10th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. Sir John Newlands) took theChair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Attitude Towards Waterside Workers
– Yesterday the Leader of the Government in the Senate said that’ it was not the intention of the Government to take any steps whatsoever with regard to the present shipping trouble. I should like to ask him if he has noticed that a statement has been published to the effect that the Australian Shipping Board has conceded the demands of the Waterside Workers’ Federation and thus stultified a decision of the Arbitration Court?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE The attention of the Government has been directed to the statement in the press referred to by the honorable senator and inquiries are being made as to the position.
– Is the Government aware that there is an Act of Parliament which gives the Australian Shipping Board certain powers and places the board beyond political interference?
– Of course the Government is well aware of that.
– May I ask you, Mr. President, if there is any way in which honorable senators can express their approval or disapproval of decisions of the Library Committee which affect very considerably members of both Houses ?
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir John Newlands). - There are many opportunities for honorable senators to give expression to their views on any decision of the Library Committee, and I know of no better way to do so than by moving a motion in the Senate.
– Will any report of the Library Committee be submitted to the Senate?
– No. The affairs of the Library are handed over to the Library Committee just as the affairs of other branches of the Parliamentary services are entrusted to joint committees of both Houses.
– When the schedule to the Appropriation Bill is under consideration honorable senators will have ample opportunity on the vote for the Parliament, to air any grievances they may have relating to the library.
– Seeing that no report is made to the Senate by the Library Committeeofficially, and that the most that honorable senators can get is a hearsay report, how will it be possible for us to discuss the matter intelligently on the Estimates?
– It will be possible for the honorable senator to discuss any matter relating to the Library in the manlier indicated by the Vice-President Executive Council. The honorable senator may also do so by asking questions or submitting a motion.
– Is it the intention of the Government to make available for distribution copies of the report of the Industrial Commission to America ?
– I understood that copies had already been made available to honorable senators. I shall make inquiries, and, if that is so, see that the honorable senator is supplied with acopy.
– For some time past I have been asking the Leader of the Government in the Senate when he would be able to furnishme with the information I have been seeking relative to the cost of commissions and boards appointed by the present Government. Has the right honorable gentleman yet obtained the information I require?
– The information required by the honorable senator is as follows: -
Return of Boards, Commissions, and Tribunals brought into existence by the Commonwealth Government, and which were in operation during the year 1926-27, together with cost of that year.
Committee controlling Trade Publicity in the United Kingdom -
The cost of the Trade Publicity Scheme is borne by the Dairy Produce, Dried Fruits, and Canned Fruits organizations, and the Commonwealth, on a £1 for £1 basis. The Commonwealth’s liability is limited to £100,000.
The members of the Publicity Committee receive no remuneration for their services, and the secretarial and other administrative work is carried out by the Department of Markets.
Australian Dairy Council -
The expenditure during 1926-27 was approximately £3,000. The whole of this amount was paid by the dairying industry.
The following boards are also under the control of this department: -
Dairy Produce Control Board.
Dried Fruits Control Board.
Canned Fruits Control Board.
These boards were brought into existence pursuant to the Dairy Produce Export Control Act 1924, the Dried Fruits Export Control Act 1924, and the Canned Fruits Export Control Act 1926. The expenditure of the board is defrayed from levies collected from the producers in whose interest the boardsare operating.
Australian Maize-Growers’ Council -
Department of Defence.
Council of Defence.
First Naval Member. - Salary paid as First Naval Member (see Naval Board).
Second Naval Member. - Salary paid as Second Naval Member (see Naval Board).
Commodore Commanding Australian Squadron - Salary paid as Commodore Commanding Australian Squadron, 1926-27, £3,093.
Inspector-General of the Australian Military Forces. - Salary paid as Inspector-General and Chief of the General Staff (see Military Board).
First Military Member of the Military Board. - Salary paid as Inspector-General and Chief of the General Staff (see Military Board).
First Air Member. - Salary paid as Chief of the Air Staff (see Air Board).
Controller-General of Munitions Supply. - Salary paid as Controller-General of Munitions Supply (see Munitions Supply Board). The following are also members of the Council for Defence, but receive no remuneration as such : -
The Prime Minister - President.
The Treasurer - Member.
The Minister for Defence - Member.
Lieu tenant-General Sir John Monash, G.C.M.G., K.C.B., V.D.- Member.
Major-GeneralSir C. B. B. White, K.C.M.G., K.C.V.O.,C.B., D.S.O.- Member.
What are the reasons for discontinuing the publication of the Historical Records of Australia?
When was the last volume published, and up to what date does it carry the records?
Is it a fact that a number of volumes are in the hands of the editor or the Government Printer ?
Is it intended to continue the production of the records; and, if so. when will a recommencement be made?
How many volumes of each series did Mr. Frederick Watson compile?
What was the total amount paid to him for his services ?
I am now in a position to supply the honorable senator with the following answers : -
The contract with the editor of the Historical Records of Australia expired on 31st December, 1925. Arrangements for the continuation of publication are now being considered by the Library Committee.
Volume 26 of Series 1, coming to December, 1848.
Approximately half of Volume 27 of Series 1 is in type in the hands of the Government Printer, Sydney.
Answered by No. 1.
Series 1, 26; Series 3, 6; Series 4, 1.
£14,882 10s. l0d. This sum includes £800, paid 30th November, 1917, to terminate the then existing agreement, and £1,300, paid 11th August, 1926, “in full settlement of all claims against the Commonwealth.”
– On the 29th inst. Senator Thomas asked the Minister representing the Minister for Markets and Migration the following question, upon notice : -
What is the amount of refrigerating space provided on -
The Orient Company’s mail boats trading to Australia?
Bay class steamers of the Commonwealth Line?
I am now in a position to furnish the following particulars : -
What was the amount of money placed on the Estimates for each of the financial years 1922-23, 1923-24,1924-25, 1925-26, and 1926-27, for assisted passages from Great Britain to the Commonwealth ?
What were the amounts actually expended each year for this purpose?
In the case of nominated passages is there any age limit which debars a migrant from receiving the British and Australian Governments’ grants towards passage money, even though accompanied by his or her family?
I am now in a position to furnish the following information : -
Whether the published statement that the Commonwealth Income Tax Department is an unsecured creditor to the amount of £28,133 in connexion with the insolvency of Reynolds Driver, whose liabilities are stated to be £33,766, is correct?
If the income tax assessment is as stated, what period does the assessment cover?
What steps were taken before the insolvency to secure payment of. taxation ?
The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow: -
The Commonwealth is making a claim against the insolvent estate of Reynolds Driver, for £28,133 for income tax. The liabilities of the insolvent are not known to the Commonwealth ?
For the years 1923-24 and 1925-26.
The Commissioner of Income Tax has informed’’ the Government that section 12 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1922-26 prohibits him from giving this information.
On what date was the Royal Commission on National Insurance appointed?
On what date did the commission conclude its inquiries and furnish the final report?
What was the total expenditure incurred in connexion with such commission?
What was the total amount (including fees and travelling expenses) paid to the chairman of the commission (Senator J. D. Millen).
The information asked for in 1 and 2 was given by me, and I am now in a position to furnish the remaining answers, as follow: -
Accounts received and paid up to and including 30th April. 1927 -
4, £1,056 for travelling expenses.
[3.13]. - I lay on the table the report of the Australian Delegation to the Eighth Assembly of the League of Nations, 5th to 27th September, 1927, and move -
That the paper be printed.
I take this opportunity to offer a few observations on the meeting of the Assembly at which I had the honour to be one of the representatives of the Commonwealth of Australia. At a time like this when the question of armaments is disturbing the minds of the whole of the civilized world it is important that we should give some consideration to the work which the League of Nations is doing. However pessimistic some people may be in regard to the League, it is to-day the only considered movement in human affairs, the only organized plan that the nations have, for the maintenance of peace. That end is so urgent that, however imperfect the organization may be, and however pessimistic we may be as to its capabilities, it is imperative that it should have our utmost sympathy, consideration and support. The opportunity I had to attend the Eighth Assembly of the League of Nations convinced me that there is in the machinery and in the covenants of the League, and in the goodwill of the nations comprising it a means to do something very definite towards the maintenance of the peace of the world. It is a fact that the League has had so far a short career, and, therefore, has not had time to acquire that prestige and power which is necessary to enable it to assert its authority in any crisis of first-class importance. But even in its short history it has already accomplished something in the way of smoothing out some of the difficulties that have occurred in Europe. That importance is attached to its deliberations is evidenced by the fact that every first-class Power in Europe was’ represented by its Foreign Minister at the recent meeting of the Assembly. The Foreign Ministers of first-class powers are altogether too fully occupied in dealing with issues of supreme importance to waste their time at assemblies that in their opinion do not count. Therefore, the fact that the Foreign Ministers of all the leading European Powers not only attended the recent meeting of the Assembly, but throughout took an active part in its deliberations, to my mind indictate clearly that they attach considerable importance to the meetings of the League.
Disarmament is the great question with which the civilized nations of the world have to deal to-day. One cannot fail to be perturbed when one examines the condition of Europe and of countries outside Europe, and realizes that the signs to-day are even more unpromising than were those which disturbed the world in 1914. Unless this problem can be solved it seems to me that civilization- may become involved in a frightful cataclysm that will shake its very base. It is doubtful whether it could stand up against another cataclysm like that of 1914 to 1918. The League from its inception has been directing its attention to this question of disarmament. That it has not succeeded in finding a solution of the problem is not to be wondered at when one recalls that at the conclusion of the war the nations came together in the League with all the suspicion and hatred engendered by the terrible conflict that had raged for several years. It takes time for trust to take the place of suspicion. Some of the great nations engaged in the recent war became members of the League only a year or two ago. The last meeting of the Assembly was only the second at which Germany was represented. We have to remember also that two great Powers even to-day are outside the League. The United States of America, which, from a financial point of view may be regarded as being potentially the most powerful nation in the world to-day is still not a member. That is a strange anomaly, since the League was really the inspiration of the late Presidents Wilson. Another great Power outside the League is Russia. With these two nations outside the position is still further complicated As soon as disarmament is mentioned to any of the European Powers, the suggestion is made that disarmament must be based on security; that without security they cannot disarm, and that security is only possible by mutual guarantees of protection, and a mutual agreement to arbitrate on all questions in dispute. And so, Mr. President, the Assembly of the League in 1924 applied itself to the task of determining how it could give the nations of the earth a guarantee of security - how it could give them a guarantee that their disputes would be settled on the basis of arbitration, and that justice should take the place of force. That Assembly, as the result of its deliberations, produced what is known as the Geneva Protocol. I have to say of that Protocol that if humanity were only ready for it, it would provide a perfect system upton which the nations could function. But unfortunately we are not dealing with a perfect humanity. On the contrary, we have a very imperfect humanity. By that protocol, the great Powers were asked to give guarantees and accept obligations which they felt it was beyond their power to assume. That attitude is easily understandable by those wh’6. have some knowledge of European politics, and of the precarious position of some of the smaller States. A number or ‘ them only came into being after the war, and they have great military powers on their borders. One can well understand how anxious these smaller nations are to have a mutual guarantee of protection from the more powerful military nations. Therefore, we find the nations comprising the Balkan States - nations along the Russian frontier - and those comprising the Nordic group- Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Denmark - enthusiastically in favour of the Geneva Protocol. But when we turn to the nations that would have to police that agreement, that would have to find the armaments, if they were to be found, to enforce that agreement - the nations that would have to act as the policemen of Europe, so to speak, what do we find? Take, for instance, the Empire to which we belong. Many years ago it put its signature to an agreement to guarantee the neutrality of Belgium, and when in 1914 that neutrality was invaded, the. Empire went to war to honour that guarantee. When we consider what that meant, when we remember the frightful price the Empire paid in honoring its undertaking, it is easy to understand that the British Empire would not again lightly put its name to a guarantee of the future, without being sure of its meaning, and the capacity of the Empire to give effect to it. The obligation to police the Geneva Protocol was imposed upon great Powers such as the British Empire, and naturally they hesitated to accept such a tremendous responsibility. The Protocol moreover, was open to the serious objection that it endeavoured for the first time in human history to provide machinery to define which was the aggressor nation in any conflict between two Powers. In a series of clauses it set out the means by which this was to be determined. A close study of those clauses however, showed that it was possible so to manipulate them as to make the victim appear to be the aggressor. And .so the British Government and the Government of every Dominion of the Empire, after a close and sympathetic study of the Protocol, decided that they could not accept the obligations thus sought to he imposed upon them. Nevertheless, the nations which originated these proposals and enthusiastically supported them, still held the belief that by the force of world public opinion, it would be possible practically to compel Great Britain and its Dominions to accept some such principle as that contained in the Protocol. Since 1924 they have been endeavoring to do that. At each meeting of the Assembly, attempts have been made to revive the principle. In 1926, however, after the Geneva Protocol had been definitely rejected, the nations felt that some fresh attempt should he made to explore the means by which disarma-ment might be brought about. A Preparatory Commission was therefore set up to go into technical questions as to the size of armies and navies, the fighting and financial powers of the nations, their liabilities and responsibilities, and, having examined these, to submit to the League a statement of what it regarded as the minimum force that a nation required to maintain its security. It is obvious that as a preliminary to disarmament a careful examination of all the material facts must be made. It is not sufficient to say in a rough and ready way that Britain must have an army of only 50,000,. or France an army of 100,000 men. All these questions have to be carefully weighed, with due regard to the facts. There must be a technical examination of the requirements of each nation before it is possible to determine what the strength of its armament shall be. Accordingly, the Preparatory Commission entered upon its colossal task. There was already one force operating against any progress being made by the Disarmament Commission, and that was the force exercised by those who still believed that the Geneva Protocol could be made to function. Another influence operating against it was the suspicion which still exists, particularly on the part of European Powers. Each waited for the other to make the first move. Each waited for the other to disclose its hand and say how far it was prepared to go. And so, although it was anticipated that the Preparatory Commission would be in a position to submit definite proposals to the Eighth Assembly, we found on meeting, that there were no definite proposals to put forward. On the other hand, there was an attempt to revive the principles of the Geneva Protocol. There was a full discussion at the outset, and various nations submitted resolutions bearing on the questions of arbitration, security and disarmament. In these one found many of the principles of the Geneva Protocol. The Assembly, after discussing the main principles contained in these proposals, referred them to the First and Third, Committees. I was privileged to be a member of those committees, and took part in their deliberations. The discussions were, to me, a revelation of the undercurrents that are still running in Europe. While, in the Assembly itself, the discussions proceed on more or less diplomatic lines, some very frank and plain speaking is indulged in at the various meetings of the several committees, and having heard it, one is in a better position to judge of the cross currents that affect the people of Europe. It soon became apparent that some examination of the questions of guarantees, security and arbitration must be made. It was decided, therefore. to set up another committee, to work with the Preparatory Commission during the coming twelve . months, in order to ascertain, in the light of the discussions that have taken place since the Geneva “Protocol was introduced, and in the light of the attitude taken up by- Great Britain and her dominions, whether some form of security - it may be some form of regional security such as that provided for in the Locarno Treaty-: - could be arrived at, by which nations would be encouraged to agree to a considerable measure of disarmament. The question of arbitration must also be examined.
