14th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Territory ‘ (Administration) Act-
Ordinance No. 18 of 1936 - Income Tax.
Income Tax Ordinance - Regulations.
Public Service Ordinance- Regulations amended.
Time-Tables and Flying Speeds
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
What are the schedule times of arrival and departure for regular commercial aircraft on the following air lines: -
What are the average flying speeds maintained according to schedule on the following American airways: -
Imperial Airways between London and Singapore is not to be replaced until 1938?
– The Minister for Defence states that inquiries will be made, and that a reply will be furnished to the honorable senator as early as possible.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The Minister for the Interior is making inquiries regarding the matter, and a reply will be furnished to the honorable senator as soon as possible.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The Minister for the Interior has supplied the following answers: - 1 and 2. No; the omnibuses, excepton very rare occasions when breakdowns occur, run strictly in accordance with time-tables.
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -
Referring to the proposed issue to the electors of a pamphlet setting out the arguments against the Government’s referendum proposals, in determining the majority of members of the Parliament who voted “No “ on the two bills, will those who voted “ No “ in the Senate be consulted?
– The AttorneyGeneral has supplied the following answer : -
The argument against the proposed law must be authorized by a majority of those members of both Houses of the Parliament who voted against the proposed lawand . who desire to forward the argument to the Chief Electoral Officer for distribution to the electors in accordance with section 6a of the Referendum ( Constitution Alteration) Act.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The Minister for Defence has supplied the following answers : -
The following bills were read a third time : -
Financial Relief Bill (No. 3) 1936.
Nationality Bill 1936.
Referendum (Constitution Alteration) Bill 1936. federal AidRoads Bill 1936.
Trade Commissioners Bill 1936.
Northern Territory Bepresentation Bill 1936.
The PRESIDENT announced the receipt of a letter from Lady Groom ackowledging with thanks the resolution of sympathy and condolence passed by the Senate on the occasion of the death of the Honorable Sir Littleton Groom.
Debate resumed from the 25th November (vide page 2246), on motion ‘by Senator Sir George Pearce -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- I understand that there is need for this bill to be passed this week and therefore I shall not delay its passage by discussing it at length. I cannot, however, allow the opportunity to pass without referring to a matter which has been brought under my notice recently. I refer to the appointment of Trade Commissioners in the East, and the value of the Eastern market. Honorable senators are aware that for some years Australia has exported large quantities of butter, mostly in tins, to the Netherlands East Indies. Indeed, of that country’s total imports of butter in 1932, tinned butter from Australia represented over 96 per cent. Under the Ottawa agreement, Great Britain placed a duty on butter entering the United Kingdom from foreign countries. That was done largely in the interests of Australian producers of butter. Previously, Holland had sent large quantities of butter to Great Britain, but the imposition of that duty meant additional charges amounting to 9s. 6d. per cwt. Naturally, the butter producers of Holland sought another market, and found it in the Netherlands East Indies. The result is that, notwithstanding that Australia has recently appointed a Trade Commissioner to the East, who lives in Java, the export of Australian butter to that country has gradually declined. Whereas in 1932 Australian butter represented 96.7 per cent. of the total butter imported into Java, the quantity in the next year fell to 91.4 per cent.; in 1934 it was 83.6 per cent.; and in 1935 it fell to 82.3 per cent. For the first six months of the present year, Australian butter represented only 77.2 per cent., of the imports of butter into Java. The progressive decline of this trade has alarmed the Australian packers of butter, whose trade with Java had taken over a generation to build. They approached the Government in August or September of this year, and were promised sympathetic consideration and assistance in maintaining a market in the East. That market is undoubtedly of great value to Australia. They also approached the Butter Equalization Committee, only to be informed that the committee was not concerned with the market in the East, so long as Australian butter found a ready market in England. Notwithstanding the promise of the Government, so far as the exporters of butter are aware, no steps have been taken to help to retain the market in the Netherlands East Indies. Tinpercentage of Australian butter to the total imports of butter into Java dropped to 56.S per cent, in August and September of this year. That is to say, there has been a drop from 96.7 per cent, in 1932, to 56.S per cent, in August and September of this year. I am credibly informed that, unless some assistance te given to Australian packers of butter, the trade in this commodity -with the Netherlands East Indies will cease by February or March of next year.
– Has there been- a drop from 96.7 per cent, to 56. S per cent, of the total importations of butter into Java?
– The comparison is with butter obtained from Holland.
– What is Australia’s share of the butter trade with Java?
– There has been no increased consumption of butter there during the last three years. The loss of this trade will deprive Australian dairyproducers of a second market, and confine them practically to the English market. I ask the Government to consider this matter sympathetically. It is useless to appoint a Trade Commissioner to Java, in the hope of increasing Australia’s trade with Eastern countries, if he is not to be given every assistance. Mr. Critchley must view the situation with alarm, seeing that, almost immediately following his appointment, Australia’s trade m butter with Java began to fall. I hope that the Government will examine the matter in its entirety in order to see what can be done to restore to the Australian producer. some of the trade which they formerly enjoyed. Honorable senators are aware that the balance of trade with the Netherlands East Indies is unfavorable to Australia; we import a good deal more from those countries than we sell to them, and with the cutting off of the butter trade, valued at £500,000, our trade position with those countries will become bad indeed. This matter is so important, of such far-reaching consequence, and evidences such short-sighted policy on the part of the butter producers, that I thought it desirable that it should be brought to the notice of the Senate and the Government, so that some steps might be taken to rectify the position.
– I have listened with great interest to the various speeches delivered during the debate on this bill, and I propose to reply to a number of contentions with which I entirely disagree. The first matter’ with which 1 wish to deal was raised by my colleague from Queensland, Senator Foll, who suggested the replacement of the existing volunteer militia by a standing army of 50,000 men - a most startling proposal.
– Not the replacement.
– There is nothing new in that suggestion.
- Senator Allan MacDonald certainly has not an Australian sentiment, otherwise he would not have made that remark. We- know that standing armies are the greatest curse that democracies have to face. They create a military caste which would be found ready to execute the will of some man of the butcher type of mind.
– Has the standing army in Great Britain become a curse?
– In past centuries the army in Great Britain has been admitted to be a curse; it was used during ‘Cromwell’s day to keep the people in subjection. The present time is not very different from the day of CromwellI advise honorable senators to read history and ascertain what a standing army really means. Under that system onetenth of the population can rule the entire nation. That has been done many times in the past. In making this proposal, Senator Foll is a long way behind the times. I was in London in 1911, when a big strike of railway men occurred ; 40,000 trained soldiers were drafted to London by the Government to suppress the strike. That experience confirmed my reading of the evil of standing armies, and I do not think that such a system would be entertained in this country. Take, for instance, the cost of maintaining such a standing army. I suppose Senator Foll would say that now that we have returned to normal times we ought to pay to each of those men a basic wage of about £4 a week. On that basis the total annual cost would be approximately £10,000,000. To our honorable friends opposite cost, even in defence matters, is of paramount importance; with them it is a matter of money all the time. During the Great War they objected to the introduction of universal service on that account. When it came to implementing Andrew Fisher’s promise of the “last man and the last shilling”, they were prepared to send the last man, but protested against taking the last shilling from their wealthy friends. With them money is the first and last consideration all the time.
– Where would the honorable senator have been had the Government taken the last shilling?
– I would not have been any worse off. At that time, I would have been prepared to support conscription of man power on condition that it was accompanied by conscription of wealth.
– Judging by the amount of the public debt, we practically took the last shilling.
– I do not think so. I agree withmy colleague, Senator Collings, that a class of people, the new-rich, the stay-at-homes, made huge fortunes during the Great War.
– Some have made more since the war.
– I am satisfied that quite a number of people made money during the war by selling military requirements at exorbitant prices.
– Not in Australia; the honorable senator is wrong, as I shall show when I reply.
– Investments in the war debt arc owned by somebody; they are certainly not owned by the workers. Quite a number of people are drawing large sums of money in interest on money loaned to the Government to carry on the war. I would be very glad if the Minister could inform me that every person who lent money during the war in Australia made a present of it to the nation from patriotic motives; but they did not do so; they treated the war as an ordinary business, and have derived huge profits from their investments and business undertakings. Now, when we are asked to suggest means of improving the voluntary system of enlistment, the matter of money is again raised. I do not find any large body of employers throughout Australia to-day saying: “If we get as many young men as we need, we on our part are prepared to pay them while they are undergoing training.”
– The voluntary system failed because employers did nothing to help it.
Senator J. V. MacONALD.Employers generally are not willing to spend money to prepare young men to defend their country; they are quite prepared for them to undergo their military training on Saturday afternoons. It is strange that they do not also expect them to train on Sundays. The only way in which we can attract young men to military service is to provide that such training shall be undertaken in the employers’ time.
– Many employers have offered to do that.
– Not one in a hundred.
– If it were offered, would the honorable senator stand up to the compulsory system?
– During the war I was prepared to support conscription of men if wealth also wereconscripted, but the wealth owners of this country would not agree to that. Their sole idea was to get the men, and save their own money. Recently an honorable senator expressed surprise and even alarm because 30,000 persons attended a cricket match in Sydney on Saturday last. I happened to be a spectator at that match, and, I think if it were possible to conduct an inquiry it would be found that an overwhelming majority of those present were ex-cricketers who naturally found considerable enjoyment in watching the game. I do not think that it can be denied that cricket, football, and similar games provide a healthy form of recreation for those who participate in them, and that they also provide an enjoyable form of relaxation for the spectators, many of whom have passed the age at which they can engage in active recreation. Moreover the players receive beneficial training and exercise which would be an advantage to them should the nation require their services. The honorable senator said that the younger spectators at such matches would he better employed in drilling; but surely he does not suggest that they should he denied some pleasure. I would favour a system of universal service if there were similar compulsion in the matter of providing money to meet the enormous expenses incurred.
– Is the honorable senator in favour of the compulsory system?
– Yes, with modifications; but if young men are expected to undergo training for a period of years it should be done in their employers’ time.
– Should it not be on a fifty-fifty basis ?
– All training should be done in the employers’ time, because it is the employers’ interests and property which would be protected in the event of a war That is the only way in which the Government can expect to obtain a large number of recruits.
– Not if they were all like the honorable senator.
– Did the honorable senator serve in the Great War?
– Senator McLeay offered his services; he could not do more.
– I suppose Senator McLeay’s modesty prevents him from saying that he was included in the 200,000 whose services were declined. Large numbers of recruits would be available if they could’ be assured that in the event of war their services would be utilized to protect their country instead of safeguarding the interests of the wealthy class. Universal training has not been reintroduced because until recently the ruling classes in this country have been under the impression that another international conflict is unlikely. Compulsory military training which was abolished some years ago lias not been reintroduced.
– It has not been abolished; it was suspended by the Labour party.
Senator J. V. MacDONALD.Exactly, with the support of the people on the honorable senator’s side.
– Not with my support.
– The honorable senator believes in compellingthe youth of this country to take up arms to protect the property of the wealthy class.
– We have not had an opportunity to reintroduce the compulsory system.
– The Government which the honorable senator supports could have lifted the suspension but it has not done so ; it is all a matter of money. Now, when there are rumoursof another world war, we hear murmurings of the necessity for introducing universal military training, and of establishing a standing army. Some honorable senators expect the young men of this country to give up all forms of recreation in order to engage in military training so that they may be equipped to resist an aggressor.
– Many of those trained under the compulsory system ‘enjoyed their work.
– They were not likely to do so when they were deprived of their freedom on Saturday afternoons. Universal military training would be acceptable to the majority of the Australian people, if, at the same time, provision were made for compulsory contributions to be made to Consolidated Revenue by the wealthy section of this community. The members of the Labour party will always look with distrust upon any system of compulsory training.
During the debate on the Constitution Alteration (Aviation) Bill reference was made to the desirableness of employing aeroplanes more extensively for transport purposes and to the possibility of our railways becoming obsolete. Inevitably with the march of time old methods must be discarded, and improved systems, particularly in respect of transport, will be adopted. I do not think, however, that there is any likelihood of any transport system being able to provide the service our railways are now rendering so effectively. In many respects we are lagging behind other countries. Had I my way I should take away the right to make bequests. I read quite recently of a man in Melbourne who bequeathed £1,000,000 to his two daughters. If after death duties on the estate had been paid, the residue were distributed among the people from whom it had been taken by various devices under the capitalistic system, this country would be in a much sounder position economically than it is at the present time.
Aviation should be encouraged in Australia; it figures largely in the defence of this vast continent. In the event of an attack by an enemy, we do not want to be in the same position as the unfortunate Abyssinians, who had no aeroplanes for their protection. At the same time, we should not let the subject of aviation depress us, or allow the sellers of petrol and of passenger aeroplanes to force their systems upon us with the assertion that railways as a means of transport are antiquated and defunct. For one thing, we must not overlook the fact that many thousands of men are employed in the railways at the present time; if they were displaced by a wide extension of aviation and motor services, the effect on this country would be very serious. Apart from the position of the men engaged in the railways, we must also consider the fact that hundreds of millions of pounds have been invested in this system of transport. During the course of this debate, I was surprised at the airy fashion in which certain honorable senators supporting the Government referred to the railways. The Labour party has often been termed by its opponents the repudiation party - the party that would repudiate debts to the British investors who had sunk considerable sums of money in Australian railway systems. If the vendors of aeroplanes and petrol be permitted to ride roughshod over every other means of transport in Australia, what would become of the railways? And how would the interest on the borrowed money or the principal itself be paid to the British investors ?
– It would not worry the honorable senator if it were never paid.
– It would not worry the honorable senator, because he will probably be dead before payment is made. The statement has been made that British investors do not expect that this debt will ever be repaid to them; I, also, am satisfied that it will not be.
– Does the honorable senator realize that many hundreds of thousands of pounds of that money represents the life-time savings of the poor?
– The cry of the poor widow has been raised on previous occasions. I admit that a percentage of that money was invested in Australia by poor persons; but, if .the honorable senator would only listen.
– I am listening, but I regret that I cannot follow the honorable senator’s reasoning.
– Tha t . interjection reminds me of the fact that one honorable senator has been reading a publication entitled An Introduction to the History of Human Stupidity; I do not know how many volumes will be written by the author in order to complete this work. Upon noticing the title of this book, I suggested to the honorable senator that human stupidity was so extensive that the author did not dare to tackle the subject as a whole, but that in a modest way peculiar to authors, he styled it “ An introduction “, thus allowing the reader to understand that, perhaps, 100 volumes would be necessary to give a satisfactory conspectus of the outstanding mistakes made in history from the time of Moses down to the present day.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch). - I ask the honorable senator to direct his remarks more closely tothe bill.
-I am endeavouring to reply to Senator Marwick. Among the instances of human stupidity which were included in this Introduction to the History of Human Stupidity was actually the construction of varying railway gauges in this country. They are certainly a monument to the stupidity of vested interests - for which Senator Marwick stands - in the pa3t and of the governments which allow this uneconomic system to continue. I regret that certain honorable senators show a lacie of appreciation of the serious results which may follow the displacement of thousands of railway employees by the indiscriminate introduction of aviation and motor services. We must proceed with considerable caution in this connexion, because of our heavy indebtedness to British investors. The Labour party does not stand for repudiation; the interest upon that debt must be paid annually. But, if unrestricted motor and aerial competition with the railways be permitted, it will not be possible for Australia to continue to meet those payments. I shall support the Constitution Alteration (Aviation) Bill 1936, but the power which will thereby be given to the Commonwealth should be exercised sparingly and wisely. A scheme for the coordination of various methods of transport must be devised in order to prevent motor and aerial transport from picking the eyes out of the goods traffic and leaving the railways to do the heavy and unprofitable traction.
– The progress of science cannot be retarded; science will force the extensive use of new methods of transport.
– In many respects the honorable senator is correct in his assertion about science, progress, and new ideas. If it had not been for the fact that some “ cranks “ had formed new ideas on some subjects, our civilization would not have advanced to its present stage. Nevertheless, for every new idea that has been successfully put into practice, there have been 100 others which caused considerable trouble and expense, and were unqualified failures. Because an idea happens to be new, it will not necessarily be a success. I believe that Senator Arkins will subscribe to that view; he is sufficiently well-read to realize that a generalization cannot be made out of the fact that, because a few new ideas have succeeded, al] new ideas must necessarily succeed. I hope that, when the aviation proposal is carried at the referendum, the Australian railway systems will receive consideration in connexion with the competition which they will encounter from aerial and motor transport, and that the three principal forms of transport will be co-ordinated.
– The world’s greatest coward is the man who is afraid of a new idea.
– But the greatest chump in the world is the man who swallows any new idea which is brought forward. I do not include Senator Arkins in that category; but, standing on practically every corner of our big cities to-day, will be found a man with splendid ideas. He will probably want to borrow a “ fiver “ to help him to float a company for the purpose of marketing his ideas for the advancement of human progress. In my experience I have known workers in receipt of only £4 or £5 a week to invest in motor cars.
The final result of the transaction was that the sellers of those vehicles obtained a substantial part of the purchase price, and also the ears themselves. The houses and furniture of the purchasers were heavily encumbered. During the depression, many men who were comparatively well off bought motor cars, but, being unable to afford to purchase the petrol and oil with which to operate them, had to place their cars out of commission and return to the humble horse-drawn vehicle in order to travel 10 miles or so to town. We should not be misled by the frequent statement by . people who are specially interested in the sale of motor vehicles, passenger aeroplanes and imported petrol that we should not attempt to prevent progress.
A large amount of money should be spent in trying to produce petrol from shale and coal, which are to be found in Australia in large quantities, and we should manufacture motor car engines and chassis, and, in fact, all machinery, in this country, in order to provide employment for our own people.
Reference was made by Senator Collings to the need for discovering flow oil in Australia, and producing oil from shale find coal. The members of the Opposition have received a number of letters from Queensland in the last few years urging us to do everything possible to assist in the production of oil from coal. I do not say that it is impossible to find flow oil in Australia, but the investigations carried out up to the present time have been unsuccessful. It is significant that foreign oil interests have done their best to prevent its discovery here. There is no limit to the lengths to which big capitalists will go to prevent interference with their business. On a profit of 5 per cent, they will allow the law to take its course; if they are making a profit of 10 per cent., a man who Stands in their way is not safe: but, where a 20 per cent, profit is concerned they will start a war ! I understand that the important experiment carried out at Billingham-on-Tees in England has been successful in the production of oil from coal. Yet, when we ask members of the Government what they intend to do to encourage similar activities in Australia, we do not get an encouraging reply. In Queensland, large coal seams have been located. It has been admitted for many years that on Blair Athol field alone 440,000,000 tons of coal lies unused.
– -Queens: land has a representative on the hydrogenation committee.
– The mere fact that coal is known to exist in a particular locality is not sufficient. We should not be satisfied with the opinion of any individual regarding a matter of such tremendous importance to the nation as the production of oil. The Government should watch every attempt to produce motor spirit in this country, and it should take quick action to deal with any attempt to thwart development. Australia pays £10,000,000 pe’r annum as tribute to the oil companies of other countries. This could be avoided if we produced the oil we require by utilizing our natural resources. Just as the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) makes a periodical statement on international affairs, a member of the Government should inform us every three or six months by official bulletin of the latest developments in regard to oil production.
