15th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. P.J. Lynch) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
23rd Conference - Reports of Australian Delegation.
. - I lay on the table of the Senate the following papers: -
International labour Organization of the League of Nations - . Twenty-third Session held at Geneva, 3rd to 23rd June, 1937 - Reports of the Australian Delegates, and move -
That the paper be printed.
Australia was represented at the Conference by Mr. T. H. Scholfield, M.C., M.M., M.P., andthe non-Government delegates, representing respectively the employers and workers, were Mr. Norman Temperly and Mr. J. E. Pullan. The attendance at the Conference was the largest in its history, 53 countries being represented by 431 persons as delegates or advisers. Among these representatives were ten ministers for social affairs.
The agenda contained seven items for consideration in connexion with the adoption of international regulations in the form of draft conventions and recommendations, three of which aroused particular attention. These were the items dealing with theapplication of the 40-hour week, without a reduction of the standard of living of the workers, to three, great branches of industry - the textile, chemical, and printing industries and kindred trades.
Only one of the three proposed draft conventions submitted to the Conference was adopted, namely that relating to the textile industry. The Government delegate, acting on instructions,after explaining the constitutional difficulties of the Commonwealth in relation to the ratification’ of conventions dealing with hours of work, and expressing the views of the
Commonwealth Government generally on the subject, voted for the adoption of a 40-hour week convention in each of the industries named. These instructions were communicated to Parliament by the then Minister for External Affairs (Senator Sir George Pearce) on the 24th June last.
The other four items on the agenda led to positive results. The Conference revised two existing conventions relating to the minimum age for admission to industrial and non-industrial employment by raising the age from 14 to 15 years, as was done last year in connexion with the convention concerning work at sea. It is anticipated that the raising of the age for admission to employment will lead to the raising of the school leaving age, and will contribute to the reduction of unemployment among young people as well as to the extension of their educat ion.
The Conference also adopted a draft recommendation for protection against accidents in the building industry. This convention is completed by four recommendations, one of which includes a model code for the avoidance of accidents.
The final item on the agenda dealt with the planning of public works in relation to employment, and in this connexion two recommendations were adopted. The Conference considered it desirable that public works should be planned methodically and in advance, so that they might bo reserved as far as possible for periods of depression and unemployment. The object is to obtain international cooperation in this sphere.
Another important subject dealt with by the conference was the triennial election of members of the International Labour Office. This consists of 32 members of whom sixteen represent governments, eight represent employers, and eight workers. Of the government mem- bers, eight are by right the representatives of the States of chief industrial importance - the United States of America, Canada, France, Great Britain, India, Italy, Japan and the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics. The remaining eight are elected by the government delegates at the conference with the exception of the delegates from the eight countries mentioned. The employers and workers rep resentatives on the governing body are elected as individuals by the respective groups at the conference, with the condition that two must belong to extraEuropean countries.
The Government has specially noted the recommendations submitted by the workers’ delegate. Several of the matters mentioned have already received consideration at various times, but the Government will further consider these subjects in due course. I commend the reports for perusal by honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Collings) adjourned.
The following papers were presented : -
Conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers on Unemployment Insurance and the 40-hour Week, held in Canberra, 13th August, 1937 - Proceedings and Decisions of Conference.
International Labour Organization of the League of Nations - Twenty-third Session, 3rd to 23rd June, 1937- Draft Conventions and Recommendations.
Unemployment Insurance - Report, with Appendix, dated 9th September, 1937, furnished by the Committee of Officers of theCommonwealth and State Governments.
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, Ac.-
No. 17 of 1937 - Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia; and Federated Public Service. Assistants’ Association of Australia.
No. 18 of 1937 - Commonwealth Telephone Officers’ Association.
Norfolk Island Act - Ordinances of 1937 -
No. 9 - Conveyancing (No. 2).
No. 10 - Education.
No. 1 1 - Marriage.
Papua Act - Ordinances of 1937 -
No. 4 - Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages.
No. 5 - Customs Tariff.
No. 6 - Bills of Exchange.
No. 7 - Seamen (Unemployment Indemnity).
No. 8 - Maintenance Orders (Facilities for Enforcement).
No. 9 - Public Service (Officers Investments) .
No. 10-Customs (Export) Tariff.
No. 1 1-Supplementary Appropriation 1936-1937.
No. 12 - Appropriation 1937-1938.
No. 13 - Quarantine.
Taxation Acts - Nineteenth Report of the Commissioner, year 1935-36 - Land Tax, Income Tax and Estate Duty; andyear 1936-37- Sales Tax.
I ask you, Mr. President, whether any representations for an alteration or reallocation of any rooms in Parliament House, at present occupied by honorable senators, have been made; if representations are made to you, will you, before agreeing to any alteration or re-allocation of existing accommodation, give to honorable senators an opportunity to express their wishes?
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch). - Representations have been made to me and to Mr. Speaker for a re-allocation of the accommodation set aside for members on the Senate side as well as elsewhere in the building, but no decision has yet been reached.I give the right honorable gentleman an assurance that any proposal for an alteration of the existing accommodation will be referred to members of this chamber.
. -by leave - It is the intention of the Government to make a change in the licensing system introduced on the 22nd May, 1936, and to substitute a system of adequate duties where such action is necessary for the protection of Australian industry. The import quotas at present applying to motor chassis will, however, be retained. The motor chassis quota will continue on the present basis, which provides for the annual importation of chassis equal to the number imported during the twelve months ended the 30th April, 1936. In respect of other goods which are now subject to restrictions under the licensing system, the action necessary to determine what duties are adequate to protect the industries established under the licensing restrictions, or those which either have extended manufacturing operations or laid plans for establishment, will be put in hand forthwith. It will not, however, be possible to determine and apply the duties at once. A change-over from the licensing system to the imposition of duties cannot be made until Parliament meets after the forthcoming recess and in appropriate cases reference will be made to the Tariff Board. In the meantime the licensing system will be administered on the following basis : -
The Commonwealth Government has arrived at this decision in the light of its experience during the last twelve months, and after carefully considering the factors operating for and against the retention of the licensing system, including the improvement of the trade balance since the restrictions wore first introduced.
– Is it usual for information regarding changes of this kind to be sprung upon the Senate by means of a statement which honorable senators have difficulty in understanding, and no opportunity to criticize?
SenatorFOLL. - There will be ample opportunity to discuss the statement I have just made. It deals with certain proposals of the Government, and the usual procedure has been followed.
– It is the first time since I have been a member of the Senate that this procedure has been adopted.
– These proposals are similar to a tariff schedule, of which notice is not given prior to its introduction into parliament. When tabled, a tariff schedule becomes operative immediately.
– Some tariff schedules have not been discussed for three or four years after being placed before Parliament.
– The Appropriation Bill will be before the Senate this afternoon, and opportunity will then be given to discuss these proposals. The Government has nodesire to prevent discussion.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Defence any information to give to the Senate regarding the recent accidents to air force bombers, and can he give an assurance that adequate steps will be taken to investigate the causes of such accidents?
SenatorFOLL. - Anticipating a question in connexion with these unfortunate accidents, the Minister for Defence (Mr. Thorby) has supplied the following information : -
No. 1 bomber squadron, stationed at Laverton, Victoria, left that aerodrome on Monday, the 29th November, for a training flight to Bourke, Charleville, Brisbane, Richmond, Cootamundra, and return to Laverton. The squadron consisted of nine Demon aircraft, each with a crew of two persons.
The object of the flight was to give long cross-country andnavigational experience to the pilots of the squadron, as this is the only way in which a junior pilot can be trained in cross-country work. The pilots were all qualified to undertakea flight of this nature in charge of experienced squadron and flight commanders.
Unfortunately, a series of mishapsoccurred, one of which resulted in the death of Pilot OfficerFallon, and the injury, fortunately not very serious, of Leading Aircraftman Fitzgerald. I am naturally deeply concerned at these occurrences, The Air Board has appointed a special committee, consisting of Group Captain W. H. Anderson, Wing CommanderE. C. Wackett, and Wing Commander A. W. Murphy, to make a thorough examination, with a view to arriving at the causes. The Air Accidents Investigation Committee, which investigates all such accidents, and was specially constituted to protect the public interests, will also submit a report after full inquiries have boon completed.
– In view of the promise made by the PostmasterGeneral some time ago that a full inqury would be made into the conditions of employment at country post offices, is the Minister in a position to say whether the inquiry has been instituted, and when the results are likely to be made known?
– The inquiry is now proceeding, but, as there are between 6,000 and 7,000 persons involved and the conditions vary considerably, the investigation must necessarily takea considerable time. I shall ascer tain the earliest date at which I am likely to receive a report, and let the honorable senator know.
– In view of the highly inflammable nature of the antiquated building now used as a post office at Sorell, Tasmania, has the PostmasterGeneral given further consideration to the representations that I made some time ago regarding the necessity for a new post office there?
– I do not like inflammable things, and I shall certainly have inquiries made regarding the Sorell post office.
– On the 2nd December, Senator Collett asked me, as representing the Minister for Defence, the following questions, upon notice: -
The Minister for Defence has supplied the following answers: -
Brisbane and South Brisbane Post Offices
– I desire to ask the Postmaster-General, without notice, the following question : -
Now that the Postmaster-General (Senator A. J. McLachlan) has been elected and selected for the second time, can be tell the
Senate how many timeshe will have to be elected and selected before the Brisbane and South Brisbane post offices have been built!
– Order !
– Is not that in order? If it is not, I withdraw it.
asked the Min ister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
What amount has the Federal Government made available to the Tasmanian Government for expenditure on roads in each of the last six years?
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answer to the honorable senator’s question : -
The payments to Tasmania under the Federal Aid Roads Agreement for each of the last six years are as follows: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following answer to the honorable senator’s question : -
The publication mentioned was placed on the prohibited list in 1934, because it was considered to be a prohibited import within themeaning of the Customs (Prohibited Imports.) Regulations. The Attorney-General’s Department is being asked to review the publication again.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The Minister for Defence has supplied the following answers : -
Statementby Chief Judge
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The Attorney-General has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions : -
We must give the best wage the industry can sustain, and we cannot do any more.”
Returned Soldier Linesmen
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Will the Government consider the question of making special provision for the permanent appointment of qualified returned soldier linesmen who are not permanently appointed prior to reaching the age of 52 years?
– It is suggested that the present limit of age, namely, 51 years, should be regarded as reasonable for tlie permanent appointment of men who are to undertake the duties of linesman.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and sessional orders suspended.
Motion (by Senator Mclachlan) promised -
That the bill be now read a first time.
– My observations on the bill will be as brief as possible, having regard to the importance of the matters to which T desire to refer. First, I express the opinion very firmly held by members of the Opposition as to the inadvisability of returning to the pernicious habit of borrowing abroad. I am just wondering whether this Government has realized fully the possibilities opened up by a return to that practice, and whether it has given any consideration whatever to the effect it will have in relation to Commonwealth loan conversion operations now pending. Loans amounting to about £’72,000,000 will have to be converted during the coming year, and if the flotation of a loan of £2,000,000 on the United Kingdom market - equal to £2,500,000 in Australian currency - is likely to have a bacl effect upon these operations, that will be an additional reason why the
Government should refrain from such borrowing. We all agree, I believe, that this new departure from what has been the practice during recent years, at any rate, is consequent upon the increased amount which the Government proposes to raise for defence. It will be generally admitted, also, I think, that our expenditure on defence will he not only a recurring item but also will grow as the years go on. Consequently, I submit that confidence in the Australian loan market must be greatly weakened if we borrow abroad instead of. paying our way. Especially would it be wise for us to pay our way in relation to the important matter of expenditure on defence. I suggest that the Government’s proposal to raise this money on the other side of the wor.ld is entirely inconsistent with it? perpetual boast that prosperity has returned to this country. I submit, very definitely, that if this prosperity actually exists, a point upon which the Government and its supporters are so emphatic, every sane person must agree that such prosperity should pay its way.
– What does the honorable senator mean by paying its way?
– I certainly do not mean that we shall pay our way by borrowing abroad in order to meet defence commitments which must be a recurring and increasing liability. I point out that nearly six months of the current financial year has passed and already there is a surplus of over £1,0.00,000 in excess of the estimate .by the Treasurer (Mr. Casey). The Opposition has no objection to the. expenditure proposed for the relief of unemployment : nor do we complain about the extra amount now being asked for in respect of war pensions; and we have nothing but approval for the proposed allocations for the liberalization of maternity allowances. We claim, however, that the proposed expenditure on defence falls within an entirely different category and we submit that the amount which it is proposed to borrow abroad for this purpose should be raised by means of internal taxation, and that such taxation should be definitely placed upon the shoulders of those people enjoying the biggest incomes, because it will be the assets of such people which will have to be defended in the event of war.
– What about thelives of the workers; are they not worth anything?
SenatorCOLLINGS.- I anticipated interjections of that nature, and, with all due respect to the honorable senator, I say that his interjection was just thoughtless. If it were my desire to prolong this debate, I should be prepared to answer in detail his inquiry. But briefly, I assert now that it is the workers of this country who give their lives in war and who, if fortunate to return from war, pay the taxes necessary to keep themselves alive and to finance past wars and help the country prepare for future wars ; they, also, finance the payments needed to compensate men incapacitated or suffering ill-health as the result of war service. Consequently, when an honorable senator makes an interjection of the nature of that just made by Senator Grant, I say, that the asset of human life is in a different category to human property. I submit that, as the major portion of the private wealth of this country is owned by a few people and none of it by any section of the great masses of the people, the main burden of paying for the defence of this country should be placed on the wealthy section. I am merely pointing out that the Government obviously admits that this country is unable to carry the full load of that expenditure, because it now proposes to raise a loan of £2,000,000, and, because I believe that its proposal is inquitious and dangerous, in view of the conversion commitments, which we should have to face during the coming year, I am making these remarks, and, as usual, am endeavouring not only to criticize the Government, but also to suggest some way out of its difficulties. I know that daily the Government has to face the squeals of the wealthy who complain of excessive taxation. I submit that the whole field of taxation requires revision. The squealers want such a review, not with a view to reducing the sum total of taxes, but with a view to altering the incidence of taxation. They do not want taxes reduced because they know that such reductions cannot be given, if they are to retain the benefits which they at present enjoy from the processes of government. What they want is the incidence of taxation shifted off their shoulders as far as possible on to the shoulders of those least able to bear it. I suggest that there should be a general revision of the incidence of present taxation.
Reverting to my earlier remarks regarding loan flotations, I quote from the Melbourne Herald, which recently dealt with this very matter -
An amount of £2,500,000 - part of the expenditure for defence - is to be raised by treasury bills in London. These shortdated securities are to be funded later and possibly others with them. Mr. Casey explains that the Loan Council is trying to limit the year’s demand on the Australian market to £16,000,000 and it is mindful of the fact that towards the end of 1938 there will be Australian conversions amounting to £72,700,000. His reasoning can be understood, as also can his repugnance to meeting defence expenditure by extra taxation. Yet Australia financed itself through the worst years of world shortage and it can do so still. The London loan proposal is a step backward. Good financing with many millions should make it unnecessary.
That opinion which appeared in a recent issue of the Melbourne Herald, which is not a Labour paper, is supported by the members of the Opposition in this chamber. I was interested to hear the PostmasterGeneral (Senator A. J. McLachlan) read the report of the Australian delegate to the International Labour Office at Geneva, which shows that there is some need to make a determined effort to make up the leeway which occurs when seasonal industries cease or when we are faced with an economic depression. During the past few days the public press of Australia and various reliable authorities, who contribute to it, have deprecated the fact that some persons are already speaking of another depression. Of course, we must expect such comments, but history records that for many decades depressions have followed the periods of prosperity. The members of the Opposition do not make ill-considered statements in this chamber; but devote a good deal of their time to research work in order to ascertain the opinion of reliable authorities on the subjects which come before this chamber for discussion. 1 am confident that another financial and economic slump is in the offing, and it is the duty of the Government not to wait until it comes, but to prepare for it now.
– Did not the people do that at the last general election?
– The honorable senator should not comment too happily on what the people did at the last general election. I suppose he wishes me to recognize that by an unfortunate accident the Government is still in the saddle and that it has received an extension of its political life. A further extension will not, I predict, be granted in 1940. We cannot overcome our difficulties by talking of prosperity, and we cannot prevent a further depression by suppressing our fears; but this Government and every legislator who takes his duties seriously should base his actions and words on economic facts. It is our responsibility to prevent the everrecurring booms and bursts.
– Talk will not do it.
– That is all we can do here, what else can we do but talk?
– No, we should use our brains.
– The suggestion of the honorable senator is that I have not the capacity to use my brains, and that the honorable senator has a superabundance of that capacity. We are, sent here to express our opinions without fear or favour, and not to listen to inane, if not insane, interjections from honorable senators opposite. In order that I may be supported in the responsibility of saying that a slump is in the offing I shall quote some authorities on this point.
– How disappointed the honorable senator will be if a slump docs not occur.
- Senator Abbott knows that neither he nor I will have occasion to be very seriously inconvenienced if a slump does occur, but if the Government is unprepared for such an emergency tens of thousands of persons will again be compelled to suffer the tortures of the damned as a result of unemployment, poverty, malnutrition and defective housing. Those are my reasons for asking the Government to get on with the job entrusted to it by the taxpayers. The chairman of the Bank of Adelaide, Sir Howard Lloyd, said -
It is, however, unlikely, that the position will be completely retrieved for some time-
He is speaking of the interest rates obtainable by the banks - as there is considerable leeway to make up. The banks in order to keep the commercial public together lost more heavily through the years of depression than they ordinarily would have done.
Those are the words, not of a Labour fanatic, but of a responsible banking authority. He continued -
And they may prefer not to continue the same percentage of loans, but rather to create some reserve lending power against possible future necessity. It is probable, therefore, that banks will not be such free lenders to the public.
Surely that is an indication that the banks are already shortening sail. As soon as they commence to do that we are half-way on the road to the next depression. Merely because we have partially emerged from economic and financial chaos some honorable senators think that such a condition of affairs is not likely to arise again.
– The Prime Minister of Great Britain does not expect it; he has some good advisers.
– I shall have something to say on that point in a moment. In the Sydney Morning Herald of yesterday Mr. Stevens, the Premier of New South Wales, is reported to have said -
The worst that had occurred, he said had beena squall on the New York Stock Exchange and a decline in wool and metal prices. The Wall Street crisis had largely passed, and even with the fall, wool and metal prices were still high above those of recent years.
