14th Parliament · 1st Session
TheDeputyPresident (Senator Sampson) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– by leave - I regret to inform honorable senators of the death in Melbourne, on the 16th November, of the Honorable Jens August Jensen, who was formerly a member of the House of Representatives. The late Mr. Jensen was originally a member of the House of Assembly in Tasmania. He was elected to that House in 1903, and continued as a member until his election in 1910 to represent the division of Bass in the House of Representatives. He represented that constituency until 1919. In 1922 he was re-elected to the House of Assembly of Tasmania, as member for the division of Bassand remained a member of that House until 1934. From September, 1914 to July, 1915, he was an Assistant Minister in the Fisher Government. He was appointed as Minister for the Navy in the Hughes Ministry in July, 1915, and held that office until February, 1.917. From February, 1917 to December, 1918, he was Minister for Trade and Customs. I move -
That this Senate expresses its deep regret at the death of the Honorable Jens August Jensen, a former member of theTasmanian and Commonwealth Parliaments and Minister of State, places on record its appreciation of his public services, and tenders to his widow and family its sympathy in their bereavement.
– I second the motion and associate the Opposition with the remarks of the Leader of the Senate.
– On behalf of members of the United Country party, I support the motion.
Question resolved in the affirmative; honorable senators standing intheir
The following papers were pre sented : -
Norfolk Island - Report for year ended30th June,1936.
Commonwealth Railways Act - By-laws - No 71-No. 72.
Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Territory (Administration ) Act -Ordinances of 1936 -
No. 11 - Public Service.
No. 12 - Coroners (No. 2).
No. 13 - Food and Drugs.
No. 14 - Birds Protection.
No. 15- Methylated Spirit.
Beaches, FishingGrounds and Sea Routes
Protection Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1936, No. 150.
Dried Fruits Export Control Act. - Regulation! - Statutory Rules 1936, No. 151.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act - Ordinance No. 45 of 1936 - Motor Traffic.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
Senator Brown on the 12th November, to the effect that 34 persons, including Mrs. Freer, had been excluded from Australia during the pastfive years, for failing to pass the dictation test, will the Minister state how many ofthosepersonscould have had charges made against them similar to those preferred agrainst Mrs. Freer ?
– The Ministerfor the Interior has supplied the following answers : -
SenatorMARWICK asked the Minister in charge of scientific and industrial research, upon notice -
Did theWestern Australian Government seek the advice and co-operation of the Commonwealth Entomologist in that State to control the grasshopper plague, and, if so, when was the request made?
– No specific request for advice and cooperation in connexion with the control of the grasshopper plague has been made by the Western Australian authorities to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, but State officers are kept continuously in touch with the work that is being done by the council.
Motions (by Senator Foll) agreed to.
That one month’s leave of absence be granted to Senator Collett on account of illhealth.
That one month’s leave of absence be granted to Senator Gibson on account of illhealth.
The following bills were received from the House of Representatives and (on motions by Senator Sir GeorgePearce) read a first time -
Nationality Bill 1936.
Income Tax Bill 1936.
The following bills were received from the House of Representatives and (on motions by Senator A. j. McLachlan) read a first time -
Trade Agreement (Czechoslovakia) Bill 1936.
Trade Agreement (Belgium) Bill 1936.
Trade Agreement (South Africa) Bill1936.
Debate resumed from the 13th Novem ber (vide page 1848) on motion by Senator Brennan -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– This bill contains a proposal to amend the Constitution Act in order to empower the Commonwealth Parliament, in cooperation with the States, to provide for the conduct of marketing schemes on a national basis. It has been rendered necessary by the recent decision of the Privy Council in the James ease that the Commonwealth has not the power which most people thought it possessed, and under which presumption regulations for the marketing of many of Australia’s most important primary products were promulgated. The State Parliaments had passed legislation to control such marketing schemes and the Commonwealth Parliament had enacted complementary legislation, which, it was thought, gave validity to such schemes, but the Privy Council has declared that legislationto be invalid. No question as to the right of the States to control trade within their respective borders arises, but as the decision of the Privy Council means that no authority has the power to control interstate trade, the stability of many of our greatest primary industries, such as dairying and dried fruits, is jeopardized, and the welfare of the Commonwealth, as a whole, is endangered. The people of Australia generally surely are agreed that the primary producers are as much entitled to protection as are clerks, shop assistants, and workers in secondary industries whose wages and conditions are fixed by arbitration courts and wages boards. So far as our present position is concerned, 1. am afraid that unless we can legislate to provide a home-consumption price, many of our primary industries will bc very badly hit. Some people may say that these primary industries can be assisted by levying an excise duty and providing from that revenue a bounty, but I suggest that this is a clumsy and insecure method of providing assistance to industries, and one which might, under certain circumstances, tend to encourage governments, and those seeking seats in Parliament to look for votes, by promising increased bounties to wheat-growers and other producers. I suggest that a more sensible way in which to stabilize, or assist primary industry to-day, is to enact legislation, both Federal and State, to provide for a home-consumption price.
I come now to the great butter industry. There is no greater slavery in the world than the work of the average dairyfarmer. He has to work abnormally long hours, day after day, week after week, and year after year. Cows have to be milked, twice daily, regardless of funerals, weddings, or any other function. Surely the dairy-farmer is entitled to the equivalent of the basic wage for himself, and greater remuneration to enable bim to provide more decent conditions for the members of his family than they have en- joyed in the past. The dairy industry is a great producer of wealth, but it is not a very profitable industry for the individual farmer and his family. To emphasize the value of the industry, I mention that last year butter exports from Australia totalled 262,518,906 lb., valued in Australian currency at £9,586,776. .It may be said that under the protection afforded to the butter producers in the past, and under the marketing schemes, the consumers of butter in Australia have been exploited. That is erroneous. Any honorable senator who takes the trouble to study the relevant figures will find that for two and a half years the wholesale price in Australia of choice butter was ls. 3d. per lb., or lsper lb. sterling; in other words, the price was actually lower, under the systems of marketing then carried on in Australia, than it was in Great Britain, which takes practically all of our surplus. The butter industry is. perhaps, more important to Victoria than to any other State; Victoria is also a large exporter of dried fruits and canned fruits. These industries are exposed to competition overseas. In passing, I submit that the dried fruits industry offers one of the best forms of closer settlement, and honorable senators should bear that fact in mind in relation to the competition which our exports have to meet from the products of such countries as Smyrna, Turkey, Greece, Persia, and Crete, in which the wages paid are not more than from ls. to ls. 6d. a day. Surely we cannot expect our fruit producers to come down to the standard of living which that wage connotes, and I feel sure that no honorable senator desires to see our comparatively high standard of living reduced one iota. That standard has been built up mainly through legislative action, and all of us are proud of it.
– I am overjoyed to hear the honorable senator say that nol one honorable gentleman in this chamber desires to see that standard of living reduced.
– In the seven- teen years for which I have been a member of this chamber I have never heard any honorable senator say that he would like to see our present standard of living reduced in the smallest degree.
I emphasize that our fruit growers have to compete with the products of the countries I have mentioned. On this point some people might urge that the dried fruits industry should be conducted on a more efficient basis. I admit that 20 or 30 years ago, when the industry was first established at Mildura the quality of our raisins and sultanas was not so high as that of the products of the Mediterranean countries. In the interim however, there has been a marked improvement in the growing, processing, packing and marketing of our fruits. Surely no honorable senator would attempt to strike a blow at marvellous Mildura, ‘Redcliffs, and Merbein. I am very proud of Mildura’s development; where, comparatively speaking, nothing but desert existed a quarter of a century ago, a wonderful town exists to-day. I repeat that Mildura is another illustration of the fact that the fruit-growing industry provides evidence of the most successful closer settlement of which I have heard ; I have not seen anything better in any other country which I have visited. It is appropriate therefore to give briefly statistics dealing with the development of Mildura. In 1887 two Canadians, George and W. B. Chaffey, took up land in that district. One of them, W. B. Chaffey, died in 1926. Giving another illustration of the effectiveness of private enterprise in the development of country areas, these men by 1S93 had spent £350,000 in converting that district into an irrigation settlement. In 1894 the population of the shire was 3,500 and 8,000 acres was under irrigated cultivation. To-day the production of dried fruits in Mildura alone is valued conservatively at £1,602,000 Australian per annum. Before the land was irrigated the 29,600 acres now under cultivation was valued at £1 an acre, whereas to-day the total value of that land, plus irrigation plant and improvements, is not less than £7,200,000. The Merbein settlement was opened in 1.909- 1910, being the first soldier settlement established in Victoria. I am glad .to say that that settlement has also proved a great success. Redcliffs, another soldier, settlement, was established in 1920, and to-day 11,000 acres is under cultivation there.
The population of Mildura shire is now 17,867; the people are splendid specimens of Australian citizens and form a happy and united community.
Exports of dried fruits in 1933-1934 totalled 1,454;000 centals valued in Australian currency at £2,850,773. Most of this of course was exported from Victoria. That little State seems to take the lead in these progressive movements. The quantity of dried fruits produced in Australia in 1919 was 14,000 tons, compared with a production, last year, of 77,000 tons. When one moves about these settlements and consults experts - producers, packers and buyers - it is most gratifying to find that the highest standard of efficiency has been established in the industry. This is also the case in respect of the canned fruits industry at Shepparton, Kyabram, Ardmona, and other places. On this point I draw attention to the results of the Great Imperial Fruit Show which was held quite recently at Liverpool, England. I do not think that any better illustration of .the advancement made in the production, grading, and processing of Australian fruit can be given than the success of our exhibits at that show. At that great empire display, the Ardmona Co-operative Fruit Company gained seven first, three second and two third prizes; the Kyabram Cooperative Fruit Company, two first, three second and three third prizes; Henry Jones and Company - I am glad that Tasmania was represented - two first, two second and two third prizes; the Shepparton Preserving Company, one first and one second prize; Australian Preserves Proprietary, two third prizes; and African Canning Cooperation, two second prizes. It is interesting to note that South Africa, which is one of our greatest competitors within the empire, secured only two second prizes. Victoria secured, most of the prizes, thus showing the excellence of its products. The value of canned fruits exported last year was £949,286.
The wheat industry, which in value nf production and employment comes second in importance, .maintains ho fewer than 60,’6’00 families, who for Yeah past have been toiling for long ‘hours in an “endeavour to earn ‘a, reasonable living; but the results to themselves have been disastrous; like the dairy-farmers, they provide great national wealth. The wheat-growers have not enjoyed a homeconsumption price such as is paid to British and continental wheat-growers, and for years past have had to take the price obtaining in the world’s markets, less freight, insurance and other charges. The distressingly low price realized far wheat is disclosed in the exhaustive ana excellent report of the Royal Commission on the Wheat Industry, which stated that for many years the price obtained by the wheat-growers was much below the cost of production. The wheat-growing industry has been in such a distressed state that governments have been forced to assist the industry by granting bounties to the unfortunate wheat-growers. A home-consumption price for wheat would be better than paying bounties of £1,000,000 or £2,000,000. Deducting the quantity of wheat used for seed requirements, it will be found that the Australian people consume only 25 per cent, of the wheat produced in the Commonwealth.
The Royal Commission on the Wheat Industry reported that the Australian wheat-growers are as much entitled to a home-consumption price for their produce as are other primary producers and manufacturers; they are as much entitled to a reasonable standard of living as are wage workers, clerks and shop assistants. Other workers are protected by arbitration court and wages board awards, and manufacturers are assisted by the high protective policy which has been in force in Australia for so many years. The quantity of wheat produced in Australia in 1934-35 - the latest figures available - totalled 133,000,000 bushels valued in Australian currency at £27,897,000. That is a large amount, but the growers do not receive much of it. Thousands of wheat-growers are in very unfortunate circumstances, particularly those producing in newly-settled areas; and most of the growers have heavy mortgages on their properties. Notwithstanding the difficulties they are encountering, they are producing wealth “for th’e nation, most 6’f which is ‘used for the payment of interest on overseas loans, ‘gad to “provide money for ‘the commodities which we import, ih this ‘connexion, I should like to direct the attention of Senator Leckie, who I regret is absent to-day owing to sickness in his family, to the fact that primary produce is responsible for 97 per cent, of the total value of our exports. In the year before last, the value in Australian currency of Australia’s meat exports was £5,600,000, consisting mainly of prime lambs exported from Victoria. Over a series of years, the sheep industry - I am referring not only to wool - was responsible for more than 50 per cent, of the total value of our exports.
– “We have heard that before.
-Having been accused of making inaccurate statements on this subject, I checked the figures for this year and found that in Australian currency, the value of all merchandise exported to the 30th June last was £122,000,000, of which sheep were responsible for £61,000,000; wool represented £52,000,000 and lambs £4,000,000. There is room for improvement and expansion in the production of lambs for export, particularly because we have been granted such substantial preference by Britain.
– Is there an orderly system of marketing wool?
– It is the best system of marketing of primary production in operation.
– Is it orderly ?
– Yes. The following table shows the exports of products of the sheep industry for the year 1935-36:-
I have often been misrepresented in the press as having said that wool was responsible for over 50 per cent, of Australia’s exports, but I have never even suggested anything of the kind, although in some years wool, apart from other sheep products, has actually reached that figure. According to the Commonwealth Year-Book, the value of wool produced last year was £57,900,000, and of that exported, £52,330,753. Considering that we depasture only 16 per cent, of the world’s sheep, and in value produce 33 per cent, of the world’s wool, there mud be extraordinary efficiency in the wool industry. Australian sheep produce twice as much per head as the average for the rest of the world.
– Is it intended to deal with wool under the power which the Commonwealth desires to obtain by means of a referendum?
– I intend to deal with that point. Some honorable senators contend that if an affirmative vote be secured when the question of increased powers is submitted to the Commonwealth by means of a referendum, there may be an attempt to interfere with Australia’s most important industry. That is not so; it is not desirable and I do not think it is possible. Nobody wants any interference with our great national industry of wool in regard to either the production or marketing.
– It has been interfered with during the last six months by reason of the Government’s trade diversion policy.
– If this bill is passed no industry can be forced to be subject to control. The States of Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland have already legislated to enable certain industries to be controlled, with the approval of the persons engaged in the industries concerned.
– Where does the honorable senator find that in the bill?
– Of course it is not in the bill. Honorable senators are fearful that if this bill be passed and the proposed alteration is approved by the people, the great primary producing industries will be subjected to interference.
Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland have passed marketing legislation which, in every instance, provides that a request for control shall be initiated by those engaged in the industry concerned, and that any proposed scheme shall be submitted to the producers by ballot. The acts of Victoria and New South Wales contain a special proviso specifically excluding wool, whilst in Victoria hay and fresh fruit, other than apples, pears and citrus, are also excluded. I am amazed at the statement made by the acting secretary of the Graziers’ Association in a broadcast speech in Sydney recently, that if the referendum proposal were approved the wool industry could be immediately disciplined and brought under the Act by any State. That is not the position. The statement, which comes from a gentleman who ought to know better, is a gross misstatement, and should be challenged because it has been reported in the press. This bill simply provides for the holding of a referendum on a proposed alteration of the Constitution to make it possible, where the majority of producers engaged in a particular industry so desire, for them to co-operate to control the marketing of their produce in order to secure a home-consumption price.
– This bill does not say so.
– I do not desire to enter into an argument with Senator Payne, who is a well known authority on spotty apples; I shall quote the opinion of the Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies), who is an- eminent constitutional authority. I do not pretend to be a constitutional authority.
– But the honorable senator can read plain English.
– I cannot understand the language of any legal document; nor can other honorable senators, or, for that matter, can anybody else. The lawyers themselves disagree. Counsel for the plaintiff says that one thing is legally right; the opposing barrister contradicts it. But in connexion with the marketing proposal honorable senators have the benefit of the experience of the Attorney-General himself.
