11th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. Sir John Newlands) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– (By leave.) - I desire to inform the Senate that this morning Senator J. J. Daly, of South Australia, was appointed Deputy Leader of the Opposition in this chamber.
[11.9]. - (By leave.) - On behalf of honorable senators on this side of the chamber, I desire to congratulate Senator Daly on his appointment, and to assure him that the same consideration that we have endeavoured to extend to the Leader of the Opposition will be extended to him when acting in his stead.
Arrangements at Canberra.
asked the Min ister for Defence,
Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW.The replies to the senator’s questions are as follow : - 1. (a) An area of ground near Duntroon has been selected as suitable for a landing ground and marked. Negotiations are now taking place between the Department of Defence and the Federal Capital Commission to make this land definitely available for aviation purposes under a suitable lease; (b) a pole was erected at the aerodrome for the purpose of carrying a wind-vane, and a wind-vane was fitted. If there is not one there at present it has been destroyed by the wind, and will be replaced immediately; (c) the Defence Department has no knowledge of any particular instance of a machine of this value having been tied to a telegraph post on the aerodrome at Canberra, but any machine arriving there, and staying over night, must necessarily be pegged down, as no hangar accommodation exists at present. The question of the provision of bandar accommodation willbe considered when civilian aviation traffic justifies it and/or in connexion with the development of the Royal Australian Air Force.
asked the Minister for Defence -
Is it a fact that the aerodrome is not provided with telephonic facilities?
– Inquiries will be made and a reply will be furnished to the honorable senator as early as possible.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Works, upon notice -
– The following replies have been supplied -
asked the Vice-President of the Executive Council, upon notice -
Is the Government aware of the serious position of the finances of South Australia us disclosed by the Premier of that State in recent public utterances?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
Communicationsfrom Public Service Association
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made, and the information desired by the honorable senator will be furnished as soon as possible.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow: -
Efforts are still being made on behalf of the Commonwealth Government to locate oil in Papua and New Guinea. In Australia, efforts to locate oil are being made by private enterprise, in some instances with financial assistance from the Commonwealth Government, and with advice from the Commonwealth geological adviser.
The information is being obtained.
asked the Minister representingthe Postmaster-General, upon notice -
If 80, is the money so received from advertising shared with the Government?
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following replies: - 1 and 2. Broadcasting companies are permitted under the wireless regulations to broadcast advertisements, the payment for which is retained by the companies. The broadcasting of such advertisements is subject to certain regulations ‘ which limit the periods during which they may be broadcast.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Is it a fact that the Prime Minister has stated recently that the East Coast (Tasmania) Development Company Limited can participate in the proposed coal bounty?
If so, will the Government provide facilities for out-of-work miners at Newcastle to proceed to Swansea, in Tasmania, so as to enable them to earn a living in order to support their families ?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The right honorable the Prime Minister has supplied the following answers: -
Transfer to Canberra
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
Is the Minister aware whether most of these officers arc temporary, and, consequently, will suffer considerable disadvantages as a result of such transfer?
– The following replies have been furnished by the right honorable the Prime Minister: -
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice–
In view of the great interstate inconvenience which is being experienced through the SydneyBrisbane mail and passenger train not running daily, will the Federal Government use its influence with the Queensland and New South Wales Governments to secure an uninterrupted daily train service, including Sundays, for mails and passengers between Brisbane and Sydney?
– The PostmasterGeneral has furnished the following reply:-
Every effort is made with the State Governments to secure the best mail service possible to the States.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The following reply has been furnished by the right honorable the Prime Minister : -
Motions (by Senator Sir George Pearce) agreed to -
That Standing Order 2so. 08 be suspended up to and including Friday, the 22nd March, 1929, for the purpose of enabling new business to be commenced after half-past Ten o’clock at night.
That until Friday, the 22nd March, 1929, Government Business, unless otherwise ordered, take precedence of all other business on the notice-paper except questions and formal motions.
– I move -
That the bill bo now read a second time.
It is, perhaps, unnecessary for me to inform the Senate that no new principle is involved in this measure, the object of which is to create a board to deal with the overseas marketing of wine. The bill is similar to existing legislation dealing with dried and canned fruits and dairy produce which has given general satisfaction to the producers in those industries. The production of wine in Australia exceeds the local consumption, but an overseas market for the surplus can be found if the industry is properly organized.
– The local market could be developed considerably.
– Prior to 1924, when no bounty was paid on sweet fortified wine exported from Australia, the average quantity of wine exported yearly was about 800,000 gallons. The granting of the bounty resulted in a considerable increase in the quantity of wine exported. In 1925-26 Australia exported 1,700,000 gallons of wine, and in the following two years 3,077,000 and 3,770,000 gallons respectively. Those figures show tho benefit derived by the industry from the wine bounty. The marketing of those large quantities of wine, most of which went to Great Britain, has in the past been carried out in a haphazard way. There has been no co-ordination of effort amongst exporters to regulate the exportation of wine, and the absence of any method of control has acted to the detriment of the wine exporters in particular, and in a general way to the growers. As in other measures of this kind, the organizing of export marketing operations is handed over to those engaged in the industry itself. The bill provides that a board of eight members shall be appointed, one of whom will represent the Government, and will be appointed by the Governor-General. As the board is vested with statutory powers, it is highly necessary that there should be a connecting link between it and the Government. The constitution of the board will consist of one member representing Victoria, one New South Wales and Queensland, two South Australia, one Western Australia, and two representing co-operative wineries and distilleries. In addition, there will be the Government representative to whom I have referred.
– And no direct representative of the growers.
– It is thought that by giving representation to the cooperative wineries and distilleries, the growers will have a form of indirect representation.
– That is the best form of representation that can be given to them, through their co-operative societies.
– Exactly. The growers are shareholders in these concerns, and are, therefore, interested in the export of wine.
– Indirectly in the proportion of only six to two ?
– Can the honorable senator say what proportion of the growers are members of co-operative societies ?
– Not at the moment. In giving the co-operative wineries and distilleries two representatives the Government has in mind that, though growers are not directly connected with the making and selling of wine, their interests have to be considered. All the shareholders in the five co-operative companies operating in the Commonwealth are growers, and all the profits are divided among the shareholders, who number over 1,000. Their representatives on the board will see that the interests of growers will not be overlooked. The successful operation of the board depends on its personnel, and it is certain those concerned will see that only the very best men in the industry are elected to it. The Government representative will not in any way be connected with the viticultural industry. Of necessity, he must have had a wide commercial experience, and must be willing to give his time and energy in the interests of the industry.
The export trade has had a sei back owing to the heavy exportation of wine in 1927, between the time that the announcement was made of the reduction of the bounty by ls. per gallon and that when the actual reduction took place. The British market then became flooded with wine, which created a glut, and greatly reduced the previous demand. That glut has been very nearly cleared, and the exports of wine should again become active. The over-export of wine to which I have referred has had a very depressing effect on the industry. If a marketing organization such as the one proposed had been in existence at the time, exports could have been so regulated and controlled as to avoid over supply, and a greater stability in the English market would have been secured. At present, marketing is carried on with little or no system, and, if the wine export trade is to expand and flourish, organization is vital. The extent of the market open in Great Britain may be estimated from the fact that average imports of wine in that country reach approximately 1 8,000,000 gallons. The present consumption of Australian wine in Great Britain is about 2,250,000 gallons a year. It will therefore be realized that Australia’s share of the trade is capable of considerable expansion. Without proper marketing organization it is very improbable that the export trade can develop to the full extent, and this bill provides the necessary machinery for the industry itself to place its overseas marketing on £ii organized basis, with statutory powers.
