11th Parliament · 1st Session
ThePresident (Senator the Hon. Sir John Newlands) took the chair at 3 pan., and read prayers.
– Will the Government make available as soon as possible the report of the British Economic Mission?
– I shall make inquiries and endeavour to meet the honorable senator’s request.
– I should like to know if the attention of the Leader of the Government in the Senate has been drawn to a statement ascribed to Sir Joseph Ward, relating to migration and unemployment in New Zealand, in which it is alleged that representations have been made to the High Commissioner of New Zealand in London that no person in Great Britain seeking employment should be encouraged to go to the Dominion during the winter months ? I should also like to know if similar representations will be made to our High Commissioner in London in order that we may do something towards solving our own unemployment difficulty?
– I have not seen the statement referred to, but I point out that a communication to our High Commissioner on the lines suggested would be unnecessary because no immigrant is assisted to come to Australia, unless a State Government undertakes to find him employment or he is nominated by some private individual, who undertakes to see that he is provided with employment.
– Following up the reply of the right honorable senator, will the Government consider the advisability of suggesting to people who nominate migrants that it would be better if they absorbed some of our own unemployed, who unfortunately are so numerous at present?
– I cannot undertake to bring the honorable senator’s suggestion under the notice of every person who nominates an immigrant. In any case regard must be paid to the circumstances of each nomination. For instance, there might be no one available in Australia for the particular class of employment offered to the individual nominated.
The following paper was presented: -
Mr. M. L. Shepherd, Secretary, Department of Defence - Report of Board of Inquiry into charges made against.
Bill presented by Senator McLachlan, and read a first time.
asked the Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following answers : -
Debate resumed from 13th February (vide page 177), on motion by Senator Cox-
That the following Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the Governor-General’s Speech be agreed to -
To His Excellency the Governor-General -
May it Please Your Excellency :
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most. Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
– I have but a few observations to add to the remarks I made yesterday on this motion. We are all aware of the great difficulty Australia has in disposing of its surplus wine products, yet, despite the trade agreement we have with the Dominion of Canada, the Parliamentary Delegation from Australia while in Canada recently did not see any Australian wine in use. The quality of the wine we tasted there did not bear favorable comparison with that of good Australian wines. I think the Commonwealth Government should make strong representations to Canada to see if the people of that dominion cannot take some of our wine. The trade balance between the Commonwealth of Australia and the Dominion of Canada is greatly in favour of the latter country. We buy from Canada about four times as much as it buys from us. If the Government made representations to Canada, which is a consumer but not a producer of wine, and pointed out that our adverse balance of trade could be corrected to some extent by Canada taking Australian wines, some good might result. Such a request would be a reasonable one, seeing that we have heard a good deal about keeping trade within the Empire.
From what I learned during my visit, particularly as we went through the maritime provinces on the eastern side of Canada, a certain quantity of Australian dried fruit finds its way up there. Our currants meet with favour there. At the Chamber of Commerce at St. John, New Brunswick, we were told that practically the whole of the currants consumed there were Australian grown, but I heard complaints that our raisins and some other dried fruits did not find a ready market there because they crystallized owing, probably, to too large a sugar content. Evidently the Canadians prefer them dried out mellow and soft. I did not see Australian raisins there, but I have the word of the people that that was their complaint. 1 direct the attention of the Government to this matter in order to see if the curing , of raisins could be carried out in accord with the requirements of that market. Itis desirable for us to supply, if possible, what the buyers require.
Generally speaking, the Canadians seemed much more anxious to sell to us than to buy from us. I do not wish to infer that this attitude is peculiar to their trade relations with us; my impression is that it applies to other parts of the Empire as well. This fact was particularly brought under my notice at Vancouver, where the lumber men pointed out to us that we were buying a small quantity of their timber and a large quantity of timber from the United States of America. They said that Australia purchased annually only about £200,000 worth of their Oregon, while it bought over £2,000,000 worth from the United States of America. Canada certainly has this class of timber to export, and there is no reason why it should not produce it as cheaply as any other country, including the United States of America. We were asked if we could persuade the Government to give preferential treatment to Canadian timbers in order to increase the export trade. When I was speaking at Winnipeg I said that we had no objection to that, provided that preference did not cost us any extra money, but we were not inclined to add to the burdens of our own people merely to assist outside traders who were not very anxious to buy from us. The trade treaty that resulted from the visit of Mr. Robb, whom I admired very much, when he came out to Australia to represent Canada, was not too popular when be returned to that country. All sorts of efforts have been made to evade its provisions.
I endorse what Senator Sampson has said about the advisability of having a trade commissioner in Canada. If we had a representative on the spot - a man of commerce, acquainted with business rather than politics, perhaps - we might bring about a great improvement in trade. Undoubtedly, a good market is available in Canada for goods which are produced in Australia but are not grown in Canada.
There are one or two other items in the Speech that call for a word in passing. One paragraph states : -
In framing the financial proposals for the coming year, consideration will be given to the recommendations contained in the report of Air Chief Marshal Sir John Salmond on air defence.
I am at least glad that the Government is taking steps in that direction, because without saying anything detrimental to any other branch of the Defence force, I believe that the Australian Air Force has achieved results that are most creditable to all concerned, considering the means at its disposal and the difficult conditions under which it has had to work. I was in London at the time that Sir John Salmond’s report was made public. The London Times, in a leading article, set out at great ‘length all the faults that Sir John Salmond had to find with our air force, its achievements and its administration. In my opinion, considering all the circumstances, its record compares more than favorably with that of any other country, not even excepting Great Britain herself. It may be news to some honorable senators that just about the time when Sir John Salmond made his report on the Australian Air Force another report was published in a London newspaper on the British Air Force. It did not appear in the Times, or any of the large dailies, but only in one of the Sunday newspapers. It was written by Vice Air Marshal John Vesey, in which he made far more scathing refer- ence to the British Air Force than that of Sir John Salmond in regard to the Australian force. One of the statements was that 25 per cent, of the new officers who had pilot certificates could not say what a magneto was, and what its function was in an engine. When one reads the scathing re marks of this highly placed officer regarding the British air force, they somewhat temper the comments contained in the report upon the Australian force by one of those responsible for the training of this arm of Britain’s defences. To my mind it gives the impression that we should not take too much notice of what I consider to be the unnecessarily stinging remarks in Sir John Salmond’s report, having regard to the difficulties under which our force has had to work.
I am glad that the Government proposes to introduce legislation to repeal the coastal provisions of the Navigation Act. Western Australia is, perhaps, the first State to feel the effect of any trouble on the waterfront. Whatever can be done to improve that State’s position in relation to shipping matters ought to be done, for if things continue much longer as they are, there will be no Australian shipping left.
Reference has been made to the Kellogg pact. Perhaps the -most hopeful sign of the times is not so much that the nations have actually signed the pact as that they have the will to do so. As I understand that we shall have a further opportunity to discuss it, I shall reserve my remarks concerning it until a later date.
.- I congratulate the mover and the seconder of the Address-in-Reply on the excellent speeches they delivered. The maiden speech of Senator Cooper in the Senate contained much that was informative and interesting and gave evidence that he will be a very useful member of this chamber. While some might consider it a subject for rejoicing, I regret that honorable senators opposite have decided not to contribute to the debate on the Address-in-Reply. The electors of New South Wales will, no doubt, be disappointed that Senator Dooley has so early responded to the whip and refrained from voicing in this chamber the views of the people he represents.
– We want actions, not words.
– During the election campaign Senator O’Halloran, no doubt, treated his audiences to some fiery addresses. Those who voted for him in the expectation that in this chamber he would speak in a similar strain, will be disappointed at his voluntary silence. But perhaps the reason for the non-participation in the debate of these honorable senators is that, having had time for reflection, they have concluded that, after all, there was no sound foundation for many of their criticisms of the Government. It is gratifying to me, as a Government supporter, to find that upon reflection they are unable to find fault with the Government.
I regret that in the political battle a number of men who have served their country well, both in this chamber and in another place, have fallen. Some of them I hope will not long remain in the political wilderness, but will soon again make their appearance here. Whatever our political views we all sincerely regret the defeat of Senators Needham and Graham. Naturally, one is pleased at the success of candidates belonging to one’s own party; but those of us who have worked with those honorable senators feel genuine regret that they will not be with us after the end of June next. As Leader of the Opposition in this chamber, Senator Needham has been a formidable antagonist of the Government ; but he has always fought fairly and treated his opponents with courtesy.