We are told that the squall on the New York Stock Exchange was not caused by financial needs, but that it was sprung definitely on the people in an attempt to crippleRoosevelt in his wonderful attempt to bring back prosperity and happiness to the American people. When Mr. Stevens attends meetings of the Loan Council he complains because he cannot obtain all the money he requires to meet the needs of his State. lu speaking at a. dinner last Saturday night he said -
Thu best method to guarantee against recession
What a glorious word ! In all my references to the anticipated depression I use the word “ slump “. Apparently those who, possibly, have glimpsed the sun-lit hilltops referred to by the Prime Minister some time ago, and have no actual knowledge of the degradation and poverty of the masses, consider “ recession “ the more appropriate word. Mr.* Stevens said -
The best method to guarantee against recession was to maintain full employment, of all resources and to keep them occupied in the great national task of development. Yet there was a strange mentality which sought to check all Government activity in this direction, and to leave railways short of rolling stock, rivers unbridged, and slums standing and spreading.
That is all that I am now saying. 1 am asking this Government to make, without further delay, a complete survey of the present economic situation with a view to the formulating of plans to cope with the threatened economic slump. We should not wait till the evil is upon us. The Government should so frame its financial and economic policy that, when employment in seasonal industries slackens, and when an economic slump is threatened, it would be ready to put in hand suitable important public works to fill the gap. These public works might not, in an accountancy sense, be revenue-producing, but they would avoid disaster to a great section of our people, create important assets, and be an important, contribution to our national development.
On one occasion recently when I was speaking about this alleged prosperity, and claiming that it was due almost entirely to the re-armament policies being pursued by practically every important country in the world, Senator Pearce interjected that prosperity in Australia had evidenced itself before the rise of prices in overseas markets for our surplus primary products.
– Although I did not, at the time, reply to the right honorable gentleman, I made a mental note of his observation and resolved to deal with it at the first suitable opportunity. The statement of the former Leader of the Senate is true. Returning prosperity was apparent in Australia prior to the increase of prices for our exportable surplus primary products; but my point is that the turn of the tide was due, not to any action taken by the Lyons-Page Government, but entirely to the heroic measures adopted by the Scullin Labour Administration in the earlier, years of the depression.
– The note of dissent impels me to accept the challenge and prove my statement. This is what, the Melbourne Age had to say about the action taken by the Scullin Government to meet the depression -
It is indisputable that at that juncture the courage and the prescience of the Scullin Government saved Australia. Faced with a national crisis the ministry took the only action that could avert a catastrophe. lt cancelled all its predecessor’s financial administrative extravagances; it practised numerous anger-rousing economics. Fiscal prohibitions were widely imposed: 50 per cent, surcharges were added to many tariff duties. The engulfing flood of imports was checked; it declined from £1.43,000.000. in 1929, to £00,000.000, in 1930-31.,
I have other figures dealing with the steadying influence of the Scullin Government’s heroic action at that critical time, and could, if necessary, furnish them to the Senate. Need I ask Senator Pearce and his friends if they have forgotten the beneficial effect on the finances of Australia of the huge internal loan conversion carried out by the Scullin Government, with the resultant immense saving in interest payments?
– No one has forgotten what the Scullin Government did.
– Perhaps not, but for the purposes of this debate, Government supporters find it convenient to ignore the effect of the Scullin Government’s financial policy on the economic recovery of Australia. Do they forget that, when the Scullin Government took office, Australian stocks were down to zero?
– For months prior to its defeat, the Bruce-Page Government was unable to borrow any money in London.
– Every one knows the level to which Australian stocks had slumped in the London market, and every one should remember that the turn of the economic tide in Australia was due entirely to the financial policy of the Scullin Government.
I do not wish to appear in the role of a gloom-dispenser. I am. merely stating the facts of the present position as I see them. We on this side are not alone in our interpretation of the trend of events. No one can accuse Mr. A. C. Davidson, the General Manager of the Bank of New South Wales of political bias, because lie is not in politics and has no reason to fear any section of the electors. Yet he, too, utters a note of warning and offers a word of advice with respect to the present economic trend in Australia. Recently in a survey of the situation in Australia, he said there was no doubt that the upward trend had been splendid, no one could deny that the situation had improved, but this improvement was due almost entirely to the re-armament policies of the governments of various countries. Rearmament, he emphasized, could not go on for ever; it must stop some day, and unless appropriate measures were taken, there would be a grave risk of dislocation in industry. One could almost imagine that the statements of the General Manager of the Bank of New South Wales were the utterances of some rabid member of the Opposition in this chamber. Mr. Davidson clearly indicated that it was the duty of governments to prepare for the inevitable depression which would make itself evident when expenditure on rearmament ceased, and that the more useful course was to prepare a programme of national public works.
– The Government is spending £3,000,000 on public works this year.
– I hope my colleague from Queensland is not suggesting that such expenditure should cease. It is obvious that the Government’s public works programme is not sufficient to tide us over a major depression period. There is urgent need for a general revision of the entire situation. This Government has enough experts at its disposal to pre pare a plan to deal with the threatened slump, and now is the time to get on with the job.
Ministers and their supporters are disposed to wax eloquent on this Government’s defence programme. Although the Government has been in office for six years, it has not made adequate plans for the defence of Australia. There is nol a properly equipped aerodrome on which a fully loaded bomber plane could land with safety after an inch of rain, or landing ground suitable for immediate use if the worst should happen.
– Nonsense 1
– It is true that the Government is feverishly speeding up its defence programme in preparation for an aggressor not so far specified. There is the same urgent need for an effective campaign against malnutrition of the people, but so far little has been done. The Government should now be making its plans for equally heroic measures to combat this evil in our midst, but we know that whatever is done the lot of the poor will be made harder, and the hurdon be lightened on those people who ought to carry it.
Mr. Colin Clark, Lecturer in Statistics at Cambridge University - he certainly is not a Labour man - in an address to the Constitutional Club in Brisbane, made an important statement dealing with the present economic prosperity in Australia.
– How does the honorable senator know that he is not a Labour man ?
– I know, because the Constitutional Club in Brisbane never invites Labour speakers to address its members. Mr. Clark is reported to have said -
The close of the present year would mark the peak of the present economic prosperity and there would be signs of decline next year. The existing internal economic structure of Australia appeared eminently sound. Probable sources of disturbance were Britain and America. The forces of world depression could be attacked by two methods - additional public works expenditure by governments, and a policy of easy money on the part of the banks.
That is entirely opposed to the inaction of the present Government, which is not prepared to embark on a policy of public works, or to control the banking institutions of this country, in order to make available easy money or, more correctly, easy credit. The authorities to . which Mr. Clark referred are so numerous that one is almost overwhelmed to find the Leader of the Opposion in such excellent company. The annual report of the Bank of New South Wales submitted to the annual meeting held in Sydney on the 26th November last contains much valuable information which honorable senators would do well to read. I shall not quote extensively from the report, but shall read one or two important extracts from the speech of Sir Thomas Buckland, the president of the bank -
Economists and business men have already begun to talk of the next slump. Fundamentally, there is no reason for believing that the end of prosperity is to be expected in the immediate future, and we should endeavour to distinguish between the true philosophers and the Jeremiahs. It is a good thing that we should take thought for to-morrow provided such speculation does not interfere with our efficiency to-day. It is true that there are some disturbing features in the present situation, but I believe the position to be basically sound at present. A group of influential British economists has recently urged the British Government to prepare a programme of works to be set in hand immediately should there be any signs of a recession in business activity. If such steps are taken, Britain may open a new chapter in economic history by armingagainst trade depression as well as the “ King’s enemies “.
Had a, member of the Opposition in this Parliament said what Sir Thomas Buckland told the meeting, he would have been accused of being disloyal. I agree with the president of the Bank of New South Wales that now is the time to prepare against any future trade depression, just as we would prepare against the King’s, enemies. Later in his speech, Sir Thomas Buckland said -
We must not, however, overlook the causes of industrial expansion. It is the preoccupation of British manufacturers with armament requirements and the widespread shortage of iron and steel that are leading to the intensive development of Australian’ heavy industry and its subsidiaries. Capital expenditure on a large scale is involved in expansion both at Port Kembla and Newcastle, and it is proposed to build a blast furnace in South Australia. But armament manufacture cannot be expanded indefinitely, and the shortage of iron and steel will not last. In view of these abnormal factors, the present development of industry may lead to surplus capacity unless our industries can develop a satisfactory export market.
He then went on to deal with the necessity for developing our secondary industries. I propose to quote from his remarks in that connexion on another occasion, but. being desirous not to delay the proceedings unduly, I shall not do so now. I hope however, that the Leader of the Senate (Senator A. J. McLachlan) will make a note of my suggestions, which are backed by authorities which he cannot ignore, with a view to seeing whether even the present Government cannot do something to plan economically as well as in other directions.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE ( Western Australia) [4.10]. - Logic is certainly not a strong point with the honorable senator who has just resumed his seat. When he was quoting the remarks of influential bankers, and reading the warnings that they had issued against the depression that the honorable senator says is ahead of us, my mind went back to a period, not so long ago, when the honorable senator’s voice boomed in this chamber in denunciation of those very gentlemen whose advice he quoted to-day with such approval. Indeed, the echoes of the honorable senator’s voice are still ringing in our ears. Senator Brown, too, had a good deal to say about the refusal of banks to release credit. The charge against the banks was that they had shortened credit, thereby causing the depression. Now we are asked to accept their guidance.
– The right honorable gentleman was not in the chamber when I dealt with that point.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.According to the Labour party a year ago, these financiers deliberately and coldbloodedly caused the depression; to-day we are asked to accept their advice.
– They have changed their front in the meantime.
– I never accepted what the honorable gentleman said in denunciation of those controlling the banks and other financial institutions, because I could not believe that they would be so foolish as deliberately to cause the depression which well-nigh wrecked them. It is well to remember that a year ago the gravamen of the charge against Mr. Davidson and the Adelaide gentleman whom the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) quoted with such satisfaction today, was that they had deliberately set out to cause financial chaos. Now he would have us believe that they are veritable Solomons, whose advice should be heeded.
The honorable senator quoted with approval from a number of capitalistic newspapers which at other times he has denounced as the “ tools of the financial magnates “ who would impose their deadly schemes upon the world at large. The honorable senator also had something to say about Mr. S. M. Bruce. Probably he does not remember that Mr. Bruce was the first public man of standing who, speaking with a knowledge of world conditions, warned Australia of the approach of the depression. In 192S, at a conference between the Federal and State Governments, Mr. Bruce made an historic speech in which he said” plainly that Australia was heading for a depression, and, accordingly, should shorten sail. His advice was not heeded; on the contrary, he was denounced not only by the Labour party, but also by members of bis own party, and, most of all, by the press which generally supported him. It is well that that fact also should he remembered.
The honorable gentleman also told us that Australia’s’ recovery from the depression was due entirely to the heroic action, taken by the Scullin Government. It is refreshing to hear him describe that action as heroic, for not so long ago another term was applied to it. I remember that when measures to implement the Premiers plan were introduced into this chamber - to say nothing of what happened in the other branch of the legislature - the welkin rang with the denunciation of them by honorable senators of the Labour party. Those measures, which aimed at the restoration of the finances of this country, were carried, not by the votes of members of the Labour party, but by those of the United Australia party and the Country party.
– A. Labour government introduced them.
– The Minister for Repatriation (Senator Foll) could, no doubt, tell us that during the recent election campaign in Queensland, Labour candidates claimed that the loan conversions effected by the Scullin Government far outweighed in their magnificent results the accomplishments of any other government.
– That is so, and the figures are there to prove it.
– If the honorable senator will look at the division list when the bill to give effect to the policy of the Scullin Government was before the House of Representatives, he will find that about 20 members of the Labour party voted against the measure, and that among them was the present leader of the party (Mr. Curtin).
– Nevertheless, the Labour Government went on with the bill.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.Yes, with the support of the members of the United Australia party and Country party. Had the Scullin Government been forced to depend on the support of members of the Labour party, that legislation would have been defeated. The honorable senator must, think that we in this chamber have short memories when he gives to the Labour party the credit for the financial rehabilitation that resulted from the passing of those measures. The honorable senator leaves one important factor out of his calculations, namely, the part played by fear in bringing about the depression. It was not merely the fall of the national income, although that was catastrophic, that caused the dislocation; there vi’a.s also the fear of the people, due to the Labour party being in power in the federal sphere -and Mr. Lang in office in New South Wales.
– Nonsense !
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.One of the great factors leading to the economic rehabilitation of Australia, was the removal of Mr. Lang from office. When the fear of his influence began to wane, and tie effects of the financial emergency legislation became evident, Australia got back again on the road to prosperity. As evidence of what I have said, I remind honorable senators that not until the Scullin Government had been out of office for six months did the’ unemployment figures show a decrease.
Another remark made by the honorable senator this afternoon which attracted my attention was that all the defence expenditure was in the interests of the wealthy classes.
– I did not, say all of it.
– I am afraid that the honorable senator is sometimes carried away by his own eloquence. He told us that the expenditure on defence was not in the interests of the working class, although the workers would be those who would have to fight 4nd pay.
– That is so.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The honorable senator, as a well-read man, must know that that is not correct. Any’ war against Australia can only come from one of the military dictatorships in the world - Germany, Italy, Japan or Russia. Does the honorable senator really believe that if one of those nations successfully waged war against Australia the lot of the working man in this country would be as happy as it is to-day? Take trade unions as an example. To-day in Australia trade unions are free and powerful; not only are they free, but they are protected ; they are registered under the arbitration laws of the country, and. therefore, have about them the mantle of the law’s protection. They are legal entities. What is the position of trade unions in any one of the countries I have just mentioned? Is there any freedom for them? What happens to them in Germany. Italy or Japan? I know that the growth of trade unions i3 cultivated in Russia, but is any individual freedom accorded to the members of those bodies in the expression of their views? Is any trade union in Russia free to criticize the Government? In Australia,, not only can the individual trade unionist criticize th e Government of his country, but the trade unions, as organizations, can agitate, pass resolutions, and promote public: movements against the Government. Therefore, the assertion that the workers of Australia have nothing to lose, or to fight for, or to defend in this country, is absolutely ridiculous. I come then to those who fight for our cause. I happen to have been associated with the organization of the Australian Imperial Forces, and I know that it is simply not true to say that the Australian Imperial Forces represented only one class or section in Australia. It represented all sections. One of the things of which Australia has reason to be proud is that, when the call came, the members of the Australian Imperial Forces sprang from every section of the community, from the poorest homes and the wealthiest homes. I remember going through a camp at Enoggera in Queensland and seeing there a tent in which were eight light horsemen whose aggregate income was £30,000 . a year. Yet they were simply members of a light horse troop. When I cast my eyes around this chamber, and see Senator Cooper, Senator Duncan-Hughes, Senator Collett, Senator Sampson, and others, I say to myself : “ Senator Collings on other occasions calls these gentlemen capitalists, and sometimes, without looking at them, he refers to them as bloated capitalists, but they fought in the ranks of the Australian Imperial Forces, or in the armies that participated in the Great War.” It is the pride of Australia that there was no class distinction in the Australian Imperial Forces and that all classes contributed to its glorious success. The Leader of the Opposition should never forget that the passport to command in the Australian Imperial Forces was ‘from the ranks. Every man in the ranks had the opportunity to rise to command, and thousands upon thousands of the officers of the Australian Imperial Forces commenced there.
As regards payment for the war and for defence, the Leader of the Opposition is equally astray. If he looks up the statistics, he will find that our taxation can be broadly and roughly divided into SO per cent, direct and 50 per cent, indirect. It would, of course, be foolish to say that only the working class pays the indirect taxation, which is paid by all sections of the community, although I admit that the worker pays more in indirect taxation in proportion to his income, because his consumption is very much the same as that of the wealthy man. That is why indirect taxation does press more hardly on the working man than it does on the wealthy, but when our direct taxation is analyzed - I am speaking now of that portion of the taxation which is directed to defence and the burden of the late war - it is found that the working man, on the basic wage and below it, pays nothing at all.
– All taxation is passed on to the toiler. Eventually it reaches him, and the honorable senator knows it.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.That argument reverts to the old contention that the only factors in the production of wealth are labour and land. I do not believe that. It might be so in a primitive society, but in a complex society such as exists to-day, if we tried to produce simply with labour and land, the world could not carry one tenth of its present population. Other factors to-day are capital in the shape of machinery, and capital in the form of goods. Capital, therefore, does play a most important part in production. Those who provide the capital are those who pay the direct taxation out of all proportion to their numbers in the community. Any one who reads the annual report of the Commissioner of Taxation will be astonished to find what a small number of people contribute the great bulk of the direct taxation of Australia. Another aspect which is worth pointing out to the Leader of the Opposition, whomI should very much like to put on to the right track before I leave the Senate, is that taxation in this country is graded, and, therefore, the wealthier a man is the higher the rate he has to pay. Not only does he pay more, but he pays at a higher rate. Consequently, taking all these facts into consideration, the claim put forward by the honorable senator that the working man has nothing to defend in this country vanishes into thin air. He has, on the contrary, everything to defend. The most valuable thing he has to fight for is his liberty. His economic position is also worth a great deal to him. Let him remember what the Arbitration Act has done for the wage-earner in Australia. He has got all that by using his political power and political freedom. He would not have it in any of the totalitarian countries. If one of them conquered Australia, he would lose all those rights and privileges. Therefore, he has everything worth while to fight for and defend in this country. Secondly, he does not have to do all the paying, nor does he do the main part of paying for defence.
The Leader of the Opposition also argued that, because the authorities whom he quoted, and he himself, fear a depression, we should at this time increase our expenditure on public works.
– No, I said : “ Have your plans ready. “
– I should have thought that the time not to increase expenditure on public works, is when the country is prosperous. The time when public works are needed, is when private enterprise is unable to provide employment for all of our people. If it comes to planning for public works, I suggest that, if the honorable senator said to the government of any State in Australia.: “We want you people to double your expenditure on public works,” every State government would produce the plans from the departmental archives within twenty-four hours. They have the plans for all sorts of schemes by which the expenditure on public works could be doubled almost immediately, if necessary, but I should think it would be a. foolish policy, while we are enjoying the present prosperity, to increase expenditure on public works. The result would rather be to bring about the recurrence of the depression, the very thing that the honorable senator apparently wishes to avoid.
– I could not help thinking, when listening to Senator Pearce, that, withall his great ability, he represented a past generation, and was thinking its thoughts. He accused members of the Labour party of saying things which we have not said. Then, after making those accusations against us, he set out, with the assistance of his comrades, to break down arguments which we are supposed to have put forward. I listened to my leader (Senator Collings) and I do not think that once during the course of his speech did he mention the totalitarian states. No member of the Labour party in this country, or in the Old Country, so far as I know, is anxious to eliminate democracy, or impose upon the peoples of their countries a totalitarian system of government. None of the members of the Labour party has the slightest desire to do such things.
