15th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. J. B. Hayes) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I lay on the table a statement embodying applications for relief dealt with by the board constituted under section 66 of the Land Tax Assessment Act 1910-1937 during the periods from the 1st January to the 30th June, 1937, and from the 1st July, 1937, to the 30th June, 1938.
-Has the Leader of the Government in the Senate any information as to the progress ofthe negotiations for the settlement of the coal strike, as many employers in industry arc anxious to know for what period they will be able to continue their operations and keep their men in employment?
-Iam aware that the ActingPrime Minister (SirEarle Page) was in touch with the Premier of New South Wales, Mr. Stevens, immediately before luncheon. I have not heard the result of the conference, but I understand that the outlook is quite hopeful.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained, and will be furnished as soon as possible.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Wool and/or cotton?
– A reply will be furnished tothe honorable senator as early as possible.
SenatorFRASER asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
If extensions are to be made to munition factories under the defence vote 1938-39, will the Government, in view ofthe agreement with the State Government, give consideration to a policy of decentralization, and establish at Midland Junction Workshops, Western Australia, the machinery and additional buildings, if necessary, for the manufacture of munitions, so that the profits accruing from that source will go to the State or Commonwealth instead of to private individuals?
– The Minister for Defence has supplied the following answer : -
The Government has given, and will continue to give, full consideration to a policy of decentralization. The extent to which Midland Junction Workshops might assist in the present development programmehas been indicated to the Western Australian Government, whose technical officers recently conferred with officers of the Defence Department regarding the matter, which is being further pursued.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following answers: -
Payment by Post.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister repesentating the Treasurer, upon notice -
SenatorFOLL. - The Treasurer has supplied the following answers: -
Accommodation for Tourists
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Interior has supplied the following answers: -
Publicity Through Films
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
SenatorFOLL. - The Ministerfor Trade and Customs has supplied the following answer: - 1 and 2. Consideration is being given to the question, and further information will be given at a later date.
Debate resumed from the 5th October (vide page384), on motion by Senator Foll-
That the papers be printed.
.- The defence of this nation should be by a policy of self-preservation rather than by becoming embroiled in European wars. Such a policy is in conformity with the declared defence policy of the Australian Labour party. A few days ago Senator Brown quoted from a book by Captain Liddell Harte, which contained a statement by Commander Russell Grenville that Australia and New Zealand cannot depend to any extent Upon assistance from the British fleet, and that Australia must make rapid arrangements for its own defence. The present position is such that Australia is compelled to do more than it has done in the past. We have just passed through an acute international crisis, and it is -satisfactory to every one to realize that Australia was not asked to show what it can do. In the past we have been able to display our strength, and we may again be called upon to show the power of Australia’s manhood. I know that we can acquit ourselves satisfactorily in the eyes of the world. The Labour party believes that the best way in which to defend this continent is by strengthening the Air Force, and establishing a system whereby we can bring into commission a sufficient number of submarines and cruisers to repel any attack. I have stated previously that it is necessary for Australia to establish a citizen air force throughout the Commonwealth, and that there should be a branch of such a force in Tasmania. When such suggestions are made we are told that sufficient funds are not available; but I should like to bring under the notice of honorable senators what is being done in Great Britain to provide funds for defence purposes. The defence of Australia is inadequate, and thos? who have wealth and property to defend should be compelled to contribute an amount over and above ordinary taxes. As the Government says that it follows Britain, it should adopt the policy of that country for the financing of defence. In Great Britain there is a national defence contribution fund, and the law governing it provides -
That there shall he charged on any profits arising at any time during the five years commencing on the first day of April nineteen hundred and thirty-seven from any trade or business of any description (including, in the case of bodies corporate whose functions consist wholly or mainly in the .holding of investments or other property, the holding of the investments or property), a tax not exceeding 5 per cent, of the amount of the profits.
Profits under £3,000 are not taxable, but on’ that amount and over a tax of £60 has to be paid. The figures for higher amounts are: £4,000, £120; £5,000, £180; £6,000, £240; £7,000, £300; £8,000, £369; £9,000, £420; and £10,000, £480. There is a direct tax of 5 per cent, on the profits of any corporate body or individual, and those who have wealth and who amass profits are compelled to meet the cost of protecting .their assets. The tax which is assessed and collected annually for the accounting periods of trading concerns is . bo remain in force for five years from the 1st April, 1937, to the 31st March, 1942, after which it will be reviewed. A similar tax should be imposed in Australia. There . are some millionaires and other wealthy persons in this country who should he compelled to contribute towards its defence. I have no complaint to make concerning the way in which they secured their wealth, because if we had lie opportunity we would do the same. The foi- . lowing is a list of Australia’s wealthy citizens and the wealth that they own or control : -
Those persons should be compelled to make substantial contributions towards the defence of Australia. By merely paying the ordinary taxes they are not bearing enough of the burden of defence.
– What authority has the honorable senator for saying that the persons mentioned possess such wealth ?
– The list will be published in Hansard, and those whose names are mentioned can deny the accuracy of my statement if they so desire.
– Is it their own money ot trust moneys?
– It is money under their control.
– Money in their own right ?
– Yes, they control it.
– I know Sir Kelso King; the amount attributed to him is ridiculous.
– He owns or controls the amount of money mentioned.
I have been ‘asked to bring the proposals of the Tasmanian Aero Club before this chamber. They are set out in the following statement: -
Representations have been made to the Commonwealth Government for the provision of a suitable aeroplane and its maintenance, to train advanced pilots of the Aero Club or otherwise in co-operation with the Reserve Defence Forces of the Military District of Hobart, in the defence of Tasmania.
When the formation and establishment of light aeroplane clubs was conceived by the late Sir Sefton Bracker in 1923, he had in mind, we are told, the creation of an air consciousness among the British people, analogous to the sca consciousness for which they have been famous through history. A reserve of air pilots was also to be created, for service iii the event of war.
As far as the Tasmanian Aero Club is concerned, the last-mentioned object has not been achieved, nor is it possible within the limited powers of that club, the pilots having no knowledge of flying of a military character, nor of the use of modern aircraft. Reserve pilots could not be used for active service until trained in the many branches of flying such as to include bombing, air fighting, photography, wireless, telegraphy, advanced navigation, meteorological observation, Sue., practical’ manoeuvres with the Army Reserve Forces. These manoeuvres are not possible with the training machines of the Aero Club, and it seems in order to get the desired results as far as creating a reserve of air pilots is concerned, there is a necessity for the formation of an air reserve equipped with suitable modern aircraft.
In the larger States of the Commonwealth the objects of this advanced training are effectively carried out .by the Citizen Air Forces that are in existence.
It has been stated that to establish a unit of the Citizen Air Force in Hobart on a scale comparable with other capital cities it would require in the vicinity of £T50,000. This amount would include the erection of buildings and supply of aircraft, and added to it would bc the cost of maintenance and personal staff.
Realizing that the provision of this amount would bo out of the question, the Aero Club feels that a modified scheme should be possible, viz.: the provision of a suitable aeroplane with a maintenance grant.
It is submitted that the ‘Commonwealth Government be asked to provide an aeroplane, through the Defence Department, and a maintenance grant of £1,000 per year to cover running costs, insurance, &c. The aircraft to be under the control of the Commandant of the Military District of Hobart, or his direction.
Through the volunteer reserves (including the Aero Club instructor and volunteer engineers (in their private capacities) who would be responsible for the technical maintenance of the aircraft, and advanced pilots of the Aero Club with 25 hours or over), the nucleus of a Hying corps could be formed.
Provision could be made for all such volunteers to join the Citizen Military Forces “Air
Force Branch “, who would attend parades with the other branches of the Commonwealth Military Forces in their technical capacity, and engage in practical exercises with them, such as co-operation between the infantry, artillery, and signals branches, and carry out photographic surveys of forests, fires, 4c, and to act in case of emergency relief if the occasion demanded. This would greatly assist in providing a familiarity with aircraft amongst all ranks of our Volunteer Reserves - a factor that should be most valuable in future military operations.
Infantry, artillery, and signals officers can be shown how military ground force dispositions appear from the air, and pilots would get training in picking up troop dispositions, spotting for artillery, contact patrol work with infantry, and constant practical work with the wireless, &c, under military conditions which would be of great mutual benefit to all divisions.
Further, the aircraft could bo used for communication flights between military districts, preliminary photographic surveys for geological, topographical, forestry and ordnance surveys, searches for lost ships, land parties, aircraft, &c. (if the occasion should arise), all of which exercises” would give a very wide and useful experience of the usefulness and limitations of aircraft under such conditions, thus providing a wider experience for both pilots and military forces.
Co-operation with the Aero Club instructors for refresher courses to instruct or arrangements for tuition by an officer of the Royal Australian Air Force for a short period, and the periodical visits of Air Force machines could bc combined with the annual training camps of the corps.
In order to make the widest use of the aircraft during training, and in order to have a unit of a type which would be of undoubted military value in emergency, it is necessary to have a machine similar to that in use in the Royal Australian Air Force. ‘
To be sufficiently economical in operation, and simple in maintenance, a machine of medium powered category must be sought. Within this category and similar to the communication types in use in the Royal Australian Air Force (that is the Gannet and Rapide) is the D.H. “Dragon Fly”. This machine has simple maintenance (Gipsy Major engines) and modern flying training equipment such as flaps, wheel brakes, instrument flying and wireless, and can be used for photography and will carry sufficient personnel for communication. The manufacturers aTe supplying to the Royal Australian Air Force and the price would be under £3,500 erected and flying at Hobart.
It is considered necessary to have a twinengined machine in Tasmania, owing to ite mountainous nature, and this machine would carry out the requirements of those larger aircraft of a similar type in use in Australia.
Hangar accommodation would have to he provided,, but temporary arrangements could be made with Australian National Airways at Cambridge.
Honorable senators will realize that the Aero Club of Tasmania has presented a sound case for consideration by the CommonwealthGovernment. Should the Government not see its way clear to establish a citizen air force in Tasmania, I hope that it will do the next best thing, and supply the aero club of that State with a machine which can be used for the training of air pilots.
I have been requested to bring before the Postmaster-General (Senator A. J. McLachlan) the desirability of providing sentry-type telephone boxes in Tasmania to replace the existing boxes which are attached to either walls or posts. I have in mind a telephone outside Paton and Baldwin’s mill at Launceston, which is used extensively during lunch hour by the 1,000 girl employees in the building. The noise of the street traffic makes it almost impossible to converse satisfactorily. That telephone is typical of the public telephones in Launceston, most of which have been installed along tram routes. Tasmania is entitled to the same telephonic facilities as have been provided in other cities of the Commonwealth, and I urge the Government to hasten the installation of suitable telephone booths in that State.