I regret that the Governor-General’s Speech contains no reference to the development of North Australia. A week or two ago I had the privilege of introducing to the new Minister for Home Affairs (Mr. Abbott) a deputation of pastoralists who hold large leases of country in that portion of Australia. That deputation represented practically everyone who has an interest in the territory, and it placed before the Minister for Home Affairs some very sound proposals for the development of the area. In particular, it forcibly stressed the necessity to establish railway communication at least to that fertile tract of country known as the Barkly Tableland. Some years ago, Mr. President, we were fortunate enough to be associated in a tour of the Northern Territory, and we were much impressed with the potentialities of that Tableland. Undoubtedly it is worthy of development. Last session there appeared on the notice-paper a motion in my name for the establishment of railway communication from Bourke to Camooweal, and across the Barkly Tableland. Representations have since been made to me to the effect that the financial position of the Commonwealth Government will not permit such a scheme being proceeded with at present. While appreciating the truth of that statement I still consider that the project demands attention. Even if the line as proposed cannot be proceeded with it is surely reasonable to request that communication should bo established between the Barkly Tableland and the termination of the railway system in North-west Queensland. Had such a line of communication existed in recent years it would have obviated much of the distress caused by the drought which has recently ravaged north western Queensland.
Last week in one of the most lucid and comprehensive speeches that I have heard in this chamber, Senator Guthrie demonstrated the value of the wool industry to Australia, and pointed out that this country produces a very large percentage of the world’s finer merino wools. Thousands and thousands of square miles of territory eminently suitable for producing such wools are lying idle in the Barkly Tableland. That country possesses an advantage not enjoyed by the western wool countries of Queensland, as it is in the monsoonal area, and practically has a guaranteed rainfall. When Senator Sir George Pearce was Minister for Home and Territories he made a trip from Darwin through this country and. on his return stated that, even when the north-west portion of Queensland was in the throes of a drought, the Barkly Tableland area was profusely clad with long, green grass, which gave it the appearance of a wheat field. It is tragic to think that much of this splendid country is now going to waste. , There are cattle on it, but it is too good for cattle, and, despite the financial difficulty, some effort should be made to open it up, by means of a railway, for sheep raising. If the Queensland Government could be persuaded to continue its railway line to the border, it would be necessary to add only a few hundred miles of line in order to connect with this fertile tract of country.
– Would the line pass through Camooweal?
– It would either go through or very near Camooweal. The Queensland Government surveyed a line from Dajarra to Camooweal, where it will finish. That will merely touch the fringe of this splendid country, and to secure any practical return from the construction of the line it would be necessary to extend it the additional few hundred miles across the Barkly Tableland. Although the proposal I am about to make is a contentious one, and would probably be deemed unthinkable by Senator Needham, I see no objection to the construction of such a line under the lands grants system.
– Such a project was rejected in Queensland during the regime of Sir Thomas Mcllwraith.
– I think Senator Thompson will admit that the people who then rejected the proposal have since realized the folly of their action.
– The honorable senator is quite right.
– The important point to consider is what would be the cost of carriage of wool after the railway was constructed ?
– I do not think that that presents any great difficulty. The wool from Carandotta station, one of the most prosperous stations in Queensland, now has to be conveyed 60 miles to the nearest railway head. Prior to the recent severe drought that station usually topped the Queensland market for the quality of its wool. The great drawback associated with- that and many other stations in the area is that all commodities have to be conveyed for considerable distance by wagon. The people of Camooweal pay £42 a ton to have their commodities transported by wagon from Cloncurry. Station-owners in the Territory are so heavily penalized that they are unable to provide themselves with the boring plants and fencing wire which are so vitally necessary to the proper development of their holdings.
– What is the rail freight from the coast to the head of the line ?
– I am unable to supply that information offhand. Queensland has what is known as long distance haulage rates, and the railway authorities make a special reduction in the rates, on wool that has to be transported from the far west and north-west of Queensland to Brisbane. The difficulty in regard to freight is not likely to cause a great deal of concern. I also point out that the lessees in the Northern Territory have placed before the Government the alternative proposal that a railway should be constructed from the port of Borroloola to the centre of the Barkly Tableland, a distance of about 200 miles. That should be an effective silencer of Senator McLachlan’s objection on the score of haulage. I prefer the line connecting with the Queensland system. Before leaving this matter I wish to express pleasure at the fact that the new Minister for Home Affairs (Mr. Abbott), and the Postmaster-General (Mr. Gibson), propose to visit that portion of Australia during the next recess. Postal facilities are of vital importance to those who reside in that portion of the Commonwealth.
During the last election campaign a charge that was hurled against Government candidates from every Labour platform was that this Government was largely responsible for the unemployment that exists, because it had not imposed sufficiently high customs duties upon manufactured articles that enter Australia. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) when in Queensland, and the Premier of Queensland (Mr. McCormack), joined in that denunciation of the Commonwealth Government, despite the fact that there is a total embargo upon the importation of” sugar into Australia. It is the duty of Mr. Scullin, Senator Needham, Senator Dooley, and other Labour senators, to specify the articles upon which higher duties should, in their opinion, be imposed. In season and out of season I have voted for higher duties when they have been proposed; but I am now beginning to see a little light in connexion with this matter of continually raising duties. When the last tariff schedule was before us, speaker after speaker urged that the imposition of an additional duty upon different articles would be the means of building up a big industry and of doing away with unemployment. During the period that I have occupied a seat in the Senate, I have seen duties raised to a tremendous extent; yet unemployment has not been lessened. It has been a somewhat rude awakening for me, because one of my objects in supporting those duties was to increase the avenues of employment.
– Taking into consideration the increased cost of production, the duties are relatively no higher to-day than they were years ago.
– The industrial legislation that has been passed by the different State Governments has largely nullified the effect of those increased duties. That, however, is not the point I wish to make. Times out of number we have been told that if we supported higher duties we would get rid of the unfortunate spectre of unemployment, and assist to build up big new industries.
– The honorable senator admits, then, that there is the spectre of unemployment.
– Unfortunately, there is; and I do not think any one will deny it. But during the last five or six years the leaders of Labour have done more to cause it than the administration or legislation of the Bruce-Page or any other Nationalist Government in Australia. Repeatedly the workers have deliberately thrown themselves out of employment; and when that has occurred their leaders in this Parliament, instead of exhorting them to return to work and to settle their differences according to law, have merely asked of this Government, “What are you going to do to relieve unemployment?” During the course of the debate on the last tariff schedule, Senator Payne vigorously opposed a number of duties; yet at the last moment he produced in this chamber a number of colored rabbit skins and informed honorable senators that if they supported him in his application for a higher duty on that commodity, they would help to build up a new industry in Tasmania and provide work for hundreds of persons. What occurred? Honorable senators hearkened to his plea, and agreed to impose the duty he sought. But the firm which was to benefit from it has since closed down.
– Oh, no !
– On another occasion Senator Duncan produced a fibre mat and told honorable senators that if they agreed to a 5 per cent, duty upon that commodity a new industry would be built up. I am not condemning Senator Duncan in the slightest degree; on the contrary, I give him every credit, because he has always sought to advance ‘the interests of the secondary industries in his State. But what has become of that industry ? It has passed out of existence. We agreed to the duty because we wanted to help Senator Duncan to do something for an industry in his State.
– Is the honorable senator a freetrader ?
– I have not yet reached that stagey but if there are any more of these “ bogies “ I may have to consider my position very seriously. My desire at all times is to assist all genuine Australian industries, both primary and secondary. Some years ago this Parliament placed a duty, I think, of 35 per cent, ad valorem on certain millinery lines which were being manufactured by- a firm in Australia. The firm, which was flourishing at the time, has since gone out of business. That is a deplorable state of affairs. When the Tariff Board has recommended that certain protection should be given to an industry it should follow up any action taken by Parliament and see that beneficial results accrue to the industry from the protection given to it. Moreover, it should see that what was originally a protective duty does not eventually become merely a revenue duty.
During the last Parliament, after a heated discussion, we imposed an extra duty of 5s. per 100 feet super, on sawn timber, but before agreeing to that increase some of us sought a guarantee from the Queensland Government that it would not exploit the additional impost by increasing the royalties it charges. During the recent election campaign, when I visited the far north of Queensland, which produces a tremendous quantity of walnut, maple and silky oak, I found that a few months after the imposition of the increased duty on imported sawn timber the Queensland Government had increased its royalties by 2s. per super, foot on log timber which equals 4s. per super, foot on sawn timber. The State Government has thus practically nullified the increased protection given by this Parliament to the local timber millers. The latter had just begun to regain the lost trade which had gone to the importers of Japanese maple, Borneo cedar and so on, when along came a grasping State Labour Government with an additional royalty charge and deprived them of all the benefits that this Parliament had given to them. We know how the Lang Administration in New South Wales by legislation practically nullified the protection given by this Parliament to certain industries. Unemployment insurance, child endowment, and various other schemes may be very fine in themselves, but they often impose too heavy a burden on industry, and cause unemployment. It becomes a question of the extent to which the Federal Parliament should enter into competition with State Parliaments. We have on the one hand State Parliaments placing heavier burdens on industry, and on the other hand the Federal Parliament imposing increased Customs duties. The net result of the efforts of both is an increase in the cost of living, and a heavy increase in production costs.