– Even he was not very successful in the James case.
– In my opinion the Attorney-General put up a splendid case.
– Very likely.
– It cannot be denied that he is a renowned authority on constitutional law, and on section 92, with which the bill deals, there is no greater legal authority in the world today, because the whole of the facts and the legal arguments propounded on both sides by most eminent lawyers are still fresh in his memory.
– Hughes. - What books has the Attorney-General published on constitutional law?
– What an extraordinarily stupid question! If I had not something better to do than to look up dry hash on constitutional law, published by Mr. Menzies or any other barrister, heaven preserve me! Mr. Menzies stated -
The bill to provide for n. referendum in a proposed alteration of the Constitution to give the Commonwealth Parliament power to legislate in respect of schemes for orderly marketing on a national basis . . .
The powers which the Commonwealth Parliament now has to make laws with respect to interstate trade and commerce, taxation, bounties, and the like, for the purpose of giving effect to marketing schemes, will not he extended, but they will be freed from the restrictions upon them contained in section !)2.
The run n lt will be that where the Commonwealth Parliament, under its existing powers, passes a law which is designed to supplement marketing schemes contained in State legislation, it will not be open to question, because it interferes with the freedom of interstate trade.
The objection to excise and bounty is of a kind which experiences of recent years make clear, and partly intrinsic, in that it is very difficult, under such a system, to provide for stability over a term of years. Such stability could be provided by a system of orderly marketing. Hence the problem of a constitutional amendment had to be faced.
The Government has, therefore, decided to submit an amendment, the prime object of which is to recapture the ground which was lost by the Privy Council’s decision and to validate marketing schemes of a kind now current.
The opinion of the Attorney-General is supported by Senator. Brennan, himself an eminent K.C, and by the great weight of other distinguished Australian constitutional lawyers. As to the suggestion that the wool industry, in which I am vitally interested, will be subject to this legislation, I fail to see the slightest danger to the industry. Under the marketing legislation passed by the States, and the complementary legislation of the Commonwealth - in accordance with the power it was believed to possess - no suggestion to interfere with the wool or any industry, except at the request of the majority of those engaged in it, was ever made.
– By any government, whether Labour or Nationalist.
-Thatisso. The request for control must emanate from the majority of the persons interested in the industry; that is a fair and reasonable provision. For these reasons, and in order to obtain some form of protection and stability for our great primary producing industries, whose future has. been considerably jeopardized by the decision ofthe Privy Council, honorable senators should pass this bill. Sonic people, in conversation, have said to mc: “Why bother about it? At the presenr time primary produce is selling well.” Although satisfactory prices for wool, wheat, butter, and meat are now being obtained, we should not be lulled into a false sense of security. The prices actually are nothing like those which are published by many of the newspapers, and believed by the general public. Honorable senators may see a headline stating that wool is selling at 32d. per lb., but what are the facts? Four months of the selling year has already elapsed, and the market is satisfactory, having regard to the circumstances of the times; but the. average net price at country railway stations for the 700,000 odd bales of wool is exactly ls. per lb. The figure of 14d. per lb. which has been cited, includes the proceeds from the sale of scoured wool, and wasex sea-board warehouses.
SenatorHerbertHays. - Does the honorable senator suggest that wool should be subject to control under this proposed legislation ?
– No ; the wool industry is most efficient, and holds a proud place in the world because international buyers have to come to this country in order to make their purchases from our own stores. The industry does not desire any governmental or other interference, but no such interference has been suggested ; nor, in my opinion, could it take place.
– If the price of wool declined to depression level would the honorable senator still say that the industry should still not be subject to control ?
– Yes. I am not in a position to estimate what the price for wool, butter, or tinned fruits will be twelve months hence. I fail to understand why any person who is in any way associated with primary production should oppose the passage of this bill. Honorable senators, particularly those who represent the primary producers, would be wise - indeed, it. is their duty - to support it in the interests of not only the great staple industries, with which T have dealt, but also the States. As a representative of Victoria I am vitally interested in the passage of this bill because Victoria leads the other States in regard to canned fruits, dried fruits, butter, lamb and many other primary products.
– It appears to me that legislation of this character deserves and I think will receive, at the hands of this chamber as a branch of the Commonwealth legislature, the closest scrutiny and consideration. As one who was nurtured on constitutional law in my earlier professional years, and was closely associated with the development of the Australian Constitution, I have taken considerable interest in every movement for its alteration, and any steps which might be regarded as likely to disturb the balance of the federal system which was accepted by the people of Australia and has worked with more or less imperfection since 1901. I feel that it is one’s duty as a representative of a State to be keenly interested in this matter, because all the States are vitally concerned in the preservation of this balance of powers. We should see that no principles in keeping with the federal system of cooperation are violated by any alteration of the Constitution. I have no complaint, and. in fact, Australia should have no complaint, notwithstanding sentiments I heard expressed recently on the Opposition side of this chamber, concerning the decision of the Privy Council in the James case. There is no occasion for heat or argument of a violent character concerning the proposed alteration of the Constitution. The Privy Council gave its decision, as was shown in the language of the judgment, with the greatest possible regret, because it realized that, in common with the Motherland, Australia was endeavouring by means of certain marketing legislation to do what it thought would benefit the primary producers. The Privy Council did not seek an opportunity to give this decision; the appeal to it was made at the invitation of the High Court of Australia, expressed on more than one occasion, notwithstanding the fact that, as my learned colleague, Senator Brennan, has pointed out, for a number of years the law was regarded as static. But the personnel of the court changed, -and the opinions of new members of the bench were entitled to respect; eventually such a volume of doubt arose as to the correctness of the judgment on which the various States and this Parliament had relied in passing the marketing legislation, that the High Court practically in vited an appeal to the Privy Council. That appeal has been made, and none of us can complain of the decision
It is interesting to consider that the judgment was given pursuant to canons of interpretation which have to be applied to written constitutions. The common law of England has been moulded from time to time by judicial decisions given to meet the needs and wishes of the people, but in regard to the written Constitution of the Commonwealth different canons of interpretation had to be applied. If the Constitution does not meet the needs of the people, machinery is provided in the instrument itself for its alteration. This bill is the first step in a movement for such an alteration. It is obvious from the judgment of the Privy Council that it regretted giving a decision which it realized must bring about the destruction of the orderly marketing systems established in Australia. Had the Privy Council been free to do so, I think that it would have moulded the law, as has been done with the common law of England, to suit the needs of thu people; but, owing to the canons of interpretation that had to be applied, that method was not open to the Privy Council. It merely interpreted the written words of section 92 itself.
I was impressed by the remark that fell from the lips of either Senator Hardy or Senator Abbott, that the purpose of section 92 was to terminate “ border barbarisms “. I could not refrain from interjecting at the time that the framers of the Constitution could never have had in their minds the set of circumstances that has arisen since the establishment of federation. The old order has changed, yielding place to the new. Some of us look upon these new methods with a degree of horror; but what is happening in Australia is being repeated in many other countries, even in the old Mother Country itself. The framers of the Constitution never had in their minds anything of the character of the marketing legislation which the various State Parliaments have passed, and which this Parliament has implemented, in the belief, based on the decision to which my colleague has referred, that it had the power to do so. The framers of the Constitution could never have applied their minds to nonexistent circumstances. Their thoughts were directed to the “ border barbarisms “, which were highly disagreeable to the whole of the community at the time when federation was established. But even one of the members of the Federal Convention considered that the limitation imposed by section 92 was dangerou’sly wide. No less distinguished a person than the former Governor-General, Sir Isaac Isaacs, pointed out, with extraordinary prescience, during the debates at the convention, that the words “ absolutely free “ might lead to trouble. The point was considered for a considerable time as to whether this provision should be confined to what was strictly aimed at, but so violent was the feeling against the imposition of interstate duties that it was decided to place the matter beyond doubt.
– Why was the word “ absolutely “ inserted before “free”?
– To intensify the meaning, although I do not know that the extra word made any difference to it; the addition of the adverb “ absolutely “ seems to me merely to give rhetorical emphasis to the adjective. The words “ absolutely free “ were directed to the set of circumstances which then prevailed, and not to those obtaining to-day. But their insertion in the Constitution has given rise to the difficulties with which we are confronted and which this bill ia designed to remedy.
When the recent decision of the Privy Council was given, what became of the power over marketing which the States as colonies, previously had? So far as it relates to interstate transactions, that power has disappeared by reason of the interpretation placed on the words “ absolutely free “.
– Federation was established for the purpose of securing interstate freetrade.
– But the power of the States in regard to intrastate trade is sacred at the present time. I shall deal with that aspect later. The simple alteration of the Constitution now proposed does not connote the intention to deprive the State authorities of any of their powers. On narrowly examining the proposal honorable senators will see that the desire is merely to seek power to implement State legislation, because without it the States will not be masters in their own house in the realm of intrastate trade. I emphasize that point, because there is an idea abroad that this Parliament is reaching out to deprive the States of some of their present powers, and to endow itself with increased authority. The power sought under the bill does not rest to-day with the State Parliaments or the Commonwealth Parliament. It will be seen by an examination of the bill that its purpose is to enable the States to. pass marketing legislation. With theco-operation of this Parliament, in the true spirit of the federal union, it will be possible to give effect to the wishes of the State Parliaments.
– If it is desired to give the States further powers, why not do it by means of an alteration of the Constitution ?
– That would involve an alteration of the trade and commerce power. The alteration now proposed is designed to restore to the States powers which they previously enjoyed, and which in recent years until the Privy Council decision in the James case, were implemented by complementary Commonwealth legislation at the request of the States. No attempt is being made at an encroachment by this Parliament upon the powers of the States. During the informative speech by Senator Guthrie I heard an interjection in regard to the power proposed to be given to the States. Now, what is it? The proposal is that after section 92 the following new section 92a bo inserted : -
The provisions of the last preceding section shall not apply to laws with respect tomarketing made by, or under the authority of, the Parliament in the exercise of any powers vested in the Parliament by this Constitution.
The power thatis now sought is the power to control interstate trade and commerce. The, regulation of intra-state trade and commerce is the function of the States, and in that domain the Commonwealth may not intrude; but the control of interstate trade and commerce is, by section 51, vested in the Commonwealth. The Privy Council seems to have drawn an imaginary line. It has said, in effect, that, at a certain point, control by the State ceases, but that control is not vested in the Commonwealth. There is a sort of “ no man’s land “ ; and it is to fill the space that has been loft vacant by legislative enactment that this alteration of the Constitution is designed. Every parliament has inherent in it the power of eminent domain, under which the property of an individual may be taken from him with or without compensation. But if that be done by the State parliaments for the purpose of preventing interstate trade, they act unconstitutionally. If the proposed alteration of the Constitution be agreed to by the electors, the parliaments of the States will have restored to them that power which they formerly had, provided that the Commonwealth Government sees fit to implement it. In other words, this bill means not that the powers of the Commonwealth willbe increased, but that the Commonwealth may come to the aid of the States. In the words of the
Attorney-General. Commonwealth marketing legislation provides the mortar to bind the State bricks, lt has been suggested that language more appropriate to the occasion could have been used in the drafting of proposed new section 92a, but I venture to predict that, in committee, we shall find that the language is not only the most appropriate, but also practically the only language that would meet the situation.
– Has the Minister read the views of the honorable member for .Batman (Mr. Brennan) in the House of Represen t a ti ves ?
– Numerous suggestions as to the wording of the alteration have been considered by the Government. Honorable senators should not assume that other wording than that contained in the bill has not been considered by the Attorney-General, and by the legal authorities whom he has consulted. So important and farreaching is the proposed alteration of the Constitution that the ‘best legal advice available in the Commonwealth has been sought in relation to it. We can only assume that the States wish to apply to other primary industries the same principle as that which has been applied to dairy produce and dried fruits. I cannot see any reason why the primary industries of this country should not be entitled to the same standards as those which have been set up in respect of secondary industries. It is true that, at times, the operations of the various boards of control have been criticized. I myself have criticized them, but they have learned their lesson ; they now realize that greed does not pay. On one occasion when an attempt, was made to abuse the power vested in it by one board of control, the people in the cities, by using substitutes for the commodity whose price had been raised unreasonably, taught the board a valuable lesson. Should there be abuse of the power to control the dried fruits industry, for instance, the State parliaments could step in. If, as has been suggested, the charges for dried fruits are unduly high, the remedy lies with the States, for they have means to deal with any control board which acts improperly. But the industry itself is the best judge of whether ii is being treated fairly by boards of control or marketing authorities. If those engaged in an industry do not wish such control no State parliament i3 likely to enforce it upon them. The power now sought is merely the power in respect of interstate trade and commerce; but because of the gap to which I have referred two steps must be taken - steps in harmony with the principles underlying the Constitution. The States must legislate within their respective domains in regard to intra-state trade and commerce, and the Commonwealth must legislate in the domain of interstate trade and commerce. The restoration of the power which the Commonwealth was thought to possess will enable Australian primary industries to develop in the way desired by the States and the Commonwealth. The consumers will be protected by both the State and Commonwealth Parliaments, because no parliament is likely to legislate wildly. It may be that in the future some independent body - probably the Interstate Commission - will deal with these matters; but, of course, we must first catch our hare before we can cook it.
– Does the Minister mean that an Interstate Commission will have to be set up?
-Of what use would be an Interstate Commission to-day, in view of the complaint by Western Australia against dumping by the eastern States? If this legislation receives the support of the Parliament and of the people, it will round off the Constitution in relation to the trade and commerce power, and fill the gap to which the Attorney-General referred. It will, moreover, enable the several parliaments to give to trade and commerce, and industry generally, a completely protective policy within Australia in respect of primary production. I commend the bill to the Senate in the belief that it will give effect to a principle which is well embedded in the legislation enacted bv this Parliament, and has the support of the people of Australia.
– In order to view the problem of marketing in its true perspective and in the light of modern interstate and international trade and world conditions, we should approach it with our minds concentrated, not on things as they should be, but on things as they are. During this discussion reference has frequently been made to “ the power which the Government or the Parliament assumed ithad”. In my opinion that term should not be used, because the High Court, which is the highest tribunal in the land decided in 1920 that this Parliament had the power which the recent decision of the Privy Council took away. That decision of the High Court guided this Parliament in passing legislation in 1928 to help South Australia and Victoria to control the marketing of dried fruits. It is clear that the framers of the Constitution intended that the National Parliament should control interstate trade ; for what other reason did they insert in the Constitution section 51 which reads -
It has been said frequently that the men who played such an important part in the framing of the Constitution were legal and political giants; but I draw attention to the views expressed by legal authorities of a later day, namely, the judges of the High Court who, in 1920, delivered judgment in theMcArthur case. Amongst them was Sir Isaac Isaacs,who, honorable senators will agree, played a very prominent part in the federal conventions. It might be interesting, then, to refresh our minds as to what some of these learned men have declared. In reply to the assertion that “ the giants framed the Constitution, and the pigmies to-day are trying to destroy it “, I submit mat it would be well for every honorable senator who holds that view to pernse the McArthur judgment, which is reportedin the Commonwealth Law Reports for 1990. On page 562, Mr. Justice Higgins is reported as having said -
On the first reading of section 92 the generality of the words “ Trade commerce and intercourse among the States shall he absolutely free “ might seem to indicate that inter - state trade was to be free from all restrictions, whether State or Federal.
Such a conclusion would leave an awkward gap intheConstitution, for it would mean that no authority in Australia, whether State or Commonwealth,could regulate any abuses of interstate trade.