The undoubted success of existing marketing boards in bringing about improved methods of distribution, moro stable prices, and considerable savings to freight reductions, has no doubt been a strong factor in convincing the wine industry that organization is very necessary to them. This was evidenced by the action taken at the conference of those connected with the viticultural industry which was held in Melbourne early in January. Every organization of growers, wine makers and distillers was represented at the conference, which unanimously carried a resolution that a marketing organization similar to those already in existence was highly desirable for the success of the wine export trade. The Minister for Markets met the representatives of the industry, who gave their full approval and support to this bill. It is unnecessary for me at this stage to dilate upon the different clauses of the measure, as that can be done in committee when the necessity arises. Perhaps I might be permitted to point out that, clause 14 is probably the most important in the bill, as it provides that nil exports of wine shall be prohibited by proclamation unless shipped in accordance with the conditions of a licence issued by the Minister for Markets. This is not a new principle, as a similar provision applies in other marketing organizations. Export by licence enables the Marketing Board to regulate shipments to overseas markets, and also to arrange for wine to be marketed through those channels which are considered most beneficial to the exporters.
Clause 12 is also important, as it provides for the establishment of a London agency. Provision is being made in a bill which will follow this one for the machinery to collect the necessary fees to afford the board its revenue. The constitution of the London agency will be left entirely to the board, except that it will be necessary to appoint one member as a representative of the Commonwealth.
Clause 16 contains penalties for contravention of the regulations, and enables a check to be exercised over the board by providing that the proclamation may be cancelled should its conditions be found unreasonable. That power is considered necessary if the board is to fulfil a useful purpose.- I remind honorable senators that the operation of this bill is contingent upon approval being granted by a poll taken of the wine-makers and distillers. A bare majority only is required. If the bill is approved its provisions will remain in force for three years, at the expiration of which time a fresh poll may be held if demanded by 30 per cent, of the wine-makers or distillers. That safeguard gives the wine-makers an opportunity to discard the Marketing Board if it is not giving satisfaction. It is proposed to make a levy of 5s. per ton on all grapes supplied to wineries, to supply the board with funds to finance its London agency, and for other purposes.
– Will that 5s. be paid by the growers?
– No, by the makers. Provision for its collection will be made later in the bill to which I have referred. I am aware that in some quarters there is a disinclination to approve any form of government control, but it must be realized that this measure leaves the marketing of wine entirely in the hands of the industry. The Government hopes and believes that the constitution of this board will assist in capturing a greater share of the British markets and consequently place the industry on a much sounder basis than hitherto.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Halloran) adjourned.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Briefly, the object of the bill is to facilitate the work of the Tariff Board in many directions. It contains a provision under which discretionary power is given to the Minister to refer to the board certain questions such as the classification of goods and the determination of values under section 15. Another important feature relates to the manner in which the board should conduct its work. Authority is to be given to the board to divide itself for the purpose of making certain inquiries, so that, instead of the full board being engaged, two members of it may conduct investigations, whilst the remaining members give their attention to other matters; but the full board must accept responsibility for all recommendations. These are the general features. Among the other amending provisions is one empowering the Governor-General to appoint a person other than a member of the Public Service to be a chairman of the board. This is considered desirable in view of the possibility of some person being available of outstanding ability, capable of dealing with all the intricacies and difficulties of tariff board work, and especially gifted to analyse the various cross currents that are met with in tariff investigations. There also is provision authorizing the board, in certain circumstances, to confer with the Director of Economic Research. I may add that the Government contemplates bringing down a measure during the present session to establish such a bureau.
.- The bill may be divided into three parts. The first part provides for increases in the salaries of members of the board, the second reduces the days of sitting, and the third alters the machinery provisions of the act so as to enable the board the more expeditiously to carry out its work. Despite the Minister’s statement, I take the view that this measure opens up a wide field for discussion; but I shall confine my remarks to the three points which I have mentioned, and I shall be as brief as possible. The remuneration of the board was the subject of considerable argument when the original billwas under discussion in 1921. I have always believed that a good man should be paid what he is worth.
– Is it now possible to ascertain every man’s worth ?
– My honorable friend has put to me a very pertinent question. I freely admit it is difficult to discover the real worth of every man ; but the point I wish to make is that the efficient discharge of the duties of a member of the Tariff Board calls for the ablest men we can get, and I believe that their remuneration should be adequate. While on this subject I remind honorable senators that usually the Government is anxious to increase the salaries of higherpaid officials, but is indifferent about the lower-paid public servants. The Secretary of the Defence Department, for example, is in receipt of £2,000 a year, whilst his predecessor received £1,150 or thereabouts. We have never been told what is the reason for this discrepancy. My view is that all grades of the Public Service should be well paid.
I come now to the method of payment of members of the board. The bill provides that the board shall receive sitting fees. I protest against that system. Members of the board should devote the whole of their time to the work and they should receive adequate remuneration. I consider it wrong that men who may be interested in private businesses should receive sitting fees as members of the Tariff Board, and be in a position to determine tariff requests which may indirectly affect their own business interests. I wish to make it clear that in saying this, I am not making allegations against any one. I am merely pointing to the danger that might arise under the system proposed by the Government. The Leader of the Senate, speaking in this chamber in 1921, said in reply to a suggestion that members of Parliamentshould constitute a Tariff Board -
It is a fact that members of Parliament will not have the time to do the work which is called for if the work is to be efficiently done.
If members of Parliament are not in a position to perform the work required of members of a Tariff Board, neither are persons interested in commercial enterprises - men whose attention must be divided between their own businesses and the work of the board. What Senator Pearce said in 1921 about members of Parliament applies to-day, with equal force, . to business men. The board, it will be noted, acts only in an advisory capacity.
– It always has been an advisory body.
– I am aware of that. My object in mentioning it was to direct attention to a speech delivered by Senator Crawford in this chamber in 1921. The honorable senator’ said : -
I favour the appointment of three salaried members of the board; members who would bc expected to give the whole of their time to tariff matters … I do not think that either a member of Parliament or a person who is actually engaged in business can devote the necessary time to efficiently discharge the duties of a member of the board …. I am strongly opposed to payment by sittings, and to the appointment of persons who arc actively engaged in business.
Senator Thomas, speaking on the same subject, said -
If the board is appointed it will be far better to pay fixed salaries than a sum for each sitting.
Senator Duncan, who also took part in the debate, stated : -
I am in favour of paying a fixed salary to members of the proposed board. It would be bettor to have purely a departmental board of men possessed of ability and knowledge such as many of the officers of the department have.
I strongly object to the remuneration of the board being in the form of sitting fees. Members of that body should be employed continuously and be adequately paid.
– What salary would tb.e honorable senator suggest should be paid to them?
– I confessed in reply to an interjection by Senator R. H. S. Abbott just now, that I was not in a position to say what salaries should be paid ; but I have always been in favour of paying well ‘ for efficient services. I would have no objection if the members of the board sat only four days a week. Honorable senators on this side of the chamber have been condemned for supporting those who believe in a shorter working week; but in this instance the Government is adopting the principle which Ave have always advocated. I believe that some of the work now undertaken by the Tariff Board could be performed with equal satisfaction by departmental officers. In order to expedite inquiries by the board it is provided iu this bill that it may work in two sections each sitting separately; but that any decisions reached by a section of the board shall be confirmed by the full board. It will be interesting to see if this arrangement will have the effect of facilitating the work of this body which is so important to the producing interests of the Commonwealth. When a tariff board bill was before Parliament in 1924 Senator Reid said: “I trust that effect will be given to the opinion expressed in favour of all inquiries being held in public.” If the honorable senator wishes to be consistent he should, when the measure is in committee, endeavour to give effect to the principle which he previously advocated.
