12th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. W. Kingsmill) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– On the 21st May Senator Sampson asked the following question, upon notice -
What was the percentage of strength to establishment, by battalions, in the Commonwealth Militia Forces, as at 3 lst March, 1931?
I am now in a position to inform the honorable member as follows : -
Motion (by SenatorBarnes) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave of absence for two months be granted to Senator Dunn on account of urgent privatebusiness.
The following papers were presented : -
Public Service Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1031, No. 54.
North Australia - Report by the Government Resident on the Administration for the yearended 30th June, 1930.
Northern AustraliaAct -
Central Australia -
Public Service Ordinance - Regulations amended.
Ordinance No. 7 of1931 - Education.
Public Service Ordinance - Regulations amended.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act-
Ordinance No. 9 of 1931 - Canberra Social Service Association (Windingup).
Loss of Southern Cloud - Report by Air Accidents Investigation Committee.
Naval Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1931, ‘No. 52, No. 56.
Regulations : Formal Motion for Adjournment
– I have to inform the Senate that I have received from Senator Sir George Pearce a letter intimating that this afternoon he intends to move “ That the Senate at its rising adjourn till 10 a.m. to-morrow “ for the purpose of discussing a matter of urgent public importance, namely, “ The action of the Government in again gazetting fresh regulations under the Transport Workers Act 1928-1929, and in order to draw attention to an act of administrative lawlessness on the part of the Government in gazetting and enforcing regulations disallowed by the Senate, thereby abusing the conditional lawmaking power delegated to the Government by Parliament, and violating section 53 of the Constitution, under which the Senate is protected in the enjoyment of equal power with the House of Representatives in respect of all proposed laws’”. Is the motion supported?
Four honorable senators having risen in theirplaces.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia) [3.9]. - I move -
That the Senate at its rising adjourn till 10 a.m. to-morrow.
I do this for the purpose of discussing the action of the Government in again gazetting fresh regulations under the Transport Workers Act 1928-1929, and in order to draw attention to an act of administrative lawlessness on the part of the Government in gazetting and enforcing regulations disallowed by the Senate, thereby abusing the conditional lawmaking power delegated to the Government by Parliament, and violating section 53 of the Constitution under which the Senate is protected in the enjoyment of “ equal power with the House of Representatives in respect of all proposed laws “.
I want to take the opportunity to give a brief history of what has led up to this action on the part of the Government. It is most interesting and can be traced back to February last. I quote the following from the Argus of the 19th February, 1931:-
Static of Emergency Proposed by Leftwing.
Mr. Theodore andBanks.
Proposals for the proclamation of a state of national emergency, followed by a period of government by theFederal Labour party, based on regulation and not subject to the existing Constitution, were submitted by members of the Left Wing when the Federal Labour Caucus commenced its meetings in Canberra to -day.
The report goes on to state that -
Senator Rae (New South Wales) moved that in view of the critical situation facing Australia the Commonwealth Government should declare a state of emergency and administer the finances of the country by regulation. This was seconded by Mr. Eldridge ( Martin, New South Wales ) . Those favouring this drastic action pointed out that Australia was facing a period of extreme difficulty, the Labour party was handicapped by the Constitution, and was unable constitutionally to take the course of action that it desired to take.
The report also states that -
Government should be by regulations and these could be made all embracing, bringing financial institutions, as well as other organizations, under the direct control of the Government. The Government’s reply to these arguments was that no power existed for the proclamation of a national emergency, except; (a) in time of war, and (b) in time of serious industrial disturbance. Neither of. these situations existed at the moment. The party was counselled by Mr. Scullin and Mr. Theodore to beas patient as possible, while the Government’s negotiations with the banks were carried through.
In the same newspaper of the same date, the following paragraph appeared: -
Declaring that the political machine was insufficient to cope with the industrial and economic situation the secretary of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions (Mr. C. Crofts) when addressing the congress of the council to-day, said that the executive considered that the only way to obtain satisfaction would he a declaration by the Federal Government of a state of national emergency.
Then follows this very pregnant sentence : -
If such a declaration were made decisions of the Arbitration Court could be over-ridden and whatever industrial conditions were wanted could be obtained.
An interesting feature is that the regulations which we are now considering are over-riding an award of the Arbitration Court, tinder which the court refused to give preference to members of the Waterside Workers Federation. By the regulations which have been promulgated the Government has over-ridden an award of the Arbitration Court by giving preference to members of the Waterside Workers Federation. In the Melbourne Argus of the 20th February, 1931- the day following that on which the paragraph I have just quoted appeared - the following was published : -
The general strike proposal has been temporarily shelved by the Australasian Council of Trade Unions in favour of a request to the Federal Ministry to declare a state of national emergency. A deputation consisting of the president (Mr. W. J. Duggan), the secretary (Mr. C. Crofts), Mr. J. H. Garden, Mr. T. P. Holloway (Australian Workers Union), Mr. B. Hoare (Miners Federation) and Mr. A. E. Chapman (Australian Railways Union), left by motor car to-day for Canberra to place the decision of the congress before the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin). If the request be refused, delegates will immediately press for a general strike.
In the Argus of the followingday, appears a résumé of the caucus meeting -
– The Leader of the Opposition prefaced his remarks by stating that he proposed to give a history of the case, and is now, I understand, leading up to the present position.
– These regulations have a direct bearing on the proposal for government by regulation, which, in my opinion, constitutes the source from which this decision of the Government has sprung. After hearing Mr. Theodore’s explanation of the Government’s policy, the following resolution was passed by the Labour caucus : -
That this party approves of the Commonwealth Government continuing negotiations with the banks on the lines laid down by the Prime Minister and Mr. Theodore. In the event of those negotiations failing the Government is instructed to proceed to secure legislative power to give effect to the platform ofthe party with regard to banking and currency.
Those conditions have been fulfilled. Negotiations with the banks were continued and the Government then proceeded to bring its banking and currency policy into effect by legislation ; but owing to the action of the Senate, failed to do so. The Government is now adopting the third alternative suggested by Senator Rae, which read -
That the Government, by proclamation, declare the existence of a statu of national emergency, and proceed to govern Australia by regulations on the lines of the War Precautions Act.