It was my privilege some years ago to move a motion, which was seconded by Senator Bakhap and carried unanimously in the Senate, advising the appointment of trade commissioners to push the sale of Australian goods overseas. On that occasion I thought there would be a good opportunity to sell Australian goods in Japan, Java, China, and other Eastern countries. At the present time the producers of Australia are suffering because the price of wheat is lower than it has been for some time past, but that drop in price has enabled people in Eastern countries who were not previously buyers of our wheat to acquire a taste for flour gristed from Australian wheat. I have been advised that there is now a possibility of building up an export trade in wheat to Eastern countries.
– What are those countries prepared to pay for our wheat?
– They are buying it at the present price. Of course, the cost of production must be kept down so that we may be able to sell at a price which the people in . these Eastern countries can afford to pay.
– But we cannot reduce the price to meet their wishes.
– We cannot at present, but if the farmer’s costs of production were lower he could afford to sell his wheat for less than he has been getting for it in past years.
– How can we put the farmer in that position?
– In my earlier remarks I endeavoured to show how it may be done. We should have more efficient means of production. Particularly should we provide better roads and other means of transport. There are a hundred and one ways in which the cost of production may be lowered, despite the pessimistic attitude taken up by Senator Duncan.
– I have never declared that our farmers are inefficient.
– I have not said that they are. What I have said is that the cost of production may be lowered by making available to the farmers efficient handling and transport facilities. We cannot lose sight of the fact that there is an inclination on the part of the teeming millions in the East to take some of our produce which formerly they could not afford to buy. A few days ago I had a conversation with the American Trade Commissioner at Shanghai, who is paying us a visit, and reference was made to the fact that Australia was not represented in that particular part of the world. Can America sell her wheat cheaper than Australia? Yet America can maintain a trade commissioner in Shanghai.
– America sells mostly manufactured goods in. Shanghai.
– Are we never to sell overseas goods manufactured in Australia?
– We cannot do so under the present system.
SenatorFOLL. - If the present system stands in the way it must be replaced by some other. In spite of having a home market of some 120,000,000 people America thinks it worth while to send trade commissioners overseas. It is true that Australia has a trade commissioner in New York and a commercial agency in Paris, but that is the only extent to which we have proceeded on the lines suggested in the motion adopted by the Senate. We have had practical experience of what we are likely to gain by looking for business as a nation. Take, for instance, our dairy produce and dried fruits. By means of organized marketing, such primary products as butter and dried fruit are already commanding better prices overseas than those obtained a few years ago. Australia must look for increased trade with the outside world. The idea promulgated by honorable senators opposite that this must be only a selfcontained country is ridiculous. According to the Labour party, migration should be discouraged, borrowing overseas should cease, and we should not import anything. That party would soon put Australia in such a position that it would cease to be an exporting country as well. The present Government shows that it is big enough to regard Australia from an Empire viewpoint, and is far more capable of controlling the affairs of this country than is the Labour party.
I am confident that Australia generally is satisfied with the result of the recent Federal election. In spite of a few inspired statements that appear in the press from time to time, the overwhelming majority of the electors voted for the return of the present Government. The composition of this chamber affords a true reflex of popular opinion. If Australia is to prosper it will be necessary to keep Labour in opposition.
.- It is somewhat difficult to speak on the motion before the Senate, in view of the silence that honorable senators opposite have imposed upon themselves. One honorable senator at least has always been most helpful to me with his inter jections and I shall miss them, but I shall endeavour to proceed with my remarks without assistance from the other side.
The first matter to which my attention was attracted in the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General was that referred to in the following paragraph : -
My advisers welcomed the opportunity afforded to Australia to become one of the originalsignatories to the Treaty for the Renunciation of War.
– No reference was made in the Speech to the Scottish delegation. The honorable senator might tell us something about that.
– I intend to make good any deficiency in that respect, because the delegation to which the honorable senator refers was a most important one. I am sure honorable senators opposite agree with the desirability of signing the treaty for the renunciation of war. At a conference which I considered to be, if not the most important, at least one of the most important ever held, a motion was carried unanimously, amid great cheering, endorsing the Kellogg Pact. Representativesof practically all the Parliaments of the world were present. The gathering was held last August in Berlin, and I shall never forget the enthusiasm with which the motion was received. After discussion the motion was put to the conference, and carried by the whole assembly rising and cheering, and the resolution was forwarded to Paris before the treaty was signed. The feeling throughout the world in favour of the abolition of war is growing apace. We are apt to regard the League of. Nations as an apparently inefficient body, but we should remember that Rome was not built in a day. Instead of discrediting the efforts of the League, we should realize that already it has done a magnificent work in preventing wars which, although they probably would have been small, might have developed into more serious outbreaks.
Further on in the Speech, His Excellency referred to the sympathetic interest with which his advisers were watching industrial conditions in Australia. This interest was shown by the summoning of a conference for the purpose of bringing about peace in industry. I came back to Australia in November, just in time for a week’s campaign in connexion with the election, and I was gratified to find that it hadbeen decided to hold this conference. I regretted exceedingly that, while the conference was endeavoring to evolve a means whereby industrial disputes might be prevented from culminating in strife, Australia was plunged into industrial turmoil, which could have been avoided if those who professed to be the leaders of the workers had done their duty.
– What about Judge Lukin’s award?
– This is neither the time nor the place to discuss that award. It was made under a constitutional act, and being an award of the Arbitration Court it should be accepted by both sides loyally until an amendment is secured by proper methods.
– The other side only accepts what suits it.
– Exactly. Arbitration which was welcomed by Labour as a solution of industrial trouble, is to-day a byword and a reproach. It is strange that compulsory arbitration which has been championed for many years by members of the Labour party should now be treated with so little respect by them.
I have recently returned from a few months’ travel abroad, and my experience has been that of most men who go about the world with their eyes open. If there is anything calculated to reduce a swollen head it is a tour of the world, which affords an opportunity to see the conditions under which other nations are governed and other people live. Although I have had an opportunity of living for a short period among the people of some of the greatest nations, and have seen some of the remarkable sights to be witnessed in the United States of America and Canada, I feel convinced that no land offers such great opportunities to its people as Australia. In no country are the conditions so favorable to the masses of the people. My conviction is that, if every man and woman here did his or her “bit” to the best of their ability, there would be practically no unemployment and very little poverty within a couple of years. If we could bring about that frame of mind among the individual units of the Commonwealth we should soon find this country progressing. It is regrettable that some of the so-called leaders of the people do not urge them to adopt that attitude.
– How does the honorable senator arrive at that conclusion?
– One cannot help doing so after seeing the conditions obtaining in other parts of the world. It is most regrettable that, whenwe are trying to devise means of obviating industrial turmoil, the present dislocation of industry has been brought about.
I have read with interest the report of the British Economic Mission. As we shall have a further opportunity of discussing that report, I content myself with now saying that many of the conclusions arrived at by the mission must commend themselves to all thinking persons. The members of the mission, who enjoy a high reputation in the Old Country, came here in no boastful spirit; but with a keen desire to assist Australia and the Empire generally. We should never forget that an injury to one portion of the Empire affects every other portion of it. For that reason anything which tends to injure the manufacturing interests of Great Britain must affect our trade with her.
While abroad I took a great interest in the development of trade within the Empire. I left Australia as an accredited member of the Australian Scottish delegation, and am glad that it included one member of this Parliament. I say without hesitation that the members of that delegation - the largest party which has left Australia with one object - did a magnificent work for this country. Since my return to Australia I have seen reports that there was great dissension among its members ; but, considering that there were 640 men and women travelling together, the harmony which prevailed was little short of marvellous. Every member of the delegation had an earnest desire to do what he could for Australia, and to increase the feeling of goodwill among the people of the Homeland towards Australians. Wherever I went in the Old Country I found the greatest goodwill towards Australia. The Scottish people are the most hospitable in the world, as honorable senators opposite will find if they visit Scotland. I am not a Scot ; but I possess qualifications which fitted me to be a member of the delegation. While in Perth, Scotland, I was questioned as to my qualifications as a member of the delegation, and, in replying to the magnificent welcome given to us there by the Lord Provost, I stated them. I said that my first qualification was before me in the person of my wife, whose grand-parents came from Scotland, one hailing from Aberdeen and the other from Glasgow. I told them, further, that my father was born in Perth - not the beautiful and historical city in which we then sojourned, but another Perth, situated on the Esk River in Tasmania. My third, and best, qualification, I told them, was that I had made, when a boy, the acquaintance of “ The Fair Maid of Perth,” immortalized by Sir Walter Scott, and looked forward to meeting her at the railway station; but was somewhat staggered to find 300 fair maids of Perth waiting to greet me.
