not be excluded from monetary assistance.
– There are very few places in Australia in which oil is likely to be found; the geological structure of the country is not favorable to its discovery.
– I am aware of that. I am referring to the expert opinion that was given to the Government by Dr. Wade. We have been informed that £22,500 will be set aside for boring operations in the Fitzroy area, and in the vicinity of Price’s Creek, in Western Australia, and that another £22,500 will be allocated to the area known as Belford Dome, in the Hunter River district of New South Wales. In addition to those sums, £5,000 is to be allocated to a geological survey of the areas around Longreach, Blackall, and Ruthven, in Queensland. Honorable senators will thus see at a glance that only £5,000 will be left for general research work. Oil is such an important commodity that every assistance should be given to those who desire to prospect for it, provided that they are backed up by expert opinion. The Minister (Senator Pearce) said that the Government would be prepared to assist prospectors provided that there was expert evidence to the* effect that they, were not engaged upon any “ wild cat ‘” proposition. There are areas available for testing, in connexion with which expert evidence could be obtained. The bill, therefore, does not go far enough. A very important part of the work is that which relates to geological surveys, and in that connexion I consider that the Government is not wholly performing its duty. It should establish a Federal geological survey somewhat on the lines of that which is in existence in the United States of America. .The Committee of Public Accounts took a considerable amount of evidence on this point and made certain recommendations to the Government. Perhaps I cannot- do better than quote from its report, in view of the admitted necessity for establishing a Federal geological survey that will enable the’ Commonwealth to work in cooperation with the whole of the States.
The report is dated 21st August, 1925, and on page 15 the following appears : -
The need for early action for Australia to obtain reliable information concerning its mineral oil resources so impressed the committee that, on 5th January, 1925, a communication in the following terms was addressed to the Prime Minister: - “Although the report of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts in connexion with its present investigation of the expenditure on oil exploration, development, refining, &c, in the Commonwealth and Papua, cannot be made available until Parliament is in session, there are certain features which have been brought out in the evidence already heard by the committee which, in its opinion, demand urgent attention by the Commonwealth Government. These features relate particularly to the possibility of Australia being made more self-contained in the matter of oil supplies, which are essential for her defence and for the maintenance of her industries. I have therefore been directed by my committee to address this communication to you at this stage of the committee’s proceedings in the hope that early action might be taken to give effect to its recommendations.
With regard to mineral oil, the evidence which has, up to the present, been heard from reliable and expert witnesses emphasizes the urgent necessity for a wellordered scheme for the more scientific prospecting for mineral oil; the committee therefore recommends that the Commonwealth Government should immediately summon a conference comprising the State geologists, professors of geology of the various universities, representatives of the Commonwealth Institute of Science and Industry, &c, to formulate a scheme to provide for -
the carrying out of a geological survey of Australia with a view to locating probable supplies of mineral oil;
the most scientific and systematic method of prospecting for mineral oil in areas where such geological survey has shown favorable indications to exist;
the best method of providing financial assistance towards the discovery and development of mineral oil-fields - whether by means of a reward, the granting of a bounty, or by the payment of a subsidy; and
the proper co-ordination of effort between the Commonwealth and the States.”
Under date 6th March, 1925, the committee received the following reply from the Prime Minister: -
The Cabinet has been giving careful consideration to your letter of 5th January, deal ing with your committee’s investigations into the expenditure on oil exploration, development, refining, &c, in the Commonwealth and Papua, and certain factors which in the committee’s opinion demand urgent attention by the Commonwealth Government.
I desire to inform you that the suggestion that the Government should immediately convene a conference to formulate a scheme for systematic survey, prospecting, &c, has been specially considered in conjunction with a report recently made by Dr. Wade, and the Cabinet has decided to forthwith summon such a conference, comprising Government geologists and their chief assistant geologists, for the following purposes: -
The purposes set out were similar to those stated by the committee. I may add that Dr. Wade, in evidence before the committee, was in entire accord with its suggestions, and pointed out that only by such means could we systematically and scientifically attempt to discover all the oil possibilities of Australia.
– This money is to be spent practically under the direction of Dr. Wade.
– The Minister has not said so. I understand that Dr. Wade is at present out of Australia.
– Every one of the proposals contained in the bill has received the endorsement of Dr. Wade.
– A conference, which was called by the Commonwealth Government, was held. The report from which I have quoted, contains the names of the gentlemen who attended. They were representative of every State in the Commonwealth. The report of the conference outlined the efforts that Lad been made since 1910 to have a Federal geological survey established, and concluded with a definite proposal for the initiation of a federal organization. The resolutions passed by the conference affirmed -
That, with regard to oil -
The scheme suggested by the conference for the initiation of a Federal Geological Survey provided for a Field Staff of six parties and the following branches: - Palaeontology; Petrology, Chemical,- Lithographic and Draughting, Museum, which, together with the necessary administrative staff, clerical assistance, travelling expenses, printing, &c, would, it is estimated, with the organization fully staffed, cost £43,100 per annum.
While the Public Accounts Committee did not think it necessary to set up such an elaborate Federal geological survey staff, the conference convened by the Government upon the committee’s recommendation stressed the necessity for having a Federal geological survey, in order to ascertain the oil possibilities of our mineral areas, and indicated the technical staff that would eventually become necessary. However, the Government has failed to carry out the recommendations of that conference.
– That is not correct. It was not the only recommendation made.
– The Government has not carried out the recommenda tion that a geological survey staff should be established.
– That was not the first step suggested. Other preliminary steps had first to be taken; and they are now being taken.
– That may be so, but the only conclusion to be drawn from the evidence given by the experts is that, for the proper development and exploration of the oil possibilities of Australia, a Federal geological survey is absolutely necessary.
– There is something else essential before that.
– There may be, but that was the special feature of the recommendation of the Public Accounts Committee.
– The Public Accounts Committee is a very important body, but it is not above the Government.
– I do not claim that the Public Accounts Committee is above the Government, but I claim that it has made an exhaustive investigation, as a result of which it has made a suggestion, which has since been borne out by experts, that a geological survey should be undertaken.
– Yes, after certain preliminary steps have been taken. Those steps are now being taken. This preliminary work must be undertaken if the survey is to be of any value.
– I am merely pointing out the shortcomings of the bill - the small amount of money provided and the fact thatwe have no Federal geological survey staff. My last point is, that none of the money to be allocated is to. be spent in the , Territory of New Guinea.Reports have shown that geologists are of opinion that there is every prospect of oil being obtained in parts of the Territory. According to the Age of 22nd January last, Mr. M. Stewart, of the Colonial Exploration and Development Syndicate, Melbourne, on his return from New Guinea, said that he was convinced that oil existed there in large quantities. I cannot say that oil will be found in the Territory, but, as the Commonwealth is entering the field of oil exploration, I think it only right that assistance should be extended to those who are searching for it in New Guinea. I trust that the Minister (Senator
Pearce), in his reply, will supply the Senate with some further information in regard to those steps which, by interjection, he has indicated must be taken before a Federal geological survey can be undertaken. I have made certain suggestions which I think would improve the bill, and I hope that with a little further experience, and additional information, the Government will go further than it now proposes.
– While I support the bill, I agree with Senator Needham that the Government could have gone much further and have provided more money. Of the £60,000 proposed to be spent, the Government has apparently made up its mind to devote £22,500 to the Fitzroy River district, Western Australia, a similar amount to the Hunter River district, New South Wales, and £10,000 for further geological surveys in Australia, leaving only £5,000 for exploration in districts outside the Fitzroy River and Hunter River districts. In reply to an interjection, the Minister who introduced the bill in another place indicated that this assistance would be given on a.£l for £1 basis, but that is not provided for in the bill itself. I think it should be, because people would then know exactly what the Government intended to do. The bill makes no mention of South Australia. The South Australian Oil Wells Company has spent about £90,000 in an endeavour to discover oil in South Australia, and about £12,000 in what is known as the Glenelg River field, yet no mention is made in the bill of assistance to that company. Perhaps the Government is relying on the report of Dr. Wade. In introducing the bill, the Minister said that if expert evidence was favorable, this company would be considered, but Dr. Wade had already reported that he did not see any seepage on the Glenelg River field. In my opinion, his report was most unfair, because, on his first visit, there was no drilling in progress, and he spent only twenty minutes at the bore on his second visit. How could any one pass judgment on an oil-field on such a short inspection? I ‘wish it to be clearly understood that I have no interest whatever in the South Australian Oil Wells Company, but Ihave been asked to state that if any honorable senator visits the Glenelg River field, he will be shown by Mr. Charlton Dod, the field superintendent of this company, a seepage in the Glenelg River from which samples of petroleum can be collected. A sample from this seepage was analyzed by Mr. Watson, chief chemist in the laboratory of the Victorian Mines Department, and the pith of his report was as follows : -
Laboratory tests show that the result obtained from’ the samples submitted is a heavy paraffin and asphaltic base crude petroleum oil. A small quantity, when distilled, gave light and heavy kerosene, lubricating oil, and a residue of” paraffin and asphaltum
Dr. Wade’s inference that a seepage is a very favorable indication of the presence of petroleum has definitely been proved on the company’s holdings on the Glenelg River. Dr. Wade, in his report, laid stress on the fact that trained petroleum geologists should be engaged in making a geological survey and report. I may state that this company’s field superintendent, Mr. H. Charlton Dod, graduated with honours as Bachelor of Science in Mining, Engineering, and Metallurgy, at Berkeley University, California, and afterwards served as engineer and geologist on the Midway oil fields, United States of America. This, I think, shows him to be a trained geologist. In 1923, the company engaged Mr. H. S. Lyne, Bachelor of Geology and Mining, Stanford University, California, and a life member of the American Institute of Mining Engineers, to make a detailed geological survey, and report upon its holdings at the Glenelg River. Both of these gentlemen are Australian born. In 1920, Mr. Lyne was engaged by the Sinclair Corporation, a large oil company, to make a geological survey of its holdings in the Argentine Republic, and afterwards he was appointed chief geologist to the Perija Exploration Company, of New York, and reported on its holdings in Venezuela. There he chose a large area for development, which later was taken over by the Standard Oil Company, upon the advice of its chief geologist, who inspected the field with Mr. Lyne. Mr. Lyne then returned to Australia on a visit to his relatives, and the South Australian Oil Wells Company engaged him to make a geological report upon its holdings at the Glenelg River. He paid two visits - the first occupying ten days, and the second seven days. Later on, he visited the field on four occasions. After his first visit, he reported very favorably upon the possibility of oil being proved to exist there; and after his second visit, he reported : -
A week was spent in the vicinity of the seepage, studying the geology of the locality and investigating the seepage. The report of the seepage was true, and we found that there was certainly oil there, a crude petroleum seeping up through the mud on the river bank. There is an almost vertical cliff here, about 50 feet high, of miocene limestone, dipping at a low angle to the north-east. The structure is similar to that already described in my previous report. The northern or Summerhill anticline extends across the border into Victoria. On the river Glenelg, several exposures are seen showing the dip of the strata. These indicate that there is a closure to the structure, and give the eastern limit of the anticline. This seepage is important, in that it proves the presence of petroleum in the district. The probability of finding oil in this area is indeed excellent, as the three main factors necessary are present, viz. : -
The knowledge that petroleum has been formed and still exists.
The presence of a suitable anti-clinal structure for the accumulation and retention of petroleum.
The presence of suitable cap locks. These have been proved by different bores that have been put down, and show alternating beds of clay, sand, and shale.
An analysis of some oil from the seepage was made at the Mines Department laboratory, the result of which I have already given. Last September Mr. Lyne received a cable from the Standard Oil Trust directing him to return to America to take up the position of chief geologist on that company’s holdings in Veuezuela. The Minister will, no doubt, agree that Mr. Lyne’s credentials and experience entitle him to be regarded as a trained geologist, ranking among the leading petroleum geologists of the day. In these circumstances the Government should accept his recommendation concerning the South Australian Oil Wells Company, and by granting a subsidy assist it to properly develop its holding. If Mr. Lyne’s services are of sufficient value to the Standard Oil Trust to necessitate his return to America, his recommendations should be of value to the Government. I do not know either of the gentlemen to whom I have referred, and I repeat that I hold no brief for this company; but since it has spent about £90,000 in endeavouring to discover oil in South Australia, it seems to me to be worthy of support, particularly as it has proved beyond doubt that oil exists in that area. I trust the Government will favorably consider the suggestion I have made, and grant to this company the financial assistance which it deserves.