That was put to a vote, only five members of the party voting in favour of it. When the Prime Minister received a delegation from the Australian Transport Workers Union, he refused to do what it asked. He was supported by the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Brennan), who outlined the legal difficulties. That is the history up to the present time. After having exhausted two methods, the Government is now doing exactly what Senator Rae proposed with respect to the power of government by regulation - that is, to endeavour to govern the country by regulations where it has failed to govern it by legislation or under awards of the Arbitration Court. Prior to the last general election the Government promised, if returned, to repeal the
Transport Workers Act, but it has made no attempt to give effect to that pledge. Having failed in that regard, it is now adopting SenatorRae’s proposal, and endeavouring to do by regulation what it cannot do by legislation, orunder an award of the Arbitration Court. The latest regulation promulgated is very interesting in this regard. The wording is exactly the same as that of the regulations which the Senate has disallowed, but the clauses have been transposed. That is a nice subterfuge to employ! Is it suggested that this transposition will make any difference to the regulations?
They read -
Regulations Under the Transport Workers
I, the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, acting with the advice of the Federal Executive Council, hereby make the following Regulations under the Transport Workers Act 1928-1929, to come into operation forthwith.
Dated this 22nd day of May, 1931.
Penalty: Ten pounds or imprisonment for one month.
Penalty: Ten pounds or imprisonment for one month.
Penalty: Ten pounds or imprisonment for one month.
Motion (by Senator Reid) agreed to -
That the document quoted by Senator Pearce during his speech, be laid upon the table.
– The opening remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) were entirely irrelevant to this discussion because they had nothing to do “with regulations applying to waterside workers. The right honorable gentleman said that the history of the action of the Government in this regard could be traced back to February of this year, when a proposal was made that the Government should declare a state of emergency, and administer the affairs of the country by regulation. He thereby postulated that the Government has power to issue regulations in times of emergency, such as a war or a great industrial upheaval. These regulations were gazetted, not because of the existence of a state of war or any other similar national emergency, but in order to allay disturbances which had taken place in an industry of importance to the people of Australia.
– And to overcome an award of the Arbitration Court.
– This Government has not violated any award of the court; but the Government of which the right honorable gentleman was a member did so in .connexion with Commonwealth employees to whom arbitration awards applied. That Government entered into agreements with contractors who undertook work for the Commonwealth, through the Works Department, which provided for preference being given first to returned soldiers, and then to trade unionists, notwithstanding that the Arbitration Court had not provided for such preferences. Even if the Government has been guilty of a breach of an arbitration award, it has only followed the example set by the previous ‘ Government. The right honorable gentleman gave less attention than he ought to have done to the manner of his approach to the consideration of these regulations. The quotations he made do not apply to the circumstances surrounding the gazettal of these regulations. The words “ proposed laws “ in section 53 of the Constitution clearly refer to bills. These regulations are not bills; they are laws. A little further study of Part V. of Chapter 1 of the Constitution would demonstrate that fact to the right honorable senator beyond all doubt. Those words occur repeatedly in the Constitution, and are . used throughout without any change in their meaning.
Particularly pertinent is section 58, “ When a proposed law passed by both Houses of the Parliament is presented to the Governor-General for the Queen’s assent,” &c. This shows conclusively that these “ proposed laws “ are bills. Again, if it is still necessary to burn daylight in order to expose the fallacy, these regulations are existing laws. They cannot, therefore, be “ proposed laws.” I hope the right honorable the Leader of the Opposition will admit the error into which he has fallen in accusing the Government of violating section 53 of the Constitution. I protest, also, against his use of the words “ enforcing regulations disallowed by the Senate.” It is impossible to enforce regulations which have been disallowed. The regulations under the Transport Workers Act now in force have never been disallowed by the Senate. That they are in force is evidence that they have not been disallowed. The High Court decided that regulations made by the Government, after the Senate’s disallowance of previous regulations, were validly made. The power conferred on the Executive is that of making regulations. The power conferred on each House of the Parliament is that of disallowing regulations af ter they have been made. There is no provision in the statutes that the exercise of the power of disallowance exhausts the regulationmaking power. The reasons given by the right honorable gentleman contain, as I have shown, patent inaccuracies in regard to both fact and law. As the motion is, therefore, utterly lacking in merit, it should be rejected.
Senator Sir HAL COLEBATCH (Western Australia) [3.29]. - I should not have spoken to* this motion had it not been for the peculiar and specious nature of the arguments used by the “Leader of the Senate (Senator Barnes). The honorable senator admitted that it is the right of either House of the Parliament to disallow a regulation. That power must be an effective power; the disallowance of a regulation by either House of Parliament must have some force. In January of last year a committee appointed by the Senate to consider the advisableness of establishing standing committees of the Senate to deal with statutory rules and ordinances, and other matters with which this motion is not connected, examined, among other witnesses, Sir Robert Garran, the SolicitorGeneral for the Commonwealth. It was suggested to that witness that it might be desirable that regulations and ordinances should not come into force until they had been approved by Parliament. That suggestion was made with a view to preserving the law-making authority of Parliament. Sir Robert Garran replied -
That might delay things a good deal. From an administrative point of view it is very convenient to be able to pass a regulation that will come into force immediately. This regulation-making power is very convenient to an administration, and is, therefore, of great advantage to the public. Like any other power, it needs to be watched. I think that members of Parliament are quite sufficiently watchful of the interests of their constituents and of the public generally, to cause them to move a motion of disallowance to any regulation detrimental to the community.
That answer, given in January of last year, could not be given to-day, because watchfulness on the part of members of Parliament is of no avail, in view of this Government’s action, after the disallowance of a regulation, in gazetting exactly the same regulation the following day. It could, with equal legality, or illegality, according to the view which one may take of its action, pass the same regulation the next minute. It is, I suggest, significant that the statement of the Solicitor-General, made before the royal commission referred to, should become, in effect, absolute nonsense. But we all know that when Sir Robert Garran ventured that opinion, he had no experience of administrative lawlessness such as that which has been practised by the present Executive during the last few months.
– He did not contemplate an abuse by the Government of its regulation-making power.
