14th Parliament · 1st Session
The Senate met at 3 p.m.
The Clerk. - I have to inform the Senate that, owing to illness, the President will be absent from the sitting to-day. In accordance with the Standing Order, theChairman of Committees will take the chair as Deputy President.
The Deputy President (Senator Sampson) took the chair and read prayers.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) agreed to -
That, during the absence of the President on account ofill health, Senator Burford Sampson, Chairman of Committees, shall take the chair of the Senate as Deputy President, and may perform the duties and exercise the powers ofthe President during such absence.
– During the period oyer whichthe Senate has been adjourned, disturbing rumours have appeared in the press and have upset the equanimity of many parliamentarians-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - The honorable senator must not make a state-‘ ment. What is his question?
– I ask the Leader of the Senate whether the rumour that there is to be an election in February next is well founded!
– The Government is not responsible for these rumours. My reply is, first, that the Government has no inspired press as has the honorable senator’s party, and, secondly, that I understand that the Prime Minister has made a statement in the House of Representatives to the effect that it is not proposed to hold an early election.
Crisis in Spain: Re-militarization or Rhineland: French Monetary Policy : Situation in Near East.
[3.4]. - by leave - For the information of honorable senators, I propose to make a survey of some of the main features of the present international situation, confining my remarks to four main aspects of world affairs - the crisis in Spain, the situation arising out of the re-militarization of the Rhineland,. the agreement between the United Kingdom, the United States of America and France with regard to French monetary policy, and recent events in the Near East.
With regard to Spain, the position of the Government steadily deteriorated throughout September and October. In the north, the insurgents aimed at getting access to the seaports on the Bay of Biscay. The town of Irun; almost on the French frontier, was captured and practically destroyed on the 14th September, and the famous City of San Sebastian was abandoned a few days later by the Government supporters, who preferred to let it go rather than that it should suffer the same fate as Irun. The port of Bilbao has been attacked on several occasions, but it still holds out.’
Early in October, the insurgent Committee of National Defence, the Junta, Bitting at Burgos, in the north, under the presidency of the veteran General Cabanellas, decided to appoint General Franco, the leader of the insurgent forces, to the office of “ Head of the Spanish State “.” It was reported that a decree had been issued by General Franco, immediately after his appointment, establishing a new constitution, involving the creation of a new Technical Council, composed of nine committees, including Finance, Justice, Industry and Commerce, Culture and Education. The president of this Technical Council would decide all questions with the help of technical advisers and submit the findings to the President of the State for approval.
The Spanish Government has been reconstructed several times in recent months. At the outbreak of the rebellion it was republican, with no socialist members. Early in September, Senor Largo Caballero, the socialist leader, took office as Prime Minister, with five of his followers, and he included in his cabinet for the first time two members of the Communist party. It was reported that the Syndicalist and Anarchist groups of the Extreme Left had also been offered seats in the Cabinet, but had decided that they could not abandon their traditional policy of non-co-operation with governmental authority. Last week, however, it was announced that the Government had again been reconstructed, and that this time four members of one of the AnarchoSyndicalist groups, the C.N.T., had been appointed.
On Saturday last the seat of government was transferred from Madrid to the south-east. Reports differ, some saying it was at Valencia on the coast others at Albacete, 100 miles inland. A military government was left behind to continue the resistance, and latest reports indicate that the insurgents are in the suburbs, and only kept from the heart of the city by the embankments of the river Manzanares. It would seem that the loss of Madrid by the Government may be announced at any moment, but it must be remembered that the Government still retains control of the eastern provinces of Catalonia, including Barcelona, Valencia and Murcia.
Throughout the struggle the British Government has maintained its attitude of strict non-intervention. The Nonintervention Committee, consisting of representatives of 24 European countries, has sat at frequent intervals in London since the beginning of September, and has investigated many allegations and counter-allegations of breaches of the Non-intervention Agreement. Although there seems to be little doubt that both parties in Spain have been receiving a certain quantity of arms -and aircraft from abroad, the Non-intervention Agreement does, I think, represent a very real step forward in international cooperation, and has probably helped in a large measure to prevent a wholesale competition in the supply of military equipment.
Late last month, the British Government offered to mediate with regard to the exchange of hostages between the rival forces. This principle, however, seems to have met with little practical approval in Spain, except at the Basque port of Bilbao.
Honorable senators will appreciate that the Commonwealth Government has felt it imperative that a policy of strict non-intervention should be observed. In his reply to a question in the House of Representatives on the 28th October in the course of which he dealt with the latest developments in Spain, the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) again re-affirmed this attitude. Incidentally, I might mention that the Government has taken steps to ensure the safety and repatriation of several Australian citizens domiciled in Spain, about whom representations had been received, and in all cases the efforts, mainly due to the work of the British consular authorities, have been successful. “Without being in any way partisan, one may express the deepest regret that a dispute of this nature, political in its origin, could not have been settled by peaceful methods. Disastrous civil strife in this country, with which the nations of the British Commonwealth have long been on terms of unbroken friendship, and which has played a great role in the development of our modern civilization, can only result in incalculable harm and have far-reaching consequences, the end of which we cannot foresee.
Turning to the European situation, arising out of the Locarno treaties and the re-occupation by Germany in March last of the demilitarized zone of the Rhineland, I do not propose to recapitulate the earlier aspects which I reviewed on the 11th ‘September last. At that time I hoped , and believed that a conference of the five powers interested would be held in October. That, unfortunately, did not eventuate. During the month of September, the British Government communicated a further note to the Belgian, French, German and Italian governments with regard to the preparations for the conference, and directed attention to a number s,f points which might be discussed in advance of the meeting through diplomatic channels. In due course, replies were received from the other four Powers, and these revealed important divergencies which, although not incapable of reconciliation, demanded the closest examination. Hopes of an early meeting were soon damped. Furthermore, the situation was for a time influenced by a statement on foreign policy and Belgian neutrality made on the 14th October by the King of the Belgians, which was the cause of the widest comment and considerable uneasiness, particularly in France. Following on that declaration, however, came assurances from Belgium that that country would stand by its existing obligations. Speaking in the House of Commons on Thursday last, Mr. Eden emphasized that the British Government would do everything in its power to bring about the success of the five-power negotiations; but no advice has been received as to when the conference is to take place.
A third aspect of the international situation which I should like to mention is the agreement reached on the 25th September between the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and France with regard to French monetary policy. There was no written agreement between them, no signatures were attached to any documents; the agreement was in the nature of a “ gentlemen’s understanding “. Their joint aim, expressed in declarations issued simultaneously by the three governments, was to maintain the greatest possible equilibrium in the system of international exchanges. As a result of this agreement, the French Government decided to propose to its Parliament the adjustment of the French currency in the light of world prices. Parliament was hastily convened in extraordinary session, and it approved a bill providing for the devaluation of the franc. The gold, content of the franc was fixed at between 43 and 49 milligrammes of gold instead of the previous 63^ milligrammes fixed by Monsieur Poincare in 1928. The new bill also provided for the creation of an exchange stabilization fund of 10.000.000.000 francs. At the same time, the Government of France devised a series of measures to check price increases and protect civil servants, wageearners, and bondholders against any rise of the cost of living. This readjustment of currencies by international agreement between the three great democratic powers was not only one of the most hopeful signs of international co-operation which a disillusioned world had witnessed for a long time; but also already appears to have given a decided stimulus to world economic recovery, and to have effected an immediate improve ment of the position of the gold bloc countries. Similar action in regard to the devaluation of the currency was quickly taken by Switzerland and the Netherlands, and, a little later, by Italy. As a first concession to world trade, M. Blum, on the 2nd October, decreed a reduction by from 25 to 20 per cent, of French tariffs, affecting, among other items, coffee, tea, pepper and petrol. He also suppressed more than 100 import quotas, and made similar reductions of the prices of import licences. An important change, from Australia’s point of view, was the withdrawal of the surtax of 15 per cent, on goods originating in. and coming from, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, Egypt and certain South American countries.
Dealing now with the situation in the Near East, I shall refer briefly to recent events in Iraq, Syria, Palestine and Egypt, in that order. The most striking event which has occurred in the Near East in recent months is the coup d’ Mat in Iraq by which the Government of General Yasin Pasha was overthrown, and what appears to be a military dictatorship instituted. The administration is under Hikmat Sulaiman, a former Cabinet Minister, but General Bakr Sidqi, who suppressed the Assyrian rising of 1933, is believed to be the virtual ruler. In spite of the appearance of violence, the change of government was effected with the loss of only one life, that of General Jafar Pasha, who was Minister for Defence in Yasin’s Cabinet, and had formerly been Iraqian Minister in London. On the 29th October, the Iraqian army delivered an ultimatum to King Ghazi, demanding the dismissal of Yasin Pasha, who had been in office for eighteen months - a long term for Iraqand the appointment of Hikmat Sulaiman. At the same time, four small bombs were dropped in the neighbourhood of the Government offices. This was intended as a warning, and the casualties appear to have been slight.
Nevertheless, later in the day, the Government resigned; but Jafar Pasha, who was sent by the King to meet the army, and endeavour to persuade the military leaders not to enter Bagdad, was murdered, thus bringing to a tragic close a distinguished military and political career. There do not appear to have been any further outrages, and General Yasin Pasha and other prominent politicians have been able to escape unharmed from the country. The situation now appears to be quiet, and there is no indication that the safety of the various minorities in Iraq, such as the Assyrians and the Jews, is at present jeopardized by the new regime. While concern must be felt at the use of force to secure the resignation of a constitutionally elected government in a country with which Great Britain, by reason of its privileged position as former mandatory power, stands in special treaty relations, the new Prime Minister of Iraq has assured His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom of his intention to employ constitutional methods of government, and also of the desire of Iraq to maintain close and friendly relations with the United Kingdom. Further, General Sidqi has intimated that he does not desire to participate in politics, but prefers to concentrate on building up the army, leaving the work of government to the Cabinet. His Majesty’s Ambassador at Bagdad has, however, been instructed to warn the new Prime Minister of the deplorable effect of a repetition of such outrages as the murder of General Jafar Pasha, and to emphasize the importance which is attached to the preservation of the rights of the minorities in the country.