– I am pleased to see you, Mr. President, back in the Chair. One of the minor reasons why I am glad that you have recovered your normal health is that for a fortnight or so I, as Deputy President, have had to wear a muzzle, and it is quite a relief to be able to take it off this afternoon. Year after year, in season and out of season - if it be possible to speak out of season on a matter of such grave national importance - I have dealt with the subject of defence, and the policy being pursued for the time being by the present Government. I have before me volume No. 122 of Hansard, which contains the debates that took place in this Parliament from the 20th November to the 13th December, 1929. It is one of the most interesting volumes of Hansard that I have ever read. On perusing it, I was amazed at the adoption by the Government of the policy which it is now following. The volume contains the views expressed at a time when, in my opinion, a grave injury was done to Australia. The opinions are emphatically and wholeheartedly in favour of the policy of universal training which, up to that time, had been adopted since 1910. Honorable senators may there read the opinions of the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce), the Postmaster-General (Senator A. J. McLachlan), the exAttorney.General, now Sir John Latham, Chief Justice of the High Court, the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White), the Minister directing negotiations for Trade Treaties (Sir Henry Gullett), the Minister for Defence (Sir Archdale Parkhill), the Minister for Commerce (Dr. Earle Page), and the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson). All agreed that the only sane, sufficient and efficient, system of military training for the Commonwealth was that which was suspended by the Scullin Administration in November 1929. Beading that, I was astonished that this country is still committed - for the time being only, I hope - to the invariably costly and inefficient system of voluntary training.
I desire the Government to understand that I am indulging in friendly and, I trust, constructive criticism. Senator Poll spoke of a standing army. I have said on many occasions that the establishment of a standing army of professional soldiers would be repugnant to most democrats, although the United States of America, which is a democratic country, has a standing army, the National Guard consisting of 200,000 men. If the Government declines to lift the suspension of part 12 of the Defence Act, it would be of disciplinary value to have a certain number of regular troops in Australia. I do not advocate an entire professional army, but we might have some regular troops in each military district. To-day, the militia has no standard to which it can aspire. “We might well have a brigade of infantry and one or two brigades of field artillery consisting of regular soldiers who would set a standard for the militia. Should trouble come, I have no doubt that the manhood of Australia will flock into camp as they did in the years that have passed. In that way Australia will have a cadre of instructors who would train the raw recruits. I do not suggest that we should have a regular army; but it would pay us to do as I have suggested - that is, if we have not the courage and the vision to go back to the scheme laid down by that great soldier and administrator, Lord Kitchener, 26 years ago.
I come now to a broadcast speech by the Minister for Defence, on the 16th July last, which was broadcast throughout Australia, and afterwards issued in pamphlet form. I listened to the broadcast, and, without being offensive, I must say that I was shockingly disappointed with it, because it begged the whole question. In his introductory remarks the Minister said -
It is my duty and responsibility, as Minister for Defence, to put Briefly before you tonight an important aspect of our military defence - the man-power strength of the army.
He then proceeded to beg the whole question. He spoke of our army being organized in seven divisions, and said that it would require about 200,000 combatant troops in war. He went on to speak of a skeleton army of 35,000 men, which would be expanded in war to seven divisions. It was a most stupid statement, because it is impossible to do those things in war. The only time when men can be trained for war is in peace. All peace training is war training, unless it is to be a waste of national funds. War training must take place in peace. A recent statement by the Minister, which I read in the Melbourne Age about a fortnight ago is rather illuminating. The Minister is reported to have said -
The appeal for volunteers for the militia has been so overwhelming that the full strength required is in sight.
That sounds all right, but my honorable and gallant friend, Senator Brand, put on the notice-paper a question in which he asked the strength of the militia on the 30th September last, and the numbers of enlistments and discharges during thu quarter ended September. He received a reply, in the form of a letter from the Minister for Defence, dated the 22nd October, in which he was informed that the strength of the militia on the 30th September was 29,066 all ranks; that enlistments for the quarter numbered 5,512; and discharges, 2,691. That means a net gain of 2,821 during an intensive recruiting campaign extending over three months. Statements made by the Minister recently are, in the main, fatuous, but I do not say that they are not truthful. They are, however, not the whole truth. The statement that it is proposed to stop recruiting is ridiculous, because, of the men now in the militia, about 8,000 are due to go out next year, their time having expired. I do not know the position throughout Australia as a whole, but I do know the position in regard to my old unit, which I commanded for nine years. It is very grave. Numbers of the men, having served their three years, do not propose to rejoin. There is continual need for new recruits to make up the wastage that is (going on all the time. That is one of the difficulties. Men are not coming in regularly, whereas under the old system they came in at a certain period, and went out after a certain period of training. That made possible orderly training and the best use of the men, but such training cannot be given under the present arrangement.
Time after time, in this chamber and elsewhere, it has been said that Australia is such a vast country, and has so few inhabitants, that it would be utterly impossible for Australians to defend it. I was pleased to read recently a speech by Mr. Curtin, the Leader of the Labour party in the House of Representatives, which heartened me considerably. The honorable gentleman said that the only people who could defend Australia were the Australian people themselves. Some of us have known that all along. In my opinion, it is a fallacy to say that Australia cannot defend itself. It can be done. In this respect, I desire to refer to the example set by Switzerland. The Swiss people started their fight for democracy in the fifteenth century, when they strove to throw off the yoke of Austria. Having succeeded, they started what was the first real democracy.
– The Swiss are not a particularly militaristic people.
– No. I recommend to honorable senators a study of the Armaments Tear-Booh for 1935, issued by the League of Nations. It deals with the form of defence, the army, the armaments, and, indeed, the defence system generally of every country. A soldier finds the references to the Swiss system interesting reading. I desire to compare what is done in Switzerland with what we are doing in Australia. The present population of Switzerland is approximately 4,125,000, compared with 6,766,445 in Australia. Switzerland is a small country surrounded by potential enemies. On the north there is Germany, with a frontier of 367 kilometres.
– There is some mountainous country between them.
– On the west it has France, with a frontier of 573 kilometres; to the south is Italy, with a frontier 740 kilometres long; and to the east is Austria, with a frontier of 164 kilometres. Another neighbour is Leichenstein, with a frontier of about 39 kilometres. Although a small country, Switzerland has 5,321 kilometres of railway. The Swiss army is a citizen militia, and is under federal control. Every year recruits numbering about 25,000 are called upon to render military service. During their first year they remain with the colours for from 60 to 102 days. There are no permanent or regular forces with the colours, although there is a corps of 300 permanent instructors. Having completed their first year’s training with the colours, the first-year men retain their equipment and arras until the period of their liability for military service has passed. Each year about 150,000 men who have rendered their first year’s service come up for repetition training courses lasting for from twelve to seventeen days. As I have said, the Swiss system provides for a federal army, which is under the control of the federal authorities, not -the Cantons. There is a federal council, which is the supreme head of the military administration, and acts through the military department, of which the chief is a federal councillor. In. peace time the military department assumes command of the army, but as soon as a levy of troops is ordered or arranged, the Federal Assembly appoints a Commander in Chief of the army. The first line of defence consists of men between the ages of 20 and 32 years; the second line, or Landwehr, consists of men between the ages of 33 and 40; the third line is the Landsturm, containing men from 41 .to 48 years of age. Every male citizen in Switzerland is liable for military service. That service is of a personal nature ; it is military service in the strict sense of the term. A man who is not fit for military service has to pay -an exemption fee - a military tax. Citizens are liable for military service from the beginning of the year in which they reach the age of 20 until the end of the year in which they reach the age of 48. Men “who do not render personal service must pay the military tax until the end of the year in which they reach the age of 40. There is a special law dealing with that tax, and exemptions are so difficult to obtain that they are almost negligible. The Swiss system includes the gymnastic training of schoolboys; but, at that stage, the responsibility rests with the Cantons, not with the federal authorities.
The treatment of rifle clubs by Switzerland sets an example to Australia. Participation in regular courses organized by rifle clubs is also a military duty which has to be performed by privates, lance-corporals, non-commissioned officers, and subaltern officers, who are armed with rifles or carbines. Compulsory courses are carried out each year. Men who fail to complete the regulation course organized by rifle clubs are called up for special musketry duty lasting three days, without pay. All who are liable for musketry practice are required to become active members of the rifle clubs at their place of residence. The
Confederation grants annual cash subsidies to the clubs, and also supplies a certain amount of ammunition free to active members. In 1935, Swiss rifle clubs had 537,000 members, apart from those in the army, and the Confederation issued to men taking part in musketry courses 11,502,000 rounds of ammunition free of cost. The Armaments YearBook, issued by the League of Nations, gives the strength of the first year army in 1935 as 20,460 men. Then it sets out the strength of those who are Called upon to do their repetition course of training. It is a most illuminating report, and from it I have extracted the following figures : -
A grand total of 167,810 men underwent a repetition course in addition to the 20,460 first year men who underwent training for periods of from 60 to 102 days.
– Who paid for all that?
– The Confederation. The Swiss army is not expensive and is truly democratic. No man can obtain a commission in it unless he has undergone his second year of training; upon completion of the repetition course a trainee becomes eligible to sit for examination to obtain a commission. In Switzerland all commissions come out of the army; a man who may be a clerk in a big warehouse may be colonel of his battalion, and his boss may be a private under him. Switzerland was prepared for whatever might happen during the Great War. There is not the slightest doubt that the French general staff would have liked to have gone through Swiss territory to turn the left flank of the German ann j, and, likewise, the German army would have liked to have invaded Swiss territory in order to turn the right flank of the French army. What happened when the Great War broke and Europe was in a ferment? This little nation mobilized within 24 hours; it did not declare war, but it called up an army of some 400,000 citizens who manned the frontiers, and during the long years of the struggle in Europe Switzerland was left severely alone. The reason for that was that every power, no matter how great, knew perfectly well that if an attempt were made to violate Swiss territory or interfere with the freedom of the Swiss people a nation of trained and skilled soldiers would be in arms immediately, who with cold and ruthless skill could make any invasion of their territory a most hazardous venture indeed. For 100 years or more the little Swiss nation has been left alone.
– It has the cheapest army in Europe.
– Yes, and its efficiency is amazing. I was interested to read in the Army and Navy J ournal and in the Army Quarterly the .account of a British staff officer who had been in Switzerland to attend its army manoeuvres. The Swiss army consists of what might be called soldier citizens. The Swiss people are proud of it and are keen to serve their country; if a citizen is not physically fit he is more or less in disgrace in his village, and has to pay his exemption fee. The study of the Swiss army is a most amazing one. I am pleased to see on the Estimates that the training vote this year has been increased by £40,000 over the amount provided last year. The extra amount is needed badly, but is still inadequate. I want to compare the Swiss effort with what we are doing in Australia. A study of British military history brings home to one what an un-warlike people we are; we are not, and never have been, a military nation; we are always ready to muddle through somehow. We have never been prepared. I read recently a very interesting book, written by a great man, Sir John Fortescue, who, for many years was in charge of the archives of the British army. There are a number of his books on the shelves of the Parliamentary Library, all of which are very fascinating. Sir John Fortescue wrote -
British military history is one long story of unreadiness and of makeshifts, the natural fruit of unreadiness. Makeshifts are never efficient, and always costly, which is perhaps. the reason why wc delight in them. For we are a purse-proud people, and when n’t are confronted with warnings from prudent and sensible men, men who have studied history and pondered over the lessons that it teaches, we delight to jingle money in our pockets and say that a little expenditure will set everything right. But money will not purchase time or redeem lost opportunities.
I am never impressed when somebody tells me that we are going to spend £1,000,000 or £2,000,000 more this year on preparations for defence; I know that money alone will not save us. There are two paths to preparedness. One is that o£ militarism on the continental pattern, which is repugnant to free men, because it means the establishment; of a large standing army in which each man would be compelled to serve his allotted term of years; it means being driven, the breaking down of democracy, and the subtracting of hundreds’ of thousands of productive human units from the sum total of the nation’s productivity. The other path, and the one I want to see this country tread, is the path of education - the training and proper development of our boys while they are at school, so that no long period of military training will be necessary when they aire grown to make potential soldiers of them. That path can be trod by this nation without upsetting our democratic principles. Physical training of the boys in the schools, followed at maturity by a short period of universal military training, has made the citizens of the Swiss Republic the best soldiers, man for man, on earth. That system has not made Switzerland any the less democratic ; it has not made a militarist nation of that country. On the contrary, it has made it more truly democratic. A system of voluntary military training might have sufficed years ago, but it is not practicable to-day; not only because a sufficient number will not volunteer, but also because of the utter impossibility of training hundreds of thousands of raw recruits when the enemy is almost at our gates. I am afraid that the average Australian is too much inclined to place his personal comfort and convenience, the gratification of his appetites, and the pursuit of material wealth, above the spirit of self-sacrifice that must animate a nation if it is to survive. I am afraid that that poison of indifference has sunk deep, and I suggest that the antidote is universal military training. We must have the men, at least 200,000 of them trained in the use of arms, and officers to command them. I believe that now is the time .to arrest the growth of the cancer with which pacifism has infected our social and political institutions. Those who would never volunteer to undergo national military training must be compelled to do so. Australia, of which we boast so much, and of which we are so proud, must exercise its inherent right ‘to take such measures as it deems needful for the protection of its own life. Universial military service is the only safe and equitable basis of national defence. It cannot be universal unless it is compulsory. The volunteer system is a failure most times, and a dangerous expedient always. I suggest that the more the Swiss system is studied, the more is it seen to be applicable to the Commonwealth of Australia. There is no injustice or favoritism in it. It creates the greatest possible defence against emergency with the least possible expense of time, money and service. Lastly, it utilizes to the full the manhood strength of the nation without unduly interfering with the peaceful pursuits of the people as a whole. I myself believe, and I know it to be true, that it energizes and builds up the physique and sturdiness of its- men without making them professional soldiers.
Let me now deal with the arm-chair critic, from whom we hear such a lot. He will say that the next war will be a mechanical one, and that the man will not count. I myself have taken part in two wars, and served for four years in the last one. There has never been a greater fallacy in the world ‘than that the man does not count. The man has always counted, and he always will. General Homer Lea, in his wonderful book, The Valor of Ignorance, says -
Warfare, either ancient or modern, has never b.een nor will ever bo mechanical. There is no such possibility as the combat of instruments. It is the’ soldier that brings about victory or defeat. The knowledge of commanders and the involuntary comprehension and obedience to orders is what determines the issue of battles. As the instruments of war-faro become more intricate, the discipline, and esprit de corps must be increased accordingly.
That is quite true; but it can be done only by persistent and patient training in time of peace. If left until the outbreak of war it is too late. -We could not then get cool, calm, collected men who would be masters of their weapons, and who would have confidence in themselves. To send trained men into battle is war. To send untrained men into battle is murder, and a Minister who is responsible for sending untrained men to war deserves to be hanged as high as Hainan. All this ill-informed matter - a lot of it is press propaganda - in regard to defence, the pleadings of the present Minister “ that young men should be inspired to serve “, and that their employers should encourage them to do so, is mere flatulence and will not get us anywhere. I was in command of a battalion in Tasmania for nine years, and I know what the employers will do. Every year we had trouble, some of the greatest offenders being those in control of governmental or semigovernmental institutions. It was always a . tough job to arrange with the Commonwealth Bank, the Taxation Department, and similar governmental departments to release members of their staffs to undergo training. I was informed from time to time that work could not be carried on efficiently if even an office boy went into camp. I remember the manager of one big business concern in Tasmania ringing me up and saying that his business would be disorganized if a youth whom he employed went into camp at Mona Vale for eight days. I asked what the youth was receiving, and was informed that he was getting 30s. a week. I suggested that the youth’s wages should be increased to £15 a week, that the manager should go into camp, and that the youth should take his place and run the business. It is useless pleading with some employers to release their employees to undergo military training. I know that there are quite a number of exceptions, but military training should be compulsory.- It is a pity that a former Government suspended part XII of the Defence Act, because in that part provision is made for the imposition of penalties upon employers who deter young men from carrying out their obligations under the Defence Act. These pleadings that “ young men should be inspired to serve “, such as the Minister for Defence puts over the air and publishes in the press, are useless. The remedy is in our hands. The proven remedy for unpreparedness is compulsory national service. I appeal to the Government to tell the nation the truth; that without it an adequate and efficient army is an impossibility. If the people learn the truth they will cheerfully support a system of compulsory service, particularly when they realize the imperative necessity for it.
– Before proceeding to discuss the items of expenditure proposed in this bill I should like to congratulate Senator Sampson upon his able speech on the subject of defence.
– The honorable senator should also compliment the Minister for Defence upon the valuable work he is performing.
– If the Minister would agree to some of the proposals which I have submitted’ to his department, I should be more willing to do so. I do not propose to deal at length with the subject of defence, which has already been discussed fully by some honorable senators, but I trust that the Government will give favorable consideration to the request I have made that Lewis and Bren machine guns be made available to the members of rifle clubs. This request, which has been supported by Senator Foll, Senator Arkins and Senator Dein, is so reasonable that I cannot understand why it should be refused. For over twelve months, the members of rifle clubs have been asking for an opportunity to become acquainted with the handling of these guns, and quite a number of deputations have waited upon the Minister in support of the request. At present there are 49,000 members of rifle clubs throughout Australia, all of whom are potential defenders of this country, and despite the fact that a tremendous amount is being appropriated for defence purposes, the Minister for Defence has declined their request. I trust that the Minister will allow at least some of the men to receive instructions in the use of these guns, and in that way enable them to render a very useful service to Australia.
I should like , to know how the £51,000 which is being appropriated to meet the cost of the High Commissioner’s office in London, is to be expended. The annual cost of an official residence for the High Commissioner is £1,950, which seems excessive.
– Surely the honorable senator does not expect the High Commissioner to live in a hut.
– No ; but he receives £3,000 a year and also a living allowance. We expect the High Commissioner to uphold the dignity of the country which he represents, but the amount seems unnecessarily high.
– He does uphold the dignity of Australia.
– I believe that he does. In addition to the expenditure I have mentioned, provision is made for maintaining a staff of public servants at Australia House almost as large as that carrying out the work associated with this Parliament.
The Commissioner-General in the United States of America, costs the Commonwealth approximately £7,000 a year. Last week, when a National and Foreign Trade Convention was held in Chicago, regret was expressed that Australia was not represented. Australia, which must be interested in the problems discussed at that convention, should have been represented, and if it were not possible to send a delegate, the CommissionerGeneral in the United States of America should have attended.
Provision is also made for expenditure in connexion with fisheries, and I trust that when research work is undertaken, the possibilities of obtaining large quantities of edible fish in the waters along the north west coast of Western Australia will not be overlooked. Those waters are teeming with’ fish, but I do not know whether fish obtained in semi-tropical waters are suitable for canning purposes.
