14th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Has the attention of the Leader of the Senate been drawn to the following paragraph which appeared in to-day’s issue of the Sydney Morning Herald : -
This refers to an editorial which appeared in the Daily Herald, London - is based on a statement by the Daily Herald’s political correspondent, that a serious effort will be made during the Jubilee talks with dominions statesmen to secure agreement to a big scheme to send thousands of unemployed overseas. The correspondent affirmed that Mr. Lyons is ready to make substantial concessions with a view to admitting more immigrants if the Commonwealth’s share of the British market is considerably increased.
If the Loader of the Senate has read that statement, can he furnish any information to the Senate with reaped to the proposal! It is particularly interesting from the point of view of the Australian public.
– The paragraph read by the honorable senator appears to be a statement made by a correspondent of the Daily Herald, London. It is entirely unauthorized. He can rest assured that if the Prime. Minister intended to make any statement on the subject he would not do so through a second party.
– I ask you, Mr. President, the following question in relation to the Standing Orders: - In view of Australian newspaper reports, which stated that there was no conflict of international political interests as between England and Soviet Russia, is it the intention of honorable senators of the United Australia party and the Country party supporting the Lyons-Page Government, when addressing the chair, to call you “ Comrade “ Lynch ?
– The honorable senator prefaced his question with a statement that it related to .the Standing Orders, but then went on to say something about the United Australia party. The Standing Orders relating to the asking of questions are quite clear. The honorable senator is supposed to have some knowledge of them and should know that he is not entitled to ask a fellow senator - which designation includes myself - other than a Minister, a question that does not relate to a bill, motion, or other matter connected with the business of the Senate of which such senator has charge. As the subject to which he referred does not; come within that category I cannot furnish him with any information.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior whether the conference which it was reported in the press would be held between the Minister and the Government of South Australia with respect to the opposition of the State Government to the proposal of the Commonwealth to construct a line of railway from Red Hill to Port Augusta has yet been held, and if so, can he say if there is n possibility of that work being put in hand in the near future?
– The conference is to be held to-morrow.
– In the event of the State Government persisting in its objections to the construction of the proposed line, will the Commonwealth Government carry out the work in the terms of the agreement made some years ago ?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The intentions of the Government will be fully sot’ out in the bill when it reaches the Senate.
– In connexion wis this matter, will the Minister consult with those who are most vitally concerned in the solution of the unemployment problem in South Australia - the interests of the minority in the recent State election - and if the State Government persists in its present attitude, will the Commonwealth Government carry out this most desirable project in the interests of the unemployed?
– I can assure the honorable senator that every interest will be fully considered in connexion with the proposal.
– In the event of the South Australian Government baulking the Commonwealth Government in its proposal to construct a line of railway from Red Hill to Port Augusta, will the Government place on tho State authorities the responsibility of putting forward some other scheme for the relief of unemployment in South Australia?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.It is not usual to answer hypothetical questions.
What was the cost of construction of the Commonwealth Bank premises in each of the following cities: - Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, and Hobart?
The following reply has been furnished by the Commonwealth Bank: -
The figures are not available. The Bank Board does not publish the cost of construction of bank premises.
Perth Broadcasting Studio
– On the 28th March, Senator Johnston asked the following questions, upon notice: -
I am now in a position to inform the honorable senator that, upon his inquiries being brought to the notice of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, advice has been received from that body to the effect that the commission has plans under consideration, and intends to proceed with the erection of the studio at Perth as soon as it is satisfied with the plans.
– I direct the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce to the following report, which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on the 1st April : -
Visitor’s Complaint. “ If Australia hopes to develop her trade with the Bast, exporters will have to pay more attention to the requirements of Eastern buyers instead of sending anything at any time,” said Mr. J. E. Hansen, a resident of Hon;; Kong, who arrived in Sydney yesterday by the Taiping.
Mr. Hansen said Chinese merchants were anxious to encourage trade with Australia, but the packing and the condition of many goods shipped recently were a poor advertisement for the ‘Commonwealth. There was a good market for Australian canned fruits, but importers were disappointed at the quality and packing of recent shipments. Irregularity of supplies was another cause for complaint.
Mr. Hansen said that a better system of wrapping tinned fruits should be adopted. The moist climate brought the labels off the tins, and importers had the utmost difficulty in identifying the contents.
In view of the statements made in this report, will the Minister have inquiries made with the object of taking action to improve the position ?
– I have not noticed the paragraph, but inquiries will be made into the matter mentioned in it.
– I wrote to the Acting Attorney-General some time ago, and he informed me that certain information which I was seeking was not obtainable from his department, but from that of the Postmaster-General. He said that he would ask his colleague to write to me some weeks ago, but I have not yet received the information. The question related to the prevention of the transmission of a certain newspaper through the post?
-I cannot recollect having received a communication on the subject referred to, but if the honorable senator repeats his question I shall obtain the information for him.
– In view of the statement made by the Prime Minister and others that it is proposed to alter the Electoral Act, with a view to changing the manner of representation in the Senate, will the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior inform honorable senators when the report regarding that important matter will be available ?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.There is no such report. The matter has not yet received the full consideration of the Government.
The following papers were presented : -
List of International Agreements (Treaties, Conventions, &c. ) respecting Commercial Relations, which affect the Commonwealth of Australia.
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. -
No. 1 of 1935 - Postal Electricians Supervisors and Foremen’s Association, Postmaster-General’s Department, Commonwealth of Australia.
No. 2 of 1935- Fourth Division Officers’ Association of the Trade and Customs Department.
No. 3 of 1935 - Postal Overseers’ Union of Australia.
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointment - Department of the Interior - A. C. Fleetwood.
Senator McLACHLAN laid on the table reports and recommendations of the Tariff Board upon the following subjects : -
Canned Oysters originated in or exported from Japan; and Canned Oysters from all countries.
Cloth known as Camel Hair Cloth and/or imitation Camel Hair Cloth.
Condensers and fixed Electrolytic Condensers.
Crustaceans preserved in tins or other airtight vessels.
Iron and Steel Plate and Sheet (exceeding 0.135 inch in. thickness).
Iron and Steel Sheet up to and including 1/8 inch in thickness.
Leather Manufactures; Leather cut into shape, &c. ; Harnessand Buggy Saddles.
– Has the Minister in charge of Development yet received from Wyndham the report which he promised to obtain on the De Raeve process for the treatment of beef?’
– If I have been lax in that matter, I apologize to the honorable senator, but I was under the impression that the information had been supplied to him. If not, I shall see that a copy of the report is sent to him.
– Does the Minister in charge of Development recollect that last year he promised to give honorable senators an opportunity to read the report submitted by Mr. Rogers as the result of his trip abroad? Is the Minister now prepared to furnish a copy of that report ?
- Mr. Rogers has not yet returned to Australia. Unfortunately, I felt compelled to send him to England to confer with Messrs. Conacher and Crichton, who have been here, and are entitled to certain technical information. On his return, I shall furnish such part of the report as is not confidential, and I do not anticipate that I shall have to withhold any of it.
– Has the attention of the Leader of the Senate been called to the following press statement published in the Sydney Telegraph of the 3rd April : -
Parliament House lobbies to-day echoed to a lusty “Heil!” It was not the voice of a Nazi visitor, but the jocular call of the Minister for Health (Mr. Hughes), who was responding to a Fascist salute humorously given by the Minister for External Affairs, Sir George Pearce.
Does this indicate that Senator Pearce is an ardent admirer and supporter of the Fascist form of government now operating in Germany and Italy?
Question not answered.
– In view of the report tabled in the other branch of the legislature last night on the subject of mining in the Northern Territory, in which serious charges are made in certain directions, and having regard to the desirability of encouraging capital to be invested there and the fact that the territory has genuine deposits of gold, does the Government intend so to amend the mining regulations and ordinances in the territory as to ensure that the investing public will be adequately protected?
– The Minister for the Interior intends to take the whole subject into consideration at the earliest possible moment.
– Did the Leader of the Senate notice in the press a few days ago that Argentina had defaulted in regard to its interest payments to Great Britain, whereas Australia has never defaulted? Will the Government use this fact as a means of securing fair treatment of Australian meat exported to the Old Country?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.I think that the honorable senator has read from a press report of a statement made in London by the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons).
– Is the PostmasterGeneral aware of the fact that, in some of the States, letter carriers are compelled to wear thick blue serge uniforms, whereas they would be much more comfortable and better able to do their work in a light khaki twill suit?
– This is a matter to which I have given some consideration, and an investigation of it is being made by the department. I realize, with the honorable senator, that in the warmer parts of Australia some such provision should be made, and I shall endeavour to inaugurate it.
– Is there any truth in the statement that, as a result of the recent air conference in Australia, there is a likelihood of some of the stopping places in western Queensland, which, have been largely instrumental in maintaining the service, being cut out?
– The overseas air conference comes under the Civil Aviation Branch of the Department of Defence. If the honorable senator will place his question on the notice-paper, it shall be brought under the notice of the Minister for Defence.
Provision of Seating and other Accommodation in Parks.
– Does the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior recognize the fact that, at the present time, there is no park in Canberra that may be used by residents for the purposes of rest and refreshment. Has he been informed that -
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch). - Order! The honorable senator must put his question briefly. Questions should be put to elicit information, not to give it.
– This is a statement of fact which I ask the Minister to consider. 2. The Acton nursery, which is no longer used for its original purpose, has an area of ten acres. It is planted with a wonderful collection of trees and contains specimens of conifers, poplars, and other varieties which will compare favorably with anything of the kind in Australia ?
– It is a serious state of affairs that although Canberra has beautiful gardens there is not one where women and children may enjoy rest.
– I was under the impression that parks and gardens comprised about 95 per cent, of the area of Canberra. If the honorable senator will place his question on the notice-paper, I shall bring it under the notice of the Minister for the Interior.
[3.23]. - by leave - I move -
That the following joint address be presented to His Majesty the King.
To the King’s Most Excellent Majesty:
We, the Senate and the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Australia in Parliament assembled, tender to You, upon the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of your accession to the Throne, an expression of our continued loyalty to the Throne and Person of Your Majesty and to Her Majesty the Queen.