Their Honours Sir Isaac Isaacs and Mr. Justice Knox and Mr. Justice Starke said -
If section92 applies to the Commonwealth it would, inour opinion, practically nullify section 51.
On page 567 the same judges are reported in these terms -
Then comes a cluster of provisions designed to place the control of the foreign and interstate trade and commerce of Australia ultimately in the hands of the Common wealth as representing the whole nation, and to remove that trade andcommerce from the hands of the States whose jealousies and local policies had occasioned so much antagonism and inconvenience. Their inability, from the nature of the subject, to deal severally with interstate transactions in their entirety, was a legal truism.
Those remarks are in accordance with the view advanced in this debate by the Postmaster-General (Senator A. J. McLachlan). I do not propose to refer at length to the proposed new section 92a other than to say that it is quite obvious that, if the proposed new section is approved by the people and becomes part of our Constitution, the power thereby given to the Commonwealth will not be so great as that which the High Court in 1920 ruled that it possessed at that time. This fact should be borne in mind by those honorable senators who are somewhat afraid that if this proposal be carried too much power might be given to the Commonwealth, with the result that some industries in this country would be placed in a very serious position. I waa particularly impressed by the argument of Senator Guthrie that the Commonwealth has exercised the power now to be sought from the people since 1920, when the High Court ruled that the Commonwealth was not bound by section 92, and could control interstate trade. In that period has any government, Nationalist or Labour, while possessing this power, done anything to injure the interests of the States? No. We find that Nationalist governments, when so requested by the States, have agreed to legislate in order to assist certain industries which were suffering disabilities, owing mainly to world economic conditions, over which the producers had no control.
T propose now to deal with the position of the dried fruits industry, and the system of marketing control at present operating in that industry through the Commonwealth Export Control Board, which was formed in 1924. That scheme has been taken as the basis of marketing organization in other industries. If the dried fruits producers were asked to-day for their opinion of the effectiveness of this system, 99 per cent, of them would reply that it has been a decided success, and that they prefer it to any scheme of assistance based on the payment of a bounty from excise. The fundamental difference between these two proposals is that the scheme at present in operation in the dried fruits industry is based on producer control. The Commonwealth Export Control Board consists of eight members, six of whom are directly elected by the producers, whilst the other two, an accountant and a commercial man, arc appointed by the Government. This scheme gives producer control, in contrast to political control. Whatever scheme is evolved on the basis of the payment of a bounty out of excise, we cannot lose sight of the fact that it would be based on political control. Furthermore, we are aware that, under such a scheme, we cannot prevent dumping or regulate interstate trade, unless the proposal embodied in this measure is carried by referendum. Nor could we maintain a home-consumption price which, I submit, must be a vital factor in any practical scheme for the marketing of primary products. An excise and bounty scheme would be very costly. In this respect I point out that to-day a board consisting of eight members practically controls the dried fruits industry, whereas, I venture to suggest, we would require hundreds of excise officers to police an excise and bounty system. Thus the latter scheme must prove expensive and irritating. From our commercial experience we know that customs or government regulations must be framed so rightly in order to catch, not the 99 per cent, of honest citizens, but the remaining 1 per cent, who wish to defeat the law. In view of these facts, I submit that honorable senators must come to the conclusion that the system which has worked so well in the dried fruits industry for the last twelve years, and on which marketing systems in other industries have been based,has been proved, to the absolute satisfaction of the producers, to be better than any excise and bounty system. Furthermore, it is clear- that the producers desire this Parliament to help them to maintain the present system. We arc aware of the lack of stability in any excise and bounty scheme, and we know of the objectionable political features to which it would give rise. As I meditate on this problem and realize the importance of its solution to the States of South Australia and Victoria, and weigh the interest of thousands of men, including many returned soldiers who are dependent upon the dried fruits industry. I submit that we would make a mistake if we did not continue the present system. If we abandoned it, we shall place these men in a very awkward and unfortunate position. In order that honorable senators may appreciate more fully the importance of such a decision, so far as the interests of the smaller States are concerned, I propose, at the risk of wearying the Senate, to quote official statistics dealing with the production and exports of certain primary industries. The value, in Australian currency, of currants and raisins exported during the five years ended the 30th June, 1936, from the various States was as follows: - Victoria, £’7,000,000; South Australia, £3,000,000; Western Australia, £312,000 ; New South Wales, £1S1,000; Queensland, £583; Tasmania, nil. I am particularly gratified to find that honorable senators from Queensland support this measure, particularly when some honorable senators from the smaller States oppose it. Once again I ask honorable senators - “ Are we going to surrender the substance of a home-consumption price and an orderly marketing scheme to grasp at the shadow of a political excise and bounty scheme?” In the wheat industry, which particularly affects the States of Western Australia and South Australia, this Parliament, in its wisdom, has also approved of the principle of a home-consumption price. In order to help the States in that respect it has passed certain legislation which would enable the wheat-growers to protect themselves in the event of -any fall of wheat prices in the future. Including flour, as expressed in terms of wheat, the exports of wheat from the various States during the five years ended the 30th June, 1936, were as follows: - New South Wales, 165,000,000 bushels ; Western Australia, 150,000,000 bushels; ‘South Australia, 149,000,000 bushels; Victoria, 148,000,000 bushels; Queensland, 72,000 bushels; and Tasmania, 72 bushels. A glance at these figures will enable honorable senators to appreciate the importance of this problem to the States of South Australia and Western Australia.
The production .of barley is an important industry in South Australia and its handling and marketing should also lie controlled. The climatic conditions in that State are eminently suitable for the production of barley, and only a few weeks ago the South Australian producers were pleased to learn that they had succeeded in winning three important competitions at an exhibition in Great Britain. To enable honorable senators to appreciate the importance of the barleygrowing industry I quote the fiveyear export figures of the various States: South Australia, 14,000,000 bushels; Victoria, 1,000,000; Tasmania, 75,000; Western Australia, 30,000; New South Wales, 2,000, and Queensland nil. During the same period the excise on beer collected by the Commonwealth amounted to £25,092,000. Owing to a misunderstanding with Belgium and the depressed state of the barley market the barley-growers have been receiving, for their product, a price as low as ls. 9d. a bushel. When the maltsters were compelled to pay 4s. 9d. a bushel for barley the price of beer was 6d. a glass, but to-day when they are taking advantage of the depressed price, the price of beer is still the same. I trust that the Government will seriously consider the giving of some assistance to barley-growers by the establishment of a home-consumption price. Had 6d. a bushel on exports been paid over the fiveyear period mentioned the South Australian barley-growers would have received £358,000, which would have been a considerable help, and surely we could have afforded that assistance, particularly when we consider that during the same period over £25,000,000 was collected in excise. According to the
Age of the 17th November, 1936, Mr. L. R. MacGregor, Australian Trade Commissioner in Canada, speaking of Australia’s trade relations with Canada, said -
In the case of some Australian products marked progress could be recorded. The most noteworthy case was that of dried fruit. Australia had, this year, sold more dried fruit in Canada than was consumed in Australia. The Canadian market was of vital importance to the irrigation areas. The sales this year would probably reach, 17,000 tons. The success which had been met with was due to the sound progressive policies of the Commonwealth Dried Fruit Control Board and its practice of meeting the exigencies of the Canadian market iia distinct from those of other markets where markedly different conditions obtained.
If marketing can be effectively controlled by that board it is unnecessary for me to occupy the time of the Senate in directing attention to the advantages of such a system which prevents gluts and provides stabilized prices. When Senator Guthrie was speaking I asked the honorable senator if wool is marketed in an orderly manner and .he admitted that it is. A study of the manner in which the woolgrowers have ‘ organized their industry and disposed of their product discloses that their system is the finest example of orderly marketing that one could conceive. Wool delivered in November sometimes is not sold until February or March; frequently: it is withdrawn instead of being sold on a glutted market. This essential control can be exercised under an orderly marketing system with great advantage to the producers.
– There i-i no restriction upon wool passing from one State to another.
– Certainly not. But we cannot compare wool which is our number one asset with, say, apples. The disposal of different products presents different problems.
– We have also to remember that we have to seek buyers of our butter, whereas the woolbuyers come to Australia.
– Exactly; I thank the Minister for mentioning that fact.
I propose to quote exports of butter to the United Kingdom during the year ended the 30th June, 1936, in which Great Britain purchased about 93 per cent. of our exports. I quote these figures in connexion with the problem of checking dumping, which concerns the weaker States of Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania. During that year Victoria exported 35,000 tons; Queensland, 33,000 tons; New South Wales, 13,000 tons; South Australia, 3,500 tons; Tasmania, 2,000 and Western Australia 1,000 tons. Under the scheme in operation the price in Australia last week was 140s. a cwt., but that in the United Kingdom was 110s. a cwt. Restrictions in respect of interstate trade having disappeared, there is nothing to prevent a Victorian producer from dumping his product in Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales or Tasmania.
– That has already started.
– Is it reasonable to ask butter producers in Victoria or Queensland to sell their products at 110s. a cwt., the price at which it is sold in the United Kingdom, if they can obtain 140s. a cwt. in South Australia? The. problem of dumping will have to be considered from the viewpoint of the weaker States, which will be asking the Commonwealth Parliament for protection from the dumping operations of the stronger States. If State parliaments cannot control interstate trade and the people of Australia decide that the Commonwealth Parliament shall not control it, there will be chaos in the butter industry and other important industries. If the schemes now in operationare not continued what are we to have in their place? Some honorable senators are justifiably afraid that if this proposal is carried certain injustices will arise. Those supporting the Government’s proposal respect their fears and opinions. We should, however, remember that the three weaker States are represented in this chamber by eighteen honorable senators, and no legislation can pass this chamber should eighteen honorable senators oppose it. Are not the interests of the weaker States protected by their representation in this chamber? The South Australian Government would not be associated with the butter scheme because it did not suit that State; but as a South Australian, I contend that if we wish the handling and marketing of wheat, dried fruits, barley and other products to be controlled we must support the control of the handling and marketing of butter, which suits Victoria and Queensland. It is not only the weaker States which have States rights. We are all fighting for our rights, and representatives of the stronger States of Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland have their rights. One of the things that impressed me when I first became a member of this chamber was that when financial grants were being paid to the weaker States we always had the support of the representatives of the stronger States. For the last five years South Australia has received £6,050,000 in special grants, which could have been withheld had the representatives of the stronger States opposed the payment. In the Sydney Morning Herald of the 14th November of this year the following paragraph appeared -
The State Government is seriously concerned at the possibility of large importations of Victorian butter into New South Wales and consideration is being given tomeans of preventing dumping of butter in New South Wales. lt was suggested in Government circles last night that the only effective action would be to amend thePure Food Act to enforce a certain standard for imported butter.
The lapse of the marketing powers of the Commonwealth becauseof the Privy Council judgment on section92 of the Commonwealth Constitution has introduced obstacles to orderly marketing of butter, nml members of the State Government fear that unless precautions or measures are taken now it will not be long before Victorian butter becomes a serious problem.
What a state of chaos ! In a country such as Australia we should realize the importance of our overseas trade. The only way to prevent interstate dumping is by giving to the Commonwealth sufficient power to control not only the export trade but also interstate trade, which cannot be satisfactorily or efficiently handled unless the Commonwealth has that power We all are consumers. But in view of the fact that the wage-earners are protected by the awards of arbitration courts, and the manufacturers by the tariffs, the primary producers are surely entitled to the benefits of orderly marketing and a reasonable home-consumption price.
– Honorable senators will admit that it is becoming apparent that the primary industries cannot continue to produce their commodities under Australian conditions and sell them at world’s parity. Without entering upon a discussion of high tariffs and Arbitration Court awards, I consider that the policy which has been adopted for years by successive Commonwealth governments has made primary production increasingly difficult and expensive. In view of the fact that all other sections of the community have derived protection and advantages from Arbitration Court awards or high tariffs, the primary producers are surely entitled to similar consideration. In past years, in order to assist this section, the .Federal and State governments initiated marketing schemes, the basis of which was 1o export the surplus, and to charge a higher home-consumption price for that which was consumed locally, in order that the average of the two returns would give to the producers a reasonable margin over costs of production. The butter equalization authorities initiated a scheme along these lines and declared a quota for export and a home-consumption price for the remainder. The governments of the various States could have acted on their own initiative in fixing such a price, but it was obvious that the butter-makers in one State would not export their commodity to England at lOd. per lb. if the price in another State was ls. 4d. For that reason the Commonwealth Government was requested to declare that butter could not be sent from one State to another without a licence, which could not be granted unless the producer had shipped the declared quota overseas. That arrangement continued for some time, until the Privy Council declared in the James case that the legislation under which the scheme was operated was ultra vires the Constitution. At the present time it is found to be desirable to return to the position which existed before the decision of the Privy Council. When I first read this bill I came to the conclusion that its provisions went a great deal further than the powers previously exercised by the Commonwealth, and that the States were being asked to surrender too much. Many people are resentful of any new encroachment by the Commonwealth on section 92 of the Constitution. They regard absolute freetrade between the States as a right and a necessity. The Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) stated that this bill could only be effective in conjunction with complementary State legislation. Unfortunately, that assurance is not contained in the bill itself, and That omission renders it, more difficult for honorable senators to persuade the Australian public to approve of this principle at the referendum. This legislation has not only to pass this Parliament, but also must be approved by the electors, and numerous objections will certainly be raised, because of the absence of such a safeguard in the bill. In the circumstances, Senator Payne has forecast an amendment which, if inserted in the bill, will make the position doubly secure, from the viewpoint of those who are jealous of State rights. My reason for rising to speak on this bill is to ask the Government to accept the amendment, because I am sure that i.t will be of material assistance to honorable senators in their efforts to secure the approval of the electors at the referendum. The Postmaster-General (Senator A. J. McLachlan) stated that the proposed alteration does not go far, because it is limited by section 51 of the Constitution. Unfortunately, we cannot explain that to th$ people in the country so. clearly as we could explain the bill if this amendment were incorporated in it. The amendment sets out distinctly that, unless the States agree to pass complementary legislation, the Commonwealth cannot exercise any control over the marketing of any commodity. I therefore ask the Government to accept the amendment. I want the proposed alteration to be carried at the referendum. I am at. a loss to know what other course will be open to the Government in or-der to assist the primary producers if this appeal to the people should fail. In my opinion, an excise and bounty scheme could not be sati$factorily administered. The purpose underlying this bill is sound; Commonwealth legislation, at the request of the States, can be of great advantage to the producers. But honorable senators when taking the bill to the country desire to be able to tell the public that the bill means exactly what it says - that Commonwealth legislation cannot function unless in conjunction with State legislation. If the amendment of Senator Payne be accepted that position will be quite clear to the public. The public are genuinely afraid that the bill goes further than we are asked to believe. In my opinion, this fear may defeat the proposal at the referendum. The few words which Senator Payne has suggested would dispel these doubts, and be of great assistance to us in securing the people’s approval of the proposed section 92a.
– The amendment would create new difficulties.
– Its purpose is quite plain. It is what we want, and what the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) has explained is the objective of the Government in introducing the bill. In those circumstances, I fail to see any reason for opposing the amendment.