Senator Cooper, who dealt very extensively with the position of graziers, quoted some interesting figures concerning the Australian wool industry. I fully realize that this country depends largely upon the proceeds of our wool exports, and that the old saying that “Australia is riding on the sheep’s back “ is as true to-day as it was when the expression was first used. Conditions in the pastoral areas of Western Australia are as bad, as in the pastoral areas of Queensland, if, indeed, they are not worse. Graziers have lost 50 per cent, of their stock and even if reasonable seasons returned it would take them five or six years before their holdings reached their normal carrying capacity. I hope that, if any assistance is to.be given to this industry, the claims of the pastoralists in Western Australia will not be overlooked.
I congratulate the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research upon the excellent research work it is carrying out. The council should endeavour to check the rapid encroachment of salt upon valuable agricultural lands. Within the last two years, hundreds of thousands of acres of good agricultural land in Western Australia have been severely affected in this way. In Russia a grass, Agropyson elongatum, grows profusely on saline soils, and I have read in several journals that it also makes a reasonably good fodder plant. To my knowledge, several persons have individually written to various departments in Russia in an endeavour to obtain seeds or runners of it; hut up to date their requests have not been successful. I, therefore, ask the Government to make an effort to obtain specimens of the grass for purposes of experimentation in Australia.
– How does the phenomenon of the salt in the soil arise?
– By the destruction of the timber.
– That is so. On my property I have 500 acres of salt soil which will not grow a blade of vegetation of any description. At the commencement of the summer months the pure white salt rises to the surface of the soil.
– Is the phenomenon of recent origin?
– The salt has been in evidence for twenty years. Owing to the presence of the salt the 3,500 farms scheme in Western Australia has had to be abandoned.
– And the De Garis settlement too.
– Yes. The soil drift and erosion which have taken place in many parts of Australia must receive the earnest attention of the Government. Different plans should be introduced in an endeavour to combat it. Much of the erosion has been due solely to the fact that the settler has overstocked . his country, and drastic measures will have to be taken in the near future in order to arrest this drift. During the last couple of years I have seen serious evidences of it in South Australia.
In reply to Senator J. V. MacDonald, who stated that I represented vested interests, I assure the honorable senator that I am fresh from the fields of toil where I have worked hard all my life, and I am at least as qualified as he is to represent the working man. Perhaps the honorable senator has been in this chamber for so long that he has got out of touch with the workers, but I, as one of them, am conversant with their problems.
[4.54]. - in reply - An interesting and somewhat lengthy debate has taken place upon the second reading of this bill, and, because of the exigencies of time and the importance of proceeding with the consideration of this measure in committee, I hope that honorable senators will not expect me to deal, with all points which have been raised.
The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) referred to the measures that are being taken to discover oil in Papua and New Guinea. An attempt is being made to make it appear that the Government, by pandering to outside capitalistic interests, has caused exclusion of bona fide Australians who desire to prospect for oil in the territories. As briefly as possible, I shall tell to honorable senators the story of the search for oil in Papua and New Guinea. In the first place Papua and New Guinea have always been open to any bona fide prospector. But they did not go there. A previous Commonwealth Government then invited the Anglo-Persian Oil Company - the British Government being a shareholder in the company, and the
Commonwealth being a partner with the company in Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited - to undertake in the territories boring operations for oil. On that enterprise a sum of £300,000 was expended; oil was discovered but not in commercial quantities. Ordinances were passed to encourage people to undertake the search for oil, and all these poor . bona fide Australians who were anxious to find oil - who, we were told, were waiting with their swags on their back ready to proceed with the work, but were only blocked by the nefarious companies at the last minute - had years in which to make at attempt to do so. All the concern of Senator Collings for the prospector was unnecessary. But the Government is anxious to find oil in New Guinea, Papua or Australia itself. Representations were made to the Government - not by American interests, I assure Senator Collings, but by a genuine Australian company. If the honorable senator has any doubts on that score I invite him to consult the share register in order to obtain the list of shareholders in the company.
– I have obtained them. I quoted them in this chamber.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.Oil Search Limited is a genuine Australian company. This is the nefarious company which suggested to the Government that an amendment of the ordinance was necessary in order to encourage bona fide companies to search for oil. The company contended that if its geologists, when wandering around the territories, found some indications of oil, they would at once be surrounded by a number of .parasitic companies, who would take up areas in the vicinity and wait while the company itself carried on the prospecting operations. Oil Search Limited, therefore, asked to be protected from such a possibility, by being given permits to cover the preliminary prospecting. Legislation for that purpose was passed; Oil Search Limited is the company which requested it. I assure the Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Curtin) in the House of Representatives that that is how the legislation originated. The legislation having come into force, Oil Search Limited and Oriomo Oil
Limited, another Australian company, and two other concerns made application for permits. The Government passed a law for both territories that no company could obtain a permit unless two-thirds of its shareholders were British. Two companies were formed - one I believe is allied to the Shell group and the other to the Vacuum group - but I emphasize that their shareholders are two-thirds British. These companies exclude no investor. They have taken up areas, of which nobody was in possession; in fact, nobody had tried to obtain possession of them. These two companies as well as Oil Search Limited and Oriomo Oil Limited have been granted permits to search for a period of twelve months. In the case of the companies promoted by the Shell and Vacuum groups, there is an obligation to spend £15,000 in the first six months and a similar sum in the second half of the year in the search for oil. The permit can be cancelled by the Administrator of New Guinea or the Lieutenant-Governor of Papua, as the case may be, if he has reason to believe that the companies concerned are not genuinely carrying out their work of prospecting. These enterprises hold permits for twelve months under those conditions. That is the monopoly - a good word to be used on the soap box - which we are told by Senator Collings has been granted to these companies. Similar permits have been granted to Oil Search Limited and Oriomo Oil Limited except that the amount of money which they are obliged to spend is considerably less than the obligation imposed on the other companies. The reason for this is that Oil Search Limited has already spent a considerable sum of mon /. After the companies have carried oat their preliminary prospecting and decided where they will settle down for drilling purposes, they will be compelled to relinquish the greater part of the area for which they hold permits. That is the substance of the arrangement which has been made with these so-called great monopolies.
Senator Hardy criticized the “War Pensions Entitlement Tribunal. The honorable senator’s indictment against this body was that over a period so many cases had been heard and so many appeals had been rejected. Presumably, the hon orable senator does not contend that because a man makes an appeal to the tribunal it must necessarily be granted. The very fact that the applicant has made an appeal shows that his case should be inquired into by some authority. Senator Hardy appeared to believe, and the conclusion he drew from the large number of rejections, was that one of the reasons for the rejections was the presence of two lawyers on the Entitlement Tribunal. In his judgment, the tribunal should not include two lawyers. The inference was that if two lawyers had not sat on the tribunal the rejections would have been fewer. It is interesting to note that in the period to which the honorable senator alluded only one lawyer sat on the Entitlement Tribunal. At the present time there are two lawyers on this tribunal.
– Does the right honorable senator approve the appointment of two lawyers to the tribunal?
– I suppose that I must have approved of it, because I am a member of the Cabinet which made the appointments.
– The honorable senator was a member of the Cabinet which put one lawyer on the War Pensions Assessment Tribunal and another on the War Pensions Entitlement Tribunal. Later the second man was transferred to the Entitlement Tribunal, thus giving it a majority of legal members.
– I do not propose to enter into these details ; but obviously the number of rejections was not caused by the presence of two lawyers on the tribunal. I understand that consideration is being given to the appointment of another temporary tribunal because of the congestion of appeals at the present time. I shall bring Senator Hardy’s remarks in that connexion under the notice of the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Hughes).
Senator Brand, Senator DuncanHughes, Senator Allan MacDonald, Senator Sampson and others delivered very interesting speeches upon the subject of defence. I should like to say something under that heading if I were Minister for Defence; but I am only the spokesman for that gentleman. Som« of the remarks of honorable senators upon this subject have been brought under his notice and he has requested me to make a statement in reply.
– The right honorable senator had experience as Minister for Defence.
– I could give a most interesting address on that aspect. One senator quoted a statement by Colonel Mullen, of Tasmania, that universal military training had reduced larrikinism. Perhaps it would be relevant to the subject if I were to say that after universal military training had been in operation for two years, the Commonwealth Government of the day - I remind Senator Collings that it was a Labour Government - requested the governments of the States to obtain reports from the superintendents of every police district throughout Australia as to the effect of universal military training on the behaviour of young men generally. I emphasize that such reports uniformly stated that the introduction of universal military training had had a beneficial effect on the morals and behaviour of the young men. No superintendent was more outspoken in this regard, or made a more definite report on the subject, than the superintendent of the Newcastle district, New South Wales. He stated that before the introduction of universal military training larrikinism had been so bad in some districts of Newcastle that a decent woman could rarely walk down the streets without hearing filthy language from the gangs of young men hanging about the streets. He proceeded to say that larrikinism has entirely disappeared from the streets and that the improved conduct of the youth of the district exceeded all expectations.
The Minister for Defence has supplied the following statement in reply to the observations that have been made during this debate: -
The present peace strength of the militia of 35,000 is regarded as the minimum number required to enable the existing army organization to be maintained, so that commanders, staffs, leaders, and a nucleus of specialists may bo trained. Should a definite threat of aggression against this country ever become a serious probability, it would bc necessary, immediately, to increase the peace strength of the militia to a figure that would bc a very much higher proportion of the mobilization requirements.
Trained leaders and men alone do not produce an efficient army. War materials, equipment and ammunition in large quantities are essential, and the production of these material requirements is a more lengthy and costly proceeding than the training of personnel. It is, therefore, necessary to strike a balance between the requirements of trained personnel and war material, having in view the financial and international situation. The Government, in pursuing its present policy, considers that it is making the best solution of the problem.
The Government and the Military Board are taking measures that it is anticipated will considerably increase the effective length of service of individual militiamen.
The suggestion that the physical development of the youths of this country, should be undertaken, is very commendable, but this would entail considerable expenditure in training staff and facilities, and unless it were carried out under some form of universal and compulsory training, would probably be very limited in its scope. Again, it becomes a question of priority of expenditure between personnel and war material.
In view of the present total amount allocated for rifle club reserves, it is considered that the allowance of ls. Od. per efficient for members of militia rifle clubs is adequate for the purpose. Should it be possible to allocate extra money for rifle club purposes in the future, consideration will be given to the increase of efficiency allowances, in common with other items of expenditure under the vote which have similarly been curtailed.
With the £18,000 provided by the Government to increase the scale of free ammunition, an additional 50 rounds of Mark VII. has been provided for each efficient member of rifle clubs. This brings the total free issues up to 150 rounds per efficient member from the 1st July, 1936. No part of the f 18,000 is being absorbed by free issues of Mark VI. ammunition - in fact, the free issue of Mark VI. was reduced from 100 rounds to 50 rounds per efficient member when the extra 50 rounds of Mark VII. was authorized. The Mark VI. ammunition on issue to clubs is not of pre-war make. It was actually manufactured in 1917. Results of periodical tests carried out by qualified officers of the department show that this ammunition is still fully serviceable, i.e., it is very safe to fire, and accurate. Only fully serviceable ammunition is issued to clubs.
Honorable senators will pardon me if I do not pursue the subject of defence further at this juncture, as I desire to refer to a number of other matters.
Senator Payne spoke of the position of the apple industry. His remarks will be placed before the Minister for Commerce (Dr. Earle Page).
It was suggested by Senator Allan MacDonald that the “ S “ class destroyers should be retained for the training of naval reserves. Our destroyers of the “ W “ class are more modern than those of the “ S “ class, and when vessels become as obsolete as are the “ S “ class destroyers it is a costly business to keep them in commission. The repair bill mounts up as the age of a warship increases. The sloops that are to be built are intended to be used in times of peace for the training of naval reserves, for which purpose they are specially adapted. The old destroyers would not be useful for patrol purposes. They would be unsuitable for use in a tropical climate, apart from being costly to maintain.
I am entirely in sympathy with Senator Cooper, who spoke of the serious drought experienced in a portion of Queensland. A similar calamity has overtaken settlers in a large portion of Western Australia.
Senator Leckie dealt with trade with the Netherlands East Indies, and pointed out that a falling off had occurred in the quantity of Australian butter sold in the Dutch East Indies in proportion to Dutch butter. From figures I have obtained, it appears that Dutch butter may be displacing butter from Canada or the United .States of America.
– No; it may be displacing Japanese or Danish butter.
– The following table shows the quantities and the value in Australian currency of butter exported from Australia to the Dutch East Indies since 1930-31: -
Obviously there has been no great displacement of Australian butter.
Senator J. V. MacDonald trotted out some of the old platform stuff about war profiteers. He said that those who subscribed to the war loans had done very well. I remind him, however, that the war profiteer did not have a particularly good time in Australia. A severe war profits tax was imposed during the Great War, and it operated after the war in respect of profits made during the war. It was one of the most severe taxes ever imposed in Australia.
I can speak from personal experience, as Minister for Defence, about the prices paid for uniforms and equipment supplied to the troops. Little profiteering could have occurred in that regard, as strong measures were taken to prevent it. I remind honorable senators of what was done at that time, because loose statements are sometimes accepted as the truth. The Commonwealth Government had a woollen factory of its own, and we knew the. prices at which flannels and khaki could be produced. We paid to private contractors prices based on the cost of production in our own factory. We also had a uniform factory, and we gave to those who made up the garments prices based on the cost at which these goods could be made in the Commonwealth clothing factory. No profiteering occurred in regard to uniforms, similar precautions were taken in connexion with the supplies of harness and other equipment used by the Australian Light-horse. The prices paid for these goods was based on the cost of production at the Commonwealth saddlery factory. I have accounted for the prices of a considerable proportion of the defence equipment.
It is said that capitalists in Australia made a good deal of profit by subscribing to the war loans. By referring to page 3.7 of the eighteenth report of the Commissioner of Taxation, honorable senators will find that the total number of income taxpayers in Australia in 1934-35 was 220,240. Under Commonwealth law, every person with a taxable income of over £250 pays tax. Is every such person a bloated capitalist? If so, there are 220,240 of them in the Commonwealth. The No. 14 Year-Booh states at page 696 that, during the war, £213,490,810 was subscribed to war loans by no fewer than 742,747 persons. Were they all bloated capitalists? There were three times as many of them as there were income taxpayers throughout. Australia. There must have been either half a million “ bloated capitalists “ who were dodging the federal income tax, or half a million more subscribers to the war loans than there were income taxpayers.
The population of Australia in 1918, at the close of the war, was about 5,000,000, of whom slightly over 2,000,000 were adults. As the subscribers to the war loans numbered about 750j’000, one in every three of the total adult population subscribed to those loans: Yet Senator J. V. MacDonald described them as bloated capitalists !
– That is not what I said. A great deal of exploitation and profiteering occurred during the war, as the right honorable gentleman well knows.
– There is a practical difficulty in the way of supplying machine-guns to rifle clubs. A machine-gun is not an article that can be left lying about. When I was Minister for Defence there were times, as Senator Brand knows, when in certain districts we had to take the breach blocks out of machine-guns and put them in a safe place. It is necessary to have a permanent personnel to keep machine-guns under lock and key. That is why we cannot make a universal distribution of these weapons. In localities where the members of rifle clubs are within convenient distance of centres where these weapons are housed, it may be possible for them to be trained in their use.
I was disappointed to hear the criticism by Senator Marwick of the- administration of the office of the High Commissioner in London.
– I referred to thecost of the office.
– I suggest that the honorable senator has lost sight of the fact that Australia has to play a nation’s part in the international centres of the world, the greatest of which is London. I draw attention to the wonderful work which has been performed by Mr. Bruce and his staff at Australia House in connexion with the conversion of our overseas debt.
– He has not performed anything wonderful.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.Work of that kind cannot be done unless the High Commissioner is capable of carrying out the delicate negotiations that are necessary, and has competent officers under him, and adequate office accommodation for them. I remind Senator Marwick that the Commonwealth is responsible for the whole of the State debts in London, including floating debts, and ‘ that all transactions in connexion with them have to be carried out by the High Commissioner and the staff at Australia House. Moreover, Australia as a member of the League of Nations has entered into a number of . international commitments.
– But it has not done anything to give effect to the 40- hour week.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The staff at Australia House must be able to supply Mr. Bruce with adequate data on the various matters which arise from time to time. Australia has a responsibility to the Mandates Commission in respect of New Guinea and other mandated territories, and must furnish a report on them to the commission each year. Adequate representation is necessary if Australia’s case is to be properly presented by the High Commissioner when he attends to give an account of this country’s stewardship. There are, in addition, the diplomatic and service connexions with the British Government. The purchase of the huge quantities of defence and postal material in Europe, and the correspondence in connexion with the many international treaties to which Australia is a party, cause a great deal of work, with all of which Australia House is actively associated. When we think of the manifold responsibilities that Australia has undertaken as a nation we cannot say that too much money is expended in the upkeep of Australia House, or that the allowance to the man who represents Australia in London, and has to maintain at the heart of the Empire a position commensurate with the dignity of the Commonwealth, is excessive.
– I did not question the allowance to the High Commissioner.
– When Senator Marwick becomes more familiar with the work of the High Commissioner and his staff, he will’, I think, modify the views that he has expressed here to-day.
I had hoped that there would be sufficient time for me to make a statement relating to my own Department of External Affairs, but I shall reserve it until the bill is in committee.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clauses 2 and 3 postponed.
Clause 4 agreed to.
First schedule agreed to.
Proposed vote - The Parliament - £123,520 - agreed to.
Prime Minister’s Department.
Proposed vote, £403,150.
– In the debate on the Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill some weeks ago, Senator Leckie said -
Undoubtedly the underlying purpose of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research is good, and its work ought to be good; but I cannot help remarking that, while every one seems to take it for granted that the work done by the council is good, no one is able to say precisely what good thing it has done.
In respect of the last phrase “ No one is able to say precisely what good thing it has done “, I desire to submit what I hope is an adequate reply. I wish to refer, first, to the achievements of the council in connexion with the dried fruits industry. The processing methods employed in the early years did not produce the tight coloured sultana favoured by the British consumer. Accordingly, the council’s research station at Merbein set itself to evolve a process suited to Australian conditions, which would give a high-class product, acceptable to overseas consumers. The attempt was successful. In 1930, of a total pack of Y’3,000 tons, 40,000 tons was processed by the method evolved at Merbein, and realized in Britain £5 a ton more than was obtained for fruit processed by the methods formerly employed. That represented a gain to the industry of £200,000 in one year alone. Surely that achievement should answer the honorable senator. The “ mixed dip “ evolved at Merbein is now generally adopted throughout the Murray settlements. An increased yield may be regarded as bringing additional wealth to an industry. The yield of dried fruits to the acre in the irrigation areas of Australia has been doubled since the war, largely as a result of research into cultural methods by officers of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.
In the citrus industry also, the investigations of the council’scitriculturalresearch station at Griffith, in the Murr.umbidgee irrigation area, have resulted in a marked increase of the yield of citrus fruits. Such progress has been made that it is hoped that the council will soon be able to define the exact condition of storage during transport whichisrequired for different kinds of fruit. Without such knowledge, the export of oranges must continue to be haphazard, inefficient, and subject to serious losses from wastage; but with it, not only can the present crop be marketed to the greatest advantage of the growers as a whole, hut also it is possible that considerably increased production may be justified, because of the existence of an established export market. Throughout the citrus areas there is a general recognition of the good work of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. It is not too much to say that its investigations in respect of citrus fruits are among the most important of its activities.