Australian products are little known in portions of Scotland, because we have no direct representative there to bring them to the notice of the people. We were informed that, if our goods were shipped direct to Scotland, and we had a representative there to protect the interest of Australian producers, and to deal with any complaints, the consumption of Australian goods in Scotland would increase ten-fold within three or four years, provided a continuity of sup- ‘ plies could be assured. On each of thetwo trains engaged by the delegation was a specially equipped car in which the products of Australia were exhibited. These products were available for inspection by the people of the towns through which we travelled, while various members of the delegation were selected to deliver lecturettes. The exhibition cars were visited by many thousands of people - all day long there was a constant stream of people passing through them. Not only did those people hear the lecturettes, but they were also given samples of Australian products; others they could purchase. Before I left
Scotland, I received numbers of assurances from commercial gentlemen that they would, in future, send orders for Australian dried fruits and canned fruits, and would purchase our green fruits when available.
I was pleased to find the high opinion entertained by the- people of the Old Country for Australian apples, although complaint Avas made that, where green timber was used, the cases were too heavy. When it is remembered that the whole of the Australian fruit exported to the Old Country is landed at London, that for Scottish destinations being then forwarded by rail, it is not difficult to see that unduly heavy cases are a drawback. That handicap can be overcome to the extent of probably 50 per cent, by using partially seasoned timber instead of green timber. It was gratifying to know that by the people generally Australian fruit was regarded as superior to fruit from other countries. The delegation received a great deal of assistance from the officials of Australia House. At every town and city we visited they had exhibited in conspicuous places banners urging the people to buy Australian products. Window displays were also organized by them.
Australia has much to learn in the marketing of her canned fruits. One reason for the success of canned fruits from the United States of America is that goods from that country are more attractively labelled than are similar goods from Australia. No one passing through a business street in- the Homeland could fail to notice the attractive labels of the fruit from the canneries of the United States of America, nor could he be in doubt as to the country of origin, whereas it almost required a magnifying glass to read the word “ Australia “ on the labels around tins containing Australian fruit. It is not sufficient to find, after careful examination, that the fruit was canned at Shepparton or Ardmona; our labels should not only be more attractive in design, but should indicate clearly that the contents are Australian products. There should be a distinctive mark, such as the rising sun and the word “Australia” on each tin, so that prospective purchasers would know whence it came.
– Did the honorable senator find the American system of packing to be better than the Australian?
– No. Our packing is not perfect, but there is little to complain about in that connexion. The greatest cause for complaint is that, through unseasoned wood being used, the thin sides of the cases frequently become warped, thus damaging the fruit. While I was in Glasgow some fruit from the Huon district in Tasmania packed in partially seasoned cases opened up in perfect condition. We should take advantage of the undoubted desire of the people of Scotland for Australian products. I found that our currants and sultanas are regarded highly in the Old Country. The preference for Australian dried fruits is based largely on the knowledge that they are prepared under the most hygienic conditions, in which respect they are far superior to fruits imported from Mediterranean countries.
I found also that there is some inquiry in the Old Country for Tasmanian timbers, especially for decorative purposes. On several occasions I was asked whether Tasmanian myrtle and blackwood, as well as oak, particularly of the figured variety, could be obtained in London. I was pleased to find in London a gentleman who hailed from the northwest coast of Tasmania, and is doing all he can to popularize Australian timber there. A limited trade can be done in Australian timbers, particularly myrtle. I read with interest the following paragraph, which appears in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech: -
My Ministers, in pursuance of the policy of extending air communications, have made arrangements for new services between Adelaide and Perth; Brisbane and Charleville; and Camooweal and Daly Waters. At an early date the service from Perth to Derby will be extended to Wyndham.
This progressive policy of civil aviation is to be commended. I realize that our population is scanty, and that our position differs radically from that of the thickly populated European countries, but when one has witnessed the remarkable, activity in civil aviation in Europe, one cannot fail to appreciate how essential similar progress is to Australia. I had the privilege of visiting one of the greatest commercial aerodromes in the world, situated just outside of Berlin, and it was a revelation to see the airships coming and going, with an interval of practically only fifteen minutes between each arrival and departure. Each aeroplane contained its complement of passengers, at times as many as 30 or more and arrivals and departures continued steadily throughout the day.
I wish to record my admiration for the grit exhibited by British manufacturers who, I think, are the pluckiest people in the world. No other country was so badly hit commercially as Great Britain, but its manufacturers have faced their problems like men. When visiting France and Belgium, one notices particularly that the devastated battle areas have been reconstructed, towns rebuilt and factories re-erected. That work was done by the Germans as their first act of reparation. Those factories are equipped with the most up-to-date machinery, and are working at full pressure, with any quantity of cheap labour available. The only people now unemployed in those countries are the unemployable. I learned that in a village a time-honoured custom of putting up for auction the services of a number of youths and girls for a period of three years had recently been observed and comparatively high prices realized.
– Does the honorable senator agree with the principle?
– I do not, and I ask the honorable senator not to make such an insinuation. In comparison with the conditions that exist in France and Belgium, the British manufacturer is compelled to carry on with partially obsolete machinery, and has to pay higher rates of wages. In the circumstances his efforts to regain the trade lost during the war have been remarkably successful, and are to be commended.
While in Great Britain I was frequently confronted with criticism of our alleged preferential tariff, which I felt was justified. I was informed, and I realized it to be true, that, in the main, instead of providing a really protective tariff with a preference in favour of Great Britain, we established a tariff that was absolutely prohibitive, and our so called preference was of no use to British manufacturers.
– “We grant Great Britain a Customs tariff preference to the extent of £10,000,000 annually as against her reciprocal £1,250,000.
– I shall put an appropriate simile before the honorable senator. Suppose that Australia determined to conduct sports, open to the competitors of the world, but that she agreed to give British athletes preferential treatment. Assume that the world’s record for the high jump was 6 ft. If the British athletes were required to jump a height of 6ft. 3in., and foreign competitors 6ft. 9in.; would that constitute preferential treatment to Great Britain ?
– It would be a distinct preference.
– How could it be, when not one of the athletes could get over the minimum height fixed. Precisely the same thing has occurred in some instances in connexion with our alleged preferential tariff.
– The result of our tariff is that we have built up many fine industries of Australia.
– We have endeavoured, by the aid of a very high protective tariff, to build up in Australia certain small industries which are not worth a snap of the fingers to the country. Had the money invested in those industries been utilized in other directions to develop and extend Australian industries that are worth while we should now be in a much better position. For just that reason I shall welcome the opportunity, when our fiscal policy is before the Senate for debate, to discuss the subject thoroughly. As an instance of the futile application of a prohibitive tariff, I cite the cottontweeds industry. Australian manufacturers claimed that, granted an effective duty, they could provide our working men with the requisite material at reasonable rates. Those rates eventually proved to be exorbitant, and while the industry added an additional £60,000 a year to our wages sheets, it involved our working men in an extra expenditure of £200,000 a year for their garments. I was monetarily interested in one of the concerns that manufactured the material and, in. common with many other Australians, lost my money when the business became bankrupt, notwithstanding the prohibitive duty. I regret that Senator Foll is not at the moment in the chamber, as I wish to congratulate him upon modifying his protectionist theories, and becoming almost a freetrader. The honorable senator referred to my action last year when I was instrumental in obtaining on rabbit skins, a duty of 25 per cent, on the British, and 40 per cent, on the foreign article. I point out that, in its manufactured state, fur is a luxury, and I surely cannot be accused of being a hide-bound protectionist for having an increased duty imposed on a luxury. My endeavour was to turn a curse into a blessing by utilizing our rabbits commercially.
– Was it not to benefit the Tasmanian rabbit industry %
– Not entirely, as others are equally interested in New South Wales.
– I think that the honorable senator is more of a geographical than a true protectionist.
– I have heard that, before. I endeavor to view everything broadmindedly, and to act in the interests of the community generally. Australia is at present in a serious condition, and one must face the facts. Whether Laborites or Nationalists we should love our country sufficiently to sink all party interests and view matters nationally.
There is in Australia a considerable volume of opposition to migration, and perhaps rightly so; but I believe that there is one type of migrant that would prove ‘ advantageous to this country. While in England I found that Canada was receiving from that country a splendid type of migrant in the persons of the Barnado and Dreadnought boys, 92 per cent, of whom prove successful. Honorable senators will shortly have the opportunity to deal with the question of afforestation, which, especially in relation to our softwoods, is of considerable importance to Australia. If we approach the Imperial Government from the right angle we shall probably be able to enlist its aid in the formation of colonies of these boys in districts which are suitable for the inauguration upon a scientific and practical basis of a properly considered scheme of afforestation. Such a policy would not have the slightest effect upon the Labour market, and on the other hand these boys would be trained to become useful land workers.
