14th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. P.J. lynch) took the chair at 10 a.m., and read prayers.
– by leave - In this morning’s issue of the Canberra Times there is an article headed: “Party Scene - Sir Frederick Stewart’s Attack “, which contains the suggestion that there was a disturbance in the party room. The Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) has already, I understand, intimated that any such suggestion is without foundation, and, in fact, untrue. However, in thecourse of the article the following occurs : -
The policy of the post office, continued Sir Frederick, was causing the Sydney Council of Churches to lose £300 a week on 2CH. It was obvious that the post office was out to deprive Amalgamated Wireless of its placein the radio scheme. Yet, Amalgamated Wireless was a public corporation on which the Commonwealth had a majority of shares.
Sir Frederick caused a storm of surprise when he disclosed that Station 2CH was owned by him, but that the licence was in the name of the Council, of Churches. Although it was losing heavily, Amalgamated Wireless was willing to purchase it. The Postal Departmenthad taken it upon itself to refuse to allow Amalgamated Wireless to purchase the station.
The statement that the post office is causing any one, either the Council of Churches or Sir Frederick Stewart, to lose £300 a week is inaccurate. The facts are that in June, 1932, a licence . was granted to the Council of Churches in New South Wales for a broadcasting station. Some time after the service commenced, it was ascertained that the conduct of the service was being under taken ‘by a company known as the Council of Churches Broadcasting Company, of which Mr. F. H. Stewart was a governing director. The attention of the licensee - the Council of Churches - was drawn to the irregular and unauthorized arrangement, reference being made to wireless telegraphy regulation 4 (6), which reads as follows: -
Except with the consent in writing of the Fostmaster-Ceneral or an authorized officer a licensee shall not assign, sub-let or otherwise dispose of, or admit any other person orfirm to participation in, any of the benefits of the licence, powers or authority granted.
This communication was not answered for some time, but subsequently an application was received for permission to transfer the ownership of the station to Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited. It was pointed out to both the Council of Churches and to Sir Frederick Stewart that consent to the previous transaction had not up to that time been obtained. On the 11th March, 1935, the department received a communication from the Council of Churches announcing the passing of control. Sir Frederick Stewart also notified the department of this fact, and the matter was brought under my notice on that occasion. It was pointed out that Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited had a number of stations, and that the transfer might conflict with the new regulations which were at that time being drafted, but which had not been gazetted. Permission for the transfer was accordingly held up, and, in view of the close relations which had previously existed between - Sir Frederick Stewart and members of the Government, I took the precaution to bring the matter before Cabinet and obtain a Cabinet decision. It was decided to await further representations from Sir Frederick Stewart that it is a matter from abroad. I cannot see how this has caused a loss of £300 a week to the Council of Churches. I understand from Sir Frederick Stewart that it is a matter of extreme indifference to him whether the transfer is allowed to go through or not. In making my recommendation to the Cabinet, I shall bring under its notice such facts as I have concerning the control by the proposed transferee of any other broadcasting stations, and, in the light of all of the information available, a decision will be made. The way in which the matter has been presented in the newspaper article referred to is not only inaccurate, but, 1 think, designedly misleading.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce, the following questions, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -
The following papers were presented : -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determination by the Arbitrator,&c. - No. 22 of 1935 - Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia.
Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act - Report of the Repatriation Commission for the year ended 30th June, 1935.
Senator A. J. McLACHLAN tabled reports and recommendations by the Tariff Board on the following subjects : -
Household Vacuum Cleaners.
Wall and Ceiling Boards.
[10.8].- -I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
I appeal to honorable senators, in view of the general desire that we shall conclude our business to-day, to avoid as far as possible in their speeches going over the ground that was covered last night during the debate on the Wheat and Wheat’ Products Bill. This bill deals with only another phase of the same subject. Commonwealth and State Ministers, meeting as the Australian Agricultural Council in October last, passed a resolution approving of the Commonwealth plan for securing a homeconsumption price for wheat, and urging that, if insuperable obstacles should unfortunately delay the implementing of the plan for the coming harvest, the flour tax should be temporarily re-imposed to enable a home-consumption price to be paid. The Commonwealth Government has all along desired that a homeconsumption price should be obtainable for the present harvest, and its policy has been directed to that end. In order to bring this about, however, it was necessary that complementary legislation should be passed by the State Parliaments. In fact, the State legislation is much more important to the scheme than the Commonwealth legislation. The Commonwealth gave an early earnest of its desire to put this scheme into effect when it introduced the necessary legislation into the Parliament, ‘ but it became . obvious that it was useless to proceed with the legislation until the necessary complementary legislation had been introduced in the State Parliaments. Up to the present, New South Wales and Queensland have passed their legislation, and the New South Wales act fixesa date next year when it shall come into force. I remind honorable senators that this date was fixed not at the request of the Commonwealth Government. The Victorian Government has introduced its bill, which has passed through the lower House, but it was not introduced in time to be passed through both Houses. In the South Australian Parliament, the bill has been read a first time. In the Western Australian Parliament, the bill has been introduced, while Tasmania has not taken any action. It has become obvious, therefore, that the scheme cannot be put into operation for the present season, but that is not the fault of the Commonwealth, nor was it the result of any delay on the part of the Commonwealth. In view of these facts, it is proposed in this bill, and in the associated taxing bills, to re-impose the flour tax temporarily.
The bill provides for a continuance of the flour tax after the 6th January, 1936, its present date of termination until a date to be proclaimed. By this flexible provision the flour tax can be made to terminate upon the inauguration of the Commonwealth plan without special legislation being introduced for that purpose.
Several alternatives were considered. One of these was to extend the flour tax for a fixed period, say, to the 30th June, 1936, subject to termination by proclamation at an earlier date, if desired. The weakness of that would lie in the possibility that the Commonwealth plan would not be ready for inauguration upon the expiration of the fixed period. Another alternative proposed was that the flour tax should apply to all flour produced from wheat harvested prior to the 1936-37 harvest, which harvest should mark the initial application of the Commonwealth plan. Upon examination, this proposal proved to be impracticable owing to the position which would arise through confusion of wheat and flour stocks during any concurrent marketing of 1936-37 and 1935-36 wheat. To-day products produced from the wheat of this and the previous harvest are being sold simultaneously, and as a similar position is likely to recur next year, it would be impracticable to determine in which season the flour used in any goods had been gristed. Therefore, this latter alternative would be administratively impracticable.
There is an amendment in clause 5 of the bill for the repeal of sub-sections 7 and8 of section 24. These sub-sections authorize refunds of tax paid on flour held in stock at the close of business on the 6th January, 1936, the terminating date of the present tax. No provision is made for the authorization of refunds of tax paid on flour which will he held in stock on the date to be proclaimed for the termination of proposed tax, because the proposals in this bill are essentially associated with the Commonwealth wheat plan, and they must be regarded as the first step taken in a continuous scheme to secure a home-consumption price for wheat for an indefinite period of time. The continuity of that scheme would be broken by any provision for the refund of tax paid on closing stocks of flour.
This bill, of course, provides the same extension of the tax on imported goods as on flour produced in Australia. Opportunity is also taken to provide for two minor matters, viz. -
Several cases have arisen in which, owing to intermediary transactions between the manufacturer and the exporter, it has not been legally possible to make the intended refunds. Honorable senators will see that the general purport of the bill is to continue flour tax to secure revenue from which grants can be made to the States for the relief of the wheatgrowers, and to continue such grants until a more permanent relief is provided by the fixation of a home-consumption price. It is desired to avoid a hiatus between the old and the new schemes of relief.
Legislation embodying the principle of a flour tax having already been placed on the statute-book I anticipate that there will not be a lengthy discussion on this measure, as this would involve going over ground which has already been covered ; and I assume that no party in this chamber desires to see a hiatus between the termination of the old system and the inauguration of the new system of providing relief for the wheat-growers. The new system is to be made to apply to the new harvest.
– Without attempting to discuss thi3 hill at any length, the Opposition desires to register again its disapproval of the flour tax as a method of providing relief to necessitous wheat-growers. We regard the flour tax as a bread tax which presses more heavily on the workers of Australia than upon any other section of the people, because they cannot afford to huy any of the many substitutes for bread which people in better circumstances have no difficulty in purchasing. This is all I have to say on this matter.
has reminded honorable senators that his party opposes a flour tax because it regards it as a bread tax. I remind him that the provision of a home-consumption price of 4s. 9d. a bushel through a compulsory pool would increase the price of bread more than will a flour tax of £2 12s. 6d. a ton. The Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) has pointed out that a home-consumption price cannot be provided for by legislation this year, because the States have procrastinated. The State governments must shoulder the blame for the fact that owing to their delay in passing legislation, the farmers of Australia will lose approximately £500,000 which they stood to gain from the fixation of a home-consumption price for their wheat. I know that the South Australian Government has been largely responsible for holding ut» this matter. I am satisfied that had the governments of the various States enacted the required legislation immediately, as their representatives who attended the conference recently held in Canberra promised would be done, a homeconsumption price for wheat could have been applied to the present harvest. Because of their procrastination, for which in some States outside interests have been responsible, the means for fixing a homeconsumption price cannot be secured for another twelve months. Consequently, I repeat, the wheat-farmers of Australia stand to lose £500,000, unless, of course, the Commonwealth Government steps into the breach and makes good that loss. However, we cannot expect it to do so, because it is free from any blame in this connexion. Meanwhile, I remind the Leader of the Opposition that the flour tax would need to be increased from £2 12s. 6d. to £3 10s. a ton to provide the equivalent of a homesumption price of 4s. 9d. a bushel for wheat. The consumers of bread will, therefore, be less severely hit by this scheme than by a’ scheme for the provision of a home-consumption price of 4s. 9d. through the establishment of a compulsory pool.
– When this subject was being discussed in this chamber a year ago, Senator O’Halloran outlined a complete scheme showing how a pool could be inaugurated and a good home-consumption price paid to the wheat-growers, without increasing the price of bread.
– A hom-consump-tion price could not be fixed without also affecting the price of bread.
– We contend that, at some stage between the producer and the consumer of bread, exploitation takes place and that this could be overcome if the industry were properly organized and the distribution of its product were controlled.
We contend, however, that a flour tax is unjust because it presses most heavily on that section of the community which is least able to bear it. Discussing the principle of the flour tax, Sir Henry Gullett said -
I object to the bread tax on the ground that it is a benighted, mean and cruel tax against the people of humble means in this country.
The whole of Sir Henry Gullett’s speech constituted a severe criticism of the flour tax. One would have thought that owing to the buoyancy of its revenue, the Government would have adopted some method other than a flour tax to secure the money necessary to relieve necessitous wheat-growers. We hope that it will not be long before thorough and proper means are put into operation to give full justice to the wheat-growers without, at the same time, increasing the burdens upon the poorer people of Australia.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
[10.30].- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
This measure merely continues until a date to . be fixed by proclamation the existing tax of £2 12s.. 6d. a ton on flour manufactured in Australia by any person and sold by him, or used ‘by him in the manufacture of goods.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and reported from committee without requests or debate; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) proposed -
That the bill be now read a third time.
– Is it proposed to administer the legislation passed in the interests of the wheat-growers on the same lines as last year ? Although the system is not perfect, I believe that it gave general satisfaction to those engaged in the industry.
– That subject cannot : be discussed on this measure.
.- This bill provides merely for the collection of revenue, but I understand that an amendment of the Financial Belief Act will be introduced later to provide the means by which the money raised by the flour tax will he distributed to the wheatgrowers.
– This measure does not provide for the distribution of money. -Senator E. B. JOHNSTON.- I would courteously ask the Minister whether another measure is to be introduced before the adjournment to provide for the method of distribution?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for External to answer the point raised by Senator Johnston on this bill, because you, sir, would rule the discussion out of order. This measure does not provide for the distribution of money raised by the flour tax ; it deals merely with the collection of revenue.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
[10.37].- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
The bill just passed provides for the imposition of a sales tax on flour manufactured in Australia. This measure imposes, until a date to be fixed by proclamation, a tax of £2 12s. 6d. a ton on imported flour and on flour contained in imported goods.
– I trust that, before the Senate rises to-day for the Christmas vacation, we shall be told how the money raised under the flour tax legislation is to be distributed amongst the wheat-growers, and that the distribution will be made promptly. I hope that funds which the Commonwealth will distribute from its abundant revenue, and from the amount collected under these measures, will be an amount similar to that distributed last year, and that at least 3d. a bushel and 3s. an acre will be made available.
– I rise to a point of order. I ask, sir, whether on a hill which provides for the imposition of a sales tax upon flour until a date fixed by proclamation, it is competent for an honorable senator to discuss at length the method by which the money is to be distributed.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch). - This measure empowers the Government to raise money by a certain specified means, and I think that it is competent for any honorable senator to ask how the money to be raised is to be distributed. I therefore rule that Senator Johnston is in order.
– I trust that the money will be spent in giving assistance equal to that granted to the industry last year, and that the wheatfarmers will receive the consideration which they deserve. The Senate is about to rise for an indefinite period, but the wheat-growers have no idea of the extent to which they are to be assisted. The Senate is being asked to approve of the raising of nearly £2,000,000.
– Not under this bill.
– Last year £4,000,000 was allocated from the overflowing revenue in the Treasury, and I trust that a similar amount will be made available this year. Unfortunately, a number of wheat-growers are experiencing drought conditions, particularly the new settlers in the eastern districts of Western Australia. I understand that over £500,000 will be required in that State to relieve the wheat-growers, who, owing to climatic conditions, are suffering greater hardships this year than they did last year. Provision should also be made for the payment of 3d. a bushel on a production basis, or 3s. an acre on an area basis. I urge the Government to arrange that the money to be raised under this measure shall be distributed at least on the same basis as last year and that special help will be given to the drought-stricken areas.
– Does it not follow that the distribution will be made on the same lines as last year ?
– I have not been so told by the Government, although I have asked question after question in efforts to obtain this information. If the honorable senator will bring pressure on one of the Ministers to give an assurance that the distribution made last year will be followed this year, I shall be pleased to resume my seat immediately. I am glad that the Parliament is passing this bill, providing machinery for the raising of money for the assistance of the wheat industry, but we should also be in the possession of knowledge a3 to how that money is to be distributed. If honorable senators leave Canberra to-night without this information from the Commonwealth Government, and without passing legislation to distribute this money amongst the growers, it will “not be through lack of effort on my part to get it. Parliament should not adjourn until we have legislated for the relief of distressed wheatgrowers.
– The wording of this bill answers a number of Senator Johnston’s inquiries, but I have yet to hear from my colleague from Western Australia one of the true reasons why this bill is necessary. Early this morning I interjected while Senator Johnston was speaking on a similar measure in an endeavour to induce the honorable senator to reveal the actual reasons which compel the re-imposition of the flour tax. Senator Johnston went to great pains to answer my question in his own way, but he did not answer yes or no when I asked him if a great deal of the blame for the delay in implementing the Commonwealth plan for a homeconsumption price for wheat was due to inaction by State governments. Had it not been for dilatoriness on the. part of the Governments of Western Australia and South Australia, this bill would not have been necessary. Senator Johnston is very fond of placing on the Commonwealth Government the blame for the postponement of legislation to secure to the farmers a home-consumption ‘ price, but for this he has no justification. No one knows better than we, who come from a State of which wheat is the lifeblood, that it may not have been necessary to re-impose the flour tax if the Western Australian Government had toed the line as it agreed to do at the meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council.
It is very easy for Senator Johnston, in apportioning the blame, to debit the Commonwealth Government with most of it, but it is, nevertheless, unjust. The Commonwealth Government sometimes should be given credit for doing rightIt cannot always be wrong or verging on dishonesty, as is sometimes insinuated. I suggest to Senator Johnston that at least to his own State colleagues he should indicate whether or not he is trying to shelter the State Government of Western Australia. It would appear from the fact that he refrained from answering interjections dealing with the State Government’s part, or, as is the truth, its failure to take a part, in the programme for the’ assistance of the wheat industry that he holds a brief for that Government. I have no hesitation in saying that, in this instance, the Commonwealth Government has. acted to the best of its ability within the bounds imposed uon it by circumstances, but that it could have done better, not only for the States, but also for the individual fanners, had all the States carried out their part of the legislative contract.