Meanwhile a change of a more pacific kind is now taking place in the Government of Syria. Early in September the proces verbal of a Franco-Syrian agreement modelled on the Anglo-Iraq Treaty of 1931, was signed to replace eventually the French Mandate over Syria. The treaty is for 25 years, and becomes operative in 1939. It allows Syria complete autonomy, subject to a military convention which enables France to maintain armed forces in certain stipulated areas, and to .provide French instructors and equipment for the Syrian army. The ratification of the treaty must await the election of a government and its due installation at Damascus’. The terms of the agreement provide for perpetual friendship between the two countries, for the authority of the mandatory power to be transferred to the Syrian Government, and for France to undertake to support the candidature of Syria for membership of the League of Nations. France is to be consulted in all matters affecting the foreign relations of Syria, and mutual assistance, in the case of any aggression against Syria by a foreign power, is also provided for. The minorities which exist in certain designated regions are to be given a “ special form of administration “ in conformity with the recommendations of the League of Nations. The future diplomatic relations of France and Syria are to be similar to those between Iraq and the United Kingdom. France is to be represented in Damascus by an ambassador, whilst the Syrian Government will be represented in Paris by a Minister Plenipotentiary.
Honorable senators will remember that the system of mandates was devised to meet the needs of territories which, as a result of the war, had ceased to be under the sovereignty of the States which had formerly governed them, and were inhabited by people “not yet able to stand by themselves under the strenuous conditions of the modern world.” It is therefore with pleasure that we observe the progress of two of the mandated territories, first, Iraq and, now, Syria, from the stage of tutelage to that of autonomy.
Turning to the neighbouring British mandated territory of Palestine, the present series of disturbances between the Arabs and the Jews first broke out as long ago as April last, the main centre of disorder being Tel-Aviv, a large Jewish city on the coast close to the port of Jaffa. The rioting was suppressed by the police, and partly as a protest against the alleged severity of police methods, a committee of Arab leaders declared a “ peaceful “ strike throughout Palestine. These disturbances, however, were symptomatic of a very high degree of Arab- Jew tension which had prevailed since the beginning of the year. It will be recalled that at the end of last year the United Kingdom Government, as mandatory for Palestine, made a proposal for the introduction of a legislative council, with seven seats for tlie Jews and thirteen or fourteen for the Arabs. In view of strong criticism of these proposals in Parliament and the London press, the Arabs feared that the plan might be changed in favour of the Jews. They also strongly resented the Large influx of Jewish migrants, and the increasing amount of agricultural land acquired by. Jews. During. May, a battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers was moved from Egypt to reinforce the Palestine garrison. The situation steadily deteriorated in June, and acts of lawlessness and sabotage, with shooting, bombing, and incendiarism were committed all over Palestine. The number of British infantry battalions was raised to eight.
Speaking in the House of Commons on the 18th May, the Colonial Secretary, Mr. Ormsby-Gore, announced that a royal commission would be appointed to inquire into the causes of unrest, but would not commence work until order had been restored. During the first four months of the disturbance it is estimated that 65 Jews were killed, nine soldiers and airmen killed and 71 wounded, eight police killed and 88 wounded, and, perhaps, as many as 900 Arabs killed and wounded.
Considerable interest was aroused in the neighbouring Moslem countries, Iraq, Transjordania, Saudi Arabia and the Yemen, and efforts at conciliation were made. The success of recent treaty negotiations in two other neighbouring countries, Syria and Egypt, may possibly have encouraged the Arabs to strive to obtain concessions. In September, the British Government determined to leave no possible doubt as to its intention to restore order. Accordingly, it despatched an additional division of troops to Palestine, entrusting the supreme military control of the country to Lieutenant-General Dill. An order in council was made empowering the proclamation of martial law. Early in October, it became apparent that the arrival of the additional troops had enabled more active steps to be taken. The United Kingdom Government stated that unless the strike were called off and violence ceased before the 14th October, martial law would be enforced. On the 9 th an appeal was addressed by the Arab rulers of Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Transjordania and the Yemen to the Arab Higher Committee, advising them to avoid further bloodshed. On the 11th, the committee decided to call off the strike. The Arab insurgents dispersed quickly, and the Arabs from neighbouring countries returned to their homes.
The royal commission left London on Thursday last, the 5th November, for Palestine. Honorable senators will recall that the British Government is responsible, under the terms of its mandate, for promoting “ the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which might prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country”. A double undertaking is therefore involved, on the one hand to the Jewish people, and on the other to the non-Jewish population of Palestine. In pursuance of its obligations the British Government has decided that it is unable to suspend Jewish immigration during the period of the inquiry. As the result the Arab Higher Committee has taken the regrettable step of stating that it will boycott the royal commission. Latest advices are that the British High Commissioner for Palestine has informed the Arab committee that there is no likelihood that the Government will reverse its policy of continuing Jewish immigration.
I shall now refer to the situation in Egypt. Honorable senators will recall that the long-awaited Treaty of Alliance with Great Britain was signed in London on the 26th August last. The Commonwealth was invited to be represented at that historic ceremony, which took place in the Locarno room of the foreign office, and the official secretary at Australia House, Mr. McFarlane, attended in the absence of the High Commissioner.
The Prime Minister of Egypt, Nahas Pasha, returned to his country on the 13th October, and received an enthusiastic welcome from what was estimated to be the largest crowd ever seen in Alexandria. The Egyptian Parliament, it is believed, will meet for a short session this month for the purpose of ratifying the treaty.
Immediately after ratification, the Government will almost certainly consider the matter pf the capitulations - the exemptions from the jurisdiction of the ordinary local courts of the country, and the privileges of being tried in civil cases before mixed tribunals and in criminal cases before their own consular courts, which are enjoyed by European nationals in Egypt. The first step will probably be the calling of a conference of the fourteen European States concerned, with a view to agreeing on a method of ending the capitulatory regime.
It is gratifying to be able to end with a reference to Egypt where long-standing difficulties and differences have been amicably and satisfactorily solved. The presence of an Australian representative at the signing of the Egyptian treaty was no mere gesture. It bore witness to our vital interest in the security of British Empire communications by way of Egypt, which we have every reason to believe will be fully safeguarded. In this respect I direct attention to the speech on international affairs made by Mr. Eden in the House of Commons last week. Speaking of the situation in thai part of the world, the Foreign Secretary said -
For us the Mediterranean is not a short cut, but a main arterial road. We do not challenge Signor Mussolini’s word that, for Italy, the Mediterranean is her very life; but we affirm that the freedom of communication in these waters is also a vital interest in the full sense of the words to the British Commonwealth of Nations.
That statement will, I feel sure, commend itself to every one in Australia.
Call of the Senate.
Motion (by Senator Sir George PEARCE) agreed to -
That there he a call of the Senate on Wednesday, 2nd December, 1930, at 4 o’clock p.m.) for the purpose of considering the third reading of the Constitution Alteration (Marketing) Bill 1930.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill is described as a bill for an act to alter the Constitution with respect to marketing. In otter words, it is a proposal for an alteration of the Constitute!, and as such, 1 conceive, it must be of high importance. Any proposal to alter tuts Constitution needs to be approached with the gravest consideration and calmness and, above all, as free as possible from party bitterness. Notwithstanding its importance, I shall not have a great deal to say in commending it to- honorable senators, for the reason that although, in one way, it is a legal question, it is none the less a popular question ; that is to say, it is a matter in which the ordinary citizen takes special interest and with which he makes himself, to a large extent at least, acquainted, i think I am correct in saying that there is not in this chamber a solitary honorable senator who does not know how it has come about that this proposal has been put before this Parliament and is to be put in due course before the people. The people in general know, at least, in broad outline, the effects of the decision given by the Privy Council in the case of James v. The Commonwealth. I think that they also know the extent to which the control of certain commodities has become part of our economic policy. In particular, the dried fruits industry has been controlled for many years. The production of dried fruits - currants, sultanas and. lexias- has made enormous strides in Australia since the war, chiefly on account of the entry of many returned soldiers into the industry. Only a very email proportion of the total output of these fruits could be consumed in Australia, and it became evident in 1924 that, if steps were not taken to take the surplus fruit off the Australian market, the resulting unlimited competition would be ruinous to the growers and detrimental to the progress and stability of the dried fruits industry. Tn that year the governments of the producing States principally concerned, namely, South Australia and. Victoria, and later the Government of New South Wales, took appropriate action to pass legislation to regulate the marketing of the dried fruits in the States. In the same year the Commonwealth passed the Dried Fruits Export Control Act in order to control the export of dried fruits. That is a subject within the legislative power of the Commonwealth. Under Hie State acts a board could determine where, and in what quantities, the output of dried fruits produced in any particular year was to be marketed, in pursuance of this power determinations were made from time to time fixing the proportion of the output which might be marketed in Australia. That legislation has, however, had a very chequered career. In the first place, State legislation as to quotas was successfully challenged before the High Court in the case of James v. the State of South Australia, as being contrary to section 92 of the Commonwealth Constitution, which guaranteed interstate freetrade. Another provision in legislation relating to the compulsory acquisition of dried fruits had been unsuccessfully challenged before the High Court. This did not survive a further challenge when the question of ils validity was litigated before the Privy Council in the case of James v.’ Cowan. Prior to that decision of the Privy Council a State was enabled to acquire dried fruit, and, by acquiring it, to become the owner and to sell where it desired. It was thus ‘possible for a State, by exercising its power of compulsory acquisition, to operate a system for the control of the marketing of dried fruits. Such a system would, however, be very inconvenient in practice from the view-point of the States. An appeal was, therefore, made to” the Commonwealth Parliament to legislate in such a way as to place the whole system on a better basis. The Commonwealth was asked by the States to co-operate with them in passing joint legislation which might deal effectively with the subject of marketing. It did so, and for some years this co-operation was quite successful. What power had the Commonwealth to assist the States in the marketing of their produce by any legislation that it could pass? It had none, as section 92 had been construed up to that date. As honorable senators arc aware, that section provides that on and after a certain date trade, commerce and intercourse between the States shall be absolutely free. Those words seem very definite. They came up for consideration before the High Court on many occasions from 1909. lu the judgment which was given in tho Wheat case in 1915, the High Court held that neither the Commonwealth nor the States could interfere with freetrade between the States. Still section til had not taken from the States their power of eminent domain - that is their right to acquire and to hoA the whole of the property of any individual or group of individuals within their .own boundaries. Then cam, the Foggitt Jones case in 1916, relating to steps taken by New South Wales in respect of stock and meat. The High Court did not depart from its decision that no individual or organization - Federal, State or Executive - could interfere with the freedom of trade between the States. I think that it was held in that case that what was done violated section 92. Then came the case of Duncan v. the State of Queensland, in which the court reversed that decision, but in 1920 the High Court, in the McArthur case, reversed the decision given in the Duncan case.