– The Government is to be commended for introducing this bill,the object of which is to encourage the discovery of petroleum in Australia. Large sums of money have been expended by the Commonwealth and public companies in searching for oil in Australia, but the results to date have been anything but encouraging. Under the measure the Government proposes to grant financial assistance to those searching for oil in certain prescribed localities, and in doing so is taking the precaution to see that the money advanced is judiciously expended. In its desire to spend money to the best advantage the Government is accepting the advice of Dr. Wade, who, I know, is a competent geologist. In the past the control over expenditure in searching for oil has been somewhat lax, and I am therefore pleased to learn that operations are to be subsidized only in such places as are recommended by Dr. Wade. The Government, in their desire to discover flow oil by boring, should not overlook the value of the very large shale deposits which exist in Australia.In conjunction with the proposal embodied in the bill, consideration should be given to the development of some of our oil shale deposits and to other prospective sources of supply. The Public Accounts Committee visited Tasmania some time ago, and conducted an inquiry into the oil shale deposits of that State, and although I am not in a position to quote its recommendations at the moment, it is well known that Dr. Wade was very much impressed with the value of those deposits. About ten years ago the Tasmanian Government proposed to take over these shale deposits with the idea of working them, and entered into a tentative agreement with the Department of the Navy for the disposal of the total output of the works. Approximately £200,000 has been spent by different companies in an endeavour to invent a retort capable of effectively treating the shale deposits in the vicinity of Latrobe, and it is anticipated that the more recent developments will be a success. “Unless some financial assistance is given by the Government, the prospect of the industry being successfully established is somewhat remote. The cost of producing shale oil and the strong competition from- imported oil makes it practically impossible for the company to carry on. During the war period the Government experienced difficulty in obtaining an uninterrupted supply of imported fuel oil at a reasonable price, owing to the absence of local supplies, and in these circumstances careful consideration should be given to the possibilities of the shale oil industry.
– Does the honorable senator not recognize that different classes of shale require different retorts?
– That is one of the difficulties experienced in the Mersey Valley, where the characteristics of the shale are peculiar to that district. I believe, however, that some of the obstacles have been overcome, -and that there is a reasonable prospect of the deposit being commercially worked.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon.
– I regret that the amount to be advanced is so small, as I believe the Government could with advantage have spent a larger sum on a more elaborate scheme. I trust that the Minister will note the points I have mentioned. . I support the bill.
– I intend to support the bill, but it must be remembered that if it is passed it may be a means of encouraging certain company promoters to attempt the exploitation of’ the Australian people. I should not mind if the Governmen t were to spend in the search for oil more than the amount set out in this bill, but I contend that it should have control of the oil, when found. The men sent out should be in the employ of the Government, and they should be experts. If the people’s money is employed in the search for oil, the people should reap the benefit of any discovery.
– The States will be paid a royalty for any oil discovered.
– I remind the honorable senator that companies in the past have been formed which have robbed the people of this country.
– I know that; and I have done my best to stop them.
– If we put our imprimatur on this bill the suggestion is that oil exists in Australia. “We know the effect that that will have on the public mind.
– Several oil companies have been floated in South Australia. The honorable senator should have objected then.
– Did the shareholders get any return for the money invested ?
– I do not know.
– I know that whereas they got no return, some “ crooks “ made a lot of money. A company was floated in South Australia to develop a coal mine near Adelaide as the result of some samples of coal which were exhibited in a window in King Williamstreet, Adelaide.
– Pure speculation.
– Yes; but I contend that speculators should have a reasonable chance of obtaining some return for the money they invest.
– These people would do better to invest in Tattersalls!
– There is no doubt about that. The coal which was exhibited in Adelaide was said to have been found a few miles from that city. At my suggestion, an expert examined the coal, and he informed me that, in his opinion, it was Newcastle coal. No coal of the quality of the sample exhibited has ever been foundin the vicinity of Adelaide. My point is, that because of that sample the company was floated, and citizens of Australia robbed. It should not be possible foi these things to be done. If we grant a few thousand pounds to some of these shrewd individuals they will find oil in the same way that they are able 10 find oil when it suits their purpose to do so. Have honorable senators never heard of gold mines being salted ? The same thing is possible with oil. I ask the Government to provide every possible protection for the people of this country against unscrupulous company promoters.. We in this Senate may have our opinions regarding the existence of oil in Australia; but none of us is an expert in oil. We should, therefore, be careful in legislation of this nature. It is possible, in some cases, to buy the opinion of experts. Reference has been made to some experts who were in the employ of the Standard Oil Company. If they stood so high in their profession, and their opinions were of such value, why did the Standard Oil Company not retain their services ?
– One of them, Mr. Lyne, rejoined the Standard Oil Company.
– But is he still with that company? And, in any case, if his services were so valuable, why did the company let him go?
– The Government considers that Dr. Wade is an expert. Why has he been permitted to leave Australia ?
– I could give an answer to that question, but I consider that it is for the Minister to do so. I say emphatically that on many occasions the people of this country have been misled and robbed by alleged experts. One has only to read the history of gold mining in this country to know that. People are always anxious to get rich quickly, and, therefore, they are in danger of being robbed by unscrupulous persons. I wish to protect the poor people of this country. Particularly am I ‘concerned with those persons who have a few hundred pounds available for investment, because they are the ones most easily caught.
– The Government should see to that.
– That i3 what I am contending. The points that I have raised may already have received the attention of the Government; but in legislation of this nature no stone should be left unturned to protect the people against themselves. For that reason I urge that this legislation should be very carefully considered.
– In spite of all that the Government may do, the people will still allow themselves to be misled.
– No measure should pass this chamber until it has been fully considered from every aspect. This National Parliament is greater than a parochial council, and the people of Australia take their lead from it. Our first object, therefore, should be to protect them. I shall always oppose the efforts of “ wild cat “ company promoters - I care not who they are.- It is the duty of the Government to protect its people against these confidence tricksters. I do not suggest that the Government has any more tender regard for them than I have, but I desire to stress the importance of safeguarding the people in every possible way.
– I wish to reply to some remarks made by the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Senator Needham). The honorable senator referred to a conference of State geologists and others which was called together to advise the Government regarding various suggestions made by the Public Accounts Committee, and by Dr. Wade, as to the best means of conducting the geological work of the States. That conference revealed that there was little or no co-ordination between the: geological departments of the various States; each was really a water-tight compartment. On the maps of one State a certain colour indicated a particular rock or mineral; on the maps of another State that colour represented a different rock or mineral. The conference agreed that a good deal of preliminary work could be done by the existing organization. No one will doubt that there are already sufficient demands on the public funds. It was, therefore, considered that, before superimposing a Federal Geological Department on the existing machinery, of the States, the commonsense thing to do was to obtain, so far as possible, co-ordination between the State departments. The Government has not deemed it necessary to accomplish in one year all that the conference recommended. It considered that the first requirement was that the States should set. their own houses in order, and obtain uniformity. I point out that officers representing all the States attended that conference, took part in the discussion, and assisted in framing the resolutions which emanated from it. They agreed that the first step necessary was that there should be coordination between the existing departments. Other improvements also can be effected later by the existing organization. According to Dr. Wade, in all the States of the American union, the geological maps are uniform. That is what Australia needs. It can be done by the States working on proper lines; a Federal department, for that purpose, is not necessary. After that has been done there’ will be some work for a Federal geological survey, working with the States. The Government has not rejected the proposal for the establishment of a Federal geological survey, although it does not propose to do anything in that direction this year. It believes that it is first necessary for the preliminary work mentioned to be done. The constitution of a Federal- geological survey should not be lightly undertaken, as it will involve, not only a ‘ large, but also a continuous expenditure. It is not sufficient to say that because money for the purpose is available this year, a Federal geological survey should be established, and that next year it could again be. considered. The members of the staff would have to be engaged for a term of years, and in the event of the work being no longer continued, they would be entitled to compensation. This part of the project has been left over until the preliminary work has been accomplished. Regarding the point raised by Senator Hoare, I pointed out in my speech on the second reading of the bill, that Dr. “Wade had stated that there was still further geological data required to determine if, and where, boring was justified in the south-eastern corner of South Australia, and in the vicinity of the” mouth of the Glenelg River, and I indicated that the Government was prepared to co-operate with Victoria and South Australia in having- that additional work done. The sum of £10,000 is available, and some of it could be used for that purpose. I may remind Senator H. Hays that Dr. Wade Spoke most highly in his report of the possibilities of Australian oil shales, and particularly of Tasmanian shales. He pointed out that if we should unhappily fail to discover supplies of flow oil in commercial quantities, we need not despair, because we- have the greatest deposits of oil shale to be found in any part of the world.
– I suggest the development of both.
– It is more costly to develop shale oil than flow oil deposits.
– The right kind of retort is required for extracting oil from shale. Different classes of shale require different retorts.
– That is so. In the Wongan Valley, New South Wales, it has been shown to be more costly to produce shale oil than flow oil. The Commonwealth Government is not uninterested in the matter, because, for some years, it has provided a bounty for the production of shale oil.
– The oil is known to exist, but the trouble is to .recover it . from the shale.
– Yes, and the percentage of oil in the Tasmanian and New South Wales shales is very high, much higher, in fact, than in the Scottish shale.
– In the case of Tasmania it averages 40 gallons to the ton.
– This bill is in no way intended to discourage the efforts being made to recover shale oil. On the contrary, when it was suggested by the Public Accounts Committee that Dr. Wade should make a further examination at shallow depths in the Mersey Valley, the Government made his services available, and it hopes that the attempts now being made to discover a commercially payable method of extracting oil from the shale will be successful.
– The period for which the bounty is payable expires at an. early date.
– It has been on the point of expiry on several occasions, but has been re-voted by Parliament, and I have no doubt that the offer will again be renewed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed- from 5th February (vide page 724), on the motion of Senator Wilson -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– This bill, which purports to amend the Navigation Act 1912-1925, is insignificant in size, -but it involves a vital principle. I regard it as emanating from the famous mandate, about which one hears so much. The excuse that the Government has given for the bill is that on 14th November it obtained a mandate from -the people.
– A good one, too.
– Unfortunately for Senator Wilson, the mandate that he received was that he should temporarily retire from the political arena. The word “ mandate” seems to have become more blessed of late than that one time “ blessed word Mesopotamia.” Tasmania is to be assisted under the bill, in regard to its tourist traffic. I have every sympathy with that State in its difficulties due to its isolation, and my sympathy is so great that I would be prepared to- ‘help in the erection of block and tackle to haul the island State, if that were possible, nearer to the mainland. I am wondering whether the bill will accomplish all that it seeks to do. My first doubt is as to its constitutionality. As a layman, it seems to me that it shows discrimination between States, and differentiating legislation is specifically forbidden by the Constitution.
– Has the honorable senator read clause 3?
– I shall tell the honorable senator what I have read in due course. The bill proposes to give assistance to Tasmania only. The principal clause deals with the handling of certain traffic between Tasmania and the mainland.
– Between any ports in Australia.
– I shall come to that aspect later. If the Government desires to assist Tasmania particularly it may do so under the act of last session, which empowers it to suspend by proclamation Part VI. of the Navigation Act, which is really the whole essence of the measure, since it deals with the manning of the vessels, the conditions of employment, the rationing scale, &e. But the Government has refrained from suspending that part of the act, and has brought in this bill by virtue of its mandate. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), in his policy speech, stated that the Government proposed to introduce legislation to permit overseas vessels to engage in the tourist trade during the period when that traffic was not adequately provided for. If the object of the measure were to -relieve Tasmania of any difficulties under which she laboured throughout the year, one could understand its introduction, but it proposes to give relief only during a period when tourists are travelling to and from Tasmania.