Senator Sir HAL COLEBATCH.Nor has any one else in this or any other country ever contemplated such an abuse of power. The provisions under which Parliament, having delegated certain lawmaking powers to the Executive, preserves to itself the right to disallow regulations made under that power, is almost identical in Great Britain, the Commonwealth and in every State of the Commonwealth. Nowhere else has it been considered necessary to go one step further than to enact that either House of the Parliament may disallow a regulation made by the Executive. In every country, hitherto, this power has proved sufficient to preserve the rights of Parliament and to protect the people. It has never been contemplated that any government would have the audacity to re-enact immediately a regulation which one or other of the Houses of Parliament had disallowed. I am not at all concerned with the effect of this regulation upon the position of the waterside workers. But I am concerned with the underlying principle, because it is obvious that if, under the Transport Workers Act regulations, the Government can enforce its policy in defiance of one branch of the legislature, it can. take similar action in respect of other matters under any legislation which authorizes the Executive to make regulations. It may go even further. Under this regulation-making power it may defy either House of the Parliament by re-enacting immediately a regulation which has been disallowed. If its action in this matter is allowed to pass unchallenged, Parliament will completely part with all control of legislation, because this regulation-making power is a very wide power indeed. Hitherto, as I have stated, the provision that all such regulations shall be subject to disallowance by either House of the Parliament has been sufficient in every British community. That it is not sufficient in this country is because we have in power a government which has no respect whatever for the rights of Parliament; a government which does not keep faith with the people; a government which, notwithstanding the oath which every member of Parliament and every member of the Executive has to take, to be faithful and bear true allegiance to the Crown in accordance with the law, has ignored its obligations in this respect. Hitherto no one ever dreamed that a government would act in accordance with the law by subterfuge, twisting, and crawling around the law. Observance of the law means observance of the spirit of the law; it does not mean that the Government may, by some technicality, do something which is in violation of the law. That, is what has been done in this instance. I entirely concur with the terms of the motion, not because of the effect which it may have on the representatives of the Waterside Workers Federation, but because the Senate cannot, and dare not, part with the powers and privileges which it possesses to serve in the interests of the people. Section 53 of the Constitution, to which Senator Pearce referred, gives to both branches of the legislature equal power in regard to all proposed laws. The only limitation of the power of the Senate is in respect of legislation appropriating money or imposing taxation, and with regard to the procedure to be adopted in certain circumstances. In order to give effect to its policy, which it is believed could not be achieved by means of legislation, the Government proceeds, by regulation, to make a law which it contends the Senate has no power to disallow. It is not for me to suggest what view would be taken by the High Court if that tribunal were asked to say whether a regulation similar to the one disallowed by Parliament, was valid ; but I do say that it is the imperative duty of the Senate to insist upon its right which, as I have shown, is equal to that of another place, to disallow any law which is in opposition to the will of the Senate. That is what this Government is seeking to do. I hope that the Leader of the Senate (Senator Barnes) will direct the attention of the Solicitor-General to the opinion which he expressed before the Senate select committee about eighteen months ago, and ask him what weight may now be attachedto his statement, in view of the action which this Government is taking.
– I am at a loss to understand why the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) should have referred to the alleged reports of a caucus meeting of the Labour party. I cannot see in what way the motion to which he alluded is relevant to the question at issue. The right honorable gentleman admitted that, according to the published reports of the meeting, there were only five supporters for the proposal which I submitted.
– There were only five supporters then.
SenatorRAE. - Surely that clears the Government of any charge of having favoured the proposal that I put forward.
– It has now come round to the honorable senator’s point of view.
SenatorRAE. - There is not the slightest comparison between what the Government is now seeking to do by regulation and what I suggested that it should do as a matter of national emergency. I did not for a moment suggest the adoption of any pettifogging method of imposing its will; I proposed practically a new form of government in Australia to meet an emergency that existed.
Senator Colebatch has appealed to the Senate to consider this matter from a constitutional point of view, rather than in the direction of any effect that it might have on the waterside workers themselves, I point out, however, that there is a further consideration. The members of another place, who are responsible for the existence of the Government which has made this regulation, have come from the people far more recently than have a majority of the members of this chamber, and consequently can claim to represent more fairly recent public opinion. Honorable senators opposite, who belong to a past political age, still linger on the stage because the people have no power to remove them. Therefore, the Government is compelled to adopt methods that would not be applicable ordinarily to the conduct of the business of the country.
It has been stated that under a decision of the Arbitration Court the Government has no right to give preference in employment to trade unionists. That court has not ruled that preference shall be given to non-unionists; yet that is the immediate effect of the disallowance of these regulations.
– In seeking, however ineffectively, to fulfil the wishes of the people of this country towards trade unionism, the Government is using whatever measures lie to its hands. I do not defend some of the methods that are adopted by the Government to give effect to the policy of the Labour party. If it acted as tenaciously and consistently in regard to all matters as it has done with respect to this, it would have a greater measure of my approval. What is involved in the disallowance of these regulations? Immediately they are disallowed, trade unionists are denied employment on the waterfront and the shipowners select what are euphemistically described as volunteers, but what I term “ scabs “. It is this attempt by honorable senators opposite to smash tradeunionism that is responsible for the Government using any means at its disposal to thwart their nefarious designs.
The statement that no regulation is broken may be regarded as a quibble; but as a matter of fact when these regulations are disallowed they cease to operate and the Government does not seek to enforce them. A hymn that I learned in my youth laid it down that -
And while the lamp holds out to burn,
The vilest sinner may return.
Even this Senate may, by persistent effort, at last become sufficiently civilized to accept these regulations.
The perseverance of the Government meets with the approval of all who admire those who stick to their guns. I hope that, eventually, it will succeed in wearing down the ignorant and reactionary members of the Opposition who are seeking to destroy trade unionism.
– We are not discussing the relative merits or demerits of these regulations, but are considering the constitutional and legal position in which the Senate finds itself after having disallowed on more than one occasion regulations that, in substance, were an exact replica of those that were laid on the table of the Senate to-day.
I suggest to honorable senators that it is not necessary to refer to the constitutional aspect of this matter. With all respect to the argument that has been adduced by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Barnes), section 53 of the Constitution deals only with the position of the two Houses in their relations with each other, and makes it abundantly clear that in all other matters, with the exception of money bills, the powers of the Senate are identical with those of another place. Nor am I concerned with the fact referred to by Senator Rae, that the members of another place are more recently returned from the people. My only comment upon that is that they exhibit an extreme reluctance to return again to the people.
– Is the honorable senator in any hurry to go before the people?
– I am anxious to do so. These are merely pretexts to evade the real issue, which, to my mind, is of first-class importance.
The only argument adduced in justification of the action of the Government was that advanced by Senator Rae, that “ The vilest sinner may return “. I apply that poetical allusion to Senator Rae - I have still some hope for him - whom I regard in matters such as this as “the veriest sinner
– The fires are still burning.
– The fires have burnt in the past in the person of the honorable senator, but they will probably exhaust themselves before long.