When speaking before the Assembly and in the committees, I took the opportunity to point out that on the principle of compulsory arbitration we in Australia could speak with some experience. After all, whether we are dealing with industrial or with international affairs, we are dealing with human beings, and must take into account human passions, prejudices and obstinacy. I said then, as I say now, that compulsory arbitration in Australia in industrial matters had not been an unqualified success; and that, as a result of our experience in Australia, public opinion was turning more and more in the direction of seeking agreement by conciliation. It may be that I entirely misinterpreted public opinion in Australia, but that is the view which I hold and which I expressed at Geneva. I felt that as the Assembly was dealing with a principle with which most of its members had had little experience, it was due to me, as a representative of a country that had had some experience of it, to endeavour to interpret the opinion and experience of Australia in relation to that principle. I believe that if progress is to be made with the questions of disarmament and security, we must no longer humbug ourselves, but must take into consideration the limitations imposed on every human agreement by the deficiencies of human nature. That is true of nations as of individuals. In my opinion, the failure of the Geneva Protocol was due to the fact that it provided the best of all possible agreements for the best of all possible worlds. I . am glad to say that in its recommendations the Third Committee stressed its belief that much could be done by the application of conciliatory methods. It pointed out that the League itself provides the machinery for conciliation, and that before reference is made to arbitrary authorities, the league could do a very great deal, as it already has done, by means of conciliatory action, to get two contending nations to agree on a settlement of their differences.
– The power to conciliate existed before the League of Nations was constituted.
– The League of Nations provides the machinery by which conciliatory action can immediately be taken.
I desire now to say a few words about ‘ another question of first class importance to Australia which was dealt with at the assembly. Some time ago, under the auspices of the League, it was decided to convene an economic conference. That conference proceeded to deal with various restrictions on imports and exports. Although governments were not directly represented, the economic conference passed resolutions which were eventually sent to the several governments concerned. Those resolutions came before the Eighth Assembly of the League of Nations. The Australian delegates took the opportunity to tell the League that we in Australia regard this as a domestic question. We said that it was for every nation to decide for itself the nature of its tariff and the restrictions which should be placed on imports. We added that Australia was a young country still in the developmental stage, and that its position was entirely different from that of European countries separated only by land frontiers, more or less fully developed, and in practically the same stage of development. This question excites intense interest among the European Powers. One can understand that, living side by side, as these peoples do, with only land frontiers dividing one country from the other, these economic barriers are a source of irritation to them, leading to disputes, and even, it may be, to war. It is, however, clearly understood by the League of Nations, I think, that Australia intends to plow her own furrow in connexion with this question. I do not propose to deal further with the work of the
League. I commend the report to honorable senators, and am sure they will find it interesting.
Unfortunately, in the stress of domestic politics, we do not have an opportunity to devote sufficient attention to international affairs. Nevertheless, we are being drawn more and more into that maelstrom. We cannot avoid it, and for that reason it behoves us to give the matter some thought. I say frankly that I see certain dangers in the League of Nations. One of those dangers is the tendency to multiply the number of questions with which the League is endeavouring to deal. I am reminded of the old story of the man appointed to a position and given the assistance of an office-boy. The following week that small staff had increased to a full-blown government department. There is always a tendency on the part of those to whom a little power is given, to gather , to themselves greater power. Nations have the same tendency. One has only to look at the agenda of the League of Nations to see that many questions, which are brought forward with the best of intentions by various nations, should never come before the League. There is a danger of the League becoming the happy hunting ground of faddists. If a faddist can persuade the Government of his country to place on the agenda paper of the League of Nations some fad in, which he is interested, the time of the League of Nations, and of its committees, will be taken up in dealing with them to the detriment of questions of international concern. I do not belittle the importance of some of those questions; but they are not matters which should be dealt with by an international body such as the League of Nations. As a legacy from the previous assembly, the eighth Assembly of the League of Nations was asked to deal with a matter related to the prohibition of alcohol. I do not question the importance of the subject, but it is purely one for each country to deal with for itself. There may be, as the result of laws on the subject passed by different countries, need for legislation in regard to the international trade in alcohol. That, however, was not the point of view from which the subject was brought forward; but rather that the League should go into the whole question of alcohol. The majority of the delegates took the view that if the League of Nations was to deal with such questions, which the nations often find much difficulty in settling for themselves, it would soon become submerged by them, and there would not be time for the League to devote itself to the real purposes for which it came into existence. For that reason, notwithstanding the strong’ views held by many of the delegates, the aspect of the question in relation to prohibition was practically relegated to the waste-paper basket. There is a danger that the League of Nations may be tempted to interfere in domestic affairs. Nothing will bring it to an untimely end more quickly that will its interference in the domestic affairs of its constituent nations. Should they believe that the League is interfering in matters concerning only themselves, the League’s power will decline until it will go out of existence.
– Is immigration still regarded as a . domestic question ?
– So far the League has not made any declaration in that direction, and my advice is that it should not be asked to do so at present. As to the value of the League, there can be only one opinion. Perhaps its value is best shown in that it brings together the representatives of different nations - this applies particularly to European nations - and gives them the opportunity to discuss their differences around a common table. By that means they get to understand each other’s views ; they get to know and understand each other. There could be jio more striking illustration of that than the sight of the representatives of Britain, Prance and Germany conferring together on the several committees. It was an inspiring sight to see Sir Austen Chamberlain, M. Briand and Dr. Stresemann, representatatives of three great Powers, seated around the committee table, endeavouring to find a solution of the problems confronting them. No one who saw them, and the manner in which they worked to bring about agreement, could doubt their sincerity. Such gatherings are of great value, not only to the League of Nations, but also to humanity as awhole. If the meetings of the League continue to be conducted in the same spirit as pervaded the Eighth Assembly, there is hope for the future peace of the world.
When, in 1924, the Assembly passed a number of resolutions, which eventually were included in the Geneva protocol, no one drew attention to the power already existing in the Covenant of the League of Nations. It was only at the Eighth Assembly that the matter was referred to. Although there was power to call together the Council of the League in the case of an international crisis, until the Eighth Assembly no thought had been given as to how that should be done. One has only to visualize a dispute in Europe to appreciate the difficulties which might arise. Representatives on the Council of the League of Nations might be members of the belligerent Powers. Moreover, they might have to pass through the country of a belligerent. Notwithstanding these difficulties, no machinery had been provided for the members of the Council to get together, and unless they did get together there was no means of intervening in any dispute. Proposals were made to deal with these difficulties. Some of them were adopted; others are still under consideration. The Eighth Assembly of the League was a working Assembly. It had no illusions. It did not seek the ideal, because it knew that it was impossible of attainment. It tried to find out what was the next step that should be taken, and to sincerely and earnestly take that step. I believe that the League has taken it. I believe that peace can be maintained, if the work now proceeding can be brought to fruition, as I think it will be, so that the next Assemblywill be able to deal with practical issues, such as the reduction of armaments, and, side by side with that, give to those nations that tremble for their safety some guarantee of security - a guarantee that their genuine differences will be settled not by force or fear, but by justice - we shall be appreciably nearer the time when we can say that peace has arrived. In any case I say to the Senate that anything that Australia can do to help the League, to stimulate interest in it, should be done. Finally, I express the hope that at every Assembly of the League Australia will be fully and adequately represented. I hope that we shall send to its gatherings the biggest minds that we can spare. If the League dies it will be by the actions of small men. It needs the biggest men the world can find to solve the biggest problems that the world has on its hands to-day.
Debate (on motion by Senator Needham) adjourned.
The following papers were presented : -
League of Nations - Eighth Assembly, 5th to 27th September, 1927 - Report of the Australian Delegation.
Boards, Commissions, Tribunals, &c., brought into existence by the Commonwealth Government, and which were in operation during the year 1926-27, together with the annual cost of each board,. &c.
Tariff Board - Reports and Recommendations with respect to -
Acetates for use in the manufacture of Acetic Acid.
Copper - Application for Bounty.
Doors of Wood.
Malleable Iron Pipe Fittings.
Pressed and Blown Glassware.
Tool Handles of Wood.
Cost of Royal Commission
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The Prime Minister has supplied the following answer: -
The information is being collated, and will be furnished at an early date.
Chairman’s Visit to England - Payments to Members - Gold-Mining Industry
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The Prime Minister has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
What was the total amount paid to the chairman and each of the members of the Migration and Development Commission respectively to the 30th June last for a fees, b expenses?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The Prime Minister has supplied the following answers: -
Mr.H. W. Gepp, chairman, salary, £4,270 Gs. 6d.; travelling expenses, including attendance at the Imperial Conference, £578 ls. 3d. Mr. C. S. Nathan, vice-chairman, salary, nil; maintenance expenses, Melbourne, £853 19s. 9d. ; travelling expenses outside Melbourne, £29311s.1d. The honorable J. Gunn, commissioner, salary, £1,991 4s.10d. ; travelling expenses, £315 ls. 9d. Mr. E. P. Fleming, commissioner, salary, £1,725 4s. Od. ; travelling expenses, £212 0s. 9d.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE The Prime Minister has supplied the following answers: -
Bill read a third time.
– I am informed by the Minister that a regulation which embodies practically identical clauses with those of the hill has been prepared, and will be brought into force almost immediately. In view of that fact, I do not wish to proceed with the order of the day No. 1 (Defence Bill), private business, standing in my name, and I ask . that it be discharged from the noticepaper.
Ordered - That the order of the day be discharged.
Debate resumed from 29th November (vide page 2151), on motion by Senator Sir George Pearce -
That the bill be now read a first time.
.- I propose to bring under the notice of honorable senators several matters that must be recognized as being of vital importance to Australia at the present time, especially in view of the general impression that we are approaching a seriousfinancial crisis. The operations of last year resulted in what may reasonably be termed the unexpectedly large surplus of £2,635,597, although the Treasurer had estimated a surplus of only £149,381. It is generally regarded as a good thing to have a fairly large surplus; it is certainly much better than having a large deficit. But we must recognize that the surplus was secured mainly owing to the inflation of the revenue through the customs returns, showing conclusively that the remarks of the Tariff Board, in its annual report, that our so-called protection has failed to protect Australian industries, were more than justified. I shall not go into that matter at this stage, because later we shall be considering a revision of the tariff, which may be expected to have the result of still further augmenting our customs revenue.
I pass on to some of the allegations of extravagance on the part of the Government, and inability to deal with public matters satisfactorily from a financial point of view. I have examined the proposed allocation of the surplus, and I cannot agree with those who suggest that it is not a reasonable one. Take the first item : “ Naval construction and reserve for defence, £2,000,000.” Will honorable senators suggest that we are not justified in making provision in that direction? For scientific and industrial research, it is proposed to utilize £250,000 of the surplus. Will any honorable senator question the desirability, if we have the money available, of extending our operations in that direction?
– The money will not all be spent in one year.
– No. We shall have to depend in future to a very great extent on the investigations of the Council for Scientific and Industrial’ Research. The day when the farmer simply sowed his seed in virgin ground, and waited for the crop to grow, has gone. Haying used our agricultural lands for many years, it is essential that we should adopt the most modern scientific methods to ensure their continued productivity. We are also spending much money in endeavoring to discover flow oil in Australia. Up to the present time we have had no return ; but we know that in one portion of Australia, particularly, we have unlimited resources in the form of the raw material from which oil can be extracted. AU that is required is the application of science to devise means whereby the oil can be economically extracted. That might solve the problem of making this country self-contained with regard to future oil supplies. Civil aviation is another activity on which stc must spend money, and it is proposed to devote to it £200,000. For the education of soldiers’ children, £100,000 is provided. Surely we shall not be so lacking in the duty we owe to those who fought for us as to suggest that we are not justified in seeing that the children of our soldiers receive adequate education? The proposed vote on account of national insurance is in the nature of a nest-egg, which is being put aside in view of the probability of that question being tackled at a later date. The sum of £100,000 is being provided for the purchase of radium. Although I am only a layman, I suggest in all earnestness that no expenditure is more justified than that if, in the opinion of the world’s greatest minds, we may, by the use of radium, eventually solve the problem of arresting the ravages that are now caused by one of our most devastating diseases. The provision for old-age and invalid pensions cannot be questioned. I have enumerated these items for the purpose of illustrating the manner in which it is proposed to allocate the surplus. I should like honorable senators opposite, in the light of these facts, to attempt to justify their contention that the surplus is not being wisely allocated.
I wish now to refer to directions in which I consider there is need for economy.
– The honorable senator does admit, then, that there is need for economy?
– I do; but there are two different kinds of economy - real and false. Before I sit down I believe I shall have satisfied the honorable senator that I am on the right track. I have had a cursory glance through the Appropriation Bill and the schedule that accompanies it. Certain items of expenditure reveal substantial increases. The first to which I shall refer is the Parliament.. The expenditure last year on that item was £68,179. We are asked to vote this, year the sum of £85,160. That is an increase of approximately 25 per cent. During the last few years the statement has been made repeatedly that the removal of the Seat of Government to Canberra would lead to a considerable saving in the cost of government, because whilst it was functioning in Melbourne a large expenditure had necessarily to be incurred in renting premises in which to house the public departments. We ought, therefore, to have explained to us the reason for this and other proposed increases. I believe that the Parliament should be supplied with everything that is necessary; but if we wish to exercise economy we must refrain from sanctioning any expenditure which we do not consider is warranted. Honorable senators will find also that last year the expenditure on the Prime Minister’s department amounted to £335,000, and that this year we are being asked to vote a sum of £380,000. That, too, requires an explanation. The increase in the Attorney-General’s department is £16,000, from £138,000 to £154,000- The Department of Health probably stands alone among the departments in- its ability to justify the proposed increase from £123,000 to £174,000, because it deals exclusively with matters that affect the health of the community. I informed Senator Needham a few moments ago that there is a difference between real and false economy. I shall now illustrate my meaning by drawing attention to one or two directions in which I consider that false economy is being practised. My first reference will be to defence. The Government does not propose to make this year any greater provision than it made last year for our land forces. I have in my hands the last report of the Inspector-General of the Military Forces, in which he particularly stresses the absolute necessity for making available a greater sum for this important branch of our operations. This is not the first occasion upon which he has made similar representations to the Government. Let me quote his own words -
Owing to circumstances beyond the control of the Military Board the organization is at present in nucleus form only. This nucleus does not yet possess the equipment nor receive the training which are essential to the effective performance of its functions. I feel it neces- sary to reiterate this point, which has been referred to so frequently in my previous reports, because it must be made clear that the present restricted policy in regard to the development of the army, however well it may be executed in detail, cannot be expected to achieve in adequate measure the only logical end in view, namely, the effectiveness of the army as a modern instrument of defence.
