15th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. J. B. Hayes) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
The PRESIDENT laid on the table the first report of the Standing Orders Committee regarding amendments proposed to Standing Order No. 64.
Ordered to be printed.
What amountof financial assistance has the Government paid to prospectors for gold, and other minerals, within federal territories, exclusive of New Guinea, for the past six months?
What is the number of parties now in receipt of federal financial assistance within federal territories, exclusive of New Guinea?
What financial arrangements, if any, have been made between the Federal and State Governments for the purpose of assisting prospectors for minerals within the States of the Commonwealth ?
The Minister for the Interior has now supplied the following answers: - 1. (a) Northern Territory, £168; (b) Papua, £75. 2. (a) Northern Territory, 4; (b) Papua, none.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
In view of the international position, what co-operation has been offered or requested by the Commonwealth Government with the Government of New Zealand, as a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations and a sister dominion, for the defence of Australia and New Zealand?
– A reply will be furnished to the honorable senator as early as possible.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister upon notice -
– The Acting Leader of the Government has supplied the following answers : -
SenatorWILSON asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice - .
With reference to the Prime Minister’s statementon the 29th June, 1938, that the Government has learned with alarm that there are only two groups of iron ore deposits in Australia which can be economicallydeveloped, namely the Iron Knob group in South Australia and the Yampi Sound group in Western Australia, will the Government permit the export ofiron ore toGreat Britain from deposits otherthanthetwoabove-men tioned?
– The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following answer: -
In view of the expert advice which the Government has received concerning the limited resources of iron ore available in Australia, it has been decided that the prohibition on the exportation of ore is to be general in its application, applicable to all countries, including Empire countries, and to all deposits.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
When does the Government propose to introduce legislation to carry out its undertaking to take such action as is necessary to ensure wheat-growers a payable price?
– The Minister for Commerce has supplied the following answer: -
The State governments have agreed to fix the price of flour on a home-consumption price for wheat of 4s. 8d. a bushel at siding. The Commonwealth has agreed to introduce supplementary legislation under its excise powers to collect the difference between the price of flour on the basis of world parity price for flour and the fixed price. The Commonwealth Government will introduce the necessary measure when the States have passed their legislation.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Acting Leader of the Government has supplied the following answers: - 1 and 2. As stated by the Treasurer in his budget speech, the Government intends to introduce a bill to amend the Commonwealth Bank Act, with the object of giving effect to certain recommendations of the Royal Commission on Monetary and Banking Systems, before the Christmas adjournment.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Acting Leader of the Government has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answers: -
asked the’ Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The Minister for Defence has supplied the following answers : -
Bill read a third time.
That Statutory RuIes 1938, Nos. 65 and 86, amending the Customs (Prohibited Exports) Regulations, be disallowed.
Statutory Rule No. 65 states -
Whereas by section 112 of the Customs Act 1901-36 it is provided that the GovernorGeneral may, by regulation, prohibit the exportation of any goods the exportation of which would, in his opinion, be harmful to the Commonwealth:
I ask honorable senators to take particular notice of the last words, “which would, in his opinion, be harmful to the Commonwealth “.
And whereas it is provided by the said section that the said power of prohibition shall extend to authorize the prohibition of the exportation of “the goods generally, or to any specified place, and either absolutely or so as to allow of the exportation of the goods subject, to any condition or restriction:
And whereas it is provided by section 1? of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901-1937 that the expression “ the Governor-General “ in any Act includes the person for the time being administering the Government of the Commonwealth, acting with the advice of the Federal Executive Council:
And whereas I am of opinion that, except as provided by regulation 3 of the regulations hereunder, the exportaion of iron ore would be harmful to the Commonwealth:
And whereas I am of opinion that the exportation of iron ore to which the said regulation applies, except subject to the conditions and restrictions prescribed by the said regulation, would be harmful to the Commonwealth :
Now therefore I, the Administrator of the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia, acting with the advice of the Federal Executive Council, hereby make the following regulations under the Customs Act 1901-1936.
Dated this twenty-seventh day of June, 1938.
The subsequent regulations are somewhat in the same terms, as they . define iron ore as hematite, and provide for certain exemptions in respect of orders given before the 28th May.
I oppose these regulations for the following reasons: first, that they endanger the peace of the world ; secondly, that they endanger the security of the British Empire; and, thirdly, that they are contrary to the interests of Australia in that they will deprive Australia of export credits thus jeopardizing our export markets for wool and other products, create unemployment, prevent the establishment of industries in South Australia and Western Australia, intensify centralization, and create a monopoly of the iron and steel industry of Australia. Further, I object to the manner in which these regulations were promulgated ; their effect is to whittle: away, the authority of Parliament over the Executive: I propose to- deal with my objections in the order that ‘I have ‘mentioned, them. . I am .convinced that, generally speaking, the peoples of the world are peace- loving, and will not:go to war unless they believe that they ,- have some injustice to r.edress..’ Whatever honorable, senators may think of the happenings during the last month, it cannot be denied that Herr Hitler thought that he had a grievance to redress. I submit’ tha’t when once ‘an. injustice has been done,’, the seeds of war are sown.. It, is important . that riio action shall be taken by Australia which will do an injustice to any’ other1 country. Honorable senators will’ admit that every nation must have raw materials for its economic existence. I do not’ know whether this embargo was aimed at any nation in particular, but I do know that there are many nations, both inside and outside the British Empire, which must have iron ore for- their economic existence. I should like honorable senators to consider the effect pf- a.’ number of nations combining to prohibit the export of oil. In that event, almost in’ a moment,- Australia’s _ economic development . would : he strangled^ its industries would he at a standstill,- and its workers thrown- out of employment. ‘ Have -we in Australia any more justification jf or prohibiting the .export of iron, ore than other countries have for prohibiting the export of oil?
– On the 2oth August, 1937, the Prime Minister said -
It (the Government) desires ‘to emphasize that having regard to the efforts- that are now being made to eliminate the causes of international fri.ctidn, nothing could be more unsound or unwise . than foi’ ‘Australia unnecessarily to deny to foreign countries access to her raw materials.
With that sentiment, I entirely agree. I should like to know the reason for his changed -attitude. .Almost a year :earlier, qn the 10th ‘September, -1936, the right honorable gentleman said -
The ; control of. .the .development. of the deposits was a matter -for the Western Australian Government. The only power the Commonwealth: Government- had -was. to: refuse a permit for .the -export’ of the orej but the Commonwealth Government ..hod felt no more, justified, in prohibiting . the expprt of iron ore to Japan- than in prohibiting the export of wool.
Sir George Pearce; who until recently was Leader of the, Senate, .speaking oh the 22nd May, 1937, said-
The Cpmm’on. wealth Government considers that” ‘any effort to .restrict Japan’s’ access to the iron deposits at ‘Yampi would be dangerous. It would strengthen. .Germany, in her claim for the restoration “of colonies, by enabling her to demonstrate that the HSmpire was restricting, acccsS [tQ the natural’ resources of the Dominions. Moreover, since .one of Japan’s flii’ef - sources- of iron at present is ‘British MalayaJ;and since .the Britash’-polonial. .Office has made no effort to restrict purchases’ for Japan in that colony, it is “evident that the British ‘ Government’ is in. agreement ‘with the policy” -of. the. ‘Commonwealth, that restrictions should not be’ -imposed” on foreign ‘ customers.
The present ActingLeader of the Go- vernment, SirEarlePage, stated onthe 27th May, 1937-
The Commonwealth did not enter intothepicture at all except, to grant permission for four Japanese experts to supervise the quality of the ore that was bought, exactly the same as Japanese wool-buyers came to Australia for a similar purpose. Australia exported lead, zinc, spelter and other metals, and it would be just as feasible for some one to ask the Government to prevent their export to other countries.
Again, on the 31st August, 1937, the Prime Minister said -
The Commonwealth Government is aware of no reason why it should interfere.
– That is where he was wrong.
– I come now to my second point, namely, that the security of the British Empire is, in danger. Speaking on the 5 th October, 1938, the Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies) said -
So long as the British Empire is constituted as it is to-day, it is not possible for Australia to be neutral in a British war.
Undoubtedly, Australia’s defence is wrapped up in the defence of the British Empire. Honorable senators will agree that iron ore is one of the most important of the raw materials necessary for the defence of a country.
– And for offence also.
– It is evident that, at the present time, Great Britain is deficient in supplies of raw material. Mr. Essington Lewis, the Managing Director of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, which practically controls the iron and steel industry of Australia, addressing the Economic Society in Adelaide on the 27th May last said -
Modern technical developments have enabled the steel industry to take a rather more modified view of ore content than was previously possible, but high ore content is still of great importance. Australia’s advantage in this regard is better appreciated when we realize that the more important sources of English ore contain about 35 per cent, of iron, and that much of the imported ore used in the United Kingdom contains only approximately 50 per cent, of iron.
Although Great Britain has its own iron deposits it must import high-grade ore. Hitherto most of the high-grade ore imported into Great Britain has come from Spain, but henceforth it is likely that supplies from that source will not be avail able; they have already been cut off. The answer to my questionto-day as to whetherthe Government would be willing to export iron ore to Great Britain was an emphatic “No”. British manufacturers desired Australian ore, and to that end acquired options over leases in the Middleback Range in South Australia, where they proposed to erect furnaces costing £1,000,000 for the production of pig iron. Although the Common weal th Governmentwas aware of these facts, not until after the company which had been formed proposed to commence operations in South Australia, was this embargo imposed. Subsequent requests to remove the embargo in respect of iron orefor export to Great Britain were refused.
– Were all of the shareholders in that company British?
—So far as I know, all of the shareholders in the Spencer’s Gulf syndicate, which held the’ option are Australians and all of the shareholders in the company, which took over that option, are British. I cannot give the names of those people, but I understand that all they request is permission to export iron ore to Great Britain. They are not concerned in the slightest degree with supplies to any other country.
This embargo is inimical to the interests of Australia. Every honorable senator realizes the importance of maintaining our trade balance and our export credits, and must have been alarmed to notice that, in spite of a record production last year, and in spite of the fact that prices of our export product’s were reasonable, Australia had an adverse trade balance of £10,000,000 after taking into account interest on our overseas debt, paying for our imports and adjusting invisible imports and exports. In view of that fact, one would expect this Government to adopt a policy of increasing exports instead of restricting them. Looking at the figures for the present year, we find that there has been a sharp decline in the prices of nearly all of our export products, whilst imports seem to be maintaining their present high level. Surely the time has arrived when we should do everything to expand our exports and to diminish our imports. Iron ore was becoming one of our most valuable exports. In 1936-37, we exported £250,000 worth, of that product. I understand that the Yampi Sound Company asked for permission to export 1,000,000 tons of iron ore per annum for a period of fifteen years. Such exports would have provided valuable credits for Australia and would not have had any material adverse effect upon our huge resources. Honorable senators will appreciate the fact that our standard of living is dependent upon our national income, and that exports provide a substantial part of that income. If we are to maintain our standard of living we must, therefore, maintain our exports. Australia has not been backward in production. We have overcome most of the problems of production. We are able to produce. Our difficulty is to sell what we produce. The best way to sell our products is to maintain friendly relations with customer nations. It is hardly good salesmanship to insult countries that propose to buy our goods. Our policy, therefore, should be to establish friendly relations with all countries and to endeavour to get them to take more of our products rather than to force them to buy from other countries. A few years ago, some people believed that whatever we did, other countries must buy our wool. Has not Germany proved, during the last few years, that it can do without wool? And cannot other countries do similarly ? No one will suggest for one moment that any artificial fibre is as good as the natural product. Artificial wool can in no way compare with natural wool, but if a nation is forced to do so as has been the case with some countries which have adopted a policy of economic nationalism, it will establish substitutes for the natural product.
– That is the internal policy of those countries.
– Yes, but they have been forced to adopt that policy because of the economic antagonism of other countries. An element of suspicion exists throughout the world to-day. Instead of holding out the olive branch to other countries and treating them as friends, every nation is trying to smack the other in the eye. Some years ago, we sent Sir John Latham to Japan on a goodwill mission on which he did wonderful work for Australia. Why not revive that spirit of goodwill, not only towards Japan, hut also towards every other nation ?
– Is the honorable senator suggesting that the Government, in imposing this embargo, was prompted by animosity towards Japan?
– I have already pointed out that I do not know against which nation, if any, this embargo is aimed, but I have also said that an embargo on the export of raw material cannot but have the effect of antagonizing every nation which needs that raw material for its economic existence.
– This embargo is not aimed at any nation.
– I have never suggested that it is.
– What about the Sino-Japanese war?
– That conflict provides a good illustration of the point I have just been making. Japan, perhaps rightly, did not approve of the boycott adopted against it by the Chinese people. It was an unofficial boycott, but such a boycott can be just as detrimental to the trade of another country as a legislative boycott. As the result of that boycott Japan found its trade with China falling off and decided to take certain action. I do not suggest for one moment that it was justified in taking that action; I am merely pointing out what happens when a nation is aggrieved by the action, or conduct, of another nation. I do not think that any one can deny that the falling off of purchases of our products by Japan, particularly of out main product, wool, was in part - I do not say wholly - caused by resentment by the Japanese people of certain action that we took in the past.
Let us now examine the position so far as the Yampi Sound deposits are concerned. Although they were known to exist 25 years ago no attempt was made to work them. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited held leases of deposits adjacent to those on Koolan Island but realizing that it had ample resources for all its requirements, it did not even trouble to work them. Now we are saying, virtually, that although nobody wants these deposits we shall not let anybody work this huge mountain of iron ore.
-But is there, in fact, a huge mountain of iron ore at Yampi Sound ?
– I propose later to deal with the extent of those deposits. At the moment I am pointing out that we are adopting a dog in the manger attitude when having more deposits than we need, we still refuse to allow exports of iron ore to countries which need it.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that this embargo would be justified if we did not have ample supplies of iron ore?
– I shall deal later with the extent of our resources, and, I have no doubt, I shall be able to supply to the Minister very much more satisfactory evidence on that point than the Government has yet placed before the people of Australia.
I propose now to deal with the exploitation of these deposits from the point of view of providing employment. The mining of the iron ore at Yampi Sound would have provided a great deal of employment for the people of Western Australia. It would have developed a part of that State which has remained neglected, and is never likely to be developed unless it be through the exploitation of its mineral resources. The mining of the MiddlebackRanges in South Australia would have provided a great amount of employment in that State, and the establishment of a pig-iron furnace would have been the means of providing more employment than is now provided by any industry in South Australia. Apparently, however, the Commonwealth Government intends to stand in the way of the development of the smaller States.
– The Canberra blight!
– We have been told, for example, that South Australia is the safest of the States, that it is immune from external attack and that there is no need to spend any money on defending it. We find, however, that this Government has not established one munition factory in that State. Why are all its munition factories situated along the eastern coast? Whenever South Australia or Western Australia attempts to stand on its own feet it is thwarted. Yet we cannot get the Commonwealth Government to establish any industry in either of those States. The present Government of South Australia is taking steps to establish industries in that State and has provided £20,000 for that purpose. When it applied to the Commonwealth Government to provide a like amount in order to assist it in that effort it was referred to the Commonwealth Bank, which, refused to give any assistance. The time has practically arrived when the smaller States are obliged to combine and demand industries and refuse to be put off as they have been put off by the Commonwealth Government in the past. Both this Government and the Labour party profess to be in favour of a policy of decentralization, but a strong feeling exists in the smaller States, quite irrespective of party, that this Parliament does not care very much about their development.