In connexion with the transport of chilled beef from Australia to the United Kingdom, also, the council has a good record to its credit. Research into food storage and preservation has already produced results of great economic value; and if full commercial advantage be taken of them, the benefits to Australia are likely to be still greater. This work is of particular value to a country which is so situated geographically that it is just possible for many of its perishable products to reach the most important markets. A healthy and profitable export trade in such products must be based on exact scientific knowledge of the conditions necessary for their preservation and transport. Australia’s new and growing export trade in chilled beef - a trade which may prove to be the salvation of the cattle industry in Northern Australia, since frozen beef is becoming increasingly difficult to sell in Great Britain - has been developed solely as a result of discoveries made by the council’s investigators. They have defined the precautions which must be taken in handling and dressing the beef, and the conditions that must be observed during storage and transport, if the beef is not to suffer deterioration during the period required for export to Britain.
The Council for .Scientific and Industrial Research has also achievements to its credit in connexion with the apple industry. The disorder known as “ bitter pit “ has in the past caused a loss to Australia’s export apple trade estimated at £100,000 a year, but the council, in co-operation with the Department of Agriculture of Western Australia, discovered the cause of the disorder, and it is now possible to reduce losses from this source to negligible proportions.
These are all definite achievements in the field of research ; they are the credits that we must place opposite the debits represented by the money voted for research by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, and the credits exceed the debits. I have referred to the assistance given to the export apple trade. I now point out that research has shown that, by means of gas storage, certain varieties of peaches can be maintained in good condition long enough to enable them to be exported to Britain. Although, as yet, there are no practical results from this discovery, it is likely that, in the course of the next few years, Australia will have an export trade in peaches.
Australia has no export trade in bananas, the total crop being consumed locally, but the fruit has to be transported over long distances, and, in addition, it must be ripened by artificial methods. Research by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has shown the way to improved transport on the railways, and has led to the erection of specially constructed commercial ripening chambers in most of the big cities. The net result has been a marked improvement of the condition of the bananas marketed in the south. These points are all to the credit of the work of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, and are a practical answer to certain statements which have ‘been made in the Senate.
One of the main obstacles to the development of a successful and flourishing tobacco industry in Australia has been the prevalence of blue mould, a disease which causes great havoc in the seed beds. Only recently has an effective method of protecting seedlings from the disease been discovered. The research officers of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research have shown that by using specially constructed frames, and a proportion of benzol vapour in the atmosphere, any quantity of healthy seedlings may be obtained for transplantation. Apart from the financial losses which it has caused to the growers, blue mould has seriously held up experiments in cultural methods designed to improve the quality of the crop.
Finally, I wish to deal with the achievements of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in connexion with the pastoral industry. That industry suffers enormous losses as a result of diseases of various kinds. The magnitude of these losses is indicated by the fact that the Cattle Tick Commission estimated that redwater fever had cost the State of Queensland about £7,000,000. Incidentally, the council’s work has dona a good deal to improve the technique of immunizing cattle against the tick-borne fevers of the northern cattle belt. One ailment of sheep, occurring chiefly in the eastern States, a braxy-like disease now known as black disease, was estimated to cause an annual loss of £1,000,000 to graziers. The causative organism was determined, and an effective vaccine prepared, which gave to innoculated animals a high degree of resistance to the disease ; the use of this vaccine, combined with measures of liver-fluke eradication, resulted in the satisfactory control of the disease. The prevalence of so-called coast disease has seriously handicapped the pastoral development of a belt of high rainfall country some 2,000 square miles in area, mostly in South Australia, but extending into the adjoining States. Research has shown that the disorder is associated with a deficiency of the element cobalt, and that the administration of small doses of cobalt salts will cure even advanced cases of coast disease. It appears likely, therefore, that as a result of this work of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research considerable areas will now be made available for more profitable grazing. Parasitic diseases of sheep are studied at the McMaster
Laboratory at Sydney. Internal parasites are most prevalent in the higher rainfall areas. The losses they cause, though known to be serious, have not been estimated; but the discontinuance of sheep breeding in parts of northern New South Wales and southern Queensland has been largely the result of the prevalence of one of these parasites, the socalled nodule worm. Methods of treatment and control, some naturally more efficacious than others, or, at any rate, more easily adopted in station practice, have been evolved for practically every species of parasite of economic importance. I could speak at much greater length on the activities of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, because the results of its investigations are so contrary to the statements made by Senator Leckie.
Before I resume my seat I should like again to stress the desirableness of improving the methods of financing the work of this very valuable body. It is essential that adequate provision be made to permit the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to adopt a longrange policy. If long-range experiments are to be undertaken it is necessary that there should be stability of finance; such experiments are not possible under the present method of making annual grants to finance the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. In its report for 1934-35 the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research stressed the fact that it would be placed in a much sounder position, and the general efficiency of its operations would be increased, if there were some definite policy for continuity in its financial arrangements. This could be effected either by the payment into the trust account from time to time of sums, each sufficient for a period of years, or by a declaration by the Government of a decision to provide fixed annual sums over a period of years. At first sight, the latter might appear to be a departure from conventional practice. However, -within the last year or two, the Government has set aside fixed annual sums for five years for certain special investigations, for example, those in connexion with gold-mining, fisheries, tobacco and citrus preservation, and it needs but a logical extension to the whole of the council’s work of the’ principle thus adopted, to give to the council a satisfactory degree of financial continuity which is denied it by the present method of annual appropriation. I particularly want to impress the importance of that upon Senator Leckie. I have repeatedly brought it up for the consideration of the Senate. In view of the tremendous value to all industries in Australia of the work of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, we should adopt the recommendations contained in its annual report for 1934-35, and provide stability of finance. At the same time I again urge that we should seriously consider some scheme under which the industries benefiting by the research work carried out by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research would contribute towards its upkeep. After all, if an industry is to benefit from research work undertaken by the council, why should it not contribute towards the cost of such research? It cannot expect to get everything for nothing. Though provision has been made in the Estimates for the carrying on of the council’s work, I urge that some scheme be worked out under which industries assisted by the council should contribute some portion of the funds necessary to carry it on.
– I agree entirely with all the remarks made by Senator Hardy regarding the value of the work done by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, and I agree also that anything the Government can see its way to do to put the finances of that institution on a definite and permanent basis should be done. I do not think that we should adopt a cheese-paring, policy in connexion with any institutions which, it can be shown, are rendering useful service to the Commonwealth. When, however, the Leader of the Government goes into ecstasies over the wonderful work which the High Commissioner has done with regard to the saving of interest, I am bound to step into the fight and suggest that the picture is over-painted. As a matter of fact, Australia is getting a very raw deal in respect of interest paid on money borrowed overseas. Going back five years in the history of the Commonwealth, I remind honorable senators, and the Minister in charge of the Senate particularly, that, during the 1931 election campaign, according to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald of the 5th May, 1931, the Prime Minister assured the people that financial circles in London were literally eager to help Australia over its difficulties. He said that he- had received assurances on that point. He also said that once the people of Great Britain knew that Australia meant to honour its obligations they would come to its aid in the matter of interest reductions. According to Mr. Lyons, the way was paved and the road made easy in 1931 for the High Commissioner to bring about the conversion of existing loans at reduced rates of interest. The “ eagerness “ of British financial circles to come to Australia’s aid in the matter of interest reductions can be judged by the slow manner in which conversions at lower rates of interest have been made, and the large amount still outstanding at high rates of interest. It cannot be denied that Australia has been the Cinderella in this regard; it has always had to. pay higher interest rates than foreign countries and the other dominions. Dr. Earle Page recently stated that Argentina paid a lower rate of interest than Australia. The Leader of the Senate does not need to go beyond his own Cabinet colleagues for evidence that the High Commissioner is not the brilliant success that he alleges him to be in the matter of securing interest reductions for Australia. The Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties, speaking in the House of Representatives some years ago, said: -
Australia, is paying more for its money than” any other country within the British Empire, and more than the great majority of countries throughout the world.
In 1932, the then Premier of Victoria, Mr. Hogan, on his return from London, said -
If Australia only received in financial transactions the most-favoured-nation treatment it would be a “rent relief.
Surely that is not much to ask for? -
But, instead, we have paid £5 18s. per cent, for the loan of £100 for one year, while France pays less than £1 for the same amount, and italy nest to nothing to the British Government.
Yet honorable senators opposite never tire of offering their meed of praise to the High Commissioner. The Premier of South Australia, Mr. Butler, a year ago said that he was surprised at the increased rate of interest at which the last loan was floated in England ; he was certain that money could be procured at much cheaper rates. What was the High Commissioner doing? Why did he not assure that Australia secured money at the cheap rates at which it was loaned to other countries? Yet the Leader of the Government is continually asserting that the High Commissioner is the last word in financial brilliance. An interview with “ an eminent authority on Australian affairs in London “, published by the London Financial Times in 1932, reports him as having said “Money at present is superabundant and cheap “. Yet after’ five years of activity by Mr. Bruce, the loans bearing interest at over 3^ per cent, are as follows: - £2,876,000, 3 per cent.; £13,100,000, 4 per cent.; £11,999,000, 4J per cent.; £126,747,000, 5 per cent.; and £17,870,000, 5i per cent., making a total of £189,592,000. If those loans were converted at 3£ per cent., the saving of interest would be approximately £2,521,000 per annum, plus exchange £630,000, or £3,151,000. If all the unconverted loans bearing interest at the rate of over 3 per cent., were converted to 3 per cent., the saving of interest would be £3,645,000, plus exchange £911,000, or £4,556,000 per annum. In such circumstances it is idle for the Leader of the Senate to pour out such foolish flattery concerning the High Commissioner. Considering that the High Commissioner’s office costs the nation £1,000 a week, we have a right to demand that he does his job, and that he saves the taxpayers of Australia the £4,500,000 I have mentioned. If the Government were doing its job in the interests of the taxpayers it would instruct him to get to work to effect further conversions. Why should we be paying over 3 per cent, on such loans when other countries are not paying that rate?” Great Britain is able to obtain all the money it requires at a much lower rate than that which Australia is paying. I do not propose to elaborate the subject further, because I know that it is essential that the passage of the bill be expedited.
– I followed the remarks of the
Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) with a great deal of interest, because I have always been intensely interested in Australian conversion operations overseas. I was particularly surprised when the honorable senator implied that the High Commissioner has fallen down on his job, and that the Government has failed in the matter of conversions. When the Scullin Government was elected in 1929, our overseas indebtedness was very heavy. Mr. Scullin visited Great Britain with other Ministers, but during the whole time his government was in office no attempt was made to convert our overseas indebtedness.
– The honorable senator knows why.
– The Scullin Government knew so little of the principles of sound finance that Commonwealth bonds in London dropped to £75, and in New York to £40. What has been achieved by the Lyons Government? Overseas debts amounting to £198,000,000 have been converted. The average rate of interest being paid on the overseas debt when the Lyons Government took office was £5.011 per cent., the rate to-day is £3 10s. 2d. per cent., and the total saving of interest on London conversions is about £4,000,000 per annum. Does the Leader of the Opposition say that a saving of £4,000,000 is unworthy of consideration ?
– I did not refer to the conversions which had been made, hut to the amount which remains unconverted.
– Surely the action of a High Commissioner who has been responsible for the saving of £4,000,000 a year cannot be criticized. In speaking of actual rates of interest, the Leader of the Opposition confused two different types of investments; he compared the rates of interest on the short-term loans with the interest rates paid by other countries on long-term loans. Had he compared the rates Australia pays with rates being paid other countries on long-term loans, he would have found that Australia is on a favorable basis.
– Notwithstanding what has been said of
Mr. Bruce by some of his admirers in this chamber, the fact remains that the financial difficulties of later government’s were due to the heavy borrowing and lavish expenditure of the Bruce-Page Administration. As to Senator Hardys remarks concerning the success of Mr. Bruce’s loan conversion operations, we cannot overlook the fact that the Commonwealth is paying interest at 3f per cent, on some of its loans, when a few days ago, a loan of £100,000,000 was floated in Great Britain at 2f per cent.
– For what period?
– It was for 40 years, and it cannot, therefore, be regarded as a short term loan. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition, that Australia is regarded by many financiers as a good milch cow, and has been milked very energetically by certain investors in the Old ‘Country, who make a continual drain on the Commonwealth to the extent of millions of pounds a year.
– A Labour Government in Queensland borrowed money overseas at 7 per cent, which is the highest rate of interest ever paid, by an Australian governmnent.
– That was due entirely to the activities of a “stinking fish “ party which sent its representatives to Great Britain to decry the State in which they made their money. They told the British financiers not to loan money to the Queensland Government, merely because it was endeavouring to check the activities of the land sharks in that State. When money could not be raised in Great Britain, the Queensland Government had to go to the United States of America and pay a much higher rate than would otherwise have been paid. These exploiters do not care a damn what happens so long as they benefit.
– Why did not the Queensland Government raise a loan in Australia?
– Because the BrucePage Government had borrowed so heavily and spent so extravagantly that Australian credit was destroyed. That was the position which the Scullin Government had to face. There are many matters which I could discuss at this juncture, but I suppose that I would be prevented by the Chair from doing so. I intend to submit a proposal, but I suppose that I am the only one who will regard it as reasonable. I am like the lunatic who said that he liked talking to himself because he was sure to agree with what was said.
– Why not discuss the bill.
– I shall please myself what I do. The Minister who is always telling others what they should do is not the boss in this chamber. I tell the Minister quite frankly that, subject to the Chair, I shall do as I please.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Sampson) Order !
– I resent the remark of the Minister who thinks that he is the Hitler of the Senate.
– I ask the honorable senator to resume his seat.
– I shall do so.
– In considering the proposed vote for the Prime Minister’s Department, the honorable senator is entitled to discuss any proposed item of expenditure in that department. The honorable senator must confine his remarks to some item.
– I intend to do so, but I was interrupted by the Leader of the Senate, who asked me to discuss the bill.
– Order !
– In the matter of unemployment, the Government has fallen down on its job. It is now admitted that political parties all over the world-
– I rise to a. point of order. In discussing the proposed vote for the Prime Minister’s Department, it is not competent for an honorable senator to deal with unemployment. The discussion must be confined to the payment of salaries and allowances and the items set out in the schedule. If the honorable senator is allowed to discuss unemployment, it will be competent for other honorable senators to discuss the Government’s policy in respect of cancer research or any other matter.
– The honorable senator must confine his remarks to items in the schedule.
– I am dealing with the work of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.
– How does the honorable senator propose to connect the Government’s unemployment policy with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research!
– The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research is a scientific body; its members are paid to conduct researches into scientific and industrial matters. Owing to the failure of political parties - especially the tory party - to solve unemployment, a portion of the money allocated to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research should be set aside for the engagement of one or two men who would devote their time to a scientific search for a solution of the problem.
– Under the heading of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research there is no reference to unemployment. If the honorable senator continues to speak in that strain I shall have to rule him out of order. He will be in order in discussing any item in the Prime Minister’s Department.
– Item 1 of division 15 deals with “ Animal Health and Nutrition “. The unemployed man is human, and humans bolong to the animal kingdom and need nutrition.
– The honorable senator is out of order.
– Then perhaps the unemployed man is not an animal and does not need nutrition. I turn, therefore, to Item 14’ “ Unforeseen and Urgent Investigations “. It is urgent that a scientific investigation be conducted into the affairs of this nation, in order that the problem of unemployment which has beset us for so many years and defied all the efforts of the parliamentary intelligentsia, may be solved. Science should be given an opportunity to succeed where the combined governments of Australia have failed. In making this suggestion I do not jest; I am in deadly earnest. The sum of £2,000 allotted for “Unforeseen and Urgent Investigations “ is inadequate for the purpose. The vote should be greater in order to make possible a scientific investigation such as I have suggested. We know why the inquiry into hours of labour and their effect on unemployment promised by the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) was rejected. It was proposed to ask seventeen or twenty persons, taken from various walks of life, to investigate this problem; but the economic antagonisms and conflicting interests at work would have vitiated and prolonged such an inquiry, and made a satisfactory recommendation impossible. The experts of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, however, would not be likely to be influenced in any way by party, financial or commercial interests, or industrial entrepreneurs; they would approach the problem as scientific men in the service of the community. If my suggestion were adopted it would be for the good of Australia, despite the doubts of Senator Pearce and other honorable senators.
– While some other honorable senators were speaking, I made some strong remarks, by interjection, about the High Commissioner for Australia, in London (Mr. S. M. Bruce). In view of the fact that Senator Hardy took up one of my expressions I do not desire honorable senators to think that I made those comments without having evidence to support them. I have met Mr. Bruce on only one occasion and that was in a social way at a railway station in the north of New South Wales. I am not actuated by malice against that gentleman. He has an excellent Scottish name and there are many features about him that I like. For example, he is interested in cricket, and so am I.
– Mr. Bruce has carried out a lot of excellent work on behalf of Australia.
– I disagree. He is the agent of London financiers.
– That is not correct.
– That is only the opinion of the honorable senator. If Mr. Bruce has rendered such wonderful service to Australia why has he not converted the remaining outstanding Australian debt in London of £180,000,000? At present we are paying, in interest, from £2,000,000 to £3,000,000 more than we should.
– Order ! Will the honorable senator indicate in what way he will connect his remarks with the bill ? He must not enter into a general dissertation on Mr. S. M. Bruce, and where he met that gentleman socially. His remarks must be relevant to some item under the High Commissioner’s office.
– In my opinion it would be to the advantage of Australia if Mr. Bruce were to enter the House of Commons.
– That remark is irrelevant to this bill. If the honorable senator continues in that strain I shall have to order him to resume his seat.
– Reference to the High Commissioner is contained in this bill.
– But it relates only to salaries and allowances of the employees in the High Commissioner’s office.
– I do not desire to go to the length of moving that the salary of the High Commissioner be reduced by £1 in order to provide myself with the opportunity to continue my remarks about Mr. Bruce.
– The salary of the High Commissioner is not contained in the schedule.
– That is another reason why we should discuss it.
– While I am in the Chair the honorable senator will not be permitted to do so on this schedule. He may discuss any item in Division 13 - “ High Commissioner’s Office “ - but obviously he will be out of order in continuing a discussion on the High Commissioner in the manner in which he apparently proposes to do.
– I do not desire to trace the High Commissioner’s record; but we were challenged on all sides to give our reasons why we considered that Mr. Bruce was not fit to occupy his present office. I bear no personal animosity against Mr. Bruce, but I have in my possession a document which will be of interest in the light of the remarks which I have made, and that document emanates from an anti-Labour source.
[8.0]. - The growth of public interest in the work of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research is strikingly demonstrated by the increasing measure of financial support accorded to the council by interests other than governments. The outside contributions for each of the last five years have been as follows : -
The figure of £68,381 for 1936-37 represents 35 per cent, of the total expenditure of the council. The contributions for 1936-37 will include the following:-
– I do not notice any reference in the schedule to the salary of the High Commissioner in London.
– As it is not referred to in the schedule, the honorable senator would not be in order in discussing it.
– The salary is provided for under a special act.
