10th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. Sir John Newlands) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I lay on the table the report of the Tariff Board on the subject of a request for increased duty on sewing threads and sewing cotton. The report is very extensive, but a large portion of it consists of a summary of the evidence. A number of copies of the report have been typed for the information of honorable senators, but the summary of evidence was so lengthy that time did not permit of its being also typed. The summary, moreover, is not essential to an understanding of the report.
That the report only be printed.
The following papers were presented : -
Development and Migration Commission - Particulars of cost since inception, and works commenced and carried out on recommendation of Commission.
International Labour Organization of the League of Nations - Eleventh Session held at Geneva, May-June, 1928 - Report of the Australian Delegates.
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determination by the Arbitrator - No. 24 of 1928 - Association of Draughtsmen, Public Service.
Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1928, No. 86, No. 93.
Naval Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1928, No. 85, No. 87, No. 92.
On the 31st August, Senator Findley asked me the following questions, upon notice -
I am now in a position to furnishthe following reply. -
On the 31st August the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Needham) asked the following questions, upon notice -
The following information is now available : -
Pemberton - Denmark Railway. - Construction of two sections of railway. The first section, 35 miles long, traverses country west from Denmark and south from Nornalup. The second section, 28 miles long, traverses country south-east from Pemberton through Northcliffe. These lines will provide transport for existing group settlements and open up for settlement large areas of Crown lands. The total estimated cost is £475,500.
Horseman - Salmon Gums Railway. - Construction of 60 miles of railway establishing an uninterrupted railway service between Cool,gardie and Esperance, and opening up an area of about 700,000 acres of good wheat land. The total estimated cost is £225,500.
Busselton Drainage. - Drainage of a considerable area of land in the Busselton district for group settlement, at a total estimated cost of £205.000.
Groups Roads (1920-27 and 1927-28 Programmes). - Construction of sub-divisional roads in group settlement areas. £225,000 was advanced for this purpose during the years 1927 and 1928. ‘A four years’ programme is contemplated by the State. 3,500 Farms Scheme. - With the approval of the British and Commonwealth Governments, £150,000 is being spent on preliminary work, including the routeing of roads, railways, the provision of small permanent water supplies and surveys in connexion with the determination of the best methods of arranging for permanent water supplies, throughout the whole of the 8,000,000 acres included in the proposed scheme.
Busselton - Margaret River and Flinders Bay - Margaret River Railways. - Construction in two sections of a railway from Busselton to Flinders Bay, to serve existing group settlements and 130 new farms, at a total estimated cost of £260,252.
Ejanding Railway. - Construction of 77 miles of railway, including a spur line of 15 miles, to serve within a 12-J miles radius 934,130 acres. It is estimated that there will be 400 farms, for the production of wheat and oats and for woolraising. The estimated cost is £400,000 including service roads and water supply.
Tod River Reticulation. - A scheme for providing water supply for domestic and stock purposes to Eyre’s Peninsula. It is estimated that the expenditure will help to develop 450 square miles of country. £500,000 is being provided towards the total estimated cost, under the £34,000,000 agreement.
Water Conservation on West Coast (outside the Tod River Water District ) . - A scheme to provide reservoirs and concrete tanks for water conservation. It is estimated that the work will serve 52,000 acres of existing leases and increase production on 54,400 acres of new land. The total estimated cost is £80,000.
Afforestation. - The establishment of a plantation of 50,000 acres of approved softwoods, chiefly pinus insignis, in the southeastern district. An area of 5,000 acres will be planted each year for ten years. Woodpulp made from pinus insignis, grown in South Australia, has been proved suitable for making Kraft paper. The expenditure is estimated at £358,250.
Childers Lane Settlement (South Gippsland). - The sub-division of 6,334 acres into 48 farms at a cost of £90,000, and the construction of roads at a cost of £50,000.
Katandra Land Settlement. - The subdivision of 12,000 acres of land in the Katandra district, 130 miles north-east of Melbourne, into 135 farms for fruit-growing, dairying, fodder and cereal-growing. The scheme also provides for water conservation and distribution, drainage, and the provision of facilities for handling the produce. The total estimated cost is £403,000.
Roads - Red Cliffs westerly to Meringur. - The construction of eight roads of a total length of 156 miles, running north and south from the following railway stations on the Red Cliffs to Meringur railway: -
The total estimated cost is £120,000, ofwhich the Victorian Country Roads Board will provide £30,000.
Following on the commission’s report on the Dawson River Valley irrigation scheme, estimated to cost £3,370,000, negotiations are continuing (under the provisions of the £34,000.000 agreement) to conduct further tests and investigations in regard to the site of the dam and the agricultural economies of the area. £100,000 has been tentatively approved as expenditure on this preliminary work.
New South Wales became a party to the £34,000,000 agreement in March, 1928.
Preliminary work was necessary for the proving of the foundations of the Wyangala dam on the Lachlan River, and for ascertaining the application to which the water could be put, has been carried out. The scheme is estimated at £1,300,000. This scheme aims at improving the productivity of a large area, by water conservation, and the development of an area of approximately 850,000 acres for wheat farms. The report of the commission is now in the hands of the British Government.
Following on the recommendations contained in the report of the Commission on the Dried Vint Fruits Industry, a conference, representative of all sections of the industry, was held, and a committee appointed to report on the re-organization of the dried fruits industry, with a view to reducing the number of packing sheds and the selling charges.
The work of constituting an advisory committee, representative of the three riparian States, under the chairmanship of the Development and Migration Commission to assist in the development of the Murray Valley has been completed, and work is now proceeding regarding the economic survey of all possible Industried, in the irrigation areas of the Murray Valley and its tributaries. The advisory committee was appointed by the Murray Valley Conference, held at Canberra at the invitation of the Prime Minister, as a result of the work of the Commission on the Dried Fruits Industry.
Work is being continuously undertaken on the scientific and economic problems surrounding the establishment of the fishing industry in Australia. This work was commenced as a result of the Australian Fisheries Conference, held in 1927, on the recommendationof the commission.
Work is proceeding on the problems surrounding the Tobacco Industry in Australia, under the direction of a Technical Director of Research (Mr. C. M. Slagg, M.Sc. ). The investigation, to which a contribution of £50,000 is being made by the British-Australian
Tobacco Company, is being undertaken in cooperation with all the States and originated from inquiries carried out in the first place by the commission.