– Then they have some assets to defend, and that is what the honorable senator’s leader said they had not.
– Despite the liars, including those from the opposite side, who spoke during the election, we claim that we have something to defend in Australia, and the Labour party proposes to defend it. We have said all along, as a party, that we recognized the need for a country, and above all for a democratic community, to defend itself. Much of what has been said by Senator Pearce has been answered time and time again from this side of the chamber. I noticed that, when my leader mentioned the substitution of taxation for borrowing, there was an immediate squeal from two or three senatorson the other side whose pockets are very well lined. I thought at the time that the reason why they oppose taxation is that when their money is handed over to the Government in the form of taxes there is no return so far as they are immediately concerned, and no interest is paid on it, whereas a system of loans, whether the money be borrowed in the Old Country or here, is a means of maintaining the present financial order. That is why honorable senators opposite are always prepared to support a policy of borrowing rather than of taxation. Personally, I am not a lover of taxation, but I recognize that under the present limited system, some form of it is necessary. Whilst the present financial conditions exist we must have taxation. It is the policy of tory governments, however, to impose the highest amount of taxes Upon the workers, wherever possible, and to relieve their own friends, the rentier class. That has been proved true, and they propose to do it now, although Senator A. J. McLachlan did not answer me when I asked questions on the subject. The Government, for example, proposes in its forthcoming legislation for national insurance, to impose further taxes upon the people, in order to make them pay for their own pensions. Honorable senators opposite say that I am wrong, but I am pointing out an instance which proves that I am right.. I have shown on several occasions how indirect taxes, paid by the masses, have increased over the years, and direct taxes have relatively decreased, despite what Senator Pearce said. No matter how many statistics the honorable senator brings forward, he cannot deny that indirect taxation in relation to direct taxation has increased. He may put up all kinds of arguments, but, when realities have to be faced, the main test to apply to each man is “ What are you doing in the community? What is the part that you are playing in the development of Australia?” If we have a rentier class drawing interest, and rendering no useful service to the community, it does not matter if we take the lot from them ; from our point of view, such action might be just. Looking at a sheet of statistics, Ministers may point out that these people are only a small section of the community, and then invite attention to the large proportion of the revenue which they provide. But what is that class doing? How far is it assisting the community? Then, by contrast, one should study the figures in respect of the mass of the people - all the workers, not just the pick and shovel “stiffs”- and ask: “What do they do?” A proper analysis along these lines would show that the workers are doing the real work, practically all the work of the community. It has been said that we should let the future pay ; the future cannot pay. All the work now essential is being done now, and, should war break out, the provision of all the necessary requirements becomes part and parcel of the work to-day. I emphasize that none of the far-fetched arguments that may be adduced by honorable senators opposite to the contrary will make the slightest difference to the position as I have stated it. I repeat that while the masses of the people are doing the work of the community, a privileged few live on them and draw interest without giving any decent return to the community. Personally, I believe that some day we shall end the present financial system so as to make it possible to utilize all the labour of the community. We shall release the productive forces of this country and enable all our people to be employed. But to-day, capitalism is in control, and all the actions of tory governments are directed towards maintaining the present financial system, with the result that the productive system has to be narrowed down in order to fit into it. We say that the productive system should be the paramount consideration, and that the financial system should be its servant. That is not the case to-day. An effort was made to criticize my leader because of statements which he voiced in regard to the private banks. These institutions are part and parcel of the present scheme of things; the leaders of banks are directors of private companies, whilst directors of private companies are also directors of private banks. But the banks themselves, in order to safeguard their interests when there is a possibility of a depression occurring, must, of necessity, limit credit and call in overdrafts. My leader was quite right when he said that during the last depression” the banks deliberately called in overdrafts and limited the supply of credit, thus intensifying the depression. That cannot be denied ; it is admitted by the general manager of the Bank of New South Wales, Mr. Davidson, and various economists. .
– During the depression the banks strained their resources to the utmost; the honorable senator knows that perfectly well.
– I shall not deny for one moment that the banks will look after themselves, but it must be admitted that the banking system as it operates in our midst can increase, or decrease the supply of credit to the people, and in times of economic stress, arising out of the system under which we live, they do that. A great power, therefore,is vested in the private banks. To-day these institutions have realized their mistakes in the past; they realize that they may have gone too far. Now they are very much afraid of a depression occurring in the near future. I emphasize the point that no matter how eloquent may be the Leader of the Senate, no matter how much pathos he may put into his voice, no matter how forceful his assertions regarding the prospects of prosperity, the fact remains that within the present system certain influences are at work which make it inevitable that there must be changes from periods of prosperity to periods of depression. I also emphasize that our modern financial system has been the system par excellence of modern economic development; while the world is progressing and developing, a system that is based upon interest - upon the prosperity of the banking system within the financial system - is the best possible for world expansion, but, when the inevitable contraction, to which I have referred, occurs, that banking system cannot function so effectively. The real truth of the matter is that the world is reaching a stage when production in respect of thousands of commodities is becoming static; there is no room for expansion. Such a developmentis reflected in the financial system, and, in order to bolster up that system in the face of such difficulties, a tremendous amount of money is being expended on armaments. Dealing with this matter World Trade states -
Sight must not be lost of the fact that in a large number of countries, industrial recovery has been developed on an unhealthy artificial basis and is, in many cases, directly related to the alarming increase in the activity of the armaments industry. Even if we want to be optimistic, we must recognize that the present expansionist movement does not rest on very solid foundations.
That is not a statement from the mouth of Mr. Lang, or an extract from the Labor Daily; it is an extract from the official journal of the International Chamber of Commerce. It says that our boasted prosperity is based on the unstable foundation of increased expenditure on armaments ; yet even in this country millions of pounds are to be spent in that direction. There will, consequently, be increased employment for a time, but we on this side ask, “What are those controlling governments doing to provide against the crisis that will arise when that expenditure ceases ? “ That is a fair question to put to this Government. One point made in the Governor-General’s Speech was that the Government proposes to establish a mortgage bank. As the result of the far-reaching investigation, and wonderful report made by the Royal
Commission on Monetary and Banking Reform, all the present Government can say is that it will establish a .mortgage bank in order to lend a few pounds to >‘he little man and, perhaps, to the poor politician should he want to find a job outside of parliament. Some time ago, this Government allocated ?12,000,000 in order to rehabilitate the farmers of this country, but of that amount only ?1,750,000 has been expended to date. As I said previously, many of our farmers who now expect assistance from this quarter will be in Heaven before their turn comes. My leader was justified when lie accused the Government of failing to bring forward any real policy that will contribute towards the economic development of Australia in the interests of its people instead of a few private institutions.
– If the honorable senator reads the GovernorGeneral’s Speech he will see that it stated “In the first instance a bill to establish a mortgage bank . . .”
– Ye3, but Senator Duncan-Hughes himself said that many of the proposals outlined in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech will not be carried out.
– Probably not within the next three years.
– Yet we are faced with these vital problems. Whilst it is understandable that a spirit of selfcongratulation should permeate the Government because it was victorious at the last, election, it should not allow that spirit to run away with it, but should realize the seriousness of the present economic position from every point of view. We on this side recognize the full import of the present situation, and, whilst we are not jeremiahs, we have read the past and we believe that the future may present certain difficulties if we do not take steps to obviate them. In that event, we shall find ourselves in a worse position than we have experienced in the past. Prosperity is only relative; even with our present measure of prosperity, thousands are still going short of the necessaries of life. Any honorable senator who is familiar with conditions in Sydney knows that there are thousands in that city on the dole and on relief work. There can be no real prosperity while such a position exists.
Recently I suggested the desirability that Ministers of the Crown should not be engaged overmuch outside their duties to the country. The day has arrived when Ministers should give the whole of their attention to their ministerial work and, if they have any, abandon their directorships in companies which, if they wish to do their duty towards the investors in such companies, must take up much of their time. There is an ever-increasing need for our Ministers to concentrate on their duty towards the Government. I notice that this matter was brought up by Mr. Blackburn about twelve months ago in the House of Representatives, when he asked of the Prime Minister the following questions: -
Does any member of his Cabinet hold a directorship in any company or corporation ? If so, as to each member so holding, what is the company or corporation?
The right honorable gentleman made the following reply : -
No reason can be seen why information of this personal character should be supplied to the honorable member
Mr. Blackburn went on to speak about the need for Ministers to attend to their ministerial work.- He said -
Many honorable members will recall that on several occasions the late Mr. Gladstone declared that no director of a public company ought to be a member of a cabinet. That rule was strictly enforced hy the CampbellBannerman Ministry in 1900. A reference to the matter will be found at pages 234 and (i39 of Volume 154 of the Fourth Series of th, Parliamentary Debates.
Sir Henry Campbell Bannerman made it perfectly clear that he was carrying out tin1 policy of excluding from the Cabinet mcn who held directorships, except on philanthropic bodies or in cases in which their own private business had been converted into what we in Australia would call proprietary companies.
The business of this country, which Senator Pearce said a few days ago is much more arduous and complex than it was 25 or 30 years ago, needs the entire attention of Cabinet Ministers. In these days when so many pressing problems are confronting the. country, Ministers should devote the whole of their activities to the country’s interests.
An invasion presupposes that our enemy has command of the sea. Australia must light her own battle alone.
A lot has been said about a possible invasion, and if it he true that an enemy can defeat our naval forces and invade Australia what will be the position of an Australian army and an Australian air force? The members of the Labour party said that the air force should be the principal arm of defence and MajorGeneral Bennett supports that contention. Senator Abbott implied that the members of that party are disloyal.
– I did not say anything of the kind.
– The honorable senator said that in a crisis the people of Australia are loyal, and the inference to be drawn from that remark is that because an anti-Labour Government was returned the members of the Labour party and their supporters are disloyal. Some persons have said that those who support the Labour party are opposed to the British Empire. During the last pactions there were plenty of liars amongst the tory leaders and their supporters. Major-General Bennett also criticized the position of our citizen forces in these terms -
What of our military leaders? Nothing effective is being done to train senior citizen force officers for high command. It would appear on the other hand that senior citizen officers are not wanted. They are not given thu full rank they are entitled to when commanding brigades and divisions. Only two of the four infantry divisions are commanded by citizen officers and it is well known that attempts have been made to hand the command of all divisions to permanent officers. Experience has proved that citizen officers can handle our citizen army more efficiently than permanent officers. Our permanent officers are trained as staff officers and not as commanders. The last great war showed our permanent officers to be efficient staff officers and our citizen leaders possessed the capacity to lead.
That is a reply to the remarks of Senator Pearce that in the Great War there was no class distinction. Yet, Today, according to Major-General Bennett, there is antagonism between the two sections and in the future we are not likely to have the services of such brilliant leaders as the late Sir John Monash. I trust that the Minister representing the Minister for Defence will have inquiries made to ascertain the truth or otherwise of the statement I have quoted. The same writer also said., “ As far as the rank and file are concerned the present position is appalling.” The members of the Labour party told the truth about the army, navy and air force, in the hope that a policy of action rather than of inaction would be adopted. I trust that as the result of agitation by the Labour movement the Government will improve our defence forces in such a way that the people of this continent can rest assured that Australia is adequately defended. This, I maintain, can be done only by developing the air force.
.- I should not have spoken but for the mock heroics of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) who delivers practically the same speech whenever he addresses the chamber. Unfortunately, the Leader of the Opposition and his colleagues have short memories. They have forgotten the vital things that happened during their short political careers. The remarks of the Leader of the Opposition are given some prominence in the press, and it is my duty to let the public know how insincere are his statements. The honorable senator had the audacity to charge this Government with oppressing the needy, imposing taxes on the poor, and relieving the wealthy of their responsibilities in that respect. But these are mere tarradiddles. The facts are against him. The honorable senator has assisted to impose heavy taxes on the poor in this community. When some honorable senators on this side of the chamber have endeavoured to reduce the taxes imposed on the poor, the honorable senator and his colleagues have always opposed us. What did the honorable” senator and his colleagues do when tariff schedules were before this chamber ? Did they assist the under-dog? We endeavoured to restore dates to the free list, but the honorable senator voted for the imposition of a duty. Was that helping the poor? Every effort was made by some honorable senators on this side of the chamber to reduce the duty on other commodities which the poor people must use, but the Leader of the Opposition, who poses as the champion of the needy, supported duties which increased costs. I do not condemn an opponent who is earnest, but I cannot stand a hypocrite. The statistics ‘ published in the annual report of the Commissioner for Taxation show conclusively that in Australia the wealthy pay exceedingly high taxes, while- the poor are exempt. Notwithstanding this fact the honorable senator has the audacity to denounce the Government in an endeavour to hoodwink the people, with the object of securing votes. On another occasion the honorable senator refused to help me to remove a burden from the backs of the poorer people. For four years I tried to obtain sufficient support to amend the income tax assessment law with the object of altering one feature of the companies tax which was pressing with undue severity upon a relatively poor section of the community. I tried year after year to have the injustice removed, but the Leader of the Opposition, who is supposed to champion the cause of the under-dog, refused to assist rae.
– .Did the Government oppose the amendment moved by the honorable senator?
– Yes. On that occasion there was an unholy alliance between the Opposition and the Government. Senator Brown, the chief henchman of the Leader of the Opposition, who charged the members of the United Australia party with telling lies during the last election campaign, apparently has forgotten the lies told by the members of the Labour party. Has he forgotten the statement made by some members of the Labour party that the Lyons Government is pledged to conscription? Is that not a lie? .
– Is it?
– Yes. During the heat of an election campaign the representatives of all political parties may make exaggerated statements, but there was no justification for any member of the Labour party saying that the Lyons Government is pledged to conscription. The honorable senator also referred to the loan to be raised overseas, and voiced his antagonism to private enterprise. We are told that instead of borrowing abroad to meet defence expenditure, the Government should increase the burden on people who are already heavily taxed. The Leader of the Opposition does not realize that excessive taxation of industry will reduce the amount of capital available for the employment of the workers.
– The honorable senator is not cognizant of the elementary facts of the situation.
– I am well aware of the hatred of the Leader of the Opposition for private enterprise in every shape and form. If he had his way every industrial activity in Australia would be nationalized.
– I have no hatred for anybody; not even the honorable senator.
– On numberless occasions the Leader of the Opposition and hi3 supporters have fiercely attacked the banking institutions as if all the people associated with them were criminals, whereas every one .knows the important part played by the private banks in the development of this country. The principal complaint of honorable senators is in respect of interest payments required by banks or other institutions that lend money. I did not read, during the recent election campaign, that the Leader of the Opposition or any of his friends had anything to say against rents, although actually there is no difference between interest for the use of money and rent for the use of fixed property. If, for example, I let a house worth £1,000 for 30s. a week, or £75 a year, indirectly I lend the person occupying the house that amount of money and make a charge for it. If, however, I make a direct loan of £1,000 to a person for. a charge of 5 per cent., or £50 a year, I would he, according to the Leader of the Opposition, in the category of criminals. I cannot understand the mentality of people who make a distinction between an interest charge for money loaned and rent charged for the occupancy of a house or the use of a horse and cart. It is about time that the people of Australia had brought home to them the hollowness of the so-called argument about the iniquity of interest charged by banks and other financial institutions. The Leader of the Opposition went on to speak of the return of the Government to power as an accidental happening. Need I remind him that he and Iris Queensland colleagues would not have been returned but for the nomination of the Douglas Credit candidates?
The Leader of the Opposition also had something to say about the effect of the Scullin Government’s financial policy on the return of prosperity in Australia.; yet, strange to relate, he denied that there is prosperity in this country. He persisted in speaking about a depression which, he declared, is about to descend upon us, although he must know that the percentage of unemployed in Australia at the present time is considerably below that of pre-depression years. Notwithstanding his championship of the financial policy of the Scullin Government, unemployment was extremely acute during its terms of office, and not until the advent of the Lyons Administration was a diminution in the number of unemployed noticeable. These are facts which speak for themselves. I shall say no more.
.- This is an appropriate time to stress the grave responsibility resting on the shoulders of the Australian delegation to the forthcoming conference in London to ensure that the benefits of the Ottawa agreement are not lost to the canned and dried fruits industries, particularly the former. Growers are very much concerned that they may suffer in the proposed trade pact between Great Britain and the United States of America. The prosperity and stability of the canned fruits industry depend on a profitable export trade. Although the benefits first enjoyed under the Ottawa agreement have been whittled down by about half by changes .in currency values, they are still of considerable importance. Exports of Australian canned fruits to Great Britain have increased from 554,207 cases in 1932, when the Ottawa agreement was signed, to 1,450,000 cases this year. This is a. remarkable development due entirely to British preference for the Australian fruit. Prior to 1932, growers were not sure that their exports would be sold at profitable prices, if sold at all, in Great Britain. Hundreds of soldier settlers repatriated into this industry made little or no progress. To-day there is an air of prosperity in the rich and extensive Goulburn Valley. If canned fruits from the United States of America are allowed entry into Great Britain on the same terms as canned fruits from Australia, cut-throat competition will he inevitable, and the industry will receive a staggering blow. The large and prosperous community dependent on the stability of the industry will suffer. The depreciation of the currency of the United States of America reduced the effectiveness of the preference from ls. 6d. to lOd. a dozen 30-oz. tins, and increased the competition of Californian fruits on the British market.
The quality of our fruits, the fact that British consumers are not exploited, and that Australia, can supply 60 per cent, of Britain’s requirements, are factors which our representatives to the forthcoming conference might very well stress. It is hoped that the Australian delegation will take a firm stand, and oppose any further whittling down of the preference now operating.
With regard to the dried fruits industry, anxiety is not so acute. At present there is a British preference of £10 10s. a ton on sultanas and £2 . a ton- on currants. There has’ been no suggestion that this preference is endangered, but any reduction would have a serious effect on this prosperous industry! It is only by the 15 per cent. British preference and inter-dominion preference in terms of the Ottawa agreement that the dried fruits industry lias developed and become stabilized.
Responsible members of the Government talk about defence and migration. What better personnel could we have in time of national . emergency than these virile and contented settlers? What is the use of considering migration when the men on the land are in danger of losing their livelihoods through the grant of some concession to the United States of
America ? . This preference, no matter from what angle it is viewed, must be retained.