– I do not approve of the work done by the present High Commissioner, and Senator Marwick deserves commendation for his criticism of the administration of Australia House. I visited Australia House when Sir Joseph Cook was in charge of it. As the total amount expended is large, the administration should be carefully reviewed. When Australia House was built the idea was that the Agent-General of each State should be accommodated there; hut when I was in London the Agent-General for SouthAustralia had an office somewhere in Old London, the Queensland office was in The Strand, the Agent-General for Victoria was located near Australia House, and the Agent-General for another State had quarters in Victoria-street, Westminster. Evidently the movement to bring all the State Agents-General together has failed. It seems to me that the large expenditure incurred annually in connexion with Australia House is not justified. Members of this committee should be able to discuss the work of the High Commissioner as well as that of any other public servant. The present occupant of . the position, unlike his predecessors, has been in a position similar to that of a Minister, rather than that of the head of an office. The present High Commissioner has conducted unsuccessful propaganda at various times in regard to the marketing of Australian products, and he has visited this country for that purpose. A public servant should not be permitted to direct a political campaign, as was done by Mr. Bruce a couple of years ago, which is not to the best advantage of the people of Australia.
.- I am pleased to notice that an increased vote is provided to enable the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to carry on its most important work. That body is to be commended for the high standard of its service to the community. I thank the scientists for the results they have already obtained in assisting the primary producers to combat animal and plant diseases and in encouraging the improvement of pastures. The Wool Board has been appointed, I am pleased to know, as the result of the woolgrowers imposing a levy upon themselves which will bring in about £70,000 a year. Of this amount the board intends to allocate a substantial proportion to scientific research. I hope that the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research will not be handicapped in its work in the future, as it has been in the past, by a shortage of funds. In my opinion the scientists are not adequately remunerated. Those who are keenly devoted to scientific research in the interests of the nation should be well paid for their services. They have already done much to increase the productivity of the soil by experiments in regard to wheat culture and the application of superphosphate to pastures. I regret that tie Government has not pro-
Tided even greater encouragement than has been given in the past to the extensive use of superphosphate on land other than wheat areas, because the application »f fertilizers to pasture land has been of tremendous advantage in all branches of primary production in Australia. I regret that the fertilizer bounty was reduced from 15s. to 10s. a ton. Owing to the great benefit of the application of superphosphate to pastures, the bounty should be as large as possible.
.- The sum of £10,800 is provided for the general upkeep of Australia House. Conflicting statements have been made in regard to this establishment. Sir John McLaren, who recently returned to Australia, refuted some of the assertions, but other statements have been published recently by gentlemen who have visited the Old Counry within the last few months, and their comments regarding business dealings which they have had at Australia House are not complimentary to it. “When this building was completed, we were informed that it was located on an excellent site in one’ of the most prominent parts of London, and that it would attract attention for all time, as well as prove a valuable asset to the Commonwealth. When I was in London eight years ago I saw nothing to justify the recent criticism, but much may have happened since that time. I have heard that two rooms on the ground floor, which are passed by many people daily, had large “ To let “ signs prominently displayed in the windows. Such signs are not a good advertisement for the Commonwealth, and tend to detract from the importance of the office. That building was erected in the belief that it would be a permanent advertisement for Australia, and of advantage in developing the Commonwealth. I hope that the Minister will be able to allay the fear that we are not getting value for the money expended on Australia House.
.- I am -grateful to Senator Hardy for the information which he has given to the committee about the operations of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. From the honorable senator’s remarks, one might imagine that I had attacked that body. Far from attacking it, I was merely seeking information regarding its activities. I referred to the work of the council in assisting secondary industries, and am grateful to Senator Hardy for informing me of some of its achievements in connexion with primary products. The honorable senator’s remarks would have carried more weight had they not so obviously arisen from either conversations with officers of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research or a study of reports issued by that body. I realize that the council is doing good work; but I think that Senator Hardy claimed too much for it. It is possible that, by attempting to “ paint the lily “, an impression altogether opposite to that desired may be given. I am glad that the good work performed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research is receiving recognition.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for External Affairs) [8.17]. - I am sure that Senator Payne does not expect me to be able to say, offhand, whether or not a room is to let at Australia House. Nor would he desire that I should communicate with London by cable or wireless to ascertain the facts. I should not be astonished if occasionally there are rooms to let in Australia House. One State government recently removed its agency from the building, and probably as a result several rooms became vacant. Doubtless Senator Payne has read a statement by Sir John McLaren, who recently returned from London,, in which he replied to the charge that the building is not properly utilized.
– I visited London this year, and while there I was impressed with the comparative “ deadness “ in the vicinity of Australia House. The building is isolated on an island in the Strand. Most of the traffic passes along the other side of the Strand. The design of the building is altogether unsuitable for offices; too much space is taken up by long passages. It is not a place where people go, and consequently three State governments have removed their agencies from the building. Tasmania, also, would have done so had it been able to terminate its lease, for it could have obtained more suitable accommodation elsewhere in a far better position at half the rental charged for offices in Australia House. When I was in London, the Commonwealth officials at Australia House rendered to me very little assistance. If I desired information regarding Commonwealth affairs, I obtained it from the State Agents-General and their officers, who were most courteous at all times, whereas the Commonwealth officers either professed to be too busy, or promised information which they did not supply. Three years ago, when I was in London previously, my experience was similar. Despite what Sir John McLaren says, Australia could Be much better served for the money expended on Australia House.
– I endorse the remarks of Senator Grant that money is being wasted at Australia House.
– When was the honorable senator last in London?
– I was there last in 1911. Mr. Forgan Smith, the Premier of Queensland, who, like many Commonwealth and State Ministers, has visited England several times during recent years, has criticized Australia House rather severely. In the Brisbane Telegraph, of Tuesday, the 23rd June, under the heading “Australia in the United Kingdom”, the following appeared: -
It is rather disturbing to know that the Premier of Queensland found Australia House in London in an unsatisfactory condition as a clearing house of information for the Commonwealth. Mr. “Forgan Smith is a shrewd observer and has the interests of his country ut heart, so that it can hardly be thought that this criticism is established on slender grounds . . . Not only the Premier, but numerous citizens have returned from the Old Country with views corresponding to those expressed by Mr. Forgan Smith.
That comment could well be applied to Senator Grant, who also is a shrewd observer. The extract continued -
It has been said that New Zealand is “ putting it all over Australia “ in the matter of publicity.
The newspaper article proceeded to point out that New Zealand is more active in England and is receiving better service for the money spent on its London office than is Australia. For years there has been criticism of the service rendered to Australia by Commonwealth officials at Australia House, and in view of what has been said here to-night, the Government is in duty bound to obtain a full and complete report on this matter. Other countries, such as Denmark and Argentina, have ‘Chambers of ‘Commerce or other agencies in most of the ^principal centres of population in the Old Country and, in consequence, the sale of goods from those countries is bound to increase. I hope that the Government will take steps to see that better service is obtained for the money expended on Australia House.
– One can only speak on a subject like this as one’s experience dictates, but since there has been so much criticism of Australia House, I desire to say that, although I have not been in England for six years, I was there for some considerable time on the occasion of my last visit. Immediately after I arrived in London, I paid a formal call at the offices of the High Commissioner for Australia, and of the Agent-General for South Australia. Throughout the whole of the time that I was in England I received great consideration from the Commonwealth officers .at Australia House, whereas the only result of my visit to the South Australia Agency was that some firms who supplied suitable attire for Eastern countries, sent me a memorandum informing me that at their emporium I could obtain my requirements. I found the officials at Australia House most anxious to be helpful; and they were in fact helpful. If they were not so successful as they might have been, the reason probably was that a number of officials had resigned, either voluntarily or compulsorily, during the regime of a Labour Government in Australia. I suggest that cutting down expenditure on Australia House is not the way to get better service in the future.
– I have been credited with having directed a good deal of criticism against the office of the High Commissioner, but although I offer no apology for introducing the subject, I wish to make it clear that I did not mention the High Commissioner by name. I endea- voured to confine my remarks to the items covered by this appropriation. I did not question the ability of the present High Commissioner, but I claim that I was justified in drawing attention to an expenditure of over £1,000. a week in respect of Australia House. I accept the explanation given by the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce). Before he spoke, it appeared to me that a staff of 80 was rather more than was necessary.
I really intended my criticism to refer, in the main, to the office of the CommissionerGeneral in the United States of America. I desired to know why Australia was not represented at an important conference held at Chicago this week. To that inquiry I have had no reply.
– I agree with the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) as to the importance of Australia House; the work undertaken by the officials in our London offices has grown enormously in recent years. There has, however, been a considerable amount of criticism by both members of Parliament and business people generally in regard to the situation of Australia House as the centre of Australian affairs in London. Apparently no prescience was shown by those who decided the location of the building. I understand that the main business quarter of London has largely grown away from Australia House in recent years, and it is now left practically isolated on an island in the Strand ; because of that, for all practical purposes the building, as the centre of the official business of the Commonwealth, is obsolete. This bill contains an amount of £7,250 for municipal rates and taxes in respect of Australia House. That seems a very large sum to provide for that purpose, and it appears to me that it would perhaps be more profitable to relinquish the present building and acquire another in a more suitable quarter.
– Rates and taxes may be much higher in more suitable quarters.
– Nevertheless, £7,250 seems to me to be a large sum to pay for rates and taxes, even in London. If it is decided to sell the building and acquire other premises, I hope that more foresight will be exercised by those responsible for their selection than that which has been shown previously in regard to this matter.
– And their architecture.
– When I visited London, Australia House was practically new; but I understand that it has since been criticized from an architectural point of view. Even then it seemed rather gloomy. If a new building were constructed in a more suitable locality the offices of the State Agents-General would probably be located in it, and it would become the centre of the political and financial activities of Australia abroad.
– I suggest that, of the amount of £2,000 provided for miscellaneous investigations by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, a portion should be applied to an inquiry into a mechanical cotton-picker which, it is said, has been recently perfected in the United States of America. The cotton industry has been well established in Queensland, and every endeavour should be made to extend it. If the machine is successful, its use in Australia would go a long way to further the prosperity of the cotton industry.
– The Government is obtaining reports from the New York office in regard to the machine.
– I notice that, under division 15, an amount of £4,600 is provided as a’ grant for investigations of the prickly pear. A similar provision for 1935-36 was fully expended. As considerable advance has been made in the eradication of prickly pear, I am at a loss to understand why the same provision should be made for that purpose this year.
– The provision of £4,500 is made under an agreement entered into with the State of Queensland to provide that amount annually for investigation of the prickly pear.
.- I understand that a new contract is to be entered into next year for mail services to New Guinea. I ask the Minister to give very special consideration to the need for ensuring that the new service will not be inferior to that provided at present. Having in mind the increasing importance of the territory, improved mail facilities should be made available. New Guinea has reached a state of development which justifies an improved mail service, but at all events it would be a retrograde step if there were anything in the new contract that might reduce the existing standard of the service.
– I notice that, under division 15, a provision of £3,422 is made for “ fisheries investigations “. No vote was passed but an expenditure of £155 was incurred in that connexion last year.
– That is because the new fisheries vessel is to be put into commission this year.
– Provision of £15,000 has been made this year for research into the apple and pear industry. I am sure we all welcome that, but I should like to know what is the intention of the Government with regard to the expenditure of this money. Tasmanian orchardists, during the last year or two, have suffered extreme hardships, and any research undertaken by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research into the ravages of insect or other pests or diseases would be very helpful to the growers throughout Australia. The amount provided, however, seems rather large for that purpose, and, apparently it will, in addition, permit the council to undertake a considerable amount of research and investigation. I hope that the results will be satisfactory, and that the growers will receive corresponding benefits; otherwise, it would be better to provide the money directly for the relief of growers who have experienced such a disastrous season.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for External Affairs) [8.42]. - This special grant is made available to enable research work to be carried out on certain problems for two years by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, and the State Departments of Agriculture. It also provides a means for the State departments to do urgent demonstration work over a period of one year. In consultation with the States a programme of work was drawn up and has been commenced. The administration of the full grant is in the hands of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.
– The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research might very well investigate the possibility of carrying out in this country an inquiry on the lines of “ The National Survey of the Potential Productive Capacity as seen by the National Resources Board of the United States of America “.
– No provision has been made in the bill for that purpose.
– I suggest that it should be made.
SenatorFoll. - Could such work be undertaken for the amount of £2,000?
– A preliminary investigation would not cost more than £50, and I know of no way in which money could be better expended. I believe that the inquiry in the United States of America is probably the best ever undertaken by any government in the history of the world, and that is saying a lotAustralia will have to undertake such a survey because of the problems that arefacing the people of every country. The American committee is ascertaining remarkable facts regarding the present and prospective productivity of the nation, what is actually consumed by its people, and what the consumption shouldbe to enable the community to be thoroughly healthy. All this information is of the utmost importance in theworld to-day. Representatives of the council could inquire into and report upon the work of the American committee and determine whether it would not be advantageous to conduct an investigation into the potential productive capacity of Australia. The American authorities are apparently making a determined attempt to solve some of the problems now confronting the nations of the world; amongst them must be the major subject of unemployment. If, as Senator Sampson suggested, we should have a definite defence plan, surely it is not unreasonable to ask the Government to ascertain whether an inquiry into the potential productive capacity of this country should not be made for the purpose of laying down a definite plan of development. Only by so doing can our economic power be used to the full for the benefit of the people of this land.
– Such an investigation should be made by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research
– Yes, and in that way it could render even more effective service to Australia.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of External Affairs.
Proposed vote, £12,670.
[8.46]. - Several honorable senators having inquired as to what is being done in connexion with the reorganization of the Department of External Affairs, I may state that during the past financial year the status of the department has been altered. Though it has had a separate existence since 1921, it wa3 until November, 1935, attached to the Prime Minister’s Department, the secretary of which also bore the title of Secretary of the Department of External Affairs. The officer directly in charge of External Affairs was an assistant secretary. During recent years the increased status of the dominions has had the effect of bringing Australia as a separate entity into direct relationship with many foreign countries. For the past three years Australia has, in addition, been a member of the Council of the League of Nations. It must, accordingly? ^ many matters which are of direct concern to it, act independently of Great Britain, and is at present a party to nearly 800 treaties with foreign countries and to 130 multi-lateral conventions. Australia is frequently called upon to negotiate and conclude agreements direct with foreign countries. The Commonwealth Government has constantly to make independent decisions in. the sphere of foreign affairs, and in the last two years the fact has become increasingly evident that, if Australia is to co-operate efficiently with other nations in the international sphere, and is to be enabled satisfactorily to safeguard its interests in, and relations with, foreign countries effective machinery must be in existence for the purpose. Australia, too, has developed so many direct and close contacts with foreign countries that it is highly desirable that these should not be lost, but rather maintained and strengthened. The first step forward with regard to external affairs was the separation of the department from the Prime Minister’s Department, and the creation of the office of full secretary instead of assistant secretary. The reorganization of the department was then proceeded with. It was divided into two sections, a the Political Section, and b the International Co-operation Section.
The Political Section deals with questions of foreign policy, inter-Empire relations, the collection, collation, and dissemination of information concerning other countries, and prepares summaries for the information of Ministers and Parliament. This section is. also responsible for the compilation and issue of a fortnightly publication in which international matters of interest to Australia are discussed. This publication, known as Current Notes, was originally intended for the use of members of Parliament only, but so many requests have been received from schools, universities, newspapers, business houses, trades unions, and societies of various kinds, all over the Commonwealth, that its circulation, has risen rapidly since it started in April, and has now reached just under 900. At first it was wholly set up in the department, *but its increasing circulation made this impossible, and it is now issued by the Government Printer.
A branch of the Political Section is inLondon, where the Officer-in-Charge acts as a liaison between the department and the Foreign and Dominions Offices, and is in close co-operation with the High Commissioner.
The International Co-operation .Section deals with the League of Nations, the International Labour Office, the Permanent Court of International Justice, treaties and other international agreements, consular representation in Australia, constitutional questions relating to external affairs, and Australia’s interest in the New Hebrides and the Antarctic.
A new activity which is absorbing the close attention of both sections is the compilation of a departmental annual report, which will appear for the first time early in the new year. In this publication it is proposed’ to include a survey of international affairs in the year 1936 with particular reference to Australian activities, together with a full account of the part played by Australia in all branches of the work of the League of Nations. A brief review of the re-organization of the department will be included, together with a chapter from the London office, and a short report from the Commonwealth’s officer in the New Hebrides. There will be a section contributed by the Department of Commerce on the Australian Trade Commissioner Service, and one written by the Department of Trade and Customs on the general principles underlying the policy of trade treaties. Lists of treaties and conventions during 1936, to which Australia is a party, a list of international conferences held during the year and Australia’s representation at them, and a list of consuls in Australia will also be included.
It has also been necessary to make adequate provision for a system of registration, in view of the rapid increase of departmental records. With the extension of the Political Division the information index system, especially, has increased in volume and importance.
As an illustration of the increase of the work of the department, the following figures of the despatches from the London office on current foreign affairs may be cited : -
It should also be noted that the department is the channel of communication with the Australian Trade Commissioners abroad for all matters other than those concerning trade and commerce.
At present the only Australian representation abroad of a diplomatic character is in London, but the Government is considering the extension of this form of representation in those regions in which Australia is especially interested.
The Government feels that the utmost value to Australia would be obtained by the extension_ of the system of liaison officers of the External Affairs Depart - ment by attachment of such officers to British Embassies. The Australian system of liaison works extremely well, and the Commonwealth Government is thereby kept fully informed of the foreign despatches, view3, and ideas of the Foreign and Dominions Offices in the realms of international and Imperial affairs. In this respect, Australia is at least as well served as the other dominions are by their system of appointment of Ministers, and at far less cost.
The maintenance of the closest and most friendly relationships in the Pacific region must continue to be one of our basic policies, and in this respect Australia, during the last few years, has made material contributions.
It is felt that the appointment of officers to centres of particular importance to Australia would give continuity to this policy, facilitate the provision by the Commonwealth Government of trained and experienced officers in international affairs, and lay the foundation for any future representation of a higher status which the Government of the day may deem necessary. No definite decision on this subject, however, has yet been reached by the Government, but provision for the contingency has been made on the Estimates.
– I appreciate the value of the publication entitled Current Notes, which honorable senators receive fortnightly, and I have no hesitation in saying that of the numerous governmental documents and publications we receive from time to time it is the most informative. It contains much valuable information and enables members of Parliament to debate subjects of public importance more intelligently than would be possible had they to rely upon a more or less haphazard research. I have watched the growth of this publication, and I suggest to the Minister controlling the department that an effort should be made to increase its circulation. In a crisis it is most essential that there should be a well-informed bloc thoroughly acquainted with the points at issue. Owing to the expense involved, the Government cannot make the publication available free of cost to every one desiring it, but under a contributory system copies could be supplied to many who do not now receive them. The Commonwealth Tear-Book and Production and Finance Bulletins can be purchased, and there does not appear to be any reason why this valuable publication should not be on sale. I have submitted a large number of names of persons anxious to receive copies regularly ; but I know that there must be some limitation in this respect. As the booklet must play a definite and important part in our national life, I ask the Minister to consider seriously the adoption of a system under which those who wish to obtain copies may do so on payment of a charge or subscription. Owing to the value of its contents the circulation has increased. The subjects dealt with are so well prepared that they can readily be understood. I was very interested to hear the remarks made by the Minister concerning the reorganization of the department. I firmly believe that Australia must take an even greater interest in international affairs, and be well informed concerning what is being done in other parts of the world. I was interested to read statistics concerning the cost of similar departments in the Irish Free State, Canada and South Africa, where the conditions are somewhat similar to those in Australia. The salaries of the head-quarters staff in the countries mentioned are - Irish Free State, £13,642; Canada, £26,050; South Africa, £17,252 ; and Australia - I recognize that the department here is still in its infancy - £4,782. The total expenditure of similar departments in the countries mentioned last year were - Irish Free State, £94,406 ; Canada, £2o5,000-
– Those amounts include certain expenditure incurred by Ministers.