My next reason for objecting to this embargo is that it will create a monopoly of the iron and steel industry. At this stage, however, I pay a tribute to the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited and all those who have played a part, including the workers concerned, in building up Australia’s greatest industry. I am not one of’ those who attack an industry because it is successful. In Australia we need active export industries. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited has rendered a wonderful service to Australia in building up a tremendous industry, which, with its associated companies, pays £6,000,000 in wages, and gives employment to approximately 24,000 persons. I am quite convinced that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited did not ask for the imposition of the embargo, and, in fact, did not want it.
– How does the honorable senator know that?
– If the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited had asked for it, and if the reasons for its imposition are those given by the Government, the belated discovery of an alarming shortage would have convicted the directors of gross negligence. What are the facts? There is no shortage of iron ore in Australia. Mr.Essington
Lewis, when delivering a lecture in Adelaide, said -
The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited and the Australian Iron and Steel Works, as this audience knows, are drawing their iron ore supplies from excellent deposits in the Middleback Ranges in the eastern side of the Eyre Peninsula of this State, about thirty miles from Spencer Gulf. These deposits are the most important group of iron ore bodies in Australia, and the Australian iron and steel industry can certainly rely on high grade ore from this district for a long time to come” . . . There are other high grade ore resources under the control of the Australian industry, perhaps the most noteworthy being the deposits at Cockatoo Island, Yampi Sound, on the north-west coast of Western Australia., which are on a deepwater coast line and permit of the introduction of economical methods of working. It is difficult and dangerous to attempt to assess the ultimate value of these particular deposits, but in relation to the location of the existing Australian iron and stool works, adjacent .as they are to vast coal-fields on the eastern coast of Australia, the time has hardly arrived for their active exploitation in the interests of the Australian industry. Future requirements ought not to bo overlooked, and in saying this I um not unmindful of British Empire requirements.
That statement was made when reports in the newspapers stated that the Commonwealth Government proposed to place a ban on exports. But Mr. Essington Lewis, the managing director of the producer company in Australia, was not at all concerned about the iron ore resources in the Commonwealth. Is it feasible that that company would admit that it had not taken steps to protect our resources and then wanted the Government to impose an embargo? I say without hesitation that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited does not want an embargo, has not asked for it, and will be substantial losers as a result of its imposition, I feel that this Parliament has not been given the real reason for its imposition.
I now propose to deal wit]h the Australian iron ore resources. “When Dr. Woolnough submitted his report he had never visited the Middleback Ranges, and therefore his report was based upon information contained in printed documents, and on that supplied by persons who had visited the deposit. Other reports do not bear out Dr. “Woolnough’s opinion, and in fact are entirely contrary to it. The following paragraph appeared in the 50th Annual Report of the Broken Hill. Proprietary Company Limited published in 1935 -
The Iron Monarch is 040 feet above the plain, its base being 1£ miles in diameter. The bulk of the ore above plain level is estimated at more than one hundred million tons. The estimate for Iron Duke, 18 miles south, is equally as great. The estimate of the period likely to elapse before underground mining will be necessary is given as being beyond this century, based upon the present rate of consumption.
Having cited the opinion expressed by Mr. Essington Lewis on the 27th May of this year, I now wish to quote from the report of the royal commission appointed to inquire into and report upon the natural resources of the selfgoverning dominions. The commission’s inquiries extended over five years, it held 34 meetings in Australia and examined 170 witnesses. The commission stated -
The iron ore contained in these two mountains - Iron. Knob and Iron Monarch - are so enormous that even if the company were hereafter to supply the whole of the requirements of Australia they would not be exhausted in many generations.
– Were the members of the commission geologists or laymen ?
– The British Government would not appoint laymen to undertake the work of experts. Bulletin No. 9 ‘of 1922, issued by the South Australian Government, stated -
The resources of Iron Knob and Iron Baron are calculated to contain not less than 165,000,000 tons.
The report of the Mineral Resources Bureau, issued in 1922, estimated the actual iron resources at 345,000,000 tons and the probable resources at 500,000,000 tons. In 1938 Mr. Ashworth, a chartered mining engineer, stated -
I have no hesitation in saying that no less than 1,000,000,000 tons of high grade iron ore can be mined in the Middleback Ranges, from Iron Knob and Iron Duke.
What evidence had Dr. Woolnough to guide him? Everything published gives an opinion contrary to his, yet his report, which, when carefully examined, gives no information, led the Government to believe that the shortage of iron ore is so acute -that drastic action should be taken even during the period of investigation.
– Does not the honorable senator think that wise?
– No. If theGovernment were afraid that there might be a shortage, the export of a couple of million tons of iron ore during an investigation would not have made the slightest difference. The Government could easily have waiteduntil a proper examination had been made. I do not think that there was the slightest justification for the imposition of the embargo.
– Thenwhy did the Government impose it?
– That is what I am asking the Government to explain. I also protestagainst the manner in which this matter of high policy was introduced. I believe in the democratic system of government and in the authority of parliament. It is the responsibility of the Government to give effect to the laws passed by the Parliament. It should not have imposed this embargo three days before Parliament was going into recess for three months. On a matter of high policy such as this it should not have taken such extreme action, and prevented Parliament from considering the subject for at least three months. If for no other reason than that which I have just mentioned, I urge honorable senators to support the motion. Surely they recognize their duties and responsibilities to the people; the powers of Parliament should not have been usurped as they were in this instance. Had the Government introduced a bill dealing with this subject and given reasons why it considered an embargo necessary, and had it been able to show that its actionwould not endanger the peace of the world or affect the security of the Empire I would have supported it. In the circumstances I am not prepared to support the regulations, which are contrary to democratic principles. Up to the present no reason has been given for the drastic action taken.
– I second the motion.
. -Senator Wilson has introduced a somewhat irrelevant issue, but I shall deal only with the main points which the honorable senator has placed before the Senate. I offer no apology whatever for the exercise of the power to prohibit exports which has been conferred upon the Executive by the legislature, particularly as immediate action was decided to be necessary. The Government knew that machinery was being procured and was likely to be installed at Yampi Sound. With the knowledge which the Government possessed, it would have been improper to have waited until the machinery had been installed and then to have declared that it had decided to impose a restriction on the export of iron ore. That would have been most unfair to the people who had invested their money in the enterprise in the expectation of getting some return from it. Honorable senators may rest assured that action was not taken by the Government without the closest examination of all the circumstances, because it realized the importance of not causing irritation to the people in any part of the. world by withholding supplies of Australian raw materials. It was not as if we had a wealth of material of which we could not see the end. We had to think of the welfare of future generations. The Government, I repeat, did not act with any desire to cause trouble to any one; its sole purpose was to preserve an Australian product that is, vital to the existence of the nation. Iron ore, I need hardly remind, honorable senators, is not a recurring product.Once it has been mined it has gone for ever.
– So is pig iron.
– The honorable senator knows very well that the exportation of pig iron is very restricted.
– It is still being exported. .
– The few thousand tons of pig iron that have been exported are not comparable to the proposal to mine and export immense quantities of iron ore, which later investigations have revealed will be urgently required by this country. In this matter,the Government acted on the recommendation of Dr. Woolnough, the Commonwealth Geological Adviser, whose conclusions as to the extent of our available deposits are supported by all State Geologists with one exception, and professors of geology in our various universities - men who have made a careful study of the geological features of this country.When I tell honorable senators that former estimates of almost illimitable supplies of iron ore have, upon later examination, been proved to be most unreliable, they will, I hope, undertsand why the Government deemed it necessary to impose an embargo on the export of iron ore from Australia. I need mention only one deposit - atCarcoar, New South Wales. The original estimate in respect of that locality was 39,000,000 tons; a more recent examination has disclosed that the total quantity available is only about 3,000,000 tons and operations to date have almost exhausted the supply.
I warn the Senate that this country has been living in a fool’s paradise. Earlier estimates of our iron ore deposits are not likely to be realized. Dr. Woolnough, who, apparently is regarded by some honorable senators as a pessimist on this subject, is, in my opinion, somewhat of an optimist; yet his latest conclusions are not at all reassuring.
– What does the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited say about the extent of our deposits ?
– The Government is not concerned about the views of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. Our concern is to preserve for the people of this country those indigenous resources that are so vital to our future security. Hitherto we have been deluding ourselves about the quantity of ore available in Australia. Many people, myself among them, believed that there were tremendous deposits readily available throughout the Commonwealth; but as I have endeavoured to impress upon honorable senators, further examinations, not only by Dr. Woolnough, but also by Mr. Nye, a former government geologist of Tasmania, Dr. Ward of South Australia, and other acknowledged authorities, prove that the former estimates were unreliable, and that the unrestricted export of iron ore would expose this country to grave danger in the future.
It is rather humiliating for me to have to stand up in this Senate and display to the world - because that is what this discussion means - our nakedness as regards supplies of iron ore. Senator Wilson referred to the large deposits at Yampi Sound, Western Australia. Actually in the Commonwealth there are only two deposits of any magnitude that are capable of economic exploitation. Others, hitherto believed to be of vast extent and great potential value, have, upon further examination, been proved to be of limited extent. As I have said, Dr. Woolnough, in his salad days, held the view that large quantities of iron ore were available in Australia. His latest report disclosed a position so alarming that the Government had no alternative but to impose an embargo, in the interests of the future safety of this country. The action taken was not for the purpose of withholding supplies from any particular country. We endeavoured to act in such a way as to give the least offence to any nation, and I emphasize that we did what we deemed to be our duty.
Australia, as all will admit, is a country in the making. We are living in what may be regarded as the iron and steel age. The suggestion will be made, no doubt, that we may pass from steel to the use of some other metal ; but since we have not nearly reached the end of the steel age, it is the duty of the Government, charged as it is with responsibility for ensuring the future safety of the nation, to control the export of all essential supplies. I know of no material more vital to the future safety of the nation than iron ore, which is the base and foundation of steel. Upon it depends not only the safety but also the economic development of the Commonwealth.
I invite honorable senators to think for a moment of what the future holds for us - slightly less than 7,000,000 people in occupation of 3,000,000 square miles of territory. In the development of this country we have, so far, merely scratched the surface. If we have regard for our future safety, we must strain every effort to conserve for our own use those essential commodities of which the supplies are definitely limited.
Reference has been made to various authorities who have expressed opinions as to the quantity of iron ore available in Australia. The commission which inquired into this subject examined carefully the earlier reports and stated that no attempts had been made to ascertain definitely how far the deposits of iron ore extended below the surface of the ground. Basing their official reports on examinations made by geologists of the various States, they arrived at the conclusion that there were ample supplies available.
– That is all that the Government has done up to date.
– The Government has done a great deal more. The States, having been asked to give some data, supplied figures before Dr. Woolnough made his later examination of the position. Even in those reports, there is no suggestion of thousands of millions of tons of iron ore being available in this country. The latest official information in the hands of the Government states that the deposit at Cadia, near Orange, New South Wales, was originally estimated to contain 39,000,000 tons, but it is now believed to contain only 3,000,000 tons. I have already mentioned the drastic reduction of the earliest estimate of the deposit at Carcoar. I may add that about 1,500,000 tons has been mined at this place, and the balance available is estimated to be less than 1,000,000 tons. Furthermore, it is now stated that there is a considerable sulphur content in the Cadia deposit and that the quantity of ore commercially available is negligible. Thus it will be seen that in New South Wales alone the original estimate is now reduced by three-fourths. This later estimate is not based solely on an examination by Dr. Woolnough. It rests also on the opinion of Professor Cotton, lecturer on geology at the Sydney University, who is reported in the Sydney Morning Herald on the 24th March last as having stated -
In 1936 nearly2,000,000 tons of iron ore, all from the South Australian deposits, was used by Australian industries in the manufacture of iron and steel. No other source of any consequence was used. A similar quantity was used in 1935, but the 1937 figures were not yet available. In 60 years’ time the population of Australia would probably be far above its present figure, and the iron and steel industries would be so greatly expanded that they would require much more than 2,000,000 tons of iron ore annually. In the meantime, there would have been a tremendous drain on the present known deposits, and there would need to be a great increase in production.
I ask honorable senators to bear in mind that the action of the Government in imposing the embargo on the export of iron ore was dictated by a close regard for the interests of future generations and the defence of this country. Its sole purpose was to protect the available supply of this essential commodity which, on the most authoritative opinion available to the Government, is sufficient to meet this country’s requirements for a period of only 60 years.
– Did Professor Cotton make an inspection of the iron ore deposits of the Commonwealth?
– Professor Cotton, like other professors of geology at Australian Universities, has at various times, travelled all over Australia to investigate this problem.
– Has he seen the Middleback deposit, or has he been to Yampi Sound?
– Has Senator Wilson ever been there?
– Professor Cotton stated further -
In Central Australia there were scattered iron ore masses, but they were of no economic value on account of the difficulty of transport, which was a big factor in the production of iron ore.
The people of this country have been misled with respect to the quantity of iron ore available. At one time the Government, and I as a member of it, believed that there was no shortage of this essential commodity. But some time ago it came to our knowledge - in what way I do not know - that even the deposits at Iron Knob in South Australia were not so vast as they were supposed to be. In consequence of this disquieting information, we had a preliminary report made. In March, 1937, I think, the matter was referred to me by the Prime Minister with a request to get further information. That was the first shock which the Government received in connexion with the iron- ore resources of Australia. The. return’ to which I have referred was sent to us. Itfixed the total deposits of New South Wales at 53,000,000 tons; subject to what further investigation might reveal. It was stated that the deposits in Queenslandtotalled approximately 66,000,000 tons, and in South Australia, 171,000,000 tons. The estimate, obtained from Western Australia was 147,500,000 tons. Tasmania informed us that it had reserves at various centres aggregating 59,400,000 tons. Those were the results of our investigations, and there did not appear to be a tremendous supply available, even on those figures; but, when we made a somewhat closer examination, it was found that the estimates were utterly fallacious. Iron ore is very hard and it withstands the effects of the weather. The softer rocks with which it is interspersed crumble and the appearance presented to the eye is that of a huge mass of iron ore extending a considerable distance into the earth, whereas, in fact, the orehas merely covered other stone. It has been found in the case of some of these deposits that there is so littleiron ore beneath the surface that it would be unprofitable to mine it,
In this matter, the Government regards it as of paramount importance , to protect the. interests, not of Great Britain, Germany or any other overseas country, but of Australia. In the light of theinfor- mation in its possession, it cancome to noother conclusion than that itwould be dangerous to allowfurther export of iron ore,whatever the consequences of its action may beGreat Britain gets nearly all itsore from Norway,. Sweden and, Newfoundland. It secures some from the United. States’ . of America, and it is now arranging, to resumethe obtaining of supplies from Bilbao, Spain . Great Britain doesnot depend on Australia for its iron ore, but,’ even if it did,.we would not be wise ‘to jeopardise our security and industrial future by supplying the Motherland. Nobody. ,,is ‘ more inclined than. I ‘m to do everything . possible to support theEmpire, but.Ithink that it would be imprudent; of Australia, for the sake of’., making an Empire gesture; to.;deprive , itself of ‘ thatwhich is essential to its. very, existence. So far from Dr. Woolnough’s . report being falsified . by . his. more detailed information, and by the replies received from the Government by the geologists of the . various States, it has been con- firmed in every point, except that our position is definitelyworse than Dr. Woolnough . at first , thought it to be. . The first gentleman who gave us information in - this regard - at my instance, by . the : way - was Mr. Nye, . . He reported to the Government onwhat he considered to be the position, having regard to the reports supplied from the various States, and he sounded a note ofwarning. At the conclusion of his report, he said - .