With feelings of pride we review the fruitful course of Your Majesty’s reign, and we recall with thankfulness the many blessings which have contributed to the advancement of our Commonwealth and of the status of the Empire among the Nations of the world.
We rejoice that the miracles of the new age have brought the parts of Your realm into closer contact. Since Your Majesty assumed the Throne the means of communication have been accelerated to a remarkable extent by invention, and the close co-operation between the component parts of the Empire, which is so earnestly desired, has been thereby greatly facilitated.
With the encouragement and guidance of Your Majesty Australia has won the status of nationhood. Gladly are we bearing the responsibilities which that dignity entails, and devoutly do we hope that in fulfilling the obligations Of nationhood we will confer added benefits on the Empire.
We deeply appreciate Your personal interest in our advancement, and we recall with pride that members of Your family have been intimately associated with the principal events of our history since Your Majesty and Her Majesty the Queen visited our continent on the occasion of the opening of the First Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia. The visit of Your son, the Prince of Wales, immediately after the termination of the war and the presence of Your son, the Duke of York, at the establishment of Canberra as the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth of Australia are fresh in our memory.
These visits, and the recent tour of Your son, the Duke of Gloucester, have done much to emphasize and promote the unswerving loyalty and devotion of British peoples to Your Majesties and the indissoluble unity of the countries comprising Your realm.
With the other partners in the British Empire we join in thanking Almighty God that Your Majesty has been spared so long to guide its destinies. It is our fervent prayer that Your Most Gracious Majesties may continue for many years to enjoy the peaceful progress of the Empire and to promote the welfare and happiness of Your subjects, and through them the peoples of the world.
Few words are needed to commend a resolution such as this to an Australian audience because Australians are noted for their devotion to the Throne and to the persons of Their Majesties the King and Queen. That there is in this one respect no party divisions in Australia was most strikingly demonstrated on the occasion of each of theRoyal visits to this country referred to in the address that I have just read. All sections of the community in every part of the Commonwealth visited by theRoyal guests united spontaneously to show to the utmost their appreciation of theRoyal Family and their loyalty to the Throne. The Parliament, in passing a resolution of this character, will, I am sure, be expressing the fervent wish of the whole of the people of this country.
.- I second the motion. I cannot add any words to those of the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Pearce) which would express more eloquently the sentiments of the people of this country.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable senators standing in their places.
asked the Minis ter representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In connexion with moneys advanced to the State of Western Australia for public works to be carried out in that State -
Is it a fact that the State Government is supplying timber required for such works from its own mills and yards without previously inviting public tenders for the same?
If so, will the Commonwealth Government make representations to the State Government with a view to public tenders being invited for the supply of timber so that private enterprise may be afforded an opportunity of participating in the expenditure?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The Acting Prime Minister has supplied the f ollowing answers : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice- -
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The Minister for Defence has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The Minister for Defence has furnished the following replies: - 1 and 2. The attention of the Government had not previously been drawn to this article, but it will receive full consideration.
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows:: - 1 and 2. The Government of Western Australia originally made representations for the Commonwealth to pay a bounty of £2(1 a ton on pearl shell. After full consideration, the Commonwealth Government agreed to provide temporary assistance to the pearl shell industry of £5,000 (the Western Australian share being £2,000), and to refer the request for a bounty for inquiry by the Tariff Board. No specific request has been received from the Government of Western Australia for an increase of the £2,500 allotted to that State, but the Premier of Western Australia has intimated that he does not regard the amount allotted as sufficient to tide the industry over its difficulties. The matter of assistance to the industry generally will receive further consideration on receipt of the Tariff Board’s report.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
What was the average price of wheat, f.o.r., at principal Australian ports during the months of December, January, February, and March last?
– The information is being obtained, and will be furnished to the honorable senator later.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– I take it that the honorable senator’s questions relate only to the amounts provided under the relief measure passed by the Senate last week. The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows: -
Motion (by Senator Sir GEORGE
Pearce) agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a bill for an act to amend the Norfolk Island Act 1913.
Bill brought up, and read a first time.
Suspension of Standing ORDERS
[3.35]. - I move -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent my moving forthwith the following motion - That the bill be now read a second time.
I realize that I am taking a somewhat unusual course; but I ask the Senate to agree to the motion, because it is probable that both Houses of the Parliament will meet for only a few days more before adjourning. For that reason the- hill is being introduced in the Senate, and I am anxious that it shall pass both Houses before the adjournment, so that the changes contemplated by it can be made. Those changes will be made by ordinance, not by the bill itself; but, unless the act is amended, it will not be possible to amend the existing ordinances in the direction desired by the people of Norfolk Island. If this motion is carried, I shall move the second reading immediately, after which no objection will be raised by the Government if any honorable senator desires to move the adjournment of the debate. I realize that honorable senators have not yet seen the bill. Should the debate be adjourned to-day; the remaining stages could be taken tomorrow.
– There being an absolute majority of the whole Senate present, and no voice being raised in tha negative, I declare the motion carried.
[3.36]. - I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
I desire to take the opportunity afforded by the second reading of this small bill to make a statement which, I hope, will increase the interest of honorable senators in Norfolk Island and the people there. I think that that is necessary, because, when in Norfolk Island recently, I found that the residents were generally of the opinion that the people of the Commonwealth are not interested in them, and regard them more or less as poor relations whose existence is of little importance. Should anything that I may say this afternoon awaken the interest of honorable senators, and of honorable members of the House of Representatives, in Norfolk Island and its people, I shall feel that I have achieved my object. If, therefore, my remarks are somewhat lengthy on such a small bill, T hope that honorable senators will realize that they are not so much in explanation of the bill itself as of what will follow its enactment. In order to get the right perspective, I desire, first, to set out the position of Norfolk Island as a part of the Commonwealth.
Norfolk Island was accepted as a territory under the authority of the Commonwealth by the Norfolk Island Act 1913, which came into operation on 1st July, 1914. As a result of inquiries made by me as the Minister in Charge of Territories and of investigations made by me during my recent visit to the territory, it is proposed that certain alterations be made in the form of administration of the territory. A good deal of dissatisfaction which exists on the island, at the present time, arises from the fact that residents feel that they have little or no voice in the control of local affairs. The affairs of the territory are controlled locally by an Administrator appointed by the Governor-General, and there is an executive council comprised of six elected members and six members appointed by the Administrator. The Administrator is an ex-officio member of the council and presides at meetings at which he attends and has an ordinary vote and a casting vote when necessary. The council is constituted annually, and the law requires that the Administrator attend the first meeting of each council and such meeting shall elect a member of the council to be president.
Six members of the council are nominated by the Administrator and another six are elected, and the Administrator has a deliberative as well as a casting vote. The powers of the council are practically limited to the maintenance of roads and the eradication of noxious weeds. It has been found that the executive council is not working satisfactorily and that, as at present constituted, it is doubtful whether it can function effectively for the good of the island. To remedy the present state of affairs and to give the people a real voice in local affairs, it is proposed that the executive council be replaced by a new body to be constituted as an advisory council to consist of eight elected members. The advisory council will have the right to advise the Administrator, and through him, the Minister, on all local matters such as roads, public works, health, education, noxious weeds, afforestation, agriculture, fishing, marketing, &c. Ordinances are to bc submitted to the advisory council for an expression of their views thereon. At present the main function of the executive council is the maintenance of roads on the island. It is proposed that the control and carrying out of all public works, including roads, be vested in the Administrator and that the expenditure of public moneys thereon be in the hands of the Administrator, who will, as far as practicable, consult the advisory council in regard thereto. To enable effect to be given to these proposals, an amendment of the Norfolk Island Act 1913 will be necessary and the bill before the Senate, cited as the Norfolk Island Act 1935, has been brought down for the purpose, and also to enable the law regarding the supply of liquor on the island to be tightened up.
Section 6 of the present act reads as follows : -
The executive council of Norfolk Island, as existing at the commencement of . this act, shall continue in existence, but may be altered or abolished by ordinance made in pursuance of this act.
It is proposed that this clause be repealed and replaced by a provision for the establishment of an advisory council for Norfolk Island to advise the Administrator in relation to any matter affecting the island.
Clause 8 of the present act provides that the Governor-General may make ordinances for the peace, order and good government of Norfolk Island, such ordinances to come into force at a time to be fixed by the Governor-General not being before the date of their publication in Norfolk Island. There is provision for ordinances to be laid before both Houses of Parliament within 30 days of the making, and either House of Parliament, by resolution, may disallow an ordinance or any part of it. It is proposed that these provisions shall remain and that an addition shall be made to the act, providing that a copy of a proposed ordinance shall be submitted to the advisory council which will be allowed 30 days in which to make any representations or suggestions in regard thereto. Such representations and suggestions are to be submitted to the Administrator, who will be required to transmit them to the Minister with his observations thereon. The representations of the advisory council and the Administrator’s observations will be taken into consideration before the ordinance is finally made.
Power is to be reserved to the GovernorGeneral to make any ordinance before submission to the council in any case of urgency or for any special reason, such ordinance to be submitted later to the council. Clause 5 is necessary for drafting purposes. Section 16 of the present act reads as follows : -
The manufacture, or, except in accordance with the provisions of the laws at present in force in Norfolk Island, the sale or supply of alcoholic liquor is prohibited.
This section prevents an alteration being made to the law relating to the control of alcoholic liquor as it was in force when the act commenced on 1st July, 1914. The present law has been found inadequate effectively to regulate and control liquor traffic, particularly in relation to the sale of home brewed liquor of a high percentage of proof spirit. The amended provision is designed more effectively to control the supply of alcoholic liquor and to enable penalties to be imposed on delinquents. The residents of Norfolk Island are a fine type of law-abiding people, and I am not suggesting that a great majority of them desire to evade the liquor laws at present in force on the island. It is a small minority which is evading the law and causing a nuisance to a great majority of the people. We are proposing to introduce into Norfolk Island a law at present in force in Australia, which provides in certain cases that not only the illegal seller but also the illegal purchaser of alcoholic liquor shall be punished.