– A good thing for the lawyers.
– The good lawyer is he who has the last word. The McArthur case relates to the sending of goods from New South Wales to Queensland. Queensland had a price-fixing law, and it was contended that by virtue of having such a law, it could fix the price3 to be charged on goods, even though those goods came from New South Wales. A curious feature of the case was that neither of the parties sought to obtain from the High Court a declaration that section 92 did not bind the Commonwealth. Both argued the case on the assumption that it did bind both the Commonwealth and the States, but the High Court, in a long and learned judgment, upset the whole trend of decisions from 1915 to 1920. The decision in the McArthur case did not run counter to any opinion held in Australia as to what was right, ft was accepted by the people and by all of the States that section 92 did not bind the Commonwealth. In consequence of that interpretation various acts dealing with dried fruits and other com modities were passed and sue>cessfully operated. They could not have been operated if the High Court had not held ‘ that section 92 did not bind the Commonwealth. A litigious gentleman from South Australia, Mr. James, was not content to let the matter rest there: I am not in the least criticizing Mr. James; he is entitled to say : “ That is my view of the law, and 1 am prepared to back it up by my own hard cash, and to test the matter before the Privy Council.” He did so, and the Privy Council has said that the High Court in McArthur’s case was wrong when it said that section 92 did not bind the Commonwealth. The following passage, which, I think, might be of some assistance to honorable senators, appeared in the judgment of the Privy Council in the James case: -
Tho result is that in their Lordships’ judgment the Commonwealth should be held to have failed in its attempt by the method adopted under the act in question to control prices and establish a marketing system, even though the Commonwealth Government ara satisfied that such a policy is in the best interests of the Australian people. Such a result cannot fail to cause regrets. But those inconveniences are liable to flow from » written constitution. Their Lordships cannot arrive at any conclusion save that they could not “‘vo effect to the respondents’ contention consistently with any construction of the Constitution which is in accord with sound principles of interpretation. To give that effect woul’d amout to rewriting, not to construing, the Constitution. That is not .their Lordships’ function. The Constitution, including section 92, embodied the will of the people of Australia, and can only be altered by the will of the people of Australia expressed according to the provisions of section 128.
The correctness of the judgment is not questioned either in Parliament or by lawyers. Indeed, there was a strong body of legal opinion which thought that if the issue were decided by the Privy Council, that tribunal would overrule the judgment delivered by the High Court in Mc Arthur’s case. It seemed impossible to get away from the plain word» of section 92. Regardless of the inconvenience that might be created by the divergent interpretations, the duty of their lordships was, as they said, to construe the words of section 92; if they did otherwise they would be making a law, and not construing it. If the people of Australia want the law altered they can alter it. It ia no reflection upon the Privy Council and its prerogative to construe the Constitution as it exists if the Commonwealth, as represented by its government, thinks it right that the condition of affairs which, in fact, existed from 1920 to 1936 should be restored. When a section of the Constitution has been construed by the Privy Council and the legislature has been told what it means, it is the right of the legislature to try to rectify the condition of affairs brought about by the judgment.
– Why appeal to the Privy Council in another country at all?
– If the Commonwealth is given the power proposed to be sought, does the Minister think that marketing schemes can again be upset, let us say, by a challenge of the power of a State compulsorily to acquire property!
– In whatever I have to say on that point, I am expressing merely my own individual opinion. Under a constitution which distributes powers between the States on the on 3 hand and the “Commonwealth on tha other, we- cannot, of course, be absolutely sure of the validity of any proposal put forward. For proof of that we have only to survey the history of the Commonwealth since 1903, when the High Court was established, and to consider the extraordinary conflict of opinion that has arisen throughout the years since that date. I do not know whether a State, by exorcising its power of eminent domain, as was held right in the Wheat case, could upset any scheme of marketing; but I can imagine an individual like Mr. James desiring to upset such a scheme, and saying: “ I do not want to be in this pool ; I want to conduct my own business in my own way within the provisions of the Australian -Constitution, and I am going to do so.” My colleague also recalls to me the fact that, in the earlier James ease, when the effect of expropriation had to be construed, the Privy Council held that expropriation was invalid and should not be resorted to. I have “heard a number of lawyers say that. I may say that I do not agree with the assumption, or conclusion, that, in the earlier * J amrs* case the Privy Council laid down the rule that a State cannot expropriate or acquire property within its own boundaries. It is a question of fact, and 1 think the most that can be said lor it is that if the intention is to defeat the provisions of the Constitution relating to freedom of interstate trade it cannot be done, because it is a legal principle that what you cannot do directly you cannot do indirectly. The powers of the States as laid down in the Wheat case, are still left open to them. Senator J..V. MacDonald asked why there should be an appeal to the Privy Council. Something might be said about that, but I am not sure that it is distinctly relevant to the question before the Chair. The fact is that Mr. James went to the Privy Council by virtue of the authority given to him by the Constitution. Whether or not the right of -appeal to the Privy Council is good or bad, is a question that would involve “ long argument, in which 1 would have a good deal to say in support of the view that, in respect of political questions which may take on a party aspect and engender a good deal oi’ heat, and in respect of which the only argument is that of numbers, it may be very much better that a completely outside legal body such as the Privy Council should construe the Constitution.
– With no knowledge of Australian conditions or atmosphere.
– If the Privy Council were entitled to say : “ We think Australia would be a lot better off if it did this, that, or the other thing”, there might be something in what the honorable gentleman says. But the duty of that body is to construe the written words of the Constitution, and it suffers no disadvantage whatever by reason of the fact that it is composed of English, and not Australian, lawyers. The Government believes that the people expect? it to take the steps necessary to restore the position that obtained prior to thu decision of the Privy Council. Consequently, after very mature consideration of the matter by the Government and the Attorney-General - and, in reply to Senator Hardy, I may say that the Attorney-General did not fail to bring in outside advice, but obtained the best authority and support he could - it was decided that the beat way to re-establish the position chat had been disestablished by the Privy Council’s decision was to ask the people to insert in the Constitution this new provision - 92a. The provisions of tha last preceding section shall not apply to laws with respect ti) marketing made by, or under the authority of, the Parliament in the exercise of any powers vested in the Parliament by this Constitution.
In order to bring about a change in the Constitution, the proposed alteration must first be passed by an absolute majority in both branches of the legislature. That is the reason why the Leader of the Senate has given notice of a motion for a call of the Senate a few weeks hence. The next stage is that in not less than two months, but not more than six months, after the passage of the proposed law, it must bc submitted to the people and agreed to by a majority of the electors in a majority of the- States. There must be an affirmative majority in four of the States and an affirmative majority of the total votes polled in Australia. Even though the proposal might be agreed to by an overwhelming majority in the more populous States of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, the Constitution could not be amended if the proposal were rejected in the three smaller States. One reason that actuated, the Government in its decision to frame the proposed alteration in the way it has was the suggestion that if the question to be submitted to the people were so framed that it would be difficult to understand, or could possibly be discussed with great bitterness, the most unpopular feature of the proposal would be taken as the main proposal, and those electors who regarded it so would vote against it. Therefore the Government thought that it had no opportunity in the short period available for an educational campaign, to induce the people to accept any proposal except one of a very simple character. The history of all the various proposals for alterations of the Constitution in Australia lends the strongest support to that view. The people have shown themselves to be extremely cautious about granting extended powers to the Commonwealth Parliament. The proposal was submitted in its present form because it is extremely easy for the people to grasp its meaning. I cast no reflection upon the democracy of this or any other country when 1 say that measures proposing alterations of a constitution which aLow the subjects upon which the Parliaments of the Commonwealth and the States should respectively legislate are usually above the heads of a very large section of the electors. The proposal which the Government now submits to the Senate has noi that great disadvantage. The Government merely desires to say- to the people “From 1920 to 1936 you lived under certain conditions and we had certain acts of Parliament which were df assistance in the marketing of many important primary products. The decision of the Privy Council has shown that to an extent we were living in a fools’ paradise. We cannot continue under those conditions, and all we ask of you now is not to buy a pig in a poke, but simply to say ‘ We want to revert to the position as it was from 1920 to 1936 ‘ “.
With great respect, I do not think that much is to be gained by a general discussion of this bill, because it may be taken for granted that practically every individual Senator was in favour of the conditions that prevailed up to the time of the Privy Council’s decision in the early part of this year. If, however, any honorable senator, including the leader of the Country party, can point to’ something which suggests that we may not bo able to do, by the words we have used, the things Ave think we can do, that will be a relevant and helpful criticism.