.- The motion affords me an opportunity to bring under the notice of the Senate, certain proposals that were placed before the Government a few months ago by the Wheatgrowers Union of Western Australia, with the approval of the Wheatgrowers Federation of Australia, for the better stabilization of prices for wheat throughout the Commonwealth. The basis of this scheme was that during the visit to Great Britain of Commonwealth Ministers to attend the Coronation celebrations, they should see if arrangements could be made to sell the whole of the Australian wheat crop to the British Government for use in Great Britain. We do not know whether the subject was mentioned by the Prime Minister, but to-day I received from Mr. T. H. Powell, the President of the Wheatgrowers Union, copies of the correspondence in connexion with the matter, with a request to bring it to the notice of Ministers with a view to having it discussed when the renewal of the Ottawa agreement is under consideration. On the 9th February, 1937, Mr. Powell wrote to the Prime Minister direct urging the advantages of the scheme. He pointed out that although the price for wheat was at that time higher than it had been for some time, there had been a succession, of low prices for six years, due to droughts, grasshoppers, and other pests, with the result that the majority of growers in Western Australia had been obliged to give liens over their crops to merchants, banks and other financial institutions, consequently they had not benefited to any extent from the higher market rates. The same may be said of very many wheat-growers in the other States. Mr. Powell also stressed that the prosperity of the Commonwealth was bound up with the prosperity of the wheat-growing industry, which gave more employment than any other single industry in Australia. Ho urged that when the Prime Minister was in England, he should discuss with the British Government the possibility of the purchase of all the surplus Australian wheat at an agreed price, and that if the whole of the surplus could not be bought, arrangements should he madu for the sale of a quota from each State on the basis of the average exports for the last five years. The price suggested was 4s 9d. a bushel at sidings from which 3d. a bushel should be deducted as a contribution to the cost of installing terminal elevators, so that the net price to the grower would be 4s. 6d. a bushel. Prior to the departure of the Prime Minister for london, the Wheatgrowers Union was advised that the request had been noted and would have consideration, but no information about, the matter has since been received. During the absence from Australia of the Prime Minister, the scheme was brought to the notice of the Acting Prime Minister (Dr. Earle Page) who intimated that the Government was not prepared to take action. I have been requested by the Wheatgrowers Union to place details of this important scheme before the Senate and the Government in order that it may be incorporated in the renewed Ottawa agreement. I now do so and I urge that full and sympathetic consideration be given to it. The scheme is as follows: -
A Stabilized Price fob Wheat.
Tins problem of an adequate and stabilized price for wheat is a controlling factor in the equation of Great Britain’s bread supply in war time, and could be linked with ti successful Australian wheat production.
The submarine menace during the last war in Europe at one time was so great to Great Britain that-only two weeks’ food supply was in the country. Great Britain received a rude shock, and ever since the war she has been seeking to avoid such a recurrence. She has fostered her agricultural industries in every way possible in an endeavour to make herself secure in the event of another war. The weakest link to-day in her chain of defence is probably her food supply. In the event of war, her navy and air force would be greatly weakened as attacking units, by being split up to protect her food supply ships. By buying in peace time and storing in her disused mines and quarries underground (assuming this can be done) essential foods, petrol, &c. this link is recovered.
No enemy is likely to lose time and energy in sinking and destroying what we can dispense with (of course implying that as long as we have command of the sea our merchant shipping will suffer much less than in the last war. and that individual ships arriving instead of convoys might reduce this even further, since where a convoy might still bc worth while, single ship’s arriving on the west coast would hardly be worth the risk of sending planes so far, and submarines are too easy to locate nowadays- 1 imply by this that the convoy system was best against submarines and is probably -worst against aerial attack.
Undoubtedly the cost of underground storage is great, but it is the safest and there are hundreds of disused mines and quarries in Ureal Britain that could be used for storage purposes on the lines I have suggested; in any case no matter how expensive, the cost would be justified from (I) National safety; (2) Trade and employment during construction;
From an economic point of view the firming and stabilizing of world prices might have wine restriction on armaments, and war might become a little less likely.
From the British aspect of food supplies, it is impossible to defend British growing products. The enemy would have 3(io days a. year in which to select their time of attack, and poison sprays, fire, gas and. other means of attack could be made on the growing crops. Fc,od from overseas could be convoyed and only exposed to attack for a few days, and the precise enemy objective would be known to the defenders, but still it would be hard to defend from the air. Food stored safely underground needs very little protection, and there would bc every prospect of getting in a* much more as is required. With the main object of destroying removed, the enemy is not likely to make serious efforts, especially from the air if ships arrive singly in their own good time.
Great Britain’s requirements of imported wheat is 200.000.000 bushels annually. There is already a food defence plan operating in Bustard and steps are being taken to set up a State Wheat Import Board. If it is deemed advisable by the British Government to bring Canada into this scheme, I submit that of the 200,000,000 bushels that Great Britain imports, 100,000,000 should be purchased from Australia and the balance from Canada.
It should be possible to bring our present bulk handling system into the scheme and central and terminal wheat silos could be erected, and if it were deemed advisable to erect the large silos inland, then care should bc taken to erect them on distinctly elevated sites us advantage could be taken of the semifluid character of wheat and possibly quite a lot of ton mile haulage could be saved by using a combination of pneumatic gravitation power to reduce rail transport. Of the price of 4s. 9d. I suggest 3d. per bushel should be retained to pay for the erection of the wheat silos.
I suggest that the Government should enter into an agreement with the Commonwealth Government to transport all wheat over Government : ail ways at a fiat rate to nearest port at -4)d. per bushel, and the Commonwealth Government could again make the same arrangement with the Imperial Government. This system would probably be a little more curtly to Great Britain than the present system of buying on the open market, but she would definitely have first call on all Australian production. On arrival of the wheat at her ports she could make her own arrangements for disposal and could, if deemed advisable, empty at regular intervals her underground silos. Wheat in those underground silos could be easily made weevil-proof bv gassing with a heavier than air gas and all insectricidal and fungicidal life could be destroyed by such methods.
The effect on our farming industry by n guaranteed price of 4s. 9d. a bushel for five years would be electrical and the unemployed would im.n1ediate.l3’ have work found for them in helping to erect the terminal and other silos. Our railways could be regularly employed instead of having rush work as’ they do in the wheat season to-day.’
These proposals were unanimously en:dorsed by the Wheatgrowers Federation nf Australia at a meeting held at Adelaide on the 24th March, 1937, when all the wheat-growing States were represented. They therefore come to the Government with the imprimatur of many practical Australian wheat-growers, and are entitled to careful consideration by the Government before the delegation leaves for the Old- Country to consider the renewal of the Ottawa agreement. T do not know whether the Prime Minister was able to do anything along the lines of these proposals when attending the Coronation celebrations in England a few months ago. The proposals could be included with advantage in any renewal of the Ottawa agreement. A proposal to stabilize the price of wheat at 4s. 6d. a bushel at sidings for five years would be welcomed not only by the growersof wheat, but also by the people of Australia generally, to whom it would bring prosperity. Mr. Powell and his union, and, indeed, the Wheatgrowers Federation of Australia, desire that the scheme shall be given full consideration in connexion with the renewal of the Ottawa agreement, a main feature of which should be the preservation and expansion of the British market for Australian products, particularly wheat. In my speech on the Address-in-Reply a few days ago, I urged that the Government should declare its policy in relation to the stabilization of the wheat industry, and I again urge it to do so, and also to state its attitude towards the important proposals submitted to it by the Wheatgrowers Union of Western Australia.
Senatoruppill. - Does that organization represent all the wheat-growers of the State?
– No ; there are two organizations in the State, and I belong to the Primary Producers’ Association. I was pleased, however, to. put before the Senate the views of the Wheat Growers’ Union on this important subject when asked to do so.
– It is regrettable that in his criticism of the Government’s defence policy the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) should have used such extravagant language as that contained in his statement that not one aerodrome in this country is in a condition to allow a fully loaded bombing aeroplane to land after one inch of rain has fallen. The honorable gentleman knows that at the Archerfield aerodrome in Queensland, the largest civil passengercarrying aeroplane in Australia recently landed successfully shortly after that State had been blessed by bounteous rains. Although it carried 21 passengers, it landed and took off without difficulty.
– Its weight is not as great as that of a fully loaded bombing plane.
SenatorFOLL. - That the honorable senator’s remarks are inaccurate is borne out by the statement which I read earlier to-day in relation to recent air accidents. The Air Force is continually practising under war conditions, and bombing machines are in use almost every day.
– The machines used by our Air Force are not the latest bombing planes. They are, indeed, only toys compared with the machines that I have in mind. The Minister should not misrepresent what I said.
– In order to place the facts before the Leader of the Opposition, I shall quote from a speech delivered during the last Parliament by the then Minister for Defence (Sir Archdale Parkhill), in which he set out what was being done in connexion with aerodromes and landing grounds generally. That policy is being continued by the present Minister in the new administration.
– I admitted that the Government had awakened recently.
– Sir Archdale Parkhill said: -
In keeping with the increase in regular services and the necessity for facilities for night flying, an active policy of improvement and development of aerodromes throughout the Commonwealth is being continued. This provides for the enlargement of landing areas, the construction of hard-surfaced runways for wet weather operations, and the installation of lighting equipment at aerodromes and airway beacons along the air routes.
The Leader of the Opposition knows that in Queensland there are aerodromes equipped with modern lighting, which are available to both civil and military aircraft. The statement continued -
Much progress has been made in the lighting of air routes. In the first instance lighting was provided at Darwin, on the Cloncurry to Longreach section of the Brisbane-Darwin route, and on theKalgoorlie to Forrest section of the Perth-Adelaide route. Activities are now being concentrated on the full equipment for night flying at all the capital city aerodromes and at Launceston, as the junction of the air services linking Tasmania with the mainland.
Considerable progress is also being made in the lighting of aerodromes at intermediate points. New lauding grounds have been acquired and prepared between Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. It is proposed to continue this development and to extend these facilities over the Melbourne-Adelaide and Adelaide-Perth routes. This will involve the acquisition, preparation and lighting of several new landing grounds, and the provision and installation of airway rotating beaconsat a number of intermediate points along these air routes.
A further development is the acquisition of sites, erection of buildings and the laying on of power supplies for wireless and meteorological services.
The improvement of landing grounds for the operation of regular air services on the Brisbane-New Guinea and Adelaide-Darwin routes is now in hand and will be continued during 1937-38.
The Government is endeavoring to keep abreast of developments in regard to aircraft, and honorable senators can rest assured that the things mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition are not, being overlooked.
– I referred to the six years that the Lyons Government has already been, in office.
– The honorable gentleman has heard the defence policy of the Government expounded on a number of occasions, and he knows that the Government is alive to the developments that are taking place.
Senator Brown quoted extensively from an article by Major-General Bennett. which appeared in a Sydney newspaper recently. I shall say no more on the subject than that the Minister for Defence (Mr. Thorby) has informed me that the subject is receiving consideration. I conclude by reminding honorable senators that utterances in this chamber with respect to the unpreparedness of Australia against attack go out to the world, and that they should therefore be careful not to make inaccurate statements. It is for that reason that I have taken this early opportunity to correct some of the inaccuracies in the speech of the Leader of the Opposition.
– wi reply - It would appear that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) and his deputy (Senator Brown) spend their week-ends collecting newspaper cuttings with a view to embarrassing members on this side of the chamber. Apparently, the Leader of the Opposition flatters himself that some of the things which he readto us this afternoon are the utterances of men who might be regarded as almost the fountain heads of economic wisdom. He twitted the Government with the intention to borrow abroad ?2,000,000 which he rightly said represented nearly ?2,500,000 in Australian -currency. He made it appear that what the Government contemplated was a heinous offence, but I remind him that if the money were not borrowed abroad, an equivalent amount would have to be sent out of Australia to pay for equipment which cannot be produced locally. When he tells us that the raising of that money abroad will affect the conversion of loans falling due in the near future he talks nonsense, because, even if the money were borrowed in this country, the reservoir from which we have to draw for that conversion - and I do not refer to that supposedly inexhaustible reservoir which some members of the Opposition appear to think exists - -would be lessened by a similar sum. So far from there being anything in the policy of the Government that would increase our overseas indebtedness, or imperil our position, I remind honorable senators that since 1931 Australia’s oversea indebtedness has been reduced by nearly ?9,500,000. Surely that is something in the nature of conservation against that clay which the honorable senator ha3 predicted. I have always been of. the opinion that one of the economic troubles of this country is that the amount owing overseas is out of proportion to our total indebtedness as a nation. The honorable senator said a good deal about the need for preparation to alleviate the consequences of inevitable depression, but he did not put forward one constructive idea as to the nature of the preparation that should be made. The figures which I have quoted this afternoon provide ample evidence that the Government is fully alive to the situation.
– I advocated a policy of public works.
– The honorable senator did say something in a general way along those lines ; but, surely, this is not the time to put such a policy into operation. Wages are being increased as a result of the prosperity which exists. Only yesterday the Government announced a prosperity allowance of ?10 a year to male public servants, and ?5 a year to females, representing an additional charge of ?500,000 per annum on the revenues of the country. Yet the
Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) suggests that the Government -should finance all its activities-out of surpluses. The strokes and blows that we suffer from time to time have to be guarded against, and if the Treasurer, in his wisdom, finances conservatively, it is with a view to guarding against such happenings. The Leader of the Opposition said also that we should take all the money required for defence out of revenue, and that the “ under-dog “ should pay nothing towards it. Senator Pearce has already shown the stupidity of the statement that the only people who have anything to lose by a foreign invasion are those who have worldly wealth. 1 venture to think that those who have the most wealth are often in a better position to protect themselves and safeguard their freedom than are the poorer classes. What has been the fate of those classes in China to-day? They are being mown down by the thousands. When war stalks the country the “ under-dog “ has not much chance.
– I say he should not pay for it.
– What does he pay for? What does it matter to him whether the money for defence comes out of revenue or loan? Who has to pay the interest and find the principal ? lt is the rentier class, to whom Senator Brown, refers. The budget papers of 1937-33 show clearly the incidence of the federal income tax. Those with taxable incomes of £200 a year and under paid in 1926-27 only 2.2 per cent, of the income tax of Australia; the total payment was £20-7,000, or £1 12s. 7d. a head. During 1927-28, that amount, was reduced to £1 7s. 3d. a head. During 1928-29, it was further reduced to CI 6s! Rd. a head, and in 1929-30 to £1 fis. (3d. a head. I come now to the year 1930-31 and those which followed, those unhappy years when the so-called heroic action was taken by the Scullin Government. I know of only one heroic action which that Government took, and that was to ask for a. dissolution of the House of Representatives and go before the electors in 1931. It met then at their hands an unhappy fate, which showed conclusively that it was not on sound lines. During the time the Scullin
Government was in office, the levy on those poor people, about whom the Leader of the Opposition is so much concerned, rose to £2 10s. lid. a head and then to £2 14s. 4d. a head. In 1932-33 it dropped to £1 12s. 3d., but that was the year in which the Lyons Government brought in its first budget. During the unhappy rule of the so-called heroic Scullin Government, the charges on that class went up to £2 14s. 4d. a head, as against about half of that amount in the preceding five or six years. During the financial year ended the 30th June, 1936, the total amount of income tax paid by neon1with taxable incomes of £200 a year and under was £209,21.1, paid by 162,295 people, and representing 2.6 per cent, of the total income tax collected by the Commonwealth Treasurer, the amount for each taxpayer being only £1 5s.- 9d. Now turn to the other end of the scale. There we find that persons with incomes exceeding £1,000 paid 4S.1 per cent, of the total income tax, and companies contributed 36’. 9 per cent., so that, altogether, about 85 per cent, of the taxation came from the wealthier classes. What are they paying for in the long run? They are paying for the defence of the country, and they are paying the charges on the capitalized loans. They pay, through income tax, much more largely than does any other class of the community for Australia’s defence. Yet the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) sees some magic in charging the cost of defence to revenue, instead of borrowing the money for it. As a matter of fact, it is merely the difference between “ tweedledum “ and “ tweedledee “. So far from there being any impropriety in borrowing from abroad, it. does not matter two pence, because the money has to go abroad in any event to supply the requirements of the Department of Defence. If we take the money from revenue, and send it abroad, it means that there is so much less money in this country. The Leader of the Opposition rebuked the Government for unpreparedness, but if there was one blow dealt to the defence of Australia it was dealt by the Scullin Government when, by the reduction and transfer of the Royal Military College from Duntroon, it prevented the proper organization of staff and training of officers. That action set the defence policy of Australia back by at least fifteen years.
– Did Australia follow Great Britain in that regard ?
– It did not follow anybody. The defence of Australia should have been sacred. The Scullin Government removed the key of defence when it removed the training of the staff officers from Duntroon, and we are only now getting back to a normal condition in that regard. Are we following Great Britain ? That is probably one of the last things that honorable senators opposite would care to advocate, but in this matter it is our skins that are at stake, it is Australia that has to he defended, and Australia must cooperate for its own protection.. Even if Great Britain curtailed its defences with a view to bringing about world peace, we should never have left ourselves bare, without the nucleus of an army, without a staff to train the civilians who were willing to serve. That was the most drastic and fell blow that could have been directed against the defence of Australia, and it wasaimed by the Scullin Government.
The Leader of the Opposition talked about easy money for public works, but his colleague, Senator Brown, proceeded to deal some hefty blows at the banking system. I should like to direct attention to what the Commission on Banking and Monetary Reform said about the trading banks and their conduct during the dread years of the depression. At page 218 of the report the following appeared : -
There is no justification for the view that the trading banks, in order to enlarge their profits, deliberately expanded credit to produce a boom and then contracted so as to produce a depression. In their efforts to contract advances, the trading banks in some cases caused hardship by forcing realization of assets, and by refusing credit to some creditworthy borrowers, but there was little alternat ive open to thebanks while their cash reserves remained low, and there is no evidence of a general policy of forcing the realization of assets. By the end of 1931, the liquid position of the banks had been restored. After the middle of 1932, they were granting advances more freely, and, after the middle of 1933. they adopted an active lending policy. During 1930, the trading banks, with the Commonwealth Bank, resisted the pressure on the exchange rate and rationed exchange: but in January, 1931, it was a trading bank which took the initiative in raising the rate to139. The trading banks participated in other measures taken during the depression. They voluntarily entered into and carried out the exchange mobilization agreement of 1930. In 1931, they reduced deposit and advance rates under the Premiers plan, and theymade further reductions up to 1934.
That extract represents the considered judgment of men of all shades of opinion constituting the commission. God forbid that governments should ever control our monetary system. Honorable senators opposite would even ruin the Postal Department if they were left alone. They have in the railway systems the finest examples of nationalization and the effects that follow from it. These present a lamentable sight in this country’s economic makeup, and I should have thought that my friends opposite would look for something new upon which to fashion their platform. This policy of nationalization is blown out, stale and worm-eaten. Such a policy, I am sure, will never appeal to the electors of this country again. We believe that, with the evenlybalanced banking system that we have, and a good central reserve bank, all this talk, which, after all, does not make a great appeal to the few millions of depositors in the savings banks, will command very little respect from the general community.