The rc-imposition of the flour tax must affect every wheat-grower in the Commonwealth. Senator Badman computed that they would lose £500,000, that being the difference between what they will receive from the flour tax this season and what would have been available had the plan for a-home-consumption price been adopted in sufficient time by the parties to the agreement for it . to operate this season. I should like to know from the Government what actual loss will be incurred by the wheat-growers. Will it be as great as Senator Badman has suggested?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for External Affairs) [10.50]. - in reply-It is obvious that the Government at this stage cannot indicate the basis upon which the’ proceeds of the flour tax will be distributed to the wheat industry. If honorable senators will think for a moment, they will realize why this is so. First, there are no reliable estimates as to the amount of money that will be available. It is all very well for Senator Johnston to ask questions and offer criticism; he has no responsibility and, of course, can make it appear that he could settle this question offhand in one minute. Any honorable senator who troubles to think, however, knows that the distribution of a wheat bounty is always governed by certain factors, one of which is the quantity of the Australian crop. If the crop be heavy, and the sum available limited, the distribution must be at a rate less than if the crop be small. -Can Senator Johnston tell the Senate what is the acreage of the crops which have failed? I venture the opinion that neither he nor any other honorable senator can supply that information. It is easy to get up and earn a. great deal of popularity by making rash statements that the Commonwealth Government must come to the rescue of those farmers who have failed.
– In New South Wales, it would be impossible at present to calculate the acreage covered by crops which have failed.
– The Commonwealth Government is the only genuine friend of the wheatgrowers. It has shown itself so in the past, and I suggest to Senator Johnston that he should take a little more generous view of the attitude of the Commonwealth Government, instead of assuming, as he always does, ungenerosity on its part. The honorable senator cannot indicate one action by the Commonwealth Government that displays an unfriendly spirit towards the farmers. How can the Commonwealth Government commit itself at this stage, if it is not aware of the extent of the harvest and more particularly the acreage of the crops which have failed ?
I consulted the Minister for Commerce (Dr. Earle Page), who said that it was totally impossible to say now on what basis the distribution of relief will be made for the current wheat harvest. It is the intention of the Government, before deciding on the distribution, to consult with the representatives of the wheatgrowers themselves as to the basis and method of distribution. I can say no more than that. I cannot say how the money is to be distributed or what amount, if any, is to be made available in respect of crops which have, failed. I repeat that this Government has shown itself not to be unfriendly towards the farmers, and, if Senator Johnston is not prepared to trust the Government to act in the interests of the farmers, I venture the opinion that the farmers themselves are prepared to do so.
– I sought this information, and the Minister said that he could not give it, hut now he has given it.
– I have not given the information which the honorable senator sought. I have repeated my earlier statements that I could not give it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
[10.57].- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of the bill, whose chief benefit to the taxpayers will be that it will save them a lot of time and worry, is to provide one self-contained classified and numerically itemized schedule, covering the whole of the sales tax exemptions, in place of the many unclassified and disjointed provisions, relating to exemptions, which are contained in the various acts, regulations and proclamations of the existing law. To-day it is almost impossible to know what is exempted and what is not. When this bill is passed there will be in the one act a handy compendium of the exemptions, and the people will know where they stand.
The enactment of the bill will effect a statutory reform of great importance and value. The existing law relating to exemptions is not classified in any ordered way, and is to be found in -
Contemplating that list, one ceases to wonder why the tax hasbeen unpopular. The real wonder is that it has not led to revolution.
– It is a wonder that we have not had to erect additional, mental hospitals as the result of it.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The advantages accruing from the replacement of all those provisions by a single classified schedule should be selfevident. It is obvious that one consolidated and classified schedule of all exemptions, in lieu of multifarious enactments, regulations and proclamations will, in the first place, have an informative value of its own; secondly, it will save much public and departmental time and expense, and avoid inconvenience in ascertaining what goods are covered by the exemptions; and, lastly, it will greatly facilitate the issue of departmental rulings and the presentation and handling of claims for exemptions generally.
Many other advantages could be specified, but probably the most important of all will be found in the simplification of amendments of the law relating to exemptions. With a consolidated schedule in existence it is anticipated that about 90 per cent, of the work and cost involved in preparing . legislation on exemptions will be saved, and it will then be possible to present such legislation to Parliament and to the general public in a form that will be easily understood.
Upon the passage of this bill, it is proposed to print, for the convenience of the public, copies of the measure containing an index to the items in the schedule, and also a short table of contents setting out the divisions of the schedule. These divisions, which represent the broad groups into which the exemptions are classified, are as follows : -
Division I. - Agricultural machinery, implements, equipment, and materials. (Note. - This is a very broad group, which includes, various sub-groups associated with wheatfarming, sheep-farming, dairy-farming, poultry-farming, bee-keeping, fruitgrowing, dried fruit industry. &c. )
Division II. - Mining machinery and equipment.
Division III. - Fishing and pearling machinery and equipment. Division IV. - Irrigation, water supply, drainage and sewerage equipment.
Division V. - Primary products.
Division VI. - Foodstuffs, beverages and tobacco.
Division VII. - Drugs, medicines and surgical goods.
Division VIII. - Fuel, power, and light. Division IX. - Books, printed matter, and paper.
Division X. - Scientific, educational and religious goods, and works of art.
Division XI. - Goods for use by governments, representatives of governments, and public bodies.
Division XII. - Building materials.
Division XIII. - Containers.
Division XIV. - Manufactures of small businesses.
Division XV. - Miscellaneous.
The bill is a consolidation of the exemptions contained in the existing law, and is designed neither to extend nor to curtail those exemptions. Honorable senators are asked to recognize this fact, and not to look upon the bill as an opportunity to press for further exemptions, particularly as it is only a few weeks since substantial additions were made to the list of exemptions. The consolidation necessarily involved considerable alterations of the form and terms of many exemptions, but the definite assurance is given that all goods at present exempt from sales tax will continue to be exempt after the bill becomes law. Whilst it is not a part of the design of the bill to extend the exemptions now operating, many of the anomalous features of the existing law will be removed by the re-expression of a number of items to include parts, accessories, fittings, attachments, &c, of- goods already exempt, as, for’ example, item 13 (2) and (3) or to cover goods . having precisely the same uses as goods already exempt, such as item 35 (117). Apart from these cases, additions to the list of exemptions have been made only where it has been found necessary to remove doubts as to the application of some existing item, such as item 7 (10), which is added solely because of the doubt as to the application of the existing exemption of “ dairy utensils “ ; and item 16 (1), which re-expresses the existing exemption of boats for the fishing industry to remove doubt as to whether “ oars, sails,” &c, are parts of boats.
The bill will be supplemented by another measure for the purpose of repealing, with suitable saving clauses, the various exemptions which are at present in force, and which will be entirely replaced by “the provisions of this bill.
This measure has been introduced! solely as a measure of reform. Its value for that purpose should be apparent. It is the result of months of the most careful and expert study. Hence, any hastily conceived amendments of its form or content, however well-intended, would possibly prove to be acts of disservice to the community. In the circumstances, it is confidently anticipated that the bill will be accepted and passed as it now stands.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
[11.8].- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill is introduced for two purposes only; first, to discontinue the requirement of sales tax securities and, secondly, to make those amendments of the Sales Tax Assessment Acts which are consequential upon the provisions of the Sales Tax Exemptions Bill which have already been explained to honorable senators. The Government has given full consideration to the possibility of dispensing with securities for sales tax purposes. Having examined the position, it proposes to abolish the existing provisions of the law relating to securities, so that it will not be incumbent upon taxpayers generally to give further securities. Those securities which have already been given, and are still current, will remain in force only for the purposes of outstanding liabilities arising from transactions prior to the commencement of the proposed amendments. There will be no liability under those securities in respect of transactions effected on and after the date of commencement of the proposed amendments.
Whilst the general requirement of securities from all taxpayers is to be discontinued, it is proposed that power shall be vested in the Commissioner to require the lodgment of securities by individual taxpayers, where, in his opinion, such action is necessary for the protection of the revenue. This power will be exercised by the Commissioner only in rare cases in which there is evidence of default on the part of the taxpayer. In the vast majority of cases, it has not been found necessary to enforce securities in the past, as the taxpayers concerned regularly and faithfully comply with their obligations under the law. Such persons will not be required to lodge further securities. The remaining clauses of the bill are designed merely to omit from the Sales Tax Assessment Acts all the provisions relating to exemptions, in view of the consolidation of all of those provisions in the Sales Tax Exemptions Bill.
Having regard to the benefits which will accrue to taxpayers generally under these proposals, I am sure that the bill will commend itself to honorable senators.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill is one of two measures which are being introduced in relation to the imposition of levies on primary produce exported from the Commonwealth. The Primary Produce Export Charges Bill and the Primary Produce Export Organization Bill are being brought down with the object of enabling certain primary industries, which are properly organized on an Australia-wide basis, to obtain funds for use in connexion with overseas trade publicity, scientific research, and for any other object which the Minister is satisfied is likely to be of material benefit to the industries concerned. Prior to September, 1927, fees were imposed by regulations made under the Customs Act 1901-1930 and the Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act 1905- 1933 on meat, dairy produce, fruit - fresh, canned and dried - and other primary products, to meet the cost of the Commonwealth inspection service. The moneys so collected (approximately £36,000 per annum) were paid into revenue. In September, 1927, it was decided by the Government then in power to abolish these inspection fees, with the object of affording some measure of relief to the primary producers concerned. In 1922 an organization known as the Australian Dairy Council was established by the then Minister for Trade and Customs. This body has continued to function, but under the proposed reorganization of the Dairy Produce Control Board, it is intended to transfer the council’s functions to the newlyconstituted Dairy Produce Board. In view of this fact, it will no longer be necessary to provide funds for the Australian Dairy Council, and it is not proposed, therefore, to impose under this bill the levies which were previously collected for financing that body. The levies at. present in operation amount to id. on each box of butter and crate of cheese exported. In 1931, an inspection fee equivalent to 2d. a case of eggs submitted for export was imposed by regulations under the customs and commerce acts, at the request of the Australian egg industry. The money so derived, which amounted to £6,035 during the year ended the 30th June, 1935, has been used by the Egg Producers Council for advertising Australian eggs in Great Britain under the. Commonwealth’s trade publicity scheme, and for administrative -expenses and research purposes. During 1931, the Australian Apple and Pear Export Council, which is a representative Australia-wide organization of apple and pear growers and exporters, made a similar request for the imposition of a fee of gd. a case of apples and pears delivered for export. This was agreed to and operated on and from the 1st January, 1932. The funds so provided, which amounted to £7,409 for the 1935 season, are being used for overseas trade publicity, and the general administrative expenses of the council. “With the cancellation of the contributions to the Australian Dairy Council, it is proposed to repeal all the regulations under which these various charges have been made, and to reimpose the charges on eggs, apples and pears by means of the present bill. The regulations will be repealed as from the date when the act comes into operation. Clause 3 of the bill provides for the imposition of a charge on eggs, apples and pears exported. The levies on butter and cheese are not included as, with the abolition of the Australian Dairy Council, it will not be necessary to collect funds for that body in future. The maximum rates of levy set out in clause 3 coincide with the rates at present imposed as inspection fees under the Commerce Export Regulations. The maximum rates of levy may be reduced by regulation, but cannot be increased except with the sanction of Parliament, i.e. by an amendment of the act. Power is given in clause 4 of the bill to discontinue by proclamation the collection of any levy, on report to the Minister by the prescribed organization concerned. This provision is necessary, or otherwise the levy would have to be collected until such time as the act could be amended.
In the event of any organizations, other than those which may be prescribed in accordance with the provisions of this bill, being desirous of building up a fund for similar purposes, and producing satisfactory evidence that a substantial majority of the producers concerned is in favour of the establishment of the fund, Parliament will be asked to authorize the imposition of further levies ‘ in respect of the commodities which come within the jurisdiction of such organizations. Honorable senators will appreciate that the moneys derived by way of these levies are being expended entirely in the interests of the primary producers. Advertising in the overseas markets, particularly in the United Kingdom, is essential in order to find an outlet for the increased surplus production of many of our primary products. Scientific research has already done much to control insect pests and other diseases to which some of our products are. subject, and organizations of primary producers in Australia are generally prepared to contribute towards the cost of further research work in this direction.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
[11.25]. - by leave/ - I desire to inform honorable senators that the Government has received from AirCommodore Sydney Smith, Air Officer Commanding Singapore, a report on the search operations carried out under his direction for Sir Charles Kingsford Smith and Mr. Pethybridge.
The report shows that Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, accompanied by Mr. John Thompson Pethybridge, was attempting a record flight from England to Australia in a single-engined Lockheed Altair aeroplane. Reports from the Government of India show that before leaving Allahabad at 125S hours Greenwich mean time on the 7th November, he announced his intention of flying nonstop to Singapore, but passing over Dum Dum (Calcutta) and Rangoon aerodromes. His aircraft was observed to pass over Dum Dum and is believed to have been sighted over Rangoon at 1900 hours Greenwich mean time. Mr. Charles James Melrose, who was also flying to Australia at the time, reported having been passed by an aeroplane flying in a direct line from Rangoon to Mergui when 150 miles south-east of Rangoon, at 2000 hours Greenwich mean time, on the 7th November, 1935 (2.30 a.m. local time, on the 8th November, 1935). Sir Charles Kingsford Smith’s was the only other machine in the air in this vicinity at the time, and this is the last definite information available regarding his aircraft.
As soon as it was reported overdue at Singapore, the Commonwealth Government requested the Air Officer Commanding Singapore to institute a search for the missing airmen. He had, however, already acted on his own initiative. When the aircraft was four hours overdue he circulated information regarding it to all shipping and aircraft, port authorities, State and other civil officers, and police and railway officials throughout Malaya, Siam, and Burma. At dawn on the following morning, the 9th November, two Royal Air Force flying boats and two bomber aircraft commenced to search, and during the following ten days between six and eleven Royal Air Force machines searched continuously over all likely courses between Rangoon and Singapore, and made a close examination of all islands off the west coast of the Malay Peninsula. A Qantas machine based at Singapore was chartered by the Government to assist in the search of jungle areas, and Mr. G. J. Melrose, with commendable spirit, abandoned his attempted record-breaking flight to Australia in order to take part in the search. In addition to these comprehensive air searches, ground search parties were organized to examine jungle areas, and difficult country south of a line from Tavoy to Bangkok, which could not be covered by air observation. With the object of inducing the natives to undertake searches additional to those officially organized, the Commonwealth Government offered a reward of £500 for information that would lead to the discovery of the missing airmen, and the Australian Flying Corps Association of New South Wales later offered to supplement this reward by an amount of £100. Details of these rewards were widely promulgated throughout the Malay Peninsula, in appropriate languages, by wireless broadcasts through district officers, and by some 50,000 pamphlets dropped from the air. The Government has not considered expense in having everything humanly possible done to locate the missing airmen. None of the many suggestions made has been ignored, and each report likely to have even the remotest bearing on their whereabouts has been thoroughly investigated.
Some 28 days have now elapsed since Sir Charles Kingsford Smith and Mr. Pethybridge disappeared; and as the comprehensive air and ground searches have failed to find any trace of either them or their aircraft, the Government is regretfully forced to the conclusion that there is now very little hope of their being found alive. The Government’s offer of a reward for information will, nevertheless, remain open. Ground search operations are being continued, and Air-Commodore Sydney Smith has informed me that no effort will be spared until the whole area has been covered, as far as is practicable.
Although honorable senators are conversant with the outstanding achievements of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith in aviation, I should like to refer briefly to some details of his wonderful flying career. Enlisting in the Australian Imperial Force in 1915, he later transferred to the Royal Flying Corps, and qualified as a pilot in May, 1917. He was wounded in aerial combat in France, and was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry then displayed. For a short time after the war he was engaged in flying in America. His connexion with commercial aviation in Australia commenced in 1921. For two years he was chief pilot of West Australian Airways, and in 1927 he formed his famous association with the late Mr. Charles T. P. Ulm. After some notable flights together in Australia, they completed in June, 1928, their world-famed trans-Pacific flight in the Southern Cross, from San Francisco to Brisbane, in 83£ hours’ flying time. This was the first time the Pacific had been spanned by air, and the flight was justly acclaimed at the time as the most ‘brilliant feat in flying and air navigation in the history of aviation. This achievement was suitably recognized by the Commonwealth Government, and gained for Kingsford Smith the Air Force Cross.
After record-breaking, non-stop flights between Melbourne and Perth, the first Tasman Sea crossing was made by Kingsford Smith and Ulm in September, 1928. Early in 1929, they made a record flight to England of slightly under thirteen days. Together they formed Australian National Airways, and for some time operated regular air services between Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart and Brisbane. Kingsford Smith’s next big achievement was a flight across the Atlantic, and on to San Francisco, thus completing his circuit of the world by air. All these big flights were carried out in the famous Southern Cross, which was recently acquired by the Commonwealth Government.