The butter equalization scheme declared that a quota of this commodity produced in Australia should be exported; but a difficulty arose in connexion with dairyfarm butter. Hundreds of farmers make from 20 to 30 lb. of butter weekly, and either sell it to the local storekeepers in exchange for goods, or to private customers. This has been a lifelong practice with them; but they obviously could not export their quota, because they do not possess the expensive appliances for pasteurization or freezing chambers. Foi this reason they are unable to produce butter which would keep for export purposes, and they, therefore, continued to sell it locally. But the men who sent their cream to the factory were paid for a portion at the Australian price, and for the export quota at world’s parity, which was lower than the home price; but the men who made butter on their farms received the Australian price for the whole of their output, simply because they were not in a position to export. The equalization control authority in Tasmania, realizing the unfairness of the position, instituted a system whereby dairy-farmers who could not export their quota were compelled to put a 3d., subsequently 2d.; stamp upon their butter. This caused considerable bitterness and heart-burning. Men said that they had been marketing butter all their lives, that they had never stamped it. and never would. Other men spent £50 or £60 on stamps which they could ill afford. Eventually, conditions ‘became so chaotic that the Government of Tasmania held a referendum to ascertain the producers’ views upon the matter. Although there were reasons for the smallness of the poll, there was a substantial majority agains’ the equalization scheme which had to be abandoned forthwith. “When we go to the public next year to ask them to vote for the referendum, the fear will bc expressed that their previous experience may be repeated. The producers arc not afraid of a marketing scheme, but they will say, “Before I vote ‘Yes’, I want to know what sort of marketing scheme I shall get, and will the necessity arise for placing more stamps on butter?”. At the present time, I am not in a position to answer these questions.
– There must bc some uniformity.
– At this juncture, I propose to suggest a method to overcome this difficulty. The proportion of farm butter is small in comparison with the total production in Australia. Owing to Tasmania being a small State, and the large number of small farms in it, the proportion of faim butter is probably bigger there than in any other State. To overcome the difficulty - and it would be only in conformity with the practice of subsidizing industries - I consider that the State and Commonwealth Governments should vote a small subsidy from which any levy could be paid. Only a small sum of money would be involved, but the farmers would not have to purchase stamps. Those who make butter on the farm are in a small way of business; those who have big herds of cows naturally send their cream to the factories. My suggestion affects only the small men, and Ave would be quite justified in assisting them if a levy were imposed. Such consideration on the part of the governments concerned would materially assist to carry the referendum proposal. The only obstacle to success at the referendum will be that the people will think that the request of the Commonwealth goes too fat. A number of constitutional authorities hold the same view, notwithstanding what has been said in this chamber. The bill may mean more than what honorable senators think.
This difficulty can be settled by accepting the amendment moved by Senator Payne. If the Government would grant a subsidy in order to help the small farmers instead of having this wretched system of affixing a stamp to each pound of butter, an affirmative majority would be almost certain. I do not blame the Butter Equalization Board for the imposition of the stamp duty, because it was called upon to protect the dairy-farmer who was sending his cream to the factories. But if the public are in doubt as to the limits to which the proposed alteration will enable the Commonwealth to go, they will not vote for it at the referendum.
– Exactly the same number of people will say that this referendum proposal is going too far as the number who cavilled at the decision of the High Court in 1920. There is a kind of individual, especially in Western Australia, who resents the mere suggestion that some extra power should be given to the federal authority. These people will be as loud in their opposition to this referendum as they were loud in their condemnation of the finding of the High Court in 1920. They have continued to criticize the High Court ever since it gave its decision, and I am afraid that they will continue to criticize that or something else until they disappear. What is exercising the minds of the primary producers of Western Australia, is what is going to happen to them if the referendum be not carried. Senator Guthrie, in an excellent speech this afternoon, claimed most of the virtues in Australian export marketing for the primary producers of Victoria, but, dumping is something else at which Victorians are champions. The primary producers of Western Australia arc very concerned about what is going to happen to them if we cannot restore to them the protection which they had until the decision of the Privy Council. I should like to ask honorable senators, who are dubious about the carrying of this alteration, what is going to happen to the group settlement schemes of Western Australia if a negative majority is recorded at the referendum. It has only been during the last two years that the small group farmer has been able to see some glimmer of hope as the result of the increase of the price of butter fat. But if Western Australia and the other, smaller States are to be inundated with cheap Victorian butter, the sum of f8,000,000, which has been invested in the group settlements of Western Australia, will disappear as if down a sink. These small dairy-farmers have little or no hope of competing against the more advanced dairy-farmers of a State like Victoria. What may defeat the proposal to be submitted to the people at the referendum are the red herrings which, I fear, will be drawn across the trail, particularly the cry emanating from the Premier of South Australia, Mr. Butler, that this Parliament already has adequate power to deal with the difficulty that has arisen. How far, I ask, can the excise power of this Parliament take is in regard to the organized marketing of our primary products overseas? What has excise, for instance, to do with the marketing of dried fruits and butter in the important district of Hull? Nothing whatever. I am amazed at the repeated announcement by Mr. Butler that this Parliament already has power to bridge the gap that has been disclosed in regard to marketing legislation by the recent decision of the Privy Council in the James case. Another cry that may defeat the proposal in the bill is that under organized marketing the consumers would have to pay increased prices for their foodstuffs. The Privy Council’s decision has suspended the regulation of the marketing of certain primary products; how can the resumption of such regulation possibly increase the price still further? The people of Australia have been paying the equivalent of home-consumption prices for butter and dried fruits, and the mere carrying of the proposal to be submitted to the people cannot conceivably increase the present high prices which many people contend they are paying, but which many others believe the primary producers are entitled to, if they are to receive an adequate return for their labour. I venture to offer the opinion that provided no red herrings are drawn across the trail during the referendum campaign, the people of Australia will be prepared to grant to this Parliament the power which for many years it was thought to possess. Even in Western Australia, which is notorious for its opposition to the granting of any increased power to this Parliament, the electors will, I believe, favour the proposal embodied in the bill, if they are not side-tracked by catch-cries and electioneering dodges.
I was surprised to hear an honorable senator suggest that no appeal should lie from judgments of the High Court to a tribunal silting in a country beyond Australia. In my opinion, as long as citizens of a dominion have the right to appeal to the Privy Council, so long will that dominion be in the ascendency. I should hate to think that the time might come when an Australian elector would be denied the right of appeal to the Privy Council in regard to what he may regard as a threat to his rights and liberties. I commend the bill to honorable senators, and I shall do all in my power to assist its passage.
, - I support the second reading of the bill, but I consider that if the proposed alteration goes to the people in its present form, it will not be received with much enthusiasm in the weaker States, because of the deep-seated fear of further encroachment by this Parliament upon the powers of the States. Some of the speeches delivered in this chamber will contribute to that apprehension. It will be thought that the power asked for in this bill is greater than is necessary to achieve the object of the Government, which is to retain the orderly marketing legislation declared by the Privy Council to be ultra vires. So far as the bill is designed to preserve the present system of organized or orderly marketing, I accord the measure my support.
– The honorable senator means, I presume, the system in vogue up till the decision of the Privy Council?
– Yes, but I consider that the Government should confine the proposal to the retention of the system of orderly marketing, by accepting the amendment forecast by Senator Payne.
Speeches delivered in support of the bill suggest that the proposal goes much further than that. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) regards it as a considerable step towards unification. He proceeded to extol the virtues of, and explain the necessity for, a complete scheme of unification. I am entirely opposed to any movement in that direction. I listened with interest to Senator Millen, but. do not agree with him that this measure provides for a step towards unification. If I thought that the Leader of the Opposition was right in his argument, I should certainly oppose the bill. J. shall support it for reasons entirely different from those of the Leader of the Opposition. I object, to this Parliament being granted increased powers at the expense of the States, but I accept the assurance given by the Government that this bill is not intended to confer new powers on this Parliament as it will merely provide the coping stone for the legislative structure erected by the States to protect the primary producers by means of orderly marketing of their products, particularly those products that are exported overseas. One object of the bill is to assist the primary producers to retain their present incomplete system of orderly or organized marketing, and to extend it by means of legislation, enabling the State and Federal Parliaments to cooperate for the protection of the primary producers. The purpose of the bill, as explained by Ministers, is certainly to retain for the primary producers in the wheat, dairying, and dried fruits industries, or any other industry, a homeconsumption price for their products, and to enable them to obtain fair and just standards of living comparable with those enjoyed by other sections of the community. The primary producers in my own State are in a serious position, and . require a great deal more assistance than they are to receive this year, at any rate, from this unsympathetic Commonwealth Government. This condition of affairs has arisen as the result of the drought experienced in Western Australia during the last two years, causing partial, and, in some cases, a complete failure of the wheat crop in many districts, as well as a reduction of the returns from wool. The proposed alteration of the Constitution is one for all time, and is not designed to meet an emergency of the nature to which I have referred. The object of the Government justifies an alteration of the Constitution on a basis at least wide enough to safeguard the orderly marketing schemes.
A home-consumption price could be obtained by any Federal Government by means of excise duties and bounties, but at least two of the great Federal political parties are unwilling to adopt that procedure. The Labour party has continuously opposed the imposition of a flour tax and the present Government was unwilling to re-introduce it, even when it could have given substantial and urgently required assistance to wheat-farmers throughout the Commonwealth who have suffered much owing to the partial droughts of the last two seasons. The Country party, and particularly the Western Australian Country party, stands for orderly marketing and a homeconsumption price for those primary producers who have to sell in the open markets of the world and buy their requisites from the highly protected manufacturers of the Commonwealth. Orderly marketing on an Australian basis would enable the primary producers in Western Australia to share in the large local market for primary products provided by the big populations of the eastern States. This would be a very great advantage to Western Australia which exports a very large proportion of its wheat and other primary products. In Queensland, where the people consume more wheat than they produce, the farmers are the luckiest in Australia. For many years, in Victoria and New South Wales, a large proportion of the annual output of wheat has been consumed locally, and it is of great advantage to the smaller States, which have limited home-markets, to be able to share in the larger home-markets of the more populous eastern States. Seeing that Western Australia suffers manydisadvantages under federation, I shall endeavour, by supporting this measure to secure and retain that one advantage of sharing in the home-markets of the eastern States for wheat and other products.
Again I have to complain of references to the need for further powers for this Parliament. Early in his speech Senator Collings spoke of another referendum proposal for complete industrial powers for this Parliament. This would mean unification, and to the best of my ability, I shall oppose any step in that direction.
– The Leader of the Opposition wants a lot of things he will not get.
– Several of the leading trade unions in my State, notably the Railways Union, which have access to either Federal or State arbitration awards, have confined their applications for awards entirely to the State Arbitration Court. For years the basic wage awarded by the State tribunal has been shillings higher than the Federal award. Senator Collings would have difficulty in persuading the Labour movement in Western Australia to follow him along the road to unification.
– The Labour party in that State believes in unification.
– No. The greatest leader that Labour has ever had in Western Australia - I refer to Mr. Philip Collier, until lately Premier of that State - said, in an interview in the Melbourne Herald, that not only was he opposed entirely to unification, but also that he believed that unification would ruin Western Australia. There has been no effort on the part of the Labour movement in Western Australia to adopt the visionary unification schemes which are so popular in the eastern States. This measure is not a step towards unification. It sets out merely to maintain the existing marketing system and the home-consumption price, which have already been agreed to by the Commonwealth and the States.
– In Queensland, seventeen orderly marketing schemes are operating successfully.
– That is so; but they operate under State legislation and their success does not necessarily mean that we should proceed along the dangerous path towards unification. This alteration of the Constitution is necessary in order to retain to our primary producers advantages which they have gained only after many years of earnest co-operation and hard work in the political field.
I now present another argument on behalf of Western Australia. In normal times that State buys from the eastern States good3 to the value of £10,000,000 a year, compared with trade in the opposite direction valued at only £1,000,000 a year. It has been estimated that more than 30,000 bread-winners are employed in. the eastern States in the manufacture of goods for sale and consumption in Western Australia.
– The people of Western Australia do not buy those goods unless they need them. There is no philanthropy in business.
– Markets are very valuable to any State. If Western Australia had the right to impose its own tariff against goods from the eastern States, it would be able to employ those 30,000 workers within its own borders, and also stop dumping from the eastern States. But as that State is unable to employ those workers loeally at present, although it hopes to do so at some future time, it is entitled at least to the advantage of orderly marketing schemes on an all-Australian basis for its produce. This measure, if agreed to by the Parliament and the people, will enable the producers of Western Australia to share the benefits of a homeconsumption price.
– That is the advantage which this bill offers.
– And that is why I support it. In this instance, the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) and I are on common ground, although our reasons for supporting the bill differ.
I should have preferred that this constitutional alteration in relation to marketing had been confined to the marketing of primary products and processed primary products, such as foodstuffs. At one stage a proposal to that effect was considered by the Government, but because of doubt as to whether butter, flour and cheese could properly be described as primary products, the wording contained in thebill - wording which I think could be improved - was decided upon. Even if the proposed alteration of the Constitution receives the support of a majority of the electors in a majority of the States, its object will be achieved only when the Federal Parliament, under the powers granted by the alteration, passes laws complementary to the marketing schemes contained in State legislation. Such legislation will not then be open to question on the ground that it interferes with the freedom of interstate trade. The Country party in both the Federal and State spheres believes in giving a home-consumption price to the Australian farmer for that proportion of his produce which is consumed within the Commonwealth. I accept this measure as the only practical way open to me to secure that benefit for the primary producers of this country. As a States righter, I am opposed to increasing the power of the Commonwealth over the States.
– Is there any danger in that direction?
– There is danger that the alteration may be so interpreted. When I reflect that the interpretation given by the High Court to section 92 was entirely different from what appeared to be the meaning of that section, I hesitate to think what interpretation might be given the word “ marketing” in this measure. Consistently with my position as a States-righter, I shall support this measure, in the interests of those who are engaged in primary production in Australia, and particularly in the interests of the weaker States whose home market is small compared with that of the eastern States. The best way to relieve unemployment in Australia is by restoring prosperity to those primary industries upon which the stability of the Commonwealth depends.. This measure is designed to preserve the present incomplete system of organised and orderly marketing, and on that, and other grounds which I have mentioned, I shall support its second reading.
– I strongly support the hill, although greatly regretting the necessity for its introduction. The decision of the Privy Council left no other course open to the Government, if it desired to preserve to the primary producers of this country the conditions which obtained before the James case was finally decided. On this occasion I find myself in full agreement with the Leader of the ‘Opposition (Senator Collings) and his colleagues, and am glad that in Queensland, at least, members of all parties will be able to present a united front on this issue. I do not agree with Senator Brown that the Government lacks courage in not going further, and seeking greater industrial powers for the Commonwealth. In a matter of this kind, strategy, even more than courage, is necessary. During the war, I found that the courage of brave men did not always save them, whereas had they shown more strategy, they would have preserved both their courage and their lives. In this instance, the Government has exhibited strategy of a high order in that it has introduced a measure whch can be accepted by the people general ry, and after all, we must not lose sight of the fact that this alteration of the Constitution requires the approval of a majority of the electors in a majority of the States. The primary producers merely ask to be enabled to continue to organize as is done in other industries. That they have good grounds for desiring a continuance of the existing organization is shown in the last report of the Australia Dairy Produce Board, where the advantages that have accrued from orderly marketing are set out. Before the dairy industry was organized, there was no proper regulation of supplies or prices. In 1926, before the marketing of dairy produce had been properly organized, Australia exported 37,000 tons of butter, whereas in 1935 the quantity exported amounted to over 105,000 tons. That enormous growth of the export trade in butter indicates that more land was put into profitable use, and provided a livelihood for a greater number of Australian citizens. In 1926, the price margin between Australian and New Zealand butter in the London market was about £6 a ton, whereas in 1935, as a result of orderly marketing, that margin had almost disappeared. It was only through the organization of the industry that the producers were enabled to improve the quality of their butter to that extent. The same observation applies to dried fruits, the sales of which in Great Britain rose from a three-
year average of about 22,500 tonsa year to over 40,000 tons, the proportion of Australian fruit to the total quantity imported by Great Britain rising from 17 per cent, to 32 per cent. During the same period the quantity of Australian canned fruits sold in Great Britain rose by nearly five times, to over 23,000 tons in 1935, the proportion of Australian fruit to the total imports increasing from 6 per cent, to 13 per cent. Eggs sold in Great Britain rose by six times, from 335,000 great hundreds to nearly 2,000,000 great hundreds, the proportion of Australian eggs to total imports rising from 2 per cent, to 10 per cent. And sales of apples and pears increased from 1,350,000 cwt. to 1,725,000 cwt. in the face of unprecedented competition. The Australian producers were enabled to secure this greatlyincreased share of the British market only through organized marketing.