I should like now to give honorable senators some information concerning this very interesting territory. Norfolk Island is situated about 900 miles to the north-east of Sydney and about 400 miles to the north of New Zealand. The island is about five miles in length and three miles in breadth with a circumference of 30 miles and an area of 8,528 acres. It has a population of about 1,198, of whom about 800 are adults. Of the adult population, 400 are descendants of the Pitcairn Islanders who were transferred to the island in 1856; of the remainder of the present adult population, 140 come from New Zealand, 106 from Australia and 166 from other parts. The control of the territory was transferred from the State of New South Wales to the Commonwealth Government on 1st July, 1914, when the Norfolk Island Act 1913 came into operation. The main provisions of the act are: -
An annual grant is made by the Commonwealth towards the expenses of administration. From 1st July, 1914, to date, the aggregate amount of such grants has been £68,500. A subsidy is paid by the Commonwealth Government for the maintenance of a regular shipping service between the island and Australia.
The vessels which visit Norfolk Island also call at the New Hebrides and Lord Howe Island.
– How frequently do they call at Norfolk Island?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.There is one about every three weeks.
In 1925-1926, the exports from the Territory were valued at £6,156. In the following year they were valued at £13,578, and in the subsequent years there was a steady increase to a maximum of £33,027 in 1928-1929. Since that time there has been a decline in the value of the goods exported. In 1933-1934, the value had decreased to £15,893, and during the present year to the end of February, the goods exported have been valued at £6,020. The principal item of export in recent years has been bananas of which 32,003 cases were exported, in1931-1932 - 17,125 to Australia and 14,878 to New Zealand. In 1933-1934, the number of cases exported was 18,285, of which all came to Australia.
Their unfavorable trading position is due to the fact that the Government of New Zealand put an embargo on the importation of fruit and vegetables from Australia in retaliation, so it is said, for the embargo by Australia on the importation of New Zealand potatoes, and the Dominion Government included the produce of Norfolk Island in the embargo.
One of the reasons advanced by New Zealand for the embargo on Australian potatoes, was the presence in Australia of the Mediterranean fly which, it was feared, might be introduced into that country. There isno Mediterranean fly in Norfolk Island so there is no reason for continuing the embargo on the importation of fruit and vegetables from that island. This we have pointed out to the DominionGovernment unavailingly as yet, I regret to say. The residents keenly resent this treatment of their trade because a greater number of them came originally from New Zealand than from Australia.
There has been dissatisfaction and unrest on the island for some time. This eventually found expression in representations to the Commonwealth Government, and in a petition to the GovernorGeneral requests were made for an inquiry into the conditions existing on the island and for changes in the administration. In their statement, the islanders submitted that the main causes of their discontent were -
It was considered desirable that I, as Minister in Charge of Territories, should visit the island to enable me to acquire direct knowledge of the conditions there. Accordingly I visited the island on the 20th and 21st of March, 1935. Whilst there, I received deputations, interviewed residents and attended a public meeting at which over 500 people were present. At that meeting a lengthy statement was presented by the Norfolk Island Association. This association was formed at a public meeting of residents of the island, held on the 16th July, 1934, and claims to be the most representative body on the island. Numerous representations and recommendations were made by the association which concluded with a request that a royal commission be appointed to inquire into the affairs of the island.
Thereis undoubtedly considerable dissatisfaction in the island in regard to the administration, and, of course, this finds vent in severe criticism of the Administrator and his chief officers as the visible head of the administration. I am convinced that it has its source largely in the system and not the persons.
As a result of my inquiries, the Commonwealth Government proposes to take certain action with a view to improving the economic position of the residents of the island and the form of administration. It is satisfied that there is no necessity for a royal commission to inquire into the affairs of the island, and that the measures that are proposed to be taken will, with the co-operation of the residents, lead to a happier state of affairs on the island. I may mention that a royal commission inquired into the affairs of the island generally in 1926.
I found that there was feeling against the Administrator because he held himself aloof from the islanders. But I think that I found the explanation for his attitude. We must remember that the islanders are a small isolated community, with comparatively little contact with the main centres of population. They are a generous simple-living people who are not accustomed to the intricate form of government activities in more populous countries.
Many of the inhabitants have spent the whole of their lives in their idyllic surroundings. As so often happens with such small insular communities, they desire simplicity in matters of government and are particularly apprehensive in regard to the administration of justice. They are a law-abiding people, but occasionally they sue one another in connexion with some minor dispute, and more rarely they become involved in criminal proceedings. Captain Pinney, the Administrator, is also, the chief magistrate. He is a son-in-law of Sir Hubert Murray, and was trained under that great administrator. I found him to be extremely conscientious. As chief magistrate, he considers that it is incumbent upon him to keep himself aloof from the islanders, and, therefore, he has gradually withdrawn more and more to the Residency, and makes little social contact with the people. But because he does this the people have become rather suspicious. His view is that if he took part in their social gatherings and mixed more freely with them, he would he suspect when he was called upon to adjudicate in disputes, and it might he held against him that, in his judgments, he was displaying favouritism towards certain people.
I think that the cure for this state of affairs is to divorce the judiciary from the administration. It is always unwise to associate the two positions, especially in a small community of approximately 1,000 people. I have conferred with the legal officers of the Crown and the Acting Attorney-General (Senator Brennan) and the proposal Ave have in mind is to appoint “three or four of the reputable citizens as honorary justices of the peace, investing them with jurisdiction to deal with minor offences. The more serious civil and criminal offences could be dealt with by an officer of the Crown Law Department clothed with the powers of a stipendiary magistrate, or a magistrate of New South “Wales, who could visit Norfolk Island when required - I feel sure, having regard to past experience, that it would not be necessary to go there more than once in six months - to deal with such cases as might arise. I have no doubt that all the cases could be disposed of quickly, so that the stipendiary magistrate could return to the mainland by the next steamer.
There are among the residents many well-educated people of experience, who could safely be entrusted with the duties discharged by justices of the peace, and their appointment would, I feel sure, have the effect of removing the objection of the islanders, due to the aloofness of the Administrator, who would then feel free to mingle with the people, would get to know what they are talking about, and let them know what was being done by him in their interests.
The secretary to the Administrator is Captain Stopp, who is, I believe, very efficient. I understand he has had some military experience because he seems to have the “ snap “ of the ordinary military man. He impressed me as being efficient and to have that air of bustle and “ snap “ usually associated with a military training. But the islanders do not like bustle and snap; they are an easygoing people. They have inherited from their ancestors a disposition which abhors “ bustle “ and “ snap “.
I have stated the islanders feel that the Administrator does not take any interest in their economic welfare, but I was able to disabuse their minds on this point. Their plantations are in a bad way, and in recent years they have had considerable marketing difficulties. There is no adequate means of publicity. The only newspaper published is in typewritten form, and the Administrator has not taken the trouble to post up notices - I would have done so had I been in his position - to let people know what he is doing. Obviously, he has no great political aptitude, because he does not let people know what he has done for them. The result is they are firmly convinced that whatever is done is done from Canberra, and against his wishes. This, of course, is quite wrong. Fortunately, I was able to cite one or two instances in which the Administrator had submitted proposals having for their object the improvement in the conditions of the islanders, which the Government had endorsed. But, as t say, they firmly believe that everything is done from Canberra and over the Administrator’s head.
Their principal export is bananas. Everybody who has had any connexion with trade knows that, to ensure success, there must be an efficient system of inspection and regulation to prevent unscrupulous exporters from “ topping “ their cases and putting rotten bananas in the bottom. That is what has happened in some cases in connexion with the export of bananas from the island, with the result that Norfolk Island bananas got- a bad reputation in the Australian market. At one time the fruit was packed anywhere: It would become wet, and would sweat. The Administrator proposed that a fruit shed be provided, and a system of inspection adopted. That improvement was eventually carried out. The residents thought that the Administrator was opposing their request. He was not able to say “ yes “ immediately, because he could merely make representations to the authorities in Canberra. .Although the residents thought that he was opposing them, the files show clearly that he advocated the improvement.
The residents export a good deal of bean and other seeds to the markets on the mainland. Unscrupulous growers were sending over inferior, badly graded and, in one case, weevily seed, and consequently the seedsmen in Sydney refused to purchase it. The Administrator recommended the provision of a shed for the inspection of the fruit and seeds, and also a fumigator. Some months elapsed before he could move the authorities in Canberra, but eventually he succeeded, and a fumigator reached Norfolk Island by the vessel on which I travelled. The Administrator was not given the credit for having obtained that useful equipment. This is attributable largely to the fact that no publicity is given to the acts of the Administrator.. When the Government carries but -its present proposal, I think that all cause for dissatisfaction will be removed.
Honorable senators, particularly those who favour low tariffs, will be interested to know that Norfolk Island has about the lowest tariff of any country in the world. Duties are collected only upon a few luxuries and spirits. The island has no manufacturing industries, and the primary industries are not too flourishing.
– Are not the people heavily* taxed?
– The taxation imposed there is much the lightest in Australia. There is no State income tax, and the local taxation is comparatively light* An ordinary citizen in one of the Australian States pays municipal, State and Federal taxation, but, in Norfolk Island, the only tax levied is the local rate, which takes the place of both municipal and State taxation.
– What is the average taxation per head of the population.
– I have not that information before me, but it is a good deal below that on the mainland.
We are taking action to relieve the economic position of the residents. First of all, the New Zealand market was lost to them, and now prices on the Australian market have declined. The measures to be taken to assist the residents financially include the provision already made in the Loan Appropriation (Unemployment Relief) Bill 1935, for the expenditure of £2,000 on public works. The Administrator was authorized to put in hand works on roads and other public utilities. This will place the money in circulation on the island at the earliest possible date, so as to enable the residents to earn some money to help them in carrying on. When I made a statement to that effect at a public meeting on the island, it was the most popular announcement of the evening. The Administrator has been authorized to proceed immediately with certain alterations and improvements to the public school building. I found the present building out of date, and badly ventilated and lighted. Nothing had been done to improve it for a number of years. It was only necessary to see the building for one to realize that this expenditure was required.