In 1930, Kingsford Smith established a new record by flying solo from England to Australia in nine and a half days, and in 1931 he made some spectacular flights in the conveyance of air mails between Australia and England. He was appointed an Honorary Air-Commodore in the Royal Australian Air Force on the 1st November, 1930, and his noteworthy performances in connexion with civil flying wore recognized by His Majesty theKing, who in June, 1932, bestowed upon him the Order of Knighthood. In October, 1933, he gained the EnglandAustralia air record with a flight in seven days four hours, and held it for twelve months. In 1934, he made many record flights within Australia, and with Captain P. G. Taylor as co-pilot, again flew across the Pacific from Brisbane to San Francisco. On this occasion he used a single-engined aircraft, and this flight must be regarded as one of his most daring and striking achievements.
Kingsford Smith was lost while attempting to break the record established during the centenary air race last year. He had flown six times between Australia and England, three of these flights being record-breaking ones, and he was the first to fly across the Tasman Sea. He holds the unique and wonderful record of being the pilot of the only aircraft to cross the Pacific Ocean between America and Australia, and he was the only airman to traverse it by air in both directions. It is difficult to assess the value of Kingsford Smith’s services to the development of civil aviation, not only in Australia, but also throughout the world. Certainly his supremacy as the greatest long-distance flier has remained unchallenged for many years. Australian airmen had an enviable record during the Great “War, and in the annals of post-war aviation the names of Hawker, Ross Smith and Hinkler, to mention only a few Australians, will always figure prominently. I doubt, however, whether the name of any pilot is entitled to be held in higher esteem for his services to the cause of aviation than is that of Air-Commodore Sir Charles Kingsford Smith.
Mr. J. T. Pethybridge had also been closely identified with aviation for many years. After serving with the Royal Australian Air Force for three years, he joined the Kingsford Smith organization in 1929, qualified as a pilot shortly, afterwards, and accompanied Kingsford Smith on several of his flights between Australia and New Zealand. Being a qualified aircraft engineer and flying instruc tor, as well as a highly experienced commercial pilot, he was a valued representative of the aviation industry in Australia. I move -
That this Senate:
Expresses its deep regret at the loss of Air-Commodore Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, M.C., D.F.C., and Mr. John Thompson Pethybridge when the aircraft in which they were flying to Australia, disappeared between Rangoon and Singapore on the 8th November, 1935;
Places on record its high appreciation of the unique and valuable services extending over many years rendered by Sir Charles Kingsford Smith to civil aviation in Australia, not only by his many brilliant pioneer and record-breaking flights, but also by his activities in connexion with the operation of regular airtransport services and the maintenance of a flying training organization;
Tenders to the widows and families of the missing airmen its profound sympathy in the irreparable loss they have sustained; and
Thanks all governments, civil organizations, officials and other persons who assisted in carrying out the comprehensive air and ground searches made for the missing airmen.
In connexion with the last portion of this motion, I should like to refer particularly to the assistance received from the following: -
His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom, which approved of Royal Air Force aircraft undertaking the search;
The Government of India, which arranged wireless broadcasts, and collected valuable information regarding the missing airmen’s movements across India ;
The British Minister at Bangkok for his personal interest and wholehearted assistance;
The Siamese Government, which unhesitatingly permitted Royal Air Force aircraft to operate over Siamese territory, and organized searches by ground parties ; and
Air Commodore Sydney W. Smith, O.B.E., Air Officer Commanding, Royal Air Force, Singapore, and all officers and airmen of the Royal Air Force who took part in the searches.
Air-Commodore Smith ordered the search to commence immediately the aircraft was reported overdue, and he accepted responsibility for the organization and direction of the extensive air and ground searches undertaken. His difficulties in conducting these operations were intensified by the lack of definite information regarding the itinerary of the missing airmen. Air-Commodore Smith exhibited a keen desire to meet the Government’s wishes in every way, and had a sympathetic understanding of the anxiety felt by all Australians for news of the missing airmen. As an instance of this,, he prolonged the searches by Royal Air Force aircraft for many days after he had expressed the opinion that further air searches would be of no avail. A word of commendation is also due to the crews of the Royal Air Force machines who maintained their systematic investigation of the area often under bad weather conditions, and at no little risk when flying single-engined machines over jungle areas, and difficult, mountainous country.
The thanks of the Government are also tendered to -
Mr. Charles James Melrose, who abandoned an attempted recordmaking flight to Australia to take part in the search ;
The Straits Steamship Company, which diverted one of its steamers, and landed boats’ crews at Sayer Island to investigate certain reports ;
Mr. E. L. Miles, Manager, Satupulo Tin Mines, who displayed keen, personal interest, and was particularly helpful in organizing ground search parties; and
Qantas Empire Airways, which readily agreed to their reserve aircraft at Singapore being placed at the disposal of the air officer commanding, and utilized as he considered desirable, particularly in the search over jungle areas.
– I willingly second the motion, though I deeply regret theoccasion for it. No event in recent years has moved the people of Australia to more profound sorrow than has the loss of the two airmen to whom this motion refers. It is not necessary for me to express admiration of the wonderful achievements of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith. They were admirably covered in the eulogy delivered by the Leader of the Government (Senator Pearce). It seems that always the heroes of the air make just one night too many, and then we have to mourn their passing. I am sure that all honorable senators, and those whom they represent - the people of Australia - will support this motion, which records our regret at the passing of two great aviators, and our sympathy with their families who must have suffered intensely during the last four weeks.
– On behalf of the members of the United Country party I support the motion, and I desire to express our sense of the nation’s loss in the passing of such distinguished Australians as Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, and his companion, Mr. Pethybridge. It can be said that in Sir Charles Kingsford Smith Australia had the uncrowned king of the air. His charming personality endeared him to every one with whom he came in contact, and his courage and crusading spirit captured the imagination of the people. I am merely echoing the sentiments of the public when I say that the nation mourns the passing of these men. If one day Australia possesses a hall of fame, I am confident that, inscribed in a prominent place therein, will be the names of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith and his comrade, Mr. Pethybridge.
Motion agreed to, honorable senators standing in their places.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) agreed to -
That the foregoing resolutions respectively be transmitted to those concerned, together with a copy of the speeches delivered in connexion with them.
– I move -
That the hill be now read a second time.
The object of this bill is to enable the Government to pay, out of Consolidated Revenue, to industry organizations the moneys collected under the Primary Produce Export Charges Act. For some years, certain of our export industries have been paying a levy on goods exported, and this levy has been used by industry councils, established on a voluntary basis, for the benefit of the industries concerned. Thus the levy on eggs exported has been used by the Egg Export Council, and the levy on apples and pears by the Apple and Pear Export Council, for oversea trade publicity, research work, and such other purposes as are approved and are for the benefit of the respective industries. Provision for the continuance of the export levies on eggs, apples and pears, is made in the Primary Produce Export Charges Bill, which the Senate passed this morning. The Government desires that these levies shall still be handed over to the voluntary organizations established by those industries and be used by them for the benefit of producers. This bill provides also that separate accounts relating to these moneys shall be kept by the organizations, and that such accounts shall be subject to audit by the Commonwealth AuditorGeneral. It is considered that thi expenditure of any moneys collected by the Commonwealth, even when collected from and on behalf of a particular industry, should be subject to this review by the Auditor-General. There is nothing contentious in the bill.
.- I am not quite sure that honorable senators realize the full significance of this measure. The Minister said that it was not contentious, and, in effect, that it does not mean very much at all. Actually, it rings the death knell of the Australian Dairy Council; as a matter of fact in dealing with this measure at this juncture the Minister is ordering the coffin before the body is dead. This bill is premature. The least the Government could have done was to have waited until the Dairy Produce Export Control Bill had been dealt with. This measure will deprive the Australian Dairy Council of the whole of its funds, and leave it stranded and faced with extinction. In following this course, the Government is wiping out one of ‘the most useful bodies which has yet operated in .the dairying industry in Australia. It was created in 1922.
– I suggest that if the honorable senator would prefer to debate the other bill first, he should ask for leave to continue his remarks.
– I ask leave to continue my remarks at a later hour.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Brennan) read a first time.
– I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
I desire to illustrate to honorable senators, by means of a few figures, the importance of dairying, which is one of the most extensive and widespread of Australia’s primary industries. It is conducted in every State, and in most of them is one of the principal industries. Only in South Australia and Western Australia is it confined within comparatively narrow limits. Throughout Australia, dairying occupies the attention of 150,000 farmers. At the commencement of the present century, Australia possessed about 1,000,000 dairy cows, and produced approximately 47,000 tons of butter and 5,000 tons of cheese, whilst the butter exported totalled 17,000 tons annually. To-day there are about 3,500,000 dairy cows in Australia, butter production has reached 200,000 tons, and cheese production 17,000 tons, whilst the export of butter now exceeds 100,000 tons annually. Much of this progress has been made during very recent years. Five years ago butter production totalled 130,000 tons, and exports 48,000 tons annually. Thus in five years the export of butter has more than doubled.
The encouragement of dairying has been an active part of the policy of Australian governments for many years, and the expansion of the industry during the present century has involved a large expenditure of loan money. Well over £200,000,000 is invested in the industry, and the welfare of dairying is therefore important, not only to the dairy farmers themselves, but also to Australia, which depends upon the industry for the production of a considerable percentage of its wealth. The industry has experienced extremes of prices since the war. In 1920, for example, the price of butter was at times as high as 2s. 6d. per lb., but in the next year it had dropped- to ls. 6d. per lb., and it remained at about that level for seven or eight years. The effect of the high prices had been to stimulate land values, and the fall in prices brought embarrassment to very many dairyfarmers throughout Australia. The position then was such as to impress upon the industry the necessity for organization of marketing. The objectives aimed at were the improvement of quality, the assurance of continuity of supply, and the reduction of Costs of marketing. With these objects in view, the BrucePage Government brought into being the Dairy Produce Export Control Act in 1924. Under that act, the present Dairy Produce Control Board was established, and it has functioned continuously since that time. The board has done much to advance the interests of the dairying industry, and has effected substantial economies in marketing costs. It has given continuous attention to the improvement of marketing technique, both in Australia and in the United Kingdom, which has always been the principal market for Australian dairy products.
Prior to the establishment of the Control Board, the Australian Dairy Council was established, and associated with it were State Advisory Dairy Boards. Unlike the Control Board, the Australian Dairy Council has no statutory authority, but advises the Commonwealth and State governments on problems connected with the production and manufacture of butter and cheese, and, in addition, encourges production, through its State boards, by giving attention to such matters as pasture improvement, and investigation, of disease. The funds of both the Control Board and the Australian Dairy Council are derived from export levies on butter and cheese imposed by the Commonwealth as an inspection fee. Since the Dairy Produce Export Control Act has been in operation, representations have been made to the Government from time to time by the producing interests that the board should include direct representatives of the producers. At the same time privately-owned butter and cheese factories pointed out that, as their factories were not controlled by boards of directors, they were excluded from the right of exercising a vote ii» connexion with the election of any members to the board. Furthermore* during the past year or two there has been a widespread feeling amongst dairyfarmers that the industry is overorganized. In addition to the organizations to which I have- already referred, there is at present in each State a Dairy Products Board established under State legislation; a Dairy Produce Advisory Committee specially set up to advise the Government on export problems; a. private company known as the Commonwealth Dairy Produce Equalization Committee Limited; and various State and local producers’ organizations.
It appears that, amongst the activities of all these bodies, there is no specific concentration on the improvement of the quality of our dairy produce; yet this is of paramount importance. The fixation of a high internal price, the narrowmargins between choicest and lower grades, and the equalization of returns, may result in a decline of quality unless: positive steps are taken to prevent it by effecting an improvement. This. Government has for some time believed, that the ability which is availablein the industry could be concentrated, on current problems in a more efficient and economical manner. The State Dairy Products Boards function under Statelegislation, whilst the Equalization Committee is a special body formed for a. specific purpose, which is not a direct concern of the Government. It was considered by the Government, however, that it might be possible to combine the otherorganizations into a national body, whose functions would relate to production and marketing. Such a body, it was thought, could act as the one authority to which, all matters affecting the industry could: be referred by the Government, and be in a position to keep under constantexamination the domestic marketing: system, as well as to determine contentious issues in relation to marketing; and distribution in the United KingdomWith these objects in view, a conference of representatives of various sections of the industry, including producers’ organizations, was convened, and it was held, in Sydney on the 13th April last. That, conference recommended that the Control
Board should be reconstitutedby placing three producers’ representatives on the board, and eliminating the representative of f.o.b. sellers. The board’s recommendations were referred to the Australian Agricultural Council for consideration at its meeting held at the end of May. The Agricultural Council recommended that the Control Board should be re-constituted by a reduction of the number of factory representatives, the elimination of the representative of the f.o.b. sellers, and the addition of six producers’ representatives. The Agricultural Council also expressed the view that, with the inclusion of producers’ representatives on the Control Board, the need for the Australian Dairy Council no longer existed, and it recommended that that body should be disbanded, and that the export levies be consolidated into one. The Agricultural Council also recommended that, out of the funds derived by the export levies, an annual sum should be allocated for research and investigation into pastures, diseases of dairy cattle, and the quality of butter. The funds thus set aside would be expended in the directions recommended by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and the State departments of agriculture.
The Control Board, as constituted by the original Dairy Produce Export Control Act, consisted of thirteen members, as follows: -
One representative of the Commonwealth Government appointed by the Governor-General.
One representative of f.o.b. sellers appointed by the GovernorGeneral.
Nine representatives elected by the boards of directors of cooperative butter and cheese factories, - two each for the States of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, and one each for the States of South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania.
Two representatives elected by the boards of directors of proprietary butter and cheese factories throughout the Commonwealth.
The proposed alteration of the constitution of the board has been the subject of considerable discussion since the Agricultural Council meeting was held. As a result of further consultation between the members of the Agricultural Council, it has been decided that the wishes of the industry may be met by adding four producers’ representatives to the existing board, such representatives to be elected by the producers themselves. This decision is due to the desire of the Commonwealth Government, acting with the approval of the State governments, to reconcile the divergent views expressed by different sections of the industry. The Government is convinced of the wisdom of producer representation and a considerable measure of producer control. It also recognizes the difficulties of ensuring equitable representation amongst the States because of the different stages of development of the industry in the various States, and the preponderance of production in the eastern States. New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland are responsible for 90 per cent, of Australia’s total production. If representation were determined on a production basis, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania would have very meagre representation. The representatives will be as follows : - Commonwealth, 1 ; New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, 12 (70 per cent.); South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania, 4 (23 per cent.).
It is proposed to afford an additional assurance of reasonable producer control by providing in the regulations that, in the election of representatives of cooperative factories, the factory directorates shall nominate the candidates, and the suppliers of milk and cream to the co-operative factories in the States concerned shall exercise the franchise. Thus, thirteen of the seventeen members of the board will be elected by the producers. It is felt that this procedure will have the general support of this Parliament.
With regard to the proposal to consolidate the various export levies, action will be taken to repeal the regulation under which export levies are now being collected by the Government for use by the Australian Dairy Council. That body will thus no longer function as it has done in the past. The Australian Dairy Produce Board will carry out the advisory functions formerly performed by the
Australian Dairy Council. The State governments may, of course, if they so desire, retain the State advisory dairy boards which have, in the past, operated in association with the Dairy Council.
In commending the bill to the Senate, I may point out that the Australian dairying industry is, at present, faced with real and serious problems, and the responsibility rests upon the Commonwealth Government, and the new Australian Dairy Produce Board, to work strenuously for the improvement of external marketing conditions and the establishment of a reputation for high quality dairy produce. The bill represents a very definite step towards ensuring the continued improvement of the quality of dairy products. Much of the butter exported from Australia is of the highest quality. Admittedly there is still room for improvement. The reconstituted board may confidently be expected to concentrate its attention on this important problem. It is believed that the re-organization of the industry on the lines proposed in the bill will be of material benefit, not only to the dairy-farmer but also to Australia as a whole.
I have detailed information explaining the various clauses which, if required, I shall supply in committee.
– I am glad that this important industry which means so much to Australia is, with the assistance of the. Government, being brought more and more under the control of producers and that every effort is being made to improve the conditions under which it operates. I understand that valuable research work, particularly in respect of pasture improvement and in other directions, is undertaken with funds raised by levies. I support the bill, but I may ask for further information in committee.
.- I do not welcome this measure with any particular enthusiasm. I intended, at first, to oppose it because I could not see that it would improve the existing marketing system under the control of the Control Board, which, in the past, has done remarkably good work. I do not think that dairymen anywhere in Australia have objected to its personnel or to the manner in which it has carried out its work. I understand that objection has been raised only in New South Wales, and the reason is obvious. Mr. McPherson, of Victoria, who is the Government nominee, is an excellent man. The two representatives of the proprietary interests are Mr. Handbury and Mr. Holdenson - two of the best-known business men in Melbourne - and I venture to suggest that if a vote of the dairymen were taken to select a producers’ representative on the board, one of the men at present representing proprietary interests would be selected. One of the representatives of proprietary interests is the treasurer of the Dairymen’s Association of Victoria, which has a membership of 10,000, and as he has been re-elected to that position from time to time, it shows that the dairymen have confidence in him. These three representatives from Victoria, together with two others, give Victoria five members on the board. I can understand New South Wales, and probably Queensland, objecting to such strong representation of one State; but the industry should obtain the best possible representation, which, I believe, it has at present. This is a big business organization; it has to carry on important commercial transactions at short notice, and at times it may be impossible to arrange for the attendance of seventeen men from all parts of Australia.