As the result of organized marketing, the producers have also reaped considerable advantages in respect of shipping. By working regular shipments in bulk, they Iia ve secured contracts at lower freights than would have been obtainable if they had shipped their exports individually to Great Britain. They have also been enabled to bulk the whole of their insurance and secure more favorable rates. They have been saved considerable sums of money in that direction. Then we should take into account the savings to the producers resulting from cheaper and more effective publicity. When marketing is organized the advertising of a commodity can be dealt Wit through one centre. I understand that in London, at the present time, one department, controlled by one head, deals with the advertising of certain of our primary products, with the result that thousands of pounds have been saved to the producers, who have also benefited from the increased sales resulting from this more effective method of publicity. The following statement was made by the Dairy Produce Board on page 6 of its report : -
In little more than a decade the Australian fruit-grower and farmer have progressed from uncertain and negligible quantities to factors of high consequence and influence in the
British market. Their products have im proved from packs noted for irregularity and sources of constant suspicion and invitation to goods coming to bc held in growing esteem by experts and discriminating buyers. All of the benefits which I have enumerated have resulted simply because the primary industries concerned have adopted an organized system of marketing. One body has had the power to say what can, and shall, be done. It is of interest to mention that the contribution by the industry for these services during the past season, based on an export of 100,000 tons of butter and cheese, represents less than 3d. (sterling) a cwt.
Despite these improvements, however, the British market can be further exploited by our producers. The producers of butter suffer disadvantages as the result of the fact that no less than SS2 brands are now placed on the markets of the United Kingdom. This should bo remedied. I understand that the butter board contemplates introducing four uniform brands for the butter of different qualities. New Zealand effected this improvement some years ago, and the producers in that country have found it most profitable. Unless, however, some board, or council, is placed in control of the marketing of each of our primary products, it will be impossible for us to effect a similar improvement. Without such control the present multiplicity of brands of butter will continue to appear on the English market, resulting in further loss to the producers. Under present conditions with SS2 brands on the market, the best publicity that can possibly bc given to our butter in the United Kingdom is some general slogan, such as, “ Use Australian butter “ ; that is not very effective. If the present number of brands were reduced to four, however, the publicity could be concentrated on making those brands widely known.
As all honorable senators are aware, Great Britain is the biggest market for our primary products, but in respect of butter and cheese, particularly, there is room for further exploitation of that market. Our supply of these products to Great Britain in proportion to the total British imports leaves room for improvement. In 1935 GreatBritain imported 480,431 tons of butter, of which Australia supplied only 105,6S2 tons, or about 20 per cent. Of 135,666 tons of cheese imported by Britain in the same year, Australia supplied only 6,712 tons. Honorable senators will agree that unless the production and marketing of cheese be placed under uniform control we shall have no hope at all of increasing our exports of that commodity to Britain. If such a system be adopted, however, we shall have every chance of competing on that market with other cheese-producing countries.
The importance of the British market to Australian primary producers has been dealt, with thoroughly by honorable senators and I do not want to labour the subject. I point out, however, that the great increase of the exports of our primary products to Britain, during the last ten years, has been a very valuable asset in creating financial credits for Australia in that country.
– It has been an indispensable asset.
– Yes ; particularly during recent years. The value of butter exported last year to Great Britain was £11,500,000 in Australian currency, the total quantity exported being 94,9S2 tons, which brought an average price of 96s. 3d. a cwt. We cannot afford to overlook this aspect of financial credit overseas in dealing with’ these industries. We cannot afford to say, in face of the difficulty which has now arisen with regard to marketing, that our primary industries should be left to carry on as best they can without organized marketing. If the proposal embodied in this measure is not adopted by the people, these industries, as exporters, will recede to the position which they occupied prior to the establishment of the marketing system which was upset by the Privy Council’s decision, and it is possible that they would provide only one-third of the financial credit which they are now establishing for Australia in Great Britain. We must also consider the welfare of those engaged in secondary industries. Money received in payment for our exports is new money which helps to keep in employment a big proportion of the people engaged in secondary industries. Furthermore, the dairying industry is a factor in the development of our large and prosperous country towns, which invariably spring up in the centre of districts where this industry is carried on successfully. This development is not so marked in pastoral areas. Keeping these facts in mind, honorable senators will readily realize the great damage that will be done to secondary industry, as well as to primary industry, if this proposal be not carried at the forthcoming referendum. lt has been stated that the adoption of this proposal by the people will cause the price of food in the cities to rise. On that point, I remind honorable senators that the report of the Australian Dairy Produce Board, to which I have already referred, reveals that first quality Australian butter sold in London, in multiple shops, which I understand are similar to “cash and carry” shops in this country, at an average of ls. per lb. If that butter were re-imported into this country, and allowance were made for exchange only, the corresponding price here would be ls. 3d. per lb. We know that butter sells in any small store in Australia at ls. 4d.; it would, therefore, sell in any multiple, or “ cash and carry “ shop in Australia at a similar price to that obtained in London. Thus the contention that the granting of power to this Parliament to control marketing would cause the prices of food to rise is unfounded. I have discussed this matter with quite a number of housewives who expressed the opinion that, since the prices of butter and bread have been fairly stabilized they have been able to budget accurately for their requirements for a week or a month. Before prices were stabilized the price of butter fluctuated from as much as ls. 3d. to ls. lid. within very short periods, with the result that housewives were unable to budget with any degree of accuracyCity workers are not justified in. assuming that if this proposal bc carried the cost of living will increase. The possibility of the handling and marketing of wool being brought under the control of the Commonwealth Government was disposed of by Senator Guthrie. Wo should remember that Commonwealth marketing legislation is passed only at the request of the States. If a majority of the States agreed to a proposal to control wool, it would be reasonable to assume that a majority of the wool-growers favoured it.
It was rumoured in Queensland at’ the beginning of this year that a wool pool was likely to be formed in that State, but the graziers said that if a pool Were established they would ‘ship their wool to Sydney and dispose of it in New South Wales where there was no governmental control. The only alternative to the referendum which has been suggested was an excise duty and the payment of a bounty, but it ba3 already beendemonstrated that such a system would be unsuitable and costly. Senator Grant showed quite clearly that an excise duty and bounty system would be detrimental to the producers.
– The excise to which I objected was not imposed by the Government.
– The honorable senator related what happened to certain butter producers in Tasmania.
– The Commonwealth Government allowed a body which did not possess constitutional authority to impose and collect an excise duty.
– I understand that a 3d. excise stamp had to be affixed to every pound of butter sold, and I suppose that a similar procedure would have to be followed in respect of other coinmodi ties sold under a system of excise and bounty. We1 do not wish all our primary producers to be harassed by governmental control, and having to be gaoled because they refuse, to comply with a cumbersome method. If Senator Grant gave the subject his serious consideration, he would realize the difficulties which would prevail under an excise and bounty system, and that the method proposed in this bill is the only way in which to help the primary producers concerned. The butter-producers mentioned by the honorable senator were not only opposing the board of control, but were also taking advantage of the prices prevailing in consequence of a system of organized marketing. Had such a system, not been in operation, they would not have obtained the prices which th”’ received. They were breaking the law, and obtaining an advantage over other producers on the mainland. I discussed this subject with some Tasmanian farmers who were opposed to marketing control, hut when I explained the position of the mainland producers they agreed that the system, though it may present difficulties to those who produce butter in only small quantities, has its advantages. Similar troubles would be experienced by primary producers in other parts of Australia if the excise and bounty system were employed to control the marketing of other primary products. The policing of such a scheme would place unnecessary expense upon the whole community, and would not be in the best interests of the Australian people. If the proposal to be submitted to the people by means of a referendum is agreed to by a majority of the people in a majority of the States, the Commonwealth will have the power which it thought it possessed prior to the decision of the Privy Council in the James case, and the primary producers will have the advantage of stability for an indefinite period.
– I have followed with serious interest the debate on this important subject, more particularly because it is the first occasion on which I shall be able to record a vote on a bill proposing an alteration of the Commonwealth Constitution. The various legal opinions expressed have differed so greatly that one is somewhat unconvinced as to whether the proposal now before the Senate, if adopted, will be constitutional. Although I intend to support the proposal I have not been convinced that the Commonwealth is wise in asking the electors to grant it additional powers at this juncture. The Government has been actuated by the decision of the Privy Council in the James case, and it would appear that the general impression of the electors is that the Commonwealth in its endeavour or ambition to obtain increased powers lias received a rebuff. The electors do not realize that the State governments have also received a rebuff, or that the Commonwealth legislated at the request of the States when they found that their powers were inadequate. The Commonwealth Government having come under the notice of the public in the litigation which has just terminated has now to carry the stigma, and although it is not responsible for the position -which has arisen, the suspicion of the people is upon it. In these circumstances, I believe that there is little prospect of the Commonwealth obtaining increased powers, and that it should not have appealed to the people until the powers it now possesses had been exhausted. Those engaged in the production of dried fruits have said that an excise duty and a bounty would be acceptable- to them but I believe that they would prefer the continuance of the system under which they have been operating. With the general improvement of the prices of primary products, particularly wheat, wool and meat, a large section of the producers would prefer this proposal to be deferred for the present at least, more particularly because of the suspicion which will be caused by the Commonwealth asking for additional powers before those which it now possesses have been utilized. Further, many persons are likely to oppose the proposal because it will cost the taxpayers approximately £100,000, when they1 have not yet been convinced that the Commonwealth does not possess sufficient power to control the handling and marketing of certain primary products. It would be better to delay taking a referendum until every other power which the Commonwealth possesses has been exhausted, when the electors would be convinced that additional powers were essential. If a majority of the people in a majority of the States record a negative vote the Commonwealth will still be in the position in which it is to-day. I believe that the Government is anxious to assist the primary producers, and to prevent interference with the present marketing system. However, if, as has been stated by some legal authorities, the adoption of the proposed alteration would not deprive the States of any powers, but would increase them, there does not appear to be any reason to oppose the proposal. To oppose the bill would appear to be voting against the interests of those engaged in the dairying and dried fruits industries which have all the necessary machinery in operation. From 1920 until the recent decision of the Privy Council a majority of the Australian people believed that the Commonwealth possessed the power which it now seeks to obtain. Proposals made in this Parliament to enable the Commonwealth to exercise the power which it was thought to possess were supported almost unanimously by the honorable senators on both sides of the chamber. No opposition was offered, and for some years we have proceeded in the belief that the Commonwealth in cooperation with the States had the authority to control marketing. The legislation thus passed resulted in great benefits being conferred upon important sections of primary producers. I have always been opposed to rigid governmental control of marketing such as by means of compulsory pools, and I trust that if this proposal be adopted the Commonwealth will not have the power to establish such pools. I regret the circumstances which practically compel the Commonwealth to submit this proposal to the people, but with practically every nation operating under highly protective policies, which are keeping our export prices below the cost, of production in Australia, the Commonwealth is compelled to legislate to tide producers over a trying period, and to place them on the same basis as those engaged in other protected industries. For those reasons I support the bill.
– It will be admitted that no subject considered by the Senate for some years has interested the electors of Australia more than the proposal now before the chamber. In view of the unfortunate results of former endeavours to obtain the approval of the people by means of referenda for the alterations of the Constitution, we should endeavour to make the proposal to be submitted to the people in this instance clear and definite. With two exceptions, all the proposals submitted previously were rejected. The only possible way in which we can prevail upon the public to agree to an alteration of the Constitution is for all parties in this Parliament to present a united front in connexion with the referendum.
– We tried that once, and failed.
– I am aware of that experience; the memory of it is still fresh in my mind. The
Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) and his two colleagues announced their intention to urge the electors of Queensland to vote for the proposed alteration of the Constitution; but their representations might be made with greater advantage in other States. Presumably, the Premier of. Queensland, his supporters, and members of the Opposition are in agreement to advise the electors to record an affirmative vote; in those circumstances, therefore, the services of the three honorable senators of the Labour party are not likely to be required in Queensland during the referendum campaign. I commend to the Leader of the Opposition the advice which was tendered to him, apparently in a spirit of frivolity, by Senator Arkins, that if he sincerely believes that an affirmative vote by the people is necessary in the interests of the producers of Australia, he should take the platform with the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) in Melbourne, Hobart, and “Western Australia, and support the right honorable gentleman in the advocacy of that policy. The Leader qf the Opposition has already declared that this matter should not be made a party question, and he has deprecated that the party issue has been drawn into it. In view of those circumstances, I earnestly hope that the honorable senator will give proof of his sincerity in the manner which Senator Arkins has suggested.
The Australian public is already suspicious of the interpretation which may be placed upon the word “marketing”. An alternative was mentioned by Senator Brown, who suggested that the issue could be simplified by asking the people to vote on the plain question : “ Should section 92 of the Constitution bind the Commonwealth?” The Privy Council decided that it does.
– A negative vote on that question would give to the Commonwealth greater power than is contemplated in this proposed alteration of the Constitution.
– That opinion is only speculative. There is nothing to indicate with certainty that it would give the Commonwealth ‘enhanced powers, because it was declared, for some reason best known to Their Honours of the High Court, that section 92 did not bind the Commonwealth. This Parliament accepted the decision of the High Court, and legislated accordingly for marketing schemes. I should like to see a straightforward question, such as I have suggested, placed before the public. The interpretation of the word “marketing” may be extremely wide, and proposed section 92a, as it is now framed, will present many legal difficulties in future. My justification for making that statement is to be found in the great deal of doubt that exists as to what the word really means and. what it involves.
– Would not an affirmative vote upon the question suggested by the honorable senator make the powers of the Commonwealth much wider?
– I arn not in a position to say; nor can the Postmaster-General give an opinion with any certainty upon this matter. Many appeals will be made to the High Court to determine the limits of that power, and, as in the James case, the issue will probably again find its way. to the Privy Council.
– Why does the honorable senator venture an opinion if he cannot distinguish between the two powers at the present time?
– I expressed these views as the result of experience. Many eminent authorities who are well qualified to express an opinion in this connexion place upon the term “ marketing “ a construction different from that of the PostmasterGeneral and the Assistant Minister (Senator Brennan).
– Up to date no definition of “marketing” has been given.
– That is BO. In past years schemes designed to bring about the orderly marketing of our primary products have been encouraged, and no honorable senator would contend that the necessity no longer exists for complementary legislation by the Commonwealth and the States to govern the export of our primary products. Such control carries with it the obligation to Insure that a proper balance shall be kept between the States, and that any section of producers is prevented from tak ing advantage of the local market beyond the extent of the quota allowed to them. Some years ago the dried fruits industry took the initiative in adopting a scheme for securing the orderly marketing of its products. Through this enterprise, the industry was restored from a chaotic condition to one of order; The same applies in regard to the marketing of butter. Senator Leckie, in dealing with this matter on Friday last, said that the bill gave to the States wider powers than those which they at present possess, and that their powers would not be limited, as some persons feared. To all intents and purposes section 92 distinctly says that trade between the States shall be absolutely free; but the intention now- is to ensure that trade between the States shall no longer be absolutely free.
Sitting suspended from 6.1.5 bo 8 p.m.