– This bill will cover many more industries than were helped under the old marketing schemes. Marketing is a very wide term.
– I ‘ think that the most one can say is that it may cover a wider field. In the sixteen years when we were, de facto, in the position that we will be in if .this alteration is agreed to. marketing schemes were limited to certain primary industries, and, from the nature of the case, I think they are bound to be limited to those primary industries in which we produce more than we consume.
– An increasing number of industries will be brought under the marketing schemes as the years go on.
– That may be. The action of this Parliament in regard to those schemes was taken at the request of the Parliaments of the States. The schemes have worked well, and we hope that they will continue to do so. In the belief that the proposal in this bill will achieve its object, I commend the second reading of the measure to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Collings) adjourned.
Debate resumed from the 8th October (vide page 891) on motion by Senator Sir George Pearce -
That the papers be printed.
– I take exception to the procedure adopted in transacting the business of the Senate. The Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill 1936- 1937, authorized new expenditure amounting to £7,684,305. It seems strange to me that we should pass bills providing for the expenditure of millions of pounds of the taxpayers’ money before the works on which the expenditure is incurred have been considered in this chamber. It is difficult for me to record an intelligent vote on a bill introduced, say, this afternoon, if we are expected to vote upon it within three or four hours. I realize that Ministers, through close contact with departmental officers are usually fully acquainted with the contents of bills brought down, but private senators should have a reasonable opportunity to consider them in detail.
I wish now to refer to the financial relations of the ‘Commonwealth and the States.For five successive years the Commonwealth has shown a surplus, the accumulated surplus being now approximately £10,000,000, but during that quinquennium the deficits of the States have increased by over £40,000,000. If loan moneys are included, we find that the deficits of the States have grown by £75,799,000, whereas the Commonwealth debt has decreased by £7,847,000 during the last (out years. The conditions which lead to such results should be altered. There is urgent need for a re-adjustment of the financial relations of the Common wealth and the States, because Australia cannot continue to drift at the rate of £67,000,000 every four years. Unless the drift is checked, the day is fast approaching when Australia will be forced either to default or to take more drastic action to meet its financial obligations.
– ‘Perhaps it will borrow more money to pay the debts.
– That policy cannot be continued for ever. That Australia already owes £1,255,000,000 causes me considerable concern. It is high time that Parliament viewed this subject seriously, and attempted to re-adjust the financial position as between the Commonwealth and the States. It may be that this is the aim of the Common wealth Government in remitting taxes to the amount of over £5,250,000, because those remissions will benefit the States considerably. I recognize that the Commonwealth is committed to heavy expenditure in connexion with its defence policy, and that the provision of £8,000,000 for that purpose represents a considerable drain on its resources. Defence expenditure must continue until Australia is more adequately protected, although we all hope that the need to use such defences will not arise.
The budget speech refers to inescapable expenditure, amounting to £63,073,277, in connexion with war services, pensions, sinking fund, defence measures, and other commitments. That money is now provided from revenue; but I believe that ways could ‘be devised to make unnecessary so heavy a drain on the country’s revenue. By the substitution of a ‘ scheme of national insurance for the present pensions system, a large proportion of the present annual expenditure in respect of aged and invalid persons would be avoided. In the event of an affirmative vote in the proposed referendum, it should be possible to provide, in good years, a fund sufficient to tide our primary producers over lean periods. I hope that, by the efficient organization of Australian marketing, it will bo possible to avoid the necessity for the States to seek annual grants from the Commonwealth to assist producers. It is high time that this Parliament tackled some of the big problems which are mentioned here from time to time. such as national insurance, and the 40-hour working week. If it be possible to have a 40-hours’ working week all round, let us have it !
– It cannot be done in the dairying industry.
– I do not believe in one section of the community enjoying a 40-hours’ working week at the expense of other sections.
– The Arbitration Court has never attempted to provide for a 40-hours’ week for primary producers,because it knows that it would be impracticable.
– I agree. The impracticability of providing for a 40- hours’ week in all industries is a strong reason for setting up a committee to inquire into the whole subject. From time to time I have seen in the press statements by men who have advocated the reduction of the working week to 30 hours. The Government should ascertain whether such a proposal is economically sound. Personally, I have no doubt as to the result of such an inquiry; but before a general reduction of working hours is made, the subject should be fully inquired into.
Recently I visited some of the drought affected areas of Western Australia and found that many stock-owners there had lost 40 per cent of their stock. I learned also that although the season is a very dry one the poor wheat harvest this year is due to severe frosts rather than to drought conditions. My observations in Western Australia bear out what I said in my speech on the proposed grant to Western Australia. I am glad to know that following the recent meeting of the Loan Council, Western Australia is to receive a greater measure of assistance in order that the plight of some of its settlers may be relieved. Most of the credit for obtaining that additional grant for Western Australia is due to the representatives of the Commonwealth. I am, indeed, astonished at the attitude adopted by the representatives of some of the States in regard to the claims of their more necessitous neighbours.
Prom time to time, both in this chamber and elsewhere, I have heard men say that the increased production of gold should be of tremendous advantage to
Western Australia. It is true that that State produces gold to the value of about £8,000,000 a year, but I remind honorable senators that the only direct benefit it receives is increased revenue from income taxes from miners and others who benefit from the search for gold. My point is that most of the profits from the gold go to companies which are controlledby shareholders in overseas countries and in the other States. Because of the fallacious belief that the increased production of gold enriches all the people on the goldfields, those people are sadly neglected by both Commonwealth and State Governments. They too, have a sound claim for assistance,andI shall take this matter up with the responsible Minister in the future.
– Do the people of Western Australia realize that the present Commonwealth Government has done more for the necessitous States than any other government has done ?
– I am pleased to say that they do. During my recent visit to the wheat belt of Western Australia, I found that the people there, particularly the primary producers appreciate what the present Commonwealth Government has done for them during the past five years, and realize how little the State government has helped them. I hope that in its future reports the Commonwealth Grants Commission will give greater consideration to the claims of the States which have suffered from Federal policy, and will alter the basis of its assessment. I hope, too, that” the personnel of the commission will he altered.
– In what way would the honorable senator have it altered?
– Until a man with experience of the peculiar difficulties of Western Australia is appointed to the commission, that State will never be treated fairly, and therefore I hope that, in making future appointments to the commission, the Government will see that at least one person with a sound knowledge of conditions in that State is selected.
Recently, I asked a question regarding the instructing of members of rifle clubs in the use of machine guns, and was told that the cost of training them would be too costly to undertake. If it be not pos- sible to train all the members of rifle clubs, the Government would do well to instruct the captains and perhaps one or two other members of such clubs, in the use of machine guns, thereby providing throughout Australia a number of potential instructors of. other men in time of emergency. Fairly heavy expenditure on defence is proposed this year, and I maintain that in no other way could money be better employed than in creating a reserve of machine gunners.
– Would the honorable senator suggest that similar training should be given in the handling of the Lewis gun?
– Yes. I hope that next year we shall at least have dealt with the general budget policy before we are asked to record votes on important bills involved in the budget.
.- I was pleased to hear Senator Marwick urge the training of members of rifle clubs in machine gunnery. I have discussed that matter on a previous occasion and I think that it should be possible to have instructors visit the various drill halts in order to give to rifle club members some training, even of an elementary nature, in the use of machine guns.
– It is nonsense to say that it is impossible to do so.
SenatorFOLL. - I fail to see why such instruction should not. be given. In view of the important part played by machine guns in modern warfare, it is not enough to instruct men merely in the use of rifles.
In Brisbane recently I discussed with a senior military officer the subject of enlistments in the voluntary services, and was surprised to learn that the amount of wastage of enlistments in the infantry section of the militia is about 50 per cent. This shows that the figures cited in reference to enlistments do not indicate the true strength of the militia forces.I understand that there is not the same amount of wastage in the garrison artillery and the other technical branches, but in one infantry battalion in South Queensland 50 per cent, of the men who enlist remain in the service for little more than six months. I asked the senior officer how this came about, in view of the fact that the men were supposed to enlist for a number of years. He informed me that the men alter enlisting might give some reason or another in support of an application for a discharge. For example, a man might want to take a job out in the west, or because of family or other reasons, be unable to carry on. Little or no obstacle is placed in his way, and, consequently, out of every two men who enlist, one of them has gone off the strength within six months. It is’ no good patting ourselves on the back regarding the total enlistments. The question is how many of the volunteers serve their time, and become efficient soldiers?
– Surely, we are not patting ourselves?
– I have seen a number of statements made by the Minister for Defence (Sir Archdale Parkhill) in which he took pride in the number of enlistments that are being recorded at the present time.
– The number dropped by 1,000 last year.
– I was not aware of what the figures were. That there should be a wastage of nearly 50 per cent, in the infantry battalions is a matter for the serious consideration of the Government. It is difficult for the senior military officers to place obstacles in the way of men leaving before their term has expired. If a man in one part of Queensland wants to go to another part, say, Roma, or Charleville, where no unit exists, the authorities cannot stand in his way, especially when the service is entirely voluntary. It would be difficult under present conditions to enforce the full period of enlistment.
If it is necessary, as I am sure it is, to have trained soldiers to defend this country, would it not be far better and far more economical to establish a standing army of 50,000 or 60,000 men, stationed in the various States? Men could enlist in such an army for a period of ten or twelve years, and then spend three or four years in the Reserves, to be called up for service if required, as is done overseas. The basis of the scheme could be voluntary, and the fact that it would absorb 50,000 or 60,000 men as permanent soldiers would make it more economical than the present system under which men who have been served with equipment and have involved the Commonwealth in expenditure on their training, cease within a few months to be soldiers because they either get tired of the service or have some other reason for leaving it. The establishment of a permanent standing army in this country would give greater scope to the graduates of the Royal Military College. A great number of young men would like to take up a military calling; but they are unable to do so at the present time. If they were enabled to do so. they could be taught some trade which would be useful to them when their period of enlistment ended. I do not doubt that, if the whole of the circumstances were considered, it would be found that the cost to this country of maintaining a permanent army would be no more than the amount which we are expending to-day on the voluntary enlistment system for which we are not getting an adequate return.