– As this is the first opportunity I have had to address the newly-constituted Senate, I desire to extend the right hand of comradeship to my fellow workers on the other side of the chamber, and in particular to congratulate Senator Colllings on his reappointment as Leader of the Opposition, I take with the proverbial grain of salt the honorable senator’s statements of what the Opposition will do during the life of this Parliament. Knowing him as I do, I cannot believe that he will carry out his threats. On the contrary, I am sure that he will show mercy. The atmosphere of this chamber is conducive to thoughtful discussion, particularly when we reflect that the decisions reached will have legislative sanction. I believe in the honesty of purpose of every honorable senator, and that our common desire is that the people of Australia shall be happy, contented and prosperous. To that end, we in this chamber may do much, but we must remember that we have our limitations, in that we have to consider ways and means. In attempting to confer the greatest good on the greatest number, we must take care that we do not interfere with the sources of our national wealth. The day may come - I hope that it is far distant - when the Labour party will be in power in the Commonwealth, and Senator Darcey will have an opportunity to put into practice his advanced views on the creation of unbounded wealth, whilst Senator Cameron, as Minister in Charge of Employment, will have the task of setting things right in the industrial sphere. Whether or not I am a member of this chamber at the time I shall watch such developments with interest. Perhaps when that time arrives this country will experience again those halycon years, 1910 to 1913, so glowingly portrayed by Senator Sheehan.
Provision is made in this budget to meet our share of the upkeep of the League of Nations. Events of the last few weeks, I suggest, invest this item with more than usual interest. Many people in Australia claim that such expenditure is sheer waste of money, and if they had their way they would abolish the League, because they contend that it is useless. I admit that up to the present it has failed to live up to the expectations of its founders and supporters; nevertheless, we must remember that it represents the first concerted effort made by the nations of the world with the object of preserving world peace. The success of the Munich Conference at which the representatives of four great European powers solved the difficult problem arising out of tension between Germany and Czechoslovakia illustrates the fundamental principle on which the League of Nations is founded, and, I believe, will encourage every supporter of the League to do all in his power to keep it alive. The League at least represents a start in the right direction. We must always remember that up to the present it has had to overcome the doctrine, inculcated during 1,000 years of international strife, that might is right. All honorable senators, I feel sure, sincerely hope that in the future international disputes will be settled by negotiation rather than by resort to force.
The budget of any country is simply a balance-sheet covering the transactions of one year, together with an estimate of income in respect of the following year. I remind Senator Sheehan that budgets were based on this principle even in those halcyon days of which he spoke when Labour governments were in power. The Leader of the Opposition criticized the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) for having budgeted for a surplus of £26,000, and stated that the Treasurer knew full well that on hi3 estimates he would end the year with a much greater credit ‘balance. Every honorable senator hopes that the actual credit balance will be more than the Treasurer’s estimate, but I fail to understand why the Leader of the Opposition should claim that the Treasurer made his estimate with his tongue in his check. It is an impossibility for the Treasurer of any country to make a correct estimate of the result of the year’s transactions.
– The estimate need not be out by £3,000,000 year after yea*.
– I can quite understand how the estimate could be out by even that amount. I remind the honorable senator that the bulk of our overseas wealth is derived from the sale of our primary products, whereby we secure funds to meet our liabilities and to pay for our imports. Naturally if we enjoy bountiful seasons we are enabled to secure extended credits overseas, and this fact provides an incentive to overseas buyers to increase their purchases of our products. The honorable senator suggests that there is no excuse for the Treasurer under-estimating his surplus by the amount of ‘£3,000,000. On the first page of the budget he will note that Australia’s wool cheque alone last year declined by’ £11,000,000. If so great a fluctuation is possible in respect of the receipts from one of our primary industries, a corresponding decline will naturally be reflected on the expenditure side of our budget. The matter of tariffs, about which the honorable senator spoke at som; length, enters into this subject to a great extent. He suggests that we should stabilize our tariffs as protective tariffs rather than view them as revenue tariffs, but that would be very difficult. Although honorable senators object to the tariff being made a medium of raising revenue, they are nevertheless the most fervent advocates of increased taxes.
Criticism has also been levelled against the expenditure of the sum of £20,000 in respect of overseas delegations. Our newspapers have been more than usually busy in criticizing the last ministerial delegation which left these shores. It was claimed that those gentlemen had accomplished nothing on the other aide of the world. Whilst they certainly did not return with any signed agreement, they established personal contact with the leaders of commerce overseas, and when similar negotiations are undertaken in the future, this country will reap the full benefit of that contact.
– Provided those Ministers are re-elected.
– If they are not re-elected I hope their successors will prove to be better men. The value of personal contact between leaders of different countries was brought home to us very forcibly through the Munich conference. I do not think that any honorable senator will deny that but for the personal contact made between the representatives of the four great nations who met at the conference the vital negotiations between Germany and Czechoslovakia would have ended without war. Undoubtedly the success of that conference was due to the fact that these men came face to face, and were thus enabled to understand each other better. Coming nearer to home to illustrate, I might mention that in South Australia I have met political students who have described the Leader of -the Opposition in this chamber as a wild man. As the result of’ my personal contact with the honorable senator I was able to disabuse their minds of that impression. I replied, “ That is all nonsense ; I have found nothing wrong with him. He is full of the milk of human kindness “. These gentlemen had formed their, impression of the honorable senator on what they read of him and his statements in the press, but I knew him better because I had made personal contact with him.
Honorable senators opposite have criticized the proposed expenditure on defence. Every item of that expenditure is absolutely justified. I agree with Senator Wilson, however, that it has not been spread so widely throughout Australia as it might have been. South Australians, in fact, feel that they are entitled to more consideration in that respect than they have received, but we were told that of all the States, South Australia was the least vulnerable, and therefore did not need heavy expenditure on huge fortifications. If this is true, I should like to know why the Government does not make provision for expenditure in that State on munition factories, which, of all government establishments, should be in the safest location.
– Yet the honorable senator continues to support a government that ignores the claims of South Australia.
-I support this Government because I am convinced that it is administering the affairs of this country in the best interests of all the people, and I would sacrifice smaller things for the bigger issues.
-Does the honorable gentleman suggest that the interests of South Australia arc unimportant?
– Not at all.
SenatorCam eron. - Apparently he is easily satisfied.
– I believe in being thankful for small mercies.
The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) took some exception tothe proposed expenditure in connexion with the inauguration of the national insurance scheme, and mentioned particularly the payment to approved societies of1s. per capita for new members. He went on to say that friendly societies had done more for the people of Australia than the National Insurance Commission is ever likely to do. I entirely disagree with him on that point. Every one knows that members of friendly societies cannot get out of their various funds more than they put into them. That is to say, if a member’s contribution is1s. or1s. 3d. a week,he cannot expect to got in return benefits having a greater value than1s. or1s. 3d. weekly.
– That statement is not correct. All members do not make a demand on the fund. Therefore, those who require benefits may have returned to them more than they contributed.
– I am quite conversant with the working of friendly society organizations, and I repeat that their members cannot expect to get benefits greater in value than the amount of their contributions. The position of employees contributing to the national insurance scheme, is different because the payments of employees will be augmented by payments by the employers and a generous subsidy from the Commonwealth Government.
– And the employer will add the amount of his contribution to the prices of the commodities or services which he sells.
– I might say with equal justice that employees contributing to the scheme will be compensated for such additional costs by an adjustment of wages in accordance with the cost of living figures.
The Government’s proposals in respect of State grants this year are not so generous as we in South Australia could wish them to be. I realize, however, that they are based on the recommendations of the Commonwealth Grants Commission and as I hold that a man is a poor sport who does not accept the decision of the umpire I am prepared to support the Government’s proposals.
We have heard a good deal in this debate about the proposed grant of £200,000 for the training of unemployed youths, and about unemployment generally. In this connexion 1 was surprised at the criticism by the Loader of the Opposition. He declared that the Statistician’s estimate of 8.5 per cent. of persons unemployed was far from being accurate. I do not understand whythe honorable gentleman should question the figures. No one challenged their accuracy some years ago, when unemployment reached its peak at 30.5 per cent. of the population. If official figures were accepted then they should be accepted now. As regards unemployment generally, I would say that, having regard to the criticism offered by several honorable senators during the last few days, the sooner arrangements are made for another census of the people, the better. The Leader of the Opposition spoke about thousands of people in Queensland being out of work; Senators from New South Wales told us of the thousands unemployed in that State; Western Australian senators also spoke of similar numbers in the same unfortunate plight in that ‘State; our Tasmanian friends added their quota; and one senator from Victoria spoke of the “ thousands upon ‘thousands “ who were out of work there.
– What I said was perfectly true. I gave the exact number of unemployed on the register - 40,000.
– I repeat that if there are so many thousands of people without employment when, as I have shown, the official estimate is 8.5 per cent., it is highly desirable that we should have another census of the people without delay. When the National Insurance legislation was under discussion in the Senate a few months ago, it was estimated that when the scheme was launched on the 1st January next, no fewer than 1,800,000 employees throughout the Commonwealth would be covered by insurance. If we take into account their dependants who will be catered for by approved societies and the numbers of self-employed persons who will benefit from the project in some form, I fail to see how any one can argue logically that “ thousands upon thousands “ are out of work in Australia. I could not help feeling, when Senator Cameron was speaking yesterday, that a stranger listening to the debate, would have gathered the impression that there was a great deal of unemployment in this country, and would have thought it peculiar tha,t the Government had not done something about it. I admit there is unemployment, but not to the extent alleged by the honorable gentleman.
– It is not peculiar that the Government should have done nothing; it is the normal policy of this Government to do nothing.
– A stranger listening to the debate would not have known that there are six State
Parliaments, which must accept their share of responsibility for unemployment. This problem is one for solution by State Parliaments, rather than the Commonwealth Parliament.
– The Prime Minister does not hold that view. He declared not [ong ago that unemployment was a national problem and should be faced by the nation.
Senator JAMES McLACHLAN.And I submit that the Commonwealth Government is doing its best by giving financial assistance to the States.
– The Commonwealth Parliament controls finance and hampers State governments in their activities.
Senator JAMES McLACHLAN.That statement is very inaccurate. Every State Parliament has control of its own finances.
– Then what is the need for meetings of the Loan Council?
Senator JAMES McLACHLAN.Every State Parliament, I repeat, has full control of its finances and may increase or reduce taxes to deal with what are purely State matters.