– The inquiries are now held in public.
– I understand that some of the evidence is taken
– The Leader of the Opposition cannot expect trade secrets to be disclosed.
– Why should not all the information essential to an inquiry be placed at the disposal of the hoard ?
– The meetings are now open to the public.
– If they are, why should Senator Reid say that trade secrets should not be disclosed.
– It is only information of a confidential nature that is not disclosed.
– Then, all the meetings of the board are not held in public. I do not wish to discuss the measure further at this juncture; but in committee I may suggest certain amendments.
– As I sponsored the legislation under which the Tariff Board was first appointed, I can claim some knowledge of the subject. The principal act was in the nature of an experiment, and there should be some satisfaction in realizing after this lapse of years, that the legislation, as originally introduced, has, with certain minor amendments, remained operative. The Government is wise in dispensing with the obligation which was placed upon the Minister to submit certain matters to the board. At the same time I understand from what the Honorary Minister (Senator McLachlan) has said, that while the obligation lias been removed certain discretionary powers will still remain in the hands of the Minister. That is a wise provision, as some of these questions which appear to be of minor importance may ultimately prove to be of major significance. As it is impossible for Parliament to deal with every possible contingency arising under the tariff, it is essential that a certain amount of discretionary power should be placed in the hands of the administration. The Government is very fortunate in having in the department of Trade and Customs the highest possible type of public servants; but it is to be regretted that the devotion to duty of some of the men of exceptionally high calibre, with whom it was my pleasure to work for several years, has in some instances caused their death.
For the information of the Leader of the Opposition I may say that the principal act did not provide that inquiries before the board should be held in public ; that was provided for in an amending measure.
– Without any reservation ?
– The inquiries themselves are held in public, but there is a provision availed of by the board, under which a witness may submit confidential information. It would be unreasonable to ask manufacturers and others to disclose the whole of the details of their businesses. To enable the Tariff Board to obtain a clear conception of the problems with which it is dealing, it is essential that it should have complete information, and that witnesses appearing before it should be encouraged to disclose the fullest particulars concerning the industries in which they are interested. Thy only way in which that can be done is to provide the board with statutory authority to obtain certain information confidentially. It has been my pleasure to give evidence before the Tariff Board in connexion with two businesses with which I am associated, and on those occasions I submitted the most complete costing details that it was possible for the accountants to compile. The members of the board stated that the tables I tendered were the most comprehensive they had ever studied. It is only by permitting witnesses to give information of a private nature in camera that the board can analyse the actual position of an undertaking. Nothing would be more prejudicial to the interests of the country and the work of the board than to discourage witnesses from submitting confidential information.
A clause in the bill provides that the board shall have power to confer with a director of economic research, who, I understand, is to be appointed under another measure which has not yet come before the Senate. As I may not be present when that measure is under discussion, I should like to record my hesitancy in supporting any proposals for the establishment of further bureaux or boards. All the information required car I think be obtained by such bodies as the Development and Migration Commission and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, which, under their very wide charter, can inquire into and report upon a variety of subjects. We also have the Tariff Board itself, as well as the Statistician’s Department, which should be able to render efficient service in this regard. In view of our financial position the Commonwealth should hesitate before setting up another entirely new body, which, if established, will soon lie costing the country from £60,000 to £S0,000 a year. There is an old saying, that when a public servant has been supplied with an ink pot and blotting pad it is not long before he has a department around him. If the measure to which I have referred receives the approval of Parliament, it will not be long before the director will be surrounded by a highly-paid staff.
– The conferences between the Directors of Economic Research and the Tariff Board would not be open to the public.
– That is another matter. As we shall probably be faced with an accumulated deficit of over £4,000,000 at the end of the financial year, the Government should not appoint a new body such as that contemplated under another bill. As the provision in this measure relates only to conferences with a Director of Economic Research to be appointed it is innocuous, but the Government should call a halt, and endeavour to devise means to save money rather than establish a new organization, the usefulness of which I very much doubt. I am not opposed to research into economic subjects.
– The honorable senator is, of course, an advocate of a high protective tariff.
– The honorable senator’s interjection is a clear indication that in his opinion, and that of his friends in the Country party, the appointment of a Bureau of Economic Research would lead to a reduction in the tariff.
– We hope so. *
– Now that we have this very definite statement from the honorable senator there is, in my opinion, less reason than ever for the appointment of this bureau, because if the great majority of members of this Parliament hold that the tariff, as a whole, should be reduced, it can be done. Is this proposal merely a bit of camouflage to satisfy the consciences of a few people?
– It is, perhaps, a feeler.
– I do not know what it is intended to be, but this period of financial stress is the worst possible time for setting about the appointment of such a bureau. Now that Senator R.H.S. Abbott has raised this issue by his interjection. [ arn reminded of a long series of resolutions appearing in this morning’s press, and for which I imagine he is partly responsible. These are resolutions which have been adopted by the Country party. I have no desire to read them all, but they start off by asking for a scientific re-adjustment of the tariff so that production costs may be led need.
– Primary production costs !
– I see. And if primary production costs are reduced it is necessarily scientific?
– So long as it, is actual I do not care whether it is scientific or not.
– I am afraid my friend is hardly fair game, because, if I went further, I might secure confessions from him which would prove injurious to him later on.
It is perfectly clear that some people regard the appointment of this Bureau of Economic Research as being likely to lead to a reduction in the tariff. That is their objective and, as Senator R.H.S. Abbott has already indicated, to them a scientific readjustment of the tariff can only mean a re-adjustment in a downward direction.
– Not necessarily.
– But that is what Senator R.H.S. Abbott has said. I do not suggest that Senator Carroll, who is also one of the authors of this string of resolutions, thinks the same.
– But it is clear that in the minds of some people that a scientific re-adjustment of the tariff would mean a reduction of duties.
– I remind the honorable senator that it is the opinion of the Tariff Board that a scientific readjustment is necessary. It has already reported it to that effect.
– The Tariff Board is afforded every opportunity to state its opinions in a form which will enable this Parliament to become acquainted with them, and that is an additional reason why there is no necessity for the appointment of a Bureau of Economic Research. However, I wish to read the last of the series of resolutions carried by the Country party. It is as follows: -
I have been puzzled as to the meaning of this extraordinary resolution. It evidently means that the Bureau of Economic Research can have nothing whatever to do with any industry in Australia which is protected by a duty, or for which a duty has been proposed. Let me point out that there are already duties on sugar, wine, butter, wheat, onions, potatoes, and a long list of primary products. In fact, the only primary product of which the bureau could take cognizance would be wool.
– We want the duty taken off agricultural machinery.
– My friend is one of those fiscal troglodytes - one of those fiscal atheists - who believe that the farmers of Australia would get cheaper machinery if the Australian agricultural implement making industry were wiped out. But once that was done and, incidentally, to the detriments of the country, I venture to say, it would not be very long before the honorable senator changed his opinion. There are, practically, no duties on agricultural machinery in New Zealand, but in nearly every case its cost is greater there than it is in Australia. There is a vast agricultural industry in the Argentine - the American imple ment makers have so firm a control of the market in that country that no one else can get in - and there is no duty on agricultural machinery there, yet it costs 50 per cent, more than it docs in Australia. That is the position Senator R. H. S. Abbott would bring about in Australia. So long as I have breath in my body it will never be done with my approval. I do not want to see the Australian farmers held to ransom by great combinations of capital in America.
