14th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch) took the chair at 3 p.m. and read prayers.
– by leave - I consider it my duty to bring before the Senate the treatment meted out to this chamber by certain newspapers of this country. Honorable senators will remember that last week I, in a personal explanation, reported to the Senate the misreport in the Canberra Times of a speech which I had delivered during the discussion on the Inter-State Commission Bill. As the correction I then made in the Senate has not appeared in that newspaper those who depend upon it for their news no doubt still believe that theversion it published was a fair record of the proceedings of this chamber on that occasion. That is but one instance. I have in my hand a cutting from the Melbourne Argus of Saturday last, which purports to give a report of the proceedings of the Senate when in committee on the Inter-State Commission Bill. It reads as follows : -
Several amendments to the Inter-State Commission Bill were moved by SenaterE. B. Johnston (Western Australia) in committee to-day, but in spite of strong support from Western Australian senators, they were defeated. The first statement was to provide for the inclusion in the matters into which the commission shall inquire, the effect of any tariff act or other law or regulation of the Commonwealth on primary industries, revenue, manufactures, or trade and commerce in any State or States. The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir George Pearce) said that as the Tariff Board carried out part of these duties., there would be two bodies doing exactly similar work.
The report then went on to state that I pointed out that the matters could he dealt with by the Tariff Board. Honorable senators who were present during the discussion on that measure know that the Argus report is an entire misrepresentation of what took place with regard to the amendments moved by Senator J ohnston.
– They know that not only did Senator Johnston advocate that these matters should be dealt with by the Inter-State Commission, but that all other senators from Western Australia advocated the same; and that I pointed out that the matters mentioned could be dealt with by the commission under the bill as it had been framed. I quoted legal opinion to that effect. Senator Marwick said that he also had consulted legal authority, and had been informed that the subjects referred to by Senator Johnston could be dealt with by the Interstate Commission under the bill. Other honorable senators from Western Australia therefore accepted my assurance as being a correct statement of the effect of the bill. Senator Johnston nevertheless pressed his amendment and called for a division, but the Chairman of Committees announced that there was only one “ aye “, meaning that Senator Johnston was the only one calling for a division in favour of the amendment. Nevertheless, the Argus stated that the amendment was strongly supported by other senators from Western Australia. I admit that these are only two comparatively minor incidents in a series of absolute misrepresentations of the business of the Senate.
Honorable Senators.-Hear, hear!
– I suppose we have no right to complain if we are ignored by the newspapers, but we certainly have a right to complain if the proceedings of the Senate in the transaction of public business are misrepresented. I consider also that the press has an important duty to furnish to the people of this country a correct report of the proceedings of the Parliament, as well as of the views expressed by individual members of it. You, Mr. President, some time ago, and Senator Abbott last week, drew attention to the fact that it was not so very long ago that the press of the Mother Country had to fight for the right to report parliamentary: proceedings. I have come to the conclusion that the time is rapidly approaching when the Parliament will have to fight for the right to let the people know what is being done on their behalf in the national legislature.
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear!
– As things are, important bills which are passed sometimes get little or no attention from the press, but if some member of this or the other chamber, in a moment of heat, uses abusive or extravagant language, he can be sure of double headlines and a full report on the cable pages of the newspapers next day. This lack of all sense of proportion in the reporting of the proceedings of the Parliament has become a menace to parliamentary institutions. I say this, not because of the comparatively insignificant incident to which I have referred, but because of the general tendency of the press in recent years either to ignore altogether the proceedings of Parliament or so to report them that no elector can possibly be aware of what is being done. The extraordinary amount of space devoted to the reporting of sporting news disposes entirely of the excuse- that there is lack of space for the reporting of parliamentary ‘proceedings, and to suggest that the doings of the national legislature have no news value is to imply that the people of this country take no, interest .whatever in the government of it. I refuse to believe that, and I repeat that; in my view, the time is rapidly, approaching when, if the press does not’ do its duty to our parliamentary institutions, the Parliament will have to do its* duty to the people by taking steps to ensure that they may know accurately the business that is .transacted in this building., .
The ‘ ‘PRESIDENT. - I should like to add a few words to the observations of the Leader of the’ Senate (Senator Pearce) upon this very important matter. In the first plaGe I refuse to believe that there is a single person in the public life of this country who does not wish to be judged by his words and his acts if they are fairly, presented to the people. It is, however, quite wrong to ask the people to judge a man by statements which were never made or actions of which he has never been guilty, and I agree with the Leader of the Senate that the time has arrived to call public- attention to those news agencies which are responsible for such unfair presentation of the doings of this Parliament. The Leader of the Senate has rightly said that the newspapers of this country are the inheritors of a freedom which was won only after strenuous endeavours in the Mother Country for the right to report the proceedings of Parliament. We are entitled to* expect that that right will be respected; the newspapers should not give to the people an unfair or distorted version of proceedings which it is their bounden duty to record faithfully. I have fought on the floor of this chamber for many years to secure for the Senate a fair share of publicity, comparable, at least, with the publicity given to other news which might be adjudged of interest to the people of this country. I know that I have paid for my temerity, for although I have spoken on many subjects, for many years my name did not appear in the newspapers and its readers had no means of knowing what I had to say. However, I was quite prepared to suffer, because I knew that I had done my duty in calling attention to the remissness of the newspapers in their wilful treatment of the proceedings of this chamber. 1 have in mind another example of the paltry methods adopted at times by a section of the press, including some of the socalled respectable newspapers, in their desire to present this Parliament and its members in an unfair light. I refer to the occasion last year when Dr. Earle Page, who was then Acting Prime Minister, convened the meeting of the Cabinet in Western Australia. Immediately there appeared in the Western Australian newspapers a report from Canberra to the effect that Canberra opinion was to the effect that the policy of the Government with reference to a certain matter did not meet with approval in Canberra. .Dr. Earle Page challenged this statement, and told the people in Western Australia that at the moment the only people in Canberra were public servants who, as a rule,, were rather loath to express an opinion upon any matter of government policy; therefore the right honorable gentleman suggested that the so-called expression of opinion from Canberra must have been inspired by somebody who disapproved of the Government’s attitude and wished to convey the impression that there was substantial public opinion in the Federal Capital Territory against it. That incident may be regarded as a good illustration of how public opinion sometimes is manufactured, for the express purpose of placing the Government of the day in bad relation to the electors. In that case there was a deliberate attempt to manufacture news without any substantial material whatever.
Honorable Senators . - Hear, hear!
– I have another example of the attitude of the newspapers toward public men. An incident that occurred in this Parliament a year or two ago has a bearing upon the insistence of newspapers that they have a cultural influence on the community. Honorable senators will perhaps remember that on one occasion I was asked a question about the wearing of “ slacks “ by a young woman visitor, who with others was escorted on a tour of inspection of Parliament House. I said from this Chair what I thought as to the propriety of such apparel in this building. Honorable senators will no doubt be surprised to know that as I left the chamber and was on my way to my apartments I was confronted by a barricade of pressmen, including representatives of the so-called respectable newspapers, whose one desire was to know if I had anything further to say on the subject of “ slacks “ worn by young women. My reply was that I had said what I thought about the matter from the Chair, and had nothing to add. I have been a member of this Parliament for over 30 years and I have never before or since been met with such an array of pressmen on any subject of real importance to the Commonwealth. I can give honorable senators another instance. Some little time ago in my lonely homestead in Western Australia I read in the daily newspaper what a certain titled gentleman from another country had said about the Federal Parliament, after an all too brief visit to Can berra. This visitor spoke of the lavish appointments of Parliament House,- and went on to say that he was informed that a good deal of card-playing- was indulged in by members. I took it upon myself immediately to correct that impression. As I had been for so long a member of this Parliament I .considered that I was in a much better position to express an opinion on the subject, than was a casual globe-trotting visitor from overseas, whose opinions, nevertheless, had been published under . prominent headings in the newspapers. I told the people that so far from the accommodation being lavish, even in the House of Parliament here some Ministers were obliged to work with their secretaries in a small room, and an interview between a member and a constituent had to be conducted whilst walking about the corridors, because no strangers’ room has been provided in this building for such purposes. As for the allegation of card-playing, I stated that I had never seen cards being played in Parliament House - not that I object to card-playing;.,. ..on the contrary, I feel that public men have as much right to some . form of relaxation as has any other citizen. The report appeared in the press of Western Australia, but not a single word of it was printed in the respectable press i0 the eastern States.
Newspapers in Western Australia also published a report charging members of this Parliament with, snobbishness, and associating my name with it. I wrote a letter to the press pointing out that there was not even a suspicion of truth in the report, but my letter was not .given the prominence that was- given to the charge. Again, no reference to the subject appeared in the press of the eastern States. I leave the matter there, with this remark: that if the public press wishes to educate the people of this country to show respect for parliamentary institutions, instead of merely exciting its readers, it is going the wrong way about its task. Should it continue to disparage parliaments and public men as it is doing and has done, the people will get the parliaments and the public men that they deserve. The result will probably not satisfy the newspapers; but it will be the direct fruit of their systematic attacks on parliaments and parliamentarians. Unlike men in public life, whose actions come up for review by the electors every few years, those in charge of the press of the country may sit in cosy chairs in their comfortable homes and offices free from the public gaze and criticism, but I warn them that if they do not discharge their duty to the people, as public men are required to do, and live up to their claim that they are seeking to educate and edify the people in showing respect for public institutions, including Parliament, they will get the low-grade parliaments which their conduct richly deserves.
– by leave - No one could have supported the principle contained in my amendment to theInter-State Commission Bill more heartily than did some senators from Western Australia last week. In this connexion, I refer particularly to your own speech, Mr. President, which showed that you stood wholeheartedly behind those amendments. The matter which has been referred to this afternoon is, after all, only like a storm in a tea cup. So far as I can see, nothing has been done to warrant the threats which have been made against the press this afternoon.
The following papers were presented : -
New Guinea - Report to the Council of the League of Nations on the Administration of the Territory of New Guinea from 1st July, 1935, to 30th June, 1936.
Northern Territory - Report on the Administration of the Northern Territory for the year ended 30th June, 1936.
Arbitration (Public Service) Act Determinations by the Arbitrator, &c. -
No. 10 of 1937 - Amalgamated Engineering Union; Australasian Society of Engineers ; Australian Workers’ Union; Australian Federated Union of Locomotive Enginemen; Electrical Trades Union of Australia; and Federated Society of Boilermakers, Iron Shipbuilders, and Structural Iron and Steel Workers of Australia.
No. 11 of 1937 - Commonwealth Legal Professional Officers’ Association.
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointments - Department of -
Attorney-General - R. C. Shelston.
Commerce - R. J. Brown, A. E. R. Kennedy, M. E. McShane and H. M. Morrison.
Interior - B. T. B. Stone.
Defence Act -
Royal Military College - Report for year 1936.
Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1937, No. 71.
Postmaster-General’s Department - Twentysixth Annual Report, 1935-36.
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1937, No. 74.
Commonwealth Railways Act - By-laws - No. 74- No. 75- No. 76.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired at Bullsbrook, Western Australia - For Defence purposes.
Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Territory (Administration) Act-
Darwin Administration Ordinance -
Electric Light and Power Ordinance -
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Scat of Government (Administration) Act-
Ordinances of 1937 -
No. 6 - Gun Licence.
No. 8 - Canberra Community Hospital Board.
Building and Services Ordinance - Regulations amended.
Northern Australia Survey Act - Report of the Committee appointed to direct and control the Aerial, Geological and Geophysical Survey of Northern Australia, covering the half-year ended 31st December, 1936.
– I lay on the table reports and recommendations of the Tariff Board on the following subjects : -
Aluminiumware andEnamelledware n.e.i, but not including Stoves and Baths.
Black Printing Ink and Printing and Stencilling Inks n.e.i.
