11th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. Sir John Newlands) took the chairat 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Pearce) if the report of the South Australian Disabilities Commission has been received, and, if so, when it will be made available to honorable senators?
– The report has been received; but as Ministers have not yet had an opportunity of perusing it, I cannot say when it will be available.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs if it is a fact that, notwithstanding the definite promise made to those engaged in the cotton industry, that action would be taken by the Government early this year to deal with the report of the Tariff Board, the Government has announced in another place that it isnot proposed to act until Parliament re-assembles?
– I shall endeavour to obtain an answer to the honorable senator’s question before the Senate rises to-night.
L have now been advised by the Ministor for Home Affairs as follows: -
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.;The answers are ;
The following paper was presented: -
Norfolk Island - Report for the year ended 30th .lune, .1028.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended, and bill (on motion by Senator Ogden) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This is a short measure consisting of nine clauses, most of which relate to formal matters. Its main object is to make the conditions of those occupying or wishing to acquire war service homes more liberal than at present. It will permit of the transfer of a war service home from an ex-soldier to a civilian on terms to he fixed by the “War Service Homes Commission. Under the existing law that cannot be done unless cash is paid to the department, but this bill provides that a home may be sold to a civilian under certain terms and conditions of transfer, although these will not, of course, be as liberal as those available to ex-soldiers. Another amendment relates to the requirement that a home shall be kept in repair, and substitutes for the word “tenantable” the words “ good order and condition. “ An alteration of policy is involved in a further amendment adopted yesterday in another place. Under the existing act the maximum advance for a home is ?800, which in special circumstances, may be increased to ?950. It is now considered desirable that the higher amount should be raised to the limit allowed under the Commonwealth Housing Act, namely ?1,800. Honorable senators are aware that the Commonwealth Housing Act, passed last year, provides for advances for the construction of homes, but as the Commonwealth did not wish to set up its own machinery, to carry out such work, it was provided in the act that the money could be advanced through the Commonwealth Bank to certain prescribed authorities, who would be responsible for its expenditure. It is now proposed to constitute the War Service
Homes Commission a prescribed authority under the Commonwealth Housing Act, and a returned soldier applicant who so desires may obtain the full amount of ?1,800; but interest on the difference between the ?800 or .?950 and the ?1,800, which can now he made available, will be at a higher rate. Interest on the ?800 or ?950 as the case may be, will be 5 per cent, as in the past, but on any higher amount it will be 5
– These advances will be available only to returned soldiers?
– Yes. The rate of interest on the additional amount will be governed by the ruling rate.
– Under present conditions, this additional benefit would appear to be of no advantage to applicants in Queensland.
– The Queensland State authorities have refused to fall in with the Commonwealth housing scheme. I am not able to say at the moment exactly what course will be followed, but the responsibility appears to rest with the Queensland Government.
– If the original amount is obtained from the “War Service Homes Commission, why cannot an additional amount, if required, be obtained from the same source at a higher rate?
– The War Service Homes Commission will be the only authority with which the applicant has to deal and it will be responsible for the collection of interest and repayments of principle.
– Would an applicant have to apply to the War Service Homes Commission or arrange for an advance under the Commonwealth housing scheme ?
– Application would have to be made to the War Service Homes Commission. I do not know if there will be many applications for the higher amount; but the main object of the measure is to make conditions better for returned soldiers who are occupying or who wish to acquire or dispose of war service homes.
Debate (on motion by Senator Daly) adjourned.
. I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This is a purely formal measure. It provides that the levies to be collected under the Dried Fruits Export Charges Act may be paid to the Markets and Transport Department instead of to the Customs Department. When that legislation was enacted the former department had no facilities for collecting the levies.
They were, therefore, collected by the Customs Department, and later transferred to the Markets and Transport Department. The Customs Department desires to be relieved of the responsibility of collecting these levies, and as the Markets and Transport Department is now in a position to collect them, the bill has been introduced to enable that to be clone.
– Will the same machinery for collection be utilized?