– That would depend on the rate of pay.
– The pay, I suggest, should he on the basis of the pay in the Royal Australian Navy, in which the men receive a certain amount in cash and the balance is held to their credit as deferred pay. At the finish of their enlistment period the permanent soldiers would be useful men who could be called up for service if needed. They would leave the service with a cheque for the amount of their deferred . pay which would enable them to set up in civil life. Not only would the system be of great use to the country, but it would also be a godsend to many men who would be given an opportunity for military service in a permanent army. In Great Britain a voluntary standing army of more than 250,000 men has existed for many years. After their period of service, they may continue in the army, or go into other walks of life. I submit this idea for the consideration of the Government. I agree with the statements by Senator Sampson from time to time, both in this chamber, and in Tasmania, that we are not getting anything like the full value for the money that is being expended on the voluntary enlistment system at present operating, having regard to the smallness of the personnel of the units. This is a matter which must be faced. Every nation, irrespective of its condition, is being compelled to spend large amounts of money on armaments and the training of men to defend its shores if the need should ever arise.
The matter of droughts was brought before the Senate by Senator Marwick, who spoke particularly of the unfortunate conditions obtaining in Western Australia at the present time. I have recently returned from Queensland, and I know that conditions in parts of that State are worse now than I have ever known. On this occasion, strangely enough, the drought is very severe in coastal, dairying and agricultural areas. This country, which usually produces prolifically, is in a frightful condition, and the grip of the drought extends even down so far as the northern rivers in New South Wales. In all the years I have been travelling between Brisbane and Sydney, I have never seen Grafton and the other towns on the northern rivers in so frightful a condition as exists at the present time. I have raised this matter because sooner or later it must be faced by the national Parliament as a national problem. We shall never be free from droughts in this country. Periodic droughts have always occurred, and presumably, always will. Those who have studied the outback conditions and are acquainted with the history of the natives know that this is so. Very little provision has been made by individuals or governments to provide against them, but the time will come when we shall have to appoint a national minister for droughts, and allocate a small percentage of our revenues to a special trust fund to enable men to stay on the land during serious times and also to provide money for restocking when the droughts are over. One of the worst features of droughts is that after they have ended and the grass has grown again, the landholders are so indebted to the banks or other financial institutions that they cannot raise money to restock. When the drought breaks and natural feed is available again, the price of stock rises, and the position of the land-holder, who is unable to get further financial aid, is indeed difficult. In the western part of Queensland there are men with ample grass on their land, hut they cannot buy stock. They are waiting to let out part of their land for agistment if the droaght continues in other parts of the State. This emphasizes that this Parliament must take this matter up as one of national urgency. We must set apart a small part of our revenues for the purpose of building up a trust fund to be administered by representatives from the various States in order to safeguard the position of these men. There are districts in the far northwest of Queensland, in which there is scarcely a man who is not heavily indebted to the banks as the result of droughts that have occurred there in recent years. So difficult is their position that the banks are simply holding the mortgages over the holdings and not charging interest. Parliament goes to the aid of other sections” of the community. When an industry finds itself in difficulty owing to overseas competition, we give to it extra tariff protection ‘ in order to enable it to live ; or we may help another industry by a bounty, but we have never provided a fund to give adequate relief to those men who have been fighting drought conditions for generations in the outback areas. I should like the Government to give some consideration to the need for rendering some assistance to those settlers who are in ore straits at the present time because of the adverse seasonal conditions.
I am pleased to learn that consideration is being given to the resumption of migration to Australia. I believe that under normal conditions a steady flow of migrants is more likely to provide additional employment than to bring about increased unemployment as some suggest. One of the principal causes of unemployment in Australia is underpopulation rather than over-population, and a study of the records shows that Australia has always been more prosperous when migration has been actively carried on. Prior to the war there was greater prosperity - I do not refer to the artificial prosperity which followed the expenditure of large sums of loan money - than perhaps at any other time. Australia was prosperous when there was a steady flow of migrants to Australia from Great Britain and southern European countries.
– There was also a steady flow of loan money at that time.
– That is so, and loan money is still being expended. Only foolish persons would advocate bringing thousands of persons to Australia without making provision for their employment when they arrived; but there are many directions in which migrants could be profitably employed in Australia at present. For instance, thereis an acute shortage of youths in certain primary industries, because parents of boys who are still looking for jobs do not wish them to leave their homes to work in country districts. I have been informed that it is extremely difficult to obtain youths for station and farm work. It is practically impossible to obtain boiler-makers and other tradesmen; this is due to some extent to our apprenticeship system, which has prevented many men from becoming skilled artisans. Undoubtedly there are industries in which there is a distinct shortage of skilled labour. I was very pleased to receive from the Reverend Canon Garland, of Brisbane, the president of the New Settlers League in that State, a copy of the speech he delivered at the welcome to the Marquis of Hartington, in which he said -
The attitude of the Queensland Government was expressed last year in the House by the Premier, the honorable W. Forgan Smith, who said that as we could not get our own lads to go on the land the time would come when we must revive the immigration of British lads. In the House within the last week or two he definitely stated that a requisition for immigrant lads would take place at once, and I am glad to think that already he has sent into the Federal Government his requisition for lads to come to Queensland. I am proud that Queensland is leading, and 1 want to emphasize, Lord Hartington. for your information and the information of your colleagues when you return, that with us in Queensland, and I hope in other parts of Australia, immigration is not a party political question. Our Premier himself the other day by giving the lead he has given to Australia has shown that it is above all party politics, and that he regards it as a national question. In support of that I will tell you a most interesting fact. My first connexion with immigration began in 1910 in this State. At that time a government was in that was not the same type of government as is to-day, and as you know governments come and go, policies change, but from that day to this the policy of the Government of the day has never varied in the matter, and has always supported immigration. It ia significant that in that 26 years about twenty years we have had a Labour Government.
I commend the New Settlers League for the good work it is doing in endeavouring to bring these lads to Australia. I understand that an effort is also being made by that league to bring domestic servants from overseas, but I do not think that they can be obtained so readily as other migrants. When in Great Britain last year, I was informed that the shortage of domestics in that country was as acute as it is in Australia. Many of the housewives in Great Britain were obtaining domestic servants from central European countries, although they had to be taught the English language before they could perform their duties satisfactorily. When I spoke on the subject of migration a few months ago, I said that Great Britain had little or no surplus population, and that, notwithstanding the figures published by those controlling the British national insurance scheme, there was practically no unemployment in that country.
– Is that why the present King visited certain colliery districts ?
– I was just about to say that, in the colliery districts, unemployment is pronounced, and the men are in a sorry plight. But it would be useless to obtain migrants from such districts to come to Australia, where, owing to the reduced output of coal for fuel purposes, there are already too many coal-miners. Moreover, the birth-rate in Great Britain is almost stationary, while in Italy and Germany, due largely to the policy of Mussolini and Hitler, the birth-rate is increasing rapidly. With a stationary birth-rate, Great Britain will not wish to lose useful citizens. The time is not far distant when we shall have to turn to other countries to obtain migrants. There are thousands of settlers in the Logan, Marxburg and other districts in Queensland who came from Germany many years ago and who have become good Australian citizens.
– Could we not obtain suitable migrants from the United States of America?
– I do not know what type of men would be likely to migrate from that country.
– There are hundreds of thousands of men, some of whom have had a university education and who are now working in the forests, who would be willing to come to Australia. Many have been trained in agricultural schools.
– I would not object to suitable persons coming from the United States of America. If we are to have a definite scheme of rural development, we shall have to look to countries other than Great Britain, where there is a shortage of agricultural labour to-day. As the British Government is subsidizing primary production in Britain to such an extent that it is difficult to obtain suitable agricultural labour in that country, I am confident that before long the Commonwealth Government will be compelled to look to European countries for new settlers. In the scrub country at the back of the sugar areas in Northern Queensland, where there is a 60-in. rainfall, thousands of families could not only maintain themselves, but also produce for export. Many European farmers who are now struggling to make a living on poor country would regard the area I have mentioned as a Paradise.
– Would the German Government allow its agricultural population .to leave the country?
– Germany has always been faced with the problem of overpopulation, as we have been with that of under-population.
– I do not think that Germany would allow its agricultural labourers to leave the country.
– Large numbers of them would bc glad to leave Germany.
– Yes, and we should be glad to welcome them here.
I now wish to refer briefly to the trade diversion policy of the Government, and the result of the efforts of the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties (Sir Henry Gullett). I am glad to learn that there is a likelihood of overcoming the difficulties which have existed between Japan and Australia. I do not condemn the Government for its trade diversion policy, particularly in respect of Japan, which deliberately deflated its currency in order to produce cheap articles, to the detriment of other producing countries. In such circumstances, reprisals must be expected. Australia was not by any means the first country which found it necessary to take steps to protect itself against a flood of imports of cheap articles produced by a low-wage country with a devaluated currency. Nevertheless, it will be to Australia’s ultimate loss if Japan does not enter our market for wool and other primary products. I shall not deal further with that matter because, as the Leader of the Senate has reminded me, it is now the subject of negotiation. I feel sure that every one will welcome the day when the negotiations have been finalized and trade is resumed between the two countries.