– Does the honorable senator believe in following out the recommendations of the Commission on Banking and Monetary Reform?
– The honorable senator has heard already that two of its recommendations have been accepted, one of which, the establishment of a small mortgage bank, he rather derided. He seems to think, in his large way, that it is a trivial thing. He also forgets another small paragraph in the report, which may mean a good deal to a large section of the Public Service, who have been labouring under considerable difficulties in a department with which I have the honour to be associated. The honorable senator twitted Ministers with holding directorates in various companies. If the people desire professional politicians to represent them in ministerial life, if they want men unacquainted with the methods of commerce, who know nothing about world affairs, to hold positions as Ministers, then let them legislate to exclude all others, and they will see where the country will very quickly go.
Senator Brand and Senator E. B. Johnston raised two very important matters, which I shall bring under the notice of the appropriate Ministers. ‘However, I ask Senator Brand to bear in mind that, since the decision in the James case - I am not now speaking with any authority on the matter - judgments have been given by the High Court which may enable the various States themselves to exercise much greater legislative power with regard to primary and other products than most of the legal fraternity ever thought possible. Whilst the decision of the Privy Council in the James case limited the powers which this Parliament was thought to have, these more recent decisions indicate that there is much larger power latent in the States than we previously thought to be the case. I commendthat view to the honorable senator.The representations in respect of cannedfruits will be brought to the notice of the appropriate Minister. One cannot make omelettes without breaking eggs, and, if we are to adopt this wider policy in order to bring about a greater degree of world appeasement, which must necessitate mutual concessions, we must make sacrifices in the interests of the greater good of our whole civilization. Honorable senators may rest assured, however, that the Government will endeavour to protect all our industries, both primary and secondary, in every possible way, subject to that one reservation which I have made, namely, that, if it becomes vitally necessary, we must, as public men, be prepared to consider some sacrifice in order to ensure the future of our white civilization.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
. -I move -
That the billbe now read a second time.
This measure provides for the appropriation of revenue for the ordinary services of the various departments for the current financial year. The expenditure proposals of the Government have already been dealt with in the budget debate, and it is not proposed to deal with the various items in detail. Any explanations that may be desired by honorable senators will be furnished during the course of the debate on the second reading, or at the committee stage.
For the first four months of this financial year the ordinary transactions of the Consolidated Revenue Fund were - Receipts, £26,430,000; expenditure, £26,130,000; excess of receipts over expenditure, £300,000. This excess of receipts cannot be regarded as indicative of the surplus to be expected at the end of the financial year for the following reasons : -
The three new proposals are in respect of the liberalization of the maternity allowance, further appropriation for special work to assist the unemployed at Christmas time, and the restoration of war pensions to certain widows and children. A measure covering the restoration of war pensions has already been passed by the Senate. These amounts will make necessary appropriations amounting to about £250,000, in addition to the expenditure contemplated in the budget. Increased benefits in respect of maternity allowances will involve a further expenditure of about £50,000, whilst the cost of war pensions for the half-year will be increased by an amount approximating £90,000.
This bill provides for an appropriation of £13,415,020 for the services of the year 1937-38, to which should be added the amounts already granted under Supply Acts Nos. l and 15 of 1937, namely, £5,776,890 and £8,323,000 respectively, making the total amount £27,514,910, which is the estimated expenditure from annualappropriations for ordinary services for the year 1937-38, as set out in detail in the second schedule of the bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to;
Clause 3 postponed.
First schedule agreed to.
Proposed vote, £128,000.
– I should like to know whether the Minister can give us any enlightenment in respect of the accommodation for honorable senators in Parliament House. He is fully aware of the difficulties confronting members of the House of Representatives and honorable senators in this respect. I wish to know whether, as Senator Sir George Pearce suggested in a question this afternoon, honorable senators will be consulted before any rearrangement of the present accommodation is made.
– The disposal of accommodation in Parliament House is controlled by the President and Mr. Speaker, but I trust that the representations of leaders of the various parties will bear fruit before the close of this session.
– I draw the attention of the Minister to the poor furnishings provided in federal members’ rooms in Perth. Seeing that ten or eleven parliamentarians have to use these rooms and comfortable accommodation is provided for only five, more attention should be given to this matter. I understand that senators and honorable members from South Australia also have complaints to make in this respect.
– At present the accommodation in Adelaide is very meagre indeed, but the Premier of South Australia has indicated to the Prime Minister, that so soon as the extensions to the State Parliament House in Adelaide are completed, accommodation completely satisfactory to honorable senators and members of the House of Representatives will be provided.I am not personally acquainted with the conditions existing in this respect in Perth, but if honorable senators from that State desire improved accommodation,I shall certainly place their representations before the appropriate Minister.
– It is more a matter of providing suitable furniture.
– With regard to this matter, I should be wanting in my duty if I did not express my appreciation of the great improvement made in the accommodation for federal parliamentarians in Brisbane. For a very long time, I repeatedly complained of the poor accommodation provided previously. The new accommodation leaves nothing to be desired.
. - I ask the Minister whether any investigation has been held or is likely to be held into the possibility of providing facilities for air travel by any parliamentarian who wishes to use that means of conveyance. Air travel is becoming general, and as, obviously, this means of transport would enable honorable senators to avoid considerable waste of time in travelling I believe that a number of honorable senators would prefer to travel by air rather than by the railways. The Government pays a very big subsidy to the railways in respect of the conveyance of parliamentarians, and a portion of that subsidy, I suggest might be used to enable members to travel by air.
. - Each railway pass for members of Parliament involves an annual expenditure of £150. The difficulty in regard to Senator Leck ie’s suggestion would be that the Government would have to continue to contribute that money in respect of railway travel, and so, any cost in respect of air travel for members of Parliament would be additional. I agree with the honorable senator that air travel would avoid much waste of time, and I shall bring his suggestion under the notice of the Minister for the Interior in order to see if some relief in this respect cannot be given, particularly to those members of Parliament who are obliged to travel long distances.
– In respect of the “ books, maps, plates, documents, book-binding and insurance “ for the Parliamentary Library, I ask whether the Parliamentary Librarian is empowered to purchase a banned book and to place it on the library shelves for the use of members of Parliament, or are banned books entirely beyond even his reach?
– I do not think that even the Parliamentary Librarian could buy banned books; in any case all purchases are controlled by the Library Committee.
.- Will the Leader of the Senate (Senator A. J. McLachlan) state whether railway departments impose a charge for transporting the luggage of members of Parliament who elect to travel by air at their own expense?
– I understand that it has been the practice to transport such luggage free of cost if a member’s pass is presented when the luggage is delivered to the railway. I shall ascertain whether that practice still obta ins.
– I support the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) concerning the alterations made to the federal members’ rooms in Brisbane. The accommodation now provided is adequate and the service efficient.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Prime Minister’s Department
Proposed vote, £452,000.
– Is the £2,400 provided for the travelling expenses of Ministers to cover travelling expenses within the Commonwealth ?
– On numerous occasions I have brought under the notice of the Government unsatisfactory reports concerning the administration of Australia House, London. A paragraph in a recent issue of the Sunday Express read -
If a Briton goes to Australia House to make inquiries about migration,he is told that there is no literature on the subject available, and that there is no officer who can give the information desired.
What amount is provided for advertising Australia’s products in London?
– Provision is made under the Department of Commerce for a large amount to cover the cost of advertising Australia and its products overseas.
– When in London this year I visited Australia House a number of times, and although I had not had occasion to complain previously, I found the organization improved this time. When there was some criticism in the Senate concerning the administration of Australia House a year or two ago, I said that I had always received courteous attention, and that the officers there had been helpful. That may be due to some extent to the fact that we have an exceedingly capable High Commissioner, but, so far as I have been able to judge, the officials generally are courteous and efficient. Many persons visit Australia House with the object of getting something for nothing, and when they are unsuccessful make disparaging remarks concerning the staff. Although South Australia has a capable representative in London, I always go first to Australia House. Disparaging comments are made from time to time concerning Australia House, but, generally speaking, I think they are groundless. During my recent visit to London, I saw films showing how Australia’s primary products are being brought under the notice of the Britishpublic. These gave one a good idea of the detailed manner in which publicity work is being carried on.
.As provision is made under this vote to meet the cost of Australia’s CommissionerGeneral in the United States of America, perhaps the Leader of the Senate (Senator A. J. McLachlan) can give the committee some information concerning the proposed trade negotiations between Great Britain and the United States of America, which may affect Australia, and also in relation to the renewal of the Ottawa agreement. 1 do not think it is suggested that our trade negotiations with the United States of America are to be carried out by our representative in that country, whose salary is £976 a year. Will honorable senators have an opportunity to debate the Government’s policy in connexion with our future trade with the United States of America and in respect of the Ottawa agreement?
– This vote is to provide for the representation Australia has had in the United States of America for some time, and does not, of course, include the cost of any negotiations into which we may enter with that country. I shall endeavour to provide honorable senators with an opportunity to discuss our trade relations with the United States of America and also the proposed revision of the Ottawa agreement, either before Parliament rises for the Christmas vacation, or before the termination of the session next year.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
.- I should like the Leader of the Senate (Senator A. J. McLachlan) to inform me as to the position with regard to the fisheries research vessel, the construction of which was authorized some time ago.
– The vessel is approaching completion. We have reached the stage of deciding on a name for it. My successor in control of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research will, no doubt, officiate at the launching ceremony at an early date. Construction was delayed for some time owing to the difficulty of securing the necessary materials.
– Can the Minister give any information about the transPacific air mail service?
– The honorable senator’s question is somewhat outside the scope of the item, but I shall endeavour to obtain from the Minister for Commerce, before the Senate rises for the Christmas adjournment, a statement outlining the position. If it is not possible to do this, the information will be supplied immediately Parliament resumes in the New Year.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of External Affairs.
Proposed vote, £14,700.
– I shall be obliged if the Leader of the Senate (Senator A. J. McLachlan) will give some indication of future government policy with regard to the Department of External Affairs. I was rather surprised to-day to hear the honorable gentleman say that a question relating to the Commissioner-General in the United States of America was not relevant, because in the. items of this bill is bound up the whole of the personnel end salaries of the External Affairs Department. A few years ago several senators, myself included, objected that the External Affairs Department was too small; instead of being a department, it was, in fact actually a branch of the Prime Minister’s Department. All that is now changed. The department, in a fairly short time has done excellent work, credit for which must, I think, be given mainly to the former Minister for External Affairs (Sir George Pearce), as well as to the head of the department and its senior officers. The point I raise is that, in the present state of world affairs, and of the League of Nations, the department should be expanded much more rapidly than it has done hitherto. The wise direction of Australian external affairs depends today more than ever upon the employment of competent and well-trained officers. I am not suggesting that we should follow the example of certain other dominions which have appointed ambassadors to different countries. That is not the best line of approach to our problems. I think the policy that was developed by the former Minister for External Affairs of appointing, as in the case of the United States of America, counsellors to the British Embassies is the wisest one.
The appointment of ambassadors would, i consider, lead to the creation of difficulties, as well as greatly increased expenditure - and, in all probability we should be appointing men without furnishing them with the facilities and information necessary for the satisfactory discharge of ambassadorial duties. The appointment of counsellors to British Embassies seems to me definitely to be the right way to proceed. We have one such counsellor in Washington. I should like to see similar appointments made to other British Embassies. First we should require personnel of the External Affairs Department to be efficiently trained. I feel sure that the former Minister for External Affairs is in agreement with me on this matter.
– I, therefore, put it to the Minister that it would be advantageous if he could give to the committee some indication of the lines along which the expansion of this department will proceed. It is responsible for -work as vital to the welfare of this country as any, except perhaps the Department of Defence, but, as at present constituted, it is hopelessly inadequate to make contact with the rest of the world. I do not wish to press the new Ministry in connexion with this matter, but I think Ministers should realize not only the advisability and inevitability of expanding this department much more rapidly in the future than it has been expanded during the last few years.
– I can assure Senator Duncan-Hughes that the Government is alive to the necessity for the expansion of the External Affairs Department. As he knows, the right honorable gentleman who preceded me as Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) has from time to time given us reasons for the expansion of the External Affairs Department in various directions. In the short time at its disposal this morning Cabinet had this subject under consideration, and when the Minister for External Affairs has made up his mind regarding certain matters, a statement will be made to the Senate . on his behalf. The appointment of a counsellor to the British Embassy at Washington is an indication of the Government’spolicy with respect to other embassies,, but it seems to me that we had better wait until the Minister has reviewed thewhole position before making a statement of the Government’s intentionsMinisters are fully seized of the importance of having the department competently staffed, and also of the necessity for having Australia . represented invarious countries.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Westtern Australia) [8.11]. - I support the remarks of Senator Duncan-Hughes asto the advisability of strengthening and expanding the Department of External Affairs but this cannot he done rapidly because the handling of diplomatic matters requires careful training, and facilities for experience in the Commonwealth are extremely limited. This small department has expanded rapidly, and is doing; very important work. Officers are sent to London to be attached to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for training and experience. Major Officer, our counsellor at the Washington’ Embassy, was trained in this way, and at the present time two other officers are gaining experience in the British Foreign Office. When I was administering the department, the intention of the Government was that these officers when sufficiently trained should be appointed counsellors to British embassies and that two other officers should be transferred from Australia to London for experience. It was felt that in this way it would be possible to establish a staff possessing high qualifications for the extremely important positions in the different British embassies. I fully endorse all that has been said as to the value of the department and the need for training a competent staff; but I emphasize that it is better to proceed slowly in order to get men who are thoroughly trained rather than to have a rapid expansion of a staff of imperfectly trained officers. I feel sure that the present Government will find that this is the wisest procedure.
– We have had an interesting statement from the former Minister for External Affairs (Senator Pearce) with regard to the training of officers of the
Department of External Affairs for appointments to British embassies abroad. I again call the attention of the Government to a request, which, I think, emanated from Canberra some time ago, that there should be established at the Canberra University College a Chair of International Studies. I hope that the Government will keep this request in mind, because I feel sure it would provide the material referred to by Senator Pearce from which the Department of External Affairs might recruit its officers. As has been emphasized in this discussion, these officers must be thoroughly trained. I understand that representations have been made to the Prime Minister on this subject during the last twelve months, but I do not know whether anything has been done to comply with the request. I urge the Government to give to it serious consideration.
.- I agree with what other honorable senators have said as to the importance of the work of the Department of External Affairs, but I should like to have a clear statement from the Ministry concerning its functions. Is it intended that it shall deal with such matters as trade treaties which will then be sent on to some other Minister? Is that its job, and is that the reason why the department should be expanded? I understand that there is a likelihood of a trade agreement between Great Britain, the United States of America and Australia, and I should like to know whether the Minister for External Affairs is to take charge of the negotiations and be Australia’s delegate to any conference which may take place.
– There is an inter-departmental committee, consisting of certain officers of the Departments of External Affairs, Trade and Customs, and Commerce, to consider details of proposed treaties.
– I desire to know whether the Minister for External Affairs is the Minister to carry out treaty negotiations. If that be the case, he should be the Minister to go abroad.
– That does not follow.
– What is his job, if it be not to make treaties?
– His duties relate more to matters affecting diplomatic relations with other countries.
– If the Department of External Affairs is to do more than consider matters of courtesy as between nations, it should be the duty of its Minister to take charge of treaty negotiations. I am interested in the possibility of a trade treaty with the United States of America, and I desire to know which Minister will be in charge of the negotiations.
.- I am pleased that this discussion has taken place, particularly in view of the present state of world affairs. The Department of External Affairs must necessarily grow; but, even in its present state, it is capable of doing much good. Any one who follows closely the trend of world affairs must realize the need for such a department. A little while ago I had the privilege of reading in extenso a speech delivered by the Minister for Foreign Affairs in London. In reading it, I was impressed by his earnest desire that the people of the world should realize how essential it is that the spirit of economic nationalism which has grown since the Great War should be supplanted by a spirit of economic co-operation. Work along those lines would probably result in more permanent good than anything that might be done along the lines that have been adopted in the past, with each country trying to gain something for itself, irrespective of the effect of its action on other nations. Other peoples, like ourselves, have pride of race, and destinies to fulfil. I deprecate provocative utterances regarding other peoples. The Department of External Affairs has an important mission in co-operating with other parts of the Empire in an endeavour to cement lasting friendships with other nations. Only by acting along those lines can. the world hope to make progress. Moreover, unless something practical in that direction is done soon, it is difficult to say what will happen. We in Australia are far removed from the turmoil of Europe, and, consequently, are apt to forget that we have a part to play in securing world peace. Our part here, as public men, is to endeavour to inculcate in the people of Australia a spirit of goodwill towards the people of other nations, instead of a spirit of enmity, jealousy and boycott. One’s blood boils when one hears unnecessarily provocative utterances regarding other nations. Every country has its own domestic problems, many of which are more difficult than those which face us. I welcome particularly the speeches of Senators Duncan-Hughes and Pearce and I hope the outcome of the discussion will be a greater interest in the work of this important department.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia) [8.21]. -The remarks of Senator Leckie seem to arise from a misconception of the functions of the Department of External Affairs in regard to treaty making. Although that department is ultimately responsible for the promulgation and signing of treaties, that does not mean that it is the department principally concerned with the threshing out of the. details of a trade treaty. It is a mistake to think that Australia is a party only to trade treaties. A recent issue of the Current Notes, issued by the Department of External Affairs, gave the number of treaties to which Australia is a party as about 200, of which . 130 are multi-lateral treaties covering a multiplicity of subjects. The officers of the Department of External Affairs have been specially trained in respect of the obligations of Australia arising out of those treaties. As I mentioned while Senator Leckie was speaking, there is an inter-departmental committee, consisting of officers of the Departments of Trade and Customs, Commerce and External Affairs, which confer in regard to trade treaties with other nations. The officers of the last-mentioned department, are not required to have special knowledge of trade matters, but they are required to have a knowledge of the treaties that affect trade. For instance, every trade treaty must have regard to what is known as the mostfavourednation treatment. Recently, Australia concluded a treaty with Czechoslovakia. Officers of the Department of Trade and Customs played the principal part in the detailed discussions, but when the time came for the drafting of the treaty, officers of the Departments of External Affairs and of the AttorneyGeneral were consulted for the reason that matters of international law, and the effect of the proposed treaty on existing treaties with other countries had to be considered. A concession given to one country may mean, as a matter of course, because of international obligations, that a similar concession must be given to other countries. The officers of the Department of External Affairs are there to advise their colleagues in the other departments mentioned in relation to such matters. Their knowledge may vitally affect the negotiations, because whilst a concession to one country would do no harm, we have to consider carefully what would be the effects of its automatic extension to many other countries, some of them competitive with Australia. The work of the External Affairs Department is largely of an advisory nature in relation to trade treaties. It does not necessarily follow that, because the department plays an important part in negotiating treaties, the Minister for External Affairs is the best Minister to confer with other nations. It is withinthe province of the Government to select the Minister it thinks most suited to carry out the particular negotiations. It is essential that the Commonwealth shall have a department staffed with officers competent to advise other departments as to their obligations under the more than 200 treaties to which Australia is a party.