– How many are called together now?
– I understand that a few of the leading representatives get together when important business is to be transacted and that they get in touch with the representatives in the other States. In that way they are able to reach decisions without incurring heavy expenditure.
– Will it be necessary to summon them all?
– At times it may be necessary.
– Could not that be done under the new arrangement?
– There must be a majority of the board in favour of a proposal before any important decision can be reached. The argument in favour of the proposal embodied in this bill is that six representatives of the producers are to be appointed to the board. How many are there to-day i
– There are not six.
– At present there are nine representatives of the producers, although it may be argued that some of them are not representatives of producing interests.
– How does the honorable senator come to that conclusion?
– They are appointed by the directors of the butter factories who are elected by the dairymen. These nine men are direct representatives of the dairymen.
– Would not they be representatives of co-operative butter factories which do not represent the milk producers?
– I do not think ths> that is so, because the directors of the butter factories are elected by the dairymen.
– But they are not bona fide producers.
– They are shareholders in the butter factories.
– That is a different matter.
– It is necessary to have the widest possible choice in selecting representatives, and the view I take is that the best men should be selected regardless of whether they are, or are not, producers. The board is now becoming somewhat cumbersome. On the old board there were thirteen representatives - nine representing producers and four others - and by adding four more the board will not be strengthened. Surely a decision of a majority of the old board would be sufficient to protect the interests of primary producers in this matter ! It appears to me that this legislation has not been sought, and is really not desired. My- principal objection is to the proposed abolition of the Australian Dairy Council whose excellent work will be remembered for a very long time. The proposed alteration of the control will not affect, New South Wales as much as it will Victoria. Particularly in the matter of pasture improvement the council has rendered excellent service in Victoria. New South Wales has not done much in the matter of pasture improvement.
– But New South Wales produces 88 per cent, of the choicest butter.
– One has only to look at the amounts paid as subsidy on the quantities of superphosphate purchased in New South Wales and Victoria respectively to determine that in the matter of pasture improvement more extensive work is undertaken in Victoria than in New South Wales. I believe the amount paid in Victoria is £125,000, and in New South Wale* only £30,000. The members of -the Australian Dairy Council, in co-operation with scientists in the Department o-‘ Agriculture, have devoted a good deal of time and money to pasture improvement and to research work in connexion with animal diseases. The work has notbeen costly, and the council is representative of the producers. The council is now to be abolished, but what is taking its place ?
– And why is it being abolished?
– No State asked for the change unless it was New South Wales.
– The conference asked for it, and Queensland is anxious that the proposed change should be made.
– What was done in Sydney ?
– The following resolution was passed : -
That this meeting views with surprise the action of the Minister for Commerce (Dr. Earle Page) in accepting, the recommendation of the Australian Agricultural Council to abolish the Australian Dairy Council in view of the assurance given by him at the National Dairy Conference held in Sydney in April last.
– That is not the conference to which I referred.
– I have no desire to delay the passage of this bill, but I consider that the existing representation of producers on the Dairy Produce Control Board is sufficient. A board of seventeen members will be both cumbersome and expensive. What is being substituted for the Australian Dairy Council? There are two bodies in existence to-day; first, the Australian Agricultural Council, which consists of Senator A. J. McLachlan, and the Minister of Agriculture of each State; and, secondly, the Advisory Council. The Agricultural Council is an excellent body of men, but they have not the time to devote to the scientific aspects of the industry. The Agricultural Advisory Council consists of heads of departments.
– It consists of the Directors of Agriculture of the several States.
– No; it consists of heads of departments. I have nothing to say against heads of departments, who are excellent men in matters of theory, but are without practical knowledge. Men with practical experience of the industry are necessary on the board. The Government should have allowed the Australian Dairy Council to continue, especially in view of the praise that it has bestowed on that body.
– When did the Government praise the Australian Dairy Council ?
– The Australian Dairy Council consists of practical dairymen who are endeavouring to improve the quality of butter.
– They have not succeeded in every State.
– If Senator Abbott is right in his contention that the quality of first-grade butter is lower in Victoria than in the other States there is something wrong, and the trouble should be rectified. But I can forsee no advantage from changing the system.
– Does the honorable senator think that the Australian Dairy Council is able to influence the quality of butter?
– It can make recommendations. It is a body which comprises some practical men.
– Has it any powers?
– It has the power to recommend. In any case, its powers are just as great as those which may bo exercised by the Dairy Produce Board. I agree with the proposal that one of the members of the board shall be the nominee of the dairy factory managers for it is necessary to have on the board men with technical knowledge of the industry, and they can be found only among the butter factory managers. Everything possible should be done to raise the standard of Australian butter.
The provision for the appointment of a representative of the dairy factory managers has removed some of my objection .to this measure. I had proposed to move that the bill be read this day six months, but as the representatives of the industry, although not satisfied with it, do not want to embarrass the Government, I shall not do so.
– I take the same view of this bill as does Senator Gibson, hut I shall go further than he proposes, for I shall vote against it. It is absolutely unnecessary, because the two bodies now in existence are doing their work well. Their duties are entirely different. The Dairy Produce Control Board deals with the shipping and selling of butter, and needs to have technical men on it. I have here the agenda paper for one of its meetings, and among the subjects for discussion are the London market; the proposed reconstitution of the board as recommended by the Australian Agricultural Council; marine insurance ; the policy of the Commonwealth Government with regard to certain aspects of marketing of Australian primary products abroad ; arrangements in relation to war risks; liability for stamp duty; all insurance matters; shipping; regulating butter shipments to the United Kingdom; English marketing scheme; and other matters which require trained men to deal with them. The Australian Dairy Council, which deals with pasture improvement, stock diseases and the manufacture and production of butter, requires as members men with a different training. These two bodies, which perform different work, are functioning splendidly, because their members are eminently suited for the work that they are called upon to perform. If the Australian Dairy Council be wiped out, some of its members will probably be placed on the Australian Dairy Produce Board. The Government’s proposal really amounts to an amalgamation of the two existing boards. If they are amalgamated, technical men will be asked to deal with farming problems, and farming men with technical problems. Men will have to devote time to subjects of which they know nothing. There has been no demand for the change, and it would be better to leave things as they are. I shall vote against the second reading, but; if it is carried, I shall, in committee, seek an explanation of some of the clauses, even if I do not move amendments to them. I agree with the proposal to put more representatives of the producers on the hoard, but I should like the Minister, when replying, to explain why there is to be only one representative for South Australia, “Western Australia and Tasmania. That representative is to be elected by the primary producers of those States. How will it be possible for primary producers thousands of miles apart to elect a representative?
– Has the honorable senator never heard of a postal ballot?
– Fancy electing a representative on the board by a postal ballot over such a large area of Australia! The existing boards, which are doing good -work, are not costly and should not be interfered with. I agree that every effort should be made to improve the quality of Australian butter, hut I cannot see how that can be done Letter by the proposed controlling body than by the two existing boards. There are several reasons why some Australian butter is not of the choicest quality. In some instances inferior butter is due to the nature of the pasture. There may be a clover taint in the butter. The dairyfarmers themselves, with the assistance of the technical officers of the State agricultural departments, are better able to deal with the problems that arise than are men trained in the export and sale of butter.
– Is not the narrow margin between the choicest butter and the lower grades one of the reasons for Australian butter not having a better reputation?
– I agree that there is not much margin between the grades; but I submit that practical men, assisted by the experts of the State Agricultural Departments, are more likely to ensure a higher percentage of choicest butter than are the shipping experts whom it is proposed to appoint to the board.
– I should like the Minister, when replying to the debate on the second reading, to say whether this bill affects the Butter
Equalization Committee. I voted against the establishment of that body, which has no statutory power, and yet it is carrying out functions which .rightly belong to governments. The appointment of the Equalization Committee -was only a subterfuge to overcome a constitutional difficulty. That body, without statutory authority, imposes grossly unfair levies on the industry; this should not be allowed. I did not hear all the Minister’s remarks; but, if the bill proposes to do away with the Equalization Committee, I shall support it. The action of that committee is causing untold hardship to numbers of small dairy-farmers - I allude not to butter factories, but to farm buttermakers - whom it has prosecuted and persecuted simply because they have not affixed a 2d. stamp to each pound of butter that they make. Its action is absolutely unconstitutional, and yet the Government has not intervened.
– Were the butter-makers prosecuted under a State or a Commonwealth law?
– I do not know. The Equalization Committee demanded that on every pound of butter, even that sold at 5d’. or 6d. per lb., a 2d. stamp should be affixed, and it prosecuted, those who failed to do so. in some cases, the committee obtained convictions, and fines were imposed. When the persons concerned refused to pay the fines, an attempt was made to place them in gaol; but they congregated in one place, and the police were not game to take them into custody.
– Who prosecuted?
– It was done under the authority of the committee. The prosecution of the dairy-farmers must have been launched under Commonwealth legislation because those producers were prohibited under the Commerce Act from exporting their butter, which was not pasteurized. If they desired to sell the butter, every pound of it had to bear an excise stamp on the wrapper. I shall support the second reading of this bill, if the Minister can convince me that it will abolish this committee which has hounded the dairyfarmers; otherwise, I shall vote with Senator J. B. Hayes in opposing the bill.
.- I am one of those who think that the Government has treated the Australian Dairy Council with rather scant courtesy in the manner in which it has dismissed that body. The council has done valuable work; it was the originator of this class of legislation, and by its example, showed how other industries could be assisted. The Government has not made that acknowledgment of the work of the Council which was its due. In any case, I fail to see the necessity for this bill. When one body is doing a good job and the value of its services is freely acknowledged, what sense is there in suddenly deciding to upset it, not in the hope of obtaining a better substitute for it, but probably in the belief that the producers will be given a greater measure of control of the industry than hitherto?
– Two bodies were doing the work.
– I have a good deal of sympathy for the members of this council, because the majority of them were my colleagues when I was on the land and engaged in a similar occupation, and they hav”e carried on the co-operation between producers. The council deserves the thanks of every butter producer for the way in which it has watched his interests. While I shall not go to the length of opposing this bill, I feel that the members of the council have not been fairly treated.
One statement was made in the course of the debate which might re-act to the detriment of Victorian butter producers. The Senate has been told that New South Wales has a much larger proportion of the choicest butter than Victoria. That assertion may lead to a misconception of the true position. I do not know whether the grades are the same to-day, but if my memory serves me aright, the grade of choicest butter when I was a producer was 92; first grade was 91; and second grade, 90. Only a margin of 2 per cent, separated the three grades; but each is a good butter, although the first and second grades might not have been of the choicest quality. Not for one moment do I suggest that we should not try to improve the quality of butter, but I desire to prevent a slur from being cast on the Victorian product by a statement that dairymen in that State are not making good butter. After all, Victoria was the pioneer of this sort of control of dairying, and other States have learned a good deal from its example. For all legislation of this kind, somebody must pay. When a home-consumption price is fixed, who is required to pay for it? In this particular case, it is the consumer. I believe that some recognition should be accorded the fact that consumers, owing to the fixation of home consumption prices, are paying at least £2,000,000 a year more for essential commodities than they otherwise would have done. Still, the consumers are not complaining; they know that the producers of Australia have encountered bad times, and that national prosperity depends upon the speedy return to better conditions, for those who are producing wealth for the nation.- It should be recognized that consumers have made a considerable sacrifice in order to assist the return of prosperity to the producers, and I hope that when legislation affecting the consumers and the secondary industries comes before us, it will have the same sympathetic consideration from the representatives of the rural industries as we have given to measures for their protection and benefit. The secondary industries do not ask for direct financial assistance, such as is given to the primary producers, but they do expect a sympathetic understanding of their position in the economy of the nation as fellow wealth creators. I shall not go to the length of voting against the bill, although I fail to see the necessity for introducing it during the closing hours of the session. I do not consider that the measure will improve the lot of the butter producers in the slightest degree, and for the Government to rush through a bill of this nature so late in the session seems to me to be rather futile. If the measure is passed, well and good; it will not do any harm. In conclusion, I repeat that, in my opinion, a proper recognition has not been given by the Government and the people to the very excellent work of the Australian Dairy Council.
– I have listened most attentively to the addresses of honorable senators on this bill, and I feel that a considerable misunderstanding exists with regard to its objective. To me the bill represents an improvement of the present situation. It is based upon the results of experience, and I am confident that it will be welcomed by the industry. Goodness only knows, when a primary-producing industry is offered legislation calculated to improve its condition and the industry itself is satisfied that the provisions will be beneficial to it, the offer should be seized by honorable senators with both hands. I am particularly interested in the remarks of Senator Gibson, who in his speech detailed a number of important considerations, many of which are definitely vital to the bill. On one point, however, I desire to join issue with him. Senator Gibson stated that he thought that the discontent with the present organization or the agitation for this legislation, originated in New South Wales; or, to put it in another form, he thought that the move for the re-organization of the dairying industry was limited to New South Wales.
– Senator Gibson inferred that this agitation was not representative of the feeling of dairymen in other States, but we should make inquiries as to whether the dairymen of the other States really speak for the industry or not. To illustrate my contention, I propose to quote some very significant figures. In value of butter production, New South Wales headed the list in 1933-34 with £6,070,000. We may deduce from that fact that New South Wales is the largest butter-producing State in the Commonwealth. Queensland followed with a production of £5,629,000 and Victoria £5,510,000. Thus between them New South Wales and Queensland produced butter to a value of nearly £12,000,000. South Australia’s production totalled £961,000, or less than one fifth of that of Queensland, Victoria, or New South Wales, while the values in Western Australia and Tasmania were £606,000 and £402,000 respectively. In quoting these figures, . I wish to make it clear that
I am. not making an attempt to decry the smaller volume of dairying carried on in these States, but simply show their economic relationship to the larger States in this connexion. If we are prepared to examine this matter without prejudice, we must admit that the great volume of production is located in New South Wales and Queensland, whose combined production represents more than 50 per cent, of the total production of the Commonwealth. Therefore, even if agitation is limited to those two States it could well be said that the agitation represented the majority of the producers. I do not quote these figures as a request to the smaller States to sacrifice any of their representation on the board controlling the industry; but I desire to point out that it is not a small minority in New South Wales alone that is in favour of the proposal for re-organization as outlined in the bill - the change is desired by the majority. Let us go back to the actual authoritative views of the industry, because whenever confusion arises in an industry, one should go to the authoritative source for information. I think that the greatest assembly of dairy and butter authorities ever gathered in Australia met at the national conference held in Sydney a few months ago, and it passed a motion in favour of the re-organization plan. What was said at that gathering? Dr. Earle Page gave lucidly and in tabloid fashion his reasons for the proposed re-organization of the industry. He said -
My reason for the suggested alteration is that if we could possibly set a body into existence that had some statutory power we might get somewhere with regard to its recommendations and activities. The Australian Dairy Council, as has been pointed out, is much more feeble than it should be by reason of the fact that it has no statutory existence, but exists simply by virtue of the fact that finance is provided for it by a levy. It li.is jio outside powers.
The Australian Dairy Council has no statutory power : i desire honorable senators to appreciate the significance of that statement. Upon analysis, it will be found that support for Dr. Earle Page’s address was not confined to New South Wales or Queensland, but also came from men in the smaller States. That again contradicts Senator
Gibson’s contention that the dissatisfaction is more or less wholly centred in New South Wales. Mr. R. Hewland, of South Australia, representing the State Quota Board, supported the re-organization, and I propose to quote his comments. Mr. R. Hewland, of South Australia, speaking in support of the proposed re-organization of the industry, said -
Without criticizing either one of two bodies which have done very valuable work for the dairying industry, it seems to me that the time has now arrived when it would be more advantageous to have one body discharging the functions which have hitherto been discharged by the two separate bodies.
Support also comes from Western Australia. Mr. Pickering, the producers’ representative at the conference, favoured the proposal.
– Mr. Pickering is not himself a producer.
– That question was raised at the conference. At Mr. Pickering’s ‘request, the conference examined his credentials and accepted them without reserve. Mr. Pickering said -
At the meeting which I attended yesterday great stress was placed on the work of the two bodies which we now seek to amalgamate. One representative said that he thought that the trend of ‘business which occupied the attention of the Australian Dairy Council was so great that, if it were made one body, wo would fmd it almost impossible to cope with the work.