– There will merely be a transfer from one department to another. The bill also contains a provision that small quantities of dried fruits which do not involve a levy of more than 2s. shall be exempt. The object of that provision is to allow ships’ stores to be taken on board without the payment of a levy, because the cost of collecting the levy would be greater than the amount collected.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Order of the day called on for resumption of debate from 20th February (vide page 367), on motion by Senator Sir George Pearce -
That the paper be printed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 15th February, (vide page 319), on motion by Senator McLachlan -
That the paper be printed.
Senator McLACHIAN (South Australia - Honorary Minister [3.22]. - Because of the influence of the League of Nations in securing peace, I regret that honorable senators have not availed themselves of the opportunity to discuss at length a matter of such importance as the Report of the Ninth Assembly.
In closing the debate, I desire to reply to some remarks made by my honorable and gallant friend, Senator Sampson, as to the method I adopted in reporting to this chamber the result of my attendance at Geneva as the leader of the Australian delegation. I regret my inability to express myself with the Etonian eloquence of the honorable senator; but in dealing with the matters which arose at the Assembly, I felt that I should be meticulously careful. The reports submitted to the legislature by our representatives at Geneva from time to time are of such a nature as to demand great care. Nothing should be overstated, otherwise the leader of the next delegation would have to be at some pains to set the matter right. In presenting my report I followed a course which, I think, any one who acts in a similar capacity at Geneva will find necessary. I was careful both of the accuracy of my statements and of the language in which they were expressed. In the discussions which take place at the League of Nations, both the French and English languages are used. It is difficult at times for men of other nationalities to understand the Australian point of view. Sometimes difficulties arise which, perhaps, only a lawyer can appreciate. On one occasion, at a meeting of the Third Committee, I was bold enough, after careful thought, to prepare an amendment to a certain draft then under discussion. I adapted my language to the English translation. Sitting next to me was an eminent German legal luminary, Baron von Simpson, who spoke both French and English fluently. I submitted the draft of my amendment to him for his consideration, and he thought it was just what the committee was looking for. “With a view to avoiding po’ssible misunderstanding, I also consulted Lord Cushenden, the leader of the British Delegation, who called to his aid Sir Cecil Hirst, England’s greatest authority on the League of Nations, and a lawyer of eminence. Fortified with the approval of those eminent authorities, I ventured to offer my amendment to the committee. The subject under discussion had then been well debated, and as my amendment had the approval of every
English linguist present, I expected that it would be accepted almost without question. But, when it was translated by the rapporteur, and read to the committee, it was received in solemn silence. It was passed by almost without a word. One must experience such an atmosphere to appreciate the difficulty which the language barrier presents. At a meeting of representatives of so many nations, itis difficult to obtain proper intellectual co-operation, because of the difficulty of expressing in English what may be effectively expressed in French. I mention these matters by way of justification of my action.
It is gratifying to realise that the League of Nations is becoming a more practical instrument year by year. A few years ago we spoke of universal peace in general terms as an ideal worthy of accomplishment; to-day we speak of it as an ideal capable of attainment. Reports made by the delegates of the several nations on their return are watched carefully by men whose aim is to secure peace throughout the world. If I owe an apology to this Chamber for the method I adopted in submitting my report, I offer the explanation I have given as my reason. I desired my remarks to be accurate, so that, whoever led the next Australian delegation to Geneva would not be embarrassed by anything I said.
Some honorable senators appear somewhat disappointed that the Report of the Ninth Assembly does not give fuller details of many matters in which they are personally interested; but if they will study the document carefully they will find that, although there are not always full reports of the debates and discussions, it contains a summary of th« decisions arrived at. Perhaps Senator Sampson took a wider view of the matter of disarmament when he expressed the wish that I should say something more with regard to the subject, and as other honorable senators may desire to hear this aspect of the League’s work dealt with more elaborately than in my report, I shall devote a few minutes to it.