– That is the only time when a special concession is needed.
– I gather from that interjection that at every other period of the year -Tasmania is in a prosperous condition. That has not been our experience. On the contrary, Tasmania has been at the door of the Commonwealth Government, seeking its aid throughout the whole of the remaining nine months. Let me review the constitutional aspect of the matter. Whilst doing so, I crave the forbearance and the indulgence of my honorable and learned friend. Section 99 of the Constitution reads -
The Commonwealth shall not, by any law or regulation of trade, commerce, or revenue, give preference to one State or any part thereof over another State or any part thereof.
The Prime .Minister (Mr. Bruce) distinctly indicated, in his policy speech, that legislation would be introduced to allow oversea vessels to engage in the tourist traffic to Tasmania. Since the passage of the Navigation Act, oversea vessels have not been allowed to trade between the mainland and Tasmania either during the tourist season or at any other time. Why? Because the act prohibited such, trading. For what reason was the prohibition enacted? Because oversea ships were not then - nor are they now - working in accordance with the provisions of the act, firstly because in some cases they employed black labour, and secondly because the wages paid and the conditions of employment did not conform to the Australian standard. We must ask ourselves whether we acted rightly or wrongly when, after years of deliberation, we enacted that the seamen engaged in our coasting trade should work under good conditions of labour and be paid decent wages. That is a principle which cannot be departed from. I maintain that we acted rightly when we passed that measure, and that honorable senators on this side are today acting rightly when they demand that the provisions of the act shall continue to apply. There is another principle which is greater than that governing the conditions of labour or the rates of wages. The people of Australia have for many years subscribed to that principle, which embodies the policy of a White Australia. I believe that the Government has a sufficient number of supporters in this chamber, as it had in another place, to enable the bill to be passed. If it is passed it will be a violation of our White Australia policy, and it will bring into competition with Australian coastal shipping vessels that are manned by black labour.
– Do not talk nonsense !
– That is a cheap gibe, of which I take no heed. The honorable senator may discover later whether I am now talking nonsense. I am firmly convinced that we are acting wrongly when we depart from that principle.
– There is no departure from any principle.
– There will undoubtedly be a departure from the principle of a White Australia if we allow an oversea ship that is manned by black labour to trade between the mainland and Tasmania.
– And keep our white men out of work.
– There is no competition.
– The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Pratten), in another place, said -
With the object of overcoming the handicap suffered by the State, and particularly Hobart, in respect to its tourist traffic, the Prime Minister, in his policy speech, announced his intention to introduce legislation which would permit the better class of oversea vessels to’ engage in the tourist traffic to Tasmania during the apple export season.
I invite Senator Ogden to tell me what is wrong with Australian coastal ships; are they not good enough for him to travel on?
– They cannot fulfil the requirements.
– What is wrong with the vessels belonging to the Commonwealth Government Line of Steamers ?
– They do not go to Tasmania.
– Why does not the Government send them there?
– Because it does not pay to send them.
– Does the transcontinental railway pay?
– Vessels belonging to the Commonwealth Government Line of Steamers are at present lying idle. They could be commissioned, if only for the tourist season.
– They are not passenger ships.
– They can be quickly converted into passenger ships. I have travelled on them.
– Does the honorable senator mean temporarily converted ?
– Temporarily converted, if you will. My honorable friends say that these vessels are not good enough to carry passengers. What is to prevent the Government from procuring vessels that are good enough for the tourist traffic?
– That would mean the nationalization of the shipping industry.
– The railways are nationalized. I am very much surprised that Senator Millen, Senator Elliott, and Senator Ogden should travel on a nationalized railway, that is owned by the people, and not by a private company. Why could not the steamers that trade between the mainland and Tasmania be made part of the Commonwealth railway system ?
– What is the good of doing that, when we have boats running half empty?
– Honorable senators would abandon a principle for the sake of expediency. I speak with every sympathy for Tasmania. .
– It does not look like it.
– My votes in the Senate before the honorable senator came here, and whilst he has been here, will prove that I have practical sympathy with Tasmania. Either we could utilize Commonwealth steamers that are lying idle, or we could purchase others that are suitable for tourist traffic, and make them a portion of the Commonwealth railway system. The employees on those vessels could be employees of the Commonwealth railways.
– Would the unions permit that to be done ?
– There is nothing that I know of to prevent it. I cannot think of any objection that could be lodged against it. The employees on ships that run between Holyhead and Liverpool, in England, are members of the National Railwaymen’s “Union of Great Britain. Before he became AttorneyGeneral, the honorable member for Kooyong in another place (Mr. Latham) said that legislation of this nature would be unconstitutional. He is now a member of the Cabinet that has brought forward such legislation, and he is silent regarding its constitutional aspect.
– He said that a regulation or a proclamation made under it might be unconstitutional.
– A regulation can be framed only in accordance with the terms of an act of Parliament. If the regulation is unconstitutional, then I argue that the act itself must be unconstitutional. Giving his legal opinion on the bill in another place the AttorneyGeneral quoted two High Court cases and referred to the decisions therein given. The first was the Barger case, or what is commonly known as the Harvester case. Parliament had, with certain exemptions, imposed an excise duty upon harvesters and other agricultural implements manufactured in Australia. Manufacturers who observed the conditions of labour that had been declared by Parliament to be fair and reasonable, or who complied with an award of the Arbitration Court, had not to pay the excise duty. By a majority of three to two, the High Court judges declared that legislation to be invalid. They said, amongst other things, that the legislation was of such a character that under it discrimination might take place between States, or parts of States, and in that direction lay its invalidity. That view is held also by the present Attorney-General, and I think that it is the correct view.
– Quite apart from discrimination, we do not want to have a piebald coastal service.
– - I have already referred to that aspect of the matter. The Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Act did not make any discrimination between States or parts of States. So much for the unconstitutionality of this measure.
My main objection to the bill is not only that it violates the White Australia policy, but that it also directly contravenes all the principles contained in the Navigation Act. We all know the history of that act ; we know how long it took to place it . on the statute-book, and we know the prominent part Mr. W. M. Hughes played in framing it. He was chairman of the Navigation Commission appointed by the Federal Parliament in 1904 to inquire into the whole question with a view to drawing up a navigation law that would be an example to the rest of the world, and afterwards, when he became a member of a Labour Government, he was chosen because of his intimate knowledge of Australian maritime law to represent the Commonwealth at an Imperial Navigation Conference. He has now condemned this amending bill because it is antagonistic to our White Australia policy, and will be the means of lowering the wages df Australian seamen. No one in Australia has a better knowledge of the position than Mr. Hughes. The bill will not permanently affect Tasmania. I said a little while ago that if we were anxious to relieve the State of its disabilities we should pass legislation that would help it all the year round, and not during the tourist season only. I realize .the island’s isolation. Western Australia was just as isolated before the building of the transcontinental railway.
– And the remedy the honorable senator then supported for Western Australia he is now denying to Tasmania.
– But the remedy applied to Western Australia did not involve any departure from the White Australia principle for which Senator Lynch stands, nor mean any. lowering of the standard of wages. Black labour boats are travelling to Tasmania to-day.
– They were travelling on the Western Australian coast prior to the construction of the transcontinental railway.
– The Navigation . Act was not then in force.
– There was power to put it in force.
– And there is power in the Navigation Act to-day to give permits for the period for which Tasmania wants relief. That power could be utilized without its being necessary to run a coach and four through the whole act. The assistance given to Western Australia is available for Tasmania.
– The Labour party of the day specially exempted Western Australia by allowing black labour boats to trade along the coast.
– I am aware that an exemption was given.
– The honorable senator did not dispute it.
– He forgets all that.
– I forget nothing. The treatment that was meted out to Western Australia could be meted out to Tasmania to-day. If that were done there would be no need to destroy the whole of the provisions of the Navigation Act applying to the carrying of passengers and mails and the manning of vessels. If this bill is passed there will be a complete violation of the White Australia policy and a lowering of the standard of the working conditions of Australian seamen.
– What about the black labour vessels which call at ports on the Western Australian coast?
– Time and again the executive of the Western Australian branch of the Australian Labour party has protested against the granting’ of permits for those vessels, and has even asked the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth to withdraw them. The permits are not granted with the consent of the Australian Labour party.
– I have not heard of any union refusing to load or unload black labour vessels.
– I am not responsible for what Senator Ogden has heard, or has not heard, but I know that unions have refused to do what he says they have not refused to do. .1 am more concerned about the fate of this bill. I have suggested a way out for Tasmania - that the Commonwealth steamers, which are now lying idle, should be commissioned to carry passengers between the mainland and Tasmania during the tourist season ; that if these steamers are not suitable the Commonwealth should purchase other steamers of a class suitable for the purpose, and that they, should be managed by the Commonwealth Commissioner of Railways. I am sure, however, that this bill will pass, because honorable senators opposite evidently regard it as part of their mandate to violate the White Australia policy, and reduce the wages of
Australian seamen. Senator Lynch, on his part, has come back from Western Australia, reinforced by what he regards as a mandate to do all these things, but he will find that he is making a mistake. There was nothing in the vote of the people at the last election to indicate that there should be any departure from the cherished ideal of a White Australia.
– There is nothing in the bill to say that there will be any departure from that principle.
– Nevertheless, the effect of the bill will, be to violate that principle for which we all stand, and to reduce the state and working conditions of. Australian seamen. For that reason, I am opposed to the second reading of the bill.
– I cannot allow a measure of this kind to pass without entering a strong protest against it. I do not propose to traverse the ground already covered by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Needham), but I wish to emphasize one or two sentences that he uttered. No more important measure has been passed by the Federal Parliament, or received such serious and sympathetic consideration in both Houses of the Legislature than has the Navigation Act introduced by a Government, of which I was a member, about fifteen years ago. It was submitted to this Chamber by the present Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce), who was a member of that Government. We all know that it had been on the stocks for a long time prior to the advent of the Labour Government, and that, in certain directions, there were powerful influences in opposition to it; but one motive that, more than any other, actuated the then Government was that it should live up to its declared policy - that the White Australia policy should operate along the coast of Australia. Special provision was made in the bill to safeguard that policy as well as to protect the interests of those who follow a seafaring life. Vessels which did not comply with the conditions laid down in the act were specially excluded from trading on our coast. So far as Tasmania is concerned, it has, time after time, importuned the Federal Parliament for assistance in various directions. No other State has made more appeals to Parliament than has Tasmania. One would think that it depended solely on the two T’s - tourists and Tattersalls. We know that an effort was made to amend the Post and Telegraph Act in order to give the institution known as “Tatt’s “ a monopoly. That failed, and now an effort is being made to amend the Navigation Act to indue?, so we are told, more tourists to go to the island.
– Hear, hear !
– I like that “Hear, hear!” from the honorable senator, who was campaign director for the Ministerial party in the State famous for its panoramic views, hops, apples, and “Tatt’s”!
– He conducted a very successful campaign.
– He did; but I expect the reason for the success of the Government was that it was in an accommodating frame of mind. It had, apparently, something to offer every State - on paper.
– This Government considers the needs of every one.
– The Prime Minister submitted a policy under which he thought it possible to catch every one in the net, but he dropped one thing - the payment of a bounty on paper pulp.
– Oh, no.
– Not a word on that question. No Tasmanian will seriously suggest that an amendment of the Navigation Act will attract more tourists to Tasmania. According to the report of the Royal Commission which inquired into the operations of the Navigation Act, the number who have travelled on vessels other than coastal boats during the tourist season has been infinitesimal. Although the tourist traffic to Tasmania during certain periods of the year is considerable, according to the report of the commission, the accommodation on the vessels trading between Sydney and Hobart has not always been fully taken up even during the busiest season of the year.
– What nonsense!