Blown Glass Blanks for use in the manufacture of Cut Glassware.
Cables, Telegraph and Telephone, PaperInsulated, lead-covered.
CastIron Pipes and Cast Iron Fittings for Pipes.
Cocoa Beans, Cocoa Butter and substitutes therefor, Caramel, Cocoa, Chocolate and Confectionery.
Edible Fats n.e.i. and Lard; also findings on Cocoa Butter and substitutes therefor.
Electrical Insulating Sheets of Asbestos and Cement or similar materials.
Gas Meters of the consumers’ type and parts thereof.
Magnesia, Magnesium Carbonate, Magnesium Chloride and other like preparations having magnesium compounds as a basis, in packages over 14 lb.
Metal Washers n.e.i.
Piece Goods,Felt, of wool or containing wool - (a) Slipper Upper Felt;
Porcelainware for electrical purposes - necessity for any alteration of the existing rates of duty.
Roof Coverings in the piece, Floor Coverings, and similar materials, surfaced or unsurfaced, consisting of Felt, Textile, or Paper Base, impregnated or laminated with Bitumastic, Asphaltic,. Tar or Pitch Emulsions or similar preparations; Damp-course and similar materials in sheets or rolls.
Salt and table preparations thereof, in packages of any description, not exceeding 14 lb. net weight. Salt, n.e.i.
Screws for Wood not elsewhere specified - Tariff Item 185 (b).
Show Card Colours in liquid form - Tariff Item 231 (h).
Spray Pumps, hand operated, n.e.i… including Atomizers and Vaporizers of the type used for spraying insecticides; Spray Pumps, foot operated; Garden Syringes; Lawn Sprinklers.
Tapestries of Wool or containing Wool.
Tiles, viz.: - Flooring and Wall, including Glazed, Ceramic, Mosaic, and Enamelled.
Transformers at voltages less than 66,000 between 10,000 k.v.a. and 20,000 k.v.a.
Weighing Machines, including Computing Weighing Machines; Weighbridges; Scales and Balances, n.e.i., including Computing Scales and Balances ; Tanners’ Measuring Machines; Chemists’ Counter Scales; Spring Balances and Steel-yards: Weights n.e.i.; Combined Bagging, Weighing and Sewing Machines.
Wrought Iron and Malleable Cast Iron Fittings for Pipes, and Cast Iron Fittings for Pipes of less than 2 inches internal diameter.
- by leave - In my remarks last week with reference to the press I endeavoured to point out that freedom of the press was a privilege which had been won only after great struggles on the part of our ancestors in connexion with the British parliamentary system. It is one of the underlying principles of democracy, the foundations of which were laid by those who preceded us in the Mother of Parliaments. I endeavoured to show that these privileges are among the most valuable things connected with our British political system. Part and parcel of our parliamentary system is the right to publish fair reports of the proceedings of Parliament. That right was not gained without sacrifice and struggle. I wanted to impress on the Senate and on the press and the people of this country that that right is identical with the right of members to free speech, and that it was something which in these days of dictatorships we should cherish and preserve at all costs. Parliament has a right to expect the fullest co-operation of the press in asserting its right of free speech. The principle is far too valuable to be cast aside lightly.
– Can you, sir, furnish the Senate with particulars of the number of members of this Parliament who were invited to attend the coronation ceremony of Their Majesties this year as the guests of the Empire Parliamentary
Association, and can you say who bore the expense of the delegation?
– The names of the members of the delegation will be supplied to the honorable senator. The United Kingdom branch of the Empire Parliamentary Association bore the expenses of the delegation.
– Is the Leader of the Senate aware that the inevitable has happened, and that a gentleman by the name of Aarons has nominated for preselection by the United Australia party as a candidate for the Senate election in New South Wales? In view of his nomination, can the right honorable gentleman say what the Government intends to do with regard to the proposed alteration of the Senate ballot paper ?
– I have not heard that a gentleman by the name of Aarons has nominated for election to the Senate, but I accept the honorable senator’s assurance that he has. In reply to the second portion of his question, I have to say that it is not usual to make statements of policy in reply to questions.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The Acting Minister for Defence has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: -
Attendances at Camps.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
What was the percentage of attendance at the six-days’ camps of continuous training during the past military year, to establishment of (a) infantry (Militia); (b) artillery (Militia) ?
– The Acting Minister for Defence has supplied the following answer to the honorable senator’s question: -
Percentage of attendance to present establishment at six-days’ camps of continuous training for 1936-37: -
Infantry (Militia) - 71.1 per cent.
Artillery (Militia) - 73.7 per cent.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.On the 25th June, Senator Collings asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister the following questions, upon notice: -
On what date was the most recent reclassification of officers in charge of Commonwealth departments in the various States declared?
On what date did the resultant increases in salaries take effect?
What was the increase in each of the salary grades in the different departments in each of the States?
The Acting Prime Minister has now furnished the following replies -
The 29th April, 1937.
The 6th May, 1937.
The increases in the salary grades were as follows : -
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.On the 25th June, Senator E. B. Johnston asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister the following questions, upon notice: -
Was evidence received in Australia by Sir Walter Kinnear and Mr. G. H. Ince, the visiting experts on national insurance?
Why was Mr. C. H. Iffla, the president of the Australian Pensioners League, refused permission to give evidence before these gentlemen?
The Acting Prime Minister hag supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: -
Sir Walter Kinnear and Mr. Ince did not take formal evidence in Australia on national insurance. They did, however, interviewsuch persons and organizations as they considered necessary.
Mr. Iffla suggested that be should be brought from Western Australia to furnish information in’ the interests of old-age and invalid pensioners, but this action was not considered necessary.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.On the 25th June, Senator James McLachlan asked whether I would make available to honorable senators a synopsis of the Privy Council case concerning the validity of the Canadian Employment and Social Insurance Act 1935. I promised to have inquiries made with a view to seeing whether the honorable senator’s request could be complied with. I now inform honorable senators that I have bad the synopsis prepared, and that a copy thereof will be placed in their lockers.
Country Post Offices
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Is it the intention of his department to extend to country post offices the benefits of the increased basic wage?
– The payments to persons in charge of nonofficial offices will not be affected. A figure higher than the new basic wage was used when framing the scale on which payment to these persons is based.
SenatorCOLLETT asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Is it a fact that the Commonwealth Government has recently caused inquiries to be made abroad as to the laws and practice relating to the control of transport?
Have any reports been received from the officer or officers deputed to make such inquiries?
If any such reports have been submitted, will copies be made available to Senators, and when?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The Acting Prime Minister has supplied the following answers: -
The reports are at present under consideration by the Government, upon completion of which it is hoped to make them available to honorable senators.
Bill read a third time.
Bill read a third time.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch). - I have to inform the Senate that I have received a letter from Senator Abbott resigning from the Regulations and Ordinances Committee, and also a letter from the Leader of the Senate nominating Senator Marwick to fill the vacancy.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) - by leave - agreed to -
That Senator Macartney Abbott be discharged from attendance as a member of the Standing committee on Regulations and Ordinances, and that Senator Marwick, having been nominated under Standing Order 36a be appointed in his stead.
Seventeenth Assembly - Report of the Australian Delegation.
Debate resumed from the 25th June, (vide page 449), on motion by Senator Sir George Pearce -
That the paper be printed.
– It is not my intention to speak at length on the report of the Australian delegation to the 17th Assembly of the League of Nations, because, although the report, like that of earlier delegations, is interesting, I regard the League as playing a comparatively unimportant part in international affairs to-day. I regret that I am somewhat sceptical concerning the work of the League at Geneva, but in view of the difficulties confronting the nations of the world to-day, one wonders whether the maintenance of such a huge and expensive organization is justified. In reply to criticisms in this Parliament and elsewhere concerning its work, we have been told that an effort should be made to improve the organization and make it, a more effective body than it is to-day. During the 20 years in which the League has been in existence, it has been building up an extensive organization and passing pious resolutions to which effect has seldom been given. When the real test came to prove whether it could be an effective instrument in settling international disputes it failed most miserably. I was criticized some time ago when I said that the attack by Italy upon Abyssinia sounded the death knell of the League of Nations, but I believe that now, particularly as a result of that conquest, it is realized to be impotent as an organization for -the prevention of international disputes. Smaller nations which became members of the League, many at the behest of larger nations, had a rude awakening when they saw what happened in Abyssinia. In spite of the prophecies as to what would happen if Italy embarked upon a war of aggression in Abyssinia, the more powerful nations stood calmly by and watched a defenceless people overwhelmed. In these circumstances there is little likelihood of the League gaining prestige or additional support, particularly from nations seeking national security. Although this organization has been in existence for twenty years the nations of the world are arming to a greater extent than at any period in history. The amount of money set aside by Great Britain for general rearmament purposes, that being expended by. Germany, and, more recently, the announcement of the Japanese Government that it proposes to expend huge sums on defence, make us realize that the League is incapable of performing the functions for which it was established.
– It lias had some successes.
– We have little definite proof of that. It failed to prevent the Japanese from entering Manchukuo, or the conflict between Bolivia and Paraguay. But probably its worst failure was in respect of Abyssinia, which was brought into the League by one of the more powerful nations ; later it was overwhelmed by Italy, a fellow member of the League, and nothing was done by ether nations to assist it. Sanctions were applied to Italy, but only in respect of unimportant commodities, and when it was proposed to apply sanctions to fuel oil, a restriction on the supplies of which would have been a salutary influence, the League eventually decided that no action be taken. .Australia contributes annually a large sum towards the maintenance of this organization.
– Does the honorable senator think that we should withdraw from the League.
– I do not think that we are deriving any benefit from membership, but, I believe, that the League, as it exists to-day, leads some of the smaller nations to live in an atmosphere of false security. Some of the smaller European countries, particularly on the German frontier, are perturbed at what may happen if German rearmament continues at its present rate. To-day, the Russian army is probably greater than any army the world has ever known. While the League, which is supposed to be the “ dove of peace “ is publishing valueless reports, the more powerful nations are increasing armaments. In making these remarks I am completely at variance with some honorable senators, but I am confident that many nation? are totally unaware of the actual position. The existence of the League enables representatives of different countries to gain some experience by “ rubbing shoulders “ with diplomats and public men from other countries. The League has achieved very few of the objectives for which it was created.
[3.45]. - I should not like the remarks of Senator Foll to pass without something being said concerning the other’ side of the picture he has presented in respect of the League of Nations. In regard to the League as in respect of any other human ideal there are two extremes to be avoided. After all, the League is a human institution, and, in the performance of its functions, it has shown certain human weaknesses. However, the statement that it has been a wholesale failure is far too sweeping, as is also the claim that it should be able to abolish war within the span of one generation, for, I remind honorable senators, the League has been in existence for only a generation. When one realizes that for thousands of years international disputes have been settled by war, it is rather optimistic to claim that the League should, within the short period for which it has been in existence, have been able to abolish war. That happy state of affairs, I suggest, cannot be justly expected until the nations generally show their willingness to settle their disputes in another and more humanitarian way.
Whilst the League has some faults, however - and, I admit, its failure in respect of the Abyssinian dispute was very serious - it has many successes to its credit. I remind Senator Foll that since the Abyssinian trouble a dispute has occurred between France and Turkey, over two provinces in Syria and that trouble, but for the existence of the League, would have been settled by recourse to war. Feeling ran very high . in the two countries, and Turkey actually mobilized troops. But it was through the League, and under its direct supervision, that this dispute was settled to the mutual satisfaction of the disputants. Again honorable senators will also recall the dangerous situation which arose out of the claims made by Turkey in respect of the fortification of the Dardanelles, and will remember that it was at the Montreux Conference, held under the influence of the League, that this trouble was settled to the satisfaction of all concerned without Turkey rattling the sabre, as several countries are prone to do to-day. These two successes of the League since its failure in respect of Abyssinia provide undeniable evidence of its practical value.