That, observation was a frank recognition of the facts. Mr. Pickering went on to say -
Much of that work is unnecessary and much over-rated-
That, of course, is his personal opinion -
If anything can be done to amalgamate the industry to consolidate the organization, that will be of material advantage to every section.
As I have shown, New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria are the three great butter-producing States. They are. therefore, vitally interested in the scheme. New South Wales and Queensland are in support of it, and at the national conference the representatives of Western Australia and South Australia also announced their approval. These facts should induce the Senate to carry the bill. Critics of the measure have asserted that as both boards were functioning satisfactorily there is no need to make the change. How can that be true when neither body has authority to deal with the quality of the butter? The Australian Dairy Council has no statutory power, and the Dairy Produce Control Board exercises jurisdiction only over butter when it is submitted for export. Dr. Earle Page, speaking at the National Conference, emphasized that there appeared to be no specific concentration on the improvement of quality. “ Surely “, he said, “ there should be somebody whose job it is to concentrate on quality.” Will any honorable senator who is opposing the bill say that it is not essential, in the interests of the dairying industry, that only the highest quality of butter shall be exported? One of the delegates at the conference interjected whilst Dr. Earle Page was speaking that there was in existence a body whose duty it was to deal with the quality of butter produced, and when invited to name the organization, he replied “ The Australian Dairy Council “. Dr. Earle Page made it clear, however, that the council, as at present constituted, was powerless in respect of that phase of the industry. Continuing, he said -
It [the council] is not concentrating on that to a degree which is effective. That is owing to the division of the control of the industry into so many boards. We have not one body which deals with the whole of this question, and which can enforce its decisions. Is there not, in fact, a danger that the fixation of a high internal price, the narrow margins between choicest and lower grades, and the equalization of returns, will cause a further decline in quality unless positive steps are taken to check the decline and effect an improvement? This would be disastrous to our position in the British market.
A survey of the industry discloses that in Western Australia the percentage of choicest butter exported in 1933-34 was only 45, compared with 82.91 in New South Wales, 36.9 in Victoria, 49.23 in Queensland, 27.64 in South Australia and 48.6 in Tasmania.
I turn now to consider the position with regard to the Dairy Produce Control Board. I do not wish honorable senators to gain the impression from anything I may say that I am disparaging the work done by that body in the past. But, when there is a misunderstanding, it is only right that we should endeavour to clear away the fog3 of confusion, in order to ascertain the true position. The tenth annual report of the Dairy Produce Control Board for the year ended the 30th June, 1935, states under the heading “ National Dairy Conference “ -
Members of this board appreciated your statement to the conference that the work done by the board is beyond all praise; its constitution in regard to its personnel and experience leave nothing to be desired.
What is the implication of that reference? Is it not that the acting Prime Minister, to whom the report was made, was so satisfied with the Australian Dairy Council that he went out of his way to say that its work was beyond all praise, and that’ the personnel left nothing to be desired? That, I believe, is the inference to be drawn from the printed report. The following quotation from the report of the conference shows that Dr. Earle Page was referring, not to the Australian Dairy Council, but to th? Control Board. This is what the Minister for Commerce said -
So far as the Export Control Board is concerned, there is no thought of interfering with its power in the slightest degree. My attitude and that of the Commonwealth Government is that the extension of a similar principle to other industries is the only way in which we can help to satisfactorily solve our marketing problems. The efforts which have been put forward by the Dairy Export Board, which is the child of the Bruce-Page Government, shows precisely where 1 stand in this matter. The work done by that board is beyond all praise. Its composition in regard to its personnel and experience leave nothing to be desired.
I am convinced that much of the misunderstanding that has arisen in connexion with the bill is due to the general belief that the remarks made by Dr. Earle Page on the occasion referred to were in respect of the work done by the Australian Dairy Council, whereas he was speaking of the work done by the Dairy Produce Control Board.
I desire now to say a few words on the subject of producer control. Although there may be objection in some quarters to an undiluted measure of producer control of this industry, the objective should be to secure a balance of the elements of the industry, and in that way aim at an ideal organization. Dr.
Earle Page, speaking at the National Dairy Conference on this subject, said -
It seems to me that the’ people . who should have the final say in this matter are thu producers of butter in Australia. The Commonwealth Government felt that there should be full representation of the producers, together with the various boards representing the producers.
Mr. Pickering, the representative of Western Australian producers, advocates producer control.
– Mr. Pickering is not a producer.
– He was appointed by the Western Australian Government to represent the producers of Western Australia, and his credentials having been examined, he was accepted by the conference. In any event, objection to Mr. Pickering’s bona fides are not now relevant. Speaking on the question of producer control, he said -
I would like to draw attention to the wide range of difference between the u mount o£ capital involved in the producing section as against the manufacturing. So great is the difference that the comparison is absurd. If we, as producers, have such large vested interests, we are entitled to some representation on any body which controls the distribution and sale of our products.
I am satisfied with the representation provided in the bill, although I admit that I would have liked to see more than four producers appointed to the board. We have to realize, however, that any organization, to he efficient and work smoothly, must be well balanced. I believe that we shall have a reasonably well-balanced organization and that the interests of the producers will be amply safeguarded. I do not suggest, as some honorable senators have done, that the Government should have doubled the producer representation on the board; but I do say that there is now definite recognition of the principle of producer control, and perhaps at a later stage it may be possible to secure an increase of producers’ representatives on that body.
We have heard dissentient voices in the debate this afternoon. In a chamber representing all States and several shades of political opinion, it would be extraordinary if there were not some divergence of opinion. I contend, however, that the bill gives effect to the decisions of the National Dairy Conference, and that the dairying interests of Queensland, New South Wales, and the vast majority of the producers in the smaller States are unanimously in favour of the proposal.
– There has been no objection from Queensland.
– It is true that some objection has been raised from Victoria; but, with all due deference to the arguments adduced by Senator Gibson, I contend that the majority of those interested in dairying throughout Australia are wholeheartedly behind the bill, which crystallizes the experience of dairymen over the last few years. I support the bill.
– I listened very attentively to the Assistant Minister’s second-reading speech, and I think every honorable senator will admit that his remarks in the main were commendatory of the work done by the present organizations in the . industry. It is not for honorable senators to prove that the proposed change is necessary; that is the duty of those who advocate the change, particularly the Assistant Minister. But he did not advance any conclusive proof or evidence that the producers themselves asked for the change. I do not say this with any intention whatever to question the Government’s sincere desire to do the right thing for this industry. But is it not fair to assume that an industry, which is so important to Australia as the dairying industry, would, itself, make some definite request for this legislation? The Government controls exports; can it show to honorable senators that conditions in that sphere of the industry are chaotic, that the quality of our butter is inferior to that exported by other countries, that the present organizations controlling the industry internally and externally are unprogressive, or that there has not been progressive improvement of our dairy herds and pastures? The progress made by the dairying industry is a tribute to those men who pioneered it and built it up to what it is to-day. I was very interested in Senator Hardy’s remarks. Beyond pointing out that a conference which was held in Sydney desired it, he failed to show that this change is needed. He laid stress on the wishes of this conference which was composed in the main of Directors of Agriculture, officers of the Agricultural Department, and non-producers. Prompted no doubt by the best of motives this conference asked that something should be done for the industry along the lines of this bill, but we must study this matter very closely to see whether there is a genuine desire on the industry itself for such a change. What is the origin of this proposal? It did not originate with the dairymen themselves, in whose interests we are asked to pass this bill; no request of this nature has ever been made by the dairymen. That fact is proved even by the Assistant Minister’s speech, which from beginning ro end was a commendation of those who have controlled this industry for the past fifteen years.
– If the dairymen have not urged this proposal how many of them have protested against it?
– I shall be surprised if the honorable senator’s interjection is the only basis for this legislation which proposes to bring about drastic changes in one of our most important industries. Any government which realizes its responsibilities is influenced to introduce legislation by one of two reasons : first, because the interests of the nation as a whole require that certain work shall be clone, in which, circumstances legislation is introduced whether or not it is asked for by any section of the community; and, secondly, it is expressly asked for by those directly affected by it to achieve certain objects. Such representations are usually made through bodies directly representative of those engaged in the industry, and such organizations as chambers of commerce and chambers of manufactures. In respect of the latter class of legislation, the Government has always followed the practice, and quite rightly so, of consulting those directly connected with the industry which will, be most affected. I ask the Assistant Minister and Senator Hardy whether direct representatives of the producers have been consulted in this instance. They have not. Why should this Parliament meddle with such an important industry as dairying when it is doing so well as the result of the efforts and enthusiasm of those now responsible for its internal and external policy?
– The honorable senator could ask the same question in respect of assistance given to the wheat industry.
– The position in regard to that industry is entirely different. That industry is at its lowest ebb for many years, because prices are so low that the growers are unable to carry on and it was under such circumstances that they made strong representations to this Parliament for assistance. I challenge the honorable senator to produce similar evidence that the dairymen have asked for the assistance embodied in this measure. They have not done so. This is another example of unwarranted governmental interference which can only have th<> effect of upsetting the industry. Without any desire for such assistance having been expressed by those engaged in the industry the Government has seen fit to introduce this proposal. It is made to appear, although not with any intention tn deceive honorable senators, that this measure has resulted from requests by the producers of butter. Judging by the provisions of the bill one would imagine that this industry was new; that the Government was giving assistance in order thai it might be established; or that the industry, in all its ramifications, was in a chaotic state and that Australian butter was so inferior to that of all other countries, that immediate remedial measures were essential.
– Does not the honorable senator think that the national conference to which I referred represented the dairying industry?
– I do not admit that a resolution of that conference that certain things should or should not be done is sufficient reason for this Government to introduce this measure to bring about drastic changes in the industry.
– There is more behind this bill than meets the eye.
– Another point made by Senator Hardy was that the present Dairy Council has no legislative authority to carry out its
decisions. He then referred to the small proportion of first-class butter being produced in Australia to-day. Honorable senators know full well, .that irrespective of existing organizations, the quality of butter is determined solely by inspections made before the butter is exported. If there were 50 boards which concerned themselves with this matter the quality of butter would ultimately be determined by official inspection. This measure is an experiment which may prove very expensive to this industry. I believe that the Government would be well advised to leave the industry to the dairymen themselves and to continue to give a free hand to those organizations that have carried on so successfully to date. The less the Government interferes with industry the better it will be for industry generally. Leave the management of the butter industry to those men who have pioneered it and. have borne the heat and burden of the day in building it up to what it is at the present time ! The organizations have done well for the dairying industry; my advice is. “ Leave well alone.” I intend to vote against the bill.
– I cannot see that this measure Will confer any particular advantage upon the dairying industry. Certainly it consolidates the management of the industry but I agree with an honorable senator who said that the dairying industry may be divided into two parts - the commercial and the producing. As has been pointed out already in this debate the Australian Dairy Council, which the Government now proposes to scrap, has proved of great value to this industry. Most of the phases of the industry which I intended to deal with have been fully discussed by previous speakers, but none dealt in a special way with the quality of our butter. Although I have looked carefully through the bill I have failed to discover in what way it can effect an improvement in this respect. When he introduced this measure in another place, the Minister for Commerce, said -
It appears that despite the activities of all these bodies there is no specific concentration on the improvement of the quality of our dairy produce; yet this is of paramount importance.
In the next paragraph of his speech the Minister practically contradicted that assertion by saying -
The functions of the State dairy produce boards are performed under State legislation whilst the Equalization Committee is a special body formed for a specific purpose which is not a direct concern of any government.
I understand that the control of the quality of export butter is entirely governed by State legislation. The Australian Dairy Council has the right to frame regulations, which are placed before the State parliaments, and up to the present such regulations have never been rejected. Some time ago the council asked the Commonwealth authorities to take charge of exports at the factories, in order to assist in improving the quality of Australian butter, but it declined to assume any responsibility in that respect. It is proposed to abolish the Australian Dairy Council, but the proposed board will not have any greater power in the matter of suggesting how improvements can be effected in the quality of Australian butter. At present the council has the right to frame regulations in respect of butter and cheese.
– Regulations can be framed only by the Governor in Council. (Senator JAMES McLACHLAN.- I cannot find anything in the bill that will give to the proposed board powers greater than those possessed by the council, and I trust that the Assistant Minister will inform the Senate if the board will have the power to frame regulations. The quality of Australian butter is controlled by State legislation, and the Dairy Council has done everything possible to increase production and to improve the quality. It may be said that the board will be of greater advantage to the industry because the number of producermembers is to be increased, but, as has been already pointed out, the Dairy Council is performing excellent work, and any alteration of the personnel will not necessarily be of benefit to the industry. The commercial men who are members of the board will overrule the producers’ representatives. Both the boards at present in operation are working in the interests of the industry, and, in performing their respective functions are rendering valuable service, not only to the dairymen and butter producers, but also to the Australian community generally. I cannot agree with the Leader of the Country party in this chamber (Senator Hardy) that a unanimous request was made by the dairymen of Australia for an alteration of the present system. I admit that Queensland and New South Wales have a dominating influence, but the representatives of those States have not the right to speak on behalf of the Australian industry.The total exports from South Australia, Tasmania, and Western Australia are comparatively small, but at the same time the council has done good work on behalf of those States. We are as keenly interested as are any of the other States in increasing the quantity of exports and in improving the quality of butter. Many dairymen in South Australia are making only a meagre living, and, with the low price of wheat, those engaged in mixed farming are faced with numerous difficulties. If the Assistant Minister can show that there has been a unanimous demand for the proposed alteration of the system of control, and that the measure will benefit the industry, I may reconsider my attitude towards the bill.
– Honorable senators will remember that when I raised this subject on the 22nd October, I urged the Government and the Leader of the Country pary in this chamber (Senator Hardy) to take a broader outlook on the whole matter, and not to think only of New South Wales, which apparently is playing a major part in connexion with this bill. When I made a plea to Senator Hardy he misconstrued my attitude, and alleged that I made an attack upon him. The attack had not then commenced. Apparently, the battle is to be waged this afternoon, but even before the result is announced, I appeal to the honorable senator to view this matter from the broadest Australian view-point, with special regard to Western Australia, which, as yet, is not so materially interested in the export of butter as are some of the other States. Less than three years ago, Western Australia exported to the United Kingdom its first consignment of choice butter. As is well known, during certain dry periods that State has to obtain some of its supplies from New South Wales. The ramifications of the Control Board are not so important to Western Australia as is the service rendered! to the industry by the Australian Dairy Council, which is what we might term a domestic organization, serving, by and large, those engaged in the dairying industry. I again appeal to the Government not to proceed with this bill. I re-submit the suggestion that the passing of this measure and the abolition of the Australian Dairy Council will affect seriously the less populous States. “We have heard, and we have read in the press, what the Minister for Commerce (Dr. Earle Page) said, or did not say, at the conference held in Sydney in April. At the eleventh hour Senator Hardy produces the transcript of notes taken at the conference. We have never heard of them before. All that we have had to date is the official report of what occurred at that conference. We cannot deny that the Minister for Commerce paid to the members of the Australian Dairy Council a very high compliment, and that these complimentary remarks were not applied to the members of the Dairy Produce Control Board as Senator Hardy stated. In his statement the Minister acknowledged the patriotic efforts made by the members of the council, who, he said, had performed a volume of exceedingly good work. Its members, he said, were not on trial. Is there any reason why the Minister should alter his opinion concerning these gentlemen who come from various States, and who have given a good deal of their time, at their own expense, to improve the Australian dairying industry? The satisfactory position which the butter industry occupies to-day is the result of the voluntary efforts of these gentleman, who are to be ruthlessly cast aside to make way for others who may be just as worthy, but are as yet, untried. These stalwarts’ in the industry have proved their worth, and by capable administration and research work in such matters as herd testing, segregation of grass seeds, pasture development, animal diseases, and a host of other important duties, have been of great value to the industry.
They have gained very valuable experience, but the new board is to reap the benefit of the extensive voluntary work they have undertaken. I submit that it is neither reasonable nor fair to propose, a change. Full information on this subject may be found in my speech made on the 24th October last and recorded on page 1060 of Hansard. There is no reason why the industry should be placed at a disadvantage by such a sudden upheaval. The adoption of this bill will not result in the production of an additional pound of .butter. There is no need to rush the measure through Parliament; the industry has prospered without it. What is needed is ah organization to help the dairymen to build up the industry in Australia. Despite the many sneering remarks hurled at the groupsettlement scheme in Western Australia, initiated by Sir James Mitchell, it was this scheme which was responsible for the butter first exported from that State. Had activities not developed as they have, we would still be purchasing all our butter from the eastern States. Senator Hardy quoted some rather startling figures concerning exports.
– I quoted only the total production of butter in Australia.