– If the honorable senator cares to read the report he will find that my statement is correct. There are no doubt occasions when the accommodation is fully taxed. I admit that
Tasmanian people have experienced inconvenience on two or three occasions owing to an interruption in the shipping service. When inconvenience is caused to persons in Australia, are acts of Parliament to be amended in order to satisfy suchpersons?
– There has been more than inconvenience ; there has been a great deal of hardship.
– The people of Tasmania are not the only ones who have been subjected to inconvenience because of strikes or lockouts.
– Tasmania is the only State which has had to contend with the inconvenience associated with shipping strikes.
– I regard this as the first move on the part of senators representing Tasmania, assisted as they will be no doubt by others, to weaken in every possible way the main provision of the Navigation Act.
– The honorable senator should not make such a. statement. It is unworthy of him.
– It is my intention later to move an amendment which I hope will meet with the approval of honorable senators opposite, to the effect that the trade shall be open only to vessels which comply with conditions laid down in the Navigation Act.
– If they comply with the Navigation Act, they can enter the trade now. An amendment such as the honorable senator suggests is unnecessary.
– We wish the conditions on oversea vessels desiring to enter the trade between the mainland and Tasmania to be the same as on our vessels operating on the Australian coast.
– Such vessels can enter the trade under certain conditions.
– Yes, but this bill proposes to amend those conditions.
-There is only one company which employs coloured labour.
– Yes, the Peninsular and Oriental Company employs coloured, labour, not because it is better, but because it is cheaper. During the election campaign the Prime Minister promised to assist Tasmania by amending the Navigation Act.
– And the people supported his policy.
– The electors in this State are not favorable to an amendment of the Navigation Act, abrogating a provision that is of the greatest importance to the people of Australia.
– That is one way of looking at it.
– Dozens of proposals are placed before the electors in a policy speech, and the electors have either to accept or reject the policy as a whole. I know how keenly Tasmanian senators feel on this matter. I have heard them speak in the strongest possible denunciatory terms of an industrial organization which they have said is hampering the trade between the mainland and Tasmania, and in doing so have made an attack, not only on trade unionism, b.ut also on the Navigation. Act. Some of these Tasmanians will not stop at anything. They want, not merely to break down the Navigation Act, but also to weaken the power of an organization the members of which are engaged in the coasting trade. They believe it would be better if this organization were not as strong numerically and financially as it is to-day, so that ship-owners would be able to carry on as they did before the Navigation Act was passed. The seamen brought the organization up to its present strength, and the coastal seamen’s conditions are better than they have ever been. The Navigation Act was passed owing to the efforts of the Labour party, and the present condition of the men engaged in the coastal trade are due entirely to the efforts and energy of those associated with the Labour party. The Navigation Act is the work of the Labour party.
– Of what Labour party is the honorable senator speaking?
– The party which brought into existence the Labour Government in 1910.
– That party is not now in existence.
– The Labour party rft that time introduced the act to which I have referred, and up to the present no serious attempt has been made to tinker with it. We know the scare created at the last election, when the strongest feelings were aroused concerning the men engaged in seafaring. The Government only had to say that it would amend the
Navigation Act, and honorable senators opposite, who do not represent Labour–
– We do. A number of workers in Tasmania supported Nationalist candidates.
– The supporters of the Labour party in Tasmania were in the minority, but Tasmanian senators cannot claim to represent that minority.
– They cannot represent both.
– Of course they cannot. Although honorable senators opposite will give to this measure their support, nothing will induce me to vote for its second reading.
– I rise to emphasize the statement which I made by way of interjection when the Acting Leader of the Opposition (Senator Needham) was speaking. The Labour party of the day agreed that from 1907 onwards there should be an exemption from the provisions of the Navigation Act so far as Western Australia and its representatives were concerned; that exemption was to continue until the trans-Australian railway was. constructed. Because of the exemption, Orient and Peninsular and Oriental boats carried passengers between eastern ports and Fremantle.
– The Navigation Act came into operation in 1912. The honorable senator is speaking of a period five years earlier.
– -I am speaking of the special provisions affecting Western Australia which were agreed to in the Labour caucus. The late Senator R. S. Guthrie, did not agree with the exemption and endeavoured, to have the decision revoked, but without success. The question naturally arises whether the Labour party of that day, or the present Labour party, shall be regarded as the better custodian of the principle of a White Australia. The decision to exempt Western Australia was the mature judgment of the Labour party of the time. That exemption permitted boats manned by black labour to carry passengers between Western Australia and the other States. Senator Needham and I have both travelled on those boats.
– I have never travelled “between Australian ports on a vessel manned by black labour, but always on Australian’ steamers. The honorable senator is wrong in saying that I travelled between Australian ports on vessels manned by black labour.
– Well, Senators de Largie and Henderson did. The honorable senator cannot get away from the fact that, with the exception of the late Senator R. S. Guthrie, the Labour party of that time agreed to vessels which employed black labour engaging in the passenger trade on the Australian coast. At that time there were no strikes such as have in recent years affected Tasmania so adversely, and caused the people of that State to be a beleaguered community. Her primary producers have found it almost impossible to make a living. If there was warrant for an exemption in the case of Western Australia, there is greater justification for a similar concession in the case of Tasmania because of her isolation and the strikes which have occurred. The figures referred to by Senator Findley regarding the number of people travelling to Tasmania, and the difficulty of obtaining accommodation for those who do go there, do not take into account the number of people who would have visited Tasmania but who, through fear of being marooned, have stayed at home, or gone elsewhere. The entirely fallacious argument which was advanced by Senator McHugh and Messrs. Anstey and Yates in their report on the effects of the Navigation Act on Tasmania has been supported to-day by Senator McHugh. Honorable members who oppose any alteration to the Navigation Act would speak differently if they were primary producers in Tasmania, and after having striven for a year to produce a crop had seen it rotting because of the action of some members ofthe latter-day Seamen’s Union.
.- I fully anticipated that this bill would meet with vigorous opposition on the part of the Acting Leader of the Opposition’ (Senator Needham), but when the honorable senator referred toit as a violation of the White Australia policy, he showed clearly that he had not given the matter the consideration befitting one occupying his position. Had he studied the reasons for the introduction of this measure, he would have known that the utilization of overseas boats for the conveyance of passengers between the mainland and Tasmania, which this measure proposes, could not in any way affect that policy, nor could it affect the conditions which the Navigation Act provides shall apply to seamen engaged in the coasting trade of Australia.
– Will these boats be manned by black labour?
– Partly. The trade which they will do will not be done by any vessel which now trades regularly between mainland ports and Tasmania. That portion of the tourist traffic, which we are seeking to revive, has been lost to Tasmania ever since the Navigation Act came into operation.
– Does the honorable senator believe that vessels manned by black labour will take more tourists to Tasmania?
– Prior to the Navigation Act, Peninsular and Oriental steamers called at Tasmania in the early portion of the apple season, and lifted quantities of apples for London. In those days there were no restrictions on the carrying of passengers, such as are imposed by the Navigation Act: They would not have called at Tasmania for the fruit only. The fruit which they took was portion of the early crop, and it always realized top prices in the London market.
– Was a better price obtained for apples in 1924 than in 1914?
– We got a better price when the Peninsular and Oriental vessels called at Hobart in the early part of the apple season than was obtained at any other time during the season. The high prices realized then increased the average price, and enabled the orchardists to get a fair return. Tasmania was utterly disregarded by the framers of the Navigation Act, who failed to realize that between Tasmania and the mainland was a stretch of water. Their whole attention was concentrated on the mainland.
– Did the honorable senator say that the framers of the Constitution did not know that Tasmania was not part of the mainland?
– They entirely ignored Tasmania and the possibility of any injury being done to that State. They were, however, not permitted to ignore the disabilities which Western Australia would suffer, and consequently they made provision accordingly. Prior to the Navigation Act, oversea vessels carrying tourists visited Tasmania regularly during the tourist season. Tasmania has lost not only a large proportion of her tourist traffic . and the chance of disposing of her early crop of apples at the best prices on the London market, but she has lost, also, the valuable trade which previously existed between Tasmania and New Zealand. Well-appointed vessels, which previously sailed from Sydney to Hobart, and on to the Bluff, carrying cargo and passengers, do not now call at Tasmanian ports unless a fairly large quantity of cargo - about 1,500 tons - is offering. As it would be useless for me to move a furtheramendment to the bill, I content myself with dealing with it in its present form.
– Has the honorable senator read the evidence given before the Navigation Commission to show that before the war less than 2 per cent. of the people visiting Tasmania travelled by overseas vessels?
– What did that amount to in the aggregate? One must remember that, as the attractions of Tasmania become more widely known, her tourist traffic will increase. The Navigation Act, together with the frequently recurring strikes during the last five or six years, has had a damaging effect on ‘Tasmania.
– Has notTasmania some natural resources? Does she depend only on the tourist trade?
– Tasmania’s tourist trade, if fostered, will benefit not only Tasmania, but the people of the mainland, because they will be able to get away from the heat of the other States and enjoy a holiday in the beneficial climate of Tasmania, and return better fitted for the duties of their avocations. Many people who would visit Tasmania on a Peninsular and Oriental boat do not go there now, notwithstanding that many of the vessels visiting Tasmanian ports are well appointed. It is common knowledge that many passengers now pay first-class fares between Sydney and Hobart and yet, because the number of tourists is greater than the accommodation provided, receive only a “ shake-down “ on deck. The proposals contained in this bill do not endanger the White Australia policy, nor will they inflict any hardship on Australianseamen.
– But they will compete with the other boats manned under Australian conditions.
– With better facilities for travelling, the number of tourists will increase. To-day, large numbers of persons, who would be willing to pay higher fares for greater comfort on the journey, do not visit Tasmania. I urge honorable senators not to oppose this bill.
– I intend to oppose the measure for much the same reasons as those advanced by Senator Needham. On looking at the report furnished by Messrs. Anstey and Yates and Senator McHugh, members of the royal commission on the Navigation Act, we find that Tasmania is not in the wholly unfavorable position that honorable senators from Tasmania would have us believe. The report states -
It was asserted that the export trade of Tasmania had been seriously injured by reason of the Navigation Act. The cargo shipped out of Tasmania is as follows (see Appendix I.) : -
Tasmanian exports, measuredin actual tonnage, are double the 1913 record.
The above figures indicate that Tasmania is not suffering the disabilities that some honorable senators from that State have suggested.
– Whoever was responsible for that statement ignored the fact that Tasmania had only half a crop in that year.
– The report continues -
In the two years after the Navigation Act Tasmania’s exports were 287,000 tons more than during the two years before the act.
The following are extracts from Harbour reports of Tasmania: -
Hobart - The reports and evidence of the Hobart Marine Board show “ rapid expansion in the exports and shipping of Hobart.”
Launceston - Launceston Examiner describes the shipping of the Tamar as having “ taken a remarkable leap.”
Burnie - The Marine Board of Burnie declares its shipping business in 1923 to be “ a record.”
Devonport - The shipping ofDevon port is described in official reports and press as * still on the up grade.”
Those statements do not indicate that the act has had a detrimental effect upon Tasmania by preventing it from having its cargo carried overseas.
– But this bill relates only to passenger traffic.
– I shall deal with that traffic later. Further, the report states -
It was asserted that the oversea fruit export of Tasmania has been seriously injured by reason of the Navigation Act. The Tasmanian fruit exports overseas are as follows: -
More oversea boats went into Hobart during 1023 to carry away fruit than ever went into it before in a single year. It is complained that there were only half the number of fast mail boats now going into their capital port. That fact applies to every capital port in Australia, because the oversea mail service is 50 per cent. below pre-war. The Commonwealth Shipping Line boats calling into Hobart carry away more fruit than the mail boats carried, and give a quicker dispatch. The mail boats lose two days going up the Gulf of Taranto to deliver mails.
There is an interstate market for Tasmanian fruit equal to the 1923 oversea record - 1,500,000 cases.