– It is regrettable that at the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers held in Adelaide in August last agreement, was not obtained regarding the proposal to be submitted to the people. On all sides the necessity for action was recognized. The constitutional machinery had broken clown, and its repair was imperative. The Premiers of South Australia and Tasmania opposed the proposed alteration, and the Premier of Victoria did not take a definite stand regarding it. The Government is to be commended for having introduced this bill, and I shall support its second reading, but I regret that a. sustained effort was not made to induce at least a majority of the State Premiers to support the proposal. Experience has shown that, it is most difficult to induce the people to vote for alterations of the Constitution, even when vital issues are raised. The definite terms of section 92 undoubtedly led the people to vote for federation. The need for defence measures was, of course, also a most important consideration, but the major issue was that of interstate free trade, the demand for which had been brought about by the hostility between New South Wales and Victoria.
– There was never free trade between the colonies prior to federation.
– Even after federation had been established, certain subterfuges were resorted to. For instance, a vegetable diseases act was passed, ostensibly to prevent the passage of certain goods from one. State to another, but actually to eliminate interstate competition. Victoria put a ban upon Tasmanian potatoes entering that State, and, when the High Court gave a decision against Victoria, the inspection procedure was made so difficult that interstate trade in potatoes became almost impossible.
Laymen must pay great respect to the views expressed by the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Menzies) and Senator Brennan ; but other members of the legal profession have pointed out that “ marketing “ can be given a very wide interpretation. An amendment has been foreshadowed by Senator Payne, but I understand that the Government has already given consideration to it. I trust that Senator Brennan, in his reply, will disclose the Government’s attitude to this amendment. I have been assured that the widest possible interpretation can, unci will, be given to “marketing”, and therefore it seems to me that, unless the proposal be qualified to some extent, the power sought from the people will be wider than is necessary to validate the marketing legislation. Of course, it is for lawyers to say whether the present proposal is only sufficiently wide to enable this Parliament to enact legislation complementary to that passed by the State parliaments in order to give effect to schemes for the orderly marketing of primary products. We are advised that, if this proposal receives the assent, of a majority of people in a majority of the States, it will not bc necessary for the State parliaments to re-enact the legislation that has been declared invalid. The term “ marketing “ covers not merelyprimary products in regard to which legislation has already been passed, but a1B0 any’ other products in respect of which orderly marketing schemes may be introduced in the future.
– Will the honorable senator object to that?
– I am not prepared to commit myself in that regard. One has to consider future developments, avid I cannot forget the fact that the Labour party stands for the nationalization of industries.
– While we are waiting for orderly marketing schemes, the primary producers may be ruined.
– We have had 35 years’ experience of the present Constitution, and on many occasions the people have rejected proposed alterations submitted by governments of various political creeds, even when all parties were in agreement as to the wisdom of the proposals. It would be foolish to say that, because we in “this chamber think a thing is desirable, it will be accepted by the people. This proposal must be placed before the electors and reasons given to them why they should agree to an alteration of the Constitution. They will need to be convinced that there is only one object in view, and that the proposed new section cannot be construed to mean other than what the Minister has said it means. If we can satisfy the people on those points, well and good; but. I cannot lose sight of the fact that at a recent conference of Premiers, three governments expressed opposition to this legislation. Judging by what has happened in the past, I fear that, unless something be clone along the lines suggested by Senator Payne, there will be difficulty in getting the people to agree to the alteration.
– Does the honorable senator believe in orderly marketing?
– There is no need for me to emphasize the obvious; every honorable senator believes in orderly marketing.
– Does the honorable senator think that orderly marketing cam bc assured without an alteration of the Constitution?
– I do not say that orderly marketing can be secured otherwise; but I do say that if -we desire the proposed alteration of the Constitution to be accepted by the people, we must create outside this chamber am atmosphere favorable to the alteration. So far, there has been no indication by leaders of public thought outside Parliament that they will throw their weight behind the Government’s proposal. On the contrary, as I have said, soma State governments have expressed opposition to it. I shall not allow my enthusiasm to outweigh my discretion; I believe that this alteration, if agreed to, will be useful, but I do not think that it will work miracles. However, I support the second reading, and I hope that the Government will give favorable consideration to the amendment suggested by Senator Payne.
– In speaking to the budget, I indicated that I intended to support this measure. I shall do so because I am firmly convinced that some system of orderly marketing is urgently necessary if the primary producers of this country are to be assured of a standard of living comparable to that enjoyed by every other section of the Australian people. Honorable senators will agree that some sections of the primary producers of this country are not enjoying a reasonable standard of living to-day. That view is expressed in the report of the Royal Commission on the Wheat Industry, in which it is stated that the farmers of Australia are burdened with a debt of £151,000,000. So serious is their plight, that, a year or two ago, the Commonwealth Government decided to vote £12,000,000 for the rehabilitation of the wheat industry. In Western Australia alone, 2,800 farmers have been forced to abandon their holdings during the last six years, because of circumstances over which they had no control; and another 3,100 have applied for rehabilitation under the recent grant from the Commonwealth. The wheatfarmers of Australia view with some degree of envy the success of the dried fruits industry since orderly marketing was introduced into it ten or twelve years ago. Orderly marketing has saved that industry, and I firmly believe that it will save other primary industries, and ensure to those engaged in them a decent standard of living. I am amazed when I reflect that, seven or eight years ago, two, at least, of the three States which have expressed opposition to this measure, introduced -legislation for the establishment of a dried fruits board, and asked the Commonwealth Parliament to pass complementary legislation. I cannot understand why those who sought that legislation seven or eight years ago should be opposed to this measure. I believe, however, that the majority of the people of Australia have sufficient intelligence to pass the referendum proposal, thereby ensuring to the primary producers of this country a reasonable standard of living. And despite what has been said regarding the attitude of the people of Western Australia, I believe that they, too, will cast an affirmative vote, for they realize the extent to which that State is dependent on its primary industries. The proposed alteration of the Constitution seeks merely to validate what has been done, unconstitutionally it is now known, for eight or nine- years. Until a South Australian fruit-grower contested the validity of the legislation, no one objected to it, because it had proved successful in protecting those in whose interests it was passed. Some honorable senators have expressed the hope that there will never be need to apply legislation of this kind to wool. I share their hope; but, with conditions altering almost daily, it is difficult to predict what will happen in the future. Prohibitions, restrictions and interferences with natural markets may make necessary some measure of protection of the wool industry.
– Only a small portion of the wool clip is disposed of in Australia.
– A board of control to fix a minimum reserve price for wool may yet be necessary.
– Wool was controlled during the war.
– Ja may again be necessary to set up an organization similar to Bawra. As a wool-grower, I hope that wool-growing will never need the protection that has been given to the wheat industry, but the day may come when the wool-growers of Australia will be glad to take advantage of marketing legislation.
Already there has been a good deal of dumping of goods in Western Australia, and should the Government’s proposal fail to receive the support of the people, it is difficult to say what will happen. Dumping has begun in New South Wales also, and immediately the existing contracts expire, it will increase.
I know of no means to prevent dumping other than the alteration of the Constitution now proposed. It hasbeen said that the farmers’ organizations do not favour the proposed alteration; but I am proud to say that that is not true of farmers’ organizations in “Western Australia.
– No bona fide organization of farmers will be opposed to it.
– I do not agree with Senators Uppill and Herbert Hays that the appeal to the people could have awaited a trial of the existing conditions.
– I suggested waiting, in order to get the co-operation of the States.
– That cooperation is most desirable; but if matters are delayed too long, there will be chaos, because orderly marketing will be destroyed and dumping will take place. I ask the Minister when replying to say what the position would be in the event of the Government’s proposal being carried by a majority of the people in a majority of the States, should one State decide to stand out of the scheme of orderly marketing. If that should happen it would destroy the very excellent case put up by Senator McLeay for the equal distribution of the home market. I should like this point cleared up. Would it be possible, if this proposal be adopted by the people, for one State to refuse to pass the necessary legislation? I support the bill for the reasons I have expressed.
– in reply - In what I have to say in reply to the very admirable speeches made in this debate I am not going to paint the lily. I shall say nothing of the remarks made by honorable senators who have spoken so admirably in favour of the Government’s proposal. There was another group of speakers, represented by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings), who, while intending to support the Government - and I suppose that is the main thing - are not yet quite satisfied that the Government has done everything that it might do to make this proposal acceptable to the people. The honorable senator thinks that we should have attached, or rather hobbled, to this proposal another proposal that greater industrial power should be granted to the Commonwealth. As to that, I can merely say that I do not propose to discuss, on this measure, merely abstract propositions.
– I said that there are some people who hold that view; I am not one of those who want any other proposal tacked on to this one.
– I understood the honorable senator to say that he was in favour of the attempt to get at this referendum, full industrial powers for the Commonwealth.
– I said wider powers, but not at this referendum.
– In reply to members of this chamber, and people outside, who hold that view, I point out that the Government fully considered those matters and realized, as fully as it could possibly be realized, that it would be utterly futile to ask the people, on such short notice, to agree at a referendum to proposals which would involve further and indefinite grants of powers to the Commonwealth in addition to those contained in this proposal. The experience of the past has shown how very unwilling the people of Australia are to confer extended powers on the Commonwealth and certainly if ever there was a time when that unwillingness was particularly pronounced, it is at present.
Senator Cooper suggested that bravery was not the only merit required in a soldier - he required also discretion if he were not to be shot. We fully realize that if we went to the country now for wider industrial powers for the Commonwealth, we should be shot, figuratively speaking, on every platform we mounted. The Leader of the Opposition will not, I think, deny that he said, perhaps in a burst of rhetoric, that I knew that this proposal would not give the powers of orderly marketing which the Government claims that it will. I deny that. I believe that the grant of powers to be asked for at the forthcoming referendum will have the effect of putting the Commonwealth almost in the same position as it occupied before the Privy Council gave its decision in the James case.
Senator Millen opened the real attack on this measure, and his onslaught has teen developed by Senators DuncanHughes, Grant, and other honorable sena- tors and has eventually led, apparently, to the formulation of two different amendments which have been outlined during the course of this debate. In his condemnation of the bill Senator Millen used language, the reasoning of which I cannot follow. He said that this proposal would lead to unification; that marketing would cover every possible trading and commercial activity in the Commonwealth ; that this proposal would sweep out section 92 of the Constitution altogether; and that, if we were going on with the proposal, we might as well take section 92 out of the Constitution. I cannot follow that reasoning. As to the first point - unification - if this proposal involved the granting of far-reaching powers to the Commonwealth I could understand the honorable senator contending that it would lead to unification because so many powers would be given to the federation that the maintenance of the complicated system of State parliaments to carry out the little work which would be left to them to do, would not be worth while.
– That is what I said.
Senator BRENNAN. But the honorable senator’s observations were based entirely upon the fallacy that the word “ marketing “ is wide enough to include all forms of commercial activity. From that view I entirely dissent. It is rather remarkable that honorable senators who support that argument, although they had the opportunity to do so, did not give us some illustration of the way in which the word “marketing” could be used to extend definitely the powers of the Commonwealth.
– It is the AssistantMinister’s privilege to explain that to the House.
– I do not think it is the Minister’s privilege, as my colleague in another place would say, to instruct honorable senators on the meaning of simple English words. I think that the word “marketing”, although it. has not, up to date, a place in the Constitution, is a reasonably simple word.
– What does the Government intend it to mean?
– What it says. One cannot define the unknown by the more unknown. Although it has not been used before in- the Constitution, we think that it is a simple word which will be understood and appreciated. The weakness of the argument of the honorable senator, and those who support him, is that it does not take into account other parts of the Constitution.
– Or the last words of the amendment.
– That is so. Apparently when he was speaking the honorable senator did not realize that, section 99 is still in the Constitution, and that it forbids a preference by the Commonwealth to a State or any part of a State. He does not realize that section 51 (i) is still in the Constitution. Paragraph (i) of section 51, itself, does not limit, but gives powers ; but its importance is that it says that one of the subjects - a subject which is placed right in the forefront in this respect - in which power of control is granted in the Constitution, is “ trade and commerce with other countries and among the States.” Therefore, there is a power expressly conferred upon the Commonwealth to legislate on matters which deal with trade and commerce with other countries “ and among the States.” There is, nowhere, power given to it to deal with trade and commerce within a State and, therefore, it has not got that power. Thus all the bogys that the honorable senator raised were based on the fiction that the Commonwealth, by virtue of this alteration, would be given some power over intrastate trade.
– Section 51 is subservient to section 92?
– Yes. It gives to the Commonwealth full power to legislate in respect of trade and commerce with other countries and among the States, subject to the limitation imposed by section 92. That, however, has nothing to do with the point with which I am dealing. Then again section 107 still remains in the Constitution. It reads -
Every power of the Parliament of a colony which has become or becomes a State, shall, unless it is by this Constitution exclusively vested in the Parliament of the Commonwealth or withdrawn from the Parliament of the
State, continue as at the establishment of the Commonwealth, or as at the admission or establishment of the State, as the case may be.
Thus those powers which the States possessed in 1900, when Australia entered into the federation, insofar as they had not been given away in sections 51 and 52, still remain with the States. Therefore, the Commonwealth has no power to override the States or any of the States by making inroads upon their powers in respect of intra-state trade. So far as I can judge by what has been said, every honorable senator is in favour of the law as established by the decision of the High Court in the McArthur case in 1920, and would be satisfied that the condition of things established by that judgment should continue indefinitely. If that is so, I am utterly unable to understand how any honorable senator can object to the proposal embodied in this measure. There arc some who say that this proposal goes much further than is rendered necessary by the decision in the James case. Senator Milien contends that it really goes further than the position that existed before section 92 was adjudicated upon by the Privy Council. Surely the words of section 92 are plain: “trade, commerce and intercourse among the States . . . shall be absolutely free”. In the proposed new section 92a a limitation is sought to be imposed -
The provision of the last preceding section shall not apply to laws with respect to marketing made by. or under, the authority of the Parliament ….
But it does not stop there. It continues - . . in the exercise of any powers vested in the Parliament by this Constitution.
It expressly limits the Commonwealth’s power to what it was previously, but puts a limitation on section 92 by providing that it shall not apply to certain marketing schemes. It provides a limitation of the law as expressed in the McArthur case.
I now come to the proposals made by Senator Payne and Senator Badman. I do not know whether it is intended that these suggested amendments should be cumulative or whether one over-rides or is subservient to the other.
– One need not override the other.
– If both amendments were agreed to we would have an extraordinary jumble in what has been described as a monument of legislative capacity.
– Cannot the Assistant Minister deal with them separately?
– It is difficult to do so. I shall deal first with the proposal of Senator Payne.
– Why not wait until the committee stage is reached?
– Because Senator Millen, Senator Grant and other honorable senators have indicated that, unless some amendment is to be made, they will vote against the second reading of the bill. There is only one operative clause, and if honorable senators are going to vote against it. they may leave the Government without a majority, and in that way destroy the whole measure. It is, therefore, essential that I should explain the position that would arise if the alteration of the Constitution suggested by Senator Payne were adopted. The honorable senator proposed that section 92a should read -
The provisions of the last proceeding section shall notapply to laws with respect to marketing made by-or under the authority of Parliament in the exercise, at the request of States concerned in the disposal of products overseas, of any power vested in the Parliament by this Constitution.