Article 8 of the Covenant of the League provides that the members of the League of Nations recognize that maintenance of peace requires the reduction of national armaments to the lowest point consistent with national safety, and the enforcement by common action of international obligations. It goes on to provide that the Council should formulate plans of such reduction, which would be subject to reconsideration and revision every ten years, and, once adopted by Governments, the limits fixed by them should not be exceeded without the concurrence of the Council. It cannot be said that the League wasted any time in commencing to deal with the subject, for in 1920 it appointed a Permanent Advisory Commission to advise the Council on this, amongst other military, naval and air matters, and in 1921 the Council appointed a temporary mixed commission to prepare reports and proposals for the reduction of armaments in accordance with Article S. The Temporary Mixed Commission came to the conclusion, so often arrived at since, that schemes for direct limitation must be preceded by the provision of security. The search for a sound basis of security resulted in the proposed Treaty of Mutual Assistance of 1923 and the Protocol of 1924. When these had failed and another step, the group of Locarno Treaties, had, it was hoped, created a better moral atmosphere for some measure of disarmament, the Assembly returned again to the question and appointed a Preparatory Disarmament Commission. This met for the first time in May, 1926, and set to work to obtain information to assist in determining principles and methods of reduction and limitation of armaments, and when it met in March, 1927, the British and French Governments each submitted a draft convention. The Commission, endeavoured to assimilate these into one draft to serve as a basis of discussion, but The difficulties have, so far, proved insurmountable. The general principles of limitation of land and air forces are not generally in dispute. The one must be by limiting effectives, the other by limiting the number and horse power of aircraft. But opinion is divided on such fundamental questions as to how the number of trained effectives is to be estimated, how one is to deal with the problems raised by schemes for national mobilization in time of war, and what form the limitation of expenditure on armaments should take. In the naval sphere the whole basis of limitation still remains to be determined.
The draft was discussed in November, 1927, and the Commission met again in March, 1928, but still no progress was made. It seemed that progress was impossible unless some of the most fundamental differences could be disposed of between the principal Powers. During 1928 the British and French naval delegates arrived at a basis of agreement on the subject of naval strengths, which was also acceptable to Japan. It was hoped that this basis would meet the demand of the United States, that they must be able to build a sufficient number of large cruisers, but this proved to be an error, and both the United States and Italy intimated that the basis of agreement was unacceptable to them. The ninth Assembly of the League in September had, therefore, only a record of disappointments before it, but it maintained its spirit of hope, and directed the Preparatory Commission to meet again. This meeting has now been fixed for the loth April. Honorable senators will agree that it is undesirable to say anything more in regard to the matter, or to give any information additional to that conveyed in the report which has been printed. No doubt the temporary failure of the Preparatory Commission has caused a number of the adherents of the League a tremendous amount of disappointment. But those of us who hope, and indeed pray, for the success of the League of Nations in its tremendously important mission, realize that disarmament is but a relative term. As I have already pointed out, the necessity is for the minds of the people to be trained by a process of intellectual co-operation, which really means the inoculation of the mind with peace. The reduction of armaments is of tremendous importance to the world at this juncture, so that the earnestness and loyalty of those who form the League of Nations may be evidenced by their practical adherence to the cause of peace. By instilling that desire into the minds of the people the League of Nations is doing something practical in the realm of the world’s peace.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed (vide page 1604).
– It is not the intention of the Opposition to oppose the passage of this measure, and I should not have risen but for the fact that we need some information from the Minister regarding proposed new section 39, and sub-section 2 of proposed new section 50c. The Treasurer in his budget speech delivered on the 30th August last said -
The Government considers the time has arrived when the interest and rent on war service homes should properly be credited to revenue and set off against the interest payable by the Commonwealth on loans raised for war service homes purposes.
I should like to know the reason for that change of policy. I understand that that question was raised in another place, but, unfortunately, proofs of the speeches that were then delivered are not yet available to honorable senators. I ask the Minister to explain why the moneys mentioned in this amending bill are to be paid into Consolidated Revenue instead of into a separate trust fund, as hitherto. Probably good reasons exist for the change, but the Minister did not explain the matter when moving the second reading of the bill. Subject to that information being satisfactory, the Opposition see no reason why the measure should not be accepted in its entirety.
