14th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Motion (by ‘Senator Sir George Pearce) - by leave - agreed to.
That Standing Order No.68 be suspended up to and including Saturday, the 7th December, to enable new . business to be taken after half-past ten p.m.
Senator A. J. McLACHLAN tabled reports and recommendations of the Tariff Board on the following subjects : -
Budges, Emblems, and the like (other than those of Woven or Embroidered Material ) ; Buckles, Clasps and Slides for Hats, Shoes and other attire; Buttons, including Blanks and those partly finished; and Mother of Pearl Buckles, Clasps and Slides for Hats, Shoes and other attire.
Bicycles with Wheels not exceeding 18 inches diameter and Frames not exceeding 18 inches in length.
Boots, Shoes, Slippers, Clogs, Pattens and other Footwear (of any material), Boot and Shoe Uppers and Tops (except of Felt); Cork, Leather, and other Socks or Soles.
Cherries, cither Crystallized, Preserved or partly preserved.
Clothes Wringers for household use.
Coin Mechanisms for Prepayment Gas Meters and Indexes for Gas Meters, imported separately.
Constant Current Transformers for use in connexion with the Series System of Street Lighting.
Electric Washing Machines of the domestic type.
Fire and Glazed Bricks; Bricks, n.e.i. ; Fire Lumps; Fireclay Manufactures.
Kalsomine. Water Paints and Distempers, in powder form.
Accessories: Smelting, Leaching and Metal-refining Appliances: Rock Boring Machines; Mining Machinery.
Paper, viz.: - Wrapping, other than Greaseproof, of all colours (Glazed, Unglazed, or Mill-glazed), Browns, Caps not elsewhere specified, Casings, Sealings, Nature or Ochre Browns, Sulphites, Sugars, and all other Bag Papers, Candle Carton Paper; Paper Felt and Carpet Felt Paper irrespective of weight.
Pneumatic Rubber Tyres andTubes for Cycles.
Rubber Hose up to and including one inch internal diameter and Hose, n.e.i.
Spirit for the manufacture of Scents, Toilet Preparations and Essences.
Strawboard, Corrugated and other.
Towels, cut or uncut; Towelling in the piece whether defined or not for cutting up; Terry Cloth and Terry Robing in the piece: and Towels of Crash, Dowlas, Forfar, Glass Cloth, Honeycomb, Kitchen Towelling, Tea Towelling.
Report No. 3 of the Printing Committee brought . up by Senator J. B. Hayes, and - by leave - adopted.
– Is the Leader of the Senate able to make a statement concerning the present disastrous shipping strike? In the event of the strike continuing, what actiondoes the Government propose to take to maintain an effective shipping service between interstate ports?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The Government has the matter under its close consideration. The honorable senator may rest assured that the Government has certain action in contemplation, but it is awaiting the result of the meeting of seamen being held in Sydney to-day.
SenatorCOLLINGS.- I desire to ask the Postmaster-General the following questions -
Whether he considers that it is fitting that such an important national matter as the control of the air for the purpose of broadcasting should be decided by regulation instead of by definite legislation?
Why has the number of “B” class stations which may be controlled by one concern been altered recently from five to eight by regulation instead of by legislation?
What was the exact nature of the pressure brought upon the Government which resulted in this increase?
– No pressure was brought to bear upon the Government, but certain representations were made to it. Regarding the honorable senator’s questions as to whether broadcasting should be controlled by legislation instead of by regulation, I may explain that the position is somewhat uncertain. The Commonwealth Government may not have the constitutional power to deal with broadcasting. This matter is now before the High Court, and the judgment in Williams’ case, which was heard twelve months ago, is now being re-argued and the result is awaited with interest. Until the result of that case is known, it is impossible to frame legislation to meet the position.
– Will the Leader of the Senate make a statement embodying the latest information in the possession of the Government on the Italo-Abyssinian dispute before the Senate adjourns for the Christmas holidays?
– I shall endeavour to arrange for the preparation of such a statement.
– Can the Leader of the Senate give a reason for the continued delay in submitting the complementary legislation necessary to finalize Australia’s position under the Statute of Westminster ?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The question involves a matter of Government policy, pronouncements upon which are not usually made by way of replies to questions. The subject should be raised on some other occasion.
System ok Voting.
– -I ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior whether he has observed statements published in various newspapers to the effect that as the result of representations madeby the United
Country party the Ministry has given preliminary consideration to proposals to effect a change in the system of voting at Senate elections in order to give the people more satisfactory representation in this chamber, and that the Minister for the Interior has been requested by Cabinet to report on the defects of the present system ? If the Minister has observed such reports will he state whether they are correct? If they are not correct in what particulars are they incorrect?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.I do not propose to edit journalistic fiction.
– This report was published in several daily newspapers.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The honorable senator has endeavoured in a direct way to influence me to make a statement on policy. I do not propose to do so.
Transference of Revenue
askedthe Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The Treasurer has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
-The right honorable the Prime Minister has supplied the following answers : -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The right honorable the Prime Minister has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The Minister for Defence has supplied the following answers: -
The honorable senator is, of course, aware that the Government accepted the advice of an expert committee in adopting Darwin as the port of entry for the official air route to Australia, and pursuant to that decision hm provided at Darwin wireless and other facilities for the Timor Sea crossing. The Government has no present intention of incurring the considerable expenditure which would be involved in duplicating such facilities. -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Bill read a third time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives and (on motion by Senator A. Ji McLachlan.) read a first time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives and (on motion by Senator A. J. McLachlan) read a first time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives and (on motion by Senator Brennan) read a first time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives and (on motion by Senator Brennan) read a first time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives and (on motion by Senator Brennan) read a first time.
Debate resumed from the 29th November, (vide page 2224), on motion by Senator Sir George Pearce -
That the bill be now read a first time.
.- I wish to supplement the remarks made last Friday by Senator Johnston regarding the necessity for a reduction of the various forms of emergency taxation imposed on the people of Australia during the last few years. In the depth of the depression, various forms of direct and indirect taxes were imposed on the people of this country, not only by the Commonwealth Government, but also by the various State governments, each of which gave an assurance that, as such legislation was merely an emergency means of raising additional revenue, it would be removed so soon as circumstances permitted. One reason for the imposition of new forms of taxes was the decline of customs revenue and, indeed, of revenue from all the sources then being tapped. Among the purely emergency measures introduced into this Parliament by the Scullin Government and its successor were primage duty, the special property tax, and the sales tax. Senator Johnston pointed out that last year these taxes yielded £14,000,000. I give the present Commonwealth Government credit for having reduced taxes ; but surely something is wrong when taxes which were imposed in an emergency bring £14,000,000 to the Treasury in a year in which we boast that Australia has, to a great extent, recovered its financial stability. In my opinion, the sales tax is one of the most iniquitous taxes ever imposed by an Australian Parliament.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch). - The honorable senator is not in order in reflecting on an act of this Parliament, unless he intends to move for its repeal.
– I withdraw my statement, and say that no other tax causes so much irritation as does the sales tax. I am continually in receipt of letters from people who have been prosecuted for some trivial breach of the regulations under the sales tax laws. I am convinced that, in the majority of cases, the persons concerned had no desire to evade payment of the tax and that their failure to pay was the result of an oversight. The sales tax is irksome, not only because it adds 5 per cent, to the cost of goods, but also because it entails a considerable amount of accountancy work and increases overhead expenses. Furthermore, in order that a tax of 5 per cent, may be paid to the Treasury, the management of a business has often to increase the price of an article by so much as 10 per cent. Bad debts and the accountancy entailed in compiling the necessary returns for the Taxation Department have a’lso to be taken into consideration. Hence much irritation is associated with the sales tax legislation, and I hope that the Government, in view of its abounding revenues, will take an early opportunity to abolish this imposition. Another form of tax levied by the Government as an emergency measure is the primage duty. I fail to discover any reason why this impost should be permitted to remain for another day on the statute-book. In this morning’s issue of the Sydney Morning Herald a paragraph appeared relating to the customs revenue returns -
For the first five “ months of the financial year, customs and excise revenue, £17,307,133, was greater by £1,231,101 than that for tha live months ended November 30, 1934, £] 0,070,032; and exceeded the estimate, £15,770,000 by £1,537,133. The revenue from the same source last month was £3.508,991, which was greater by £254,400 than that for November, 1934, £3.254,591.
I remind honorable senators that in addition to the emergency taxation imposed by the Federal Government, the Treasurers of the various States have also adopted special measures to increase their revenues. Various forms of relief taxation, by means of imposts on salaries and wages, have been levied by every State in Australia; in Queensland the tax is nearly ls. in the SI, and. I believe that much the same rate applies in other States. There can be no real recovery in’ commerce in Australia until the onerous burden of taxation is lifted from the shoulders of those engaged in industry. Appeal after appeal has been made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), the Treasurer (Mr, Casey) and others administrating the affairs of this country urging private enterprise to absorb an increasing number of the unemployed.
Time and again these gentlemen have declared that the policy of the Government is to assist in the rehabilitation of commerce ; but I venture to say that there can be no real rehabilitation of industry in Australia until the burden of taxes now being borne by industry is considerably reduced. Governments are continually bringing forward budgets in which the Treasurer glories in the fact that he is able to expend more on this department and on that department. I would be much more gratified to see them making substantial reductions of every form of taxation. Such methods would, I believe, finally bring to those government.0 practically as much revenue as they collect at the present time by heavy taxes which retard recovery. A few years ago, the Commonwealth Government brought down what was probably one of the best budgets ever submitted in this country. It proposed a reduction of taxes by nearly £8,000,000, and was a definite gesture of the Government’s good intentions towards rehabilitating industry. The result was an immediate response on the part of industry itself, and that is one of the reasons why revenue has been booming and unemployment decreasing.
A common occurrence in the financial procedure of Australian governments, Federal and State, is for special taxes to be imposed, and the people are told that the object of them is to meet a certain emergency. Barely, however, “are such emergency imposts lifted. I do not agree with the policy that seems to be gaining ground in Australia, by which the Commonwealth Government becomes the’ principal taxing authority for the purpose of providing revenue, not only for its own requirements, but also for making available grants to the States for various purposes. I believe that every government should have the responsibility of collecting the money it expends. During the last few years, the practice has grown up of the Commonwealth Government raising millions of pounds a year more than it requires for its own purposes, and returning a large portion of it to the States by different forms of grants. A much sounder and better policy in the interests of the State governments themselves would be for the
Federal Government to vacate certain fields of taxation, leaving them to the States, whose governments would then be responsible to the taxpayers for raising the moneys which they spend. Lately the Premiers and Treasurers of the States have met in conference with the Federal Treasurer to devise programmes of expenditure for the forthcoming financial year, not merely deciding what their loan requirements will be for the year, but also demanding that the Commonwealth shall pay for this and that requirement which is solely the responsibility of the State governments. The Government which is spending the money should bear the responsibility for the raising of it. In my opinion, the Federal Constitution never envisaged the possibility of the Commonwealth Government becoming the principal taxing authority in order to distribute to the various States the money to be expended by them. An extraordinary increase of revenue has taken place in practically every Commonwealth department during the last few months, very largely due to the sound administrative methods of the present Government, and partly due to reductions of taxes in previous years. I am oldfashioned enough to believe that the less the taxation and governmental restriction that are placed on commerce and industry, the greater will be the reward in increasing employment and general prosperity.
A statement was made by Senator Collings on the 15th November last, in which he referred to the industrial position in the Northern Territory. He said -
Some years ago I travelled north from Brisbane with a representative of Vesteys, who should be com petent to speak on the subject, and as the conversation occurred many years agoI shall not bo breaking any confidence if I disclose the information then given to me. I asked if it was true that Vesteys had closed down their meat works in the Northern Territory because of the extravagant demands of labour. After denying the statement he said that the company could afford to pay any reasonable wages but at that time it did not suit them to carry on inAustralia because they could make bigger profits from their operations in Argentina.
During the week-end I discussed this matter with some of those respon- sible for developmental work in the Northern Territory, and I have been assured that it was the continual demands made on the company by its employees in Darwin that determined it to close down the works. This view is supported by a letter, written in 1925 by the managing director of Vestey’s in Australia to the Administrator of the Northern Territory, in the course of which he said -
Following upon our conversation during the visit of Mr. Rowlands, and the writer on the 20th ult., we beg to advise that on the experience of working costs shown by present operations, there is no immediate possibility of a permanent re-opening of the works. We were prepared for a loss on the boiling down operations, but labour and other costs have been so much above reasonable expectation as to show conclusively that to freeze stock under present conditions would be to lose large sums as compared with what the stock is worth as store stock, or shippers on the hoof. - The expert labour brought from south is efficient, but very expensive in that we have had in this case to pay their fares and travelling time on top of the 25 per cent, premium upon Queensland award rates of pay.
The local labour is in many cases very inefficient, and on that account more costly, because it also receives the premium of 25 per cent.
I saw Vestey’s works in Darwin before they were closed down, and I have seen them since, and I am convinced that the company was not treated fairly. Those who are best acquainted with the history of events in the north have no doubt that it was the harassing tactics of the employees, together with the decline of the price of beef, which caused the company to cease operations in Australia. Landholders in the north, naturally, resent statements by Senator Collings, and by members’ of the House of Representatives that they are holding large tracts of country which they make no attempt to develop. As for Vestey’s, we know that no company would be prepared to expend £2,000,000 on an enterprise which it did not at the time intend to prosecute to the best of its ability.
– The company spent £3,000,000 in the Northern Territory.
– That makes the position worse. We should encourage people with capital to interest themselves inthe Northern Territory. We should welcome them with open arms, and assist their efforts to the best of our ability. Those who are prepared to bring capital to Australia for the development of unsettled areas are public benefactors.
