14th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon.P. J. Lynch) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I have to inform the Senate that on the 24th October, on behalf of the Parliament, Mr. Speaker and I presented to His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester, in the Senate Chamber, the joint Address agreed to by both Houses of the Parliament on the previous day. In making the presentation, I addressed his Royal Highness in the following terms: -
Your Royal Highness -
Beforethe Honorable the Speakerofthe House of Representatives addresses you, and I readto you the address of both Houses of Parliament, mayI, as the appointed mouthpiece of the Senate, express to you our profound pleasure at meeting you here this morning.
We hope, sir, that your journeyings amongst us will yieldunmeasured satisfaction and enjoyment to yourself, and we are confident that they are bound to stimulate the devotion and loyaltyto your Royal Father, His Mos t Gracious Majesty, our King, which dwell deep in the hearts of our people.
Your Royal Highness, I bid you a hearty welcome.
In joining in the presentation, Mr. Speaker said -
Your Royal Highness -
On behalf of the members of the House of Representatives, I assure you of the deep sense of pleasure with which wc join in welcoming you to Parliament House, Canberra. We recall the happy occasion when Their Majesties the King and Queen opened the first meeting of the Commonwealth Parliament in . 1901, the visit of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales in 1920, and that of His Royal Highness the Duke of York and the Duchess of York in 1927 on the occasion of the inauguration of the meetings of the Parliamentat Canberra. It is now our privilege to extend to Your Royal Highness our most sincere greetings on your arrival amongst us. We earnestly hope that you will enjoy your tour throughout the Commonwealth, and that, on your departure, you will take away abiding memories of the loyalty and affection of the Australian people.
HisRoyal Highness was graciously pleased to make the following reply: -
Mr. President of the Senate and Mr. Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Australia -
I gratefully acknowledge your message of loyalty to the King, my father, which I shall have much pleasure in conveying to him. I am equally appreciative of the sentiments which you have expressed in referring to the satisfaction which my visit gives you. In carrying out this mission, at thebidding of His Majesty, I have set forth, like those of my family who have preceded me, in the hope that my visit will help to strengthen the bonds existing between the peoples of the Empire and to increase our perception of the advantages which we enjoy under a free system of government. The welcome whichI have received ever since I landed in Australia encourages me to think that my object is being achieved: and I need hardly say that I particularly value greetings from Australia’s representatives in theheart of the Commonwealth. I ask you to express to the peoplemygratitude for the wonderfulreception which they have everywhereaccorded me and mysincere regrets that I amunable to see more of their country and of the conditions in whichthey live. Finally, gentlemen, inallthatyou undertake I wishyousuccess and prosperity.
The following papers were presented : -
Commonwealth Shipping Act - . Aus tralian Commonwealth Shipping HoardBalancesheet, as at 28thFebruary,1934. and Liquidation Account for theyear ended 28t h February,1934. ofthe Cockatoo Island Dockya rd ; certified to by the Auditor-General;
Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act - Statement re Pension for the twelve months ended 30thJune,1934.
Naval Defence Act -Regulations amended - StatutoryRules 1934, No. 129.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Governent (Administration) Act - Ordinances of 1934 -
No. 21 - Plant Diseases.
No. 22 - Police Superannuation (No. 2).
Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act - War PensionsEntitlement Appeal Tribunal - Report for year ended 30th June, 1934.
Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations amended– Statutory Rules1934, No.111 -No 113- No. 114.
War Service Homes Act - Report of the War Service Home’s Commission,together with Statements and Balance-sheet,year ended 30th June, 1934.
Wireless Telegraphy Act - Regulations amendedStatutory Rules 1934. No.99.
– Pursuant to Standing Order 28 a, I hereby nominate SenatorsW. Carroll, J. B. Hayes, M. R. O’Halloran, M. Reid and B. Sampson a panel to act as Temporary Chairmen of Committees, when requested so to do by the Chairman of Committees, or when the Chairman of Committees is absent.
– Pursuant to Standing Order No. 38, I hereby appoint the following senators to he the Committee of Disputed Returns and Qualifications: Senators T. W. Crawford. J. B. Dooley, R. C. D. Elliott, . J. F. Guthrie, A. A. Hoare, M. R. O’Halloran, and H. , T. M. Payne.
– I have to report the receipt of the following letters: -
In accordance with Standing Order 36a, I hereby nominate Senators Collett, DuncanHughes, Elliott and Payne as members of the Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances.
Leader of the Government in the Senate.
The Senate, Canberra, 2Sth October, 1934.
In accordance with Standing Order 36a, I hereby nominate Senators J. B. Dooley, M. R. O’Halloran and A. Rae as members of the Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances.
John Barnes, Leader of the Opposition.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) - by leave - agreed to -
That a Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances bc appointed to consist of Senators Collett, Dooley, Duncan-Hughes, Elliott, O’Halloran, Payne arid Rae, such senators having been duly nominated in accordance with the provisions of Standing Order No. 36a.
– I ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister if it is the intention of the Government to submit to Parliament at an early date the necessary amendments of the Navigation Act to provide for the removal of the handicap at present suffered by Tasmania with regard to marine traffic with the mainLand.
– It is not the practice to make statements of government policy in reply to questions. A statement of the Government’s intentions will be made at an early date.
Motion (by Senator Sir George PEARCE) agreed to -
That the days of meeting of the Senate, unless otherwise ordered be Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of each week; and that the hour of meeting, unless otherwise ordered, be 3 o’clock in the afternoon of Wednesday and Thursday, and 1 1 o’clock in the forenoon of Friday.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Peabce) agreed to -
That on all sitting days of the Senate during the present session, unless otherwise ordered, Government business shall take precedence of all other business on the notice-paper except questions and formal motions, and except that general business take precedence of Government business on Thursdays after 8 p.m.; and that unless otherwise ordered general orders of the day take precedence of general notices of motion on alternate Thursdays.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Peabce) agreed to -
That, during the present session, unless otherwise ordered, .at four o’clock p.m. on Fridays the President shall put the question - That the Senate do now adjourn, which question shall not be open to debate; if the Senate be in Committee at that hour, the Chairman shall in like manner put the question - That he do leave the chair and report to the Senate; and upon such report being made the President shall forthwith put the question - That the Senate do now adjourn, which question shall not be open to debate : Provided that if the Senate or the Committee bc in division at the time named, the President or the Chairman shall not put the question referred to until the result of such division has been declared; and if the business under discussion shall not have been disposed of at such adjournment it. shall appear on the businesspaper for the next sitting day.