– They cannot do anything of the kind.
– I wish the Queensland Government would reduce taxes.
Senator JAMES McLACHLAN.Does the honorable senator suggest that the people of Queensland are over taxed?
– Very much so.
Senator JAMES McLACHLAN.From what the three Labour senators from that State have said so often in this chamber, one would gather that Queensland is the Eldorado of the Commonwealth, and that there is nothing wrong there,, although, as I have said, the Leader of the Opposition told us yesterday that there are thousands of unemployed persons in that State. The reduction of unemployment i3 primarily the care of the State Parliaments. I do not object to this Parliament assisting in any way it can to cure this evil, but I object to the Government of the Commonwealth being blamed for its existence.
– Is the honorable senator prepared to accept any responsibility ?
Senator JAMES McLACHLAN.I take that responsibility as a citizen of South Australia.
– Why is South Australia in such a bad way?
– I have made no such complaint. I invite the honorable senator, when next he visits Adelaide by train, to view the city as he approaches it from the Mount Lofty Ranges. He will see thousands of workers’ homes that are a credit to any State. This sight is a good introduction to Adelaide, and I am proud of it. The probability is that the unemployed are not nearly so numerous as some people imagine.
Reference was made by the Leader of the Opposition to the insufficiency of accommodation for visitors to Canberra during the last week-end. In my opinion, the Canberra Tourist Bureau and the residents of this city did well to find quarters for the huge crowd of visitors, many of whom had not made prior arrangements for accommodation.
Complaint has also been made by the Leader of the Opposition regarding the deduction of certain amounts from the pensions of superannuated members of the Commonwealth Public Service. In my opinion this money should never have been taken from them, and the only way to remove the injustice is to give it back.
I desire to make clear my attitude to the subsidy on fertilizers, which was referred to yesterday by my colleague, Senator Wilson. I differ from him in this matter. The first time the subsidy was introduced a somewhat higher payment than that of to-day wasmade. When a reduction of the subsidy was suggested, [ urged that, instead of cutting down the amount, a reduction should be made of the quantity of fertilizers upon which individual applicants could claim the subsidy. I was alone in that proposal, but a year later, after the amount of the subsidy had been cut down, the quantity also was reduced. This year a further reduction of the quantity has been made. It is regrettable that a quantity below 20 tons has been fixed, yet ten tons of fertilizer the reduced price will prove quite beneficial to the average farmer. This subsidy was not introduced for the encouragement of farmers in occupation of very large holdings. The idea was to help small farmers to practice topdressing with fertilizers, but the subsidy was grasped with both hands by the big men, some of whom were top-dressing areas of from 800 to 1000 acres. When fertilizers were first used for the improvement of wheat lands, many people realized that they should be applied over very large areas, but most of the farmers could not afford to do that. Had similar assistance been granted to the wheatfarmers when superphosphates were first used, great benefit would have resulted. Although ten tons of fertilizers is a limited quantity for one farmer, it will enable the small man with 100 acres to give his land a good top-dressing.
The wheat-farmer is in difficulty thoughout Australia, and legislation is required to tide him over his present troubles. The worker’s have the benefit of the Arbitration Court, and the manufacturers are protected through the tariff ; therefore we must now protect the wheatfarmers who feed them all. Senator Cunningham remarked that the demand for wheat is still as great as it has been in the past. Prior to 1914 Germany, Italy and France imported annually about 900,000,000 bushels of wheat, but, after the Great War, each of those countries set itself the task of becoming as selfsupporting as possible. Their production has so increased that to-day they are importing only 400,000,000 bushels of wheat. Therefore, 500,000,000 bushels of wheat is being produced in Europe to-day that formerly was obtained from overseas, and that quantity is almost equal to four Australian harvests. Consequently, I cannot agree with Senator Cunningham that the demand for wheat is as great to-day as in the past. Everything possible should bo done to assist the wheat-growers.
– What does the honorable senator suggest should be done? Has he any policy?
Senator JAMES McLACHLAN. Yes, a very definite one. I am out to get the best I can for the wheat farmers of Australia.
.- My leader, Senator Collings, has dealt with the main points of the policy of the Labour party. Reference has been made to deductions from the pensions of superannuated members of the Commonwealth Public Service. Some time ago, Senators Sheehan, Cameron and I met representatives of certain organizations in Melbourne, who informed us that they had asked the Treasurer, Mr. Casey, for an interview to enable them to discuss this matter with him, but, although months have elapsed, an interview, has not been granted. I hope that the very fair claim of these men will receive early consideration. It has been stated by honorable senators opposite that the deduction was made by the Scullin Government. That is true, but the promise was given that, as 60011 as the finances warranted it, full restoration of the pension would be made. In respect of all other pensions aud-salaries this course had been followed. I urge the Government to make provision for the payment to these men of the comparatively small sums that are duc.
On the 27th September last I asked the Postmaster-General (Senator A. J. McLachlan) the following questions: -
The replies I received were -
I suggest that the reply to my second and third questions was an impudent one. Whatever practice may have been adopted in recent years, when the Opposition in this chamber was small in numbers, we are now sufficiently numerous to be entitled to full and courteous replies to questions. As the result of the questions to which I have alluded I have received many letters, and all of my correspondents have expressed amazement regarding the suppression of wireless news during the world crisis. One of my correspondents- asks “ Can you tell me why free Australians are subjected to treatment of this kind?” I have a copy of the Radio Times, and it impels me to refer to a group of newspapers in Australia controlled by Sir Keith Murdoch, who hae probably done more than any other man in this country to distort the policy of the Labour party. The facts are these: The following cablegram was received from the British Broadcasting Corporation by the Australian Federation of Broadcasting Stations, which includes’ practically every commercial broadcasting station in Australia : -
By special courtesy Reuters without prejudice. All Daventry news bulletins available re-broadcasting throughout Empire until further notice.
That was a magnificent gesture by the British Broadcasting Corporation, but certain vested interests, who, during the Great War, profiteered at the expense of the people, intervened. We recall that during the Great War certain newspaper proprietors, including those controlling the Melbourne Herald, actually sold casualty lists to relatives of deceased or injured soldiers. These people realized that an appalling crisis was almost upon us, and that if certain news was broadcast by wireless the sale of their newspapers would be affected. Since the Great War radio has entered the field, and ie used largely in disseminating the news of the world. Sir Keith Murdoch was reminded that news can be given to the people by means of wireless broadcasts before newspapers can be sold m the streets. Later, this cablegram was received from the British Broadcasting Corporation which read -
Reluctantly obliged advise permission to rebroadcast Daventry news withdrawn in bo far Australia concerned pending further advice from Commonwealth sources or ourselves.
I emphasize the fact that Australia was the only country singled out for that deprivation, as other parts of the Empire received the full text of the news. Every man and woman in the Empire was anxious to know what was happening, and 1 the extent to which their countries would be involved. These vested interests prevented the people of Australia obtaining the news to which they were entitled.
When Mr. David Worrall, who is President of the Broadcasting Stations Federation, and also is manager of the Herald station 3DB, was interviewed, he had to consider his position, which was rather delicate. Reuters copyright in Australia is controlled by the Australian Press Association, which supplies Reuters messages to all metropolitan dailies except the Melbourne Argus and the Sydney Daily Telegraph. It cannot be suggested that either of those papers is particularly favorable to the school of political thought to which I belong. The position is much more serious than the Minister realizes, particularly when we remember the vague, ill-digested and short-circuited replies which were given to my question. When Mr. Worrall was interviewed he said -
We know nothing except that the announcement that the service would be available was cancelled. Iti any case, the only person who could make a statement on behalf of tile Association in the matter is our president, Sir Keith Murdoch, and he is in Canberra.
Mr. A. ET. Kemsley, the manager of 3UZ and past president of the Federation of Commercial Broadcasting stations, Raid -
It was a gracious and generous gift and it is deplorable that we were not permitted to use it. I was very thankful for the chance to give our listeners the sober unadulterated version of affairs as is broadcast by the British Broadcasting Commission. I greatly resent the fact that pressure was brought to bear and I am convinced that permission was withdrawn as a result of powerful newspaper representation.
I do not hold a brief for any concern or individual; I do not care what newspapers say concerning me or my industrial or political career. I express my opinions in a frank and blunt way, but when those powerful organizations controlling newspapers use their influence to prevent the people of Australia from obtaining news which other portions of the Empire are getting I shall use every endeavour to see that justice is done. I do not suggest that Ministers are influenced or used, by these big organizations, which, politically, are behind the Government. I have no evidence of that, but when a question such as I asked is submitted it is the duty of a Minister to see that this short-circuiting by officers is not, permitted. I am one of the three
Victorian Labour senators who represent 504,000 electors, and when I ask a definite question on a matter of national importance I arn entitled to a proper reply.
– Those on this side of the chamber have a similar complaint.
– That may be so. When a member of the House of Representatives I specialized in obtaining information by asking questions, and I always found that departmental officers supplied complete and accurate answers. I regret that that policy is not now being pursued. Every holder of a wireless licence in Australia is entitled to obtain wireless broadcasts, particularly on matters of such vital importance as the recent European crisis. Some of the newspapers distorted news to such an extent that it would appear that hostilities actually broke out five weeks before the crisis was reached; casualties were even reported. I know the tactics adopted by some of these newspapers. When I was contesting the Bendigo seat with Colonel Harrison, one of these newspapers depicted that gentleman as a fine upstanding military man, as he is, but showed me, the Labour candidate, a neurotic, decrepit and broken down individual. I cannot recall any of these newspapers giving to the members of the Labour party a fair deal.
– The honorable senator should read the Labor Daily.
– I am speaking of the attitude of the press generally towards the members of my party. I shall not be silent until this matter has been cleared up, particularly when we know that this newspaper combine, merely in order to help the sale of its journals, endeavoured to prevent wireless listeners from obtaining broadcasts. Some of these newspapers contain work of high literary merit, but it is a pity that those controlling them should stoop to such tactics.
I notice that the grant of £150,000 previously made to assist gold-mining hae been, eliminated from the budget this year; because, I suppose, the search for gold last year did not produce the results anticipated. Approximately £500,000 was expended to assist gold-mining during the last four years. The Commonwealth Government, working in conjunction with the States, should provide an amount to assist mining parties. Senator Sheehan, who represents a State in which mining is carried on, knows that gold has been discovered in Australia largely by men whose only equipment has been a dish and a pick. “ Pickologists “ are superior to geologists in locating gold. In Victoria men working gold leases have located finds in spots where geologists have said that it would not be found. The cost of obtaining a lease in most of the States is approximately £30, which is too much. If the Government desires further to encourage gold-mining, through the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, it should, I suggest, arrange that prospectors and working miners be allowed to hold leases for twelve months, the survey and other charges being recouped to the States by the Commonwealth Government.