It has been suggested that no attempt has been made by this company to popularize primary products on the English market. I have here a number of photographs picturing displays of Australian mutton and beef in the Smithfield market in London, and they show that everything was done to put Australian products before the public in the most attractive form. Senator Collings has already seen these photographs.
– Yes, they are very good, but Vestey’s had nothing to do with that display.
SenatorFOLL. - The display was arranged by “Weddell and Company Limited, a subsidiary company of Vestey’s. One photograph pictures an excellent display of a shipment of new season’s lamb from South Australia. Everything was done to make the display as attractive as possible, and it was evident that the company was proud of the fact that it was able to export from Australia lamb equal to that produced in any other part of the world.
– The same company has arranged for ships of the Blue Funnel Line, fitted with the latest chilling apparatus, to visit Australia.
– That is so. New ships have been built, and specially fitted with chilled space, to carry Australian beef and mutton overseas so that it may realize the best price obtainable on the British market. It ill becomes us to belittle the work of firms which are doing so much for the Australian export trade. Another photograph shows a display of chilled beef raised by Mace and Son, of Turilla Station, near Rockhampton, in the State which Senator Collings and T have the honour to represent in this chamber. The beef is of very even quality, and is a credit to Australia. It is evident that Australian graziers can produce beef entirely suitable for the British market. I trust that in future charges of the kind we have had to listen to recently will not be made, unless there is some foundation for them. When I was in England this year, I found that a great many persons with capital were seeking investments in Australia and to other parts of the Empire. If ever we are to develop this country properly we must encourage the introduction of overseas capital, because we cannot succeed if we depend entirely on our own resources. We must look to our kinsmen overseas to supply the capital and population which we lack. Although much is now being done to advertise Australian products abroad, our trade rivals such as Argentina, Denmark, and New Zealand have done more, and the fact that they are able to obtain better prices for their products than we do is due largely to the fact that they have kept the virtues of their products continually before the buying public. They have not been content merely to raise the produce, ship it overseas, and let it take its chance on the market. They have advertised the goods, and insisted upon uniform grades.
I conclude by expressing the hope that it will be possible for the Government, in its next budget, to make provision for a further reduction of taxes on all sections of the community.
– Why not abolish all taxation?
– If it were possible to lift more taxes off the shoulders of the people, I am sure the Government would gladly do it. For some years now, industry has been greatly harassed by Federal, State and municipal taxes. A substantial reduction of these imposts would do much to rehabilitate Australian primary and secondary industries.
.- At the outset, I pay a tribute to Senator Sampson - I feel that I may do this without making invidious distinctions - for the excellent speech which he , delivered last week upon the defence of Australia. I am sure that we all were impressed with the wealth of detail which he furnished to the Senate, and I much regret that his remarks were not given the publicity which they deserved, because the defence of Australia is of vital importance to all sections of the people and no member of this chamber is more qualified to speak on this important subject than is my Tasmanian colleague. I hope that, even now, the newspapers of Australia will give publicity to the valuable contribution to this debate, made by ‘Senator Sampson. The scant attention given to his important utterances causes me to wonder whither we as a nation are drifting. I also deplore the deliberate attempt, on the part of many public speakers, to mislead the people of Australia with regard to the urgent need for the more adequate defence of this country. Whenever senators on this side dare to suggest the necessity for more adequate defence measures, we are at once charged with being warmongers, the implication being that we desire the outbreak of another war. Nothing is further from the thoughts of those who advocate the efficient training of our youth. I have on many occasions declared that no country is blessed in greater measure than Australia, and I hope that the day is not far distant when all sections of the people will be fully alive to the need for its adequate defence. If we deliberately closed our eyes to the danger of leaving this, country practically undefended, we should be guilty of a crime against the people who entrusted us with the great responsibility of safeguarding their inheritance. There can be no better preparation for good citizenship than the training of the youth of a country with a view to its defence. Only in this way can they be expected to appreciate the value of discipline, and the obligation which they owe to their native land. I congratulate Senator Sampson upon his thoughtful speech and I sincerely hope that his observations will be fruitful of good results in the near future.
The vexed subject of taxation has been referred to by a number of honorable senators, including Senator Poll, who has just resumed his seat. A few days ago, I took the trouble to peruse the Ilansard debate of the discussion which took place when the first income tax bill was introduced in the House of Representatives and I read the speeches delivered by the then leader of the Government, the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) and also by Sir Joseph Cook. As honorable senators are probably aware, the income tax was levied for the definite purpose of meeting extraordinary war expenditure, but our experience is that a tax once imposed is rarely removed. The burden of the income tax has been felt with increased severity.
– So has the cost of the war.
– Our war costs are not nearly so heavy now as . they were when the income tax was imposed. I realize, of course, that its imposition was unavoidable, but I regret that the rates are higher and, in addition, we now have the super tax and a special property tax.
– Many people would be glad to pay £1,000 a year in income tax.
– I always pay my income tax cheerfully enough because I realize that the revenue obtained from this source is necessary for the carrying on of governmental activities, but I agree with Senator Foll that the tax burden on the community should be as light as circumstances will permit, in order to encourage industry to expand and provide more employment. The excellent manner in which the Government has managed the finances of the country during the last few years has enabled it to give considerable relief from taxes of various kinds, and with Senator Foll, I hope that before long the sales tax will be repealed because it inflicts great hardships upon small retail shop-keepers. As it is impossible for small confectionery retail shops to pass on the sales tax on proprietary linos which sell at from Id. to 6d., the effect of the tax is in some cases to increase their rent expenses by probably 100 per cent. Senator Foll said that Austraiian produce sold in London does not realize the good prices obtained for similar products from the sister dominion of New Zealand. He suggested that this is due probably to the quality of the Australian product, and to lack of publicity given to it. A few days ago I received the following interesting letter from Melbourne : -
I 1, ave just returned from a holiday abroad, and seven months lived in England. We found it very difficult to purchase Australian butter. When occasionally in London one did find our product, which was sold for 9J per lb., and never once exceeded Hid., whilst almost everywhere New Zealand butter was retailing at ls. and ls. Id. When inquiring repeatedly for Australian butter, we were offered “ Blended Empire “, and it was explained to us that it was mixed butter from all over the Empire, which we found most unsatisfactory for table 11Fe. We are sending these fact* thinking they may be interesting to you “ Blended Empire “ butter is cheaper than New Zealand butter.
That letter, which was written by an Australian who visited Great Britain recently, contains direct evidence of the fact that the conditions under which Australian butter is marketed in the Old Country are unsatisfactory. I trust that the Government and those interested in this subject will conduct further investigations so that Australian butter may be able to compete successfully with the New Zealand product. I maintain that as Australian factories can produce butter equal to that made in any part of the world, there is no reason why the conditions mentioned in the letter which I have read should prevail.
Some time ago, I directed the attention of the Senate to our unsatisfactory population figures. Recently I read an article in the Age newspaper by Sir Stanley Argyle, an ex-Premier of Victoria, who recently visited Great Britain. He said -
Australia’s population was becoming stationary, and we could not hope to defend ourselves against foreign aggression . in the event of a world conflagration unless our population was increased. It was not necessary to repeat the ghastly experiment of assisted migration, which failed so lamentably in Victoria, but there was a case for Australians and Englishmen to study the possibility of better distribution of the Empire’s population. In Britain the area of arable land had decreased in the last century by nearly 50 per cent, to6,000,000 acres. Britain grew only one-sixth of her wheat requirements, half of the barley, 15 per cent, of the butter, 40 per cent, of beef, 50 per cent, of eggs, and 50 per cent, of mutton and lamb requirements. We could take greater advantage of the market by reducing our purchases from countries outside the Empire. Suggestions had been made in England that English capitalists might be induced to put money into dominion development schemes which could be guaranteed by the British Government for the first few years. The dominions would be asked merely to make the land available, and the British chartered companies would supply the money for development purposes so that chains of small villages composed of immigrants could be formed to market their produce through one organization. The scheme would repay examination.
That is an excellent suggestion, and I trust that the Commonwealth Government will communicate with the British Government to see if the proposal cannot be adopted. No time should be lost in formulating a plan for the permanent increase of Australia’s population. Some time ago, I referred to the success which has attended the Fairbridge farm school in Western Australia. I understand that 98 per cent, of the4,000 or 5,000 children who have passed through that school have become excellent citizens. There is room for similar farm schools in every State of the Commonwealth, and I believe that if the Government would approach the British authorities, a large proportion of the finance necessary would be provided by the British Government. I was glad to noticethat Sir William Campion, a former Governor of Western Australia, is to visit the Commonwealth on a mission of this character. I mention the subject in the hope that the Government will get in touch with this gentleman and see what can be done by the Commonwealth in co-operation with, the British Government and the State governments.
I now wish to refer to the subject of afforestation. A few months ago, I visited Japan, where I noticed that probably the whole of the land unsuitable for cultivation is being used for afforestation purposes. I was informed that large sums of revenue are now being received through the commercial exploitation of forests established by the Japanese many years ago. Our afforestation policy should be pursued more vigorously than at present. There is ample room for a scheme similar to that in operation in Japan, and if proper safeguards are taken to ensure the maintenance of forests, and to protect them from bushfires, it should be remunerative. A forestry league initiated in Australia some years ago performed fine work, but unfortunately, through lack of interest it is not now functioning as successfullyas one would wish. I do not wish to deal with the benefits to be derived from afforestation, or with the dangers arising from soil erosion, because they are well known to honorable senators. I submit these suggestions in the hope that the Government will proceed more vigorously with the scheme it introduced some time ago.
– I direct the attention of the Government to the manner in which the revenue for the first five months of the current financial year has been under-estimated. Honorable senators are aware that for that period the revenue from customs and excise was £1,250,000 in excess of the estimate. This has an important bearing on the trade balance between Australia and Great Britain which will have to be dealt with at an early date. It will be remembered that the adverse trade balance in 1934 was £11,000,000, which had to be met from funds in London. I understand that at the end of 1935, the adverse trade balance will be approximately £16,000,000. London funds cannot be utilized indefinitely to meet the difference in our trade figures. In studying the statistics of trade between Australia and the United Kingdom it will be found that while our exports are about stationary, imports increased in value by £5,500,000. In implementing the Ottawa agreement, Australia has honoured its obligations; but drastic steps will have to be taken to protect Australia’s credit. “We cannot continue purchasing goods of a greater value than we export. I do not wish to deal with our protective policy, or the value of our secondary industries in providing employment, but we have to realize that steps must be taken to ensure that the value of the goods we export balances imports.
– How does the honorable senator suggest that that can bo done?
– Australia should consume 70 per cent, instead of 60 per cent, of the goods it produces.
I rose more particularly to refer to the sales tax. I differ entirely from Senator Foll and some other honorable senators, because I believe that the sales tax, apart from the inconvenience which it causes certain traders, is a better means of raising revenue than is income tax, land tax, property tax. or almost any other form of tax. It has been said that this tax deprives industry of capital and prevents employment; but apart from the slight inconvenience caused to business men - this has been practically overcome - .the sales tax is the fairest way to raise revenue.
– Does it not retard business ?
– No. It is spread over such a large number of persons that the amount which each pays is insignificant. That is not only my personal opinion; it is also the opinion of a large body of taxpayers throughout Aus. tralia. Practically the whole of Australian manufacturers say that they would prefer the sales tax to a super tax on incomes or a property tax. They contend that it would be in the best interests of trade and of employment if the money now paid as taxes on income and on property were invested in industry. I differ from Senator Foll and others who have been misled concerning the alleged inconveniences caused in the collection of the sales tax. This tax is borne fairly equitably by all sections of the community.
With Senator Foll and other honorable senators, I am alarmed at the distribution of revenue as between the Commonwealth and the States; a better method will have to be devised in order to put the finances of the States on a sound and permanent footing. The States should not have continually to come to the Commonwealth Government pleading poverty, and claiming that they cannot carry on without the aid of large grants from the federal exchequer. I was somewhat amused at the attitude of one honorable senator from Western Australia, who praised the Western Australian Government for restoring the salaries of its public servants, and, at the same time, blamed the Commonwealth Government for not making a similar restoration to Commonwealth public servants. He completely ignored the fact that the Western Australian Government was enabled to make this generous gesture by the special grants it received from this Parliament!
Much has been said by honorable senators of all parties concerning the opinion held of this Senate by the people of Australia generally. There is a good deal of truth in the report that this chamber has suffered in the eyes of the general public, and that to-day it does not stand quite so high in the estimation of the people as it di’d previously. I may be wrong in this statement. If, however, the Senate has fallen in public estimation, the fault lies with honorable senators themselves; if we do not respect our positions as members of this chamber we cannot expect people outside to respect us. No self-respecting body of legislators would put up with the inconveniences under which honorable senators have to attend to their duties. The private member of this Senate has no privileges at all. For instance, I have two rabbit burrows in a dark hole of this building in which to keep my official papers. In my private business I am used to sitting at a desk equipped with a telephone and drawers for my papers. Certainly we have a club room, but this is used by 36 honorable senators,, and is furnished with only five desks.
– The accommodation for honorable senators here is much better than it was in Melbourne.
– Yes. The conveniences are much greater.
– That is not so. Should I desire to provide myself in this building with a change of clothing or shoes, or an umbrella - and, in view of the changeable weather in Canberra this often becomes essential - I am unable to do so, because I am not supplied with the necessary lockers or cupboards.
– Lockers are provided for that purpose in the basement.