Time after time, regulations that were the same in substance as those that have been laid on the table of the Senate to-day, have been disallowed by this chamber. If there were in the Acts Interpretation Act any provision that enabled us to pass a resolution declaring that no further regulations of that character could be made, this Senate would, undoubtedly, have passed it. The line of demarcation between the two branches of the legislature is easily distinguishable. This matter involves a vital principle which, if not upheld, may some day operate as harshly against honorable senators opposite as it affects us to-day; that is, the supremacy of either branch of the legislature over the Executive Government of this country - a supremacy that has been preserved intact throughout the ages. The other day I alluded to it in the same connexion, and, I think, with some force. We are becoming, as it were, craven if we do not take a stand for the rights of the Senate. I am sure the other House would take a stand for its rights if the day after it disallowed a regulation the Executive issued another substantially like the one that was disallowed. It is an encroachment on the privileges of Parliament. To-morrow when we are discussing the merits of these regulations I shall be in a position to show, as, indeed, I am now, that in the States this regulationmaking power has always been controlled by the legislature. It is idle for the Executive to say that it is above the law. Yet that is what it is doing to-day. It is reversing the democratic principle for which this Government is supposed to stand. This dangerous and, I think, illegal exercise of power is simply that tyranny whose exercise on the part of the Grown the British Parliament fought for ages.
– And which it finally overcame in the time of the Stuarts.
– Yes, as I pointed out the other day. The present Government boasts of its adherence to democratic principles and law and order, and it talks about standing to the principles of British jurisprudence. Yet one day it gazettes regulations identical in terms with those which are already disallowed by the Senate, and these in turn having been disallowed, simply inverts the order of the paragraphs of the same regulations and re-gazettes them in the hope that they may be accepted by the Senate. Such is the excuse which has been put forward. Surely there is a law in this country that can help us in such a connexion as this. Surely we are not to be trodden on by these usurpers of parliamentary power, styled the Executive of this country. I welcome the opportunity to express myself iu no uncertain terms upon the attitude that should be adopted and upon the course that should be pursued in regard to this latest pettifogging attempt to get. round a big principle. Senator Bae has decribed it as pettifogging. It is useless to claim that they are different regulations. There is no difference in principle or spirit, or in the language employed. There is simply a difference in the order of the regulations which had appeared a few days previously. If a bill is brought before us and it is rejected by the Senate, that is the end of it; but here the Executive claims a power that is far in excess of the power the Senate can exercise in relation to legislation brought; before it. The. matter is of such serious importance that we should stop at nothing to vindicate the rights of the Parliament over the Executive. “We may have to discuss the matter in a more heated atmosphere tomorrow; but I should like to point out now the boomerang effect of this sort of thing. Our friends opposite may regard it as a purely party question. To those who believe in constitutional government, the matter at issue transcends in importance mere party questions. It has been discussed in many relationships, but I content myself by voicing my protest against, this scandalous usurpation of power, this act of lawlessness I call it, on the part of the Executive, which, I foresee will be attended by serious consequences in the long run to those who have done this thing.
.- The Leader of the Government and his followers claim that at the last election they were returned to power in order to protect the Arbitration Court. I should like to know if the policy tilley are pursuing at the present time ,is calculated to uphold the awards or dignity of the Arbitration Court? The regulations they have issued are in defiance of the awards of arbitration courts throughout Australia - of later days, at any rate - that preference to unionists should not be given. No award of an arbitration court in the Commonwealth to-day provides for preference to unionists.
– And it was specially refused in the case of the Waterside Workers Federation.
– Yes. Because of the way in which the unions abused the preference that had previously been granted to them the court has taken it away from them, and this Government, to protect a few unionists, is going over the head of the Arbitration. Court, although, according to its own declaration, it has been returned to power to defend and uphold the awards of arbitration courts. 1 am sure that Senator Barnes, who, as president of the Australian Workers Union, has always upheld the awards of the Arbitration Court, feels very uncomfortable about representing a Government which is issuing regulations to give to a small section, of unionists what his union would never think of claiming. The step the Government has taken is, in my opinion, merely an endeavour to carry out the decision of caucus that a state of emergency has arisen. That decision was reached only a few months ago. Australia has not yet emerged from that “ danger “. It is. getting deeper and deeper into the mire; depression is spreading and the masses are becoming more and more discontented. The Government may one day deem it necessary to declare that a state of national emergency exists, and then, if it can get these regulations through, we may find other unions asking that regulations be gazetted granting them preference of employment, and we shall find ourselves governed by an executive which has no respect for Parliament, but simply issues regulations to suit itself or the party which it represents. The present Government has done what no other government in Australia has ever attempted to do. It has submitted tariff schedules which have been on the table of another place for eighteen months without opportunity being given to discuss them until within the last few days. I merely mention this in illustration of the manner in which the present Government acts in defiance of the privileges of Parliament. The regulations now under discussion have been issued not only in defiance of Arbitration Court awards, but also in defiance of the power of Parliament. It is a defiance of the views of the Senate which is on equal terms with another chamber. The Senate is not directly responsible to any small body of electors, nor is it representative of any parts of States. Its members represent the whole of a State. The Senate speaks for the whole of the States.
SenatorO’Halloran. - It speaks for the overseas ship-owners.
– The honorable senator must know that the ship-owners have no more control over the Senate than they have over anything else. The Senate electorates are too large to make such a thing possible. Senators are elected on a national vote. The Senate springs from the whole of the community in each State, and when it speaks it speaks with a more national voice than does the House of Representatives. The members of the House of Representatives are representative of small sections, various callings or geographical interests, but not the thought of Australia as a whole or of any State as a whole. This chamber is, therefore, in no way subordinate to the House of Representatives. Yet the present Government is doing everything it can to degrade it in the eyes of the public. On its platform is a proposal to abolish the Senate, the matter is now being discussed, but the Senate is still in existence, and under the Constitution is empowered to protect itself. The question before us now is whether this country is to be run by the Legislature or by the Executive, and the discussion has reached that stage when it is necessary for the Senate to take some definite action to assert itself. I trust that the Government will really recognize the position, and uphold, and not disobey the law. I hope that it will set an example to the citizens by respecting the law. We are living in a more or less lawless age. Discontent is spreading and many, because of their impecuniosity, are driven to commit acts of lawlessness. If anything is to save democratic government in Australia, it will be the respect of a democratic administration for the laws of the country which it is sworn to uphold. I should feel ashamed of being in Parliament if, for the sake of a very small section of the people, the Executive of the country were prepared to use its regulation making power in defiance of the legislature.