– What about the Australian boys?
– There is no reason why they also should not be similarly engaged. We do not wish to bring to Australia large numbers of migrants who will flood the labour market and make the unemployment problem more acute; but the suggestion that we should invite’ to Australia, boys who will become merged into our community and be numbered in the ranks of the best of our population is, I consider, worthy of our earnest consideration. While I was in Scotland I met at Beaufort Castle Lord Lovat, one of the highest authorities on afforestation and land settlement in the Empire. He visited Australia a little while ago, to give advice to the Commonwealth Government. I made an appointment to meet him in Tasmania, but unfortunately he was stricken down with illness and was compelled to return to Great Britain. I hope that a substitute for him will be found, so that this subject may be investigated fully.
I conclude by expressing the wish that the present will not be a barren session. This is a chamber of review, and if we have not done so previously we should in the future endeavour to sink party feeling and to work unitedly for the welfare of Australia. We are supposed to represent States, and not a particular section of any State. It is, therefore, reasonable to suggest that honorable senators should endeavour to make this a productive, not a barren, session.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) agreed to -
That the Address-in-Reply be presented to His Excellency the Governor-General by the President and such senators as may desire to accompany him.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir John Newlands). -I have ascertained that His Excellency the GovernorGeneral will be pleased to receive the
Address-in-Reply at Government House at 10.15 a.m. to-morrow. I invite as many honorable senators as can make it convenient to do so to accompany me.
Bill presented by Senator McLachlan and read a first time.
Message received from the House of Representatives intimating that Mr. Anstey, Mr. G. Francis, Mr. Forde, Mr. Gardner, Mr. A. Green, Mr. R. Green and Mr. Prowse had been appointed members of the Public Accounts Committee.
[4.58]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
On the 2nd November, 1927, I introduced a Forestry Bill which differs in only one clause from that now before honorable senators. That measure was read a third time on the 30th November, and in another place was introduced by the Right Honorable the Prime Minister, and read a first time on the same date. Pressure of other business prevented its further progress, with the result that it lapsed at the end of last Parliament, and has now to be reintroduced. I do not propose to re-capitulate what I said at that time.
The Government is thoroughly impressed with the necessity of federal action in regard to forestry. Too long has the stigma been attached to the central Government that it stood aloof from the advance of public thought in this direction, and failed to initiate a national forest policy. The findings of the third Empire Forestry Conference, the report of which has been circulated among honorable senators, have only served to endorse the action that the Commonwealth Government had already decided to take. I draw particular attention to pages 24 to 27, which cover the report on Australian forestry.
The additional clauses which make the only difference between this bill and that introduced in the spring of 1927, are clauses 6 to 12. They provide for the acceptance of gifts, donations, endowments, &c. These have been rendered necessary because of the active support given to the Australian Forestry School by the public, and its acceptance as a seat of forestry learning by the people of standing in the forestry world. This last has been shown by the provision by the Schlich memorial fund - a fund raised to honour the memory of that doyen of British forestry, Sir William Schlich, of the Indian forestry service, and of Oxford University - of a gold medal to be awarded to the best student passing out of the Australian Forestry School each year. This, I remind honorable senators, would not have been done if Professor Troup and other members of the Empire Forestry Conference had not been satisfied that the teaching given at the forestry school’ was of such a standard that the recipient of the medal would be an ornament to the forestry profession. But what, perhaps, will make a greater impression upon the present Australian generation than this entirely gratuitous compliment to an educational institution which this Government has established, are the quite unsolicited donations and endowments that the school has received from prominent Australian citizens and organizations. The most important of these is an endowment made by Mr. Russell Grimwade, of Melbourne, of £5,000, to provide a travelling scholarship every two years to qualified Australian foresters. In the teaching of forestry in this continent we lack examples of forests that have been under sound management for a whole rotation. In France and Germany, examples exist of oak and beech forests that have been scientifically managed for from three to four hundred years. It is to remedy our want and enable the best of our young foresters to acquire the practical knowledge that such forests can give that Mr. Grimwade has founded his scholarship. Another valuable endowment is that of £50 a year by the Sydney and Suburban Timber Merchants’ Association. This year it is being devoted to the provision of a library for the students of the school. Three other contributions of £50 are expected from the same city when sufficient funds are available to establish a Sydney scholarship in forestry. Another contribution, of £10 annually, has been received as a prize for the best essay on a forestry subject. The new clauses provide for the establishment of a fund to be called a forestry fund, into which all donations of the above nature will be paid. The Inspector-General of Forests is authorized to receive the money or gifts, and is responsible for their payment into the fund. There is to be a board of trustees, who will control the fund. It will consist of the Inspector-General of Forests, the Secretary to the Treasury, and the Secretary to the Department of Home Affairs. The Minister will authorize disbursements from the fund. These endowments and gifts have made it necessary to introduce into the bill the requisite machinery to deal with them.
Dealing with forestry education, the
Empire Forestry Conference recommended, among other things -
Important as is the acknowledgment of a distinguished body of foresters of the Empire, I consider that the support of this forestry school by citizens of Australia is an even stronger proof of the value of that institution, the faith they have in it, and their endorsement of the Government’s action in establishing it.
Before closing my remarks I would draw attention to the findings of the committee of the Empire Forestry Conference that dealt with Australian forestry, and particularly to page 27 of its report, where Commonwealth Territories are dealt with -
General. - The total area of Commonwealth Territories is 706,000 square miles. These comprise within the continent, Northern and
Central Australia, the Territory of the Seat of Government, and outside the continent, Papua, New Guinea, and Norfolk Island. The resources of all these Territories, except the first-named, have been reported on, and recommendations have been made with the object of constituting forest departments. So far action has been taken only with regard to the Terriritory of the Seat of Government, 940 square miles in area. It is understood that action in regard to the other Territories is awaiting a legislative enactment which has already received the assent of the Senate.
It will be seen that, apart from the Federal Capital Territory, which has developed a sound policy, and in the very short time that the Federal Capital Commission has been in existence has made extensive additions of coniferous plantations within the catchment area of the Cotter river, no territory has embarked on a forest policy.
In the case of Papua and New Guinea, the question of giving effect to the recommendations made by the forestry expert who has reported on the resources of both of those Territories, is under consideration. It is proposed to train a young Norfolk Islander to take charge of the small but very valuable reserves of Norfolk Island pine that exist in that Territory. The forest exploration of the Northern Territory and of Central Australia has been postponed until the establishment of the forests products laboratory of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. These areas will not yield us timber except of very local importance, for fencing, &c, but the minor forests products, such as sandal, gums, resins, tans, may prove valuable. An exploration of the area without the means of scientifically and industrially examining the products, was a waste of time and money. Now that the Commonwealth forest products laboratory is about to be established this exploration will be carried out, and the research work that must arise from it will be pursued.
I have taken up the time of the Senate in explaining a measure, the provisions of which are known to the majority, and must necessarily receive the support of all who have the security of future Australian generations at heart, because I wish to emphasize the importance of a subject which, possibly owing to the deferred nature of its benefits, makes less appeal in a young democracy than more obvious if less urgent reforms.
Debate (on motion by Senator Needham) adjourned.
[5.7] . - I lay upon the table a copy of the Treaty for the Renunciation of War and move -
That the paper be printed.
In doing so I wish to explain why the Senate has not been afforded an earlier opportunity to discuss this treaty. On the 1st June, 1928, the Prime Minister laid on the table of the House of Representatives certain documents relating to the proposed treaty for the renunciation of war and moved “That the paper be printed.” At that time the Senate was not sitting; as a matter of fact it did not meet until the 11th June. On the 14th June, 1928, the motion submitted in another place was resolved in the affirmative, and, in pursuance of a suggestion previously made by the Leader of the Opposition, the Prime Minister then submitted the following motion: -
That the proposal made by the United States of America that the nations of the world solemnly renounce by treaty all recourse to war as an instrument of their national policy is one with which this House has full and complete sympathy.
That motion was also resolved in the affirmative. The Senate sat all night on the 13th June, and adjourned at 8.13 a.m. on the 14th, whereas the motion I have just quoted was submitted to the House of Representatives at 8.27 on the morning of the 14th.
Many shortcomings of Parliament may be laid at the door of all night sittings, but honorable senators will see that circumstances did not permit them an earlier opportunity to discuss this subject. I am now moving “That the paper be printed” so that they may speak on the matter if they so desire.
The Commonwealth Government received an invitation from the Government of the United States to participate in this Treaty, and the Treaty was duly signed on behalf of the Commonwealth by Senator McLachlan at Paris, on the 27th August, 1928.