– I was about to say that it- covers the duties of other than those directly associated with the department. In South Africa, the total expenditure was £106,456, and in Australia it is only £10,096. I do not complain because the cost, of the Commonwealth Department is low in comparison with the countries I have mentioned, because I know that the department in Canberra has only recently been re-organized, but sooner or later it will assume the importance of other major departments, and its work will be even more extensive in the years to come. It is rendering a very valuable service as a liaison between the Commonwealth and other nations, and its development should be encouraged.
– I rise to endorse Senator Hardy’s remarks. I recollect an important speech delivered by the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) last year on this subject, and I appreciate the evidence of the improvement which has already taken place in the Department of External Affairs. Praise for the Current Notes on international affairs has been conveyed to me from several quarters in South Australia. I should like the Leader of the Senate to give us an assurance that this department will not he stinted of funds ; because it is the earnest desire of all honorable senators that its work, which will be more important in the future than it has been in the past, shall be continued and extended. On important occasions such as the approaching coronation it would be fitting that senior officers of the Department of External Affairs should be considered for a trip to London in order to obtain desirable experience in the British Foreign Office. If the Minister will give me that assurance, I shall not elaborate upon this point. I congratulate him and the department on its excellent work.
– The Opposition desires to express its appreciation of the work being done by the Department of External Affairs. I allude particularly to the information that is supplied to honorable senators and members of the House of Representatives on international affairs. In the past we were obliged to carry out our own researches in order to obtain such data, and then it was only secured in an imperfect and incomplete form.
– I compliment the officers of the Department of External Affairs upon their despatch and ability in producing the Current Notes on international affairs. I also commend the leading officials of the department for the tact, ability and diplomacy which they have exhibited. I take this opportunity.to congratulate the Minister for External Affairs (Senator Pearce) for the diplomatic manner in which he has managed the department, especially in view of the fact that Europe recently passed through a crisis in which Australia was directly concerned. In my opinion, he has shown himself a diplomat. Apparently the right honorable gentleman in framing his policy, has been advised by Australians, and I hope that this department will continue to be administered by Australians, and that our diplomatic service will be of advantage to us. I would again, like to refer to the fact that the department has been administered by Senator Pearce, who has revealed in his parliamentary life that he is not only a diplomat, but also an Empire parliamentarian. Some day he may be called a statesman.
[9.5]. - I express my gratification at the kindly references, which have been made to the work of the Department of External Affairs. I shall take into consideration the suggestion made by Senator Hardy. We have been extremely fortunate in the officers that have been brought together in this department. The staff has recently been increased; on paper the new officers seemed most competent, and I am gratified to be able to say that they are justifying their reputations. I take no credit to myself, but the members of the staff are young and enthusiastic, and are showing every indication that they will live up to the great responsibility which will be placed upon them in the future.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed votes - Department of the Treasury, £778,580; and AttorneyGeneral’s Department, £194,720 - agreed to.
Department of the INTERIOR
Proposed vote, £431,710.
.- I direct attention to the vote of £8,150 for the forestry branch. From the small number of students that have been despatched by the various States’ to the Australian Forestry School, Canberra, it is apparent that all is not well with the administration of that institution. A few weeks ago the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) referred to the small enrolment at the school, and during the last few weeks I have taken the opportunity to investigate to the best of my ability the reason for this lack of numbers. So far as the data at the school itself, the Library and the specimens there are concerned, the institution is probably the equal of any in this part of the world. It has certainly the best collection in Australia at the present time; but as the result of my inquiries I am satisfied that the reason why the school is not functioning as it should is because there is not that co-operation between the Inspector-General of Forests and the heads of the State Forestry Departments that there should be.
– I think that there are deeper reasons than that.
– That reason is largely responsible for the fact that so few students are being sent from at least two of the States to which we look to supply the greatest number. As was pointed out by the Leader of the Opposition, the Queensland Forestry Department proposes to send its students to the school. The tension which exists between the head of the department in Canberra and the Forestry Departments of at least two of the States does not obtain in respect of Queensland. Even if it did, the Forestry Department of that State is sufficiently big enough to recognize the value of the Australian Forestry School. The statements that I am making will call for some investigation by the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson). If more tact had been exercised by the Inspector-General of Forestry, Mr. Lane-Poole, in some of his transactions with the heads of the State Forestry Departments, the decline of the numbers of students from at least two of the States, and the suggestion that those States will start Forestry Schools of their own, would not have occurred. These facts should be investigated, because the Australian Forestry School is worthwhile. It has a fine building, and a comprehensive collection, and is admirably situated for forestry work; therefore, there is no reason why it should not be the success that the Government intended it should be at its inception when the office of Inspector-General of Forests was created. I do not speak lightly in this regard. There has not been that cohesion and cooperation between the principal of the Australian Forestry School and the State Departments that there might have been and to my way of thinking, that is largely responsible for the fact that the school i9 not functioning satisfactorily.
– I should like some information as to the instructions issued to officers of the Department of the Interior in regard to the exclusion of undesirable immigrants from Australia. The present system may be a very polite mode of informing an undesirable person that he or she is not required in the Commonwealth.
– The officers of the staff in this division do not deal with immigrants.
– I am not in a position to corroborate or deny the statements made by Senator Foll in connexion with the Forestry School at Canberra; but I am confident that the honorable senator would not make them unless he was in possession of reliable information. I compliment the school on the excellent work that it is doing; but I do not suggest that it could not be improved. However I have no desire to pose as an expert on forestry matters. Quite recently Mr. A. V. Galbraith, Chairman of the Forests Commission of Victoria, paid a visit to Queensland in order to confer with forestry officials of that State on the utilization of hardwoods. He said that during the five depression years more than 25,000 men had been employed in Victorian forests, and the Government was convinced that every penny spent in that way was highly reproductive and helped to develop the State forest asset. The Melbourne Age, of the 8th October last, published the following comment on evidence given by Mr. Galbraith before the Public Works Committee: -
The increased intensity and frequency of flooding in the Latrobe River was due, he said, to the absence of a rational scheme of land utilization. From the summit of the southern boundary of the Latrobe catchment to the lofty slopes of the northern limit the pro tecting forest which maintained nature’s balance had been ruthlessly swept from mountain slopes by axe and fire. The destructive forces of erosion were unleashed, and fertile soils were carried away for ever.
It is obvious that the Forestry Department is most important to the development of the State.
Speaking on forestry matters some time ago, I made a. statement in this chamber which was received with such general surprise by honorable senators that I fear they doubted its accuracy. I subsequently communicated with the Forestry Department of Queensland and I now desire to read the reply which I received, because the latter part of it refers to what the Queensland Department is prepared to do in respect of sending students to the Forestry School at Canberra. The letter states -
Several months ago Mr. Rupert Beale, of Beale and Company, Sydney, advised me that he had purchased a Walnut tree for £1,100 delivered in Millaa Millaa railway yard.
I made that statement in this chamber, but it was received with some doubt. The letter continues -
The tree was cut on private property and was the largest yet recorded. I understand that although it was no great distance away from railhead, its existence was unknown until recently. The butt log was 20 feet centre girth and was quite sound - which is rather unusual in this species. Owing to its size it had to be fl itched or trimmed with a broadaxe before it could pass through the railway tunnels on the way to Cairns.
I mention that fact because it is evidence of the kind of timber that is grown in Queensland. The Director further states -
Regarding the forestry school, I have to advise that this department has always supported the Commonwealth school since its inception, and more students from Queensland have completed the full course than from any other State. At present there are four cadets undergoing the training course preliminary to proceeding to Canberra. Two should be ready to commence at the forestry school in 1938 and two in 1939, but if the continuation of the school depended upon an increased entry in 1937, I would be prepared to send the first two early next year and postpone the usual year of held experience. It would be preferable, of course, for the cadets to undergo this year of field training before proceeding to the school, and I trust it will not bo necessary to sacrifice this year of valuable experience in order to ensure the continuation of the school.
That shows that the Queensland Forestry Department is prepared to co-operate with the Australian Forestry School at Canberra in every possible way.
.- I endorse the remarks of Senator Collings. The Forestry School at Canberra is a valuable establishment, and with the cooperation of the State authorities it could be made much more useful to the Commonwealth than it is at the present time. I hope that the other States will follow the example set by Queensland. It would be a calamity to Australia if this branch had to be closed. We have gone to a good deal of expense in equipping and furnishing the school. Perhaps other States have failed to realize that it would be in their best interest to supply the number of cadets required.’ Some time ago there was a danger of the branch having to be closed, but I am glad to know that that danger has now passed. It seems to me that the Government is satisfied that the branch will have a new lease of life. I notice that £4,280, as against £3,034 last year, is proposed to be expended in the current year on salaries and allowances, whilst for office requisites and equipment, stationery and printing £1,520 is to be voted, although only £383 was expended in this direction last year. I hope the Minister will be able to tell the committee that sufficient students will be forthcoming to warrant the increased expenditure.
– The expenditure to which the honorable gentleman has referred relates to the ForestryBranch generally.
– I notice that under the works and buildings division is a proposed vote of £16,400 for “Repairs, maintenance, fittings and furniture “ for the Department of Health, as against an expenditure last year of £7,092. I should like the Minister to give the reason for the increase. Will he also explain why, in connexion with the Electoral Branch, no vote is proposed for “ Compensation to voters for injuries sustained at polling booths “? The expenditure last year was £575. I have read no press reports that voters were injured last year.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Westtern Australia - Minister for External Affairs) [9.21].- When the Estimates were drawn up, it was anticipated that the Australian Forestry School would have to be closed; but it was decided to increase the scope of the activities of the Forestry Bureau, and extra salaries were provided for,, because of the extension of this portion of its activities. Since that time some indication has been given that it may not be necessary to close the Forestry School, and negotiations are still proceeding in the hope that it may be possible to continue it. Personally, I think that it would be a calamity to Australia if the school were closed. If there be any individual who is standing in the way of its success, the interests of forestry are greater than those of any individual. Of course the Government does not desire to place the blame on the wrong shoulders and does not want anybody to suffer who is not to blame for any friction that has arisen.
The provision under the works and buildings division for the Department of Health includes £5,000 for fittings of the new building to be erected at Broadmeadows, for which funds have been provided in the new works Estimates for the current financial year. That explains the increase of that vote.
– I have an impression that New South Wales is one of the States that was blamed for not sending students to the Australian Forestry School. In a previous debate, the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) said that the school was established on the definite understanding that the various States would send students in sufficient numbers to justify the capital expenditure and cost of maintenance. That statement is not entirely correct, because, at the inauguration of the school, the Queensland Government refused to commit itself in any way to its establishment. Senator Collings, I think, will endorse that statement.
– The man who was then Commissioner of Forests in Queensland left my State, and he is now carrying on “his vendetta in New South Wales.
– That is not correct. The present Commissioner of Forests is not carrying on a vendetta of any kind. On the 4)th August, 1925, the New South Wales Government informed the Prime Minister that it would support the scheme and endeavour to nominate three students annually for the ensuing ten years. The actual nominations have been as follows: -
New South Wales has carried out the undertaking given in 1925, and I believe that it was the last State to send students to the school. There are on the roll to-day only four students, three being from New South Wales, and one from Queensland; but I understand that students will be enrolled from other States in the near future. Speaking on this subject recently, the Leader of the Senate stated that the Australian Forestry School was established for the definite purpose of preventing a further overlapping of Commonwealth and State functions. But forestry is not a Commonwealth function; it is a State matter.
– I was not suggesting that there was overlapping on the part of the Commonwealth. I said that the overlapping was due to each State having a forestry school.
– But the State Forestry Commissions are responsible for the results obtained from afforestation in their own States. The New South Wales Forestry ‘Commission has to get results, and must take whatever action it considers advisable to preserve the forests and ensure a reasonable timber supply for that State. To do that the commission has to Secure a suitable staff and train it in its own way. I submit that it cannot hand over this valuable right to a school which may train the students under a different system. In my own opinion, and I am supported by authorities, the Canberra school has not given, and cannot give, to the New South Wales commission the service it requires in order to secure the desired results. It has been said that the friendly opposition by New South Wales to the Canberra Forestry School arises from the conviction that a State staff-training arrangement will lend itself to an economic mobilization of the State’s education and forestry re sources for the purpose of producing forestry practitioners trained to a higher degree of usefulness in forestry than can an expensive concentration at an academic centre remote from forests, universities, and forest services. When Mr. Kessel, who plays a prominent part in forestry work in Western Australia, visited New South Wales, he was inclined to support that State in its desire to train its own staff in its own way.
– Mr. Kessel has always supported the idea of a central school.
– Yes, but only for the purpose of carrying out certain functions. The New South Wales authorities are hoping to introduce a cadet system such as has already been established in Queensland. It would provide for a six-years’ course. There would be two years of university courses in tha fundamental subjects closely allied to the course for a degree in agricultural science; and two years of special field training under the aegis of the department itself. That is most important, because the cadet must be taught the routine of the department which he is to serve.
The third requirement of the course is two years’ specialization in pure forestry. In this realm the Forestry School at Canberra can serve a definite purpose. The States should be entrusted with the major part of the training, leaving the Canberra school to specialize in pure forestry. The scheme also provides for overseas post-graduate courses for outstanding students. Even if New South Wales were to allow its students to proceed to Canberra, it would be 1940 or 1941 before any of them could be sent there. In the circumstances, it is not reasonable to expect New South Wales to send its students to the national school.
There is no antagonism between the forestry authorities in the States and those at the Commonwealth Forestry School, but there is a difference of opinion as to which method will secure the most practical results. I can understand the attitude of a man who has been appointed as State Conservator of Forests. He is responsible for the work of his department, and, if that work is not done thoroughly, the blame will fall on him.
An elementary right of an administrator is that of choosing and training his own staff. He cannot be held responsible if forced to accept persons trained elsewhere. I hope that there will be cooperation between the Commonwealth and the States in regard to forestry ; but I believe that that co-operation must be limited practically to post-graduate courses, or, at least, to advanced courses in pure forestry.
.- The sum of £148,870 is set down for “ Salaries and allowances as per schedule, page 1S9 “. The schedule includes a sum of £17,500 for “ Payment to Department of Trade and Customs for services of officers under Immigration and Passport Acts “. I rose earlier to ask a question dealing with the methods employed to exclude undesirable immigrants from the Commonwealth. I agree that the Commonwealth should have the right to exclude from its territory persons who are considered undesirable; but it would appear that the present method of applying a dictation test to such persons is unsatisfactory, and should, be superseded by a better method. I should like to know whether a person who has passed a test in, say, the French language, may be forced to undergo a further examination in another language.
– I rise to a point of order. This bill does not deal with the principles upon which the immigration law is administered. That matter is covered by the Immigration Restriction Act. This bill provides for the salaries of officers to carry out the law in regard to the admission of persons to Australia.
– The point of order is upheld. The honorable senator is out of order in dealing with the principles underlying the dictation test when speaking to an appropriation bill which provides for the salaries of the officers who carry out the test.
– The sum of £4S,’200 is provided for the Meteorological Branch of the Department of the Interior. That is an increase of £9,787 over the expenditure for 1935-36. The results are most disappointing, in that ‘ very seldom are rains, floods or storms correctly fore cast. I am amazed that forecasts to-day are not more reliable than they were ten or twenty years ago, when information upon which to base them was obtained by telegram from only a comparatively few centres, whereas now, with broadcasting stations throughout the country, and also in adjacent countries, reliable data, covering a much wider area than formerly, is easily obtainable. It is also possible to obtain very valuable meteorological information from ships travelling to and from Australia. In a primary-producing country like Australia, reliable meteorological information is of immense importance. I do not object to the expenditure of money on the Meteorological Branch - indeed, if reliable forecasts could be assured, I should be agreeable to double the vote - but the forecasts are so unreliable that the expenditure is hardly justified.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for External Affairs) [9.40]. - The increased vote over the expenditure last year is .due mainly to the creation of six new positions, resulting from an extension of meteorological services in connexion with civil aviaton. As honorable senators are aware, meteorological reports are of great assistance to aviators, and, with the expansion of air services, the functions of this department must be extended.
As regards the accuracy of the reports, I sympathize with Senator Guthrie; but I suppose that, after all, meteorologists are only human. In this connexion, I am reminded of an incident which occurred a good many years ago, and in which no present officer of the branch was concerned. One of my daughters contemplated going to a picnic with the daughter of the meteorologist in the State in which we were then living. The day before the picnic- she asked her friend what she thought the weather would be like, and was informed that it would- be all right. My daughter then said, “You ought to know, because your father is the State Meteorologist”. She received the astonishing answer, “ I do not go by what father says, but by mother’s corns “. Apparently even the members of a meteorologist’s family do not always regard the official -forecasts as infallible. Apart, however, from the issuing of weather forecasts, the officers of the branch have other services to perform, included in which is the issue of flood warnings, which are of great value. to the Community.
– Under division 42, the sum of £50,100 is set down for the rent of buildings. Recently, I asked a question relating to the total amount of rent paid by the Commonwealth for the occupancy of buildings. I specifically excluded aerodromes and sites for aerodromes. In reply, I was informed that a total of £83,417 was paid by the Commonwealth Government to landlords for the right to occupy buildings in the several States. I also asked how much of the total rentals represented money paid to State governments, and was informed that the States were paid £10,446. It is clear, therefore, that the Commonwealth pays to private landlords in the States about £70,000 a year as rent. That sum is sufficient to warrant the Commonwealth considering the wisdom of erecting its own buildings in the States.
– That mightmean duplication.
– On the basis of a return of 3£ per cent., the money paid as rent would enable buildings to the value of about £250,000 to be erected, without the Commonwealth being out of pocket. If it is necessary for the Commonwealth to have officers permanently employed in the States, it should house them in its own buildings.
– To the detriment of the States ?
– I cannot see how the States would be detrimentally affected.
.- For the maintenance of establishments for the Governor-General the sum of £14,800 is set down, that being an increase of £3,000 over the vote for last year. Of the amount set down for this year, £1,500 is for caretakers’ and miscellaneous expenditure - an increase of £350 over the £1,150 provided for 1935-36, and a total of £4,900 is provided for the maintenance of house and grounds, or £1,500 more than the vote last year. I understand that during the year a residence. for the Governor-General has been provided in Sydney, and there have been reports that the Government- intends to provide another residence in Melbourne. I hope that the reports are not correct, and that Parliament will not be asked to vote another large sum next year for that purpose. The Estimates also provide for an expenditure of £5,277, being the “ amount payable to the State Government of Victoria for lease of the building in Melbourne previously occupied by His Excellency the GovernorGeneral “. I should like to know for how many years we have to continue the payment of this large amount, which, I take it, is in the nature of compensation for the cancellation of the lease. I am sure Parliament would not agree to the renting of another house in Melbourne for the use of His Excellency the GovernorGeneral.