. - In moving this motion the right honorable the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) gave some of the history of these regulations under the Transport Workers Act, but the chapters from which he quoted were recent. He omitted to quote a considerable volume of history attaching to the various moves by this legislature, and by the executive which functions in conjunction with the legislature to give effect to preference of employment to certain individuals in waterfront occupations during the last three years. Some of the history which he omitted to quote is very interesting, in view of the attitude adopted during the last few weeks by the right honorable gentleman and a majority of honorable senators opposite. We are told by honorable senators opposite that it is improper for the Executive to use the undoubted power vested in it under the Constitution to grant preference in employment to members of the Waterside Workers Federation and returned soldiers, as by so doing it is attempting to do that which the Arbitration Court has refused to do.
But the Government of which the right honorable the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) was the distinguished leader in this chamber, did precisely the same things in a more perfunctory manner than this Government has done under the regulations which it has issued, with one exception. In 1928, when trouble aroseon the waterfront, the government of the day,which was supported by many honorable senators opposite, gave the Executive the power to make regulations conferring preference in employment upon certain persons engaged on. the waterfront. It will be well for honorable senators opposite to refresh their minds with respect to the provisions of section 3 of an act entitled, “ An Act Relating to Trade and Commerce with Other Countries and among the States “, which reads -
The Governor-General may make regulations, which, notwithstanding anything in any other actbut subject to the Acts InterpretationAct 1901-1 918 and the Acts Interpretation Act 1904-1916, shall have the force of law, with respect to the employment of transport workers, and in particular for regulating the engagement, service, and discharge of transport workers, and the licensing of persons as transport workers, and for regulating or prohibiting the employment of unlicensed persons as transport workers, and for the protection of transport workers.
That measure, which was passed in 1928, gave the government of the day the power to make regulations prescribing who should and who should not be employed as transport workers. Under the provisions of that act the then government overruled an award of the Arbitration Court which granted preference to members of the Waterside Workers Federation.
– What award was that?
– In an award of the Arbitration Court, which existed prior to 1928, the members of the Waterside Workers Federation were granted preference in employment which was continued-
– That is not so.
– Unfortunately for those in certain ports of the Commonwealth, members of the federation refused to accept the award in its entirety, and later that preference was sus pended. But before that time the government of the day took action which precipitated industrial trouble on the wharfs. In Port Adelaide, which is the only port in South Australia, affected by these regulations, the men were willing and prepared to work under the Beeby award. The passage of the legislation referred to and the issue of regulations under it prevented them from returning to their lawful occupations, which had the effect of precipitating an industrial crisis as a result of which they are now debarred from earning their living at their ordinary occupation. In consequence of the action then taken, severe financial loss has also been occasioned to many who depend largely upon the earnings of these men. Honorable senators opposite who now object to this Government providing a measure of protection to waterside workers must admit that, prior to that time, the members of the Waterside Workers Federation observed the law and rendered good service. In the main, the original waterside workers have rendered better service in Port Adelaide than the volunteers, and I believe that the interstate shipowners would be pleased to again employ the members of the Waterside Workers Federation if they were not influenced by the overseas shipowners, who hold the key to the position. This Government proposes to do precisely what was done in 1928 by a government supported by honorable senators opposite, except that, instead of passing special legislation to enable the Executive to issue regulations, it is using the powers vested in it under the legislation placed- on the statute-book in 1929.
– Those regulations were not disallowed.
– If this Parliament were constituted to-day as it was in 1928 the regulations would not have been disallowed. The Government of which the honorable senator was a member had a majority in both Houses, and, consequently, regulations promulgated by the Executive at that time would not be disallowed in either chamber. If honorable senators had been to their masters as recently as have the members of another place, this; Government would have a majority in both chambers. Since the period to which I have referred there has been an election for members ‘of another place, with the result that there has been a change of government. Honorable senators opposite deny this Government the right to make regulations controlling work upon the waterfront while the Government which they supported took full and complete power to issue regulations under Act No. 37 of 1928, a section of which I have quoted.
The Leader of the Opposition said that, in giving preference to unionists, this Government is flouting the laws of the country. If honorable senators will refer to a publication, entitled New Province of Law and Order, written by the late Mr. Justice Higgins, when President of the Arbitration Court, they will find that he affirms the principle of preference to unionists as a means of securing industrial peace. Probably, when the motion for the disallowance of the regulations is under consideration, it will be more appropriate to quote from this volume.
After this necessarily brief review of the position, I trust that honorable senators opposite ‘ will realize that, in view of the manner in which power was exercised by the previous Government, this Government is not flouting the law. They will see that, by endeavouring to prevent government by regulation, they are adopting a most inconsistent course, and before further prominence is given to the action then taken, they should decide to allow this Government to operate the regulations promulgated, which have given universal satisfaction to those engaged on the waterfront.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia) [4.15]. - The document which the Leader of the Government (Senator Barnes) read this afternoon, with respect to the legal position of the Government, is one of the most extraordinary I- have ever heard quoted in this chamber. Let us test the practice of the Government by that document, which says that, if the Senate disallows a regulation, it is exercizing its power, and that the Executive can forthwith proceed to gazette another regulation. Why does the Government make some minor alteration in the regulations each time they are gazetted? If the opinion quoted by the Leader of the Government is correct, why does not the Government gazette exactly the same regulations? Is not the fact that regulations in altered form are gazetted a recognition of some doubt as to the constitutional power to gazette the same regulations each time? If the Government cannot legally promulgate the same regulations it is doubtful if it can promulgate regulations which are the same in substance. The judgment of the High Court shows there is little doubt in the minds of the justices as to this power. Mr. Justice Dixon said - “ It is the duty of Courts of Justice to try to get at the real intention of the legislature by carefully attending to the whole scope of the Statute to be construed.” - Per Lord Campbell, L.C., Liverpool Borough Bank v. Turner, 18G0, 2 De Gr. E. and J. 502 at page 507, 45 E.R. 715 at page 718.
The Statute in this case deals with the powers of the Houses of the Legislature. It contemplates the enactment of Statutes . delegating what is equivalent to a legislative power and makes a general provision by which each House may dissent from a law made pursuant to the delegation and thus end its operation. The power of subsequent dissent may be considered as a substitute in the case of delegated legislation for the requisite of a prior assent in the case of direct legislation.