If the League succeeded in preventing only one war it would more than justify itself. However, apart from its mediation in international disputes, the League functions in many other spheres, as honorable senators will recognize when they read many of the reports issued under its imprimatur. In this respect, I mention the international traffic in drugs which, if unchecked, is a menace to the health and well-being of all nations. At the time the League took up its investigations, this evil was assuming alarming proportions. Furthermore, those who” have studied the wonderful work of the
League in relation to the protection and rehabilitation of political and other refugees will readily admit its worth and the necessity for its existence. Upwards of 3,000,000 refugees who, but for the intervention of the League, would have starved to death, have been placed in a position in which they were enabled to earn a livelihood under happy conditions. People for whom no nation would provide a home were provided for by the League. Is it not worth while to encourage an international organization capable of doing such wonderful work? Honorable senators who have studied the history of Austria since the war, and realize that that country was tottering on the verge of absolute ruin and degradation, with hundreds of thousands of its children starving, do not need to be reminded that it was the League which rescued Austria from disaster. Through international action the League set Austria again on its feet, and rescued hundreds of thousands of its unfortunate people from a terrible fate.
As another example of the League’s work, I mention its efforts in suppression of the international traffic in women, a traffic which, at its worst, was akin to the slave traffic of old. But for the League this evil would have been permitted to develop unchecked. Once again, I admit that the League’s failure in respect of the Abyssinian dispute was very serious, but to claim that, because of that failure it is not worth having, is to carry condemnnation to an unreasonable extent. I certainly cannot accept such a judgment. Undoubtedly there is still a need in this troubled world for the League of Nations. If we are to have any hope at all that this world will ever become sane and that the nations will agree to banish war entirely, we can base it only on international action initiated by a body like the League of Nations. During these dark days in the international sphere, rendered gloomier still by the terrible happenings in Spain, we should retain this one vestige of hope for international action; the League is like a lamp that provides the only glimmering light on the. path to the permanent peace of the world.
Question resolved in the affirmative..
Motion agreed to.
Debate resumed from the 25th June, (vide page 450), on motion by Senator Sir George Pearce -
That the paper be printed.
– I propose to take this opportunity to say a few words in respect of the excellent work being done generallyby the League of Nations. Members of the Opposition in this chamber maintain that any money which Australia has spent in connexion with the League has been well spent, and we deplore the opposition of certain honorable senators to the League. In this enlightened day it is somewhat distressing to hear any honorable senator speaking as Senator Foll has done. Because the influence of the League has been exaggerated, thousands of people believe that, meeting as frequently as it does, it should be able to stop war. War cannot be stopped so long as there exist certain underlying reasons which cause one nation to attack another, or a group of nations to attack another group. Recent events have demonstrated very clearly the powerful influences which cause international trouble. In Spain, for instance, we have an instance of how for economic reasons one nation will fight another. In fact, I suggest that the principal causes of war are economic in character. Just as within a country itself there is a continual struggle economically between one class and another, so in the international sphere there is a constant struggle (between the imperialistic nations of the world. Only the other day Herr Hitler pointed out that one reason why Germany is supporting General Franco in the present Spanish trouble is that it may secure a greater measure of control over the iron ore, and other mineral resources in Spain. He made a definite statement to that effect. Members of this Opposition have repeatedly pointed to the strong influences existing in the world to-day which offset the efforts of earnest people who are anxious for the establishment of permanent peace and, until a re-orientation, or a re-alignment, of these forces is effected, war will be inevitable.
That fact, however, does not prevent lovers of peace throughout the world from continuing their endeavours by whatever means may be at their disposal, through the League of Nations or otherwise, to banish war. If war could be avoided for an appreciable period, possibly basic economic changes could be effected and war ultimately eliminated.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch). - I ask the honorable senator to confine his remarks to the subject under discussion.
– Members of the Opposition contend that, having regard to the work done by the League of Nations, only one phase of which is revealed in the operations of the International Labour Office, its supporters are entitled to overlook the disabilities under which it labours. It would be a sorry day for Australia, and many other nations, if the ideas put forward by Senator Foll this afternoon were more widely accepted, because the downfall of the League would mean the cessation of its good work through such bodies as the International Labour Office. Labour men throughout the world have sufficient good sense to continue their international organization and international conferences because it is the workers who when war occurs suffer the most; they supply the bulk of the fighting armies and, accordingly, their women and children bear the brunt. Senator Foll dealt with the League of Nations, but I am dealing with the international Labour organization. Senator Foll strongly supports the presence at Empire conferences of such men as the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), the Treasurer (Mr. Casey), and the High Commissioner, Mr. Bruce.
– They are good men.
– I am not saying one word against the character of those honorable gentlemen, but if it is right to hold Empire conferences, it is equally right to hold international conferences which deal with issues which are larger even than those dealt with at conferences within the British Empire.
– I do not believe in the people deluding themselves.
– But people should not only adhere to ideals but should also take cognizance of realty, lien should not jump to the conclusion that simply because the League of Nations has failed in one direction, it is completely a failure. The threatened disintegration of the League as the result of the intense economic antagonism that exists to-day among nations of the world should be prevented. It is necessary that we support the League of Nations because, to some extent at least, its existence is warding off an immediate clash of the powers. Any influence that for even the space of a few years can ward off a great international upheaval deserves support; it assists the forces that are working through the international Labour organization to institute economic societies which will fight not for supremacy but for the common welfare. The work of the International Labour Office in this direction is commendable. It has directed attention to the disabilities of workers who toil for long hours. Sir Frederick Stewart, as a representative of the Commonwealth Government at the International Labour Conference at Geneva supported a reduction of the hours of labour, and many nations have decided to effect this reform. There is no doubt that the thinkers of the world are rapidly reaching the belief that a reduction of the hours of labour is one of the greatest reforms that it is possible to place on the statute-book. It takes precedence over other ameliorative measures such as national insurance; it is far better that we should spread work and wages over the mass than that we should divide the people and say that one section shall be out of work for so many months of the year and shall be recompensed with the dole.
– The seasonal employments in Australia force that on the people.
– It is admitted that the seasonal worker is a problem, but not all of those who are on the dole for part of the year are seasonal workers.
– I remind the honorable senator that the report which the Senate is now discussing does not deal with the 40-hour week.
– The whole matter is linked up with the affairs pf the International Labour Organization. That body has fully justified its existence, and we on this side hope that it will continue with the good work that it has done in the past.
– In my opinion the best contribution that the nations of the world can make towards world peace is the lowering of the barriers which prevent a free flow of international trade, and which in the final analysis, will be found to be the cause of the hostility which exists between the nations. Economic nationalism is the evil which must be destroyed. If nations could reach a better understanding in matters of trade and commerce and enable a freer flow of goods between countries, they would go a long way towards removing ‘the causes of hostility.
[4.9]. - in reply - During his speech on the reports of the Australian delegation to the Maritime Sessions of the International Labour Conference, Senator Collings raised some interesting points. He referred to the draft convention concerning the liability of shipowners in case of sickness, injury, and death of seamen, and he inquired as to whether a seaman with no person dependent upon him would receive wages during sickness. Article 5 provides for the payment of full wages as long as the sick or injured person remains on board; and if such person has dependants, wages are to be paid in whole or in part from the time when he is landed until he has been cured or the sickness or incapacity has been declared of a permanent character. I invite the attention of the honorable senator to Article 4 under which the shipowner is liable to defray the expenses of medical care and maintenance until the sick or injured person has been cured, or until the sickness or incapacity has been declared of a permanent character, with a proviso that national law or regulations may limit the liability of the shipowner in this connexion to a period of not less than sixteen weeks.
It must be borne in mind that the convention provides only for minimum requirements, and provision is made in
Article 12 that nothing in the convention shall affect any law, award, custom or agreement between ship-owners and seamen which ensures more favorable conditions than those provided for by the convention. Generally speaking, the provisions of the Navigation Act are in advance of those laid down in the convention. Moreover, the Commonwealth Seamen’s Compensation Act makes provision for compensation in the case of long illness, total or partial incapacity, or death.
In regard to the recommendation concerning the promotion of seamen’s welfare in ports, this is a matter which, of course, comes mainly within the jurisdiction of the States, and this recommendation has referred to the States for consideration and advice as to the extent to which its provisions are covered by existing legislation, and as to any action contemplated to give full effect to such provisions. The Commonwealth Government proposes to follow this matter up closely with the States with a view to obtaining their co-operation in the application of the principles of this recommendation which are regarded by the Government as very desirable in the general interests of seamen.
In regard to the necessity foi1 reference to the State governments, nearly all the conventions and recommendations adopted by the conference concern the States to a greater or less degree, and it is necessary to obtain the co-operation of the States for the complete implementation of the proVisions of such instruments. The honorable senator will remember that the question of the ratification of these conventions was fully discussed at conferences between Commonwealth and State Ministers in 1927, 1929 and 1936. On the second occasion, the Commonwealth Government intimated that it would be prepared to ratify any conventions to the provisions of which the States had given effect under their legislation. This undertaking was repeated last year when the unratified conventions were classified as (a) conventions which appear to be fully or substantially covered by existing State legislation or practice, of which there are ten; (b) conventions which require only minor amendments, of which there are eleven; and (c) the remainder which involve more important changes.
The conference came to the conclusion that the delay which had occurred ‘ in connexion with the ratification had been due to a large extent to the fact that consideration by the States of the subject matter of the conventions was not a function of any one department or officer, and the conference recommended that States should be invited to rectify this. With regard to the conventions which had already been submitted to the States, the conference recommended that the States should be invited to indicate at once their acquiescence or otherwise in any convention the subject matter of which was substantially covered by existing law, and, so far as concerns the other conventions, to advise the Commonwealth Government as early as possible whether or not they were willing that the Commonwealth should ratify. Replies have so far been received from Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania, and if the replies received from the other States are equally satisfactory, the Commonwealth should be able to. proceed with ratification of at least ten or twelve of such conventions.
As regards the appointment of two Government delegates, this, and the appointment of advisers to the non-Government delegates, have been considered on several occasions. The reason for not making such appointments has been mainly the very considerable additional expense involved. The honorable senator’s suggestion in this connexion, however, will be borne in mind on the next occasion.
All the conventions and recommendations adopted at the maritime sessions of the conference under notice have been referred to the State governments for consideration and advice as to any action contemplated thereon. They are also at the present time under consideration by the Commonwealth authorities concerned, with a view to ascertaining what amendments are necessary to implement them.
When tabling these reports, I set out the position as to the extent to which the provisions of these conventions were already covered by existing legislation and practice, and I can assure the honorable senator that the matter of securing the co-operation of the States where necessary with a view to the ratification of these conventions will he vigorously pursued.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Sitting suspended from4.17 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and sessional orders suspended.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) proposed -
That the bill be now read a first time.
– I take this opportunity to protest, as forcibly as I am able, against the unseemly procedure which members of this chamber are being asked to accept in dealing with this measure. A copy of the bill was placed in my hands exactly one minute ago and to suggest that I have any possible opportunity to offer either intelligent, or effective, criticism of it is to suggest something bordering on the miraculous. In these circumstances, I do not intend to try. There is much that might be said, and ought to be said, in dealing with a bill of this kind, but I, for one, am not going to assist the Government out of the difficulty into which it has got itself by its procedure in this chamber and in the House of Representatives. To keep honorable senators cooling their heels for six months of the year and then bring us here on the 15th June, expecting us to get through the session by to-morrow night - I understand that is the intention of the Government - is entirely wrong. Something was said in this chamber this afternoon regarding the necessity for preserving public respect for parliamentary institutions in this country, and I agree entirely with every word uttered on that subject, but nothing happening in connexion with public life in Australia to-day is more calculated to bring those institutions into utter disrespect than is process are of the nature which is repeatedly adopted by this Government. Within the time that is being made available to it, this Parliament cannot deal competently with the legislation submitted to it.