– Last week, when I desired to confer with one of my friends on a certain tariff schedule, I had to rely on the courtesy of a member of the House of Representatives, who had by main force commandeered a room for himself in the basement. Only through his courtesy was I able to confer with my friend. Such conditions should not exist. Private members of this chamber should have facilities equal to those which they would have were they working in their own offices. This is essential if honorable senators are to carry on their work properly. Such facilities should be provided for us, not as a matter of favour or privilege, but as a right. You, Mr. President, have a suite of rooms at your disposal, where you may shed your official dignity and robes and relax into your normal self - a genial Irish gentleman. Ministers in this chamber, as well as officers and messengers, also have suites of rooms at their disposal. The comfort of everybody except private members of this chamber seems to be catered for. The three honorable senators who compose the Opposition have three rooms between them. If I lay out my papers on a desk in the Senate club room, in preparation for work in this chamber, and am suddenly called away, I have to dump my papers into a bag. I repeat that honorable senators cannot be expected to carry on their work properly under such conditions. Members of the House of Representatives also, I understand, are in much the same position.
– Each member of the House of Representatives has a locker at his disposal.
– Until we, as members of a deliberative assembly, have our rights recognized the outside public will not respect us. On last Thursday a new tariff schedule was tabled in the House of Representatives. It directly affected the interests of many people whom I represent, and probably the interests of millions of people in Australia. Yet, when I applied for a copy of that schedule on the day on which it was tabled, I was told that it was not available. However, copies were distributed to members of the House of Representatives, and, I understand, to the press and certain members of the outside public also. “When Melbourne people asked me by telephone to secure a copy of this schedule with the relevant tariff reports I had to reply that they were not available to me as an honorable senator. Is this a proper way to treat honorable senators? Furthermore, if honorable senators are to win and maintain the respect of the outside public they will have to carry on the business of this chamber in a less hurried fashion than has been the practice during this session. Repeatedly bills have been rushed through this chamber on the day on which honorable senators first received copies of them. I know that we have been hurried this session because the passage of certain measures had to ‘be expedited, but to enable this chamber to do its work effectively honorable senators must be given sufficient time to study in detail measures which are to be dealt with in this chamber. My remarks may seem to be in tho nature of a tirade, but I feel that I had to speak frankly on these matters ; I have merely described conditions as they exist.
– I desire to touch upon several matters on which I had no opportunity to speak during the debate on the budget papers. Foremost amongst them is tho major problem of unemployment -which has exercised the minds of all honorable senators, and has caused them a good deal of concern. All of us agree that this great problem transcends all other problems with which we as honorable senators have to deal. Unanimously, we recognize the devastating effect which unemployment has on those unfortunate people who are caught within its tentacles. The worst feature of unemployment, however, is its effect upon the youth of the community. Continuous and enforced idleness breeds indolence, laziness and worse ; yet many of our young people who have reached the age of 22 or 23 years have never played any part in the development of this great country, noi’ have they been given an opportunity to render useful service in industry. “Worse still, there does not appear to be any hope for a section of these unfortunate youths. Many of them have had no experience whatever in industry with the result that vacancies, when they do occur, are usually filled by juniors, and these young men are passed over. To solve this problem we have to do one of two things - either recast our industrial laws in order to give these young men a chance, or influence the Commonwealth Government, or the State governments, to subsidize industry to enable it to carry these unfortunate young men in employment.
– What industrial laws would the honorable senator alter?
– First, the apprenticeship laws. These need recasting because they are a fatal bar to the lad of nineteen in search of a job.
– Does not the honorable senator believe in training youths for employment?
– Yes. In making these remarks I have been actuated solely by the plight of young men who have been deprived of the opportunity of securing employment. If the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) feels that the youths of Australia are getting a fair “ go “ in this respect I would be glad to hear him explain the grounds of his satisfaction. I am convinced that they are not getting a fair “go”, and it is the duty of this Parliament to see that they do. Any constructive suggestion which the Leader of the Opposition may have to offer will be readily appreciated by all members of this chamber.
– And will be promptly voted out.
– That is not so. Unfortunately, honorable senators never hear any constructive suggestions from members of the Opposition; all their criticism is destructive. Perhaps one suggestion made by the Leader of the Opposition when he was dealing with this matter may be regarded as constructive. Referring to the position of SOO unemployed residents of the Federal Capital Territory, he suggested that these men could be absorbed in industry if the Labour party’s banking policy were instituted. He argued that employment would be found for these 800 unfortunate people immediately this was done.
– I do not think I referred to Labour banking policy; I said Labour’s policy.
– The honorable senator stated that Canberra’s unemployment could be solved by the transfer of the Note Issue Department to the capital, and by then giving effect to Labour’s banking policy. Perhaps this would provide employment for some additional hands, but I did not dream it would employ anything like 800 persons : To a certain extent, however, it is a practical suggestion, and I appreciate it. Notwithstanding the splendid work which this Government, in co-operation with the State governments, has done during the last few years, much remains to be done towards solving the problem of unemployment. During the federal election campaign last year, I was very glad to hear the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) state that in future the Federal Government would accept an increased responsibility for dealing with unemployment. Those were timely words, but notwithstanding what this Government has accomplished in this direction it has not achieved so much as it should have achieved.
– The present Government did not say that it would accept the responsibility for dealing with unemployment.
– The Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) said that the Commonwealth Government would take an increased share of the responsibility in dealing with unemployment. He also said that a Minister would be appointed to deal specifically with the problem, but that promise has not been fulfilled, although I admit that a half-way step has been taken. The Commonwealth Government has no right to shelter behind the States in this matter for it is primarily its duty to see that Australia is developed, peopled and defended. I realize that there are many divergent views regarding the causes of unemployment. One cause is the mechanization of industry. The greatly increased efficiency of machinery during recent years has resulted in not only a bigger output but also a reduced number of workers. In order to solve the problem caused by the mechanization of industry, governments have attempted to find new markets. Some success has attended those efforts, but in my opinion, the problem of unemployment cannot be solved in that way, for if Australia secures a new market to-day, it loses that market tomorrow. A continuation of the policy which has been followed in the past will leave this country always with a large proportion of its workers unemployed. Australia must adopt one of two alternatives - it must either scrap the machine and resort to manual labour, or shorten the working week. No one would agree to the former proposition, because the scrapping of machinery would result in confusion and undoubtedly prove to be a retrograde step in that it would inevitably lead to a reduction of the standard of living. The problem must be attacked from another angle; the work to be done must be spread among a greater number of workers. That can be done hy shortening the working week. I know that there are difficulties in the way, some of them constitutional, but they are not insuperable. I remind the Senate that, in 1931, the present Prime Minister made a pronouncement that the Government would take steps to bring about uniformity throughout Australia in regard to working hours and the basic wage. Little, if anything, has been done in those directions apart from convening a conference about eighteen months ago. There is still an overlapping of industrial laws, and a lack of uniformity in regard to wages and working conditions. In these matters Australia is no further ahead than it was in 1901. I regret that the Government has not taken its courage in its hands and appealed to the electors for the removal of certain constitutional obstacles to reform. It is contended that only with the universal adoption of a shorter working week can complications be avoided; but why must Australia wait on other countries? In the past this country has led the world in industrial legislation; and it has survived. Irrespective of the length of the working week this country must do three things - first, it must produce sufficient commodities to be sold in other countries to meet its overseas commitments.
– Does the honorable senator refer to manufactured articles or to primary products?
– I refer to both. Secondly, Australia must sell sufficient goods to pay for the goods imported into this country ; and thirdly it must produce sufficient to clothe and feed its people. “With the assistance of up-to-date machinery, there is ample man-power in Australia to do these things, in fewer hours than are now worked in industry.
– The honorable senator should join the Labour party.
– There is no need for me to do that. I have always held the views which I have just expressed, and I shall not easily bo convinced that they are wrong. There is nothing inconsistent in a member of the United Australia party holding such views. Indeed I go so far as to say that the advocacy of them by so many members of the United Australia party was largely responsible for placing the present Government in power.
– Why does not the Government put those principles into practice? It has the power to do so.
– The Leader of the Opposition also said that the fiscal policy of the present Government was responsible for the dismissal of tens of thousands of employees ; but he did not substantiate his statement. If his contention that high tariffs provide employment be correct, why was it that when the Australian tariff was at its peak, the number of persons unemployed in this country exceeded all previous records? In order to show the fallacy of the view expressed by the Opposition in regard to the tariff, I need only instance what happened in regard to the duty on matches. When I was a a member of the House of Representatives, the Labour party in that chamber said that if the Government accepted the recommendation of the Tariff Board and reduced the duty on imported matches, large numbers of workers would be thrown out of employment. The Government did accept the recommendation of the Tariff Board, but no unemployment resulted in the match-making industry. The same can be said of the textile and other industries.
The introduction of a sound scheme of national insurance would do much to alleviate the distress of the unfortunate unemployed in Australia as it has done in other countries. I hope that in the near future a scheme similar to those which have proved successful elsewhere will be introduced in this Parliament.
The Leader of the Opposition went to some pains to relate the history of the movement for a scheme of pensions in Australia, and took credit to his party for practically all that had been done to make the scheme successful. He did not tell us, however, of what his party did in 1931, but went on. to say how effective the Labour party had been as an Opposition in this Parliament. When one contrasts the record of the Labour party in Opposition with its achievements when on thu treasury bench, it can be understood why the electors decided that it should remain in Opposition and that each of its members in this chamber should be given an opportunity to hold office within his party. I also recognize the effective and useful work performed by the Labour party when in Opposition, and I hope that it will long continue to render service there. I am not greatly concerned as to which political party introduced the legislation providing for pensions, but I am concerned that that legislation has failed to do what was expected of it. Although the act providing for pensions has been in operation for a quarter of a century, only during the last three or four years has prominence been given to it, and then only because some political parties ‘have seen in it an opportunity to gain a political advantage. The present act is as full of anomalies and injustices as a pomegranate is of seeds, but these anomalies have been allowed to remain for 25 years; not even the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings), or the Labour party, deemed it necessary to amend the act to make it fair and equitable. I do not propose to deal with these specific anomalies; I merely remind the Senate that the act has not achieved what its orignators claimed of it. The only remedy is to scrap the act, and introduce a form of national insurance, which may be controlled separately from unemployment insurance, or it may be possible to administer the two in conjunction; but, unquestionably, it is necessary to substitute some scheme of national insurance to overcome for the present unsatisfactory pensions system. Under existing conditions, a doctor who examines an applicant for an invalid pension is required to certify that such person is permanently and totally incapacitated. In other words, he is required to look perhaps twenty years into the future in order to be able to grant a certificate in favour of the applicant. That, in my opinion, should not be expected. The difficulty could be overcome by introducing a scheme, not only to cover old age, but also invalidity and sickness as well. A scheme of this nature has been operating satisfactorily in ‘ England for a number of years, and I feel that a similar one could be operated just as successfully in Australia, in the interests of both the taxpayers and the recipients. I would not object to a contributory scheme; I know that the Leader of the Opposition does not favour contributory pensions; but tens of thousands of our citizens to-day are contributing through superannuation funds, insurance policies, and friendly societies, to provide for themselves against old age and sickness. Provided that the contributions were on a fair and equitable basis, and the recipients were liberally treated, there could be no objection to a contributory scheme.
Several honorable senators have deplored the fact that the Government has not seen fit to reduce taxation to a greater extent than it has done. We all agree with them, but, whilst some of the taxes are unpopular, or cannot be collected without difficulty, and perhaps are unequitable, no critic has suggested an alternative to any of the existing taxes. The Government must raise moneys to meet its extensive commitments; pensions alone absorb over £21,000,000 a year. It is easy to talk of reducing taxation, but honorable senators omit to suggest how a corresponding reduction of expenditure may be effected. If expenditure could be reduced, no difficulty in reducing taxation would be encountered. I have examined to the best of my ability the bill now before the Senate, and I find it practically impossible to suggest any avenues where the expenditure of the Government could be reduced to any considerable degree. Of course, I could quote many instances where taxation could be reduced, but I am unable to discover where expenditure can be reduced accordingly. “Without a reduction in the one case, it is impossible to effect a just reduction in’ the other. Admittedly, the sales tax is an onerous imposition; it may be unfair and vexatious; but honorable senators who have criticized it have never offered an alternative to it.
– An honorable senator belonging to the same party as Senator Dein stated this afternoon that the sales tax was the best of them all !
– “Where it is applied to certain articles, I admit that the sales tax has great advantages. I have made no complaint at the continuance of the sales tax on goods which may be considered to be luxuries, but honorable senators should realize that the Government must have revenues to meet its commitments and some alternative to the sales tax will have to be discovered before it can be abolished.
– What classes of pensions were included in the sum of £21,000,000?
– Invalid, old-age and war pensions. Invalid and old-age pensions absorb £12,700,000 and war and repatriation obligations, nearly £8,000,000, which is a tremendous sum indeed. Will anyone suggest a reduction of this expenditure? While I am ready to support a reduction of taxation, or to examine any proposed substitutes for existing taxes, I shall first require to be told of practicable alternatives by those honorable senators who are opposed both to the rate of taxation, and also to the particular taxes from which the Government derives its revenue.
.- I shall be brief in my remarks at this juncture, because I shall deal with certain individual items on the schedule as they are reached. I was somewhat surprised at the attitude of the Leader of the Opposition, who continually complains that sufficient time is not allotted for the debate on the Estimates. As a matter of fact, the Senate has already debated the motion for the printing of the budget papers, and I believe that the honorable senator spoke for one and a half hours on that motion. He addressed this chamber for one and a half hours on the first reading of this bill, and I have no doubt that he will occupy similar periods in the ensuing stages. Hence, I consider that his statement that sufficient time has not been granted for the discussion of the budget, is hardly tenable.
I propose briefly to refer to some of the remarks made by Senator Leckie and Senator Dein, which have moved me to take part in the debate at this stage. The first few pages of the budget are almost invariably devoted to matters affecting primary production which, I think, is contradictory of the views held by Senator Leckie, who expressed an opinion similar to that uttered by the chairman of the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures, Mr. Kitchen. This gentleman is opposed to Australia entering into trade treaties with other countries which will be of benefit to the primary producers.
– Mr. Kitchen said that the treaties will not give any benefit to the primary producers.