The work of geological survey on the Kalgoorlie gold-field is being carried out by a Commonwealth officer on loan to the Western Australian Government. Managers of the Kalgoorlie mines have expressed great appreciation of the results of this work, which was recommended in the report of the commission on gold-mining in Western Australia.
As a further result of that report, the Western Australian Government has made a loan to theGwalia gold mine, and new construction and development is proceeding along the lines of the commission’s recommendations, which it is expected will lengthen the life of the mine considerably.
As a result of the commission’s recommendations in conjunction with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the work of geophysical prospecting in Australia is actively in progress under the technical direction of Mr. Broughton Edge. The Empire Marketing Board is sharing the cost of this work.
In Tasmania, the work of reorganizing the Agricultural Department has been completed along with the institution of an Agricultural Bureau, as recommended in the first and second interim reports of the commission on Tasmania. The Tasmanian Government has announced its intention of passing legislation with regard to a Rural Bank and Marketing Act in conformity with the commission’s recommendations.
The work of the application of the latest ideas in mechanical, transport as supplementary to railways and for general purposes has been commenced and is being continuously pursued. Demonstrations and tests have been carried out regarding the utilization of sixwheeled vehicles, the use of producer gas derived from wood or charcoal as an alternative fuel to petrol, and the use of Deisel engines operating on crude oil for motor vehicles. In the latter case, Australian tests are several months ahead of those undertaken in Great Britain.
The recommendations contained in the commission’s report on the subject of unemployment and business stability in Australia have been submitted to the Premiers of the States for consideration. The recommendations include the establishment of Industrial Stability Committees, the regulation of expenditure on public works, and the establishment of uniform systems of employment bureaux. The Premiers have been asked whether they are favorable to the convening of a conference for the purpose of determining the best means of putting into effect the recommendations of the commission for joint action in regard to the establishment of Industrial Stability Committees. Federal bodies of employers’ and employees’ organizations have also been communicated with in the matter.
What was the value of munitions imported during the years 1926-27 and 1927-28?
I am now in a position to inform the honorable senator as follows: -
Transport Service - Tenancy of Chairman of Commission
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice -
– The Minister has advised me that he is not yet in a position to furnish a complete answer to the honorable senator’s questions, but that he hopes to do so at an early date.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Home and Territories, upon notice - 1. (a) What rent is actually paid by Sir John Butters for his residence at Acton ?
What rent was paid previously?
) the total rent of the premises, if computed at the same rates as for Public Service tenants at Blandfordia or Red Hill?
The total charges for kerbing, guttering and making footpaths?
– The Minister has informed me that the information is not yet available, but he is taking steps to obtain it.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The information desired by the honorable senator is being obtained.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answers: -
Effect of Preferential Tariff
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
What extra amount of duty, approximately, would have been paid on British goods for 1927-28 if duty had been collected at the general tariff rate?
– The figures asked for are not available at present, and the Commonwealth Statistician states that they will not be ready for some considerable time. They will, however, be furnished as early as possible.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained.
Debate resumed from 12th September (vide page 6598), on motion by Senator Sir George Pearce -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– The principal feature of this measure is the repeal of the provision under which land tax has previously been collected on show grounds where machinery, stock and produce are displayed for the benefit of agriculture generally. This amendment of the principal act is, I think, long overdue. The other clauses simply tighten up the present machinery in relation to the appeal board, and determine the actual time in which the tax has to be paid when a decision by the board has been reached. As it is largely a machinery bill, I do not think there is any necessity for me to discuss it further.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 12th September (vide page 6604), on motion by Senator Crawford -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– This measure is the result of one of the recommendations of the Royal Commission on the Moving Picture Industry. When the report of that commission was under consideration the Government indicated that in order to carry out certain recommendations of the commission it would be necessary to increase the duty on imported films. At that time it was thought that the increase would be a halfpenny a lineal foot. But this measure provides for an increase of only one farthing a lineal foot. When discussing the motion for the adoption of the royal commission’s report I stated that unless the Government or the motion picture exhibitors guaranteed that the cost would not be handed on to picture patrons I would not support a higher duty. It is estimated that by imposing an additional one halfpenny a lineal foot on imported films, the sum of £44,000 annually will be collected, although according to page 14 of the report the commission suggested that only £10,000 was required annually to provide a prize for the best Australian picture produced. One or two of the commission’s recommendations will cost more than that; but my principal concern at the moment is to ascertain who is to bear the cost of this additional impost. At the time of which I am speaking, Sir Victor Wilson, who is president of the Motion Pictures Distributors’ Association, was reported in the press as having said that the extra cost would have to be passed on to picture patrons, and I do not think that statement has ever been contradicted.
– The showmen could not pass on an increase of a farthing a foot.
– I admit it would not be an easy matter; but there are sometimes ways of overcoming such difficulties. It may be that £d., or even Id., will be added to the charge for admission. The Minister, in his second-reading speech, did not say who would bear the cost. I regard the picture show as the poor man’s theatre. It provides him with recreation at a comparatively low cost, and, where the censorship is strict, with much information of educational value. I do not want to see that class of entertainment made any dearer to the people of Australia, many of whom are unable to pay the high prices charged for admission to the ordinary theatres.
– The extra duty will not lead to increased prices of admission.
– Sir Victor Wilson’s statement, so far as I am aware, has never been withdrawn or contradieted by him.
– His statement was made when it was proposed to increase the duty to 2d. per foot.
– I have some doubt as to the wisdom of voting for the increased duty. I desire the film industry in Australia to succeed against the powerful competition of the American companies, but I do not want to see additional charges placed upon the patrons of picture shows. Before voting for the increase, I desire to have further information.
– It was my privilege to be a member of the Royal Commission on the Motion Picture Industry, on whose recommendation the Government has acted in proposing to levy an additional duty on imported films. In preparing its report, the commission desired, not so much to protect the Australian industry - because it was realized that an additional id. a foot duty on films would not establish the film industry in Australia on a sound footing - but, rather, to find the best means of financing its recommendations relating to awards of merit, additional censorship provisions, and other matters. So far as was possible, the commission ascertained the cost of these things, and concluded that an additional duty of £d. a foot would be adequate to meet the situation. The commission felt that it would be unfair to ask the general taxpayers of Australia to pay for the additional facilities recommended; it considered that these were matters for the film industry itself. Senator Needham has referred to a statement by Sir Victor Wilson, who, on behalf of the Motion Picture Distributors’ Association in Australia, is reported to have said that any additional duty would be passed on to the picture showmen. That matter was not overlooked by the commission. If the distributors took that stand the showmen, many of whom even now are struggling to make a bare existence, would probably have to bear the whole of the additional burden. The committee desired to avoid that. Later, as a result of inquiries made by the Government, it was seen that an extra duty of id. a foot would yield more than was required, that an additional )d. a foot would be sufficient for all requirements. The Government was also influenced in its decision to increase the duty by only £d. a foot by an assurance given by . the motion picture distributors that in that case no additional charge for films would be .imposed on the picture showmen. The distributors felt that the advantages which would accrue to them from the carrying out of the recommendation of the Commission - greater expedition in getting films through the censorship, and the establishment of an appeal board - were such that they would not need to pass on the extra duty of1/4d. a foot. In view of that assurance, Senator Needham need have no fear that the patrons of picture theatres will be called upon to pay higher admission prices because of the imposition of this duty. The members of the Film Commission acquiesced in the proposal of the Government to make the duty13/4d. a foot.