.- I had intended to wait until the bill reached the committee stage in order to obtain some information from the Minister in regard to proposed section 50c, but I. bring the matter up now to give the honorable senator an opportunity to investigate it. I believe that honorable senators are heartily in accord with the principles of the bill. It has been apparent for a long time that many returned soldiers would have availed themselves of the provisions of the War Service Homes Act, had it not been for the fact that the amount granted was insufficient to enable them to erect a dwelling adequate for the needs of themselves and their families. The amending provision which makes available the sum of £1800 will surmount that difficulty, and will be ap preciated and availed of by many returned soldiers. It reads - 50c. - (1.) The Governor-General may make regulations providing for the constitution of the commissioner as an authority under the Commonwealth Housing Act 1927-1928 and for the modification of the provisions of the Commonwealth Housing Act 1927-1928 to enable the commissioner to act as an authority thereunder :
Section 4 of the Commonwealth Housing Act defines “ Authority “ as -
A prescribed Commonwealth, Territorial, State or Municipal Authority which administers a scheme for providing or assisting in providing dwelling houses.
Up to the present no State or municipal authorities have taken advantage of the provisions of the act.
– Oh, yes they have. Queensland is practically the only State that is standing out.
– I understand proposed new section 50c to mean that any applicant to a State or municipal authority may obtain the benefits provided under the Commonwealth Housing Act. Am I correct in that assumption ?
– Anybody may obtain an advance up to £1,800 under the Commonwealth Housing Act.
– Different people have inquired of me what they are to do in order to obtain the advantages of its provisions. They have referred to the State and municipal authorities and have been informed that there is “ nothing doing.”
– The act has only recently come into operation.
– I welcome this bill because it clears away those difficulties.
– Its provisions are intended only for returned soldiers.
– I do not see how that can be read into the measure. I take it that any qualified resident of Australia may make application for an advance up to £1,800. If the Commissioner is made an authority under the War Service Homes Act, I assume it is with the object of enabling returned soldiers to reap the advantage of an act which it was intended to apply to the people generally. I hope that the Minister will be able to make the position absolutely clear.
.- The Minister, in reply to an interjection, informed us that despite the refusal of the Queensland State Government to operate the provisions of the Commonwealth Housing Act, returned soldiers in that State will be able to obtain advances under the Housing Act through the War Service Homes Commissioner. I know of no reason why the Queensland Government should have refused to operate the Commonwealth Housing Act, but I should like to have an assurance from the Minister that returned soldiers in Queensland will not be denied privileges which are enjoyed by returned soldiers in other States. I understand that since Hie War Service Homes Commissioner is to be made an authority under the Commonwealth Housing Act returned soldiers in Queensland may apply for loans in excess of the £800 or £950 allowed under the War Service Homes Act.
– The War Service Homes Commissioner will be a prescribed authority, and will take the place of a State instrumentality.
– That is quite satisfactory from the point of view of the returned soldiers in Queensland, but other citizens in that State, because of the refusal of the Queensland Government to accept the Commonwealth housing scheme, will not be in the same position. There is another point. Under the War Service Homes Act the rate of interest on advances is fixed at 5 per cent. If returned soldiers apply for and are granted advances up to £1,800, will the interest charge be 5 per cent, on the total, or 5 per cent, on the original amount, and 6 per cent, or 6£ per cent, on the difference between that sum, and the amount obtained under the Housing Act? In the majority of cases advances under the Housing Act will be for the purpose of adding to or altering existing homes.
– An applicant will pay the higher rate of interest on the difference between the two amounts.
– Has the South Australian Government accepted the Commonwealth housing scheme?
– Senator Daly asked why the interest and rents received under this scheme will be paid to the Consolidated Revenue instead of to a separate fund. The Treasurer has always made available a certain amount of loan money for the construction of war service homes, and hitherto the rents collected and interest payments have been paid to a separate fund which now amounts to about £4,000,000; but the Treasurer has not received interest upon the loan money advanced. This year, it is proposed to charge all works against loans, and interest and rents received will be a set-off against the interest charged on the total amount of loan money advanced. Last year, the provision from loan was £1,000,000, and £800,000 was obtained by the War Service Homes Commission from the fund mentioned. It is not proposed to interfere with that fund, but it is intended to pay interest and rents to the Consolidated Revenue for the purpose indicated.