- Mr. Kitchen said -
A limitation to our future industrial expansion should not be tolerated as a condition of any reciprocal negotiations with foreign countries which require and purchase Australian primary products.
Japan takes nearly800,000 bales of Australian wool, and can only pay in goods. As Japan is our best customer in the wool trade, Australia must be prepared to buy something from it in return. The same principle applies equally to our trade dealings with other countries. Now that the Minister directing trade treaties (Sir
Henry Gullett) has returned, I hope that the Government will enter into negotiations with other countries in an endeavour to obtain markets overseas for our export commodities. Senator Leckie referred to the advantage of Australia establishing a home market for its products. Ever since I was a hoy I have been waiting in vain for the ideal of the home market to materialize. The world’s market is the only market available to Australia. Japan not only orders Australian wool but also was a substantial buyer of Australian wheat last year, when Great Britain’s purchases were greatly restricted. Canada and Australia produce more wheat than Great Britain requires, and continental countries, such as France, are practically self-contained. The duty of the Government is to negotiate for markets for the primary products of Australia, other than wheat, at all events, in foreign countries.
I foresee a serious situation arising in the lamb industry. New Zealand exports about 8,000,000 carcasses a year, and Australia’s total is about 4,000,000. Although France and the United States of America have purchased small consignments, Great Britain is easily the principal buyer; in fact, it is the only market. With the prices operating to-day, I anticipate that in the near future, Australia’s production will equal that of New Zealand. In consequence, prices will drop, the London market will be glutted, and probably a quota will be applied to th? export of lambs.
That the values obtainable for wool have improved is indeed fortunate. Good seasons make good governments, and when the producers are obtaining good prices for their products, they are naturally prepared to pay higher taxes. Only two years ago, when people were exporting their capital, warm protests would have been entered against any substantial increases of State or Federal taxes. The Australian wool clip this year is worth probably £10,000,000 more than it was last year to the primary producers of Australia, but it must be remembered that wool taken over a period of seven years, has not been a payable proposition. The returns for the years 1933 and 1935, omitting last year, have undoubtedly proved to be of some assistance to pastoralists, and have enabled them partly to recover the leeway. Much the same is true of mutton and lamb. To-day the dairyman receives a great deal more for his butter than he obtained during the last four years, and generally the position of wheat, wool and butter is so substantially improved that the producers of such commodities are in a good position. This, improvement is reflected in the reduction of unemployment from 30 per cent, to 17 per cent. Unemployment in Victoria has never fallen below 7 per cent., which demonstrates that, no matter how good the times are, some persons are always unemployable; hence we can never hope for the total extinction of unemployment. Senator Leckie is anxious to establish a home market for Australian products, but I consider that Australian manufacturers, who have become so well established, should enter into the export business, instead of leaving this province to the primary producers. The manufacturers have the world for their market; let them venture upon it, and compete with overseas goods, just as the primary producers are obliged to do. Why our manufacturers have not already taken this step I fail to understand.
– Would the honorable senator guarantee to the manufacturers a home-consumption price as is done in respect of some primary products including butter?
– The home price is merely a compensation to the primary producer for what he has to pay to the manufacturer as a result of the high protectionist policy.
– The Tariff Board disagrees with that view.
– I am afraid the Tariff Board is looking at the matter with only one eye. Senator Dein has advocated the adoption of a shorter working week in Australia. I remind the honorable senator that this is an exporting country, the products of which must compete against a world working 48 hours and longer a week. If a 40-hour working week is forced on the primary producer, he will be obliged to go out of production.
– Make it a working week of 84 hours.
– The farmer and the pastoralist are reasonable men : employment in the pastoral industry is governed by an award which must be observed. I fail to see, however, how our primary producers and manufacturers, working 40 hours, can compete against countries working 48 hours. The Australian worker is not so superior to the workers of other nations that he can afford to concede them practically, an hour a day or five hours a week.
I! hope that the day is not far distant when the Government will be able to reduce taxation. In my opinion, the general public would have been more satisfied with a progressive reduction of the sales tax than with the extended exemptions that the Government has proposed. That would have been an indication that the Government is anxious to take the first step towards the abolition of taxes which harass a large number of people. The theory of a homeconsumption price has been propounded for the last 40 years to my knowledge, and has got us nowhere. Our policy should be to make trade treaties with other countries so that they will purchase those goods which we can produce more cheaply than they can be produced elsewhere, thus enabling us to develop the unoccupied parts of the country.
[5.1]. - in reply - The criticism of the Senate by certain newspapers is apparently endorsed by one or two honorable senators. I have here a statement showing the time given by honorable senators to the consideration of business, as compared with the time given by members of the House of Representatives to practically the same business. For purposes of. comparison, it is necessary to divide the total number of hours which each House sat by the number of members in each House, in order to arrive at the average number of hours devoted by each member to the business before Parliament. The figures are as follows: -
In the session of 1020-27-28 the Senate sat 780 hours. Divided by 36 senators, this works out at 21.7 hours taken by each senator, on the average.
In the same session the House of Representatives sat 1,657 hours. Divided by 76 members gives 21.8 hours to each.
In the session of 1029, the figures are - Senate, 109 hours. - Average 3.03 per senator.
House of Representatives, 342 hours - Average 4.5 per member
In the session of 1929-30-31 the figures are - Senate, 958 hours. - Average, 26.6 per senator.
House of Representatives, 1,050 hours. - Average, 21.8 per member.
In the session of 1932-33-34 the figures are - Senate, 853 hours. - Average, 23.7 per senator.
House of Representatives, 1,428 hours. - Average, 18.8 per member.
Over the nine years the figures are - Senate, 2,700 hours. - Average, 75 per senator.
House of Representatives, 5,083 hours. - Average,66.9 per member.
Present session (to the 22nd November, 1935) -
Senate, 216 hours. - Average 6 per senator.
House of Representatives, 546 hours. - Average, 7.3 per member.
When we remember that every act that finds its place on the statute-book has to be approved in the Senate as well as in the House of Representatives, it is clear that there is nothing for which honorable senators need to apologize.
Senator Leckie referred to the accommodation provided in this building for members of the Senate and of the House of Representatives. I was a member of the Senate when Parliament sat in the building provided in Melbourne by the Government of Victoria, and I know that the accommodation here, both for private members and for Ministers, ‘is much better than was provided in Melbourne. That is not to say that the accommodation here is all that could be desired. The time will come, I believe, when every member of the Senate and of the House of Representatives will have a separate office for himself, as now obtains in Washington.
– The original plan for Parliament House at Canberra included that provision.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.That is so, but it has not yet been possible to give effect to that plan.
Members of the Opposition have complained at great length against the action of the Government in “ rushing “ this bill through, as they describe it. After all, what does this bill amount to? It is a measure to appropriate the amount required for the services of the country during the financial year, and is on the same lines as that passed last year. It does not provide special appropriation for war pensions, &c, about which there has been so much discussion, but merely provides for the payment of public servants, and for various governmental activities. It is absurd for honorable senators opposite to say that insufficient time has been allowed for the discussion of the measure, when three speeches by members of the Opposition alone occupied over four hours, and during all that time not one word relevant to the bill was said. ‘Discussion is allowed at the first reading stage of the bill whether it is relevant or not. Why could not some of the time occupied at the first reading stage in the discussion of all manner of extraneous subjects be spent in discussing the bill itself?
Senator Brown, after a lengthy prologue, complained that the Senate was being asked to become merely a recording chamber. Does it not seem inconsistent, for the honorable senator to pose as a champion of the rights of the Senate when he and his party are prepared to abolish the Senate altogether? Of course, I know that members of the Opposition are suffering from a sense of disappointment in that a nice little plan which they had laid for this session has gone awry. The plan was to take up as much time as possible in discussing measures during the early part of the session, so that, during the latter part, the Government would be compelled to rush the bills through, and members of the Opposition would be able to complain, with every semblance of indignation, that discussion had been stifled. That plan broke down when the Government brought in a little plan of its own, under which proper time was allotted for the consideration of each bill, so that every honorable senator, and not merely members of the Opposition, would get a chance to speak.
Senator Brown referred to the Military ‘College, and I desire to correct the figures that he quoted. Those figures were used, and then corrected in the House of Representatives ; nevertheless. Senator Brown repeated them. He said that, when the college was at Duntroon in 1929, there were 66 cadets, while the instructors numbered 98. The correct number of instructors at that time was 20, the others consisting of the administrative and clerical personnel, and members of the subordinate staff, such as grooms, cleaners, groundsmen, &c. It was also stated that the aggregate cost of maintaining the college since its establishment had been £1,000,000, and the number of graduates 390. The correct cost is £970,000, and the number of graduates 407. The average annual cost for each student is £595, as compared with £570 and £410 for Woolwich and Sandhurst respectively. This comparison is very favorable to Duntroon, when allowance is made for the smaller number of students, and the consequent relatively higher overhead cost.
I compliment Senator Sampson on the excellent speech he delivered on defence and I believe that, in one respect, he could have made his arguments even stronger. When discussing universal military training, people do not always give full consideration to its effect on the morale of the youth of the country. After the system had been in operation for about three years, I, as Minister for Defence, asked the police departments of the States, through the Premiers, if they would obtain reports from their inspectors in the various districts as to the effect, if any, of the system on the behaviour of youths since its inauguration. The reports were practically unanimous in their appreciation of the improvement in the behaviour of youths. In one report, which impressed me particularly, a police inspector in New South Wales said that before the introduction of compulsory military training the behaviour of youths in his district was very bad, indeed. They had got into the habit of congregating at street corners, their language was objectionable and their behaviour bad. Three years later, he said, larrikinism had absolutely disappeared from the district, and he attributed the improvement to the military training of youths who had been given something to do in their spare time - something they appreciated and liked. Their previous bad behaviour was really the result of having nothing to do with their spare time, and their exuberant spirits had been diverted into wrong channels. I recommend that opinion to those honorable senators who object to compulsory training merely because they are opposed to militarism.
Senator Johnston criticized the Government on the ground that it was spending too much, and he advocated that taxation be reduced. I have no objection to any one advocating the reduction of taxation ; I believe in that policy, and so does the Government. I say, however, that there is a responsibility on every honorable senator, especially when he advocates the reduction of taxation, to do his best to check expenditure, rather than to encourage it. I invito honorable senators to look at today’s notice-paper, and study the questions which were asked by Senator Johnston. Obviously three were prompted by a desire to urge increased Commonwealth expenditure.
– In the right direction.
– That would be the answer which one would expect from the honorable gentleman. I ask him how can there be increased expenditure, even in the right direction and, at the same time, a reduction of taxation? The proposed relief to wheat-farmers about which he addressed a question to the Government will mean an expenditure of -anything up to £3,000,000. Other questions relate to a new airport at Wyndham - I do not know how much that would cost - but it would duplicate the expenditure already incurred at Darwin, and the construction of an up-to-date clock at Fremantle, which I know would cost £1,000,000. I am noi saying that any of these proposals may not be desirable, but I repeat that we cannot have, at the same time, increased expenditure and a reduction of taxation. This being so, I invite the honorable gentleman to say which is the more important - a reduction of taxation or increased expenditure on works such as those which he has indicated. Obviously we cannot have both.
– Much of that suggested expenditure would be from loan. .
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.Senator Johnston quoted the total of Commonwealth revenue, and delivered a homily to the Government on the desir ability of reducing the burden of taxes on the people. Had the honorable gentleman studied the budget figures he would have found that whilst in 1931-32 income tax yielded £13,481,982, the estimated revenue from this source for the current financial year is £8,800,000. In 1932 it was £10,87S,000, so it has been steadily coming down owing to reductions made by this Government. The land tax in 1931-32 returned £2,156,000. It also has been steadily decreasing each year as the result of the Government’s policy to give relief to this section of taxpayers, and the estimate for the current financial year is £1,150,000. There has been no reduction of the rate of estate duty, and the estimated receipts from this source show an increase; but the entertainments tax which, in 1931-32 produced £133,000, has disappeared altogether.
– I mentioned all those figures, and gave the Government credit for what it had done.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE The figures show clearly that the Government has been reducing the burden of taxation in many directions, and in such a way as to make available more money for investment in industry, which is the best way to correct the unemployment evil. In view of his criticism of the Government, the responsibility is on the honorable senator to indicate which item of expenditure should, in his opinion, be reduced. On page 8 of the budget speech will be found the major items of Commonwealth expenditure. These include war services - interest, sinking fund, and exchange on war debt, war pensions, repatriation and other services - totalling £17,901,034. Would the honorable gentleman reduce that expenditure? Then there are payments to States under the financial agreement, federal aid roads grants, special grants to certain States, and nonrecurring grants - totalling £15,781,S02. Would Senator Johnston reduce any one of those payments? Next in order are the items - pensions, invalid and old-age and maternity allowances, £12,091,351; interest, sinking fund and exchange on other than war debts, £4,086,851; defence, £4,368,605 ; defence equipment, £4^160,000. Would Senator Johnston apply the pruning knife to any of the above, the total of which is £58,389,643 out of a total Commonwealth expenditure of £67,151,277?
Let us now examine the business undertakings to see if any reduction could be made there. After meeting all administrative charges in connexion with the post office, railways and territories, the balance-sheet shows a credit of £184,494, due largely to the excellent management of the Postal Department under my colleague Senator A. J. McLachlan. Another item of expenditure is wheat relief and like payments, £4,324,056. Would Senator Johnston suggest a reduction of that amount? The total of all other federal expenditure, including administration of all ordinary departments, cost of Parliament, and bounties is £4,622,072. I invite Senator Johnston, the Taxpayers Association and other critics of Commonwealth expenditure to indicate any particular item in the Government’s balance-sheet which would be susceptible of substantial reduction without impairing the efficiency of the services. If we add to these items the other proposals for expenditure which Senator Johnston has mentioned in his questions to the Government, the possibility of reducing taxation becomes extremely remote.