Surely language could not be made plainer than that! This officer holds a responsible position, and has displayed considerable ability. When he makes representations of that character, they ought to be assured of full consideration by the Government. Further on he says -
The present nucleus has been found to be insufficient for the accomplishment of the approved policy for the army, and I am convinced that an increase in the numbers is essential. . . It is for the above reason that I am compelled year after year to draw attention to the need for natural and reasonable development in our land defence policy. . . . There is urgent need to improve the conditions of service for the officers and non-commissioned officers, in order to induce good men to volunteer in sufficient numbers.
A later reference to finance reads -
The military organization is confronted with constantly increasing costs, which are entirely outside tlie control of the Military Board. This factor necessarily demands a correspondingly automatic increase in the annual amount voted by Parliament, in order to obtain the same relative efficiency. No such requisite increase, however, has been made, but on the contrary, the organization has had to cope with progressive annual reductions.
This is a very serious matter. Honorable senators are aware of the reliance that is placed upon our defence scheme. They know very well that unless that scheme is satisfactory we cannot hope to get the best results from it. Yet the Inspector-General distinctly states that the military organization is starved, because the representations that have been made repeatedly by him to the Government have been ignored. I have never read a more condemnatory report on any subject. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) and the Minister for Defence (Senator Glasgow) are continually reiterating the need for expenditure on the defence of Australia; yet this officer, who is responsible for the control of our military forces, is compelled to draw attention to the fact. that those forces are being rendered less effective ^because, his representations in relation to finance are ignored! It is time that honorable senators and honorable members of another place awakened to the fact that, while expenditure which does not bring results is wasted, it is not an extravagance but reasonable economy to incur expenditure, no matter how large it may be, which will give an adequate return. I think I have said sufficient to show where I stand in relation to this matter. I hope that a strenuous effort will be made to induce the Government to provide the means whereby our defence force can be made effective. No force can be of any use to the community if it is not properly officered. How can the services of men of ability be retained if the Government will not find the wherewithal?
There is another direction in which it ‘ is desirable that the Government should increase its expenditure. Some little time’ ago I asked the following questions relative to the medical work that was being carried on among the natives in New Guinea : -
The replies which I received were -
From the report of the administration of the Mandated Territory to the League of Nations for the year ended the 30th June, 1925, I read the following paragraph : -
The central campaign of the year was that devoted to the combating of gonorrhoea. Over 1,000 natives in all were treated for the disease; but, owing to the lack of funds, the campaign was unable to be pushed to a satisfactory conclusion.
I wish to know whether representations have since been made, and if the Government is .prepared to increase the vote. What is the use of spending only £10,000 per annum on such an important matter if a larger sum is needed to secure results ? It is one which affects the native life of the Territory. The report from which 1 have quoted states that that amount is not sufficient, and that practically the campaign has had to be abandoned because of lack of funds.
– He does not say that the. campaign has been abandoned.
– No; but the campaign has not been carried to a satisfactory conclusion. . The money has been absolutely wasted. Unless a campaign like that can be pushed to a satisfactory conclusion, all the money spent on it might just as well have been thrown into the sea, for all the good it will do. I know that these particular operations were entirely suspended, and that no permanent good had resulted from the expenditure of the money up to the time when the campaign ceased because of lack of funds. I have no desire to criticize the Government for what was done - perhaps representations were not made to it as to the seriousness of the issue - but when the campaign is revived I want the Minister to see that it is pushed to a satisfactory conclusion, and that there is no repetition of this spending of money which must be wasted unless the treatment is brought to finality.
I have heard a good deal said about the enormous debt Australia has piled up. Is any honorable senator opposite prepared to say that Australia was notjustified in incurring its war debt? If the answer is, “ We are making no reference to the war debt; we are confining our criticism to the heavy national debt of Australia,” I want to respond by drawing attention to. a statement in the Treasurer’s budget speech which shows that Australia’s debt, apart from the war debt, is small. The total debt of the Commonwealth to-day is £461,000,000. Of that amount £296,000,000 is war debt. From the balance, which amounts to £164,162,342, there has to be deducted loans to the States^ for developmental purposes, £94,456,237, and sums repayable to the Treasury in cash, .£25,632,000. These deductions amount to £120,088,790. Deducting this from- the balance of £164,162,342, which remains after deducting the indebtedness for war expenditure, we find that the total net debt of the Commonwealth, apart from the war debt, is only £44,000,000. The way in which the people of Australia have stood up to their burden since the outbreak of war is a tribute to their virility, but it is not too well known. The total war .expenditure of the Commonwealth to the 30th June, 1927, was £586,653,947, and of this amount the enormous sum of £281,073,678 has been provided out of revenue. That is a surprising result for a population averaging between 5,500,000 and a little over 6,000,000 during the period ranging from 1914 to the present time. I do not believe that our record in this respect has been approached in any other part of the world. The people of Australia ought to know the facts, in view of the criticism that has been levelled at the Government, and particularly those supporting the Government. Some people say that Australia is groaning under an enormous weight of debt. I should like to know if my friends opposite groan under the war debt. I hope that no true Australian will “do so. I hope that every true Australian will feel that it is a privilege to pay his part towards the redemption of that war debt. And outside the war debt, the net debt of the Commonwealth, which amounts to only ,£44,000,000, should not be a burden, especially in view of the fact that ample provision has been made by an adequate sinking fund for the reduction of the indebtedness we have incurred, not only on account of the war, but also for our public works. It must be remembered that the £44,000,000, with other millions which have already been redeemed by the operations of our sinking fund, has been spent on works mainly of a reproductive character. Yesterday Senator Lynch criticized the Government for its loan expenditure on works; but it would be an intolerable burden to place on the handful of “people we have in Australia the necessity of finding out of revenue all the money required for the erection of public buildings and other works of that character, which are more or less reproductive and can be paid for, by the adop- tion of a sinking fund, over a period of years. It is not reasonable to suggest that the present generation should pay for works that will serve other generations. It would not be sound finance to do so. A few years ago, before we had to meet heavy war expenditure, we did pay for necessary works out of revenue; but since the war, and since we have had to take our place among the nations of the world, we have had to assume the responsibility of developing our country, and this we cannot do without spending money. If it is wise to spend money in the development of our country, surely it is wise to do it out of loan money, so long as the money borrowed can be redeemed in a reasonable period, and so long as the greater part of it is spent on reproductive works.
I find in the budget papers one pleasing fact - that provision is to be made for better reimbursement of allowance officers who control non-official post offices. These offices are situated in the back-blocks, and I am very pleased that those who manage them are to receive extra remuneration for the service they render the people in country districts. But in addition, I should like to have further consideration shown to the settler in rural districts, far removed from centres of population, by an extension of the hours in which the telephone may be used. The cost of such an extension would not be very great. In the summer months particularly it is almost impossible for rural workers to make use of the telephone before 6 o’clock in the evening, at which hour the telephone offices close. Rural workers cannot return to their homes at 5 .o’clock as city men can do; they work in the fields until 7 o’clock or 8 o’clock at night, because they have to accept the ruling market prices for their produce. When they return home after their long hours of labour, although they may reside in proximity to the post office, they cannot get in touch with the nearest towns to ascertain the market prices, and transact their business, because the telephone office is closed at 6 o’clock. An extension of the hour to 8 o’clock would confer a great benefit on. them, and make their position much more comfortable and satisfactory, than it is at present. They are the pioneers of our development, and we should extend every consideration to them.
At this stage I propose to follow up some remarks made by Senator Chapman with regard to New Guinea. There is a section of people in Australia always trying to throw discredit on the Territory of New Guinea, which we hold under mandate from the League of Nations. I cannot imagine what actuates them. I know the Territory fairly well. I have had the privilege of going there on four occasions during the last four years”. I have learned all I could about it, because it is a most interesting study; and I am firmly convinced that no suggestion that it should go out of the control of Australia should be considered for a moment. It is a wonderful country, capable of wonderful development. It is only on the fringe of its development now. A fast cruiser could reach Rabaul from Sydney in three days. Rabaul is situated on a magnificent harbour, in which the largest navy of the world could anchor in perfect security. It is estimated that there are no fewer than 500,000 natives, abour 1,800 Asiatics, chiefly Chinese,but only 1,000 white people living in New Guinea. One should hesitate, therefore, having in mind the nature of the problems that confront the Administration, to offer anything in the nature of severe criticism. I hold no brief for the Administration. It has made mistakes, but where is there a government that is faultless? In view of the fact that the problems met with in the mandated territory are entirely different from problems in Australia, we should make some allowance for those who hold positions of responsibility there. We should remember, also, that the Administration has been in existence for only about six years. Any one who visits the territory must admit that, considering all the handicaps, the Administration has done wonders in a short space of time.
– It is not a Garden of Eden.
– It is not. All who go there should receive every encourage ment from the Government because they are the true pioneers of the Empire. They take up their work in the right spirit. On one occasion I saw three white men and a white woman tranship from a steamer to a motor launch to proceed 220 miles up the Sepik river to found a Government station in order to bring the natives under control and better their conditions. I do not suggest, however, that every man who goes there is actuated with the right spirit. Occasionally the wrong type gets into every department; but taking the Administrative staff by and large, they are a magnificent type of men. Recently I read some criticism in a Melbourne newspaper. The writer, who described himself as a planter, said that owing to the weakness of the Administration the natives were getting out of hand and the territory would not be safe for a white man in a few years time. He suggested that a return to the German methods of flogging and forced labour would be beneficial. Such statements, in my opinion, are monstrous . I suggest that honorable senators should read the report submitted by Colonel Ainsworth, previously the Governor of Kenya Colony, in East Africa, who visited New Guinea about three years ago and made certain recommendations to the Government. He did not say that the Administration was faultless, but he commended many of the things done there.
Senator Chapman last night referred to a statement made, that the missionaries were responsible for much of the trouble between the Administration and the natives. This statement was also made by the planter to whom I have at ready referred. So far from that being true, it is generally recognized that magnificent work has been done by the missions. Colonel Ainsworth mentions it in his report and suggests that there should be co-operation between the missionaries and the Administration because the former, being able to speak the native language, are more closely in touch with the native population than the civil Administration can be. It is possible that the statement referred to by Senator Chapman emanated from some one who had been rebuked by the missionaries for injustices meted out by him to the natives, It is generally acknowledged that, as the result of the work done by the missions, the natives are now more amenable to control by the civil Administration. There are, however, many things that require immediate attention. Senator Chapman referred to some of them, including measures to check the prevalence of disease amongst the natives and the disability under which they suffer through being parted from their women folk when recruited for work upon the plantations. The need for these reforms is patent to all who have taken any interests in the affairs of New Guinea. In June last an important conference was held at Rabaul to consider problems affecting the territory. Mr. Cardew, Commissioner of Native Affairs, was chairman. Among those present were Dr. Cilento, the Director of Public Health, the Rev. F. R. Bishop, representing the Church of England at Rabaul, and representatives of all the missions! The conference, which lasted about ten days, dealt with a multitude of subjects, and its findings, which were unanimous, were of the greatest importance. They are grouped under several headings, and are as follow: -
That the medical work of the missions be regarded as auxiliary to the Public Health Department, such relationship not to involve control of mission operations, but to be interpreted as assistance to the Administration, which will supply drugs and appliances free of cost to the missions, who will furnish regular returns to the Administration. The missions to continue to supply drugs and appliances as heretofore out of their own funds. Where people are able to pay for such, tlie missions should impress them with the value of the services rendered, and, if paid for, such contributions to bc used for extension of medical work only. Later, when people are enlightened, payment to be made by them for the service rendered. That the system of native medical assistants be continued and more fully developed, and that some form of payment to those who are competent should be inaugurated. That missions, as far as practicable, undertake the training of native midwives. That a proper system of sanitation of native settlements should be secured as early as possible.. All refuse and undergrowth surrounding villages to be destroyed. Shelters free from human dwellings’ for pigs should be provided. Dogs should be registered, and all diseased dogs be destroyed. Good houses to be built as far as possible the type to which the natives are accustomed, but more roomy and with weatherproof roofs damp-proof floors and raised beds. All wells in native settlements to be covered in. At least two public latrines in each village to be provided, one for each ‘sex. Encourage people to have private latrines wherever practicable. Power to be given the Administration to order the removal of a village, if necessary, for sanitary or health reasons.
A native auxiliary to be created in each village consisting of a Lu’luai Tul Tul and Medical Tul Tul (these to be selected by the villagers) to secure enforcements of these reforms. Notification of endemic and/or epidemic diseases appearing in villages. Missions to supply to Public Health Department, when practicable, any information on these heads which they may receive. Native sanitation committee or native council to have authority to guarantee villages on the occasion of an outbreak of disease.
With regard to the language question, the conference stated that it was not practicable to introduce English as the universal language within a reasonable time, nor’ .was it practicable to adopt any native language for universal use in the territory. It was thought that pidgin English would probably continue to be of the greatest practical use, and that it would improve with the passage of time and through the inclusion of many additional English words. On the subject of native councils, the conference reported -
That a system of native councils is desirable, such councils to be given jurisdiction to deal with native affairs in the villages. A handbook could be prepared for tlie use by and guidance of the native authority.
I believe that this finding, if adopted, would help materially in the establishment of many native councils and lead to the better system of government in the villages. Many of the natives are highly intelligent. If native councils were established they would have a feeling of self-dependence, and I feel sure that they would render valuable assistance to the civil administration. The conference recommended, further, that a sliding scale should be adopted for the taxation of natives and that natives under the age of 16 years should be exempt.
A great deal of attention has been given to the education of the native population, and it has been alleged that a good deal of money spent on it has been wasted. I do not agree with that. The schools have been in operation for only a few years and some of the results are astounding. -
– In what way?
– In broadening and developing the native mind. In this way it should be possible to enlist the services of the natives more effectively in the development of the territory. I agree that some of the natives are of a low order mentally, but all are capable of improvement. Half measures in connexion with the education of the natives are not the order of the day in Rabaul. The officer in charge has prepared a graph which shows at a glance the progress made during the year by the boys of probably 40 or 50 distinct tribes. By this means it is possible to gauge accurately the degree of mentality in each tribe. This information will be of the highest value to the Administration. The report of the conference on this subject was as follows: -
That Government recognition of mission schools should be given. Administration to advise native chiefs and native councils to give their support to the school work of the missions, and that the sympathy of the district officers in this work be available. That the education of the natives in improving their agricultural knowledge be extended. That every effort be made to discourage practices affecting the birth-rate of the natives; and the cleanliness of the people, the nourishment of nursing mothers, and the proper feeding of infants, be the subject of vigorous future propaganda. Cleanliness of clothing to be insisted on.