– Will that procedure in any way restrict the amount of loan money to be made available?
– The honorable senator need not have any fear on that score. I can assure Senator Payne that proposed new section 50c is pretty definite. No civilian will be able to obtain concessions under this bill. It is intended to apply only to returned soldiers. The proviso to the proposed new section states that the regulations will not empower the Commissioner to advance more than the difference between the amount which may be advanced under the War Service Homes Act and £1,800, the maximum advance allowed under the Commonwealth Housing Act. In reply to Senator Hoare’s question, I can inform him that South Australia has accepted the Commonwealth housing scheme.
Question resolved in tho affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 8 agreed to.
Clause 9 (Regulations constituting the Commissioner as authority under Commonwealth Housing Act 1927-28).
– I have to thank the Minister for his reply to the point which I raised during the second-reading debate on this bill; but I should like more information about this clause. It is difficult to understand why it has been deemed necessary to appoint the “War Service Homes Commissioner an authority under the Commonwealth Housing Act, in view of the fact that citizens who are entitled to the benefits of that law are not to be allowed to make application to him. He will have no authority to make advances to other than returned soldiers. However, the Minister has given an explanation and we must accept it. Under the Housing Act advances are authorized up to £1,800. Possibly this is one reason why the provisions of that act are to be operated by the War Service Homes Commission. Obviously it would be useless to provide for advances unless the money were available. I assume, therefore, that the Government proposes to utilize the funds raised under the Housing Act to enable the War Service Homes Commissioner to makeadvances in excess of the amount authorized under the War Service Homes Act.
– This bill is for returned soldiers only, and the purpose of the new section is to constitute the War Service Homes Commissioner an authority under the Commonwealth Housing Act. The Government thinks it is no longer necessary for the War Service Homes Commissioner to make these increased advances to returned soldiers for housing purposes, now that the Housing Act provides for advances to be made to any constituted authority. This bill, dealing as it does with returned soldiers only, will not permit of advances being made under it to any other than returned soldiers.
.- I want it to be understood that I heartily approve of returned soldiers securing larger advances for the building of homes. My objection has always been to the limitation on the advance that may be made for that purpose. What I want to know now is whether the general public may, through the War Service Homes Commissioner, secure advances under the Commonwealth Housing Act in States where the local authorities have refused to take advantage of the provisions of that act?
Senatorogden. - The benefits of this bill will be confined to returned soldiers.
Clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Business of the Senate - Cotton Industry - “ Hansard “ Proofs.
[4.7]. - As the Senate has outpaced another place in dealing with the legislation available for consideration, and as it is evident that no further bills will be received from another place until to-morrow, I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
The measures still to be dealt with are the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Bill, which constitutes a war pensions appeal board, and a small bill amending the National Debt Sinking Fund Act. I do not know of any other measures that are likely to come forward. If there are any, they will not be of much importance.
– Since Senator Greene asked me certain questions this afternoon relating to the report of the Tariff Board on cotton, I have had an opportunity to make a hurried perusal of the statement made on this subject in another place at an early hour this morning by the Minister for Trade and Customs. It appears that some time in May last the late Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. H. E. Pratten), pursuant to a promise made by him, referred the matter of cottongrowing and cotton manufactures to the Tariff Board for consideration and report. The application submitted to the board was three-barrelled - a request for a bounty on seed cotton, a request for a bounty on yarn, and a request for a customs duty on imported yarn. The report of the board, which has just been received by the present Minister for Trade and Customs, is exceedingly voluminous and complex, but the Minister assured another place that he would give it immediate consideration with a view to submitting certain recommendations to Cabinet. He elaborated the complexity of the position, and apparently he finds that the difficulties confronting him demand from him the closest and most careful consideration, not only of the recommendations of the Tariff Board, but also of the evidence it took. I can only repeat his promise, that a statement of the Government’s intentions with regard to the recommendations made by the Tariff Board on cotton will be made at an early date. If any further information on the subject comes to hand by tomorrow I shall make it available to the honorable senator.