While the figures suggest that supplies of orefor the immediate future of the iron and steel industry are assured, they certainly do not assure the supplies of Australian ore in the more distant future.
The position, when viewed from the national aspect, is not a favorable one, and should be remedied as far -as possible. It is obvious: that there is only , one remedy which would prolong the life of the reserves, namely, to, conserve them for Australia’s needs by prohibiting the export1 ofiron ore and ironandsteel made from Australian ore:
Up to thattime, the Governmenthad not taken “ that ‘ extreme ‘step. ‘ Dr. ‘Woolhough made the most exhaustive examination possible . in the time ‘ available ‘ of the various deposits,’ including those’ in the’ MiddlebackRanges. The resultant decisionis a matter of government policy. This Government haspledged. itself to the policy of protectingAustralia’s vital re-‘ sources.’ ‘ To Justify its action, the Governmenthas obtained reports regarding the extent of the deposits in various . parts of. Australia. ‘ It has been suggested that we have unlimited’’ quantities of iron ore! Letme take at random the reports obtained from ‘ Queensland. The Portlandroad group,’on Northern Cape York Peninsula, was supposed to contain huge deposits, whichwere discovered by the geological and geophysical survey party.’ The.’ report states-
Recently, examined , by Mr. Ball’ and Iin company. The’ deposits extend over’. a considerable area, but are difficult’ toexamine’ on account of densetropical jungle.,, It , is certain that,.they are . extremelyirregularindistribu- tion. Even the purest of, the, individual, deposits, those, of,MountLamondare higlily siliceous and , much interleavedwithschist.. They could, not be mined ona bulk, scale, . but would have to be selectively mined In addition, the ore is micaceous haematite, exceedingly friable and unsuitable for extensive transportation. Micaceous haematite required special treatment to prevent heavy dust losses in the blast furnace. Detailed examination of this deposit is not recommended.
– Those deposits have never been included amongst the iron ore resources.
– No, but they were among those upon which Mr. Nye and several other geologists were relying. Coming now to New South Wales, the following report relates to the deposits at Cadia and Carcoar, near Orange : -
Originally estimated, erroneously, to contain some 39,000,000 tons of ore. About 1,500,000 tons removed, less than -1,000,000 tons remain. Cadia ore often contains high sulphur. Deposit negligible.
I now turn to Victoria; the Government Geologist of that State practically admits that there are no deposits of iron ore worth considering. I had been led to believe that there was a” considerable deposit at Lal Lal, but the Government Geologist, in reply to a suggestion that a joint inspection should be made there, replied -
Your letter re Lal Lal deposits received. Do not consider they warrant investigation.
The deposits at Nowa Nowa have not been examined by Dr. Woolnough, but the officers of the geological survey party inspected them, and the reports indicate that they are negligible. It was also thought that a large supply of iron ore was available in Tasmania, on the Blythe River. One of the latest estimates was that those deposits amounted to 24,000,000 tons, but it is found by Mr. Nye and Dr. Woolnough that these figures are entirely unreliable owing to the fact that, as I have explained, the ironstone appears to have covered the surface of the land, giving the impression that the deposits are very extensive. A committee consisting of Messrs. Boyd, Gibson and Young, reported as follows : -
The bulk of the deposit is much too siliceous to be mined in bulk as iron ore. The only portion of the deposit which could be classed as high grade ore, suitable for extraction, amounts to 12,000 tons.
Compare the figure of 12,000 tons with the former estimate of 24,000,000! No wonder we are charged with being a race that_ muddles along, when we find that we have 5 per cent, of the deposits which we thought we had. The Zeehan district was examined by outside interests, and the report regarding that quarter reads -
Operations indicate that tlie deposit is neither mineralogically nor quantitatively likely to prove of importance.
I now turn to South Australia, where the only major deposits are those at Iron Knob and the Middleback group. The original official estimates of the quantity of iron ore vary from 150,000,000 to 200,000,000 tons, but a detailed survey is now being, made by the officers of the South Australian geological service, and official results are not available.
– Are not the deposits larger below the surface?
– No. I understand that as a rule the ore obtained below is not of the same quality as that found on the surface. Whilst I have no desire to say anything detrimental to any company, it is common knowledge in the Australian commercial world that the iron ore deposits in the Middleback Ranges are not so extensive as they were originally supposed to be.
– They have never been tested.
– The testing of the deposits below the surface would be found to ‘be very uneconomic. The geologists who have made underground tests are not satisfied with the quantities available for the future. Dr. Ward has no axe to grind; his integrity is beyond question. What interests have these geologists to serve except tlie interests of Australia? They appreciate all the repercussions of the export embargo in other parts of the British Empire and in friendly foreign countries. Yet they warn us that the future expansion of Australia would be menaced if we allowed further export of these deposits.
– What did Dr. Ward say?
– He said that it would be dangerous to remove the embargo. I have consulted with him on this subject, and he, like Dr. Woolnough, is alarmed at the poverty of Australia in relation to iron ore deposits.
– What did Mr. Forman, of Western Australia, say?
– From time to time estimates of the quantity of ore at Yampi Sound have been made,but unless the Government goes to the expense of tunnelling into the bowels of the earth, the extent of the deposits cannot be known with any degree of accuracy.
– Until that is done, anything like a correct estimate will be impossible.
– Experience in Australia has shown that extraordinarily rich “ blows “ have not generally fulfilled expectations; at depth, the value of the deposits has decreased. According to Dr. Woolnough, Mr. Montgomery estimated at 69,000,000 tons the ore available at Yampi Sound. If the central portion of the body be assumed to contain half the ore, it will amount to 35,000,000 tons only. In 1920, before anything like a comprehensive survey of the deposits at Yampi Sound was made, it was commonly believed that the supplies of ore there were sufficient to meet the world demand for many years. Even Dr. Woolnough himself, who now expresses fears as to the quantity available, was of that opinion when he was Professor of Geology at the Perth University. The report of Dr. Woolnough states -
Montgomery showed that there were major deposits on Koolan Island and Cockatoo Island with extremely subordinate ones on several smaller islands in the immediate neighbourhood.
On Koolan Island he distinguished a northern ore body which he estimated to contain 7,700,000 tons of ore, and a southern or main orebody estimated to contain 68,850,000 tons of ore above sea level. The deposit certainly extends below sea level; but under conditions which may make its deep working impracticable.
The southern ore body is clearly divisible into three sections, of which the central section is much the largest and best in every way. The eastern and western sections are much smaller and so far as available assays are concerned of lower grade than the central portion. Some at least of the ore in these “ wings “ is too siliceous for economic exploitation. For this reason only the central section of the southern ore body has been taken into consideration above; it being understood that the Japanese interests do not propose to work the wings or the northern ore body.
The deposits on Cockatoo Island consist, according to Montgomery, of: -
Southern ore body - 13,850,000 tons.
Northern ore body - 6,900,000 tons.
The grand total given by Montgomery for the whole of the deposits on the two islands is therefore 97,300,000 tons. The Cockatoo Island deposits are held by Australian Iron and Steel Limited.
We should pause to consider how these deposits can be dealt with. It is. one thing to obtain ore by means of an open cut, but quite a different thing to secure it by underground mining. Moreover, deposits in inland districts away from the coast are much more expensive to work, and transport costs are heavier, than is the case with deposits adjacent to the coast. Inland deposits are of little real economic value, but, in any case, there are no known large inland deposits in Australia other than those thatI have mentioned. Senator Wilson asked whether Dr. Ward had expressed any views regarding the iron ore deposits in this country. I have here an extract from a communication which he addressed to the Prime Minister on the 11th August, 1937-
It is well known already that the large deposits of high-grade iron ore in Australia, so placed as to be commercially available, are few in number. From the information published with regard to these large deposits, it appears to me that there is ample justification for anxiety about the future supplies for Australian needs. The present domestic con sumption is at the rate of nearly 2,000,000 tons of iron ore per annum, and this figure is bound to increase materially in the not distant future.
In my opinion, the issue is plain; we must stand either for the security of this country, or for the export of iron ore to any persons who are willing to buy it. Iron ore from Yampi Sound could be exported to only one country, because the whole of the output of the workings there has been sold to one company. The decision of the Government is that until it is convinced that the deposits of iron ore in Australia are sufficient to last for more than 50 or 60 years, it will not allow this product to be exported.
– What is the aggregate of the figures which the Minister has quoted?
– At most, there is 300,000,000 tons of iron ore.
– On the basis of a consumption of 2,000,000 tons a year, these deposits would last for 150 years.
SenatorA. J. McLACHLAN.- Dr. Woolnough now advises that a safer estimate would be 200,000,000 tons. The honorable senator mentions an Australian consumption of 2,000,000 tons of ore a year, but the indications are that that figure will be greatly exceeded before long. Both Dr. Woolnough and Dr. Ward are of the opinion that, in a few years, Australia’s consumption of iron ore will reach 5,000,000 tons per annum. On that basis, the known deposits in Australia - 200,000,000 tons - would be exhausted in 40 years. Are honorable senators prepared to risk that contingency? On the other hand, should an examination reveal that Australia has unlimited supplies of iron ore, the removal of the embargo would be justified. The present situation is such that the Government would be neglectful of its duty if it did not take proper steps to protect Australia’s interests.
– Why is the export of pig iron permitted?
– Only comparatively small quantities of pig iron are exported from Australia; last year’s total was only 5,834 tons. Should the occasion demand it, the Government will not hesitate to place an embargo on the export of pig iron also.
-Can the Minister say what quantity of scrap iron was exported from Australia last year?
– The exports of scrap iron and steel last year reached a total of 46,710 tons.
– Was it all sent to J apan ?
– That is the total quantity exported to all countries. Should the honorable senator desire it, I could obtain figures in respect of Japan. Scrap iron has certain absorptive qualities which make it useful in smelting.
– It is also capable of killing Chinese.
– Some of the scrap iron exported from Australia has gone to Germany, but most of it went to Japan. No pig iron has been exported to Japan.
– Do thefigures in respect of scrap iron include ships sent to Japan to be broken up?
– The records merely refer to scrap sent out as such. In May of this year, the Government decided that the export of iron ore should be prohibited as from the 1st July, 1938. The reason was the insufficiency of the known deposits for this country’s future needs. That decision was reached only after various State geologists, university professors, as well as the Commonwealth Government’s own geological adviser, had reported that the iron ore available in Australia was considerably less than had previously been estimated.
– Is the search for iron ore still going on? .
– Yes. I am embarrassed by having to expose Australia’s nakedness in this way.
Sitting suspended from12.45 till 2.15 p.m.
-Reply- ing to the first point made by Senator Wilson that the imposition of this embargo endangers our peaceful relations with other countries, I suggest that our own safety transcends every other consideration in this respect. As to maintaining the security of the Empire, I do not know what better contribution we could make towards that security than by ensuring that we shall be in a position to provide our own steel requirements in this country. The arguments that the export of iron ore would enable us to build up foreign credits is somewhat weak because on the most liberal estimate such exports would not exceed a value of £500,000 annually. The honorable senator also attacked the manner in which this embargo was imposed. I have already dealt with that point, but I might add that the embargo was imposed in the manner prescribed by the law. We have acted in accordance with the law, and we take full responsibility for doing so. It is quite competent for any senator or any members of the House of Representatives to move for the disallowance of the regulations imposing the embargo. Nobody can deny that much can be said in support of the honorable senator’s views that we should do everything to maintain peaceful relations with other countries, but I point out that this embargo was not imposed with any intention to create bacl feeling in any country. It was imposed simply in the interests of the protection and future economic welfare of Australia.
T shall now deal briefly with the factors which led to the imposition of this embargo. The resources of iron ore in Australia suitable for utilization in the iron and steel industry were fully considered by the Government in 1936. The general impression gained at that time was that we had inexhaustible supplies and that no cause for anxiety existed. On the evidence then available, the Government came to the conclusion that there was no occasion to take action. However, it was decided to have the whole matter investigated and subsequent to August, 1937, a review of the iron ore deposits of this country was made by the Commonwealth Geological Adviser, Dr. Woolnough. I have already read excerpts from the report of that officer, which reveals his disappointment at the evidence he had obtained that our resources had previously been largely overestimated. And his view in that respect has been substantiated by every other government geologist, except the Government Geologist in Western Australia, and by professors of geology in our various universities. In view of this development one cannot wonder that the Government, notwithstanding its preconceived ideas, took steps to conserve our iron ore resources. In the meantime the Commonwealth Geological Adviser has continued his investigations. He has visited every State and has consulted with officers of the mines departments in each State. He has inspected every deposit worth considering within 100 miles of the coast, and his further investigations have given rise to even more serious apprehension as to the extent of our iron ore resources. He emphasizes that only the deposits at Yampi Sound and Iron Knob are capable of developments l To-day he/estimates* thai the total marketable’ resources’ of (iron ore do not exceed 200,000,000 tons. Furthermore,, the deposits at, Tampi are not so great or so., richi) as was originally supposed. I have already dealt with the estimated quantity of ore available there. I do not wish to take up the time of the Senate by dealing with a mass of detail. The point I emphasize is that the Government is convinced - and having heard my remarks [ feel sure that honorable senators will agree with it - that danger threatens Australia’s future economic development, owing to the limited supplies of this commodity which is most vital to our industrial development. I suggest lhat this matter cannot be decided solely in the light of our present economic development, but must be viewed in relation to the future problems which are likely to arise in that respect. For instance, it may be that Australia will be obliged in the future to undertake ship-building on a large scale. Limited supplies of iron ore would add considerably to our difficulties in that respect, and might possibly prohibit us from ever embarking on that industry. I emphasize that iron ore is not a recurring asset. Once ore is mined and exported, or even manufactured in this country into some article or other, that is the end of it; nature’s store is not replenished.
– Why did the Government delay this action for so long after the Yampi deposits were opened up?
– The delay was simply due to the fact that we believed for so long that we had ample iron ore resources. Naturally, we were staggered when subsequent investigation proved that we had so greatly overestimated those resources. I think it was in 1920 that efforts were first made to open up the deposits at Yampi, but the proposition went a-begging. It was hawked in Western Australia and the eastern States, but nobody wanted it, because at that time it was believed we had ample iron ore resources elsewhere in Australia. The truth of the matter is that the eastern States possess practically no worth-while iron ore deposits, and the Yampi deposits consequently now bfecomeji^f^ifirat-i-ate’limporiancfe^iiiii;1 ‘the economic make-up of this . country.’. -It is. to be regretted’it<hat<th0’‘action’now taken by the Government hits hardest one of the smaller States-.1 -We cannot, however, allow.’ tliat . point ’“‘to . influence/ us in deciding Whether. national Government would be justified in allowing the export of quantities of iron ore which we shall need in the’ future. , for,vOur own requirements. “’ ” ’ ”,’ , ‘ 1 1(!
SenatorMcBride. -What did the GoVernmen’t’ Geologist of Westejiri’ Aus7 tralfa say in his report On’ this- ihatter.?