I was interested in Senator Dein’s remarks dealing with unemployment, and I agree with him that it is a problem to which we should direct attention. In his policy speech the Prime Minister said that the Commonwealth Government would take a greater share of responsibility for dealing with unemployment. That the Government has done. This is proved by the grants that have been made to the States and Commonwealth co-operation with the States in respect of unemployment relief schemes which are spread over a number of years. These proposals were initiated in pursuance of the undertaking given by the Prime Minister in his policy speech. I was also interested in the honorable senator’s observations concerning the reduction of the number of hours of labour in industry, popularly described as the shorter working week. At present the Commonwealth has no power to legislate in regard to the hours of labour in industry. Before it could take a lead as suggested by Senator Dein, it would be necessary to amend the Constitution.
– I agree with the right honorable senator on that point.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.If, during the coming recess, Senator Dein will visit various States he will find that the idea of the Commonwealth having unrestricted power to legislate in industrial matters is by no means so popular in some States as it appears tobe in New South Wales.
– The elections of 1929 proved that.
– As there is no unanimity among the States on the subject of Commonwealth power to legislate in industrial matters, to do as Senator Dein has suggested is not so easy as it might appear to be. The Government indicated its attitude at the recent International Labour Conference at Geneva at which it was represented by Sir Frederick Stewart, the Parliamentary Under Secretary for Employment. It informed the conference that the Commonwealth had no power to legislate in industrial matters but that it would ask the States to legislate for a reduction of the hours of labour in industry provided that the leading industrial nations adopted the same policy. If Australia were to introduce a 40-hour working week in industries whilst industries in other countries work 50 hours a week, as many are doing, it would unfairly handicap itself in the competition for international trade. I invite Senator Dein to explain why manufactured goods are only 4 per cent, of our total exports. The explanation is not that Australian workmen areless skilled or less intelligent than the workmen of any other country, but that in exporting secondary products Australia has to meet competition from countries with a much lower standard of living, due to lower wages and less favorable working conditions than obtain in this country.
– Do the workers in other countries work the long hours demanded of our primary producers?
– I am sure that it is unnecessary to remind Senator Dein that 96 per cent, of our overseas trade consists of primary pro- ducts and that we discharge our international obligations from the proceeds of their sale in the world’s market where the competition determines the standard of living of those who are engaged in primary production in Australia. If that competition is intensified by a reduction of the working hours in industry the inevitable result will be a lowering of the standard of living for all workers in primary industries. Already those workers have to be content with a lower standard of living than that which is enjoyed by workers in secondary production. They have to work longer hours for lower wages and under less favorable conditions than obtain in secondary industries because their products are sold in the open market in competition with similar products from other countries where the same living standards are not observed. A reduction of the hours of labour in industry is desirable, but obviously it can be attained only by agreement through the International Labour office of the League of Nations. Already substantial progress in this direction is reported. Labour conventions have raised the standard of living in countries like Japan and China, have abolished child labour in certain industrial countries, regulated female labour in others, and effected a reduction of the hours of work in a number of industries. The best way to achieve the objective is to encourage international co-operation with a view to raising the living standards of workers in all countries and this, I repeat, may best be done through the International Labour Office.
– Is there a difference between the standard in Australia and in other primary-producing countries?
– I should like to see the difference which exists between Australia and other countries reduced. Why should Australian primary producers have to work for ten hours a day while those employed in the cities work for only seven hours a day? Hours of labour should be adjusted by international action.
– The Minister has exhausted his time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
[5.32].- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
The bill provides for the appropriation for services for the current financial year, and there is no need for me to go into details. The ordinary transactions of the Consolidated Revenue for the first, four months of the financial year were -
In considering this excess it must be remembered that the budget provided for remissions of taxes, and for special proposals involving increased annual expenditure, which are not reflected in the financial results for the first four months of the year. It would therefore, be misleading - I impress this upon Senator Leckie - to assume that the surplus of £1,990,000 is an indication of the result which will be obtained over twelve months. The two factors to be considered are the remissions of taxes which are now commencing to operate, and the increased expenditure which is not reflected in these figures. The expenditure for the period mentioned is less than the budget estimate, for the’ further reason that the rate of expenditure during the earlier months of the financial year is usually less than that for which provision is made in the budget. The receipts of £25,277,000 for the four months represent an increase of £1,689,000 over those for the same period of last year, which were £23,588,000. The main increases are customs and excise, £977,000; sales tax, £279,000; Postal Department, £279,000.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clauses 2 and 3 postponed.
Clause 4 agreed to.
First schedule agreed to.
Proposed vote, £144,690.
– I understand that, in reply to a statement by the Leader of the Opposition (SenatorCollings), the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) said that, although honorable senators in opposition spoke for four hours on the first reading of this measure, their remarks were irrelevant. I take exception to that statement, because I spoke on important; matters relating to several Commonwealth departments, including the Senate and the Parliament.
– The committee is considering the proposed’ vote for the Parliament, and the honorable senator is entitled to speak only on the proposed items of expenditure.
– There is a general opinion both inside and outside the Senate that the voting strength of Australia is inadequately represented in this chamber. This is a matter which I dealt with on the first reading. In order to test the feeling of the committee, I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the amount by £1.
The voting strength of Australia is not fairly represented in the Senate.
– The honorable senator must connect his remarks with the proposed vote, otherwise he is out of order.
– If you, Mr. Chairman, rule that I am not entitled to discuss that subject under this proposed vote, I shall do so- on some future occasion. In the circumstances, I ask leave to withdraw my request.
Request - by leave - withdrawn.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Prime Minister’s Department.
Proposed vote, £388,350.
– It has been reported in the press that the audit office is to be transferred from Melbourne to Canberra. Is this report correct, and if so, is the transfer being made at the suggestion of the Auditor-General or on the Government’s decision ?
– That matter is being inquired into; the Auditor-General and the Government are co-operating in this proposal.
– I ask the Minister whether the sum allocated for the Governor-General’s office includes any provision for residences for the Governor-General in Sydney and in Melbourne ?
– Some time ago in the Senate I made some remarks with regard to the number of employees in different branches of the Public Service, expressing the opinion that whilst some departments were over-staffed others were under-staffed. In my opinion the External Affairs Department is an illustration of a department which is understaffed. At present it is a branch of the Prime Minister’s Department, although it is under the control of the Minister for External Affairs. Why this branch is not considered of sufficient importance . to constitute a separate department I cannot understand. Provision is made this year for twelve employees in this branch ; that number, so far as I can make out, being the total number of employees, as compared with a staff of nine last year. These twelve consist of a secretary, who is the secretary of the Prime Minister’s Department - and who one would imagine would have sufficient work in that position to keep him occupied without also being head of . the External Affairs branch - an assistant secretary, a private secretary, one external affairs officer, who is normally stationed in London, five clerks, three typists and a messenger. This is the whole of the staff which Senator Sir George Pearce has to assist him in carrying out his work as Minister for External Affairs. In times like the present, and particularly during the last year or two, a staff of these dimensions is ridiculously small ; it is totally inadequate to cope with the work of this branch. Presumably the duties of the messenger and the typists, and possibly of some of the clerks, could be carried out by officers transferred from other branches of the Public Service.
– The work of this staff would be of a confidential nature.
– That could also be said in respect of the work of most government departments. Disregarding the secretary of the Prime Minister’s Department for the moment, the whole of the work of this branch falls upon an assistant secretary, a private secretary and an external affairs officer who is stationed in London. The duties of the last-named officer must be tremendous, as lately he has had to spend a considerable portion of his time at Geneva. It is high time we realized that we have to negotiate and keep in touch with the rest of the world and that an unduly heavy burden is placed upon the few officers who are now entrusted with this work. Of course, the willing worker always has additional work placed upon him. This is always unfair, and, in this instance, I emphasize, unwise. I venture to say that, at times like the present, Major Keith Officer, in London, should have at least one or two juniors under him, who could be gradually instructed in the special work of this department, and qualify, if necessary, to discharge his duties when he i3 absent on duty abroad, on leave, or on account of ill health. It, is only proper and wise that we should train young men to qualify for such jobs in the future.’ I invite the attention of the Senate to the discrepancies between the total number of the staff of this branch and the totals of the staffs of other branches of the Service. I have extracted figures for the purpose of making such comparisons. This year the High Commissioner’s office has only 78 employees, compared with 79 last year. I would imagine that the High Commissioner’s work during the last year must have been prodigious ; he himself must be doing something like the work of ten men during times like the present. I point out that the majority of those under him at Australia House, good as they may be at their particular jobs, are not men to whom he could delegate any of his personal work. The total number of employees in the Audit office is 180 this year, as compared with 178 last year, and the Public Service Board has S9 employees this year, as compared with S6 last year. There are 255 employees in the Invalid Pensions Office. I ask honorable senators to note the discrepancy between this number and the twelve who are employed in the External Affairs Department, and to consider whether such discrepancy is justified in view of the relative importance of the work performed by the staffs of these two branches. Honorable senators “will not be surprised to find a very large number of employees in the Taxation office; these total 961, as against 958 last year. I applaud the Taxation office on the fact that its staff has been increased by only three this year. The total has not yet reached the 1,000 mark, although it is very close to it. The staff of the Postmaster-General’s Department is of tremendous proportions. Of course, it might also be said that the staff of the Defence Department is very large. A total staff of 23,919 members is provided for this year in the Postmaster-General’s Department, as compared with 22,941 last year, or an increase of nearly 1,000.
– Many honorable senators are always pressing for new post offices.
– Does that figure include temporary employees?
– No. There are approximately 9,000 employees in the Postmaster-General’s Department in New South Wales alone.
– And nearly 1,000 in Tasmania
– Yes. I stress the point that the strengths of the staffs of the various departments should be studied in the light of the relative importance of their respective duties. I put it to the Minister that my suggestion to transfer employees in branches which are over-staffed to branches which are under-staffed, is particularly applicable here. The staff of the External Affairs Department should be strengthened in order to give responsible officers in that branch an opportunity to do their work properly. It is ludicrous to have a staff of only twelve to deal with the work of this department, particularly when half of this staff consists of typists, messengers, and -clerks. Contrast this number with the total of nearly 24,000 persons employed in the Postmaster-General’s Department; there is no sense of proportion’ here at all. I raise this matter because for a considerable time I have felt that, in our dealings with foreign countries - and this applies particularly to the External Affairs Department and the High Commissioner’s office - we do not provide sufficient staff to cope with such work, whilst altogether too many are employed in other departments.
[5.58]. - I should have taken the opportunity earlier to inform the committee that a very important change has been effected in regard to the administration of external affairs. Formerly, and at the time these Estimates were compiled, this was a branch under the Prime Minister’s Department; but, in the meantime, it has been separated from the Prime Minister’s Department, and Colonel Hodgson, who was the Assistant Secretary, has been appointed Secretary of the new department at a salary of £1,100 per annum. During recent months we found that the expenditure allocated to this department was totally inadequate, and that the increasing work of international affairs necessitated, not only an increase of staff, but also a staff of exceptional qualifications. Consequently, the Government made representations to the Public Service Commissioner, who is now about to call for applications for several new positions in this department. These will include two officers of a higher grade. In this department it is useless to promote men who have not the necessary qualifications to commence with. Officers of the External Affairs Department must have high qualifications in order to carry out the peculiar and difficult work which they are called upon to perform. The work of the department has been increasing for some time, but the ItaloAbyssinian dispute has so increased it as almost to overwhelm the small staff. I have to admit, with shame, that officers the department have frequently been forced to work all night, and all day on Sundays, in order to try to cope with the volume of work. The Abyssinian trouble- has revealed the weakness of a small staff in this department, and the Government is taking steps, in cooperation with the Public Service Board, to remedy that state of affairs.
Honorable senators will see that the department has an officer in London. He is attached to the British Foreign Office, so that the Commonwealth Government may be kept in touch with foreign affairs. During the last two years there has been an unparalleled increase of work at Geneva. A considerable portion of the time of the High. Commissioner is now taken up with international conferences of various kinds at Geneva, and because the officer of the External Affairs Department, with his knowledge of foreign affairs, is of considerable assistance to Mr. Bruce, he also attends such conferences. During his absence from London, the Government in Australia does not receive any information at all in regard to international affairs; but when he returns to London he sends so much information that it practically amounts to an avalanche. The altogether inadequate staff is unable properly to assimilate that information, sift it, and bring before the Minister those things which, really concern Australia. Although much of the information forwarded from London is of little interest to Australia, some of it is of incalculable interest to us.
– Is it proposed to send an extra officer to London?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.Yes. The officer who will go there will understudy the officer now in the Foreign Office, and thereby maintain the link with Australia when that officer is absent at Geneva. In addition, he will gain much valuable experience. The Government’s intention is to bring him back to Australia from time to time, in order that he may be kept in touch with conditions in the Commonwealth, and to appoint another officer to take his place in London. By means of such exchanges, it hopes to train a valuable staff for diplomatic service in the future.
Some time ago Senator DuncanHughes suggested that the External Affairs Department should prepare statements relating to foreign affairs for presentation periodically to Parliament. That suggestion appealed to me, and an effort was made to supply such information. But it must be remembered that for such statements to be of any value a good deal of research is necessary. It is not sufficient merely to put on paper a lot of platitudes or facts which have already appeared in the press. Statements of that kind would be of no interest to honorable senators, who need some appreciation of the foreign position which would bring to their minds a realization of Australia’s position in relation to other countries, and the nature of any repercussions in Australia from movements abroad. In the preparation of such statements it would be useless to have men who merely go through the departmental files and extract therefrom items which may, or may not, be of interest. Men of high in.telligence and special knowledge, who can select from the data ava; /bie such portions as will be inforative to members of Parliament in their consideration of foreign affairs, are necessary. One of the ideas in the mind of the Government in increasing the staff is that Parliament shall be furnished with frequent statements in relation to foreign affairs, so that those members who are interested - and I hope that their numbers will increase - may have before them material by which they can keep in touch with world happenings.