Senator ALLAN” MacDONALDRegarding the proposed amendment to put one extra producer on the board for each State instead of one each for Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria, and one to represent Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania, it is interesting to note the quantity of butter exported to the United Kingdom from the respective States for the last four seasons, ended the 30th June, 1935 -
It will be seen that Queensland, not New South Wales, heads the list. I have given the export figures.
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable senator has implied that I gave wrong information to the Senate. In a speech delivered about five weeks ago, I gave the export figures for the various States; to-day I gave figures relating to the total production of butter in each State. There is a great difference between production and export. It was as a producer of butter that I placed New South Wales at the head of the list. The honorable senator, by quoting the export figures, which place Queensland at the head of the list, implied that I attempted to mislead the Senate. I did not.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch). - The honorable senator has not raised a point of order. His remarks should have been made as a personal explanation.
– As this bill deals with the constitution of a body to control the export of butter, the material consideration is not which State is the greatest producer of butter, but which State exports the most butter. The official figures which 1 have quoted show that Queensland exports more butter than does any other State, and that Victoria comes next. Here, I desire to say that I am not at all convinced that Victorian butter is of the inferior grade which has been mentioned in this chamber to-day. New South Wales comes a bad third. Using, for the moment, the logic employed by Senator Hardy, I would say that the interest of New South Wales in the board to control the export of butter is only half that of Queensland, and a little more than half that of Victoria. It is difficult to understand the reason for the agitation by New South Wales to upset a state of affairs which has been of great benefit to the industry.
– New South Wales is not alone, because Queensland is also in favour of the change.
– Has there been any agitation for a change?
– I have heard of some agitation, but it all comes from one quarter^ As wiser men than I have remarked on many occasions, “ Methinks there is a nigger in the woodpile.” I shall not say more at this stage, but shall vote against the bill.
– Realizing that honorable senators wish to discuss the bill in committee, I shall be brief. Senator Allan MacDonald and Senator Herbert Hays have both asked whether there has been any agitation for the change proposed in this measure. Some honorable senators would have us believe that the only State which desires a change is New South Wales, but that is not so. I suggest that we shall show a poor spirit if, in considering legislation brought before us, we take a parochial view. All legislation should be considered on its merits, and, therefore, this bill should be viewed in the light of its probable effect, not on any one State, but on the butter industry of Australia. Reference has been made to the Agricultural Council which recommended the scheme embodied in this bill. That recommendation was made only on the advice of some of the most expert brains in the several States. The Agricultural Council, having Considered all the facts, and having had regard to the interests of Australia, as a whole, decided on the scheme which is before the Senate in this measure. As reference has been made to the representation of the States on the Agricultural Council, I point out that that body has the benefit of the experience of the experts of the agricultural departments of the States. The representative of the Agricultural Department of South Australia is a man of outstanding ability, and is typical of the men who made this decision. Their object was an improvement of conditions in an important industry. Practical men engaged in the dairying industry are grateful to the Minister and to the Agricultural Council for the assistance rendered to the industry by these experts. Senator Herbert Hays said that the representatives of the dairying industry do not want this change.
– I said that the dairymen do not want it.
– Only to-day honorable senators representing South Australia received a telegram from the South
Australian Dairymen’s Association, urging them to support the decisions of the Agricultural Council. That telegram is evidence that the dairymen of South Australia are behind the scheme embodied in this bill. They, however, desire to know why the Government departed from the original suggestion of the Australian Agricultural Council that the controlling body should consist of thirteen members. The dairymen still want that number. If the Minister can satisfy me that a good reason exists for altering the number of members from thirteen to seventeen, I shall support the bill.
– I have listened attentively to the discussion in the hope that I would hear sufficient evidence in favour of the bill to induce me to support the second reading. Prior to coming into the chamber,I perused an extensive file on this subject, and also conferred with a number of persons who are interested in the dairying industry. I was anxious to ascertain, if possible, the need for an alteration of the existing state of affairs. I know something of the work that has been done by the Australian Dairy Council and the Dairy Produce Control Board, and am pleased to say that it is appreciated by those engaged in the dairying industry. I also endeavoured to ascertain how the Minister chiefly responsible for the introduction of this measure - I refer to the Minister for Commerce (Dr. Earle Page) - regards those bodies, and was gratified to read, in speeches delivered by him at conferences and elsewhere, tributes to the gentlemen who comprise them. I do not profess to know all the ramifications of the dairying industry in Australia, but, as I have lived for many years in an important dairying district, I have some knowledge of dairying and naturally I am interested in the success of that industry. In correspondence which has been forwarded to me, I have read expressions of opinion by men more qualified to speak on this subject than I am - men to whom has been entrusted the responsibility of controlling, in some measure, this valuable industry. I shall take the liberty to quote a few extracts from the correspondence which I have received. I have here a letter dated the 12th Septem ber, 1935, from Mr. P. J. Holdenson, chairman of the Victorian Proprietary Butter, Cheese and Milk Products Manufacturers Association, who, referring to the* proposal to introduce legislation, said -
Before any such drastic alterations are -brought before Parliament, it is respectfully suggested that the Government should arrange to call a conference to fully discuss the position and to make recommendations on the matter, and, as the directors cf Co-operative B utter and Cheese factories are elected by the various Co-operative shareholders and suppliers to supervise the manufacture and marketing of their produce, and owners of proprietary factories who are entrusted by their suppliers to manufacture and market their produce, and are, .therefore, directly responsible to their producers, the conference should be called in the following manner: - Meetings of all Co-operative factories to be called in each State to elect persons to represent them at the conference on the basis of, say, six from each of the three larger States, and two from each of the three smaller States.
That letter was sent to the Minister for Commerce (Dr. Earle Page), who replied that last April an important conference was held in Sydney, as a result of which legislation would be introduced. The measure before us is the legislation referred to. In further letters to the secretary of the Department of Commerce, Mr. Holdenson submitted that there had not been ample opportunity for discussion at the conference, and that two resolutions were passed with a narrow majority in each instance, the voting being seventeen to sixteen, and that another proposal was negatived by eighteen to fifteen votes. But the vital resolution read as follows: -
That the Export Control Board be reconstituted and three producers be placed on that board and that the f.o.b. sellers’ representative be eliminated from it.
This was agreed to by 27 votes to 60. Mr. Holdenson proceeded -
I may say that had the resolution only provided for the addition of three producers being elected to the board, it would have been carried unanimously, ns it is believed that six dissentients were gentlemen who recognized with others the outstanding services rendered to the board by f.o.b. sellers’ representatives.
But, strange to say, I find that -
Seeing, however that the Minister for Commerce, the Australian Agricultural Council and the Standing Committee of Agriculture turned down all the resolutions carried at the conference, I have come to the conclusion that the Minister and the two bodies referred to must have felt that the National Dairy Conference was not truly representative of the industry with which to some extent I agree as I and many others connected with the industry feel that the true representatives- of the producers and the industry are the directors of co-operative factories and owners ot other factories entrusted with the manufacture and marketing of their produce, hence the suggestion for calling a conference on the lines indicated in my letter to the Minister. I regret very much to see that he does not agree with my view.
Will the Minister explain wherein lies the necessity for this haste to pass the bill, and what is the justification for rejecting the request of a gentleman of the status of the writer of this letter when, it is admitted that he is vitally interested in the prosperity of this great industry! Surely if there was a possibility of obtaining further enlightenment as to the best procedure to be adopted for the improvement of the industry, the request for another conference ought to have been conceded. If that had been done, I am confident that the amount of feeling exhibited in Parliament in the discussion of the present measure would not have been engendered. I do not propose to weary the Senate for I know that the Minister desires to make progress with the bill; but I am anxious to assist the industry. I know of no action taken by either of the two bodies, that would be calculated to injure the dairying industry in any way. Consequently, unless I can be shown a vital necessity for taking this grave step to eliminate the two bodies which have performed such excellent work, I am not prepared to support the second reading of the bill.
– The Australian Dairy Council in Sydney recommended that six producer representatives should be placed on this board; the recommendation received wide publicity, and was generally approved by the producers themselves. I believe that it was on that basis that the Government’s proposals were approved in Western Australia by the Primary Producers Association, which represents the dairying industry, and which telegraphed to Dr. Earle Page its approval of the proposals. Now, however, the basis of producer representation has been altered.. Whereas the original proposal was to create a board of thirteen members - of which six would be producers, each one representing a State - the personnel of the board has now been increased to seventeen, and the number of representatives of the producers has been reduced from six to four. Whilst Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland will each elect a representative, Western Australia, Tasmania and South Australia will be called upon to conduct a joint ballot to elect one person to represent their interests. In other words, the arrangement that a large number of’ Western Australian producers supported has been entirely changed by the elimination of the producers’ representative proposed for that State. I have both written to and interviewed Ministers on this subject but have been given no reason for this alteration. The dairying industry, so far as export is concerned, is comparatively new in Western Australia, but at the same time it should be encouraged. I have received the following telegram from the Primary Producers Association of Western Australia in connexion with this bill: -
We emphatically protest against Government’s altered plans for dairy export control and urge you press for Page’s original plan for board of thirteen including one direct representative of producers each State.
I know that the representatives of some co-operative factories will be producers as well; but this association desired that the original promise in regard to representation should be kept. In my opinion, the proposal to elect one representative of the three smaller States is both unsatisfactory and inadequate. Certainly it is unsatisfactory to the producers of Western Australia to be obliged to take part in & joint ballot with those of South Australia and Tasmania to elect one representative. How is this gentleman to be elected, and where will the man with a knowledge of the conditions in the three smaller States, which are separated by a distance of 2,000 miles, be found? I believe absolutely in producer representation for the different States in regard to the control of our primary industries, but it seems to me to be a quaint kind of producer control when three States so widely separated are asked to ballot for ‘the appointment of one producer representative. The ballot would also be expensive to conduct. If I had been given an assurance that the Government would adopt the request of the Primary Producers Association to restore to the dairy producers of “Western Australia the right to elect a representative, I would have supported the bill; but in the absence of such a provision, I shall vote against the measure, because it is unjust to the dairy farmers of Western Australia who, through their organization, have expressed disappointment at the change which, they state, has been made by Dr. Earle Page.
– Seldom does one find in this chamber so much doubt exhibited in regard to a bill. I am not at all surprised at that, because there appears to be doubt and confusion, not only in Parliament, but outside it. ,So far as I can ascertain, every section of persons interested in the dairy industry seems to have held conflicting opinions as to what should be done in the best interests of the industry. I have received communications - which I do not propose to read - from all manner of persons and organizations engaged in this industry, and they have expressed widely dissimilar views. That doubt and confusion appears to some extent to have communicated itself to the Minister for Commerce, who was responsible for the preparation of the bill, because several differing suggestions regarding the representation on the board have been brought before Parliament for consideration. I do not wish to pose as an expert on the dairying industry, but I approach this matter from the angle of a member of Parliament desirous of doing the correct and sensible thing. I ask myself, “ Is there any need for a change in the representation on the board and is this legislation necessary?” So far as I can judge, no reason or need has been shown, for the change. Everybody seems to be unanimous on the point that the two existing bodies have done their work ably. Why then change them? Is it with any desire to affect a change of personnel ? If so, I am rather against such a change. I call to mind an old saying that “ Old friends are the best “. I am not acquainted with any member of either of the existing bodies; therefore I cannot be accused of using the expression “ old friends “ in any personal sense. To use a less elegant colloquialism I might also say “ Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know”. If the two existing boards are giving satisfaction, why change them for another? Prom the outset I am rather inclined to keep to the present system, which appears, up to date, to have worked well. I am strengthened in that idea by the fact brought out by Senator James McLachlan that the two existing boards perform completely different work, and if they be amalgamated, half of the members of the new board might know nothing about marketing, while the other half might know little about production. In my opinion, those who understand the productive side of dairying should keep to this province, while experts on marketing should be confined to theirs. As a primary producer I have no belief that, generally speaking, the producer is as competent as some other persons to control marketing. The primary producer has his own job to do; and the man who sells the produce certainly could not work as effectively in the actual field of production as the primary producer himself. But in the marketing of the produce overseas, to me it is perfectly obvious that the expert who has made this matter his life’s study is the man for the job. Without any more ado, I propose to follow the general lines suggested by Senators Gibson, James McLachlan and Payne. I wish it to be understood that I take this course without being actuated by any animus against the Government. This bill raises the issue of what is the sensible and best course to follow. I consider that the best course is that which has been proved ; we should not venture into uncharted waters; and, therefore, I propose to vote against the second reading of the bill. .
– In regard to the attitude of Senator Duncan-Hughes, I point out that we would never advance very far in anything if we were to rest content with the institutions which we have. When I say that, I desire it to be understood that the Government, in no way, desires to reflect on the good work done by the existing bodies, but I shall endeavour to allay the fear that their good work will be discontinued under the proposals contained in the new measure. There is no intention of hampering in any way the work of the new board. All this bill proposes to do is to combine in one board the work which is now being done by the two existing bodies. It has been suggested that the new board will be a somewhat cumbersome body. As to that, I can only say that the Dairy Produce Control Board consists of thirteen members, and the Australian Dairy Council of twelve members, making a total of 25 members. The new body, which will do the work of the board and council,- will have a total personnel of seventeen. Objection has been taken that the Government has introduced a bill the provisions of which depart from a scheme originally put forward. On that point I can only say that responsibility for any measure that comes before Parliament rests, not with any outside body, but with the Government. The Ministry is not bound to accept in every particular the recommendations of the Agricultural Council. The enlargement of the personnel of the board’ was decided upon as the result of strong representations from producers and -others in order to retain on the new board the services of experts associated with the dairy council, and who, but for the enlargement of the personnel, would have been excluded from the new board. Senator Leckie spoke of the scant courtesy which, he said, had been shown the Australian Dairy Council. My reply is that that body has not been treated with scant courtesy. Senator Hardy has pointed out that the Minister for Commerce, who, perhaps more than any other individual, is responsible for this measure, at the National Dairy Conference spoke in the highest terms of the good work which had been done by the Australian Dairy Council. I cannot, as honorable senators will realize, occupy a great deal of time in replying to the criticism of the bill, because other measures are awaiting consideration, and honorable gentlemen desire soon to be released from their duties. I would, how- ever, like to reply briefly to the observations made with regard to the representation of the three smaller States, by pointing out that the proportion of representation given to them is very much larger than is justified by their total production in comparison with that of the other States. During the last four years Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria have exported 364,000 tons of butter, and South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania have exported 25,848 tons. With the voice which the smaller States have on the board through their cooperative organizations, their representation, on a numerical basis, is, so far from being skimped, actually generous. Senator Herbert Hays and other honorable senators said that no complaint had been made about the work which had been done by the dairy council and the export control board, and urged on that ground that no demand had been made for a change in the system of control. As to that, I merely say, adapting the words of Senator Hardy, that not one word of protest has been raised against the proposed constitution of the new board ; on the contrary, hundreds of telegrams and messages have been received by the Minister for Commerce approving of what has been done.
-Hugh.es. - We can only assume, from the Minister’s statement, that all the communications from those who are opposed to the scheme have been sent to us.
– I do not agree with the honorable gentleman. Protests, if any, would be much more likely to be addressed to the Minister for Commerce. With regard to the eulogies that have been paid to the existing organizations, I do not wish to. say anything which may be taken as criticism of the work which they have done, but I point out that, between 19’26-27 and this year, the exports of choicest Australian butter in relation to total exports has declined from 68 per cent, to 49 per cent. During those years the percentage of choicest butter exported from New South Wales increased, but from Victoria it declined from 80 per cent, to 43 per cent., and in respect of Queensland from 55 per cent, to 40 per cent.
– That is one of the most disturbing features of the dairying industry.
– I agree with the honorable senator. The figures show that there is room for a great deal of improvement in our export trade.
Speaking generally, the Government has given close attention to this verydifficult problem, and in introducing this legislation it has no intention whatever of reflecting upon those who, in the past, have done such good work for the industry. It realizes, however, that the industry cannot stand still. The bill represents the considered opinion of the Government, and particularly of the Minister for Commerce and the experts of his department.
Question - That the bill be now read a second time - put. The Senate divided. (President - Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch.)
Majority . . 4
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 (Definitions).
– I should like the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce to give me an assurance that, in the regulations which are to be framed, provision will be made to insert the following definition : -
Producers representative means any person who, during the twelve months ended the 30th day of June last preceding the election, was the owner or lessee of a dairy farm, the milk from which was utilized for the purposeof manufacturing dairy produce.
I understand that this could be done by regulation.
– The regulationmaking power of the original act is extremely wide, and there is no doubt that what the honorable senator has suggested could be done.
-Will the Minister give me an assurance that the proposed definition will be included in the regulation.
– That is asking too much of me. I cannot assume the responsibility of the Prime Minister or the Minister for Commerce.
Clause agreed to.