.- I am thankful to Senator Pearce for the information that he has given, and shall be glad if the Leader of the Senate (Senator A. J. McLachlan) will supplement what he has said by giving the other information that I sought. If there are to be negotiations with the United States of America for a trade treaty, which Minister will be in charge of them ?
– I cannot give to Senator Leckie the information that he seeks, because I do not know who will be in charge of any negotiations which may be entered into with the United States of America for a trade treaty. The position has been so clearly stated by the former Minister for External Affairs (Senator Pearce) that there is no need for me to add anything to what he has said. Negotiations for a trade treaty with the United States of America are still in the initial stages.
Senator Abbott advocated the establishment of a chair of international studies in connexion with the Canberra University College. The sum of £4,400 is provided as a grant-in-aid to the Canberra University College, and that sum, [ understand, covers in part the matter that the honorable senator mentioned. It might be well if I were to explain how the Department of External Affairs is associated with the making of treaties. Following upon the resignation of the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties (Sir Henry Gullett), the Government decided that the Minister for External Affairs should be the Minister to sign trade treaties on behalf ofthe Commonwealth. The actual negotiations are conducted by the Minister for Trade and Customs, with the assistance of officers of his department. As was mentioned by Senator Pearce, there is an inter-departmental committee consisting of one representative each of the Departments of Trade and Customs, Commerce and External Affairs.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote. - The Treasury. £825,000- agreed to.
Proposed vote, £202,500.
.- Can the Minister representing the Attorney-General say whether there is any likelihood of an additional arbitration judge being appointed ? There have been complaints of delay in arbitration proceedings, and I understand that the Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies) has under consideration the appointment of another judge.From my own experience, I can say that such an appointment is necessary. It is most essential to relieve both employers and employees who go to the Arbitration Court of the fear that they cannot get immediate decisions. A good deal of dissatisfaction has been expressed in that regard, and I shall be glad if the Minister will indicate whether the Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies) is considering the appointment of a new judge, and when it is likely to be made.
– The appointment of an additional Arbitration Court judge has been the subject of consideration by the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Menzies) for some time. Deputations have waited upon him representing, I believe, both sides in industry, to protest against the slow progress of the business of the court. He found that these complaints were well founded, and that delays which could not be justified were occurring. Knowing this, he has in hand at the present moment, under the authority of the Cabinet, the matter of appointing an extra judge. The position is not easy to fill, having regard to the feelings that arise from time to time in arbitration matters. He is, therefore, making full inquiries, and will, I understand, shortly be in a position to make a recommendation.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of the Interior.
Proposed vote, £499,200.
– Provision is made of £8,000 for the forestry branch, which for some time seemed to be somewhat under a cloud. Last year several honorable senators expressed the hope that the cloud was gradually passing away, and that the branch would eventually be as useful to the community as had been anticipated. Can the Minister state what progress is being made and whether the prospects are brighter than they were a year ago?
.- I draw attention to the vote for the electoral branch. I understand that the Government is setting up a committee to consider the method of electing members of the Senate. Can the Minister state when such a committee is likely to be appointed and what will be the extent of its powers? There are differences with regard to the interpretation of the Electoral Act, under which the last elections were held. It seems to me that the act means that, if the intention of the elector is clear, his vote should be valid, but in many cases in
Victoria the ballot-papers of those who voted for nine candidates and forgot the tenth were declared informal. To me, as a layman, such an interpretation is wrong.I understand that there were similar occurrences in several of the States, and an authoritative decision is called for. Would such a committee take that matter into consideration? Who interprets the Electoral Act?
– The honorable senator is out of order. The division to which he has directed attention deals only with salaries, payments in the nature of salary, and general expenses. It cannot be made to cover a proposed committee of inquiry such as that to which the honorable senator has referred.
– I direct your attention, Mr. Chairman, to the fact that on page 33 of the bill a certain amount is provided for the electoral branch. Cannot we discuss such a committee in that connexion?
– The electoral branch appears on page 35, and its items deal with salaries, payments, and so on. A. general discussion with regard to a committee that may be set up at some time to deal with the electoral law wouldbe quite out of order at this stage.
– I desire to make a request that the electoral branch should take into consideration the important matter raised by Senator Leckie. The Commonwealth electoral law apparently differs from most of the electoral laws operating elsewhere in Australia. In the State electoral acts with which I am acquainted there is definite provision that where the intention of the elector is plain, his vote shall be accepted as formal. I believe there is no such provision in the electoral law of the Commonwealth.
– The honorable senator is out of order. He desires to discuss the administration of the electoral law. The proposed vote before the committee does not cover matters of that kind.
– I am not thinking of any committee. I am thinking of the general administration of the electoral law.
– The vote before the committee has nothing to do with the Electoral Act.
.- I direct attention to Division No. 43. Governor-General’s establishments, and would like the Minister to state for how many more years the Commonwealth has to pay £5,280 per annum to the Government of Victoria for the lease of the building in Melbourne previously occupied by His Excellency. The Commonwealth has not had the use of that establishment for some years.
– I should like to know what progress, if any, is being made by the Forestry branch, to which Senator Payne has referred. Reports that have come to hand from time to time have not been encouraging, and scarcely justify its continuance. The expenditure for this year is £8,000, yet the last report showed that there was only one cadet in the establishment. There is no reason why the branch should not be developed and made most useful, working in the closest cooperation with the State forestry departments. I do not know whether Commonwealth work is duplicating that of the States, or whether the Commonwealth forestry branch is attending only to the more scientific side and passing on to the States the information so gained. If administered along those lines the Commonwealth branch can be a very useful, but if it is to be a water-tight compartment, and each State also is to run its own show in its own way,it is not fulfilling its original purpose. The branch is of sufficient importance for honorable senators to be made fully aware from time to time of what is being done. The time is opportune for the Minister in charge of it to make a full statement as to its progress, if not to-day, then as early as possible. If the branch is not making progress, we should be told so in order that methods may he devised to enable it to fulfil its real purpose, particularly in view of the big capital expenditure involved.
– I am not yet in a position to make the comprehensive statement asked for by Senator Payne and Senator
Herbert Hays with regard to the forestry school at Canberra. The rumour that the school is to be closed is not correct. It is to be continued and extended, and more extensive research work is to be done. The planting of the trees will continue, and that work also will be extended. If honorable senators will accept that statement for the present, I shall at a later date be in. a position to make a more comprehensive announcement.
– Can the Minister give any information as to why cadets are lacking?
– I cannot answer that question.
– How many cadets are there now?
– I think one is the number. Senator Grant raised tho subject of the lease of the Governor-General’s residence in Victoria. That lease will expire on the 31st December, 1938. The payment to be made then will be the final one in respect of that residence.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Defence.
Proposed vote £5,992,000.
, - The defence policy of the Government figured prominently during the recent election campaign and some of the phases of the criticism levelled against it were most unseemly, and some of the language entirely unwarranted. I have no desire at this stage to traverse that ground, but intend to say something in respect of the system of national defence so strongly advocated by the Opposition. At the outset it may be well to point out that the defence plan of a country is a dangerous thing with which to meddle. To obtain a correct vision of the actual position, a knowledge of history, geography, national resources, racial characteristics and international tendencies, among other things, is essential. That is the starting point, but I am afraid that many who talk about the subject cannot see beyond the man with the gun and take no stock of hia real uses and relative value. The scheme put forward by the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Curtin) over-estimates our capacity to defend ourselves and disregards the probable actions of a possible aggressor. The only practical scheme for the defence of Australia must form part of that designed in respect of the defence of the Empire as a whole.
– The honorable senator must connect his remarks with some particular item in the schedule. He is now making a. speech which he should have made on the first, or second, reading of the bill.
– I would like to hear something from the Government in regard to aviation because so far, in this chamber at any rate, we have had extraordinary little in the way of detail from it this year as to what is being done with regard to aviation generally, since the whole position was radically altered as the result of the defeat of the referendum proposals; that defeat, as regards this particular matter, I deplore as much as anybody else. A. question was asked on this subject last week, but it was not answered in detail; and at this stage we might fairly expect to know to what extent the various States have come into line in respect of aviation regulations. The control of aviation in Australia is really a central matter. We want to know whether all the States have agreed to give to the Commonwealth power to act on their behalf, and, if so, whether or not such power has been given on identical terms. Parliament should be fully informed on these matters. Such information may be known to people outside of Parliament, but, so far as 1 am aware, no statement has been made in this chamber this year as to what the Government has done to surmount the position created by the rejection of the aviation proposals at the referendum early this year. We were given to understand that that rejection would mean a complete break-down, not only of marketing, but also of aviation ; yet, as T understand the matter, the control of aviation has not broken down at all. The Commonwealth, I understand, has found is perfectly easy to make an agreement with the various States for the adoption of uniform regulations throughout Australia. I should like to have ministerial confirmation of that.
I wish to speak in detail on only one phase of aviation. I listened with much interest to what Senator McBride had to say on aviation generally when he was moving the AddressinReply to the Governor-General’s Speech, but one point upon which he did not touch was to what extent, if at all, the Government has laid it down, in respect of commercial aviation, that there should be two pilots to every aeroplane. This is a matter which exercised the mind of the public; if it did not, it should. It is perfectly obvious to anybody that a pilot may suddenly be stricken by illness. I was told the other day by a man who flew, I fancy, from Broken Hill to Port Pirie, that the heat was so intense And the sun so glaring that the pilot spent a good deal of time in trying to put newspapers over his head in order to shield himself from the rays of the sun. That is only one instance of what might happen on an aeroplane journey. A pilot may also be taken suddenly ill by poisoning developing rapidly. In any case it is’ perfectly obvious that a pilot, though he be among the best in the world, may suddenly be stricken by illness, with the result that the lives of all his passengers may be lost. I suggest that all commercial planes should be manned by a pilot and a reserve pilot. When it is a case of flying, say, from Adelaide to Melbourne, one pilot was apparently thought sufficient, but from Melbourne to Sydney planes carry one pilot, and a signalling pilot who, presumably, would he able to take over the controls in a case of emergency. I submit that it should be laid down as a sine qua non in the case of commercial flying, that planes should carry two pilots. It is not the proper thing to rely upon the state of health of one pilot when he may have from six to twelve or fourteen passengers committed to his charge and when, through no fault of his own, his plane may crash. If the Commonwealth Government is making arrangements with the States, this is a point which should be taken into consideration. I am not now making any complaint arising out of my own personal experience. I have flown from Adelaide to Melbourne in aplane manned by one pilot, but I have also had the experience of travelling from Adelaide to Melbourne in a plane which, as it happened, carried two pilots, whilst I was the only passenger for part of the way. My luck, apparently, was good in this respect, but I emphasize that this relatively new method of transport should, as far as it, is within our power to do so, be made completelysafe. The practice of one pilot flying a plane with everything depending upon him does not make for the greatest measure of safety.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia) [8.55]. - I emphasize the importance of preserving the existing subsidized service from Darwin to Perth when the new Empire airways service is inaugurated. The present service is very valuable to Western Australia. It not only delivers the overseas mail to Perth more quickly, but it is also of great value to the north-west portion of the State. I am aware that in some quarters it is suggested that in the new service the overseas mails should be taken to Sydney and forwarded from Sydney to Perth. I cannot see why that should be necessary. At the present time mails are brought from overseas by steamer for the various capitals in separate bags, and I cannot see why a similar system could not be operated in connexion with overseas air mail, or why the mail bags for Western Australia could not be landed at Darwin from the seaplane and then flown from Darwin direct to Perth. It is suggested that this would require a special staff of sorters but, surely, that would not be so. If the mails for the various capital cities were in separate bags, there would be no need for sorting at Darwin.
– The London Post Office sorts mails for the various capital cities and, in some cases, the suburbs of the capital cities.
– I am aware of that fact. I have seen mail bags labelled for the various capital cities taken off the steamers, and I cannot see why a similar practice cannot be followed in respect of overseas air mail. There is no practical reason why the present direct service from Darwin to Perth should not be continued, instead of Western Australian mails being first sent to Sydney.
.- The proposal of Senator Duncan-Hughes for the provision of a second pilot could not be carried out in respect of all commercial planes; that would be something practically unknown in other parts of the world. I have often travelled in planes which carried only one pilot and two passengers. Admittedly, it would be safer to have two pilots and, between capital cities, with large passenger planes, it would be necessary to do so. But, in some areas where only single-engine planes carry on a service, and can expect no more than one or two passengers, the provision of a second pilot could hardly be insisted upon. It may be more dangerous to have only one pilot, but we might just as reasonably suggest that the driver of a passenger motor car might be taken suddenly ill and the lives of his passengers thereby endangered. There is always an element of danger in travel ; Ave cannot eliminate it. I agree with Senator Duncan-Hughes’ suggestion to the extent that planes carrying more than a specified number of passengers should be obliged to’ carry a second pilot.
– I may inform Senator Duncan-Hughes that negotiations have been proceeding between the Commonwealth and Slate Governments with the object of adopting uniform regulations to control air navigation. At a recent referendum the people decided against granting to the Commonwealth power to control aviation, but the fact that the various companies have been observing the spirit of the federal regulations suggests that uniform control is considered desirable.
At the Conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers held in Melbourne in April of this year, it was agreed unanimously that there should be uniform rules in relation to the airworthiness of aircraft, the licensing and competence of pilots, the rules relating to air traffic, and the regulation of aerodromes. As the Commonwealth Air Navigation Regulations were limited in their application on account of constitutional restrictions and did not apply to intra-state air navigation. it was agreed that each State should submit to its Parliament a bill to provide for the extension of the Commonwealth Air Navigation Regulations in force from time to time to air navigation and aircraft within the jurisdiction of the State. At a further conference the form of the Air Navigation Bill to be introduced in the State Parliaments was agreed to. It is understood that this enabling legislation has been introduced in many, if not all, of the State Parliaments. South Australia, Queensland and Victoria have, in fact, passed . this bill, which now awaits proclamation.
The Commonwealth Air Navigation Regulations provide for the airworthiness of aircraft, the competency of personnel and the licensing of aerodromes. Apart from these requirements, which apply to all aircraft to which the regulations apply, a further regulation is included providing that a regular air service carrying passengers cannot be operated unless the operator has been issued with an “ airline “ licence for the particular service. The intention of this is that an “ airline “ licence will be issued only if the Civil Aviation Board is satisfied that all the detailed arrangements for the operation of the service and every aspect bearing upon safety are satisfactorily covered to ensure the safety of the aircraft and passengers. These require.ments which are recorded in documentary form, cover the type of aircraft to be used, the qualifications of the operating crew and ground staff, the route to be used, and the use to be made of aids to air navigation, such as meteorology and radio.
In the limited time available since the Commonwealth regulations came into force, it has not been possible to complete the documentary records covering the requirements and practices for the many regular services operating in Australia, but sound progress has been made, and, in the meantime, the Civil Aviation Board is maintaining a close watch on the operation of all airlines.
I shall direct the attention of the Minister for Defence ,(Mr. Thorby) to suggestions made by Senator Duncan-Hughes and Senator Grant that passengercarrying planes should have two pilots. I understand, that most planes used in conducting important passenger services already carry two qualified pilots. In reply to the point raised by Senator Sir George Pearce, I may say that a definite policy in regard to the handling of air mails will not be adopted until the new flying boat service between England and Australia comes into operation. At the moment the Government cannot say what existing services will be retained or what additional services will be established. The Government is fully aware of the benefit of the service between Darwin and Western Australia and also of the advantage of the air mail service in portions of Queensland provided by the planes which carry mails between Brisbane and Darwin on the Singapore route. The representations made by Senator Sir George Pearce in respect of Western Australia will be brought under the notice of the Government.
.- -Section 3 25 of the Defence Act which is contained in Part XII of that act prohibits the use of alcoholic liquors in military camps. As that part of the act has been suspended, I should like to know if it is permissible for trainees in camps to be in possession of alcoholic liquors. I also take this opportunity to ask whether the Commonwealth is making proper use of its reserve man power. We have only a limited peace training establishment and a great many men are anxious to do something to fit themselves for duty should their services be required. The following letter indicates the commendable spirit that is abroad : -
The writer suggests that there are a number of reasonably young men in the back country of Western Australia who are desirous of offering their services to their country immediately the time arrives when such services are required. Although these men reside many hundreds of miles from training centres, they would make it their business to present themselves at a training centre for a fortnight in each year with the object of fitting themselves to pass through an Officers Training College the more quickly in the event of war. With all the respect due from a civilian to the trained military opinion, the writer submits that the cultivation of this suggestion might be desirable because, in the event of sudden mobilization, the men referred to, being in managerial positions, would be of assistance in -
Recruiting the right type of light horseman from their own and neighbouring stations.
And later leading the type of men they understand.
I believe that in the Citizen Force units there is a shortage of instructors. To overcome this the services of a number of comparatively young men who served during the Great War could be utilized in some manner. They would, of course, have to go through a school of instruction in order to bring their knowledge up-to-date, but it has been suggested that corps of honorary instructors should be formed in localities where they reside.
The use of gas masks has not, I believe, been considered sufficiently by the Government. In Western Australia at least there are in all large towns branches of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia which are very important units in the local community. The members of this organization know what gas attacks mean and what measures should be taken to minimize the risk in the event of an attack. Nothing has been done to utilize the manpower in this respect, and the question arises of whether the members of these branches of the League could not render a very useful service to the country.
– I can assure Senator Collett that wet canteens are not allowed in militia camps. That restriction does not apply to permanent barracks.
– Does it apply to an officers’ mess in a militia camp?
– No. Provision is made in the Estimates to meet the cost of a limited number of gas masks for training purposes, and I am assured that the department is not unmindful of the need in this respect.
– Is the amount of £7,500 for the citizen air force to provide the cost of a nucleus force, or is it merely to cover salaries?