Motion (by Senator Sir George PEARCE’) agreed to -
That, during the present session, unless otherwise ordered, the sittings of the Senate, or of a Committee of the whole Senate, be suspended from 12.45 p.m. until 2.15 p.m., and from 6.15 p.m. until 8 p.m.
Standing ORDERS Committee.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) agreed to -
That a Standing Orders Committee be appointed, to consist of the President, the Chairman of Committees, Senators Brown, Crawford, Johnston, Sir Walter Kingsmill, McLachlan, O’Halloran, and Rae, with power to act during the recess, and to confer with a similar committee of the House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator Sir GEORGE Peabce) agreed to -
That a Library Committee be appointed, to consist of the President, Senators Collings,
Daly, Duncan-Hughes, Elliott, Millen and Sampson, with power to act during the recess, and to confer or sit as a Joint Committee with a similar committee of the House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) agreed to -
That a House Committee be appointed, to consist of the President, Senators Carroll, Daly, Dunn, Foll, Grant and Hoare, with power to act during the recess, and to. confer or sit as a Joint Committee with a similar committee of the House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) agreed to -
That a Printing Committee be appointed, to consist of Senators Cox, Hardy, J. B. Hayes, Sir Harry Lawson, MacDonald, Rae and Reid, with power to confer or sit as a Joint Committee with a similar Committee of the House of Representatives.
– I move-
That the following Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the Governor-General’s Speech be agreed to: -
ToHis Excellency the Governor-General -
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to Our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
I am very sensible of the compliment paid to me in being allowed to move this motion, as I also am of the honour attached to the submission, on behalf of the Senate, of an expression of our continued loyalty to His Majesty the King.
To those who have ears to hear, and eyes to see, it is obvious that the British people of to-day are beginning fully to appreciate, by comparison with other nations, the blessings that have accrued to them through the benevolence of the Crown and the merits of our inherited system of government. The Throne and Parliament as we know them, are great institutions peculiar to us, and are, indeed, the bases of a true democracy - perhaps not yet sufficiently recognized - that confers the freedom we all are sharing.Whilst that freedom is sometimes abused, events of the last few years have revealed that people throughout the Empire are not disposed to permit any encroachment upon it.Our race is sometimes accused of being phlegmatic; but, even if it is so that very quality has enabled it, by careful observation and cautious steps, to discriminate and evolve for itself the present system, which, although by no means ideal, is far above, in worth, that associated with other peoples of the earth.
We have cause to be grateful for the visit we are enjoying of His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester. The approval of this by our Sovereign is yet another proof of his interest in and concern for the welfare of his subjects overseas. The visit itself can bring nought but good. I am sure that our Royal guest rightly claims the affection of all of us, and his stay in our midst revives not only a sense of our responsibility for the people we legislate for, but also that love, inherent in all, for the Old Country which gave us our birth and to the institutions and traditions to which we owe so much. I offer no apology for that which I have so far uttered. It is a tribute that our allegiance demands, and is freely conceded, I am sure, by our fellow subjects. Besides, the creation and maintenance of a healthy national sentiment is a good thing and no small aid to the operation of the functions of government.
I congratulate the Prime Minister and his colleagues upon the improved conditions noticeable in Australia to-day. The securing of these has demanded patient study and close work on the part of Cabinet, and has involved the people in continued sacrifice which they have borne with great courage. The position we occupy in the world to-day redounds to the credit of all.
The recent elections disclosedthat, on broad lines, the people approved of the Government’s past policy; but underlying or accompanying the renewal of the mandate to the Government has been the hope that the Parliament, whilst legislating for the needs of the present, will make some serious attempt to develop a quality of statesmanship which, visualizing the future, will guide the nation’s steps clear of a repetition of the mistakes and disasters of years gone by.
My experience over the last few months, and my direct contact with many of the electors of the State I represent, revealed to me that there are constructive elements in each of the policies advocated by the three contending parties. There would be a welcome indeed for a man of determination and power for leadership who., discarding self-interest, could assemble and apply these constructive elements, having in mind only the benefits to be derived by our country. That “ party “ is not everything is a mere truism, and in that connexion it is a matter for regret that in the. reconstructed Ministry there are not apparently any direct representatives, or persons with first-hand knowledge, of rural interests.
The press has reported the Prime Minister as having expressed some dissatisfaction with the existing method of electing members of this chamber. I trust that he will not act hastily. This is a house of reference or review designed by the Constitution to afford a check on hasty or ill-considered measures based merely on the demands or seeming needs expressed by a “ popular “ vote - mostly concentrated in the cities. With the people of a State voting as a whole a more deliberate or thoughtful decision is given and I would deprecate any interference with the present law in this respect. After all it can operate in any direction the people really desire.
The Speech of His Excellency the GovernorGeneral discloses the laudable intention of the Government to give early effect to the greater part of its election policy. It is to be sincerely hoped that a very real effort will be made to cope effectively with the serious unemployment position. Public works undertaken should, I maintain, be developmental in character and likely, ultimately, to be reproductive. Conjointly with this, the Government might consider the renewal of active immigration; such a policy is inevitable and, I trust, will not bo long deferred. It is demanded alike by the needs of our own situation and the over-crowded condition of Great Britain.
I suggest that success in the future must largely depend upon a sound plan in respect to Queensland and Western Australia. These two States have much latent wealth and large unsettled areas, and are capable of accommodating substantial additions ito the existing population. The hopes of our youth, and the morale of the nation, are both in jeopardy unless something be done to find openings for the boys and girls. Here our friends of the Labour party can help, if they will, in the direction of facilitating admission to the various trades and thus affording instruction in the crafts that must be in demand as development increases. If I understand the position correctly, the adjustment of unemployment is not,, primarily, a Commonwealth function. For that reason the Government is to beespecially commended on the course it isadopting. In order to alleviate conditions effectually, the closest and most cordial co-operation between all concerned will be required.
Hand-in-hand with the scheme for finding work must go an endeavour to rehabilitate our rural industries. It seems that even a world-recovery in prices cannot undo the damage of the last five years. In Western Australia, wheatgrowing is a young industry, and the depression caught the farmer before he had time to build up reserves or even, in many cases, to pay for his plant. Unaided, he cannot hope to rid himself of the ever-increasing burden of debt. In that State the estimated wheat yield for this year is only 24,500,000 bushels, whereas in 1930-31 it was 53,500,000 bushels. This shrinkage is due partly to the restricted market, partly to a bad season, but chiefly to the inability of the farmer to finance his operations. With wise help, I am certain that those on the land can yet make good. I suggest wisdom in proffering assistance, because the last thing we should wish in this country is hand-fed or wholly State-aided production.