– Does anyone else?
– No ; but if effect were given to the honorable senator’s policy that would inevitably be the result.
– If necessary, we can get people in Australia to hold the Australian farmers to ransom.
– We can. I honestly believe that if the Australian fanners made up their minds that they would use nothing but machinery made by Australians they would be able to buy it at a price 30 per cent, lower than they are paying to-day.
– Would the honorable senator apply the same principle to motor cars?
– The motor cai’ industry requires a vast amount of capital for the provision of the necessary plant, and it would, probably, take many years before it could be established in Australia, but when it was established I have not the slightest doubt we should be able, to get our cars cheaper than they ari; to-day.
– Does not the honorable senator think that no duty should be imposed on motor cars until the motor car industry is established here?
– Unfortunately the financial position of the Commonwealth is such that it is obliged to collect revenue though its Customs House, and this Parliament, regarding motor cars as being more or less luxuries, has thought fit to expect them to contribute something towards the revenue. It is not possible to discriminate between the luxury car and the utility car; otherwise, I have no doubt the duty would be higher than it is.
I do not wish to be led any further by honorable senators’ interjections into a. tariff debate which the President would not permit. What I was about to say was that 1 do not think the appointment of a Bureau of Economic Research is justified. I am not opposed to the fullest investigation from the economic point of view of all our activities, but there is not a single thing such a bureau could do which cannot now be done by some existing Government agency. Not a scrap of information could it gather which could not be gathered and collated for the information of Parliament by some existing agency of the Government. There is no need to set up a new bureau employing a huge staff to engage in duplicating the work of existing departments, or in collating information already obtained by those departments.
– Could we not discuss that matter when the other measure comes before us?
– I have no doubt that it will be fully discussed in connexion with another measure, but it may be that pressure of business will debar me from referring to it then. I have, therefore, taken the opportunity presented by this measure to refer to it this morning.
– I had hoped that the Minister would give us a little more information of the kind that the manufacturing industries would appreciate. I agree with him that the Tariff Board has done, and is doing, useful work in making inquiries into various industries with a view to determining the amount of protection which should be afforded to them. The great trouble with the Tariff Board is that sometimes long delays occur in dealing with the applications which come before it. An industry might be languishing, and in need of protection, but those engaged in it might not desire to rush in too early with an application to the Tariff Board for assistance. In such a case, should a long delay occur in dealing with their applications they might be forced out of business before the increased protection they sought was granted to them. The Minister said that this bill would, to some extent, remove that objection; but, unfortunately, it cannot be removed entirely. I welcome the proposal that the board may be divided, but even under the new system I fear that it will be unable to handle applications with the necessary despatch.
– A great deal of the time of the Tariff Board is now taken up with the framing of by-laws. This measure relieves it of that work.
– I believe that the bill will remove many of the difficulties under which the board is labouring to-day, and to that extent I welcome it. Nevertheless, there will still be delays which cannot be justified. Should the application of a struggling industry be not dealt with expeditiously, the delay might make all the difference between continuing production and going out of business.
– A secondary industry which interferes with primary production should go out of business.
– I deplore the attitude adopted by Senator R. H. S. Abbott, for many of our manufacturing industries are essential to the continuance of our primary industries. The home market must be developed; wiping out our manufacturing industries will not develop it.
– It may be that soon the home market will be the only market left to us.
– I endorse the remarks of Senator Greene in relation to another body which the Government proposes to set up. The bill for the creation of a Bureau of Economic Research and the appointment of a Director of that bureau will be closely scrutinized in this chamber. There is something about the proposal which is difficult to understand. The bill before us will not end the delay in dealing with applications which come before the Tariff Board, or remove all the existing difficulties, but as it will go a long way towards doing so, I welcome it, and shall support the second reading.
.- In speaking on the Address-in-Reply some weeks ago, I mentioned that, at times, applications for higher duties have been favorably considered by the Tariff Board, and additional protection given to industries, which, nevertheless, have soon ceased to exist, leaving the increased duty still in operation. The Tariff Board should watch the results of the applications that come before it, with a view to ascertaining whether the industries to which additional protection is given develop as the persons who apply for the assistance say they will when presenting their case to the board. Should it find that an industry thus protected has not been successful, and is no longer being carried on, Parliament should be notified so that, if thought desirable, the duty may be removed.
– Those who use the articles on which the duties were imposed may apply to the Tariff Board for a reduction.
– The average user of dutiable articles does not know the conditions in the industry which produces them. Those who establish new businesses are frequently unduly optimistic as to the result of their efforts. They place before the Tariff Board glowing prospectuses, which probably influence the board into recommending higher duties. Should their anticipations not be realized, there is danger that the duty imposed will remain, not to protect any Australian industry, but merely as a revenue duty.
– Can the honorable senator give any actual examples?
– In my speech on the Address-in-Reply I gave two instances. I reminded the Senate that, as a result of representations made by Senator Duncan on behalf of the manufacturers of fibre matting, higher duties were placed on imported goods which competed with the Australian-made article. The manufacture of fibre mats in Australia has ceased; but the duty of 5 per cent, imposed to protect that industry still remains.
– Would the honorable senator describe a duty of 5 per cent, as protective?
– It was a purely revenue duty.
– The duty was not imposed for revenue purposes, but to protect an Australian industry. The Tariff Board should not recommend duties and take no account of the result of their imposition. The other instance to which I referred was a duty on furs. Senator Payne, after strenuously opposing other proposed duties, advocated a higher duty on certain goods which competed with a Tasmanian industry.
– It was not only a
Tasmanian industry, for a similar industry was being carried on in New South Wales.
– I gave Senator Payne all credit for endeavouring to build up the industries of Tasmania. He has certainly done much, in his very able way, in that direction. But I understand that the Tasmanian fur industry is now in liquidation, and if that is so, it is an anomalous position that the duty on certain classes of furs should be permitted to remain in force. It now acts purely as a revenue producer for the Commonwealth, and the general public are penalized by its operation. The Tariff Board should investigate the matter with a view to abolishing that duty. I do not believe in revenue duties, but unfortunately Australia has reached a stage when they are practically unavoidable. The Customs House is practically our chief tax collecting machine, and directly action is taken to reduce duties our revenue will bc seriously curtailed, and the country generally embarrassed.
– Customs taxation affords the only method of taxing some people, who would otherwise be immune from taxation.
– That’ ma.y, be the opinion of the honorable senator, but the perpetuation of a system of purely revenue duties would nullify the protectionist policy for illich Australia has declared. During the last twelve or fourteen years we have placed ourselves in such a position that it is impracticable to reduce our customs revenue; but the Tariff Board should closely follow the life of an industry, and take action to withdraw a duty, when it is no longer of any use. I believe that Senator Greene was Minister for Trade and Customs when the Tariff Board was established, and that the idea of the Government and of the honorable senator at that time was that the board should act as a sort of foster-father to our industries and see that they were adequately protected. I hope that, in future, it will be their policy to give some consideration to the needs of the general consumer. The policy of the board has been to call before it only representatives of manufacturing and importing sections of the community.
– I shall endeavour not to offend again, but would like to cite just one example. I know of a gentleman who, representing certain industries, went before the Tariff Board and submitted seemingly irrefutable evidence to show that duties should be increased on certain articles. A few mouths after he was dismissed from his position and joined an importing house. He was again called before the Tariff Board, and this time he submitted irrefutable evidence in favour of the withdrawal of the duty for which he had previously pleaded. I hope that this bill will usher in a different and better condition of affairs.