One action taken by the Government, however, is causing a tremendous amount of inconvenience and difficulty in Australia. I refer to the policy adopted in regard to the motor car industry. I read the statements made by the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties at the time when the new duties on motor chassis were imposed. The honorable gentleman said that shortly Australia would be manufacturing its own motor cars, a very laudable objective; but knowing something of the units necessary to be set up to produce cars on a commercial basis, T share the view of motor traders in Australia that we are a long way off manufacturing a complete car in this country. A.t the present time a tremendous amount of work is done in Australia in the manufacture of accessories and parts for cars. Usually the bare chassis is imported and the body, mudguards, battery, tyres, &c, are made in Australia. It is unfortunate that the trade diversion policy of the Government is likely merely to increase the price of motor cars without bringing about the additional work which was anticipated. In no country in the world do motor car manufacturers produce a complete car. In England, cars such as the Austin, Morris and Vauxhall, are equipped with lighting and starting units manufactured by the Lucas factory at Birmingham, while carburettors, wire wheels, sparking plugs, and various other component parts of the car are supplied by firms specializing in their manufacture.
– Industries manufacturing those particular parts could be established in Australia.
– If the honorable senator saw the output of the English factories he would recognize that there is little chance of these parts being manufactured competitively in Australia. By our present trade diversion policy in this respect we have played into the hands of General Motors-Holdens Limited, which with its extensive ramifications throughout Australia and other countries has smaller companies at a disadvantage. The Leader of the Opposition said that the whole of the profit of General Motors-Holdens Limited, amounting to approximately £680,000, would be spent in Australia. I remind him that about nine-tenths of the preference shares of that company are held outside of Australia, and that proportion of the preference dividend earned by the company in Australia is remitted to America and other countries.
– The profits of the particular year which I mentioned were allocated to be spent in Australia.
– As nine-tenths of the dividend declared on preference shares is sent to American and other holders, it would’ be interesting to learn how the money was returned to Australia.
– Holdens have now amalgamated with General Motors. I do not think the proportion stated by the honorable senator is so great.
– I referred to preference shares. A deputation 6f three or four leading importers of American motor cars other than the products of General Motors, waited upon me in Brisbane a few days ago. They have been established in business in Queensland for many years, and are reputable men who have built up their businesses on sound lines. A quota system has been applied, under which they are not allowed to import more cars this year than they imported last year. They do not complain of that, recognizing that the trade balance with the United States of America warranted the Government taking steps to rectify it. But every obstacle has been placed in the way of these importers carrying on their business even, within the quota. One of these gentlemen, Mr. Tooth, of Austral Motors Limited, pointed out that he represents in Australia a group in the United States of America that manufactures the De Soto, Chrysler, Plymouth and Dodge cars. These cars, though marketed tinder different names, have practically interchangeable chassis, engines and parts, only minor differences being made in the bodies to suit the fastidious tastes of the people. Under the quota system this firm has been given the right to import this year cars equal in value to those imported last year, and no more. But in view of the fact that perhaps the De Soto might be more popular this year than, say, the Chrysler or the Plymouth, they a3k that they be allowed to adjust their imports, balancing an increase of one make by a decrease of another make - for instance, substituting four Dodges or four Plymouths for four De Sotos. That is not n unreasonable request to make. This firm is carrying on business and employing a number of people in Queensland, una as long as the value of its imports does not exceed the total value of the cars imported last year, I see no reason why its request should not be granted, and why the limit imposed in respect of any one particular make should not be departed from. Mr. Dodwell, another representative of American cars in Queensland, and perhaps one of the best-known business men in Queensland, having spent many years in building up a large enterprise, is the agent for the Studebaker cars and trucks. Owing to the unfortunate drought conditions which existed in Queensland, he is unable to sell so many trucks in the country this year as he sold last year. He has made application to the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties to be allowed to vary the number of trucks and cars imported while still remaining within his quota. Though he has been writing to the department for months he has been unable to get a reply.
– Similar requests preferred by South Australian agents have been granted by the Customs Department.
– I have in my possession a pile of correspondence dealing with this matter, addressed to the department, but permission has not been granted.
– Did the honorable senator approach the Minister on the subject?
– I have communicated with him in regard to it. I think I am justified in bringing before the Parliament of this country these matters of so much importance to my constituents. For every car allowed to be substituted for a truck an extra £130 will be spent in Australia because of the difference between the prices of truck bodies and car bodies. The former cost only about £30, whereas the latter cost anything from £150 to £160, and provide four or five times as much employment in the motor bodybuilding industry. Motor car importers in Brisbane are becoming exasperated at the -failure of the department to come to a decision in regard to this matter. Their business is hampered by reason of tha fact that they are unable to give body orders in advance. My friend from South Australia (Senator McLeay) should be interested in this, because most of the bodies come from Richards Limited in his State, and naturally that firm is affected by the delay on the part of th« department in dealing with this matter.
– It is a complete- holdup of business.
– That ia so. I have quoted the names of the Brisbane importers in order that honorable senators from Queensland will know that the complaints have been made by men of repute who have been engaged in business in large way in that State for many years They approached me in desperation to ask if I could do anything to expedite the matter. I promised to bring it up in the Senate in order to see if relief could be granted to them. I commend their case to the Government because, recognizing the need for correcting the unfavorable trade balance with the United States of America, they are not asking for any increase of the quota laid down. All they ask is that they be able to arrange the internal affairs of their business in such a way as to enable them to carry on, and keep their men in employment.
I desire now to deal with the continued delays which take place in the arrival of the air mail from overseas. I am glad that the Postmaster-General (Senator A. J. McLachlan) is present in the chamber, because I feel sure that he is just as concerned about these delays as is any one else in Australia. Practically the whole of the delays occur in that section of the air mail route controlled by Imperial Airways Limited. Taking the whole route from Australia to England, that portion of it operated by Qantas Imperial Airways of Australia is the most satisfactory. I cannot understand why such a great organization as Imperial Airways Limited, which claims a high degree of efficiency should take so long to fly the mail over the route from England to Singapore. It has been pointed out to me that, in the United States of America, no less than nine planes fly on coast to coast services at a cruising speed of 200 miles an hour, travelling day and night. I Lave had a letter from a friend of raine, Mr. E. Allan Box, who has just returned from abroad, and who travelled extensively by air in Europe, the United States of America, Iraq and Palestine. He travelled thousands of miles on services operated by Imperial Airways Limited. He tells me that for general efficiency and for maintaining a time-table, the EnglandAustralia service provided by Imperial Airways Limited lags sadly behind similar services supplied by American companies. Mr. Box writes: -
Instead of the rather commonplace method of a “ traveller’s tale “ to the press, I think a rather more brilliant idea is to write you some views on the position of Australian air communication with Europe.
In my “ round the world “ trip I visited nearly all the countries in the Near East, including Iraq, Syria, Palestine and Egypt, using commercial air lines, and made numerous journeys backward and forward across Europe by the same method. I also spent a period of eight weeks in the United States of America, where my business interests enabled mc to have the use of a Commuters ticket, available for ‘ the twelve major air lines, on which, incidentally, I was given a 15 per cent, concession on regular fares and charges.
T cannot help noticing since my return that the repeated delays that have been occurring throughout the year on the Imperial route have not been overcome. However disinclined we natural y are to criticize any British enterprise, the position on the Imperial route is really serious, and it seems should be faced without delay. The air mails by Imperial last week were reported to be again late. When have they been early during the last twelve months? The Post Office is so desperate, that it proposes to get over the difficulty by adding another day to the schedule. This, I suppose, is intended to solve the problem completely! In other words, when is a delay not a delay! Answer - ‘* When it is official.”
The facts are well known to those of us who have flown regularly on the world’s air routes. To be quite candid, the flying equipment of Imperial Airways is out of date, and has been out of date for a long time. Its fine personnel cannot possibly overcome the handicap of inefficient machines. Where Imperial struggle to keep up a speed of 90 miles an hour, up-to-date services in every important country maintain an average cruising speed of 180 to 200 miles in all but abnormal weather. Where Imperial aircraft struggle with a ceiling of 8,000 feet, other services make light of 12,000 feet. Where Imperial ure always in danger of fire with their fabriccovered machines, other services with metal planes allow their passengers to smoke a<? lii> in the air. Where the shades of dusk find . Imperial seeking ground shelter, other services fly day ami night without hindrance. The existing equipment on the Singapore route if like continuing to carry mails and passengers in 30-mile-an-hour trains and 10-knot steamers.
As an example of what efficient commercial air services are like, the United States of America presents a picture of at least nine planes daily each way from coast to coast completely - equipped for luxurious speed and completing the 3,000-mile journey day in and day out in hours.
The enclosed’ folder of one of the principal air lines used by me leaves little further to be added.
I shall not mention the name of the line to which my correspondent refers, but I took the trouble to examine the timetable. The schedule provides for day and night running, aided by beacons and [and lights, from coast to coast, a distance of 3,000 miles. The journey is accomplished at an average speed of about 200 miles an hour, and the service is maintained without, a subsidy. Mr. Box concludes his letter as fallows : -
Briefly, commercial passenger flying and fast air mails have in other countries passed from the realm .of adventure into the sphere of commercial necessity. No country can long afford to become back ward, especially one with large unoccupied areas like Australia, and the world’s experience seems to indicate that speed, beside being of the essence of the contract, is a vital element of safety.
As to cost, you will note that the fares in America are not greater than the cost of firstclass rail transportation on the luxury lines If all incidental charges be taken into consideration.
On the Brisbane to Sydney route, the airmail service is provided without a subsidy. Two journeys are accomplished each way daily. The time occupied in the run is about three and a half hours, and the time-table is regularly maintained. I suppose that no more efficient service is to be found in Australia. Yet, when we take up our newspapers, we discover, almost daily, that the England-Australia air mails are running late. I understand that the Dutch service from Amsterdam to Sourabaya or Batavia is one of five days. I hope that the protests which have been made by the Postmaster-General (Senator A. J. McLachlan) and the Minister for Defence (Sir Archdale Parkhill) regarding the service supplied by Imperial Airways Limited will result in faster and more up-to-date planes being used on the route. This company receives a subsidy of about £1,400,000 a year. A great deal of dispute has arisen as to whether the servicE should be provided by means of flying boats or land planes. I hope that Australia will have its overseas air mails carried by the most modern machines.