– During the last year or two I have referred in the
Senate to the supply of gas masks, and have found it difficult to obtain a satisfactory answer. Have gas masks been forwarded to South Australia and Western Australia, or have they beep distributed only in the eastern States? I have heard that committees are in the course of formation to control the use of gas masks, but I have not heard of the arrival of any masks in the States 1 have mentioned.
– I can assure the honorable senator that the Government has not lost sight of the necessity to supply masks to all States. I understand that at the moment negotiations are proceeding between the Commonwealth and the States in the hope that the States will co-operate in adopting uniform regulations covering the use of such masks. I am unable to say what number of masks is available. The department considers the subject of great importance, and is making every effort to meet the requirements of all the States.
.- All the States should be treated on the same basis. I have been informed that officials have been sent to give instruction in New South Wales in the use of gas .masks, but I have not heard of similar action being taken in respect of the other States. Those who live in Western Australia or South Australia are a6 much entitled to be instructed in the use of masks as are those living in New South Wales or any other eastern State. I think that would be the general view of the Senate. It is not reasonable or proper that preference should be given to thickly populated portions of Australia, and the more sparsely populated parts neglected. Oan the Minister tell me whether any gas masks have been forwarded to South Australia or Western. Australia?
.- I regret that I am unable to supply the information to the honorable gentleman, but I shall endeavour to get it, and let him know as soon as possible.
– Can the Minister tell the committee whether at any time, to his knowledge, the Life Saving Association of Australia has offered the services of its members to the Commonwealth Government in the event of a gas attack on Australia during war? . 1 understand that the association did make this offer some time ago, and it is anxious to know if it has been accepted by the Government.
– I am unable to say if such an offer has been made, but I am quite sure that in a national emergency such an excellent body as the Life Saving Association of Queensland would willingly place its organization at the disposal of the Government. I shall have inquiries made, and let the honorable senator know if such an offer has been received.
.- Prior to the recent general elections, statements appeared in the newspapers to the effect that, in pursuance of its defence programme, the Government had decided to place experimental orders for the supply of about £100,000 worth of munitions. It was also stated that such an arrangement was made without consultation with responsible engineering firms which would have been in a position to advise the department, and there was the suggestion that, because of this lack of consultation, there was little likelihood of satisfactory tenders being received. It seems to me that if that was the course pursued by the Government it was entirely wrong. I am, of course, aware that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) and his Labour friends believe that there should be no private manufacture of munitions; that all our military requirements should be produced at Lithgow, Maribyrnong, Footscray and other government establishments. There is, I understand, a somewhat similar feeling in the department. Every one should know that if tenders ure called without consultation with leading firms the prices submitted will probably be three times higher than would be justified. I therefore suggest to the Government, that before calling for tenders it should ‘ be in consultation with responsible engineering firms in order to ensure satisfactory offers.
– When the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Foll) is appealing to the Government for asupply of gas masks for distribution throughout Australia he might remind ‘ the Minister for Defence (Mr. Thorby) that the executive of the Brisbane Ambulance Transport Brigade, of which I am a member, some time ago expressed its willingness to establish classes for the purpose of educating its officers in gas drill, but was unable to carry out that work, because no gas masks were available.
. -I assure the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) that the Government is gratified to know that the executive of the Brisbane Ambulance Transport Brigade is desirous of training its members to render efficient service in the event of a gas attack. I feel sure that the Government will welcome the assistance of all such bodies, and will do what is possible to provide the necessary facilities for training. As to the private manufacture of munitions, referred to by Senator Leckie, I think it is desirable that I should make a statement of government policy in this matter.
Production is at present undertaken by government factories. ‘ The whole procedure and technique of manufacture is recorded, with a view to the process specifications being available for industry in an emergency. Modern warfare entails a. huge expenditure on munitions. To prepare for war Australia must have ei ther -
The provision of large stocks of munitions would require the expenditure of vast financial resources. Large staffs would also he required for their maintenance, to prevent deterioration. Armaments also become obsolete with the introduction of new types.
As was announced to Parliament by the Prime Minister on the 24th August,1937, it is the policy of the Government to develop, in peace, resources for the manufacture of munitions as well as the supply of raw material, in order to make the Commonwealth as self-supporting as possible in respect of armaments and munitions of war. The policy of the Government is to provide government factories for the manufacture of the types of essential munitions which have no counterpart in commercial industries, and to ensure that the development of the service is supplemented by a corresponding degree of progress in the local capacity for the production of munitions.
Parallel with the development of government factories, the Government is fostering commercial industries, and thereby systematically adding to the country’s resources of raw material, stores and manufacturing establishments.
The functions of the Principal Supply Officers Committee are to prepare a statement of the requirements of the services in wartime, to examine these in relation to the stocks and productive resources of thecountry, and to prepare plans for mobilizing the resources of industry in an emergency. Experimental orders are being placed to test the capacity of industry in regard to our most urgent requirements of gun ammunition and air force bombs. The aim of these experimental orders is to locate potential capacity, and there is no prospect of any profiteering arising. On the contrary, the Chamber of Manufactures has specially represented that it is more concerned with the organization of industry than the receipt of actual orders. A further indication of the patriotic motives of industry is the provision by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited of a shell shop completely equipped.
– Can the Minister inform the committee of the position with regard to the Empire air mail scheme? It is about three years since the British Government submitted its proposals for an air mail service between the Mother Country and Australia, and I understand that the scheme will be in operation shortly.
– There are some points to be settled between the Commonwealth Government and Qantas Empire Airways before the scheme is inaugurated. I understand that the points at issue will be dealt with by Cabinet next week. Advice has also been received from the Government of the United Kingdom concerning certain phases of the agreement. I can assure Senator Brown that the Government is as anxious as is anybody else to see the air mail service inaugurated at the earliest possible moment.
– I notice an item, “fees of universities and other establishments for courses and examination fees and contribution towards salary of teacher of Japanese language.” Can the Minister inform me how many persons have been deemed to have qualified in the Japanese language since the inauguration of these classes ?
– I cannot answer the honorable gentleman, but I shall endeavour to obtain the information.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Trade andcustoms.
.- I should like some information relating To the general expenses in connexion with the film censorship. It seems to me that the Censorship Board is functioning in the interests of foreign film companies, and I am wondering if they are making any direct or indirect return to the Government for the services rendered by the film censorship, the purpose of which, it appears, is to ensure the screening of clean films to Australian audiences. On the face of it, this expenditure would seem to he unjustified unless the Government is getting something by way of return.
– I feel sure that if the film interests were consulted they would have no hesitation in saying that they pay many times over for the services rendered by the Film Censorship Hoard, and would point to the substantial revenue obtained from the duty on imported films. I shall bring the remarks of the honorable senator to the notice of the Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. White), but I do not anticipate that he will agree with the suggestion that this particular industry should meet the expenditure incidental to the censor ship of films. So far as the total of £4,888 is concerned, I remind Senator Leckie that every film which enters this country must be examined from end to end. There are a Chief Film Censor and other officers whose salaries must be found, and there is an establishment to be maintained. It is generally agreed that the Film Censorship Board is doing good work.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of Health.
Proposed vote - £127,600 - agreed to.
Department of Commerce.
Proposed vote, £452,000.
.- The sum of £9,700 is set down under the heading “ Publicity Films and Photographs”. Can the Assistant Minister furnish the committee with information as to how this money is to be expended? [ take it that the department does not intend to set up in opposition to Hollywood, and that probably the amount will be expended on advertising.
. -This item is to cover the cost of the Cinema and Photographic Branch, located in Melbourne. The sum of £8,420 is required to cover salaries and travelling expenses, provide stores and meet the cost of repairs, maintenance, &c. New equipment, automatic processing machinery and a sensitometer will require a further £1,625. Other small items bring the total to £9,700. The Cinema Branch produces sound films of both 35 and 16 millimetres, lantern slides, photographs, &c, depicting Australia’s resources, the production and manufacture of various products, as well as scenic attractions, for publicity purposes. The branch must keep itself up-to-date in cinema technique. Provision has been made for the expenditure of £1,625 on modern equipment, and for an increased output to meet the demand.
– There is an increase of over £10,000 under the items “ Salaries and allowances “ in division No. 98. Can the Minister give the reason for that increase ?
– The amount is necessary in order to meet the salaries and allowances of permanent veterinary officers, butter and cheese graders, and other inspectors of primary and other products submitted for export. The increase of five assistants in connexion with dairy exports is offset by a corresponding decrease of the number of Graders’ Assistants. The remaining increase of £S,030 is due to the fact that a large number of permanent positions provided for in the previous year were occupied by temporary and exempt officers for the whole or a portion of the year, the positions being either not filled or occupied by permanent officers for a time.
.- There is a sum 0f £810 set down for “ payments to States for services of surveyors and others”. Can the Assistant Minister indicate the nature of the services rendered by the States?
– This item is provided in order to ensure, as far as possible, the safety of life at sea. The navigation section of the marine branch of the Department of Commerce is responsible for the survey of ships in order to ascertain their seaworthiness. In certain remote ports, such as Port Pirie, Port Kembla and Bunbury, the services of State officers are used. Provision is made under this item for re-imbursement to the States of the cost of such services rendered to the Commonwealth.
.- The sum of £12,200 is set down for the upkeep of lighthouses, buoys and beacons. Last year £15,000 was provided, and £13,473 expended. Why is only £12,200 voted for this year? One would imagine that the expenditure on services of this nature would increase, rather than decrease.
– This item covers the cost of repair and maintenance of lights, light vessels, buoys, beacons, &c.., and includes the cost of labour and material, as well as of workshop and minor repairs. Some reduction has been made possible by the transfer of a portion- of the work, such- as the repairing of cottages, buildings, jetties, &c, to the Department of the Interior.
– Various sums are set down for the representation of the department in Canada, New Zealand, the East, and Egypt. Why is it that £5,000- is to be provided for representation in the East, and smaller sums, in each of the other places mentioned?
.- The suan of £5,000 covers the cost of the Trade Commissioner’s offices at Batavia, Tokio and Shanghai.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote, £1,147,000.
– For research, demonstration work, and other expenditure in connexion with the apple and pear industry, the sum of £10,000 is provided. An additional £5,000 is set down as a grant to the Apple and Pear Council for publicity purposes. At a meeting of tlie Western Australian Fruit-growers Association a few weeks ago, questions were asked regarding this expenditure. There is no objection to money being devoted to such work, but members of the association desire to know how much, if any, of it is to be expended in Western Australia, whether any of the research and demonstration work will be undertaken in that State, and where the money is expended. _
– I am not in a position to say off hand how much of this, money will be expended in Western Australia, or in any other State. I shall, however, ascertain particulars from the Minister for Commerce (Dr. Earle Page), and will advise the honorable senator as early as possible.
– - Under the heading, “Miscellaneous services “, provision is made for annual payments to widows of exmembers of this Parliament, and also, in one instance, for funeral expenses incurred on behalf of a deceased member. I do not object to these payments, but it seems to me that the time ha3 arrived for a fund to bo established, based on the contributions of members, in order that the necessity for such charitable payments may be obviated. Only last week, in the House of Representatives, a proposal to restore the allowances of members was made, and the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) promised to give to it early consideration. The time is opportune, therefore, to establish a fund to the credit of which the proposed, restoration could be paid ; the fund could be placed under the control of a committee, and from it payments of this nature could be made, thereby removing from governmental responsibility payments such as have been made from time to time. I ask the Leader of the Senate (Senator A. J. McLachlan) to bring this matter before Cabinet for its serious consideration.
– This subject was considered by the previous Government. A committee of private members, representative of all parties in the Parliament, submitted certain proposals, but nothing came of them. My own view is that this fund is something which members themselves might inaugurate; but, having regard to the remarks of the honorable senator, I shall bring the matter before the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), upon whom would devolve the duty of inaugurating a scheme should action along the lines suggested be taken.
– I was interested in the remarks of the Minister, but I suggest that this is not a matter for members themselves to deal with. The suggestion -to restore the allowances of members of Parliament, if agreed to, would make possible the establishment of a fund which, by the time that this Parliament comes to an end, would amount to approximately £17,000. It should be quite within the range of possibility, by adopting Senator Dein’s suggestion, to provide a pension of £3 or £4 a week for honorable members who have given some years of service and ha ve then lost their seats, with very little prospect of making another start in life. I urge the Government to take the matter into consideration, and not merely to leave it to be arranged by members themselves, as the Minister has suggested. I hope the Government will go into it seriously, and in the fullest detail. Actuaries should be asked to work out a simple scheme. The Government now has an opportunity to do something which will encourage the right class of men to enter Parliament. They should not be left to feel that, if the. fortunes of an election go against them, they may be simply thrown on the political scrap heap, or become a charitable charge upon their .country.
– I shall bring the matter under the notice of the Prime Minister, as I have already indicated.
– I draw attention to the item “ Australian National Travel Association £20,000” That is an increase of £5,000 on the vote of the previous year. I should like the Assistant-Minister for Commerce (Senator McDonald) to tell the committee what this amount represents. Is it to be a subsidy to the Association? If so, what are the association’s activities, and does the Commonwealth have any control over the money once the Association gets it?
Senator ALLAN MacDONALD ( Western Australia - Assistant Minister [9.49]. - The Australian National Travel Association was formed in 1929 at the request of a number of Australian business men to undertake national advertising, the object being to attract a greater number of tourists to our shores, and, by cultivating good- will and a better understanding of Australia’s potentialities, and dissipating ignorance of things Australian, to inspire confidence in investors and thus enlarge the field for investment and industrial expansion. The Association is governed by an honorary board comprising Mr. H. W. . Clapp (Chairman) representing Australian railways; Mr. D. L. Dodwell, representing shipping interests, Mr. C. Lloyd Jones, representing Australian business interests; Mr. J. 37. Murphy, representing the Commonwealth Government; and Mr. C. W. Wilson, representing hotel interests. It derives its funds from contributions of business interests, overseas shipping lines, Australian railways and the Commonwealth Government, and from the sale of publications, photographs and so on. The activities of the association are directed towards gaining favorable publicity for Australia by syndicating photographs, articles and news items to the press, by maintaining contact with and educating travel-selling agents in the attractions of Australia, by collaborating with shipping lines, and by broadcasting and lecturing. The association has representatives in Great Britain and the United States of America, whilst the Australian Trade Commissioners in Canada, New Zealand, Netherlands Indies, China, Japan, and Egypt, and the trade representative in France, act as representatives of the association. A comparison of contributions for the year 1929-30 to the year 1936-37 shows that in 1929-30 ‘ the Commonwealth grant was £1,000, while other contributions from business, railways and other interests amounted to £16,585, or a total for that year of £17,585. In 1936-37, the Commonwealth grant was £15,000, and the other contributions we’re £13,740, making a total of £28,740. .During the last eight years the total contributions from the Commonwealth have been £42,000 and from the other interests already mentioned £108,644, making a total of £150,644 expended in this publicity.
Senator DUNCAN-HUGHES (South Australia) “9.52”. - I notice two items in “ Miscellaneous “ - Votes for the Department of Commerce, viz.. “ Apple and pear industry - Research, demonstration work and other expenditure, £10,000 “ - that has been already mentioned by Senator E. B. Johnston - and “ Apple and Pear Council - Grant for publicity, £5,000 “. I think I am right in. saying although I have not looked it up, that n bounty is already paid under legislation to the apple and pear industry. This appears to be a further bounty. On looking a little further, I find still a third one. I had anticipated that some one would ask the Minister for a statement about the Council for Scientific aud Industrial Research, but, as nothing has been said regarding it, I draw attention to Item 13 of Division 36 “Council for
Scientific and Industrial Research “ in the Prime Minister’s Department - “ Apple and pear industry - research and demonstration £5,410 “. . There is a note that this amount includes expenditure from contributions from outside sources. Last year the- grant for that purpose was £15,000, “of which £10,032 was expended. It is very hard indeed for honorable senators to keep trace of these special payments to special industries, when there are so many of them, and when some are not even shown in- this bill at all- Why should any bounty be paid specially to any particular industry for research work? Some two years ago, the wool-growers asked Parliament for power to tax themselves, and not for a grant from the Government, for the purpose of research work and publicity. That was a right principle, but why, in the case of another industry, and a big and powerful industry at that, should special provision be made for research and publicity, and then again, under the Council . for Scientific and Industrial Research, for further research and demonstration? Are these all the grants that have been made, or are there still some that I have not been able to trace? I have the greatest respect for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. and it is far from my intention to disparage it. I think it has done the most excellent work, very largely due to the gentlemen who have been in control of it/ and I am not by any means disposed to cavil at the fact that the grant of the council is increasing considerably year by year, because I think it is justifying the increase by the work it is doing. Still, it is exceedingly desirable that all the items which are being paid to the council should be set out under the one beading, so that we oan see what payments are actually being made to it. I do not say that the items I am discussing ever go to the council at all, but if they do not, they should, because that is the body which is most likely to do research work efficiently. I am not at all in favour of handing over £10,000 to the apple and pear industry for its own private research purposes, and £5,000 for its publicity. I do not expect the Minister to be able to give me an answer in detail at this stage, but I hope he will note, first, that it is not desirable that special grants for research and publicity should be made to any particular industry. If they are, why should not others have their share? Secondly, it is much better, if such grants are to he ma.de, to make them to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, and let that body decide which are the most desirable forms of research. Apparently, the apple and pear council itself gets the grant of £5,000 for publicity. La such a grant necessary, or desirable ?
– I can assure the honorable senator that, whatever money is used for research will be found as a grant to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. When the matter first caine before us, the council was invited to do a certain amount of work on thu purely scientific side. That, work is continuing, and is provided for in the Estimates of the Prime Minister’s Department. There was also a certain amount of other work in the field, pertaining to the departments of agriculture of the various States, and really controlled by them, and which did not fall under the heading of research in the true sense of the term. It was performed by some outside body brought in to aid tlie fruit-growers in obtaining a better variety of tree, which would produce more suitable fruit for export. That section has been controlled and administered by the Department of Commerce. My colleague, Senator MaeDonald, will deal with the publicity side of the matter, but I can assure Senator Duncan-Hughes that in that regard there has been no overlapping at all. The scientific side has been kept entirely apart from the Department of Commerce, and any work budgeted for in thi3 section of the bill is work outside the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.
Senator ALLAN MacDONALD (Western Australia - Assistant Minister) ‘10.0”. - An amount of £10,000 is provided to cover the cost of research and demonstration work in connexion with the apple and pear industry. A grant of £20,000 was made available by the Commonwealth for this purpose in 1.936. the provision being allocated on the following basis: Demonstration and advisory work, and improvement of cultural practices. £S,850; research work, £10,170; contingencies, £980 ; total, £20,000. The provision now being made is for the purpose of continuing this work, the previous programme for demonstration and advisory work having covered a period of one year only, and the amount allocated for research being spread over the two years ending 30th June, 193S.