Clearly that learned judge looks upon the power to make regulations in exactly the same way as the power to legislate. Honorable senators know that, in the matter of direct legislation, the Government cannot do what it is endeavoring to do by regulation. Mr. Justice Starke makes these observations on the same point -
In the present case, the object of the legislature is to preserve the legislative power of the Houses of Parliament over regulations made by the Executive or other statutory authorities: not to give a new legislative power, but to maintain the Houses of Parliament as a dominant authority in legislative matters.
How can it be said that the rights of the legislature are dominant when they dominate for only a few hours in each week, and the Executive dominates for the remainder of the week? If that is the legal position., which is the dominant power? Obviously, it is not the legislature, but the Executive. He continued -
The purpose of the provision, however, is to fix a period of time beyond which disallowance should not take place, not to impose it as a condition on the power of disallowance. The opposite view would enable the regulationmaking authority to delay the presentation of any regulation to Parliament, and thus keep it in force for fifteen days at least, and, if disallowed, then re-enact it and delay presenting it to Parliament for another fifteen days. By this method a regulation might be kept in perpetual operation, and, in fact, it seems to have been adopted in the present case. On 20 th March, 1931, the Senate disallowed the Regulations 1930 Nos. 158 and 159, and, on the same date the present regulation, 1931 No. 34, was made, having, as I think, substantially the same effect. This procedure was entirely subversive of the control of Parliament over regulations, which it is the main object of Section 10 of the Acts Interpretation Act 1904-30, to preserve.
Mr. Justice Rich, in his judgment, stated
The disallowance is really the expression of dissent by way of condition subsequent to a law for which the assent of both Houses would have been necessary in the absence of a rulemaking power.
Mr. Justice Rich regarded the regulationmaking power as the equivalent of the legislative power. I am astonished that the Leader of the Government (Senator Barnes) should read a document which claims for the Executive a greater power than that possessed by the legislature. I remind him that the battle between the Executive and the legislature was fought and lost by the Stuarts 400 years ago. It was one of the causes which led to one of the Stuarts losing his head. A Labour Government, which professes to be the advance guard of democracy, is now found espousing a cause which was fought and lost hundreds of years ago. In his Law of the Constitution, Dicey says -
No one of the limitations alleged to be imposed on the absolute authority of Parliament has any real existence or receives any countenance either from the statute-book or from the practice of the courts.
This doctrine of the legislative supremacy of Parliament is the very keystone of the law of the Constitution.
According to the doctrine of the present-day Labour party, the legislature must take second place to the Executive. I emphasize that if the Government, by Executive action, can over-ride the legislature in one matter, it can do so with respect to every law on the statute-book, and thus make the Executive superior to Parliament. I urge the Government to consider where its action, if persisted in, will lead. Having brought this matter before the notice of the Senate I now ask leave to withdraw my motion.
Motion - by leave - withdrawn.
What amount of gold has been acquired by the Commonwealth Bank from the private banking institutions since the passing of the amending Commonwealth Bank Act 1929?
To what extent have the private banks been paid for that gold in notes?
Is the Commonwealth Bank under obligation to issue notes to the private banks for the remainder, if required to do so by the private banks?
If those notes were issued, what would be the percentage of gold held by the Commonwealth Bank to the total amount of notes issued?
– The following replies have been received from the Commonwealth Bank: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as under : -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Did the Federal Government in 1930 advise the Government of Western Australia that in the event of the Imperial Airways service being extended to Australia, the place of entry into Australia would only be determined after an exhaustive consideration of all factors, and that the general question of aerial communication between England and Australia was listed for discussion at the Imperial Conference?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are a? follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as under: -
– I move -
That the question of the provision of the Standing Orders necessary to give effect to the recommendations of the Select Committee on the Standing Committee System, adopted by the Senate on 14th May, 1931, be referred to the Standing Orders Committee for consideration and report.
The committee which was appointed by the Senate to report on the advisability of appointing standing committees of the Senate has presented its report. The purpose of this motion is to refer back to the committee its recommendations, which were adopted by the Senate on the 14th May last, with a view to further action being taken.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from the 20th May (vide page 2096), on motion by Senator Baknes -
That the paper be printed.
Upon which Senator Sir Hal Colehatch had move by way of amendment -
That the following words be added to the motion : - “ and that after the thirty-first day of August, 1931, the date of the expiration of the agreement between the Government of the Commonwealth and the Government of the State of Queensland, no agreement between the Government of the Commonwealth and the Government of the State of Queensland, or between the Government of the Commonwealth and any other party relating to the sugar industry, and no duty, embargo, or prohibition on the importation of sugar into Australia shall have any force or effect until approved by the Parliament of the Commonwealth.”
– I desire, first of all, to correct a number of mis-statements made by Senator E. B. Johnston when speaking to this motion on. the 14th May. The honorable senator then said that the Sugar Inquiry Committee had been nominated by the sugar interests and its recommendations were therefore a foregone conclusion. That statement, which is entirely wrong, is liable to give persons who read it a false impression as to the constitution of the committee. In July, 1930, representatives of the sugar industry approached the Prime Minister for a renewal of the embargo on the importation of sugar. Later, the Prime Minister announced that an inquiry into the matter would be made. That decision was arrived at without any consultation with the Queensland Government or the representatives of the sugar industry, although, later, those bodies were informed that they were entitled to nominate certain persons to the committee to represent the growers, the millers, and the workers in the industry respectively.
The honorable senator also said that the committee was biased and that nearlyall its members were directly interested in the sugar industry. That statement also is incorrect.
– Was not the honorable senator himself prejudiced when he made it.
– Probably he was.
– I merely wanted to give the consumer of sugar a fair deal, which so far he has been denied.