– In practically all respects except :.one . he agreed with the,.views expressed. , by ‘the other geologists. He, however, maiiv tained that’ in Western . . Australia, not more than 100 miles frdni ‘(jhe. “cOast, there are considerable deposits’ of iron ore available for exploitation.’ On. that point I might mention that Mr. Westco’tt, the general manager of the Mount Morgan, C.ompany,,i which; , ia engaged ion on e of, , tlie. , 1 argest; ApgpTCUt, mining, . tjjndeaS. takings’,. ; in.. , t^.s.,,,cqunt!i,y,,1 . jatfoi^di;>iD»< Woolnough tha.t’.the cost, of dealing,: with unclergr.g.und deposits . ofr-i-ron pr,e wouldi be ; considerably, jhoiieji-tiian is,. i estimated by,:thei’Go.verAm-eiiiit.Geol;ogisti.Qf WeSterji Attstralian.-i;) ..’. i<m;ii..i’ » S«: - . -.ni..
SenitorMcBride.-.^Wllat’’ . did”’ Mi’. . . i .. ci.i -. ‘…Mil!, -i. . IT-.; -.nr..;-. shworth says r ‘ i- . -i .. i i II… -)!i;<l”>” ”.-i>
SenatorA.J.McLACHLAN.-have: yet-.to-leanrh ‘whe’tbief ihfiir,giifte-m,Sn;’h-iis< liMl^anyi expedience1 of ‘iron ore.” He sebniS’ to lajave i been ; a/ble / to ii-oju out isbmef ‘ very) goodi axticlediton ‘:tjhe-.subjedtniii -the’pressii However, I tikis iGoverhmanti fas- acted -on t.lie, , , yery , : best’ ad. vifce; available, > and > J. ppint-putithait) . that, rtdyiteelhas. been -.given, byi.ff^pWtS– vvhp. have , np-, iiixe-, to, . grind.;, lij, ifj , jja pp,d, : /S implj^i ftiii , SGti.e3,6ifia t ftrylj tQcbn uipai, knowledge.!/ .. T,hese,ii’ef<por-ts. . havefound,, tbat< wh,a-ti appeal’s-.; venynpitomisingi on’ithe1Siurfac.eris!idisapp.oiritrngj’a’fc.deptih.il
SenatorWilson. - ‘Will the Minister “‘l’ !>”” ’’‘-TV’? ‘O.I!%llll11l’il I I’ Of iW.- 30 read from Mr. Ashw-orth’s report, , thq, rra *ft** ..femp^ti.^ws^.brfiSt
SenatorA.J.McLACHLAN.-pfflfl ingi’.with the^-views expressed by1 “the1
Governmeiflj’‘iGeologi’stl : d£ : Western-: !Australiai/i Brl’) Wbolnough.i.’i in ibis.’ : rep’aVt states-‘- ‘ r i i - - *» I * . 1;
Id ; ‘.’l,f, ! ‘ ( ft I], !,’ j-‘. ) ‘’! I
T.allering Peak is situated 30 miles . north of Mullewa, which is 70 miles from GeraSldtoh.
Mr. Maitland emphasized to me the exceedingly gupor filial- nature, of his -.exa.mina,ti,on of this deposit, which, is of moderate to large dimensions. Of ‘the’ subordinate deposits of Western Australia , i,t a,»peja.rs . one which ia worthy of . close, investigation.. This will he rccoihrnentUd- in.’ coim’c’xion-. with’- the’- proposed snr.vey .; winch ..isii . being conducted by the Western Australian Geological . purvey.
Wifebi-tihe exception of- the’ Government Geologist-. ; n Western- . Australia,- all . of the . oitiher- exppiitsv agree that our , iron, ore deposits . aiie dangerously inadequate- for pur,,, fjuture ‘ Requirements., .. ,;Ev]en: , the Government .. Geologist:, -of . Western Aus* tralia, i,Th0iW&yer, , is convinced ,, that, the deposits; at ..Yampi ,, Sound .,, : ar e ; not. , so ex.tensiv’e. -as. jyas,-,pr.eviously . thought. . Dr. Woohxoughjs . import. QQiitjiiites-r-‘ ,
The ^oitfgiyts-pf’ ^est’crji Australia’ ma)-‘ niaiintaiin) a’.resefvutioii’-‘in regard to ‘what is (;o,;.;he , reglvrded., a&i’“econbmic 1 transportation “f/Jq’ft,”-. i.,i.,l)plioy,e(l-howey,f>r, that.’.ej^ii. jthey are satisfied, tiiat ho major deposit, other ijiaii ifiUiupf “Sound,’ exists watliin’li0’o;,niiles’iof any developed’ iport of-‘shipiiient. h i« ‘ - f
J’.’ -i-.i’J’-‘-‘i’ vJ, v.’…. I,: …u, “:.’i!.-: jljlig whqlpi w6).gh,t ot,ge,pl()gical o(pinipn ^is^verninentjias.’tak.^n, and, I- Relieve, will.’iea^’hcjnorable. senajtprs . to no. other yipwj.ijljjaii ‘ . ^hat,.’th,e . ^p’v,eriun,en,t,’ acijed rightly, in, taking^such . -.afit^oii in prdei- tp guard against . a^.darigeiv^ O.ur jecqnomic;
H’)iWFe^.i :.i!tii.ii) -:1 ‘k, :’ v! ; *u
SenatorWilson r’efe’rred’j’to’ ‘various.; i-‘epo’r’tk’’ ‘It -wab dlai-me’d’ ‘at’-‘tone ‘ttme,’’ I belieVe^,>«feKIl,OfdOlOOOi090’‘fonS of ii-‘oii ore:i-‘exis’ted! ‘in’ tlie’ ‘M’iddle’back- Ranges1, Souths Australia. 1 £ > point ‘ but,’ h’owwtst) ‘bhiat; .such’^tatements-‘ are ‘ex parte, audi are. !notfvsupported’‘byii’aai,y detailed m’aps7 (tih’ey vreqiaine. /verification i , * In-‘ the vjeiw jofi the » Cpjfinl’onwea’l th.- <3eo1»gioai Advjisor.iithey;;far(il.’v’ei:y miskading.;’ , n ; .
SenatorWilson.-ncffi i’K’i^Tn , a^nSntfs’ of^’th’e’i Government’?’- .:’if> ‘lill In Jjil’.iii I’ll’i.’i ‘iin ‘i’):ii- !>’.>;. iij
SenatorA.J.McLACHLAN.- l’.,do, nj^illftVft^ho».^,,fA^(vo^l( is.v i i i , i (i i . ‘ ) 1 eSe^ato’f,(KW^j:iii.rieK1 is^a^.Meio’ou’rh’e1
– Two hours having elapsed from the time of the meeting of the Senate, I direct the Clerk to call on the orders of the day.
.- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
The first bill to provide for the payment of compensation to seamen was introduced in the Senate by the late Senator E. D. Millen, a member of the Deakin Government, on the 21st July, 1909. That measure became law, but the High Court declared that Section 4 was ultra vires, and .as that section was not severable from the act the whole of the measure was declared ultra vires. The second bill was introduced in this chamber on the 6th December, 1911, by Senator McGregor, a member of the Fisher Government, and the measure was passed and has since remained on the statute-book without amendment. My predecessor, Senator Brennan, had for some time been working on an amending Seamen’s Compensation Bill, and I have had the opportunity to make certain amendments in the measure which he proposed to submit. The act of 1911 has in several respects become out of date, chiefly in respect of the amounts of compensation prescribed, which have become inadequate by reason of the. considerable increase of the cost of living since 1911. The existing act provides for payment of compensation by the employer of an amount not exceeding 30s. “a week for total incapacity, and to the dependants, in case of death of a seaman, e.g., by shipwreck, of not less than £200, and not exceeding in any case £500. State acts providing for compensation in respect of injuries to workmen, including seamen employed on purely intra-state vessels, passed since the enactment of the Seamen’s Compensation Act, and also the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act 1930, all make more liberal provision than does the Seamen’s Com pensation Act. The following table gives a comparison of the sums payable under various compensation laws -
It is clear from the foregoing table that the amount of compensation payable under the Seamen’s ‘Compensation Act, whether by lump sum, in case of death, or weekly, in case of incapacity, is considerably below that payable under the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act 1930, and the Workers’ Compensation Acts of the various States. The anomaly can be overcome only by increasing the compensation payable, so that it shall not only more closely accord with the higher cost of living now, as compared with 1911, but also be more in line with that payable under other comparable Commonwealth and State acts. This bill proposes to do that by providing that a seaman totally or partially incapacitated by injury shall receive a maximum weekly payment of 70s. instead of the maximum of 30s. a week under the existing act. In the case of death resulting from the injury, the maximum amount payable to dependants will be increased from a minimum of £200 to a minimum of £400 and from a maximum of £500 to a maximum of £750. A second important amendment is the provision for lump sum payments as compensation in respect of certain specified physical injuries.
Under the present act, a seaman who has lost, say, a finger or a foot, is entitled to compensation at a weekly rate, with 30s. as a maximum, during incapacity. A man who lost, say, the index finger of his right hand would be seriously inconvenienced for the rest of his life; but after the injury had healed in a few weeks, he would still be capable of doing a seaman’s work, so compensation - payments would cease. Under the amendment proposed he would be entitled to a lump sum payment of £150. On the other hand, a man who lost a foot, though quite capable of engaging without handicap in many other avocations, would be incapable of returning to his former position as a deck or stokehold hand on board ship. The employer would, accordingly, be liable to pay him, so long as he lived, the difference between the amount of his average weekly earnings before the accident and the average weekly amount which he is earning, or is able to earn after the accident, in some other employment or business suitable to his incapacitated condition. If he were so incapacitated as to be unable to take up any other form of employment, he would receive, in the aggregate, if he lived another 25 or 30 years, and the weekly payments continued, three and four times as much as the widow and family of a seaman killed on the job. In neither case is the result equitable. A man deprived of the index finger of his right hand does not get sufficient, while the man who loses a foot gets too much. lt is true that under paragraph 18 of the first schedule, the liability of the employer for weekly payments may be redeemed by a lump sum payment (a) equal to that which- would purchase an immediate life annuity for the seaman equal to 75 per cent, of the annual value of the weekly payments under the act, or (fc) settled by arbitration under the act, or (c) fixed by a county court, or (d) arrived at by agreement between the parties. In practice, during the last 27 years, the lastmentioned method only has been used. The defect of the method is that no standards are prescribed by which the amount of a lump sum may be fixed as being commensurate with the degree of incapacity of the seaman, for general usefulness, arising from the particular injury suf fered. The consequence is that an energetic man desiring to secure capital for, say, a small business, will often accept a relatively small amount, while another content to live in idleness on the weekly allowance will not agree to any reasonable lump sum payment. The new provision proposed will remedy this. The third schedule specifies the amount of the lump sum payable in respect of any of the injuries listed. The amount for the loss of both eyes, or hands or feet, or of a hand and a foot, or of mental powers, or total paralysis of limbs, is the same as the maximum amount payable in the case of death, viz., £750. For the loss of the sight of one eye the proportion has been fixed at 50 per cent., equivalent to £375, and so on for various permanent injuries, down to the loss of a joint of a finger or a joint of a toe for which the proportions are 12 per cent, and 10 per cent., equal to £90 and £75 respectively. The relativity of the proportions to the injuries is not new or arbitrary, but is based on that observed in the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act, which in turn follows generally the proportions set out in the earlier State acts. In the fixing of the proportions originally, regard was paid, it is understood, to the degree of disability to which the average worker would be subject in obtaining employment, in any general community. Another important provision of the bill is the payment of a weekly allowance, where total incapacity for work results from the injury, of 7s. 6d. a week in respect of each dependent child of the seaman under fourteen’ years of age, with the proviso that the total amount payable shall not exceed the seaman’s average weekly earnings. The Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act and every State Compensation Act, except that of Tasmania, provide for weekly allowances in respect of dependent children. Provision for the payment of hospital and medical expenses is made in the Navigation Act and also in the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act, but no corresponding provision is made in the Seamen’s Compensation Act. It is considered reasonable that an injured seaman, or in the event of death resulting from the injury, his dependants, shouldnotberequired’paythese expenses, and provisionhasaccordingly, beenmadeinthebillthepaymentof hospitaland medicals expenses ‘upto a maximum of£25.
InArbitrationCourt ‘award ‘made’ in, , 1928 withrespect to wages, and con-1 ditions . of employment of members ‘ of the Merchant, Service’ Guild of Australasia, which ‘comprises masters,’ officers and certainengineers, it, was, provided that compensation should not be payable if the employee concerned’ were entitled to receive compensation under any Federal or State act. This had the effect of excluding masters and officers on interstate vessels from the provisions of the award relative to compensation, as the Seamen’s Compensation Act applies to masters and officers equally with deck and stokehold ratings. In actual practice, however, it is understood that, as the award provisions with respect to compensation are more favorable than those under the Seamen’s Compensation Act, shipowners have, as a matter of course, paid compensation in accordance with the provisions of the award. Masters and many officers employed on intra-state vessels enjoy the benefits of the award, by reason of the fact that the Workers’ Compensation Acts of the various -States limit compensation payable under those acts to employees whose annual remuneration is less than certain stipulated amounts. These amounts range from £550 in New South Wales to £312 in Tasmania. Under the award dependants of a master or officer whose death resulted from an injury in the course of his employment, would receive a sum equal to three years’ earnings of the employee, or about £2,100 in the case of a master. Under the existing Seamen’s Compensation Act the amount payable in the event of death is £500 and the bill provides for this maximum to be increased to £750. To overcome this anomaly the bill excludes masters and deck and engineer officers from the provisions of theSeamen’s Compensation Act so that they, or their dependants, may receive the better conditions provided by their respective awards. The masters themselves have asked that this be done. The existing act is defective also in that no provision is made therein for compen sation in., respect ; ofoccupational or industrialdiseases.. It . is, iproposed. . to- remedythisdefect.
Theremainingamendments proposed to bemadeby the’ bill’are either con- sequentialonthosereferred to; are machineryincharacter; or cover minor administrativechanges found necessary ordesirablein the light of experience in the administration of the act. These amendments will be explained in detail if necessary, in committee. The whole object of the bill, as already explained, is to improve the position of seamen with respect to compensation for injury arising out of, or in the course of, their employment. The amendments to the Seamen’s Compensation Act are overdue and it is desired, if possible, to pass the bill during the current sittings of Parliament.
Debate (on motion by Senator Collings ) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator A. j. McLach- lan) agreed to -
That the remaining orders of the day be postponed until after the further consideration of the motion moved by Senator Wilson- “ That Statutory Rules 1938, Nos. 65 and 86, amending the Customs (Prohibited Exports) Regulations, be disallowed “.
Debate resumed from page 967.
– I understand on the best authority that the Ashworth report is entirely unacceptable as a basis of discussion with regard to the existence or non-existence of iron ore bodies in Australia. From interna] evidence, it does not indicate a critical examination of the deposits. Official investigations show that the quantities are greatly exaggerated.
Reverting to the deposits at Iron Knob, a thorough examination of this area has been made, and has revealed an exceptionally large amount of barren rock: As a result, the expectation of large quantities of iron ore from this area willnotbe realized. I shall say , nomore with regard to . thesedeposits.What I claim is that the Government received a warning which could not go unheeded if the best interests of the country, its safety, and its, future . development, were to be preserved. , Honorable senators must decide for themselves and on their consciences what they would have done in such circumstances; whether they would have taken all precautions to safeguard the future of Australia while a thorough examination was being made of the iron ore resources of the. nation. Surely it is much better that a thorough survey of the position should be made now rather than later after we had discovered that we could notafford the iron ore we had exported. I put it to honorable senators that it is; not likely that the Government, whose Leader and Deputy Leader voiced the.sentiments read to the Senate this morning by Senator Wilson, would, to the prejudice of peace and friendly relations with other nations, have taken the stepswhich , ‘it”has taken, unless it were abundantlyproved that therewould be a danger to Australia if the export of iron ore continued. I ask honorable, senators , : to reject this motion, be- cause; the,Government,in imposing the embargo, has acted within the law, and because also the restriction is in the best interests of the security and future development of Australia.