The Government has announced its intention to consult the States as to the best methods fo adopt. As conditions in each State may vary, only by such consultation can the best results be achieved. In that connexion, provision should be made to protect the soldier settler and the investments by the Commonwealth Treasury on his behalf. These men were placed on the land when values and prices were at a maximum. The very generosity of the repatriation scheme has resulted in the ex-service man finding himself in the worst plight of all. The advances on his holding were up to 100 per cent., and, therefore, he has little, if any, equity, but, instead, a most crushing burden of interest. I am aware that this Parliament has already made liberal concessions in this quarter, hut I have yet to be assured that the States concerned have not to some extent utilized those concessions as an offset to their own losses. Whatever is to be done for the farmer needs to be done quickly. The whole subject has been in a condition of flux for several years past. There is a lack of decision, despite cabinet committees, royal commissions, and conferences, in respect to the major scheme, marketing, and a guaranteed price. The consequent absence of anything in the nature of stability and sound prospect is engendering and disseminating a feeling of despair amongst those who, in the interest of the nation, are rightly due for every encouragement in their labours. Yesterday I received the following telegram from the Upper Chapman districts of Western Australia: -
Mass meeting farmers Upper Chapman Districts to-day desire urgent representation immediate assistance. Conditions desperate, view almost total failure -wheat crop, rust and drought. Also advise unless payable price fixed for further crops, large number owners no inducement continue production. - Britton, Yuna.
We all desire to see our secondary industries develop on sound and profitable lines, and no one can accuse the Government of withholding adequate protection from them. It is interesting to read in Hia Excellency’s Speech that -
The first service of the Tariff must still be the upholding of local primary and secondary industries, the fortunes of which are closely interwoven and cannot be properly considered apart.
Contrast that statement with the position of the meat export trade of Western Australia which, as a result of the action sanctioned by this Parliament in respect to Belgian glass, has almost ceased. Nor need I stress the reaction to the increased cotton duties, and the threat to the mar- ket for our dairy produce, of which we have lately read so much. Possibly I could point out many other deficiencies in the balance of our current fiscal policy.
– Does not the honorable senator think that we should grow our own cotton.
– Yes, under reasonable conditions. I suggest that a little more candour on the part of the Government in relation to its attitude towards the Tariff Board reports, and as to its real intentions in regard to the Ottawa agreement, would materially strengthen its position, and ease the mind of the primary producer.
I cannot imagine support being withheld from the proposal to expand our markets, and increase trade by means of treaties with foreign countries. Our near neighbours offer valuable opportunities which should be exploited to the full. An American statesman has recently drawn attention to a tendency on the part of nations to approach discussions on reciprocal trade with an existing and almost prohibitive tariff as a weapon for bargaining. I trust that we shall avoid such methods, which can only prejudice severely any advances made on behalf of Australia.
As a representative of one of the smaller States, I have gleaned some satisfaction from the proposal of the Government to revive the interstate commission. By such means only can some of the existing evils be removed or mitigated, and the balance between States preserved. In Western Australia charges of dumping, made against eastern manufacturers, are not unknown. They would bear investigation. There should also be some examination of the system of preferential railway rates in regard to certain classes of goods carried over some of our transport systems. No doubt that extraconstitutional unit - the Commonwealth Grants Commission - will now disappear. Although its first report has not met with universal approval, it nevertheless supplies a basis upon which the Government can deliberate and function as was originally, and still is, intended. Grants to States are, unfortunately, still necessary, and must be made so long as the present financial provisions of the Constitution are operative.
In that respect it ie a matter for regretthat the Speech of His Excellency contains no reference to a convention on the Constitution. I do not think that I am wrong in affirming that all the States desire some revision of the law governing our internal relations. That desire must bo apparent to the Government itself, and some earnest attempt at improvement, based on the experience of 34 years, should be made.
I am glad to say that the secession movement in “Western Australia exercised no serious influence during and upon the recent elections. It has progressed logically to the stage that petitions are shortly to be presented to His Majesty the King and the British Parliament. Meanwhile the people calmly await a decision, confident that it will be a just one. I hazard the suggestion that the manner in which the claims of the people I assist to represent have been viewed and commented upon in the Eastern States has not been characterized by a marked degree of tact or discretion. Apparently we have yat to develop the art of diplomacy.
Although the economic position of Australia has undoubtedly improved, and is likely to improve further, there is no guarantee against a return of the conditions from which we are painfully but surely emerging. Although the “World Economic Congress is reported to have been a failure there still rests upon our leaders the grave responsibility of exploiting every means of establishing our monetary, banking, production, trade, and industrial systems upon bases that will protect the nation against retrogression, suffering, and loss in the future. This is not the work of a day. It can be accomplished only as part of an Empire-wide, or even world-wide, plan.
There is an imperative demand also for legislation, to place our invalid and oldage pensions upon a better footing. The charge upon the nation is increasing at an alarming rate. Candidates at the lastelection were invited to bid for the support of the pensioners’ vote, and it is possible that the future position will verge upon the scandalous. A scheme of national insurance, covering old-age, sickness and unemployment is urgently needed.
I am confident that I need not impress upon the Government the necessity for closely pursuing its policy of defence as outlined last session. However greatly an increase of armaments may conflict with our own wishes, we cannot afford to disregard the trend of events in certain quarters of the world, or the painful and costly lessons of the Great War. In regard to the naval portion of the programme, I again draw attention to a weakness in that it fails to provide for a dock on the western coast of Australia.
I put forward a plea for a more logical arrangement concerning the sittings of this Parliament.- If it were possible to meet in continuous session during a certain portion of each year there would, it seems to me, be some substantial benefit, not only in the quality of the legislation passed, but also in a reduction of the inconvenience to members. Western Australian representatives travel great distances to attend the sittings of Parliament, and the periodical and all too frequent short adjournments cause considerable dislocation of their plans and comfort and entail much additional expenditure to the individual as well as to the Treasury. I commend this appeal to the kindly and serious consideration of the Government
– Such an arrangement should be more convenient to the Government.
– I again congratulate the Government on what it has achieved for Australia during the past three years, and also on that part of its programme outlined in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech. I am confident that there is not a member of this chamber who is not gratified with the relief, small though it may be, that has come to our fellow countrymen. As for the further work immediately at hand, to which our earnest and close attention is demanded, we can all sincerely join in the hope expressed in the concluding paragraph of the Speech.
Before I resume my seat, I desire to congratulate those honorable senators who have successfully survived the recent electoral contests. If I may say so, without seeming impertinence, I have learned, or am learning, to appreciate my environment and fellow senators, and shall genuinely miss those who will not continue with us after the 30th June next.