Then the report proceeds to deal with the passenger traffic between Tasmania and the mainland. The number of passengers carried between Melbourne and Launceston in 1913 was 23,300; in 1914, 22,890; in 1920, 18,660; and in 1921, 20,238. That was before the Navigation Act came into operation. In 1922 - since the act has been in operation - the traffic was 25,635, and in 1923, 24,213.
– The overseas vessels never call at Launceston.
– The report shows that the steamers running to and from Tasmania and the mainland are capable of dealing’ with the passenger traffic. Again the report states -
When the act came into existence Tasmania’s total inward passengers for a two-year period were 13,000 below the two years’ pre-war level; during the two years since the act the inward passenger lists have increased by 18,000, and are now 5,000 above the two years’ pre-war figures. The Hobart Chamber of Commerce in its last annual report, referring to the tourist traffic, says - “ Last season provided a record. . . . Business people of the city who deal direct with the tourist traffic report a record business. Port Arthur is a good index, and the. guides employed there to show visitors over the ruins dealt with larger numbers than ever before.”
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to8p.m.
– I am at a loss to know in what way the Tasmanian people have suffered an injustice in relation to the shipping service to that State. The report of Messrs. Anstey and Yates and Senator McHugh upon the Navigation Act states -
The officer in charge of the Tasmanian Government Tourist Bureau, in Brisbane, reporting to his Government, says - “ You will see there has been a considerable increase of business compared with the previous year.”
The position is summarized as follows: -
The Navigation Act came into operation on 1st July, 1921.
Before the war only 2 per cent. of thosewho went to Tasmania travelled on oversea boats.
After the war and before the Navigation Act came into existence, fewer than 1 per cent. travelled by oversea boats. At no time did the oversea boats carrymore than a few of the thousands travelling annually to and from Australia. When there were not navigation restrictions, when people could travelby any boat, 98 per cent. of those who visited Tasmania travelled on steamers manned by Australian citizens.
Since the act, travelling facilities have been ample. The Hobart Chamber of Commerce was asked by the Prime Minister to furnish evidence to the contrary - it did not do so. The Director of Navigation admitted to the Select Committee - “Not only are licensed vessels trading to Hobart capable of carrying the passengers and cargo offering, but there is almost always a large percentage of vacant space.” (Question 14.)
Not only is accommodation in the main ample, but under the act travellers to Tasmania have increased by many thousands.
The year 1923 was Tasmania’s record year in -
Exports to other States.
The Navigation Act has not destroyed, diminished, or injured the tourist traffic into Tasmania, but, on the contrary, this traffic has grown to record proportions. It has not inflicted injury upon Tasmanian industries, or in any way retarded the development of that State.
The figures given in that report must be regarded as authentic, because they “were based upon sworn evidence. They do not bear out the contention of some honorable senators that the Navigation Act has inflicted great hardship upon Tasmania. I believe that this proposal to allow oversea vessels to take tourists from the mainland to Tasmania is a step in the direction of raising class distinctions between passengers. The percentage of persons who travelled on oversea boats before the proclamation of the Navigation Act was very small. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce), in his policy speech, promised Tasmania the sun, the moon, and the stars, so to speak; he stated his intention of taking every step necessary to enable oversea boats to visit Tasmania. On page 64 the report from which I have just quoted, states -
Complaints from Tasmania against the Navigation Act are confined to Hobart.
Hie interstate exports from Tasmania have increased since the operation of the Navigation Act, and are double the pre-war exports of 1913.
The act has not adversely affected the fruit export trade of Tasmania. There is ample cargo tonnage to lift the fruit crop, and while the interstate freights on fruit and fruit products have increased over pre-war rates by about 30 per cent., the oversea freights (which the act cannot affect) on the same products, are from 60 to 250 per cent, above pre-war rates.
The Navigation Act has not affected the tourist traffic to Tasmania. Before the war, less than 2 per cent, of the people visiting Tasmania travelled ‘by oversea steamers. The number of tourists from other States to Tasmania has increased since the Navigation Act became operative.
The present unsatisfactory financial position of Tasmania has not been brought about by Commonwealth legislation, nor has the financial position been affected by the Navigation Act. The causes were operating many years before the Navigation Act.
Senators Duncan and Elliott, in their report, stated -
Before the Navigation Act operated there tourists came ‘by what was known as the “ apple trip.” They could travel during the apple season by mail steamer between, say, Sydney or Brisbane-Melbourne-Hobart, and return by another mail steamer. It is contended that these vessels began to build up a separate branch of the tourist traffic. It is claimed that most of those people do not now visit Tasmania, because they desired comfortable travelling which, it is stated, is denied to them by the present facilities., consisting of comparatively small coastal vessels with frequently crowded accommodation, and the Launceston-Hobart railway.
According to statistics placed before your Commissioners, 500 people visited Tasmania by means of the “ apple trip “ in 1913, and in 1914 this number increased to 1,000. It is claimed that the number of wealthy tourists was increasing, and that this branch of the traffic was being built up when the war stopped it, and the Navigation Act prevented its revival.
As against this argument, ‘ evidence was furnished by representatives of the interstate shipping companies that the service provided by them is ample, and for more than half of the year their vessels from Sydney to Hobart, and Melbourne to Launceston, have a great percentage of empty passenger accommodation. This is proved amply, but evidence was also brought forward that during the tourist season these vessels are “always full, and are crowded to a great extent - that intending tourists are offered second-class accommodation and “ shake downs “ on payment of first-class fares, with the result that many people who will travel in comfort or not at all no longer visit Tasmania.
In regard to this complaint that the tourist traffic of Tasmania has been vitally affected by the prevention of mail boats from carrying interstate passengers, it is admitted by witnesses and shown by statistics that prior to the Navigation Act the number of tourists arriving at Hobart by mail steamers was insignificant compared with the numbers arriving by interstate vessels. The witnesses, claimed that the practice or habit of wealthy people from other States visiting Hobart by- mail steamers was in its infancy, and if it had not been for the Navigation Act, the numbers would have been largely increased. This is purely supposition. (Statistics were also produced by the State Government Statistician, showing that the number of tourists visiting Tasmania was back to the pre-war level, and further evidence was given that the tourist season at Hobart for 1924 had every promise of being a record.
Figures were placed before your Commissioners showing a large percentage of empty berth accommodation in interstate passenger vessels to Tasmania, and it was shown that only during holiday rushes were the vessels taxed to full capacity. The companies admitted this overcrowding in the Christmas rush to Tasmania, but pointed out the obvious fact that all means of transport are crowded at holiday periods, and a ship cannot put on extra berths as a train puts on additional carriages.
I am satisfied that if this measure is passed, injury will be caused to the Australian mercantile marine. It has taken a long time to bring the act to its present state of perfection. Any withdrawal of its advantages must prove detrimental to the Australian seamen. What did the right honorable member for North Syd- ney (Mr. Hughes) have to say on this matter when he was Prime Minister ? A letter which he wrote to Mr. J. E. Johnston, president of the Hobart Chamber of Commerce, in June, 1922, read as follows: -
With reference to your letter of the 18th March, relative to the effect’ of the Navigation Act on the trade of Tasmania, I desire to inform you that, in view of the importance of the matter, and of the fact that reference is made in your letter to statements made by me on the occasion of my visit to Hobart on 1st February, your communication has been held over for my personal attention. You quote me as saying on die occasion mentioned, “The ships arranged for can carry twice as many apples as will be available for them. The latest estimate of the Tasmanian fruit crop for overseas this season is 1,000,000 cases, and. the steamers scheduled to call would, after providing for mainland requirements have space available to take 2,000,000 cases from Tasmania. Can you, in the face of these figures, say that the Act is inflicting any injury on your fruit trade?” and offer the comment that the figures as to production being correct, the information given by mc as to the space available was quite incorrect. In reply to this, I would state that I have had the data upon which I based my remarks carefully reviewed, and I find that ‘ the latter were, at the time they were made, a perfectly . accurate statement of the position. My information was obtained from an authoritative source - the shipping people who handle refrigerated shipping in Australia. It showed that at that time 29 ships were tentatively fixed to take, in the aggregate, nearly 2,000,000 cases of fruit from Hobart. And had conditions in the refrigerated products export trade remained as they were, as appeared likely, there is no doubt whatever that these ships,’ would have actually taken away every case of fruit that the Tasmanian growers could offer. But the British markets for meat and butter, which were at that time perfectly dead, shortly afterwards revived, and in order to’ apportion the tonnage available in Australia evenly between the trades concerned, the committee controlling the refrigerated ships, which i3 in no way connected with the Government or under Government control, withdrew certain vessels that were listed for Tasmania’s fruits, and made them available to carry meat and butter. I have now obtained from my colleague the Minister for Trade and Customs a report as to this year’s fruit shipments from Tasmania. This is made up to the end of April, which practically completes the export season. I am surprised and gratified to learn that, including a parcel of 35,000 cases which are to be sent by the Baradine this month, the exports of Tasmanian fruit will reach the record figure of 1,362,000 cases. I learn that there still remains some 200,000 cases of fruit for which space to British markets cannot be obtained.
From inquiries made .among the shipping authorities, it is ascertained that the reason why these apples could not be taken was that there was not available in Australia and New-
Zealand sufficient refrigerated space to take away the fruit, meat, and butter offering. Tasmanian growers are not the only sufferers, as I am informed quantities of meat and butter have also been shut out. I am also in a position to definitely state, on the authority of the shipping people who handled these vessels, and who, it must be admitted, can speak with authority on the matter, that the Navigation Act is not responsible in any way for the shortage of ships. Had there been no Navigation Act, Tasmania would not have shipped a single additional case of apples. A statement has been made that but for the act three P. and O. steamers would have visited Hobart and lifted between them some 60,000 cases of apples. I learn that two out of the three vessels referred to were definitely fixed for mainland ports months before the apple season opened. And I am also given to understand that, even if these three ships had been scheduled to call at Hobart, an equivalent space in some one or other of the boats which have been sent to that port would have been allotted instead to mainland ports, so that Tasmanian exporters would not have been benefited in any degree by their calling. Reference to the gentlemen who control the export of fruit from Tasmania will convince you, if such is necessary, of the correctness of my statement. The” Minister for Customs has publicly challenged any one to prove, by any substantial evidence, that, leaving out of account these three P. and O. vessels which might possibly have called, but which in any case are insignificant from a fruit-lifting point of view, a single ship of average refrigerated capacity omitted Hobart from her itinerary on account of the Navigation Act. And I desire to point out, and to emphasize the fact, that the Navigation Act does not interfere in the slightest degree with oversea ships bringing cargo to Australia or taking cargo away from Australia. In this regard they are on exactly the same footing as they were before the act came into operation. Touching now on the passenger traffic with the mainland, in regard to which you complain that the service provided by the interstate licensed steamers is inadequate, I have obtained full reports on this matter which go to show that the .Riverina and Westralia, the two licensed boats which have been engaged in the trade between Sydney and Hobart, have accommodation for 319 and 170 passengers respectively, and that there has not been a single occasion from 1st July, 1921, when the coasting trade provisions of the Navigation “Act commenced, up to the end of last month, on which the accommodation on either of these vessels has been fully occupied.
There may be, as you state, some few people who would take the trip from Sydney to Hobart if allowed to do so on a Peninsular and Oriental or Orient boat, but who decline to travel on the local steamers. Many of these, however, still visit the island, proceeding by rail to Melbourne and crossing to Launceston by the fast and comfortable, vessels employed in the Melbourne-Tasmania service. In any case, it is impossible to consider the alteration of the law merely to meet the convenience of these fastidious few.
In the opinion of- Mr. Hughes, the act was quite sufficient, and placed no obstacle in the way of passenger traffic to Tasmania. The figures I have quoted from the report of the royal commission, and founded on sworn evidence given before the commission, indicate that the people of Tasmania have not so much to cry about as their representatives in this Senate would make out. From time to time we are told that the Commonwealth Government- must come to the assistance of Tasmania.
– Western Australia finds it necessary to get licences for oversea ships to trade on its coast.