– I do not propose at this stage to discuss the.merits or demerits of the case started bySenator Wilson, and subsequently replied to by the Leader of the Senate (Senator A. J. McLachlan). Either Senator Wilson realized that he had a bad case, or he made an exceptionally poor job of what he apparently considered a good case. Obviously, the honorable senator is of the opinion that there is nothing in our White Australia policy; that we must allow the manufactured goods of other countries to come into Australia for fear of incurring displcasure if we do not, in which case we might as well allow the underpaid workers of other countries to come here also.Irepeat that Senator Wilson put up avery poor case.
– He did his best.
– Probably he did; but I submit that many others on his side of the chamber could have done much better.
I wish to move an amendment to the motion. I do so largely as the result of the very eloquent speech made by the Leader of the Senate, who convinced me that such wealth as Australia possesses in iron ore should be preserved, even to the last ton, for the use of this nation. I agree with the concluding remarks of the honorable gentleman that, for the sake of our future development and safety, this wealth should be retained for the nation. Therefore, I move, with a great deal of anticipatory pleasure, because of the support whichI feel sure I shall receive -
That all the words after “that” be left out With a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words : - “ the Commonwealth Government be instructed to co-operate with the State governments in securing control of all the undeveloped iron ore deposits in Australia, and that action be taken to ascertain definitely the amount of iron ore resources available within the Commonwealth with a view to their early development in the interests of Australia.
– I have studied carefully the terms of the amendment moved by Senator Collings, and have come to the conclusion that it is not relevant. It seeks to eliminate practically the whole of the motion and insert something entirely different. The Senate is entitled to have an opportunity to express a straight-out opinion as to whether these rules should be allowed or disallowed. Senator Wilson’s motion was this morning given precedence of all other business, for this express purpose. If the amendment be allowed, the Leader of the Opposition will be getting an advantage which could not otherwise have been given to him under the Standing Orders. I consider that the amendment would be perfectly in order as a motion upon notice; in its present terms, I rule it out of order.
– I regret very much that you, sir, have given that ruling. In my opinion, it is wrong. Honorable senators opposite may laugh at my submission. As Leader of the Opposition in this chamber, I see no occasion for levity when considering a subject which I believe to be of vital importance. I contend that your ruling, Mr. President, is wrong, both under our own Standing Orders and according to an older, wider and more generally recognized authority. There is no need for heat to be imported into this discussion, at this stage at any rate. I refer honorable senators to Standing Order No. 137, which, in my opinion, leaves no room for any doubt. It reads -
A question having been proposed may be amended -
By leaving out certain words only;
By leaving out certain words in order to insert or add other words;
By inserting or adding words.
I am sure, sir, that you have given your ruling conscientiouslyand in accordance with what you consider to be the merits of the case. I point out, however, that the ruling is based on false premises. My amendment will not take away from the Senate its opportunity to vote on Senator Wilson’s motion. Under the Standing Orders, a volte on that motion may still be taken, even though my amendment be permitted. I submit that the position is analogous to the motion by a Minister for the second reading of a bill. On such a motion, it is competent for any honorable senator to move an amendment to leave out certain words with a view to insert other words. I claim the same right to move this amendment that certain words be omitted from the motion, which does not differ in essentials from any other motion moved in this chamber. In every case, a senator has the right to move an amendment to a motion and to have a vote taken on it. You, sir, have said that the carrying of my amendment would prevent the taking of a vote on Senator Wilson’s motion, but that would be no more than an amendment to any other motion might do. Senator Wilson’s right to have a vote taken on his motion does not imply that I am not entitled to submit an amendment. Let us consider what May has to say on this matter. I submit, Mr. President, that his exposition is as correct as your ruling is, in my opinion, incorrect. At page 270, 10th edition, May states -
The general practice in regard to amendments is explained on page 275; but here such amendments only will be mentioned as are intended to evade an expression of opinion upon the main question, by entirely altering its meaning “and object. This is effected by moving the omission of all the words of the question after the word “ that “ at the beginning, and. by the substitution of other words of a different import. If this amendment be agreed to by the House, it is clear that no opinion is expressed directly upon the main question, because it is determined that the original words “shall not stand part of the question;” and the sense of the House is afterwards taken directly upon the substituted words, or practically upon a new question. There are many precedents of this mode of dealing with a question: but the best known in parliamentary history are those relating to Mr. Pitt’s administration, and the Peace of Amiens, in 1802. On the 7th May, 1802, a motion was made in the Commons for. an address, “ expressing the thanks of this House to His Majesty for having been pleased to remove theRight Honorable W. Pitt from his councils:” upon which an amendment was proposed and carried, which left out all the words after the first, and substituted others in direct opposition to them, by which the whole policy of Mr. Pitt was commended. Immediately afterwards an address was moved in both Houses of Parliament, condemning the Treaty of Amiens, in a long statement of facts and arguments; and in each House an amendment was substituted,whereby an address was resolved upon which justified the treaty.
That is a very definite statement. I do not wish to deprive Senator Wilson of any right. I either win or lose on my amendment. I move -
That the ruling of the President to the effect that the amendment moved by me on the question before the Senate is out of order is dissented from.
– As the Leader of the Opposition had taken exception to my ruling, the Senate must now decide, without debate, whether the motion of dissent shall be dealt with immediately or adjourned to another day.
Motion (by Senator A. J. McLachlan ) agreed to -
That the question of dissent requires immediate determination.
– The quotation which I was making from May proceeds -
This practice has often been objected to as unfair; but the objection is unfounded, as the weaker party must always anticipate defeat, in one form or another. If no amendment be moved, the majority can negative the ques- lion itself, and affirm another in opposition tothe opinions of the minority. On the very occasion already mentioned of the 7th Hay, 1802, after the address of thanks for the removal of Mr. Pitt had been defeated by an amendment, a distinct question was proposed and carried by the victorious party, “ That the Right Honorable W. Pitt has rendered great and important services to his country, and especially deserves the gratitude of this House.” Thus, if no amendment had been -moved, the position of Mr. Pitt’s opponents would have been but little improved, as the majority could have affirmed or denied whatever they pleased. It is in debate alone that a minority can hope to compete with a majority. The forms of the House can ultimately assist neither party ; but, so far as they offer any intermediate advantage, the minority have the greatest protection in forms, while the majority are met by obstructions to the exercise of their will.
In Chapter X., May further states -
The object of an amendment may be to effect such an alteration in a question as will obtain the support of those who, without such alteration, must either vote against it or abstain from voting thereon, or to present to the House an alternative proposition, cither wholly or partially opposed to the original question. This may be effected by moving to omit all the words of the question after the first word, “ That “, and to substitute in their place other words of a different import, (see page 270). In that case the debate that follows is not restricted to the amendment, but includes the motive of the amendment and of the motion, both matters being under the consideration of the House as alternative propositions. If the amendment be to leave out or to add words only, debate should be restricted to the desirability of the omission or the addition of those words.
I regret having had occasion to move dissent from your ruling, Mr. President, but in view of the statements which. I have quoted from May how can it be said that my amendment would deprive Senator “Wilson of any right in regard to his motion?
– The Leader of the Opposition, in submitting his amendment, has taken up an untenable position. Standing Order 66a which lays down the practice for motions for the disallowance of regulations and ordinances, specifically gives precedence to such motions. Whilst the Leader of the Opposition may be right in saying that his amendment does not interfere with Senator Wilson’s rights in this matter, the Leader of the Opposition would, if his amendment were agreed to, be in a position which no other honorable senator could attain regarding a matter of Government policy. The honorable senator may not be depriving Senator Wilson of any right, but he has moved an amendment which would secure for himself precedence in regard to a substantive matter.
– We have that right on every bill that comes before the Senate.
– The Standing Order to which I have referred is a special provision, and I challenge the honorable senator to point to any similar British standing order under which special privileges are given to a member who desires to move for the disallowance of ordinances or regulations.
– I am relying on Standing Order 137.
– The honorable senator is erecting his edifice on foundations of sand. Although he may not be encroaching on Senator Wilson’s rights, he is seeking to give himself, a precedence over other members of the Senate which the Standing Orders do not contemplate. Then the Leader of the Opposition quotes Standing Order 137, which must be read in conjunction with Standing Order 139, which reads : -
Every amendment must be relevant to the question to which it is proposed to be made.
What relevancy has the motion of the honorable senator to the disallowance of regulations designed to prevent the export of iron ore? The issue between the supporters of Senator Wilson’s motion and those who oppose it is simply whether or not certain regulations shall be disallowed. The making of a survey of the iron ore deposits of Australia is not relevant to that issue.
– May says that there is no need for the amendment to be relevant.
– Under Standing Order 137 it is competent for an honorable senator to move amendments, but those amendments must, by virtue of Standing Order 139, be relevant to the question to which they are proposed to be made. The only thing we have to decide is whether or not we shall disallow the regulations.
– May only applies where the Standing Orders of the Senate do not make specific provision.
– I have complied strictly with Standing Order 137, which enables an honorable senator to do certain things.
– It is true that a question, having been proposed, may be amended, but every amendment must be relevant to the question which it proposes to amend. I ask the Senate to uphold the President’s ruling.
– No honorable senator can point to any Standing Order of the Senate in support of the contention that my amendment is out of order.
– What about Standing Order 139?
– That Standing Order reads -
Every amendment must be relative to the question to which it is proposed to be made.
The motion made by Senator Wilson was that certain regulations be disallowed. Those regulations relate to the export of iron ore from Australia. My amendment proposes not only that iron ore shall not be exported from Australia, but also that it shall be retained by the Commonwealth Government, which shall take control of it and prevent any other person, either in or without the Commonwealth, from’ exploiting it. The Leader of the Senate contends that my motion is not relevant. My amendment, like the motion of Senator Wilson, dealt with iron ore, not Christmas puddings. It is strange that whenever an honorable senator on this side seeks to do his duty to the taxpayers, there is an immediate rush on the part of honorable senators opposite to quote standing orders, which, allegedly, are applicable to the situation. I rely entirely on Standing Order 137, which is expressed in plain language and leaves no room for equivocation. I merely ask that that standing order shall be enforced.
– What about Standing Order 66?
– I have studied Standing Orders 66 and 139. Only by the devious methods peculiar to the legal mind can anything be read into them to upset my case. I rely on Standing Order 137 and claim the support of the Senate. That standing order does not say “ some “ questions, but “ a “ question. I shall read it again -
A question having been proposed may bo amended -
by leaving out certain words only;
by leaving out certain words in order to insert or add other words;
by inserting or adding words.
I have moved -
That all the wordsafter “ that “ be left out.
So far I have complied strictly with the standing order -
With a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words :
There is still strict compliance with the standing order - the Commonwealth Government be instructed to co-operate with the State Governments in securing control of all undeveloped iron ore deposits in Australia, and that action be taken to ascertain definitely the amount of iron ore resources available within the Commonwealth with a view to their early development in the interests of Australia.
It will be seen that in no respect have I departed from the standing order. I conclude by saying that my amendment is the action of a patriotic Australian who calls on every other patriotic Australian in this chamber to support him.
Question put -
That the ruling be dissented from.
The Senate divided. (President - Senator the Hon. J. B. Hayes.)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I propose nOw to deal briefly with the motion moved by Senator Wilson. I am not generally prone to say, “ I told you so “, but I was astounded during the debate this morning to hear the Leader of the Senate (Senator A. T. McLachlan) allege that the Government knew all along of everything that was going on in connexion with the export of iron ore from Yampi. Tor the last two and a half years, in season and out of season, I have bombarded the Leader of the Senate with questions as to the wisdom of allowing such exports. I was told repeatedly that the Government knew nothing about the notation of any company, and that it had no idea of any proposal to export iron ore from Yampi to a particular country. On one occasion I endeavoured to bring the Government up to the barrier by asking a question somewhat in the following form, “Does the Government believe in the oft-repeated statement in this chamber that a certain country is a potential enemy of Australia? If it does, does it believe in this policy?” The answer given to that question was to the effect that, if I persisted in asking a question in that way it would not be answered, because I had no- right to suggest that any country was a potential enemy of Australia. I immediately altered the form. of my question. in order to comply with the suggestion that I should not talk about potential enemies. What happened in this matter was that an English company, known as Brasserts, was’ formed. I knew when it was formed that the proposal was to. finance the company with English capital and to export iron ore mined at Yampi to a foreign country.- - 1 had certain reasons for contending that that should not he allowed, but no notice was taken of my representations. I was astounded, therefore, when I heard the Leader of the Senate admit this morning that the Government knew what . was going on, but did not take action because it believed we had inexhaustible resources of iron ore in Australia. I am not blaming the Government for its decision, which was made, so we are told, when it discovered that previous estimates of those resources were exaggerations; but I emphasize that its action in this matter is on all fours with every major action which it has taken during its term of office. Possibly, because it is a composite government, it has displayed such muddling and incapacity. What happened at Yampi? After companies had been allowed to obtain an interest in the deposits and conditions for the employment of labour atYampi had been laid down, and the prospects appeared bright for the development of that part of north-west Australia, this Government-, in pursuance of its muddling policy and because of its utter failure to have a planned economy in regard to any matter of major importance, put all the fat in the fire by taking no notice whatever of other people’s rights in a proposition in which it had allowed them to become involved. Honorable senators on this side who come from Western Australia are more closely acquainted with’ this matter than I am, and I propose to leave it to them to deal with. As they have a perfect right to do, they will state the case from the point of view of Western Australia. In moving the amendment which has just been defeated - not ignominously, I suggest - I endeavoured to strike what I believed to be a genuine note of Australian patriotism. I wanted to get the Government out of a hole, and I suggest, even now, that if it continues this embargo it must, without delay, consult with all the interests involved, including the company and the workmen, and others involved in any way whatever, with a view to arriving at some decent settlement regarding the payment of compensation to those interests.
– Very few matters which have arisen during recent years have caused more annoyance and concern to the people of Western Australia than the action of the Government in imposing an embargo on the export of iron ore. It is causing very serious concern to the people of that State, and the Labour Government which controls it. I should like to compare the attitude of that Government with the attitude adopted by the Leader of the Opposition in this debate. In that respect, I entirely agree with the Labour Government of Western Australia which has represented the views of the great majority of the people of that State in opposing the imposition of thisembargo. I have here a copy of a speech, consisting of eighteen pages, and embodying sound common sense, made by the Labour Premier of Western Australia, Mr. Willcock, who was supported in this matter by all parties in the Legislative Assembly of Western Australia.
– But not supported by the Legislative Council.
– This matter has not yet been decided by that body. In any case, in a matter of this kind I should certainly accept the consensus of opinion among all parties in the Legislative Assembly as being far more representative of the views of the people of that State than the opinion of members of the Upper House.
– Only three out of 50 members in the Legislative Assembly spoke on thatmotion.