– Do not be too sure about that; the Government is actually doing, it.
– I should like to have an assurance from the Leader of the Senate that such is not the intention, because I understand that an assurance given in the House of Representatives that Admiralty House, Sydney, would not be converted for the use of the Governor-General without the consent of Parliament was not honoured. I should also like an explanation from the Minister why the provision for the establishments of the Governor-General has had to be increased this year.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for External Affairs) [9.46]. - In reply to the question by Senator Hardy, as to why rentals this year exceed the provision made last year by £3,222, I inform him that it is mainly as a result of the transfer of the Pensions Branch of the Treasury from Victoria Barracks, Melbourne, to rented premises. This transfer was necessitated by the extension of defence activities. The bulk of the rentals is for office accommodation, the occupancy of which is, in most cases, of a temporary character, and in respect of which the Government would not be justified in erecting new buildings. There are many hundreds of such offices scattered throughout the Commonwealth.
As regards the expenditure on the GovernorGeneral’s establishments, for which £5,277 is provided under item 8, this item covers a payment to the State Government of Victoria of an annual amount agreed upon as compensation for the surrender of the unexpired portion of the ten-years’ lease of the building formerly occupied by the Governor-General in Melbourne. That amount must be provided in order to honour the agreement.
– For how many years has it to be paid; what is the balance?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.For the unexpired portion of the contract. The total amount of compensation is £42,S65, and payment at the rate of £5,277 per annum will be made until the agreement expires on the 31st December, 1938. The reason why the other items exceed the expenditure provided last year is that it has been found necessary to make provision for the maintenance and upkeep of Admiralty House, which is being reconditioned for occupancy by the Governor-General.
– At what cost?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.At the cost set down in the Estimates.
– But the reconditioning cost £20,000.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The expenditure included in this schedule is for the maintenance and upkeep of Admiralty House.
– On the provision for. the Electoral Branch, I desire to address myself to reforms in electoral matters, and to elicit information from the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce).
– The honorable senator would be quite in order in discussing any of the items in the division - salaries, allowance and extra duty pay in respect of the staff of the electoral office - but he would not be in order in proceeding with a general discussion of the electoral system.
– It seems to me that this discussion will be absolutely useless if we are not able to refer to matters that have relation to the electoral office. For instance, there is the redistribution of electoral boundaries.
– The honorable senator may not discuss that subject under this bill.
– In view of the facts that I have previously brought before the Senate in regard to the -grouping of names on the Senate ballot-paper, I ask the Leader of the Senate-
– I would be out of order in replying to the honor.able senator
-The Leader of the Senate understands what I wish to bring up; apparently it is useless discussing this bill if we are not permitted to mention such matters.
– Order! The honorable senator may discuss anything which is in the bill; that is quite plain and simple, but he must not go outside of the items set down in the schedule.
– I am not by any means satisfied with the explanation given by the Leader of the Government (Senator Pearce) regarding the cost of the GovernorGeneral’s establishments. I have tried more than once to secure information by the orderly means of asking questions, but the replies which I have received have been so incomplete as to be entirely unsatisfactory. I would use much stronger language, but I am afraid of falling foul of you, Mr. Chairman. I suggest that the Senate is entitled to the whole story.
– The story is that there are two buildings to maintain instead of one.
– Some months ago I asked whether it was intended to provide the Governor-General with establishments in parts of Australia other than the Federal ‘Capital Territory. The answer was that there was no intention to do anything of the kind. I have frequently complained of the fact that when we seek information in this chamber by way of questions we cannot get it, and we have to try to piece it together from press reports which more often than not turn out to be substantially correct. In the issue of the Melbourne Herald of the 7th November, I find the following paragraph : -
Since the transfer of the Federal Parliament to Canberra about nine and a half years ago, £47,378 has been spent on the Governor-
General’s establishment at Canberra. This information was given by the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson) in the House of Representatives to-day.
I am not objecting to that expenditure; I believe that the Governor-General’s residence in Canberra should be commensurate with the high office which he occupies, and that everything possible should be done for his comfort and that of his good lady and his extensive staff; but as Leader of the Opposition and as an Australian citizen I say that that represents absolutely my limit. This establishment was good enough for the finest gentleman who has ever occupied the position of Governor-General in this country, Sir Isaac Isaacs, and his good wife; as it was good enough for them it should be quite good enough for the present occupant of the office. I want to know exactly what it has cost to recondition Admiralty House, but I cannot obtain that information. I know that it cost considerably more than £5,000.
– More like £20,000.
– I have endeavoured to secure the information without avail, and now I have to delay proceedings in an attempt to extract it. It is up to the Minister to let us know what the Governor-General is costing this country. I object to providing a home for him in .’Sydney, or in Melbourne, or, in fact, anywhere else but in this Federal Capital Territory, where his official home ought to be. I know the GovernorGeneral has to travel about the country ; the next thing we shall hear is that the Government is building or acquiring another residence in Queensland.
– Does not the honorable senator think that that would be a good idea?
– No. “We have first class hotels in Queensland, and the Governor-General should stay at them when he is in that State, just as I have to do when I visit other States. I “enter my protest against my inability to secure information and at the extravagance which is being indulged in in connexion with the provision of residences for the Governor-General.
.-Senator Hardy brought up the question of rentals paid for office accommodation for Commonwealth departments, and asked whether it would not be more desirable for the Commonwealth to erect buildings for its own use. Many such offices are leased from State governments and local authorities at very low rentals, and apart from the convenience of. such an arrangement, a considerable saving of money results.
– Government departments are always exploited by the private landlords.
– But not by the State governments. The present arrangement is of mutual advantage, both to the Commonwealth and the States; in many instances, if the Commonwealth did not rent the offices, they would remain vacant.
– That applies particularly to offices rented by the Electoral Department.
– That is so. At the Devonport customs office only one officer is employed; at Burnie the position is the same. These officers are able to occupy suitable premises at a reasonable rental, because of the present arrangement.
It is disappointing to learn that the expectations of the Government, when it established a Commonwealth forestry bureau in Canberra have not been realized. It was understood at the time that the Government was anxious to do something of a national character; but in view of what has transpired it would appear that it was wrongly advised. The Government established a forestry school in Canberra where it was thought that students would be trained and eventually take up forestry work in the States. At the outset I opposed the establishment of a bureau in Canberra because it meant duplicating work which could be more efficiently carried out by the State authorities. I also protested against the officer in charge of operations at the bureau being designated InspectorGeneral of Forests, because I did not think that the work upon which he is engaged justified such a title. The major portion of forestry work must necessarily be carried out by the States, and the only effective way in which the Commonwealth can assist is by providing officers to conduct scientific investigations on behalf of the States.
– That is quite incorrect; we have our territories.
– I realize that, but the department in Canberra has not developed to the extent anticipated. I do not know who is actually responsible for the erection of such a costly establishment, but as the forestry work done in Canberra is not appreciated, the Government will now have to decide how the buildings and equipment can be profitably employed. Perhaps a further attempt should be made to get the State Governments to utilize the facilities available in Canberra. I trust that when the Estimates for the next financial year are under consideration the Minister will be able to submit a more encouraging statement.
– I understand that country postmasters have to record the rainfall and to submit weather forecasts. Are observers other than postmasters equipped with meteorological instruments to enable them to supply reliable information?
[10.6].- There are about 6,000 observation stations throughout Australia, the majority of which are for recording the rainfall. Where additional information is required payment is made to observers.
-. - Are allowances made to persons other than postmasters ?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.Yes; when information is supplied by railway gangers and others who attend to the gauges and instruments at points where they are stationed.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Defence.
Proposed vote, £5,713,290.
– A rather anomalous position has arisen in connexion with the air accidents investigation committee. In the latest report of the Civil Aviation Board it is stated that the findings of the Air Accidents Investigation Committee disclose that pilots’ errors were responsible for 71.6 per cent, of the accidents. It is admitted that the Australian pilots are as efficient as pilots in any other country.
– The honorable senator will not be in order in discussing the findings of the Air Accidents Investigation Committee under this proposed, vote.
– Shall I be in order if I can show that the salaries paid to the members of this committee should be paid to officers in other departments ?
– Can I discuss salaries and allowances of officers in the Defence Department, including those of the members of the Air Accidents Investigation Committee?
– The honorable senator will not be in order in dealing with the findings of the committee.
– I wish, to show that it is inadvisable to allow officers of the Defence Department, who are officers of the Air Accidents Investigation Committee, to determine the cause of accidents for which officers of the Defence Department may have been responsible.
– The honorable senator will not be in order.
.- Under the item of “Miscellaneous Services in Civil Aviation Branch “, I wish to refer to the case of a young Australian who, for some time, was a most successful commercial pilot.
– The honorable senator will not be in order in discussing that subject under this proposed vote. On the first reading of the bill an honorable senator is entitled to speak for one and a half hours on subjects which need not be relevant to the bill, and may be granted an extension of half an hour, but when the measure is in committee he must confine his remarks to some item of expenditure.
– I spoke on tho first reading of the bill, but I did not have sufficient time to discuss the matter which I now wish to raise.
– If the Minister explains the purposes for which the money under miscellaneous services is to he appropriated, the honorable senator will be better able to determine whether the point he wishes to raise is relevant to such expenditure.
[10.13].- The item “Miscellaneous Services “ includes -
– I am gratified that the Minister has given me that information, because it indicates that my presumption was correct. Under “ Miscellaneous Services “ provision is made for the various tests which the pilots must undergo. I have complained that a specialist who was not an officer of the department was brought in to decide whether or not a pilot was qualified. In my opinion, there is no necessity to obtain the services of an expert who is not a departmental official, unless he is completely beyond departmental interferences.
– The honorable senator evidently proposes to discuss a matter of administration. The item before the committee refers to salaries and expenditure.
– Do I understand that I am unable. -to pursue the subject?
– I repeat that the honorable senator desires to discuss a matter of administration. This bill deals with the expenditure of money. The Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) has supplied the honorable senator with details of the item “Miscellaneous Ser- vices “ ; if he desires to discuss a subject that does not relate to the expenditure covered by the bill I must rule him out of order.
– With all respect, and in view of the debates on previous items, I ask whether it is impossible for me to discuss a matter of administration. Administration is absolutely interlocked with finance; I am unable to separate the two matters.
– This is not the time for a general discussion on matters that are not contained in these items. If honorable senators in committee were not compelled to confine themselves to discussion of the items under consideration, the dissertations would be interminable, and business would never be completed.
– The honorable senator could raise this subject on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate.
– There are plenty of opportunities for the honorable senator to express his views on this subject; at the present time, he is out of order in doing so.
– Will the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) explain what is meant by “ Principal Supply Officers’ Committee “ ?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for External Affairs) [10.19]. - This is a very important matter. If an invader were to attack Australia, which God forbid, the fighting would not be confined to armies and navies. The whole of the resources of the country would need to be utilized, and factories which are now producing peace-time requirements would have to be converted in order to produce military, naval or air force supplies. Therefore, it is desirable that, in time of peace, we should take stock of the equipment and capacity of factories, which could be used for this purpose in the event of an invader attacking Australia. The “Principal Supply Officers Committee” has been organized to make that survey. At present it is taking an inventory of motor cars, motor lorries, manufacturing establishments, &c, plans for the organization of “which in time of war will be worked out subsequently by other committees.
.. - A sum of £250 has been set aside for the purpose of encouraging gliding. A few weeks ago the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) informed me that a larger sum would be spent in this connexion this year. Can the right honorable gentleman supply the committee with some information in this regard?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for External Affairs) [10:21] . - I regret that I am not in a position to inform Senator Brown of the amount that was available for gliding last year ; but this year a sum of £250 has been voted for this purpose. Speaking from memory, the total amount set aside last year for gliding was not applied for, because a number of clubs had not registered. In view of the fact that in the interim they have become registered, it is anticipated that the full amount will be expended this year.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed votes - Department of Trade and Customs, £596,520; Department of Health, £125,450; and Department of Commerce, £42S,<210 - agreed to.
Proposed vote, £1,149,430.
.- I notice that a sum of £350 has been allotted for the purpose of assisting the boy scout movement. A sum of £100 was voted for this particular movement last year, and I desire to know why it was not expended. If memory serves me correctly, a keen debate took place in this chamber on the merits of the boy scout movement, and an attempt was made to increase the grant from £100 to £300 or £400. I ask you, Mr. Chairman, whether or not I am in order in discussing assistance for the boy scout movement? May I deal with all the relevant aspects and the reason why the grant should be increased?
– The honorable senator may do so, within reason.
– I desire to contradict the opinion expressed in the Senate last year that the boy scouts did not require, or solicit funds.
– Although they do not solicit funds, they require them.
– In this connexion I wrote to the general secretary of the boy scout movement in New South Wales, who replied as follows: -
It is true that the New South Wales Branch of the Boy Scout Association has abstained from soliciting aid from either the State or the Federal Government so far as is possible, because it was felt that in the state of financial stringency through which Australia has been passing every institution, no matter how wide its sphere, or benevolent its intentions, should endeavour to be self-supporting. My association, however, has experienced considerable embarrassment at times awing to the great demand for the extension of its activities, which could not be given effect to because of the need for additional money. In these circumstances, I am positive that I voice the feeling of the executive council of the movement in this State when I say that we would not only gladly welcome, but warmly appreciate arid profitably utilize, any grant which the Commonwealth Government could make available.
It is not necessary for me to emphasize the value of this movement to Australia or the very great work which it does in training our youth to be really good citizens. The extent of the movement is not generally recognized. The total number of scouts in the Commonwealth is between 60,000 and 70,000.
– I rise to order. Is Senator Hardy in order in discussing the boy scout movement generally? Is this committee to be treated to a dissertation on the boy scout movement? If so, will you, Mr. ‘Chairman, agree to hear evidence in rebuttal?
– I think that Senator Hardy is getting away from the item ; I think that he knows it, too. The item itself refers to assistance for the boy scout movement.
[10.25]. - It has been the practice of the Commonwealth Government for some years past to assist the boy scout movement in the various States by lending to it tents and other equipment for use at annual camps. This provision of £100 is required to cover the cost to the Defence Department of the issue, maintenance, repairs and cleaning of the equipment made available to the boy scouts during the year. It is not fair that the Defence Department should be charged with that money ; for that reason the money is placed on the Miscellaneous vote for the purpose of recouping the department. No claims for assistance were made by boy scouts during the past financial year, but in 1934-35 a jamboree was held at Frankston, Victoria, which absorbed the full grant of £350 for that year. Honorable senators from South Australia will be interested to learn that provision is made in these Estimates to enable similar assistance to be rendered in connexion with the South Australian jamboree to be held shortly as part of the Centenary Celebrations. Senator Hardy will realize, therefore, that the requests made to the Government by the boy scout movement have been met.
– I am gratified with that explanation, and I shall, therefore, not bring forward the 101 reasons why the Commonwealth Government should give to the boy scout movement a substantial monetary grant each year. By thus refraining, I shall incidentally deprive the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) of the opportunity to bring forth evidence in rebuttal of my statements.
.- I notice that a sum of £600 has been allotted forthe relief and repatriation of distressed Australians abroad “ Last year only £200 was voted for this purpose. Does the increase of the amount mean that many more Australians overseas stand in need of relief this year?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for External Affairs) [10.28]. - Many years ago a scheme was instituted under which destitute Australians abroad may, in certain circumstances, obtain advances for the purposes of relief and repatriation. The primary object of the vote is to enable the recipients to return to their homeland; but such relief is extended only in cases of destitution. The conditions under which assistance has been afforded in the past have been as follows: - (a) Belief was granted to applicants who were nativeborn Australians; (b) Only persons “who were destitute were afforded relief, a distinction being drawn between persons whose condition was due to unavoidable misfortune and those whose position was due to their own foolish conduct; (c) Applicants for relief were required to submit the names of relations and friends in Australia who might be in a position to meet the expense of repatriation, and before any expenditure was authorized these persons were approached by the Commonwealth authorities in, Australia with a view to providing the amount required; (d) All the expenditure involved by the Commonwealth, i.e., maintenance, passage money, advances, cost of cablegrams, &c, was authorized subject to the condition that it was to be repaid, and written guarantees were obtained from interested parties with the object of securing reimbursement. These conditions were somewhat rigid, and latterly it has been the policy of the Government to grant relief in cases where women and children of Australian birth are concerned. For this reason greater provision under this item is sought in the appropriation for the present financial year.
– The sum of £4,495 is proposed to be expended under the item, “Representation, Imperial Economic Committee”. Last year’s vote was £4,427, and the expenditure was £4,839 for the period from the 1st April, 1935, to the 30th June, 1936. I was not aware that an Imperial Economic Committee sat last year, and I should like to know to whom the money was paid. I should also he glad to have an explanation regarding the proposed expenditure of £100 in connexion with the item - “ Representation of Commonwealth in London in connexion with the case of James v. Commonwealth and other matters.”
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for External Affairs) [10.32].- When the Empire Marketing Board went out of existence it was decided by the British and other governments concerned to continue certain of its activities, among them being those of the Imperial Economic Committee. The expenditure to which
Senator Grant has referred is required to provide the following: -
Besides being a member of the Imperial Economic Committee, Mr. McDougall assists the High Commissioner as an economic officer, and carries out certain duties in London on behalf of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, in consideration of which the council bears part of the charge for Mr. McDougall’s salary. As in the case of the Commercial Agency, Paris, the expenditure brought to account during 1935-36 was that incurred during the period from the 1st April, 1935 to the 30th June, 1936.
As to the second matter mentioned by Senator Grant, certain credits which have been brought to account since the framing of these Estimates indicate that the final cost of the Attorney-General’s mission in connexion with the appeal to the Privy Council will be approximately £1,600. Legal expenses and fees paid to counsel briefed in the cases have been debited against the appropriate items of the Commerce and Taxation votes.
– That does hot explain how the amount is made up.
– It is the amount due to the AttorneyGeneral’s representation of the Commonwealth in the appeal before the Privy Council.
.- The sum of £1,000 is proposed to be voted under the item “ Historical memorials of representative men “. I suppose this refers to the painted portraits of distinguished Parliamentarians whichfrom time to time are placed in the King’s Hall. The principle laid down in the early days, and which has been adhered to since that time, is that persons holding particular offices should have their portraits painted, and that these should be kept as historical memorials. This is an excellent idea. Those whose portraits have been painted are the various Governors-General, the Prime Ministers, the Presidents of the Senate and the Speakers of the House of Representatives.
– Would it not be cheaper to provide photographs instead of paintings?
– It would be possible for everybody, including members of this Parliament, to live in hovels, but it is desirable to make distinctions in these matters. Members of Parliament do not do their work in the poorest and least pretentious surroundings, and those who have guided the destinies of this country should be remembered in the manner chosen. We have, near the King’s Hall, an admirable painting of Sir Samuel Griffith, first Chief Justice of the High Court, but otherwise the paintings have been confined to the officials whom I have mentioned. I have heard that it is not intended in the future that so many of these paintings should be made. It was suggested some months ago that portraits of Presidents of the Senate would not be painted. If there is any justification for that statement I make a strong protest.