– Has the honorable gentleman no work to do when Parliament is in recess?
– My two colleagues and I work very hard when the Senate is in recess, but that is not the point; it is, that we cannot expect people to respect our parliamentary institutions when we are asked to deal with this bill within so limited a time. This measure contains matters of sufficient importance to call for weeks of the most careful deliberation on the part of honorable senators. If the Opposition chose to adopt certain tactics which it has a right to do, it would be accused of stonewalling and of being a party to a system of legislation by exhaustion. That criticism has been levelled at us time and again, but, on this occasion, we propose to throw full responsibility for the ridiculous situation which has arisen entirely upon the Government.
During the debate on the AddressinReply last week, my colleague Senator Brown made some remarks concerning destitution and distress in this country and when he dared to suggest that the living conditions of all the people in Sydney were not what Senator Dein would have us believe, that honorable senator stated that if my colleague would cite a single instance of a person being on the verge of starvation, that person could, within a few hours, obtain government sustenance, or, if he were receiving insufficient sustenance, his allowance would be substantially increased. Senator Dein wished honorable senators to infer, of course, that members of the Opposition make a practice of exaggerating the destitution prevailing in so many quarters in this country. The honorable senator, furthermore, undertook to attend personally to such a case. I now wish to ask him to redeem that promise.
– In the cases which I propose to mention I am prepared to furnish privately the names and addresses of the persons concerned to the honorable senator. Both cases are perfectly genuine. Without reservation, I believe that Senator Dein has a kindly heart, and I believe that he meant all he said. I shall now give him an opportunity to prove that I am not mistaken in my opinion of him. On a recent occasion, during a debate in this chamber, the Assistant Minister (Senator Brennan) declared that I was always harping either on the morgue or the cemetery, the suggestion being that I had always a tale of catastrophe, which .could not be accepted at its face value. The first case which I bring particularly to the notice of Senator Dein is that of a young man, an earnest student, who for the last twelve months has endeavoured, in vain, to secure employment in order to obtain sufficient income to provide himself with the bare necessaries of life, and, at the same time, allow him freedom to attend at night science lectures at the Technical College. He has appealed to a considerable number of prospective employers, without success. Here is an excellent opportunity for Senator Dein to make good his word, and I ask for his cooperation in that matter. But for the fact that a certain individual, who was under no obligation to the young man, came to his rescue, he would be actually starving to-day. He is a brilliant young fellow, and I am sure, if he were given a chance, he would become a considerable asset to this country. If he is not actually starving, he is on the verge of starvation.
– Senator Brown said that people were actually starving in Sydney.
– This man would be actually starving but for the fact that some one befriended him by agreeing to make a certain financial contribution to him weekly.
The second case which I have in mind is that of a widow in New South Wales who, within the last three weeks, approached a member of the House of Representatives and asked him to try to do something to extricate her from her unfortunate difficulties, which were due to the’ fact that Bebarfalds Limited, furniture merchants of Sydney, was pressing her for overdue payments on her furniture: She was unable to keep up those payments, because her husband had died some time previously, and the undertaker was pressing her because she was falling behind in her payments in respect of her husband’s time-payment funeral. Notwithstanding the existence of cases of this kind, Senator Dein and other honorable senators tell members of -the Opposition that we are only shedding crocodile tears, and have very little grounds for complaint when we describe the conditions of the downtrodden and oppressed sections of the community.
Did the Standing Orders permit it, I should propose requests in relation to this measure but, of course, the Senate’s powers in relation to a money bill are limited. Originally I intended to say quite a good deal on the subject of malnutrition, .but I shall not do so, because I wish to register my emphatic protest against the insane procedure adopted by the Government every year of keeping Parliament in recess for months on end, and then asking members to deal within too limited a space of time with the important legislation placed before it. I am not going to attempt to do my job in those circumstances, and I propose to tell the electors of Queensland of this ridiculous position. This morning members of the House of Representatives went home exhausted after an all-night sitting. It is my intention to throw the responsibility for this insane procedure entirely on the Government. Only a year or two ago, we had the spectacle of Hansard reporters dropping on the job, fainting, and unable to carry on any longer. Do such occurences indicate an intelligent method of getting legislation through this or any other chamber ? The Government will not get anything out of me by the process of exhaustion. Later, when the Estimates come before us - if they ever do come, and the Government does not decide to do without them - I shall say what I want to say. If Government members want an. “all-nighter”, let them go ahead and have it, as Government supporters did in the House of Representatives last night, when they made provocative speeches, and expected others to sit in silence. So far as I and my colleagues are concerned, nothing that honorable .senators opposite may say will make us talk. The responsibility is on the Government. By the actions of the Government the taxpayers are being defrauded ; they pay us to do our job here, not anywhere else, and we are denied the opportunity to do it properly.
– Is the honorable senator throwing in the towel?
– No. I have something which I could say about Senator Hardy which would make him a spectacle for derision among the people, but I do not intend to say it at present. I can cite some startling cases of malnutrition, and some startling remarks on the subject by Ministers of the Crown, ministers of religion, and responsible citizens; but I do not, at this stage, intend to discuss the matter beyond saying that my investigations have led me to the belief that malnutrition does not always originate in Surry Hills, Woolloomooloo, Fitzroy, or Richmond ; a good deal of it originates in Toorak and Potts Point. That, however, will be the subject for a speech later on, and with that remark I leave the subject for honorable senators to think over. The job which lies before us is not only to discover meansto provide every one with the necessaries of life and conditions of health and decency, but also some means whereby we can take away from other people the excess of the good things of life that makes them also come into the category of those who are not properly nourished. So far as this bill is concerned, the Government may get out of the hole in which it is in its own way, and as it thinks best.
– I shall follow the example of brevity set by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings). What I wish to bring before the Senate is a serious anomaly in the administration of the service pensions. As honorable members are aware, a service pension is granted to returned soldiers for any one of three reasons. First, a soldier who has served in a theatre of war, and is permanently unemployable, becomes eligible for the pension; secondly, a soldier who has served in a theatre of war and is 60 years of age or over, is eligible; and, thirdly, the pension is paid to all returned soldiers who are suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis. The anomaly on which I propose to address the Senate relates to those in the first category. When the service pensions legislation originally came before the Senate, there was con siderable debate as to the definition of “ permanently unemployable “, and it was finally defined that, if a returned soldier who served in a theatre of war could prove that he was permanently unemployable, he would be granted a service pension. During the last session of Parliament the Government introduced an. amendment to the Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act, which made the service pension even more generous, by providing that a returned soldier, if permanently unemployable, could become eligible for a service pension in spite of the fact that he was already drawing an invalid pension, provided he surrendered his invalid pension. Since that amendment was made, a number of men who served in a theatre of war, and who draw the invalid pension, have applied to the Repatriation Department for a service pension on the ground that they are permanently unemployable ; their applications have been refused. Honorable senators are aware that the pensions authorities must be satisfied that an applicant for an invalid pension is permanently and totally incapacitated before the pension is granted ; but the Repatriation Department says that the granting of an invalid pension by the Pensions Department is not prima facie evidence of total and permanent incapacity; it insists upon making its own tests. To my knowledge, about 50 returned men have been refused the service pension on the ground that they are not permanently unemployable, despite the fact that the Pensions Department has granted them an invalid pension. That is a definite anomaly, and it is surely not the intention of the Government to perpetuate it by allowing two sets of Commonwealth pension authorities to make different decisions on the same matter. If a man who served in a theatre of war has been granted an invalid pension, equity demands that the Repatriation Department shall accept that fact as prima facie evidence of his entitlement. The hardship that is existing under this anomaly could be easily removed by a direction from the Government to the effect that the granting by the Pensions Department of an invalid pension on the ground of permanent and total incapacity shall be sufficient proof for the Repatriation Department. Justice demands that the
Government shall take prompt steps to have this anomaly removed.
– I welcome this opportunity to refer to the debate which took place in the Senate this afternoon in relation to the League of Nations. I was particularly interested in listening to the remarks of Senator Foll and some other honorable senators. When I speak of defence, I speak of the British Empire, or as it is called to-day, the British Commonwealth of Nations, and not only of Australia, because we are all bound together in this matter. The Empire is a wheel, of which the Old Country is the hub, and the dominions are the spokes. If the hub is smashed, the outlook for the spokes is bad; at the same time, the spokes have to do their part of the job, as a part of the wheel. At times there is a good deal of confused thought about defence, because we have to-day, not only in the dominions, but also- in Great Britain, hosts of well-meaning and intelligent people who hold some very strong views of defence, which, in my opinion, are quite erroneous. Some say that we should not be involved in war if we do not make it ourselves. That is to say, that if we do not make trouble, trouble should not come to us. Let us first consider our case : what motive could any nation have for attacking us if we were manifestly unaggressive, and ‘ even indifferent to the elementary national duty of self-defence? The answer to that is that we own a great many things which make us a subject of the envy of less fortunate countries. Yet there are in this Commonwealth men of heart and brain who contend that either we should have no defence, at all, or that we should limit our need for defence by relying on our fellow members of the League of Nations. Some friends we must have on whom we can rely. But friends are not to be had for nothing, and, if they promise support to us,- we must promise support to them. Pooled security can never be a reality unless every partner to the British Empire contributes his fair and just share, according to his means, to the general defence. That is the only fair and logical conclusion that we can reach. Peace and security cannot be bought; they must be deserved and earned, and a nation which refuses to face that fact in the world of to-day is making war against itself inevitable in the course of a very few years. Our whole object should be to prevent war. To argue that we shall do again what is necessary if an emergency occurs is beside the point. Time will not be permitted to us. Equally futile is the contention that if we keep away from trouble, trouble will keep away from us. Everything will depend upon the estimate which foreign nations are led to form of our preparation for war. The British Commonwealth, cannot afford to be caught unprepared. The first thing to be done in Australia is to bring home to the country the grave danger of its present attitude to military training and service. I think that our democracy to-day suffers from its disbelief in the necessity for military organization, but I think that it is instinctively opposed to inequality of sacrifice. When I talk about the necessity for military organization in Australia, I am thinking of the dire necessity for discipline and organization in the event of air raids. I do not propose to go into a technical dissertation on defence, or what form the next war may take, but it is quite conceivable that an aircraft carrier may reach within 60 or 70 miles of our coast, and if that occurred aeroplanes from the ship could, within half an hour, drop bombs upon the capital cities. That could be done quite easily. It is absolutely essential that our civilians should have some organized training, some idea of discipline, and have instilled in them some measure of selfcontrol to avert some of the consequences of such an attack.
I said just now that the Australian democracy is to-day suffering from a disbelief in the necessity for military training and organization for “war, but that T believe it to be utterly opposed to inequality of sacrifice. Why should the patriotic few give up their leisure in order to undergo military training while the vast majority of Australian men loaf on the job? I am convinced that democratic thought and feeling on this issue is quite sound. If service and sacrifice are necessary, and I submit that they are to-day, they should fall impartially upon the boy whose father has wealth, and the boy whose father may not possess a “ bob “ or even a job. . Our aim should be universal service - a truly democratic ideal. In such a system of training there should be no distinction of class or wealth, or between man and man. No able-bodied person should be permitted to evade the call.
Many honorable senators will recall that in November, 1929, by an act of positive insanity the Labour Government of the day, then just in the saddle, absolutely destroyed, presumably at the dictation of the then honorable member for Ballarat and an ignorant caucus, the system of defence which had been built up to a high state of efficiency as the result of twenty years of patient effort. To-day we are paying dearly for that disastrous act of government policy, and paying for it in many ways. I have had recently placed in my hands the annual report of the Royal Military College at Duntroon for the year just ended. It is a revealing document, and shows that once more we are, thank God, moving in the right direction for the efficient training of our military staff. But, unhappily, we are about 120 short of trained staff officers. “We simply have not got them. Honorable senators will realize what this means when I tell them that it takes at least four years of patient training by competent instructors, to turn out a young man fit for his job of military leadership and organization. Untrained mobs and levies, raised in a state of emergency can be “ licked “ into shape only if we have available an adequate number of highlytrained staff officers. The Kitchener scheme of citizen force training, is a system which this country can very well afford and which, I consider was reasonably efficient.