The day may come when Australia will deem it wise to have its own diplomatic representation in foreign countries. I am not now expressing the policy of thu Government, but merely my personal view. Canada, the Irish Free State and South Africa already have Ministers in some foreign countries. My most intimate touch with the British diplomatic service was when I attended the Limitation of Armaments Conference at Washington. Before I left Australia I had an idea that a diplomatic service could be organized as easily as an ordinary department could be set up. But when I came in touch with the representatives of the different nations at Washington, and
Saw how each member of their staffs specialized in a particular field of foreign policy - one in trade treaties, another in the interchange of nationals, and others in passports and naturalization, and so on, after having graduated in universities and undergone a long and gruelling training in the diplomatic service before being placed in positions of trust, I thought that if Australia ever’ had its own diplomatic representation in foreign countries, it must have a well-trained staff for the purpose. I was greatly impressed by the advice tendered to me on that occasion by Mr. Balfour, who afterwards became Lord Balfour. He suggested that in the future Australia might have its own diplomatic representation abroad, and to that end he strongly advised that we should start in time and build from bedrock. He urged that a well-trained staff be built up to support any ambassadors who may be appointed to foreign countries. He assumed that the ambassadors would be men of ability and tact; but he stressed the need for a trained staff to support them. Ever since then I have advocated that Australia should train its own diplomatic staff. This department is the one in which to train such officers. With a body of trained men available, there would always be suitable men to accompany Ministers to Washington, Tokio, or any other place where Australia might be represented. I agree with Senator Duncan-Hughes that the External Affairs Department must be built up. Indeed, it would be wiser to have a surplus than a deficiency of officers in that department. It is a department which must expand as Australia’s international responsibilities increase. Australia is a nation which cannot any longer live unto itself. Daily it is coming more and more into touch with other nations. Consequently, its responsibilities are increasing, and a trained diplomatic staff is absolutely essential to a good understanding between one country and another. In his conversation with me, Mr. Balfour referred to a nation which I shall call “ X “. He said that that nation thought that it did not need a trained staff of ambassadors and diplomats, and consequently some of the things that it did. and the way in which it did them would, if done by Britain, probably have led to war. Fortunately, the representatives of other nations overlooked these defects, merely shrugging their shoulders, and saying, “It is only ‘X’.” The point is that by tactless and unwise conduct, misunderstanding leading to strained relations may easily be caused. I must apologize for having spoken at such length, but the remarks of Senator Duncan-Hughes gave me an opportunity to explain to the Senate the steps that are being taken by the Government to make this department more effective in the performance of its responsible duties.
– I wish to refer to the investigations carried out by that excellent institution, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. One item deals with “Research in connexion with the gold-mining industry,” for which £5,000 is provided. A similar sum was voted last year, but only £2,245 was expended. Can the Minister tell us in what direction these investigations are now being carried out? Realizing the great value of the work done by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, I hope that the investigations will be continued on the scale for which provision has been made.
– The investigations of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research into the gold-mining industry are being conducted on a more extensive scale than formerly. Last year the demands on the staff were not so heavy as had been expected, but I assure honorable senators that if the work continues at its present pace, the whole amount voted this year will be absorbed.
– Last year, £607 was expended on research into the citrus industry, but no amount is set down under that heading this year. In 1930, a Commonwealth committee which investigated the industry referred to its “dependence upon government co-operation in the exploration of markets, and the conduct of scientific research into cultural and irrigation practices and problems associated with the conditions of transport, and the preservation of fruit during transport”. That the citrus industry is in a serious conditionwas shown clearly when a bill to provide for a bounty of 2s. a case on oranges exported from Australia was before this chamber recently. The responsibility of the Government does not end with the passing of that measure. I should like to know why no amount has been set aside for research this year.
– I direct the attention of the honorable senator to the item “ Food preservation and transport, £19,353”. The land investigation has ceased, and now the only work being undertaken by the scientists is in connexion with preservation and transport.
– The most recent issue of the journal published by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, which I received yesterday, contains an interesting article by Sir David Rivett, dealing with the need for a national geological survey. The writer, after referring to the value to Australia of a discovery of gold, points out that coal, oil, water, and a variety of earths and minerals necessary for many manufactures are worthy of far greater attention than is given to them. He advocates the preparation of a geological map of the whole continent, and refers to what has been done in Canada, in which dominion a team of 35 men is engaged on a similar work. He points out also that the United States of America embarked on a similar undertaking in 1879 with a staff of 24.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
– There is no necessity for me to emphasize the great attainments, and the public spirit actuating, the author of this article, who is the chief executive officer of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. When he expresses the opinion that a geological survey should be made of Australia and that the work should be commenced at once and asks in effect why is it not being done, I am prepared to listen to him, particularly as he points out, that Canada has made tremendous progess in this matter during the last ten years. The United States of America began this work 56 years ago with a staff of 24. Canada has a staff of 35. It is estimated that an adequate staff for this work in Australia would be 21 persons. Sir David does not give an actual estimate of the cost, but he said that the informationcould quite easily be obtained. He emphasizes that this is a reproductive work. At present, when we so often support works which are not reproductive, it should be a pleasure to institute an undertaking of this nature which is likely to pay for itself. Sir
David suggests at the end of his article, which I commend to all honorable senators - it is written in the simplest words and the author gives a very true and full survey of the problem - that we might incur an expenditure in proportion to our population. The United States of America expends £1,000,000 a year on this work. Having regard to the ratio of Australia’s population to that of the United States of America, the amount required to finance the work in the Commonwealth would be about £70,000. In view of the importance of gold, quite apart from that of oil, and again quite apart from the consideration of water, which has always been of the greatest concern to Australia, we may fairly conclude that probably this problem has already occupied the attention of the Minister who I know has shown very great interest in the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and its work. I therefore ask the Minister if he has considered the matter raised by Sir David Rivett in detail and if anything has been planned, if not for this year, at any rate for the near future.
– Some years ago, the States agreed to engage in a survey of this character, but nothing practical was done. A few months ago, a conference took place in Melbourne between the Ministers for Mines from the several States and their advisers in connexion with the grants made by the Commonwealth to the States last year for the assistance of the mining industry. The substance of the article to which Senator Duncan-Hughes has referred was brought under the notice of the members of that conference; in fact, a paper which contained much the same information as that article was circulated among the Ministers. I am in favour of this survey, but one has to approach such a consideration with circumspection because it is a function of the States.
– The States have done a good deal in that regard.
– The suggestion was made that there should be a co-operative effort on the part of the Commonwealth and State officers; but I fancy that, owing to the haste with which the business of the conference was conducted, the matter was not thoroughly understood. The upshot of it was that the proposal had the support of some of the eminent technicians present, but otherwise it was not received “with that enthusiasm which might have been expected. As the result, it was referred to a sub-committee consisting of Sir David Rivett, Dr. Keith Ward of South Australia and two other geologists from New South Wales and Victoria. The subcommittee will report at a later date whether anything can be done in the direction of making the desired survey. I assure the honorable senator that the Government has every sympathy for such a work. The comparatively small survey which has already been embarked upon by the Commonwealth in co-operation with the Governments of Queensland and Western Australia is proving quite successful; some valuable knowledge has been gained, and, possibly before very long, results of practical value to Australia will be achieved.
– In reference to the High Commissioner’s Office, London, I desire some information from the Minister regarding the staff to deal with migration matters. Prior to the suspension of migration, Australia House employed quite an extensive staff which must have accumulated a quantity of valuable data upon the subject of migration. Do the salaries mentioned here provide for the retention of some officer or officers, so that the information may be kept up to date and the inquiries of intending migrants may be answered promptly and efficiently?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for External Affairs) [8.9]. - After the termination of the migration agreement, the staff employed in Australia House to deal with migration matters was severely reduced, but I understand that Mr. W. J. Stables, an officer in the service of the Government of Western Australia, is loaned to the Commonwealth, and his duty is to keep this information up to date. This means that there is only one senior officer dealing with such matters.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed votes - Department of the Treasury, £731,500; and AttorneyGeneral’s Department, £181,370 - agreed to.
Department of the Interior.
Proposed vote, £400,400.
.- In regard to the River Murray Waters Commission, is it the intention of the Government to increase the capacity of the Hume Reservoir to 2,000,000 acre feet or to allow it to remain at 1,250,000 acre feet, and subsequently when additional water supplies are required, build weirs in the poorer country in the upper reaches of the Murray? At present the settlers of Tallangatta are like Mahomet’s coffin, suspended between Heaven and earth. They expect their lands to be submerged at any time. They should be informed definitely whether the Government proposes to accept the recommendation of the commission, of 1929, that the reservoir should remain at its present capacity and that if additional water were required, new reservoirs should be built at a lower cost than the expenditure involved in the submerging of the Tallangatta district.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for External Affairs) [8.12]. - The honorable senator’s question relates to the works Estimates rather than to the salaries and expenses of the department. The only information supplied to us is that in regard to various items in this schedule. Offhand I am unable to answer the honorable senator’s question, except to state that I know of no proposal to vary the latest agreement between the three Governments concerned; but I shall refer his inquiry to the Minister for the Interior.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Defence.
Proposed vote, £4,636,200.
.- A good deal of discussion has taken place in regard to the periodical grants of free ammunition to rifle clubs, and representations have recently been made to the Minister in respect to the proposal to reduce this supply. Rifle clubs play an important part in national defence, and they are intimately connected with the military arm of the services. I consider that the method adopted by governments in the past of merely making free ammunition available to the clubs is not the best way in which to assist these organizations. A better plan would be to put the rifle clubs on a basis similar to the system of subsidizing the various flying clubs in Australia. They are subsidized on the basis of the number of efficient pilots which they train. If an arrangement were entered into by which the rifle clubs were subsidized according to the number of efficient marksmen under a certain age that they produced, instead of distributing ammunition to persons irrespective of age - some of whom might be of little value in war - it would be a sounder proposition for the Government and the country. The Defence Department might also consider the advisability of instructing members of these clubs in machine gunnery as well as in rifle marksmanship. If arrangements could be made for instructors to visit the various drill halls or rifle club assembly rooms to give members of these organizations instruction in machine gunnery, I believe that the result would be of immense value to the Commonwealth from the point of view of defence. I commend the suggestion to the Government for its consideration.
.- To those who are interested in national defence, the steady improvement and expansion of the air force along sound lines must be a source of much satisfaction. The provision of IS Hawker Demon aircraft, 24 supermarine Seagulls Mark V., and the extensive constructive programme, clearly indicate that special efforts are being made to keep the equipment and organization of the Royal Australian Air Force up to date.
It is pleasing to know that civil aviation, too, is being developed. Civil aviation is to the Royal Australian Air Force what the mercantile marine is to the Navy. Though some of the mailcarrying aeroplane services may be operated at a loss, the experience gained and the development of aircraft manufacture and technique are of considerable national value.
The Royal Australian Navy, as a unit of the British Fleet, and a highly trained air force, have each its specific role in the defence of the Commonwealth. Our land forces, too, have a very important and effective part to play. No air force can, by itself, achieve permanent and decisive results. A judicious and wellbalanced blending of these two services acting in co-operation, will provide an effective instrument in time of national emergency.
The three years’ defence programme for the purpose of bringing our coast defences up to date is long overdue. I commend the Government for the steps which it has taken to make Australia self-contained in munitions and equipment generally.
That is the bright side of the picture. The condition of our militia, which in time of war, after expansion, becomes the land force, is far from satisfactory. Were it not for the enthusiasm and patriotism of the majority of officers and non-commissioned officers, the militia would cease to exist. The official strength is given as 28,000, all ranks; the real strength is nearer 1S,000 - about what it was 25 years ago, under the voluntary system, and before universal training was adopted in 1910.
Attendances at home-training parades average about 50 per cent, and the strength of units in the all-too-short periods of continuous training in camp averages 70 per cent. This does not provide a land force sufficiently strong and stable adequately to train the leaders and specialists of a modern army.
The serious falling off in the attendance at home-training parades necessitates much elementary training in camp before field manoeuvres can be undertaken. Longer periods of camps of continuous training are the only solution. Some employers take a national longdistance view and allow their employees to attend camps, but certain Skate and Federal departments place obstacles in the way of public servants fulfilling the most important part of their military training, which can only be acquired in camp. Whilst the strength of the light horse and technical units is satisfactory, the position of the infantry is deplorable : yet little or no encouragement is given to regimental rifle clubs, one of the best means of gaining and holding recruits. Senior officers rarely take the slightest interest in the activities of these clubs. The recent decision to reduce the amount of free ammunition will not affect these clubs so much as the reserve or civilian rifle clubs. Three years ago, the annual allowance of 2s. 6d. for every effective member of a regimental club was reduced to ls. 6d., and as the majority of the members come from homes in industrial areas, this sum means something to them. It is still ls. 6d. Out of this allowance clubs have to meet administration costs, and provide trophies for competitions. I hope ‘that the Minister will direct that more consideration be given to these young militia men. The amount involved is only about £400.
With regard to reserve rifle clubs, which form part of our defence system, I repeat what I have already urged in this chamber, namely, that reconsideration be given to the reduction of each rifleman’s annual free allowance of ammunition. The Minister has given ah undertaking to look into the matter, so a measure of restoration is hoped for. These rifle clubs comprise some thousands of citizens eligible for active service, all voluntarily undergoing training which will fit them to step into the ranks of light horse or infantry units when the need arises. I hope that more encouragement will be given to members of these clubs, not all of whom are “old boys.” The majority are of military age, and would constitute a valuable reserve nucleus. I trust that the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) will direct the attention of the Minister for Defence (Mr. Parkhill) to these matters, in order that something may be done before the new year starts ; otherwise many of these rifle clubs will be in -a bad way.