– What is the attendance at the school?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.About 100. Another proposal is the utilization of an amount not exceeding £2,000 from Commonwealth funds for relief debt adjustment on Norfolk Island. The great part of the land there is held on lease in small farms. A farm of fifteen acres is regarded as being of considerable size. The land is very rich, and it is intensely cultivated. The only bank there is the Commonwealth Savings Bank, and the settlers are unable to obtain advances from that institution. The planters have to apply to private money lenders for financial assistance, and interest rates up to 10 per cent, have been charged on loans. The object in allocating £2,000 to assist the settlers is to use this money as a debt adjustment fund, somewhat on the lines of the adjustment scheme being adopted by the Commonwealth and the States in order to secure a writing down of debts and a reduction of interest. This £2,000 is to be used as a lever to accomplish that end, and we believe that the innovation will have an important effect in the adjustment of the economic conditions of the farmers. The Commonwealth Bank, although it will not advance money to them, has shown its interest in their well-being by advancing £1,000 for the establishment of a butter factory on the island. Up to the present time the residents have not been able to meet their own requirements of butter, hut this, and many other commodities, could be produced there. When the butter factory is established, it will provide another outlet for the activities of the farmers.
– Is the stock any good ?
– Some of it is good, but much of it is of poor quality. Of late some of the settlers have been introducing purebred bulls, and the quality of the stock has improved. With the advent of the butter factory I have no doubt that the quality of the stock will further improve.
The Administrator has been authorized sympathetically to consider cases in which the payment of rental would be a hardship, and to show consideration to the land-holders by reduction or postponement of rental payments. The Government does not desire to see these men put off their blocks. Many of them were born on the island, and we want to encourage them to remain on their land.
– Is the land leased from the. Commonwealth Government?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.Yes. Directions in which the growers could be assisted to improve their produce and to find reliable markets are being investigated. It is proposed that further representations should be made to the New Zealand Government upon the question of the removal of the embargo on the admission to the dominion of fruit and vegetables from Norfolk Island.
With regard to the alterations to be made in the system of administration, it is proposed that the following changes should be made : -
The position in regard to the Executive Council is absolutely Gilbertian. There are six elective and six nominee members, but the only matters with which the council deals are roads and the clearing of noxious weeds from public and private land. Of course, noxious weeds present a difficult problem. Owing to the relations between the Administrator and the residents, the Norfolk Island Association got behind the opposition to the Administrator, and, at the last election, acted unitedly and elected the whole of the six councillors. Then came the nomination of the other six, and the Administrator appointed some of the defeated men to those positions. The latter felt that, whatever the elected councillors proposed, they should take the part of the Administrator, and vote against it, whilst the elected members considered that they should resist any proposal put forward by the Administrator. Consequently the two parties in this little island, in a council which dealt only with roads and noxious weeds, actually had caucus meetings before the meetings of the council to decide upon their course of action. There was a complete deadlock. Nothing at all could be clone on major matters. The Government now proposes to terminate this situation. I cannot see any sense in having nominee members on such a council, since what is required is to know what the residents think and want. Let the people elect their representatives to tell ns what their wishes are.
– Does not that apply to Papua?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.No. The council in Papua is a legislative body, but in Norfolk Island it is to be merely an advisory one. At this preliminary stage, at which there is an advisory council with no legislative power, it seems unnecessary to have nominee members.
There are to be eight members, and we propose to divide the island into four wards. Although it is a small island, I found, on travelling round it, that the residents in some parts seem to think that they are absolutely neglected, because ‘they are the furthest away from “ government house”, and that “ government house “ did not notice their requirements. The interests of the residents are not all alike. Those in some parts of the island may be more interested in fishing or the landing places for the reception of tourists, while those in other parts are more concerned about plantations. Therefore, I advised the Government to divide the island into four wards, and have two men elected from each ward, the candidate who tops the poll to be elected for two years, and the candidate with the next highest number of votes to be elected for one yeal1. Honorable senators may ask why it is desired to have an election every year. That point occurred to me also, and when I submitted it to the Administrator, he replied, “ An election here costs only about £10, and the people do love elections “. Under the new system the council will elect its own chairman annually, and in case of an equality of votes, the Administrator will appoint the chairman.
The council will have authority to advise on all matters in which the residents are concerned. The present procedure in regard to the expenditure of money is that the Administrator sets out the amounts proposed to be spent, makes his recommendations to the authorities in Canberra, and the Minister here approves or disapproves of them, the people having no voice at all in the matter. All they are informed is that so much money is to be spent on this, that, or the other matter. We propose that the people shall be told how much is to be voted in each financial year, and we shall allow them to make any representations they desire regarding proposed expenditure. When the estimates of the Administrator are under consideration, the views of the Advisory Council will be before the Minister.
The ordinances are the laws which govern the affairs of the island at the present time, and the Government promulgates them on the advice of the Administrator. Afterwards they are posted on notice-boards on the island, and then they become law. The normal course under this bill will be that when it is proposed to make an ordinance, a draft of it will be sent to the Advisory Council, which will be invited to express its opinion upon it. Its opinion will come over with the report of the Administrator to the Minister, who will determine what action is to be taken.
An exception to that procedure may he when it is necessary to promulgate an urgent or a special ordinance. In that case, an ordinancewill be promulgated imediately. The Advisory Council will, however, be given an opportunity to make its representations on an ordinance of that nature. Such representations will be taken into consideration, and if the Governor-General so approves, the ordinance may be repealed or amended to give effect in whole or in part to the representations made by the Advisory Council.
The proposals for an elective advisory council, and for the separation of the magisterial from the administrative functions of the Administrator, were made, and I obtained the consent of the Government to the proposed alteration. The main outlines of the proposals were submitted to the Executive Council of Norfolk Island after my return, and the Administrator advises that they were unanimously agreed to.
All the details of the scheme, such as the proposed division of the island into wards, have not yet been brought to its notice, but apparently its members regard the proposal as wholly satisfactory.
Although the island is small, and its people few, it seems to me that we should endeavour to help them in every possible way. I appeal to honorable senators to visit, the island, if they can spare the time. I am sure that they will receive kindly and hospitable treatment from the residents. Living is cheap, and the island has some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. Such a visit would be appreciated by the residents, who would regard it as an indication that the people of Australia are at last taking an active interest in their welfare.
My desire is that this bill shall be passed before Parliament adjourns, so that effect may speedily be given to the proposals which I have outlined.
Debate (on motion by Senator Barnes) adjourned.
Bill read a third time.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 3rd April (vide page 625), on motion by Senator Brennan -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- The history of navigation in Australia, and of the Navigation Act itself, is very interesting. The subject of navigation was before the public of this country for many years, and a considerable time elapsed between the passing of the original bill and the giving of the royal assent to it. The pioneers of this legislation believed that, in securing its passage, they had done the right thing for Australia. The case for the Navigation Act, as originally introduced, could not be better stated than in the words of the right honorable Sir George Pearce, who piloted it through the Senate. For that reason I propose to place those words on record again. In moving the second reading of the bill in the Senate in August, 1910, Senator Pearce said -
I may say that this measure contains the principle that the Australian coastal trade shall be reserved exclusively for vessels complying with Australian conditions. The Government contend that this is in accord with the protective principle which has been adopted in regard to trade in other directions. We have to remember that, in building up our mercantile marine, it is necessary for us to adopt a similar method to that which has been adopted in relation to other industries. We have to recollect that our mercantile marine is subject, not only to similar competition, but, in many respects, to a more formidable competition. Other industries are subject to the competition of foreign manufacturers who are themselves the subject of competition in their own country, but our mercantile marine is subject to the competition of foreign vessels which arc very often subsidized by foreign countries to enable them to successfully compete in Australian waters, and in the waters of other countries. Again, the competition in our waters with British-owned vessels is very often of an unfair character, because those vessels are in all cases manned by crews whose members receive less than the Australian rate of wage, whilst, in many cases, they are manned by coloured crews who are paid even a very much lower rate. … I also know that many steamers which are competing in our coastal trade are bounty fed. Yet they pay lower rates of wages to their crews than do Australian vessels: so that our ship-owners are subject to a doubly unfair competition in that, whilst their vessels are not bounty fed. they are required to pay a fairly decent rate of wages. . . . The competition with foreign vessels is really more unfair to our ship-owners than is the competition with British vessels. The foreigner is in a better position to oust our ships than is the Britisher. Nevertheless, the British ship-owner enjoys an advantage over the Australian shipowner, whilst the foreigner enjoys a double advantage. This bill attempts to make the conditions of sea-faring life on our Australian coast such as will induce young Australians to embark upon it as their life vocation. Its object is to encourage them to become seafaring nien, as were their ancestors. . . . We believe that, if this bill becomes law, it will render the conditions of life aboard ship much more bearable, and much more attractive - in short, that it will induce many young Australians, who now regard a seafaring life as the last resort, to enter that calling. Thus, we shall secure a better class of workman, who will lie able to enjoy some of the comforts of life.
The same circumstances exist to-day.
– What is wrong with those words?
– Nothing. They were words of wisdom, which apply with equal force to present-day conditions as they did to those existing 24 years ago. It has been said that, in introducing the bill now before us, the Government is desirous of helping Tasmania by facilitating the transport of goods between Tasmania and the mainland, and giving an impetus to the tourist* traffic to that State. Inquiries into the disabilities of Tasmania have been made from time to time by various commissions. The report of the Royal Commission on the Navigation Act, presented in 1924, states -
It was asserted that the oversea fruit export of Tasmania has been seriously injured by reason of the Navigation Act.
At that time it was complained that Tasmania was suffering severely as a result of the operation of the Navigation Act. The report continues -
The Tasmanian fruit export overseas are as follows: -
More overseas boats went into Hobart during 1923 to carry away fruit than ever went into it before in a single year. It is complained that there were only half the number of fast mail boats now going into their capital port. That fact applies to every capital port in Australia, because the oversea mail service is 50 per cent, below pre-war.
In the report of the inquiry made by the Joint Committee of Public Accounts into the disabilities of Tasmania under federation, presented in June, 1921, it is stated -
It is claimed that the Navigation Act is a serious disability to Tasmania, perhaps more so than the tarin*, because Tasmania is so dependent on sea transport. It is admitted that it is not possible to assess the disability. lt is stated, however, that “Tasmania bears a disproportionate amount of the costs imposed by the act on account of the importance of its interstate and tourist traffic.” The Navigation Act was the subject of a royal commission in 1924. The findings of the royal commission were not unanimous, and three separate reports were submitted. The chairman and one other commissioner arrived at thu conclusion that the Navigation Act has proved a serious disability to Tasmania; but the other five commissioners did not support that view. Two of those commissioners expressed the view that southern Tasmania had been affected so far as the tourist traffic was concerned, but not nearly to the extent imagined by the people of Hobart. (The other three commissioners arrived at the conclusion that the Navigation Act had not affected the tourist traffic, or inflicted injury on Tasmanian industries; also that it had not retarded development or affected the financial position of the State.