.- In seconding the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply, I associate myself with Senator Collett in expressing the delight that the visit to Canberra of His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester gave to both Houses of the Parliament. We venture to hope that his tour throughout the Commonwealth will be a very happy and enjoyable one, and that he will take back to England pleasant remembrances of his sojourn here. The visit certainly will have given His Royal Highness a useful knowledge of conditions in this part of the Empire and a full appreciation of the deep affection entertained by the people of Australia for His Majesty the King and all members of the Royal Family.
The subject of unemployment is very properly placed in the very forefront of the Governor-General’s Speech. Although the position is still by no means satisfactory, it is gratifying to learn that the percentage of unemployment has steadily fallen during the last year or two.
– What is the decrease ?
– Something like 10 per cent. Although it is not nearly so large as we should like it to be, it is certainly reassuring to find that the percentage is falling. During the regime of the previous Administration it steadily increased. That statement cannot be challenged, since it is borne out by the figures supplied by the reporting unions. The present Government has a much better case to put up than its predecessors, so far as the solving of the problem of unemployment is concerned.
– The honorable senator is deceiving himself.
– Not at all. I agree that the percentage of unemployment is still much too high, but the schemes which are being propounded by the Government, in collaboration with the State governments, should tend still further to decrease the numbers of our unemployed.
– The Commonwealth Government has not yet brought forward a scheme.
– The Commonwealth has already conferred with the State governments, and has asked them to submit schemes. It is impossible for the Commonwealth to promulgate a scheme that could be applied uniformly throughout the .States. The Commonwealth itself cannot differentiate between the States, and it remains for each State to propound schemes for its particular benefit. The Commonwealth Government will be able to assist financially and in other directions. The selection of works most suitable for the profitable absorption of our unemployed will be, we are told in the Governor-General’s Speech, a matter for consultation with the States.’ Some undertakings must necessarily be of a national character. For instance, reference has been made to the provision of a uniform railway gauge between the capital cities. That work cannot be undertaken directly by the Commonwealth since the Commonwealth has no control over State railways. It will have to he undertaken by the several States in co-operation “with the Commonwealth, which will find a proportion, if not the whole of the money to meet the expenditure. The majority of the railways which the Commonwealth itself owns are of the standard gauge, and need no alteration. And so with its rollingstock. But the Commonwealth must necessarily assist the States to convert their railways. The treatment of coal deposits and shale for oil and other commercial products should also provide more employment. In respect of these and other commercial undertakings, the Commonwealth might very well assist the States.
In this connexion, the outstanding problem, to my mind, is that of finding employment for boys and girls on leaving school. The position of our youth is getting .worse and worse. It is appalling that many boys and girls who left school four or five years ago are still unable to find employment. Surely it should be possible to alleviate their sorry plight! It would be unreasonable to expect the Commonwealth to do everything, but it should be able to assist the States to put our boys and girls into- profitable employment when they leave school.
According to press reports to-day, the Government seems to be inclined to dillydally with the subject of the relief of rural industries. Relief should be provided promptly; but, according to press reports, no action is to be taken till next year. I certainly expected that the Government would be in a position to place before Parliament before Christmas some concrete schemes for the rehabilitation of our rural industries which would apply to the forthcoming harvest. If no act1011 is to be taken until some time next year, the position of our rural industries in the meantime will have become steadily worse. We do not hear of any delay on the part of the Government in dealing with secondary industries. When complaint is made in regard to any secondary industry, a prompt demand is made for a report from the Tariff Board. Both Houses have been asking for the presentation of various reports of the Tariff Board which are already in the hands of the Government. I understand that some 59 reports have been received; but Parliament itself has not been allowed to- peruse them, nor has it been advised of their contents.
– It is time that they were made available to us.
– I agree with the honorable senator. Some of these reports, I am informed, have been in the hands of the Government for twelve months. We have been told that, in connection with the Ottawa agreement, the Government does not intend to increase any du?; in the absence of a Tariff Board recommendation. I am inclined to think that many of the recommendations of the Board favour a lowering of duties; but we cannot ascertain for ourselves what these reports contain.
The implementing of the Ottawa agreement is of vital concern to the Parliament, but very little information on the subject is forthcoming from the Government. I should like the Government to take both Houses into its confidence.
– Is the honorable senator congratulating or condemning the Government ?
– I am condemning it in this respect. I am not, and never have been a strong party man. I do not claim to be. I am first of all a representative of the State that returned me to the Senate and am prepared to vote against any Government that submits proposals detrimental to the interests of that State. During the life of the last Parliament, the Government was saved again and again by the slavish support of members of the Opposition who were opposed to a reduction of duties.
I am pleased that the Government intends to re-establish the Interstate Commission. Section 101 of the Constitution is mandatory on the point that there shall be an Interstate Commission; yet for 34 years, we have practically been without such a commission. Doubtless successive governments have thought that its appointment would take from the Parliament powers which they considered the Parliament alone should exercise.
– An Interstate Commission was appointed many years ago-
– Yes ; but it did not function.
– It functioned for some years until its powers were very seriously affected by a judgment of the High Court.
– I am glad at all events that the Government intends to re-create the commission. It should serve a very useful purpose particularly in keeping the Parliament informed of State disabilities.
The Government is to be commended, for its determination to improve the defences of Australia, which at present are wholly inadequate. A substantial sum is to be devoted to this purpose; but a still larger expenditure will be necessary. No one can contemplate without apprehension the situation that Australia would have to face in the event of Britain becoming involved in another great war. We should not be able to depend entirely on the Old Country for our safety. To a large extent we should have to depend on our own efforts; and, with our defences in their present state, would have no chance of combating the superior forces of larger nations that have been casting longing eyes on our continent. Both our naval and military defences are entirely inadequate to cope with forces such as any of the major nations might pit against us.
I think that the Prime Minister rather erred in his declaration regarding an alteration of the method of voting at elections for the Senate. The recent election resulted in the return of an overwhelming majority in . favour of the present administration, and that was the deliberate will of the people as expressed through the ballot box. I do not agree, however, with Senator Collett that no alteration of the Electoral Act is required. It needs in many respects to be amended. For instance, the complete returns for Senate elections should be available much sooner than they are under the law as it stands. The delay that takes place is quite indefensible The completion of the Senate returns for Tasmania was held up for a fortnight pending the arrival, of absentee votes from Western Australia and the Northern Territory. It should be possible in such cases for the returning officer to telegraph the effect oi- the votes to the State in respect of which they had been cast. All postal votes should be in the hands of the returning officer for the State before the poll closes. I also contend that the provision requiring electors to vote for the whole of the candidates whose names appear on the ballot-paper is ridiculous. Consider what the position would be if there were 40 or 50 candidates; indeed, there might be even 100 candidates. There is no limit to the number who may stand.