– In order that the work of the Senate may be facilitated to-morrow, I suggest that Hansen d proofs of the debate, which is now taking place in another place, be made available in the party rooms. [n the South Australian Parliament each morning uncorrected proofs of the speeches made in both Houses on the preceding day are placed in the party rooms, and members of the Opposition are thus afforded an opportunity to follow the replies given by Ministers to queries raised during the course of debate in either House. If honorable senators could read the replies given by Ministers to-day to questions raised in another place by members of the Opposition, it would, possibly, prevent them from taking up the time of the Senate to-morrow by raising the same queries. Otherwise we will be in the position I was in this afternoon when I was endeavouring to obtain from the Ministers in charge of the War Service Homes Bill information in relation to a certain provision in the measure.
– I can only express my keen disappointment at the statement which has just been made by Senator McLachlan, because there is a great deal more involved in the subject than he apparently understands or knows. In the first place he made no answer to one part of the question I addressed to him earlier in the afternoon relating to a concrete promise or pledge that on the eve of the election was given by the Prime Minister on behalf of the Government, and was reiterated throughout the length and breadth of Queensland. It was, in effect, that the Government would ask Parliament to deal with the report of the Tariff Board on cotton as soon as the report was received very early in the new year. That promise was made as a result of representations to the Prime Minister and the Government by all interests concerned, and their ramifications are very extensive, that something should be done to enable arrangements to be made for the coming season so that growers of cotton would get the benefit of this year’s marketing in Australia. It is utterly impossible for that to happen now, because once this Parliament rises the position will be left exactly as it was, and once more practically the whole of the Australian cotton crop will have to be sent overseas. A definite promise was obtained f rom the Prime Minister to prevent the local growers from losing the benefit of the local market and local prices; but that cannot now be avoided. As one who, in consequence of my business associations, acts as a pivot on which this industry revolves, I was asked by manufacturers and those engaged in the production of cotton if the promise of the Prime Minister could be relied upon. I said, “Absolutely. You can take the word of the Government that it will do what it says.” Where do we stand now? Surely when a definite promise was made to representatives of an important industry by the head of the Government in specific and unequivocal terms, we had a right to believe that the promise could be relied upon. The harm that has now bee, done will affect not only this year’s operations, but also militate against work that otherwise would possibly have been undertaken next year. Those interested in the industry have been pressing for some alteration in the assistance rendered in order to obtain a better return to the growers and thus induce them to continue planting. One of the difficulties associated with this industry from its inception has been the uncertainty concerning the action which the Government proposed to take. We have always been in doubt and the result has been that the area under cotton has not increased. This year the growers will not receive an increase in price, and they do not know what is likely to happen next year. Parliament will not meet before the planting season commences, so that in any case the growers cannot obtain any benefits from Government action before the planting season commences. Surely we are entitled to the fulfilment of a definite promise? I could say a good deal more on this important subject, but I do not know that any good purpose would he served by doing so. I do not think those responsible for postponing a decision understand the trouble that will be occasioned in business circles. It is almost impossible to carry on when -we do not know what may happen from day to day. The report of the Tariff Board has been in the hands of the Government for the last fortnight, and I venture to say that, notwithstanding the importance and ramifications of the cotton industry, a decision could be reached after two days’ solid consideration of its recommendations. The Tariff Board has, I understand, made concrete recommendations, although I do not know what they are. Surely the Government can make up its mind, but nothing of any use nan be done without the approval of Parliament. Assuming for the sake of argument, that the Tariff Board recommends the imposition of a higher duty on cotton yarn or other cotton products, the Government cannot act without the authority of Parliament. It would be fatal and stupid of the Government to intimate that it intended to impose a higher duty when Parliament was not in session. If, on the other hand, the Government intends to increase the bounty, it cannot act without the authority of Parliament. The whole situation is most unsatisfactory, and very disappointing, and it is beyond my comprehension that, in view of the definite promise given by the Prime Minister by word of mouth and in writing, the industry should be confronted with such a position. I cannot make myself believe that there has been insufficient time. There has been ample time. There is an old saying that “ where there is a will there is a way.”