– Could not the State departments of mines make that concession?
– All State departments are short of money. Most of the money appropriated for mining purposes is used by field staffs. Good miners can carry out prospecting operations at a very small cost. I notice also that the Government proposes to appropriate £40,000 this year, and eventually £120,000 for surveying our iron ore resources. That amount seems unnecessarily large, particularly as iron ore is likely to be found in only three States. Some time ago I conducted a party from Melbourne 600 miles beyond Alice Springs, and the cost of our keep, freight and fares over a period of six weeks was under £500. It would appear that an appropriation of £120,000 for the survey of our ore resources is quite unnecessary, especially as no drilling will be required.
– Tunnelling will be necessary.
– If that is so we are not likely to have any report on the subject for three or four years. In view of the agitation on this subject, I suggest that that delay would not be satisfactory.
The budget hae some satisfactory features, but the increased revenue to be derived from the sales tax will come chiefly from the poorer sections of the community. In some of the States the right to tax the people has been exercised to the full. Taxation is high in South Australia; in Victoria it is low. Senator Dein will probably ask what the Labour party in Victoria is doing to allow that state of affairs to exist, but I remind the honorable senator that the Labour party has only 21 of 65 members in the Legislative Assembly of that State, and only five of 36 members in the Legislative Council. The best that the Labour party can do is to support a government which, while not ideal, is certainly better than one consisting of members of the United Australia party - Labour’s traditional enemy.
– The Labour party should pull the strings more tightly.
– In the -Labour movement, the strings are always loose. There is no drastic discipline. The platform of the party is the creation of the rank and file of its members. I trust that the Minister, when replying, will deal with the matters which I have mentioned.
– In the preparation of its budget, the Government was faced with the fact that, whereas its estimated revenue for the year was about £90,000,000, the contemplated expenditure exceeded £93,000,000, leaving a gap of about £3,184,000 to be bridged. During this discussion, honorable senators opposite have submitted proposals the granting of which would increase the expenditure for the year, but they have not given any indication that they have considered how the extra money can be found. I know that it is simple to submit demands to the Commonwealth on behalf of the States, for I have- done it myself; but I suggest that more thought should be given to the means of obtaining the money. I listened in vain for any suggestion by honorable senators opposite as to how extra revenue should be collected. It is true that Senator Darcey submitted what he thought was a fool-proof scheme for raising money, but I suggest that if his own tutors will not listen to him, it is unlikely that the Commonwealth Treasurer will do so.
In the cold world of finance, cold facts are of greater value than mere theories. If extra expenditure is to be incurred, extra money must be found. I assure Opposition senators that no government, irrespective of party, likes to increase taxes, especially when the tendency is in the opposite direction. For several years, the Lyons Government has pursued a policy of lowering the ! burden on the taxpayer, thereby helping the community to attain financial stability. This year, however, owing chiefly to the public demand for increased defence expenditure, the Government is confronted with the necessity to raise an additional £3,000,000. It realizes that there is a limit to the burden that should be imposed on the people, for once a reasonable limit is exceeded, there are economic and industrial repercussions, and the first people to feel the effects are the workers. Unduly high taxes increase unemployment. Under the financial agreement between the Commonwealth and the States, the Commonwealth Government is entitled to only one-fifth of the loan moneys made available. During the last two or three years, almost the whole of the loan money allocated to the Commonwealth has been absorbed by advances for the rehabilitation of Australia’s primary industries. Only a small proportion of loan money has been available to meet the increasing defence expenditure demanded by the people of Australia. The effect has been that, to a greater extent than hitherto, revenue has been drawn upon to finance defence measures. In this connexion, I point out that the buildings erected and works undertaken in giving effect to Australia’s defence policy will remain sound assets for a great number of years, and that it is good business as well as sound politics to provide that the present generation shall not be called upon to bear the total cost. Unfortunately, the loan pool has definite limits : it is not that inexhaustible well which Senator Darcey would have us believe. If we continue to expend loan money indiscriminately, the effect on the people will be serious indeed. The Commonwealth Government has taken steps to raise the extra revenue required to balance its budget, and I suggest that no one will seriously contend that its proposals exceed safe limits. The taxpayers themselves are prepared for a heavier drain on their purses in order to finance this country’s defence programme. I tried hard to follow Senator Lamp when he dealt with the taxes paid by persons with high incomes. His figures were so incorrect that I propose to give the facts to the Senate. I do not know y. where the honorable senator obtained his v information, but I suggest that he would do well to study the latest report of the Commissioner of Taxation. I have yet to meet the man who believes that Robert Ewing, the Chief Commissioner of Taxation in Australia, cannot sniff out a big income, and tax it.
– In Great Britain there ie a standard tax of 5 per cent.
– A resident of New South Wales without dependants who has an income of £1,500, pays in taxes to the Commonwealth and the State, £181 16s. 9d., if his income be derived from personal exertion, or £270 if it be received from property. The tax on higher incomes is so heavy that a resident of Tasmania with an income of £5,000 derived from personal exertion pays £1,220 in taxes, or £2,077 if his income be. derived from property. It will be seen that, in the latter instance, nearly onehalf of the income is paid out in taxes. Income tax in most of the States, as well as in the Commonwealth, is graded steeply where incomes exceed £2,000 per annum.
– Even then, the rate is not so high as it is in England.
– It is not quite so high, but we must bear in mind that, in addition to income tax as such, taxpayers in Australia are called upon to contribute to hospitals and to pay rates to shire councils, &c. When all these demands on their incomes are added together, it will be seen that taxpayers in Australia are not much better off than are the taxpayers in England. I repeat that there is a limit to the ability of the people to meet taxes. It would be very unwise to overstep that limit.
Senator Lamp gave a list of individuals, each of whom, he claimed, was a multi-millionaire, but in the last annual report of the Commissioner of
Taxation I fail to find any trace whatever of those privately-owned millions.
– They have assets.
SenatorALLAN MacDONALD.- The honorable senator did not mention assets.
– No; the honorable senator spoke about the cash controlled by these individuals.
– I am not so foolish as to think that the Bailleau family would have £68,000,000 in cash.
– The honorable senator should be more accurate. On page 32 of the last annual report of the Commissioner of Taxation the honorable senator will see that out of the total number of taxpayers in the Commonwealth only986 had incomes exceeding £5,000 last year . The total taxable income of all taxpayers was £66,000,000, and of that amount these individuals who constituted only 4 per cent. of the total number of taxpayers, paid 25 per cent. of the total tax. The honorable senator, therefore, is slightly in error. I recommend that he study this report.
The Leader ofthe Opposition (Senator Collings) referred to the subsidy of £20,000 paid to the Australian National Travel Association, whose work, I was pleased to note, he commended. This association is doing wonderful work in advertising Australia, not only internally, but also in other parts of the world. It is publicizing, not only the commercial and economic possibilities of this country, but also its attractions for the tourist. The honorable senator’s doubts as to the control of the expenditure of this money will be set at rest by the knowledge that it is supervised by the board of the association, of which the Secretary of the Department of Commerce is a member.
– Is the association obliged to present an annual report to the Minister?
Senator ALLAN MacDONALD.Yes, and when the Estimates are under consideration I shall endeavour to supply details on that point. In its publicity activities the Department of Commerce also utilizes the cinematograph, and, in conjunction with the Australian National Travel Association, has distributed 16 millimetre films from which a profit has actually been made. These films are placed on most of the large ocean-going liners and in. tourist bureaux in Japan, the United States of America, the United Kingdom and on the Continent of Europe.
Dealing with accommodation on Tasmanian steamers, Senator Lamp suggested that occasionally passengers who bought first-class tickets were obliged to accept second-class accommodation. I have made inquiries from the shipping company concerned, and have been advised that overcrowding on these steamers is liable to happen only during the Christmas season, or at the beginning of the apple season, when there is an extraordinary demand on their space. At such times it may happen that holders of firstclass tickets have to be accommodated in second-class quarters. They receive their meals, however, in the first-class saloon. Senator Lamp’s remark that the meals have to be given in two sittings to firstclass passengers supports the explanation which I have just given.
Senator Aylett suggested that lime should be included among the commodities on which the fertilizer subsidy is paid. I point out that when this subsidy was first introduced careful considerationwas given to this matter. Regard had to be paid to the fact, however, that lime is not a fertilizer, but a soil improver. The Government decided to limit the subsidy to manurial dressings and, therefore, lime, with a number of other commodities was excluded. It is not possible to reverse this decision which has operated for a number of years. The matter of including lime among these commodities was also considered in May, 1936, by the Australian Agricultural Council, which, after full discussion, decided against its inclusion.
Dealing with operations at the Flemington Abattoirs Senator Amour hinted that the Commonwealth inspectors and State inspectors were acting in collusion in respect of the treatment of carcass veal for export. I point out that the Commonwealth has no jurisdiction in respect of the abattoirs. They are controlled by the State governments, and it would be impertinent for the’ Commonwealth to intrude in that sphere. The Commonwealth inspectors attend at the abattoirs solely in order to examine meat for export. The calves in question are those from which boneless veal is taken for export. In this connexion a boneless side of veal, i.e., a side of veal with the bone removed, must not weigh less than 11 lb. to be accepted for export, except that in respect of sides f rom J ersey or Ayrshire breeds the minimum weight acceptable is 10 lb. per side. In all cases, the sides, in the opinion of an inspector, must be full flesh, firm and mature and otherwise sound, and suitable for human consumption, before they are passed for export. Weight is not a reliable guide in regard to age or maturity, because the dairy breeds such as Ayrshire and Jerseys are not only smaller in frame, but alsoare lighter in weight than, say, Shorthorns, which may be only two or three days old. The department would not necessarily accept calves for boning for export of aweight of 45 lb. or over because such calves, if coming from the larger breeds, Shorthorns or Holsteins, may be only a. few days old, soft fleshed, flabby, discoloured, and generally bearing evidence of immaturity, and would not be accepted for export. I take it that these are the calves to which Senator Amour referred. I suggest that the honorable senator should take up his complaint with the State authority controlling the abattoirs.