With regard to the present arrangements for militia training, I put it to the Government that, in some respects, it is being penny-wise and pound-foolish. I have in mind its attitude to the cadet training organizations in connexion with many of our larger public schools. It is, I contend, reasonable to expect that the Commonwealth should provide the boys belonging to these school cadet organizations with the necessary uniforms, thus relieving many parents of what may be, to them, an unfair burden. Many intelligent and keen youngsters are debarred from joining school cadet corps, because their parents are unable to find the money to provide them with uniforms, which cost about £4. The Government, I understand, contributes £1 towards the cost of uniforms, and the balance nas to be found by the boys’ parents. This arrangement is not fair. The aim should be to make these cadet corps really officers’ training corps on the lines followed in England in pre-war days, and which has been resumed more recently. It would be sound policy to do this.
The Royal Military College at Duntroon has had a chequered career, particularly in recent years. It was established about 25 years ago and, for its size, is, without doubt, the finest military college in the British Empire. This is no idle boast; the records amply support my contention. If the college had been in any other country, its wonderful record would have been blazoned forth to the world time after time. The cadets consist of young Australians with a few New Zealanders, and for several years in succession the college won the championship in competition with every military college in the British Empire,, beating those at Kingston in Canada, and! at Sandhurst and Woolwich.
Whenever I enter the historic church of St. John the Baptist, and see there the tablet to the memory of Duntroon graduates, I am reminded of the truly remarkable record establishe’d by those splendid young Australian officers, 150 in number, who were trained at Duntroon,, and served in the Great War. Of that, total, 42 did not return to Australia, having lost their lives in the world war and 58 were wounded. Almost without exception the Australian staff officers trained at Duntroon were mentioned in the despatches, and received high military decorations for their splendid services to the Empire. If ‘we are going to do any good with our system of citizen soldiering, I impress upon honorable senators that the training of staff cadets at the Duntroon Royal Military College must be the keystone of our efforts; so we should do all that lies in our power to see that it is well staffed with officers, and fully equipped for the efficient training of the lads who secure admission to it. I hope, as the years go on, that every government, irrespective of its political outlook, will fully appreciate the ideal democratic military college which we now possess. The son of even the poorest Australian citizen may, if he has the necessary qualifications, secure admission to the college, and there receive four years of training at the expense of the Government. At the end of four years, the graduate will probably be sent to India or some other portion of the British Empire for further training with troops, as it is not possible to get this additional experience in Australia. Then, at the end of his period of training abroad, he will be returned to Australia a fully-trained officer with the highest ideals of leadership, thoroughly fit in every respect for his important job. I sincerely hope that never again will the college be treated as it was during the depression years.
.- I have received many letters from Queensland returned soldiers, who are very much concerned at the decision of the Government, announced about a year ago, not to accept further applications for the erection of war service homes. Apparently, insufficient notice was given to permit these men and others to lodge applications, and so participate in the benefits of the War Service Homes Act. This seems unfair to a very deserving section of exsoldiers. I should like to know from the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) if it is the intention of the Government to make a sum of money available at a later date to give the few remaining members of the Australian Imperial Force, who have not acquired homes under the War Service Homes Act, an opportunity to lodge applications. Some of the letters which have reached me, have come from returned soldiers who have been living for several years in mining fields in outback and pastoral areas in Queensland. These men have become too old for strenous manual labour, and are now seeking lighter employment in the larger centres of population. Those who have made inquiries as to the possibility of securing war service homes have been informed that no applications have been received since June of last year. Several most admirable men have informed me that their applications were rejected. As many ex-service men are getting on in years, the department, I assume, takes the view that they will not be able to continue their payments for the full mortgage period fixed by the act, but I feel sure that their repayments would be continued by members of their families. The Government might very well comply with their requests, and make it known that further applications will be received up to a certain date. This would give the remaining few an opportunity to take advantage of the act, and acquire their own homes. The department has a remarkably good asset in these houses. Until the depression, the repayment instalments in arrears represented less than per cent. of the total advances made, and even now, I venture to say, the percentage of arrears is exceedingly small. I therefore urge the Government to consider the re-opening of applications for war service homes in order to give these men an opportunity to lodge applications.
I have received several requests from time to time from the South African W ar Veterans Association in Queensland. These men are in their declining years, and some of them are in sore distress. Many of their fellows who have passed away were buried as paupers; in respect of others that tragedy was avoided only by the generosity of their comrades. I realize that these men were sent away by the several States, and that, therefore, it is impossible to provide a definite Commonwealth pension scheme for them; but if a sum of money were placed on the Estimates for distribution by the Minister for Repatriation those in need would at least be spared the indignity of a pauper’s funeral. Australia is under an obligation to do something for these men who in their day answered the call of their country as others did later.
According to a statement which appeared in the press recently, Mr. Forgan Smith, the Premier of Queensland, on his return to Australia from the Sugar Conference, said that the State governments are becoming alarmed at the number of foreign migrants coming to Australia, and that the entry of so many foreigners was either without the knowledge of the State governments or in direct opposition to their wishes. According to figures .quoted in the press article to which I have referred, there were 125 aliens on board one vessel which recently arrived at an Australian port; the destination of 45 of them was Queensland. I presume that all of them were nominated by relatives or friends who are already resident in Australia. I do not know the Government’s intention in this connexion, or the number of foreign migrants who have entered this country during recent years, but I do know that this subject is being given a good deal of attention in Queensland, particularly in the northern portions of the State. British preference to workers on the cane-field is also a subject of discussion there. I do not say that there is a large influx of aliens into Queensland, but I am concerned’ that the Premier of that State should say that foreigners are allowed to come into Australia in direct opposition to the wishes of the State governments. So serious a statement emanating from such a source should be investigated.
A few weeks ago, when I was in the Mandated Territory of New Guinea, representations were made to me in favour of the erection of a local broadcasting station, either at Rabaul or elsewhere. Immediately on my return I conveyed these representations to the PostmasterGeneral (Senator A. J. McLachlan), and urged that the department should reconsider its decision in respect of a B class licence in that territory. I was struck with the remarkable progress that had taken place in New Guinea during the four years that had elapsed since I was there previously. It was most pleasing’ to see the new buildings which had been erected, and the development of mining and other primary industries which have taken place under the Australian administration of the territory. On the mainland, in particular, in territory which was practically untouched by the Germans during their occupancy of New Guinea, the development is remarkable. I hope that the Minister will agree to give to these people the broadcasting facilities that they seek.
Those of us who have visited New Guinea, and know of the isolation of its people realize that the establishment of a broadcasting station there would be of inestimable value to them, particularly thewomen folk who, at times, when their men are absent from home on duty or through sickness or other reasons, are left alone except for a few native servantsMany of them have receiving sets and at times the reception from mainland stations is quite good. Wireless communication with the rest of the world is a godsend to them. With one of the tributers at the Bulolo River I heard the coronation ceremony of Their Majesties the King and Queen. At other times, however, the reception is not good. These people are pioneering new territory and they deserve the facilities which a local broadcasting station would give. Its erection would brighten their lives considerably, and I hope that their request will be acceded to
– A matter of vital concern to Australia is the alarming growth of international propaganda by means of wireless communication and broadcasting. During recent . years many countries have developed an extraordinary technique in this respect. Some of the most prominent nations of the world have their own highly-trained technical staffs, including outstanding linguists, who send out to the world propaganda placed in their hands for the purpose. I am informed on the best authority that speeches are broadcast in languages which make it clear that propaganda detrimental to the British Empire and to ourselves is being indulged in, because such speeches obviously could not serve any other purpose. It may be that some check of these activities is kept, but more should be done, so that we may be better informed as to the views that are being disseminated.
– It would require a tremendous staff.
– That is so; but the defence of this country is our chief concern. An adequate defence policy cannot ignore the need to keep up to date with the technique of modern wireless communication. Nearly every wireless receiving set of recent manufacture is capable of receiving messages from the other side of the world. 1 read recently that Heir Goebbers, who is in charge of the propaganda of the German Government, recently said that Australia had definitely been set down for invasion and capture by foreign powers. His statement emphasizes the need for Australia to keep in constant contact with wireless messages broadcast from foreign countries. People everywhere are being influenced by this propaganda, and, consequently, it cannot be ignored. It may be necessary to engage in counter propaganda in order that the world may know the truth. The Department of External Affairs is the proper medium for dealing with this matter and should give it immediate attention.
A complete topographical survey of this continent should be undertaken without delay. I am aware that an aerial survey of Australia is now taking place, but that is not sufficient. Should Australia be attacked - and I sincerely hope that it will not be - an enemy might land in a portion of the continent the topography of which is practically unknown by the authorities.
That this should be done on an international scale at once is, in my opinion, imperative. I again emphasize the necessity to link up the southern parts of Australia with the Northern Territory by means of concrete highways. When I discussed this subject on a previous occasion I said that the first essential was the construction of bridges, which some honorable senators contended was impracticable. I still maintain that it will eventually be found necessary to construct main highways to give direct access to the north, and thus provide a more ready means to open up additional territory.
– For nine months in every year the ground is sufficiently hard to carry traffic.
– There are many months in the year when the existing tracks are impassable. When I last mentioned this subject I was informed that bridges would be swept away by flood waters in the wet season, low level bridges constructed of concrete would remain for years anu render great service in making these routes trafficable at practically all periods of the year. Honorable senators cannot have it both ways. I cited the opinion of a gentleman holding an important position in the Northern Territory, to the effect that the building of such highways is essential. There ar.e others, of course, who say that such a scheme is impracticable.
– Not concrete roads i
– Yes, in section. According to a paragraph which appeared recently in the Sydney Morning Herald, the construction of the highway from South Australia to the Northern Territory has already been mentioned.
– Why not a railway from Queensland.
– I do not favour such an extension, because I believe that the time is not far distant when for purposes such as these, railways will be obsolete. The further development of the Northern Territory must be undertaken largely by the construction of roads which can be used by vehicles driven by diesel engines, generating electrical power which is transferred to each unit of the train, such as are now being employed with astounding success in Germany and in the United States of America. If the Northern Territory is to be settled, better means of communication must be provided. Only to-day I read a book by a Mr. Hadfield entitled Through the Windscreen, to the effect that the Northern Territory could be settled most effectively if its development was in the hands of men of initiative. While there are some who say that extensive and profitable development of the Northern Territory is impracticable, there are others who contend that it has a wonderful future.
– Does not the honorable senator think it preferable first to produce something to cart over such roads?
– Road construction must first be undertaken to give access to markets. For instance, during drought periods hundreds of thousands of cattle die owing to the lack of adequate transport facilities.
– Can stock be economically transported by road?
– Has the honorable senator overlooked the fact that only recently an aeroplane driven by a diesel engine was imported to transport sheep ana cattle to good pastures during dry periods of the year? Senator Foll referred this evening to the remarkable change that is taking place in certain portions of the Mandated Territory of New Guinea. Surely we have not forgotten that the mining fields of that territory have been developed mainly with the assistance of air transport. Owing to the absence of roads and railways, heavy mining equipment, including dredges, has been transported by that means.
The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has demonstrated quite clearly what can be done by the application of science to industry. Will the Minister in charge of Development (Senator A. J. McLachlan) arrange for a thorough investigation to be made of the possibility of producing rubber in Australia or in New Guinea. A prominent industrialist in Sydney asked me to bring this matter forward, because, from personal reading and observation, he believes that rubber can be grown in New Guinea, and perhaps in parts of Australia. Investigations could also be conducted to ascertain whether the plants necessary for the production of jute could be cultivated, so .that we could manufacture our own wool packs and wheat sacks and other jute products instead of importing them in large quantities.