– Western Australia might want a lot more, but I cannot agree to it. Tasmania has always been dealt with generously. In fact, Senator Ogden said this afternoon that the Commonwealth Government had been an indulgent godfather to that State and others. I am satisfied that the people of Tasmania are not suffering the disabilities which honorable senators would have us believe they are, and I shall vote against the second reading of the bill.
.- As I was a member of the royal commission on the effect of the Navigation Act, I wish to draw attention to what I may term the misuse of the conclusions arrived at by the commission. In the first place, I want to point out that the Commonwealth Parliament, in passing the Navigation Act, did not intend to prohibit other than Australian vessels from trading on the Australian coast, because provision was made for the- granting of permits.
– That provision ought to be enough to satisfy Tasmanians to-day.
– Unfortunately, the provisions relating to the granting of permits have proved absolutely unworkable. A permit cannot be granted until the Minister has satisfied himself that there is not sufficient accommodation on Australian vessels. That provision worked very well when the coastal shipping companies were prepared to admit that they could not provide sufficient accommodation. For instance, at Melbourne Cup time hundreds of people cannot find accommodation on the vessels owned by Australian shipping companies, and the companies themselves are pre- pared to admit it. Therefore, it is an easy matter for the Minister administering the Navigation Act at very short notice to give overseas vessels permits to carry passengers at Cup time. But the shipping companies decline to admit that there is not sufficient accommodation on their vessels to cope with the Queensland tourist traffic, or with the traffic between Sydney and Hobart. The demand for space on interstate vessels is usually confined to a few weeks at Christmas. The local companies run their vessels for the rest of the year with their accommodation far from being filled, and they naturally regard with a jealous eye any attempt to cut into their monopoly at a time when there is the greatest demand for accommodation. From their point of view, the tourists can well wait” a week or two if they find the accommodation on the vessels fully taxed at Christmas, and, therefore, they will not acquiesce in any suggestion that the space they can provide is inadequate. In those circumstances, the Minister finds himself in a very difficult position. If he institutes an inquiry to ascertain the facts, it means a delay of a week or two. The people who are anxious to travel will not bother to go before him, and give evidence, only to find that their opportunity for taking a holiday has in the meantime passed away, so it can easily be seen that the permit provisions in the original act have proved absolutely useless to meet emergencies at particular times of the year. Four but of seven members of the royal commission recommended a change in the Navigation Act, but so ‘ impressed were two of those four, Mr. Prowse, and Mr. Seabrook, with the disabilities brought about by the coastal provisions of the act that they recommended that the whole of those provisions should be repealed. They were satisfied that no modification Parliament had power to make would be of any use to the travelling public. While the other two, Senator Duncan and I, saw the necessity for a change in the act, we would not go as far as Mr. Prowse and Mr. Seabrook. We, accordingly, recommended some modification of the unworkable coasting provisions. I should like honorable senators to compare the findings of the commission with the recent decision of the High Court in regard to the deportation case. It has been claimed that the High Court was unanimously against the deportation provisions of the Immigration Act. By the same line of reasoning it can fairly be claimed that a majority of the members of the royal commission on the effect of the Navigation Act were against the act in its present form. The Government is now endeavouring to give some effect to the finding of the majority of the commission. Since the presentation of the report of the commission there have been repeated instances of strikes inflicting the greatest hardship on people from the mainland, who found themselves in Tasmania unable to return to their homes. Honorable senators opposite admit that the conditions under which Australian seamen work are superior to those of any other country. Those conditions have been secured by the most powerful instruments we could devise - particularly the Arbitration Court - yet we find the seamen flouting this court, and saying that they would be better off without it. When men imagine they have a monopoly which enables them to dictate to the whole of the community, it is time steps were taken to restore them to their proper place, and bring them under some form of control. Therefore, I want it to be perfectly clear that if this bill does not effect an improvement I shall associate myself with Mr. Prowse and Mr. Seabrook in recommending the deletion of the coasting provisions of the Navigation Act. That is, no doubt, a warning, but we cannot tolerate tyranny by the seamen any more than Ave can on the part of any other bodywhich puts itself above the rest of the community. I thought honorable senators opposite would have raised their voices very emphaticallywhen the strikes occurred, to warn the seamen that they were playing with fire, and stood to lose that positionwhich had been Avon for them by the operation of legislation enacted by this Parliament.
[8.25]. - I am astonished at the remedy suggested by Senator Needham: that the Commonwealth should buy more vessels. My experience of the Commonwealth buying steamers has been sufficient to justify me in opposing any proposal to buy more.
– I suggested that we should use the vessels now owned by the Commonwealth and lying idle.
– The Commonwealth owns no suchvessels that are suitable for the Tasmanian traffic. Surely the experience of the State itself in owning and runningvessels has been sad enough. No. country wants to go on buying experience in the owning and running of steamers.
– The Tasmanian Labour Government has sold the vessels.
– I congratulate it on having been more fortunate than I thought it would be in its efforts to dispose of them. At any rate the remedy suggested by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Needham) would be a great deal worse than the trouble he seeks to cure. A great deal has been said about the White Australia policy. Honorable senators opposite would have us believe that honorable senators on the ministerial side are advocates of a black Australia. My honest opinion is that our friends opposite do not really believe that of their opponents. I think I can answer for those who are supporting the Government that not one of them would advocate anything approaching a departure from the White Australia policy. On the other hand, what was the attitude of our friends opposite during the recent British seamen’s strike? British vessels employing British seamen at £9 a month, the nearest approach to the Australian standard, were held up for months, while foreign vessels, manned by foreign crews, some of them coloured, and paid £3, £4, and £5 a month, were coming into Australian ports, getting quick dispatch from the waterside unions, and departing againwith cargo that should have gone away in British ships manned by British crews. Yet the people who permitted this to be done come here and charge honorable senators with trying to break down the White Australia policy, and introduce black labour. It is utterly wrong. Every honorable senator knows that this accusation is one of those political stunts that are made use of to please the unthinking. Senator Needham is quite correct in saying that the Government has a mandate from the people. This bill is carrying out something that was forecast in the Prime Minister’s policy speech. Senator Needham contends that the bill is unconstitutional, inasmuch as it affects one State only, but as a matter of fact it does not affect
Tasmania only. The words used in the proposed sub-section are as follow : -
Where it is shown to the satisfaction of the Governor-General that the tourist traffic between any ports in the Commonwealth or in the territories under the authority of the Commonwealth, . . .
That should be sufficiently wide. Senator Graham endeavoured to show from the quotations he read that Tasmania was not in need of assistance in the manner proposed, but he declined to give the authority he was quoting. Tasmania has for some time been ashing for relief in this direction, principally because she depends to a large extent upon the tourist traffic to assist her to raise sufficient revenue to meet her financial commitments. The tourist traffic is of great value to any country, as tourists not only spend considerable sums in making purchases and in travelling, but also advertise the country when they return home. The Canadian authorities spend thousands of pounds annually in England in inducing people to visit Canada, as they realize the benefit of the tourist traffic. Senator Graham, in opposing the bill, apparently overlooked the fact that prior to the construction of the transAustralian railway, Western Australia was isolated from the Eastern States in much the same way as Tasmania is today. Although the Navigation Act was passed in 1912, it was not proclaimed until 1920.
– A Labour Government was in power during a part of the time, but did not have the act proclaimed.
– Yes. The act was not proclaimed until the trans-Australian railway was completed, and until then the Western Australian people had the privileges which the Tasmanians are now seeking. If it is right to protect Western Australia’s interests, is it not equally right to honour our obligations to Tasmania, particularly when we can do so without detrimentally affecting the interests of any section of the community ? Senator Graham referred to the trade between the mainland and Tasmania, but that is not affected in any way by this measure, which deals only with tourist traffic. Honorable senators opposite should act fairly, and in criticizing the bill should not endeavour to brand honorable senators on this side of the Chamber as men who are opposed to the White Australia policy. Such criti cism is unfair, and altogether unworthy of them.
Question - That the bill be now read a second time - put. The Senate divided.
Majority … … 13
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 -
Section 286 of the principal act is amended by adding at the end thereof the following subsection : - (6.) Where it is shown to the satisfaction of the Governor-General that the tourist traffic between any ports in the Commonwealth or in the Territories under the authority of the Commonwealth is being injured or retarded, and the Governor-General is satisfied that it is desirable that unlicensed ships be allowed to engage in the trade, he may, by notice published in the Gazette, grant permission to unlicensed British ships of such size and speed as are specified in the’ notice to engage in the carriage of passengers between those ports, subject to such conditions (if any) and for such period as are set out in the notice.
– I move -
That after the word “ ships,” second occurring, the words “manned by white labour” be inserted.
We have been told by the Minister (Senator Wilson) that when this measure becomes law there will be no discrimination as between States. That is admitted. The bill would be unconstitutional if it did not apply to all parts of the Commonwealth. While it is intended for the moment to apply only to Tasmania, senators can rest assured that an opportunity will be found to apply its provisions to other States. The relief which Tasmania is now seeking could have been granted under the principal act if the Minister had been satisfied that the shipping facilities for tourists were inadequate, but apparently no such assurance could be given. It has been said that this measure will not in any way violate the White Australia policy; but with that I do not agree, us it will provide an opportunity to oversea ships employing coloured labour to enter the Australian coasting trade. We are informed that probably a number of oversea vessels which do not visit Tasmania at present will do so in the near future, and that 30 of these will employ white labour and seventeen coloured crews.
– Boats manned by coloured labour visit Tasmania to-day.
– Yes, but I am dealing with the tourist traffic. On some vessels which are not licensed to carry passengers to Tasmania, white seamen are employed at about £9 10s. per month, and others are manned by lascars who are paid £2 or £3 per month. The wage paid to Australian seamen on the Australian coast is £18 5a. a month. Does any honorable senator suggest that the competition of ships on which British seamen and lascars are employed will not affect the ships engaged in the coastal trade ?
– Those honorable senators who declare that they are in favour of the White Australia policy will have an opportunity to show their sincerity by supporting the amendment I have moved. An important principle is involved. For that reason, and because the Government has declared that it will not be a party to a violation of that principle, I hope that the amendment will be carried. I have h§ard no reason advanced by Government supporters in opposition to the principle it contains. If preference is to be given, it should be given to Australian seamen and Australian ship-owners, and not to the Peninsular and Oriental Company. . In any case, it should be given only to vessels which employ white labour.
– The honorable senator does not say that in relation to cargo vessels.
– I say it regarding this bill. Too much has been made of the inconvenience suffered by Tasmania by reason of the Navigation Act. Neither the report of the royal commission on the effect of that legislation, nor the evidence tendered on oath by various witnesses, contains anything which would justify any weakening on my part regarding the main provisions of the Navigation Act. This bill has been introduced to placate Tasmanian members of this Parliament, but in doing so a door is being opened to admit to the Australian coastal passenger trade vessels manned by coloured labour. It may be difficult to close that door.
– What does the Labour Premier of Tasmania say on this matter?
– I am a member of the Australian Labour party. With other members of the party to which I belong, I am anxious that there shall be no doubt in the minds of the people of Australia that Parliament has no desire to violate the White Australia policy.
– I hope that the amendment will be agreed to. It will at least provide honorable senators opposite with an opportunity to show the sincerity of their convictions regarding the maintenance of the White Australia policy. Unquestionably, that policy is at stake. If the amendment is carried, the danger that threatens it will be averted. Honorable senators have referred to the strikes which have caused inconvenience to Tasmania. I point out that in its present form the bill will not eliminate strikes. It will, however, grant permission to vessels employing coloured labour to engage in the conveyance of passengers between Tasmania and the mainland. That British ships are not immune from industrial troubles we have had evidence recently. Honorable senators who hope that this bill will entirely eliminate industrial disputes are living in a fool’s paradise. The passing of this legislation will enable the Inchcape shipping combine to exploit the shipping business between Tasmania and the mainland of Australia. Let us reflect on the way in which that huge combine has grown. Between 1914 and 1917 its profits, after paying excess profits tax, amounted to £350,000,000. Those huge profits were made on a capital of £170,000,000, that being the value of the ships belonging to the combinewhich were on the British register when the war broke out. During the period mentioned, the value of those vessels increased from £170,000,000 to £500,000,000. This legislation is merely playing into the hands of that combine, which, we should not forget, was responsible recently for a reduction of £1 a month in wages paid to British seamen. Senator Lynch, this afternoon said that the Labour party offered no objection to vessels engaged on the north-west coast of Australia obtaining an exemption from the provisions of the Navigation Act. The honorable senator was not correct in his statements. He should know that the act which this bill seeks to amend came into operation only on the 21st March, 1921.