[8.25]. - I listened with much interest to the remarks of Senators Foll and Brand, and will take an early opportunity to bring them under the notice of the Minister for Defence (Mr. Parkhill). I have an intimate knowledge of the keen interest -which Senator Brand has always taken in the rifle club movement. For a considerable part of the time when I was
Minister for Defence he was a member of the Military Board, and, although it was generally believed that military men were out of sympathy with the activities of the rifle clubs, I found that Senator Brand was their warm friend and advocate. I am sure that the Minister for Defence will heed the suggestions which the honorable senator has made this evening. It is regrettable that, under our voluntary system, we do not appear to be getting the number of men required. Those who have read the memorandum which has been circulated by the Minister for Defence will realize that the Government is endeavouring to get up-to-date equipment for our defence forces. I think that Senator Brand will agree with other distinguished Australian ImperialForce officers that it would be of no use to have the men without the most modern equipment. Shortly after the war I consulted leaders of the Australian Imperial Force as to the essentials in order to perfect our defence system, and their recommendations, in the order named, were - (1) a trained staff, capable of meeting the expansion of the strength; (2) munitions and other up-to-date equipment; and (3) an army of trained men. It is to be regretted that during the depression our army was reduced in respect of all three of these essential factors. Accordingly, the policy of this Government has been to repair these deficiencies. That three years’ programme, which we have adopted, aims at more extended training of officers, greater facilities for training, provision of modern equipment, and particularly the mechanization of a portion of the defence arm. The provision of material has been based on the essential condition that troops around a defended base should be mobile, and capable of being concentrated quickly at any given point, and so equipped as to be able to hit hard. Every government will have to give serious attention to the admitted scarcity of volunteers. If the system is to be successful it will have to attract more men. The suggestions of Senator Brand and of other Australian Imperial Force officers will receive careful consideration. I can assure honorable senators that it is the desire of the Government to make the voluntary training scheme a success if that be possible. “We shall continue to do everything within our power to make the system more attractive in order that we may get the required numbers, and also to ensure that their training is of such a character as to enable them to take the field as trained units.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Trade and Customs.
Proposed vote, £564,430.
.- I shall be glad if the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs will state whether any progress has been made in the direction of securing uniformity with regard to the film censorship. At present there is a great deal of overlapping and difficulty by reason of the fact that, in addition to a Commonwealth film censor and an appeal board, there are in existence State censorship boards. As a result some films which have been passed by the Commonwealth censor for general exhibition are sometimes banned by a State board. To overcome this difficulty State governments should surrender certain powers to the Commonwealth Government. I know that the present Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White) is very desirous of securing uniformity in this matter.
I request that representations be made to the Minister for Trade and Customs to ascertain whether by an amendment of the Customs Act or as a matter of administration, leniency can be extended to Australian citizens returning from overseas with presents for their friends or relatives? At presenttourists returning to Australia must sign a declaration containing a list of every item in their possession other than their actual personal belongings. Thousands of travellers cannot bring a present valued at 20s. or less without having to declare it for customs purposes, and paying the duty imposed. I have brought this matter forward on behalf of a number of persons who wish to bring small gifts to their families, and who do not think it fair that an unnecessarily heavy duty should be imposed. The gifts are usually curios purchased in other countries, and if a concession were granted it would” not be abused. Travellers should be allowed to bring in duty free, say, £25 worth of goods as personal gifts. Considering the large amount of revenue received in customs duties such a concession should be granted.
.- The existing arrangement imposes too heavy a burden upon the tourists mentioned by Senator Foll. A traveller returning to Australia from abroad has to compile a schedule of every item in his possession other than his personal belongings, and swear .to its accuracy. One person had to pay a duty equivalent to 80 per cent, of the value of the gifts. In addition to customs duties on the retail prices of the articles, primage duty and sales tax also were imposed, with the result that by the time the articles were landed in Australia they cost twice their original price. Officials of the Department of Trade and Customs, who recognize the difficulties of securing accurate statements from some travellers, have informed me that honest persons are always willing to pay the amount demanded, but there are others who take a delight in evading customs duties. Although dishonest persons realize that they are liable to a heavy penalty there are always some who endeavour to land goods without paying the duty. It has been suggested to me that if the department is satisfied that the goods are not for sale the Minister for Trade and Customs should consider the advisableness of providing for the payment of a specific duty of 20 per cent, or 25 per cent, on all such goods, landed. If that practice were adopted I believe that the department would benefit financially. If tourists knew beforehand that such goods would be liable to a standard rate of duty there would not be any inclination to evade the payment of customs dues. One tourist was sufficiently careful to record what he considered a reasonable wholesale value of the gifts he purchased, but others merely give the retail prices they have paid which means that the duty imposed is unnecessarily heavy. If a standard rate of duty were adopted I believe that the department would benefit.
– In connexion with the powers of the Federal Censor ship Board I direct the attention of the Minister to the fact that invariably when a film exhibitor or a picture theatre owner is asked why so many inferior pictures are screened he is informed that he can obtain good pictures only by undertaking to screen what many of us consider undesirable films. I do not know what are the full powers of the Censorship Board in this respect; but if the board has not the authority to prohibit the projection of inferior films it should have the power to do so. The films to which I refer may not be immoral but can be termed only as mere “ bunk “. It is an insult to a large number of Australian picture patrons to be compelled not only to view them but also to hear the language used.
– The representations made by Senator Foll and Senator Payne in regard to a relaxation of the imposition of customs duties on gifts brought by tourists from abroad will again be brought under the notice of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White). When the Minister investigated the subject eight or nine months ago he found that when there was a relaxation in the direction suggested, serious leakages occurred. The suggestions of honorable senators, if practicable, will be further considered.
The powers of the Commonwealth in the matter of film censorship are somewhat limited. Efforts to get the States to come into line and to adopt the recommendations of the Royal Commission on the Constitution, have proved unsuccessful. I understand that the subject is listed for consideration at the next conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers. I am not quite clear that the department has power to remedy the state of affairs of which Senator Allan MacDonald complained. The quality which patrons of pictures or of music desire is a matter of individual taste, and I understand that some exhibitors wish to project a percentage of films to which the honorable senator takes objection.
– They must have a depraved taste.
– It is a matter of taste. I shall, however, bring the matter under the notice of the Minister to see if anything can be done to reduce the number of objectionable films screened.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Health.
Proposed vote, £116,680.
, - Two months ago I communicated with the then Minister for Health (Mr. Hughes) in connexion with the experimental work being carried on by Sister Kenny. Can the Minister indicate if the collaboration of the Commonwealth Department of Health with Sister Kenny has proceeded any further than was indicated by the then Minister for Health ? The people in Western Australia, and, I believe, in other States, are anxious that this work should be extended,and I trust that the Health Department is giving Sister Kenny every assistance in her investigations of not only infantile paralysis, but also other forms of paralysis.
– I can assure the honorable senator that the subject is receiving the very close attention of the Minister for Health. I know that it has been discussed from time to time in Cabinet. I do not think that there is anything to prevent Sister Kenny from proceeding with her work, and I can assure the honorable senator that the Department of Health is not impeding it in any way.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Commerce.
Proposed vote, £402,090.
– What action is the Government taking in connexion with the appointment of a trade representative in Egypt? When I visited Cairo some months ago I was informed that as a direct result of the Canadian Government sending a trade representative to Egypt the value of imports from Canada had increased from £80,000 to over £250,000 per annum. Having discussed the subject with many leading white residents in Cairo, I am fully con vinced that a good opportunity exists for Australia to increase its trade with Egypt. I understand that some action has been taken to secure representation there, and I shall be very glad if the Minister will tell us what has been done in this respect.
– The Government still has under consideration the names of several persons for appointment to the position in Egypt, and provision has -been made in this bill in the expectation that an appointment will be made shortly.
.- I ask if the provision for the overhaul of and repairs to steamers, boats and launches refers to launches under the control of the northern patrol?
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote, £1,199,460.
– I notice that it is proposed to make a grant this year of £100,000 to the States for the benefit of and assistance to fruit-growers. The amount is £25,000 less than was provided for this purpose last year. This grant must be regarded as a permanent liability, because, only in this way can- help be given to the fresh fruits industry. Most primary producers who export their produce have to be assisted by the Commonwealth in some way. Some of them are assisted through the fixation of a home-consumption price, but that course cannot be followed in respect of fresh fruits. Producers of wheat, sugar, butter and dried fruits have been aided by making the Australian consumer pay more than the overseas buyer for these products. Growers of fresh fruits can be assisted only by direct grants. I understand that the grant this year works out to a benefit of about 5d. or 6d. a case. I hope thatthis money will be distributed in the form of a straight-out payment to all exporters of apples and pears so that all will share alike. I also point out that the Government unsuccessfully endeavoured to help this industry by securing a reduction of freights. Such assistance would have been of a permanent nature. As help cannot be given in that way, the fresh fruits industry, which, so far as Tasmania is concerned, relates principally to apples and pears, must be helped in another way. Therefore, I repeat, the Government must regard this grant as a permanent one, and I hope that in future the amount will again be £125,000 as it was last year.
.- 1 do not think that any item in these Estimates is more important than that providing for a grant in aid of fruitgrowers. The apple and pear exporters are a most deserving section of the community. The industry itself is of vital importance to the development of Australia, because it can be conducted on land which is not suitable for any other purpose, whilst it also has all the essentials of closer settlement. The holdings usually are small, ranging in area from about 5 acres to 10 acres. Furthermore, these orchards are on land which is not suitable for the growing of any other crops. If any injury should be done to the fruit-growing industry, a serious setback would be given to closer settlement development. Capital values in the industry have decreased since the beginning of the depression by approximately 50 per cent. Consequently growers have been confronted with many difficulties. For instance, orchardists are experiencing hardship in finding that financial accommodation which in certain periods is essential to enable them to carry on their orchards, and market their products. Many of them have been forced to rely on merchants for credit, and they have had to pay in some way for this accommodation. In addition, freights have increased enormously in comparison with the charges of a few years ago, whilst the cost of materials used in the industry, such as cases and packing, has also increased considerably. Much expenditure has been incurred in the special treatment of timbers for casing, and in the combating of pests. Consequently, the orchardists as a whole have had a very bacl time. Last season prices overseas were the best realized for about three or four years, but it must not be overlooked that this was brought about by the arrangement e of an export quota, as the result of which a larger quantity of good fruit was left in Australia than the home market could absorb. Thus, although prices overseas last year were the best for some years past, that advantage was offset by the lower prices prevailing in Australia. I support the suggestion of Senator J. B. Hayes that this assistance to fruit-growers should be continued, and I regret that it has been found necessary to reduce the amount this year to £100,000, as compared with £125,000 last year. I cannot understand the reason for the reduction. However, the fruit-growers are grateful ‘to the Government for providing this grant. 1 hope it will keep this matter continually before it, and do everything in its power in the future to stabilize this industry, and enable those who engage in it to carry on, confident that they can give of their best, because there is a likelihood of their receiving an adequate return for their labours.
.- “With respect to the provision of £4,500 for the Commonwealth Grants Commission, I ask whether it is proposed to continue this body or to bring into being an interstate commission to take over its work.
– The commission will continue its inquiry for its appointed term. “When the Government has reached a decision as to its future policy with regard to this commission it will make an announcement at the appropriate time.
– I assure Senator J. B. Hayes and Senator Payne that the Government does not feel that it has been lacking in generosity towards the Tasmanian exporters of apples and pears. The grant this year is slightly less than it was last year, but against that reduction may be set off the fact that last season was the best that the growers had experienced for the past five or six years. At present the Government is concerned as to what form the assistance provided here should take. The Government believes that if the help can be given to the industry in the form of a reduction of freights, which would be a permanent, benefit, that would be a better method of assistance than the straight-out payment of bounties which, though welcome to the participants, are spent very rapidly. .
– Last year £5,000 was voted in respect of the Royal Commission on the Wheat Industry, but the expenditure of that commission -amounted to £20,472. I notice that this year a further £3,000 is to he provided. I was under the impression that this body had concluded its labours.
I also ask the Minister for how long has a subsidy of £1,000 been paid as a contribution towards the cost of publishing the report of the British, Australian, and New Zealand Antarctic Research Expedition, and for how much longer will this contribution be made. I am aware that this publication is of a scientific nature.
I also ask the Minister what is The Federal Guide, for the printing of which £100 is to be provided this year.
– The range of the investigation of the Royal Commission on the Wheat Industry greatly exceeded the expectations of the Government. Complications arose in respect of the manufacture of flour and the examination of the affairs of bakers in New South Wales, who, as honorable senators representing that State are aware, are in a peculiar position. This investigation has gone on and on, and I am sure that, as a result of it, a vast amount of knowledge will be brought to the Government regarding the intricacies of the production of bread and flour. The commission prosecuted its investigation in every part of Aus- tralia where wheat is produced. Consequently, the provision made in the Estimates last year was not sufficient to meet the expenditure of the commission. I anticipate that the commission’s final report will be furnished to the Government either this week or next week.
– In reply to Senator Collett’s inquiry regarding the Commonwealth’s contribution towards the cost of publishing -the report of the British, Australian, and New Zealand
Antarctic Research Expedition, it is anticipated that the work of examining and collating matters involved in this report will occupy the attention of a large number of honorary contributors for a period of five years. The total cost of printing the report, and incidental expenditure is £7,500. A good deal of work has been undertaken in an honorary capacity by a number of scientists and the department is assisting in the publication.
The Federal Guide is a departmental reference book which gives the names of the officers in various Government departments, and is similar to reference books issued by most governments.
– Are copies available to members of Parliament?