– I suggest to the honorable senator that, instead of discussing the matter generally, he should ask the Minister for an explanation of the position.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for External Affairs) [10.39].- The information at my disposal does not confirm what the honorable senator has heard. The portraits of all Presidents of the Senate and Speakers of the House of Representatives up to 1928 have been painted. Commissions for the painting of the undermentioned portraits have not yet been issued -
His Excellency the Governor-General,
Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch.
The Hon G. H. Mackay.
The late Sir Walter Kingsmill.
Mr. N. J.O. Makin.
Suitable photographs of each of the above gentlemen have been obtained, in order to facilitate the painting of the portraits when they are made.
– Hughes. - I am pleased to hear that. I suggest that, instead of large paintings, small bust paintings would be most effective, would serve the desired purpose, and would make it possible to have a large collection of them.
– I should like an explanation of the item of the proposed vote of £22,604, under the item “Subsidy towards provision of improved passenger service between Melbourne and Launceston “.
[10.41]. - After lengthy negotiations, Tasmanian Steamers Proprietary Limited undertook to provide a new vessel for the Tasmania service to replace the older vessels which did not meet with present-day requirements. On the 13th March, 1935, the Taroona was placed in service, and the older vessels Loongana and Oonah were disposed of. The terms of the agreement entered into between the Postmaster-General and the company were printed as a parliamentary paper, dated the 13th March, 1935. The cost of the Taroona, as delivered in Melbourne, was £313,680 4s. 3d., and under the terms of clause 39 b of the agreement, which provides that “ for every £100 or part thereof by which the total net cost . . of the new mail ship . . . exceeds . ‘ . . the sum of £292,000, the subsidy shall be increased . … by an amount of £12 per annum “, the subsidy was adjusted to the final rate of £22,604 per annum. Clause 38 provides for the payment of a subsidy at the rate of £50,000 per annum, subject to variation as described above, but of this amount £30,000 represents the service rendered to the Postmaster-General’s Department in respect of carriage of mails, whilst the excess amount is the subsidy paid by the Commonwealth to secure better and speedier service between Melbourne and Tasmania. The account ant who examined and reported on the cost of the Taroona was Mr. A. A. Fitzgerald, of Fitzgerald and Fitzgerald, chartered accountants, of Melbourne.
. - For “ Investigations in connexion with the development of Northern Australia “, a vote of £1,000 is proposed. A similar sum was voted last year, but no expenditure was incurred. What is the explanation?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for External Affairs) [10.43]. - Pursuant to the policy of the Government in respect of the development’ of Northern Australia by means of chartered companies, a proposal made by lessees in the Barkly Tableland-McArthur River area was investigated during the financial year 1934-35. Briefly, the proposal was to amalgamate existing land leases in the Barkly Tableland area under the control of a co-operative company, which, with the development of a port at Vanderlin Island, having suitable communication with grazing areas of the tableland, would be able to engage in the chillea beef trade. The investigation revealed” that the proposal did not possess the economic attractions claimed for it, and for this reason the Commonwealth Government declined to lend the financial support required by the proposed cooperative company. The sub-committee of Cabinet dealing with this matter gave consideration during last year to several minor projects connected with the Northern Territory, the investigation of which did not involve expenditure. The provision for 1936-37 is intended to cover the cost of the investigation of other similar proposals which may he made during the course of the year.
– I notice that £6.500 is to be voted towards the cost of the Royal Commission on the Banking and Monetary System of the Commonwealth. How long will this commission he allowed to continue its investigations?
– The Government does not propose to interfere with the work of. the commission. It is not a function of the Government to say when the inquiry shall come to an end.
.- The sum of £3,350 is set down under division 104, item 9, for “Remission of income tax, sales tax and estate duties under special circumstances”. I should like to know what special circumstances justify remissions of sales tax. I have in mind an unsuccessful application for the remission of sales tax on the machinery used by a gentleman who established a fish canning industry in the north-west of Western Australia at Shark Bay. I should like to know who is more deserving of a remission of sales tax than a man who establishes fish canning works in our unpopulated north. His application to the Treasurer which was refused, read as follows : -
Shark Bay, Western Australia. 30th October, 1936.
I have lately decided to start in the fish canning industry at Herald Bight, Shark Bay, Western Australia, and have erected works there comprising of canning machinery and freezing works with the necessary engines, &c.
I am also engaged in the pearling industry at Shark Bay, which is not payable to-day. My purchases for thepearling industry are free of sales tax.
I have lately purchased the machinery and requisites for the fish cannery as per list of accounts attached, on which sales taxes amounting to approximately £40 arc being imposed. There will also be further small requirements for the equipment of the canning factory.
As this is an industry which the Federal Government desires to encourage and is a hazardous enterprise, I respectfully apply for exemption from sales tax in connexion with the establishment of these works. Alternately I apply for a refund of the amount payable.
I believe that Mr. Wise, the Minister for Agriculture (Western Australia) has also taken up this matter with you.
– I rise to a point of order. I submit that under this item the honorable senator is not entitled to discuss a particular application for remission of sales tax.
– The point of order is upheld. The honorable senator may ask the Minister to explain the special circumstances in which remission may be made.
[10.51]. - If I state the conditions under which remissions are made the honorable senator may see fit to take the matter up with the Treasurer. Tax. paid to the department may be repaid to the taxpayer either when it has been incorrectly collected under the law, or when, although correctly collected, the Government decides to repay it to the taxpayer because of special circumstances. In the first instance, the repayment is made from refunds of revenue, and, in the second instance, it is made under the item referred to by the honorable senator. In the circumstances covered by that item, the tax is legally payable, but the Government decides that the special circumstances are such that it need not be paid. Those are the principles upon which remissions are made.
– We are asked to vote £3,350 for the remission of taxes, including sales tax. I have mentioned an instance in which a legitimate and deserving claim for remission of sales tax was not acceded to. I should like to know to whom refunds are made.
– They are made to those who can establish their claim under the principles that I have mentioned.
– Would not the establishment of a new industry justify a refund?
– I could not say. The honorable senator should make representations to the Treasurer.
– Last year the sum of £6,358 was expended under this item.
– That was expended under last year’s appropriation, and may not now be discussed.
– The honorable senator will find the information that he seeks in the report of the Commissioner of Taxation.
– Can the Minister explain why the vote this year is so much below the amount voted last year?
[10.56]. - There are two reasons for the reduction. In the first place, the income tax law has been simplified, and it is believed that there will be fewer claims for refunds. Secondly, there have been many exemptions under the sales tax law, and many of the contentious matters which arose previously are not likely to arise in the future. Consequently a smaller sum is considered sufficient this year.
SenatorARKINS (New South Wales) [10.57].- I should he glad if the Minister would explain item 1 of division 102 “ Contribution to Imperial Agricultural Bureaux, £10,477”.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for External affairs) [10.58]. - This item covers payments which are made to or through the Executive Council of the Imperial Agricultural Bureaux in respect of research conducted into agricultural and allied matters. The component parts of this
By this arrangement a tremendous amount of research work can be undertaken on a co-operative basis at reasonable cost.
– Provision was made in the Appropriation Bill last year for remissions of taxes amounting to £10,000 ; this year the vote for that purpose has been reduced to £3,350. I protest against the reduction because it seems to me that had we voted this year the same amount as last year the Government would be able to adopt a much more generous policy in regard to remissions of sales tax generally; it could deal more generously with applications for remissions by industries that should be encouraged, including fish-canning and other branches of the fisheries industry, established in those parts of our coasts where fish are most prolific, such as Shark Bay, Western Australia, our northern sea ports, and the Great Barrier Reef. How can we expect the Government to be liberal in granting remissions of sales tax if the vote is cut down by two-thirds ? In letters addressed to me the Treasurer has expressed sympathy with applications for remissions of the tax, particularly in regard to an application received from Shark Bay, but he has refused relief. When the Government is sympathetic towards the establishment of new industries in remote parts of the Commonwealth we should vote it sufficient money with which to give practical expression to that sympathy.
– The provision for theFairbridge Farm School has been reduced from £3,198 last year to £2,730 this year. I should like to know why that reduction has been made, and also what is the present position in regard to contributions by the governmental contracting parties to the scheme - the British, Commonwealth, and Western Australian Governments ? Originally the basis of contribution was 5s. a head each up to a limit of 300 children. Has any alteration been made of that basis?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for External Affairs) [11.6]. - There has been no reduction of expenditure. Last year the
Commonwealth’s contribution was abnormal, as it included arrears in respect of the preceding year. No alteration has been made of the basis upon which contributions are made.
.- Under division 111 the amount of £25,000 is provided for “ overseas trade publicity “. I desire to know what oversight is exercised in connexion with such publicity. I believe in publicity, but there should be some intelligent oversight of the published matter. Recently a friend of mine had a trip on that British wonder ship, the Queen Mary, on which is printed a newspaper called the Ocean Times. In the issue of that publication of the 15th August last this item of Australian news appeared under the heading “Bats” -
A Pied Piper is being sought by the Sydney municipal authorities to deal with the vast horde of rats which is menacing the city. According to Dr. Purdy, the City Health Officer, these rats equal in number Sydney’s 1,300,000 human population. Each year the rats in the metropolitan area of Sydney destroy food and goods worth £1,335,000, he reported to the City Council Health Committee. It was impossible to destroy them, he said, because of their remarkable fecundity.
All methods of poisoning, trapping, and vat-proofing had been unsuccessful. The committee, however, decided to recommend the reintroduction of rat extermination, block by block, in the hope of minimizing the d:i mage. - Reuter.
– We do not pay for that kind of publicity.
– Some supervision should be exercised over overseas publicity. The crowded tourists from every country in the world on that wonder ship would gain, from that paragraph, a wonderful impression of the capital city of the great State of New South Wales.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Westtern Australia - Minister for External Affairs) [11.9]. - I was rubbing my eyes when the honorable senator was speaking; I was inclined also to close my ears. The honorable gentleman is asking us to exercise a censorship of the press ! I can quite imagine the screams of rage that would follow any attempt to interfere with the freedom of the press. That paragraph is not Commonwealth publicity ; it was sent out by our friends of the press. That is their idea of what constitutes important news for the rest of the world to read.
– Dr. Purdy was dead, before the Queen Mary was launched.
– In 1926 the Commonwealth Government, in conjunction with the Statutory Boards controlling the exports of dried fruits, canned fruits, and dairy produce, established in London an organization for the purpose of advertising those products throughout the United Kingdom. Subsequently voluntary organizations, interested in the export of eggs and fresh fruits, identified themselves with the scheme. The control of the organization is vested in the publicity committee, of which Mr. A. F. Bell is chairman, and the publicity activities in the United Kingdom are carried out under the direction of Mr. A. E. Hyland, Director of Australian Trade Publicity.
– Provision of £15,000 is made in division 111 for the Australian National Travel Association. How is this body constituted; what are the names of its personnel; what amount is paid by way of salary to the secretary; what are the conditions under which the organization was formed ; and to what extent is it working in co-operation with the State government tourist bureaux?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - .Minister for External Affairs) [11.12].- The Australian National Travel Association was formed in 1929 at the request of a number of Australian business men to undertake national advertising, the object being to attract a greater number of tourists to our shores, and, by cultivating good will and a better understanding of Australia’s potentialities and dissipating ignorance of things Australian, to inspire confidence of investors, and thus enlarge the field for investment and industrial expansion. The association is governed by an honorary board composed of Mr. H. W. Clapp, chairman, representing the Australian railways; Mr. D. L. Dodwell, shipping interests; Mr. O. Lloyd Jones, Australian business interests; Mr. J. F. Murphy, Commonwealth Government representative; and Mr. O. W. Wilson, hotel interests. It derives its funds from contributions bv business interests, overseas shipping lines, Australian railways and the Commonwealth Government, and from the sales of publications, photographs, etc. Its activities are directed towards gaining favorable publicity for Australia by syndicating photographs, articles and news items to the press; by maintaining contact with travel selling agents and educating them in the attractions of Australia; by collaborating with shipping lines; and by broadcasting and lecturing. The association has representatives in Great Britain and the United States of America, and the Australian Trade Commissioners in Canada, New Zealand, Netherlands India, China and Japan, and the trade representative in France, act as representatives in those countries. In 1929-30 the Commonwealth grant was £1,000, and the contributions from other sources, £16,585. In 1933-34 the Commonwealth grant was increased to £5,000, but the contributions from other sources dropped . to £13,465. ‘ In 1935-36 the Commonwealth grant was increased to £10,000 and the contributions from other sources rose to £14,404’, making a total of £24,404.
– Does the association work in co-operation with the States?
– Yes, with the State Tourist Bureaux.
.- I notice that although £20,000 was voted last year for assistance to the citrus fruit industry only £15,808 was expended. Has the vote this year been reduced to £250, because assistance is given under other legislation ?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for External Affairs) [11.17] .-The bulk of the assistance in this direction is under special appropriation. Provision is made to meet the balance of claims unpaid at the 30th June, 1936, of the orange bounty of 6d. a case payable under the Orange Bounty Act 1936. (Section 7 of that act provides that applications for the bounty must be lodged by the 30th June, 1936, and although most of the claims were received and dealt with prior to that date a comparatively small number of claims were unpaid at the close of the year’s transactions. The bounty of 6d. a case related to oranges exported from the Commonwealth during 1934 to destinations other than New Zealand.
.- The sum of £18,100 is provided this year for medical research, while last year only £4,1S4 of the £10,100 appropriated was expended. Will the Minister explain why the full amount was not used? Will he also state how the £32,000 to be appropriated for infant and maternal welfare is to be utilized?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for External Affairs) [11.19]. - This amount covers grants to the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne for the carrying out of research work in virus diseases, as a new field of bacteriology which has recently been developed by progress in research. Diseases have hitherto been classified as parasitic or bacteriological; but quite recently it has been shown that as well as bacteria certain ultra-microscopic viruses are an important cause of virus diseases. All this is new work, and in order that the serum laboratories might be able to keep abreast of the work by the preparation of the necessary vaccines and sera, a joint arrangement has been made by which the serum laboratories and the Walter and Eliza Hal] Institute work in co-operation on different phases of this problem. Funds for this purpose amount to £3,100. The sum of £3,000 i= allocated for the extension of research in tropical diseases, especially in northern Australia and New Guinea. Provisions of £2,000 for research work in connexion with maternal mortality, £5,000 to cover the expenses of the nutrition inquiry, and £5,000 for the work of the proposed national health and medical research council, have been made. The amount of £32j000 provided for maternal and infant welfare is for subsidies for extended work for the benefit of crippled children and for the campaign against maternal mortality.
– The sum of £5,000 is being appropriated for administrative expenses in connexion with the fertilizer subsidy. Last year the appropriation was £2,000, and the expenditure £3,392. The subsidy having been reduced this year by onethird, why have the administrative expenses been practically doubled?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for External Affairs) [11.22]. - This is to meet expenditure incurred in connexion with the administration of Part V. of the Financial Relief Act 1934-1936, the Primary Producers’ Relief Act 1935-1936 and Part VI. of the Financial Relief Act (No. 2) 1936, relating to the payment of subsidy on fertilizers used in the production of primary products other than wheat. The expenditure covers salaries of a temporary staff engaged in the checking of claims, office expenditure, stationery, printing of forms, postage, and telegrams. The amount of bounty does not determine the number of claims.
– Why has the amount been increased?
– Because it covers the relief given under other acts.
– A sum of £2,000 is provided for meeting the cost of advertising Australian products in the East and in special markets. In what way is this money expended?
– In very much the same way as I have already explained in connexion with another item, except that in this case special attention is given to the sale of our products in Eastern countries.
– Is the advertising done through the publicity branch ?
– Yes; through the Commerce Department.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed votes - Refunds of Revenue, £1,350,000; Advance to the Treasurer, £2,000,000; War Services payable out of Revenue, £1,171,940 ; and Commonwealth Railways, £549,900 - agreed to.
Proposed vote: - Postmaster-General’s Department, £10,321,315 - postponed.
Proposed vote, £244,730.
– ‘Will the Minister explain in what way the £2,400 which is being appropriated for the destruction of dingoes, is to be expended?
[11.27].- During 1933 approval was granted to waive the imposition of rates on pastoralists, and this vote now bears the whole of the expenditure in connexion with the destruction of dingoes. Payment is made at the rate of 7s. 6d. a scalp. The annual expenditure during the last financial year was £1,864, and as it is difficult to forecast the expenditure under this item, provision has been made on the same basis as the vote for last year, namely, £2,400.
.- The sum of £4,100 is being appropriated to meet the operating expenses of the patrol vessel. What action is being taken by the Government to patrol the pearling grounds, some of which are outside the three-mile limit, where a good deal of poaching by foreigners has occurred? Pearlers in the vicinity of Darwin and Broome are keenly interested in this matter, and it is considered that additional patrol boats should be provided.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for External Affairs) [11.29].- The Commonwealth patrol vessel operating in northern waters is used for, among other things, the purpose mentioned by the honorable senator. It is not proposed, during this financial year, to provide a. patrol boat for Broome. Certain duties devolve upon the governments of Western Australia and Queensland, as territorial waters are under the control of the State authorities. In such waters, the Commonwealth has no police powers; it is doubtful what powers it possesses outside territorial waters; it is arguable whether it has any. Most of the fishing grounds are within the three-mile limit, and the States have rigidly insisted that they should exercise authority in such waters. There is a good deal of misapprehension concerning the powers of the Commonwealth in this respect.
– Do those remarks apply to whaling?
– Yes; for that reason the Commonwealth has asked the States to pass legislation supplementing federal legislation in regard to protection of the whaling in- dustry. Western Australia has undertaken to enact such legislation; Queens- landhasalreadydoneso.
.- Will the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) explain what is meant by the item “Definition of the 129th Meridian, £1,300”. I notice that last year the expenditure was £1,470.
[11.32]. - This provision is for the purpose of the carrying out a survey to determine the boundaries between the Northern Territory and Western Australia. The work, when completed, will be of great help to pastoralists whose leases adjoin the boundaries. It is hoped that it will not be necessary to make further provision in this connexion.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed votes - Federal Capital Territory, £294,470; Papua, £64,308; and Norfolk Island, £4,000- agreed to.
Proposed vote, £10,321,315.
– I desire some information in connexion with the item “ Payment to Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited for Hire and Operation of Broadcasting station, £6,660”. This item refers to New South Wales. This sum of £6.660 appears to be an annually-recurring vote. I! should like the Leader of the Senate to explain its purport.
[11.36]. - These stations were erected : by Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited for broadcasting companies operating before the Australian Broadcasting Commission assumed control of them. In taking over the stations the Australian Broadcasting Commission also assumed responsibility for the agreement to pay rental for them. The item represents those payments.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Second Schedule agreed to.
Postponed clauses 2 and 3 agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without requests; report adopted.
Senate adjourned at 11.40 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 26 November 1936, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1936/19361126_senate_14_152/>.