– I think that the honorable senator is wrong.
– I have obtained the information from the Minister’s own department. Senator Lynch should know also that he and I were elected to this Senate on the 12th December, 1906, and that from that date until October, 1917, the only way by which we could travel to and from Western Australia was by boat. He said that during that period I travelled on boats manned by black labour.
– I said nothing of the kind. I said Labor members, and I adhere to my statement. The honorable senator may, if he so desires, include himself among them.
– The honorable senator referred to me personally, as he will see when he reads his remarks in Hansard. At the time I endeavoured to correct his statement by way of interjection, and he then said that Senator de Largie travelled on boats which employed black labour. I wish to make it perfectly clear that during that period I declined to travel by any vessel which employed coloured labour.
– In that case, the honorable senator must frequently have missed his work in this Senate.
– I have never neglected my duty or missed my work as a member of this Senate. The records of Parliament will show that, notwithstanding that I refused to travel on vessels manned by coloured crews, I was able to do my duty as a member of this Senate. All that time I travelled by Australian vessels. Since 1917, when the trans-Australian railway was completed, I have only once travelled to Western Australia by boat. I have never travelled on a boat which employed a coloured crew, as the honorable senator has said. Moreover, the Labour party could not have acted as the honorable senator stated, because at the time mentioned by him the act to which he referred had not been proclaimed, and therefore, was not law.
SenatorLynch. - The honorable senator is dodging the other question.
– I am not. The amendment moved by Senator Findley stipulates that vessels carrying passsengers to Tasmania must be manned by white crews. During 1921 and 1922 I was secretary of the Trades Hall in Perth, and I know that during that time many protests were made by the Trades Hall to the Federal Government against permission being granted to ships to trade between Fremantle and the northwest ports with coloured crews. I think that I have effectively disproved Senator Lynch’s statements. I hope that the committee will agree to the amendment, and thus preserve the ideal contained in the Navigation Act, which was not passed until after full consideration had been given to it.
– I support the amendment moved by Senator Findley. In view of the majority report of the royal commission which investigated the effect of the Navigation Act, I am surprised that this bill has been introduced.
– The majority of the commission was in favour of giving relief to Tasmania.
– Was it a majority report when two sections, naturally opposed to the Labour party, presented different reports ? Senators Elliott ‘ and Duncan were members of that commission, as were also Messrs. Seabrook and Prowse, members of another place. Those four members could not agree.
– They were all in favour of relief being granted to Tasmania.
– I suggest to Senator Cox that the members of the Labour party on that commission were as capable of weighing the evidence as were the other members. Their report was unanimous, whereas the other members of the commission were unable to agree, either in their final judgment, or during the sittings of the committee. Usually, when a jury disagrees, the person on trial is released. None of the evidence placed before the commission showed that Tasmania lost anything because of the operation of the Navigation Act. Tasmania’s tourist traffic is increasing year by year.
– Yes; but the increase would have been much greater if the present measure had been in force.
– A Sydney witness before the Navigation Commission advanced the feeble excuse, for the suspension of the operation of the coasting provisions of the’ act, that he was not content to travel to Tasmania in a small vessel, but wanted the advantages which an overseas vessel provided. That was practically the only argument advanced against the act. The interstate shipping companies proved conclusively that ample accommodation was always available on their vessels for the requirements of passengers. It was shown that at any period of the year the travelling facilities were equal, at any rate, to those provided for passengers travelling from State to State by railway. I have been compelled to travel between Adelaide and Melbourne without the convenience of a sleeper; but that is no sound argument forintroducing coloured labour on the railways. The Premier of South Australia (Mr. Gunn), on a recent visit to Melbourne, had to sit up all night in a railway carriage because a sleeping berth was not available. The fact that Tasmanians cannot always obtain sleeping berths on steamers when they travel to Melbourne does not prove that the shipping service is inadequate. Even on the east-west railway, some of the passengers are occasionally unable to obtain sleeping accommodation when they are prepared to pay for it. The United States of America has passed an act–
-(Senator Newland).- The honorable senator is getting away from the clause, and making a second-reading speech. He must confine his remarks to the question before the Chair.
– I bow to your ruling, Mr. Chairman. In any proposed alteration of existing laws, we should be fair to every State. I repeat what I said by way of interjection to the Minister (Senator Wilson), that’ South Australia has rights equal to those of Tasmania. History was made when this Parliament passed the Navigation Act, which is a superior measure to that of the United States of America, under which only vessels flying the Stars and Stripes can trade on the American coast. I maintain that Australian shipping companies alone should be permitted to engage in the coasting trade of the Commonwealth. Why should coloured crews be allowed to rob white Australians of employment? Even Senator Payne, I suppose, will agree that an Australian sailor can do better work than a lascar. The Government, by this measure, practically states that a lascar sailor is preferable to an Australian, and there I join issue with it. That is what the bill really means.
– The Labour party admits coloured persons into its unions.
– The only coloured person who belongs to my union is an Australian aborigine. Asiatics are debarred, because they are usually employed at cut rates of wages, and under conditions that Australians refuse to accept. Why is Senator Payne prepared to break down the laws of the country, and allow coloured crews to be employed in the interstate trade ?
– The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
– The committee should accept the amendment. We should endeavour to have every vessel that flies the nation’s flag manned by a white crew, at least on the Australian coast. This Government, however, has gone out of its way to give preference to vessels manned by coloured labour, and it has shown very little respect for the White Australia ideal. Surely the amendment, which gives preference to white crews, is British and broad enough for the Ministry to accept. The statement has been made that the consideration shown to Tasmania by this bill will be extended to the other States. The Government admits, then, that it is prepared to. permit coloured labour to be employed between, not only Tasmania and the mainland, but any other parts of the Commonwealth. I hope that those persons who desire to visit Tasmania will decline to travel on boats that carry coloured crews.We know of the pannicky state of mind into which coloured members of crews are thrown in times of shipwreck. They then commit acts that it would not be possible for a white crew to commit. When the Government next goes before the electors it will have to explain why it was not prepared to give preference to British crews. I cannot understand the attitude of honorable senators opposite who claim that they would not do anything to violate the White Australia policy, and yet oppose this amendment. If they do not support the amendment, they will en- courage not a white but a coloured Australia.
[9.17]. - I am sorry that I cannot support the amendment. I do not think that my honorable friends opposite imagined for a moment that I would. I repeat that the bill does not in any way imperil the White Australia policy. Senator Hoare argued that British subjects: only should be employed upon vessels that trade under the British flag. If he had made himself fully conversant with the matter he would know that, although the crews of these vessels may not be white people, they are, nevertheless, British subjects.
– Does the Minister say that Chinese are British subjects?
– Yes, if they come from Hong Kong.
Senator Sir VICTOR WILSON.Generally speaking, I would not say that Chinese crews are. If the amendment is agreed to the Government will be prevented from giving Tasmania the relief that it is anxious to give. I ask the Senate not to accept it.
Question - That the words proposed to be added be so added (Senator Findley’s amendment) - put. The committee divided.
Majority … … 13
Question so resolved in the negative.
That after the word” notice,” first occurring in proposed new sub-section 6, the following words be added : “ Provided that such permission shall not be granted to any unlicensed ships unless the owners agree to pay Australian rates of wages to the members of the crew during the period those ships are engaged in carrying passengers from one Australian port to another port in the Commonwealth.”
I hope that this amendment will meet a fate different from that of the amendment with which we have just dealt. Although the committee has agreed to coloured labour being employed, we desire to see that Australian rates of wages are paid. I cannot imagine this Parliament, which has laid down a certain standard of living in all industries, allowing any company to compete with Australian companies and pay a less rate of wage whilst they engage in our tourist traffic. The very pernicious principle that it is now proposed to authorize was the cause of the recent trouble along the Australian coast, because the Commonwealth Line of Steamers chartered vessels on which black labour was employed, in defiance of an award of the Arbitration Court. If the amendment is carried, the principle that underlies the section of the act which deals with wages will be upheld. That is part 6 of the act, which contains the coasting clauses. It provides that only white men shall be employed on vessels trading on the Australian coast, and that those men shall be paid a certain rate of wage and work under certain conditions. All I ask is that the wages which the court has fixed shall be paid to nien who are employed on unlicensed vessels.
– How does the honorable senator propose to enforce the payment of those wages?
– It should not require enforcement. The Government should provide, in this measure, that those wages must be paid. The act enabled the Australian seamen to secure reasonable wages and decent living conditions, whilst, at the same time, it protected the Australian vessels from the competition of oversea vessels that employed cheap coloured labour. I want to test the feeling of the committee on the question of the payment of Australian rates of wages, and the observance of Australian working conditions, on unlicensed vessels. Honorable senators may say, “ That can be done by regulation or in some other way.” But why should not Parliament itself insert the provision in this measure ? The committee has violated one principle for which Australia stands: let us now try to conserve the interests of these men who “go down to the sea in ships.” At this particular season, when persons wish to visit Tasmania to enjoy its salubrious climate and the hospitality of its people, why not make sure that the men who take them there are paid the proper rate of wages ? That is* the object of my amendment. Surely honorable senators will not constitute themselves a wages-reduction tribunal. Surely the Government will not allow it to be said that it stands for the reduction of wages. It has already enough sins to answer for, since it has been given its mandate from the people, and I do not wish to add to its already long list of offences the. sin of reducing wages.
– I hope that the amendment will be agreed to.
– The honorable senator need not worry.
– I am worried at the efforts made by the Government, backed up by its supporters, to weaken the Navigation Act. That act was passed in the interests of the shipowners and seafaring men of Australia to protect them against unfair competition from overseas vessels, and, it was hoped, to make a White Australia pos sible for all time on the coastal shipping, service of Australia. The arguments - if they can be called arguments - advanced to-day by honorable senators opposite are the self-same arguments that were advanced by the opponents of the Navigation Bill when it was under consideration here some years ago. I hope that no one believes at the present time in placing the ship-owners and seafaring men of Australia at a disadvantage. It is true that some people prefer to travel on oceangoing vessels as against interstate steamers; but we should be anxious to give Australian industries and enter, prises every encouragement. We have passed a Customs tariff to prevent what we call unfair competition with Australian industries from overseas, and if at a time when there was a shortage of any particular commodity it was seriously suggested that the duties on the imported article should not be operative, there would be a hue and cry from one end of Australia to the other. Yet, because, according to some honorable senators from Tasmania, there has been a little difficulty in getting accommodation for tourists at a certain period of the year, it is proposed to abrogate some of the main provisions of the Navigation Act in the interests of certain sections in Tasmania. It would be unfair to allow overseas unlicensed vessels, employing whom they like, working them as long as they like, and paying them any wages they please, to trade between the mainland and Tasmania in competition with the established shipping industry of Australia. I do not know what the shipowners of Australia think about the matter. I am not, for the moment, concerned about them. They can look after their own interests; but I am concerned about those who1 are working on their vessels. It is said that the passengers who are likely to travel on the boats that will be allowed to trade between the mainland and Tasmania if the bill goes through in its present form, will have to pay higher fares than are charged by the Australian ship-owners. If that be so, it is an additional reason why the committee should agree to the amendment, because the overseas vessels will be making more profit out of the passenger traffic. I see no reason why this. Parliament should be a party to giving to overseas ship-owners a greater profit than can possibly be obtained by Australian ship-owners. , The Government’s policy in regard to shipping facilities for Tasmania does not meet with the approval of the Opposition, and we shall lose no opportunity of doing anything we can to protect that section of the community we are here to represent. I hope that the committee will compel the overseas ship-owners engaging in the Australian coasting trade to observe those conditions that are enforced by our Navigation Act on Australian ship-owners.