SenatorKeane and Senator Fraser spoke of the survey of the iron-ore deposits at Yampi Sound. The former suggested that the amount of money to be made available for the survey was excessive. He mentioned, and rightly so, that boring on these deposits was not possible, but I remind him that in order to carry out a proper survey of our ironore resources tunnelling must be resorted to. No matter how competent geologists may be in making surveys of other metalliferous outcrops, the fact remains that iron is so important to many of our key industries that we cannot afford to be satisfied with any survey of such resources which is in the slightest degree incomplete. We are obliged, therefore, to get down to hard facts. I am not now speaking of manganese iron, but of hematite iron. In view of the fact that, tunnelling has to be resorted to, I suggest that the amount allocated for the survey is not excessive. At present thereis a survey gang of experts and 50 workmen engaged at Koolan Island, the cost of which is being borne by the Commonwealth Government at the rate of £31,000 per annum.
– Were those men transferred from the company to the Government ?
– The company is still in control of the work, but it is acting on behalf of the Government, and the workmen concerned have not suffered any loss of time or wages. Honorable senators from Western Australia need have no fear whatever that workmen engaged at Yampi Sound have suffered any loss at all as the result of the placing of the embargo on the export of iron-ore.
– A number of men were put off altogether and they returned to Perth.
– The Commonwealth Government has not put off any men at all. We are employing the full complement of men necessary for the making of the most careful survey of these deposits.
– The same number of men are not now being employed as were employed prior to the embargo.
– No men have been put off by the Commonwealth Government. I understand that some men have leftthe island of their own volition. Fellow senators from my State will knowthe climatic conditions that prevail in this remote part of Western Australia. I have been in that vicinity so I can speak from experience, and knowing Australian workmen as I do, I should say that there is bound to be a certain number of men who are not able to “ stick it.” I certainly would not work there unless I were forced to do so. Senator Fraser referred to a debate that took place in the Western Australian parliament on this subject and criticized the remarks of Mr. J. J. Holmes, M.L.C., in regard to a former Agent-General for Western Australia, now in Loudon. I do not know whether Senator Fraser has read all of the speeches that were made in the debate to which he referred, but
I suggest that he should at least read the speech of Mr. Holmes.
SenatorFraser. - I read it, and also the reply given by the manager of the company.
– I have known Mr. Holmes for many years. He is an experienced and very capable parliamentarian and one not given to extravagant statements. His speech was most informative. He enlightened members of the State parliament regarding what had happened prior to and following the transfer of the iron ore leases on Koolan Island to a certain gentleman in London. If Senator Eraser has read Mr. Holmes’ remarks I should think he has little to complain about, having regard to the fact that, as I have said, Mr. Holmes is not given to extravagant statements.
SenatorFraser. - That, too, is a matter of opinion.
– I know Mr. Holmes intimately and that is my experience of him. Others who are privileged to know him are of the same opinion.
– I regard the complaint which I made in connexion with the Flemington Abattoirs last week as a subject of vital importance. When I inspected the abattoirs I was concerned to discover, as I 3tated previously, that there was in operation a system which, to my mind, is a definite swindle, and I regret that the Assistant Minister (Senator Allan McDonald) has apparently not taken a note of my previous representations in this matter. My complaint is that carcasses of calves rejected by State inspectors because of under-weight, are being sold to the carcass butchers to be boned for export. In some cases Jersey calves are rejected because they do not come up to the standard weight of 45 lb. The owners are thencompelled to sell these calves for l1/2d. per lb., irrespective of their age, to an export carcass butcher, who sends them to London as boned veal. As I pointed out in a previous debate, calves of not less than 30 lb. killed at country abattoirs can be exported. If a wholesale butcher is unable to supply his retailers with veal, he is permitted to go downstairs and buy from the exporter calves which had been bought for l1/2d. per lb.; these he sells to the retailers at 4d. per lb. If this is , not a swindle I should like to know what is. I now ask the Minister to note my representations and have a reply supplied by his Department. I emphasized the gravity of this practice in my speech last week, but so farI have not received a satisfactory explanation. The Minister said that it would be impertinent for the Commonwealth Government to interfere in this matter. Surely it would not be impertinent for the Minister, whose department controls the export side of this industry, to suggest to the State authorities that in no circumstances should the sale of rejected calves by export butchers be permitted. Carcasses purchased at 11/2d. per lb. because they weigh less than the standard prescribed for export are fit only to be boned, yet they are being sold to retail butchers at 4d. per lb. This is a matter which should be investigated by the department which controls the inspection of meat for export. Holstein calves, three days old, will weigh 45 or 48 lb. These are permitted to be sold; but Jersey calves at three weeks weigh only 35 lb. and are rejected. That is the basis of the complaint, and I hope that in future the Minister will be a little more exact when replying to representations from this side of the chamber.
Since last I had an opportunity to criticize the Government, the world has emerged from a very serious international crisis. Honorable senators were informed from time to time that the situation overseas was so critical that discussion of it’ was inadvisable in the interest of world peace. As a result of the Munichconference,, however, the tension has been temporarily relieved.
SenatorFoll. - We hope that the peace will not be temporary.
– It appears to me that the relief is only of a temporary nature, and that trouble in Europe will not be permanently averted by this fourpower pact at Munich. I do not propose to go more deeply into that subject, but shall content myself with saying that although I am hopeful that the benefit will be lasting, I am doubtful whether a really permanent solution has been reached.
I am concerned with the proposed expenditure on defence forecast in the budget speech, and wish to deal particularly with the manufacture and importation of aeroplanes. Although much has been said on this subject, I do not know exactly what is the policy of the Government. If, when Parliament met at eleven o’clock on Wednesday of last week; we had been informed that the British Empire was at war, what would have been the position in this country with regard to the supply of oil for our military aircraft? Surely that was something to which the Government should have given some attention?
– We have given a great deal of attention to it.
– Surely the honorable senator did not expect the Government to disclose what steps it had taken in that respect?
– Whether the Government’s preparations could be disclosed or not, the fact remains that nothing of a practical nature has been done. I know that certain action has been taken in connexion with the development of the Newnes shale deposits. I have read that it is proposed not to operate at Newnes, but at Capertee, and that the company does not propose to install retorts at Capertee, but intends to construct a pipe line to Blacktown, where the refining will be done. Discussions are also proceeding regarding the type of plant to be ordered from England for the extraction of oil from the shale.
– Newnes is not the only consideration in connexion with the supply of oil.
– I should like to deal also with the dispute in the coal industry. I trust that that unfortunate trouble will soon be ended, but I am afraid that with increased mechanization of this industry unemployment on the coal-fields will- be even more rife than it is to-day. It is also true that owing to the increasing use of electricity in factories, the demand for coal will be reduced and hundreds of coal-miners will be thrown out of work. The Government should consider at the earliest possible moment, the introduction of a programme of national works of a reproductive character to absorb the men who lose their employment, but no such scheme is forecast in the budget proposals. On account of the national importance of providing adequate supplies of fuel oil, the Government should consider, side by side- with the extraction of oil from shale, the setting up of the necessary plant to obtain oil from coal also. This would provide employment for the men who are being thrown on the industrial scrap-heap because of the mechanization of industry and the change-over from coal to electricity in the production of power. It must have been, known to the Government that fewer men than formerly would be required in the coal-mining industry, ‘because ships are rapidly becoming oilburners instead of coal-burners. Oil will certainly become the life blood of the nation. Every country requires a supply of oil sufficient for the use of the aeroplanes which are essential for its defence. 1 am not aware of the nature of the oil reserves which the Government has at its command, but I am not foolish enough to believe that Australia has more than a three months’ supply on hand. Nor do I believe that in the event of war it would he practicable for oil tankers to trade to this country. If I am not correct in my assumption, what was the reason for the fear expressed last week regarding the international situation? I have devoted some time to the study of the problem of oil supplies and defence, and, having served overseas during the Great War, I realize that Australia’s experiences, in the event of another war, would be very different from those on the last occasion.
It was stated by .Senator James McLachlan that Australia’s wool cheque had ‘been reduced by £11,000,000. I recall the attitude of the Labour party when the Lyons Government, at the behest of a delegation from Manchester, entered into a trade agreement by which it offended its second best customer for wool. Without discussing the matter with the woolgrowers, the Government proceeded to satisfy the Manchester delegation. The people of Australia were asked to believe that certain goods were being made in Manchester, although they were actually manufactured in India and Egypt by employees receiving a lower wage than that paid in Japan.
– That had nothing to do with -the trade diversion policy.
– The Minister cannot deny that a decision was reached which prevented the poorer classes in Australia from purchasing certain cheap Japanese piece goods. If the Manchester delegation did not actually suggest the trade diversion policy, its presence in Australia just prior to that policybeing brought into operation was a strange coincidence. These cheap goods were net being manufactured in Australia.
– Some of them were.
– Only a small proportion of them.
– Does not the honorable senator favour a British preferential tariff?
– Then the Minister admits that the Government did alter the tariff policy at the behest of the Manchester delegation?
– Not in the interests of particular manufacturers, but to grant a trade preference to Great Britain which gives a preference on all Australian foodstuffs.
– I shall deal with that matter later. The textile industry was removed from Manchester, and this threw thousands of good British workers out of employment. Factories were established in India and Egypt, and the textiles manufactured there have been exported to Australia, although the workers in the industry, as I have said, receive a lower wage than that paid to similar workers in Japan. The Labour party declared at the time that the Government’s trade diversion policy was one of the greatest blunders ever made in Australia, and, on account of it, the people were afraid to give to this Parliament the increased powers sought by referendum. The gerrymandering of the electorates was responsible for the return of the present Government to office, but a scrutiny of the Senate voting shows that, had the election for the House of Representatives been held on the same basis as that for the Senate, the custodianship of the affairs of the nation would not have continued in the hands of the present Government.
– I think that the four “A’s” had something to do with the result in theSenate.
– But they had nothing to do with the result of the referendum, following the bungling trade policy. The forecast by the Labour party of the result of that policy proved correct, and that is now admitted by an honorable senator, who says that the wool cheque is £11,000,000 down.
– How does the honorable senator connect that fact with the . result of the recent referendum?
– I am pointing out that the people rejected the proposal for increased powers for the Commonwealth Government because of the Government’s bungling over the trade diversion policy.
– That had nothing to do with the reduced wool cheque.
– The bungling had everything to do with it.
– Japan bought our wool last year. It was the highest bidder.
– But patriotic resentment of Australia’s policy fomented by organized propaganda, gave an impetus to the manufacture and use in Japan of fabrics made from wood fibre. The wearing of synthetic wool is detrimental to the interests of Australia, and members of the Opposition do not fail to realize that this country depends largely for its wealth on the success of its export trade. I am surprised at the attitude of honorable senators who represent the Country party.