– I can supply the honorable senator with reports on the production of jute and flax.
– I shall be pleased to see them. The Australian cotton industry has a great future, but I believe it should be developed further, particularly as cotton is used extensively in the manufacture of war material. A mechanical cotton-picker was once regarded as an impossibility, but eighteen months ago I mentioned that such a machine to collect the cotton bolls had been invented by the Rust brothers, in the United States of America. I understand that one of these machines is being brought to
Australia for experimental purposes in the Queensland cotton fields.
Some time ago I read that it had been decided to store certain phonograph records and cinematograph films in our Parliamentary Library. I do not know to what extent this branch of the Library is to be developed; but provision should be made to retain records of the spoken word, and also motion pictures of the speaker. Such records should be kept of debates on important subjects in this Parliament. Moreover, the Library could be supplied with records of important speeches delivered in the British Parliament. Although that will not be done for some considerable time, it will, nevertheless, be eventually accomplished; at one time man never, thought of preserving the written word, but eventually utilized the printing press to do so. I should like to see the innovation, which has been introduced, together with my suggestions, made an important part of our National Library. I suggest to the PostmasterGeneral (Senator A. J. McLachlan) that, as a part of the operations of the Australian broadcasting system, attention should be paid to the development of television. We should not leave all of the pioneering work in this field to other countries, such as Great Britain. In that respect I remind honorable senators of the early history of wireless. The head of Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited, Sir Ernest Fiske, was a pioneer of wireless, and, to-day, is recognized as such throughout the world. In that field he has accomplished many things which have redounded to his and Australia’s credit, but when he was conducting his early experiments, he was laughed at. I should like to see the Government enter the experimental field so far as television is concerned, although, I might add, television is practically beyond the experimental stage; indeed, some of the Coronation scenes were witnessed by many people in this way. Let us allocate some of the money which we expend on broadcasting, amounting to hundreds of thousands of pounds annually, to the development of television.
I emphasise that it is essential in the’ interest of the development and prosperity of this country that a national survey of the potential capacity of Aus- tralia should be undertaken. America provides an excellent example in that regard. After all, such a survey is an essential part of the modern science of government, because economics are becoming a major part of government. The only way in which to govern a country effectively is to base its future development on a scientific survey of its potential capacity. If they read the official reports dealing with American ac.tivity in this direction, honorable senators will marvel at what is being done in that country. From those reports, one can study every phase of American life, as the survey deals with every ramification of the life of that nation. On this survey, a scientific plan is being plotted, and, according to this plan, the country will be scientifically developed. I repeat that such a study is an essential part of the science of government. No government can develop a country in the most effective way for the people living in it unless it is acquainted with the full potentialities of the country. It must have definite information, for example, as to what the people can produce, and what constitutes a full wage in relation to the fullest possible consumption of products. These are things which, by scientific investigation, can be brought down to a common-sense basis. As yet we have hardly scratched the surface of Australia from the point of view of production; this continent has enormous possibilities, but we shall not fully realize those possibilities unless we view this problem with scientific eyes. I believe that if a committee were established to conduct such a survey as I suggest it would develop into as fine an institution as is the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.
– I was greatly interested in the remarks of Senator Arkins with respect to a national survey of the country’s potential capacity. Undoubtedly, as a nation, we have merely ambled along and picked the soft spots df this country; we have failed to deal with many of our big problems along the right lines. Not only this Government, but also past governments, have failed to give us anything like. a proper survey of Australia’s big problems, and our lack in this regard is particularly felt in respect of the northern portion of this continent. I propose to quote statements made recently by two gentlemen who are familiar with the Northern Territory, each of whom gives some startling facts concerning the state of things in that part of Australia. An interview with Captain Frank Hurley, who is well known throughout Australia, is reported in an issue of the Brisbane Telegraph last week as follows : -
There is developing on north Australian shores a mixed breed with a Japanese 6train. This is not surprising when it is realized that at Thursday Island alone 400 virile young Japanese are indentured to the pearl fisheries. Though Darwin has a lesser complement, there are 100 alien luggers with an aggregate of another 1,000 hands operating off the northers and north-east coasts. In a few years, if present conditions continue, the pearling industry will have gone the way of the pearl - into the hands of Japan. The poaching of trochusshell was prevalent. Every shell irrespective of size in fact, almost everything that lived or had any commercial use was scavenged. It was difficult to apprehend the poachers shell in hand owing to the Argus-eyed look-out and to the fact that they were familiar with every shelter and getaway. The industry, maintained some white population in tropical Australia,, and on this score alone, apart from revenue, no effort should be spared to retain it.
Without levelling a charge against this Government in particular, it is clear that we have neglected the development of an important industry in our northern waters. Last week an interview with Mr. J. Brand, of Thursday Island, was reported in an issue of the Brisbane Telegraph as follows: -
The pearling industry of this country, instead of being worked by Australian divers, is nowadays in the hands of the Japanese who ure making large sums. Out of 36 luggers which go out from Thursday Island, only two white’ men are on board, and one of these is my own. I always go out in it to supervize The pearling industry to-day in some instances may be run by Australian, owners or companies, but almost exclusively Japanese are given the jobs of divers and members of the lugger crews. It cannot be 6aid that white men arc inferior to the Japanese’ as divers because the Admiralty-trained divers are recognized throughout the world as being without equals. It should be compulsory for every lugger to carry at least one white man as master, as a starting point, and later on make it a White Man’s industry . . . There are numerous instances of divers making up to £1,000 a year. At present the pearling industry is being run to afford employment for the coloured men. Many owners won’t even give an Australian a “ cat’s chance “ to make a living. Unless Australians soon awake, the pearling industry will pass into the hands of the Japanese. It will be useless to complain then. It is for the authorities to grapple with the matter right now and make it a truly white man’s industry. The risk is not as great diving for pearl shell as that taken daily by coal-miners.
I do not think that these figures have been published before, but as I have not seen any governmental document which sets out the position in respect of our great marine industries in northern waters, including the gathering of pearlshell, trochus-shells and beche-de-mer, I shall have to accept them as truly reflecting the facts. These statements should he carefully investigated by the Government.
Apparently, the encroachment of the Japanese has arisen because of our neglect of those waters. From time to time we have heard complaints that Japanese have not only poached in our waters, but have also come ashore and conducted themselves with our aboriginal women in a manner which we should not permit in any circumstances. These incidents are happening from year to year, but the Government apparently is prepared more or less to ignore them.
Senator Arkins has rightly said that, because of certain of the remarks which he has just made, some honorable senators will regard him as a visionary. For the honorable senator’s benefit, I may say that there are some people who, as soon as one dares to express an idea less than 250 years old, claim that he is fit for cold storage, and that the only difficulty arising in his case is to find suitable freezing works for his accommodation. As the honorable senator has pointed out, nothing has been done to provide effective means of transport between the southern States and the Northern Territory. The lack of such facilities is one of the greatest handicaps to the development of that part of Australia. We have it on the authority of many experts that the most rapid and effective way of developing the territory is to connect it by railway with Queensland. Queenslanders because of their greater experience of tropical conditions, should be given the first opportunity to assist in the development of the Northern Territory, and the Barkly Tableland. As Senator Arkins said, some people hold that the Northern Territory has a wonderful future, and others condemn it. A former administrator, Dr. Gilruth, said once that he would not accept 5,000 square miles of the country as a gift. I agree with Senator Arkins, however, that the Northern Territory, because of the experience that has been gained, has a better future than its past, which has been disfigured by inefficient administration, and lack of sound planning. There is a better future for the territory than any Australian government has so far assured for it, but we should be shutting our eyes to the facts if we said that within a few years the territory would support a population of 2,000,000. It has taken Victoria 100 years to achieve a population of 2,000,000 and Queensland 120 years, a population of scarcely 1,000,000. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that a substantial population could be assured to the territory by sound planning and, if necessary, a little paternal socialism. Private enterprise has failed in the territory. I daresay the people who settled in that country in the earlier generations were simply stockmen who wanted to keep it a close preserve. We have had the same experience in western Queensland, where the earlier settlers tried to get the land closed against closer settlement. If people are fenced out of the Northern Territory by stories that it has no future beyond what is provided by sheep and cattle grazing, we shall never have a population there of more than 5,000 persons.
– Some of the holdings in western Queensland were cut into too small areas.
– To a certain extent I agree with the honorable senator. As a matter of fact, because of the fact that the average annual rainfall is only about 10 inches, and conditions are generally unsuitable for close settlement, the holdings in western Queensland should be large stations. I am not blind to the practical side of the matter, but I do say that with planned economy, social services, and military organization - military preparedness is necessary if we are to hold it - the Northern Territory should eventually support a population of at least 50,000 persons. A popula- tion of that size is necessary to give us our first line of defence. There is no doubt that up to the present we have failed to develop the territory as it should be developed, and although Senator Arkins has made several constructive suggestions, those in authority do not appear able to listen to anything that is new. They prefer to stick to the old methods, and, because one failure has occurred, they appear to believe that the Northern Territory, as a commercial proposition, is doomed for all time. Senator Arkins pointed to previous conquests over great difficulties which were believed to be unsurmountable. In our own lifetime there have been many wonderful changes. I remember myself regarding flight by heavier than air craft as impossible. In my younger days in Melbourne I saw iwo Frenchmen - men with high reputations - attempt to fly in a mechanical contraption, but their effort met with failure. Accordingly, I was doubtful that flight by such means would ever be achieved by mankind, until one morning I waB confronted with the proof that the miracle had been accomplished. That was only the beginning! For thousands of years men of vision had been laughed at and scorned for attempting to do what the people believed was only for the birds.
– Science said throughout the ages that flight could not be achieved in heavier than air craft.
– Science has said many things which have been proved wrong. At one time it said that the world was flat and that everything revolved around this little show of ours called the earth.
– They did not laugh at the men who said those things. On the contrary, they burnt them at the stake.
– Yes, in some cases that was so. But to come back to what is at issue, I suggest that governmental authorities should make an examination into the statements of Captain Hurley and Mr. Brand regarding the Northern Territory and all matters concerned with it with a view to making this portion of Australia what it should be, and not merely a fighting ground and a breeding place for all kinds of Asiatics, as it has been in the past. I am pleased that Senator Arkins, although he and I differ in politics, has pointed out the need for a new plan for the Northern Territory. We must improve on what has been done in the past. There is no doubt that we could do more for the defence of the territory if we developed it on a national plan.
Senator Foll this afternoon referred to a letter which he had received from the South African War Veterans Association. My colleagues and I have received similar letters. Senator Foil’s appeal for a pension for the veterans of the South African campaign was reasonable. It is about 35 years since that campaign ended - I do not want to go into its cause, which many people who supported the allied case in the last war condemned - but it took place, and this country entered into it by collaborating with Great Britain and sending troops. In his letter, as Senator Foll pointed out, the secretary of the South African War Veterans Association claims that it is not equitable that the men who went from Australia to fight the Boers should go to a pauper’s grave. Any one acquainted with a pauper’s funeral will blush to know that these old soldiers have been treated so shabbily. There is no reason why they should not be given treatment similar to that given to the veterans of the Great War. A thing that can truly be said about past wars is that very little consideration was given in after years to those who escaped with their lives. I have first-hand knowledge that 40 years elapsed before those who fought in the Maori war received a pension, and., at least by Australia, the South African war veterans have been treated nearly as badly. I hope the Minister to whom the veterans have applied will give sympathetic consideration to their appeal.