I am concerned chiefly about the conditions under which the crews of these ships are expected to work, as was the right honorable senator when he piloted the original hill through the Senate. I am anxious also that the best facilities possible for the transport of goods and passengers across Bass Strait should be provided, but I prefer to provide them in accordance with the policy advocated by the Labour party. We on this side would give to Tasmania a better shipping service by means of conditional subsidies, and an equitable reduction of shipping freights and fares, and by instituting as soon as practicable a Commonwealthowned service, providing direct and frequent communication between Tasmanian and mainland ports. That policy would give to Tasmania all that that State could reasonably claim. Had the Scullin Government remained in power, it would have placed its shipping policy on the statute-book.
On the occasion to which I have referred, Senator Pearce said that many of the ships coming to Australia were manned by Lascar crews, or by British seamen who were very much underpaid compared with what Australians regard as fair and reasonable rates of pay. I am afraid that this bill will provide a loopholeby which vessels manned by coloured crews in receipt of low rates of pay will come into competition with legitimate traders who pay Australian rates and maintain Australian standards.
As it has been said that these overseas vessels may not be subsidized, I direct attention to the following report, which appeared in a recent issue of the Sydney Morning Herald.
British Subsidy. £2,000,000 in Current Year.
The House of Commons passed to-day, by 147 votes to 37, the third reading of the Government bill to assist, by way of subsidy, owners of British tramp ships to meet the competition of foreign subsidized vessels, and to provide for assistance by loans on special terms to British shipowners to improve their merchant fleets.
The President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Walter Runciman) said that the Government hoped that the steps being taken by shipowners internationally to adjust the supply to the demand would achieve their object, and that foreign governments would be led to give up uneconomic subsidies. Britain would, of course, co-operate, but in the meantime she would make it quite clear that, while other countries gave artificial assistance to their merchant fleets, Britain would have to proceed with the proposals in the bill, and would provide in the current year a subsidy of £2,000,000.
Reviewing the practice in other countries, Mr. Runciman said that in 1932-33 the United States paid £5,000,000 in ship subsidies, Italy £3,000,000, and Japan £1,000,000. If subsidized competition had continued without corresponding action here, Britain would in the event of a future war, be in a perilous position. Only by having immense numbers of units and vessels of the fastest type could she hold her own.
He announced the names of the subsidy committee, the chairman of which will be Sir Vernon Thomson.
Dr. Addison (Swindon), on behalf of the Labour party, moved the rejection of the bill, complaining that the conditions attaching to the subsidy were unsatisfactory, as they did not insist upon the employment of British labour, or that voyages must include British and Empire ports. No Britons, he said, were employed on some British ships.
Mr. Runciman, in reply, said that the dominions had their own shipping policies, of a nationalistic character. In some directions they had not been ready to harmonize these with Britain’s policy, buthe believed that the dominions were gradually coining round to Britain’s point of view. It would be better to have an Empire policy as a whole.
Is that report an indication of what the British Government desires the Commonwealth Government to do? Is the Commonwealth Government falling’ into line with a policy which will enable subsidized ships, manned by crews which may not be either British or Australian, or even white, to break down the Australian standard for seamen? It is because we fear that this bill is a first instalment of a policy aimed at the destruction of Australian standards for seamen that we on this side oppose it. Believing that the conditions prescribed by the Navigation Act should not be interfered with, we shall offer strenuous opposition to the bill.
– I shall have great pleasure in supporting the second reading of this bill, because for many years the people of Tasmania have been crying out for relief from the coasting trade provisions of the Navigation Act, which prevented overseas vessels, except those under permit, from carrying interstate passengers to and from Tasmania. Honorable senators will remember that for several years there was a hold-up of the shipping service to Tasmania practically every tourist season. People on the mainland did not know when they could go there and when they would be able to return, and, consequently, the tourist traffic was seriously affected. I, myself, during a strike period, have had to cross Bass Strait as one of 80 passengers, in a vessel of about 100 tons with accommodation for only 20 persons. Honorable senators can imagine the conditions which existed when men, women and children were travelling under those conditions in a rough sea. If only to avoid a recurrence of such happenings, Tasmania is entitled to the relief proposed in this measure. It is true that, under the system of permits which has operated during the last four or five years, conditions have improved considerably; but as the permits are granted only for one season or for only a few months at a time, and there is no guarantee of continuity of policy, hotelkeepers and others in Tasmania, who cater for the tourist trade, fear to improve their accommodation, or to provide better means of transport. When this bill hasbecome law, they will be encouraged to make better provision for tourists, because it will not be possible to withdraw the permits merely at the whim of the government in power. Parliament will have to intervene before they can be withdrawn, and that, after all, is the proper procedure.
I admit that the accommodation provided for seamen on overseas vessels is not equal to that stipulated by the Navigation Act, nor is the pay the same. It would be impracticable for overseas vessels to comply with the requirements of the act while in Australian territorial waters, for the application to them of its provisions would necessitate an increase of the members of their crews by about one-third for the whole journey. These vessels comply with the British Merchant Service Act, which is supposed to set a standard. For many years before the Navigation Act came into operation, Tasmania had a weekly steamer service with the mainland, and with New Zealand, but after the enactment of that legislation there were times when for three or four months of the year no vessel carrying passengers entered Hobart, which is one of the best ports in the world.
– Why not have a weekly service now, but without “ scabbing “ conditions ?
– Some years ago, a State shipping service was established by the government of Tasmania, hut it was a dismal failure. Its operations cost the State a large sum of money, and eventually it went out of existence. Similar conditions existed in connexion with the Australian Commonwealth line of steamers, which was certainly of service to Australia during the war period; but when conditions became normal its trading operations were carried on in such a manner that millions of pounds were lost. The service, which was one of the worst in the world, was conducted in the interests of the seamen rather than of passengers or those who used it for transporting goods. The intention of the Government to amend the Navigation Act in the direction proposed has had a remarkable- effect upon the interstate shipping companies. The following new passenger vessels have been or will be placed on the Australian coast by the companies mentioned: - Wanganella and Westralia, by Huddart, Parker Limited, Manunda and Manoora, by the Adelaide Steamship Company Limited; Duntroon, by the Melbourne Steamship Company Limited; Taroona, by Tasmanian Steamers Proprietary Limited; and a new vessel is also being constructed by McIlwraith, McEacharn and Company. Apparently the interstate shipping companies are not afraid of competition from the additional service which will be available when this measure is enacted. Certain interstate shipping companies carry large numbers of passengers to Northern Queensland ports during the winter months, but frequently those who desire to make the trip find it necessary to book their passages months ahead in order to secure accommodation. The bill provides that overseas vessels of a certain tonnage and capable of a specified speed shall be permitted to carry passengers between Australian ports not connected by rail. As the overseas vessels charge higher fares than are charged on the interstate boats it is unlikely that the competition will be intense. Those desiring to travel at lower rates can utilize the interstate vessels, but others who may prefer overseas ships and who like travelling on larger vessels, can avail themselves of the opportunity which this bill affords them.
– Did not the Tasmanian Government send its Premier to England on a vessel manned by coolie labour ?
– The Premier of Tasmania left that State on the Ceramic, which is a British ship employing British seamen. Will the Acting AttorneyGeneral (Senator Brennan) explain what is meant by clause 3, which provides -
Section seven of the principal act is amended by inserting at the end thereof the following proviso: - “ Provided also that -
subject to paragraph (b) of this proviso, a British ship of not less than 10,000 gross tonnage and a sea speed of not less than fourteen knots shall not be deemed to engage In the coasting trade, within the meaning of this act, by reason of the fact that she takes on board, or carries, any passenger who is to be, or is being, conveyed without break of journey, transhipment or second call at any intermediate port, from a port in Australia (in this proviso referred to as ‘the first port of embarkation ‘ ) to another port in Australia (in this proviso referred to as ‘ the port of destination’) with which the first port of embarkation is not connected by rail.
Does that mean that a vessel proceeding from Brisbane to Hobart, via Sydney, may carry passengers to Hobart, but that they must not return to Sydney by the same vessel?
– I understand that that is so. That principle applies if the vessel calls at another mainland port first.
– The Minister explained the position very fully in his second-reading speech, but that point was not made quite clear.
– They could return on the same vessel to Brisbane.
– They must return to the port of embarkation either direct or via the first port of call which is connected with that port by railway.
– But a passenger could travel from Brisbane to Hobart via Sydney.
– I heartily support the bill and trust that it will have a speedy passage.
– Honorable senators on this side of the chamber are always anxious to assist an indigent State.
– That word is objectionable to me and I ask that it be withdrawn.
– I withdraw it.
– The representatives of Queensland expect the Tasmanian people to purchase their products, and to support the Queensland sugar industry.
– I meant to say that Tasmania is not in the same happy position as is Queensland. I did not intend to say anything derogatory of Tasmania, which is a fine State represented by capable senators.
– Indigent is not a nice word to use.
– I used it only because of Tasmania’s unfortunate economic circumstances due to its geographical position. On numerous occasions the Tasmanian Government has asked the federal authorities for assistance, which has been given with the help of honorable senators on this side of the chamber. The Tasmanian Government has the right to appeal to the Commonwealth authorities for financial assistance when it needs it. It is its duty to do so. We feel, however that, under the guise of further assisting that State a direct attack is being made on the Navigation Act. Although the measure may appear simple its. ultimate effect may be detrimental to our White Australia policy and our general scheme of developing Australian industries. If new vessels are being placed in the interstate trade controlled, I suppose, by Australian companies, why cannot they carry all the traffic offering?
– Not one of those vessels, with the exception of the Taroona, calls at Tasmanian ports.