– I still invite the honorable senator to connect the reduction of the price of wool withthe result of the referendum.
– The Japanese buyers had determined not to purchase as much Australian wool as formerly. The other buyers realized that J apan was not competing and did not operate with the keenness which the customary purchases by Japanese buyers would have aroused.
– Japan bought wool last year.
– Will the honorable senator tell me the difference between the quantity of wool exported from Australia to Japan last year and the quantity exported in 1932?
I now propose to show that the bungling of our trade policy’ will have a bad effect on Australia in regard to oil supplies. During the Great War, Japan was our ally, and provided escorts for our troops on the voyage overseas; but the present Government, by its shortsighted policy, has made an enemy of Japan.
– For how long has the honorable senator been an advocate of Japan?
– I am not an advocate of that country. The bungling trade policy of this Government has been responsible for Australia’s wool cheque being reduced by £11,000,000, and destroying our relations with a friendly nation. At the outbreak of the Great War members of this chamber and of the House of Representatives informed me that had the Japanese not provided a convoy for our transports there would have been great difficulty in sending Australian troops abroad on active service. It was also said that our supplies of fuel oil were low, and that unless the trade routes were kept open importations could not be made from other countries. The Government contended that adequate stocks were available, and that as a result of the operations then being carried out flow oil would soon be discovered in Australia. Flow oil has not yet been discovered in Australia. The bungling trade policy of this. Government has antagonized a friendly nation.
– Is the honorable senator in favour of reducing the present tariff against Japanese goods?
– The workers of this country are entitled to use goods manufactured in Japan, India or Egypt, provided that the workers in those countries receive a wage equal to that paid to the Australian workers, but I know of the hardship experienced by many workers when a high tariff was placed upon artificial silk which 13 used extensively by the wives and daughters of working men.
– The honorable senator would not say that at’ Bankstown.
– I have made a similar statement in various parts of New South Wales. I realize that there would be little opportunity for our secondary industries to become firmly established had they to meet the unfair competition of countries in which low wages are paid.
During the debate a good deal has been said concerning unemployment in Australia. Honorable senators opposite cite the figures published by the Commonwealth Statistician which show that, until recently, there had been a marked decrease of unemployment, but we know that such figures are based on the returns supplied by trade unions, and relate only to unionists. I believe that there are over 100,000 unemployed in Australia to-day, most of whom are not members of any trade union. Large numbers have never . had a job, and consequently have not become members of a union; others when out of work have .been unable to retain membership of a trade union. If the Minister obtained the total number of unemployed registered under the various State relief schemes, we would have a better idea of the actual number out of work. If honorable senators opposite would co-operate with the members of the Labour party, a united effort could be made to assist those who are compelled to remain on the lowest rung of the social ladder.
In speaking on the Supply Bill a few days ago I directed the attention of the Government to a matter of vital importance to the Defence Department, and of direct interest to the municipality of Bankstown. I suggested that the Government should construct the Milperra-road leading to the bridge over George’s River in order to facilitate defence activities, but after I had left the chamber Senator Leckie said that I was associated with land “ boodleiers “. At the request of the President that remark was withdrawn, and later the honorable senator said that he did not intend to make an unfair accusation, hut that I was apparently doing something which I would not do were I fully acquainted with the facts. Nevertheless, he inferred that I am associated with land “ boodleiers “.
– I said that the honorable senator might unconsciously become the agent of such people.
– I have before me a file of papers belonging to the Bankstown Council, and containing .the correspondence relating to the road mentioned. The first letter, written on the 21st July, 1930, was sent by Senator Dooley, and the reply received from the Department of Defence, which is signed by A. E. Green, stated that the matter would receive consideration. The request was again put forward by Mr. Beasley for the consideration of the Prime Minister. Later representations were made by the town clerk of Bankstown to the Minister for Defence. The reply read -
I desire to inform you that, since 1924, the Bankstown Councilhas, on several occasions, asked for financial aid from the Defence Department in connexion with this project, but such assistance has been refused. Although the construction of the road would benefit the Defence Department . to some degree, particularly in connexion with mobilization, my colleague the Minister for Defence has . pointed out that there are many other projects of a more urgent nature for which sufficient funds are not available.
Since 1924 many similar requests have been made to the Defence Department. Instead of reading the letters from the council to the Defence Department and the replies thereto, I ask permission to include them in Hansard.
– The honorable senator will have to read them. Although strictly it is against the rules, the inclusion in Hansard of a limited amount of unread matter is sometimes permitted, but that indulgence would not extend to a mass of correspondence. As other honorable senators may wish to know what the letters contain, I suggest that the honorable senator read them.
– The file contains the following letters from the Bankstown Municipal Council to the Main Roads Department dated the 30th January, 1931 ; from the Department of Transport and Main Roads to the Bankstown Council, dated the 19th August, 1932; from the Municipality of Bankstown to the Commissioner of Transport, dated the 31st August, 1932; from the Department of Transport to the council, dated the 8th September, 1932; from the Municipality of Bankstown to the secretary of the Main Roads Board, dated the 27th November, 1934. The following letter from the Bankstown Council was sent to Mr. James McGirr, M.L.A., on the 31st January, 1935: -
I am directed to request that you please make the necessary arrangements with the Commissioner - Main Roads Department - to receive a deputation from representativesin the Liverpool and Bankstown Councils, in order that they may again place before him their views regarding the necessity tor the proclamation of Milperra-road as a main road.
There is also a letter from the Main Roads Board, dated ‘the 14th February, 1935, and the report of a deputation to the Main Roads Board. The National Roads and Motorists Association of New South Wales wrote to the Town Clerk of the Municipality of Bankstown on the 20th February, 1935, as follows: -
Milperra-road, which is a section of the shortest and most suitable route for motorists, between the city and Liverpool, is for a short length in an almost impassable condition.
It is just six years since we first communicated with the Bankstown Council on this subject, and discussed the matter with the then Main Roads Board, but so far nothing of a permanent nature has been effected, though it is true that the council has carried out as much repair work as could be reasonably expected.
The time has, however, arrived when a permanent surface should be laid over the roads between the Canterbury-roadand Liverpool, and we suggest that the Liverpool and Bankstown Councils should unite in an effort to have the roads along this section proclaimed a main or secondary road, and reconstructed by the Main Roads Department.
In addition, there are letters to the council from various societies, the Council of the Municipality of Liverpool, and the Chipping-Moorebank Progress Association. On the 22nd June, 1936, the following letter from the Municipality of Bankstown was sent to Mr. Gander, M.P. : -
Re Bankstown-Milperra-Liverpool Road.
I am directed to seek your valued assistance in making representation to the Minister for Defence for a grant towards the construction of the above road.
In support of this application I desire to point out that the road in question is the shortest and most suitable route from Sydney to Liverpool, and provides a direct route to the Federal military camp, and capable, if constructed, of carrying heavy mechanized transport.
The construction of this road is beyond the financial resources of council and, as its construction will be of utmost value to the Defence Department, council desires to . strongly urge that the department favorably consider giving financial assistance in the construction of the road.
Trusting you will place this request before the Minister and thanking you in anticipation of your kind assistance.
On the 4th July, 1936, the then Minister for Defence replied -
With further reference to your representations on behalf of the Town Clerk of Bankstown relative to granting of money for construction of the Bankstown-Milperra-Liverpool road, I desire to inform you that, although the roadway in question would be of value from the point of view of the Defence Department, funds at the disposal of my department aru required for services of a more urgent character.
– What do those quotations prove?
– I am replying to the allegation of Senator Leckie that I was acting in collusion with some land speculators.
– I did not say anything of the kind.
– According to Hansard, the following discussion took place in the Senate: -
– I did not say he was a direct agent; I meant that he appeared to be acting, perhaps unconsciously, as an agent of these people.
– I again draw attention to the fact that Senator Amour is absent from the chamber. It is .probable that the statement would not have been made if he were here.
– I do not think that Senator Leckie inferred that Senator Amour was a direct agent. Nevertheless, I ask him to withdraw the statement.
– I did not intend any such accusation, because I think it is certain that Senator Amour is doing something which he would not do wore he fully acquainted with the position.
In order to prove that there had been many requests to the Defence Department since 1924 to construct this .road, I have been forced to bring this file of papers to the Senate.
– The honorable senator is labouring under a misapprehension.
– Senator -. Leckie satisfied me that he did not intend to reflect on the honorable senator’s personal honour.
– He said that I was associated with land boodleiers.
– I did not say anything of the sort.
– The honorable senator’s remarks are reported in Hansard. ‘
– I remember the incident perfectly; the honorable senator said no such thing.
– When I re-entered the chamber, one of my colleagues handed me notes of what Senator Leckie had said. I waited for the Hansard report of’ the proceedings. As that report circulates throughout the Commonwealth, I want my denial that I was associated with land boodleiers also appear in Hansard.
– I assure the honorable senator that I do not believe that he was associated with land boodleiers.
– Nor do I.
– On the 22nd June, 1938, the Council of the Municipality of Bankstown again wrote to Mr. Gander, M.P., asking him to make further representations regarding the road, and on the 28th June the Minister for Defence (Mr. Thorby) replied -
Dear Mr. Grander,
I acknowledge your personal representations in presenting a communication addressed to you by the Town Clerk, the Council of the Municipality of Bankstown, Municipal Offices, Bankstown, asking that financial assistance be provided for the permanent construction of the Bankstown-Milperra-Liverpool Toad, which the council considers of considerable value from a defence point of view.
The reply to the council, also sent through Mr. Gander, was -
With further reference to your personal representations concerning a communication addressed to you by the Town Clerk, the Council of the Municipality of Bankstown, Municipal Offices, Bankstown, asking that financial assistance ‘be provided for the permanent construction of the BankstownMilperraLiverpool road, I desire to state that the importance of this work is recognized, but the construction and maintenance of public roads is a responsibility of the State authorities, who receive from the Commonwealth Government annually substantial - assistance for such work.
The funds voted to my department are for specific defence purposes, and it will be realized that it is not possible to allocate any portion of such funds towards the cost of road work.