– Copies will probably be supplied free to members of Parliament. In 1926 this publication cost £130. It was proposed to issue a revised Federal Guide in 1929, but the government of the day did not proceed with the publication, on account of shortage of funds. On the basis of 1,000 copies, the Government printer has estimated that the cost of printing the Federal Guide should not exceed £100. ‘
– In division 109 the sum of £9,000 is set down for the Australian Dairy Council. I understand that a bill will shortly come before us under which the Australian Dairy Council will cease to exist. That body has about £16,000 to its credit, the result of a levy of id. a case, or1s. 8d. a ton, on all butter exported from Australia, and is concerned as to the disposal of that money.
– A recent bill puts it into consolidated revenue.
– I cannot see the necessity for allocating £9,000 to the Australian Dairy Council which already has money to its credit. Should the council cease to exist will the money go to the Dairy Export Control Board which has no use for it since it already derives a revenue of £35,000 a year from levies? It is entitled to collect, one-eighth of a penny on every lb. of butter exported, and one-sixteenth of a penny on every lb. of cheese exported;, but instead of using its power to the full extent it has collected only about onethirteenth of a penny on each lb. of butter and one-sixteenth of a penny on each lb. of cheese exported. Had it exercised its powers to the full, it would have received about £100,000 a year. I should like to know what will happen to the £9,000 if the Australian Dairy Council goes out of existence.
– I think that the honorable senator has rather trenched upon a matter which is more relevant to a bill which will come before us later. The money has been collected as part of an export levy on butter, and has been devoted to certain specified purposes for the benefit of the industry. Should the Australian Dairy Council cease to exist, the money which it has in hand will be voted to the same purpose as previously.
– I cannot see why the Dairy Export Control Board, which has more money than it needs, will require the £9,000 set down in the item.
– The money collected will be paid to the Australian Dairy Council, which will be paid only those moneys which are collected on its behalf. It is estimated that the collections will amount to £9;Q00 this year.
– I should like an explanation of the items “Representation, Imperial Economic Committee £4,427”, and “Historial Memorials of Representative Men, £600.”
For the development of the fisheries industry the sum of £5,000 is set down. A similar sum was voted last year, but only £220 was expended. I should like an explanation of that item also.
I also desire to know who is responsible for “Investigations abroad in connexion with unemployment” for which the sum of £200 is provided, and when a report will be submitted.
I should be glad also of an explanation of the item “ Contribution to International Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, £210.”
– As regards the item “ Representation, Imperial Economic Committee”, I can inform Senator Brown that this amount is required to meet the following expenses.
Besides being a member of the Imperial Economic Committee, Mr. McDougall assists the High Commissioner as an economic officer and carries out certain duties in London on behalf of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, in consideration of which the Council bears part of . the debit for his salary.
The sum of £600 set down for “ Historial Memorials of Representative Men “ is to be expended on the painting of portraits required by the Historical Records Committee. Commissions have not yet been granted for the painting of portraits of His Excellency the Right Honorable Sir Isaac A. Isaacs, GovernorGeneral; the Right Honorable J. A. Lyons, M.P., Prime Minister; the Right Honorable J. H. Scullin, M.P., a former Prime Minister; Senator the Honorable P. J. Lynch, President of the Senate; the Honorable G. H. Mackay, M.P., Speaker of the House of Representatives ; the late Senator Sir Walter Kingsmill, a former President of the Senate; N. J. O. Makin, Esquire, M.P., a former Speaker of the House of Representatives. Of the £1,000 provided for 1930-31 only £77 was expended. In 1931-32, the sum of £50 was provided and £50 spent, whilst in each of the three following years £25 was voted, of which £9 was expended in 1932-33, and a similar sum in 1934-35. There was no expenditure of the vote for 1933-34.
In regard to the item “Development of Fisheries Industries, £500”, the position is that Mr. Fowler who was previously in the Development
Branch and is an expert on matters connected with fishing, has been seconded to work with Sir David Rivett and Mr. Roughley in connexion with plans for a vessel to be used in fishing operations. It is expected that tenders for the construction of the vessel will be invited within the next few weeks.
The item of £275 for investigations abroad in connexion with unemployment refers to the expenses incurred by the secretary to the Parliamentary UnderSecretary for Employment (Sir Frederick Stewart) while he was in Europe. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Employment has furnished a report of his inquiries to the Government.
.- A sum of £2,610 is provided for expenses in connexion with the Western Australia secession case. Lust year a sum of £750 was voted, but, the expenditure totalled £16,586. Probably the bulk of it was absorbed in the printing and distribution of The Case for Union. But will the Minister explain the reason for the additional £2,610?
– TI,is provision is necessary to meet the cost of legal and other expenses which were incurred in London in connexion with the representation of the Commonwealth on the occasion of the presentation of the Western Australian petition. These additional costs were not brought into the accounts for last year.
.- A grant of £50,000 is proposed for maternal and infant welfare. This important provision is the outcome of a conference convened some time ago by the Right Honorable W. M. Hughes, and I think that, in view of the wide public interest evinced in this matter, the Minister should make a statement of the Government’s proposals in regard to the administration of this vote.
– This item represents the grant made by the Commonwealth to the Jubilee Maternal and Infant Welfare Appeal, contributions to which have been made throughout the length and breadth of this country.
– As this is the first occasion on which such an item has appeared on the Estimates, I consider that the Minister should furnish more information as to how the money is to be applied.
– Long speeches have been made by various Ministers from time to time regarding the objective of this fund, which is for the promotion of infant and maternal welfare. Committees have been established in the capital cities and many other centres to raise funds, and contributions have been made by the State governments and by private individuals. The scheme is most laudable and important to this country.
– Is this a grant to the States
– No ; it is a contribution to a huge fund which has been raised at the instance of His Majesty the King, and which will be administered throughout the States by committees appointed by” the governments.
– Will the Minister explain the contribution of £210 to the International Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property ?
– Australia is a party to this international convention, which exercises a protection over industrial property, including trade marks and copyrights.
Proposed vote agreed to
Proposed votes - Refunds of revenue, £1,250,000; Advance to the Treasurer, £2,000,000; War services payable out of revenue, £1,039,000 - agreed to.
Part II. - Business Undertakings.
Proposed vote- Commonwealth Railways, £546,830, agreed to.
Proposed vote, £9,704,000.
– Will the Postmaster-General (Senator A. J. McLachlan) explain whether it is a fact that many linesmen and mechanics have lately been dismissed from the Service? I understand that in Victoria alone several hundred men have lost their positions. Will the same action be taken in other States? For many years, efforts have been, made ‘ to prevail upon the various PostmastersGeneral to improve the South Brisbane Post Office, which is a disgrace to the department. I believe that £3,500 was expended by the department on the purchase of a site in a central position near the terminus of the Kyogle and suburban railways nea)- Brisbane. Is it the intention of the Government to proceed with this necessary work?
[9.25 J . There is a file about 3 feet thick in the department relating to the matter of the South Brisbane Post Office, and I am sure that the subject is engraven on the hearts of my predecessors as it is on mine. I can give to the honorable senator no assurance other than that I shall endeavour to visit Brisbane when the weather moderates.
Honorable senators will be pleased to . learn that the department has been able to absorb in the Services a considerable number of seniors who had previously been doing junior duties. During the present year it is hoped to absorb a still larger number. The dismissal of mechanics and linesmen is inevitable from time to time, and I admit, that the retrenchment was particularly drastic in Victoria. Owing to the visit of His Royal Highness, the Duke of Gloucester, and the damage to telephonic and telegraphic communication caused by floods, it became necessary to employ hundreds of men to effect repairs, but when that work was completed a number of those men had to be dismissed. The department has eased down the position as best it can, and, in view of the increased business of the post office lately, hopes to re-engage some of the men. Representations have been made to me by returned soldiers’ organizations, and a percentage of returned soldiers will be re-employed. I regret that not many vacancies are available for mechanics, but a. lot of work is being found for linesmen. The department is operating on an economical basis, and is endeavouring to distribute work equitably as between outside temporary employees and men who have been employed in the Service on junior’s work.
.- A sum of £110,000 is provided for the
Orient Steamship Company’s overseas mail contract. “Will the Minister explain whether this is an annual payment in accordance with a contract between the Commonwealth and the company for a period of years? In my opinion, such a contract is unnecessary. Weekly services operate between Australia and England, and every one of the ships engaged in this regular service carries mails, many of them on a poundage basis. The Orient Company does not transport the bulk of the mails, but only the same proportion as ships of other lines. The time has arrived when the payment for the transport of mails could be placed on a poundage basis.
– The contract with the Orient Company extends over a period of years, and provides for an annual grant of £130,000. Following representations by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, the company voluntarily reduced the contract price ‘ by £20,000. The full amount of £110,000 must be shown on the Estimates of expenditure, but the Commonwealth in return receives certain remuneration from other countries and services, which reduces this liability. I have not the figures by me, but it is possible that if we were free to commence again, having regard to the condition of air transport services, we might review the terms.
– How long has this contract got to run?
– I cannot say, but I presume that it will not expire for some years.
– I direct attention to the item, Air Mail Services £79,000, and ask the Postmaster-General to give urgent consideration to requests which my colleague, Senator Collett, and 1 have made for an improvement of the air mail service to the north-west of Western Australia. This service is governed largely by the arrival of the overseas air mail at Daly Waters. Would it not be possible to institute a double service overseas, thus improving the air mail from Daly Waters to Perth and giving residents of the north west portion of Western Australia an opportunity to transact their business under more satisfactory conditions? The Minister is well aware the difficulties under which these pioneer settlers are carrying on their operations, so I need not stress them again. . I hope that it will be possible to give the people living in that part of Western Australia a better service than they have been receiving since the expiration of the contract with Western Australian Airways Limited.
.- A number of mail contracts are carried out in Western Australia and the Northern Territory by owners of camel teams, some of which travel a distance of 700 miles. I suggest that, when the time comes to renew these contracts, alternative tenders be invited with a view to extending the air mail service to districts which, at present, are served . by camel teams. If this were done, it is probable that a number of landing fields would be established at out-stations, thus improving the facilities for inter-communication by air.
– The provision made for inland mail services, excluding railway services in Queensland, is £104,800. Although, in recent years, there has been substantial improvement of the postal facilities in the larger centres, the services in the far western districts of Queensland are no better than they were 25 or 30 years ago. In some cases they are, if anything, worse. The department is saving many thousands of pounds annually on inland mail contracts from rail heads in the far western districts of Queensland. I direct attention to the mail service between Winton rail-head ‘and Boulia, a distance of 251 miles.
Thefollowing papers were presented -
Bankruptcy Act - Seventh Annual Report by the Attorney-General, for the year ended 31st July, 1935.
Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Territory (Administration) Act -
Ordinances of 1935 -
No. 11 - Bagot Road Board (Vesting of Roads).
No. 12 - Business Names.
No. 13- Mining (No. 3).
No. 14 - Adoption of Children.
No. 15 - Hawkers.
No. 16 - Poor Persons Legal Assistance.
No. 17 -Electric Light and Power.
No.18 - Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
No.19 - Crown Lands (No. 2).
No. 20 - Auctioneers.
Board of Inquiry Ordinance - Regulations.
Business Names Ordinance - Regulations.
Crown Lands Ordinance - Regulations amended.
Electric Light and Power Ordinance - Regulations.
Police and Police Offences Ordinance - Regulations.
Public Service Ordinance - Regulations amended (2).
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn tillto-morrow, at 11 a.m.
[9.42].- by leave- The Commonwealth Government has learned, with regret, that at a meeting of the Seamen’s Union held in Sydney this morning, it was decided to continue the shipping strike, which was begun several days ago, and that at meetings in Melbourne, Brisbane, Port Adelaide and Newcastle this decision was supported.
The Government takes a very serious view of what it regards as a deliberate dislocation of the sea-borne trade and commerce of Australia, and a repudiation of an award made after exhaustive judicial examination by the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration in settlement of disputes, including a dispute submitted by the Seamen’s Union itself. It desires to make it clear beyond doubt that a strike, against a lawfullymade award, and a wanton interruption of a service, important not only to ship-owners and seamen, but also to farmers, manufacturers, merchants and the general public, could not be tolerated by any responsible government.
The Government has considered the extension of the operation of the Transport Workers Act to seamen. It has decided to notify, and hereby notifies, the seamen that, unless work is resumed within 48 hours, the Commonwealth Go- vernment will proceed to apply the provisions of ‘ that act to the manning of ships at ports which are affected by this dispute, and will take such other action as the law allows with a view to the maintenance of trade and commerce.
The Government wishes to point out that, if the TransportWorkers Act is applied to seamen, its application will be continued, not merely for the present, but permanently, and seamen who fail to resume work will find themselves substantially excluded from future employment in the Australian shipping industry.
Should the prompt re-manning of coastal steamers prove impracticable, the Government will not hesitate to take action to grant permits to overseas ships to engage in the coasting trade in respect of both passengers andcargo.
The Government appeals to the seamen to reconsider their action, and avoid what can only be a disaster to themselves and their families.
[9.44]. - by leave - It is with deepest regret that I announce formally to the Senate the death of His Majesty’s sister, Her Royal Highness Princess Victoria, which occurred early this morning. I move -
That the following address to His Majesty the King be agreed to: -
To the King’s Most Excellent Majesty: Most Gracious Sovereign :
We, the President and members of the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, have received with profound sorrow the news of the death of Your August Sister, Her Royal Highness Princess Victoria. We wish to express to Your Majesty the heartfelt sympathy of Your subjects in the Commonwealth of Australia in the great loss which you have sustained.
– On behalf of the members of the Opposition, I second the motion. We wish to associate ourselves with the sentiments expressed in it.
. - On behalf of the members of the United Country party, I support the motion.
Question resolved in the affirmative; honorable senators standing in their places.
[9.47]. - As a mark of respect to Her late Royal Highness, Princess Victoria, I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 0.48 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 3 December 1935, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1935/19351203_senate_14_148/>.