– That may be so, but( the ships will be available if government assistance is given. The honorable senator, who also stated that millions of pounds were lost by the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers, should remember that, although a direct financial loss was incurred, the indirect benefit to primary producers and Australia generally was tremendous. Many advantages would still be enjoyed by the Australian people if those vessels were still under the control of the Commonwealth. We realize the difficulties under which Tasmania is suffering and are anxious to do our best to afford some assistance, but we should like to know why it is necessary to introduce this bill when other measures could be adopted. If we believe in a White Australia policy, the payment of award rates, and the maintenance of a high standard of living, why should we not encourage the Australian shipping industry instead of giving preference to vessels manned by coloured labour ? I am sure that Senator Grant and other Tasmanian senators do not wish the standard of living to be lowered. Some years ago the present President of the Senate when speaking on the original Navigation Bill said that the seamen had never had a fair deal.
– The rates of pay of Australian seamen will not he interfered with by this bill.
– No ; but the measure makes statutory provision for certain overseas ships, manned by coloured labour, to compete with vessels in the interstate trade on which award rates are paid. Many of the overseas ships employ coolie labour at wages much lower than those paid to Australian seamen.
– It is not mandatory upon overseas vessels to engage in the trade.
– No, but statutory provision is made to enable overseas vessels to engage in the interstate trade under certain conditions. At present the Minister has the right to issue a permit which enables inquiries to be made, and, if necessary, it can be refused. I ask the Minister if that is so.
– If a Minister ascertained that the rates of wages were unreasonable or that the conditions provided for the seamen were unsatisfactory he could refuse to issue a permit. The proposed amendment of the Navigation Act specifically provides that vessels over 10,000 tons and capable of a speed of not less than 14 knots an hour shall be permitted to ‘carry passengers between Australian ports not connected by rail. This concession will be given to a British or foreign vessel registered in Great Britain and on which coolies may be employed. Such vessels will enter into direct competition with ships in the interstate trade on which award rates of wages are paid. We believe in supporting Australian industries, including the shipping industry, and in ensuring that all workers, whether in the maritime or any other industry, are paid fair wages and work under reasonable conditions. As hundreds of thousands of pounds have been spent by this Government in other directions, it should be able, by increasing the subsidy if necessary, to arrange with the interstate shipping companies to provide the improved service said to be required. I hold no brief for these companies. Senator Grant says that the interstate companies are spending much money on the construction of new vessels, and I suggest that the Government should come to some agreement with them for the carriage of passengers between Tasmania and the mainland.
– We wish they would do that.
– Surely the Tasmanian senators, as supporters of the Government, could bring pressure on Ministers to do something in this direction, especially as the head of this Government is a Tasmanian. I agree that it would be better for Australian-owned vessels to do all the trade between Tasmania and the mainland, than for the service to be divided between Australian and British ships.
– We would like to see both Australian and British ships in the service.
– I understand what the honorable senator means. He would be quite willing to accept services rendered by British ships, even if they do employ coolie labour, and thus interfere with Australian vessels which are ‘required to observe Australian industrial standards.
– I -would welcome the introduction of the vessels of any line that will carry passengers between Tasmania and the mainland. If Italians are good enough to work in the sugar-cane fields of Queensland, the honorable senator should have no objection to British vessels employing coloured crews engaging in the passenger service to Tasmania.
– We do not object to the employment of Italians in the sugar-cane fields in Queensland because they are paid award rates of wages. and become citizens of Australia. That is all that wo are asking this Government to do in connexion with the shipping service to Tasmania. We, on this side, are opposed to those provisions in the bill that threaten the industrial standards of Australian seamen. Our objection is economic. We are opposed to any proposal that will interfere with the White Australia policy of the party to which we belong. We do not object to coloured people as coloured people, but because their competition threatens our industrial standards, for which, in early years, Senator Sir George Pearce and the President (Senator Lynch) fought so strenuously as members of the Australian Labour party.
We applaud the Government for including in this bill provision for the installation of wireless on vessels which hitherto have not been required to carry this equipment; but we say that as the measure deals with two different proposals, one of which we support, and one to which we are opposed, we cannot discuss it on its merits. Separate hills should have been introduced. As the Government has been providing for subsidies in many directions, there is no reason why, instead of bringing forward the bill in its present form, in opposition to the principles of many of its supporters, it should not have made an arrangement with Australian shipping companies to give an improved service, or, as an alternative, made financial provision for a Commonwealth-owned shipping line between Tasmania and the mainland. I hope that the representatives of Tasmania in this chamber will endorse my remarks, because I am convinced that, at heart, they are good Australians, and are not desirous of supporting any project to encourage the unfair competition of overseas vessels employing coloured crews with the Australian shipping industry.
– I compliment the Minister in charge of the bill (Senator Brennan) for his clear explanation of its principles, but I take this opportunity to remind the Senate that the measure does no more than justice to Tasmania. For many years we have been impressing upon successive governments the disabilities imposed on Tasmania by the Navigation
Act, and the enormous losses suffered by that State owing to the restrictions placed upon the passenger trade between Tasmania and the mainland. I am glad that I am supporting a government whichhas as last introduced legislation to give statutory effect to the arrangement under which, during the last few years, permits were given to certain overseas vessels to engage in the passenger service between mainland ports and Tasmania. Senator Brown seems to be obsessed with the view that any honorable senator who supports this bill is opposed to the White Australia policy. Nothing could be further from the truth, because, as has been shown in this debate, the entry of overseas vessels in the Tasmanian passenger trade has not interfered in any way with the interests of Australian shipping companies. Indeed, the figures for the last two years show conclusively that the number of passengers carried by interstate vessels, instead of decreasing since the granting of permits to British steamers, has definitely increased. In 1931-32, the year before the first permits to British steamers were issued, the total number of passengers carried to and from Tasmanian ports by interstate passenger steamers was 39,900. In 1932-33, the first year of the permit system, the passengers totalled 43,461, and for theyear 1933-34 the number was 54,817.
– Many passengers who travel by overseas steamers return to the mainland by interstate vessels.
– That is so. I think Senator Brennan mentioned that fact in the course of his speech. On behalf of the people of Tasmania, I and my colleagues, appreciate very highly the step taken to incorporate in the Navigation Act a provision enabling British steamers to engage in the Tasmanian trade under certain conditions. It is high time that this was done. It was not the intention of Parliament, when the Navigation Bill was under consideration, that the people of Tasmania should suffer the injustices which they have been called upon to endure for so many years since the commencement of that act. Eventually, the losses sustained by that State became so burdensome that Parliament was called upon to render financial assistance, and I am glad to be able to say that honorable senators opposite have always been willing to support any such proposal. I would, however, impress upon them that any financial aid given to Tasmania is not a form of a charity, but a right duc to that State under the Constitution. The losses suffered by Tasmania under the Navigation Act have been very real. For many years we welcomed the advent of the tourist season, knowing that a large number of visitors would come over from the mainland to enjoy the scenic beauties of the island, and spend money freely while there. Happily, there is now some prospect of a return of those conditions enjoyed by Tasmania in the tourist season, for notwithstanding the vigorous advertising campaign launched by the overseas companies to persuade people to join the holiday tours to Noumea, New Guinea, Norfolk Island and elsewhere, more people have come to Tasmania recently whore the scenic attractions are second to none. In conclusion, I again express my appreciation of the distinct service rendered to the people of Tasmania by the introduction of this bill, and I feel sure that although honorable senators opposite have spoken in criticism of it, they will not oppose its passage because, as they well know, it will not endanger the White Australia policy.
Senator HERBERT HAYS (Tasmania) “5.20]. - I congratulate the Government on the introduction of this bill. It is long overdue, because for years the shipping services have been a vexed problem to the people of Tasmania. So strong have been their representations to the Government from time to time, that royal commissions and committees have been appointed to investigate their claims for improved shipping services, and the wide differences of opinion that have prevailed in this Parliament have been reflected in the fact that majority and minority reports were always presented. From the time of the proclamation of the coasting trade provisions of the act, objection has been taken to them, not only in Tasmania, but also in all parts of the Commonwealth. The isolation of Tasmania has always been complained of as one of its great disabilities, and these disabilities were increased when its shipping facilities were curtailed by the passage of the Navigation Act. Senator Brown, in a most extravagant manner, and without any justification for his assertions, would have it appear that the Government, and those supporting it, have brought down this measure without regard to the wages and working conditions enjoyed by Australian seamen. Honorable senators on this .side of the chamber are just as much concerned as are those opposite about ensuring to Australian seamen proper industrial conditions. The present Government, and other ministries formed by the parties now in power, are responsible for most of the industrial legislation on the statute-book. Senator Brown referred to an attempt to break down the conditions under which Australian seamen work to-day. I remind the Senate that when the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers, on which Australian wages and conditions had to be observed, was established, it was hoped that its operations would help to build up an Australian mercantile marine; but the inquiries carried out by the Public Accounts Committee showed that more than 50 per cent, of the men employed on those ships were domiciled in Great Britain. The history of that line of steamers shows that the object of those who supported its establishment was defeated, and in the end the Parliament was compelled to take such steps as would prevent any further loss in operating the vessels.
Senator Brown and the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Barnes) referred to a speech made by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir George Pearce) when the Navigation Act was passed. Senator Pearce and others even then recognized the difficulties of States which had no railway communication with the other States, and it .was decided that passengers desiring to travel, say, from Western Australia to the eastern States, should be permitted to make the journey on overseas vessels even though they were manned by persons described by Senator Brown as coolies. Labour members of Parliament have often travelled on these ships, regardless of the colour of their crews. It seems to me that Senator Brown, in accusing supporters of the Government of being callous in regard to the interests of Australian seamen “ doth protest too much “. When the principal act was under consideration, its supporters considered that it would confer benefit on Australia as a whole, but the coasting trade provisions have proved to be one of Tasmania’s greatest bugbears. I gladly pay a tribute once more to those public men and organizations in Tasmania, who, in season and out of season, have consistently urged the claims of the State for improved shipping services. Although they were as voices crying in the wilderness, they now have the satisfaction of knowing that at last the Commonwealth has recognized Tasmania’s disabilities in this regard. Contrary to the expectations of many persons, as pointed out by Senator Payne, the system of granting permits to overseas ships to carry interstate passengers has not injured the coastal shipping companies in any way.
– Are those companies in favour of this bill?