– That ‘question did not come before the commission.
– No, because the commission, as such, no longer existed; but’, individually, the members of the late commission were approached on the matter, and, so far as I am aware, not one of them objected to the proposed reduction.
– If the distributors desired to pass on the duty, how could they be stopped ?
– That could be done in many ways. Through the censorship and other channels, the Government has control of this matter. The motion picture distributors have, however, given a solemn undertaking not to pass on the additional duty of1/4d. a foot. I know these distributors to be honorable men, whose assurance can be accepted by the Senate. I therefore hope that the bill will have a speedy passage through the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
– The Minister has not replied, to my inquiry whether this increased duty will be passed on to the showmen and to the general public, although he intimated by way of interjection that it would not. Senator Duncan gave an assurance on behalf of the Motion Picture Distributors’ Association -
– I did not do that. I said that that association gave an assurance.
– The honorable senator led the Senate to believe that the
Motion Picture Distributors’ Association stated that it would not pass this increased duty on to showmen. I want something more authoritative than that, and would like the Minister to tell this committee definitely that the association has given the Government a guarantee that the increased duty now proposed will not be passed on either to the exhibitors or the patrons of motion picture theatres.
– The honorable senator did not ask for such an assurance when other duties were dealt with in this chamber.
– We are now considering a specific bill, and I shall confine myself to it. Will the Minister give us that assurance?
.- The Government has not asked for such a guarantee, but I have been informed by Sir Victor Wilson, the representative of the Motion Picture Distributors’ Association, that the increased duty will not be superimposed upon the admission charges to motion picture theatres.
– Has the honorable senator ever known a duty that has not been passed on to the public?
– In my second-reading speech I pointed out that, with the exception of a charge of £3 3s. in the case of an appeal, all charges for censorship have been abolished, so that that somewhat lightens the burden of the distributors.
– What is the duration of the guarantee given by Sir Victor Wilson, and what authority has that gentleman, or anybody else, to give such a guarantee? Will the Government guarantee that the additional duties will not be passed on to the public?
– I thought that I had made it quite plain that no guarantee was given; but an assurance has been received that there will be no increased charges for admission as a result of the imposition of this duty.
Schedule agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without requests; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Report (No. 6) presented by Senator Elliott and (on motion by Senator Elliott), by leave, adopted.
CUSTOMS TARIFF BILL (No. 3). Second Reading.
Debate resumed from 12th September (vide page 6604), on motion by Senator Crawford -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- This bill is the result of a law case which, in a sense, prevented the intention of this Parliament from becoming operative insofar as the imposition of certain timber duties was concerned. A few months ago a considerable discussion took place in this chamber as to the necessity for giving added protection to the timber industry of Australia, and as a result of that discussion increased duties were passed. The matter was taken to the High Court and, consequent upon the decision of that court, the duties could not be imposed on certain timbers, and the industry did not receive the relief intended. As the bill endeavours to remove an anomaly I do not object to it.
Senator KINGSMILL (Western Australia) [3.38). - There is a point arising out of this matter that, perhaps, the Government and the Customs Department may consider unimportant, but to which, I think, attention should be called. The effect of the measure which we are considering is to narrow the field of operations of certain concessions in duty to a species of redwood, Sequoia sempervirens, which was not specifically described when the Tariff Bill was brought down. ‘ As there are a number of timbers known to the trade as redwood, amongst them one which comes from a British Dominion, we have the spectacle of this Government giving a preference to a foreign nation as against a BritishDominion - a peculiar position.. I do not know whether it occured advertently or inadvertently. The first intimation I had of the anomaly came to me accidentally, when I had the pleasure a few weeks ago of meeting and welcoming the Empire Forestry Conference to Australia. Among other delegates I had the pleasure of meeting the Head Forester for British North Borneo. That gentleman asked me to put him in touch with the Australian Customs authorities in order that he might point out the injury that would be done to British North Borneo, a British Dominion, if the tariff then contemplated came into operation. Only yesterday I received a letter from him on this subject, and I take from it the following extract -
With reference to your very kind promise of assistance relative to securing an adjustment or reduction of the Australian tariff on North Borneo timbers imported into Australia, I append herewith the reasons why North Borneo timber should receive preferential treatment.
It will be noted that under sub-items (f), (g) and (h), American redwood has an advantage of 4s. per 100 cubic feet against North Borneo timber, while under sub-item (l) the disadvantage amounts to6s. Gd.
The writer of this letter is Mr. H. G. Keith, a forester of very high qualifications, and one who obviously has very much at heart the interests of the country which he represents. He goes on to speak of the trade relations between British North Borneo and Australia, and points out that British North Borneo is one of the very few countries with which, in our commercial relations, we have a favorable trade balance. It appears that we are now, by this legislation, doing our best to destroy it. Mr. Keith spoke as the accredited delegate of British North Borneo to the Empire Forestry Conference - a gathering which I welcomed, not merely because of its scientific, but because of its economic significance. I was interested to know and gratified to see that in the countries visited by him, Mr. Keith was acting as an ambassador for the country which he represents. He goes on to say -
The effect of the discrimination against North Borneo timber in the new Australian tariff is viewed with much concern by my Government. The result of the increased duties must mean that the development of business with Australia in North Borneo sawn timber will be restricted, if not destroyed.
– Has North Borneo a Navigation Act?
– No ; that country has not reached that stage of development yet. Mr. Keith states further -
Further, the restriction of sawn timber shipments (the principal cargo offering) will seriously affect the prospects of the steamers at present on the Australian Sandakon run. and this again will affect the maintenance of trade relations with Australia and North Borneo. The timber of North Borneo is: a product of the British Empire, but pays the same duties as timber of foreign countries, whereas California redwood, an American timber, enjoys a preferential tariff. I understand that California redwood is used mostly for interior finish, and I would say that, for interior uses, it is no better suited than the so-called Borneo cedar (red and white seraya).