– My department communicated with the British Post Office, and has had an assurance that henceforward the position will be satisfactory. Two colossal flying boats have been put into commission within the last few days, and will be used on this route.
– I am sure that this matter must have given the Government a’ great deal of anxious thought. I hope that the people of Australia generally will benefit from the improved service that is anticipated.
– Many weeks have elapsed since the budget papers -were placed in our hands. The leading speeches upon them have been delivered, but we are still discussing a motion for the printing of the papers. I do not know how many honorable senators have .fully or partly prepared speeches dealing with the motion before the Senate. I had prepared a lengthy address; but, with the lapse of so many weeks since this matter was last under discussion, I find it difficult to recall fully all the important points with which I intended to deal.
My colleague from Queensland, Senator Foll, made the useful suggestion that there should be a Minister to deal with droughts. Queensland is such a large State, geographically, that almost invariably one or more parts of it suffer from lack of rain. Perhaps, the holder of the new portfolio should be styled “ the Minister for Wet “, because of the need for conserving water. Australia was easily obtained, and it proved to be a bountiful land. No national planning was undertaken, with the result that in various parts of the continent to-day the people are faced with the prospect of a big drought. The conservation of water and fodder has been preached for generations, yet we are in the same position to-day as in the ‘sixties, when we instituted the practice of borrowing money from London.
I have some approbation to bestow on the Government for its action in regard to public health. The budget speech contains the following paragraph: -
The Government, having regard to Mie great importance of public health, and the necessity for close co-operation between the Commonwealth, the States, and the medical profession, has decided to establish a National Health and Medical Research Council.
Additional funds are being provided to make the work of the Department of Health more effective, with special reference to cancer, maternal welfare, and the nutrition of th* people generally.
No more important subject could be raised than that of the health of the people. I believe in democratic control by the majority of the people, but, observing the futility of politics in certain directions, one feels inclined to go as far as the pagan Romans went, and give a dictatorship to a leader, if only for six months.
– But we could not select him.
– I do not know that that would be a very difficult thing to do. At. any rate, the people should retain the power to dismiss him after six months of office. The laxity pf governments in the past in regard to public health matters has been deplorable. The proper feeding of the people is closely related to the maintenance of our first line of defence. We cannot build a great nation if the majority of the people are burdened with the troubles incidental to the capitalist system. In Europe we see dictators dealing with these problems. Great Britain is considering roundabout proposals to take action on lines similar to those adopted in Italy and Germany. Therefore, 1 am glad to notice the reference in the budget speech to the importance of nutrition. The first essential to health is a supply of good food. During recent months difficulties have arisen in connexion with the trade between Australia and Japan. This is a delicate subject, but, however we may regard the fluctuating prices for wool during the last six months-
-Wool prices are going up.
– When the budget speech was delivered, both the Bulletin and Smith’s Weekly, which are not usually in agreement, were opposed to the Government’s policy and pointed out that prices were down from five to ten per cent. It is true that wool prices have risen lately, but that may be because of a determination of the big interests concerned to convince Japan that its buyers are not indispensable. The Government is under an obligation to look after Australia’s good customers, but it has not handled the Japanese difficulty in the best interests of the Australian people.
– Does the honorable senator think that Australia should concede everything that Japan asks for?
– No. I believe in considering first the interests of Australia. The Government has not done that, for Japanese buyers are not in the market.
– Then what are they doing at every wool sale?
– They are merely watching..
– Does the honorable senator think that the principle underlying the action of the Government was wrong ?
– I do not think that any principle underlay its action.
– Does the honorable senator think that the Government should not have taken any action in connexion with Australia’s trade with Japan?
– The Government should not have accepted dictation by the Imperial authorities.
– Does the honorable senator mean that unrestricted imports should have been permitted?
– I did not say that at all. The Government should adopt an Australian attitude in this matter. The tariff policy of this country is evidence of a desire to put Australia first; but it is wrong to hit a good customer in the face.
– Has that been done in respect of Japan?
– If I attempt to answer every interjection by Senator Dein the speech will be his, not mine. As he should know by this time, his school-masterly attitude is not suited to this chamber.
– The honorable senator says that by restricting imports the Government hit Japan in the face, and yet he claims to approve of the restriction of imports.
– I approve of the restriction of imports, if that action is in the best interests of Australia; but I do not approve of the Government making restrictions at the dictation of Imperial interests. Discriminatory action has also been taken against the United States of America. At first I approved of that action, because that country is a bad customer of Australia,but I have since reflected that its people and the people of Australia come from a common stock, and that in a crisis the United States of America would protect Australia. Moreover, since the restrictions were imposed, the United States of America has pointed out that to regard bilateral trade as the basis for fixing a trade policy is wrong. That country has shown that, although in the matter of trade, Australia is at a disadvantage, the position is reversed when trade with other dominions and the British Empire generally is considered. I hope that wool prices will be stabilized, but there is no doubt that the treatment meted out to Japanese buyers has caused instability in the wool industry. I am not alone in that view, for I remind honorable senators that the sheep-farmers themselves have approached the Government by deputation in this connexion.
– Does the honorable senator believe in restricting imports from Japan?
– I believe in restricting imports from any country, even the Mother Country, if they endanger Australia. The budget speech having shown that in the year before last Australia’s imports were valued at £7,000,000 more than its exports, proceeded to point out that the position had improved, for the £7,000,000 had been reduced to £.1,000,000. It is well that that is so, for were the tendency in the opposite direction, Australia might again reach the position in which it was in 1929, when there was a gap of £20,000,000 between the values of its exports and its imports. The Treasurer’s claim that prosperity has returned cannot be accepted without some reservation. On page 2 of the budget speech appears the following paragraph: -
The general position of export prices as a whole may be seen from the following table of index numbers at half-yearly intervals (base, 1,000 in 1928) : -
The fluctuations shown in that table indicate that prosperity has not yet permanently returned.
– But conditions have improved since the present Government came into office.
– The fluctuations which have taken place reveal the need to go carefully in regard to imports. There should be power to restrict imports from any country. Another paragraph in the budget speech reads -
It is estimated that about 335,000 persons have got back into full-time employment in Australia since early 1032.
That is an encouraging statement, were it not that there are still many persons without employment. A fair estimate would he that at least 150,000 workers are unemployed.
–Still too many.
– Yes, still too many. No government in Australia can claim 100 per cent, efficiency in dealing with unemployment. Senator Marwick expressed satisfaction with what the Commonwealth Government had done towards putting people back into work, but he had no appreciation for what the Labour Government of Western Australia had done.
– I did not say anything about putting men back into work; I was speaking about assistance to the farmers.
– The Government of Western Australia would certainly assist the farmers.
– If it had the money.
– Yes ; but the Commonwealth Government has the money. The Queensland Labour Government has done most for the relief of unemployment. It has done a lot more than the Commonwealth Government has done. It was the first Government to demand money for public works, thereby surmounting one of the main causes of the depression in this country, namely, the cessation of the flow of British loan money into Australia.
– The Commonwealth Government made it possible to do that by giving protection to the sugar industry.
– King Charles’ head again! I hope that Western Australia will attempt to grow sugar in the same way that it is attempting to grow bananas. If it does so. its representatives will undoubtedly vote for the sugar embargo.
Australia should keep its eyes on the level of imports, because the balance of trade and the state of our funds in London are vital factors in the prosperity of the country. Self-satisfaction exists among supporters of the Government in regard to this budget, which, I admit, is fairly good, largely because the Government has been lucky in having reaped the benefit of good seasons; but the Government should keep a watchful eye on imports to see that they do not grow to such an extent as to exceed exports. An adverse balance, perhaps of even £5,000,000, would put the Commonwealth in a bad position. The budget contains the following paragraph: -
Of the £stg. 11,000,000 increase in imports, £stg.!),000,000 is accounted for by increased imports of non-competitive goods, mainly machinery, motor vehicles, and petrol. The prominent position of metal manufactures and machinery indicates rapid growth and improvement in tho equipment of secondary industries.
Therein is some explanation, although I am sorry to see that motor vehicles and petrol are included. Nevertheless, we have no reason to applaud the increase of imports, although we were only £1,000,000 in arrears last year as compared with £6,000,000 in the previous year. The Government is entitled to claim credit for the loan conversions in Great Britain; but we should not let the matter rest there. The Australian High Commissioner, Mr. S. M. Bruce, has received a good deal of kudos for having secured a reduction of interest on loans domiciled in Great Britain. No doubthe has thereby saved a great amount of money for Australia, but having regard to the cheapness of money on the London market there is not the slightest doubt that he should have obtained a greater reduction. The average rate of interest payable on Australian debts domiciled in London this year is 6s. 8d. per cent, more than the rate of interest on loans domiciled in Australia - a fact which I hope the British investors- will note. I think that the Minister will admit the truth of these figures, which are taken from the budget itself.
Wo can give some credit to the Scullin Government for the fact that the 6 per cent, loans in this country were converted to 4 per cent, five or six years ago. The present Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), as the then Leader of the Opposition, signed the appeal which was made to the bondholders on that occasion. The interest burden to-day is only 13s. Id. per capita more than it was in 1920-21. It is some satisfaction to know that, supported by public opinion, the Scullin Government made those conversions which, with the Londan conversions, have resulted in our being only that amount worse off, despite a larger debt. The reason for tho reduction of the interest rate is, of course, that all classes in the community suffered in the depression. Wages were cut down and social services were lopped off in order to secure economy, and, of course, loan money had to share in the general sacrifice.