– Let thom all stand in this democratic age.
– In Tasmania there was a free and easy go, but I personally have no reason to complain. However, I submit that it should be sufficient for the elector to indicate his preferences for the full number of candidates to be elected. Should an elector wish to record further preferences, he could do so. In the recent election we found also in Tasmania that the grouping system absolutely failed, because one man in each of two groups did not forward agrouping paper giving the names of the other candidates with whom he wished to be grouped.
– That seems to suggest that the fault was with the individual candidates and not with the system.
– The system is at fault. For instance, I could have put my name in a group, the other members of which might not have desired to bo grouped with rae. Why should one man be able to upset the whole of the grouping system, either accidentally or deliberately?
– I cannot see anything wrong with a system which returned the honorable senator.
– That is not the point. Whatever advantage I may have gained through the upsetting of the grouping in tho recent election, I still bold the opinion that the present system is wrong.
The Governor-General’s Speech was so barren thai few features “of it call for comment. However, I express my agreement with the reference to the need for making reciprocal trade treaties. We cannot hope to have one-way trading between the various countries of ihe world. At the present time one country is protesting that it will not take our primary produce unless we take a certain quantity of its manufactured goods. That is a reasonable demand. Australia must export a large proportion of its primary produce. The GovernorGeneral said -
My advisers are … of the opinion that Australia’s richest overseas market lies within the Empire and especially within the United Kingdom. But they are fully aware that in some (Treat lines of primary commodities Australia and other dominions, taken together, yield a total production far in excess of the consumption demands of the Empire. Confronted by these conditions my Ministers will make every endeavour to trade on the friendliest terms obtainable with all nations which are faced with similar problems.
We all must agree with those remarks. We have to look outside the British Empire for customers for a proportion of our primary produce. Therefore we have to be prepared to accept a certain quantity of goods from those countries. Australia is not in a position to insist upon one-way trading. We have to give as well as take; otherwise our primary produce will become a drug in the market and much of it will be unsaleable. Why should Parliament legislate for only one class ? If the big rural industries cannot find profitable markets abroad their produce will be left on their hands, and they will have to he supported by grants or bounties from the rest of the people. I am glad to see that the Government is alive to the need for making further reciprocal trade treaties, and [ hope that its efforts will be crowned with success.
I propose to deal briefly with some of Tasmania’s problems. Tasmania is only a small State and its representatives have often to fight to get a fair and reasonable deal for it in this Parliament. This afternoon Senator Payne asked the Leader of the Senate for a statement of the Government’s intentions in regard to amending the coasting provisions of the Navigation Act in order tq permit of more equitable treatment of Tasmania. The reply given to him was that this was a matter of policy, statements as to which are not made by answers to questions. But I find in the Hobart Mercury of the 26th October, the following definite statement on this matter, attributed to the Prime Minister -
The Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) announced to-night that in consequence of the support accorded the Labour party in Tasmania at the federal election, the Federal Ministry would review the decision announced at the end of the last session of the last Parliament to introduce legislation before Christmas to vary tlie Navigation Act to enable overseas ships to carry interstate passengers between Tasmania and the mainland.
– The Prime Minister merely said that the Government would “ review “ the decision announced at the end of the last Parliament.
– Yes, but what was the reason he gave? I will repeat it - “ in consequence of the support accorded the Labour .party in Tasmania at the federal election “. I think that that is a very poor excuse for the Prime Minister or any other member of this Government to give for reviewing a definite announcement of policy. We had a promise from the Prime Minister and all his colleagues before the recent election that the Government would introduce in the very early days of this Parliament certain amendments to the Navigation Act in order to allow overseas vessels to carry passengers to Tasmania, and we expect that pledge to be honoured.
– And we won three Senate seats on that pledge.
– Yes. Last Friday the Lord Mayor of Hobart (Mr. J. J. Wignall) sent the following telegram to the Prime Minister: -
Citizens are greatly perturbed and amazed at the announcement that your Government, because of Labour gains in Tasmania at the recent election, proposes not to proceed with the definitely promised amendment of the Navigation Act to give Tasmania permanent relief. May we remind you that your Ministers supplemented your promise in Tasmania? Failure to give such relief may possibly cut across our work for the resumption of the New Zealand service Your announcement is very disheartening and discouraging after the years of work to get this harassing measure repealed, especially in view of the tremendous impetus given to travel through the granting of the recent concessions on behalf of the citizens. May I respectfully ask your Government to redeem its very definite promise in its policy speech? The result of the Senate election is a definite indication of the feeling of the people of Tasmania on the subject.
The suggestion has been made that neither the Labour Government in Tasmania nor the successful Labour candidates in the federal election were in favour of the amendment of the Navigation Act. One of those successful candidates told me definitely that he was in favour of the proposed amendments. Probatory his colleagues hold the same view. I think it can be fairly claimed that every Tasmanian candidate in the recent elections, irrespective, of party, was in favour of an alteration of the Navigation Act. So far as the Labour Premier of Tasmania (Mr. A. G. Oglivie) is concerned. The Mercury reports him as having stated that the Prime Minister had given a pledge that if he were returned to power he would again submit this matter to Parliament, and that the Prime Minister should carry out that pledge. Thus it appears that, notwithstanding what has been -said to the contrary, the representatives of Tasmania are united in their request to the Government to carry out its pledge to amend the Navigation Act early in the first session of this Parliament. On Thursday last, a large meeting of citizens was held in Hobart at which the following motion was carried : -
This meeting of the Tasmanian Tourist Association views with dismay the announcement that the Commonwealth Government does not propose to go on with the amendment to the Navigation Act, which was definitely promised before the election, and desires to point out that the reason given, the non-return of certain members of the Nationalist party, has no bearing on the matter. The necessity for the alteration having been recognized, the Commonwealth Government should be pressed to carry out its pledge, and to that end the Lord Mayor be requested to convene a public meeting at the Town Hall, and the co-operation of the Chamber of Commerce and other interested bodies in making the necessary representations.
– They should have invited Mr. Ogilvie to move that motion.
– I do not care who moved it, but I know that the Tasmanian people are vitally interested in the subject. Even the Melbourne Argus, in a sub-leader on Friday last, said -
Mi. Lyons suggests that the Labour vote in Tasmania at the federal election may be construed as popular antagonism to an amendment of the Navigation Act which would permit overseas ships to carry interstate passengers between Tasmania and the mainland; yet he says, in effect, that the policy of the Ministry will he to preserve the present concessions without introducing a bill to mal(t them permanent. In other words, Mr. Lyons is prepared .to admit that there is a case for amendment, but he is reluctant to implement it in law. There is no justification for such ambiguity. The effect of the Prime Minister’s decision should not bc to penalize the people of Tasmania for having returned three Labour members to the Federal Parliament. When one considers the issues raised during the election campaign it is difficult to read thb Tasmanian vote as an expression of hostility to an amendment of the Navigation Act. There is no question of the merits of the case for amendment. It should bc acted upon without delay.