Borneo timbers have been imported into Australia for over twenty years, and never once have borers, their larvae or pupae in -any live form, been found in them. This fact will be vouched for by the Quarantine Departments of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, or Queensland. I would say that every stick of timber leaving North Borneo for Australia is inspected by the North Borneo Forestry Department, and no timber is permitted to be exported unless it conforms to a standard that will be passed by Australian Government inspectors. I would also inform you that every shipment of timber is accompanied by a certificate stating that the timber is free of borers.
In conclusion, I would say that as British North Borneo softwoods are meritorious, free from insect infection, supply a want of softwoods in Australia us well as being a product of the British Empire, they should have a preference over the timber of the American Philippines, and a preferential or at least equal treatment to California redwood in the matter of import duty.
Mr. Keith advances another argument in support of his contention that Australia should give North Borneo reasonably decent treatment. He points out that under the North Borneo customs tariff, flour, the principal article which we export to the East, is allowed in free of duty. This I submit, is a friendly gesture made by the Government of North Borneo towards Australia. Contrast this with our gesture to Java in regard to the duties on coffee when the last tariff was under discussion. Fortunately, at my instigation, on that occasion we were able to prevent the Government’s proposal from being given effect. We cannot afford to antagonize those countries to whom we must look for the sale of our surplus produce in the years to come. I suppose that it is of little use for me to oppose this bill, so I shall content myself with entering my protest against this policy of antagonizing countries, with whom we should do all that is possible to improve our trade relations. Borneo, Java and the great islands of South-Eastern Asia obviously offer the best market for Australian produce. We should not do anything to antagonize them as we have done by the duty on bananas, by an embargo on the importation of foreign sugar, by an attempt to impose a duty on coffee, and in many other ways. If we continue this policy, they will refuse to accept our produce, or at least they will impose heavy duties on it.
– I support the remarks of Senator Kingsmill, and protest against a preferential duty being given to California redwood, and also timber products of the American Philippines, where it is produced under black labour conditions. This bill will allow that timber to be imported in Australia at a lower rate of duty than is imposed on similar timber from British North Borneo, a portion of the British Empire. That country is a good customer for our flour, butter and dried fruits, and we should do all that is possible to extend our trade relations in that direction. As Senator Kingsmill has pointed out, this bill penalizes British North Borneo by giving preferential treatment to a foreign competitor. British North Borneo allows Australian flour to be imported duty free.
– That country also allows flour from other countries to be imported duty free.
– Why should we give preference to a foreign country against a portion of the British Empire? I hope that the Government will realize that the bill will create an anomaly which should be avoided.
. –As far as I can see, even if the bill is not passed, the position as regards North Borneo timber will be exactly as it is at present.
– I do not think it will.
– North Borneo timber is known as cedar or redwood.
– It is regarded as cedar.
– Unquestionably it is cedar.
– Botanically it is not a cedar; but it is known in the trade as cedar, so I am practically certain that it would not fall within the designation of redwood as established by the court in a recent case. This bill will leave the position in regard to Borneo redwood exactly as it is at present. Although the court’s decision may have been perfectly sound, its effect has been to admit certain classes of timber in at a rate of duty which this Parliament never intended should be applied to them. One hesitates to criticize the judgment of any court, but every one knows that there are such things as white Baltic and red Baltic.
– That is why I do not want this to apply, and why I do not like the bill too much.
– The whole of the trouble has arisen in a very simple way. Although this particular timber came from America, it was the intention of Parliament, and clearly for good and sufficient reasons, to allow a lower rate of duty on it because we have in Australia no equivalent for it. I do not suppose Senator Kingsmill suggests that Borneo so-called cedar is equivalent to, and could be used for, the same purposes as American redwood.
– I do not say it, but I am so informed by a high forestry authority.
– I am sure that what the high forestry authority says is that Borneo redwood, if we like to call it that, is used for internal work just as Californian redwood is. But there are particular uses to which the latter is put for which, I venture to say, the cedar would be useless ; and it is chiefly for those particular purposes that the Californian redwood is used. I am practically certain that this bill will leave Borneo redwood exactly where it is at the present time.
– But what does the honorable senator think of the principle to which I have drawn the attention of the Senate?
– The question of whether or not we should extend to Borneo redwood the special consideration extended to Californian redwood is outside the scope of this particular bill. It may be a matter for consideration at some future date, but it is unquestionably our duty to block up the hole in the tariff which the decision of the court has made. I am not prepared to say that the customs officers in their wisdom have taken the best course of doing it, but the best means of enabling this particular timber, which is undoubtedly the timber Parliament had in mind when the duties were altered, to come in at the lower rate of duty may be to give it its botanical name.
– Does any Australian timber take the place of the Borneo timber ?
– I do not think so.
– Then why is there a duty on the Borneo timber?
– That is a matter which is quite outside the scope of this bill, although it is a point that may have to be taken into consideration at some time in the future. I think the bill as introduced should be passed.
– I agree with what Senator Greene has said. Honorable senators will recollect that the timber duties were debated at great length in both chambers, and that it was decided to place a substantial duty on Baltic timber, some of which is red in colour, because it came into competition with Australian hardwoods. At the same time, it was decided not to increase the duty on Californian redwood. The court, however, subsequently decided that Baltic pine was a redwood, and consequently the increased duty could not apply to it. The bill we have before us is simply to give Baltic timber its botanical name so that a differentiation can be made between it and Californian redwood and so that it will not come into Australia at a rate of duty lower than that which this Parliament intended to place upon it.
– Does any Australian timber take the place of red Baltic?
– That does not enter into the question at the presell time. I agree with Senator Greene th.it the proposal to reduce the duty on Borneo redwood is a matter for future consideration. The bill we have now before us is to carry out the undoubted intention of Parliament when the timber duties weve altered.
– It was not contemplated by those who voted for increased timber duties, and certainly was never contemplated by those engaged in the saw-milling industry, that Baltic timber would be able to enter Australia at a lower rate of duty than was sought to be imposed upon it; but the intention of Parliament has been upset by a decision of the court. Senator Lynch has asked if there is any substitute in Australia for Baltic pine. The fact that Baltic pine was being used where Australian hardwoods could be used, was really what led Parliament to increase the duty on this class of timber. It was evident to all honorable senators that unless the duties on Baltic pine were increased, the timber industry of Australia would practically cease.