– The motion submitted by Mr. Willcock in connexion with this matter on the 30th August last was carried practically unanimously, and that decision,I suggest, represents democratic thought in that State. Mr. Willcock’s resolution was -
This Parliament of Western Australia emphatically protests against the embargo placed by the Commonwealth Government on the export of iron ore from Australia, in view of its disastrous effect upon the development of this State. We consider that the information available does not warrant such drastic action, and we urge the Commonwealth Government to remove the embargo.
I urge the political colleagues of Mr. Willcock in this chamber to assist him to have this embargo removed by supporting the motion moved by Senator Wilson.
In reference to a remark made by the Leader of the Opposition concerning the maintenance of tie White Australia principle, I point out that the Labour Government of Western Australia and all political parties in that State are not less solicitous for that principle than are honorable senators opposite. Every guarantee has been provided in the leasing of these deposits to safeguard it. If the Yampi Sound deposits are ever worked, the mining laws of Western Australia ensure that no Asiatics will be employed there.
SenatorFraser. - That provision is embodied in all of the contracts.
– Yes, the White Australia principle has been safeguarded in every stage of the negotiations which have taken place between successive governments in Western Australia and various companies for the working of the deposits at Yampi Sound.
– How is that principle protected?
– By reason of the fact that if Asiatics be employed on any lease it will be liable to forfeiture. I do not propose to traverse the whole of Mr. Willcock’s speech, but I shall point out some of the losses which he indicated Western Australia would suffer through the imposition of this embargo. On the basis of the Yampi Sound company’s request to be allowed to export only 1,000,000 tons of ore annually for the very limited period of fifteen years, a proposal which was recommended to the Commonwealth Government by the Government of Western Australia, Mr. Wilcock estimated these losses as follows : - Royalties, £250,000; wages which would have been paid to Western Australian workers, reckoned for 200 men at an average of £6 10s. a week, both of which figures, I suggest, would have been increased, £1,000,000; purchases of mining stores, &c, £50,000; expenditure involved in handling, 120 ships annually, £90,000; harbour and light dues payable in respect of such ships, £60,000. I hope that the Commonwealth Government will, in respect of these losses, adequately compensate, not only the Government of Western Australia, but also the people of that State. The imposition of this embargo has prevented the establishment of a very promising industry. In addition to the losses I have already indicated, dividend duty would have been payable on the profits which the company would have made. These losses, and other indirect losses, represent a severe ‘blow to the State of Western Australia. Furthermore, I point out that through the export of iron ore from Yampi Sound, the primary producers in the north-west hoped to establish a trade in cattle with Japan. It was planned to export cattle on a line of steamers plying directly between Yampi, Derby and Japan. As these producers are finding it difficult to secure markets for their cattle the imposition of this embargo has hit them severely. Furthermore, producers in the south of the State also had hopes of participating in this trade with the Far East, by shipping their products on the State vessels to Yampi Sound to connect with the direct shipping line to Japan. I strongly oppose the continuance of this embargo which has deprived Western Australia of a promising export trade, the establishment of which is vital to the development of the isolated parts of the far north of Australia.
– Australia’s requirements do not appear to worry the honorable senator.
– They do. The Minister should not make such a suggestion. On the eve of the last general election a definite ministerial assurance was given by this Government that our supplies of iron ore are entirely adequate. Mr. Montgomery, who was State Mining Engineer in Western Australia, submitted a very informative report on this subject ; but, unfortunately, I handed my copy of his report to the Prime Minister when a deputation waited upon him some time ago. Mr. Montgomery estimated that there are 97,000,000 tons of iron ore in sight, and that that quantity can be multiplied one hundredfold if the probable underground reserves are taken into consideration.
– His figures have been proved to be wrong.
– No. At the deputation to which I have referred the Prime Minister asked if the quantity in sight could be multiplied one hundredfold or by 100 per cent., and I informed him that Mr. Montgomery had said that they could be multiplied one hundredfold.
– Mr. Montgomery has not yet been shown to be wrong.
– I am sure that when further investigation has been made he will be found to have been right. The Premier of Western Australia stated -
The official estimate of a former State mining engineer, the late Mr. A. Montgomery, was that at Yampi there are 97,000,000 tons, and that that total could be multiplied manifold if the probable underground resources are taken into consideration.
– He referred to the “ probable “ underground resources.
– Yes, but it is just as reasonable to assume that such resources are there, as it is to assume that they are not. Mr. Montgomery was an expert and a cautious Scotsman. The embargo on the export of iron ore, which is particularly injurious to Western Australia, does not affect the eastern States to the same extent. The imposition of the embargo has not resulted in closing down the operations at Iron Knob, or the industry at Whyalla, but it has retarded development at Yampi Sound almost indefinitely. The Government imposed the embargo before ascertaining whether it is or is not justifiable.
– The Government obtained full reports on the subject before action was taken.
– The Government should have made a fuller investigation.
– It did ; the PostmasterGeneral cited at least half a dozen reports in which the embargo is favoured.
– The Government should have allowed exports to continue, and even if an investigation proceeded for two years, not more than 2,000,000 tons of iron ore would have been exported during the time the investigation was being made. The action of the Government has resulted in dislocation and desolation at Yampi Sound.
– Others do not hold that view.
– I was in Derby for two and a half days at the end of August, when Mr. Willcock delivered the speech from which I have quoted, and strong representations were made to the Minister for the Interior to permit the Yampi Sound works to re-open. It was pointed out that the effect of the embargo had not yet been fully felt, because the Government was employing men who had been engaged at Yampi Sound before the embargo was imposed, to carry out investigations on its behalf. The people in the locality state that before the embargo was imposed they had a new outlook, but that the prospects of successful development of Yampi Sound were now remote.
– The honorable senator should read the speech of Mr. Holmes.
– I have read it, and also what Mr. G. W. Miles said in reply. Both gentlemen represent the northern portion of Western Australia in” the Parliament of that State. If it should be ascertained, say within a couple of years, that we have more iron ore in Australia than we require, those engaged in the iron smelting industries in the eastern States will be able to resume export, but the operations at Yampi Sound will probably have been bought out or frozen out before the investigation has been completed. Those engaged in the industry in the eastern States will thus have secured a monopoly of the export of iron ore. The embargo affects Western Australia more particularly because it relates solely to iron ore. Unfortunately Western Australia has no smelting works similar to those operating in the eastern States which can continue to export iron in a manufactured form to the Far East, New Zealand, or anywhere where markets are available.
– What does the honorable senator mean by the Far East?
– Did not the honorable senator hear the PostmasterGeneral say that pig iron cannot be exported to Japan?
– There is nothing to prevent that commodity from being exported to that country if a market is available. I know that there has been some argument in favour of exporting partly manufactured iron such as pig iron to other countries, because of the work which its manufacture provides in the Commonwealth; but if our iron ore reserves are in the state which the Minister suggests, surely it is essential to prohibit the exportation of pig iron. It seems inconsistent that there should not be any restriction on the export of scrap steel used by many of our small industries. For instance, a small factory at Bassendean, in Western Australia, using scrap iron, has difficulty in getting supplies. The Prime Minister visited the waterfront in Sydney and practically compelled the wharf labourers, under threat of introducing the licensing system, to handle scrap steel and scrap iron for export, while an embargo on the export of iron ore was in operation. The Government, while dealing a severe blow at this new industry in Western Australia, has refrained from interfering with manufacturers in the eastern States who are exporting manufactured iron in various forms. Had this industry been allowed to develop, additional employment would have been provided in the north-west, and in that way greater protection would have been afforded to an isolated and vulnerable part of the continent. I listened very carefully to tlie speech of the Minister, who failed utterly to justify the embargo. If there are reasons for its imposition, other than those that have been disclosed, we should be told; but I do not think that that is the case. On the 22nd June, 1937, the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Drakeford) submitted a series of questions concerning the iron ore deposits at Yampi Sound, and in reply the Minister for Commerce (Sir Earle Page) said -
Messrs. H. A. Brassert and Company Limited is registered in London. The leaseholders, Messrs. H. A. Brassert and Company Limited, have entered into an agreement -with the Nippon Mining Company of Tokyo, Japan, under which the latter company will provide approximately £300,000 by way of loan to an operating company to be formed for the purpose of working the deposits on the understanding that the Nippon Mining Company will take the whole of the output.
For some time we have known the destination of the ore from Yampi. The Minister for Commerce continued -
The iron ore will be shipped to Japan.
That is most important. The answers also disclose the fact that as far back as 1935 the Commonwealth got in touch with the British Government on the subject and the British Government said that it had no objection to the export of iron ore because it was not required for Empire purposes. It also said that interference with its export to Japan would be undesirable. In this connexion, Sir Earle Page said -
At the end of 1935, when tho project first came under notice, the United Kingdom authorities were consulted through the High Commissioner in regard to the desirability of reserving these deposits for Empire purposes and advice was furnished to the following effect-
In 1935, before giving tacit approval to the company to proceed with its work, the Commonwealth Government communicated with the British Government to ascertain whether iron ore was required by Great Britain and whether it had any objection to its export to a foreign country. Sir Earle Page said, further, that the advice furnished by the British authorities was as follows: -
In effect, that means that although in its present state the Yampi Sound iron ore deposit would be of little value to the Empire, if works were established there, the area would be readily available in an emergency -
Sir Earle Page concluded by stating that at this stage the British authorities had no objection to iron ore being exported to Japan. _ On the contrary, they encouraged the proposal. That was then the considered opinion of the British Government. If there has been a change of attitude - there certainly had not been a change up to June, 1937, when these answers were given - we are entitled to know the reason. It must have taken place in the last fifteen months.
– Why did this Government change its attitude?
– The Leader of the Senate has told us. I do not think the reasons given were sufficient justification for such drastic action. Sir Earle Page also said -
A survey is now being made by the Commonwealth Government in conjunction with the States, of the iron ore resources, and the position will be further reviewed when this survey is completed.
If the Government has now any other reasons, the Senate is entitled to know what they are, particularly in view of the statement made in the House of Representatives only fifteen months ago.
By the imposition of this embargo a proposal to establish an important Western Australian industry has been strangled at its birth. It is not surprising that, from time to time, there is a strong feeling in Western Australia against interference from Canberra with efforts to promote development in that State. Opposition to the embargo has been expressed in almost every section of the press in Western Australia. I have taken the following from a leading article in the West Australian, of the 20th May last:-
Yampi’s head has fallen. After months of indecision, during which the Yampi Sound Alining Company, acting in good faith, has spent a considerable sum in preliminary development, the Federal Government has at last determined to impose an absolute embargo on the export of iron ore from Australia for commercial purposes. South Australia, under this decision, will lose a relatively small existing export trade. Western Australia will lose the prospects of a very large trade not only in iron ore, but in various other commodities, principally cattle on the hoof for which Japan offers an expanding market. It is impossible to set a figure to the sacrifice that has been imposed on this State, but we have certainly lost for a very long time the advantages which might be expected to flow from direct trade contact with a populous and powerful neighbour. The State shipping service has been deprived of benefits which it might reasonably anticipate from the establishment of a new and relatively large population north of Derby. The West Kimberley cattle industry has been robbed of the expectation of a now deep-water port upon which hinges the commercial practicability of establishing chilling works. Regarded from the purely West Australian standpoint the export embargo on iron ore is possibly the most calamitous single act of any federal administration.
As is suggested in this newspaper, the embargo on iron ore has done more harm to industry in the northern part of Western Australia than has any other Commonwealth action.
I listened with interest to the Leader of the Senate (Senator A. J. McLachlan) yesterday, and also to Sir Earle Page in the House of Representatives, advocating a new development and defence policy involving the decentralization of industry. We were told that new industries giving employment to hundreds of Australian workers are to be established in the remote parts of Australia. I quite approve of this proposal. Hew factories are to be built outside the congested cities on the eastern seaboard. Whilst I approve whole-heartedly of that policy, I find it hard to reconcile it with the action of the Government in imposing an embargo on the export of iron ore and thus destroying a new decentralized industry at Yampi Sound. That industry would have been established without any assistance or encouragement from the Commonwealth Government and would have given employment to at least 200 men who, with their dependants, would have formed the nucleus of a town. The Premier of Western Australia is desirous of having the restriction removed and members of that gentleman’s party in this Senate have the power to see that his wishes are carried out. I appeal to honorable senators, before it is too late, to follow the advice given by Mr. Wilcock.
– Honorable senators will have to speak for themselves.
– I am convinced not only that honorable senators will speak for themselves, but also that, in this matter, SenatorFraser will act very wisely by supporting the motion. I protest against this embargo, which I might describe as a “ Canberra blight,” spreading out to wither up and destroy this proposed new industry at Yampi.
– The embargo was imposed by the Government which the honorable senator supports.
– I always support the Government when it is right. ‘ I do not intend to support it when, as in this case, it is entirely wrong. The Government of Western Australia is to be warmly congratulated on its efforts to promote the development of Yampi Sound where, under State mining laws, only white well-paid labour can be employed. The people of Western Australia feel that this regulation represents a flagrant act of discrimination against a new and valuable industry which would provide employment in that State.
SenatorFoll. - How can it be a discrimination when it applies to all States ?
– It is unfair discrimination, because, in Western Australia, unlike the eastern States, there are no smelting works. Western Australia is therefore unable to export iron ore, but the eastern States can export pig iron. If the regulation is not disallowed, compensation should be paid to Western Australia in the form of a State grant, also to the State shipping service for loss of trade and to primary producers whose interests will be so adversely affected. As the injury which Western Australia will suffer under this embargo appears to be permanent, compensation should also be on a permanent basis. The Government of Western Australia does not, however, seek compensation primarily; its desire is to ensure industrial development and an increase of population.
I commend Senator Wilson for having moved his motion in such comprehensive terms, and I congratulate him on his national outlook. I shall support the motion.
– I intend to support the motion submitted by Senator Wilson. The Government should not have allowed negotiations for the development of the Yampi Sound deposits to continue right up to the time when the ban was placed on the export of iron ore. It has been repeatedly emphasized in this chamber that the embargo has penalized one State heavily. Irrespective of the fate of the motion, the action of the Government in prohibiting the export of iron ore will effectively prevent the resurrection of the industry at Yampi Sound for many years. People who subscribed capital for investment in the venture have received such a rebuff that they will not again be inclined to subscribe capital for investment in a country which has treated them so badly.
– If the amendment were carried, they would not have the chance.
– I shall deal with that aspect later. I should like to know what the Commonwealth Government proposes to do, but it is apparent that the Ministers have made up their minds. The motion will not be carried, so the embargo will be retained, irrespective of any logical arguments that may be used to show why it should be removed.
– It depends on how the honorable senator’s party votes.
– That does not come very well from the honorable senator, because, after all, he is a. member of a party represented in this chamber. Prior to coming here, he received the hall-mark of his party for the purpose of facing the electors. I advise him to look to his own party for support in any matter which he deems it necessary to bring before the Senate. Although the honorable senator referred to freedom to-day, he is as truly a member of the party opposite as I am a member of the Labour party. When vital issues are decided, we shall find Senator Wilson and Senator Johnston voting on the side of the Government to save it from indignity and defeat.
Whatever the outcome of this motion may be, it will not assist in the future development of the Yampi Sound deposits, because the possibility of attracting capital for that work has been eliminatedby an administrative act of the present Government. People will not readily subscribe capital for a venture which is not looked upon with favour by the Commonwealth Government.
– Why not conscript capital for this purpose?