With regard to native labour, the conference reported -
All indentured labourers to be returned to their village on the expiration of their term. No boy under sixteen years of age to be recruited. Wherever practicable married boys signing indenture to be accompanied by their wives. Village life to be established where indentured natives are employed. Indentured labour should be looked upon only as an expedient to be replaced eventually by free labour (which should be the ideal) though perhaps it cannot be realized in the immediate future.
There is a wide difference of opinion in the territory on this matter, many planters believing that it is an advantage for natives to be signed on for three years when they are brought from villages that may be 500 miles away. If they desire to remain for a longer term they should not be compelled to return to their native village. At first sight there appears to he something in that contention; but the more a person comes in contact with the natives, the more he must be convinced that, before any good can be done with them, their confidence must be gained. That can only be done by treating them faithfully and keeping every promise made to them. When a recruiting agent goes into a village and asks for boys to work on plantations at say, Witu, Kaewiang, or Rabaul, stating that at the end of three years they will be returned to their native village, and that promise is not kept, not one of the inhabitants of that village will ever trust him again. Consequently, further appeals for labour meet with no response. The other findings are that no boy under sixteen years of age shall be recruited; that, wherever practicable, married natives -signing indentures shall be accompanied by their wives; and that village life be established where indentured natives are employed. When visiting the new native hospital near Rabaul last August I was glad to notice that in close proximity to the hospital there was to be a native compound in which the natives could live in accordance with their own customs. The wives of the men engaged as indentured labourers do not accompany their husbands to the plantation. The result has been little short of disaster. The administration now intends to establish village life in connexion with indentured labour, in the hope that it will conduce to a better state of affairs. I commend to honorable senators every proposal to assist this wonderful country.
– What is the most valuable thing there?
– The native life, without which the Territory is not worth a pinch of salt.
– There is nothing in the country.
– The value of the copra exported from New Guinea last year was three times as great as that of the copra exported by the Germans in 1913. That result was obtained in spite of there being no forced labour under the Australian Administration, and notwithstanding all the criticism of the Expropriation Board that has been indulged in. Those figures are a complete refutation of the charges’ that - have been “unjustly made against the administration. Next year the value of the exports from New
Guinea will probably be five times as great as in 1913. New Guinea is worthy of our sympathetic consideration. From there Australia can obtain full supplies of all the tropical products she needs. But there is another, and a stronger, reason for Australia’s interest in that great country. The first Australian blood shed in the Great War was shed in New Guinea. That territory, instead qf being a burden to Australia, will be an asset. Not only will it supply many of the things Australia requires, but it will provide an opportunity for the more venturesome spirits among us to follow in the steps of the pioneers of the Empire and assist in the development of this 92,000 square miles of country over which Australia holds a mandate.
In giving my estimate of the population of New Guinea I included 1,800 Asiatics. Of the number, about 1,500 are Chinese. A portion of the town of Rabaul is inhabited by these people, many of whom are merchants, traders, carpenters, and artisans of different kinds. Yesterday Senator Chapman referred to the necessity for educational facilities being provided for the European children in New Guinea. I now make a plea on behalf of the 300 Chinese children in Chinatown, Rabaul. There is a native school at Malaguna, and a small school conducted by the sisters of the Roman Catholic Church at Rabaul, which is attended by the European children. Some years ago the Chinese residents obtained permission to bring out two Chinese teachers from China. These teachers have done excellent work. But their time has almost expired, and soon they will return to China. Application has been made by the Chinese residents for permission to bring out other teachers, but their application has not been granted. Much as we may dislike Chinese entering the territory under our control, I maintain that it is better that these Chinese children should be educated than that they should be allowed to grow up in ignorance. If the Government would provide, a school, the Chinese residents say that they would cheerfully send their children to it; but, seeing that the Government has not done so, they have asked for permission to bring out their own teachers from China. When in Rabaul I visited the Chinese school, - and was’ struck with the clean and intelligent appearance of the children. I feel sure that the Government will not neglect them; but I urge that something be done immediately to provide them with educational facilities. I hope that as the outcome of this debate effect will be given to some of the suggestions which have been made.
– During the last few months some Commonwealth departments have been transferred to the Federal Capital Teritory, while others are still in course of transfer. In consequence, offices occupied by them in Melbourne have been vacated. I should like the Leader of the Senate, when replying, to state what use is being made, of the vacated offices, and also what period is likely to expire before the whole of the Commonwealth departments to be transferred to Canberra will have been transferred. I have been told that it will be at least three years before the new permanent administrative offices in Canberra are available for occupation. On page 6 of a pamphlet issued by the Department of Works and Railways, dated June, 1927, there is a statement that the Government received £38,238 for the rental of premises belonging to the Commonwealth. It seems paradoxical that the Commonwealth should receive that amount for the use of its buildings at a time when it is paying out large sums for the use of other buildings. While it is paying annually a very considerable sum for the use of various offices it is at the same time receiving annually the following rentals in respect of various buildings in the States which, apparently, belong to the Commonwealth : -
The Government even has a number of areas leased for grazing purposes-.
– Mostly rifle ranges.
– The particulars are as follow: -
I shall give another interesting table showing the rentals paid by the Government in the capital cities -
We receive rentals to the amount of £40,667, and we pay a total rental of £80,238, which includes the cost of storage accommodation. I have quoted these figures for the purpose of obtaining certain information to which, I think, the committee is entitled, and I hope that the Minister will supply it.
During the short period that I shall occupy the attention of the committee this afternoon, I propose to deal with a matter of major importance to every person in Australia. When, some eighteen months or so ago, we had before us the bill providing for the appointment of the Development and Migration Commission, I opposed it as strongly as I could. I said then, and I still believe, that the establishment of the commission was not justified. The Minister, in introducing the bill, informed us that the commission was to be appointed not merely to assist migration, but also to encourage developmental projects, whether conducted by governments or private enterprise, to assist the establishment of new industries, and increase the productivity of those already in existence, and also to increase the. facilities for developing our potentialities of industry generally. What a mouthful! The commission was to be a sort of super-Parliament, composedof supermen, who were to do what no Commonwealth or State Parliament had been able to do since the introduction of responsible government in Australia. They were to be modern wizards. With a wave of their magic wand they were to stimulate primary and secondary industries, and make the land more prosperous and progressive than it had ever been before. We were also led to believe that, as the outcome of their efforts, there would be a steady flow of migrants from overseas, that our populatio would increase by leaps and bounds, and other nations would know definitely that Australia was on the map.
To me it is somewhat puzzling to grasp what the duties of this body actually are. Its members have been roaming and romancing around Australia ever since their appointment. They, apparently, have no fixed place of abode. They are veritable nomads. When there was a banquet in Canberra I saw them in evidence. I frequently notice them on the railways. They seem to wander about the country without any concentration of effort, delving into this, that, and the other matter, and, in fact, transgressing on domains that they should not enter. In a recent issue of the Melbourne Age I saw the epitome of a speech delivered by a Mr. W. P. Layton in the Old Country. The report stated -
Mr. W. T. Layton, after noting some signs in Australian policy which have escaped the notice of the closest observers on the spot, draws attention to the speeches by our Prime Minister at the last Imperial Conference. “You no doubt detected a distinct change in the tone of his speeches last autumn,” Mr. Layton says, “compared with those which he made on his previous visit to England. He has set up a Development Commission, and if you study that commission’s duties carefully you will see that its business is to find out not only what industries Australia ought to be developing and expanding, but also what industries Australia ought not to be developing or expanding. In other words, it is to see what are the proper limits to the policy of protection. I verily believe that to be Mr. Bruce’s intention in setting up that commission.
Is that the real intention of the Government in appointing this commission? I am inclined to think that it is. It will be found that the commission has inquired into, and reported upon, matters that have been dealt with by the Tariff Board. The duties of the latter body are not merely to hear evidence for or against certain duties. They have travelled about Australia and have inquired into the conditions of almost every industry that is affected by the policy of protection.
– Can the honorable senator name one industry into which the commission has inquired?
– Yes, the tobacco industry. No doubt it will say that its investigation was carried out from a scientific point of view. Could not the Tariff Board also consider that industry from a scientific viewpoint? If honorable senators will read carefully the reports of that board they will find that it has inquired into numerous industries, and in doing so has visited every part of Australia. I have learned from a paragraph which was published recently in the daily press that the Tariff Board has made certain recommendations in relation to the tobacco industry. A statement to that effect was made in another place by the honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson). I have been expecting the report to be tabled, but so far that has not been done. I wish to know why an honorable member of another place can make a public statement in regard to a document that is not officially before us ?
The Development and Migration Commission has been functioning for a little over twelve months. At the time of its appointment; the Government stated that it would inquire into unemployment. “When the measure which made provision for its inauguration was before us, we were given the assurance that it would not be a party to the migration of a single person for whom it could not provide either employment or land. It now has associated with its activities, either directly or indirectly, an army of 180 persons, and the expense that has been incurred by it in Australia and overseas has reached a total of over £100,000. The agreement which was entered into by the governments of Australia and Great Britain provided that the latter should make available for migration purposes the sum of £34,000,000, at an interest rate lower than that which is usually paid in re spect of borrowed money. That was generally regarded as a cheap loan; but eventually, I believe, it will be found to be very dear. I share the view which was expressed recently by a leader writer in the Melbourne Age when he said: “As it reveals itself in its first report, the Development and Migration Commission is little more than a manifestation of megalomania in excelsis.” This commission has not provided employment for a single individual in Australia, nor for any new arrival. Neither has it been responsible for the establishment of one industry in Australia. The first duty of both the commission and the Government is to find work for those who are already in Australia. In the ranks of the unemployed are to be found men who were lured to Australia by the assurance that as soon as they landed they would have little or no difficulty in either obtaining employment or being placed upon the land.
The subject of migration was discussed recently in the Legislative Council of Victoria. In that chamber, as in this Senate, there are men who believe the more people you bring to Australia the better, irrespective of whether or not work can be found for them. An army of unemployed is no good to any country. Substantial progress cannot be made unless the citizens of a country are regularly employed and well paid. The unemployed army in Australia to-day is greater than it has ever previously been at this period of the year. That cannot be denied. The services of large numbers of men and women are being dispensed with in every capital city. I draw the attention of honorable senators to that fact in order to show the fallacy of bringing migrants to Australia before provision has been made for those of our citizens who are anxious to work but are unable to obtain it.
– Are the waterside workers anxious to work?
- Senator Carroll, whom I regard as a seriously minded man, has raised a question which has little if any application to the big principles that I am discussing.If he has read the newspapers and.isa keen observe he must know that the approach of the
Christmas season has never previously been accompanied by such a large amount of unemployment. Thousands of carpenters, bricklayers, plasterers, builders labourers and others, who are associated either directly or indirectly with the building trade, are out of work. The registers which are kept by labour organizations disclose an alarming condition of affairs. It must be borne in mind, also, that many persons do not register at the Trades Hall or the Labour Bureau when they are out of work. It is a wrong policy to induce migrants to come to Australia at a time when many of those who have only recently arrived in this country are seeking employment and cannot obtain it. The Victorian Minister for Works, Mr. Jones, replying in the Legislative Council to criticisms of the migration policy of the State Government, said -
It is useless to bring people to Victoria or to Australia to find that great numbers of men are out of work. It is useless to take a party view of this matter. We cannot expect people to be satisfied who find it difficult to get employment. It is a fact that a great number of men who are unemployed in Melbourne caine here as migrants. They have appealed to me to find work for them.
We were told by the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) that that duty would devolve upon the Development and Migration Commission, and that no migrant would be brought to Australia unless he was assured of either work or land. That promise has not been fulfilled.
One of the first acts of the Development and Migration Commission was to inquire into the gold-mining industry in Western Australia. Just previously the Western Australia Disabilities Commission, with the assistance of experts, had made a thorough investigation of that industry and had submitted to the Government certain recommendations.
– It was investigated by a State commission prior to that.
– As Senator Needham has stated, a prior investigation of the industry was carried out by a State commission. What purpose was served by the visit to the Western Australian goldfields of the Development and Migration Commission? Apparently the only result was- the appointment of ^.geologist at a salary of £800 a year.’ The act which brought this commission into existence specifically withheld from it the power to make any appointment at a salary greater than £500 a year. Under what authority was this geologist appointed at £800 a year?
– The appointment was recommended by the commission and approved by the Minister.
– Is there a practical mining man on the commission?
– When the commission needs advice it seeks and is able to obtain it by appealling to the Government to appoint experts at high salaries. What will this geologist do that has not been done already by the Disabilities Commission and a State commission that previously inquired into the position of Western Australia? The appointment is an absolute waste of money.
– The geologist is poorly paid at £800 a year.
– I am not finding fault with the amount that he is paid, because under the Development and Migration Act, the commission could not appoint this officer. He was appointed with the approval of the Minister.
Then the commission proceeded to Tasmania to inquire into the economic position of that State. From time to time we have had reports upon the financial position of Tasmania. For example, Sir Nicholas Lockyer took voluminous evidence upon it.
– And his report was acted upon.
– To a certain extent. Tasmania got a grant from the Federal Parliament. Notwithstanding Sir Nicholas Lockyer’s report, the Development and Migration Commission is covering much of the same ground. It has appointed an expert at £5 5s. a day to inquire into the economic position of Tasmania, and a forestry expert at £600 a year, while it has borrowed the services of a customs officer in receipt of £732 a year.- I want to know what all these officers are doing in Tasmania?
The commission is also investigating the dried fruits question. In this Parliament -we have had ,long debates upon the position of the dried fruits industry and assistance has been given to those engagedin the industry. Much evidence has been tendered about it, and I do not think that there is much further information to be gained on the subject. But the Development and Migration Commission has appointed an expert at £15 15s. a clay “ to inquire into the pumping operations in the Murray Valley in connexion with the dried fruits industry.” And after appointing this expert the commission says -
The necessity for scientific research is apparent and in connexion with this investigation, as with others, the commission has been in close touch with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.
Apparently both bodies are covering the same ground.
– What about the commission’s inquiry into the ravages of frost?
– That is historic. During a certain period of this year Victoria put up a record in frosts, and the vines at Mildura were frost bitten to such an extent that those engaged in the dried fruits industry were very much alarmed about their future. The Prime Minister having heralded it from the housetops that the Development and Migration Commission was to inquire into this, that and everything, or in short, that it was to be what no Parliament has ever been two members of the commission made it their responsibility to personally inspect these vines. Theywere apparently seriously Avorried about the effect of frost on the vines.
– So worried were they that they sent an expert to the Continent to inquire about it.
– It was suggested in the press that a conference of State Premiere should go into the question of frost bitten vines, because no commission could settle it ; but if what Senator Ogden says is correct, I suppose that in the course of time we shall find experts associated with the Development and Migration Commission in all parts of the world.