Following the receipt of that letter, the council again wrote to the department requesting that it should ask the State Government to expend on this road some of the money advanced to it by the Commonwealth. Nothing, however, has. been done. I should not have been forced to obtain these documents had it not been for what appeared in Hansard. It is all very well fer Senator Leckie to say that he did not mean this and that, but the electors who read Hansard in the libraries and schools of art throughout the country, as well as members of associations and other persons to whom Hansard is sent, may not regard the matter so lightly. If Senator Leckie thinks that he can do such things with impunity, he should think again. I pay « tribute to Senator Brand for the honorable manner in which he apologized for a statement that he had made. I appreciate the honorable senator’s action. I say, further, that if at any time, when speaking in this chamber, I reflect upon the credit of another honorable senator and I am proved to have been wrong, I shall apologize with the same frankness as Senator Brand has shown. I take this opportunity to correct Senator Brand’s statement. The Milperra Bridge was opened on the 18th April, 1931, and it cost £6,000, which was allocated as follows: - New South Wales Government, £2,000; A. Rickard and Co., £2,000; the Bankstown Municipal Council, £1,000; and the Liverpool Shire Council, £1,000.
In reply to Senator Leckie’s statement that it was the unions who opposed thb placing of apprentices under the Government’s youth employment plan, I point out that this opposition in New South Wales was due to the fear that under that scheme, whereby the State Government was to pay these youths the difference between what they actually received from their employer and the State basic wage, unscrupulous employers, aided by the mechanization of industry, would avail themselves of this cheap labour to displace those employees to whom they themselves wore paying full award wages.
– The amount to be paid by the Government would diminish year by year.
– I appreciate that fact. I point out, however, that the trainees concerned were aged from 20 to 25 ; they were not mere lads of 14 years. They were intelligent young men who would be able to learn quickly how to operate machines.
– As soon as they were able to work the machines they were to be paid full wages by their employers.
– The employers would not want them to attain that full knowledge too quickly, but would prefer to keep them back a little so that they would continue to be qualified for the wage subsidy payable by the Government. The unions feared that such employees would tend to displace other men who were receiving award wages. Many young men between the ages of 18 and 25 asked me to assist them in making application for positions under this scheme. [Extension of time granted.’] In every instance I told them to what authority they were to forward their applications, but I do not know of one young man who obtained a position under this scheme.
– Eighteen hundred positions have been found for youths under that scheme.
– Even that is a very small percentage.
– I was rather surprised to hear Senator Wilson say that the present low price of wheat was due to world over-production. I point out that at present between 10,000,000 and 12,000,000 persons are unemployed in the United States of America, whilst only a couple of years ago the International Labour Office estimated that 14,000,000 persons throughout the world had lost positions in skilled trades, and, because of the mechanization of industry, would never regain employment in those trades. In Aus- tralia are many part-time workers as well as persons totally unemployed. All of those people have to be fed. It is riot their fault that they have- not got the credit to purchase the necessaries of life. The real problem is not overproduction, but the lack of purchasing power. Although this Government expended £23,000 on the Royal Commission on the Monetary and Banking System and that commission produced its report eighteen months ago, no action has yet been taken to implement any of its recommendations. Had the Commonwealth Bank been allowed to function from 1924 onwards on the same basis as it had operated from 1910 up to that year, .the
Commonwealth Government to-day would not he resorting to such expedients as the increase of the sales tax in order to secure revenue sufficient to enable it to give effect to its programme. From 1910 to 1927 the profits of the Commonwealth Bank from the Note Account alone amounted to £5,703,89.1, and the bank saved Australia the sum of £6,000,000 in floating £250,000,000 worth of loans overseas. It floated those loans at a cost of 5s. 7d. per cent, and still showed a profit of 2s. per cent., whereas previously the cost of floating similar loans had been about £3 per cent. From 1920 to 1923 the bank showed a profit on the Note Issue of £3,097,000, and in respect of other business, a profit of about £4,500,000. I hope that the Government will bear these figures in mind should it ever decide again to amend the Commonwealth Bank Act.
As the result of the very severe depression which took place in the United States of America in 1907, the late Mr. Woodrow Wilson, when he became President in 1912, ordered an investigation to discover the cause of financial stringency’ in that country. In those days it was claimed that American finance was run on sound lines. A similar claim is made to-day in respect of Australian finances. President Wilson appointed a committee to undertake this investigation into the banking system, and that committee reported that fi vo banking houses controlled no less than 112 banks and industrial companies, which between them possessed resources, capital and reserves of the colossal total value of £4,449,000,000. Those five banks represented an inner ring, and had they operated on similar lines in. another sphere they would have been called gangsters. President Wilson induced Congress to enact the Federal Reserve Bank legislation, one of the objects of which was to relieve the economic distress which was being caused by the activities of this inner ring of financial bushrangers. It was also designed to stabilize commerce and industry and to rectify financial stringency. Some time after that legislation was enacted, however, it was found that the interests which had been behind the money trust were behind the Reserve Bank, having secured the appointment of their representative as the President of the Board of Control of that institution. Thus the five banks which controlled the money trust also controlled the Reserve Bank, and all the finances of the United States of America were in the hands of an inner group, which managed them as it thought fit. The result was that when prices rose during the wai- these controllers of big finance had an opportunity to sell their stocks, and holdings at high prices for cash, and in furtherance of their well planned ramp, decided that it would be good policy to induce a depression. As all the financial machinery was in their hands, this was not a difficult task. Their first movement, as in 1929-30, was to call in all overdrafts and place a strict limit on Joans to farmers and other producers. The immediate result was a sharp decline of prices, following a glut of primary products on the home market. Farmers, being unable to carry on, were forced to dismiss employees. The large industrialists were in a similar plight and were compelled to follow suit. When the depression became universal and prices for stocks had fallen, to their lowest level, these financiers seized the opportunity to buy them back at half, ,or less than half, the price for which they had sold them. That is how America’s finances were controlled in 1920, and during the later depression in 1929. The influence of this inner group also extended to European countries, even to Great Britain, and through the mother country, to Australia. It may interest honorable senators to learn that in 1920 tlie Australian, associated banks had, simultaneously with these American financiers, decided on a policy of deflation. Fortunately for Australia, the Commonwealth Bank was not then so hampered in its policy as it hae since become, and realizing what was about to happen, the Governor of the bank, between June and December of -that year, suddenly released an additional £23,000,000 of credit, much to the surprise of the associated banks. The additional credit staved off, for the time being, a depression which would have hit Australia at the same time as it hit America. I cite this significant action to show what the Commonwealth
Bank did on that occasion to assist Australia, and I suggest that it could take similar action again if the Government had the courage to stand, by the people’s bank. I hope that the Government will so amend the Commonwealth Bank Act, that that institution will have restored to it the power which it possessed prior to 1924. The first amendment to the act was the first blow to be struck at the Commonwealth Bank. As the result of that amendment of the act, the bank was placed under the control of a board of directors who immediately began to function in the interests of the associated banks which, in fact, they represented, and not the interests of the people of Australia. The personnel of the board at that time lends support to this statement. One of the members of the board was a pastoralist, ofRochdale Station, Queensland, and managing director of the Mutual Life and Citizens Assurance Company; another member was vice-president of the Associated Chamber of Manufacturers, Victorian representative of the Central Coal Board, director of the Austral Manufacturing Company, the LuxFoundry, National Mutual Life Insurance Company, Union Trustee Company,Robert. Harper and Company Limited, merchants and manufacturers and the Chamber of. Manufacturers Insurance Company; a third member was a director of Anthony Hordern and Sons, the Australian Mutual Provident Society, and theRoyal Insurance Company; a fourth was president of various wool-buyers’ associations and proprietor of William Haughton and Company, woolbrokers; another member was aFellow of the Institute of Bankers, London, and formerly chairman of Associated Banks in Queensland, and general manager of the Bank of Queensland and the Bank of No rth Queensland. It is obvious where the interests of these gentlemen would lie, connected as they were with insurance companies, private banks and similar institutions.
– And shipping companies.
– No, not in this case of the board appointed in 1924. The honorable senator is, no doubt, think ing of a later board. The gentlemen whose names I have given were appointed to act in the interests of the country, which obviously clashed with their own interests. Is it any wonder that the Commonwealth Bank, -as now constituted, functions only as a clearing house for the private banks, instead of as a bank for the people as was originally intended ?
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8.30 p.m.
– If the Commonwealth Bank had not been strangledby the amendments made to the act in 1929, it would have been in a position when the depression came upon us to render to the people service similar to that which it gave during the Great War. The bank played a most important part in providing the necessary money to ‘finance Australian operations in connexion with the war and also the wheat, wool, meat and other pools. Up to 1924, it had made available for the building of workers’ homes the sum of £4,000,000. During the depression, it could have saved the workers of this country from the misery and starvation which they suffered. If credit can be issued for the destructive purposes of war, it is possible to raise money in a similar way for reproductive purposes. I am puzzled to know why the present Government has waited for about eighteen months, since receiving the report of the Banking and Monetary Commission, without acting upon its recommendations. The members of that body were hand-picked by the Government, and, if the report is not to its liking, it cannot attribute that fact to the personnel of the commission. The report states, inter alia - 589. We recommend -
This paragraph may explain to some extent why the “Government has not been anxious to carry out some of the commission’s recommendations. Another paragraph of the report reads -
A decrease in the supply of money results in some people having less ability to buy goods and services than they had before. They are forced to spend less, which results in a reduction of the incomes of the people from whom they usually purchase. This lessened demand is thus transmitted through the community, and results in some restriction of the total volume of production, and in some unemployment of men and resources.
The commission came to the same conclusion as that reachedby me. If there is a reduction of the supply of money, the repercussions in primary and secondary industries adversely affect the general public. When a policy of deflation is put into operation, the trading banks call in overdrafts and refuse to grant loans, as happened in 1929. By amendment of the Commonwealth Bank Act, the Treasurer could be given the power, referred to by the commission, to see that the necessary credit was put into circulation to maintain the stability of commerce and industry. If the Commonwealth Bank were given the powers exercised from 1912 to 1924, our defence programme could be financed through the bank, homes could be built for the workers, and the problem of unemployment, which has been worrying Commonwealth and State governments for many years, could be solved. The associated banks create credit at the present times out of practically nothing, because they can issue credit to an amount three times that of the currency in their possession. I do not say that the Commonwealth Bank should give credit for nothing. I suggest that a charge of 21/2 per cent, interest be made, with another 21/2 per cent, toprovide a redemption fund. That would mean the redemption of loans in 40 years. If it be logical for the private banks to issue credit on nothing, surely it is logical for the Commonwealth Bank, backed by the nation, to issue credit on the basis that I have mentioned.