That amendment; even as it stands, would be difficult of interpretation, but the difficulty would be increased if read in conjunction with Senator Badman’s amendment. I do not wish Senator Payne to think that the Government is treating his proposal with undue hostility. The Leader of the Senate and I considered it carefully and I consulted the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Menzies) to-day, but it was one of five alternative proposals that, were placed before the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers held in Adelaide, and it was rejected. One of the reasons why the Government cannot accept it is that it would not carry us any further than the proposal in the bill. The Government is convinced that the fears entertained by certain honorable senators that this alteration, if adopted, would vest the Commonwealth with powers’ which it does not now possess, and in some extraordinary way increase its capacity to legislate in a way which it has not attempted or desired to do in the past, are without justification. The history of Commonwealth action since this system was first started proves that the Commonwealth has no desire to uusurp or arrogate to itself such powers. It has never acted in these matters except at the suggestion of the States.
– Does the AssistantMinister say that the Commonwealth cannot so act?
– The suggestion at the back of that question is that the Commonwealth Parliament cannot bc trusted because it is bound to misuse its powers. Does the honorable senator realize that this Parliament could, tomorrow, pass a measure prohibiting the export from Australia of a. solitary bale of wool?
– Of course it could.
– But it does not.
– Because it does not consist of a body of madmen.
– One Government prohibited the export of sheepskins..
– Yes, by proclamation; it was not this Government.
– Other governments may do so.
– That is the bogy There . may be another government, but the honorable senator cannot stave off that possibility.
– I admit that, but I do not want the Commonwealth to be granted more powers than it already possesses.
– I can assure honorable senators that the power to initiate these proposals will still lie with the States. The Commonwealth having no power over intra-state trade, cannot initiate marketing legislation.
– Will the AssistantMinister explain why, in his opinion, my amendment will weaken the position?
– I have not said that it will weaken it, hut it adds nothing to it. It cuts into the limited time allotted for the discussion of the two Constitution alteration ‘ bills. A call of the Senate has been fixed for the 2nd December, and another constitutional alteration has to be agreed to before the end of the present period of the session. If this proposal is amended and sent, . to the House of Representatives, it will be debated there, and when it is returned to the Senate it might be further amended. We do not know what delays will be caused. In these circumstances there is a great danger that this measure, concerning which there is a good deal of anxiety and need for haste, may be so delayed that it will be lost.
– Is it not the main objective of the Commonwealth to submit the proposal to the people in such a form that it will be approved?
– The amendment of the honorable senator will not help to achieve that purpose.
– It would bc much easier for Senator Payne to inform the electors of Tasmania that all that is proposed is to give to the dairy-farmers and the producers of dried fruits exactly the same protection as they were afforded between 1920 and the early part of 1986.
– That is what I wish to do.
– In Senator Payne’s amendment, the words “ at the request of the States concerned “ are used. What do those words mean?
– The States concerned in the marketing of these products.
– It does not say so. A State which does not produce one ton of dried fruits may be concerned in what is being done over the border.
– The legislation covers only certain commodities.
– That is the first point that should receive attention should we desire to give effect to the proposal. “ At the request of the States concerned “ is a doubtful expression. How is the request of the States concerned to be evidenced? Is it to be by an act of Parliament, by resolution of both Houses, or by a request from the Executive?
– Section 51 of the Constitution provides how it shall be done. Matters may be referred by the States to the Commonwealth. How has it been done before?
– There has never been such a proposal.
– What does the honorable senator mean by the words “ at the request of the States concerned ? How is that request to be conveyed?
– How have requests been conveyed before?
– Does the honorable senator mean by a letter from one government to another?
– There has never been a position exactly similar to that which would arise if the words used by the honorable senator wereincluded.
– When the Commonwealth has legislated previously, it has been at the request of a State government.
– Yes; a request to pass certain legislation, and this Parliament has done so.
– That is the point.
– The honorable senator fishes to include in the Constitution something that is not there. No onehas suggested that there is anything actually wrong with the amendment, but when such words are embodied in the Constitution they have to be proof against the criticisms and opposition of those who may desire to test the validity of our action, as was done in the James case.
The amendment suggested by Senator Badman precedes in point of position that with which I have just dealt. It reads -
The provisions of the last preceding section shall not apply to laws withrespect to marketing of either raw or processed primary products being foodstuffs.
There is at the outset a contradiction of terms, because if a product is processed it is not a primary product.
– What of butter and flour ?
– The second objection is that the time may come when we may wish to export other than foodstuffs, and in that event all this procedure for altering the Constitution would have to be gone through again. The alteration would have to be agreed to by both Houses of the Parliament and by a majority of the people and a majority of the States. I assure the honorable senator that we do not lightly overrule these proposals.
– They have been considered by Cabinet.
– Yes; the fears expressed by Senator Badman and Senator Payne are unwarranted. What is a primary, secondary or raw product? Arc hides a primary or a secondary product? Leather, we may ‘ assume, is a secondary product.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - The honorable senator’s time has expired.
Question - That the bill be now read a second time - put. The Senate divided. (The Deputy President - Senator B. Sampson.)’
Majority . . 22
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 -
The Constitution is altered by inserting after section ninety-two the following section : - “92a. The provisions of the last preceding section shall not apply to laws with respect to marketing made by, or under the authority of, the Parliament in the exercise of any powers vested in the Parliament by this Constitution.”
– I move - -
That the word “marketing” be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ the marketing of either raw or processed primary products, being foodstuffs “.
The most important feature of this referendum is that honorable senators should endeavour by every means at their disposal to have the proposed alteration carried. I supported the second reading of the bill because I believe in the principle of orderly marketing, but in regard to the actual wording of proposed newsection 92a I feel that I shall not be able to successfully recommend it to the electors. Personally, I can support it, because of the assurance given to honorable senators by the Government; but many sections of the community oppose it because they are determined that the Commonwealth Government shall not be granted any additional power.
– We have to educate them to vo’te in the affirmative.
– We may talk until -re are black in the face; they will not vote for thu proposed alteration in its present form. The word “ marketing” hu not been clearly defined by the Assistant Minister (Senator Brennan). By the remarks he has already made concerning my amendment, he has shown that he does not clearly understand the feeling which exists in the community against granting of full powers to the Commonwealth. According to him, the learned members of the Government are quite satisfied that the wording -of the proposal meets the circumstances; but, from my personal observation and information, I believe that a number of other learned men are not so sure of that.
– They are quite sure of it.
– They are quite sure that it means that wider powers than the Government indicates that it requires would be granted to the Commonwealth if the referendum proposal were carried. The theme of ministerial speeches throughout the debate has been that the referendum was framed for the purpose of validating legislation which had been invalidated by the decision of the Privy Council. Opposition has now arisen in many quarters to the word “marketing”, because it is believed that the Commonwealth is attempting to gain more power than it was thought to have when it enacted the marketing legislation which baa since been invalidated. In replying to the second-reading debate, the Assistant Minister discussed the definition of “marketing”, and stated that the time may come when we shall need to export other than primary products. That is the reason why so many people are opposed to the present phrasing of proposed new section 92a. If the
Assistant Minister’s statement be correct, the Government is definitely seeking wider powers, and the public will realize that fact when they read his speech. But over and over again the Government has stated that it desires only to validate the legislation which was invalidated by the decision of the Privy Council. The Assistant Minister proceeded to question the meaning of the words “raw or processed primary products, being foodstuffs “. He stated that those words might cover hides; but, in framing my amendment, I was careful to incorporate the words “being foodstuffs”. At present sections of the public are already preparing propaganda in order to combat the referendum proposal on the ground that “marketing” means the granting of far wider powers to the Commonwealth than are required for the’ validation of the marketing legislation. On the other hand, another section is preparing, without my giving ‘any intimation that I intended that this amendment should relate to foodstuffs, propaganda against the primary producer and the Government, contending that the marketing of any primary produce whatever will result in an increase of the cost of living. Upon an analysis of the matter, I definitely disagree with that view; a study of the prices of dried fruits and butter since the introduction of the marketing scheme supports my conclusion. I am confident that, if the Government were to succeed with this referendum - and I sincerely hope that it will - the price of foodstuffs will not bc increased. In moving this amendment, I do not intend for one moment to be an obstructionist; I desire only to clarify the position. The wording of the proposed new section is not so clear that the electors will be able to grasp it as meaning that the Government does not intend to obtain any power additional to what, it believed that it possessed before the decision of the Privy Council. We may go to the country and explain to the electors until we are black in the face that the referendum does not mean an increase of Commonwealth powers; but, unless that is clearly expressed in print, the public will not believe us. For that reason I have submitted my amendment. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings), who supported the bill and believes in orderly marketing, also believes that the Australian producer should be granted a fair standard of living. He represents Queensland, which has an orderly marketing scheme in connexion with sugar, and the growers of this commodity obtain for it higher prices than we would pay for imported sugar. But that does not alter the fact that it makes the cost of living in Australia dearer. The honorable senator speaks on behalf of those who support Labour ideals; they believe in the industrial arbitration system, as, indeed, do most Australians. Australia has adopted a fiscal policy, in accordance with which customs duties are imposed to encourage the building-up of Australian secondary industries. We should put Australian primary industries on the same footing as the secondary industries. We want the public to realize that, at the referendum, they will be voting for a certain objective ; but that objective must be clearly defined, otherwise the proposed alteration will be rejected. Assistance has been given to the primary producers under the legislation which has recently been declared invalid. The Government is anxious to have orderly marketing of primary products, but what does “ marketing “ moan ? Many and varied definitions of the term have been given in the press and by public men and others.
– Marketing has been the subject of legislation by the State and the Commonwealth parliaments, and surely the courts would have the right to determine the meaning.
– Perhaps so, but the framers of the Constitution provided in section 92 that interstate trade should be “ absolutely free “. In my opinion, the word “ absolutely “ is superfluous. The word “ free “ can have only one meaning, hut there is doubt as to what may be the interpretation of “marketing”. The Government desires that there shall be homeconsumption prices for primary products. My amendment refers to the marketing of either raw or processed primary products, being foodstuffs. It is not likely that Australians will eat hides.
– But we export hides.
– Is not butter a primary product which has been processed? Gold is a primary product, but it is not a foodstuff. Cement is not a foodstuff. It has been said that at some time the Government of the Commonwealth may consider it necessary to take control of the marketing of wool. Senator Guthrie interjected that we export a far greater quantity of wool than is used in Australia. I am afraid that it will be found that a large number of wool-growers will object to the proposal in the bill.
– At some future time the wool-growers ‘may ask for such legislation.
– Up to the present time they have not made such a request. The Government states that it merely desires to restore the position that obtained Wore the marketing legislation was declared invalid.
– Before it was invalidated we could have had a marketing scheme in regard to hides. Why should we not?
– The Government tells us that its object is merely to validate the legislation under which benefits were given to certain primary producers.
– Under Senator Badman’s proposed amendment we could have a marketing scheme in respect of meat but not hides. Why should there be such a restriction? In many cases it is difficult to decide whether an industry ia a primary or a secondary one. Butter, for instance, is originally milk, but, after going through various processes, the milk becomes butter. This amendment is proposed to allay the fears of those who think that the Government is seeking to grasp certain new powers for this Parliament. It is rather suggested that the Government has in the back of its mind some sinister intention which it has not disclosed, and which it has covered up by the word “ marketing “. No honorable senator has suggested in -what way, under this proposed new section, a scheme could he devised which would be harmful. One cannot prove a negative. I can merely assert that, to the best of my belief, looking at the matter as a lawyer with some experience of constitutional law, and having regard to the opinion of the Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies), who is the authorized law expounder of the Government; and has consulted certain eminent lawyers who are not in any way associated with the Government, none of the dangers which the honorable senator fears lurks in this proposal. The most that I can do is to give to the committee the assurance that this is the view of legal members of the Ministry who have considered the matter. Regarding it as men of ordinary decency, I may say that we have no covert scheme at the back of our minds.
– I did not say that and I do not believe it.
– This Government cannot bind any future Ministry.
– It should not be assumed that the Government intends to misuse the power sought. In framing the proposal for an alteration of the Constitution, it has not been unmindful of the fact that other Ministers may be in power at some future time. It has had to consider what use could be made of the proposed power, even if there were an intention to abuse it. to the fullest possible extent. I have invited honorable senators to suggest how this could be done, and I have given an assurance that I know of no way in which it could be accomplished. If the amendment submitted, by Senator Badman is accepted, I see no reason why the committee should not agree to the .amendment foreshadowed by Senator Payne. I ask honorable senators to consider what would be the result if Senator Badman’s and Senator Payne’s amendments were incorporated with the simple proposal submitted by the Government. If there be those who think that the Government has some covert scheme for ruining this country or them, I shall make no special effort to conciliate them; they may do as they wish. Yet I should be sorry to think that the great majority of the people held the view that there is anything covert in the mind of any member of the Government.
Senator COLLINGS (Queensland) [9.263. - ‘Senator Badman interjected, during the course of the Minister’s speech, that he did not believe that the Government had any sinister motive in submitting its proposal. He will not be a very effective advocate of the interests of the primary producers if he cannot get rid of the idea that the electors are more suspicious of the motives of the Government than are the members of this committee. Senator Badman stated that the workers of this country are protected by awards of the Arbitration Court, and that the manufacturers are protected by the tariff, and he, therefore, asked that the Constitution should be altered so that the primary producers also might be protected. I point out that it is not necessary to pass this bill in order to protect primary producers, because they are already deriving benefit as the result of the policy of protection and arbitration awards. Commonwealth legislation and administration in connexion with arbitration and the tariff have resulted in the establishment of an Australian standard of comfort which is probably higher than that enjoyed in any other part of the civilized world. The primary producers are protected, in that the large populations in the cities provide a valuable home market for their products. Owing to the standards of living enjoyed by the residents in large centres of population, the primary producers are able to sell more of their goods at home-consumption prices than would otherwise be the case, and, therefore, a smaller quantity of primary products has “to be exported at world parity prices. Members of the Labour party admit that the primary producers have not yet obtained the standard of comfort to which they are entitled, but considerable benefit has been derived by them because of the prosperity of Australian manufacturers and purchasing - power of the workers in secondary industries. I hope that the amendment will not be carried because it would only make confusion worse confounded. An interpretation of the word “ marketing “ is sought by many honorable senators. I suggested, by way of interjection, that the Minister should not attempt to answer those whoasked the meaning of the word, because any one who could not understand a simple English word like “marketing” would not understand the Minister’s explanation.
– The Attorney-General of the Commonwealth cannot explain it.
– A dictionary which I have here gives to “ marketing “ the following meaning : - “ The act or practice or buying or selling in market “. All this talk arises from the fact that either people are afraid that the proposal of the Government does not mean what it says, or they have the attitude of defeatism, and are afraid to give to the proposal their wholehearted and enthusiastic support. The criticism of my attitude has been somewhat flattering. I suppose that I am as responsive to flattery as is any other ordinary human being. The suggestion is that because I have declared the intention of the Opposition in this chamber to support the bill, not only in this chamber but also in Queensland, in order to make sure that there is a majority of electors in favour of the Government’s proposal in at least one State, I shall show insincerity unless I go also to New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania and the other States and advocate it. I know that the compliment is only implied, and I have no intention to dissipate my energies in that way. My job is in Queensland, and the job of other honorable senators is in the States which they represent in this chamber-. If honorable senators want to see the fair thing done by the primary producers of this country, let them stand by the vote recorded here to-night and reject any amendment which, instead of improving the bill, will make it more difficult for the people to understand.