– How much better off is the industry now that the duties have been increased?
– In anticipation of an increase in duty, heavy importations of Baltic pine were made, with the consequence that large stocks have accumulated in Australia. This, combined with the slackness in the building trade, has not enabled the timber industry of Australia to derive the full benefit of the increased duties. Furthermore, Baltic pine is still coming in and is being used for the purposes for which we proposed to exclude it. The duty intended to be applied to it cannot be applied until this bill is passed and the matter is put beyond all doubt.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
– I move -
That a select committee be appointed - with power to send for persons, papers and records, and to move from place to place - to inquire into and report upon the desirability and commercial possibility of sending mesages from Australia to England over the Beam wireless at a pen 113’ a word, such committee to consist of Senators Carroll, Findley, Graham, Herbert Hays, Reid, Robinson and the mover.
I am afraid some honorable senators look upon my idea of having penny a word wireless messages between Australia and Great Britain, as fantastical. I am probably regarded by them as a fanatic. But it is not a new conception that the various parts of our great Empire should be linked up by means of communication at the cost of Id. a word. It is said that there is nothing new under the sun.
About a quarter of a century ago, Sir Heimiker Heaton was not only an advocate of Id. postage throughout the Empire, but also an advocate, in season and out of season, of cheaper means of communication throughout the Empire by cablegrams and telegrams. His name has been more particularly associated with his efforts to bring about1d. postage because he was successful in them. But he was also an advocate of1d. a word messages by cablegram and telegram. Of course there was no wireless in those days.I should like, for a few moments,to read some correspondence he received from various distinguished persons. Writing to Mr. - afterwards Sir - Henniker Heaton in October, 1908, Lord Spencer said -
I shall be glad to give my signature in favour of your proposals.
That was in relation to1d. a word cable messages throughout the Empire. and I hope that the work you are carrying on for the benefit of mankind
Lord Spencer was not concerned with the dividends paid to the shareholders in cable companies - may be crowned with success.
About the same time Lord Tennyson, who was once Governor-General of the Commonwealth, said - “ Dear Mr. Henniker Heaton. - Universal penny-a-word telegrams between all parts of the British Empire would be an unspeakable boon. Work for that. - Yours faithfully, “ Tennyson.”
The Cardinal Archbishop of Armagh said -
Dear Sir. - I beg to thank you for your very interesting pamphlet,” The World’s Cables and the Cable Rings.’ I thoroughly sympathize with the movement you are originating to cheapen foreign telegrams, especially telegrams to America and the colonies. At present the tariff is prohibitive; and I believe it would be better for all interests and paybetter in the end were it reduced to the rate you propose. At present no one thinks of sending a message to America or Australia except in a case of very pressing necessity, whereas, if the rates were reduced, the lines would be used for ordinary purposes.
You are quite at liberty to add my name to any petition of representation you may think it well to make on the subject. I am, dear sir, yours faithfully, + Michael, Card. Logue.
Amongst other communications to Sir Henniker Heaton there is one written by
Sir John Fuller, who afterwards became Governor of Victoria. He wrote -
I am obliged by your letter about universal penny-a-word telegrams. If you can realize your object, even in part, you will indeed have conferred a boon on humanity. You will have done more to bind the Empire together than all the preference schemes ever suggested. I wish you all luck. - Yours faithfully,
The statement in this letter that Id. a word messages would do more to bind the Empire than all the preference schemes ever suggested reminds me that when I was Postmaster-General of the Commonwealth I also wrote Sir Henniker Heaton a letter which he published iu The 19th Century and Afterwards, in which, amongst other things, I said that cheap cables would do more to bring the dear old Mother Country and the Commonwealth closer together than all our reciprocal tariffs. I still adhere to that opinion. I should also like to quote the opinion of a British missionary in India upon this subject, particularly in view of the statement of the Honorary Minister (Senator McLachlan) that weekend cablegrams could now be sent at a cost of 8s. 4d., and would be largely availed of by the people. The missionary, who was resident in India, said -
How many people like myself are there who would like to wish friends ‘ Many happy returns ‘ of their birthday, but are prevented from so doing by the exorbitant charges now demanded? T am one of 150 missionaries all belonging to one well-known mission in India, and we all work for the love of our cause and our food and lodging. We come from humble families with very limited incomes, and are absolutely out of touch with our friends for practically five weeks. In the event of a marriage, a birthday, a death, some great national event, &c, what a boon it would be to us, and thousands of others in different walks of life, to be able to send a short messago and to receive a reply, say, within two days.
I visualize the sending of such messages, amounting to at least 25,000,000 words, from here to Great Britain and vice versa every year if penny-a-word wireless rates were in operation ; but the Honorary Minister rather ridiculed my idea. On one occasion after I had addressed a meeting on this subject a gentleman in moving the usual vote of thanks, said -
If we had these cheap rates that you speak of we would not forget our mother’s birthday, would we ?
Let me read the opinion of the Honorable William Brooks, a member of the Legislative Council of New South Wales, who, in writing at the time to which I have been referring, said -
And now comes Mr. Henniker Heaton with his startling proposal of Penny-a-Word Cables. The thought even of its possibility takes our breath away. Words fail us to even faintly portray the effect of such a boon to Australia. Distance annihilated! The humblest immigrant brought within a few hours speech with friends at home! Why! in a year or two, the difficulty would be not to induce a few people to come to Australia, but ‘ to find place quickly enough for the streams that would come pouring in. Socially, economically, politically, commercially - it would mean as great a revolution to our condition; as the first discovery of electricity itself.
In the publication from which I am quoting, the following is recorded concerning the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. W. M. Hughes) who in those days contributed to the Daily Telegraph -
In our last issue we re-printed on article from the Sydney Daily Telegraph, in regard to the penny cables, written by the Hon. W. M. Hughes, Attorney-General in the Commonwealth Government. Mr. Hughes is a brilliant writer and an able man, and his article is bound to do a great deal of good. He puts the whole matter very fairly, but it seems odd to read the heading “ The Case for Labour.” Is this a “Labour” question?
That recalls to my mind the fact that in an article on penny-a-word cables and telegrams, Sir Henniker Heaton, who was the member for Canterbury, one of the most Conservative constituencies in England, wrote : “ I am afraid we shall have to wait for a Labour Government to do this.” I should prefer a National Government in Australia to take the initiative in introducing Id. a word wireless messages; and I sincerely hope that we shall not have to wait the advent of a Labour Government before such a reduction is made.