– No doubt the honorable senator will take us into his confidence in that regard.For many years it has been the ambition of many Western Australians to have effect given by legislation or administration to a plan of development on the north-west coast of the State from which I come which would make possible the satisfactory settlement of that sparsely-populated area. The recent development of the Yampi Sound iron ore deposits was regarded as an excellent opportunity to achieve the desired end. There are huge areas of pastoral land along that coast, but, in the past, pioneering pastoralists have had to leave the district because of their inability to find markets for their products. The mineral possibilities of the north-western portion of Western Australia are considerable, and we had visualized increased development of mining activities in that area;but our hopes have been crushed for the time being, as the result of the action of the Commonwealth Government. In South Australia, the iron ore industry has been carried on successfully for a long time, and large quantities of iron ore have been exported. The present embargo precludes the further exportation of ore from Yampi Sound, but the exportation of iron ore products from South Australia is still permitted. Why has no action been taken to prevent the exportation of those products from South Australia?
Having regard to the limited possibilities of development in Australia, we are faced with an extraordinary feature in connexion with the latest information presented to this chamber. We are now told that the supply of iron ore throughout Australasia is limited. Through what channels has that information been made available? What additional research work has been conducted by the Government? Dr. Woolnough reported that he had not personally inspected the Yampi Sound deposits until the ban was placed on the export of ore. When he did make an inspection there, he, like all other experts, only took into account the tonnage of ore estimated to he available above highwater mark, which had been computed by the mining engineer of Western Australia, the late Mr. Montgomery, at 97,000,000 tons. The company which hasbeen operating at Yampi Sound, and has been forced to relinquish its activities, put down a bore that cost £10,000. It is estimated that even a preliminary survey of the deposits of iron ore throughout Australia would cost £500,000. We are led to believe that investigations made in the other States consisted merely of a surface survey by the gentlemen who submitted reports. No full investigation has been made, and no information has come to hand other than that which was available when it was agreed to allow the company to begin operations at Yampi Sound. It is hard to believe that this change of front should take place so suddenly as the result of either a report or a conversation between Dr. Woolnough and the Minister for the Interior. I claim that Western Australia has not had a fair deal. It merely asks for justice. The possibilities of development in the north-west of Western Australia are enormous, for that area carries every mineral known to science. Apart from the iron ore deposits, there are huge pastoral areas and a good harbour, but this opportunity for development has been snatched from Western Australia. Senator McBride said that if the amendment submitted by the Leader of the Opposition were carried there could be no development in that part of Western Australia.
– I said that there could be no ban on the export of iron ore.
– Senator Collings asked that the Commonwealth and State authorities should co-operate for the purpose of bringing about the development of the ore deposits at Yampi. Is that not what we are all concerned about? I shall support this motion, but, irrespective of the result of the vote, the possibility of the introduction of additional capital for the development of these deposits has disappeared. Instead of restoring confidence, this Governmenthas forfeited the confidence of overseas investors by imposing the embargo. Therefore, we must look to some other source for the necessary capital, and for the will, to develop these deposits. We have every right to ask the Commonwealth Government to show some earnest of its professed desire to assist in populating Australia’s empty spaces, and to assist in the development of an industry which would help materially in that regard. The Opposition is of the opinion that, rather than see stagnation at Yampi and in the surrounding district, it should seek the co-operation of the Commonwealth and State Governments.
About 25 years ago I was connected with the timber industry in Western Australia, and many people stated that, unless a ban were placed on the export of jarrah from that State, the forests would be cut out within ten years, and the supplies of jarrah exhausted. That prediction has not been borne out.
– Timber can be replaced by new growth, but iron ore cannot.
– A sound policy of afforestation was followed, and in addition there was careful supervision of the milling and export of the timber. Could not the same principle be applied to the production of pig iron?
SenatorCUNNINGHAM. - There is no great demand for pig iron to-day. But could we not continue to produce it until the stocks on hand justified the calling of a halt? By that time we should have laid the foundation of an important producing industry in this country. That is what I am concerned about. We on this side are forced to vote for the motion submitted by Senator Wilson because we want the Government to take action to remedy the injustice that has been inflicted on the people of Western Australia. I have no desire to complain about the treatment of that State under federation - I am an Australian who believes in federation - but I want to see industry progress and more people in our sparsely-populated areas. I know something of the possibilities of Western Australia. Bound up with them are these huge deposits of iron ore at Yampi Sound. Western Australia has an area of 973,000 square miles, and the task of developing it with its present small population is enormous. The Opposition wants the Government to avail itself of every opportunity that presents itself to develop that State. Should it be thought necessary to place a ban on exports, the Government should give to the State affected something by way of compensation. It should be the policy of the
Government to develop the latent wealth within Australia for the good of the community generally. I shall support the motion of Senator Wilson.
– I congratulate Senator Wilson on his motion, first, because there is a desire on the part of the people of this country for a great deal more information about its iron ore deposits than had been supplied to them until to-day. Many rumours - probably most of them unfounded - have been current, but, until to-day the Government did nothing to disprove them. An embargo was placed on the export of iron ore without any reason being given to the public. In the second place, I welcome the motion because it affords the opportunity to protest against the usurpation of the powers of the Parliament by the Executive. I do not agree with the Leader of the Senator (Senator A. J. McLachlan) that the Government had no alternative. Listening to the Minister, one would have thought that immediate action was necessary, whereas before the first period of the session ended there was sufficient time for the Government to obtain the necessary authority from both Houses of the Parliament to do by legislation what it did by regulation. I shall protest on every occasion when the Government usurps the powers of this Parliament in this way. The Leader of the Senate uses his persuasive powers much more effectively when sounding an optimistic note than when speaking in a pessimistic strain. To-day when he endeavoured to gain the support of the Senate for the action of the Government, he was far from convincing. During the debate the opinions of many authorities have been cited to show the quantity of iron ore available in Australia. The surface explorations that have been made so far do not provide any reliable estimate. Although the Minister attempted to discount the estimate of Mr. Ashworth, who said that the iron resources of Australia amounted to about 1,000,000,000 tons, that estimate has the support of a document to which I shall refer later. The Leader of the Senate was conservative when he said that the iron ore deposits of Australia probably did not exceed 200,000,000 tons. I point out that even the estimates of those authorities on whose advice the Government took action amounted to about 400,000,000 tons. We are told that the Government has authorized a complete survey of the iron ore resources of Australia. I should like to know the nature of the survey that is to be made. Will it be a repetition of the surveys that have already been made by various State authorities, or will it be something more reliable? There are many who believe that a geophysical survey would give an approximate estimate of the amount of iron ore available.
– The Government is so concerned with the seriousness of the situation that it proposes to expend over £120,000 on the survey.
– That is the first intimation we have had as to the extent of the survey to be undertaken.
– That information is contained in the budget papers.
– Any survey which consists merely of an examination of outcrops in various parts of Australia will be unreliable. I believe that no one can say with accuracy what is beyond the point of the pick. If the Government wishes to obtain a reliable estimate of this country’s iron ore deposits, it will have to do a great deal of tunnelling, or boring, . or both, and, therefore, even the £120,000 mentioned by the Minsiter will not be sufficient for the task.
– A survey is now taking place at Yampi Sound.
– The Minister was careful to refer only to the iron ore deposits above sea level at Yampi Sound, but I suggest that the deposits below sea level will be found to be just as valuable as those above water. It is impossible to obtain anything like an accurate estimate of the quantity of iron ore in Australia without a more thorough investigation than has been made hitherto. The Minister’s speech contained no reference to any deposits of iron ore in New Guinea or
Papua, although I believe that in those territories there are considerable outcrops. Moreover, in parts of Queensland where thick jungle exists, difficulties .will be encountered in making anything like a thorough examination of the country. Consequently, whatever the total quantity of iron ore in Australia is reported to be, we shall have to take the figures with a good deal of reservation. It may be that behind the action of the Government is the knowledge that in some other countries there are iron resources which at the present rate of consumption, will outlast the deposits in Australia. In 1.92S, a committee of industry and trade conducted a survey of the iron ore resources of Great Britain. Although the information then gained is rather old, I doubt whether much additional information has since been obtained. According to the survey then made, there was in Great Britain 12,000,000,000 tons of iron ore in reserve. That quantity represented about 5.4 per cent, of the world’s known iron ore reserves. The latest figures that I was able to obtain showed that, in 1936, Great Britain produced 6,000,000 tons of pig iron and 10,000,000 tons of steel. As the iron ore obtainable in that country is of lower grade than Australian ore, the proportion of iron ore. to pig iron would be greater in Great Britain than here. In addition, there was imported into Great Britain in that year 5,000,000 tons of iron ore. On those figures, it would appear that the probable reserves of iron ore in Great Britain will, at the present rate of consumption, last between 400 and 500 years. Assuming that the authorities are right in estimating Australia’s reserves of iron ore at 962,000,000 tons, or about .4 per cent, of the world’s total, and also that Australia’s production of pig iron ore will increase to 3,000,000 tons a year in the near future, it would appear that we have in reserve only 200 years’ supply of iron ore.
– That estimate of 960,000,000 tons was taken from the earlier official figures, which are now in doubt.
– The Government is not now prepared to accept those figures, which were originally supplied to it by the States. Whilst this authority gives an estimate of 960,000,000 tons, the Minister is not prepared to accept an estimate exceeding 200,000,000 tons. In any case, whichever estimate is the more accurate, I do not think the Minister will press the point that the urgency for the imposition of this embargo was such that it could not have been imposed by act of Parliament rather than by regulation. Personally, I object to the increasing practice of usurping the power of this Parliament in this way. Iron is not the only metal of vital importance to the economic future of this country, but we have not heard any suggestion that any survey should be made of the reserves of lead, zinc, silver, or copper deposits. If it is the intention of the Government to carry out such surveys, it has not, at any rate, been stampeded into imposing an embargo on the export of any of those metals. Whilst T have not the figures available on that point, I believe that our probable reserves of those metals are very much less than our estimated reserves of iron ore. Consequently, to be consistent, the Government must consider our future requirements of metals other than iron ore. I repeat that, personally, I am absolutely opposed to the method adopted in imposing this embargo and I shall take every opportunity in this chamber to record my opposition to similar action. I do not for one moment suggest that some action was not necessary on this occasion, but the Government should take some notice of the protests which have been made from time to time in this chamber, against its propensity for legislating by regulations. They have come from honorable senators on this side upon whom it relies, in season and out of season for support, but from whom it invariably refuses to accept any advice. Recently in this chamber, an honorable senator moved an amendment which would have imposed upon the Government the duty of merely referring, before their gazettal, all future regulations to its legal authorities in order to see whether or not they were valid. The Government would not accept even a proposal along those lines from one of its own supporters. I feel obliged to vote for this motion - and possibly some honorable senators opposite will follow a similar course - in order to indicate to the Government that I am opposed to its abuse of its regulating-making power - abuse which cannot but weaken the authority of this Parliament.
– The importance of this debate, which has been very interesting, cannot be denied. It reminds one, that this chamber is primarily a States House, and looking at the matter under discussion from that standpoint, many points arise which call for careful examination. Many of the advantages which it has been said would have accrued to the State of Western Australia as the result of the opening up of the iron ore deposits at Yampi are mere conjecture. Western Australia covers so enormous an area that, I believe, it is impossible to forecast the extent of its future development with any degree of accuracy. It has been suggested in a quarter of some importance, that the Government was prompted to impose the embargo on the export of iron ore primarily in order to injure Western Australia. Such a suggestion is sheer rubbish. A clamour has arisen to keep one particular industry in Western Australia clear of aliens, and a similar complication seems to “have arisen also in respect of the iron industry, because suggestions have been made in certain quarters that aliens should be allowed access to it. The resolution carried in the Parliament of Western Australia at the instance of the Premier protesting against this embargo, was in itself quite sound, but some of the statements made by the Premier on that occasion, were not convincing. That resolution was opposed in the Upper House by Mr. J. J. Holmes, and as that gentleman’s name has been mentioned in the course of this debate, I should like to say that he was born in Western Australia and has had years of experience in the north-west. Furthermore, he has had considerable experience in business and as a legislator in that State, and has readily placed the benefit of that experience at the disposal of the State to the State’s advantage. It was mentioned that he did not oppose the export of wool from Australia, although wool, it was suggested, was a product in demand for military purposes. I point out that ships, guns and shells cannot be made out of wool.
– But it is used considerably in the manufacture of war material.
– I suggest that the honorable senator would rather be hit in the neck with a pound of wool than with a pound of metal. Undoubtedly, the imposition of this embargo impinges harshly on Western Australia so far as the development of that State is concerned. The whole matter has been rather badly handled from the very commencement, and the people of that State have good reason to feel aggrieved at the treatment they have received. Three reasons have been mentioned as being responsible for the action taken by the Government. We recognize the weight of the first, namely, that the embargo- was imposed for reasons of State. The second reason was that the embargo was imposed as the result of pressure from vested interests, but to that assertion I hesitate to give Credence. The third reason was that the Government imposed the embargo through sheer necessity because of our limited resources of iron ore. If the Government relies upon this argument, why has it refused to produce the report of the ‘Commonwealth geological adviser upon which it took this action? That attitude on the part of the Government -has been puzzling me for some time.
– That report was tabled in the House of Representatives on the 19th May last.
– I asked for that report on two occasions and could not obtain it. At any rate, I c hall say that there was considerable delay in making that report available. Even in the Minister’s speech to-day very little mention was made of authorities from whom we should liked to have heard. I refer particularly to the four last government geologists of Western Australia. Mention was made of the opinions of Mr. Montgomery arid Mr. Maitland, but no mention was made of the opinions of two other gentlemen, one of whom is Mr. Forman, although the Minister promised t.o inform honorable senators of the latter’s view. As pig iron is still being exported, I intend to support the motion, in order, mainly, to afford the Government an opportunity to secure its legitimate objective by other means, and also to influence it to compensate Western Australia in some way for the injury which it has suffered through the imposition of this embargo, as well as to help the Government of that State to place this industry on a sound footing.
– I oppose the motion. The arguments of every honorable senator opposite who has so far participated in this debate have been based upon the claims of rival capitalistic groups. The .effect of the Government’s action on the workers concerned in this industry has been merely mentioned in passing, although it is the main thing to be considered in this matter. The claims of the workers to fairer consideration were mentioned merely incidentally, whilst those of capitalistic groups which expect to make profits from the export of iron ore were emphasized. The claims of those groups were advanced ostensibly in the interests of the welfare of Western Australia, but in reality those interests are mainly concerned with opportunities to make profits for themselves. It devolves upon me, therefore, as a representative of the workers, to direct attention to the claims of the workers which honorable gentlemen opposite are always prepared to ignore. Possibly, by calling attention to facts of this kind, our hopes that honorable senators opposite will carry out in practice what they claim to support in theory, will be justified.
– Is the honorable senator prepared to see the workers at Yampi Sound thrown out of work?
– Any amount of work is available for those men to-day in Australia. I have insisted time and again that there would be no scarcity of work in this country if the employing interests, which honorable senators opposite represent, were prepared to act with the prospect of making a little less profit than they always insist upon. In opposing this motion, therefore, I am making a choice of the lesser of two evils. Senator Wilson contended that if we removed this embargo we would be acting in the interests of peace. He suggested that if we allowed foreign capitalists to secure supplies of raw materials from this country, we would do much towards establishing friendly relations between rival nations. I join issue with the honorable senator on that point. I say without reservation that the reverse is the case. All our experience proves that to the extent to which they have been able to gain access to raw materials, capitalistic groups, representative of various nations, have been prepared to engage in war.