In the near future the sum of £90,000 is to be expended in connexion with national insurance. I do not complain of that sum being put into, circulation, for the more money that is circulated the better it is for the wage-earner, but 1 cannot understand why the Government should pay to approved societies1s. for each new member when the scheme is compulsory. That £90,000 could be expended in ways which would confer greater benefits on the community generally. We were* told that the scheme would come into operation on the 1st January next, but insured persons will not derive any benefit from it before the following April. That means that during the intervening three months the Government will rob the employees in industry of1s 6d. a week out of their earnings. But that is not all; the employers also will have to pay1s. 6d. a week in respect of each employee. The amounts so paid by them will be added to the prices of the goods or services that they sell. The result will be that the employees will really pay both contributions, and something in addition, because manufacturers and storekeepers always make a little extra profit on the increased outlay. Manufacturers and storekeepers have told me that they will pass on their contributions to the purchasers of their goods.
SenatorFoll. - Would the honorable senator’s party abolish the scheme?
– The Labour party would not force such a scheme on the public. Before introducing a scheme of national insurance it would discuss the proposal thoroughly with all the members of the party. I do not know whether the supporters of the Government agreed to the present scheme, but if they did, I do not think much of their judgment. Let me show the effect of this scheme on a small farmer with three sons between the ages of sixteen and twenty years. As the boys are working for their father, he will be calledupon to pay their contributions, amounting to 4s. 6d. a week. In addition, as their employer, he will have to pay a similar amount, making a total of 9s. a week. He will be fortunate indeed if the increased prices of commodities do not represent a further outlay of 3s. a week. That will make a total of 12s. a week. The position is seen to be worse when we reflect that farmers will never derive any benefit from the scheme. As. however, the national insurance legislation is not specifically before us, 1 shall pass on to other matters.
When Senator Cameron was speaking. Senator Hays interjected that the Lyons Government had remitted taxes each year for a number of years. That is true, but I shall direct attention .to the nature of the remissions. Four years prior to the last election, property-owners were relieved of the necessity to pay taxes amounting to £4,860,000. Remissions granted to companies during the three years preceding the election totalled £1.755,000. During the same three years, life insurance societies were granted remissions totalling £2,130,000, and shipping companies were given concessions amounting to £75,000. Now that the Government is forced to increase taxes, one would expect some of the remitted “ taxes to he reinstated, rather than that small wage-earners and old-age pensions should have to bear an additional burden. Honorable senators opposite appear to lose sight of these inconsistencies on the part of the Government.
Senator Wilson admitted that another depression was approaching.
– No. I said that the danger signals were up.
– I agree with the honorable senator. The banks are already calling in overdrafts, which is a clear indication of what is coming. Senator Wilson also said that in times of depression the Government should make money available through the Commonwealth Bank, and that in times of prosperity money should be conserved. I remind the honorable senator that, in order to do as he suggests, the bank, instead of being under the control of a board as is the case to-day, would have to be controlled by the Government.
– The policy of the Government is to place the control in the hands of a board.
– -I hope that Senator Wilson will do his utmost to persuade the Government to put into operation the ideas which he expressed in his speech. If money were made available during times of depression, no one would receive it more readily than those without employment.
– The trouble is that many people will not save ‘money in good times.
– People cannot save money that they do not receive.
– Senator Wilson also expressed the opinion that the sum of £200,000 which the Government proposes to set aside for the technical training of youths was adequate for the purpose. I point out to the honorable senator that Tasmania’s share of that amount will be only about £S,000, which will not go far in the training of the youths of that State. The amount is so inadequate that the whole proposal appears to be merely a vote-catching scheme.
Senator Wilson said also that Australia could, with advantage, introduce 500 domestic workers from overseas immediately. I ask him to reflect on the effect of throwing 500 more such workers on the open market. If decent wages and conditions were offered by employers there would be no shortage of domestic workers in this country; but under existing conditions it is ridiculous to bring immigrants to Australia to swell an already over-crowded market. If decent conditions were provided for domestic servants in Australia, householders would experience no difficulty in procuring domestic help.
– The working conditions for domestic servants are better in Australia than in any other part of the world.
– When the honorable senator next has an opportunity to address himself to this subject, I should like him to describe the conditions under which domestic servants work in other parts of the world. Dealing with the proposed expenditure on defence, Senator Wilson declared that South Australia was safe. Although he mentioned Tasmania in this connexion he did not say that Tasmania was safe. In fact, Tasmania is not regarded as one of the safe States of the Commonwealth, and for this reason, if for no other, the amount allocated to that State is deplorably insufficient, particularly when one realizes the extent of the Tasmanian coast which is totally undefended. I should like very much to be able to say that Tasmania is as safe as South Australia.
The Assistant Minister (Senator Allan MacDonald) has replied to my representations that lime should be included among the commodities in respect of which the fertilizer subsidy is payable, but I should like the Government to give further consideration to my request. Lime is a neutralizer which sweetens and nourishes the soil, especially in areas which are water-logged. On this subject I speak as one who has had twelve years of experience as a farmer. I conducted considerable experiments with lime as a fertilizer, and I found it to be most effective. One dressing of superphosphate will stand for two years, and it may, perhaps, give some slight result in the third year, but a good dressing of lime will give results for as long as 20 years. Furthermore, the majority of people who would require lime would not, at the same time, require superphosphate, for the simple reason that their ground would be starving for lime but may have had dressings of superphosphate for many years. In those circumstances the change to lime would be most beneficial.
Speaking to the debate on the Supply Bill, Senator Leckie remarked that all that had been said by the new Labour senators had been said often before and more effectively by others. He stated that, honorable senators on this side rose to their feet merely to look for a wrangle; that we were always out for a scrap.
– I did not say that.
– The honorable senator said that we never advanced constructive criticism, but were always indulging in destructive criticism. I suggest that everyspeaker on this side has invariably advanced constructive criticism. On the other hand, Senator Leckie’s speech was nothing but sarcasm; it certainly contained no constructive suggestions. He stated that the Communist tail was wagging the Labour party dog, suggesting that the Labour party was controlled by the Communists. If the honorable senator took the trouble to visit Yarra Bank on any Sunday afternoon, he would find the Communist speakers, without exception, abusing the Labour party, and he would never hear any of them uttering one word against the United Australia party. During the last election campaign the Communists were my greatest enemies. Invariably I found them working in the interests of the United Australia party. It would appear, therefore, to be a ease of the Communist tail wagging the United Australia party dog.
Senator Leckie also contended that in existing circumstances, sales tax was a just form of taxation. I have already said that this tax should be paid by the wealthy section of the community and should not be levied on the workers at all. The honorable senator emphasized that it was just to collect sales tax on motor cars because motor cars were luxuries.
– I did not say anything of the sort.
– The honorable senator declared that in most cases the motor car could be regarded as a luxury, and . Senator Dein supported that statement. Does the honorable senator hold the view that a motor car is a luxury to a farmer who lives in an isolated area and relies on it as his only means of securing the services of a doctor in a time of emergency? Does he think that motor cars are luxuries to the pioneers in the outback districts? Many small farmers deny themselves proper clothing in order to purchase a motor car, so that they may overcome their isolation in a time of emergency. I remind honorable senators that many small farmers are no better off economically than the lowest paid industrial workers.
– And they will remain on that level so long as this Government retains office.
– That is so, because the small farmers are crucified by what honorable senators opposite describe as a sound system of finance. The sales tax, which honorable senators opposite describe as aluxury tax, is levied on small farmers who find it essential to own a car. In no such case can the motor car be regarded as a luxury. Not 20 per cent, of the cars privately owned in Australia can be said to be luxuries. Thousands of young men, single and married, who find it impossible to secure a job, endeavour to earn a living by driving a motor lorry so soon as they can get together a few pounds with which to make a deposit on the vehicle. Yet, honorable senators opposite declare that it is fair and just to impose a luxury tax on these people simply because they own a motor vehicle. Many of these lorry drivers are not earning the equivalent of the basic wage. [Extension of time granted.]
Another matter to which I would direct attention is the housing problem in our capital cities and larger country centres where development is taking place. I well remember the promises of a housing programme made by Government supporters during the last election campaign, and I regret that the budget contains no provision to honour the pledges then given. Lack of accommodation is forcing many married people to live under most undesirable conditions, some even in tents. Although Ministers and their supporters admit that housing is a national problem which should be handled by the Commonwealth Government, no action has been taken by the centralGovernment, with the exception of its building programme in Canberra, since the sum of £4,000,000 was made available by the Commonwealth Bank very many years ago. If the Government has any serious intention to honour its promises in this matter no further time should be lost. Homes should be provided for the workers in Tasmania and the other States. This is definitely a Commonwealth responsibility. If the State governments could obtain the necessary money they would be only too willing to launch a homebuilding programme; but because of the existing financial relations with the. the Commonwealth, they have not the ways and means to carry out this very important work. If the Commonwealth Bank Board comprised members whose personal interests were not also identical with those of private banking institutions, it would not be quite so difficult for State governments to obtain finance for this purpose through the Loan Council. I can assure the Senate that if the Government of Tasmania could obtain the necessary money, it would be only too willing to tackle the housing problem in that State. The position being as I have stated, full responsibility in this matter rests on the Commonwealth Government.
Motion (by Senator Abbott) put -
That the debate be now adjourned.
The Senate divided. (President - Senator the Hon. J. B. Hayes.)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator A. J. McLachlan) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I protest against the action of the Government in adjourning the Senate so early this evening when there is so much useful legislation to be considered. Why were we not allowed to deal with other matters on the notice-paper? Until the end of last week honorable senators and members of the House of Representatives were gravely concerned with events overseas. Now that the international situation has been cleared up to some extent, important matters affecting the people of Australia should be dealt with by this Parliament.-
. - in reply - In his recently acquired zeal Senator Sheehan fails to realize that, besides the expression of ideas, or lack of ideas, by members of
Parliament, there is -serious work for Ministers to perform. I assure the honorable senator that if he gives to all matters the attention which his utterances to-night indicate that he will give before this session has expired, he will have ample opportunity to do all the work he desires. I also remind those honorable gentlemen who are not yet familiar, with parliamentary procedure that the Government has ready a number of measures which cannot yet be introduced in this chamber owing to certain provisions of the Constitution. If honorable senators are anxious to settle down to business, I can assure them that the Government has in hand measures which will keep them fully occupied until the Christmas recess.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Lund Tax Assessment Act - List pf Applica- tions for Relief dealt wilh -during the periods 1st January, 1937, to 30th .lune, 1037, and 1st July. 1837, to 30th June, 1038.
Petroleum Oil Search Act - Statement of Expenditure for the period 28th May. 1930, to 30th June, 1938.
The Senate adjourned ut 9.30 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 6 October 1938, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1938/19381006_senate_15_157/>.