– What happened to the vines?
– The members of the commission inspected the vines. They inquired into the effect of frost upon them. The honorable senator need not be so facetious. Is it not reported that they have suggested that the services or the advice of an expert abroad should be obtained.
The commission, as I have said, has been inquiring also into the tobacco industry. It says -
Until the proper methods and conditions have been determined an increase in the area at present used for tobacco growing is inadvisable.
Apart from climatic conditions and certain other matters affecting tobacco growing in Australia the growers are not satisfied with the customs duties now imposed, and if they can get relief in that direction the probability is that they will not follow the advice tendered to them in the report of the Development and Migration Commission.
Then we come to another matter affecting Tasmania that has been inquired into by the commission. I refer to cider and apple brandy ! How serious every honorable senator from Tasmania looks when I mention cider and apple brandy! The commission in its report says -
Following discussions with Government experts in Great Britain, whose experience in the production of cider and apple brandy extends over a period of twenty years, the commission, in co-operation with the Tas- manian authorities, arranged for the despatch to the Long Ashton Research Station (near Bristol, England) of varieties of apples from Tasmania for testing purposes.
It is sending home samples of apples to have them tested to decide whether cider on a commercial basis can be made from apples grown in Tasmania, and the people of Tasmania will have to wait for results. According to the commission’s report a preliminary report has been received by cablegram from Professor B. T. B. Barker, Director of the Long Ashton Research Station, which indicates that it is yet too early to reach a final conclusion on the quality of the cider produced, and that a further and more detailed report will be furnished as soon as practicable.
We find also that the commission went into the labour question - as if no other body had ever gone into the matter before. No more important ‘ question could engage our attention. If it is solved all other problems disappear like mists before the noonday sun. If this commission can solve the labour questions, I shall take my hat off to every member of it, but it cannot do the impossible. I do not think the commission will be able to do as much as any government in Australia has done. We have already had two commissions dealing with the unemployment question and employed and unemployed are still, Micawber like, waiting for something to turn up.
On the 7th September, 1923, a Royal Commission on National Insurance was appointed. On the 11th March, 1927, it presented its report, but we are informed the matter will not be finalized until negotiations which Senator Millen is conducting on behalf of the Government with the friendly societies and the British Medical Association have been completed. For three and a half years now we have been waiting for finality.
– The commission is still investigating the subject.
– The amount of money expended by the commission is sufficient to take one’s breath away. It has cost the taxpayers of Australia £11,545! And its investigations are not yet finished. The chairman of the commission obviously takes his position seriously. Like the Development and Migration Commission, he is anxious to solve the problem of unemployment. He and his fellow commissioners have been travelling a good deal throughout Australia. On one occasion they travelled, I believe, by special train from Adelaide to Oodnadatta, a distance of nearly 700 miles. I. do not know whether the journey was made in the summer or winter; in any case, it was a big undertaking. Members of the commission took themselves very seriously. I am told that they were the only passengers on that special train. When they arrived at Oodnadatta they looked north, south, east, and west for a likely witness, and I believe they ultimately found one in the person of a nurse, who, perhaps, gave valuable evidence. We all realize, of course, that when a commission of this sort is appointed its members must do their duty, irrespective of the cost to the taxpayers.
– Or inconvenience to themselves.
– I have no doubt that the trip to Oodnadatta was made at great personal inconvenience. It must have been a labour of love to them to travel on that special train, and, of course, to have their expenses paid. I do not know how long it took them to reach their destination ; but, if the special train travelled at a slower speed than the Sydney-Melbourne express, they must have been some considerable time on the journey. The commission, I understand, is still sitting; or, rather, its chairman is engaged in negotiations with the friendly societies in the different States. Since he has received slightly over £1,000 in travelling expenses, he has actually been paid £2 2s. a day, and, according to the statement made in another place, £300 has to be added to that total, making it about £1,300. What have the Royal Commission on National Insurance and the Development and Migration Commission done to minimize the unemployment problem in Australia? As I have stated three and a half years have elapsed since the former commission commenced its investigations, and it would appear that the Development and Migration Commission is now making further inquiries, for it states on page 34 of its report: -
The Government referred to this commission certain aspects of the unemployment problem in Australia which arose from the investigations of the Royal Commission on National Insuance……
The commission has been in consultation with Senator J. D. Millen, the chairman of the Royal Commission on National Insurance.
Although the Royal Commission on National Insurance has presented its report, the Government has taken no action upon it. Apparently now the subject is to be further inquired into by the Development and Migration Commission, and possibly four or five years will elapse before we have any concrete recommendation from either of these bodies for the solution of the unemployed problem.
On page 35 of the Development and Migration Commission’s report there appears a long list of commodities imported into Australia. This information is readily available to all who get the booklet issued by the Government Statistician. That official gives the fullest information concerning our imports and exports. The commission reminds us that the value of these importations totals many millions of pounds annually! The commission has also- considered the possibility of developing the tourist traffic. Every one admits that this is most important. I venture to suggest, however, that the commission cannot teach the Victorian “Railways Commissioners anything with regard to handling tourist traffic in that State. No other body of men has done more to advertise the tourist resorts not only of Victoria, but also the whole of Australia, than the railways commissioners of that State. In all the suburban trains there appears an invitation to intending tourists to “ See Australia first.” In addition to making arrangements for people to visit the numberless tourist resorts in Victoria, they also provide facilities to visit the beauty spots in other States. It is not, too much to say that the Victorian Railways Commissioners have done more to put the Northern Territory on the map than this Government has done since it came into office. Some time ago a special “ reso “ train was organized to enable people to visit Central Australia. Those who made the trip were most enthusiastic in their praise about the manner in which it was carried out. I understand now that the railways commissioners are organizing a special “ reso “ train for a trip to Queensland. “Whenever overseas visitors come to Victoria special facilities are provided for them to visit the popular tourist resorts. “Better farming trains” also visit various country centres. Experts accompany the train, and at various points deliver lectures on the better cultivation of land, the improvement of herds, and in other ways instruct farmers in their calling. In addition, arrangements are made to instruct housewives in domestic economy, and, what is equally important, to advise them in matters of hygiene. Now this is what the Development and Migration Commission has to say about the tourist traffic -
The value to the Commonwealth of an efficient and properly co-ordiated tourist system to encourage world’s’ tourists ‘and business people to include Australia in their itinerary, and residents of Australia to tour within the
Commonwealth, is self-evident, and attention is being given to this subject.
Is it not a fact that this business is already receiving the serious attention of the governments of all the States? Have not they established tourists bureaux to encourage tourist traffic? The commission goes on to state -
The whole question of the co-ordination of the tourist activites of the Commonwealth is one which it is proposed to keep in view. . . .
The commission having kept this matter in view, we may expect, in due course, to have another report from it respecting the co-ordination of the tourist activities of the Commonwealth and the cooperation of the States in that business.
I turn now to the Tariff Board’s activities. I was never keen for the appointment of the board. As a matter of fact, > if my memory serves me right, nearly all members of the Labour party were op- posed to its appointment, because up till then the work was being carried out satisfactorily by the Minister for Trade and Customs and the officers of his department. The Government, however, constituted the board, and that body has furnished reports from time to time. J have my own opinion, as a protectionist, of a number of its recommendations. It certainly was not justified in criticizing the action of labour organizations’ in approaching the Arbitration Court for an improvement of industrial conditions generally. It is not the province of the Tariff Board to express any opinion on matters of that kind. The Melbourne Trades Hall Council considers that the Tariff Board is going beyond its legitimate functions in commenting upon acts of the legislature or the Federal Arbitration Court. According to its Secretary, Mr. E. J. Holloway, when claims by industrial unions are being considered by the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, the employers never fail to submit evidence that their industry is in a precarious position. Naturally, the unions do not agree that their claims are always well founded. It is the function of the Arbitration Court to consider such evidence. The Tariff Board has no right to set itself up as a court of review of the . actions . of either the Arbitration Court or the legislature. ..L.hope that future. reports by the Tariff Board will not contain such statements, because they have a tendency to influence those who read them. I believe that the judiciary is above being influenced by comment; but such reports by a body like the Tariff Board create an atmosphere of hostility against organizations which are desirous of bettering the conditions of their members, and thus, to some extent, their case is prejudiced when it comes before the court. There are other matters upon which I could speak, but I shall reserve any further remarks until the bill reaches the committee stage.
– I desire at the outset to refer to the work of the Development and Migration Commission. I have been amazed to find, both inside this chamber and elsewhere, so much hostility towards it, and the work it is endeavouring to do. Some time ago I read the following striking statement by the right honorable J. H. Thomas, a member of the House of Commons, who was Secretary of State for the Dominions in the Ramsay MacDonald Government -
We have a million unemployed. The chief reason is, of course, that emigration has practically ceased. As a matter of fact, the Dominions do not want to take our migrants. When I was responsible for emigration, there were 50,000 willing migrants on our books waiting for somewhere to go, and there was nowhere for them to go.
Could there be a more damning indictment of the bankruptcy of British statesmanship than that statement? Notwithstanding that all the component parts of the Empire belong to one great family, that in the Dominions there are enormous areas of fertile country awaiting development, and that thousands of Britishers were willing to migrate to them, the Dominions did not want them! No greater justification for the creation of the Development and Migration Commission than that statement could be found. Senator Findley would have us believe that when honorable senators agreed to the creation of that commission they expected that by waving some magic wand, it would solve our developmental problems. I remind him that assent to that legislation was not” given until the 26th September ‘of last. year. A further month elapsed before the personnel of’ the ‘conk mission was announced. Moreover^’ the commission did not take charge of the migration activities and staff in London until tlie 1st March of this year. If we consider impartially the tremendous task confronting the commission, we shall withhold any destructive criticism until further time has elapsed. So far, I have not heard one word of constructive criticism in connexion with the Development and Migration Commission. Already it has done a lot of preparatory work. One of its first actions was to get into touch with the various State authorities* The commission realized that if it was’ to accomplish anything worth while it must have the active cooperation of the State Governments and their expert advisers. That could not be done in a month. In these matters the personal touch counts for much. In order to get into personal contact with those whose co-operation was essential to success, the commission has necessarily travelled a good deal. Senator Findley would have us believe that the commission has been having a series of “joy rides.” From my own experience with it in Tasmania, I know that that is not so. On the contrary, I felt impelled to admonish the chairman for working such long hours, because I was afraid that he would break down under the strain.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
– I was referring to the outstanding features of the task set the Development and Migration Commission, and showing how necessary it was that it should secure contact with the States. In addition to co-operating with the States, it was absolutely essential that it should establish a proper connexion with Great Britain, the land from which we hope to get the bulk, if not all, of our new settlers. In these circumstances it was essential that the chairman of the commission should proceed to Great Britain. I have heard his trip to England sneeringly referred to as a joy-ride; but anyone speaking in that way has not paused to think of the object of his mission. Mr. Gepp had to visit Great Britain to consult the authorities there, and with them - go thoroughly into the terms of then agreement generally known as the £34,000,000 scheme. He also had to make a personal reconnaisance of the migration staff in Great Britain which the commission had to take over. Contact also had to be made with the voluntary organizations both in Australia and in the homeland which have been and are still doing very good work in the selection of migrants. In England these organizations have been undertaking the training of migrants, and, on this side, they have been attending to their reception and aftercare. Such organizations include the New Settlers’ League, which is subsidized by the Government, and the Big Brother movement. Mr. Gepp had to ‘inquire into the methods adopted for training prospective migrants in England prior to their departure for Australia. The Director of Migration in London, Colonel Manning, who has just been appointed, has recently sailed for Great Britain. Whilst in London, Mr. Gepp also investigated the wonderful possibilities of geophysical prospecting and the rural housing of migrants. Quite a number, including many educated persons, have smiled when told that the primary work of the commission is to undertake an economic survey of the resources and possibilities of development in the Commonwealth. Science, after all, is only common sense and right thinking, and in this complex world, if we are to get the best out of what the Almighty has given us, research is not an expensive luxury, but is an absolute necessity. The Development >and Migration Commission is operating in close association with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. One of the results of Mr. Gepp’s visit to London is that the Empire Forestry Conference will be held in Australia next year. It would be unreasonable to expect immediate results, such as a large increase in the number of desirable new settlers, from the work of the commission ; because it did not assume control of the migration staff until March last, and its work involves most careful research and study which necessarily take time. The commission is saddled with tremendous responsibilities, because it must examine with meticulous ‘ care schemes recommended by the various State Governments desiring to participate in the £34,000,000 which has been made available by the Imperial Government to aid overseas settlement. Such an examination must occupy time, and, after investigations have been conducted, a report has to be submitted to the Commonwealth and to the British representative in Australia, Mr. Bankes Amery, who has_then to report to the British Government on the schemes submitted. Anyone reading the report of the commission will at once see the numerous and important problems with which it s faced. Personally, I think that in the short time in which it has been functioning, and considering that it has had to collect a capable staff, including various experts in different spheres, it has done wonderful work. One could noi expect it to wave the magician’s wand and immediately make everything wonderful in the migration garden. It would be absurd to expect such a result. Coming nearer home, and into a smaller sphere. I can say from personal experience and in all sincerity that if the Development and Migration Commission had done nothing else, the work it has done in and for Tasmania would amply justify its appointment. It set out, as any one can read in its report, to make a thorough investigation into the economic position of that State in co-operation with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. I have already seen the wonderful effect its work has had upon the people of Tasmania. Any thing, that can be done by the authorities in that State to assist the commission in any way is being done. The great bulk of the people, particularly the farmers and others engaged in primary production, have realized the good work being done. The State Government, which has co-operated wholeheartedly with the commission, has already done its . best to give effect to many of its recommendations. Mention was made by the honorable senator who preceded me of the report on the financial position of Tasmania, issued by Sir Nicholas Lockyer early in 1926. That was an excellent report, but it touched only the fringe of the real reasons for the depression then existing in Tasmania. When I refer to depression I mean” not only financial depression, but also the depression in the minds of the people, because, rightly or wrongly, they considered at that time that quite a number of the Commonwealth laws were reacting upon them in their insular State, particularly the Navigation Act and our Conciliation and Arbitration Act. They felt that they were the Cinderella State far removed from the mainland and depending entirely upon sea communication.
– The feeling of depression referred to by the honorable senator has been assiduously cultivated by honorable senators here.