– I am prepared to support the bill as I find it, because I believe that it will be very helpful in assisting the Tariff Board to do even better work than it has done. Like Senator Greene, I am led to make this remark because of the statement uttered by Senator Greene to-day. All sections of the community are not represented before the board. In addition to the manufacturing and importing sections there is a third and very important section of the community, the consuming public. That section is not at present receiving any consideration. In this Parliament there are three distinct types of representatives, fiscal fanatics, fiscal atheists and moderate protectionists-
– I must ask the honorable senator to discuss the bill, and not the tariff.
– I submit, with all respect, that I am confining my remarks to the bill. I intend to deal with the proposal to confer wider powers upon the Tariff Board by enabling it to operate by means of sectional committees, thus expediting and enlarging its sphere of activity. I believe that it has been hampered in its operations by the fact that heretofore only two sections of the community have placed their views before it. The general community does not receive a hearing.
– It is the fault of the general community, as ample machinery is provided to enable it to voice its opinions.
– Unfortunately, while the manufacturers and importers are organized, the general community is not. That is why, I believe, the Government is now bringing into existence a means whereby information may be submitted to the Tariff Board from an economic standpoint. The board has operated successfully during the last few years, and has effected the introduction of some very satisfactory duties.
– On rabbit fur, for instance.
– Can the honorable senator not raise his thoughts above rabbit fur? I am dealing with the subject from a broad national point of view, and shall not allow the puerile remarks of honorable senators to draw me off the track.
– But rabbit fur is of national importance to Tasmania.
-Surely, Mr. Pesident, these interjections are disorderly.
– The honorable senator knows that interjections are disorderly, and that he is not expected to reply to them.
– During the last few years it has become more and more patent to all thinking people that we are arriving at a stage at which very great difficulties must be experienced in the operation of the tariff. Previous recommendations of the Tariff Board have been based almost entirely on evidence submitted by only the manufacturing and importing sections of the community. I’ think that even Senator Greene will agree that it is necessary to afford a means whereby the economic results of a tariff may be considered. It has come under my notice more than once that, although a number of participants in an industry may be operating successfully and do not need tariff protection, others engaged in that industry have appeared before the
Tariff Board and advocated the imposition of high duties, the effects of which must be prejudicial to the general community.
Sitting suspended from 1245 to 2.15 p.m.
– Serious mistakes have been made in the past because of the endorsement by Parliament of Tariff Board recommendations based entirely upon evidence submitted by the representatives of two sections only - the local manufacturer and the importing interests. The people who are most vitally concerned have not been heard by the board.
– That should be their responsibility.
– Parliament should, of course, represent the people, but unfortunately the view of the people, at all events concerning the probable effect of tariff duties, is not often heard in Parliament, and as I have pointed out on other occasions, many members of Parliament have given pledges to their constituencies that they will vote for the highest possible tariff duties evidently regardless of their effect upon the people generally. Parliament has accepted recommendations for the imposition of heavy duties on undertakings given by certain people to the Tariff Board that they were in a position to supply Australia’s needs. Naturally, any one interested in a manufacturing industry will undertake to supply Australia’s needs if he can have a guarantee of a sufficiently high duty. The best interests of the community are not served by the imposition of high tariffs, because high protection so often imposes on the people burdens which they are not able to bear. It cannot be denied that the exceptionally high cost of living in Australia is due largely to our present fiscal policy. What happens ? If a man on the basic wage finds it difficult to meet his engagements, he appeals, through his organisation, to the Arbitration Court for an increase in wages, so that he may be able to maintain his wife and family in reasonable comfort. In the majority of cases the court grants an increase. Then because of the higher scale of wages demanded, industries generally advance, prices and the position of the wage earner is worse than before. Let me give a concrete illustra tion in support of my contention. In normal circumstances a certain commodity can be manufactured for, say, £1, but to ensure an efficient distribution of the article the manufacturer has to arrange with middlemen or retailers who must invest a fair amount of capital so as to keep in stock a sufficient quantity of the commodity to meet the demands of their customers. If the cost of the distribution, including a reasonable return to the retailer on his capital invested, is 25 per cent., the consumer who in the main is the worker, pays 25s. for it. Then if an Arbitration Court award in that particular industry has the effect of increasing the cost by 25 per cent., as happens so often, the cost of the article must rise, and the worker, instead of paying 25s. for the article will have to pay 31s. 3d., because 25 per cent, on 25s. is 6s. 3d., so he is worse off to the extent of ls. 3d. owing to the increased cost of production. In this way increases in the tariff affect the whole range of production. It is argued that increased customs duties encourage Australian industries and provide more employment for the people. Let us examine the facts. As a result of the imposition of increased tariff duties a large number of small industries spring up from time to time in our capital cities and larger centres of population. At the outset, no doubt, they do provide a fairly large field of employment, but in not a few instances because of their unsound economic basis, they are obliged to close down and the people engaged in them lose their employment. But what is worse, thousands of small investors who subscribe to the capital of these concerns, lose everything. This unfortunate experience can be multiplied times out of number in all our capital cities and larger centres. I do not say that the best method that can be devised to protect the small investor is to seek advice from the director of the proposed Bureau of Economic Research, but some action should be taken to ascertain what is likely to happen whenever a tariff alteration is contemplated. If I had the time I could give many illustrations of the adverse effect of tariff increases. I do not wish to cast any reflection upon members of the Tariff
Board or the manner in which the board has carried out its work in the past; but I hope that with this amendment of the act, the board will become more valuable to the Government in legislating for the development of this country. For the reason which I have given 1 intend to support the bill. Before I resume my seat I may be permitted to say something by way of explanation to a remark made by Senator Foll. The honorable senator referred to a certain action which I took some time ago in connexion with the duty on dressed rabbit skins. I should like to make it clear that a New South Wales concern known as Furs Limited, Sydney, carrying on exactly the same business as the Tasmanian company, was actually more interested than was the Tasmanian industry in obtaining a duty of 25 per cent. British on imported dressed rabbit skins. The company in New South Wales had a large amount of capital invested and was already employing a considerable number of hands.
– That company was not sufficiently interested to deem it necessary to approach a New South Wales senator on the matter.
– It was joined with the Tasmanian company in an application to the Tariff Board for a protective duty. It is only fair that this should be known. I will be in a position to say more about this subject when a better opportunity is presented to discuss it, and I may be able to state the causes that have been responsible for the temporary closing down of the Tasmanian company.
– I support the bill as far as it goes but it seems to me that it might well have included many provisions that have been omitted. In the first place I direct attention to the fact that it contains no accurate definition of the relations that should exist between the Tariff Board and the Minister, and between the Minister and Parliament. This, I think, is to be regretted. It is also regrettable that there is no provision that the board’s reports shall at once be presented to Parliament instead of going first to the Minister who later, lays them on the table. If they came to Parliament direct, Parliament, if it thought fit, could take the action recommended by the board. At present, so I understand - if I am in error the Minister will correct me - it is in the Minister’s discretion whether or not Parliament shall be given an opportunity to consider the reports of the Tariff Board. As a matter of fact the Minister for Trade and Customs, has power which few Ministers for Customs in other countries possess. In this connexion I wish to bring under the notice of honorable senators the action of the Minister in relation to a certain recommendation of the board. A request was made to the board for protectiion for a certain industry - the production of peppermint oil. It was considered by the Tariff Board and reported upon favorably, but the Minister, so I understand, rejected it. The application, I may add, was made by a man who spent thousands of pounds in connexion with the industry and he had demonstrated that it could be carried on successfully with tariff assistance. Although the Tariff Board reported favorably upon his request the Minister, exercising the power which he possesses, has not adopted that recommenddation and under the act there is no opportunity given to Parliament to consider it. If the procedure which I advocate were adopted and if the bill provided that recommendations made by the Tariff Board should be presented at once to Parliament, we should have an opportunity to express our views upon them. In this way a great deal of indecision would be avoided and a number of requests which to-day are refused by the Minister, would probably be granted by Parliament. I have also a word or two to say about clause 1 of the bill, which provides that the board may confer in respect of certain matters with the director of the proposed Bureau of Economic Research.