The terms of the Treaty are exactly the same as those set out in the Note dated the 23rd June, 1928, from the Charge d’Affaires of the United States of America in London to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, a copy of which, together with the replies of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, was laid on the table of the Senate on the 19th September, 1928.
Honorable senators will remember that the first proposal for a treaty for the renunciation of war emanated from the United States in April, 1928. It was favorably received in all quarters, but the Government of France, while favorable to the underlying principle of the proposed treaty, desired certain amendments; they desired to enumerate certain exceptional circumstances in which violation of the Treaty by one party would justify another party in taking measures of self-defence. France also desired to insert provisions to make it clear that the signing of the Treaty would not prevent the signatories from carrying out their obligations as members of the League of Nations. Difficulties were also raised in connexion with the Treaty of Locarno and treaties of neutrality. Eventually these objections were met by an alteration of the preliminary recitals to the Treaty, but the provisions of the Treaty itself were not altered. They are very simple and clear, and in view of their importance, I propose to read them.
After reciting the nations who are the original signatories, the Treaty proceeds that they -
Deeply sensible of their solemn duty to promote the welfare of mankind;
Persuaded that the time has come when a frank renunciation of war as an instrument ut national policy should be made to the end that the peaceful and friendly relations now existing between their peoples may be perpetuated;
Convinced that all changes in their relations with one another should be sought only by pacific means and be the result of a peaceful and orderly process, and that any signatory Power which shall hereafter seek to promote its national interests by resort to war should be denied the benefits furnished by this Treaty ;
Hopeful that, encouraged by their example, all the other nations of the world will join in this humane endeavour and by adhering to the present Treaty, as soon as it comes into force, bring their peoples within the scope of its ‘beneficent provisions, thus uniting the civilized nations of the world in a common renunciation of war as an instrument of their national policy;
Have decided to conclude a Treaty and for the purpose have appointed as their respective Plenipotentiaries : -
Then it sets out the names of the plenipotentiaries and the following articles : -
Article 1. The High Contracting Parties solemnly declare in the names of their respective peoples. that they condemn recourse to war for the solution of international controversies, and renounce it as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another.
Article 2. The High Contracting Parties agree that the settlement or solution of all disputes or conflicts of whatever nature or of whatever origin they may be, which may arise among them, shall never .be sought except by pacific means.
Article 3. The present Treaty shall be ratified by the High Contracting Parties named in the preamble in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements, and shall take effect as between them as soon as all .their several instruments of ratification shall have been deposited “at Washington.
There are fifteen signatories to the Treaty, representing the following countries : - Germany, United States, Belgium, France, Great Britain and the British Dominions of Canada, Australia, NewZealand, South Africa, Irish Free State and India, and Italy, Japan, Poland and Czecho-Slovakia.
It may be urged by some that no practical step towards doing away with war or making war more difficult is taken by the signing of this Treaty. That is not my view. I think that all Avars arise out of public opinion, and that even resolutions arrived at as between one nation and another to settle by pacific means any differences that may arise between them tend to make resort to arms -more difficult by creating a public opinion against war. It may be thought that it is futile to pass resolutions or express opinions about these matters in the Commonwealth Senate, but that has not been my experience. When I was in Washington attending the Limitation of Armaments Conference a resolution adopted by this Senate, on the motion of Senator Lynch, was cabled to me with the request that I should present it to President Harding. I had the honour of personally presenting the resolution to the President of the United States of America, and was much impressed not only by the friendly way in which I was received by him, but by his obvious interest in the fact that a branch of the national legislature of this far-off country was taking so close an interest in what was happening in Washington as to forward a resolution for presentation to him. President Harding was at great pains to express to me the satisfaction he felt, and I believe that if there were more exchanges of that nature between nation and nation, it would tend greatly towards the maintenance of peace.
Debate (on motion by Senator Lynch) adjourned.
– I lay on the table the report of the Australian Delegation to the Ninth Assembly of the League of Nations, and move -
That the paper be printed.
As is usual on these occasions, I take the opportunity to refer to some aspects of the work done by the Assembly. The delegation which I led consisted, besides myself, of the High Commissioner (Sir Granville Ryrie), and Sir Harrison Moore, with Mr. Clive Baillieu and Mrs. Carlisle-McDonnell as substitute delegates; and I should like to express my thanks to them for the hard work they did, and, the loyal way in which they co-operated in the work of the Delegation. Each of them represented Australia on one of the six committees that deal with the main work of the Assembly. Sir Harrison Moore represented us on the First Committee, dealing with legal and constitutional matters; Sir GranvilleRyrie was on the Second Committee dealing with technical organizations; Mr. Clive Baillieu acted on the Fourth Committee, which dealt with financial questions; and Mrs. Carlisle McDonnell was on the Fifth Committee, whose function it was to deal with social and humanitarian questions. I sat on the Third Committee dealing with disarmament, and on the Sixth Committee dealing with political questions.
The Ninth Assembly sat for just over three weeks, from the 3rd to the 26th September, and was attended by the representatives of 50 States. Amongst these representatives were six Prime Ministers, including the Prime Minister of Canada, and 16 Ministers for Foreign Affairs. In the plenary sessions which occupied the first week and portion of the second, representatives of a great number of these States spoke, and so one gained some idea of the subjects which appeared to them to be of paramount importance. Although these plenary sessions, with the necessity of every speech being translated into French if it were delivered in English, or into English if delivered in French, are apt, at times, to appear a somewhat tedious waste of time, they fill a most important role in providing a forum where once a year the representative of a State can voice his State’s feelings on various important subjects. This year we had the advantage of hearing the representatives of France, Germany and Norway express in no uncertain tones their views on the subject of disarmament, whilst other nations brought under notice subjects which appeared to them to be equally important.
But important as this debate was, far more important was the work of dealing with the times of the agenda of the Assembly in the various committees; because, although the decisions of these committes are afterwards nominally discussed in the plenary assembly, in actual fact the almost universal rule is to accept unanimously any resolution proposed by a committee, and there is seldom any talk upon it except by the spokesman put up by the committee to move its adoption.
I shall now refer briefly to what appeared to me the most important items dealt with by this year’s Assembly. First and foremost was the problem of disarmament. The position now is that the Preparatory Commission deputed by the League to prepare for an international conference on the subject, finds itself faced by almost insuperable difficulties. A draft Convention it has certainly drawn up, but on the most important points the Convention consists of alternative articles expressing very divergent views, and the problem is how these divergencies are to be reconciled.
As soon as the general debate commenced it was evident that to many nations disarmament was the one subject of paramount importance. We heard various views set out. The Netherlands representative saw reasons for optimism and many agreed with him. The Locarno Treaty has given a certain assurance of security in Western Europe. The Treaty for the Renunciation of War, which will always be associated with the name of its originator, M. Briand, and, shall we say, its chief architect, Mr. Kellogg, and which I had the .honour of signing on behalf of Australia in Paris a week before the Assembly commenced, cannot but hasten the day when war will be looked on as a crime. But other speakers, such as Norway’s spokesman in the Assembly, voiced the keenest disappointment that so far nothing substantial had been done towards reduction and limitation of armaments.
When the subject came up for discussion in the Third Committee, the German delegate pressed the view that the Preparatory Commission should meet again without delay, and that the conference itself should be called early this year. The French delegate, whilst expressing just the same keenness that there should be no unnecessary delay, and as to the necessity for some measure of reduction, urged that the Preparatory Commission should be called together to make another attempt to produce an agreed draft, but that until it had achieved some success to call the conference would merely be to invite a failure and to discredit the whole subject. The debate was a long one, and finally a resolution was adopted much in the terms suggested by France, -but so strongly did they hold to their view that the German and Hungarian delegates expressed themselves as unable to vote for it and abstained from voting altogether.
Thus, to the eager enthusiasts, the work of the Ninth Assembly in this particular sphere may appear to be disappointing, but it has long been held that it is only an increased feeling of security and a removal of the fears nations have of attack by their neighbours that will make reduction and limitation of armaments possible. The more secure nations feel and the more facilities they are afforded for settling the disputes that- arise between them by pacific means, the more inclined they will be to agree to the limitation of their armed forces.
In an endeavour to create this sense of security by supplying means for the pacific settlement of disputes, a Security Committee was set up by the direction of the Assembly of 1927. As the result of its labours this year’s Assembly had pre’sented to it a series of nine model treaties. These were discussed at length in both the First and Third Committees, and as a result of those discussions the Assembly of 1928 has approved for submission to the nations of the world, on the one hand, a general act for the settlement of all disputes by pacific means, and on the other hand a series of three bilateral treaties to serve as models for those States who prefer the method of treaties with one another rather than, that of becoming signatories to a general multilateral act. These models provide various methods for the settlement of disputes - judicial settlement, arbitration, conciliation - and are so worded that a nation can accept all these various means or some or one of them. Model treaties were also approved providing for mutual assistance and non-aggression.