– I think Sir Nicholas Lockyer made an admission we have never had before - that a good deal of it was amply justified and that certain Commonwealth laws were operating to the detriment of the State. Almost before the commission was actually appointed it set about its task in Tasmania. The Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) had promised that the whole of the resources of the Commonwealth would be placed at its disposal in an endeavour to find a way out of the financial morass in which the State found itself. Every word of the right honorable gentleman’s promise, as it always has beeu in my experience, has been honored to the letter. The commission started its task at once, and I was very interested indeed to come in contact with its members and staff, some of whom are still engaged upon research work in Tasmania. Page 41 of its report, which deals with the position in that State, contains most interesting reading. The response to the recommendations of the commission by the Agricultural Department of Tasmania, which up to that time through lack of funds had been sadly neglected - it was a department in name more than in reality - has been wonderful. The work accomplished by the chairman of the Tasmanian division of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Mr. P. E. Keam, who is a Tasmanian pastoralist, has been extraordinary. Agricultural bureaux have sprung up all over the island, and al. places which at first glance appeared to be almost decadent great interest and activity has been shown. At one meeting I attended in a little onehorse place at the end of the island approximately 600 farmers were present.
Monthly meetings of the bureaux are held to discuss problems in production, and this is having a wonderfully good effect there already. In my opinion, the commission has done remarkably well, considering the short time that has elapsed since its appointment. On page 22 of its report we read -
The commission is affording all possible assistance from time to time as is requested by the department. Meanwhile, investigations along similar lines are being made into many other important branches of Tasmanian activities, including rural finance, land settlement, forestry and timber, mining, fishing and allied industries, dairying, hops, manufactures, transport and tourist traffic. The question of effecting a topographical survey of the State is also being inquired into. Reports on these questions will be furnished from time to time after the necessary consultations have been held with the Tasmanian Government and representatives of interested sections of the community.
The commission must submit for the consideration of the Commonwealth Government a report as early as possible next year, embodying recommendations in regard to such further financial assistance as, in its opinion, will be necessary for Tasmania to receive fromthe Common wealth for a period of five years as from 1st July, 1928. It is giving urgent attention to this matter in consultation with the Commonwealth Treasury. The question is one of vital importance both to the State of Tasmania and to the Commonwealth as a whole.
In this connexion, it is interesting to note the position in regard to the financial balancesheet of the Tasmanian Government for the past ten years. From these figures it would appear as if there is an improvement in the financial position of Tasmania in recent years. At the same time, the duty of the commission is, in consultation with the Commonwealth and State Treasuries, the State Ministry, and responsible representatives of the State, to endeavour to examine thoroughly the exact position as it now exists, and to forecast as accurately as possible the steps, financial and otherwise, which should be taken by the State, with due assistance from the Commonwealth, to enable Tasmania within a reasonable time to be self-supporting financially and economically.
As a Tasmanian, and a good Australian, I re-echo the concluding sentence of that report. The commission is going a long way towards making Tasmania, within a reasonable time, self-supporting, financially and economically.
– The honorable senator is an optimist.
– I always have been, but I do not think that I am unduly optimistic in believing that with the aid of the resources of the Commonwealth, and by its own efforts, Tasmania will make good. All these investigations take time. Tn a sense, I look uponthe chairman of the commission as the custodian of industry.
As a sawmiller since the war, and as an employee for some seven years before the war in the sawmilling and timber industry in Tasmania, I am very interested in the recommendations that the commission has made with regard to it. The proper treatment of the Tasmanian forests and timbers is a vexed problem, and I was amazed when I saw in cold print in Ilansard, in the Minister’s second-reading speech on the Forestry Bureau Bill, the following statement -
The shortage of sound hardwood for such purposes as railway sleepers is becoming very serious, and is hampering development.
I do not know who is responsible for that statement; but it is certainly most inaccurate, so far as Tasmania is concerned. Some of us in that State, not being able to dispose of hardwood sleepers in the Australian market, have been endeavoring to build up a trade in them with China and other parts of the East, and have sent trial shipments there. I was almost about to say that Tasmania could supply billions of them; but we could certainly turn out many millions of first-class hardwood sleepers. For the last six or seven years, the sawmilling industry in my State, and in some of the other States, has been seriously prejudiced owing to keen competition from imported hardwoods, such as Manchurian oak, Pacific maple, and Borneo cedar. During the last 12 months, importations have made it practically impossible for sawmillers to sell their furniture boards and other high-class timber, for which previously there had always been a keen demand. The industry feels that it has a just claim for an additional duty on Japanese oak, Pacific maple, and Borneo cedar. It is held that it is not in accord with the White Australia policy to allow foreign timber, produced by cheap coloured labour, to be imported tothe detriment of thousands of Australian workers employed in the timber industry. These foreign timbers enter into keen competition with Tasmanian hardwood, which, in the trade, is called Tasmanian oak. To some extent they also interfere with the sale of Tasmanian blackwood. The sawmillers press for an adequate duty on these imported hardwoods; in fact, they would like to see a super-duty imposed in order to prevent them from competing with our own beautiful timbers. Although the importations of this class of timber in the last five or six years have shown an increase of over 2,000,000 feet their value has declined. I submit that that is prejudicial to the Australian timber worker. I am not speaking of dressed timber, which simply pours into this country, or of the advisability of prohibiting it, so that Australians may do the machining themselves. I have taken out figures showing the importations into the Commonwealth of Japanese oak, in 1920-21 to 1925-26 ; but, for the purpose of comparison, I shall take the year 1920-21, whenwe imported 3,191,419 feet of that timber to the value of £148,281. That was for small sizes under 7 inches by2½ inches. In 1925-26, the total quantity of Japanese oak imported had risen to 5,767,022 feet, but the value had decreased to £11S,S47. Thus the quantity increased by 2,575,603 feet, but its value decreased by £29,434. In the larger sizes a similar position obtained There was an increase of 222,129 feet in the quantity imported, and there was a decrease in the value of £1,783. The total increase for the whole period was 2,297,000 feet, and the decrease in value was £40,727, which clearly shows that this timber is milled by colored labour - by men working from 14 to 16 hours a day. That timber is competing here with a similar type of timber milled under Australian conditions. It is not a matter of pine against hardwood; it is a matter of Japanese oak against Tasmanian oak. Probably if the chairman of the commission made a recommendation on this subject, he would be told that it was a matter for the Tariff Board, and thathe had better mind his own business. Butthe work with which Mr. Gepp has been entrusted is so comprehensive that he is, as I have already said, more or less the custodian of industry.
It has been stated that the commission is slow, cumbersome and very costly. I contend that the facts indicate that it is not very slow in its work. Let us consider its investigation of the gold-mining industry in Western Australia. The act underwhich the commission was constituted was not assented to until the 26th September, 1926, and after that a staff had to be got together. I was a member of the Joint Committee on Electoral Law and Procedure which visited Kalgoorlie in October, 1926. There we met Mr. Wainwright, general manager of the Broken Hill South Mine, two other gentlemen to whom I was introduced, and a very old friend in the person of Mr. A. W. Hutchin, of the Electrolytic Zinc Company, whose works are located at Risdon, Tasmania. These four constituted a technical committee of experts which had been appointed by the commission to inquire into the goldmining industry in Kalgoorlie. They were at work there in October, although the commission had only organized its staff a month earlier. That committee issued a very useful report. It made a thorough investigation of the industry.
– There are differences of opinion in regard to the value of its report.
– In that particular instance the commission cannot be accused of dilatoriness.
I was not surprised to hear the humorous speech that was delivered by Senator Findley. One could not expect anything else from him, because he is a steeped in and saturated with the stereotyped labour attitude towards migration. The assumption of that party is that there is work in Australia for only a certain number of people, and that any increase in population results in unemployment. I cannot subscribe to that view. For three year3 it was my duty to meet every new settler that migrated to Tasmania. Unfortunately, during that period only about 1,100 new settlers entered the State. Every new settler is a potential employer of labour, because he requires a grocer, a butcher, a baker and others to supply himwith his needs. He does not take all from a country and give nothing in return. Every one of us is, to a greater or less extent, an employer of labour. It is fallacious to argue that unemployment is made more acute Avhen the population is increased. That assertion will notwithstand a scientific or close examination. I admit that some migrants have been failures; but the great bulk of them have not. Far from having caused unemployment, they have been the means of increasing employment. The standard of wages has not been lowered because of their advent.
– If the argument of honorable senators opposite was sound, a high death-rate would be desirable.
– Exactly. I say quite frankly that this problem of the better distribution within the Empire of the British race has caused me considerable worry for a number of years. During the war I spent in the United Kingdom two fairly lengthy periods of convalescence. Being a Tasmanian-born Yorkshireman, I naturally spent a great deal of that time in Yorkshire,which, by theway, has a greater number of inhabitants than the whole of Australia. I saAv a good deal of some of the bigger cities and towns, and I hope that we in Australiawill never experiencewhat are commonplace conditions in some of them. I have in my hand graphs illustrating the distribution of the world’s population. It is possible to obtain information more quickly from a graph than from a long statement. If honorable senators Avere to study these, theywould be convinced that there is something wrong with the distribution of the white-man power of the British Empire. It is extraordinary that the best brains of the Empire have so far failed to evolve a solution of the problem. It will have to be tackled. Australia must not for all time occupy a position similar to that of a kept woman. That may seem strong language, but it appears to me that it is only the providence of God and the strength of the British navy - the upkeep ofwhich is paid for by Britishers who are resident in the Old Country, and not by those who have their domicile in the Dominions - that ensure us the freedom to live in the way we think fit. The Dominions are not doing their fair share. The obvious assumption is that if a fellow Britisher desired to come to Australia, he would encounter neither let nor hindrance, but that is not the case. All kinds of formalities have to be observed. I have just read a book which has made a very great impression on me, although I do not hold with all that the writer has to say. He deals with the imperative and vital necessity of Empire migration on a scale hitherto undreamed of. Every honorable senator should read this work. It is by Professor Fleetwood-Chidell, and the title is “Is Australia “White or Yellow?” I read the following extract for the benefit of honorable senators -
The criticisms of dominions’ policy are directed not less against its omissions than against its activities - the absence of a sense of stewardship in the disposal of the lands held under the British Crown and the negation of a community of interest with the parent country. These things would be intelligible in the case of foreign States owing no allegiance to Great Britain, confessing no continuity of history or relationship of common blood; but they are essentially incompatible with a united Empire.
The choice lies with the dominions, whether they will be separate entities or parts of a great whole. One thing is impossible, to secure at the same time the advantages of separateness and those of unity. Neither is it possible for an incoherent State to be strong - if its elements are so loosely combined that they may at any time fly apart; if it is admitted that any portion, consulting its private interest, may at any time break the links that bind it to the whole. No State ever maintained its integrity upon such fragile terms, and no State will ever do so in a world subject to shock and discord. The claims of General Hertzog and others of a right of secession are a sign and a cause of weakness in the Imperial fabric. Do the dominions wish to rely in emergency upon other portions of the Empire? Then they must strengthen the ties of the Empire and exalt its unity. The alternative is dependance upon their own unaided forces with such assistance as the League of Nations can afford. Are they prepared for this alternative? In the present state of the world the idea is madness.
What are the facts, summarily and dispassionately stated? A mother-country unable to find profitable work for its workmen and therefore debilitated: beyond its borders jealous, ambitious, teeming, imprisoned nations watching territories insufficiently manned for defence; territories lacking, in the judgment qf these nations, all justification . for the partiality with which they are administered. It is a situation perilous in the extreme. Unable’ adequately to. defend themselves, how can tlie dominions expect Great Britain to embark upon hazardous adventures in order to maintain a condition of things which is largely responsible for her own troubles - to defend’ segments boasting their independence, who at any time may carry their independence to itslogical extreme?
The choice for a few brief years lies with the dominions. If they desire to be protected by the mother-country they must serve its interests as they do their own; tlie interests are, in fact, common and inseparable. They must guard the oneness of the Empire as the guarantee of their own liberties. They must oppose the slightest tendency to diminish itssolidarity. They must go out of their way to strengthen the ties which mistaken policies have weakened, and they must do all in their power to invigorate the parent source of their security. At the same time, with twofold and even more widespread benefit, they must lessen the provocation and incitement to war thatconsist in the unemployment of vacant territories.”
That sums up very succinctly the present position. The appointment of the Development and Migration Commission was at least one step forward, and a move for which we had been waiting a long time. The position in regard to migration has been more or less chaotic and subject to the whim of any government. There has been no continuity of policy. I do not say that there is continuity of policy even now; but I do say that we are likely to have a clear-cut survey of the position and an examination of tho best methods to adopt to increase the population of Australia. Migration isAustralia’s best means of defence.
One cannot read the annual report of the Inspector-General of the Commonwealth Military Forces, Sir Harry Chauvel, without being appalled at the prospect. The last report is on much the same lines as those which have been i ssued during the last three or four years. Unfortunately, few people are sufficiently interested to study it and feel any concern about the situation. It indicates that the Australian army, such as it is, is in danger1 of perishing. The other day there was a tremendous pother and a frightful fuss and rumpus about the Government’s proposal to get rid of seven bankrupt ships. Compared with the danger that is confronting us owing to our inadequate provision for defence, the proposed sale of the Australian Commonwealth Government Line is most insignificant. The defence of Australia is a matter of the greatest magnitude. Sir Harry Chauvel in his report states -
Therefore, notwithstanding the protection which the Naval Forces of the Empires, of which our own squadron forms only a small part, may, if circumstances be favorable, be expected to afford, it is incumbent upon Australia to provide for her own local security. Indeed, it is an accepted principle of the Imperial defence policy, that each dominion is primarily responsible for its own local defence.
No one will question the soundness of that principle. No one can foretell what may happen on the seas or in the air; it is for the dominions individually to make adequate provision for their lcoal defence. Despite our increase in population and the reduced purchasing power of money, the Commonwealth is spending much less on its military forces to-day than before the war. In 1912-13 we spent £2,277,000, and in 1913-14 £2,356,000. We then had a population of 4,900,000 people. Last vear our army cost us only £1,526,000, and our population to-day is about 6,115,000.
– Those figures do not include the expenditure on the provision of munitions and arsenals.