– Would the honorable senator favour the imposition of an embargoon the export of wool?
– I would favour the prohibition of the export of any commodity that is not used for legitimate purposes, and if those producing it are not receiving a fair return for their labour. To the extent that Japan has been able to accumulate enormous supplies of raw materials, it has been assured of sufficient reserves to enable it to wage war against China. To the extent to which Germany has been able to accumulate raw materials, it has been enabled to prepare for war and actually to engage in war should the occasion arise. I remind Senator Wilson, who referred to international peace, that there can be no peace among the nations until war is made unprofitable by the workers’ living standards and their cultural levels being raised to the limit. So long as warmongering nations are able to impose impoverishing conditions, and to build up reserves of capital and goods, they will engage in war. While war is profitable, wars will be waged, but the moment the workers of the world realize the actual position and are raised to the standard which I have indicated, international conflicts will be unprofitable and also impossible. Under existing conditions, unemployment is destined to increase, whether the embargo remains or disappears. Unemployment must increase under existing conditions, particularly where labour is a diminishing factor in the manufacture of commodities, and where the workers’ share of the wealth produced is limited to a sustenance wage or the dole. The Melbourne Age of the 17 th October contains the following extract from the London Daily Mail of the 16th October : -
Great Britain, despite the most intensive armament policy in its history, faces the tragic position that, while munition factories are calling for more workers, unemployment has increased by nearly 500,000 a year. There are now nearly 1,800,000 unemployed, but there should not be one skilled man out of work. On the contrary, thousands of the unemployed are experts who should be working day and night on munitions and equipment.
Despite the desperate position in which the Empire is placed, thousands of expert workers who could be employed in preparing for defence are unemployed because they cannot be set to work to make profits for private exploiters. They could be profitably employed by the nation if governments did not represent only the needs of the capitalist groups.
– This is an instance in which additional employment could be provided, and the honorable senator will not assist.
– That is not so. There is no scarcity of work in Australia or in Great Britain. Men are out of work in Australia for the same reason that they are unemployed in Great Britain. Yet, we have honorable senators almost weeping tears of blood and saying what they would like to do for the unemployed. The companies interested in this subject are concerned, not in providing employment, but in obtaining profits, and if profits could not be made in the production of iron ore at Yampi Sound, the companies would not be the slightest interested in the deposit. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, concerning which Senator Wilson spoke so eulogistically, does not carry on its operations for the sake of the workers, but in order to make enormous profits. Last year its profits amounted to £1,300,000, and the possibilities are that when certain armament contracts are given to it by this Government its profits next year will be even greater.
Reference has been made to the conflicting reports and recommendations submitted by experts. Those whom Senator Wilson cited, said that there are mountains of iron ore in Australia; but the experts working for the Government say that these mountains are merely molehills. Experts, like lawyers, give advice strictly in accordance with the economic interests to be served. They report and recommend in the interests of those who pay the highest fees. I am not suggesting that they are dishonest, tout the fact remains, that unless they advise in the interests of their clients, there is no work for them. Hard-headed persons like our- selves form our judgment in accordance with our knowledge and experience, and if decisions be given on that basis, there will not be many mistakes. Senator Wilson further stated that we should be prepared to export raw materials to foreign nations,but I did not hear him say a word about what we should do for Australia. He believes that foreigners should be first and Australia last.
– I am trying to provide additional employment and the honorable senator will not assist me.
– The honorable senator is serving the interests of foreign capitalists. Senator Johnston said, in effect, that exports are necessary in order to provide employment, but I deny that. I challenge any honorable senator to deny that the material resources of this country are practically unlimited for our own purposes. Unemployment is increasing as a result of drought conditions, and thousands are living in a state of semistarvation.
– And the action of the honorable senator will assist to accentuate the problem of unemployment.
– The honorable senator is anxious to serve the interests of foreign capitalists at the expense of Australian workers. Senator Wilson, Senator Johnston and Senator McBride would have us believe that unless we export iron ore the workers cannot be employed. The export of iron ore would not provide additional employment, but would place Australia at a disadvantage.
I agree with Senator Cunningham, who contends that the Government should not allow the position to develop. I have had considerable experience in conducting negotiations with persons controlling the means by which we live, and who take a very keen interest in politics behind the scenes, and it would appear that the whip has been cracked, and that the Government has been told that it is expected to serve the interests of Australian capitalists instead of those of foreign capitalists. Naturally the Government recognizes the side on which its bread is buttered, and has no alternative but to impose the embargo. If the ban were lifted the Australian capitalists would tell the Government that foreign capitalists would soon be exporting pig iron at a price lower than that at which it can be produced in Australia, and that if that were done, the demand would be made that wages be reduced still further. The export of iron ore is being permitted in certain circumstances, but privileges will not be granted to foreign competitors who would undersell Australian capitalists. The Government in imposing the ban, was influenced by the economic interests which it represents, and will now have to pay the price for having played fast and loose with the industry.
– Is the honorable senator supporting the motion, or opposing it?
– If Labour had a majority in the Parliament, the policy outlined in the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) would foe given effect. As we have not a majority, we have to choose the lesser of two evils. We have to make the best of the contradictions and other complexities which exist within the group of capitalist interests which the Government represents, in order to safeguard, as far as possible, the people of Australia. Therefore, we shall support the continuance of the ban on the export of iron ore so that foreign interests will be unable to exploit Australian workers more ruthlessly than they are being exploited at the present time. Senator Wilson had a lot to say about freedom and democracy. Prior to the outbreak of war in 1914, when his position was being challenged, the late John Burns, then President of the British Board of Trade, gave utterance to what was good alliteration as well as a truism - “Most people are slaves of shibboleths and prisoners of phrases”. That may fittingly be said to-day of Senator Wilson and many other honorable senators on the Government side. They are slaves of shibboleths or phrases, or possibly they are attempting to make political capital out of them for ulterior purposes.
– I rise to a point of order’. I abject to Senator Cameron’s suggestion that in this matter I am actuated by ulterior motives.
– If Senator Wilson objects to the statement it must be withdrawn.
– I withdraw it. Possibly I used the wrong word. I prefer to believe that Senator Wilson spoke more in ignorance than from an ulterior motive. I do not desire to be offensive to any one. I always rely on facts for my arguments. If facts are not available I do not indulge in personalities. Senator Wilson spoke of freedom in connexion with this matter which we are discussing. May I suggest to him that by this he means freedom for the particular capitalist group which he represents?
– That is not correct.
– I take it that tho honorable senator does not mean freedom of access to the means of production by the producers of wealth, namely, the workers. If he meant that, he would be taking a very different stand from that which he has adopted in this chamber on other issues that have come before it. Whilst he would claim freedom for the capitalist groups, he would deny it to the producers of wealth, or at least would limit their freedom to the basic wage, or to the dole, when unemployed. If, by constitutional or other methods, the workers attempted to increase their measure of freedom of access to the means by which they live, I can quite imagine Senator Wilson strenuously opposing them. The honorable senator also spoke of democracy. The term “ democracy “ is capitalized so often that I feel that I should like to be another Dr. Johnson, in order that I might coin some other word that would express the meaning more clearly, and make it impossible for people who would capitalize it, to do so. So I suggest that when Senator Wilson speaks of democracy he means that the few shall rule the many, and shall own the means by which the many live. He does not mean that the many shall determine for themselves the conditions under which they shall live and work.
– Why does the honorable senator not speak for himself?
– I am speaking for myself. I am telling the Senate what I believe the honorable gentleman meant when he spoke of democracy.
– I submit Mr. President that Senator Cameron has no right to say what I meant.
– If Senator Cameron will keep a little closer to the subject under discussion, he will be in order.
– Whilst having no desire to be personal, I suggest to Senator Wilson that when he makes a statement which is elliptical, as all statements are, he should not be so thinskinned or biased as to wish to prevent any other honorable senator from placing an intelligent construction upon the statement.
– I have no objection to Senator Cameron discussing what I said; I object to him putting words into my mouth.
– I believe that what I am saying, was implied in Senator Wilson’s speech. I am really endeavouring in a friendly way, to make a dialectical approach to the honorable gentleman. I have no desire to offend; if I succeed in enlightening him I shall be gratified.
I shall oppose the motion, not for the purpose of aiding the Government, but with the object of preventing foreign capitalists from exploiting Australian workers more ruthlessly than they are being exploited at present.I believe that by supporting the Government’s policy in this matter, I am serving the interests of the workers in the best way possible under the circumstances.
– I regret very much that Senator Wilson found it necessary to bring this matter before the Senate in a motion to disallow the regulations imposing the embargo on the export of iron ore. It is deplorable that when honorable senators desire any special information, it should apparently be necessary to move for the disallowance of some regulations in order to obtain from Ministers explanations which might easily have been given previously in statements to this chamber. I compliment Senator Wilson on the able manner in which he put his case. The honorable senator told us that the embargo on the export of iron ore was arestriction of the kind which creates international bad feeling and often leads to war. He added that no war had ever occurred without provocation. I do not agree with that, because, as we all know, an international conflict was very nearly caused quite recently without provocation.
– Lord Runciman thought that there was provocation.
– I do not agree with Lord Runciman. It cannot be claimed that there was provocation for the present war in China, or that Italy was provoked to invade Abyssinia. As a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations, Australia must look after itself and preserve its natural resources for its own use, even if that policy causes discontent on the other side of the world. Senator Wilson’s speech contained much excellent material and information on many subjects in which we are vitally interested, but I searched in vain for any real reason for the removal of the ban on the export of iron ore from Australia. The honorable gentleman said that Great Britain was badly in need of iron ore. This same argument has been used by people in my own State, especially during the last fortnight or three weeks. A few days ago I placed on the notice-paper a question, asking if, when the Australian Trade Delegation was in Great Britain recently, it was approached in regard to this matter. The answer was in the negative. If there had been any pressing need for iron ore in Great Britain, it would certainly have been mentioned to our trade delegation. Senator Wilson also said that owing to the war in Spain, supplies of iron ore which Great Britain had been obtaining from that country had been diverted to Germany, and, as the result, Great Britain was sadly in need of this metal.’ I asked a further question in this connexion, and the reply was again in the negative. To-day I received a more conclusive answer from my colleague, Senator McBride, who said that Great Britain had 12,000,000,000 tons of iron ore in sight- enough to last for the next 400 or 500 years.
– Great Britain still needs higher grades of iron ore from Spain, Sweden or Norway.
– What about Australia? Does the honorable senator think that Australia will continue to be on the map ?
Senator JAMES McLACHLAN.Australia will continue to obtain its iron ore from its own resources so long as they are allowed to remain. It cannot be argued, however, that Australia must export iron ore because Great Britain is in need of it. Attention has been directed to the great loss which South Australia has sustained as a result of the imposition of the embargo; yet at the same time it has been said that the ban was imposed merely to bolster up the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, which is the biggest exporter of iron ore in Australia. Those two arguments are in. conflict. If the Government is bolstering a monopoly it is doing good work for South Australia, because the company obtains the bulk of its raw material from the iron ore deposits in that State, but the Government can hardly have simultaneously done an injury to the State by its action in this regard.
When an embargo was placed on the exportation of wool to Japan–
– No such embargo was imposed. The importation of goods from Japan was restricted.
– That is quite true. The trade diversion policy had the effect of reducing Japan’s purchases of Australian wool, but I do not believe that this fact seriously affected the pastoral industry.
– Do not tell that to the people of South Australia.
Senator JAMES McLACHLAN.Many people in that State will agree with me.
– The curtailment of Japan’s purchases of our wool cost this country £7,000,000.
Senator JAMES McLACHLAN.When Japan was not operating in the Australian market for wool it was buying in South Africa, and, when it returned to the Australian market, the price of wool in South Africa rose more than in Australia. The figures relating to the quantity of iron ore available in Australia are so conflicting that they are difficult to follow. Senator Wilson emphasized that Dr. Woolnough did not go to Iron Knob or Whyalla. I do not think that it was necessary for him to do so, because he had all the figures before him.
-Which showed the position to be the reverse of what it had been represented to be.
Senator JAMES McLACHLAN.When the honorable senator pointed out to-day that Dr. Woolnough made his deductions without visiting Iron Knob, Whyalla or Eyre Peninsula, he quoted, in opposition to the figures of Dr. Woolnough, those of the royal commission which sat in 1918, but the members of that commission made no inspection of the deposits at Iron Knob.
– Dr. Woolnough has since been to Iron Knob, and has checked up everything.
– I am aware of that. I believe that the Government wasconscientious in imposing the embargo, believing it to be in the best interests of the people generally. It now intends to have a thorough investigation to determine the extent of the deposits, and £120,000 is provided on the estimates for this purpose. I shall support the Government in this matter until the promised report is obtained. Although Senator McBride considers that £120,000 is too small a sum to enable a thorough investigation to be made, it should certainly provide reliable information as to the resources in sight. For the time being I am content to allow the ban to remain, but it seems to me that both branches of the legislature should have been consulted before it was imposed. Important decisions in matters of this kind should not be made without parliamentary approval. Although, no doubt, this ban was imposed after full consideration by the Government, I fear that many regulations are put into operation at the instance of subordinate officials.
Debate (on motion by Senator Fraser) adjourned.
– by leave - read a statement which was made simultaneously in the House of Representatives with regard to the defence measures adopted during the recent international crisis (vide pages 1029-1031).
– I shall support the motion proposed by Senator Wilson, first, in order to emphasize the necessity for removing the embargo, and also as a protest against the manner in which the embargo was imposed. Knowing the contracts that had been entered into by both the Government of Western. Australia and the company which was operating at Yampi Sound, the Commonwealth Government took practically no action to ascertain the extent of the deposits of iron ore in the Commonwealth. In any case, it was its duty to discuss the matter with the Government of Western Australia. That procedure was not adopted. The first information conveyed to the Government of Western Australia was a press report that the Commonwealth Government had imposed the embargo. Apparently, it had just discovered that something was wrong. Its action was clumsy and ill-mannered, and not at all in the best interests of the Commonwealth. It should at least have discussed the subject with the Government of Western Australia.
I ask leave to continue my remarks on the next day of sitting.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Senator A. J. McLachlan ) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till Wednesday next, at 3 p.m.
Relay of Broadcasts from Daventry.
– I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
On the 14th October, Senator Keane asked the following questions, upon notice : -
Corporation are now prefaced by the remarks “ rebroadcasting in the Commonwealth of Australia is prohibited,” but that this news is easily picked up on the ordinary household dual-wave wireless set?
I am now in a position to furnish the following answers to the honorable senator’s inquiries : -
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Convention between His Majesty in respect of the “United Kingdom, the Commonwealth of Australia and New Zealand and the Grand Duchess of Luxemburg, supplementary to the Treaty of November 24, 1880, regarding Extradition - Luxemburg, 23rd January, 1937.
Exchange of Notes between His Majesty’s Governments in the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth of Australia and New Zealand and the Government of India and the Government of Belgium regarding Documents of Identity for Aircraft Personnel - Brussels, 29th April, 1938.
International Convention on the Stamp Laws in connexion with Bills of Exchange and Promissory Notes (with Protocol) - Geneva, 7th June, 1930.
International Convention on the Stamp Laws in connexion with Cheques - Geneva, 19th March, 1931.
Senate adjournedat 5.59 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 20 October 1938, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1938/19381020_senate_15_157/>.