I am anxious that a select committee shall be appointed so that both sides of the case may be presented. For some time I have endeavoured unsuccessfully to obtain certain information concerning the profit and loss account of Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited, but for this I do not altogether blame the Government. It is difficult, however, to understand why the financial position of this company, in which the Government has a controlling interest and on the board of which the Government is represented, is not disclosed. If it were a private concern we should have no right to ask for the production of its balancesheet; but as it is a company in which public money is invested the people have a right to demand detailed information concerning its financial position. I admit that the company is also engaged in the manufacture of wireless equipment, and in that branch of its activities is in competition with other companies, but information concerning the profits of that branch is not sought. As cheap wireless communication is of vital interest to the Commonwealth and to the Empire, Parliament has a right to know what profits are being made by a concern in which we are financially interested. The estimates of proposed expenditure of the Postal Department are made available to honorable senators, and the Postmaster-General also tables annually an informative report concerning the activities of the department under his control. If there is an item in the report of the Postal Department that requires elucidation one has only to write for information and it is willingly supplied. We should be able to institute a comparison between the working of the Beam wireless service and the telegraphic service in order to ascertain how those services are functioning. The Honorary Minister (Senator Mclachlan) said he was not prepared to get the information I desire from Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited, but in another place the right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) in answer to a member of the Opposition said that he would inquire into the matter, and that if no objections were raised he would table a statement in the House. That differs materially from the announcement of the Honorary Minister, speaking on behalf of the Government in this chamber, who said that he would not try to get the information from a private company which is in competition with other companies engaged in a similar class of business.
It seems absurd to say that the cable companies can compete with the Beam wireless service which has a monopoly. We should be in a position to examine the financial position of the company in order to ascertain if it is functioning effectively. I suggest a penny a word, because at that rate sufficient business would be attracted to make the service pay. I am not advocating a “ wild cat “ scheme. The Postmaster-General’s report shows that the revenue from the Beam wireless and the cables, made up principally of terminal charges, is about £228,000 per annum. Each year about 15,000,000 words are despatched between Australia and England by the two systems. The terminal charges in respect of some messages are 3d. a word, and in other instances ½d. a word ; a fair average would be 1½d. a word. At l£d. a word the terminal charges on 15,000,000 words would amount to approximately £100,000 per annum. When I spoke on this subject recently, I suggested that at the rate of Id. a word the traffic would soon increase to 50,000,000 words per annum; but having since read Sir Geoffrey Clarke’s articles, I am led to believe that it would not be long before 75,000,000 words per annum were transmitted between Australia and England. That would give a revenue of about £312,000 per annum, and provide us with a profit. Senator Crawford said the other day that messages sent via Beam cost 3d. each for delivery. At the time I thought that the rate was rather high, but seeing that the cost of delivering telegrams in Australia is, according to the Postmaster-General’s report, about 3d. a message, I am prepared to accept his figure. Notwithstanding the cost of 3d. a message for delivery, telegrams are still transmitted throughout the Commonwealth at a maximum rate of Id. a word. In the case of wireless messages between Australia and England, there would be, as Sir Geoffrey Clarke points out, no necessity to have them delivered by special messengers; they could be delivered by the postmen as lettergrams are now delivered. If, instead of sending a letter* which would take, say, five weeks to reach the addressee in England, a wireless message were sent, it would not matter in most instances if an additional 24 hours were added to the few minutes required for its transmission by wireless. Each year, about 10,000,000 words are transmitted by lettergram in Australia at id. a word. Those lettergrams are delivered by the postmen. For some years the Telegraph Department has been losing money, because only id. or fd. word is charged for many of the messages sent. If the rate for all telegrams were Id. a word, the Telegraph Department would pay handsomely. Another factor in the loss sustained by the Telegraph Department is the competition of the telephone and wireless broadcasting. That matter is referred to in the report I have mentioned. Those losses would be turned into a profit if the traffic between this country and Britain increased to 75,000,000 words each year.
I desire to refer now to the stand taken by the Government in connexion with the wireless and cable services. Senator Mclachlan said some time ago that the Government did not intend to interfere with the directors of Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited. In reply to my question whether the Government was consulted by the directors of the company as to the rates to be charged for messages sent by the Beam system between Australia and Canada, I was informed that they were fixed with the Government’s approval. The Senate should know what that means. Are we to understand that the company was prepared to send messages at lower rates, but that the Government insisted on the rates being kept up practically to the level of those charged by the cable companies ; or does it mean that the company wanted to charge higher rates, which the Government refused to sanction? The Government says that it is necessary to retain the cables for defence purposes; but it allows messages to be sent by the Beam service at rates which are 10 per cent, less than those charged by the cable companies. The result is that the Beam service is attracting the business. The Government, although not prepared to kill the Pacific cable outright, is evidently willing to allow it to be bled slowly to death. A considerable traffic is conducted annually between Australia and Canada by means of the Pacific cable. Recently, however, a Beam wireless service between the two dominions was inaugurated. With lower charges for messages by that system, the traffic will be attracted from the cable. Telegraphic messages between Australia and New Zealand are now sent by means of the Pacific cable, but it is probable that a wireless system will soon be in operation between those two dominions as a result of the recent visit of Mr. Fisk, of Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited to New Zealand in that connexion. So soon as that service is in operation, it will attract business from the cable. It seems ridiculous to reduce the charges for messages to a rate which means a loss of revenue without any increase of traffic. So long as the Beam service will transmit messages at lower rates than are charged by the cable companies, it will continue to attract traffic from the cable ; but it will not attract new traffic. A business man wishing to send a message to England naturally prefers to pay ls. 8d. rather than 2s. a word. He, therefore, sends it by the Beam system. But he does not send any more messages than he would send at the higher rate. Similarly, if for week-end traffic, 5d., instead of 7-£d. a word, were charged, there would be no additional traffic, whereas if the rate for all messages were reduced to Id. a word, every one would be wanting to send messages to friends in the Old Country.
– Would not the traffic be even greater if the rate were reduced to id. a word ?
– Yes; and if the messages were sent free, the volume of traffic would increase enormously. I advocate Id. a word, because I believe that at that rate the service would pay. If Senator Foll can show that the service would pay at Jd. a word, I am prepared to support a proposal to that effect. Indeed, if he could show that messages could be sent without charge to the sender, and that the service would still pay, I should be most happy to support his proposal for free messages.