The First Committee devoted a great deal of its time to the legal aspects of these model treaties, but it also dealt with the subject of the codification of international law. Three subjects are now practically ready for discussion at an international conference which it is hoped to summon this year or early in 1930. If it is then found possible to come to some international agreement as to the international law regulating “ territorial waters,” “ nationality,” and “ the responsibility of States for damage done in their territories to persons or property of foreigners,” an important step will have been taken towards providing a body of law for international tribunals to enforce. One of the great difficulties to-day in the way of arbitration or the judicial settlement of disputes is the uncertainty as to the law that the court or the arbitrators will consider binding.
The Second Committee dealt with the reports of the work done by the various technical organizations of the League, and came to decisions as to their future work. These reports dealing with such matters as transit and communications, the Health Organization, the Financial Organization, and the Economic Organization of the League, are very often not very spectacular, and yet represent year by year steps taken for the improvement of conditions in the world which must assist in better international relations. The Intelligence Service of the Health Organization with its bureau at Singapore and its organization for giving warning as to the possible spread of epidemics must be of value to Australia. The Health Organization also has agreed to the proposal of the Pacific Health Conference that it should carry out an inquiry into health conditions in the Pacific Islands, and a distinguished French doctor and Dr. Cilento of our New Guinea Service are now engaged on this work.
It is the work of the Economic Organization that excites perhaps most interest in Australia and a certain amount of apprehension. The right view, and the view which I voiced at Geneva, is that this organization has a great work before it in the collection and dissemination of better economic intelligence - that as peoples become more fully informed they will be in a better position to appreciate the results of various economic activities and so less inclined to engage in foolish policies. But the organization should firmly resist any attempt to entangle itself in schemes involving interference with national tariff policies. Nearly all the speakers, both in the Assembly and in the Committee, voiced the view that a great deal of good could be done by information and agreement on such subjects as customs nomenclature, studies regarding certain customs regimes for certain products, the various contractual methods employed by nations, and that it should be laid down as axiomatic that the League must not infringe State sovereignty nor. risk interfering with the legitimate right of countries in process of evolution to safeguard their development.
The social and humanitarian work again does not excite great interest, although it means increased happiness to tens of thousands of human beings. The Ninth Assembly heard reports of the progress made in such spheres as the protection of women and children, the traffic in opium and dangerous drugs, and the work of the League with regard to refugees, and provided in each case for the work to go on. There was one subject dealt with in the Sixth Committeewhich seemed to me to have an importance which many overlook. Perhapsits title, “Intellectual Co-operation,”’ frightens people. I describe it as a processof mental inoculation, because the term, “intellectual co-operation” scarcely conveys to the mind the nature of this work. But the side of this work which impressed me, and which the representativesof every part of the British Empire emphasized in their remarks in the Committee, is that which provides for bringing the aims of the League before thinyoung. The difficulties of the League are increased enormously, I believe, by the fact that it is still working in a world in which war and violence in international relations are still looked on as legitimate. If the generation growing up can be taught to look upon war in the international sphere in the light that crime is regarded in our national life, the work of the League in future for the ideals the covenant stands for will be immensely increased.
I now come to a subject about which I think there has been a great deal of misapprehension. I refer to the attitude taken up by the British Empire Delegation and which we supported in the Fourth Committee in regard to the budget. The League is in a curious position, and unlike a national parliament, for it has no responsibility for the raising of the money which it spends. Therefore, it seems to me most important that the Fourth Committee, who deal with the subject, should year by year scrutinize the budget with a very jealous eye, and absolutely assure themselves that every increase is justified and that every item is being properly, spent. The total of the budget is certainly not large - it is about £1,100,000 - but this year there were in certain items very considerable increases, and I believe that it was right and proper that the Fourth Committee should take every justifiable step to make certain that these increases were right. In almost every case the result of the discussion was that ample justification was supplied, and in the one or two remaining cases the majority of States’ members were satisfied that there was no extravagant increase. I emphasize again that the total budget is about £1,100,000 and I think this is no great price to pay for the work the League is doing; but believing that, I still say that there is need year by year for vigilance to ensure that there is no waste. Nothing would discredit the League more, in these days when so many States’ members are having to practise economy, than for an idea to get abroad that the League was spending the funds placed at its disposal in a prodigal manner. For a detailed account of what the Assembly did, I must refer honorable senators to the report that I lay on the table, where they will find under each item full details as to how the Assembly disposed of it.
I shall conclude with a word as to the impression left in my mind that this meeting year by year of representatives of practically all the nations of the world has a value far greater than the actual resolutions they pass or the proposals they discuss. Men who have perhaps grown up in the belief that the members of certain other nations cannot but be hostile towards their country meet them once a year at Geneva, and realize that they are human like themselves, and on very many grounds have the same ideas, the same hopes, and the same fears. I think most of them go away feeling as I did, that this annual Assembly is a great insurance against future hostilities.
Debate (on motion by Senator Needham) adjourned.
Penny a Word Messages - Proposed Select Committee.
– 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 messages from Australia to England over the beam wireless at a penny a word, such committee to consist of Senators Carroll, Findley, Graham, Herbert Hays, Reid, Guthrie, and the mover.
It is notmy intention to occupy the time of honorable senators for more than a few minutes in submitting this motion, because shortly before the adjournment of the Senate last year I tabled a motion in identical terms, except that the name of ex-Senator Robinson has been replaced by that of Senator Guthrie, who has kindly consented to the inclusion of his name as a member ofthe proposed committee. I spoke at considerable length on the former motion, and as I am now addressing practically the same honorable senators as before, I do not intend to repeat my previous remarks. Prior to submitting the original motion I had brought before the Senate the advisability of having beam wireless messages transmitted from Australia to Great Britain at a cost of a penny a word. When a division was taken it was found that the motion was lost by one vote. I do not ask the Senate to agree now to the principle of penny a word messages between Australia and England; I ask only that a committee be appointed to investigate the matter.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that the committee should travel all over Australia to obtain evidence ?
– No; if I was appointed chairman of the committee, I should expect to obtain in Canberra, Sydney, and possibly Melbourne, all the evidence necessary to arrive at a decision. It might not even be necessary to visit Melbourne, for apart from officials of Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited and officers of the post office, the only persons whose evidencewould be of value would be business men. Those in Melbourne would probably hold the same views on the matter as are held by business men in Sydney. I take it that honorable senators are agreed that if it could be proved that messages at a1d. aword were commercially possible, the system would be worth introducing.
– Would it not be necessary to obtain information from England?
– It is strange that whenevervested interests are at stake, England and Australia are pitted against each other. We have been told that we cannot have penny-a-word wireless messages unless England is agreeable. When the Labour party in the British House of Commons desired to prevent the beam service from being handed over to private enterprise, Mr. Amery “said that the colonies, including Australia, were in favour of the service being taken out of the hands of the post office. His statement was not correct; but it shows how one country is pitted against the other when vested interests are at stake. The same argument was used during the Boer War. I remember as a member of the New South Wales legislature hearing Mr. Barton say there that Australia must stand behind the Motherland in that war, whether her cause was right or wrong. Later in this Parliament I also heard Mr. Kingston say that we must send men to the Boer War whether England’s action in engaging in it was right or wrong. When Mr. Campbell Bannerman, speaking in the British House of Commons, said that the Boer War was an unjust war, Mr. Balfour replied : “ How can it be unjust ? Look at the virile democracy of the colonies. They have sent troops. They would not have sent one soldier if the war was unjust. “ Cheaper messages between Australia and the Homeland would tend to consolidate the Empire. The more closely we can get into touch with our kinsmen overseas the better for the Empire. Should it be proved commercially possible to institute a system of penny a word messages and the British Government still decline to reduce the rates because of the effect a reduction would have on the dividends of the cable companies, we should cease to talk about empire and confine our attention to dividends for capitalists! I have said that penny-a-word messages would be a paying proposition; others have said the opposite. A committee, if appointed, would ascertain who is correct. Should I be proved wrong, that would be the end of it.
– The honorable senator would take a lot of convincing.
– When the honorable senator visited England for the first time and ably represented both the Defence Department and the Post Office, he made out a good case for cheaper communications.
– I am not opposed to cheaper communications to-day.
– In his policy speech, to which I listened with pleasure over the wireless, Dr. Earle Page referred to the possibility of establishing telephonic communication between Australia and England. He said that by that means migration would be stimulated, because migrants would be able to converse with their friends in the Old Country by means of the telephone. With the charge of probably £5 for a three minutes’ conversation, it is not likely that many conversations would take place. But beam wireless messages at Id. a word would, undoubtedly, assist migration; beam wireless would then be the poor man’s telephone.