Section 4 of the principal act is repealed and the following section inserted in its stead : -
– (1.) For the purposes of this act there shall be an Australian Dairy Produce Board. (2.) The board shall consist of -
one representative of each of the States of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, elected by the producers in each of those States; and
one representative of the States of South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania elected by the producers of those States. “ (5.) The member appointed in pursuance of paragraph (b) of sub-section (2.) of this section shall hold office for a term of three years, but may be removed from office by the Governor -General upon the recommendation of the Board.
– I move -
That after the word “of”, paragraph (f) sub-section 2, proposed new section 4, the words ‘’ each of “ be inserted.
If this amendment be accepted, there will be one representative each of the States of South Australia. Western Aus-. tralia and Tasmania. The Australian Dairy Council recommended that each of the States; should have one producer representative, hut instead of giving effect to that recommendation, the Government proposes the appointment of one. only representative for the three States mentioned. It has been pointed out that it would be very difficult to carry out an election for such a small position over so extensive an area, and that it would also be difficult to find candidates known to the producers in the three States or candidates acquainted with the varying conditions under which the industry is carried on at points so far apart. I know that some members of the Government, including the Assistant Minister, are sympathetic with this amendment, and I hope he will see his way clear to accept it. It would make producercontrol a real thing, and would be greatly appreciated by the producers as a whole.
– I am sorry I cannot accept the amendment. I admitted that it would be difficult to elect such representatives, but that does not mean that I am sympathetic with the amendment. This measure provides nine representatives for the larger-producing States, which export 364,000 tons of butter annually, and four representatives for the three smaller producing States which export 25,848 tons of butter annually, and this is very liberal representation. I point out that no conflict exists between the States, and that no particular local circumstances exist in one State that are peculiar to that State alone. There is no reason to expect that any conflict will arise between the representatives of the Commonwealth and the different States in this matter. The interests of each State are the interests of the Commonwealth and the other States as a whole. I hope honorable senators will reject the amendment.
– The Opposition strenuously opposes this amendment. In addition to the reasons given by the Assistant Minister for rejecting it, I point out that it would operate very unfairly in so far as Queensland is concerned. Accounting for 150,041 tons annually Queensland heads the list of butter-producing States. If this amendment be carried the three smaller States combined, which produce only 25,848 tons of butter annually, will have a greater representation than Queensland which produces six times as much of the butter, the export of which will be controlled by this board. The injustice to Queensland arising out of this amendment if it were carried will be obvious when it is remembered that the levy which will be required to finance this board will be made on a poundage basis. We object to Queensland being placed in such an unfair position. I hope honorable senators will reject the amendment because of the obvious anomalies it will create and the obvious injustice it will do to Queensland. I point out that the Queensland Council of Agriculture which will be abolished and absorbed in the new organization to be established under this measure is entirely sympathetic towards this bill. Its members believe in the amalgamation of the forces of the industry; they are opposed to dissipation of energy and duplication of effort.
– I move -
That at the end of paragraph (f), section 2, proposed new section 4, the following words he added: - “representative” in paragraphs (e) and (f) of this sub-clause means any person who, during the twelve months ended the 30th day of June last preceding the election, was an owner or lessee of a dairy farm and possessed a minimum number of twenty cows, the milk from which was utilized for the purpose of manufacturing dairy produce.
The amendment is self-explanatory.
– This amendment is identical with a proposal about which SenatorBadman inquired. I point out that its object can be achieved by regulation, and I suggest that it be not pressed. It gives a definition of a definition which is not done in any other paragraph. If it is shown to be necessary that only genuine dairymen shall be appointed, this can be achieved by regulation.
– The amendment appears to me to be grossly unfair, and I oppose it. A group of people seeking a common representative sometimes find it expedient to select, as an advocate, one who is at the time not connected with the industry. If this amendment be carried, that right will be denied to groups of primary producers. It is suggested that this amendment may be aimed at certain people who now represent the growers, and who, perhaps, would be disqualified under this particular definition. To show the unfairness of this proposal, I shall mention how it would apply to a carpenters’ union. Do the members of such a union insist that their secretary shall be a carpenter ?
– He should be.
– Not necessarily. As secretary of the union he will be concerned directly only with union affairs. The same argument applies to the selection of advocates in courts of law. However, even admitting that the secretary of a carpenters’ union should be a carpenter, the amendment would obviously rule out a man who at one stage of his career had been a carpenter, but for the time being was not engaged in that trade. Applied to the dairying industry, it would absolutely rule out as a representative of primary producers a man who, although not connected with the industry at the time of election, was at one time a dairyman, and thus qualified to represent dairymen. The effect of the amendment is that dairymen’s representatives will have to proceed direct from the milking yard to undertake their duties as representatives on the board. Such a provision is ridiculous and unfair.
– When I sought the assurance of the Assistant Minister (Senator Brennan) that provision along the lines of the amendment would be included in the regulations, the Assistant Minister did not give me a definite reply. He merely said that such a provision could be covered by regulation. I contend that we must provide a clear definition of a producers’ representative, and I suggest that such a representative must be a producer of the products which are being controlled by the board.
– Suppose the producers want to elect some one other than a producer as their representative, why should they not be allowed to do so?
– I do not think they should be. About two years ago, when the Wheat Bill and the Financial Relief Bill were being administered in South Australia, the controlling body, the Farmers Assistance Board, of which Mr. Justice Payne was chairman, refused grants under that legislation to a wheat-grower, who was a share-farmer, and a landholder, until the Government provided a definition as to what constituted a wheat-grower. Between 600 and 700 applications of this nature were made before the need for such a definition was discovered, and following requests which I made on behalf of these farmers to the then Minister for Commerce (Sir Frederick Stewart) a special regulation was framed to define a wheat-grower. If a definition is not provided in this instance, as suggested in the amendment, an anomaly similar to that which I have just indicated in respect of the wheat industry will very likely arise. T support the amendment.
Amendment (by Senator Brennan) agreed to -
That sub-section 5, proposed new section 4 bo left out.
Clause also consequentially amended, and. as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 5 to 11 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments ; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. I have always understood that, while the bells are ringing, the chamber doors remain unlocked. While the bells were ringing, I attempted to enter the chamber to record my vote in support of the Dairy Produce Export Control Bill, but found the doors locked. Is it not possible to arrange for the bells to cease ringing simultaneously with the locking of the doors?
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch) . - The Standing Orders provide that the bells shall be rung for two minutes prior to taking a decision. If the honorable senator was unable to record his vote for the reason stated, it was obviously his own fault.
Debate resumed from page 2765.
.- When speaking on the second reading of this bill, I obtained leave to continue my remarks to enable the Assistant Minister (Senator Brennan) to move the secondreading of the Dairy Produce Export Control Bill. I had said that, apparently, the Government had ordered a coffin for the Australian Dairy Council before it was dead, but, as it has now ceased to exist after having done good work, I trust that it will be given a decent burial.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives with an amendment.
In committee (Consideration of House of Representatives’ amendment).:
Clause 8. A ship designed and equipped for taking, killing, or treating whales shall not be brought into any port or place in Australia or any territory of the Commonwealth, unless the owner or charterer of the ship is the holder of a licence in force under this act authorizing the ship to be used for taking, killing, or treating whales.
Penalty (on owner, charterer, or master) : One thousand pounds.
House of Representatives’ amendment -
That a,t the end of the clause the following words be added: - “or the ship is duly authorized by the Government of the country whose flag she flies to engage in taking, killing or treating whales “.
[4.31.]. - I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
The provisions of clause 8 could not be applied to ships licensed by foreign countries. The amendment will exempt ships so licensed.
Motion agreed to.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Sir George Pearce) read a first time.
[4.35]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
I find a peculiar pleasure in moving this motion, because, on the 20th October, 1911, I had the honour to move the second reading of the bill for the construction of the trans-Australian railway.
– That was nearly a quarter of a century ago.
– Yes; and it is with pleasure and pride that I now move for the construction of this further section of railway which, when completed, will make the east-west line much more a really trans-continental railway.
This bill provides for ratifying an agreement between the Commonwealth and the State of South Australia. Under the terms of the agreement it is to be ratified by the parliaments of both the Commonwealth and the State.
Honorable senators will be aware that a previous agreement was made on the 18th September, 1925, between the Commonwealth and the State of South Australia providing for certain railway proposals. Briefly, those proposals were : -
The building by the Commonwealth of a railway from Oodnadatta to Alice Springs.
The Commonwealth built the railway from Oodnadatta to Alice Springs, and the railway was opened for public traffic on the 2nd August, 1929.
As honorable senators know, there has been very considerable controversy regarding the railway between Port Augusta and Red Hill and the third rail on to Adelaide. The outcome of the negotiations and conferences is the agreement incorporated in the measure now submitted.
Briefly, the arrangement embodied in the agreement which the Senate is now asked to ratify is that the State will, at its own expense, extend its existing 5-ft. 3-in. gauge railway from Red Hill to Port Pirie, a distance of approximately 281/2 miles, and that the Commonwealth will extend its standard 4-ft. 81/2-in. gauge railway from Port Augusta to Port Pirie, a distance of approximately 561/2 miles. These railways will meet at a junction point at Solomontown, which is an appropriately-named suburb of Port Pirie, where a depot will be constructed with adequate platform, station buildings, and transfer facilities, to permit effective transfer of passengers, goods and other traffic.
The work to be provided by this agreement will mean the expenditure of a sum considerably lower than that which would have been necessary under the old agreement. That expenditure would have been at least £1,275,000, whereas under the new agreement the Commonwealth and State expenditure combined is estimated at £940,000, a saving of approximately £335,000.
The shorter journey - about 70 miles less than the present route - and the great saving of time, will make a tremendous difference to overland travel. In addition to the great saving of travel time, which between Perth and Adelaide can be reckoned as one day, the journey will be made under much more comfortable conditions, and the three changes of trains, in the case of passengers travelling from Kalgoorlie to Melbourne - at Port Augusta, Terowie, and Adelaide - will be abolished. Instead of making three changes, passengers will need to change only once, at Port Pirie.
Clause 6 of the agreement provides for the payment by the Commonwealth to the State of the sum of £20,000 per annum for a period of twenty years. Provision is also made, in clause 7, that that payment shall not prejudice the State in relation to its claims before the Commonwealth Grants Commission.
An important part of the agreement is embodied in clause 8. It has reference to shortening the time of the journey and the comfort of the passengers en route. Clause 8 reads -
The Commonwealth and the State agree that their respective Railways Commissioners will co-operate -
to provide adequate services at reasonable times for the purpose of shortening as much as possible the period of transit of passengers by rail between Kalgoorlie and Serviceton; and
to ensure that passengers en route to either of those places and travelling or booked to travel in sleeping carriages (and, as far us practicable, passengers travelling or booked to travel otherwise than in sleeping carriages) on the express train running between Adelaide and Melbourne shall not be obliged to change carriages elsewhere than at Port Pirie.
At Port Pirie there will be a junction station which will be worked by agreement between the Commonwealth and the State. There will be a proper understanding between the Railways Commissioners, and there will be no difficulty, so far as the control at this station is concerned.
Clause 11 of the agreement provides that the State will grant to the Commonwealth, free of charge, any Crown lands and any leased lands of the Crown in respect of which the Commonwealth has acquired the rights of the lessees. It also provides in sub-clause b, that the State will grant to the Commonwealth, free of charge, any stone, soil, gravel, or timber upon any Crown lands or leased lands of the Crown from which the State has a right to take such materials.
The agreement provides that the Commonwealth shall commence to construct the Commonwealth railway within six months after all approvals required by the agreement have been given, and that the Sta te shall complete the State railway either by the time that the Commonwealth railway has been completed, or by the 30th day of June, 1937, whichever is the later.
Actually, the surveys have been made, and everything is in readiness to begin construction on the Commonwealth section. Unless something unforeseen occurs, the railway will be laid from Port Augusta to Port Pirie by the 30th June, 1937.
It is proposed to lay the first 4 miles 20 chains from Port Augusta on the existing 3 ft. 6 in. gauge railway, making a third rail section over that portion of the line. It is intended to carry out that section by day labour. For the remaining section of the railway - 52 miles 14 chains - it is proposed to invite tenders within a few days of the passing of this bill.
The estimated cost of the railway is £625,000, which includes the cost of the railway from Port Augusta to Port Pirie, as well as the Commonwealth’s share of the junction station and transfer yards at Port Pirie. The sum of £625,000 also includes the cost of the rolling-stock required by the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner to operate the additional section of railway. On the loan estimates for the current financial year the sum of £150,000 is provided towards the cost of the work under the heading “Port Augusta-Red Hill Railway.”
The building of the railway will confer tremendous benefits in railway travel, it will shorten the distance by about 70 miles, and it will eliminate the unsatisfactory narrow gauge service between Terowie and Port Augusta. Moreover, it will enable the journey across the continent to be made very much faster and, as has already been stated, it is expected that the through journey will be accomplished in about one day less than under the present time-table. The disadvantages of the present route have been explained to the Senate previously. For many years the Commonwealth has been endeavouring to provide a direct railway connexion between Port Augusta and Adelaide. Pending the possible ultimate conversion of the gauges to the standard 4 ft. in., the provision of this railway and the connecting railway to be constructed by the State will greatly improve transAustralian railway transport, and will provide for the travelling public a service infinitely bettter than is possible under the present arrangements.
– I shall be brief. I am exceedingly pleased that this bill has come before the Senate, for I know that it will mean a great deal to those who have to travel over the trans-Australian route. The Opposition heartily supports the measure, which I am pleased to note contains a clause to safeguard the wages and working conditions of the men who will construct tho railway.
– As one who opposed a somewhat similar measure in April last, I may, perhaps, be permitted to congratulate the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) on the success which hasattended his long association with the plan to connect Western Australia with the eastern States by rail. At the sametime, I may say that the right honorable senator’s name is likely to be remembered by future generations more in connexion with other things that he has done than for what he has achieved in connexion with this railway.
I do not desire to re-open a matter which was threshed out in this chamber some months ago. I adhere to every opinion which I expressed onthat occasion, but at the same time I hopethat I may be wrong, and that this proposal may prove to be a great success. Perhaps I may be permitted to refer tO’ one small personal matter which concernsthe Postmaster-General (Senator A. J. McLachlan) and myself. Among thematters that I raised when I spoke upon this subject previously was that of theestimate of the cost to South Australia of the construction of the railway from-. Port Pirie to Red Hill. My colleague, Senator A. J. McLachlan, informed thechamber that the cost of the undertakingwould be about £100,000; but I ventured to assert that I thought that theexpense would be nearer £250,000. The subsequent negotiations carried om by the experts were on the basis of an expenditure for this purpose of from £325,000 to £350,000; that figure isnearly as much as my estimate and that of Senator A. J. McLachlan combined.. I hope that my colleague will admit that my private hazard at the cost wasat least as accurate as his statement,, which, I presume, was supported by a. knowledge of the official estimate. I repeat, I hope that the line will prove to be the success that the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) has predicted.
– I call to mind an old saying that a man who cannot take a licking cannot take anything. Ten years ago, when I was a member of the South Australian Parliament, I opposed the construction of this line, and I also expressed my opposition to the proposal when speaking on the budget papers this year. Now that- the line is to become an accomplished fact, however, I feel bound to state my pleasure that the South Australian and the Commonwealth Governments have reached an amicable understanding in regard to this matter, and I trust that the railway will prove the success that the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) has envisaged.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Sir George Pearce) read a first time.
[4.54]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This is a bill to provide for the payment to the State of Tasmania of the Sum of £4,300 a month during the period of the continuance of the flour tax commencing from the 7th January, 1936, provision for which has been made in bills which have been already passed. The Wheat Growers Relief Act 1934-35 made provision for the payment to Tasmania of ‘ the sum of £4,100 a month during the currency of the present flour tax expiring on the 6th January, 1936. This amount proved to be insufficient, and Parliament has just passed an amending bill authorizing the payment of an additional amount not exceeding £4,500 to supplement the payments for the period ending on that date. As I have previously explained, the purpose of this special payment to Tasmania is partly to offset the flour tax collected in. respect of flour consumed in Tasmania. The reason for this is that as Tasmania produces very little wheat, the amount required to finance the relief to wheatgrowers in that State is comparatively small. As legislation has been enacted for the continuation of the flour tax after the 6th January, it is necessary to provide for the continuation of the grant to Tasmania. The amounts paid to Tasmania are utilized by that State for the purposes of making rebates under the terms of an act passed by the Tasmanian Parliament, in respect of flour tax paid by millers and others. In this bill, authority is sought for the payment of an amount estimated to be sufficient to enable the Tasmanian Government to continue making such rebates at the rate at present in operation.
Question resolved in the affirmative. * Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives without amendment.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives without amendment.
[5.0]. - by leave - Honorable senators will no doubt be interested to know the actual position in regard, to the State members of the League of Nations which are imposing sanctions in connexion with the Italo-Abyssinian dispute.