In conclusion, I express my belief that Parliament was called together too late this year. The decision to bring us here in the middle of June, when the weather at Canberra is at its worst, can be ascribed to one motive only, and that is that the Government did not want Parliament to meet while the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) and a couple of other Ministers were away. The Government did not want anything to happen which might mar the pleasure of those who are overseas. March and April went by, and just when it suited the Ministry - when the big shows in Britain were over - we were brought here suddenly, and at a moment’s notice had the Supply Bill thrown at us. It ia a ridiculous state of affairs, against which I have protested .in past years. I do not intend to obstruct the passage of this measure, but I felt that I had to take the opportunity afforded by the first-reading to deal ‘with the matters which I have covered in my speech.
.- I take this opportunity to appeal to the Government to grant a service pension to the South African war veterans who are in necessitous circumstances. The number of veterans concerned is estimated to be about 200. About 18,000 Australians took part in the South African campaign. Seventy-six per cent, of them also served in the Great War, and, therefore, ‘are entitled to the benefits conferred by the Australian Soldiers Repatriation Act. The majority of the other 24 per cent, are not in need of any help, but about 200 South African veterans throughout the Commonwealth are unemployable because of advanced age, and (mental and physical incapacity, undoubtedly due to the rigours of active service. The Commonwealth Government has incurred little or no post-war expenditure in connexion with those who fought in the South African campaign. The British Government has met, and is still meeting, pension payments to South African war veterans and their dependants. The 200 men to whom I have referred are a “lost legion.” The South African Soldiers Association in each State is not wealthy, but it helps out of its meagre funds those who need succour. As president of the association in Victoria for five years, I have firsthand knowledge of the distress amongst those men and their families. They often come to me and state their cases. As federal president-elect of these associations, I appeal to the Government to set aside a small sum in the forthcoming Estimates to provide for those veterans in need a small pension under the same conditions as apply to pensions granted to those who served in the Great War. By so doing, the Government will come into line with the Government of New Zealand, which does not differentiate between the two campaigns.
– I listened with interest to the remarks of other honorable senators who have preceded me concerning the development of the Northern Territory. Since it is Commonwealth territory, members of this Parliament are responsible, through the Government, for the measures taken to develop it. I congratulate the Government upon the interest which it has evinced in this problem during the last twelve months, and I approve of the appointment of the present Administrator, Mr. Abbott. The appointment of the Land Board to inquire into and report upon schemes for its development is also a step in the right direction. My feeling is that the greatest measure of success is likely to result from the exploitation of the natural resources of the territory. The pastoralists there have not, up to the present time, received the consideration to which they are entitled. Rentals are considerably higher than in the adjoining States, and what is equally important, they have not the same fixity of tenure.
– The honorable senator’s statement about land rentals is incorrect. Rentals in the Northern Territory are lower than in Queensland or Western Australia.
– I accept the correction from the Leader of the Senate. I was certainly under the impression that land rentals in the Northern Territory were higher than those in Queensland or Western Australia. Apparently I - was wrong, but I know they are higher than in South Australia, and I repeat that their grievance about fixity of tenure is substantial. Under a proposal made some years ago for the closer settlement of the territory, lessees will be required to surrender a portion of their leases at the end of a fixed term of years. Several pastoralists have written to me complaining that under this arrangement they will be obliged to surrender those portions of their properties which are most highly developed and upon which they depend for permanent water. As regards the appointment of the Administrator, I disagree with many critics of the Government. I know of no one better fitted to discharge the important duties of that office than is the gentleman who has been appointed. I say, without reservation, that Mr. Abbott propounded the only practical scheme that has ever been presented for the development of the Northern Territory on sound lines. I do not mean that I approve of all the details of the proposal which he outlined, but 1 am in agreement with its general principles. Mr. Abbott quite properly concentrated on plans for the development of the cattle industry. I feel sure that if his recommendations were adopted we should soon establish a good overseas* market for chilled beef raised on Northern Territory pastures. His proposal involved the expenditure of about £1,000,000, but when we take into consideration the fact that many millions have been already expended on developmental schemes for the Northern Territory, and apparently without success, the venturing of an additional £1,000,000, with a view to establishing an export trade in beef, seems to be well worth while. Mr. Abbott’s proposal includes the transport of cattle in the Northern Territory by motor vehicles and the erection of meat-works at Vanderlin Island. The idea of transporting cattle by motor vehicle is not so fantastic as some people ‘believe it to be. Thi? system has been in, operation for many years in Argentina, where thousands of cattle are handled yearly. The adoption of such a scheme in the Northern Territory would enable us to compete successfully in the British market with what is known as baby beef - cattle from two to three years old - which is in such demand there. I am sure that Mr. Abbott’s heart is in his work and that he will do everything possible to make his term as Administrator a successful one. One honorable senator spoke this evening of roads and bridges as part of a scheme for development. The honorable gentleman apparently has had no experience of conditions in the territory, or he would know that the construction of concrete roads would be entirely unnecessary. For about ten months of the year, Northern Territory roads are fit for motor traffic, and all that is required is to concrete the bottoms of creeks which, when in flood, are of immense width, rendering the construction of concrete bridges quite impracticable. Flood waters come down in such great volume that very few structures could withstand the impact of water and debris. To give honorable senators an idea of how rapidly flood waters rise in that class’ of country I may mention that, some years ago, Mr. Scott, manager of the Mount Leonard station in Queensland, was overwhelmed and drowned in flood waters which came down one of the creeks on his property. When the water had subsided his body was found entangled in the branches of a gum tree 30 feet above the normal level of the creek. I sincerely trust that everything possible will be done for the development of the Northern Territory, and again I congratulate the Government on the appointment of’ Mr. Abbott as Administrator.
, - I listened with much interest to the remarks of Senator James McLachlan, and entirely endorse his approval of the Government’s policy to develop the Northern Territory. Similar attention should be given to the northwest coastal districts of Western Australia. I am convinced that, before many years elapse, we shall be compelled to do something to promote settlement in that part of my State if we wish to hold it. I cannot speak from personal knowledge of conditions in the Northern Territory, but I am familiar with my own State, and if the electors are good enough to return me when next I appeal to them I shall visit the territory to familiarize myself with its problems.
I commend the Government for its proposal to construct a vessel for fisheries research, and I trust that the claims of Western Australia will not be overlooked. The waters off the north-west of Western Australia teem with fish of great potential value. I hope that the research vessel to be built by the Government will investigate the possibilities there.
I protest against the delay in the issue of uniforms to members of the militia in Western Australia. It is disgraceful that patriotic and public-minded citizens, who give up so much of their time to undergo military training in order better to equip themselves to serve this country iu an emergency, should be expected also to provide their own uniforms. Early this year I was in Bunbury and met a number of residents there who complained that they had to do all their military training in their own clothes. The least that the military authorities can do is to provide these men with uniforms as quickly as possible. Parliament will be asked to vote a tremendous sum of money this year for defence purposes; it is not too much to ask that a portion of the amount be set aside for uniforms for civilian soldiers.
I hope that the Government will give serious consideration to the request of wheat-growers in “Western Australia to participate in the subsidy provided for the purchase of fertilizers. This subsidy has been the means of encouraging pasture improvement and orchard culture, so expenditure on this account has not been lost to the nation. I hope that wheat-growers will, this year, be eligible for the benefits of that subsidy.
Payments made under the Apple and Pear Bounty Act have also benefited our producers. As most honorable senators are aware very low prices have ruled this year for apples and pears. Growers in my State have suffered very heavy losses and they are finding difficulty in carrying on. They have approached the Government for assistance, which, I regret to state, has not been forthcoming. I hope that during the .coming year it will be possible to increase the bounty. This is an industry which is capable of considerable expansion. Apples can be grown in soil which is of little use for growing other crops; the light gravelly soil which is so suitable for them does not generally give good returns if put under other crops.
At Albany, in Western Australia, there is a woollen mill which, in my opinion, is entitled to greater consideration in connexion with contracts for the military and railway requirements of the Commonwealth. In considering military contracts, ocean freights between. Albany and manufacturing centres in Melbourne are taken into consideration. The Navigation Act operates harshly against Western Australia. At times cloth from the Albany mill is sent 300 miles by rail to Fremantle and then shipped to the Eastern States for manufacture. Probably some of it is returned later to Western Australia for use by the militia there. I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Defence to look into this matter.
– Many country districts in Queensland suffer through lack of adequate telephonic communication. In this connexion I instance a district which I know well; other districts may be in a similar position. There is a suggestion that a telephone line should be erected between Winton and Boulia, a distance of about 245 miles, but the department has objected to the proposal on the ground that the revenue from the line would not pay interest and sinking fund commitments. The provision of proper telegraphic and telephonic communication in outback districts should be regarded, not so much in the light of revenue as of the fact that they are developmental lines. The traffic over telephone lines serving outback districts is not the total business associated with the district that it serves, because the produce of such districts is sent to the cities, where further use of the telephone system is made. A portion of the revenue derived from telephone services in the cities should rightly be credited to country lines. In 1920, the Department paid £856 to the mail contractor for the carriage of mails between Winton and Boulia, but this year, the cost to the Commonwealth for similar services is only £85. The department surely will not maintain that the contractor is now running the service for his own pleasure, at a loss; and therefore, it must agree that the difference between the contract rates is a contribution to its funds by the people of the district. The savings effected by the department in respect of the mail contract should be utilized to provide a better telephone service for the district. Another mail service runs between Winton and Kynuna. In 1919, the mail contract cost the department £565, but, this year, the same service is rendered at a cost of £44. That service represents 220 miles of travelling weekly, which would cost the contractor “much more than £44 a year. Obviously, therefore, the department, in this instance also, is making a saving at the expense of the people of the district.
– I suggest that the honorable senator bring these matters forward when the bill has reached the committee stage.
– This is a matter of great concern to the residents of outback districts. They are entitled to better treatment; and out of the savings which it has effected in respect of mail contracts the Government should provide it.
For a long time I have advocated the erection of a wireless broadcasting station in western Queensland. The Postmaster-General (Senator A. J; McLachlan) informed the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) a few days ago, in reply to a question, that a short wave station in New South Wales served that district. That may be, but as many of the people in that area cannot afford dual wave sets, the short wave station is not of much use to them. A regional station should be provided to serve the settlers in the far western country.
For a number of years portions of Queensland have been affected by severe droughts, with the result that the losses of stock have been enormous. In July, 1935, when the drought broke, 3,330,000 sheep were lost in Western and North-western Queensland. Had a catastrophe of that magnitude occurred in any of the capital cities of Australia, the newspapers would have had headlines an inch high informing readers of the fact; but because these things happen in outback districts, where the population is small, they are given little prominence. Statistics compiled by the Queensland Statistician from .stock returns supplied to the
Clerks of Petty Sessions, show a further loss of .5,360,000 sheep between 1931 and 1935, which also was a drought period. The year 1930 was fair. But between 1925 when the drought commenced, and 1929, a further 8,170,000 sheep were lost. In other words, 16,860,000 sheep were lost in ten years. Those figures provide food for thought. Apart from the loss qf the sheep themselves, the value of the wool which they would have produced, even in those bad years when the price was as low as 8d. per lb., would have been considerable. I realize that the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has done much to assist pastoralists in connexion with animal disease, nutrition, the blow-fly pest, &c, but no one seems to realize the terrific losses which graziers incur through droughts. Losses due to dingoes, fluke, the blow-fly and other pests are small in comparison with those caused by drought ; recent investigations have shown that drought is responsible for 700 out of every 1,000 sheep lost. During the recess I visited the west and north-western portions of Queensland, and at all the meetings I attended I was asked if the Commonwealth Government could not assist graziers to restock their holdings. When I brought this matter forward last year I was informed that the Commonwealth Government could not make a grant for this purpose to one State, as other States could make similar claims; but I fail to understand why, under the Farmers’ Debt Adjustment Act, settlers cannot be assisted to restock their holdings. Surely that act can be amended to enable money to be made available for this purpose, and thus allow these deserving men to get on their feet again. I ask leave to continue my remarks at a later hour.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion by Senator Sir George Pearce) read a first time.