– We hear a great deal about inviting people from overseas to come to Australia. I have even seen it reported that the German Government is making overtures to the Commonwealth Government to send some of the surplus population of Germany to Australia. One of the best ways to encourage immigration is to treat decently the men who visit our shores on overseas vessels. I hope that, in no circumstances, will black men be allowed to work in the trade the committee has been discussing to-night. I hope that the only men employed in this trade will be white men of the British race, because if they come here and see the possibilities of Australia, many of them, on their return to Great Britain, will want to migrate to Australia. We spend a lot of money on Australia House, and we have quite a number of men in Great Britain promoting the interests of the people of Australia - I think that before very long Senator Sir Victor Wilson will be one of them - but the best advertisers of the possibilities of Australia are those who come here and see the good conditions prevailing in the Australian coastal shipping service. They have no interest to serve but to tell the truth about us. If they come here and enter a trade in which they may have to compete with Australians, they will be good advertisers of Australia if they are asked to work under the conditions that apply on Australian steamers. But if they are asked to work under conditions which do not bear any comparison with those prevailing on Australian owned ships, they cannot feel very satisfied with Australia. We should try to send them away satisfied. I may be a little ahead of my time, but I suggest that any man who works on a vessel on the Australian coast should be paid Australian rates of pay as determined by our Arbitration Court.
– In those circumstances there would be no overseas boats trading to Australia.
– I do not want to see coloured men working on the Australian coast. I feel that if we enacted a law providing that all seamen must, on the Australian coast, get white men’s rates of pay and conditions of labour, it would help us, because of the good advertisement that visiting seamen would give us on their return to the other side of the world. However, that is an economic argument that I do not wish to develop at the present moment. I hope the Minister will accept the amendment.
Senator Sir VICTOR WILSON (South Australia - Minister for Markets and Migration) [9.44]. - I cannot accept the amendment. No fresh arguments have been advanced. I am sure the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Needham) recognizes that Australia could not dictate to the world the rates of pay that should apply on vessels that do not come under the operation of Australian law. In the recent seamen’s strike, we had a sad experience of an effort to dictate what wages should be paid on overseas vessels. The vessels which will probably take advantage of the amending legislation already visit Australia, and we are merely providing facilities to enable them to engage in the passenger traffic to Tasmania when the vessels at present employed in that trade cannot cope with it. In these circumstances the number of coloured men engaged in the trade will not be increased in the slightest degree. I therefore ask honorable senators to reject the amendment in order to give Tasmania the assistance to which she is rightly entitled.
Question - That the words proposed to be added be so added (Senator Needham’s amendment) - put. The committee divided.
Majority … …. 12
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Sir William Irvine and the Senate.
Motion (by Senator Pearce) proposed
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I propose for a few moments to refer to a matter of rather frequent recurrence in this country, and that is the habit of some persons of publicly criticizing the Senate. I do not wish to infer for a moment that this Chamber is above criticism; but, on the contrary, would say that it welcomes criticism so long as it is reasonable and justified. The latest recruit in this enterprise is His Honour the Chief Justice of Victoria (Sir William Irvine) who, on the occasion of the opening of the Australian Natives Association Industrial Exhibition, in Melbourne, went out of his way to criticize this Chamber. It would appear that the words of His Honour on that occasion received fairly wide publicity throughout the Commonwealth, and it is because of the position which His Honour occupies, and the publicity his words received, that I feel that something needs to be said by way of reply.
– We would not be allowed to criticize His Honour’ in this chamber.
– No. I waive, for the time, my right to. refer to the propriety or lack of propriety of the Chief Justice of a selfgoverning State leaving his own particular domain or sphere and stepping into the federal arena in order to criticize this Chamber. I leave, also, on one side the fact that Sir William Irvine acts occasionally as the Deputy Governor - the King’s vice-regent in this State - and why a person in such a high and exalted position should be careful before entering the arena of public discussion, more especially to criticize, without just cause, a chamber of the standing and importance of the Senate. In order to show the extent to which His Honour’s remarks have gained publicity, I quote from the Daily Telegraph, Sydney, where, in the leading-article page, in bold headlines, the following appeared: -
The Senate has acted in a way opposite to that intended, said the Chief Justice of Victoria, Sir William Irvine.
In the cable page of The Advertiser, published in South Australia, the following report appears : -
I do not think I go too far when I say that the actual operations of the Senate, instead of regulating the impulses of public opinion, has tended rather to accentuate those impulses. In other words, it has acted in the opposite way to that intended. (Cheers).
In Western Australia, the State which I have the honour to represent, there appears in the leading-article page of the West Australian, under the subheading, “The Future of the Senate” these words. “The Senate has failed.” Turning to another shade of political thought, I quote from the Labour Daily, of Sydney, as follows: -
Sir William Irvine shares Mr. Lang’s view. Useless Upper House, and Senate, too.
It goes on to show where, in its opinion, the Senate fails, and states -
It was to safeguard the rights of the smaller States in the federation, to moderate the excess of temporary political impulses, and to act as a body of review to the House of Representatives. . . . The Senate has acted in exactly the opposite direction to that intended.
I took upon myself the responsibility of putting the contrary view, of expressing my opinion regarding the position of the Senate, and of commenting upon those criticisms indulged in from time to time by certain irresponsible individuals as well as newspapers. I sought to avail myself of the only opportunity open to any person in this country by utilizing the journals of this city, and I wrote a letter to two of the morning dailies published in Melbourne - the Age and the Argus - daring to criticize Sir William Irvine for criticizing, amongst other things, the Senate.
– It did not appear at all. The journals I have mentioned are supposed to be organs of public opinion. My letter, however, has not appeared, and I find out that it is not likely to. I intend to read it now in order to bring before honorable senators the views which are exclusively my own, so that they can then judge whether I should have been treated as I was by these journals. I am in this instance going to submit it - through Hansard - to a larger audience than either of these two morning journals can reach. A good deal of space is devoted by these newspapers to particulars of cases of bigamy in South Africa and prohibition in America, but space cannot be f found for an answer to the charges and attacks made upon this Chamber. My letter reads -
THE SENATE AND ITS CRITICS.
From time to time certain critics arise to express views on our Federal system of government, mingling praise and blame in changing proportions. But a standing feature of this class of reviewer is the singling out of the Senate for censorious treatment. It is cited as a subject of unexpected disappointment. Whatever else happens to any other part of the system, in practice the Senate never misses its full share of the flail. “ The Senate has failed,” runs the shibboleth. This shibboleth has as much substance in it as the average one, ancient or modern, e.g., “ An Englishman’s home is his castle,” “ The Teeming East,” “Perfide Albion,” “The colonies are a millstone round our necks,” &c, &c.
The chief grounds of complaint urged against the Senate are - (a) “The Senate has failed to protect the rights of the States”; (o ) “ The Senate is but a replica of the House of Representatives”: (c) “The Senate is undemocratic, inasmuch as some small States have as much representation as a suburb of some of our big cities”; (d) “The Senate is antiquated and partisan, because it hearkens not to the voice of minorities “ ; and so on runs the indictment. The Chief Justice of Victoria now arrives with two additional counts, viz., (e) “It is doubtful if the Senate has protected the rights of the smaller ‘States as it was constitutionally designed to do”; and (/) “It has failed to tone down the transient political impulses of the hour as sometimes manifested in the House of Representatives.”
In putting in a word of defence for that patient Chamber, one is puzzled to decide whether to give a categorical reply to those complaints, or simply keep the ring and let the various complainants urge their case and so annihilate each other. But they are so fond of clinging to the seductive realm of assertion and vagueness that, in default of getting closer to earth, the question is never pushed to the proof for want of the necessary details. Want of these make a contention dreary and unprofitable, so, by way of a change, I shall endeavour to supply some and call for a few others, if they are available.
Respecting charge (a), the discussion would be much illuminated if its sponsors would say when, where, and how the rights of the States were seriously infringed with the Senate as a willing witness and consenting party, in a manner not provided in the Constitution and not contemplated by its framers. The cause of the States collectively, though high and important as it is and will remain, is not conceivably the supreme cause. That exclusively belongs to the nation, and in this respect, in my opinion, the Senate has no right to stand inferiorly. Further, the charge, to have any granite in its foundation, must depend upon the presupposition that there is a constant, unchanging resolve on the part of members elected to the House of Representatives to enlarge the sphere of federal authority and simultaneously ‘diminish the States’ one. At the same time, those persons elected to the Senate, in obedience to some external mandate, presumably, but not to the electors, are to do the exact opposite and resist any such design. Just picture the electors of Victoria sending two sets of men to the Federal Parliament under such contradictory commands. To do so would require a, conflicting and dual mentality with a kind of water-tight bulkhead between dividing the will to attack from the will to defend. The experience is that no such thing happens. Both sets of representatives, springing from the same common stem - viz., the most fully enfranchized democracy in the world must have, generally speaking, common characteristics, otherwise the law of affinity is mythical. The contention, therefore, that the rights of the States, viewed as a whole, apart from the edicts of the electors, has suffered or needs vigilant defence, is wholly illusory. The High Court is there to do the work of demarcation. Not so in regard to the rights of certain of the States as against certain other of the States. This is a vitally different matter. To see that the balance was here preserved with equal poise was the original and seminal reason for the creation of the Senate. Any charge urged against the Senate on any ground other than this has little force or validity.
Now as to the more popular complaints, those under (a) and (e) seem to be in conflict, for, if the small States have been neglected as claimed to be the case under (e), this can- only happen through a corresponding aggrandise- merit of the bigger States, which under (a) is firmly denied. Under this head all have Buffered, none benefited; (c) and (d), on the face of them, are hopeless of reconciliation. What is a hall-marked gem of rare brilliance in the one instance in the character of the Senate turns out to be a spurious counterfeit in the other. With microbic instinct they automatically eat one another. (b) and (f) have one point in common, and only one, in that they attempt to juxtapose the relationship of the two Houses from a slightly different angle, but, again, of course, to the disadvantage of the Senate. Fortunately, experience can throw some light on such glib complaints under these heads. Certain tests have been recorded that are useful. In 1914, when the two Houses were at loggerheads, not because the Senate was a “ reflex “ of the other Chamber, but a lion in its path, and in that of the Government of the day as well, the appeal to the electors unequivocally sustained” the Senate in its stand. The ballot-box confirmed it as the standard barometer of popular feeling - the “ reflex “ of the people’s judgment, and nothing else, on that occasion of national trial. The nature of the issue has no bearing whatever on the charge levelled at the Senate nor the principle involved. His Honour the Chief Justice himself was the chief actor in the episode, and political fortune placed him on the losing side. After all, the Senate and its well-wishers would prefer to be what the electors declared it wason that occasion than certainly respond to the model of its pedantic and inharmoniousband of critics. In the recent elections those wayward “ impulses “ mentioned by His Honour, instead of getting encouragement by means of the newly-elected Senate, got through that Chamber particularly a repulse of first magnitude. Moreover, the party that believes in the use of those “ impulses” believes also in the abolition of the Senate.
There is strong presumptive evidence that the reason why that party thinks we would be better off without the Senate is because they regard it as a “ shock absorber “ rather than a shock stimulator. Hence, it would seem that, if those “ impulses “ are to become a desirable and increasing feature of our national life, the first thing to be done is to put the Senate out of existence. Assuredly, when that is done,I am afraid there will be other work to do for the critics who now waste valuable time in picking out its fanciful failings. They will have more substantial worries on band.
That letter, though long, is no longer than the occasion justifies. I thank those two morning journals for the opportunity they have given me to reach, by adopting the means to which I have resorted, a much wider circle of readers than if I had depended on their limited circulation.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.6 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 10 February 1926, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1926/19260210_senate_10_112/>.