– Of course not. I recognize that they are providing good services, and are building ships far in advance of the immediate requirements of the trade.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
– The point has been raised by Senator Duncan-Hughes that as it will not be possible, at once, to provide all the wireless apparatus that is required, it may be necessary to postpone the operation of this bill, since there is no provision for putting only a part of it into effect. The answer to the honorable senator is contained in clause 4, which provides that every seagoing ship registered in Australia, or engaged in the coasting trade, “ shall be provided with such ‘ wireless telegraph installation, and maintain such wireless service as is prescribed in respect of the class in which the ship is included “. Until there is a prescription by regulation, the ships which are not able to get the necessary equipment will not be bound to obtain it. The department will allow at least three months before any of the regulations providing for the type of wireless equipment to he used are enforced.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 (Definition of coasting trade).
– Will the Minister accept an amendment to prevent any vessel employing other than white labour from coming under the provisions of this clause? I do not desire any ship employing coolie labour to be allowed to carry passengers, say, from Brisbane or Melbourne to Hobart.
– I am not prepared to do so. These amendments have been brought in after mature consideration, in response to repeated requests on behalf of Tasmania.
Question - That the clause be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Senator the Hon. Herbert Hays.)
Majority . . . . 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative. Clause agreed to.
Section two hundred and thirty-one of the Principal Act is amended -
by omitting sub-section (1.) and inserting in its stead the following sub-sections : - (1.) Except as provided by or under this act, and subject to the next succeeding sub-section, every seagoing ship registered in Australia or engaged in the coasting trade shall be provided with such wireless telegraph installation and maintain such wireless service as is prescribed in respect of the class in which the ship is included.
. - I move -
That after the word “ every “, proposed new sub-section 1, the words “foreign-going or Australian trade ship and every” be inserted.
The object of this amendment is to bring within theprovisions of the act relating to wireless on ships, vessels, whether British or foreign, visiting our ports and, in the case of passenger liners, those embarking Australian tourists and travellers for conveyance to ports abroad. Most ships are already compelled to be equipped with wireless by the laws of the country in which they are registered; but.it as required of us as a party to the International Safety Convention to see that all passenger ships and cargo ships of over 1,600 tons visiting our ports shall be provided with wireless installation. The necessary . power to do this is contained in the principal act; but the amendment as drafted an this bill inadvertently takes away that power. The object of this further amendment is to restore it. The provisions with respect to wireless on cargo ships of less than 1,600 tons willbe applied under the bill to all ships registered in Australia or engaged in the coasting trade only.
.- I see no objection to the amendment proposed by the Minister. There is one point however which I would like to raise at this stage. Yesterday, the Minister, in introducing this bill, said that it was proposed to make provision for the equipment with wireless of all ships that come under Commonwealth control. There are many other ships coming under the control of the States that will not be affected by this bill. It may be neces sary to exert strong pressure on the States to ensure that legislation is introduced into the State parliaments making provisions similar to those in this bill with regard to safety at sea. The Minister said yesterday that the States are expected to follow with complementary legislation. I am anxious to ascertain what action the States propose to take.
. -The States are waiting the passing of this bill inorder to see the requirements imposed by the Commonwealth, and they will no doubt follow our lead. .
– One of the cargo ships trading between Melbourne and Brisbane has available two berths that might be occupied by passengers permitted to travel between those two ports. I should like to know from the Minister whether in his opinion this clause would protect the crew of that ship and the invitees of the company by requiring the carrying of wireless equipment for the purpose of signalling in case of distress.
– Such a vessel would not be covered by the present act since it has accommodation for only two passengers. A ship is not classed as a passenger ship unless it carries twelve passangers. In the clause now under consideration, wireless will be necessary.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause as amended agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment.
Senator Sir GEORGEPEARCE (Minister for External Affairs) [5.47]. - In view of the fact that a function has been arranged to which retiring senators have been invited, I suggest, Mr. President, that this would be an appropriate time to suspend the sitting of the Senate.
– I understand that certain honorable senators who are retiring from the Senate shortly are to be entertained during the dinner adjournment, and, with the consent of honorable senators, I shall suspend the sitting until 8 p.m.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The primary object of the bill is, as the long title and preamble indicate, to give effect to a convention for the unification of certain rules relating to international carriage by air. This convention is the result of a conference held at Warsaw in 1929, at which a set of regulations applicable to the carriage of persons, luggage and goods by air was drawn up and signed, in the form of a convention, to which Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Commonwealth of Australia and South Africa, in addition to some twenty other nations, subscribed. A copy of the convention is set out in the first schedule to the bill. Although signed on behalf of the Commonwealth, it is not yet in force in respect of Australia, owing to the absence of the necessary ratification. Like other similar conventions which come before us for ratification, it must either be accepted wholly, or rejected wholly.
With the growth of civil aviation in Australia, and as between England and Australia, it becomes increasingly important that proper provision should be made for regulating the matters which necessarily arise in relation to the carriage of persons and goods by air. Carriage by air has for several years been a feature of interstate transport, between Sydney and Brisbane and between Adelaide and Perth. More recently, the establishment of the England to Australia air service has brought Australia into the sphere of international air transport, and it is essential for the proper conduct of that service that people utilizing it should know the conditions under which they do so.
Great Britain has already passed legislation, known as the Carriage by Air Act 1932, to give effect to the convention internationally, and also to provide for the application of its provisions to air transport within England itself and the colonies and protectorates. Although, as already stated, the primary object of the bill is to give effect to the convention, there is also machinery for applying, subject to exceptions, adaptations and modifications, if any, the provisions of the convention to “such carriage by air, not being international carriage as defined in the convention “.
Before explaining the various clauses of the bill, and the manner in which it is proposed to make the convention effective, as law, in the Commonwealth and the territories thereof, I shall outline the principal provisions of the convention. It applies, as is explained in article 1, to all international carriage of persons, luggage or goods performed by aircraft for reward, and also to gratuitous carriage by aircraft by an air transport undertaking. “ International carriage “ is defined in this article.
Under article 2, the convention applies to carriage performed by the State, or by legally-constituted bodies; but it is not applicable to carriage performed under the terms of any international postal convention.
Chapter II. of the convention relates to documents of carriage. The carrier is required by article 5 to deliver a passenger ticket containing certain specified particulars. In the case of luggage, a ticket containing certain specified particulars is to be issued in duplicate. This is provided for in article 4. Articles 5 to 16 relate to “ air consignment notes “.
Chapter III. deals with the liability of the carrier by air. Article 17 provides that the carrier is liable for. damages sustained in the event of the death or wounding of a passenger, or any other bodily injury suffered by a passenger, if the accident which caused the damage so sustained took place on board the aircraft, or in the course of any of the operations of embarking or disembarking. This liability is, by sub-clause 4 of clause 3 of the bill, in substitution for any liability of the carrier under any other law in respect of the death of a passenger, and special provisions are set out in the second schedule with respect to the persons by and for whose benefit the liability so imposed is enforceable, and with respect to the manner in which it may be enforced.
With regard to damage to, or destruction or loss of luggage and goods, the carrier is, under article 18, liable if the occurrence which caused the damage so sustained took place during the carriage by air. The carrier is also liable for damage occasioned by delay in carriage. In order to escape liability, the carrier has, under article 20, to prove that he and his agents have taken all necessary measures to avoid the damage, or that it was impossible for him or his agents to take such measures.
Article 22 limits the carrier’s liability for each passenger to the sum of 125,000 francs. I may here explain that, under sub-clause 5 of clause 3 of the bill, any sum. in francs mentioned in article 22 is to be converted into Australian currency at the rate of exchange prevailing on the date on which the amount of airy damages to be paid by the carrier is ascertained by a court in any action against the carrier. The sum of 125,000 francs would, therefore, be equivalent to about £2,155 in Australia at the present time.
In the carriage of registered luggage and of goods, the liability is ordinarily limited to a sum of 250 francs per kilogram, or about £4 per 2^ lb. avoirdupois. Actions against a carrier may, in the event of his death, be continued against his legal representatives, but, under article 29, the right to damages is extinguished if an action is not brought within two years.
Such, briefly, is the purport of the convention, which contains 35 articles relating to the rights and obligations of carriers. The remaining articles deal with formal matters relating to the ratification and duration of the convention.
I shall now say a word or two in explanation of the bill itself. Under clause 3, it is proposed that the GovernorGeneral may, by notice in the Gazette, declare the date upon which the convention is to come into operation in respect of the Commonwealth, or of any territory of the Commonwealth. After such date, the provisions of the convention will, so far as they relate to the rights and liabilities of carriers, passengers, con signors, consignees, and other persons, have the force of law in the Commonwealth and any territory in respect of which notice has been published in the Gazette, in relation to any carriage by air to which the convention applies, irrespective of the nationality of the aircraft performing that carriage.
Special provisions are contained in clause 4 with respect to actions against high contracting parties to the convention who undertake carriage by air. The clause is not to be deemed to authorize the issue of execution against the property of any such party.
Clause 5 deals with the application of the act to carriage by air which is not international. Clause 6 is the usual provision with regard to the making of regulations, which are not to be inconsistent with the act or the convention.
Such, briefly, is the purport of the bill and the convention complementary to it. I need not emphasize the desirableness of early steps being taken to ratify this convention. The ramifications of modern international air travel make it essential that the rights and obligations of carriers by air should be clearly delimited. The bill provides the solution, and marks an important stage in the development of the law with regard to aviation. As the convention has been adopted by most of the European countries, and by other countries as well, I suggest that we shall not run any great risk in accepting it as it stands. Nor do I think there is anything in the covering clauses of the bill to excite the hostility of any honorable senator. I confidently submit the measure to the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 6 agreed to.
– Honorable senators will see that this is a bill to give effect to a convention for the unification of “ certain “ rules. I should like to know whether the first schedule contains the whole of the rules that were laid down at the Air Convention, or only those which were considered to be applicable to Australia.
– It contains the whole of the rules that were agreed to internationally at Warsaw.