With regard to the provision for research and demonstration in connexion with the apple and pear industry, I point out that this is a balance transferred to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. The whole of the cost of this research is met from funds made available by the Department of Commerce out of moneys appropriated for that department under Division 112, Item 8. Follow7 hig n conference held in Melbourne, in March, 1936, the problems requiring investigation were divided among the various authorities as follows -
Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. - Investigation of codling moth, injury caused by spray, the results to bc obtained by gas storage, and the prevention of dieback.
New South Wales Department of Agriculture - This State agreed to carry out stock and scion studies, and an investigation of the removal of arsenical residues and of the problem of internal cork iri. the Kentucky district.
Queensland Department of Agriculture. - A study of general horticultural problems in the Stanthorpe area.
Victorian. Department, of Agriculture. - A study of codling moth in the Goulburn Valley and of mineral deficiencies in pears.
South Australian Department of Agriculture. - Spray and fertilizer trials.
Western Australian Department of Agriculture. - A study of die-back and investigation of green manuring practices.
Tasmanian Department, of Agriculture. - A study of black spot and other fungal diseases : and an investigation of the Jassid and light brown apple moth.
– As I have -not got any very definite reply as to whether these grants are desirable, and, apparently, am not going to receive such information, I shall pass on to Item 19 which includes administrative expenses in connexion with the election of ». representative on the Dairy Produce Control Board. For this purpose Parliament, last year, voted £100, hut on that election the Board expended £739. That seems to be acting on a pretty liberal scale. Why any board of this nature needs to spend £739 on the election of one representative requires a great deal of explanation. The bowd, too, apparently took a fairly free hand in the matter when it expended nearly eight times the amount voted. In the past we have been so often reminded, though not so frequently nowadays, of the great benefits to be derived from the activities of control boards, but the expenditure of nearly £750 on administrative expenses connected with the election of one representative to this board is calculated to make honorable senators wonder whether the game is worth the candle.
– In respect of overseas trade publicity, an amount of £37,500 is proposed to be provided to be paid to the credit of the Overseas Trade Publicity Trust Account. I should like to know the nature of this publicity and whether any contributions are made “ from outside sources to this fund.
Item 4, “ Hand-book of AustraliaPrinting and distribution evidently covers a new publication, and, I suggest, honorable senators would be interested in an outline of the plan of this work.
A grant of £5,000 to the States for the provision of training facilities for dairy factory operatives is proposed. One is curious as to the necessity for this work, and as to how the amount is to be allocated amongst tlie various States.
– In regard to the proposed expenditure of £37,500 for “overseas trade publicity, I point out that in 1926 the Commonwealth Government, in conjunction with the statutory boards controlling the exportation of dried fruits, canned fruits,’ and dairy produce, established in London aa organization for the purpose of advertising those products throughout the United Kingdom. Subsequently voluntary organizations interested in the export of eggs and fresh fruits identified themselves with, the scheme. Control of the organization is vested in the Publicity Committee, of which Mr. A. F. Bell is chairman, and the publicity activities in the United Kingdom are carried out under the direction of Mr. A. E. Hyland, Director of Australian Trade Publicity. Up to 1929-30, the Commonwealth contributed to the scheme on a £1 for £1 basis with the industries concerned, and, in addition, made available a sum of £2,500 annually for the purpose of exhibitions. Subsequent to that year, the Commonwealth’s contribution was on a reduced basis as a consequence of the financial depression. With the return of improved financial conditions, the Commonwealth increased its contribution in 1935-36, and made a. further substantial increase in 1936-37. In view of the large amounts being spent on trade publicity bv the competitors of Australia in the United Kingdom market, it is considered essential that the Commonwealth subsidy should be continued on a substantial basis. In respect of the current year, the Commonwealth proposes to contribute £30,000 for publicity and’ £7,500 for exhibitions, whilst the total amount estimated to be provided by other contributing bodies is £45,000. These amounts are in sterling.
As to the provision for an official handbook of Australia, it is proposed that the booklet shall be illustrated with maps and photographs, and that it shall contain information concerning geographical features, population, production, export, communications, irrigation and water supply, land settlement, government, social conditions, &c, as well as facts regarding Australia as a field for investment, such as cost of power supplies, types and locations of existing industries. At present the Commonwealth purchases advertising space in special journals, obtaining copies of these journals for distribution overseas, but such, expenditure would be obviated by the publication of an official hand-book.
Senator GRANT (Tasmania) [10.10’J. - In respect of the proposed grant of £2,120 to assist the honey industry, I point out that last year a sum of £1,500 was voted for this purpose, but only £10 of that amount was expended. I should like to have some explanation of the discrepancy in these figures, and why an a mount of £2,120 should be required, in view of the expenditure of only £10 in this direction last year.
Senator ALLAN MacDONALD (Western Australia - Assistant Minister) 1 10. 11]. - At the moment I have no details of the cost of the election last year of a member of the Dairy Produce Control Board to which Senator DuncanHughes referred, I point out that no provision is made in that respect this year, because no election is to be held.
– Why was the expenditure so large?
– I shall secure the information desired by the honorable senator.
As a consequence of representations to the Commonwealth through the Agricultural Council for assistance to the State governments for the purpose of providing better facilities for the training of dairy factory operatives in order to ensure a regular supply of highly trained and fully qualified men with the object of securing general improvement, particularly in factory technique, and a consequential uplift of quality of Australian butter, Cabinet, on the 12th- August, 1936, agreed to provide a grant to each State of a sum not exceeding £1,400. The amount provided is estimated to be suffi-
Mel t to cover the present year’s requirements. The grant may be used either for capital expenditure or for the provision of bursaries to approved students, and any scheme must first be approved by the Minister for ‘Commerce and the Treasurer. The expenditure so far approved under this scheme is as follows: - New South Wales: Commonwealth to contribute £1,400 towards the cost of improvements to Hawkesbury Agricultural College; Tasmania: £1,400 to be utilized for payment, over a period of years, towards the cost of establishing bursaries of £100 per annum to Tas- ‘manian students attending Gatton and Hawkesbury Agricultural Colleges ; Queensland : Commonwealth to contribute £1,400 towards the cost of extensions and improvements to Gatton Agricultural High School and College ; Victoria : Commonwealth to contribute £1,400 towards the construction of a new school of dairy technology, Werribee; South Australia : £1,400 to be utilized for payment over a period of years, of the cost of establishing bursaries of £100 per annum to South Australian students attending Hawkesbury Agricultural College, New South Wales. The Western Australian Government has under consideration a proposal for the utilization of the grant towards the cost of improving the Muresk Agricultural College, but no definite scheme has been submitted.
Senator Grant inquired concerning assistance to the honey industry. On the Sth July, 1936, Cabinet approved of the provision of a sum of £1,500 to be expended for the purpose of assisting the honey industry in the form of stimulating local consumption in a manner which would not require legislation. The sum of £1,500 to cover this proposed expenditure was placed on the Estimates for 1936-37, but it was found impracticable to formulate an effective publicity scheme in time to effect payment of the accounts during that year. A committee, consisting of representatives of the honey industry and this department, drew up a plan of campaign and arranged with Gothams (Aust.) Limited to conduct the campaign, which included radio and newspaper publicity, and the issue of 4.0,000 copies of a honey booklet. Interest in the product was further stimulated by holding a honey, recipe competition, which drew well over 30,000 .entries.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed votes - Refunds of Revenue, £1,350,000; and Advance to the Treasurer, £2)000,000- agreed to.
War Services Payable out of Revenue.
Proposed vote, £1,261,300.
Senator COLLETT (/Western Australia1* f 10.16]. - The Australian War Memorial in Canberra has been under construction for at least two years, and so far as I am aware members of this Parliament have not yet been afforded an opportunity to inspect the progress of the work, it would be fitting to invite honorable senators to inspect the building, especially as we are being asked to vote £150,000 towards its completion.
Senator ALLAN MacDONALD (Western Australia. - Assistant Minister) [10.17 J. - I shall be pleased to facilitate an inspection of the Australian War Memorial provided that 1. receive sufficient notice to enable the necessary arrangements to be made.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vole - Commonwealth Railways, £662,440 - agreed to.
Proposed vote, £11,062,450.
Senator UPPILL (South Australia) [10.1-iSj. - I bring under the notice of the Postmaster-General (Senator A. J. McLachlan) the urgent necessity to extend greater postal and telephone facilities to those living in the more remote parts of the Commonwealth. While the Government has done a great deal in this respect, particularly on Eyre Peninsula, in South Australia, I believe that much more can be done to improve the conditions under which settlers are living by providing for the carriage of air mails at the ordinary letter rate. I understand that Tasmania has received some concession in this respect, and that on Kangaroo Island no surcharge is imposed on air-mail letters. A similar concession should be extended to those in the outback portions, not only of South Australia, including the far north, but also of other States. Suggestions have been made that the ordinary postage rate should be reduced from 2d. to lid., but a greater benefit would be conferred by extending facilities to those whose mail and telephone services are now most inadequate. Some settlers have to travel long distances to an exchange, and then have to defray the cost of opening the office. Many persons, not only in the more remote parts, but also in some closelysettled areas, cannot incur the cost of a telephone service. Those requiring a tele phone service have to meet the cost of constructing the telephone line or contribute a heavy rent if the Government erects and maintains the line. This often creates the position that, owing to insufficient numbers, a district is prevented from having the opportunity of opening an exchange, or where there is an exchange, the subscribers are denied reasonable hours of service. I trust that the Postmaster-General will endeavour to give greater facilities to these people who are rendering a very useful service to the community in developing the outback country.-
[10.20 j . - The honorable senator can rest assured that 1 am only too anxious to develop the air mail and other similar services in the outback portions of Australia wherever practicable. As provision has already been made for the expenditure of £17,000 on additional road mail services it will be seen that development is extending. Some of the services to which the honorable senator referred, are at present under the consideration of the department. The position which has arisen on Kangaroo Island is due to the fact that those controlling the plane service acted in open competition with the boat service which carried the mail to Second Valley from which point it was transported by road. Air mail contracts are controlled by the Civil Aviation Department, but the PostmasterGeneral’s Department subsidizes the service. The manner in which air mail services have developed within the last twelve, months is amazing, and within the next year or two further important improvements can be expected. The telephone charges imposed in Australia are. on a generous sr-ale, and on country telephone services a total annual loss of £400,000 has been incurred. In some » country areas 90 per cent, of the subscribers receive a service at, a. ground rental of £3 5s., and for the five years ended the 30th June, 1935, a loss of £1.800,000 was incurved. ‘1’he department is doing everything possible to provide a reasonable service, and it is only recently that there- has been the. relaxation to which the honorable senator referred.
. -I congratulate the PostmasterGeneral ( Senator A. J. McLachlan) upon the development which has taken place in the services of his department in Western Australia, and upon the increase of efficiency generally;but I remindhim that there are still vast portions of that State which are not adequately catered for by the department. Can the Minister state why the cost of the national broadcasting service in Western Australia is to be increased by £5,000 as compared with last year?
– That is due to engineering and other services in connexion with new broadcasting stations at Wagin and Kalgoorlie.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote, £306,150.
– I noticed in the press some time ago that the recently appointed Administrator of the Northern Territory had decided that the officer in charge at Alice Springs, who hitherto had been known as the Deputy Administrator, was to be designated, I think, the secretary. When at Alice Springs a year or two ago, I was forcibly struck with the difficulty confronting the Northern Territory from an administrative viewpoint. There should be a deputy administrator at Alice Springs, who, when required to act, presumably has to telegraph to Canberra through Darwin. Is there any power under which that officer can communicate direct with the Minister at Canberra, or has a message to be sent 1,250 miles north and then 1,750 miles south? It is that sort of thing that makes administration of the back country difficult and unsatisfactory. As a matter of fact a good deal is being done for the Northern Territory under this Appropriation Bill, and the total expenditure this year will be considerable. The second question which I put to the Minister is in respect of the item, definition of the 129th meridian. Last year the expenditure on this item was £1,447 and this year the vote is £1,000. One feels that if last year those engaged in the business could not define the meridian for £1,447, the best thing to do is to give up the search and not pay another £1,000 this year! I notice also, that last year there was a grant of £2,306 in aid of the Darwin Town Council, and to cover cost of services taken over from the council for a portion of the year. The Mayor of Darwin last year received an honorarium of £100, but this year there is no provision for that dignatary.I hope that no unfair preference is being shown to last year’s mayor as against the occupant of the office this year. I should like some information about the grant to be given to the Darwin Town Council, and why the mayor last year was considered to have earned £100, while the mayor this year will not receive any such recognition. Generally, official functions will be carried out by the Administrator, but it might be quite worth while to vote to the mayor of Darwin a small amount, because Darwin is one of the gateways to Australia, and it may be desirable for the mayor of that town to take some part in the welcoming of visitors to these shores.
– Would the honorable senator favour similar recognition for the Mayor of Fremantle?
– No, becauseFremantle is a large and important city with a strong corporation. The Government could no more be expected to assist the Mayor of Fremantle than it could be expected to assist the Mayor of Port Adelaide. Port Darwin is in an entirely different position and I think something might, in reason, be done to assist the mayor of that town.
.- The officer at Alice Springs, formerly the Deputy Administrator, is now District Officer and has no authority to communicate direct with the Minister for the Interior at Canberra except in an emergency, when he would be entitled to use his initiative. It is obvious that if permission were given to some officers to communicate direct with the Minister for the Interior in Canberra, the Administrator would not have the complete knowledge and the control of Northern Territory affairs which are essential to good administration. With regard to the air mail services, I can inform the committee that matters have been speeded up, and I understand that there isnow practically no delay whatever in distribution. Senator Duncan-Hughes mentioned the honorarium paid last year to the Mayor of Darwin and the grant in aid of the local Town Council. There is now no mayor. The Darwin Town Council ceased to function last year. The duties formerly discharged by it are now being carried out by the Department of the Interior. The survey of the 129th meridian was in hand last year and is to be continued this year in a northerly direction.
– What does the item mean ?
– The expenditure is being incurred to define the boundary between Western Australia and the Northern Territory.
– It has been agreed that the Commonwealth Government and the Government of Western Australia shall contribute equally to the cost of defining the boundary between the Northern Territory and the State of Western Australia. The expenditure this year is estimated at £2,000, of which the Commonwealth will be required to contribute one-half. Survey parties under the control of the State Government are at present carrying out this work.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed votes - Federal Capital Territory, £328,410; Papua, £44,160; and Norfolk Island, £4,000- agreed to.
Second schedule agreed to.
Postponed clause 3 agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without requests; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Presentation to the GovernorGeneral.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch). - I have ascertained that His Excellency the Governor-General will be pleased to receive the AddressinReply to his Opening Speech at Government House at 11.30 a.m. tomorrow. I invite as many honorable senators as can make it convenient to accompany me.
Motion (by Senator A. J. McLachlan) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– Again, at the request of the Queensland branch of the Partially Blinded Sailors’ and Soldiers’ Association of Australia, I bring under the notice of the Government the claim of Mr. C. E. Kruger, a blinded soldier, for a war pension. I have received from the honorary secretary of the association a letter stating that the Right Honorable W. M. Hughes had declared that this case had been fully investigated by the War Pension Entitlement Tribunal. The association contends that the tribunal in question has not at any time dealt fairly with this man’s claim. It has on every occasion decided against Kruger solely on the opinion of Sir James Barrett, who did not, at any time, have an opportunity to examine the man. The departmental specialist in Queensland (Dr. Lockart Gibson), I am informed, stated definitely in his report on the 10th July, 1924, that the disability in the right eye was due to war service. In 1928, he reported that there was no doubt that the condition of the right eye was due to war service, but that the defect in the left eye was attributable to old-age.Dr. Wallis Hoare, one of the leading eye specialists in Brisbane, at the request of the association, made a thorough investigation of Kruger and reported, inter alia -
Eight eye blind; left eye blind. As to the incidence of the optic atrophy, the right eye appears to have been affected in 1916, the left eye some years later. . . . One is forced to the conclusion that, like many other cases of primary optic atrophy, the origin is obscure, and no attributable cause can be definitely assigned. 1 understand that this man did receive a pension for a time. It seems incomprehensible that the War Pensions Entitlement Tribunal should, on the opinion of Sir James Barrett, declare that Kruger’s disability was not due to war service, notwithstanding the reports of Dr. Lockart Gibson and Dr. Wallis Hoare. There have been many cases of partial loss of sight due to contamination from the use of dirty towels and blankets, and from the millions of flies that abounded in Egypt, I hope that the Minister for Repatriation will give to this matter his personal attention and insist upon having all the facts. If he does this, I feel sure that Kruger will not continue to suffer a grave injustice at the hands of the entitlement tribunal.
. -I shall be obliged if the Leader of the Senate (Senator A. J. McLachlan) will givean undertaking that to-morrow honorable senators will have an opportunity to discuss the Ottawa agreement. This is a most important matter, and I feel sure thatmany senators will welcome the chance to express their opinion upon it.
– I shall have the file in regard to Mr. Kruger sent to me at Canberra, and will take up the matter with the Repatriation Commission. It is only fair to say that the Repatria- t ion Commission and the various tribunals which deal with soldiers’ cases were set up by Parliament at the request of the returned soldiers’ organizations in order that, as far as possible, the administration of repatriation benefits should be free from political control. I mention, moreover, that every member of the tribunals is a returned soldier. Knowing the personnel of these bodies, I can say that their one desire is to do full justice to returned soldier claimants. The deputy chairman of the Repatriation Commission is in Canberra, and I shall discuss these matters with him. If it be possible to assist Kruger without contravening the act,I shall be glad to do so.
. - in reply - In regard to the request of Senator Leckie I can only say that, if it is the wish of honorable senators, I shall be glad to afford the Senate an opportunity to discuss the statement in relation to trade agreements which was made to-day in the House of Representatives, although, personally, I can foresee little or no profit from doing so, except that honorable senators will be able to ascertain the prin ciples underlying the policy of the Government in regard to any negotiations that may ensue.
As to trade negotiations between Great Britainand the United States of America, I point out that, at this stage, Australia is not. a party to them. Moreover, 1 am not convinced that more harm than good will not ensue from a premature discussion of something upon which we may never embark. I shall consult Cabinet tomorrow morning, and if I can find means to bring this subject before the Senate prior to the Christmas recess, I shall be glad to do so.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.51 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 7 December 1937, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1937/19371207_senate_15_155/>.