[9.33]. - I appeal to Senator B.adman, who has expressed a desire to see the Constitution altered, to withdraw his amendment. I do so, first, because it imposes an undesirable limitation. If the honorable senator really believes in orderly marketing, and thinks that it has been of benefit to the primary producers, why should he seek to limit that benefit to the marketing of foodstuffs? Why should the primary producer who is engaged in the rearing and breeding of livestock get the benefit of a marketing scheme in respect of meat, but not in respect of hides? What infraction of the rights of the States would there be in inaugurating a marketing scheme for hides ? In the past Australia has had a very valuable export trade in timber. So far, there has been no marketing scheme in connexion with this product, but it is possible that such a scheme will he needed some day. When amending the Constitution to give to primary producers the opportunity to organize marketing schemes, why should we deny to some producers the right to such a scheme? Listening to the honorable senator, it seemed to me that he moved his amendment, not because he himself was dissatisfied with the proposal of the Government, but because he desired to allay the fears of others. -Those fears are based on imagination, and, apparently, centre in the word “marketing”. I understand that in South Australia there is some suggestion that the word “marketing” has a sinister meaning in that the desire is to extend the powers of the Commonwealth unduly. That point was d!ealt with effectively by the Assistant Minister (Senator Brennan) when he pointed out that the word “marketing” in the Government’s proposal, conditioned as it is by the remaining Words of the proposed alteration, clearly means “ marketing “ within the limits of the Constitution. That explanation should remove any fear. Webster’s Dictionary gives to “marketing” the following meaning : - “To deal in a market; to buy or sell; to expose for sale in a market;1 to traffic in; to sell in a market, and an extended sense, to sell in any manner “. In regard to one kind of marketing - as the selling of goods in a market in, say, Adelaide - the proposals of the Government for altering the Commonwealth Constitution will not extend the power of the Commonwealth. Even if this alteration is carried, the Commonwealth will have no power to regulate, or in any way deal with, marketing within a State. Its powers can be exercised only when marketing is interstate in character. Therefore, there is nothing sinister wrapped up in the word “ marketing. “ I draw attention to the conditioning words of the Constitution. “ with other countries and among the States”. Let us suppose that a decision in a case before the court hinged on the meaning of the word “ marketing “. As a layman, I should say that, first, the court would have recourse to the dictionary in order to ascertain -the meaning of the word, and, after that, to the Constitution. It would say that the dictionary meaning of the word was “ to buy or sell “ but that, so far as the Commonwealth is concerned, the Constitution limits the dictionary meaning to “ buying or selling with other countries or among the States “. That must be the meaning of the word “ marketing” as employed in any Commonwealth legislation. Indeed, any Commonwealth legislation that went beyond that meaning would be invalid.
I make another suggestion to the honorable senator. Even if the court were to disregard both the dictionary meaning and the constitutional meaning, it would seek to ascertain the commonly accepted meaning of the word “ marketing “ in this community. There we have a clear guide, because several States, and the Commonwealth also have legislated in regard to marketing, and, therefore, this community has repeatedly expressed in statute form what it means by the word “marketing”. Thus, we have three guides in the interpretation of the word - the dictionary meaning, the constitutional meaning, and the accepted meaning of the word by this community as employed in its statutes. In his endeavour to calm fears which have arisen in the minds of others because of mistaken ideas of what is meant by “ marketing “, the honorable senator has attempted to impose a limitation that will, if accepted, hamper development in relation to some forms of primary production which are just as worthy of assistance by means of a marketing scheme as are any of those which have been assisted hitherto. In the light of what I have said, I ask the honorable senator not to press his amendment.
– Speaking to the amendment, I desire, first, to comment on the remark made by the Minister in charge of this bill (Senator Brennan) when replying to the second reading, that the amendment should not be accepted because it would mean returning the bill to another chamber, with, possibly, a long discussion there, before it came back to the Senate. Even if the business of Parliament were likely to be delayed for a few days, or even a fortnight, that would not be a sufficient reason for rejecting the amendment. If a proper discussion of this measure necessitated Parliament sitting after Christmas, the time spent would be immaterial if the job we are sent here to do were done better. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) spoke of honorable senators supporting the Government’s proposal in a defeatist attitude. It is never wise to underrate the strength of one’s opponent. It is sound policy to recognize his strength, and, in my opinion, he is handled much better if approached cautiously than if attacked without thinking.
I regret that I am unable to support the amendment of my colleague, Senator Badman. I know that he is honest and sincere in his intention. He realizes the difficulties associated with carrying a proposal of this kind in South Australia. I am, however, convinced that we are acting legally in seeking to restore what we thought was the position in regard to marketing before the Privy Council announced its decision; but I confess that I do not know what would happen if the proposed new section had to run the gauntlet of a law court. The legal meaning of words and phrases is beyond the understanding of a layman. The amendment reads -
The provision of the last preceding section shall not apply to laws with respect to the marketing of either mw or processed primary piroducts being foodstuffs.
One of the greatest difficulties which will confront those who advocate the carrying of the Government’s proposal will be that of overcoming the objection that the cost of living will be raised thereby.
– That has already been said.
Senator JAMES MCLACHLAN.Yes, and it will be repeated again and again. I can imagine the hoardings being covered with placards, reading somewhat as follows: “Vote for the referendum. :and starve the working man’s child “. The inclusion of the word “ foodstuffs “ will supply the Government’s opponents with a weapon that will be used to defeat its proposal, and, therefore, I regret that I cannot support the amendment moved by my colleague.
Senator DUNCAN-HUGHES (South Australia) [9.45 J. - I arn very interested in the amendment proposed by Senator Badman, because it serves a useful purpose, which 1 shall explain in a moment. First, I rather deprecate the phrase “ orderly marketing “.
– It means organized marketing.
-HUGHE’S.- Senator Guthrie said this afternoon that he regarded the present control of wool as orderly marketing. The phrase, however, is constantly used in the sense that some form of monopoly is the only satisfactory way of marketing any product. The business and trade of this country was carried on for many years before any control of the present kind was introduced, and to say that business, prior to the origin of this idea, was not done in an orderly way appears to me to be absurd. The Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) has said that there are three different ways in which the meaning of “marketing” may be found out. I suggest that it will be rather awkward if one of the meanings so ascertained cancels out fit her of the others. But apart from these three constructions there is a fourth, as indicated in the House of Representatives by the Attorney-General when he pointed out that it was contrary to the customs of the founders of the Constitution to define their phrases clearly; they used general phrases, and that, he said, was very desirable because the meaning of a word might gradually expand according to the necessities of the moment and varying situations. That means that we have to pass as it stands this phrase which may have, and is contemplated to have, in the future a meaning entirely different from that given to it to-day. With all deference to the Assistant Minister (“Senator Brennan) I suggest that there is no reason why Senator Badman’s amendment and Senator Payne’s amendment; - although I do not like the wording of the latter very much - should not both be carried. It is possible to amalgamate the two.
The main point in which I am interested, however, is that through out this debate we have been assured of two things. First of all, we have been assured that the Government simply desires’ to help certain industries which, owing to the decision in the James case, had taken away from them certain powers which it was thought they possessed. If that is so, nobody can deny that these particular industries - wheat, dried fruits, and butter - can be provided for under Senator Badman’s amendment. It covers, not only each of these three industries, but many others as well. It may not cover hides; but are we to provide for the control of the interstate marketing of every primary and secondary product? I repeat that if the Government desires simply to provide for these three industries, which at present are left in the air owing to the decision in the James case, it. can do so by submitting its own proposal, as amended by Senator Badman, to the referendum. On the one hand we have been assured that there is no intention on the Government’s part to get unlimited powers; that it simply desires the restoration of certain powers to help those industries, which, it was thought, the Commonwealth already possessed.
– Powers that the Government used but did not possess?
Sena tor DUNCAN - HUGHES. - Apparently the Government thought it possessed those powers, and, judging by the phrases used in this debate, honorable senators generally thought that it possessed them. I was of the contrary opinion, and said so a year ago. I have never seen a victorious body more depressed than were the 26 honorable senators who voted in opposition to myself and my’ three colleagues. If they propose to fight the referendum campaign in the same spirit as they displayed in the Senate this evening they will have little chance of success. They are now on the horns of a dilemma. They have either to ask specifically for powers to assist, these industries, which they have said they desire to assist, or make it perfectly clear that they want the widest possible powers with regard to interstate marketing to be granted to the Commonwealth, and that the dilemma in which the three industries, which I have mentioned, find themselves to-day is being used as a reason for that request.
SenatorFoll. - Is it practicable to amend the Constitution in order to provide for three industries only?
-HUGHES. -I think it is.
– That is what the Government says it is doing.
– I hope that Senator Badman drafted his amendment himself, because it is admirably, adapted to find out the real object of this referendum. Is it to restore powers which the Commonwealth thought it possessed to aid various industries which have been hard hit by the decision in the J ames case, or is it to confer wide, general powers of control over interstate marketing?
– To whom is it asked that wide powers be granted ?
– To the Commonwealth.
– No, to the States. If the honorable senator reads the proposal he will see that it is clear that the powers asked for are powers for the States.
– No mention is made at all of powers for the States. We have not had very many definitions or explanations of the phraseology of this measure, and if the PostmasterGeneral can show me that these powers refer to the States I shall be delighted to hear him. In the meantime - and I wish to make this clear to the Senate - it seems to me that the Government has to decide on this amendment as to whether it wants to restore its imagined powers to aid the depressed industries, which I have mentioned, or to obtain an extension of powers.
– The Assistant-Minister said that surely no one would suggest that any sinister motive lurked behind the Government’s proposal. I do not think for one moment that there is any sinister motive behind it. I believe that the Government intends well, but, as Senator Duncan-Hughes has just pointed out, the point to be decided is whether the Government wants to have restored to it powers to prop up the particular industries which have been affected by the decision in the
James case, or whether it wants wide powers to control the whole matter of marketing - buying and selling - in the future. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) suggested that I apparently would enter upon this campaign in South Australia in a defeatist frame of mind, because I said that whilst I personally supported the proposal of the Government, I was afraid that Iwould . not be able to convince the people of South Australia as to its value. I should like Senator Collings to visit Adelaide to participate in the forthcoming referendum campaign andtospeak to those people in that State who are opposed to the Government’s proposal. Such a visit would do good not only to Senator Collings but also to the electors of South Australia. In that State there is a considerable section of the community, including many learned men, who support the State government in opposing this proposal. In passing, I point out that the Leader of the Opposition will, in the forthcoming campaign in Queensland, be supported by all parties in. the Parliament of that State and by Queensland members of both the Government and Opposition parties in the Commonwealth Parliament. In South Australia, however, the position is different. The Premier of that State has already spoken against this proposal and it is apparent that he intends to fight it. In that attitude he is supported by many learned men who are already preparing hostile propaganda. Consequently any honorable senator who participates in the referendum campaign in South Australia in support of this proposal will have to be well armed. I want an assurance from the Government that will arm me to be able to fight effectively for the adoption of this proposal. This is the reason why I have moved my amendment. I wish to have this proposal so clearly defined that the people of South Australia, and of Australia generally, will have no doubt as to what it means. The Leader of the Opposition said that it was because of the standard of living given to the people of Australia through the arbitration courts, and the effect of our fiscal policy on the large populations in the cities, that the primary producers had been enabled to secure favorable prices for their products. The fact of the matter is that those prices have been obtained directly through the system of organized marketing, whichhas been in operation in certain primary industries during the last ten or twelve years. The people in our cities did not. bring about those prices. Producers of goods which are exported overseas have to take the overseas price, less the cost of freight, insurance and exchange. Wheat-growers, for instance, have to accept about1s. a bushel less than the price paid by purchasers overseas. Consequently it is useless for Senator Collings to endeavour to hoodwink the Senate in that direction. The populations of our cities do not make the prices for our primary products. If we . had sufficient population to consume all our primary products, and, in addition, had to import products to meet our needs fully, as Germany, France, Italy and England are obliged to do, it would be logical to give to the industrial population the credit for the prices ruling.
The Leader of the Opposition said that he could support wholeheartedly the Government’s proposal in the forthcoming referendum. I repeat the hope that he will visit South Australia to participate in the campaign in that State. I assure him that he will be well received there. My hope is that he will be able to convince, not only those who are supporting the Government of that State, which is not a Labour. Government, but also those members of the Labour party in South Australia who are opposed to this proposal. I do not intend to withdraw my amendment. The Leader of the Senate has stated that it may be necessary at some time in the future to make provision for the orderly marketing of primary products, other than those which - have been previously under control. I would support such a step being taken now by the insertion of the words “ primary products “ in this proposal. But whether we use the terms “ marketing “, “ primary products “ or “ foodstuffs “ what we have to do is to convince the people of the need for the Government’s proposal. That will - not be easy unless the scope of the proposal is clearly defined.
THE LATE SlR MURRAY ANDERSON.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - I have received from Lady Murray Anderson a letter conveying; her heartfelt gratitude for the motion of the Senate which had been passed on the occasion of the death of Sir David Murray Anderson.
The following bills were received from the House of Representatives and (on motions by SenatorA. j. McLachlan) were read a first time.
Customs Tariff Validation Bill 1936.
Customs Tariff (Exchange ‘ Adjustment) Validation Bill 1936.
Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) Validation Bill 1936.
Constitution Alteration (Aviation) Bill 1936.
[10.7].- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to grant financial assistance amounting to £500,000 to the States. This grant will be made from the excess revenue of 1935-36, as forecast in the budget speech. The grant, which is nonrecurring, is to be distributed among the States on the basis of population. The amount to be received by each State is as follows : -
The grant is being made under circumstances somewhat different from those of the non-recurring grants made in 1934-35 and 1935-36. The grants then made, namely, £2,000,000 and £500,000 respectively, were given to relieve the budget deficits of the States, but relief in that direction is not now so urgently required. In this connexion it is interesting to note that the State deficits, which were at the. peak of £18,310,000 in 1931-32, were reduced to- £3,810,000 in 1934-35, aud approximately £2,430,000 in 1935-36, while it is expected; that in 1936-37 even r lie last-mentioned figure will be very greatly reduced. . lt is now not possible to borrow moneys’ for Government purposes with the same facility us it was two or three years ago, and the -Commonwealth is therefore making the grant as a relief to i lie borrowing position of the States. The Commonwealth makes no stipulation as to whether the money should be taken to revenue account or to loan account; but it does stipulate that it should be used as an offset to borrowing, either for works or for revenue deficits. No condition to’ this effect has, however, been inserted in the bill. No other condition is imposed on the grant.
Debate (on- motion by Senator Collings) adjourned.
[10.10].- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.-
The bill is to appropriate a sum of £2,000,000 from the excess revenue of the financial year, 1935-36, for defence expenditure of a capital nature. The sum appropriated will be paid to defence trust accounts as follows: - £1,800,000 for the defence equipment trust account, and £200,000 to the civil aviation trust account. Honorable senators may remember that £4,160,000 was similarly appropriated in 1934-35 from excess receipts of previous years. Briefly, the moneys now to be appropriated will be required for - (a) Naval construction (sloops in Sydney, payments on H.M.A.S. Sydney), and armament for cruisers; (b) coastal and anti-aircraft defences, modernization of the field army, aircraft, machinery and ‘ plant; and (c) defence works, buildings, and sites. The Government’s defence policy was briefly outlined in the budget speech for the present financial year. The amount of . £2,000,000 which will be appropriated by this bill is to carry on the capital works of the defence programme in this and following years and will be drawn upon as necessity arises. 1 ask honorable senators not to engage in a, general discussion on the defence vote under this measure. A general memorandum of the whole of the Government’s defence programme, including a full explanation of the expenditure to be incurred under this bill, will be circulated, and when the defence vote in the Appropriation Bill, Which is now before the chamber, is under consideration, the defence proposals of the Government can be debated.
Debate (on mot-ion by Senator Collings) adjourned.
Debate resumed from the 13th November (vide page 1825), on motion by Senator Sir George Pearce -
That the bill be now, read a first time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) agreed to -
That the Senate,- al its rising, adjourn till to-morrow, at 1] a.m.
Senate adjourned at 10.15 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 18 November 1936, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1936/19361118_senate_14_152/>.