– What about the use of wireless for imperial communications ?
– We are not allowed to obtain any information along those lines. Even in the British House of Commons the position is the same; members are unable to obtain the information they desire. Perhaps the Minister will say whether the report of Mr. Brown, the Director of Postal Services, will be laid on the table of the Senate.
– I am not aware that the Government has received a report from him.
– It is amazing that the Government should send a man abroad to attend a conference, and for the Minister to be unaware whether he has submitted a report. If the Government has received a report from Mr. Brown honorable senators have a right to know its contents. We hear a great deal about the abolition of secret diplomacy, but there has been as much secret diplomacy about the recent cable and wireless merger as has taken place in connexion with some wars. All this secrecy is due to a desire to protect the dividends of a few persons.
– Is the term “ Penny-a-word wireless messages “ merely a phrase used by the honorable senator to indicate his desire for a reduction in the charges now made, or is he in favor of a reduction to the rate he mentions ?
– I desire the rate for wireless messages to be brought down to Id. a word. From time to time Senator
– Then we shall soon have another Tasmanian grievance! People there will be asking for messages for a farthing per word.
– Already messages are sent to Tasmania by cable for a Id. a word. The Government will not be able to charge a higher rate for wireless messages. If it will be possible to communicate by wireless with Tasmania for a Id. a word, why not have the same rate for messages to and from England? The cost of the plant, as well as that of running it, would be about the same in each case. I repeat that my object now is not to ask the Senate to agree to the principle of Id. a word messages, but only to the appointment of a select committee to inquire into the matter. The Government and the people are influenced not so much by the reports issued by a committee as by the evidence tendered before it.
A majority of honorable senators have been good enough to promise to support my proposal. In ordinary circumstances I should not be addressing the Senate, because, as the result of the last general election, I shall cease to be a senator at the end of June next. But I realize that this is not a party matter, and as my time is now limited, I ask that although the Government may desire to adjourn the debate, a vote may be taken on this motion to-day.
– I second the motion.
– I move -
That the debate be now adjourned.
– I was on my feet when the Honorary Minister rose.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir John Newlands). - That is so; I have not accepted the motion for the adjournment of the debate.
– I hope that the Senate will not, at this juncture, decide to adjourn the debate. Like Senator Thomas, I do not intend to occupy the time of honorable senators by debating the merits or demerits of the proposal to provide for penny-a-word wireless messages between Australia and the Old Country, but I trust that the Senate will now determine whether a committee should or should not be appointed to inquire into the matter.
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable senator is proceeding to discuss the motion for the adjournment of the debate, which, I understand, has not been accepted because Senator Needham was on his feet when it was moved. The honorable senator is giving reasons why the debate should not be adjourned, in anticipation of a motion which has not yet been accepted.
– I take it that Senator Needham was merely making a passing reference to the proposal to adjourn the debate to-day.
– I regard the point of order raised by the Honorable the Leader of the Senate as a very frivolous one. I merely made a passing reference to the suggestion that the debate should be adjourned, and was about to discuss the merits of Senator Thomas’s motion when Senator McLachlan interposed. While Senator Thomas was speaking Senator Sampson inquired by interjection whether the proposed committee would ramble all over Australia. I remind honorable senators that Senator Sampson was a member of the Select Committee on Electoral Reform which travelled all over Australia, and I believe that the matter of whether we shall or shall not have a penny wireless service is just as important as that of electoral reform. The Senate has already discussed the merits of the proposal, and many of us have recorded our opinions upon it. I consider that the establishment of such a system would be for the good of the community, and that we should lose no time in appointing this committee so that it may have the assistance of Senator Thomas before he leaves the Senate. For that and many other reasons I trust that a vote will be taken on the motion . to-night.
Motion (by Senator McLachlan) proposed -
That the debate be now adjourned.
Question put. The Senate divided.
Majority . ….. 3
Motion (by Senator Sir George pearce) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I wish to refer to a matter which is of very considerable importance to some very worthy electors of New South Wales who waited upon me, in conjunction with a member of another place, during the week-end. I refer to the foremen employed at Cockatoo Island Dockyard. In view of the contemplated sale of that dockyard some of those men have received notice of dismissal. They have been in the service of the Commonwealth for periods of fourteen years and upwards, and not one derogatory word has been reported against the excellence of their service. I remind the Government that, when the transport and other strikes were in progress in 1917, these men remained loyal, and but for their loyality it would have been impossible to get our ships away.
They were practically given to understand that their employment with the Government would be of a permanent nature. They have been employed at the dockyard for very many years, and have reached such an age that it will be almost impossible for them to secure employment elsewhere, extremely competent though they are. We shall not be doing a fair thing by old and valued employees if we turn them adrift without consideration. I remind the Government that when the Australian Commonwealth Shipping Line was disposed of, there was granted to officers of that Line certain financial consideration, though their period of employment with the Commonwealth was not nearly so long as has been the case with these men; and, further, that the Commonwealth Shipping Board administered both concerns.
– Will not these men be taken over by the new management?
– They may, or they may not be. Any concern that takes over the dockyard may have trustworthy men available to fill the places of these foremen. I shall give certain particulars . concerning two of the men to illustrate the injustice that is likely to be done. H. Stevens, the foreman sheet ironworker, worked overtime to the extent of 170 hours on H.M.A.S. Albatross.
– Was he paid for it?
– He was not paid one penny for it. That has been the experience of every foreman in connexion with all the big jobs that have been undertaken at Cockatoo during the time that they have been working there. Stevens received a weekly salary of £81s. The weekly wage, including overtime, of the charge hands employed on H.M.A.S. Albatross, averaged from £7 16s. 3d. to £1511s. 5d., and that of the sheet-iron workers averaged from £6 16s. to £14, while the figures in connexion with the labourers were from £5 19s. to £9 18s. J. Hill, the foreman electrician, worked overtime on H.M.A.S. Albatross a total of 623 hours, for which he did not receive one penny. His weekly salary is £811s. The weekly wage of the charge hand averaged £11, that of the electricians £10, and that of the labourers £8. I could give a number of instances of a similar nature.
I have brought this matter forward to show that these men have not received consideration of any kind, notwithstanding the fact that they have rendered magnificent service without counting the cost to themselves. They have displayed a willingness to work whatever hours the management has desired, without seeking additional remuneration; and at a time of industrial crisis, when it was absolutely essential that they should keep going, they stuck to their posts, because they recognized that they were on a different basis from that of the workmen. There is only one other dockyard in this country - Mort’s Dock. One of these men, a short while ago, was offered a foreman’s position at that dock, at a salary greater than that which he was receiving at Cockatoo. He placed the matter before the management at Cockatoo and was implored not to accept the offer. He was told, “You have been here a long time, and you will continue to be here so long as you wish to remain.” Consequently he turned down the offer. Now be is under notice of dismissal and the position at Mort’s Dock has been filled. The management at Cockatoo has safeguarded itself, and in the event of the disposal of the dock it will be able to dispense with the services of these men at any time. The Government ‘might at least consider whether it would not be a fair thing to give consideration equal to that which was given to the officers of the Australian CommonwealthLine. That would ease the blow considerably, and the cost would not be very great.
– How many men are affected?
– Not many. All the others have been paid overtime for the work they have done. I should like to have the assurance of the Minister that consideration will be given to this matter.
[6.12] . -When an honorable senator intends to raise, on the motion for the adjournment, a question in relation to which he desires to be furnished with information at the time,itis customary to acquaint the Minister of that intention. Senator Duncan, in this case, has not seen fit to do so. The files which concern this matter are very bulky, and I do not carry them in my coat pocket. The honorable senator has made what must be recognized as something in the nature of ex parte statements. Possibly an examination of the facts will disclose a side different from that which has been made out by the men. I am not able now to give the other side, if there is one, because the honorable senator has not afforded to me the opportunity to look into the matter. I can merely say that the Government desires to do justice to these men, in common with all its other employees. The honorable senator, however, has made one statement which is not strictly accurate - that the Government compensated all the officers of the Australian’ Commonwealth Line.
– It compensated certain officers.
– Only those were compensated who were not taken over by the company which purchased the ships.
– I referred to the men who had been discharged.
– The Cockatoo Island Dockyard has not been leased to anybody; therefore the cases are not analogous. If it is taken over by an outside firm, either some or all of these men may also be taken oyer, in which case they should not receive compensation. Therefore, the case of these men cannot yet be judged.
– Will the Minister promise to give consideration to the matter?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.I shall make no promise. My Bole reason for drawing attention to an inaccurate statement made by the honorable senator was to show that the case he made out had a weak link. I shall look into the matter, and on some subsequent occasion will let him know what the Government proposes to do.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at6.15 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 14 February 1929, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1929/19290214_senate_11_120/>.