According to the latest advice from the Secretary-General of the League, 49 State members have taken the necessary legislative and administrative measures in relation to Sanction I. - Prohibition of arms and munitions of war to Italy - while three others have accepted ths. proposal in principle; 48 countries have taken the necessary measures to implement Sanction II., relating to financial restrictions, while four others have accepted it in principle. In regard to Sanction III. - Prohibition of Italian imports - the figures are 44 and eight respectively; while for Sanction IV., prohibiting the export to Italy of metals and certain raw materials classed as munitions of war, the corresponding numbers are 44 and 8. These figures show that 52 countries have taken action or have accepted these sanctions in principle. This, honorable senators will agree, is a remarkable result.
There has been certain criticism of the slow operation of the League machinery, and of certain hesitation and uncertainties. This was only to be expected. The strength of the League in the last resort depends on the strength of public opinion in the countries of the member States, and any hesitation shows at least, that this grave international problem is being seriously weighed by individual States, which are at last thinking of the League in terms ofa complete organization affecting them directly.
Where there was a chance of pacific settlement, the League did everything possible in the way of conciliation. When action contrary to the principles of the League barred the door to conciliation, we saw a display of solidarity and determination to make a supreme effort to end the scourge of war - a display unique in the history of the world.
At the moment, the technical subcommittees of the Co-ordination Committee are examining the reports, documents and legislation submitted by State members, to ensure that the action being taken is effective and co-ordinated.
On the 12th December, the full committee will meet to consider whether the “ oil sanction “ will be adopted. This sanction is known as Proposal IV a., and reads -
In the execution of the mission entrusted to it under the last paragraph of Proposal IV., the Committee of Eighteen submits to Governments the following proposal: -
It is expedient that the measures of embargo provided for in Proposal IV. should be extended to the following articles as soon as the conditions necessary to render this extension effective have been realized: -
Petroleum and its derivatives, by-products, and residues.
Pig-iron, iron and steel (including alloy steels), cast, forged, rolled, drawn, stamped or pressed.
Coal (including anthracite and lignite), coke and their agglomerates, as well as fuels derived therefrom.
If the replies received by the committee to the present proposal and the information at its disposal warrant it, the Committee of Eighteen will propose to governments a date for bringing into force these measures.
The League has two main tasks: first, to avert war by the just and peaceful settlement of disputes; and, if this fails, secondly, to prevent its extension and stop it in the shortest possible time. The imposition of sanctions is designed to effect the second objective, and because the Commonwealth Government believed that the adoption of the oil, iron and steel sanction, prohibiting the export of what are rightly regarded as vital sinews of war, would be one of the most effective in shortening the war, it immediately accepted in principle the sanction, and notified the League on the 15th November that it would be prepared to put the proposal into operation immediately it was adopted.
It has been made clear by the British Government, and also by the Commonwealth Government, that we are prepared to play our full part, in conjunction with others, but on the understanding that the liabilities and responsibilities must be shared by all. It is of no use to adopt a sanction unless it is likely to be unanimously accepted and strictly carried out by all State members. Hence honorable senators can appreciate that there must necessarily be negotiation and consultation to obtain unanimity before a sanction with grave and far-reaching effects can be adopted. That is particularly true of this sanction. Roumania, for example, supplies 50 per cent, of the total oil imports of Italy, and the operation of this sanction, unless some agreement could be reached that nonparticipating States would also restrict supplies, would only react most prejudicially against certain State members, without accomplishing the purpose of the sanction. I do not yet know the attitude of States towards the proposal, or whether it will be adopted, but I have mentioned some of the obvious difficulties surrounding these sanctions in order that honorable senators may appreciate the position.
Similar considerations have operated from the outset as regards military sanctions. The pre-requisite for the enforcement of any sanction must be collective agreement. This not only never existed in the case of military sanctions, but also was never contemplated from the beginning of the controversy.
I emphasize that, in the deliberations at Geneva, there has been no discussion of military sanctions, and no such measures have formed part of British policy.
The distinction between economic and military sanctions has been appreciated by Signor Mussolini, who in his national speech on the 2nd October stated -
Against economic sanctions we shall set our discipline, our frugality and spirit of sacrifice. To military sanctions we shall reply with military measures. To acts of war we shall reply with acts of war. His acceptance of moral, financial and economic sanctions was in itself an admission of violation of international obligations. Though at first it was reported that Italy would regard the imposition of an oil embargo as a hostile act, there has been a modification of the early strong reaction, particularly in view of the recent forcible intimation conveyed by M. Laval that France was standing strongly behind the principles of the League, and intended to support and cooperate loyally with Great Britain.
This raises a question now often asked : “ What has been the effect of the sanctions so far ? “ An embargo on credit, key commodities and munitions has, in the past, been found to be effective. Although the economic pressure may be of slow development, yet even with the present limited period of application, there are indications that the moral and material effects of the action are being felt.
In this respect, I remind honorable senators that we do not desire to apply punishment to the Italian people in this dispute, or to any power that breaks the Covenant but that we do desire to play our part in co-operative efforts to ensure the observance of international law, on which ultimately every community must depend. As I said in my reply of the 22nd November to the Italian note of protest -
The present unfortunate dispute was not one between Italy and any individual member of the League, but an issue between Italy and every State member of the League. As such, the Commonwealth Government is of the firm opinion that there is no cause for ill feeling between the Australian and Italian people, who have ever been actuated by deep feelings of mutual regard and esteem, and it would not care to contemplate that any resentment could persist between our peoples after the dispute has been settled.
Another question which is uppermost in the minds of honorable senators is: What is the significance of all the press reports about overtures from Italy and negotiations for a settlement? Negotiations which are now taking place are in accord with the second objective of the League, namely, to shorten the war, and British policy is to continue to search for peace on a basis honorable to all parties. There is no question of going behind the back of the League in such matters. It is obvious that the three powers which can most directly and effectively achieve a settlement are Great Britain, France and Italy, but any proposals must be in accordance with League principles, “ within the framework of the League,” as it is termed, and acceptable to all parties concerned - Italy, Abyssinia, and the League.
I can frankly state that the Commonwealth Government has no knowledge that any definite proposals have yet been formulated which will comply with the above condition, but if and when they are made they will be immediately placed before the League. That this is the view of the Commonwealth Government is shown by the following extract from my letter to the Italian Government previously referred to: -
It is of the opinion that these representations should be made to the League, along with any views which the Italian Government holds as to the requisites for a just and speedy settlement of the dispute.
In conclusion, I would say that His Majesty’s Government in the Commonwealth of Australia earnestly hopes that means for such a settlement may soon be found acceptable to Italy, to Abyssinia, and in accordance with the spirit and principles of the League. This sentiment I feel is echoed by the whole of the Australian people
There are two other matters incidental to the main dispute about which I feel honorable senators would appreciate some information. The first is the reported tension in the Mediterranean, and the second is the position in Egypt. The first was largely due to a hostile press propaganda in Italy, and strong antiBritish attacks which went so far as to threaten Malta and Gibraltar.
Before the present crisis, Italy maintained in Libya approximately 20,000 men, and despite the recent withdrawal of one division, the present strength is still over 50,000 as against numerically much weaker British forces in Egypt. Naturally, there has been a certain amount of apprehension as to the safety of vital lines of Imperial communications, but I can say that, with the subsidence of the press campaign and the moderate tone now adopted, following on friendly and satisfactory conversations between the British Ambassador and Signor Mussolini, the tension referred to has considerably lessened.
As regards the disturbances in Egypt, the press reports have been much exaggerated. On the 7th November, Mohammed Mahmoud, the leader of the Wafd, the Nationalist party, which had passively co-operated with the Government in recent months, attacked the Government and the Prime Minister, Tewfik Nessum, both for continuing to govern without a constitution and for allowing undue British influence in Egyptian domestic affairs. It is true that Great Britain has “ advised against the re-enactment of the Constitutions of 1923 and 1930, since the one was proved unworkable and the other universally unpopular “. For some time the Egyptian Government has acted without a constitution. The relations between the British and Egyptian Governments have been maintained, however, on a correct and harmonious basis. The present international dispute on the Egyptian frontier has brought home forcibly to the Egyptian people their reliance on Great Britain for defence and economic security. Consequently, there is a more general desire for friendly co-operation than has been evident for years.
The speech of Mahmoud was followed by demonstrations on the 13th November in Cairo and Tanta. mainly by students on academic and political grounds. At both places the police had to fire once. About 115 policemen and demonstrators were injured. The situation is now well in hand, and no untoward incidents have since been reported.
I do not propose to touch on the military situation in Abyssinia itself, as the operations are reasonably well reported, so far as the war censorship of the participants will allow, by reputable press correspondents, and the Government can add little of value to the press messages which have been published.
In conclusion, I feel that honorable senators will agree that the League of Nations has, by its commendable and efficient handling of the present dispute, proved itself capable of carrying out one of the main objects for which it was formed. It has greatly enhanced its prestige as an instrument for the maintenance of peace and, where war actually breaks out, for the localization of hostilities. The League has given evidence of the deterrent effect of the unified cooperation of nations in the cause of peace, and we believe, will come through the present ordeal a greatly strengthened and more effective organization for the peaceful settlement of all international disputes.
Motion (by Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE’ - by leave - agreed to -
That leave of absence be granted to every member of the Senate from the determination of the sitting this day to the day on which the Senate next meets.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till a day and hour to be fixed by the President, which time of meeting shall be notified to each senator by telegram or letter.
Sitting suspended from 5.15 to 5.27 p.m.
Message received from the House of Representatives intimating that it had agreed to the amendments made by the Senate in this bill.
Assent to the following bills reported -
Meat Export Control Bill, 1935. Meat Export Charges Bill, 1935. War Service Homes Bill, 1935. Wheat-growers Belief Bill (No. 2), 1935. Canned Fruits Export Charges Bill, 1935. Financial Relief Bill (No. 2), 1935. Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Bill, 1933.
[5.28].- I move-
That the Senate do now adjourn.
I take this opportunity to wish you, Mr. President, the Chairman of Committees, fellow senators, and officers and members of the staff of the Senate a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. On behalf of the Government and on my own behalf I express appreciation of the courtesy which we have received from you, Mr. President, from the Chairman of Committees, the Leader of the Opposition, the Leader of the Country party, and honorable senators generally. All have acted considerately towards the Government and Ministers appreciate very, much the way in which we have been treated. The amount of business transacted this session is very creditable to the Senate. This session the Government made an endeavour to avoid tha’t rush of small bills which is generally experienced towards the end of a session. On this occasion we had a number of small bills dealt with in the early part of the session, and it is not the fault of Ministers in the Senate that a greater number was not dealt with before the concluding days. However, the number of such bills this session has shown a decrease and honorable senators who, on other occasions, addressed homilies to the Government on this point, may take the flattering unction to their souls that they were responsible for this improvement. I thank the members of the Hansard staff who have, indeed, done remarkably good work, and also the officers of the Senate for the assiduity and courtesy with which they discharged their duties, and the assistance that they have rendered to Ministers. I specially mention here an officer who I and other Ministers realize has an extraordinary amount of work placed upon his shoulders, particularly towards the end of the session; I refer to the officer who acts as secretary to Ministers in the Senate. I do not know of any other officer who is called upon to cope with so great a volume of work under equally trying conditions. Repeatedly various honorable senators have expressed to me appreciation of the assistance he has given to them in the drafting of amendments. In conclusion, I trust that the holidays that are before us will be enjoyable and beneficial to all honorable senators.
– I appreciate the kind sentiments expressed by the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce), and I join’ with him heartily and sincerely in thanking you, Mr. President, for your kind forbearance towards members of the Opposition. I am aware that, at times, I have caused you a good deal of trouble; however, you seem, always, to preserve your fitness and good humour. I agree with every word that has been said by the Leader of the Senate, in appreciation of the services rendered by officers of this chamber and with his special reference to the officer who acts in a secretarial capacity to Ministers in the Senate. When the Leader of the Senate referred to the staff I wondered whether that term included all the people responsible for the convenience and comfort which honorable senators enjoy here.
– It includes all of them.
– At times we are inclined to forget that behind the scenes and out of sight are quite a number of officers, including the refreshment room staff, the engineering staff, and the staff which keeps Canberra’s gardens so beautiful. Of course, at times, we suffer certain inconveniences and some of us voice our complaints loudly, but on the whole we are well looked after and receive a good deal of assistance from all those who have work to do in and about this building. Talking to members of the Opposition a few moments ago the Leader of the Senate said that he felt proud of the fact that we supported the Government when it was right. I assure the honorable senator that the Opposition will always support the Government on those very rare occasions when we think it is right. I hope that the coming Christmas and New Year will bring happiness to all honorable senators. We shall probably find enjoyment in different ways, but I am sure than all of us feel relieved to be off the chain once more. Again, I endorse the sentiments expressed by the Leader of the Senate.
– On behalf of members of the United Country party, I convey to you, Mr. President, and all honorable senators, Christmas and New Year greetings. Particularly I thank the Leader of the Senate for the courtesy and cooperation he has extended to me during the last few months. Similarly, I thank the Leader of the Opposition. Although he is my political opponent, I feel sure that, despite his thunderous denunciations from time to time, he has a very kindly heart/
– I was very much perturbed this afternoon to hear that negotiations in the waterfront trouble have broken down and that the seamen’s strike is to proceed. I ask the Postmaster-General (.Senator A. J. McLachlan) what steps are being taken to ensure the carriage of His Majesty’s mails across Bass Strait and the maintenance of passenger services between the mainland and Tasmania.
Senator A. J. MCLACHLAN (South Australia. - Postmaster-General [5.36] . - The latest developments in the waterfront trouble are causing the Government considerable anxiety. For the last couple of days, I have been making inquiries into the matter raised by the honorable senator, and the Government has now arranged to maintain a daily service of all first-class mail matter between Tasmania and the mainland by aeroplane. This service will be costly, but it must be maintained. For the carriage of cargo, I am not responsible, but the Government, I am sure, will take all the necessary steps to protect Tasmania in this respect. At this juncture, I do not propose to disclose the steps which I am taking to ensure the carriage of second-class mail matter between the mainland and Tasmania, but this service is being maintained now and will be continued for the next few days. Whether we shall be able to handle all of it, I shall not know until to-morrow morning. The honorable senator can rest assured that no pains will be spared by the Government to maintain constant mail services with Tasmania.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch [5.39]. - I fervently reciprocate the expressions of good-will which have been uttered by the Leaders of the three parties in this chamber. Such sentiments are only proper when the relationship of honorable senators is regarded in its proper light. After all, we may have our jousts and combats, but when we look at our political differences squarely and truly, it is quite clear that indulgence in pranks of this kind cannot be regarded as the normal pastime of honorable senators. We do not want to be everlastingly opposing each other as if the adherents of one party could not conceive of anything good coming from the other. I believe, with Robert Louis Stevenson, that “ Good always springs to mind “. Occasionally, more heat than light is engendered in debates; yet, the fight being over, there is no reason why members of all parties, as representatives of the people, should not come together to express feelings of goodwill towards each other. Notwithstanding an occasional show of irritation, generosity is usually extended from one honorable senator to another during debate. The free expression of honest opinion is the salt of public life, making it both wholesome and clean. There is no reason why there should not be a free expression of opinion according te one’s lights, and those with fixed opinions which they believe to be right should always be tolerant of the views of their fellows. Even though the ultimate aim of all .parties be the same, the clash of conflicting opinions is always a prolific source of trouble. Notwithstanding this, we have reason to compliment ourselves that so much harmony prevails amongst us. We are citizens of a great and glorious country - a land that stands high above all others, with freedom as wide as the heavens - and as partners in this glorious heritage we have to be tolerant of each other and remember that the opinions held by others are as sincere as our own. I appreciate most highly the way in which the parliaments and councils of the nation control this country; they compare favorably with the parliamentary institutions in any part of the world. Notwithstanding the political battles and antagonisms of the moment we all appear to get on very well together, and do good work.
In regard to the personal reference by Senator Collings to myself, my endeavour is at all times to remain serene in the midst of the conflict about me and to hold the scales evenly between all parties But I assure the honorable senator that sometimes when the lightning of his aggressive eloquence is playing about me, and I mark his eagle eye and sharp tongue I wonder what is going to happen next. However, I realize that when interjections rain upon him he thrives, and I comfort myself with the thought that however heated the debate may become he is not likely to suffer any personal inconvenience.
I thank honorable senators most fervently for the feelings of goodwill which they have expressed towards me, and I sincerely trust that Ministers, honorable senators and officers will have a Happy Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
At 5.45 p.m. the Senate adjourned till a date and hour to be fixed by the President.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 6 December 1935, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1935/19351206_senate_14_148/>.