I am glad that the Government has given its support to the League of Nations, and the efforts to secure international peace. In my opinion, there is no better means of attaining peace among the nations than by cheapening the cost of communications between them. Both Mr. Fisk and Mr. Hughes have stated that, before long, it will be possible for Australians to communicate by telephone with persons in England. I agree with Mr. Hughes that such a means of communication between Australians and the Mother Country would be invaluable in settling Imperial problems. But I should like to know how many of our citizens would use such a telephone. I noticed a statement in the press that telephonic communication had been established between Great Britain and the United States of America, and that the charge was £15 for a three-minute conversation. That would certainly be a prohibitive charge to the average Australian. If we had wireless communication between Australia and the United Kingdom, at the rate of1d. a word, that method would become, so to speak, the telephone of the general public. I consider that cheap wireless communication between Australia and the Motherland would do more to assist migration than the very expensive Development and Migration Commission. Recently I received a letter from the Rev. Canon Garland, of Brisbane, Queensland, who is the director of immigration for the Church of England in Australia, and a most enthusiastic supporter of Empire migration. The reverend gentleman wrote -
I have read in Hansard your speech on the subject of the cheaper wireless rate, and I venture to hope you will be, like Henniker Heaton, a forerunner in bringing about such a good work.
I am chiefly interested in your advocacy because of my concern with immigration. I note that one of the chief influences at work hindering our own kith and kin coming from theMotherland to Australia is the fact of the great distance. This applies particularly to young people, whose parents regard the thought of their children going to the Antipodes as going almost out of touch with them finally. This may be no more than sentiment, but it often affects the decision of an intending young immigrant, and I believe of others, to go to Canada, as not being so far away. To make wireless so cheap that any immigrant not out of work could send home a message three or four times a year that would arrive before it had got stale, would be a silken thread drawing the Empire closer together. To us who are concerned, the cost of cabling is often prohibitive. A person like myself gets no assistance from the Federal Government, and if cabling could be brought within my expenditure, it would facilitate immigration. For example, I frequently find I nominated a family or an individual with prospects of work, but many months lapsing before the immigrant arrives conditions have changed, and my difficulties are intensified. Were wireless cheapened many of these difficulties could be avoided, because the work could be done by wireless instead of correspondence taking many weeks.
Everything that could be done to relieve the natural’ anxiety of the parents of our young immigrants makes conditions at Home more favorable to the thought of sending other young people out. I have brought out over my personal signature nearly 1,000 souls within the last two and a half years, and I, therefore, venture to think I am entitled to express an opinion on anything affecting immigration.
Tours sincerely, (Signed) David J.Garland,
Such a person is in a position to speak authoritatively on the subject. In assisting migration, wireless would tend to consolidate the British Empire. If we had in Australia 20,000,000 to 30,000,000 people speaking our language, and all imbued with the traditions and aspirations of our Motherland, it would certainly assist to weld together our great Empire. I feel very strongly on this matter because I am confident that the inauguration of cheap international communication would promote world peace. The frequent exchange of messages between country and country, engendering the spirit of cordiality, would assist to eliminate war. I understand that the Ministry believed that a cable system is necessary in time of war, but I suggest that it is far better to have cheap wireless communication that would obviate war than to have expensive cables which are necessary only in the event of war.
Debate (on motion by Senator Sir George Pearce) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 31st August (vide page 6260), on motion by Senator Crawford.
That the bill be now read a second time.
– Two amendments are proposed in this bill, the first being the substitution of the Australian coat of arms for the existing coat of arms. No honorable senator can advance any sound objection to that innovation. The design of the Australian coat of arms, properly executed, is most artistic, “ a thing of beauty and a joy forever.”
The second amendment is a proposal to raise the schedule of fees, and against that 1 register my strong objection. A comparison of the scale of fees contained in the principal act, with that in the amending measure, discloses that it is proposed to increase patent fees by practically 100 per cent. It does not stop at that, for whilst there are only five items enumerated in the principal act, quite an extensive list is set out in the amending bill. The Government proposes to charge renewal fees on a sliding scale, from£l to £6. No unnecessary difficulties should be placed in the way of inventive genius. Instead, we should encourage the inventive capacity ofour citizens in every possible manner. We should not tax brains, but that is what the imposition of these fees amounts to. It is proposed to increase to £2 the fee of £1 at present charged for application for a provisional protection. It must be realized that probably only 50 per cent, of the applicants for provisional protection are successful in their efforts, and that only about one in five obtain any financial advantage from their expenditure of labour and money. The new fees will be a hardship, particularly on the working section of the community. Many of our artisans endeavour to evolve schemes which will facilitate and cheapen the methods employed in the industries in which they are engaged, and this measure will militate against their efforts.
– What is the motive that prompts the authorities to increase these fees?
– The Minister suggested that the Patents Department was not paying its way.
– It is not nearly paying its way.
– The honorable senator also said that the original scale of fees was fixed 20 years ago and that in the interim the purchasing power of money has been reduced, which justifies an increase in the fees. The workers of the community have made many applications for increases of wages, but they have not obtained anything like an advance of 100 per cent., as is the case with the fees proposed in this measure. My principal objection is to the increase of 100 per cent, in the application fee for provisional protection.
– The Government will meet the honorable senator in that matter.
– I am glad to have the Minister’s assurance. We are always grateful for the smallest crumbs that may fall from the luxurious table of Ministers. The fees are considerably higher than in the British scale. I dc not like to put forward conservative Britain as an example for progressive and democratic Australia, but I remind honorable senators that in the Mother Country where there is a population of 40,000,000 people at least, the application fee for provisional protection is £1 as against £2 in Australia, with a population of a little more than 6,000,000, In New Zealand the position is much better. There the application fee is 10s, In view of the statement of the Minister I have nothing more to say, except to express the hope that when the bill is in committee the fee proposed for provisional applications will be considerably reduced.