Schedules agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
.- I desire to bring under the notice of the Government the fact that several business men have spoken to me concerning the difficulties they have experienced in obtaining supplies of galvanized iron. When I have read some of the correspondence which has passed between the retailers, wholesalers, and manufacturers, honorable senators will realize that immediate action should be taken to remove the difficulty which exists. One is appalled to find that the promise of those controlling this industry, whichhas been assisted so materially under our protective policy, that there would be no difficulty in obtaining supplies has proved so unreliable. The industry is very important to Australia. I suppose that there is hardly any product of greater importance to the Australian people than galvanized iron. The correspondence in connexion with certain transactions justifies the complaint I am making, and will be an eye-opener to some honorable senators. I do not think that a strike which occurred in the industry in August last year was entirely responsible for the shortage of supplies. I have correspondence dated from September onwards which makes the position clear. The first letter is from a retailer to Messrs. John Lysaght (Australia) Limited, Melbourne. It is dated the 14th September, and reads -
Herewith we have pleasure in handing you order for galvanized iron all of which is urgently required. As far as we can trace our order of the 25th July has not been completed 1 case each 5 feet and6 feet by 26 gauge and 1 case 8 feet by 24 gauge not having come to hand. The 8 feet by 24 gauge isvery urgently required and if it is not likely to come forward from Newcastle by next boat please ship from Melbourne. The other can come along in clue course. You will also note that there are five eases required from Newcastle and we shall be glad to receive this at an early date. We are also urgently requiring 1 case9 by 24 “ Orb”, and 1 case 36 by 24 “Queen’s Head”, and we shall esteem it a favour if you will ship these from Melbourne by return.
On the 17th September, John Lysaght (Australia) Limited, Melbourne, wrote as follows : -
We thank you for yours of the 14th instant enclosing order for galvanized iron, which is having our attention. We are ordering from Newcastle the live cases required, and we are also adding the two cases asked for from our Melbourne stock as our stocks here are completely exhausted. As you are no doubt aware, our Newcastle works havebeen closed since the 23rd August owing to the workmen having gone out on strike and until they resume work we are unable to say when shipment can be made of the orders we have on hand.
On the 22nd October, the same firm sent the following communication: -
We are in receipt of your letter of the 20th instant and thank you for the order for one case 24 gauge “ Queens Head “ which we have forwarded to our Newcastle works for shipment. We note the list giving details of your orders on hand, and we agree with this, with the exception that we have an additional one case of 7 feet by 24 gauge “ Orb “ still to be supplied, which has been omitted from your list.
The list of the iron ordered some time previously was correct, with the exception that one case was omitted. On the 26th November, the retailer received the following letter from John Lysaght (Australia) Limited: -
We thank you for your order of the 24th instant and regret that wo have no 7 feet by 26 gauge “ Orb “ available in Melbourne for shipment. We ore therefore placing the whole five cases on order at our Newcastle works for shipment as soon as possible.
On the 14th December, Mr. H. M. MacKenzie, the manager of Lysaghts (Australia) Limited, wrote in the following terms: -
We are in receipt of your wire of even date reading - “ No steamer Newcastle Burnie before Christmas. Absolutely stuck sevens nines twenty-six. Ship case each Marrawah. If out orderRussel or Briscoe our account.” and confirm our reply - . “ Regret unable to supply sevens and nines required. None in stock or obtainable from our customers.”
Our customer* are in much the same position us yourselves and are awaiting supplies from our Newcastle works.
That is the correspondence which passed between the retailer and the manufacturer up to the end of last year. I find, however, that the same difficulty was experienced this year. The following is a copy of a telegram received from Briscoe and Company, merchants, of Melbourne : -
Oan only supply six and eight feets twentysix gauge English “ Orb “ £24 10s. No 5 feets. Shall we scud?
On the 30th January, a retailer despatched to Briscoe and Company Limited, of Melbourne, the following letter : -
On Wednesday last we ordered with other goods six cases 26-gauge galvanized iron. We received the other goods back by Loongana on the Saturday, but no mention was made of the iron.
Since then mails have arrived direct per Marrawah, and a second one per Loongana this morning, in addition to other mails via Launceston, but no mention lias been made of the iron at all.
We wired you about 9.30 a.m. this morning asking what was being done, but up to time of writing - D.45 - have not received a reply. We have been relying on receiving at least a portion of this, and have had to disappoint customers who are asking us for explanations which we are unable to supply. We cannot understand why you have not written or wired us about it.
On the 31st January he received the following telegram from Briscoe and Company Limited : -
Regret no Orb iron available. Telegraphed works yesterday. Just received reply. Small shipment arriving Monday next. No specification mentioned. Will ship all can immediately available. Could ship to-morrow case each five to niue. Telegraph reply.
On the 31st January, the following letter was received from Briscoe and Company Limited : -
We duly received your telegram regarding galvanized iron, but unfortunately were not able to reply immediately, 06 we were waiting advice from Newcastle.
We were promised definitely by Messrs. Lysaghts that we would have a consignment on vessel arriving on Monday last, and fully expected to ship your order by this week’s Loongana, but unfortunately they did not send any iron at all. On Tuesday we telegraphed, to Newcastle, and only this morning received a reply stating that a small shipment would rrive here on Monday next, but they gave no specification, so that even now we do not know that we will be able to complete your order.
The position of galvanized iron is most unsatisfactory; at the present moment 26-gauge Orb corrugated iron is unprocurable in Melbourne in any lengths.
As telegraphed, we could ship to-morrow one case each 5, 0, 7, 8, and 9 feet Guinea iron (no 10 feets), and as we have only two cases of each size asked you to telegraph reply if this will do.
The correspondence I have read discloses the seriousness of the position. Others have had a similar experience; but I do not think it necessary to give details of each case. I have also received complaints from business people on the northwest coast, Launceston, and elsewhere, all of whom have been handicapped in their businesses owing to their inability to obtain the necessary supplies. I do not know if the strike was solely responsible.
– What was the cause of the strike?
– I suggest that the honorable senator should obtain that information from the honorable senator sitting behind him. As the Government wishes this industry to be conducted in the interests of Australia, and of the workers engaged in it, I trust that immediate inquiries will be made. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Barnes) and those associated with him should also bring pressure to bear upon the workers, who are receiving higher wages and operating, under better conditions than those in almost any other industry in. Australia. If something is not done immediately, it will not be long before. Parliament will be asked to review the legislation affording protection to the industry. Those controlling it cannot expect all the privileges which Parliament has conferred upon it without shouldering some responsibility. Prom correspondence which I have read, honorable senators will see that immediate inquiries should be made to ascertain why John Lysaght (Australia) Limited, which promised to do so much for the Australian people, have been unable to meet the normal demand.
– The Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White), who has received a number of similar complaints, realized that there was little likelihood of the Australian manufacturers meeting the demand, and arranged for the admission under by-law of up to 13,000 tons of galvanized iron by the end of January. At that time only 8,000 tons had been imported; but, in order to meet the overwhelming demand that had arisen., due to the abnormal activity in the building trade, and the interference with supplies caused by industrial troubles, my honorable colleague arranged for the admission of a further 10,000 tons. That is the only way to meet the demand which, early in the year, increased beyond expectations.
– When will supplies be delivered?
– I understand that shipments are already on the water. There has been no laxity on the part of the Government.
– I am not suggesting that.
– Under the arrangement made by the Minister for Trade and Customs, the difficulty should be removed.
. - While Senator Payne was speaking, Senator Daly, who sits in front of me, asked, in an interjection, why the men employed at Lysaghts’ galvanized iron works were on strike, and the honorable senator promptly replied, “Ask your friend at your back.” The reference was to me. I may explain to the Senate that before the motion for the adjournment of the Senate was moved to-night, Senator Payne had the impertinence to ask me how long the employees at Lysaghts had been on strike. I said that I did not know.
– That was merely an act of courtesy on my part. I wished to let the honorable senator know that I intended to raise the matter on the motion for the adjournment.
– The honorable gentleman intended to use any information which I could give him in his speech to-night.
– I asked the honorable senator because I thought he knew everything about industrial troubles in New South Wales.
– With all his native Tasmanian simplicity, the honorable senator came to me for information which, apparently, he intended to use later in bd3 speech.
– Did the honorable senator tell him anything?
– He told me that he did not know.
– There is another matter which I desire now to bring under the notice of the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce). Is the right honorable gentleman aware that a prominent member of this chamber, in the course of a private business transaction a few months ago, forgot to add ls. exchange on his cheque which was sent back to him by the bank with a request that he make good the omission? Is he further aware that the honorable senator in question sent the amount of exchange in “ O.S.” stamps which the bank returned to him with the information that “ O.S.” stamps were not legal tender, and requesting him, which no doubt he did, to remit ls. ? The other matter has to do with a social gathering held in one of the Senate rooms just before the Christmas vacation. During tho visit to Australia of His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester, the Government gave a State dinner in this building, which, by the way, I did not attend, and later His Excellency the Governor-General gave a State ball, also in this building. At both social gatherings the usual arrangements were made for “eats” and “ drinks “, and I have no doubt that both were quite enjoyable and highly successful functions. Just prior to the Christmas vacation, honorable senators were asked to attend in one of the Senate rooms for the purpose of wishing one another the compliments of the season over a round of drinks. Is it a fact, as has been stated, that the drinks with which this toast was celebrated were the “left overs” from the Duke’s ball that had been stowed away in a locker? I am informed that, the honorable senator concerned in the bank exchange incident, as well as the social gathering prior to the Christmas adjournment, was the right honorable the, Leader of the Senate himself.
– Order !
– The Leader of the Senate is not always fair to me, hut I like to be fair to him. Now I leave these two babies on his doorstep. If they cry somewhat lustily it is his job to stifle their screaming.
– Order ! The honorable senator has dealt at some length with what, after all, is a private matter, which should not have been mentioned in this chamber.
[8.37]. - Did I understand Senator Dunn to say that I tendered to a bank “ O.S.” stamps in payment of1s. exhange on a cheque drawn by me ?
– Then I tell the honorable senatorthat the statement is entirely and absolutely incorrect. I have never, on any occasion, tendered to any hank stamps in payment of exchange on a cheque, nor to my knowledge have I ever been asked by a bank to pay exchange that may have been omitted in a cheque drawn by me. I have no knowledge whatever of the incident to which he referred.
SenatorSampson. - In any case, the amount of exchange would be debited to the Minister’s account.
– Of course it would. As for the other rigmarole retailed by the honorable senator, I can only say that it is as incorrect as is his story about the cheque exchange..
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 8.39 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 4 April 1935, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1935/19350404_senate_14_146/>.