I should like to hear from the Honorary Minister why the Tariff Board cannot at present call witnesses, expert or otherwise, to give evidence either in favour of or against a proposal submitted to it. Is it not its privilege to call such experienced witnesses and examine them on the subject with which it is dealing? I am sure the answer will be in the affirmative ;” if that is so, this proposal to legalize a consultation which, I think, needs no legalization should not find a place in this bill. It is out of order,
I know, to impute motives, even if the motives are good; but perhaps the Government in its search for information embodied this clause in the bill in the endeavour to elicit information from honorable senators concerning the proposed Bureau of Economic Research. Whether it was done with that intention or not, it has already drawn fire from two or three points in this chamber. While I recognize the value of economic research”, I consider that there are already in existence sufficient governmental bodies to carry out any research that may be needed. I repeat that expert evidence can be obtained as expeditiously and as cheaply by calling witnesses as by retaining men permanently, or at least, for the greater part of their time. The Government will get the same result with less trouble, in a shorter time, and with a smaller expenditure. In these circumstances, I do not feel inclined to support such an unusual proposal as has been adopted in this instance of mentioning in an act of Parliament a Director of Economic Research who has not yet been appointed. There is no need to burden the Estimates with the salaries of men who would be highly remunerated, when by following the course I have suggested the Government would be saving time and money. I commend these facts to the consideration of the Minister in charge of the bill, and I trust that the few small but important points I have raised concerning the rights of Parliament will receive his earnest attention. They are important, because they render possible a more expeditious and more efficient working of this necessary body, about whose failures we know nothing or, at least very little, and which has to act as a guide to the Government. The recommendations of the board are not always followed, and when they are not, reasons should be given. I think that the course I have advocated is better than that for which provision is made in clause 7 of the bill. Some of the other provisions are admirable. With the system of payment to members of the board I have no fault to find. I think it is- a good system and quite generous enough to men who are simply to carry out the functions of the Tariff Board, and, if necessary, those other functions which I have vaguely outlined. With these exceptions, I support the second reading of the bill, but I regret the measure has been brought before this chamber at a time when there is little opportunity - if the feelings of the Government are to be considered, and I believe that is the desire of the Senate - to frame amendments such as those which I have mentioned.
– I intend to support this measure, and I am rather surprised at the opposition
shown this morning to a certain provision in it.
There are many departments of Commonwealth activities, the work of which would be greatly facilitated if an economic research service were available for this purpose, and to provide fuller information for the public upon many subjects of importance. It is proposed to establish a Commonwealth Bureau of Economic Research and to extend the scope of the Bureau of Census and Statistics.
I cannot recall any strong exception being taken at the time to the Government’s proposal in that regard. The intention of the Government is to establish a Bureau of Economic Research to assist the Tariff Board, and whilst I agree with Senator Kingsmill, that at present the board has power to call expert witnesses on the economic aspects of any request it is considering, I do not think that by following the course he has suggested the object which the Government had in view in submitting this proposal would be achieved. It seems to me that the main reason for appointing a Bureau of Economic Research is that we should have a body that is able to deal with industry as a whole and not in a piecemeal manner. The absence of such a bureau possibly has resulted in the work of the Tariff Board not being as effective as some desire. It is, however, not the fault of the board, because it can deal only with requests submitted to it. The bureau, if established, would be able to survey the whole industrial field and prove to the board that whilst a proposed duty might be beneficial to one industry, it might injuriously affect others of equal, if not of greater importance. Whether the results obtained by such a bureau would be worth the expenditure incurred, is entirely another matter. In my opinion they seldom are. At present the Government has delegated its powers to numbers of expensive boards, but we do not seem to be getting any further forward. The Tariff Board itself in a recent report drew attention to the fact that our protective system had reached such an impossible position that we could not carry on much longer in the present way.
Senator Duncan referred to the importance of Australian manufactures and the value of the home market. I assure the honorable senator that the representatives of the primary industries do not under-value the home market. We appreciate its value, and are not unmindful of its worth to the primary producer. Is Senator Duncan of the opinion that the primary producers of Australia wish to turn this great continent into sheep walks or wheat farms, and sweep away all manufactories?
– I did not suggest that.
– That is not the policy of the party to which I have the honour to belong. Our contention is that, in comparison with other sections of the community, we are placed at a disadvantage, and I do not think that
Senator Duncan will deny that. The fact that it has been necessary to pay bounties on certain primary production, is sufficient to prove that an undue burden has been placed upon primary producers. I ask those who believe that Australian manufactures are more important, than primary products, how much of our overseas commitments are paid for with manufactured goods.
– Surely the honorable senator does not suggest that I under estimated the value of primary production?
– As Senator Greene said, we are entitled to draw our own deductions. If I am permitted, sir, I should like to refer to a circular issued by the Country party.
– I intended to bring it forward because it had already been introduced into the debate, without any objection from the Chair. I shall, however, deal with it on a future occasion. In passing, I should like to say that attacks on the Country party by honorable senators who are closely associated with it in this Parliament, are quite uncalled for, and cannot lead to any good result. They are bound to have a bad effect ou the people outside.
It has been said that agricultural machinery is dearer in free trade countries than in protective Australia, and New Zealand has been mentioned as one country in which it is dearer. There can be no comparison between the class of machinery used in New Zealand and that which is used in Australia. The drill used in New Zealand is a heavier and a much costlier machine to manufacture than the drill used in Australia, yet those who make these comparisons would lead us to believe that the two implements are identical. Again, there can be no comparison between Australian machines and American or Canadian. I learned, recently, that the drills used in Canada have only one set of machinery in them : that used for sowing seed. They are not equipped as the Australian drills are with double machines for sowing seed with superphosphates.
– Superphosphates are not used in Canada.
– No ; but when I was at Winnipeg, I saw six Australian drills which had been imported for copying purposes by the Canadian Pacific Railway Company, because some Canadian farmers are now contemplating the use of superphosphates.
– That is a high compliment to the Australian industry.
– Quite so. I have never run the Australian industry down.
– The best agricultural implements in the world have been made in Australia and invented by Australians.
– Yes; and, as I have emphasized before, they have been invented by Australian farmers and not by Australian manufacturers.
If a witness makes an application to have the evidence he is giving before the tariff board taken in secret, the board may accede to his request. There may be good reasons for this, but I claim that those who think that the duties in Australia are, in some cases, too high, should have equal opportunities to those which are afforded to applicants for increased duties. If the evidence given by the applicant is heard in secret the opponents of the application are placed at a tremendous disadvantage in seeking to prove that an increased duty is not warranted. They are not aware of the nature of the evidence given by the other side and they are expected to give their own evidence in public. The two parties are not on an equal footing.
– Can the honorable senator give a case in point where certain evidence has been given in secret and other evidence in public?