– At present, we have about 42,000 youths in training. I can say, without fear of contradiction, that there is no finer material in the world. I believe that last year there were 53,000 youths registered, and that we have about 160,000 liable to be called up for military training. One cannot help a feeling of regret, as one goes around the country, that all this magnificent material for the defence of Australia is allowed to lie fallow, as it were. I wish it to be clearly understood that I am not an advocate of militarism. I do not desire that we should have a large standing army, or that we should worship the pomp and circumstance, the glitter, and all the nonsense associated with continental armies. ‘ I have been through two wars, and I have no wish to go through another. I believe, however, that it is the duty of every man worthy of the name to prepare himself for the defence of his country and its women. To do that, under modern conditions of civilization, it is necessary for hin to undergo training for a definite period. The Minister for Defence (Senator Glasgow) is, perhaps, more conversant with the position than I am. I urge him, therefore, to impress upon his colleagues in the Cabinet the advisability of increasing the time of training for the youth of this country, and to reopen many of the training centres that have been closed for some time. The great bulk of our youths undergo training quite cheerfully. In my own State the lads who go into the annual camp at Mona Vale for the first time are anxious to come again for the next two years. They all display a magnificent spirit, and attend the voluntary parades in large numbers. In my own battalion we have classes of instruction every Wednesday and Thursday evenings, and the response on the part of the lads is most gratifying. They are keen about studying the automatic machine gun and Vickers gun, which I regard as two of the most wonderful and deadly weapons that could be ultilized in the defence of Australia. The lads give freely of their time, and are so enthusiastic that we are -able to work wonders with them. In considerin cr our defence problems we should not think in the terms .of the last war. When that war broke out the Empire was thinking in the terms of the South African war. As a matter of fact British military authorities had not learnt the lessons of the Russo-Japanese war in 1905: Consequently the British armies, at the outset, went into the field with a couple of machine guns per battalion. At the end, they had as many as 64 machine guns to each battalion. I do not pose as an expert, but I respectfully suggest that machine-gun battalions with sixwheeled cross-country motor lorries, will most efficiently and economically ensure the adequate defence of Australia if ever we are called upon to fight in Australia, which God forbid. I doubt if any hostile power could land and maintain in the field artillery of sufficient weight to crush the defence which forces, so equipped, could put up against them. The crosscountry lorries would ensure wonderful mobility for the machine-gun battalions. -The use of tanks made victory possible fbr the Allies after the break through of the German line on* 8th August, 19 IS, but I am satisfied that no fleet of tanks which any hostile nation could land in Australia could overcome a defence force equipped in the manner I suggest. Such a fleet does not exist. I trust that the Minister, who, I know, is giving serious thought to this subject, will be able to give us some encouragement. The supply of officers for any force that Australia could put in the field is quite inadequate. Those of us who served in the Australian Imperial Force are no younger. It is a long time now since the war. We are not nearly so good to-day as we were then, and naturally we are getting somewhat rusty. For my own part I think that if I heard a shell coming I would “ go for my life.” I doubt if my nerves would permit me to stand up to the strain. When I returned from the last war I was little better than a decrepit old man, and was more or less a nervous wreck for a couple of years. Since there are many more in my position, it is probable that we shall’ be depending upon a broken reed if we look to the reserve of the Australian Imperial Force officers and men to pull this country through another war. It is important that we should make adequate provision for the training of our officers. Ample- opportunities should be provided for them to carry on their studies. Prior to the war, and, in fact, during the first year of the war, the Defence Department issued monthly a useful booklet compiled by officers of the department, and entitled the Commonwealth Military Journal. It was exceedingly helpful to officers in the study of military problems. I noticed in the Estimates for last year that the sum of £5 has been set down under this heading. I presume that the idea is to keep it in mind in the hope that, one day, it may be issued again. Compared with the good results that would follow its republication its cost would be a mere bagatelle. - I hope, therefore, that it will be re-issued at an early date. I ask the Minister also to deal more liberally with the Military District United Service Institute. That is the only place in which young officers can obtain suitable books to assist them in their trainin’g and studies. We are told that there . is no need for us to worry because we have in our midst many ex-members of the Australian Imperial Forces. I ask honorable senators to remember that the whole of the 4th Brigade of the First Division were men who had spent months of training before they were tested in battle. We shall not get that opportunity again. Our only hope is to train leaders - our potential officers and non-commissioned officers. To arm men and send them into action without trained leaders would be a crime. Such a body of men would be merely an armed mob and not a trained fighting machine. At Duntroon we have our Royal Military College - an- institution which turns out a limited number of wonderfully well trained officers of high character. The Minister knows that the training of staff officers takes time. Those of us who at any time during our service were taken from regimental duties to do staff work know how complicated the whole thing is, and how much care, study and training are necessary to make a successful military leader. Greater coordination is required in military matters than in any other sphere. With the growth of science, warfare does not become more humane; on the contrary, it becomes more ruthless and horrible, and less susceptible to rule. There are no rules in war. I admit that to maintain a navy, an army, and an air force is a tremendous task for 6,000,000 people. I do not envy the Minister his responsible task in controlling the defence of this country ; but I submit, with all due deference, that our army is absolutely starved and is in danger of perishing. The spirit is still alive, but it needs to be fostered and encouraged in every possible way. A proper system of military training does not necessarily mean militarism in Australia. I submit that compulsory military training has had a good effect both physically and morally on the youth of this country. Time after time I have had evidence of the way in which it has assisted to build character. Since I returned from Africa twenty years ago I have been connected with the defence forces as a citizen soldier, and I know, that their military training has made better citizens of many of the young men of this country. I hope that before long a great deal more will be done for our army than is now being done for it. It richly deserves it.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL (Western Australia) [9.4]. - I feel impelled to join in this debate because of the utterances of some honorable senators who have dealt with our financial and economic problems. They seem not to realize the true position, and to take as the cause of the trouble what is really its effect. Yesterday myesteemed colleague, Senator Chapman, said that the cause of our trouble was the high customs duties which had been imposed. There, clearly, was a confusion of ideas in relation to cause and effect.
– The Tariff Board does not say that in its last report.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.It does. The high customs duties are the effect and not the fundamental cause of the very serious position of Australia today, both financially and economically. When speaking last week in connexion with the Commonwealth Housing Bill, I referred to the serious financial drift which has taken place during recent years. I then dealt with one cause and was proceeding to deal with what I considered to be the remedy when the Senate adjourned. Circumstances prevented me from continuing my remarks when the measure was again discussed. Our financial position must provide food for serious thought for every thinking man and woman. Our public debt is approximately £1,020,000,000; our interest bill is over £1,000,000 a week for a population of 6,000,000 people. In view of our wonderful assets, the position would not beso serious if we were paying our way. But unfortunately we are not doing so. On the contrary, the financial drift is getting worse. That is shown clearly by our adverse trade balance, especially during the last few years, in which the drift has been very marked, amounting on the average to £35,000,000 a year. To show that it is getting worse, I pointed out that last year the adverse trade balance was approximately £47,000,000. That is the amount by which our exports failed to pay for our imports, and the interest on our overseas debt. For the first quarter of this financial year the adverse trade balance was approximately £20,000,000, our exports having failed to pay for our imports by over £13,000,000, and the interest on our overseas debts representing between £6,000,000 and £7,000,000.
– Our exports are always low in that quarter.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.The Minister knows that the position was totally different some years ago, and that this drift, which is of comparatively recent origin, is getting worse year by year. That that is so indicates the seriousness of our position and calls for attention by the Government. In order to face the position, it is necessary to ascertain its cause. I pointed out the other day that one of the causes of our unsatisfactory position was our over-borrowing and our extravagant and unnecessary expenditure, particularly of loan moneys. There are other causes, some of which are apparent, and some which, though not so apparent, are fundamental, and therefore more serious. Let us take, first, the apparent causes. There is, as I have stated, our over-borrowing and our extravagant and unnecessary expenditure of moneys, particularly loan moneys. Another cause - overtaxation - is to some extent being dealt with by the Government, because the budget informs us that this year there is to be a reduction of income taxation to the extent of £1,326,000, and of land taxation to the extent of £445,900. That, I take it, is the extent to which the Government is able to reduce taxation in the absence of any direct economies which it may effect. Let me now deal with a cause which, though not so apparent, is, nevertheless, fundamental - a cause referred to by no less an authority than Sir Ernest Harvey, the Controller of the Bank of England. Sir Ernest Harvey s>aid that Australia’s troubles were due to the vicious circle in which prices and wages continually chased one another. That is the fundamental cause of Australia’s troubles to-day; and until that cause has been remedied the position cannot be improved. The vicious circle caused by our compulsory arbitration system must be broken, or it will break Australia.
– How are we going to break it?
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.By abolishing the system. Under our system of compulsory arbitration, wages are based on the cost of living. That system is pure madness. Almost every country in the world has at some time considered the system of compulsory arbitration as carried out in Australia, and one by one all have rejected it, for the very reasons for which it has proved a failure in Australia. They have rejected it, because, if wages are based on the cost of living a vicious circle is inevitably created. If wages were fixed on output there would be no vicious circle. Start where we like, and the result is the same. During the war period there was a great increase in the cost of living. That increased cost of living entitled the workers to apply to the Arbitration Court for an increase of wages. They were successful, and the increased wages obtained increased the cost of living, and also the cost of production, causing manufacturers to apply to the Tariff Board for increased protection. The duties were increased; and, in consequence, the cost of living rose still higher, resulting in further demands for increased wages. An increase in wages necessarily means an increase in the cost of living. When the cost of. living increases the men go back to the court and ask for a further increase in wages and the vicious circle then commences over again. This leads to further increases, and also demands for additional tariff duties, which also result in demands for higher wages. That is the position which is facing Australia at present, and the drift cannot be arrested under our present system. Our economic system has been condemned by Sir Ernest Harvey, and quite recently by Sir Lennon Raws, and other economists. Every authority, except the various governments of the country, seems to realize that we cannot improve the unfortunate situation and arrest the drift, unless we remove the fundamental cause ; and that is the economic position set up by our system of compulsory arbitration, which, as I have said, is unsound, and is recognized as such by every country in the world. Honorable senators should read the reports of a special commission appointed by the American Government, and also that of a special commission appointed some time after the war by the Imperial Government, on which there were representatives of parties of every shade of political opinion. The unanimous recommendations of these commissions were against our system, which is economically unsound, and is bound to create a vicious circle which if persisted in will involve any country sooner or later in trouble, and eventually in financial disaster. The subject is so simple that I really cannot understand why any thoughtful person cannot understand it. If we base wages on the cost of living, the cost of living is increased, and if we are to protect our industries an increase in tariff duties is inevitable, which in turn also increases the cost of living. This must ultimately lead to difficulty, and possibly disaster. We have not been involved in serious trouble earlier because of the unparalleled succession of good seasons we have experienced, and the exceptionally high prices obtained for wheat and wool - our principal exports. Australia is facing financial stringency, not as the result of bad seasons or low prices, but on top of a period of good seasons and high prices. If that is our position when everything is in our favour, surely something is fundamentally wrong?
– What remedy does the honorable member suggest?
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.To remove the cause - our present system of arbitration-
– Is that the only cause?
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.I did not say that it was. I have already referred to other causes; but the one I have now mentioned is fundamental. I have already referred to the overexpenditure of loan moneys by Commonwealth and State governments and over expenditure of loan moneys. Is it not increased by the fact that our Arbitration Courts are carrying out a system which eternally raises wages and must continue to raise them as long as the system lasts, because the vicious circle is at work. That is the cause which stands behind.
– Did not the Government of which the honorable senator was once leader in South Australia borrow extensively?
Yes, because of the system of which I am complaining.
– Is the position in South Australia worse to-day than it was then?
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.It is worse to-day. Surely the honorable senator can see that the position is bound to get worse, when nominal wages are constantly being increased without the real wages being raised.
– There were no arbitration courts in 1893, when nearly every bank in Australia suspended payment.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.What was the cause of such suspension? A succession of bad seasons and low prices for all commodities. Is that the position which confronts Australia to-day? The honorable member knows, as well as I do, that the trouble which is facing us is due not to bad seasons and low prices, but it has come right on top of good seasons and high prices. What would be our position ifwe were faced with seasons such as caused the crisis mentioned by the honorary Minister ? What will be our position in this country if we have one really bad season such as we had in 1914?
– Do not wages and prices folloAV prosperity?
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.They do, if Ave leave matters alone, and allow economic forces to work in a proper way. We are not allowing economic forces to Avork as they should, but are endeavouring to control them. Some years ago the first President of the Federal Arbitration Court, Mr. Justice Higgins, contributed an article to an English magazine, in which he said that the arbitration system in Australia had proved that the economic forces could be controlled for the benefit of the community. We have proceeded in our arbitration system on the assumption that these economic forces do not work inevitably and inexorably to a well defined end. I think the learned judge will now admit thatwhat he then said was wrong. He thought that they could be controlled, because they were working with the arbitration system, and making possible an increase in wages. At that time industries could stand them. They were being bolstered up, as they are to- day by ever-increasing tariff duties, bounties, subsidies, grants in aid ; but for what purpose? Simply to support a position which is economically unsound.
– The honorable senator admits that the tariff is bolstering up industry.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.Undoubtedly, and with what result ? The Tariff Board is recommending increases in duties year after year, and a duty which protects an industry this year will not do so next year. As Sir Ernest Harvey and other authorities have said, wages, and prices are eternally chasing one another. There is a limit which we are now reaching, and beyond which we cannot go. Senator Chapman and other honorable senators apparently do not realize the fundamental cause of Australia’s present financial position.
– The honorable senator must realize that many employers pay more than the award rates.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.Some of them do.
– Last month the cost of living was lower than it was a year ago.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.By how much? It may have been a penny or twopence loAver; but taking it
Aveek by week, month by month, or year by year, it is increasing, and is likely to continue doing so while the present system obtains. In order to remedy the position the production per head of population should be increased.
– We are all agreed upon that.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.Yes, but are we increasing our productivity? We should compare the figures of to-day with those of 1911, which year was taken by the Government Statistician as a standard. What is the result? Productivity to-day is lower than it was in 1911. When one considers the wonderful improvements in machinery and labour-saving devices of every kind, the production per head of population should be considerably higher to-day than it was in 1911. Instead of being higher, it is lower. What are the Arbitration Courts doing at present when increased production is so essential? They are granting a 44- hour week in many industries and awarding all sorts of other conditions which must inevitably result in decreased production. I did not intend to contribute to the debate; but when I heard some honorable senators speaking as they did on what is the most important subject with which this Parliament can possibly deal - the financial position and the general economic situation in Australia - I felt absolutely compelled to speak.
– Is the honorable senator’s remedy the abolition of arbitration courts ?
– The abolition of the arbitration system as it operates at present in basing wages on the cost of living, which is economically unsound. Possibly we could have some other system of arbitration. The Leader of the Government in the Senate, (Senator Pearce) admitted this afternoon that the compulsory arbitration system as applied in Australia is not an unqualified success.’-‘ I go further than the right honorable gentleman and say that it is a dismal failure. It has been tried and proved to be economically unsound and the fundamental cause of all our trouble.
– The honorable senator is a Jeremiah.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.I am not.
– If strikes were legalized our position might be even worse.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.I do not suggest that. All I say is that we have a compulsory arbitration system under which wages are based upon the cost of living, which is fundamentally unsound, creating as it does the vicious circle which makes our financial position worse than that of other countries.
– How are we going to settle industrial disputes if we dispense with arbitration?
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.I did not even say we should dispense with arbitration; but that we should do away with the existing system which fixes wages upon the cost of living. Does the honorable senator not see that there is a distinction? It must be admitted by honorable senators that our system has been condemned by economists who have deeply studied the subject, and by no less an authority than a gentleman who was in Australia the other day. He did not say much when he was here, but when he left Australia, he referred to the fact that Australia’s financial position was bad, and that the cause of all our trouble is the vicious circle under which wages and prices are eternally chasing one another.