I would also like to know what the Government is going to do with reference to the removal of the rifle range from Sandy Bay. This matter has been under consideration by the Commonwealth Government for the last fourteen years, but finality has not .been reached. The Government took certain steps in connexion with this matter and then stopped; nothing further has been done. “We all deeply regret the loss of the air liner, Miss Hobart, and offer our sincere sympathy to the relatives of those lost in the disaster. I know that the Commonwealth Government will hold a searching inquiry into the cause of that disaster.
I regret that in the re-arrangement of the Cabinet no representation has been given to country electorates at all ; all four vacancies have been filled by representa tives from the two largest cities of Australia. There are plenty of country members in the Government’s ranks who are worthy of cabinet rank.
– Does the honorable senator represent a country electorate ?
– I do not. I represent a whole State; therefore, I claim to represent country as well as city interests. I repeat that the new Cabinet is not representative of country interests and knows nothing about them. It is regrettable that the new members of the Ministry represent principally the two largest cities in the Commonwealth. Apparently the “pull” exerted by the political organizations having their centres in those two cities secured the appointment of these representatives.
– That is a most unfair statement.
– I do not think it is.
– It is an unwarranted allegation against the Prime Minister.
– No one can deny that the strength of the political parties in those two cities was exerted in regard to the appointment of new Ministers.
– That is not correct.
– I warn the Government that it must expect to receive severe criticism from me when necessary in the interests of Tasmania in the future. I would also remind Ministers that after the 30th June next they will not have the same support from honorable senators opposite in respect of certain aspects of their policy.
– Is that a threat or a promise ?
– It is neither a threat nor a promise ; it is merely a statement of fact. I am not, and never have been, a strong party man; but if the Government does not stand up to the definite pledges with regard to the Navigation Act, made before and during the recent elections, I shall exercise my vote in a way which, I feel sure, will be approved by the majority of the people of Tasmania.
.- I congratulate the mover and the seconder of the motion upon the great restraint which they exercised in expressing their views of the Government’s policy as outlined in the Speech of the GovernorGeneral. It was evident that neither honorable gentleman was quite satisfied, and that both experienced difficulty in displaying enthusiasm about the whole business. As a matter of fact, Senator Grant appeared to be pronouncedly opposed to certain phases of the Government’s policy. It would, I think, be difficult for any honorable gentleman to work up enthusiasm about the Speech, which I regard as the most spineless that has even been put before this Parliament. It was remarkable more for what was left out of it than for what it contained. Perhaps one cannot wonder that this should be so in view of the fact that the Government is dependent for its very existence upon a party whose guns, at the moment, are masked. No one can say definitely when the Country party’s battery will be unmasked to open fire upon the Ministry. This being so, how could Ministers be expected to present to this Parliament a programme that would contain even a ray of hope or promise of lasting benefit to the people? With a view to putting some backbone into this spineless thing which the Government has presented to this Parliament, I move -
That the following words bo added to the motion: - and this Senate is of the opinion that, to provide for relief of unemployment, immediate action should be taken -
1 ) To extend the functions and activities of the Commonwealth Bank, increasing its power to make bank credit available, and utilizing such credit to finance publicworks;
To amend the Arbitration Act to ensure that full and favorable consideration be given to progressive reductions in the working hours and increases in living standards commensurate with increased powers of production, due to mechanization and speeding-up of industry.
To restore in full pensions and social services and to repeal clauses imposing charges upon pensioners’ property and relatives, thus increasing purchasing power and stimulating industry; and
To establish a national scheme for organized marketing, including the setting up of Australian-wide pools.
If my amendment is carried, the people of Australia can expect the adoption of proposals calculated to confer substantial benefit upon them.
The first clause seeks to extend the functions and activities of the Commonwealth Bank with a view to making credit available for the financing of public works. It is well known that the election was fought, with results somewhat disastrous to my party, upon this issue. The results were unfavorable to us simply because the facts have been distorted and the minds of the people disturbed concerning the possible result of Labour’s (banking policy. An immense amount of misleading literature was issued by the United Australia party and Country party organizations which, for all practical purposes, are one party because when any proposal is brought forward for the benefit of the people, representatives of both are to be found in opposition to it. Much of this election literature was, I repeat, misleading and malicious. Those responsible for it must have known that the statements made were untrue. I have in my hand several circulars and other documents issued by our opponents during the campaign. One, in particular, had reference to recent happenings in connexion with the Government Savings Bank of New South Wales. It depicted a woman with her two children standing before the door of the bank upon which appeared the notice “ bank closed until further notice.”
– Was it not closed a year or two ago?
– Yes, but what I complain about is the misrepresentation of the events which led up to the closing of that bank. Prominent advertisements appeared in the principal newspapers - they must have been paid for by some persons or organizations vitally interested in suppressing the truth - and vast quantities of election literature were distributed throughout Australia during the election. Much of it found its way into my letter box. It is true that the bank was closed a year or two ago, but not for the reasons alleged by the United Australia party and Country party organizations. If the truth had been told at the time the bank would not have been compelled to close its doors. It is said that dead men tell no tales. It is also true that some dead men leave behind them records which completely disprove what has been said by public men and sections of the press. I have in mind particularly certain allegations made with regard to the closing of the Government Savings Bank of New South “Wales, and I intend to quote briefly from the highest authority I know - the late Sir Robert Gibson. The Labour party has always declared that the closing of that institution was engineered in order to defeat Labour’s financial proposals. This view was supported by the late Sir Robert Gibson, who, in the course of a broadcast speech to the people during the crisis, said -
They were all aware that the Government Savings Bank of New South Wales was forced to close its doors. That was because the people who had deposited their money were led to believe by the foolish statements of those who should know better, and the statements of those who desired disaster, that the bank was not in a safe position.
The fact of the matter was the Government Savings Bank in New South Wales was and is in a perfectly sound position.
There was no good reason founded on account of its soundness why it was compelled to close its doors.
Sir Robert Gibson concluded his remarks by declaring -
The Commonwealth Bank can meet any demand which is placed upon it. by its customers. The bank will never close its doors as long as the nation itself stands.