– The strongest argument that can be advanced in asking for an increased duty is that the existing rate is not sufficient to enable the manufacturer to compete with imported goods. When applicants for increases are asked to show that they are not getting a sufficient reward from their industries, they claim that they cannot give their figures in public and they are permitted to tender that portion of their evidence in secret. But if I offer to give evidence as one who may be affected by an increase in duty, I must say what I have to say in public without knowing what has been submitted to the board in secret. I have been placed in that position when appearing before the board as a representative of the primary producers of Western Australia. I support the bill and I shall deal with the further legislation foreshadowed in clause 7 when it comes before the Senate.
– I feel somewhat relieved on this the first occasion on which I have represented the Minister for Trade and Customs in this chamber that it is not a debate on a tariff schedule because, judging by the vigor of the exchanges between honorable senators, I can imagine the conflicting points of view that would be taken if a tariff schedule were under discussion. The method of remunerating the members of the Tariff Board has been criticized by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Needham) but it is the method adopted in past legislation and is, I think, the only possible one in the circumstances. The chairman of the board is, and will continue, so far as Ministers can see ai present, to be an officer of the Trade and Customs Department. His remuneration is to be increased by £200. Although the other members of the board are to have an increased fee for each day of sitting, it will not give them any additional remuneration over the twelve months. They are limited to £1,500 a year. I think it would be very unwise to make the members of the Tariff Board permanent officers of the Government. We occasionally need fresh blood, men who are familiar with the ever-changing conditions of trade and commerce and manufacture all over Australia. If we were to standardize the work of the board, making it a sort of bureaucracy, I think it would be detrimental to the proper administration of the act. To shut out men who are interested in current affairs would be to deprive us of the class of persons we need - men who are capable of dealing with commercial questions.
I welcome the encomium passed by the Leader of the Opposition on the members of the Tariff Board when he said that they were beyond reproach or suspicion. The Government is fully sensible of the immense and valuable work done by the board during the past few years. It has rigidly adhered to the parliamentary direction that none of its members shall have a voice in a matter in which he is personally or pecuniarily interested. If the board is to function as Parliament hopes it will, hours of sitting should not count. No judge finishes his day’s work when he steps off the bench. Then comes the time for reflection, consideration and weighing of evidence, and it is these things, which cannot be done until the judge does step off the bench, that turn his hair grey. It is wrong to suggest that the members of the Tariff Board are over paid. We could not do less than we are doing. I almost think that our duty demands that we should do more. I am satisfied that those who are vitally interested in the tariff would rather have their cases determined by competent men than by those who would accept positions on the Tariff Board merely for the remuneration provided. The scheme outlined in 1921 and endorsed when the act was amended in 1924, is the most effective for dealing with tariff problems that has occurred to any one in Australia up to date.
When the Leader of the Opposition was speaking, I made it clear that inquiries are
not conducted in private and that it is only when confidential information is sought
from witnesses that they are heard in camera. It
was provided in the amending bill of 1924 that when the board considers it desirable in
the public interest that certain evidence should not be disclosed, it may be kept
secret. I am informed that only once in one period of nine months, during which one
officer of the department filled the position of the Chairman of the Tariff Board, was
there an instance of a witness having the same experience as Senator Carroll. Several honorable senators have suggested that insufficient
opportunity is afforded third parties to make themselves heard before the Tariff Board.
Ample provision was made in the bill of 1924 for broadcasting the time and place of
sittings of the board. Advertisements have to be inserted in two newspapers circulating
in the place where an inquiry is to be held. Reasonable notice is given of the intention
of the board to hold an inquiry, of the subjects to be investigated and of the times and
places of meetings. Ample opportunity is afforded to
Practically the only other matter that calls for discussion is clause 7. We have prided ourselves that in 1921 this Parliament displayed great wisdom when it appointed a Tariff Board. In the United States of America, a country which has made great progress under protection, the Tariff Board does not rely upon spasmodic assistance from untrained sources. Instead, it calls to its aid men trained in the particular subjects with which it has to deal from time to time. On its own staff there are 27 trained economists. In Australia, on the other hand, the Tariff Board has no one to whom it can appeal for an authoritative opinion as to the effect of certain duties. Unfortunately, little or no research work in the field of economics is undertaken in Australia, either by the Commonwealth or State Governments, or the universities. On the evidence placed before the Tariff Board it is difficult for one not trained in economics to say what is right in certain circumstances.
– Have we not the Melbourne Age to guide us?
– Newspaper economists might satisfy some people; but the Government feels that if the policy of protection is to be worthy of respect and is to operate in the interest of Australia, it must be thoroughly investigated from the economic standpoint. We ought to know the effect of the imposition of certain duties, or of the refusal to impose them. Australia is passing through a period of economic depression. There must be some cause for the unemployment which is rife. The Tariff Board is doing the best it can - and, generally, it is doing remarkably well - but it has insufficient information at its disposal. As in the various spheres of industry it is useless to go for advice to men not trained in the industry, so in tariff matters we should seek the advice of trained economists.
Senator Kingsmill referred to reports of the Tariff Board which are not made available to Parliament. For not acting upon recommendation of the board, the Government must accept full responsibility. It would be extremely unwise to make public the contents of reports which have not been acted upon by the Government. Men in the business world are astute, and the publication of such information would probably lead to undesirable results.
– The publication of such reports would be injudicious if the Government proposed to act on them, but not otherwise.
– Their publication would open the way for persons who desired to do so, to take advantage of the information they contained. SenatorKingsmill mentioned particularly the report of the Tariff Board on peppermint oil, and asked that it be laid on the table. The report of the Tariff Board on peppermint oil was laid on the table on the 2nd December, 1927.
– The board recommended a bounty.
– That is so, But the Government did not see fit to give effect to that recommendation.
– Is not the Government’s action a severe comment on the usefulness of the Tariff Board?
– It was never intended that either the Government or Parliament should necessarily accept the recommendations of the Tariff Board. The Government accepts the responsibility for accepting or refusing its recommendations. I commend the bill to the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In committee -
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 -
Section 8 of the principal act is repealed and the following section inserted in its stead : - . 2.Each of the other members shall receive an allowance of six guineas per sitting, with a maximum in any one year of fifteen hundred pounds.
Amendment (by Senator Needham) proposed -
That the word “six,” sub-section 2, proposed new section 8, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ five.”
Question put. The committee divided -
Majority . . . . 12
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 (Sittings of the board).
– I shall not move an amendment to this clause, but I take the opportunity to repeat what I said in my second-reading speech, that the sittings of the board are being reduced from 6 to 5 days a week. The Minister in charge of the bill, Senator McLachlan, asked me to point out where that was stated. I now direct his attention to a speech made in another place by the Minister for Trade and Customs, in which he said -
It is now proposed to pay the chairman £1,600 a year. The lay members have been in receipt of a fee of five guineas a sitting. They have been sitting practically six days a week all the year round, and have averaged about 300 sitting days a year. … Up to date the amount paid to each of those lay members has been about £1,1500 a year. It is now proposed to increase the fees from five guineas to six guineas a day, and to limit the days of sitting from 6 to 5 a week, and thus cut out meetings on Saturday mornings.
Is Senator McLachlan prepared to accept the statement of the Minister for Trade and Customs and myself?
– I am always willing to accept the statements of Senator Needham, but I point out that no such provision is expressed in the bill, although it appears that is the intention of the administration.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 5 (Appointment of committee).
– I believe that this clause is intended to increase the activities of the board by having more inquiries held within a specified time. If this is so I welcome the innovation. The people of Central Queensland have waited for a long time for a decision of the Tariff Board in connexion with the cotton industry, and an inquiry also has been sought in reference to marble, about which nothing has yet been learned. I trust that this provision will have the effect of expediting and finalizing inquiries.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 6 agreed to.
Clause 7 (Board to confer with Director of Economic Research).