– A few weeks ago I received a letter on this matter from a prominent patent attorney in Sydney. I thought then that the arguments which he advanced would give me an excellent opportunity to state the position in the Senate, but I find to my surprise thatexactly the same statement was sent toother honorable senators, and the Leader of the Opposition has placed the viewsof patent attorneys before the Senate. It is a matter of indifference to me, but I should have thought that, since the representations were made by a New South Wales Attorney, they should have been presented in this chamber by an honorable senator from that State. All I wish to say now is that I cordially endorse all that Senator Needham has said, and I congratulate the Minister in charge of the bill (Senator Crawford) upon his promptness in announcing that, in committee, the fee proposed to be charged for provisional protection will be reduced. It appeared to me, when I received the letter to which I have referred, that the Government would find it extremely difficult to justify its proposal to impose heavier penalties upon those who wished to register provisional patents. The fees for renewal are quite a different matter. Those charges do not come into effect before the expiration of the fifth year after the registration of the patent, and by that time the holder of it is in a position to know whether it is going to return him sufficient to make it worth while to pay the renewal fees. If it is not likely to be a profitable business he can drop it altogether, as so many do. Senator Needham has said that 80 per cent, of applications for provisional protection are not renewed. I should say that the percentage is considerably higher than that. I am delighted to know that the Government intends to adopt what has been the longestablished practice in Great Britain and give every encouragement to inventors and patentees in the early years of provisional protection. If in the course of a year or two the returns from a patent invention increase, it is not unfair that the renewal fees also should be increased. As Senator Needham has said, applications for provisional patents are, as a rule, made by artisans and mechanics. In not a few instances these inventors have exhausted their slender financial resources in the development of their ideas and sometimes they are forced to apply for financial assistance to persons whose chief concern is to make money out of a patent, regardless of the position of the inventor himself. It follows therefore, that if we can make the lot of these people easier, it will be better not only for themselves, but also for the Commonwealth. We should do all in our power to encourage those of our people who have an inventive turn of mind to put their talents to the highest use. Only in this way can we expect to overcome the many difficulties that confront us in the development of this country. I take exception to the proposed fees, but as the Minister has intimated that when the bill is in committee he will move amendments to modify them, I shall support the measure.
– The Government has received representations concerning the increase in fees, and having given the matter further consideration proposes, when the bill is in committee, to submit amendments modifying them. Whether these will entirely meet the objections raised by the Leader of the Opposition and Senator Duncan, I am not in a position to say.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
– I move -
That the following new clause be inserted: - 1a. This act shall commence on a date to be fixed by proclamation.
This amendment is necessary because it is not desirable that increased fees should be charged on applications that have been posted and are in course of transit from a foreign country at the date of the passing of the act. It is also desirable that some notice of the increased fees should be given to all persons interested. The amendment will enable this to be done.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Clause 2 consequentially amended, and as amended, agreed to.
Clause 3 agreed to.
The first schedule to the principal act is repealed and the following schedule inserted in its stead: -
The First Schedule. common wealth of australia.
George, by the grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas, King, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India …
– I move -
That the words “ George, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and of “ be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words - “ George V. by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland and “
This amendment is necessary to correct an error in the title of His Majesty the King, which appears on the document granting a patent. Since the original act was passed, the form of the King’s title has been altered. Obviously it is desirable that the title appearing at the head of the document should be in accord with the title now in use.
Amendment agreed to.
– I want an assurance from the Minister that the coat of arms in the bill is substantially correct, because it has been pointed out to me, if it is correct, the coat of arms in front of Parliament House is wrong, inasmuch as the kangaroo is looking away from the emu as if he did not know or did not care to know the latter.
– The kangaroo is looking towards Queanbeyan.
– That is so. He isprobably looking in the direction in which he can get a drink. He is certainly not looking in the direction of the Senate.
– Does the honorable senator propose to move an amendment.
– No ; but I express my disapproval of having a kangaroo with a dislocated neck in our coat of arms at the entrance to Parliament House, and I want an assurance from the Minister that the coat of arms in the bill is correct.
– I am informed by an officer of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department that the coat Of arms appearing in the bill is correct.
– Then we ought to be ashamed of the coat of arms outside this building.
Clause as amended agreed to.
Clause 5 -
The second schedule to the principal act is repealed and the following schedule inserted in its stead; -
– I move -
That the figure “2” after the word “ specification “ first occurring be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the figure “ 1 “. The effect of this and the next amendment I shall move is to reduce the fee on lodging an application accompanied by a provisional specification from £2 to £1, and to increase the fee on lodging a complete specification after a provisional specification from f 1 to £2. The Government having given consideration to the matter of fees, came to the decision that on the whole those proposed were reasonable. During the year 1927-28, the loss on the Patent Office was in the region of £10,000, and it was deemed necessary that the fees should be increased if the office was to be self-supporting. But on giving the matter further consideration, the Government which has received representations from two Institutes of Patents Attorneys, has come to the conclusion that the fees on lodging provisional and complete specifications should be altered. The schedule as it stands provides for the payment of £2 on lodging the provisional specification and £1 on lodging the complete specification. The examination into the question of novelty does not take place until the complete specification is lodged, and it is thought to he reasonable that the higher fee of £2 should not become payable until this examination is required to be made. It is proposed, therefore, that a fee of only £1 shall be paid on lodging the provisional specification and a fee of £2 on lodging the complete specification.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Senator Crawford) proposed -
That the figure “ 1 “ after the word “specification,” fourth occurring, be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the figure “2”.
SenatorNEEDHAM (Western . Australia) [5.11]. - At the first blush one would think that the Government had conceded a great deal by the amendment just made. It is certainly a concession because the effect of it is to leave the application fee the same as it is in the principal act; but the effect of the amendment now before the committee will be to add the £1 token off the fee required on lodging an application accompanied by a provisional specification to the fee required on lodging a complete specification after a provisional specification. The applicant will, therefore, derive no material benefit from the alteration made by the last amendment. As I pointed out on the second reading the majority of applicants for patents derive no benefit from the fees they pay, because the number of successful inventions is about one in five. I think the Government might well concede thepoint of allowing the fee on lodging the complete specification after a provisional specification to remain at £1. If the Minister will not accept that suggestion, I must ask the committee to reject his amendment.
– The reduced fee on lodging an application accompanied by a provisional specification must afford some advantage to the applicant. His provisional patent will cover him until he has an opportunity to consult engineers and test the practical value of his patent, and if he is successful in doing so he is then in a better position to pay the increased fee required on lodging the complete specification. It costs a great deal more to administer the Patent Office to-day than it did when the original act was passed. The Leader of the Opposition knows that to-day the purchasing power of £1 is only half what it was when the original act was passed. The fees payable under the original act do not cover the cost of administering the office and many years must pass before there is a substantial increase in the revenue from renewal fees.
Question - That the figure proposed to be left out be left out - -put. The committee divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative. Question - That the figure proposed to be inserted be so inserted - put. ‘ The committee divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause as amended agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Standing and sessional orders suspended; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Senate adjourned at 6.26 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 13 September 1928, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1928/19280913_senate_10_119/>.