– Conditions are bad enough in the country to which that gentleman belongs, where there is no arbitration system.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.Is that any argument? One expects something more ‘ than that from a Minister. Unless the position is dealt with the financial disaster of which the Tariff Board has warned us will overtake us. It was pointed out in the report tabled by that body only the other day, as also in its previous report, that so long as the Arbitration Court proceeds to fix wages in accordance with the cost of living, causing employers to go to the Tariff Board for increased duties, which have to be imposed in order to safeguard industries, the evil will continue.
– Would the honorable senator like to. see wages fixed below the cost of living?
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.The honorable senator who interjects does not grasp the real position. When wages are fixed according to production, the cost of living will be reduced; the nominal wages will be lower, but the real wages will be higher. Under the present system we increase the nominal wage without proportionately increasing the real wage. Judge Beeby, I think, stated the other day that, although the nominal wage had been increased tremendously since 1911, the real wage had risen by only about 7 per cent. That is perfectly true, because, by bolstering up industries with ever-increasing tariff duties, we have raised, the cost of production, and that has increased the’ cost of living to such an extent that the real wages paid to-day are only 7 per cent, higher than they were in 1911. The remedy, undoubtedly, is to do away with the system under which wages are fixed, on to the cost of living. Unless we do so we cannot overcomeour financial or economic difficulties.
-Why not reduce the tariff for a start?
– Here is another honorable senator confusing cause and effect. The increases in tariff duties are the effect of what is done by the Arbitration Court. If we reduced the tariff first, we should have industry after industry “ going under,” because we should be dealing with an effect, and not with a cause. The first thing to do is to remove the cause.
– Have no; industries “ gone under “ without reductions of the tariff?
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.Yes ; because the tariff has been taken to a point beyond which we cannot well go. We have been paying nominally high wages, and increasing the cost of production by high tariff duties ever growing and from time to time failing to protect industries because of the increased cost of production, have also been paying bounties, subsidies and other aids in an ever-increasing amount. But the fundamental cause of the whole trouble is the arbitration system, which fixes wages on the cost of living.
– If we reduced wages, we should still have the tariff causing high prices.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.I admit that, having gone on, as we have in the past, on lines that are economically unsound, we cannot suddenly cut down wages; but we can arrest the present financial and economical drift by abolishing the arbitration system under which wages are fixed on the cost of living.
– What would the honorable senator substitute?
– A system under which wages are fixed upon output and production. That is the way in which they are determined in other countries.
– That could not be done in every industry.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.The honorable senator is referring to piece-work. It can be done in every industry, but not under a piecework system. It is done in other countries. Australia is the only country that determines wages on the cost of living. When other countries considered our wonderful experiment in compulsory arbitration, under which wages are fixed on the cost of living, they decided to have nothing to do with it.
– The honorable senator would paya man according to the value of his work.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.Yes; but nobody knows better that the honorable senator from South Australia that, at the present time, workmen are not paid according to their value. They are remunerated under an artificial system that is bad from every point of view.
The only other matter to which I intend to refer is the financial agreement between the Commonwealth and the States, which was referred to by the Treasurer in the budget speech as a permanent and satisfactory arrangement. To my mind it is neither permanent nor satisfactory.
– It is certainly not permanent.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL No; and it cannot be satisfactory when we have two States practically dependent on the Commonwealth. South Australia now says that, if it does not receive a large monetary grant from the Commonwealth, it will be unable to meet its expenditure, and even Queensland is threatening to come in for similar assistance.
SenatorReid. - Queensland is still solvent.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.But not long ago the Premier of Queensland said that, in all probability, it would have to seek assistance from the Commonwealth, as other States had done.
– One of the dependent States closed the last financial year with a surplus.
– That was done after allowing for a large Commonwealth grant. I do not think that any financial arrangement between the Commonwealth and the States can be regarded as satisfactory while certain
States remain dependent on the Commonwealth. The whole of the financial relations of the States should be reconsidered, and placed upon some basis under which the States that suffer most as a result of federation would be placed on a financial footing that would enable them to carry on governmental, affairs without being dependent on the Commonwealth.
– That could not be done under the federal scheme.*
– It could.
– Under the system of per capita payments, all the States were dependent on the Commonwealth, and, so long as the present financial relations continue, they will be dependent on the authority that pays them the money.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.Not in the sense that Western Australia aird Tasmania are now dependent on the Commonwealth, or in the sense that South Australia threatens to.
– That is not due to the establishment of federation.
Senator Sir HENRY BARWELL.Undoubtedly it is due to the financial arrangement under federation. With at least two States dependent on the Commonwealth, and one, if not two others, threatening to become so in the near future, it cannot be said that the latest adjustment of the’ financial relations is “ permanent and satisfactory.”
.- 1 1 add my congratulations to the Government on its policy of reducing taxation, particularly income taxation, and bringing in certain reforms that are most necessary. I specially refer to the policy of allowing for the losses experienced by taxpayers. In the past a person might have sustained very heavy losses, as often happens in the pastoral industry, for two or three successive years, and might then be taxed up to the hilt on his return for the following season, no regard being paid to his heavy losses in previous years. That method has been altered, and for that reason alone the Treasurer and the Government are to be complimented. There are other desirable reforms, however, which the Treasurer appears to have overlooked. Some time ago a system was adopted whereby if the company did not distribute .among its shareholders at least two-thirds of its taxable income, the commissioner might determine whether a further sum should have been distributed. We have seen the disastrous effect on companies that have failed to make provision for bad times. One of our largest manufacturing concerns threatens to go into liquidation, because it has not sufficient money in hand to carry it over the present lean period. A system of taxation such as this, which gives to the commissioner arbitrary power to say whether a company has distributed a proper proportion of its profits, is an encouragement to unsound finance. The provision as it stands is objected to because it is a direct incentive to the improvident distribution of the earnings of companies. It frequently operates inequitably. Responsible directors, who hold their positions on account of their expert knowledge, claim that they are not able to give effect to their financial policy because a departmental officer has ‘this overriding power to practically tell them that they do not understand their business. It is a serious matter for a departmental officer to inform directors of companies that they are not distributing a sufficient proportion of their profits. Apparently the provision was placed in the act because a few proprietary companies were tying up profits in reserve funds so that they might escape taxation. It should be possible to prevent by other means the adoption of any system which would enable the Government to be defrauded. The policy of building up reserves has a vital bearing on the soundness of many companies and the security of their shareholders. The directors are usually the best judges of what should be done in a time of financial stringency, uncertain seasonal prospects, and trade fluctuations. I have heard of cases in which the profit was purely a paper one, due to the natural increase that had taken place in the flocks. Obviously it could not be distributed; yet the Taxation Department arbitrarily assessed the taxpayer on the basis that it should have been.
The Leader of the Opposition has criticized the defence policy of the
Government. He quoted statements by Sir Harry Chauvel, Sir John Monash, and General Drake-Brockman, but he utterly failed to prove that any of those statements were condemnatory of the policy that is being pursued by the Government.
– That does not come within their province.
– They have not said that we should abolish our light horse, or cut down any particular arm of defence and substitute others. The whole of their criticism has been directed to the fact that the Government has not spent sufficient to make that force adequate to the defence of Australia.
-What I said was that the Government has not a defence scheme that is commensurate with the amount that has been spent since peace was declared.
– That is not what these gentlemen have said. The last report of Sir Harry Chauvel contains a reiteration of statements that have been made over and over again.
– General DrakeBrockman said that we would not be able to hold out for 24 hours.
– He said that our munitions supply was not sufficient to enable us to carry on operations for 24 hours on the scale at which they were carried on in France. I remind the honorable senator that each shell costs a considerable amount of money, and if it is stored for any length of time it deteriorates and has to be destroyed. I do not think the honorable senator will suggest that supplies of the magnitude of those that were stacked in dumps in France should be accumulated in Australia in times of peace.
– I suggest nothing. I have merely quoted the opinions of experts.
– That is unsafe, unless the honorable senator has a knowledge of the subject with which these experts are dealing. It is quite right for Sir Harry Chauvel to inform the Minister of the conditions that exist; but it is for the Government to say whether those conditions are perfectly safe in the light of the knowledge which it possesses of world affairs. We are all familiar with the system of fire insurance. In the insurance world it is recognized that it is possible to over-insure. It would not bo right, in the present state of the finances, for the Government to have our forces fully equipped for war, and brought up to war strength, as if war was about to be declared by an enemy nation. Whether the knowledge which the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) gained at the League of Nations will change the views of the Government, remains to be seen. He may now regard as insufficient our present state of preparedness. The mere fact that Sir Harry Chauvel, Sir John Monash and General Drake-Brockman have said that our forces are not on a war footing does not prove anything. I am inclined to the view that the nations of the world suffered so greatly both during the war and since that they should be very chary about starting another. The Government is, however, making a determined effort to see that Australia is selfcontained in the matter of defence. The Minister for Defence (Senator Glasgow) has made it perfectly plain that we can turn out not only machine guns, but also 18-pounders and howitzers. We have not yet reached the stage at which we can turn out the heavier artillery. During the last war we were not able to turn out a single machine gun or equip ourselves with anything in the nature of field artillery. In calculating the amount that is spent on defence, it is necessary to keep in mind the trust funds and see that from time to time they are replenished, so that we can continue to manufacture weapons and munitions of war without waiting for the passage of the Estimates each year. The Government has proved that up to date it was a good prophet when it assumed that there was no need to maintain our forces at war strength.
But it has been pointed out by several speakers, including Senator Sampson, with whom I am in agreement, that the time is rapidly arriving when the Government will have to pay less attention to the munitions side and more to the training of personnel. The remnant of the Australian Imperial Forces is becoming old, and in a few years will not be available as a reserve. If it is intended to have a fighting force comparable with that which we had in pre-war days, it will be necessary to revert to the system that was then in operation. Personally, I do not attach very much importance to the training of the rank and file. Such training is useful in the main for the purpose enabling officers and noncommissioned officers who would be called upon to lead the fighting forces in the event of an outbreak of war to get actual experience in training and handling troops in the field. Those officers and noncommissioned officers get the best foundation for their own training by means of schools and courses- which, I am glad to say, are now coining more into vogue. The rank and file are certainly displaying a revival of interest in their training. At ‘the conclusion of the war there was undoubtedly a disinclination on the part of the trainees to go into camp and undergo a course of training. That spirit has disappeared, and we are recovering some of the old voluntary ‘spirit which was the foundation of our forces in pre-war times.
While congratulating the Government generally, I am by no means sure that the people of Australia have been given value for the money that has been spent in the Federal Capital. The amount involved in the provision of temporary accommodation for the Governor-General is so large as to suggest that, if corruption has not been practised, at least we have approached very close to it. Otherwise I cannot understand how the sum of £70,000 could have been expended on those buildings. The Government would be well advised if it suggested that the Public Accounts Committee should make an investigation into the matter. I am not sure of the figures, but I understand that it will be necessary to employ between 200 and 300 men to keep the Canberra public gardens in order. If that is so, and if the unfortunate citizens are to be compelled to contribute to the maintenance of the gardens out of the rates, they will have a pretty bad time. On the other hand, if the gardens are to be a permanent charge on the public funds, it is. also a serious matter.
Senator Graham criticized the Government for not proceeding at once with a child endowment scheme, alleging that during the last election campaign the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) had definitely promised that it would be in the Government’s legislative programme. I have no recollection of any such promise. What the Prime Minister said was that he would convene a conference of State Premiers, and endeavour to find a solution of the problem that would be acceptable to the States. It was obvious that if State railway and tramway employees were to come under the scheme, the States should be consulted, particularly if it was contemplated that the cost of the scheme should be made a charge upon industry. That conference was convened, and it is worth noting that the Labour premiers were reluctant to commit themselves definitely to the scheme. It is still under consideration.
Senator Hoare, in the course of his remarks criticized the Government for raising loans overseas.
– And quite right, too.
– The honorable senator’s arguments were not conclusive. He quoted Mr. Watt in another place as saying, in 1915, that if the first war loan of £20,000,000 were raised in Australia, industry would suffer, and then he went on to argue that since about £308,000,000 had been raised during the war without causing dislocation in industry, it should be possible for the Government to continue indefinitely raising money within Australia for all its requirements. Actually the floating of Government loans on the Australian market has had the effect of raising the interest rate from 4 per cent., and even 3 per cent, in the case of Victorian Government loans to its present high level,, with the result that instead of a mortgagor being able to obtain advances up to 60 per cent, of the value of house security at from 4 per cent, to 4£ per cent., he is lucky now if he gets an advance of 50 per cent, of the value of his investment at under 6$ per cent, In many instances 7 per cent.,- -7$ per cent., and even 8 per cent, is demanded.
– The same conditions obtain in other countries.
– That is because during the war those countries also raised large sums of money which were absolutely blown away in the form of shot and shell.
SenatorNeedham. - The profiteers did not suffer.
– I do not deny that there was a good deal of profiteering during the war, because the munitions had to be obtained, and large bodies of men had to be equipped and maintained in the field. For this purpose it was necessary to raise immense sums of money. As a result, there has been a serious dislocation of industry in all countries. But that is no reason why we should aggravate the position in Australia by continuing along those lines. To-day it is very difficult indeed to obtain finance for industry from the banks, because the money is not available. Immediately it is whispered that the Government intends to float another loan, the banks impose restrictions on credit in order to take up the new issue. Business concerns that are anywhere near the border line, finding their credit restricted, go out, and their employees are thrown into the ranks of the unemployed. There is only a certain supply of money in the market. This is well understood by the financial advisers of the several States. Hence the formation of the loan council. Whenever a Government proposes to borrow money, the loan council surveys the market and ascertains from the banks how much money is likely to be available at any particular time. If we attempt to extract an undue amount from the available reserve, the effect on the money market is instantaneous, and unemployment results.
Before I resume my seat I should like to refer briefly to the position of public servants in the mandated territory of New Guinea and in Papua. I understand that they are not under the jurisdiction of the Public Service Board, and that there has been no classification since their appointment. Consequently there has been no increase in salaries.
– There have been increases in salaries since those officers were appointed.
– My information - and it is confirmed by Senator Payne - discloses that there is serious dissatisfaction in the mandated territory.
– Salaries in New Guinea are higher than in Papua.
– I do not know if the public servants in Papua are under the Commonwealth Public Service Board.
– It is high time that the officers in both services were brought under that board, so that they might have an opportunity to get their grievances remedied.
– The Papuan service is a very capable and contented one.
– There seems to be no reason why the two services should not be amalgamated. The officers would then be interchangeable, and there would be more chance for promotion. Possibly a number of the trained officers… in the Papuan service could be made available for service in the mandated territory.
Debate (on motion by SenatorKingsmill) adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 10.12 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 30 November 1927, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1927/19271130_senate_10_117/>.