– I think that this clause should not be allowed to remain in the bill. The Tariff Board is quite competent to obtain all the information that is required despite the statement of Senator McLachlan that it is necessary for them to consult with an economic expert. That could be done without incorporating this provision in the bill. The Opposition will oppose its insertion.
Question - That the clause stands as printed - put. The committee divided.
Majority . . . . 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 8 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment.
Suspension of Standing Orders.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) proposed -
That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would prevent the bill being passed through all its stages without delay.
– I do not see the necessity for this motion. I have never yet consented to the suspension of Standing Orders to allow bills to go through their remaining stages without delay unless the matter has been one of urgency. The Leader of the Senate has not suggested urgency in connexion with this measure, which is merely an amendment of the Tariff Board Act. The Tariff Board will continue its activities whether the bill is read a third time now, or this time next year. I suggest to the Leader of the Senate that the measure be allowed to remain at its present stage, and that it be read a third time next week. Honorable senators on this side will not support the suspension of the Standing Orders in order to allow the remaining stages to go through without delay.
Question - That the motion be agreed to - put. The committee divided -
Ayes . . . . 19
Majority . . 12
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
The following paper was presented.
High Court Procedure Act - Rules of Court, dated 5th March, 1929.
[3.31]. - (By leave.) - Because of
the vicissitudes of political warfare and the Constitution under which we are working,
certain honorable senators will not be members of this chamber when it reassembles in
July next. The remarks which I intend to make now would have been postponed until next
week, but for the fact that Senator Needham and
Senator Graham, two of our retiring members, are
leaving this afternoon and will not be with us next week. Senators P. P. Abbott,
Findley, Graham, Needham and Thomas, having been defeated at the election in December
last, will not be members of the Senate after the end of June; and Senator R. H. S. Abbott, who was chosen by the
Parliament of Victoria to fill a casual vacancy in the representation of that State
will also retire then. It is pleasing to reflect that if political warfare is
conducted as it should be it is possible for all who take part in it to retain their
personal friendships. Both parties are represented in the list of defeated candidates
which I have just read, and I feel sure that I am voicing the feelings of all
honorable senators when I say that whilst we all have done our best to bring about the
downfall of political opponents, we deeply regret the severance, for a time at all
events, of personal friendships. Some honorable senators who are about to leave us,
have had a long career in federal politics.
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear!
.- It is my privilege to add a few words to those uttered by the Leader of the Senate. I endorse all that the right honorable gentleman has said. In political warfare, we have our ups and downs; but some honorable senators are more fortunate than others in that they never seem to have any “ downs “. My experience has been such that my sympathy goes out to the man who is down. I have been there myself. I am sincerely sorry that these honorable senators are about to leave us. Senator Needham is a very old personal and political friend. I have not known Senator Graham so long, but I love him none the less. I have known Senator
Thomas, who is not here to-day, longer, perhaps, than any other honorable senator. As a matter of fact, I am egotistical enough to claim that I was responsible for putting him into the Federal Parliament - many years ago. I am sorry that the other honorable senators also arc leaving us, because, while we have our political fights in this chamber, there are in most of us generous impulses and something that appeals. Although in the heat of debate we may give expression to bitter thoughts, it is good to know that even in the worst of our political enemies there is something that we can like. And so we regret to part with them. I am sorry indeed, that an occasion like this arises. It would be much better if, when we were -elected to a place like this, we had no need to worry about the future. If only we could rest assured that we should be here for the rest of our lives we could wax fat in great content. I confess it is somewhat difficult - and also unusual - for me to sit on a rail and make a speech to suit honorable senators on both sides of this chamber; but I can honestly say that I regret the occasion to say good-bye to those who are leaving us. I hope, however, that when the next political fight takes place in the country, the Ministry and its followers will need more stretcher-bearers than we on this side will require. I hope there will be more casualties in the ranks of our opponents than in our own, and that we shall come back to power. If we do, the Senate may rest assured that the members of our party will sympathize with the poor fellows who may have fallen in the struggle.
– I thank the Leader of the Senate
I am concerned, they never have and 1 hope they never will. Public life would not bc worth living if we could not treat each other as nien and still hold our own opinions.
I desire to thank you, Mr. President, for the
kindness and courtesy that you have always extended to me- during the time I have had
the honour to lead the Opposition in this chamber. I extend, also, my thanks to the
chairman of the committee (Senator Plain), who has
always been kind and considerate towards me, and to the Clerk of the Senate and Clerk
Assistant. I also wish particularly to thank the Hansard staff. During my twenty years’ membership of this Parliament, I
have never met better men, and for their assistance, courtesy mid kindness, I thank
them. During the time I have been here, every officer of this Parliament has always met
me as a man, a: id I, in return, have treated them in The same way. Yesterday, I had the
honour of a visit from a gentleman representing the press in the gallery, who called to
express their regret on my leaving the Senate. I thank those gentlemen for the kind
message they sent me. Above all, I have to express my sincere appreciation of the
capable assistance rendered to (me by my secretary,
If I have nothing else, I have this faculty: I have never been unduly elated by success nor depressed by adversity. I am not yet a very old man, and although the ballot registered my political defeat in Western Australia in December last, my political epitaph has yet to be written. I leave this Parliament confident of the fact and happy in the knowledge that I have the respect of honorable senators opposite with whom I have worked.
Hois ok able Senators. - Hear, hear.
– I thank the Leader of the Government in the Senate for his kindness in saying that during our controversies, which have been many, I have never hit below the belt. I can also say the same of honorable senators opposite, who have always treated me fairly. There are some honorable senators who, until recently, wore strangers to me, but I hope I leave them as friends. I thank honorable senators for the good wishes they have expressed to me personally concerning my future. I shall not attempt at this stage to lift the veil that hides the future, but whatever it holds in store, I shall always be proud of the fact that I have had the privilege of being a member of the National Parliament, and have in some humble way assisted in guiding and shaping the destinies of this great Australian nation.
– I wish to thank the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir George Pearce) and other honorable senators who have personally conveyed to me their kind wishes and appreciation of my companionship during the period it has been my privilege to be a member of the National Parliament of Australia. Like the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Needham) I have endeavoured to be fair, and I think I can say that I am leaving this Parliament to-day without an enemy.
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear!
– I have at all times tried to be courteous to all; that is part of my make-up.
Like my colleague, Senator Needham, I am not yet
over 80, and still have a chance of being in another political “ rough-up.”
Very likely, after the next political battle, I shall be as Senator Barnes suggests, not one of those brought in
by a stretcherbearer; but among those rendering first aid to the fallen. I am
delighted that I have had the honour of representing the people of Western
Australia, and to assist to the best of my ability in legislating on their behalf. I
have done my best; I could do no more. Although defeated, like the Australian
soldier I am not downhearted, and I trust I am leaving this Parliament for a time
with the respect and goodwill of honorable senators, irrespective of party. If I
have the good fortune to again be returned to this Parliament, I trust I shall have
the opportunity of renewing acquaintances with all those honorable senators who are
now here. I am now going out into the world to fight life’s battles in another
sphere and I do not know what my lot will be. I wish to thank you, Mr. President, for the courtesy you have always
extended to mp, particularly when T was u new member of this chamber. Old
campaigners such as the Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Pearce, have long since served their
apprenticeship; but the new members have to be trained. At times I came into
conflict with your predecessor, the late
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) agreed to -
That the Senate at its rising adjourn till Tuesday next at 3 p.m.
Senate adjourned at 3.56 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 15 March 1929, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1929/19290315_senate_11_120/>.