– I feel keenly disappointed with the announcement of the Honorary Minister (Senator McLachlan) in connexion with the cotton industry. It has a more personal application in my case than in the case of Senator Green because I am shortly returning to the district where most of the cotton is grown, and of whichRockhampton is the centre. I shall be taxed on every band with the sins of the Government in this respect, and I shall not have a satisfactory answer to give. I am not a sufficiently experienced politician to know whether there is a way out of the present difficulty, but perhaps the Government will give the subject immediate consideration after the House rises and intimate that it intends to increase the bounty. That would induce the growers to put larger areas under cotton during the coming season. I agree with Senator Greene that it is, of course, impracticable whilst Parliament is in recess to intimate that it is proposed to increase the duty on cotton yarn; but possibly the Government could announce that, on the re-assembling of Parliament, it proposed to increase the bounty. Ifsuch a pronouncement were made the growers would be encouraged to place additional areas under cotton. So far as I can see, that is the only way out of the difficulty. It is practically impssible to bring down a measure embracing the three important headings at this stage of the session; but in order to keep faith with the growers in central Queensland, I suggest that perhaps assistance may be rendered in the form of an increased bounty announcement at the earliest possible date.
[4.23]. - In regard to Senator Daly’s suggestion that it would facilitate business if uncorrected proofs of the speeches delivered in this chamber and another place were made available each morning to members of both Houses to assist them in dealing with the measures brought before Parliament, I think the honorable senator would find that there would be strong objection to such a proposal. Owing to a printer’s error or the inability of Hansard sometimes to hear exactly what was said, I am afraid that all sorts of interminable disputes might arise if honorable senators were to quote from unrevised proofs. Such a request is not within the power of the Government to grant; but I remind Senator Daly that an honorable senator can, with the consent of the person delivering the speech, obtain an uncorrected proof. It is only a matter of asking the Minister or honorable senator concerned if he has an objection to an uncorrected proof being supplied.
In regard to the point raised by Senator Greene regarding the report of the Tariff Board on the cotton industry, I can only say that the Government regrets very much the position which has arisen in connexion with this most important industry. I think I am correct in saying that I first saw the report of the Tariff Board only ten days ago. As I was the Minister for Home and Territories who drafted the original legislation under which the Commonwealth assisted the cotton industry, I have always taken more than an ordinary interest in its welfare. Owing to the numerous matters that have had to be considered’ during the last fortnight, I have not had time to do more than cursorily glance through the report, which involves questions of’ great magnitude. The recommendations of the board could not be dealt with lightly, or with very great despatch. They involve matters requiring considerable study, and are of such a nature that no Government would have been justified in dealing with them hastily in the short period that has elapsed since the report was received. It is regrettable; but it would be more regrettable if, because of the promise made by the Prime Minister - the nature of which, or the circumstances in which it was made I am not acquainted with - the Government altered itspresent policy, without full consideration. I remind honorable senators that there is already on the statute-book legislation which will remain in operation for the purpose of assisting the cotton industry. The question now is what amendments, if any, should be made. I think Senator Greene will admit that if the legislation were amended without full considera tion of the whole circumstances, the result might be more detrimental to the industry than that of allowing the present conditions to continue. The Government deeply regrets that insufficient time has been available to properly consider this most important matter; proper consideration should be given to all phases of the industry before any drastic alteration is made. All we can do is to make it a subject for the earliest possible consideration after Parliament has risen, and then decide whether any announcement can be made that will re-assure those who feel that their interests are being jeopardized at present. That will depend, as Senator Greene said, on the nature of the proposals. If they are in the form of higher duties on cotton yarn no announcement could, of course, be made. But if it should be a matter of adjusting the bounty, possibly at an early date some intimation could be made which would re-assure the various interests involved. Such a pronouncement would have to be subject to Parliamentary ratification when we re-assembled.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 4.30 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 21 March 1929, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1929/19290321_senate_11_120/>.