This definite statement by the When Chairman of the Commonwealth Bank Board was in direct contradiction to the lying and poisonous propaganda that was issued by Labour’s opponents during the election campaign. The adoption of my amendment will make possible the extension of the bank’s functions so as to ensure ample credit for the financing of important public works. This Government has been in power for three years. Prior to its accession to office unemployment in this country was rife. It is true that shortly after it came into power the situation improved slightly, but not nearly to the extent for which the Government claimed credit, because vast numbers of those who were returned as being in employment were really engaged on relief work, some on half time, and others at sustenance rates. Comparatively few were working full time and in receipt of the adult wage. Our purpose is to see that the Commonwealth Bank is allowed to do what it was supposed to do when it was established, and what it did during the war years . when 4 we had as Prime Minister a man with sufficient backbone and brains to use it in the interests of the people. When Great Britain and Australia were in great trouble - the people of the Mother Country were on the brink of starvation and Australia was teeming with food stuffs which, owing to lack of ships, could not be transported to the other side of the world - the Right Honorable W. M. Hughes, utilizing the resources, of the Commonwealth Bank, purchased fifteen ships in various ports of the world and used them for the transport of food stuffs in Australia to feed the people of Great Britain. The record of that episode in our history is to be found at page 201 of the official History of the Commonwealth Bank. The fifteen ships which Mr. Hughes bought in 1916 cost the Commonwealth £2,052,654. The first year’s trading resulted in a profit of £327,335 ; the second year gave a profit of £576,164; the third year a profit of £1,160,055, and the fourth year a profit of £137,959. The total profit for four years amounted to £2,201,513, and the surplus after paying for the ships, was £148,859. This splendid result was achieved by a man who did not hesitate, when occasion demanded, to use the Commonwealth Bank in the interests of the nation. Although two of the vessels were torpedoed, the remaining thirteen were able to show a substantial profit.
– Those vessels were sold and the Australian people were “sold” with them.
– That is so. The vessels of the Australian Commonwealth Line also were disposed of to the Kylsant Group, although they could still be rendering a great service to the Australian people, and particularly to the primary producers.
During the war, the Commonwealth Bank was utilized in the interests of the Australian people. On page 105 of the History of the CommonwealthBank, it is pointed out that prior to the establishment of the bank the raising of loans for Commonwealth purposes cost £3 for each £100, whereas those raised through the Commonwealth Bank cost only 5s. 7d. for each £100. At the last general election the Labour party sought to empower the Commonwealth Bank to function as it did during the period to which I have referred. That bank should be used in the interests of the Commonwealth and not, as it is to-day, as an instrument to support the financial transactions of private banking institutions. I have not the figures to the end of 1933, but up to the end of 1932 the total savings effected by the ordinary trading operations of the Commonwealth Bank, the Savings Bank and the Note Issue Department amounted to £31,941,271, whilst those effected in respect of loans amounted to £5,000,000, making a total of £30,941,271. I understand that the figures up to the mid of last year show that a saving of £38,000,000 has been effected by that institution. That satisfactory result has been achieved, apart from the assistance rendered in financing public works such a3 I should like this Government to undertake. Moreover, the primary producers of Australia have received substantial benefit as a result of the bank’s activities, particularly during the war period. On page 162 of the History of -the Commonwealth Bank, it is stated that the following pools were assisted to the amounts shown : -
If such substantial assistance could be given chu ing a period of national emergency, why cannot similar financial help be given to-day? Why should the Commonwealth Bank be ham-strung, and the private banking institutions allowed to operate untrammelled to the detriment of the Australian people? I do not blame the private banks. If I were engaged in a successful business, I would naturally exert all my efforts to retain it. That is what those in control of private banks are doing.
– Is the honorable senator in favour of the private banks being closed l.
– I do not bother ray head about other banks. I maintain that the Commonwealth Bank should function in the interests of the people as it did during the war period; probably as a result of competition, the private trading banks would eventually be wiped out of existence. They have been doing a very good job, but the Commonwealth Bank can more efficiently and more economically perform the work which the private banks are now doing.
– Does the honorable senator wish to ruin large numbers of the Australian people ?
– An instrument which could provide a better service should be employed. The Commonwealth Bank should still be engaged on work which it has already successfully performed.
There are many reproductive public works which should be undertaken. During the last election campaign, I passed through a number of large Victorian towns which are not yet sewered, and when I asked why a proper system of sanitation had not been installed when men were anxiously seeking work, I was informed that the rate at which money could be borrowed was too high. Why should men be hanging around street corners when important reproductive works could be undertaken? Men who have been out of work for months, or in some cases years, become despondent, feel that they are useless units in the community, and lose their independence. A further paragraph of my amendment reads -
To amend the Arbitration Act to ensure that full and favorable consideration be given to progressive reductions in the working hours and increases in living standards commensurate with increased powers of production, duc to mechanization and speeding up of industry.
Even the mover and seconder of the motion were rightly concerned as to the present industrial situation in Australia. Some are more perturbed than others concerning the position with which we art; now faced. Men who are unemployed are confronted, not only with the problem of providing food for their wives and their children, but also with the almost impossible task of finding employment for their sons when their schooling is completed. After leaving school these youths are compelled to hang around the street corners, and the position becomes so desperate that they lose all sense of responsibility, and eventually become a charge upon the State. It is not their fault, but that of the system under which we live. If these young men were engaged on remunerative work they would be able to marry, and rear healthy, happy children. Although the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court is restricted in many ways, I believe that it is possible for it to render a service to the community. I have always contended that industrial disputes should be settled by arbitration rather than that employers and employees should endeavour to settle their differences by grasping at each other’s” throats. I give credit to the Commonwealth Arbitration Court for the magnificent work it has already done, but it can render a still greater service to the Australian people. Even were prosperity to return, I doubt whether work could be found for every able-bodied man seeking it. During recent years, particularly as a result of the mechanization of industry, conditions have changed to such an extent that it is doubtful whether employment could now be found for all. Youths who have become qualified engineers invent machines which may throw their own fathers and thousands of other men out of work. What is the good of such inventions, if the country does not benefit? Modern inventions should have the effect of giving men and women greater opportunities for leisure and additional comfort.