A fact that should be brought out more strongly is that the budgets of the States and the Commonwealth combined show a net surplus of £1,137,000. That, of course, is largely due to the fact that the Commonwealth had great revenues, and that its surplus last year was between £3,000,000 and £4,000,000.. Subtracting the State deficits, the net surplus over all budgets is £1,137,000. That is a satisfactory position, and I think it could be used as an argument from this side of the chamber that the masses should be helped by a reduction of indirect taxes, which are at present oppressive. Senator Hardy recently referred to the fact that indirect taxes hit the masses while direct taxes hit the classes. It seems that the surplus over the whole of the Commonwealth - one cannot ignore the national economy - gives scope for a greater reduction of the taxes which the people at present bear. The budget discloses that customs and excise revenue exceeded the estimates last year by £3,58S,000, sales tax by £5S2,’000 and land tax by £177,000. I think that the sales tax could have been reduced more, because, like the customs and excise, it is a tax which affects the common people. When I was in Melbourne recently I met a number of business people, who some time ago made representations, I think, to the Prime Minister, that the rate of the sales tax should be placed at some more workable figure than 5 per cent.. because the rate of 5 per cent, involved a great deal of clerical work in the fixing of costs and prices. The rate previously was 6 pt».r cent. The business people contended that a tax of 44 per cent, could be more conveniently calculated. There is not the slightest doubt that the position of the Commonwealth’s finances warrants the emergency sales tax being reduced to 3 per cent., in order to give relief to those persons who have to bear the added hurden of the customs duties and other indirect taxes. It may be contended that the gap in Commonwealth finances which woRd result would have to be made up in some other direction, and that people who pay land tax and income tax already pay huge amounts, but the budget shows that the amount of indirect taxes amounts to more than £51,000,000 annually, whereas direct taxation yielded last year only £10,480,000. In other words, customs and excise and sales tax are about five times greater than the whole of the direct taxes. I am sorry that Senator Hardy, who makes a speech and then goes away for a week, talked a great deal about something of which he does not know much. The land, tax yielded £2,846,000 in 1933-34, whereas the receipts from that source last year amounted to only £1,200,000. Within the last four years the land tax has been halved. I should like to correct a statement made earlier in the debate by Senator Hardy or Senator Johnston that the Queensland Government borrowed money from the United States of America at a high rate of interest rather than borrow from Great Britain. The Queensland Government did not wish to borrow in the United States of America at a high rate of interest, but was forced to do so by certain London financiers - “ gansters “ would be a more appropriate term - who refused that Government the financial accommodation afforded to other States and also to the New Zealand Government. They closed their doors to the Government of a sovereign State in a British dominion because that Government’s legislation did not suit them. Moreover, the representatives of a “ stinking fish “ party in Queensland visited Great Britain to denounce an important State merely because certain individuals could not get their own way. British financiers listened to the representations of these antiAustralians, and, consequently, the Queensland Government was forced to float a loan on the New York market. At the time the accommodation was refused to the Queensland Government, British financiers made available £1,500,000 to certain interests in Sao Paulo, in Brazil, a country populated by Portuguese and Indians, some of whom would not be admitted to Australia under our immigration laws.
– What rate of interest was the Queensland Government compelled to pay in New York?
– I believe that it was 7 per cent., a rate higher than would have been paid in Britain.
– But Queensland got the advantage of the exchange.
– Yes, I believe that the rate was 1 per cent, more than it would have been bad the loan been raised in London. Although British financiers would not accommodate the Queensland Government, a loan, of £1,000,000 or £1,500,000 was raised in New York through the City National Bank, on the directorate of which were two or three British financiers. When Mr. Theodore arrived in New York he found that there was not much difficulty in raising a loan so long as the Government was willing to guarantee the payment of interest. Apparently the British financiers thought that they would teach the Queensland Government a lesson and not go farther than that.
I sincerely trust that all emergency legislation will be repealed as soon as possible, because the sales tax and certain other imposts .are pressing unduly upon the people. The sales tax should have been reduced to 3 per cent. I notice that there has been a reduction by 10 per cent, of the tax on income from personal exertion and from property, but the reduction on income from property should not be so great as that on income from personal exertion.
– The rates are not the same.
– No, but there has been a reduction of 10 per cent, in each case, whereas the reduction in respect of income from personal exertion should be 10 per cent., and on income from property 5 per cent., because property is established wealth, whereas income from personal exertion is earned by the sweat of the brow.
– Many persons possessing property have worked hard to acquire it.
– In some instances, property is inherited, and, in other cases its owners would not welcome an inquiry into the manner in which they came into possession of it.
I compliment the Government upon having increased, if only slightly, invalid and old-age pensions, but in view of the improved financial position it should have restored the pension to the full amount. Early in the depression, the number of persons entitled to the maternity allowance was serious restricted. I regret that the allowance is now based upon income; it was never intended to be regarded as a charitable payment. When my three children were born, I was earning much more than £4 a week, but I collected the allowance, because I felt that if I declined to do so it might be said that I considered myself superior to others. When our population figures are almost stationary, and certain European countries controlled by dictators are increasing their populations, no restriction should be placed on the maternity allowance. I trust that before long the allowance will be paid regardless of the income of the applicant.
On previous occasions, I have dealt with the urgent necessity to give greater publicity to Australia as a tourist resort, and to the high quality of its products. In the budget speech the following paragraph appeared : - .
With a view to assisting the sale of Australian products abroad, and the tourist traffic, the Government has decided to increase the g rantsfor publicity to the Oversea Trade P ublicity Committee and the Australian National Travel Association.
In view of the extensive publicity campaigns conducted by Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, United States of America, and Canada the action of the Government in increasing these grants is justified. I understand that in the United States of America the value ofthe tourist traffic is of such importance that it occupies the second or third place amongst national industries. A great deal more could be done in advertising Australian primary products in Great Britain and in the East, and in that way increasing our sales so that our exports might in time exceed our imports. Mr. E. A. Angove, a world traveller, in an address before the Haymarket Central Square Broadway Association said -
Countries such as Japan, Great Britain, Germany and the United States of America gave away tourist pamphlets in millions, but Australia lagged badly in publicity for its attractions to visitors.
There is no justification for adopting the suggestion sometimes made that tourist pamphlets should be sold at a profit; they should be produced in an attractive form, and, as suggested by Mr. Angove, distributed in millions. There is no reason why Australia should not be the most important tourist resort in the southern hemisphere. I hope that the comments of Mr. Angove will be taken to heart, and that there will be no stinting of the provision for publicity or of the quantity of literature distributed. Also, we should treat tourists with a certain amount of courtesy, allowing them to feel that they are always welcome. We should take care not to give the impression that we are bent on exploiting them.
Debate (on motion by Senator Payne) adjourned.
Federal Members’ Rooms, Adelaide: Telephone Calls: Conveyance by Aeroplane: Goulburn to Canberra Railway Service.
[6.6]. - I move-
That the Senate do now adjourn.
During the passage of the Supply Bill through the Senate, several honorablesenators raised various questions relating to the privileges granted to them, I promised to bring their representations under the notice of the Minister for the Interior, who has now furnished me with a reply in the following terms: -
Accommodation for federal members in Adelaide. - There is no question that the present accommodation is unsatisfactory. Recently the matter was taken up with the Premier of South Australia who has intimated that three rooms and a typist’s room will be reserved for federal members in the north-eastern basement of the additions to Parliament House now in. the course of erection.
– Is it necessary that we should again be accommodated in the basement?
– I suggest that honorable senators from South Australia should look at the plans of the new building to ascertain if the accommodation proposed to be allotted to them is suitable. If they are dissatisfied they can make further representations on the subject.
– The new accommodation willnot be available for two years.
– Any further representations should be made to the Minister for the Interior.
– The Premier of South Australia has nothing to do with this matter.
– The reply of the Minister for the Interior continued -
Telephone calls - Federal members using the looms provided in the capital cities have the tree of the official telephones for both local and trunk-line calls. The cost of such telephone calls is charged against the vote for the maintenance of Federal members’ rooms. Itis considered that this department should not be expected to meet the cost of telephone calls from country centres. Should it be. decided that the Commonwealth will meet the cost of such calls in the future itis suggested that members pay for such calls with stamps issued to them, and that stamps so used be periodically recouped to them by the Parliamentary authorities.
Conveyance of members by aeroplane - The Commonwealth pays in respect of each gold pass issued for use by Federal members the sum of£160 per annum. It is very doubtful whether, as suggested during the debate, the State governments would be prepared to reduce the charge made for these passes in the event of members being permitted to occasionally travel by air. Members travelling between Tasmania and the mainland arc permitted to travel by air provided they deposit with their applications the difference between the boat and aeroplane fares. The question of permitting the use of aeroplanesin cases of emergency was also raised. It is thought that each such case should be considered on its merits.
Conveyance of members from Goulburn to Canberra by bus - So far as this department is concerned arrangements can at any time be made for the conveyance of members from Goulburn to Canberra by bus should the Parliamentary authorities request that such be done. It is pointed out, however, that on Tuesdays and Wednesdays of each week the train from Melbourne arrives in Canberra before 0 a.m. On other days, should the number of members travelling justify it, arrangements can’ be made for the early arrival at Canberra of the train conveying Melbourne passengers. “When it is apparent that a fair number of members will be travelling by the train and the Department of the Interior is advised, arrangements will be made for the train to continue through to Canberra.
– What is considered a sufficient number?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.I think that eighteen is considered sufficient.
– But that is a full carriage.
– Usually, however, others beside members of Parliament travel on the train. The honorable senator can, however, secure accurate information by addressing a letter to the Secretary of the Department of the Interior.
– I was informed on Saturday last that ten would be considered a sufficient number.
– Any suggestions for an improvement might be made through the President to. the Department of the Interior.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 6.12 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 11 November 1936, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1936/19361111_senate_14_152/>.