– Three representatives of the sugar industry were appointed to the committee. The Committee of Inquiry comprised - Mr. P. C. Curlewis, a ‘ representative of the Australian Sugar Producers’ Association ; Mr. C. G. Fallon, a representative of the employees in the sugar industry ; and Mr. 0. T. Matthews, a representative of Australian manufacturers using sugar as a raw material in their manufactures; Mrs. Eliza Elsie Morgan, a representative of Australian consumers of sugar; Mr. William Joseph Short, a representative of the Queensland Cane Growers Council; Mr. Albert Rinder Townsend, an accountant of the Commonwealth Trade and Customs Department, who has for many years specialized in costing investigations carried out by his department; and Mr. William Young, a representative of Australian fruit-growers. In addition to the four members of the committee who were not representative of the sugar-growers or interested in any way in the industry, there was Mr. John Gunn, a former Premier of South Australia, who was appointed by the Commonwealth Government as chairman. Mr. Gunn, as all honorable senators know, comes from a State which is opposed to the sugar embargo. In view of the facts relating to the personnel of the committee, it was unfair for Senator Johnston to imply that it was biased in favour of the sugar industry. Senator Johnston further stated that Mr. Young, who was appointed to represent the Australian fruit-growers, really represented the interests of the fruit-canners, and that exception was properly and reasonably taken to his appointment by the Tasmanian and other fruit-growing districts which rely for their prosperity on the export trade in jam. I must assume that, when he made that statement, Senator Johnston did not know where Mr. Young came from. ‘
– Yes, I did.
– Actually Mr. Young did not represent the fruit-canners in any way. He was nominated by the Australian Fruit Growers Association, which controls the production of 90 per cent. of all canned fruits grown in Australia, and represents one-half of the total soft fruits production in Australia. His appointment was supported by other bodies. Mr. Young also represented a much larger production of soft fruits than any other person nominated by other fruit bodies. Incidentally he, with his partner, is the largest fruit-grower in Australia. Furthermore, the growers in his association represent approximately 90 per cent. of the export trade in canned fruits from Australia, and they sell their fruit to the co-operative canneries, which do nearly all of the export business. The Tasmanian fruit-growers who objected to his appointment nominated a Melbourne printer who conducts a fruit-growing journal. They alleged also that Mr. Young was a Queenslander. As a fact, Mr. Young had not been in Queensland until he arrived in that State as a member of the Sugar Inquiry Committee. In my opinion his appointment as a representative of the fruit-growers was amply justified. As a practical man he would be much more conversant with conditions in the industry than a city business man. Another incorrect statement made by Senator Johnston was that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company was making a profit of nearly £1,000,000 per annum at the expense of Australian householders. I have examined the company’s balance-sheet for the half year ended the 30th September, 1930. It shows that the profits earned during that period totalled £350,726, to which was added the balance to the credit of the profit and loss account at the 31st March, 1930, of £390,488, making the total £741,214. The percentage of dividends and bonuses paid during the twelve months ended the 30th June, 1930, and liable to Commonwealth income tax was 67.7 per cent., so the profits of the company in Australia for the period mentioned were in the vicinity of £472,000.
– I quoted figures supplied to me by the Minister at an earlier period.
– I have checked carefully the statements made by the honorable senator. He said definitelythat the Colonial Sugar Refining Company was making a profit of approximately £1,000,000 per annum, whereas the actual profit was about £472,000.
– The figures which I quoted were correct at that time.
– Nevertheless the statement of the honorable senator was misleading. He complained also that the retail price for sugar in Perth was 5d. per lb. as against 4½d. per lb. in other capital cities of the Commonwealth. He should take this matter up with the retail grocers in Perth. Apparently they are determined to get double the profit which retailers in other capital cities are content to make. He should therefore blame, not the sugar industry, but the retailers in Perth.
– They are getting a full 20 per cent. profit.
– That is so, whereas retailers in the other State capitals, who pay the same price for their sugar as the retailers in Perth, are getting only 5 per cent. It would appear that about the time when the Sugar Inquiry Committee was appointed the retailers in Perth agreed to increase the price to 5d. in order that the representatives of that State in this Parliament might be able to allege that the sugar industry was exploiting the consumers in Western Australia. A further misstatement made by the honorable senator related to the high prices paid for sugar farms. He alleged that, in some instances, as much as £100 per acre had been paid. If honorable senators study the majority and minority reports of the Sugar Inquiry Committee they will see that the committee based all its calculations as to costs and prices on an average value of £28 per acre. Higher prices may have been paid in a number of isolated instances, but in no case within my recollection has the price been as high as £100 per acre. In other rural industries also high prices are paid occasionally for particularly choice areas. Sometimes a man is prepared to pay a fictitious price in order to secure a certain property.
SenatorThompson. - The prices quoted for sugar lands include the standing crop.
– That is so. The purchase price for the majority of sugar farms includes standing crop, building plant, &c. As a rule all sales are on a walk-in walk-out basis. Tropical scrub country where sugar is grown is very expensive to clear, so the value placed upon it by the Sugar Inquiry Commit’tee is a reasonable one. Senator Johnston also commented unfairly upon the Australian price for sugar of £37 6s. 8d. as compared with the £9 per ton obtained for the surplus sold overseas. It should be remembered that the Australian price is for refined sugar and includes freight, discounts, concessions and rebates in the interests of the fruit industry, whereas the London price of £9 is merely. the net return on raw sugar, after paying local handling charges and overseas freight. It should be borne in mind also that the present export value is phenomenally low. World’s parity for raw sugar is lower than at any other time in the history of the industry in Australia. Senator Johnston stated that the tariff imposed in the United States of America on the importation of sugar was 1.7 cents per lb. An examination of the figures will show that that was the rate only up to 1922-23. It will be found that the rate was 2.2 cents for some years subsequent to 1922-23, and that it was increased to 2.4 cents in 1930.
– I said that I had given the latest figures that I could obtain from the Parliamentary Library.
– The honorable senator also said that slightly less than one-half of the sugar consumed in the United .States of America was produced locally. That was an. unfair and entirely wrong statement of the position. In the United States of America proper the production is only 1,150,000 tons, which is equal to no more than 18 per cent, of their requirements. Approximately 2,000,000 tons are produced in Hawaii, the Philippines and Porto Rico, and are admitted into the United States of America proper free of duty. The only imports which are subject to customs duty are the 2,600,000 tons that are obtained from Cuba.
– It is all grown by coloured labour, too.
– That is so. Therefore, the substantial protection of about Id. per lb. is granted by the United States of America to support production by black labour in their own possessions. The whole of the sugar grown in those possessions, as well as in the United ‘States of America proper, is regarded as domestic production. It will thus be seen that the honorable senator greatly exaggerated the position.
For some years the Queensland sugar industry has had to combat antagonistic propaganda , on the part of the western and southern States, the aim of those responsible apparently having been to force the industry out of existence. Every royal commission and every committee that has investigated the industry has reported in favour of the continuance of the embargo and the maintenance of the conditions under which the industry is being carried on. The committee, whose reports we are now considering, were practically unanimous in. their decisions, the differences between the majority and the minority reports being confined to minor details. Both of those reports agree that the industry should continue to operate, that it is being conducted efficiently, and that the public are being protected and not exploited.