Another paragraph in my amendment refers to the restoration of full invalid and old-age pension rates and social services, and the repeal of certain sections imposing charges upon pensioners’ property and relatives, in order to increase the purchasing power of the people and stimulate industry. The increase in the purchasing power in that respect would not be great, but it would be of some benefit. Honorable senators on this side of the chamber contend that, prior to the last general election, the supporters of the Government spoke with their tongues iu their cheeks. They made many promises, but those things which they promised to do are not mentioned in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech. There is no reference in the Speech to the restoration of invalid and old-age pensions and Public Service salaries. Some honorable senators do not realize the conditions under which some people are living and the indignities to which persons have to submit in endeavouring to secure a pension. Some time ago, legislation was passed providing that relatives should contribute towards the maintenance of pensioners, but it was found that 50 clerks were required to collect about £2,000. In order to avoid being buried as paupers, many pensioners set aside a small portion of their pensions in order to pay the premiums on insurance policies sufficient to meet their funeral expenses. It is not generally known that the present Government introduced legislation to amend the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act so that, at the death of a pensioner, the amount of his insurance policy may be claimed by the Government. That was done in spite of the existence of a law which provides that, if a person dies leaving a life insurance policy of £5,000, his widow or other dependants are entitled to £1,000, and no creditor can rob them of it. The amending legislation in regard to pensions constitutes the greatest blot ever placed on the statute-book of this country.
The last point covered by the amendment is the establishment of a national scheme for organized marketing, including the setting up of an Australian-wide wheat pool. I have already shown how, on a previous occasion, the Commonwealth Bank financed the rural industries to the amount of £437 000,000. I should like to see some backbone put into the Speech, and the people informed that what was done in the war years we are prepared to do again. The Government has been tinkering with the problem of primary production; it has, as it were, enticed the primary producer up a tree for safety, and then, proceeded to chop down the tree. The policy of the Government in regard to primary industries, as expressed by the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), may be summarized as follows: -
Foster exports, continue protection and subsidies; £4,000,000 to guarantee growers 3s. for; recovery loan for debt relief.
The Country party, through its leader, Dr. Earle Page, declared its policy to be -
Develop exports; reduce tariffs and freights; abolish landtax; rural debt relief with £12,000,000 loan.
The policy of the Labour party in regard to primary industries, as expounded by its leader. Mr. Scullin, may be summarized thus -
Three years’ stabilization plan, pool controlled by growers, government guarantee of 3s. 9d. f.o.b., and home consumption price 4s.; restriction tobacco imports.
The only policy whichpromisesanything of value to Australia is that of the Labour party.
I sympathize with the Government in that it finds itself in difficulties in relation to its banking policy. Summarized, that policy, as stated by the Prime Minister, is -
No political interference with currency, banking and savings. “ Let well alone.”
Dr. Earle Page set forth the policy of the Country party in a speech which may be epitomized as follows : -
Expert inquiry into exchange, banking, currency, credit reform and expansion.
Dr. Earle Page realizes that there is something wrong with the banking and financial system in operation in this country, and is prepared to fro so far as to have an expert inquiry into it. The policy of the Labour party would place the Commonwealth Bank where it was when it made history for Australia some years back. That policy is -
Nationalization by expanding the Commonwealth Bank under a Governor appointed by Parliament.
The present Government has done little to remedy the pressing problem of unemployment. Its policy, as announced by the Prime Minister, is -
Vigorous works policy; special unemployment Minister to co-operate with States; help for workless youths.
What has the Government done for the workless youths of this country during the past three years, and what is it likely to do in the future? Contrasted with the declaration of the Prime Minister, the policy speech of the leader of the Country party is an improvement. Summarized, it can be expressed thus -
National insurance, with retirement of workers at60; develop rural exporting industries under Agricultural Council. “ Countryside is starting point for all employment.”
The leader of the Labour party said that a Labour government would adopt a bold policy in order to provide work; the financial policy of that party showed how effect would be given to that intention. The Prime Minister speaks of unifying the railway gauges of this country - something which we all agree is desirable - but he does not tell the people that the Commonwealth is powerless in this connexion unless it has the co-operation of the States. It is true that the Commonwealth could apply pressure to the States to make them fall into line with any policy which it thought would he in the best interests of the people of Australia, and a Labour government would make legitimate use of that power, as was done in Great Britain during the war, when the government there commandeered the railways. It is interesting to notice how the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Country party are trying to hold each other up; they remind me of two drunken men leaning on each other for support.
In regard to the tariff the policy of the Prime Minister and his party is -
Continued protection to sound industries, with relief to farmer. Follow Tariff Board recommendations.
This afternoon Senator Grant told us that 59 reports by the Tariff Board had been deliberately withheld from the public because the Government was afraid to announce their contents before the election. I ask honorable senators to compare the policy of the United Australia party and thatof the Country party-
Full tariff investigation, downward revision of duties; abolish primage on British goods; greater Empire preference- with the following clear-cut statement of policy by the Leader of the Labour party : -
Adequate protection for Australian industries to develop manufacturing and local markets.
The Labour party realizes that the home market is best for the Australian producer. A recent quotation for butter gave the price as 140s. acwt. in Australia and 70s. a cwt in London. Is that not conclusive evidenceofthe value of the home market to the Australian dairy-farmer? What is true of dairy produce is true also of other primary products. The Labour party claimsthatthe first duty of this country is to find employment for its idle workers so that they may have money to spend. It is idle to speak of a return of prosperity when thousands of men and women arc living on “hand-outs” and doles. It wouldbe far better if our idle men wore placed in employment, so that each weekthey could take home their earnings for theirwives to spend in procuring the necessaries of life and some comforts for themselves and their child ren. The Labour party believes that the only way to res tore prosperity is to increase the purchasing power of the people.
I hope that the Senate will carry the amendment, thereby putting some backbone into the spineless Speech of the GovernorGeneral.
Debate (on motion by Senator Sir George Pearce) adjourned.
[4.57]. - I move -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till Wednesday,14th November, at 3 p.m.
As it may appear to honorable senators that a long adjournment is proposed,I explain that in the House of Representatives a motion, which the Government has accepted as one of no-confidence, has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition. Judging by what has taken place in connexion with similar motions in the past, we may expect the debate to extend over next week, in which case it would obviously be unwise to ask the Senate to meet earlier. Parliament was called together soon after the elections for two reasons : first, to enable members of the House ofRepresentatives to be sworn, and secondly that the Government may give effect to its promise to deal with the prob- lemsconnected with the wheat industry before the forthcoming harvest. The legislation necessary to give effect to the Government’s policy inthat connexion will have to bo introduced in the House of Representative, so that, even if the debate on the motion of no-confidence terminated before the end of next week, there would be no businessof major importance for the Senate to consider until the date mentioned in this motion. A number of minor measures, some of which were left over last session, could, of course, be brought before the Senate; but I do not think thatthey are of sufficient importance to justify calling the Senate together to deal with them alone. In all thecircumstances, it would not be safe to call the Senate together before the 14th November, and I therefore confidently submit the motion to the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 4.59 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 31 October 1934, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1934/19341031_senate_14_145/>.