– The re-stocking of pastoral holdings presents the greatest difficulty with which graziers have to contend. The abundant growth of grass which is now going to waste will soon become a menace to other settlers. “When the hot winds commence in November and December, the risk of fire will be great, and should an outbreak occur thousands of acres of good grass will be destroyed. Owing to the limited means of these settlers, the provision of necessary firebreaks is impracticable. This matter has been brought under the notice of the Queensland Government, which is sympathetic, and, as Commonwealth Ministers will be conferring with State Ministers at a meeting of the Loan Council in J July, perhaps arrangements can be made for Ministers to meet representatives of the financial institutions and graziers. If that were done, I believe that finance could be provided to assist the re-stocking of this country, which has been so severely affected by drought during the last ten years. I understand that £12,000,000 of loan money has been voted by the Commonwealth Parliament for farmers’ debt adjustment, but that, owing to the States requiring for public works a certain proportion of the loan money available, the amount that could be immediately applied to debt adjustment has been reduced. I understand that the States have used only £1,817,000 of the £12,000,000, and that Queensland has had only £125,000. Victoria, which, up to the present has utilized only £562,000, has granted some relief to graziers. Surely an arrangement could be made with the Queensland Government and representatives of the financial institutions for funds to re-stock these holdings. At the conclusion of a large and important public meeting, I received the following letter dated the 23rd June: -
As a concrete example of the paralysing effect, the under-stocking of the north-west has upon industry generally, it was disclosed during the meeting that the- average total sheep holding of the Richmond Petty Session district (which excludes Hughenden, Winton and Julia Creek), over six years from 1930, to 1935, were over 1,012,000 sheep. Following the abnormal stock losses in 1935, to 1936, returns disclose the total holding as 489,000 sheep - a drop of 523,000 sheep or 61 per cent, of the average.
Another portion of the letter read -
The frightful effect upon industry and employment generally, quite apart from the capital losses suffered by graziers, may be gauged from the fact that the drop of 523,000 sheep below the average might well represent 11,500 bales of wool or £253,000 of lost income for the year. With the State enrolment for this* district at approximately 950 adults, the money loss represents approximately a decline of £2(16 per adult for the year.
That does not take into account the increase that would have followed if onehalf of the number lost were ewes. I have brought this matter under the notice of the Government in the hope that it will confer with the Queensland Government to see if assistance in the form I have suggested cannot be given to these settlers who, through no fault of their own, are in such straitened circumstances. Our annual loss from drought is so serious that we would be justified in appointing a Minister to deal wholly and solely with this matter. I sincerely hope that the Leader of the Senate will bring the matters which I have raised before the Cabinet, and that something tangible will result from its consideration of this problem.
– I wish to bring a few matters under the notice of the PostmasterGeneral (Senator A. J. McLachlan). Several requests have already been made to him for the restoration of travelling post offices in Tasmania which were discontinued during the depression. The people have done without these facilities for some time now, but it was never thought that their discontinuance would be permanent, as seems now to be the case. The communities most affected are small inland country towns adjacent to railways. In view of the improvement which has taken place in Government finance generally, and in post office revenue in particular, I suggest that the time is opportune for a restoration of these services. In some cases mails may he carried 20 or 30 miles past small towns to an official post office where the mails are sorted, and are not returned to the towns of destination until the following day. Having regard to the great benefits conferred by travelling post offices, the cost of maintaining such, services should not be an obstacle to their restoration. Residents in many small towns in Tasmania would greatly appreciate some intimation from the PostmasterGeneral in respect of this matter.
To-day I asked the Postmaster-General whether salaries in respect of allowance post offices would be raised as the result of the increase of the basic wage, and he replied to the effect that when they were fixed the salaries of employees engaged at these post offices were above the basic wage. I believe that he must have misunderstood my question.
– If the honorable senator reads the reply which I gave to him he will see that that statement is not justified; I stated that the original base rate on which remunerations in respect of allowance post offices was fixed, was in excess of the new basic wage, allowing for the recent increase of that wage.
– But the allowance to assisted post offices is based entirely on the amount of business done.
– Why does not the honorable senator defer his inquiries until the Postmaster-General’s Department is before us in committee?
– I shall do that.
– I wish to support the request made by Senator Marwick for a liberal grant this year to assist the applegrowers, who are now in a most unfortunate position. The London market has practically collapsed, and I read in the Sydney Morning Herald recently that the price received in London and Liverpool for the three choicest varieties - Jonathans, Delicious and Cleopatraswas from 5s. 6d. to 8s. 6d. a case. I point out that the cost of the cases, packing and transport, averages about 8s. a case. On these prices the grower receives jio return at all. Furthermore, the season on the London market is confined tr» a period of twelve weeks. In order to stabilize that market, Australian and Slew Zealand growers have agreed to an export quota. Nevertheless, the market has failed to absorb even the limited supplies. It is impossible for the apple industry to organize itself like the dried fruits industry. The growers are always being told to organize their industry, but T point out that, unlike dried fruits, apples are perishable, and must be sold when they are ready and the market is available. The producers of dried fruits to-day retain sufficient in Australia to supply the home market and sell the surplus production overseas for whatever they can get. The apple-growers are in an entirely different position; they can send only a limited quantity overseas and have to sell the remainder in Australia for what it will bring. Furthermore, the apple orchardist has no Control over selling and buying in his industry; he is obliged to purchase his requirements in a dear market, and sell his product in a cheap market. I emphasize that this is an important industry, particularly from the point of view of closer settlement, and because the small -areas suitable for cultivation as apple orchards cannot be utilized for dairying or agriculture. The only way to help this industry effectively is through a direct bounty. Such a grant would not be unfair to other primary industries because the dried fruits, butter and sugar industries are indirectly financed by the consumers of these products in order to enable them to carry on. Similar schemes cannot be applied to the apple industry, and, consequently, the only way in which to help it is by a direct grant. If sugar-growers were obliged to sell’ a limited quantity of sugar on the English market at, say, £14 a ton, and sell the balance in an Australian glutted market, they would not be able to carry on. Nor could the producers of dried fruits and butter in relative circumstances. However, the apple-growers are compelled to carry on in face of difficulties of this nature. *I repeat that through the collapse of the London market they are now in a most unfortunate position. Only to-day I received a letter from the chairman of the State Fruit Board in Tasmania, which is a semi-governmental body. The letter stated -
The collapse of the United Kingdom market must, undoubtedly, cause serious monetary loss to growers, and it is very doubtful, when taking the average into account, that the return will cover the actual cost of marketing.
Further, the State Fruit Board of Tasmania has not submitted representations for bounty, as it is awaiting the finalization of United Kingdom returns before submitting a request to the Federal Government.
The other day I asked a question on this point, and the Minister replied that he had not received such a request from the growers. This statement explains the reason why; the growers have not been able to put in all the returns from their sale notes. But the Minister’s reply also led one to infer that a number of growers had sold their fruit, and that the only loss was suffered by the buyers. This letter continued -
It is true that many growers have sold a portion of their crop f.o.b., but it must be borne in mind that the high rate of freight is the main factor in determining the f.o.b. prices.
I have endeavoured to ascertain exactly the proportions of the fruit sold f.o.b., and that sent on consignment. I believe that about 60 per cent. of it has been sold on consignment, that is, on the grower’s own account, and this fruit is bringing a price in London and Liverpool that barely covers the cost of packing and freight. The chairman of the State Fruit Board in his letter added -
I would strongly stress the fact that the Australian quota was again reduced this year with the result that the interstate markets are glutted with choice fruit which is being sold at non-remunerative prices.
I might add that this year thousands of cases of apples will not be marketed at all. Last year a portion of the grant to the apple-growers was ear-marked for research. The growers now contend that the whole of the money should be given to them, because they are so badly off. The letter continues -
I am of the opinion that this amount should bo taken into consideration when the grant for 1937 export is being considered.
The letter also asks that Tasmanian federal members will wait upon the Minister for Commerce (Dr. Earle Page) to place before him the strongest possible representations for a bounty on this year’s export of apples and pears. I have taken the opportunity to bring up the matter at this stage, because I shall not have another opportunity to do so before the Estimates are considered. In conclusion, this letter stated -
I would mention that prices realized this year arc the lowest for some years, and the position of the industry is, indeed, serious.
I agree that the industry is in an extremely serious plight. I hope that the Government will give every consideration to the representations which I have made, and provide a much more liberal bounty this year than was provided last year.
[10.45]. - in reply - The various matters mentioned by honorable senators will be placed before the Ministers whose departments are concerned. I point out, in all friendliness, that many points have been raised that might have been discussed more appropriately at the committee stage, when questions asked about details of administration could be answered by the Ministers concerned. On the first reading of a Supply bill, it is usual for honorable senators to avail themselves of the opportunity presented to debate general matters not referred to in the bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
[10.47].- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to grant Supply to carry on the services of the Commonwealth for the first two months of the coming financial year. The clauses and schedule of the bill have been framed in accordance with the practice adopted in past years. The amount which the committee is asked to appropriate from revenue is £5,776,890, which includes the following sums for ordinary services: -
Provision is made in the bill only for the amount which is estimated to he sufficient to carry on the essential services on the basis of the appropriations by the Parliament for the present year. The items making up this total represent approximately one-sixth of those appropriations, except in a few cases where the expenditure is heavy in the early months of the financial year.
In accordance with the cost of living provisions of the Public Service and other regulations, the salaries of Commonwealth employees willbe increased from the 1st July, 1937, the maximum increase being £6 per annum in the case of an adult male officer. This increase will involve an annual expenditure of approximately £200,000 per annum.
The usual provisions are made in the hill for refunds of revenue and advance to the Treasurer, the amountsbeing £350,000 and £1,500,000, respectively. The latter amountis mainly required to carry on uncompleted works in progress at the 30th June, 1937, and to cover unforeseen and miscellaneous expenditure. It will also permit of a continuation of special grants to South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania. The special grants to those States will be continued on the same basis as the grants approved by Parliament for the present financial year, pending the receipt of the report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission and the subsequent introduction of new bills, when any necessary adjustments will be made. No provision is made for any new expenditure, or any departure from present policy.
The present time appears to be an appropriate occasion to furnish to honorable senators an indication of the possible results of this financial year. The Consolidated Revenue Fund for the eleven months ended the 31st May discloses that, during that period, receipts exceeded expenditure by £1,800,000. This is largely due to the lag in expenditure, and cannot be taken as indicating the likelihood of a surplus of that magnitude when the year closes. Receipts for the full year from indirect taxes, that is, customs, excise and sales tax, are expected closely to approximate the budget estimate. Income tax revenue will exceed the estimate.Revenue under other head* will be practically normal. Unforeseen expenditure includes £150,000 by way of grants to the States in December last in order to provide assistance to persons out of employment, and £100,000 to cover the cost of the recent referendum.
The Commonwealth estimates of expenditure out of loan for the current year included an amount of £600,000 for telephone exchange services. This amount has been expended, but, in view of the difficulty of raising loan money for public works, particularly in May and November of last year, the Government has decided to provide £300,000 of this expenditure from revenue, leaving only £300,000 charged to the loan account for this purpose. The necessary adjustment of the appropriations will be made when the supplementary estimates of expenditure from revenue are introduced at a later date. Notwithstanding these unforeseen items, and our heavy commitments in the current month, I am glad to give the assurance that, in regard to the ConsolidatedRevenue Fund, operations will be satisfactory. I hope to be in a position, within a few days after the 30th June, to make available to honorable senators a statement setting out in some detail the revenue and expenditure of the year. I am confident that the returns will then disclose a surplus.
Question resolved in the affirmative-.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) agreed to-
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till to-morrow at 11 a.m.
Senate adjourned at 10.54 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 29 June 1937, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1937/19370629_senate_14_153/>.