Prior to federation, the sugar industry was carried on with indentured coloured labour; but since federation was established it has been the practice of successive governments to grant assistance to it on the understanding that it gave effect to the White Australia policy. The Queensland Government of the day undertook to repatriate all the kanakas who were then employed in the industry. That promise was fulfilled, and the industry has since observed its undertaking to carry on with white labour. The firstassistance granted was by means of a tariff; but that was proved to be unsuitable, and the embargo that now operates was imposed on the importation of foreign-grown sugar.
– Against the recommendation of the Tariff Board.
– I shall show later that a tariff would not be effective in dealing with the fluctuations that occur in the price of sugar. This industry is different in very many respects from other primary industries. In the first place, under tariff protection it would have to compete in the world’s markets with a product that was grown elsewhere under coloured-labour conditions. Other primary industries in Australia have to meet the competition only of products grown by white labour. In a section of its ramifications this is a secondary as well as a primary industry. If the assistance granted by means of the embargo were withdrawn, the industry would collapse, and I question very seriously whether, over a period of years, Australia would benefit. It might gain a slight advantage at the present time, because of the very low price of sugar in the world’s markets. The extra price that is now being paid enables effect to be given to one of the principles underlying federation, namely, the maintenance of a White Australia. If we are honest in wishing to further that policy, and to populate the tropical portions of this continent with a race of white people, we must be prepared to concede to those people conditions analagous to those that are enjoyed in the southern portions of Australia, and equal opportunities for making a living. The settlement that has been made possible in the north of Australia by the adoption of this policy in the sugar industry, has had the effect of developing that portion of the continent with a white population. Darwin and the surrounding country, which also are in the tropics, have had expended on their development something like ?8,000,000, and instead of that expenditure .having proved reproductive, it has resulted in an almost complete loss. The sparseness of the population there is a menace to Australia. In 1890 the population in and around Darwin totalled 5,000 persons, but it has dwindled until to-day it is only about 3,000 persons. During the same period the population of North Queensland has increased by something like 200 per cent., and the expenditure upon it has not been anything like that which has been incurred in and around Darwin.
Senator Johnston has asked why there should not be a tariff instead of an embargo on the importation of foreigngrown sugar.
– As recommended by the Tariff Board.
– I prefer to accept the recommendation of every committee and every commission that has inquired exhaustively into this industry. Under tariff conditions, the consumer would not know exactly what he would have to pay at any time for his sugar. As has been demonstrated by different speakers, the price varies considerably from month to month. Therefore, it would be necessary to have either a varying tariff, or a fixed tariff, which at one time would be unfair to the consumer and at another time would be unfair to the producer.
– Does not that apply to all tariffs?
– Not exactly. The sugar industry occupies a position different from that of certain other industries. By the consent of all the States, it has been granted conditions that have enabled it to function as a White Australian industry.
I shall not quote in detail the value of the machinery, buildings and other improvements in the industry. I point out, however, that the expenditure upon machinery has been in the region of ?10,000,000, of which only about ?3,000,000 worth has been imported from Great Britain, the remainder having been purchased from the southern States, so that not only the portions of Queensland, where sugar cane is grown, but also the Southern States which exchange their manufactured goods for sugar, gain by the price paid for sugar.
Under the new agreement the consumer is protected by a clause which provides that if the cost of sugar is brought down by an increase of price overseas or by a reduction in the cost of production the price will be reduced to the public. Any amount received above the basic price of raw sugar through the price in the world’s market going up, thus increasing the price of exported sugar, is to be placed to the credit of a trust account to be operated by the Queensland Government and the Commonwealth Government. Immediately there is a sufficient amount of money in this trust fund to warrant a reduction in the price of sugar to the public by id. a lb., the public will get the benefit of it.
– Then they will wake up.
– If the honorable senator will carefully read the agreement he will find that provision ; he will find also that any amount put into a separate fund under an agreement ratified by Parliament must be devoted to the purpose set out in the agreement.
– We cannot obtain a copy of the agreement. The honorable senator must have been supplied with a copy.
– The agreement was fully explained in the Sugar Journal of the 5th May. I can let the honorable senator have a copy of that publication.
What would happen if we took the farreaching step of removing the embargo on the importation of sugar or attempting to do away with the industry which has been carrying on as efficiently as the sugar industry has been carried on! Over a period of years there would be no guarantee that wo would procure our sugar at a lower price than we do now. In fact we should very likely have to pay more. It would mean the loss of from £30,000,000 to £40,000,000 which represents the capital now invested in the sugar industry. It would mean an enormous reduction of the population of the northern part of Australia.
SenatorO’Halloran. - What would happen to that population? It would need to go on the dole.
– I shall come to that point. It would also mean the total disappearance of such large towns as Bundaberg, Mackay, Innisfail and Ingham. The large annual payment for future sugar supplies, which can be reckoned at £5,000,000 per annum, would have to be paid to countries with which at the present time our trade balance is not favorable. There would be an enormous reduction of the amount of goods transport upon our railways. Honorable senators are aware that for some years past these railways have been operating at a loss. There would be a considerable curtailment of interstate shipping. Finally, the men employed in the sugar industry would need to be transferred to other industries, and, as we know, these are already over-staff ed ; it would mean adding thousands of men to the unemployment roll, with no chance of starting in activities, at any rate with success, for some years to come. All the facts - those for and those against’ the embargo - I think are favorable to the adoption of the sugar committee’s report, and to a continuation of the embargo. At any rate, I shall have very much pleasure in voting for its continuance.
– I ask leave to amend my amendment by omitting the word “ duty “.
Amendment - by leave - altered to read -
That the following words be added to the motion : -“ and thatafter the thirty-first day of August, 1931. the date of the expiration of the agreement between the Government of the Commonwealth and the Government of the State of Queensland, no agreement between the Government of the. Commonwealth and the Government of the State of Queensland, or between the Government of the Commonwealth and any other party relating to the sugar industry, and no embargo, or prohibition on the importation of sugar into Australia shall have any force or effect until approved by the Parliament of the Commonwealth.
– The subject has been debated for several days and I merely desire to say in reply that I do not propose to discuss it further.
Question - That the amendment (Senator Sir Hal Colebatch’s) be agreed to - put. The Senate divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 5.19 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 27 May 1931, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1931/19310527_senate_12_129/>.